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Acceptance of trauma ?

Ecdysis

MyPTSD Pro
I have no idea where I am on the acceptance journey.

I'm not good at acceptance.

I'm good at fighting and changing things for the better.

But... childhood trauma happened. Adult trauma happened. And both have caused a lot of problems, a lot of fallout, a lot of losses.

I know that I have to accept that it happened, to heal from it properly.

But I sooo rail against acceptance. Fight response all the way.

And again, the secrecy aspect of trauma and PTSD makes it harder for me. That which is kept hidden away and secret is so easy to deny/ pretend it didn't happen.

Sigh. Maybe I need to make it a daily practice. Like, several times a day, for 5 minutes sitting with the fact that a lot of trauma happened and that it caused a huge amount of fallout. And that that's the reality of my life. And there's no "making it go away".
 
And there's no "making it go away".
but there is reframing it. We do it all the time. In the context of a movie, horrible things happen right before our eyes. If it happened today, while waiting in line at a starbucks, it would damage us and cause huge disruption. I have seen countless murders, but not really. It's all about context.
So, context is everything, and just accepting that the context has changed from "this is happening" to "this once happened" is step one towards reframing. Add the idea that the damage is done but isn't continuing to happen because it is over and done is the harder step, and somewhere down the road I hope to be able to say that I can relax my reactions to it and won't keep listening when my brain says things like "don't you remember what happened back then? Be careful, it could happen again".
No making it go away is the truth. Seeing it for what it is is the reframing that is also a truth, and that can be made to happen. I am working on it.
 
I’m always a bit confused (and more often than not, stay out of it) when people bring up this -or it’s kissing cousin, “not my fault”💋 & similar- with the subcurrent of “everything would be better IF” / healing can blah blah blah.

If it were as simple as “Yep! That happened.” Or being able to apportion fault realistically? It wouldn’t be PTSD. It would be part of the other 4/5ths of people who experience trauma and don’t get PTSD.

PTSD is fairly simple/straightforward as far as disorders go, but? (Sadly.) Not that simple!

Accepting that something happened? Won’t make everything better. But being honest with yourself? Does help, in the overall scheme of things. And …might… fix the compulsion to be overly honest with other people. Everyone has a story. We don’t go around shouting the truth at people, but that’s different than lying or hiding. Even if you’ll still have PTSD once you’re not clinging to pretending something didn’t happen / stop punishing yourself with the idea it didn’t.

Just a word to the wise not to put too much value on it. It’s a piece, is all. You can let go of it, and still be just as f*cked up as you were, before. And still have just as much work to do.
 
I have no idea where I am on the acceptance journey.

I'm not good at acceptance.

I'm good at fighting and changing things for the better.
another ditto, ecdysis. leaping tall injustices in a single bound feels far easier than radical acceptance, even when the arresting officers are stuffing my supercape in my mouth to shut me up.

'All of humanity's problems stem from our inability to sit quietly in a room alone' Blaise Pascal (1623- 1662)

i be studying with blaise these days. it is a truly challenging study. his philosophy is even more challenging than his math and physics.
 
When I started out in therapy, the concept of Acceptance, or Radical Acceptance, used to make me angry. If someone went down the path of encouraging me to ‘Accept’ anything - my trauma, my past, my present, my diagnosis - my response was usually, “I got out of bed this morning, how much Acceptance do you need!?”

Yeeeeeah!

Later on, I read The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris, when I was doing ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy - awful name, super helpful approach!). He has a way of explaining stuff that not only makes sense of it easily, but helps me apply stuff in a really useful way.

The thing about Acceptance, as it applies to trauma recovery, is that the first thing you do is remove judgement from the equation. It’s fine to have judgements about stuff, but if you’re trying to Accept something, put that judgement to the side for the moment.

Some stuff just is. Irrespective of whether you like it or not, or whether it’s cosmically ‘fair’ or not, it’s the situation you find yourself in. And if you can accept that’s the situation, and stop struggling with what you’d have preferred (either in the past, or in your future), what should have been, what other people have, how things could be different, or even why it is this way, it becomes waaaaay easier to deal with it in a productive way.

