Wednesday, May 1, 2024

What I learned from my CPTSD nightmares is terrifying but helpful

Hello friends. I'm back with another snapshot from the CPTSD trenches. Just recently, I realized I've lived all my life in a gaslit world of my four parents' narcissistic fantasy. To support their individual and collective fantasies required me to be systematically abused, neglected, endangered, exploited, manipulated, trauma and shame dumped on, parentified, exposed to off sexual behavior, inappropriately expected to behave like an adult so they could be children, role reverse, scapegoated,  abandoned, frightened and had my empathy weaponized. From that, I developed CPTSD (chronic, complex and/or childhood PTSD). 

What is CPTSD? Well, for me, it's constant nightmares, an endless fugue state of self-loathing and confusion, no boundaries, security and safety and zero resources to cope. I've recently had some big Ah-ha moments in which I was able to see myself from a different perspective, inside out as it were. 

I've realized that I've existed in a self-sabotaging, boundaryless, miserable, toxic shame-based no-man's land for the past 6 decades. I've somehow managed to maintain a home and family but I'm not sure how. My entire being has felt disjointed, senseless and just so wrong. I can't win for losing. I never make the right choice and fail all the time. I live in extremes and generalizations, all or nothing, good or bad, right or wrong. Perfect or evil. 

Which I realize is not healthy, functional or how others see the world. It's just my disturbed, insane view. How did I finally see that? By beginning to really pay attention to my CPTSD nightmares. I'm starting to see the patterns in the dreams and connect the dots to find out what they are saying to me. What I see is that they have pointed the way all along. 

I've had chronic nightmares since childhood. I can't remember a time when I didn't have bad dreams. I also can't recall  a time when I had anything like a normal-ish childhood. I can't remember a time when I felt really safe or loved. My parents were very irresponsible and narcissistic. They went to Alaska to be missionaries the Indians (their words). They weren't sponsored by any church. In fact the one they happened to be in at the moment flatly said they should NOT be doing this. I was left to play alone, ignored, endangered, neglected and ultimately abandoned by them both, thousands of miles from my home. I was expected to parent them but also implicitly obey or face harsh, arbitrary punishment. 

Then they got divorced when I was six and hooked up with other incredibly narcissistic immature people whom I was also supposed to both parent and be subject to. Then I had to parent all four of their foster kids and bio children. And do the housework like an adult. I even had to sleep with their babies like a parent would. As my husband put it, I was an afterthought who was only good for what they could get out of me. 

I was forced into one bizarre and frightening situation after another. I've seen my mom get beat up by the wife of a man she was having an affair with. I've been left to care for four special needs kids alone. I've been booted out of bedrooms so random people could have them. I've been locked in a bedroom with a baby. I've been kicked out of the house. I've been verbally abused and threatened by my mom's boyfriend. I've been sexually assaulted and subjected to very inappropriate sexual behavior. Religion has been weaponized to shame me. And not one part of  this was ever acknowledged. In fact it's been lied about. I was told I was just showing off. My life has been like a crazy patchwork quilt with each tiny piece sewed up neatly and all the trauma self-contained and sealed over. 

It was so bad that I didn't realize how bad it was. I thought because they'd told me that it was my job, my lot in life. That good things like love and care didn't apply to me. I've always been the orphan looking in the window. And consequently, I've not developed self-care skills. I basically learned that it was selfish. My boundaries don't exist. I'm not a person. I'm a reflection of  others, a human doing, a nuisance and a parasite. My four parents were God. 

But while I didn't know this was wrong for me, I knew this wasn't right for others. Without having a clue about taking care of and defending myself, I've known how to care for others. Ironically, I had to parent myself and everyone else. And while I don't know how to parent me, I am pretty good at parenting others. But it's not good for me to be so ultra responsible for others. I'm far too empathic, as my nightmares prove. 

Every night,  multiple times a night, I dream that I'm in an unfamiliar place, in dire situation in which many ridiculously impossible things are expected of me and me alone, by oppressive forces. Many babies to be cared for, dangerous situations, missing children, piles of laundry, mountains of food to cook, lost items I must find, huge things to move. I have to transport groups of people over treacherous terrain in bad weather. I'm too young to drive or the car turns into a Little Tikes car or I'm trying to drive from the back seat. Adults are just laying around issuing orders. They aren't helping and expect to be waited on. They make fun of my efforts. Then scenes shift and orders change without warning. I have no idea where I am, how I got there, what exactly is expected of me and how to manage. Other people are doing off sexual things. I feel guilty, ashamed and that everyone is angry with me, though I've no idea why. I'm always doing something wrong, never right. The nightmares are terrifying, constant, detailed, vivid and disturbing. 

