Saturday, September 30, 2017

Is It Possible to Overcome all of My Childhood Trauma?

I read an article posted by a friend on Facebook, and it sent me into a bit of a tailspin today.

My friend who posted it is a wonderful and sweet grown woman. But I know she suffered through some pretty traumatic childhood experiences, as have so many of us. Her message with her post was "The thing is, you can heal from it. I am."

I can answer yes or identify with #'s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 20. That seems like a lot!

1."Apologizing for other people’s behavior, making excuses for them or trying to build a logical reason for why they behave the way they do."

2. "Overthinking. I overthink everything, and analyze your every word, every movement." (I literally drive myself to exhaustion overthinking things! But I cannot find a way to stop or make my mind relax about it.)

3. "I put tons of pressure on myself then fall to pieces when I cannot handle the unbearable load. I think I am supposed to be perfect even though I can’t be. I cannot deal with people verbally fighting."

4."Downplaying my own problems/struggles because I feel the need to help and ‘fix’ everyone else, and convincing myself my problems aren’t as bad/important."

5. "Bottling up everything and never really asking for help because I feel like a liability."

6. "Apologizing all the time. Being scared to do things because I feel like no matter how hard I try, I’ll get it wrong or disappoint someone."

10. "[I] make fun of my own emotions, call myself names when I’m acting emotional, blame myself, constantly apologize, panic when being yelled at, get upset and cry when confronted about confrontation, keep things like emotions to myself [and] have panic attacks when I hear people arguing in screaming matches."

11. "I push new people away before they have the opportunity to leave. I care about my close family so much that I put them all before myself. It’s mentally and physically exhausting."

12. "Always saying ‘yes,’ because if I say ‘no,’ I will feel like a bad girl."

14."When people raise their voice at me, I automatically shut down." (For me, this doesn't have to be physically yelling, but it can be quiet disappointment or disapproval that also causes shut down.)

15. "Being way too active when meeting new people, so they won’t realize I’m anxious."

16. "I immediately cave in any confrontation. As soon as a voice is raised, I lose all sense of confidence or backbone — like I’m being backed into a corner."

17. "Over-explain myself and talk really fast ..... and lose my cool when yelled at by men." (Again, this doesn't have to be actual yelling, but it can be any confrontation or disapproval by or from men that sends me into an immediate shut down mode.)

18. "Living my life being nearly unbearably lonely because I’ve found acceptance from so few and ridicule and betrayal from so many. I continue to work on accepting being lonely gracefully, but am in fact most of the time just trying to hide how lonely and hurt I am."

20. "I’m terrified of authority figures. I’m always worried I’m ‘in trouble’ for just existing. I’m an adult, and a tertiary-educated professional. I don’t get ‘in trouble.’ But the minute I have to talk to a manager at work, I feel like a naughty little kid trying to avoid getting grounded."

I recently posted a quote on Facebook by C.S. Lewis: "You can't go back and change the beginning, but you can change the ending."

I know so much of what happened to me as a child was out of my control, but sometimes I am crippled inside by my own demons and my own broken parts left over from those experiences, I wonder if I will ever truly be able to overcome those things.

The past year has been hard emotionally. A 6 year relationship ended. I've been trying to navigate the online dating world, which is an adventure in hope over experience. I had an issue at the end of last school year with a parent that left me questioning a lot about what I want to do with the rest of my life and if I really am a good person and teacher. I had an experience at karate that has left me feeling sad, and wondering what do I need to learn about myself to stop the pattern in my life where I feel like I am unappreciated and in trouble for just trying to help.

And last week, we were given a training at a team meeting on childhood trauma that brought so much of my own experiences to the surface again. We were given a 10 question survey that asked us to score childhood experiences that might have been traumatic. We were supposed to give ourselves a point for each one that we experienced. Some I just gave myself a half point because the question asked about frequency. Yet so many of those things only have to happen to you once in order for them to be one time too many. My total score was a 7 out of 10. The only thing I didn't answer anything to was whether I had a family member go to jail or not. Another team mate also scored fairly high. She contacted me afterwards feeling raw and questioning herself. I assured her that she was an amazing person who had overcome so much to become the successful adult she is. I said I wasn't ashamed of what had happened to me to warrant that high of a score, but after reading the article today, I was left questioning my own self evaluation and if I really have overcome some of those ghosts as well as I'd like to think.

I am not ashamed of my past. Like I said, as a child a lot of those things just happen to you and you really have no control over them. It's what I need to do with my present and my future that has me feeling a bit on the overly emotional side today. Reading this article really brought it to the surface where there were times during the day when I found myself inconsolably sobbing. It was irrational; I know.

I just don't know if I can get out of my own way sometimes and ever find happiness in the sense of sharing my life with someone else. I am fine with not being in a relationship. I know that I am a complete person all by myself. I would like, however, to have a friend and a confidant to share the next chapter with, but sometimes I wonder if I can do it. What if I have an actual nice guy in front of me and all these demons and broken just seem too much, too weird, too neurotic? What if I can't stop second-guessing myself? What if I can't get out of my own way? What if I can't relax into the situation enough to just let things happen and progress naturally? I know "what if's" are all rhetorical, and I am supposed to play them out to the end, which I can do. But the answer to all of these things is that in the end, I end up alone. Which again, is fine, but not desirable.