For example, I used Acceptance to help me start dealing with my family of origin in a productive way. Removing all the emotional stuff from the equation, and all the rational thoughts that start breaking down and analysing the relationship and the individuals, and just accept what it is right now (dysfunctional and unhelpful), I could actually figure out how to change my behaviour based on just that. Which was a tonne easier than deciding how to manage it based on all the emotional and cognitive stuff that I previously loaded onto it.

I still work on the emotional and cognitive stuff. It doesn’t go away. But when I’m figuring out how I want to behave, what I value, where I want to go, Acceptance offers me a way to simply see situations for what they are, today, and value-driven choices for myself that give me agency and make my life more meaningful.

My parents abused me.
My parents aren’t able to be kind to me.
If I accept that, just that, what do I want to do for myself right now…? That’s a lot easier to decide on, and make a good choice about, than the type of analysis and pulling-apart of things that other forms of therapy use (like CBT or psychodynamic therapy - which I also use, but in different ways, for different reasons).
 
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I'm further along the acceptance journey than I was, but there have been and still are obstacles to overcome.

Other people's non acceptance of the emotional child. Risk of upsetting my mother and being rejected if I didn't act like everything was okay. So denial can be a learned behaviour and a survival strategy.

I guess the natural course of that survival strategy is dissociation and when trauma doesn't feel real when it's physically happening, connecting to it as a reality afterwards is complicated more.

I think for me the journey to acceptance started with accepting my denial and digging into that further, then accepting neglect, and accepting the way dissociation affects me. Gradually unpicking all those things that get in the way of accepting traumatic experiences.
 
But being honest with yourself?
Is the hardest part.......it's the old pave over it, put up signs and have Frank Drebbin standing there with a bull horn saying "keep moving, nothing to see here."
I know I did.
Acceptance is seeing it as your mind saw what happened. It's being honest enough to say "my mind saw it as (in my case) torture."

But that's not the destination. The destination is to put those events in their proper place -to get its happening now to they happened in the past. But they have to have happened first.
 
So yeah... I don't mean "accept" as in "condone" or "be passive" about the trauma.

I mean "accept" in the sense of "radical acceptance" or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

Just the basics of acknowledging that the trauma happened and that it is real and that I need to deal with it and that "pretending it didn't happen" isn't a useful coping strategy most of the time.

I guess it's okay to have small escapes from reality - everyone does that when they go to a party, a football game, a concert, whatever... We all escape our particular reality every now and then and I think that's normal and healthy.

But with PTSD, at least for me and a lot of people I know, "pretending it didn't happen" is a much more daily/ almost constant survival tool.

I guess for many years, it was (sort of) helpful for me to be relying on that particular crutch/ coping skill, but I feel like it's lost its usefulness and is becoming a problem.

I'm trying to tell myself several times a day "I went through a childhood full of trauma and have C-PTSD and depression from that and it has a big effect on my life overall and on each day." I'm trying to let that sink in and trying to get my mind to somehow "process" that basic fact.

It's deeply uncomfortable. There's such a strong urge to "make the trauma go away". It was bad enough that it happened - I don't want all the after-effects of it too. "Making it go away" is such a tempting go-to. Just pretending it didn't happen.

It just doesn't work tho. Everytime I try it, I might go okay for half an hour or an hour, but before any significant amount of time has passed, I'll bump into the very real limitations and problems that trauma has caused and continues to cause and I'll be smacked upside the head with how "pretending it didn't happen" just doesn't work.

Instead of being fully aware of the limitations and problems and forcing myself to make a realistic plan on how to navigate these issues, I go into denial, then get smacked over the head with the reality of it, get very depressed/ anxious/ upset about it, struggle to fix the problem and then go back to denial, only to get smacked with a reality check again very quickly thereafter. It happens multiple times a day, it's an endless merry-go-round and it's emotionally exhausting and draining.

Having to *truly face* that I'm a survivor of childhood trauma and that the impacts will last for as long as I live, is an incredibly scary, daunting and disheartening prospect. It feels like there will never be a non-trauma me.

Which is not true. There are parts of me that weren't touched by the trauma. And there are ways to get C-PTSD to go into remission - at least for long stretches of time.

