Dr. Gabor Mat√©: Emotional Loss & Trauma Are the Root Cause of Addiction – Reset.me

Emotional Loss & Trauma Are the Root Cause of Addiction – Reset.me.

On Friday night, I had written a longer blog along with this video. For some reason, it vanished into the recesses of the server cloud at wordpress.com – or I was too drunk at the time to actually hit the “publish” button and closed that text window prior to saving. I don’t think this was actually the case as far as I remember, but maybe this was the universe’s/internet’s funny way of saying that my blog post sucked to begin with… ūüôā So here I am, trying to capture the thoughts and sentiments again that were sparked by this clip. First off, upon watching above linked video, I realized without a shred of a doubt that Dr. Mat√© is right. What he says about pain and the role it plays in an addict’s life resonates strongly with me. How am I being an addict? Well, I think, I’ve become an addict to food by way of recurring bouts of binge eating accompanied by the “bright” choice of washing said food down with fairly sizable quantities of alcohol. (they feel sizable to me, as my constantly overclocked, overheated, overcharged nervous system – a “gift” from a lifelong existing C-PTSD as I learnt in 2013 – doesn’t require large amounts of any substance to produce even wilder modes of altered consciousness). So in admitting to the fact that I have become addicted to food and quite a bit of alcohol, I just mean to say that I think I get the “addict” part of his monolog here (and since I am aware of the health risks coming from that behavior I think about replacing these choices of self medicating with cannabis, which I believe¬†to go easier on the system according to the research I’ve done on it – and maybe even produce some welcome positive side effects in regards to physical and emotional health). The urge to soothe the pain by overeating and then slipping into a quite comfortable sedation, the latter amplified by alcohol, is a way of using these substances as a pain killer – or to drive out utter depression from sometimes feeling completely void, empty, destroyed inside. At those times, the feeling is that the sentient part of me is irreversibly shattered. (By now, I think I have come to understand this as a false assumption brought on by lingering outcomes of experiences from my early and later past growing up, which seem to have dominated my inner monolog and thought process for … well forever. But realistically speaking, for as long as I can feel anything, if even just for fleeting moments, the sentient part of my being can’t be dead. I try to remind myself of this during times of severe distress serving as an anchor for not losing sight of the goal and perspective).

When I had sat down that night to link to the video and add my personal comments, I had gone through a series of strong, negative emotions that brought me to the brink of completely freaking out with red rage¬†over spending a couple of days at my former home. I say “former home”, because I feel that I have made a new home for myself where I currently live – and I think I did so more or less consciously, because that former home never felt much like a good home to begin with. For reasons too mundane to go into detail about, I had to accept help with money from family in recent years and in order to make it acceptable for me in some way, I tried to talk myself into the idea that this might also be an opportunity to regrow a relationship that has wreaked havoc on my very being from pretty much the get-go. So I guess I’m saying that spending those two, three days there exposed me to XXL-sized triggers, the nature of which I even believe the Buddha to have driven¬†beyond any measure of impulse control, not to mention preserving the “sweet spot” of that heartspace of balanced and centered awareness. Needless to say that I have to make quite the effort to get more control over my life and my actions and decisions again, if I’m not to keep betraying myself completely and thus sabotage¬†any serious attempt at healing the still lingering, deep wounds from the past and their outcomes. But I’m digressing.

Emotional loss and trauma – I think, I can say from plenty of years of personal, felt experience that Dr. Mat√© nails it here. There were brief moments in my more recent past and in an attempt to heal myself all¬†by¬†myself when I gave myself permission to feel that loss, be with that pain of having lost true connection with my former caretakers from early on, brought on by being seperated from them and then later for all the abuse that went on and prevented me from expressing the true nature of self or even getting¬†seen and maybe even loved for it. Those things definitely didn’t happen in healthy ways and it became never more evident to me than over those recent few days.

I mention these things, because – quite naively – I believed that if I could access this deeply rooted pain over isolation and loss, and feel it and let it come out, a natural consequence would be that I’d thus release that pain from my bodymind. But I now have to admit to myself that this was indeed a short-sighted approach. “No man is an island”, the saying goes and I had to find out that this is true. In order to truly release the still largely unaddressed and unprocessed pain from my earliest days on the planet,¬†someone has to be there¬†with me when I’m with my pain, as Mat√© points out from his experience as a therapist. Apparently, it doesn’t suffice to just feel that pain and then let it come out (in quite violent emotional break- and meltdowns that sometimes lasted for hours). Apparently, the witnessing part is an important component I had overlooked and which seems necessary to experience some sort of natural bonding that should have happened much earlier¬†and feel a sense of connection with¬†someone¬†in order to truly have a healing effect. And the other aspect I realize about this loss is that the¬†need to fill that void left behind by initial emotional loss¬†doesn’t vanish over time. Time doesn’t heal those deep wounds from the past at all. Only compassion does. At least, I hope so.

