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.

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