I am left today feeling raw and overly vulnerable and wondering if I will ever be able to have what I see others have in a healthy adult relationship. I would like to figure this out, but am not sure if I can. Yet, I will continue onward.

As usual writing my blog posts are really a form of therapy. It's my way of putting my thoughts out in front of me so that they stop eating me up from the inside out. Thanks, as always, for reading and providing feedback.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Trying to Move Forward in the New Year

It's been over 4 months since the break up, and I still struggle with the sad. I don't go around crying all the time, just sometimes when I'm alone because I miss the relationship. I know that it's over, and I have done the letting go thing. I haven't contacted him, and I haven't wanted to. After my last post, I did email him all the things that I needed to say in order to have closure for me. I didn't expect that he would respond, but he did. However, there was no apology or accountability for any of his actions. He only told me all the things that I shouldn't do the next time around and then said that I had now said pages and pages of things and although I was welcome to continue to send him messages, he would no longer be replying because he had no more time for such things. Somehow I had become a total inconvenience in his life. After that it was easy not to contact him or want to fix things, but it hasn't stopped me from missing what I thought we had.

But therein lies the problem, right? What I thought we had and what was most likely the reality ended up being two very different things. I like to think of myself as a realist and yet, I wanted things to be one way so badly, that I was blinded to what was the truth. I really loved that guy. I loved what we had and the things that we did together. I loved him so much that I projected what I thought could be as the truth. I'm not sure I was ever really his priority. It was all when it was convenient for him and what he wanted instead of the true partnership I hoped for.

I'm trying to move on and stop crying in the alone times of my life. I've joined some dating sites, but so far they are more of an anxiety-producing activity than anything else. I went out on one date super quickly after I joined, but it was a disaster. The guy turned out to be for everything I'm against fundamentally as a person. I tried to quit the site, but it was past the 3 day cancellation time. A friend suggested I be super strict with my parameters, so I've buckled down a bit.

I have been communicating with a couple of guys. It's either really slow going or they want to exchange numbers right away, which I'm not wholly comfortable with. I'm trying to be chill about the whole thing, but I have had to ask others for advice. And sometimes the anxiety about it all gets to me. I went to my acupuncturist the other day and she couldn't believe how bad my shoulders, neck, and upper back were. As she was putting about 100 needles into my back making me a human pin cushion she asked if I could not work out as much. I said it wasn't working out, but the anxiety about the break up and being able to move forward that had me all bunched up. Of course, then I just started to cry one of those horrible ugly cries. Then she left me all snotty and sans a tissue. I'm supposed to have been relaxing when I couldn't move without sending my needles into stabs of pain while my snot pooled onto the floor below the head doughnut.It was not a pretty site!

I wish I could say that I am able to relax into the whole dating situation, but I just feel so messed up from the break up still. If I was the best relationship he ever had and yet he still wouldn't choose me even though I wasn't really asking for that much, how can I ever be what someone would want or need? Obviously I've been broken up with before, but the thing that makes this one so different is that the things that I cannot change about myself is what he said were wrong with me. My anxiety is so off-putting; my questions were overwhelming. Not saying this is what I deserved or that it's a good thing, but I can get that you leave me for someone else and you are moving on much better than in the end someone attacking the things that are my greatest weaknesses. I get that my anxiety can be hard to take at times, but if I could control it, believe me I would. When it gets to the point it was when I felt like I had nothing else that would help but to write about it was because the one person who had always claimed to be on my side was, as it turned out, not really ever on my side, I am sure that the anxiety was off-putting. But I still don't understand why he couldn't talk to me.

My friends tell me, and sometimes I tell myself the same thing, that it was all just an excuse to leave. He was just looking for a way out and I provided a big open door by blogging and going into a manic anxiety attack. I know I'll never know the real answers, and I have to go with what my gut says, which is usually always right. I worry when I write these blogs that it sounds like I am just full of self-loathing. I'm not. I certainly doubt my ability to have a successful relationship, but I still love myself. If you've met me, you know that I am a super perfectionist. I always tend to see the things that need improvement rather than celebrating all the good things about myself. I am a nice and good decent person. I love fiercely and am incredibly loyal. But at the same time I know that these things can be too much at times. I know that anxiety can take over, and I can become easily overwhelmed and seem manic. These are things I can't really change about myself. I can do things to make them less and believe me I have mellowed with age, but there will more than likely be times when they will surface again.Will there ever be someone that can see past these small events that seem large at the time? Or in the end will I end up exhausting anyone who sticks around for a longer period of time?

Today, I am just struggling with the grief of it all. I made it through the holidays, but it doesn't mean that there weren't tears shed in the bathroom or alone in my bedroom every day. There are most definitely times when I would still go back to him. I know that isn't the right answer and I shouldn't want it, but I loved him. A year ago we were skiing together and I just remember feeling so in love and happy. Of course, it was on that ride home that he asked me what I really wanted out of the relationship and I answered about the ring and having our family and friends more connected and it all went downhill from there.

So I will try to end on a positive note by saying that there are some nicer possibilities in the online dating world, and I will try to be open and chill about the experience. I will try to put myself out there, but sometimes I hate every second of it and just want to go back to a year ago and kept my mouth shut!

Here's to trying again in the New Year!