I would have preferred to do the healing all by myself. But apparently it doesn’t work that way. In terms of taking pragmatic steps, I am now happy to report that I have contacted researchers conducting clinical trials for MAPS.org and¬†made it on¬†a wait list for another round of phase III clinical trials some time in late 2016/2017. Frankly speaking, I have no idea how to keep going until then. I can only hope that my innate wish to live and become healthy, which has kept me going for 50 years, won’t let me down so close to the actual first-time ever prospect of experiencing a potential true recovery from those deeply engraved wounds from day one… Wish me luck, if so inclined!

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Huachuma Documentary | Aubrey Marcus

Insomnia. Found this. Watched it way into sunrise. Gave it just the right feel. I must find a way to go there and get the healing I have been needing for as long as I’ve been living on this planet. I will¬†find a way. I’ve held out this long.

Huachuma Documentary | Aubrey Marcus.

Can Alcohol be A Catalyst for Emotional Cleansing?

I will openly admit that following my material demise in 2008, I had taken to the bottle quite a bit¬†(and prior to that as well) as a form of self-medicating. While I’m aware of the adverse effects of alcohol on physical health and have no intention of promoting alcohol use, I do seem to have found¬†one potentially helpful¬†effect of it on people dealing with one or the other kind of trauma and emotional injuries from the past. I’ll try to describe this as best as I can here while reiterating my¬†cautioning or warning in following suit in similar ways. (i.e. “don’t try this at home”)

In my own quest, introspection and some associated research in regards to identifying the damage done to me from repeated severe childhood trauma right from postnatal weeks along with an upbringing later,¬†which¬†sported quite its share of verbal, emotional and mild physical abuse, alcohol turned out to be a catalyst in recent years in regards to washing up pent up emotions, largely emotions of pain I had either been made to suppress as part of my “rearing” or was forced to suppress in order to keep going and to function “normally”. In retrospect, what stuns me the most is that I actually¬†did function fairly normal, at least when looked upon from the outside. However, it’s been from early on that I’ve wondered about this sense of isolation and how it was that I wasn’t given the right to express my true nature like everybody else seemed to do without any inhibition or moderation – or so it appeared to me. Yet the conditioning from a guardian with a narcisstic personality disorder¬†sharing roof and bed with a co-dependent person suffering from their own unprocessed trauma – I strongly suggest the introduction of a general parenting aptitude test prior to reproducing, seriously! – was so pronounced and complete that it never even occurred to me to protest or make an attempt to break free from the behavioral patterns I was forced into. Plus, from mere survivalist pragmatism I gained an understanding from early on that it wouldn’t do anything but get me in more trouble than I already was in, if I made attempts of standing up for myself. My own sister was a vivid example to me of this approach – i.e. standing up for yourself – going nowhere, at least not in a dysfunctional family. So I increasingly¬†preferred to suffer in silence rather than stand up to the abuse I was subjected to. However, one day the silence part didn’t pan out any longer as at one point out of the proverbial blue skies my childhood best buddy declared he’d refuse to come visit me at home any more for reasons of inadvertently being made witness of the verbal abuse going on in our home and his personal feelings of comfort and sanity getting compromised from that (my words today, he expressed himself differently, but nonetheless clear and decidedly; we were 11 years old when this happened. Luckily, I got him to concede and ring the door bell without coming upstairs…).

In light of this background and a long history of repeated failure as an adult, both in my personal as well as my career life and this coming from my history of emotional immaturity due to an unnurturing upbringing and being left at dealing with severe emotional deficits to this day, I began to realize that I needed to dig deeper and that “acting normal” as a coping strategy hadn’t really worked for me. It should have rung a bell with me to see one significant other after another eventually break up with me after varying lengths of time. Out of some past 20 romantic relationships there is only one that¬†I walked out of. In all other cases the person meaning to have a rewarding emotional bond with me became frustrated and hopeless and walked away. And sure enough, I’d do what I had always been doing: Distract myself, immerse myself in work, find a new quick fix – like taking up waterskiing – or whatever I deemed fit to deal with in the situation. But after ultimately getting divorced in 2003 and this happening after a period of roughly four years during which my ex-wife and I were alternating between breaking up, getting back together, trying to reconcile our differences, then getting put through the horrific experience of a miscarriage and the ensuing trauma for my beloved ex-wife that ultimately had us end up in counselling, both as a couple and each of us individually, with all this craziness going on for quite some time, we both realized in 2002 that we had exhausted our options and thus were left at needing to split for good. I had no idea how devastating the aftermath of actually calling it quits for good¬†would be to me and I believe the ensuing downward spiral in my life to have originated from that horrible loss. After all, with all the abuse inflicted on me for all these years growing up, thus never having experienced all the trials and tribulations of normal puberty and adolescence and missing out on too many things to mention here, for the first time I actually get the feeling¬†to have¬†someone in my life, who really loves me for no other reason than – sharp breath – me being the person I am,¬†an experience I had missed out on until then (I was some 28 years of age when I first met my ex-wife). I recall genuine happiness for the first time in my life in the years that followed. A close friend at the time once said, he experienced me as “blossoming” and coming into my own skin like never before. I think he was¬†more accurate than he could have known: For the first time, I was just being myself – and someone loved me for it! It’s still an epic thought and feeling when thinking about this. And then this would be taken from me again…