I guess this is about giving up the "magical thinking" of childhood that if I just try hard enough, I can magically make the trauma "go away". Giving up on that hope feels utterly depressing.

I don't want to be the person who's the survivor of childhood trauma, who's got C-PTSD, whose whole life has been affected by it, who struggles with it still - I don't want to be that person.

And yet I am.

I may never work a regular fulltime job. I may be on some form of Disability Support for the rest of my life. I may be in therapy (intensive, or follow-up/ maintenance therapy) for the rest of my life. I may struggle with the symptoms of C-PTSD and depression daily for the rest of my life. I may witness other people whose childhoods were not filled with trauma and feel "different" to them for the rest of my life. I may grieve what happened in my childhood and the long-term after-effects of it for the rest of my life. I don't suppose I will ever get any "justice" for what happened through the police/ courts system or financially for the rest of my life.

I can continue to do trauma therapy and can continue to heal and to process my feelings about the trauma and can continue to overcome it and to reduce my symptoms and to reduce the emotional pain of it. I can use trauma therapy to become more comfortable with accepting the trauma and how it has affected me. My C-PTSD was in remission once before, until more trauma occurring brought back a huge symptom spike, so theoretically I know I can work hard at it and get it to go into remission again.
 
I mean "accept" in the sense of "radical acceptance" or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
I have OCD (which has now been diagnosed! I didn't even need to take a test, my therapist was just like "o yeah, you Got The CeeDee, babeyyy." lmfao.) which makes a lot of this "acceptance" stuff a LOT more difficult than if I didn't, because OCD is basically a spot in your brain that is broken and that causes repetitive, recursive thoughts.

No matter how much work I do, or how much I put into it, some days I still spiral back to "you're a monster who deserves to be executed in a glass box like Eichmann." lmfao. So my acceptance journey has looked more like accepting that as a part of my reality as well - knowing that my brain is broken this way, and that I don't have to actually get sucked down emotionally into this bullshit, I can just go "cool! Thanks, brain! Anyway..."

With OCD, the biggest factor I think is that we get stuck on these "imponderable questions" - what does existence mean? What does it mean to be a good or bad person? And this is not something we're ever going to actually be able to know the answer to. OCD is a morality based disorder, but we don't actually have any good answers about morality. I'm not God. I can't give you a reason.

All I know is that I was REALLY bad as a kid, and I'm REALLY trying as an adult to be as ethical as I can, and to conduct myself with as much compassion and reason as I can.

Grief is one of those things that really breaks our brain - we blue-screen, as a species. Death, grief, mourning - they're not things our brains do well. Something I've been working on through Exposure Response Prevention (a form of therapy for OCD) is to take every cluster of thoughts that I continuously have, and much like you, replacing them with less distressing thoughts. So, "I'm a monster/evil/etc," gets replaced with, "I am grieving what happened to everybody involved."

And yup, I have thousands of intrusions a day, so sometimes I'm repeating that to myself a thousand times a day. It's annoying! But time and understanding have helped.
 
I struggle with the idea of radical acceptance as well. I’ve also have had a lot of the same thoughts as you in that this is going to just be misery the rest of my life no matter what I do. But I think I’ve finally come to a healthy balance.

Yes, trauma happened. Yes, that trauma does have lifelong effects that we have to learn to cope with. Yes, it’s completely unfair, especially when it looks like the perpetrators have zero consequences.

However, no it doesn’t mean we have to literally remind ourselves of the trauma everyday, that’s working backwards. It’s not denial to have a day that you didn’t think about the trauma. Denial is when you refuse to address effects that have a big impact on you. As long as you’re addressing them and working *with* your brain rather than against it? Then the goal becomes to have many days where you don’t think about it because it literally becomes a non issue.

I’m not saying that all is forgiven for the perps, absolutely not. But the idea of setting yourself up to live in purgatory for the rest of your life is letting them win. Don’t you want to prove them wrong? Live a beautiful and full life that you created in spite of them? They had enough power, don’t let them have more by letting them dictate the rest of your life. They don’t deserve that. You have power here. You have control here. Don’t give that control away to those who don’t care about you.
 
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