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ready to face the demons, but scared to death

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cinnamongurl posted 7/22/2013 23:53 PM

So in IC, we've started to address an issue that was front and center in enabling my already atrocious coping skills.

I have PTSD and have been burying it so deeply, I had essentially detached myself from my own emotions. It felt as though I was looking back on a movie or a book, like the pain wasn't mine, because I had never outwardly allowed myself to feel it.

Last week, IC says to me, "I believe you've finally reached a point in your healing where you can be truly honest with yourself, and start the process of addressing this trauma. You have a choice, you can either a) choose to go around it again, or b) start to wade through it and really begin the process of acceptance, and ultimately moving on in your life."

At first I was startled and then terrified that I wouldn't be strong enough to face it. I went home, mulled it over and the more I thought about it, the more parallels I drew between the trauma, and the development and nurturing of this awful behavior of detachment.

I realized that if i decided to go around it, and never deal with the root cause of it, i would never be able to truly change. Ive done a ton of work to learn how to feel and to face current crises and problems as they arise, instead of filing them away for a later date (which ultimately never comes). I'd hate for all that to be in vain, and to slowly return to my old ways.

This made the decision an easy one. And I've started the work. I began a timeline of my entire life. Just a basic outline, consisting of facts and data, no feelings, and brought what I had so far to IC today. She had me start reading it to her, and after each event, she had me take 5 mins to describe it in further detail. It was really tough to make the words come out of my mouth, and to reattach myself tothem, and we only got through a few events, but I did it. I cried, and shook and laughed, and I made some connections between my life events (which I had previously deemed unimportant, and unrelated to the development of my coping skills) and the importance of these events and how I treated them. I realized by downplaying(minimising) and rug sweeping i had taught myself to detach.

The major downside to this is, its bringing on the pain and fear I had so effectively avoided the first time around. Its triggering me, big time, and it's so hard to work through. Its also bringing up the guilt and shame I felt and kept to myself. Its just such an assault of emotion, I'm afraid I won't ever get past.

I am looking for new ways to deal with this pain without letting it consume me. I am currently journaling (stream of consciousness) and working outside in my garden or getting some exercise on the beach, but this doesn't help when it comes back to me,( full on flashbacks or even just little glimpses back) when im at work, or driving, etc... can anyone offer up some advice on how to get through these triggers and flashbacks? I'm so terrified that I might start to shut down again and get stuck in old familiar and unhealthy patterns. I want to get through this this time and not around it again.

cinnamongurl posted 7/22/2013 23:54 PM

*oops, I posted before I finished the topic... "but scared to death"

Unagie posted 7/23/2013 03:57 AM

I think that's great CG. You are doing the work to make sure you are a healthy partner and person no matter what happens.

BaxtersBFF posted 7/23/2013 04:56 AM

There's the person you were, and the person you are working to become. Once you know, once you see it, can you ever be happy going back? Doesn't mean the path to get there is going to be easy, as you're finding out. But the goal is that you will eventually become a person who doesn't bottle up that pain and fear anymore. Wouldn't it be nice to not have that stuff hiding inside of you anymore? Wouldn't it be nice to not have those consuming flashbacks anymore?

That's what keeps me going. Doesn't mean I still don't make mistakes. Work in progress and all that.

Have you been able to fill in some of the missing parts of your timeline?

I think you are doing a great job in tackling this part of your life. It's probably the "why" that we all hope to find. In this case, the why isn't an event, it's a lifetime of coping skills which weren't healthy. It's going to be hard to change that, but worth it.

20WrongsVs1 posted 7/23/2013 09:42 AM

CG, I could've written those first couple of paragraphs. Right there with ya on the disassociative spectrum.

Demolishing these walls we spent a lifetime building, to protect ourselves from being hurt again, is terrifying. If you weren't afraid, that would mean you were still disconnected, so take it as a sign that the medicine is working.

Both Not Just Friends (Shirley Glass) and The Sexual Healing Journey (Wendy Maltz) which I've been reading, address dealing with flashbacks. What I read is: the worst thing you can do when having a traumatic flashback is to suppress it mid-flashback. You should let it run its course, and then "feel" and process your feelings.

My therapist is an EFT practitioner, and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) has really helped me process those flashbacks, along with a process called the 9 gamut, which has some similarity to EMDR. The theory behind it is, if you allow the flashback to happen, you can use EFT and the 9 gamut procedure to safely shelve that memory away so it's no longer stuck in your amygdala.

Having feelings--or, at least, connecting to them--is a very new experience for me, and sometimes uncomfortable. Another wonderful book I'm reading is Nonviolent Communication (by Marshall Rosenberg) in which he explains step by step how to identify what you're feeling and take ownership of your feelings, instead of attributing the origin of the feelings to an external source.

knightsbff posted 7/23/2013 13:08 PM

Wow CG, you're taking big, brave steps!

I don't have advice on dealing with the triggers. I just wanted to say good job and hang in there!


cinnamongurl posted 7/26/2013 06:13 AM

Sorry its taken so long to respond to you guys. I deeply appreciate the insight and support. This is such a difficult but necessary journey to take. I think I'm definitely up to the task, though. It gives me hope that I can truly grow as a person and finally come to terms with it all instead of just rushing through the process, never fully grasping that I really need to change deep inside in order to become the person I want to be for myself and for SO as well.

I think through all of this we have both grown so much. We have learned to really support each other on a much deeper level. I feel like we're truly getting to know each other once again. Don't get me wrong, I wish with all of my heart that I had been mature enough to really see how destructive my choices and behaviors shaped me and how I coped with stress and pain. I'm so grateful every day for the chance SO has given me to prove to him I can change. I love him more everyday for it.

First off, Unagie, thanks for the support, hun. It means a whole lot! (((Unagie)))

Baxter, I definitely never want to go back! I was slowly destroying myself and my relationship. Not a healthy or happy place to be as well. I can now clearly see that, and it keeps me moving forward. Albeit some days much slower than others, but I'm learning to pick myself up instead of laying in wait for someone else to do it. My soul feels so much lighter without all of the resentment that bred. The timeline is difficult and painful. But I've taken my IC's advice, and started off with just facts(dates and such), and as I'm ready, filling in details a little later. I'm saving the task of tapping into the emotional side of it for my sessions with her, so she can guide me through it objectively, and teach me how to determine the difference between taking on too much at once, (and becoming overwhelmed, and shutting down), and pushing past my comfort zone just enough to deal. Its a delicate balance, and a really difficult challenge, but I really want to learn to learn how to do this the right way this time around. I accept the bad with the good, and see nothing but a healthier me and a stronger, healthier relationship in the future.


the worst thing you can do when having a traumatic flashback is to suppress it mid-flashback. You should let it run its course, and then "feel" and process your feelings.
this!!! My IC says EXACTLY this! I went years and years without ever really feeling. Its such an overwhelming, horrible, yet wonderful thing to be able to feel again (if that makes any sense). Its all still pretty new to me, and I have a strong history of going all or nothing here, but I'm learning to pace myself.
Another wonderful book I'm reading is Nonviolent Communication (by Marshall Rosenberg) in which he explains step by step how to identify what you're feeling and take ownership of your feelings, instead of attributing the origin of the feelings to an external source.
this sounds like something I would love to read. Thanks!

(((KBFF))) back atchya! Thank you for your support. It means a lot to be heard!

(Edited for cut and paste errors)

[This message edited by cinnamongurl at 6:22 AM, July 26th (Friday)]

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