Sunday, March 24, 2024

How I'm healing CPTSD by realizing that things were as traumatic as they seemed


Hello my dear friends! If you've been with me through these past few weeks of my March unMadness weight loss challenge, you'll know this blog has become less about how I lost 100 pounds and more about how I'm detoxing from toxic shame, CPTSD, codependency and gaslighting. Which is kind of one in the same thing, in some ways. Today I'm looking at how I'm healing from CPTSD ( if one ever can) by realizing and accepting that things were as crazy traumatic as they seemed. And a warning, this is going to be raw and horrifically triggering for some of you, especially if you're in CPTSD and don't yet know it or if, like me, you're only beginning to begin considering it. 

So if you're new to CPTSD, it stands for complex post traumatic stress disorder.  But in my definition, it could also be childhood PTSD or even crazy PTSD. And it's past as much as present traumatic stress disorder in that the narcissistic abuse that caused it is ongoing into adulthood, with gaslighting about the exploitation, manipulation, neglect, endangerment and chaos that occurred. 

Unlike PTSD which happens to soldiers in temporary, observable, combat situations,  CPTSD is messier, harder to observe, chronic (something the C could also stand for). Imagine me using Dorian Gray's voice from  "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" to describe me in CPTSD "I'm complicated." (Another thing it could stand for). 

Which of course, makes it so much easier for those who are causing it and benefitting by (the narcissistic parents) to gaslight the kid about. We lil ones caught up in it are very much  like the misunderstood, blackballed WW1 soldiers with combat fatigue. We are "shell shocked" by the insanely pain, terror, manipulation, cruelty, fear, exploitation and endangerment. This goes way beyond lack of love. Narcissists don't just not care for their kids. They resent their very being as little usurpers to the throne, threats to their supremacy and for being a reminder for how really effed up that is. 

CPTSD is also less of the stress and more trauma, using Youtuber Richard Grannon's analogy of bolts that show wear under stress (pressure), but under trauma (misuse, abuse, bashing about) flat out cracking. Which is what those of us who've suffered repeated bashing about as little children do: we crack up. Stonewall. Collapse. In times past this was called having a nervous breakdown. 

But again, being tiny unformed humans (still emotional fetuses, really) we don't know that any of this is NOT normal, NOT safe, NOT healthy and most importantly, NOT OUR FAULT!!!! To the tiny human, the big human is God. They are our source. For everything. If what the source is providing is good, grand. If it's poison, it's still grand to us because we don't know poison from milk. We just drink it up and die quietly inside. 

Okay, right now, I'm being assaulted by memory-voices that are saying, "You're exaggerating!" How dare you suggest that what we gave you was poison!!!" You vile little creature." And they're also saying "everyone else thinks so too!" Remember I called those head voices a quorum. They are that meeting that was held without you present, that jury that was convened, which decided unanimously that "you're the problem. Now all we have to do is find a punishment extreme enough to fit what you've done." I actually have dreams on autoloop where this happens. 

If it seems I'm exaggerating or inventing this, well, you probably don't belong here and should leave now. No one could make up the things that  happened to me. That has been verified by every one of the few people who have heard it. And they've only heard pieces. A 5-year-old can't make up a dad routinely describing his suicide plans to her. Or leaving me in Alaska, thousands of miles from my home to go witness to the Manson girls. Or a mother who left her six-year-old for a week on a tiny island of Alaska, to go 3,000 miles away. And that only gets us up to age 6.  

And I'd challenge anyone who questions, to tell me how they'd cope with that. I know that on the surface, I don't show how battered, barmy and broken I am. That's because I don't want my experiences to upset you. That's why I never told anyone. Plus I was gaslit into thinking I'd never be believed. I people please like I breathe. 

I'm going to overlook, excuse, defend and even approve whatever you do because that's my "family" expected. It doesn't matter whether you want or expect me to or not. I'm going to because not to was a thought so terrifying I still will not consider it. 

I'm a master of disguise. And of hiding. And keeping secrets. Legendarily so. I'm like the Doctor Who episode where the gas mask is the kid's face. I've become the mask I wear. I don't know what's underneath. I know the face doesn't have much skin or protective layer. It's that shiny, raw skin of someone burned, metaphorically. 

I smile reflexively but it's a cadaveric spasm, a death's head grimace, a poorly pasted on smile that is meant to make everything all right and everyone feel all right about everything. And to cover all the pain. I mean, God forbid I show it. That would be "showing off." And being "too sensitive." It would upset you and make you feel badly. 

Did you think I was naturally a happy person? I'm not surprised I fooled you. Don't feel badly. You were meant to be fooled. Or at least appeased or comforted. And it's not your fault. This panto was set in motion decades ago. And I've been perfecting the costume and role for 59 years. 

It's not the part I wanted but it is what I got. I'd have liked to have been a happier kid. I'd have liked to have a house and a bed and a bedroom and toys and messy little drawings hung on the fridge. I'd have liked to hear memories about myself. I'd have liked to have happy memories with a few sad instead of no memories except sad. 

I'd have liked to be a kid and not staff, a surrogate parent, a surrogate spouse, a sex object, a scapegoat. But that's not my fault either. It's as my husband so aptly put it. I was "groomed" to be these things. I was indoctrinated that this is what "good girls" were. This is  how family members behaved. Of course you know (if you weren't raised like this and I hope to God you weren't but if you were, I love and see you) this is weird AF. But I'm a little late to the party and still have to get up to speed. 

So what is my true self beyond the hiding and masks? I have no idea. I don't have one yet. I've always been a chameleon, a reflection, a straight man, a prop, a possession, a foil. The schlemazel to everyone else's schlemiel. That's what I'm here for. It's all I got in my toolbox. So far. And being the people pleaser I am, I feel obliged to end on a positive note of hope. I'll get there, I'm stronger than I think. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 

But if I'm honest, I'm not there. And I might not ever be. Right now, I'm still processing that if God was there, why could I not feel Him? Part of the gaslighting was that parents were the deities. But if that was just to much bullshit, will the real God please stand up? I'm not angry, just gassed. Shell shocked. I've got the enormous task of reviewing, revamping, reteaching and relearning my entire existence. I have to detox, degas, ungroom and unthink. And I don't know where to start, if I even have the energy. 

I'll say this. I may not make it to the promised land. But I'm damned sure gonna do all in my power to get my loved ones, my precious children and grandchildren there. I'm going to break this cycle in one generation, if it kills me. 

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