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How do I be myself instead of my trauma?

#13
how do I found out who I am as a person trauma happened to without becoming my trauma?
I was thinking about my own therapy and it just occurred to me that our latest analogy might help you. It’s not advice, just a way of looking at it.

So, I’ve said in my diary several times how Therapist says it’s like we are a big puzzle and the trauma is just like one or two pieces of the puzzle. Maybe even a piece off to the side that you don’t even notice unless you’re looking for it.

Well, this past week in my journal I said that I feel like the things I went through - it’s like it splattered paint all over my puzzle. So trauma crap on everything and it ruined the whole thing. Well, Therapist pointed out that, yes maybe the trauma did splatter paint all over everything, but we can get out a little paint thinner and start cleaning it off a little at a time. Sure, it’s will take time and work, but the puzzle CAN be what it once was.

You will find the SRG that isn’t being defined by your past traumas. I hope therapy was helpful and you came up with a plan :hug:
 
#14
When I tried couples therapy a few years ago with Mrs. W, it didn't work well at all. The conversations would trigger me, and I didn't have the space to deal with that.

What works better for me is to talk about my relationship with Mrs. W with my trauma therapist, and think of how I can improve our relationship. I tell T what frustrates me, but I also am sure not to let the conversation slide into a one-sided vent. I try to see Mrs. W from her perspective. And most importantly, we talk a lot about separating out Mrs. W from the fears and reactions in my head. So we are working on my trauma, but we are doing couples work at the same time. Part of this is also getting homework to do--what can I do this week that will improve my relationship? These are often very small things, and it goes slow, but it really helps. This, for me, is the middle ground in balancing my trauma and the rest of my life.
 
#15
This is going to be ... disjointed. I don't know how to write this and make any sense, but I'll try anyway.

My wife and I are currently seeing a couples therapist and our last session I expressed a lot of fear that I had and said that I just didn't feel safe in our marriage and couldn't really be vulnerable with my wife. I mentioned that I was seeing my own therapist twice a week and doing a lot of EMDR lately. My wife feels the EMDR isn't good for me as it emotionally destabilizes me. I agree that the EMDR dysregulates me, but I disagree that it's not good for me - in fact, between the dysregulation it's been really, really helpful.

The couples therapist thinks my therapy time compared to time with my wife is excessive, and that I need to stop being my trauma and start being myself. I guess that struck a nerve. I do think every day about my trauma. I come here more than any other place on the internet. I'm heavily involved in trauma and treatment groups and I start grad school in a couple of weeks to hopefully become a licensed counselor. So is that who I am?

I know I should be trying harder with my wife, who has stuck by me even as I've been pretty mean to her while dysregulated. To be perfectly honest, I'm scared of enmeshment, like I had with my abusive ex-wife, so I'm probably holding back a lot. Isn't there a middle ground between enmeshment and being my trauma? How do I find out where that is, and how do I found out who I am as a person trauma happened to without becoming my trauma?
I don't think everyone can escape their trauma-some people don't have the health, core value system, desire/motivation, and don't realize how basic behavior works, nor do I think everyone wants to give up their trauma roles....and be themselves. That is a hugely hard thing to do.

This is my opinion......not something out of a book....it is my story of my own transformation from dysfunctional-existing to functional and feeling alive. I believe if we are born into a dysfunctional family system, we are given a role to play. It is unspoken but expected. We learned that role to survive-it is natural and our norm....so we see ourselves as normal. We were rewarded by those in control, for doing what was expected, and punished for not......and those in the system who bucked the system, got punished in a variety of ways, depending on the situation from being ignored, told that they were worthless, physically/sexually abused, verbally abused....love withheld, whatever is a good punishment that will get you back in line so the dysfunctional system can continue.

To be the person I was meant to be, I had to decide that that way of life was not who I wanted to be. I had to decide what kind of picture of myself, I wanted to look back on when I was old and gray. How much more time of my life do I want to waste dealing with dysfunctional anything. I made the choice that no amount of dysfunction was acceptable.....I deserved better.

I made the decision to cut all dysfunctional ties-so there would be no pull back towards the dysfunctional way of life, the dysfunctional roles, and I wouldn't get hurt anymore by people who were supposed to love me. Cutting ties was a critical step to figuring out who I "was going to be." Getting out of the trauma........essential to moving forward.

For each of the people in the system, I had to let them go.......my father, my brother, and lastly....my daughter so that I wasn't bound by the system rules and by their emotional pull. That meant I wasn't a part of the "family" but after careful evaluation, it didn't meet my definition of family-I realized our relationship needs were polarized.....what I wanted, and what they could give were opposite and that I couldn't find peace and happiness with folks who needed to control relationships, hurt, manipulate....and who thought that was normal (it is their normal right now)

I had to see the flaws in those who hurt me and not want to be like that, but at the same time, I had to find good in them.....the moments that might have been a lesson or a positive memory. There were very few....but changing the perspective from they are bad hurtful people, to they are sick and don't know it.......made it a bit easier to disconnect from them.