So I understood that something was fundamentally wrong with me, if women kept escaping from me once they had come to really know me better and once the level of intimacy had surpassed a¬†threshold of “skin deep”. And I also intuitively knew that there was no point to ever try again until I was “fixed”. After seeing my wife for the last time following our divorce appointment in court, I consciously decided: “That’s it. No more romantic¬†endeavours¬†for you any more!” I felt so broken, so infinitely corrupted from the inside out that I even began to see myself as an emotional poison noone in their right mind and heart would be able to tolerate. (actually, and quite frighteningly – this is probably a very accurate description of my inner self). So I began to look at each of my perceived shortcomings, contacted our former therapist again, booked some sessions, ordered and read just about any book the abstract of which resonated with me and started to pick at and dissect the mess I felt I was. Which brings us to what I’m alluding to in the headline: Alcohol.

I think, we can all agree on the empirical fact that alcohol lowers inhibition in people – for better or worse, unfortunately often times worse. I found this lowered inhibition to be very true for me: Every time I’d treated myself to a bit of a head “buzz”, the inner critic would fall silent, thus giving me access to emotional realms I’d usually wall myself off from in order to “keep it together” and staying functional – whatever the latter means for a person no longer employed or actively participating in the general workforce. As I noticed my guards coming down following an intoxication that was strong enough to alter my consciousness but not as strong as to completely shroud or even halt thought processes, I also noticed an emotionally stronger response to certain stimuli, particularly when watching movies that somehow resonated with my own history of abuse and multiple trauma. As I noticed this effect, I actively ventured further into this direction and gave myself permission to let these feelings manifest in me – even to the point when I’d repeatedly fall apart on the sofa, sobbing and whimpering for hours on end and allowing myself to feel the full effect of all the bottled up pain washing over me and dominate me for as long as it lasted – all this in the private setting of my home, of course, which I inhabited all by myself and didn’t share with anyone (and still do).¬†For now, I can’t say, whether or not these meltdowns have fixed anything, but they sure gave me a sense of relief mixed with a sense of reconnecting with my authentic, albeit badly bruised and damaged self and allowing the heart to express its full emotional virility, even if it comes¬†out as pain.

I think, my tentative finding from these meltdowns is that they instilled a sense of being more at peace with myself. In addition to that, I think I am now better¬†able to have more control over some impulses and violent outbursts¬†of¬†anger, which would often take hold of me over seemingly small things and all this being basically rooted in a persisting sense of helplessness, where I’m overcompensating the latter by becoming overly defensive. Does this make sense to you?

Like I said: I don’t mean to vouch for alcohol as a catalyst or driver of emotional exploration. For mere despair and not having access to better-suited options of treatment any longer, I found it to be the only “tool” available at the time. I am well aware that this can’t become a long-term approach…

Your thoughts, if so inclined?

Jeff Brown “Soulshaping” Snippet or: I’m not all dead (just yet) and: Revenge vs. Compassion

One thing I have learned with certainty is not to stand in connection with those who diminish me. This is particularly difficult when family is involved, because we have a vested interest in perpetuating the family system for all kinds of different reasons. I don’t believe one should endure abuse no matter how attached they are to an idea of family. There are many families (read: soulpod) waiting for us just outside our habitual awareness. We are not responsible for those who diminish us. We really have to get that. We can be compassionate and we can certainly understand where their abusiveness comes from, but understanding the origins does not mean we have to endure it. It’s not our cross to bear.

//

via Facebook.

Whoa! Last night’s night out brought a lot of things back to my consciousness – and with a vengeance so! So¬†here I am, on the next day, still trying to catch my breath over¬†what the heck just happened?! From a¬†conversation later on that night, I was reminded of much of what Jeff says here. Or rather: I was reminded of the gargantuan scope of abuse endured earlier in life.

So:¬†What exactly was that thing that just happened? Last night’s encounters and experiences¬†reminded me of all the love trapped inside of me, all that love I have been bottling up since my divorce almost 11 years ago, all that self-punishment I’ve been inflicting on myself since then, blaming the world for having shunned me when in fact the only entity who did any shunning was me, is me, has been me (more recently, not so earlier in life)! And all that for the false, imposed on patterns of self-loathing and toxic shame, brought upon me by people, who failed to nourish and attend to my true personality, but went at almost any extra length to eradicate that very personality for reasons of jealousy and a fear-induced concept of (false) compliance, because they never experienced that particular nourishing themselves (I’m not just assuming on the latter, there are express testimonials from e.g. my late aunt). Now, at this point, I think¬†there is a spectrum of human emotions for¬†a response, ranging anywhere from infinite rage over the damage and abuse incurred, the theft of childhood, youth, early romantic adventures and whatnot to compassion for their own damages endured and being left unprocessed, not overcome, still festering and mixing in with every genuine, beautiful expression of self, thus poisoning their own spirit repeatedly. And I think, it is safe to say that I ran the entire gamut of those emotions over the last seven years, after the shock of losing the love of my life had worn off a little.

