The “Grit Your Teeth”-“Therapy” or: Limitations of “Overcoming”

January 3rd, 2015. I will be 50 then and frankly, I dread the flood of feelings most likely taking hold of me on that day. Fact check: I got divorced in 2003, I bottomed out/burnt out on my previous walk of life that I’m at pains of calling a “career” in the conventional sense of the word – as it was mere survival by all means at large. I did two more resolved flappings of my wings in 2005 and again in 2007 – until that wanna-be “Phoenix” ultimately all burnt in the fire called “life” (or maybe even that very term doesn’t apply in my case altogether, as it’s been survival mode for the most part of it). And in that same year I filed for partial disability after returning from my called-off migration endeavour to Canada, took another full time job as a fallback scenario and then ultimately succumbed to the forces working against me from within – a little something I shouldn’t learn until 2013, some 6 years later and going by the officially accepted term C-PTSD. These are the mere facts – and I’ve largely spared anyone the agony that comes with it, the despair, the torture of physical symptoms, the inability to even commit to a close relationship from panicking so hard at the mere physical proximity of a loved one. It’s an invisible, largely silent battle we all fight who got shackled with this brutal, merciless condition.

But – I had been better before. I truly was. I had taken on life like a bull in the ring, teeth gritted, muscles flexed, with a firm resolve to go for what I thought I wanted, needed, deserved. And most importantly: I often had fun doing that. I simply didn’t file myself under “damaged” and let’s face it: Unless you present people with what you’re dealing with and unless you’re uncontrollably shaking from an anxiety attack in a public, most people never notice or care to know anyway – right? In other words: Being in denial works pretty well as long as it’s about being a socially functioning being, doesn’t it? Just ignore the anxiety and rise above it – one time after another. And the odd thing: You might even feel a personal triumph afterwards, or more accurately: You experience yourself being in control of your life and circumstances (as much as humanly possible) instead of being controlled by the condition – right again? It’s an enormous instant gratification and loads of potential for relief and personal growth in facing and rising above your fears. As Michele Rosenthal – herself being a PTSD survivor and post-trauma coach –  says about the ultimate goal of our healing process:

healing from ptsdAhhhh!!! Let this sink in for a minute and meditate on that large, powerful, capable, confident self – can you see it? Can you feel it? If you can’t – don’t beat yourself up over it like I used to do. So far, our story defined us. We never learnt healthy ways of defining ourselves and the world around us as our perps robbed us of that very opportunity at the opportune time – didn’t they? I don’t mean to trigger a flashback. All I’m trying to say is that yes, we can get to that place where we feel we’re being in control of ourselves and our lives (again: As much as possible for anyone).

So far, so good (is it?). The not so obvious, not so easy part to deal with is loss. Loss of opportunities we were deprived of in the past, even loss of an identity we could have had back then – and didn’t for obvious reasons. To me, the hardest setback is when the past catches up on me in one or the other way. Like e.g., when the feeling of being singled out and/or left behind gets triggered from new experiences. It takes a conscious willful reminder of the fact that those new experiences are not linked to the past – or brought about by it. That’s a humdinger. You run into something that rubs your sore spots and pushes all the wrong buttons, yet you must tell yourself that those feelings you feel don’t have anything to do with your past. Wasn’t that the definition of depersonalizing/derealizing? Isn’t it akin to that sensation of standing beside yourself and not being your “regular” self? (whatever the latter does or could have meant for “us”).

At the end of the day it boils down to this: If you really want to be free of your past, you need to “reprogram” yourself in such a way that a conscious, chosen reminder kicks in every time a triggering situation is about to fire well-trained neural pathways. In yet different words: One way or another, it seems to boil down to becoming a control freak of epic proportions. Please – by all means, correct me, if I’m wrong – I will love to hear from you!