It was my decision to let them go....not their decision to get rid of me. This was an important part, too. It was hard letting go because that's where I had always belonged.....dysfunction owned me. Now I had to find a new place, new people, and new way to belong in life. Belonging is a critical thing for everyone....I think everyone needs to belong. I was in a dysfunctional marriage and I stayed there because it was easier than the pain, uncertainty, and emotional mess of leaving. When I tried to change things and stay in the dysfunctional system, I was punished.....When I decided to leave my husband, my sick step children, I was told I was a no one and never had been, was ignored, ghosted....and by another part of my family, actively traumatized, intimidated, threatened for my behavior. I was terrorized by my own brother.......He was a puppeteer....I was a puppet. That was 3 years ago. I cut the puppet strings. I was free. I spent a lot of time evaluating my relationships....my values....my resolve to get and stay forever in a better place. I continue to evaluate boundaries and relationships today regularly. I doubt that will ever change.

When I let go of the old dysfunctional world which I had lived for 60 years, it was lonely, but there was no criticism, and no punishment if I made a mistake. Now, there was room for positive things to happen and positive thoughts to enter my head....about who I am as a person.....and who I want to be. For me, away from dysfunction....there was room to find myself. During this transition part, I spent time finding fun in life.....and that appeased the parts of me that had been abused......the sad, scared parts.

So, the next phase, away from the crazies, was just learning and trying new things. I became more confident, and my energy was spent finding out what I liked in life.........and naturally,I spent less time "assessing trauma" and more time living in the moment because I was finding fun. Fun felt so good. It feels great.....and so I kinda like the idea of looking back, when I'm old, and seeing life from a fun perspective.....a "had a good life"....and building positive memories.

I show up here at PTSD, only about once a week to check in; I see a therapist once a week at most....sometimes only a couple times a month, and I'm no longer actively traumatized....which before, led me to the therapist sometimes a couple of times a week....just to stay stable. I don't read everything I can get my hands on about trauma....my "self-help budget" is greatly reduced.

I'm finding my way in a more positive life with people whom I can feel their love....and who walk their talk. I don't spend much time on establishing boundaries, I think I figured out what is acceptable and not acceptable. So, I think....you can find you and spend more time with honey......plan something new each week just to have fun. Look forward to spending time together, and just being happy..........and in that moment......don't analyze it....just feel it.

I am not my trauma....unless I choose to be. Neither are you....unless it is your choice. Trauma is something that happened to you. You can even choose to change your perspective about the trauma.

I know now that mostly everything I do and how I choose to see the world.....is a choice. I can spend time blaming others, or spend my time more productively. Choosing to have fun, spending time with your partner, all choices within your grasp.........I have a best friend I see every week, and we plan fun stuff to do together....and that love and connection we feel for each other is very powerful......and it makes many positive memories. It will also help you feel safe with others when a positive memory, a positive feeling are attached......so try doing one new spontaneous fun thing with your wife each week and one planned thing that both of you want to do for fun each week.....you should see that it becomes more natural over time......and no longer planned because it feels good and fun things are self rewarding.....and you are becoming who you want to be....happier and more contented. Sorry it was kinda long....
 

joeylittle

Administrator
#16
There's a balance to strike, and I think it's different under different conditions.

When I have the time and the headspace, and my calendar is more free - I can really dive into working on trauma stuff and core belief stuff. But I need to be aware that it's going to occupy my mind frequently, and that all the other things - the day-to-day things, basic wellness - are going to become very difficult.

When I'm busier, have more things to manage in my life - I need to spend less actual time in therapy, so that I can be more successful in compartmentalizing all my damage, my "stuff".

And sometimes - I need to just shove it out of the way and function and focus. Those times, I'll take a therapy break. Not going at all ends up making it much easier for me to navigate the pressures of the here and now.

If your mind isn't transitioning out of therapy-mode, processing-mode...think about strategies to help your mind transition. Things like limiting your time here, making sure you partition off the thoughts that are focused on trauma and recovery.

But I also think it's very real that sometimes, we can't pull ourselves out of our mental health problems. Those are times to either clear out space to really dive into them, or to shift the work into more day-to-day wellness management.
 

Deanna

MyPTSD Pro
#17
Everyone has dynamite suggestions for you SRG. I think too this virus issue and people working at home, is just over the top. If you go to the office, the day seems like a normal routine ( to be away for awhile). People here are still working from home.. So they deal with a spouse all the time. I can honestly say that I hid under my work for so long... Being away and such, claiming " independence". ( too proud) That actually goes back to my trauma of never being at the house past a certain point. I knew when I needed to leave on the weekends ( or other days) otherwise it was work, or a beating, or mom was with some guy at the house. I lived in several dysfunctional relationships growing up.

