Dawning Realisation concerning my present self and past self

Waterbear

Confident
I'm not really sure where to post this, or even what to call the thread, but after five years of therapy I have come to a sudden realisation and sadly my therapist quit on me in the middle of our session two weeks ago so I have nowhere to process this.

I went through some abuse when I was a kid, which lead me down a path that I otherwise might not have chosen. I used to self harm. I used to run away. I was farmed off to stay with friends of the family as I'm not sure that mine knew what else to do with me. I started skipping school. I got into drugs. I became basically homeless at 17. Got involved with petty crime. I started dealing drugs and got into some very near misses with the police. There were times when wandered the streets in the morning picking up cigarette butts to make them into new ones as I couldn't afford them. Scraping together 10p for a pack of crisps and sitting in the dark at my mates house as we couldn't put any money in the electric. Don't get me wrong, I always worked, but every penny I had went on drugs. Food and electricity came second. Then I started dealing drugs, so I could start making myself some real money. I remember being chased by unmarked police cars, still no idea how we gave them the slip really. Counting out 500 pills and ending up in the back of some guys black BMW at 18 trying to explain why the bar of cannabis I'd sold him was a quarter under weight.

It isn't like I was serious hardened criminal or anything, but this seems pretty bad I think, especially given where I am in life now. I have a good job, am an honest, law abiding person, have a loving relationship, and because of five years of therapy I have started rebuilding relationships with my family and making friends.

The dawning realisation though is that there are these two completely separate parts of me, that don't seem to be able to exist side by side. I don't talk about my past. I don't acknowledge who I was... who I am?? There's a thing on the radio sometimes where people phone in and say what they were doing at 17, they find the song that was number 1 and they talk about themselves and what they were doing. I can't do that. People at work will talk about their adolescent years sometimes. What hobbies they had, who they hung out with. I can't do that.

Or can I? I did open up to someone the other day, he was talking about the kids we have round here, who jump off buildings into the sea, and saying how they have no respect etc. It wound me up, because I was one of those kids. I said "When life hasn't shown you any respect (like I say, I was abused as a kid and the whole system failed me) how can you expect them to show it back". It led onto me telling him about my past, and how I find it insanely difficult to talk about it. He said something along the lines of "well it's not exactly the kind of thing you want to shout about!"

But that's where he is wrong. So wrong. I do want to shout about it. Now, at least. I want the world to know the REAL me. All of me. All of it. Who I was is such a massive part of who I am today. I don't want to cut it off anymore. The thing that really stops me though is that by telling them about the 'symptoms' I feel I need to tell them the 'cause' and I am not ready to do that. I want to, but I am not ready. We were just starting to really get to work on the early trauma in therapy when my therapist had personal issues and had to suddenly leave. And now I am left trying to manage all of that, as well as all of this, as well as trying to find a new therapist.

I just wondered if anyone else had ever felt this way. Turned their life around only to end up feeling so cut off from the past that the present isn't whole. If that makes sense? How did you rectify it, if you did? What did you find helped? Any advice, comments, experiences welcome!! Thank you
 

internal

Sponsor
I do want to shout about it. Now, at least. I want the world to know the REAL me. All of me. All of it.
you are welcome to shout about it here. i under stand what it is like to have a history that other people cannot relete with at all. when i was 17 i was addicted to heroin with a small child in another country struggling to phyicelly stay alive.

my life is now entirely different. i am clean. my daughter is in high school and doing very well. my husband is loving and we have a good marriege. but all of this is very disconnected from one another.

i just wished to say that you are not alone. and dealing these types of things and healing from aggression and violence and addiction is a very difficult path to take. but you took it and that shows an immensity of your character.

you did show the world respect. you are adding good things to the world now.
 

Friday

Moderator
How did you rectify it, if you did?
Totally on accident.

I found people like me.

First as a byproduct in avoiding my trauma by focusing drugs/addiction (lovely little distraction, that.). Kick it in solution based meetings for a couple years full of CEOs, kindergarten teachers, pilots, doctors/nurses, cops, etc. who used to be, traffickers, killers, gangbangers, % bikers, sex workers, mercenaries… with 20+ years of sobriety, and white picket fences? The lab in the yard is a dog, and the penthouse in town has a mortgage rather than bought with cash? Meanwhile everything is in people’s real names, and the security for both suburbs and city -if it exists at all- both owes no loyalty AND is unarmed??? SMH.