I've been praying for years to be freed from them. I've tried natural remedies and nothing works. Sleep meds make them worse. So finally, I started listening and watching them. And that's what is saving me. I realize that the dreams make perfect sense given my life.  Because I'm seeing that in many ways, these aren't dreams but memories. Or at least how my young mind perceived experiences. 

I'm overwhelmed by expectation in my dreams because I've been overwhelmed by expectation in life. I'm exploited because I've been exploited. There's so much work to do because there always was too much work to do. I'm confused in my dreams because my childhood was so confusing. I feel in the wrong because I've been gaslit to think I'm doing wrong.  I'm ashamed because I have always been shamed by family. I'm expected to parent others because I've always been expected to parent others. I'm in dangerous places and situations because I was so often endangered. I'm doing it alone because I was abandoned. I'm left to care for others and don't know how because I was inappropriately left in charge too young. Off sexual things happen in my dreams because they happened in real life. People are angry with, blaming and punishing me, because I always was the scapegoat. It feels like damned if I do or don't because it always was. I'm not imaging it. It  happened. Because I'm dream-remembering it and because no one can make this shit up.

I've heard it said that CPTSD is actually brain damage. So my nightmares come from my damaged brain. And my brain was damaged by narcissistic abuse, childhood trauma that I suffered through alone, lack of care when I was ill, being shut down when I cried, lack of food, no bed or bedroom, scapegoating, parentifying, being left out, neglect, chronic parental anger, violent punishment, toxic shame, abandonment, endangerment and most of all, gaslighting. 

I experienced all this alone. I cried alone. Bit myself and rubbed out the marks, alone. Hurt alone. Was scared alone. There. Was. No One to help, explain, comfort or defend me. That's hard to realize because I adored my grandparents. But truth was, not one of them ever asked or even acknowledged what was happening. And the people who called themselves my parents certainly never acknowledged any problem. Because to acknowledge would have meant having to admit that THEY were the cause. were selfishly abusing, exploiting, manipulating, endangering me. But I provided too much for them, and they were sure as hell not gonna stop taking. 

So they had to spin it as my fault. Each one of the four people who were supposed to protect me, in his or her own way. The dog doesn't like being kicked. So kick the dog until she shuts up.  She failed to make you happy? Don't ask yourself why the fu-k you're expecting her to. Don't ask yourself why you're so effing needy and entitled and selfish. Put that on all on her. Make her feel like the wrong one. If you say it loud enough, she'll believe you. I mean, for eff's sake, look at how eager she is to please. Oh and don't forget to double down the God's Will, be a servant, honor your parents, religio-babble shtick. Work that! And we can all get back to our pathetic narcissistic fantasies. It's all in how you write the narrative and who gets their version in first. 

So yes, the nightmares are bad. Debilitating, even. And that's exactly the point. Life was bad and debilitating for me. They are the wakeup call I need. They have been trying, for decades to get me to see that the abuse, exploitation, etc, I've been describing did actually happen. That any version to the contrary is them gaslighting. This CPTSD brain damage was inflicted by them for self-serving motives. 

I think the nightmares are also God's way of telling me that all that happened did happen and that it was wrong. It's impossible to please everyone in my dreams because they were wrongly expecting them to make them happy. They were not leaning on God but me. That I'm not actually doing everything wrong because no one gets it wrong all the time, just like we don't get it right all the time, as my parents said they did. That is sick and dangerous playing God. 

I think God wants me to know that none of this was His will for me. That there is a God and it's not them. Like I said in an earlier post, that I'm having to get through this by relooking at God. That the God, Holy Spirit, Jesus presented to my by my parents, was wrong. Because they made themselves gods and very punitive, spiteful, backstabbing, cruel, mocking, shaming, manipulative ones that pulled me down instead of lifting me up. And set me up to burdens they didn't carry (witness the dreams). And twisted the Bible to match their narcissistic fantasies. 

All the senselessness of the dreams all makes sense now, if looked at as memories. I see now why they did what they did. It was wrong and wicked but I get it. They're self-centered and delusional. I was a convenient prop for those fantasies. I don't like it but I accept it. And now that I have figured out where it all went pear-shaped, I can set about righting it. 

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