So, now what? When pondering taking action, you might pinpoint your choices down to these two extremes of said emotional spectrum: Taking revenge or being forgiving. Let’s take a moment to look at either one:

Let’s say, you’d opt for the first, retaliation or taking revenge. Even without considering all the potential ramifications in case that option included actions of any kind of physical violence, I think the emotionally worse and more harming part is that a) you’ll still act from a place of being a victim, and b) you’ll never get even. For coming close to getting even, you’d have to take away the perpetrators’ concept of being rightful first – and I think, history as well as a host of literature on the subject tells us that rarely – if ever – this idea succeeds. Attacking the perpetrator’s psyche from that angle will always have them up in arms, become defensive or attacking you back – because that’s just the nature of a perpetrator, for else, if they had already done the work of processing their own pain, they’d have never become a perpetrator in the first place. In yet different words and in my experience: It is the very definition of a perpetrator that they should act on their own deficits in such a way that they seek out and find a – usually empathic – individual to inflict harm on (and “ironically”, even some behavioural therapists suggest that very course of action – I’ll never forget the words of a behavioural therapist in my early twens who said this verbatim to me: “You have to be offensive with your emotional deficits.” Go figure!).¬†They might do so on the assumption that if they cause someone else pain, their own pain leaves them. Since it never does, a perpetrator has to find new victims over and over again (or keep conditioning one particular victim in such a way that they’ll remain available as their victim. I think, after much introspection and analysis, I’m safe to say that this happened to me over the course of my upbringing – and continues to this day, if I’d let it happen). These aren’t my thoughts only, they are more of a rephrasing of what¬†Alice Miller has devoted a good deal of her life’s legacy¬†to in analyzing the minds of perpetrators and treating victims. She found this self-perpetuating toxic dynamic at the core of motivations driving serial killers, dictators and all kinds of detrimental individuals, oftentimes leaving entire nations with a horrific toll of suffering. So, even from a logical point of view, I think it is becoming apparent that retaliation, taking revenge and striking back is not an option.¬†It rather seems to be a course of action lending itsself to more pain and harm coming at you.

Well then: Forgiveness. But I think it is important to make a very fine and conscious distinction as to whom we forgive – and exactly what we forgive them for. An aspect of forgiveness might (have to) include the perpetrator, too, in that we understand that they were a victim themselves, haunted and driven¬†by their own demons who’d never let go of them. But that’s about it in my view: Once we understand that aspect, we should liberate ourselves from the idea that there was anything else to do but to briefly acknowledge their own inner demons. Fair and fine – and over and out! (and very much along the lines of what Jeff says above, very accurately so, in my view).

From here on, I think it is more important to forgive ourselves – for not having known better and for not having had any better option but to endure what we may have had to endure – each in their own particular way, each of us having livedtheir own personal version of hell – until now. Now we are free! No longer do we have to buy into the (false) shame imposed on us in order to “keep us around” and available for continued harm. No longer do we have to limit ourselves to whatever concept of self they may have shackled us with. No longer do we need to perpetuate the self-loathing instilled as a way to condition us into toxic compliance.

Once we realize that we are free to make a new choice – healing begins and we can start to do the work of saving our soul, our lives, our future. Let’s do that, shall we?

 

Intuitive Sensitive People & Trauma | Sensitives Inspired Blog with Heidi Sawyer

Another author and her work, who confirms a lot of what I’ve experienced and am experiencing non-stop. However, to me this ‘gift’ now thoroughly feels like a brutal curse, as every single emotion and experience amplifies the outcome – both emotional as well as on the physical level – by a order of 10. The scarce living situation, which unfortunately appears to have become a permanent stalemate I can’t ever break free from again, is not helping any idea of healing or recovering. I’m running out of resources and resilience fast. I’m aware that I’ve been saying this all along and then would trudge on time and again. But yesterday’s phone conversation was devastating. It was confirmed that a return in moderate steps to a self-sustained life will not work in the way that seems even just remotely feasible for me. I feel crushed and given up on by society and the system at large. The message is: We have no need of you staying around any longer…

via Intuitive Sensitive People & Trauma | Sensitives Inspired Blog with Heidi Sawyer.

Apologies to the Battered Child (from a parent in process)

What an ingenious idea! Jeff Brown writes the letter of apology he would have loved to receive from his former abuser. How genius! Everything he says, every single notion and unprocessed, residual emotion, the entire idea of healing by reclaiming those very valid emotions instead of doing all kinds of things with them, which varying forms of therapy suggest, all of that resonates with me like an entire belltower! I am 100% with Jeff on going about this process instead of basically diminishing those old feelings again by manicuring them into something better palatable for the general public. No! Healing comes from being authentic and from letting the heart know that now someone trustworthy and well-equipped with love and understanding cares for it!

Read at your own discretion and be warned of a high potential to be triggered from this. (and this actually has me rethink the concept of triggers as very important, needed, valid signposts to follow…, instead of avoiding them!).

Thank you, Jeff! I love you for sharing this.

via APOLOGIES TO THE BATTERED CHILD (from a parent in process) | VividLife.me.