((That used to be, is very key, as there are plenty plenty practicing/recovering addicts who are CEOs, teachers, pilots, medPros, cops, etc. I’m not talking about those people. I’m talking about people whose lives DID make a left turn at Albuquerque 😉 ))

It USED TO BE… I’d look out at a crowd, see the roughly 70% “normal-esque” and wonder of that grouping… “Who here is just very good at maintaining their cover?” I put my estimate at around 5%. After kicking with people who had pivoted their lives? I look out at a crowd, and think… 30% of the people I see, I’m only seeing what they want me to see.

- 5% of people maintaining their cover. (TBH I apply that number to EVERY group I see, and not just normal-esque looking folk in a public setting. It’s like it’s very very easy to spot 95% of undercover cops. But that 5%? <low whistle> )
- 10% percent who used to be very different from who they are -for real- now, and then
- 15 % that I don’t even know what I’m seeing. Because I don’t even know they exist. (Hence the larger number, too! As much as everything I already know, combined).

Which still leaves 70% of the 70% …who are exactly what they appear to be. I think that’s fair. And not just because they match.
Let’s look at the remaining 30% of any crowd: you have the light side, the dark side, and the weird side. Light side usually involves uniforms. People are there, for a purpose, and it’s not nefarious. The gas man, the barista, the cop, the road crew, kids to/from school, the mommy-joggers, the chess players, what have you. The dark side isn’t necessarily up to no good… the importance of personality cannot be understated when people work for themselves… but it’s a very mixed bag . The weird side, meanwhile, are the tourists, artists, and crazy people. ((As none of those groups understand, or cares, what “correct” behaviour is.)) 5% of EACH of those groups and sub-groups? I don’t believe are who they portray themselves. But only 5% of that 5% is actually good at it. And I don’t add that extra 25% to any of those groups. Because those are either avocations, not by choice, or temp states of being. Not lifelong goals the majority of people aspire to.

So that was Step One : Learn that such a thing was actually POSSIBLE by meeting a helluva lot of people -from all kinds of pasts, and all kinds of presents- who’d actually done it. In an environment where it was socially correct & even encouraged, to talk about it frankly. In a GROUP of people (solution based, with serious time) that weren’t going to confuse meeting-rules, with general life rules. IE if it was a BBQ with kids? Or at work? Or anywhere else that wasn’t set aside to discuss exactly this? They weren’t going to be talking about running guns, or how high they’d gotten this one time. Because there are times and places where things are okay, and when they’re not. Everybody shits, that doesn’t mean you drop trow and do it on the kitchen floor, or your desk at work, or the pew in church, or whilst performing surgery, or whenever/wherever. Sure, explosive diarhea happens. But when one has a choice in the matter? There’s a time and place to take a shit. Or have sex. Or eat a sandwich. Or talk about old lives lived. <<< Which doesn’t make it bad/wrong/hidden/lying. I want my surgeon to eat a sandwich, take a shit, and have sex. Just not while he’s cutting me open. Or when my kid’s teacher is singing the alphabet song with them. Times and places. Matter.

Step Two will have to wait 😉 As I’m already tempted to delete THIS novel.
 
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ladee

MyPTSD Pro
Thru the years I have told others the 'other' side of me. Most of the time it was here that I shared those those things. Because it was safer here. People were going to understand.

I had a crazy drug addicted Harley riding fighting to the end life. Some of those things helped me to become a functioning member of society. I really don't like that word 'society'. I never wanted to 'belong' to that part of life. I'm still a rule breaker if the rule makes no sense.

But I learned who I could tell and who it would do no good to tell. There are times now that I tell people I have PTSD to help explain my ups and downs. Whether or not they 'get it' is not really a concern. It's just info for them if they chose to use it.

The 'world' is not going to embrace your honesty. Many people, like Friday was sharing, simply don't care. They are too concerned about keeping their own secrets safe.

So just be discerning who you tell. And try not to take it personal if they back away or ask really stupid questions. But this place, this forum, is a good place to start. We are going to understand the 'why's' of your before life better than the regular people going about life pretending they have it together.

Glad you are here and am hoping you share with us so you can see how many of us have traveled similar paths to get where we are today. It feels good to have a place to come that people understand.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
There's a thing on the radio sometimes where people phone in and say what they were doing at 17, they find the song that was number 1 and they talk about themselves and what they were doing. I can't do that. People at work will talk about their adolescent years sometimes. What hobbies they had, who they hung out with. I can't do that.
Totally! People who I am in contact from 'then' (which is not many and only via Facebook), can't believe the me now. And people who know me now, or the me from last 17 years, can't believe the story of me 'then'.
I stuffed the 'then' all away. Pretended I had no life regrets, and charged on not thinking about it too much. Until I had to.....
But I barely tell people in my life now about then. I say some vague things like "I started most things young", or "I grew up quick", or "my mispent youth". And I don't go into details. My closest friends know. But work friends and others: nope.