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13 thoughts on “The “Grit Your Teeth”-“Therapy” or: Limitations of “Overcoming”

  1. Masterful analysis and profound insight re your conclusions. Thanks for expressing, here (& with such eloquence), ideas that I could not clarify verbally, but felt.
    i finally realized that I am autistic. Whether I was born that way or became so in infancy, I can never know. I just know that kind of control reqired to “pass” exhausts and ultimately is not tenable for me. I cannot hide who i am any longer. This is me. My disabilities ARE as much a part of me as my eye color. They are not cognitive. They are neurodivergent traits that require my demise if I am to be rid of them. So. My job now is learning to not let them be My problem…as much as possible. I am a wonderful and loving person. I am honest. I am deeply emotional and compassionate. Im not an effective robot, though, and never will be. I cannot comply with the requirements and refuse to keep trying. To me, this is recovery. Being honest…real..living with integrity… accepting myself and others. Etc…

    (((Hugs)))

    • Thanks, Ruby. I thought about the possibility of being or having become autistic or at least a case of Asperger’s myself. It has become super important to me to hang to certain routines and create “pillars” of my life – as insignificant as they might appear to others. Those are actually life savers, like running your quartermile for the first time and panicking from the exertion and heavy breathing – but you keep going as you fix your eyes on the finish line or at the very least on someone next to the track, hopefully cheering you on. Those routines are exactly that: Goalposts to fix your (mental, emotional) “eyes” on in order not to lose it at some point. If any of those routines get thwarted by whatever – uh-oh! Red flag and trigger-alert! I don’t seriously think that we qualify as standard cases of Autism or Asperger’s – but our learned behaviours might mimick those conditions. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself. Because: Do I really need yet another condition or “comorbidity” I was suffering from? Don’t think so. But that’s just me. Whatever works best for you, I’m not judging that.

      And the other part: Yes. And yes again. As there is seemingly no way to beat this thing or “lose it”, acceptance is the approach to make some much-needed peace. Let them call me a freak all they want. I’ll learn to be fine with that rather than getting victimized all over or worse: Attracting pity in others, that’d be the worst.

      What happens to “respect” in that case? I don’t know. I’ll find out, I guess.

      As far as your own approach: Congrats! Sounds very good to my ears!

      • For me, accepting that i am neurodivergent (aka not neurotypical) does not mean I am taking on any kind of “diagnosis”–it is my own way of being okay about my human condition as a natural human variation from the socially constructed norm. I say “natural” because it doesn’t matter how or why I am neurodivergent–in terms of the physiological reality of that fact. I am physically vulnerable in a society that rewards highly paid people for parrotting a pathology paradigm and for withholding all Practical and helpful resources. And these folks are eithher well meaning and delusional or sadistic or what ever. ..in any case, they are the “experts” (and have unmatched skills in one arena—bullshit.) They refuse to attempt any actual communication with those they profess to help, claiming that we are not socially competant to communicate our needs and feelings more effectively. To them, communication does not mean being oriented toward mutual understanding. To them communication means control and domination—speaking and acting and using power in ways that coerce or manipulate or deceive people into reacting in the hoped for way. They do it to themselves, too, and seem oblivious to virtually all the harm they inflict.. ..probably feel virtuous and proud of their ‘success.” Oh. But we are the pathological ones.

        So. Not having that sort of nerve or nervous system is not actually pathological but in this control and efficiency obsessed world, it means being ‘disabled.’ –sooner or later. Groups like Autism Speaks are sociopathic sadists herding innocents to slaughter while profiting by helping to expand , idolize and empower the “health care’ industrial complex. Theirs and others agendas have nothing in common with HELPING– their goal…the final solution…eliminate all kinds of humans who cannot or will not conform to their holy and santified social norms—yep, the same norms for which they are so highly rewarded and given special privileges and adulation. ..”Hunger Games” anyone? Gee you and i could make a killing if we teamed up in an Internet coaching business. .. you are one handsome image, and frankly, im so photogenic i can pass as a retired super model …I’ve got the startup funds if you’ve got the stomach. We could have access to almost any drugs, etc, in less than a year…we could use CBT to learn how to laugh all the way to the bank…actually we would never have to leave thee house..or the limo..you and i would never even have to meet in person…so no awkward moments of having to look each other in the eyes, all the while …knowing… (damn that unavoidable ‘knowing!’)

        knowing…what a fucking disability. ..Obviously others have found some cure for that…and the cure cant be that rare or costly…otherwise we wouldnt see its effects everywhere. ..all the time…

        This is me riffing on your previous (awesome) post…see??? We even have the writing skills to sound utterly credibe and compassionate. We would just need to set aside actual honesty and empathy…just while we get our first billion tucked safely away…

        50/50 split. Deal?

