Recently and from talking to other survivors of C-PTSD, I arrive at the realization that I’ve navigated the bulk of my adult life by coming from a place of denial about the damage inflicted on me very early in my life and the outcomes thereof. At some point I sort of “flipped a switch” inside of me – or in the perception of myself – and started to act as if nothing had happend. I “declared” myself worthy, equal, healthy – and took it from there. What behaviour I saw in others that lead to them being successful and – apparently – happy, I picked up, emulated, mimicked as best as I could. You could say that my role models were random strangers I met along the way. I had become an expert in pattern recognition all along early – for mere survival -, so it was almost a no-brainer to use that experience on “blending in”. And I thought I had. Maybe, I seriously have – at least for certain stretches of episodes throughout my adult life. The main thing, though: Not coming across as a victim. Or needy. None of it. Ever. Like – never, ever! Because it didn’t take a huge learning effort to figure out that any signs of – perceived – weakness aren’t exactly met with loving kindness in this world, no Ma’am!
However … by approaching life in this way, I – and I’ve only figured this out now – “circumvented” my own needs. Denied me them. We won’t even begin to talk about needs not being met earlier. That ship has sailed anyways. But I mean – basic human needs….touch, smell, feel, kiss, being intimate – what about them? If you come across as strong, the downside is that people will assume you just are. (In retrospect: They don’t assume that much, either – they’ll just take it from what they think they see… pretty bland, to be honest). And they’ll hold you up to those perceived standards and will expect you to deliver according to their expectations.
I did all that. For fucking 42 years. Put “them” first, myself last. Until I was thoroughly spent. Now what?
I’m going to skip this part and fast forward to today: Can I muster up the strength to returning to that approach? Maybe at somewhat more modest levels? Will I still be able to push it all aside, “suck it up”, bottle it up, “man up”?
No. I can’t. Even, if I did: Something shines through. The residual damage always betrays me one way or another. There can be no other way but to keep trying to find help with removing the residual aspects of multiple childhood and adolescent trauma, some physical, some emotional, lots of it verbal, all three together being a recipé for desaster.
I must find help in order to escape the conundrum. I’ve exhausted all other options of (self-) help.