P.S. Yes, the idea of a generation’s trauma passed on to a generation of children has been on my mind for quite a while. I think that is exactly what’s behind this. The only piece of the puzzle I hadn’t yet accommodated was why this impacted US citizens and families to the degree it obviously did… Maybe someone can fill me in on that? It is/was obvious for me coming from a family of WWII expellees, but the aspect of trauma incurred by engaging in WWII and the effects on US families’ from returning, traumatized veterans of war has not been at the forefront of my mind – until now. Thanks again, Jeff, for filling in some blanks.

Finally …. letting go!

(This blog may trigger potentially unprocessed feelings in you, so please be advised and read at your own discretion and responsibility. Thank you)

I’ve been dreading this for the longest time: The insight that any chance of “fixing” the relationship with bio family or even creating something new after having moved past injuries endured – with or without therapeutic mediation – is a futile longing of mine. Yes, a longing, a heartfelt wish. For some time and when embarking upon this process of “sorting out the gargantuan mess that is me”, I had resorted to a stance of holding grudges, even allowing myself (violent) feelings of retribution enter my heart. It was a start. It might have equalled the emancipation from the role of the beaten-up victim (figuratively and in a mild context verbatim) and finding my “inner cowboy” as Jean calls this ego-state. In other words: Anger bordering on – potentially violent, luckily never carried out – rage was a beginning, a first step in finding authentic healing.

While being engulfed by this ego state and subjecting myself to lots and lots of self-abusive and debilitating behaviour and the latter from still being haunted by unresolved, unconscious patterns of auto-aggression/self-destruction thus perpetuating endured abuse, I had required a “cease and desist order” status between me and bio family to the point, where I once indeed threatened legal action if they so much as performed one single act of “crossing the line” by contacting me without my prior asking for contact! It is only due to very unfortunate material circumstances that had manifested in my life at this point that I really had no other place to go to in order to ask for some monetary help prior to moving from my previous abode to this one and the latter having become very, very urgently necessary, as the other place had become pure mental, emotional and physical torture with my nerves laying bare beyond a degree I had ever encountered before. In very brief and appropriately dramatic words: Sooner or later I would have totally lost it over there and most likely become physically violent in a major psychotic fit…. Luckily, I was able to force impulse control on myself till the very last day, but one incident one week prior to my actual moving out reaffirmed the necessity of this undertaking.

Anyway, I had asked a friend to cover the realtor’s fee for me and I’d pay him back in tiny chunks. He let me down. (No, we’re not friends any more, as he was well familiar with my situation on all levels and also aware of what it would mean for me to have to ask bio family beyond just swallowing pride, where the latter was such a minor thing to me from where I stood at the time that I wouldn’t have even mentioned it…). So I had no other option than ask them or … risk falling apart and by doing so possibly creating irreversible things to my and others’ detriment. I hate violence and I don’t think it ever produces any lasting positive outcome, so I rather did the unthinkable at the time: Asked family for monetary support. Unthinkable, because in my mind I already knew the strings attached, which were having to allow them closer proximity with me and be involved in some things pertaining to my life (including such seemingly minuscule things like “suggesting advice”…). I was in major conflict, of course, but then thought to myself: Who knows. Maybe something really good can come from this. I wanted to believe it and I think, I’ve done my best to create a situation where we might have built something new from it and really just “putting the past behind us.” I wanted to make that happen!

Sadly, I now have to realize: It is impossible. And this so for a very basic thing: We can’t communicate. There is no channel available, by which real communicating ever happened or can happen now. I’ve tried. I’ve met them not only half way, but two thirds of the way, ultimately all the way and the latter by never addressing any of the injuries I did feel and endure at the time, but wasn’t able nor allowed to ever articulate properly (can you say “double bind”?).

A few weeks ago, I even stayed at my birthplace with them for roughly ten days – I had the last three days to myself there. It felt like tiptoeing on egg shells and it made this gap between where my authentic self is, was and will be and the inevitable abuse I had to take in early years painfully evident. So evident in fact that I fell apart when leaving. I think, in my heart I knew then that I had exhausted every option I had ever been able to see, use or create in this regard of enabling us to really communicate. We can’t… talk nor feel each other. What’s worse, I think, we all want to, but we can’t seem to find a way. My entire emotional “make” is simply too far removed from theirs (as to the latter: I recently came across an author writing on the subject of what it’s like to be an empath, which is similar but not equal to Elaine Aron’s concept of the hypersensitive and hypergifted person. I believe – no, I now know beyond a doubt – that I fall into that category. You could almost call this phenomenon “clairsensing” and it comes strikingly close to telepathy. For more information on this, please find her book here – unfortunately, so far there’s only a German version of this. I had deliberated offering my services as far as translation, but don’t feel emotionally balanced and strong enough at this time to actually go about such a large and important project, although another part in me is bursting at the seams to do it, because it is my story! [and that of many others, too, of course])

So, here it is: I’m letting go. I give myself permission to remove myself from what I believe to have been a co-dependent relationship. I let go of hoping to be seen by those, who should have been closest to me (and physically were for a long time). I’m giving myself permission to confront the fear of feeling emotionally isolated and separated from the bulk of people. In this regard, finding Gitta Peyn and her community of followers and readers as well as collaborators and friends comes with immaculate timing. I don’t feel like I’m tumbling down an infinite abyss of loneliness and emotional separation borderline isolation any more. This in itsself provides some healing already next to the relief of finally being heard and seen in my being’s entirety – for the first time ever!