        🙂

  2. Seems my Saturday night chattiness is back…tto be clear for any new readers stumbling over my internet coaching money maker: i was being facetious — oh, the whole is doable and would be highly profitable. Just seems…creepy to contemplate as more than a pointed joke. By the way, the experts (DSM-5) eliminated the Aspergers diagnosis and they rejected C-ptsd as as a valid or distinct disorder—so looks like nobody has either condition now. The experts have spoken. Seems disorders need profitable, Legal, seemingly-helpful pharmaceuticals to accompany them as diagnostic/trearment packages. Hey, this couuld be a an incredible moment in time to exploit the needs and hopes of all those diagnosis-less and under diagnosed folks who are scrambling for help—my god it’s a veritable coaching boom set up!

    *sigh* …integrity and honesty are such huge disabilities to be affllicted with at a time like the current market demand…surely we can rationalize integrity and honesty as INEFFECTIVE and outdated business customs…??? I know WE would make a fortune—and thus help the whole economy! Plus, we would be sharing our good intentions with so many needy folks. ..good intentions are …GOOD…RIGHT? SO. IT’S ETHICAL AFTER ALL..

    Gee…Who said an autistic person can’t adopt a “healty, empathetic, flexible theory of mind”…like the normals? 🙂

    • LOL, Ruby – quite a load of thought processes here! 😉 But I hear you about “disabilities” etc. When it comes to that, I think I have a reached a point of giving up on trying to remain authentic to my needs and feelings. I’m pretty determined to assume a position of denial towards my condition again and just pretend I complied with the standards in place. I fared way better when I did that than what I’ve been doing for the past few years, which was to connect with my true essence and be as authentic as possible. Doing that has isolated me even more, makes me an “easy mark” for the emotional “vampires”, leaves me feeling shunned, singled out, forgotten, trampled upon – and eventually gets me to a place where I begin to hate myself for being different. So by all means – I’m going back to the Herculean effort of pushing down my real essence and putting on an act again – and see, how long I can maintain that.

      As far as complying with the norms over here in the so called 1st world or Western world: I don’t know about you, but I have contemplated leaving this 1st world altogether and finding me a context of an all different nature somewhere else in the world. But in being honest with myself the brainwash into consumerism and all the conveniences available here feels too intimidating to overcome and leave behind – or maybe it’s rather the fear of not knowing how else to define myself and what new identity to assume. After all, human beings are also creatures of habit – and at least in that regard I don’t seem to be any different from the rest – maybe I’ve even become an “overachiever” in that specific regard – which brings us back to Autism, Asperger’s or whatever definition or term the experts temporarily found and adopted (and seem to have dismissed as of late per your comment above).

      Empathy and compassion – I so know what you’re talking about! That’s one of the aspects I tried hard to explore in me and nurture and express. To be brutally honest with you, it seems it was a bad idea doing that as the repercussions are enormous and as I don’t feel strong or passionate enough to deal with them. In short terms: I had rather become a much more indifferent, insensitive motherf**ker again than continued on the path I thought would lead to my true identity – the one I believed to have gotten buried under layers of anxiety and pain from multiple trauma, abuse and whatnot. I guess, that’s me saying: There’s no money that could make me become a professional in terms of caring more and better for fellow survivors or other people with emotional or mental challenges (I prefer to coin them “emotional injuries” as we don’t seem to have a problem with our mental-cognitive processes, don’t we? That’s one of the reasons why CBT is like knocking down open doors…)

      So… afraid I’m going to have to leave all those billions you’re about to reel in to you … 🙂 😉

      P.S. I guess, the goal and trajectory is along the lines of becoming a slave again and trying to be a happy one at that. There doesn’t seem to be anything else available, not in this time, not in this world. Or maybe I might have to try and explore entheogenes or something in order to explore a reality that feels and works better… Of course, if I did that or when (?) I do, I completely disappear from the radar of those seeing a “human resource” to exploit in me. I had to realize that not being a part of the working community is like going to the moon without a space suit – it doesn’t work too well… not for me, anyways.