I just wondered if anyone else had ever felt this way. Turned their life around only to end up feeling so cut off from the past that the present isn't whole. If that makes sense? How did you rectify it, if you did? What did you find helped? Any advice, comments, experiences welcome!! Thank you
The only thing that is helping me is therapy (and I'm so sorry your T had to leave btw). Making connections with why I behaved in those ways, and forgiving myself, and realising that pretending I don't have regrets isn't the way to go: as I do regret. But slowly slowly slowly, coming to terms with it? And THIS is the authentic me? The me now? Because I wouldn't have done half or nearly all those things were it not a trauma response.
So: feelings. Feeling it. Connecting with it.
Pain in the f*cking *@# to feel it all, but that's the way to connect I think?
Bit idk really.
 

Mach123

MyPTSD Pro
I don’t have a good facade. I wasn’t able to recover sufficiently to even pretend I could just get on with it. When I heard failure to flourish that was a good summation. I don’t try and reconcile the past and present because I have little or no separation from it . It’s like having a crazy relative living in the basement or pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
 

grit

Not Active
I really loved your post and the way you phrased your life so succinctly but I had few reactions that I like to share.
Or can I? I did open up to someone the other day, he was talking about the kids we have round here, who jump off buildings into the sea, and saying how they have no respect etc. It wound me up, because I was one of those kids. I said "When life hasn't shown you any respect (like I say, I was abused as a kid and the whole system failed me) how can you expect them to show it back". It led onto me telling him about my past, and how I find it insanely difficult to talk about it. He said something along the lines of "well it's not exactly the kind of thing you want to shout about!"
I think this shows your depth of your empathy and humanity in such that makes you unique. Empathy is antidote to shame so where this person was shaming a young person, you were relating. So even though it seems your perception of your past is negative, it does in fact affect you in much more deeper and meaningful way because you have managed to heal in the present or your context/environment has changed since your childhood. This is how I took it. You seemed to coil cause it triggered you, maybe, but your response shows a person with a certain past who understands or a human who empathizes others who are deemed different.

But that's where he is wrong. So wrong. I do want to shout about it. Now, at least. I want the world to know the REAL me. All of me. All of it. Who I was is such a massive part of who I am today. I don't want to cut it off anymore. The thing that really stops me though is that by telling them about the 'symptoms' I feel I need to tell them the 'cause' and I am not ready to do that. I want to, but I am not ready. We were just starting to really get to work on the early trauma in therapy when my therapist had personal issues and had to suddenly leave. And now I am left trying to manage all of that, as well as all of this, as well as trying to find a new therapist.

This quote was contradictory to the first one so again my reaction to you was who is the real of you? Logically you acknowledge there is one from the past where the environment was harsh and your reaction was appropriate and today where your environment is safe and your reaction is safe. I feel you may not have come to who you are today without the depth of the past but maybe language barrier or perception barrier or the sudden loss of therapist affect - you are both. It is now a matter of can you be conscious of who you choose depending on the situation and also not care much how others who are not in your life see you...that might be where therapy work could resume and perhaps where you were working on before sudden abandonment in therapy. This split may be reaction to the abandonment. You use the words 'cut off' and that indicated to me maybe you are newly dealing with integration.

Turned their life around only to end up feeling so cut off from the past that the present isn't whole.

This last line caught my eye cause lately I also have been thinking what is this 'mental comparison' that is so insidious. I think this mental "suffering" or what I considered never ending insatiable to want perfection or wholesome is a myth. You may not recall the details of your childhood, but you never forgot how you felt hence your reactions, I am similar in such now I am sitting between the past and the present (ironically I also took 5 weeks off from therapy) ---I wonder if this is standard reaction to therapy absence. I am sitting in between and I experience anxiety (my past digested and manifested feeling of today is frustration mix with fear of the unknown) in reality it was hate, terror and rage. But in the present, I could lead a life of a monk (chuckle - no hyperbola here!) but in all seriousness, I have safe and peaceful state of mind so what gives?

I am not there today but I have been asking for insight until I saw your post that spoke to me. I use my past feeling to make sense but I use my today feeling to make decision. I do not want to compare my inside to others' outside cause I never know how they do it but I am taking one day at the time.
I hope this helps in some ways. It may be more about me than you but I really felt your conundrum.
 
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