Nailed in the past… a paradox

This is one of those things that when I think about my Complex-PTSD should have been obvious. How I missed it for so long really confounds me.

I often talk about the paradoxes that arise in C-PTSD. Here I have stumbled into another one. It goes something like this.

Huh. I just realized how weird it is to live with one foot nailed in the past when you can’t remember any of it.

ThinkingTooLoud

New Meme : Seen

There is so going to be an essay out of this one.
For the moment I’m going to have to leave you with this dashed off thought.

No, I’m not Procrastinating

Or maybe I am. This is a common saying around my desk. It’s a riff on Hemingway’s famous quote

Write drunk, edit sober.

E. Hemingway

You’re telling me what?

Let me get this straight, I spent my childhood building all these defenses and now I’m gonna spend my adulthood undoing this fuckery. 

Continue reading “You’re telling me what?”

I can’t tell? Is this fear?

I suspect I should be feeling more. A curious gift of CPTSD is that when times are hard, when the world shakes, we carry on. After all, it’s just another day.

Continue reading “I can’t tell? Is this fear?”

CPTSD: Growing up in a Minefield

I don’t know when I discovered that not everyone had a family like mine. But, I do remember the shock. The disbelief that other people didn’t have to hide or make themselves invisible rocked me to my core. I always thought my childhood was good. To admit that my family had problems and that those problems affect me to this day was one of the most painful parts of moving from denial into healing.

CPTSD : Paradox #2

A young girl sits dejected on a bench.

The turmoil of having an anxious/ambivalent attachment style is in some ways worse than those these folks have in their relationship with others. The internal conflicts involving panic that a partner will leave them and fighting to contain the behaviors that ensue from that panic are horrendous.

They have an inner conflict going on all the time. 

Anxious/Ambivalent Attachment Style: An Examination of Its Causes and How It Affects Adult Relationships

The article above specifically addresses relationships and the way that a person with CPTSD approaches them.

But, this internal ambivalence isn’t confined to relationships, it bleeds out and touches everything. In my head that ambivalence colors every corner. From core beliefs of my own worthiness and capability, to my value as a human and a host of other self-identification parameters.

For example:

I received a glowing compliment from an editor on my latest work. Most people would think this a good thing. It would act as verification that they were doing well, a pat on the back. Validation! It would spur them to continue their work.

However, in my mind, that initial rush of “Wonderful” is welded to the thought “That can’t be right.”

From that well-meant compliment springs a host of worries. That all lead back to one option, and one option only. “Quit now, before it all falls apart.”

Some people might look at this and think “imposter syndrome.” But, it goes further than that. This example is just one area of my life. In truth that ambivalence is threaded through every fiber.

It plays out on two stages – side by side.

On the first stage in my head, I have this driving need to be perfect. Absolutely perfect. Flawless. I push and I strive for that, and whatever I do, or achieve it is never enough. For one simple immutable reason. What is going on over on the other stage.

This stage has one purpose, to remind me of one fact. The fact that I am not enough.
– not good enough
– not smart enough
– not pretty enough

Not enough in any measure, not possible. Not me.

Incoming compliments are equally fished for and avoided. And, if someone has made the mistake to think I have done something worthwhile, then I should not revel in their mistaken perception, but I should instead correct it. Because if they continue in this idea, when they see the truth of me, they will feel deceived, and then leave.

Being abandoned is my greatest fear. It is the fear that strikes at my core. So, to keep people from leaving me I scuttle out of the light. I linger in the fringes of the darkness, barely seen. Because if people don’t know I’m there, they can’t choose to leave me.

So here I stand divided, one foot in light, one foot in shadow. Torn in both directions because if I’m not good enough, people will abandon me and because if I allow people to think I’m worthy they will abandon me when the deception is revealed.

It’s a no-win situation, that can only be survived by remaining unnoticed.

CPTSD Meme: Compassion is strength

From Planet Tiger - A White Siberian Tiger
When you have found yourself
you will know that compassion is
the greatest form of strength.

Image from Planet Tiger! They are a great cause to support.

I just really like it…

Ladybug with a story about CPTSD

I can think of a hundred reasons why I shouldn’t share this.


It’s self-indulgent.
The meme itself is wordy.
Already shared the story.
The text is too dense.
It breaks the meme conventions.
and on,
      and on,
            and on.

But,
   even with all that
this simple image
with the tiny bug and the
tiny story just feels right.
Inexplicable, but there it is.

CPTSD ≠ PTSD

grayscale photo of statues

Interesting exchange this morning… It all started with a comment on this meme:

Definition of Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder


Someone posted :

Shell shock. Quit making shit out to be so sugar coated. It’s shell shock.

I’m glad they did… because I had to sit down and really pin down ‘WHY’ was I doing this… and why this way.

So here is my answer.

I don’t know if you’ll read all this. So let me start with this. PTSD and CPTSD are both hell to live through caused by massive shit that happened. You’re right.

You and I both know that. We live it day in, day out. [I made a big assumption here.]

I present things like this not really for you and me. We already know the truth. The ugly truth.

So why do I pretty things up? (It is not to minimize things – oh Hellz no)

One – a lot of people don’t ‘get’ it – and for them a picture of what is really going on inside our heads will freak them out massively.

Two – I’m trying to educate the people around us. Again – walking up to someone with a gaping wound is going to make most people faint or run. Putting a bandage on it – (sugar coating as you say) makes it easier to approach. To teach them, to get them interested and then to be of actual help.

PTSD (shell shock) is not the same as CPTSD. Both are trauma, yes. Both cause changes in the body and the brain.
But here’s the difference.

Shell shock (PTSD) occurs in soldiers, adults. The brain is fully mature – and then boom – trauma. Massive shit happens. And the grown up brain just can’t deal with all of it at once.

CPTSD Happens to kids, mostly. Their brain isn’t mature. And because they can’t reason – they can’t say I’m being treated like garbage… They assume permanently (internalize) “I am garbage.”

That message stays with you for a lifetime.

Hang in there.
I wish you well.

I don’t know if it was the best answer. But it’s the best answer I could come up with today. Even now I’m editing it in my head to ‘be better’ … So maybe that’s a post in the future.