      • If you still have that “choiice” (ahem…not exactly free choice) then more power to you. Power…hmm..not really the accurate word either…we seem to be down to survival as life’s purpose…i could no longer pass…the constant insomnia was causing hallucinations. .im not sure if coming out is going to make much difference in terms of my fate but coming out to myself has at least allowed me to see myself, to know the person hiding in terror. Mostly it is letting me get a really Clear and distinct sense for picking up the beast’s scent—no matter how carefully camouflaged behind rhetoric. When there is no communication happening–merely rhetoric snd appearance management which pretends to be communication—then i am smelling the beast, even if it is someone “passing”…because passing too requires deception (either lies or bullshit…only slight odor difference,) and having been a former liar/bullshitter as a critical means of avoiding annihilation, well, that stench never really leaves me…and its not something that smells safe anymore.

        If someone is bullshitting me, i dont care if they smell their own bullshit or not…their intentions are meaningless to me…if they are aware that they are lying—they are dangerous. If they are bullshitting and don’t care or don’t realize it (because they are bullshitting themselves)—they are dangerous. Pretty much the slightest hint of expectation of compliance on my part (i need not explain) —especially when framed as being on my behalf or to “help” me—and ALWAYS when payment is requested for any “helpful” information about “recovery” OR healing from trauma, etc., the stench of the beast is unmistakable…the super gimps who go around announcing how they overcame and how you can too…ugh.

        The only source of their so called healing is their own (usually invisible to them) social privilege. The only things keeping me alive now are whatever social privileges i can still access, and I don’t control those. When those are gone…I die. If on a certain day next month, say, or next year, just one of those privileges dries up, not saying which one (why feed the beast?)–in all likelihood, I die. I used to give the benefit of the doubt to seemingly caring (albeit ignorant) well meaners and super gimps. Now they just irritate the hell out of me . They are at least as destructive and dangerous as overt predators–and often on a much larger scale…it does not matter that they have only their slave mentality to rely on…it does not matter that their intentions are to be helpful…they perpetuate (for their own deluded benefit) the myths that are used to keep privilege hidden and used to justify withholding of essential survival needs. The out come of their rhetoric and actions are predatory and oppressive and, yes, murderous.

        So. No, in truth I won’t be opening an online coaching business. Unless people with privilege want to pay me to teach them how they could ACTUALLY help others in desperate need. NOT. HOLDING. MY. BREATH. 🙂

  3. You may want to moderate this remark: I want to investigate possibilties/creating ways of sharing social privilege so that fewer of us fall into the abysses when temporarily increased disability strikes. I think how much my effing life insurance policy is worth, upon death, for instance, and what even a percent might mean when someone’s life could be saved if they could get X or Y to help survive the crisis. And some other forms of organized support for each other that do not rest only on money.
    When HIV related illnesses began to be treated by crap pharmaceuticals, which were worse than useless, Buyers clubs did an end run (ugh a football term) around the system and made it possible for thousands to live rather than die. Doctors and corporations did not like it one bit…LOL…BUT THEY HAD NO POWER TO STOP that movement once it was obvious whose protocols were saving lives and whose were killing patients. I am sick of waiting like sheep to be told what needs we are allowed to meet and what needs are supposedly not real. The crap approved drugs are costly and usually worthless —as is CBT–but a lot of us know that isn’t the only game in town for EVERYONE.

