In the Trenches: CPTSD and the Status Quo

Yeah, this is one of those posts where the mental health side of the site and the writing side of the site are going to merge.

As I have frequently mentioned in querying there is a great deal of ‘putting yourself out-there’ and in Complex PTSD there is a near pathological need to ‘be unnoticed.’

I’ve run across another area where the demands of querying are in complete opposition to what my brain tells me is safe.

Let me explain a bit about one aspect of my Complex PTSD. In my childhood home, it was much better to be unnoticed. Being able to blend into the wallpaper was an essential skill learned early and perfected quickly.

I always found the melodrama of the ‘sit-com’ to be unfathomable. You didn’t storm off in a huff in my home; you didn’t huff at all, if you wanted to avoid the inevitable backlash. My brother was the one who gained attention through challenging authority and risk-taking.

I saw what that earned him in return.

Nope that was not my way. My reactions definitely fell to the ‘fawn’, ‘freeze’, ‘flight’ range. Back me far enough into a corner and I would hit ‘fight’, but you’d have to catch me first and that was not going to happen if I could possibly avoid it.

My brother provoked confrontation, I avoided it.

So, our family would move through the day-to day-motions of normalcy, my parent’s rigidly locked into their roles, me not causing a single ripple in the air with my presence. I perfected personal stealth technology in the 60s.

There would be this stagnation that functioned as the ‘status quo’. Although those days were still somewhere in ‘yellow alert’ status, they were the better days in our house. And, it is a strange thing that when the alternatives are bad or worse, you start thinking of ‘bad’ as–if not enjoyable–at least, not directly threatening your existence.

Yeah, days where the sirens aren’t going off, and the conversation stays in tight monosyllables, are good days. You learn to jealously guard that status quo, because it is safe.

How does all this tie into querying?

Well, given all of the above, I am definitely a person who believes that ‘no news’ is ‘good news’. It means the status quo hasn’t shifted, and the inevitable crash didn’t come today.

Because, it will come. Have no doubts about that.

However, there are situations in querying that need to be nudged along.The idea, the very thought that I would do anything to break the delicate status quo, is terrifying. It means bringing the crash, provoking that eruption that obliterates everything in its path. And that disaster is only ever a sigh away.

As a result, the thinking goes something like this.

I can stay here, quietly waiting, until I hear a response. If I hear a response.
By sitting here quietly, I could be overlooked. It has happened many times before, because isn’t that what I have practiced and perfected my entire life? Non-being. Not taking up space. Invisibility.
But, in querying, that survival instinct doesn’t move you to your goal. It shackles you in the shadows.
By putting a hand up, or asking a question, you break the shield of invisibility surrounding you, intentionally. Which is an act of pure madness. Because your experience tells you that: ‘no news’ ‘is good news.’
By bringing attention to yourself, you are asking to be removed, denied, dismissed.

So what do you do? Sit, patiently for the inevitable to descend or do you send the gentle ripple out into the world that will reflect back to you as a crushing blow?

It’s like a game of Russian roulette, except every barrel is loaded.

5 responses to “In the Trenches: CPTSD and the Status Quo”

  1. This hit close to home. I frequently live in that freeze or daw state to either appreciate the status quo or try to make the moment easier – but for others. It’s so tiring.
    I needed to see this today, knowing I’m not alone. Thank you

  2. “‘fawn’, ‘freeze’, ‘flight’” – oh, my yes…sounds way too familiar

    Yet here we are, writing our words, telling our stories, and yes, sometimes, eventually, querying and publishing. It’s exhausting work.

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