Letting go is also saying farewell¬†– at the very least to that hope of finding some common ground and a common language with bio family. I have alluded to it time and again, but didn’t seem capable to see it through. I hope, I do now and won’t turn back again, whatever the price may (still) be.

Desperate Measures…

… call for desperate means. OK, admitted: I’m a bit dramatic with this allegory, true. However, it is no exaggeration to say that despair has been a part of this journey more often than not. And again so quite recently, where I seem to recurringly settle in a place of frustration from not really making much progress. Yes, I’ve found, applied and to an extent perfected the tools in place to keep the symptoms in check as best as I can. Yes, I know how to put things in perspective for myself. And yes, sometimes those seem to work well enough to calm the mind. But the emotional tax, the rollercoaster, and more than anything, the solitude and thus isolation coming from this persisting injury have become too much to bear! I can’t continue being the recluse I have become and the latter simply for “social hygiene”, for making it easier for others to put up with me – by removing myself, when I think I’m too much of a burden. (the last thing you want to hear then is that you are being a burden, which happened to me recently… and yet and again, I have to rise above myself and be the bigger man, telling myself that the person in question could not have known about the impact…. I’m digressing, so I’ll drop that thought right there as I have spoken about it here anyway.)

But this avoidant behaviour slowly kills me. It chokes my mind and heart to death. I need to find a way to either overcome or better handle the recurring depression and the latter – and this became crystal clear to me – is there due to unprocessed and suppressed emotional material from the past, that material being: Acute fear of impending death! It seems, I can’t “reconnect” the “chipped off” parts of my emotional bodymind, can’t heal myself into becoming whole again without going to and through that fear again, without feeling its overwhelming weight and without allowing myself to emotionally respond to this and then have someone walk me through the plethora of emotional flooding.

So I need to actually do this. I need to resume the process of comitting myself to inpatient treatment. I have been abhorring this for the longest time as the very situation and idea of a clinical stay has a strong triggering quality to it. But given the catch 22 situation with my health insurance plan, which won’t cover expenses for outpatient psychotherapy, I have no other option left than at least giving it a try. I still shudder at the thought of seeing myself inside such a place, with dozens of similarly affected people, undergoing the same still-in-place routines I have been experiencing for the first time at age 20, when my batallion’s army physician recommended psychotherapy to me, which resulted in a four-month long inpatient stay that yielded zero results! (Other than more emotional injury from finding myself neglected even there…) I guess, you can see, how difficult it is for me to even just think about going the inpatient route… (trigger plus scorched earth from experience… damn…).

Well… there is no other option. I have to find the guts to do it. I actually had a nightmare about this tonight, as I thought of comitting myself last night as well and from seeing me give in to yet another eating binge including some mild alcohol abuse and concluding that I have no control over these binges any longer – none. And they happen as a form of self-medicating the bottomless anxiety that came to govern me day in, day out. Not only doesn’t it work all that well any more, it is of course a physically unhealthy course of action (albeit I try to eat healthy, but some “foods” simply don’t deliver on the quickly sought “high” and “fix”…)

Ok, today I have commenced the formal process of checking myself in. I gather there’ll be a waiting list worth months or more, particularly so as one of the nearby hospitals didn’t even bother to call me back about this again… So that tells you something about the situation as far as availability is concerned.

Sheesh. Society doesn’t seem prepared to deal with “us” efficiently yet. Or maybe just for a few, more prominent, well-defined situations. Hm. Ok, gotta brace myself here. “Fixing” whatever can be fixed about me first. I can always come back and try to fix “the world” at any later time…

Ultimate MCA

It’s been a week since that emotional SNAFU. I am very slowly coming around from that. It’s somehow almost fascinating, how profound the effect of a mere trigger can be. A week! But I shouldn’t go beating myself up any more like I used to. Used to be weeks and months. And it not only set off a cascade of emotional regression to early on endured neglect and the ensuing depression from that, it may have given me some new insights – or at the very least confirmed existing ones and reminded me of those, too. Fear of rejection – or more precisely: fear of having the outcomes of that initial rejection replayed in my heart – is at the root of social avoidance, over-controlling behaviour, walling myself off and an entire host of more coping strategies, therapists usually are quick to denounce as false coping. Which brings me to another problem I don’t seem to have found a solution for, yet: All therapy and their underlying ideas that I have come in contact with or that I had the misfortune of undergoing to no avail, seem to have one central illogic in common: They seem to inherently establish and reinforce a power balance that automatically entitles the therapist to take higher ground over the patient. What I mean by that is this: Most, if not all therapeutic models seem to assume that the patient is “in the wrong” with their entire outlook on relationships, society and the world at large, like saying “Look – where I am standing is where you want to be, as well.” Maybe I just had bad luck with therapists and only came across the incompetent ones. But it seems to me that there isn’t enough credit for the fact that a patient has made it until here on their own! In other words: Whatever coping strategies and tools they found and employed – have worked so far! In yet different words, I miss a therapist commencing treatment by reaffirming the patient in their current state of mind and heart, in their current position in their journey. Like I said – maybe that happens somewhere else and you, my reader, were lucky enough to have come across such personell. I haven’t. Which produces my dissatisfaction borderline resentment and unwillingness to further comply with the process by which standard therapy – in my country – seems to work. There’s always this power divide, e.g. “I’m up here, I’m well and happy and successful – and you’re down there and you need to shell out your money in order to come see me and have a part of where I’m at.” Or something like that.

