Damaged, Defective, and Dangerous!

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Damaged, Defective and Dangerous

After having spent 12 years under abusive rearing, 18 years in an abusive spiritual group, and 12 years in an abusive marriage, and 6 years in near total isolation, I’ve been giving some thought lately to relationship. There are different levels of relationship that we experience in life. Seemingly, the deeper and more enduring the relationship the greater potential for good or harm to come from the relationship.

Since it is a common and healthy desire to have meaningful friendships and even more intimate relationships, this is what I’ve been focusing my attention on. Specifically I’ve been considering the impact Complex PTSD has on my ability to have meaningful relationships varying from meaningful friendships to maybe someday a more intimate and exclusive relationship. At this point in my life, both seem somewhat far off, the possibility of meaningful intimate relationship seeming highly unlikely.

Why? Why should a person with PTSD be any different from anyone else? Why shouldn’t they be able to have meaningful and fulfilling relationships? Well, the answer is, in my opinion that it is not a matter of what type of relationship I should be able to have as much as it is a matter of what type of relationship my PTSD will allow me to have.

Without delving more deeply into introduction, I will get to my main point. When it comes to relationships, Complex PTSD and Borderline Personality Disorder evidently have much in common. They have so much in common that mental health workers must be diligent and careful to not mix up the diagnosis. Wow!

I can personally understand this. When it comes to the “fight or flight” response of PTSD, mine is definitely at the far extreme of the “flight” spectrum. I can barely even have a conversation with most any person beyond, “Hi. How are you today?” Of course, I DESIRE far more than this, but I find it almost impossible to pursue. If I do get any closer than this, my PTSD defense and avoidance mechanisms kick in and existence becomes unbearable, possibly for even hours or days after the encounter. Ugh!

Consequently, it seems to me that in the framework of even considering any sort of friendship or relationship, I need to come with a warning label. LOL. Much like a bottle of booze or a pack of cigarettes, I need a cautionary statement on me that says, “You may enjoy this, but it could also have some pretty negative effects on your life. Caution: May flee at the slightest hint of intimacy, confrontation, conflict or disapproval. Needs much nurture, empathy, understanding. Will require much patience and delicate handling. Consider this 50 year old to be more like an 8 year old than a mature man.

How embarrassing! But I’ve got to be real. I must first accept where I am truly at if I ever hope to move beyond. And I would very much like to move beyond!

In short, my warning label reads: Damaged, Defective, and Dangerous.

Before getting into each definition, the Dangerous needs a little explanation. I am in no way a dangerous person. My PTSD does not cause me to be aggressive or angry. Brooding sometimes, but never hurtful toward another person. What makes me dangerous to a relationship is my tendency toward avoidance. If a person is insecure and tends toward feeling rejected if someone pulls away from them, then I would definitely be dangerous for their emotions and insecurity. Without fail, I absolutely WILL pull away from any relationship at some point -- not permanently, but enough to regain my balance.

Damaged, Defective, and Dangerous.

Damaged: changed so as to have reduce value, function, or other desirable trait; rendered imperfect by having the integrity of some part impaired, or by being broken; having been brought into disrepute.

I am definitely damaged. My function is definitely reduced. I often cannot even face the prospect of leaving my home, though I want to. I have had many parts of my soul and personality rendered imperfect and impaired by being abused and broken. I can’t even see all the pieces scattered about, let alone pick them all up. I don’t have as much to offer as I once did when I was in a less damaged state.

Defective: having a defect; faulty; marked by subnormal structure, function, intelligence, or behavior.

Due to Complex PTSD, I am sub-normal in relating to people. This is not a self pity statement or put down. It is simply the reality I now live in. I can barely relate to people on a meaningful level beyond “Hi, how are you today.” Oh, in writing, I can share a lot. I can imagine that with the right people, I could in person. But I don’t encounter many who want to go deep with me in person. Even if I did, it would be like navigating a minefield for I and they to have a meaningful relationship. I am defective.

Dangerous: involving or exposing to danger; perilous; hazardous; unsafe; full of risk: as, a dangerous voyage; a dangerous experiment; in a dangerous condition.

Rejection is something nobody likes to experience, even if it is only perceived rejection. With my avoid personality traits and defense mechanisms anyone but the very most secure would likely feel rejected in trying to get close to me. An insecure person looking for security in a relationship with me would almost certainly get hurt. This is why I add the label of dangerous. I am not dangerous at all in the sense of being a hurtful person. But if a person doesn’t understand me and my condition, they are likely to get hurt by what they perceive as distancing or rejection when I get triggered and simply cannot handle interaction with people.

So, there it is. Maybe us folks who have experienced too much trauma in our lives need warning labels. Perhaps we could set up a T-shirt company and start printing T-shirts or hats with the appropriate warning labels on them. It might help people relate to us, or to steer clear is that is what is most healthy for them. Either way is fine with me. I just want people to know what they are getting in to if they decide to get in to me.

Here’s my warning label, Caution: Damaged, Defective, and Dangerous.
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