Fear of Entrapment

Renly

MyPTSD Pro
The cognition of being trapped is huge for me. I was trapped in many ways during trauma and this cognition is tied up to many networks in my brain…so when it’s triggered by present day events (wherein I am NOT really trapped anymore) it can result in an emotional mess and cause issues in my relationships.

I’ve been working on it in therapy using EMDR and seeing results. The positive cognitions I am working on paving into my brain are “I am free” and “I can choose.” The EMDR is helping my brain choose the positive cognitions instead of sending me into fight/flight mode with the negative cognition that I am trapped.

Be easy on yourself. Our brains wiring associates the past trauma with things in our present day that no longer need to be connected. Hoping you can find some peace in working this out. You are not alone!
 

Athill

Confident
Renly - very wise. I feel like you're speaking directly to my addled brain. Particularly this:

The positive cognitions I am working on paving into my brain are “I am free” and “I can choose.”

Au secours, that's exactly my jam. Instead of focusing on this particular person, who is lovely and I would like to keep seeing, I think I need to focus on paving the same thoughts you mention into my own brain. Because regardless of this person, there have been past people, and there will be future people (romantic and otherwise), and my capacity to connect to them will forever be compromised until the point, knock wood, that I can manage my hypervigilance and believe, truly, that "I am free" and "I can choose."

On that subject, I had a conversation last night with my father's sister, who is an amazing person, about my father and not leaving my mother, when she was in the throws of her abusive behaviour, and taking us with him. My aunt said that my father was badly prepared by his own upbringing, and that he didn't have the tools at his disposal that I have at mine: a good therapist, good friends, and an understanding about how trauma is passed intergenerationally. I have the ability to 'choose.' He did also. However, we are not the same person. It's my hope that, over time, with gentleness and care, I can learn to trust.

Thank you for the thoughtful comment!

Edit: I forgot to ask about EMDR, Renly. I haven't tried it, but when I read about it, I wonder about my capacity to think of specific incidents to focus on (which seems to be the method...?). My memory is very shaky, and I have kind of hazy half-images and moments that feel devoid of emotion.
 

Renly

MyPTSD Pro
Edit: I forgot to ask about EMDR, Renly. I haven't tried it, but when I read about it, I wonder about my capacity to think of specific incidents to focus on (which seems to be the method...?). My memory is very shaky, and I have kind of hazy half-images and moments that feel devoid of emotion.
I can typically start with a present day issue/emotion and once we get started with the EMDR, it opens up the network in my brain connecting to everything that is associated. The focus when processing is often more on the body sensations than the old memories themselves, so don’t worry about having great memories (there is evidence you don’t even need a specific memory for EMDR to work on the brain network). I have issues with dissociation, so if I’m disconnected from my emotions I’m not able to do EMDR that day, but most days I am able to connect enough to my emotions for it to work. Definitely talk to your therapist about it. Make sure whoever you do EMDR with is fully trained and experienced if this is something your current T doesn’t do. EMDR is definitely a dance of art and science and there may be a little trial and error to see what works best for you. But it’s legitimately changing my life. There’s also been a measure of “it gets worse before it gets better,” as these networks are opened up in my brain (I’ve suppressed a lot over the years), but overall it’s been worth it for me.
 
Hi all,


As a bit of back story, my father died of a heart attack when he was in his mid-50s. He and my mother, who was extremely mentally ill, had been married for 30 years or so, and I watched him get slowly crushed by her. The legacy of that is deep in me (and I suffer from complex PTSD related to her abuse myself).

Not surprisingly, I've been crap at relationships for my entire life, seeking out relationships that have an end date, or that I know I'll end. The relationship I'm currently in fits that category, but thanks to COVID, I'm not longer leaving. She recently asked to take the relationship from casual to something more serious, and asked if I'm in or out. I can't see myself with this partner forever, but I also can't see myself with ANY partner forever. A close friend, my best friend who has known me for decades, cautioned me against pulling the ripcord and ending this relationship, when I'm still enjoying it and it feels healthy, just because all my trigger points are getting hit.

I feel the terror in my body about being entrapped, like my father was (though realistically he could have left). It's like I am completely robbed of agency. Things are going well with this woman now. If things stop being good, we can part ways. But my body - oh boy. It's on fire.

I'm curious how others, particularly those with Complex PTSD, deal with the fear of entrapment, and welcome any and all comments.
I wish I knew how to help you! I struggle with this as well and I'm currently taking a break from any romantic relationships because it is just puts me in a panic-state almost immediately.

My father was my main abuser and battered my disabled partially paralyzed mother for most of my childhood. Because of her disabilities she was trapped and my brother and sister and I were trapped there with her.

All I can say is maybe just try to take it one day at a time. One moment at time. Get a couples therapist perhaps? Regular safe massage? A couples recovery group?

Hope you can find some relief. I know the feeling.

Kathy
 
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