This latter thought crossed my mind after seeing my hypnotherapist friend two days ago. I mean, don’t get me wrong: I have benefitted from his treatment and he’s incredibly giving and generous in having treated me¬†at no charge, when I wasn’t able to afford treatment any longer and found my health insurance plan exempting outpatient treatment from its terms. I mean to say, I’d hate to sound ungrateful, because I’m sure that I not only learnt to trust my own intuitions and bodily as well as emotional signals more and work with those, he also was the only person who gave me an opportunity to share things that were heavy on my heart for a long time (and prior to starting this blog, for example). I guess, he was crucial in my digging up suppressed feelings and understanding the crux of my being some more. However, when I shared last week’s let down with him, we immediately focussed on “getting away” from it and on the CBT/DBT stuff of understanding that my cognition or rather: My emotional response was not in line with the actual experience that triggered it. Well… yes and no. Of course, the person in question, who shared with me how she felt a need to recede from me at the time, because I was “heavy”, can’t know what effect this would produce in me (well… I think, in her particular case she could have had an idea, at least, which makes her insensitive in my view at the very least… but that’s another story). Of course, she was still interested in me (was she? Is she? Really?). Of course, we spent a nice evening right until that moment. Yes, I understand and see all that! But – there is a fragment of me, a “chipped off” part of my psyche that was hurt beyond comprehension and not only was never given the chance to heal, but more importantly wasn’t even ever acknowledged in its hurt! That part of me, that person at the time, when something grave happened that got him/me derailed, is still in that place! And alone! And isn’t even given an opportunity to say “Ouch – this hurt!” And be met with at least “It did? I never meant to hurt you”. Or something like that… (unless I was indeed meant to get hurt, which then defies any further discussion, of course…). B.t.w. and digressing for a minute: In writing all this, again, it seems to confirm to me that validation of suffering endured is not the predominant idea in any kind of therapy. Because the medical description for having “chipped off” those unacknowledged parts of self is “depersonalization“. Are you fucking kidding me? I was voiding myself of the person I am/was? How is that even possible? No, I – or anyone having endured similar things – simply compartmentalized the pain upon understanding that the perpetrator didn’t give a flying fuck about my pain in the first place! How does that establish ridding myself of personality? In fact, compartmentalizing like this – at the expense of henceforth shutting off some “emotional circuits” – is an accomplishment given the circumstances at the time! It is an accomplishment in so far, as adjusting behaviour to a situation of abuse enables the survivor of abuse to carry on and largely still function! As an accomplishment, I think it should be given its due credit first before moving on and finding ways to reconcile those hurt parts and thus ignoring the still standing, de facto injustice and wrongdoing! A patient should be allowed the pain to come out and then for the therapist to help process this pain and assist in processing substantial and valid grief from real and valid¬†loss of a part of one’s life, one will never have back – ever!¬†Like I said – maybe all this happens with a good therapist, whom some of you have hopefully met and been treated by. Maybe I was just shit out of luck forever – and keep finding myself in a situation, where (partial) rejection – even from the therapist – has simply become too much to bear one single more time. Last week has reminded me of the fact that having a trigger go off in this thoroughly scorched place is a completely inacceptable and devastating non-option, because it keeps putting me back in the place of a victim. And I’m soooo over being a victim.

I might have to carry on by myself, largely. Therapy – the kinds I have encountered – simply doesn’t seem to offer anything of value – as in: help – to me.

P.S. Disambiguation: I keep talking about rejection, when I actually meant fear of abandonment. Or rather: Fear of encountering the full spectrum of despair I must have felt over the intial experience of abandonment in infancy and a few more times later on.

P.P.S.: I also realize that I am highly prone to therapy. If only I could get access to it and find a therapist who really have their shit together. It’s been too many let-downs in this regard as well, it seems. I might have to keep doing “ole grumpy” – and find a funny, humorous angle to it. Or something like that…. hell, I have no idea.

Wrapping Up my Homework and Reaching Out for Medical Help (for the gazillionth time…)

I’ve been in touch with Dr. Schmidt since 2009, if I remember correctly. She had appeared in a 4-hour TV documentary on depression and PTSD. Right after watching the documentary with my breath being held, I researched her contact info and was thrilled to find that she operates in my vicinity (Munich, in this case and I live about 40 mins. out west from the city). All the more disappointment when my phone call with her ended in her turning me down for treatment!!! And this on the basis that at that point of my own research into my history I was left to assume that the residual, neurobiological – and hence physical – outcomes of my PTSD had been caused by very early events in my life that happened in the infant stages, where neurobiology maintains that this is prior to developmental stages that support active and conscious memory. In other words and to put it simply: I had believed that the originating trauma happened at a time before I could remember it and so I was shit out of luck, to put it quite bluntly. Based on this assumption and my reporting thereof, Dr. Schmidt didn’t think that there was any angle from which standard trauma therapy would prove efficient in my case. Again – shit out of luck doesn’t even cut it… I was devastated!

