Tuesday, April 16, 2024

What my CPTSD and parentification nightmares look like and how they are destroying me

 Hi friends. Welcome to another snapshot of my personal hell. I've been exploring how my parents and stepparents abused, neglected, abandoned, parentified, exploited, shamed and then gaslit me about it all. Today I'm looking at how a lifetime of constant, nightly nightmares have resulted and how they are destroying me.  

Destroyed is a big scary word. But it describes to a T the complete obliteration of self that happens to a child that is abused and neglected and abandoned and exploited and parentified and shamed and gaslit about it all. By not one but four parents, each with his or her own brand of terrorism. What started me exploring were the nightly CPTSD nightmares, inability to sleep for more than an hour without waking in a nightmare and constant vigilant anxiety. 

My nightmares feature me constantly being in situations where I'm expected to do many things simultaneously including caring for numerous children (who keep disappearing), cooking, cleaning, laundry, schooling, etc. However I have no idea where I am, whom I'm supposed to be caring for and what I'm supposed to be doing. I don't even know to whom I answer to or why I'm doing these things. I never  have the tools or resources to do it all. 

And the scenario and location keep changing. One minute I'm driving, the next, we're in some kind of large place. Children are constantly getting hurt or lost. Frequently, a child falls into water and drowns. I'm frantic with worry, terrified, exhausted, bewildered and overwhelmed.  The expectations keep changing but one thing remains the same. I and I alone am expected to accomplish these many, varied and vague tasks. 

In my dreams, I'm an adult but I'm being treated like a bad child but I'm being expected to do the work of an adult, all the adults in fact. No one is helping me. I'm carrying the burden about six people, alone. And of course, I'm unable to. 

The "adults" in my dream, always my parents, usually dad and stepmom are angry with me. Furious, spitting angry. In one dream, my dad comes downstairs in his underwear mad because I've awakened him. That is how I most remember my dad, in real life. Angry. I did sort out that dream recently and I'll blog more about it later. 

Often, I dream that I've done something so unspeakably shameful that everyone is disgusted with me. I realize now that what I've done generally involves dysregulation of some kind. I had a meltdown and they saw. I screamed and cried and fainted. Everyone has gathered to tell me what a wretch I am and how they're going to shun me. 

For the longest time, I dreamed that I was missing a child. I'd wake night after night looking for her. My husband would have to reassure me that all was well. But my sleep brain didn't believe him and kept looking. This began when I was teaching, and a student went missing. Later, it was one of my own. 

Later, when I lost two stillborn daughters in 2001 and 2004, I'd dream that the baby I was supposed to be nursing wasn't there. Or that I'd forgotten to care for her. Or that she is lost or stolen. I still have that dream at least twice a week, 23 years later. 

I've had some dreams so often, and they are so real, that I don't always know what's memory and what's dream. I cannot sleep without dreaming. Ever. I wake terrified, crying, screaming and utterly shattered. I live in a kind of half wake half dream fugue. I asked others what their sleep experience was and unilaterally, everyone had had only the occasional bad dream and nothing like mine. 

So I began looking for research into these nightmares and I'll blog more on what I learned later.  

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