    I know this speculative rhetoric does nothing to help you but I think i have to run with these kinds of ideas to give myself a purpose to live besides my survival. I really want to make the beast eat its own…er…tail…at least if I have any tiny say in the matter…and in the process…oh hell, i respect you more than words can say…and it is a privilege to know you even a little bit and i hope you will forgive my thinking out loud on your blog, if it feels like anything other than one person trying to share hope with another who matters.

    And if you gotta let your beast rule for a time, to survive, Be the best beast within your power…whatever that means for you. Sometimes scary growling and snarling goes a surprisingly long way. .. and sometimes being silent and squinty holds em at bay. Im sorry to be metaphor girl today if it is seemingly verging on B.S. …there is an actual devious mind at work, here, to be honest. But devious in the service of something Real and Good…well, i guess that is how I might be privileged—i hope—to use my beastly ways to honor Beauty if i can. I guess we’ll see…

    Thanks for listening. Take care as always. You are in my thoughts.

  4. Hey, friend. I hope you are okay. As okay as can be, and i wanted to tell you I am thinking of you. You have helpedmme so much, as we discussed before, and Imam gratefulvfor your existence, your essence, your wisdom.

    I have decided to write a paper, present itmnext year, and then a book.

    I AM SICK OF WATCHING GOOD PEOPLE SUFFER AND DIE NEEDLESSLY.
    I HAVE TO DO SOMETHING, I HAVE TO GET OVER MYSELF, PERIOD. I am making progess at it, finding a power from somewhere, andmI am scared and angry and heart sick and I have to keep getting over myself somehow, because I see only one purpose for being alive now, and I am not gonna let the goddamn beast win without, as they say, biting the throat if it’s the lsst thing I do. Please let me know if you need some support. I am so grateful for knoswing you even this small amd distant way. Take care. Hugs.

    • Thanks so much for reaching out, Ruby. I’m resorting to what I’ve been doing long before I learned about C-PTSD and all, which is pretty much what I described in this blog entry: Grit me teeth, take the bull by its horns and just sink my teeth into this thing called life, no matter what. With this being said: Thanks, I’m covered as much as possible right now. Plus, I am in the midst of moving/relocating and will not be online much for weeks to come. When I have moved, it is likely I might discontinue this blog or “feed” it only once in a blue moon, as I intend to apply other changes, which involve looking for a part time job and getting out and mingle with people a lot more than I have in the past 6, going on 7 years. You could say, I’m wrapping up in a way – or moving on, to put it more positively.

      I think, in retrospect, it was important for me to dig really deep and learn the EXACT things I had always felt to be “off” with me. Now that I know, I have arrived at the conclusion that – for me – there is only so much I can do – and it more or less boils down to what standard therapies suggest, which is “prolonged exposure” to triggering situations so as to desensitize oneself from them and largely empowering oneself to take the driver’s seat instead of remaining a victim.

      There is one part I had trouble with and that’s the “but all that happened is unfair! Who’s gonna apologize to me for that?” part. Well – I have brought myself to understanding that noone will ever apologize nor will anyone ever make up for any of the things in the past that left a mark on me. I have no other way than to file them away under “fate” or something. With this being said: There’ll always be recurring experiences which will hit on the already overly sore spot(s) over and over again. And like with anything else, all I can do – and am willing to do – is brush the pain off faster from one time to the next. I don’t see any other way than that and I have largely become very suspicious and reserved in regards to any kind of regular “trauma therapy”. To put it bluntly: No such thing, as far as I’m concerned. I can fold up shop – or bite the bullet and press on.

      I seem to have decided on the latter as I think, I have all – or most of – the resources in me to do just that.

      I can’t predict the future – maybe I’ll completely fold after the next big let down or “betrayal”, I don’t know. For now, I intend to get back on a course of expressing myself and my talents as much as possible, hopefully with a moderate trickle of cash flow coming from the latter at some point… 🙂

      I appreciate your concern and your reaching out and I’m glad to read that you find/found some of my replies helpful.

      As to your own endeavour: I commend you on that. In a different way, that’s where I’m headed, too – I think. 🙂

      Let’s just keep showing them right a while longer, shall we? 🙂

      hugs & love,
      w.

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