However, since I had to learn to be tenacious to the point of masochism only to survive, I wasn’t ready to let things stand in this bleak a place. And so I continued to investigate into my own history, into developmental psychology and all sorts of approaches that explain how memory is accessed. From mere despair I even opened up to concepts of the spiritual in order to hopefully find an angle there, which I might be able to use for my recovery. And I did something else, of which I believe to have yielded me hints and emotional “markers”, which I now believe might turn out to be crucial cues for further treatment – if they’ll accept me in, that is! I would voluntarily seek exposure to feelings that got me in closer touch with my own long suppressed trauma content or rather its emotional outcomes.

In order for this to make sense, I need to create some context at first: I had established a certain fixed routine in my days, which I’d use as “anchors” in the world out there and to replace missing internal, emotional rooting which didn’t get seeded (enough) in me due to an at least partially dysfunctional upbringing (partial neglect, severe verbal and emotional abuse, some mild physical abuse, too). A part of this routine included treating myself to a nice meal in the evenings, while enjoying a movie along with smoking and quite a bit of drinking at the time. Truth is that I was up to one entire bottle of red wine every night, sometimes followed by several shots of hard liquor. Since I’m also suffering from hyper-uricemia, the fairly heavy inebriation resulted in debilitating and very, very painful joint inflammations that eventually produced almost complete immobility to the point, where I was barely able to make it to the bathroom in time, let alone go visit a doctor for treatment. I had to be treated at home, since my foot was so swollen, I wasn’t able to put¬†a sock or shoe on. At one point I was really stuck at home and on the verge of becoming a full fledged nursing case. And this at 47…. go figure.

Anyway, the inebriation helped to once again unlock the carefully hidden empath aspect of me. This would eventually produce major meltdowns and breakdowns, which sometimes had me in a crying fit for hours. The intensity of these emotional breakdowns had me understand that clearly I had touched upon something else than mere compassion for a – fictitious of all things! – character on screen. I hence concluded that the particular movies that had this effect on me must have had something to do with my own unprocessed emotional issues and residual outcomes of trauma, both single occurences as well as the prolonged abuse going on during my upbringing. (On a side-note: This is why I consider myself to be a survivor of both PTSD and C-PTSD, where the jury of medical experts is still out on deciding on whether and how to distinguish the two and whether they’re two distinct outcomes along a spectrum of disorders and emergent co-morbidities).

So now I had an emotional “GPS” of sorts, as I keep calling it. I would keep exposing myself to such experiences on a semi-regular basis, say every other week or so. And I kept at it for a while, until one day somewhere from my unconscious certain distinct images would resurface that took me all the way back to my first weeks on the planet and to that time, when I was treated for maldigestion at the pediatric hospital near my birthplace. My mother informed me that they sent me there two weeks after I was born and on account of my being unable to hold down food. (It wasn’t until 42 years later that another doctor tells me, I’m dairy-intolerant… and since I was fed with formula instead of being breast-fed, I naturally and quite expectably threw up the food my system had been incompatible with from the beginning. I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around the idea, what my life might have looked like, if I had known about this sooner… ). The images that would come back revolved around me as an infant in a completely alien, if not hostile environment. After all, I was there alone with strangers, my parents allowed to come visit once a week for an hour or so, but never allowed in – I would only get to make eye-contact through a glass pane, with them frantically gesturing towards me inside. (On another side note: It must be from this experience that later on I would choose for activities as coping strategies, which involved lots of exposure, like e.g. being a performing musician. My young psyche must have “figured out” or “concluded” that survival depended on those two familiar faces reappearing in that window in order for me not to be doomed for death. Because the hospital stay involved intrusive exploration and examination, like two spinal taps, with one being in the area of the upper vertebrae in order to tap cerebral fluid to be examined for a potential infection. There was tube-feeding for weeks – major warning for graphic content, if you follow previous link!!! – and whatnot… In other words: A torture-like situation, which I was left at in total helplessness and with the uncertainty of whether or not I would make it out alive… This would clearly overwhelm anyone! Much more so a newborn infant…)

Another thing that seems to have helped for these images and feelings to resurface from the subconscious bodymind is hypnotherapy, which I am happy to be treated with by a doctor, who has also become a friend over the years. Both these approaches – following my emotional GPS and having gotten trained in inducing mild trances – seem to have released bottled up emotional content from the very early, initial past of my physical being. I was surprised at the visual clarity with which these images would come forth: Complete sequences including all sensory input like voices, ambient noise, smells, feel of textures, the lighting situation etc. – it was all there and present!

By having dug up these early memory imprints I now have access to the prerequisites of standard trauma therapy. Hopefully, they won’t turn me down again and that I’ll eventually receive the treatment I’ve been needing for … well, all my life. Wish me luck!

update: They indeed turned me down again – and for good! Unbelievable…