I agree with some advice from @Sideways about making time. Its not like you have a bunch of time anyway and someone said, something about doing something fun. Drive to the next town on a day trip and see what that town prides itself in, together. I think you're life has changed in the whole family when you're little girl came along. ( Just my thoughts outload..)
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
#18
To be perfectly honest, I'm scared of enmeshment, like I had with my abusive ex-wife, so I'm probably holding back a lot
This quote struck for me. When you are speaking to your wife or speaking about her, can you often insert how she is not your ex and enmeshment is ok with her and healthy part of marriage's ebbs and flows. I think having your ex on foreground so much makes your wife feel no place in your heart and you reenact the unsafe feeling from the past with her and she may be fighting its injustice. You are stronger than you giving yourself a credit for and you may never get into that kind of enmeshment where you lose yourself again...so far the facts are your wife didn't intrude and abuse you as your ex.
Maybe reminding yourself often verbally may help you hear you are here and now and convince your wife is not to abuse. Imho, the only enmeshment you may have is confusing present wife with violent ex and you are resisting and your wife is protesting.
 
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#19
This quote struck for me. When you are speaking to your wife or speaking about her, can you often insert how she is not your ex and enmeshment is ok with her and healthy part of marriage's ebbs and flows. I think having your ex on foreground so much makes your wife feel no place in your heart and you reenact the unsafe feeling from the past with her and she may be fighting its injustice. You are stronger than you giving yourself a credit for and you may never get into that kind of enmeshment where you lose yourself again...so far the facts are your wife didn't intrude and abuse you as your ex.
Maybe reminding yourself often verbally may help you hear you are here and now and convince your wife is not to abuse. Imho, the only enmeshment you may have is confusing present wife with violent ex and you are resisting and your wife is protesting.
@grit I hadn't thought about the concept of enmeshment having a positive connotation....that it can be a good thing....I've always seen the concept of enmeshment as relating to needy-dysfunctional behavior....and a negative way to relate that takes the "I" out of a relationship.

@piratelady So, maybe look at the relationship feeling of dependency and love....not as enmeshment, but within the scope of boundaries......what are your boundaries with your wife in this moment???... that can change over time. What were your boundaries with your x.......and how might you view x's enmeshment differently from your current relationship with your wife? Can you find a middle ground, that will let in your wife in, keep x "comparisons out" and keep you feeling safe? BTW-Love the paint spatter analogy.
 
#21
Maybe instead of cutting back on therapy, cut back on internet use in your free time instead?

That could give you more time with SRW and kids and could help you stay regulated more often so when you have alone time you aren't stuck in your head on something you read online?
I found that I was the loneliest and neediest, when I was surfing internet or on mental health forums.......without an intended purpose......and that I was usually happiest when I was interacting with the people I cared about. Happy moments are important to good mental health I think.
 
#22
I like your question.

It shows that you´re already starting to conceive of yourself differently.
My inclination is to say develop the part of yourself that is not trauma. We´re always going were we are looking. If you were to pilot a parachute then you´d be headed in the direction of where you are looking.

There is nothing wrong with being on the forum nor is there anything wrong with processing.
But one part of trauma-solving is processing and the other is start moving in the direction that you want to go.

If you´re not sure where you want to go, then maybe attempt to do something new and see what it does with you.
Build a kite and surf it on the wind or go somewhere where you´ve never been before.

This kind of "new" territory allows your mind to build new neuro-pathways.
It´ll give you a break from processing too & allow you a new perspective when you come back.
 

Mee

MyPTSD Pro
#23
Have you read much about ‘interdependence’ ? That might help with your enmeshment fear?

Independence is not the healthy relationship alternative to codependency- rather interdependence is. Especially after relationship trauma - we heal through healthy interdependence of different types . Therapeutic, friendship. Professional and if appropriate romantic!
 
#24
There's a balance to strike, and I think it's different under different conditions.

When I have the time and the headspace, and my calendar is more free - I can really dive into working on trauma stuff and core belief stuff. But I need to be aware that it's going to occupy my mind frequently, and that all the other things - the day-to-day things, basic wellness - are going to become very difficult.

When I'm busier, have more things to manage in my life - I need to spend less actual time in therapy, so that I can be more successful in compartmentalizing all my damage, my "stuff".

And sometimes - I need to just shove it out of the way and function and focus. Those times, I'll take a therapy break. Not going at all ends up making it much easier for me to navigate the pressures of the here and now.

If your mind isn't transitioning out of therapy-mode, processing-mode...think about strategies to help your mind transition. Things like limiting your time here, making sure you partition off the thoughts that are focused on trauma and recovery.

But I also think it's very real that sometimes, we can't pull ourselves out of our mental health problems. Those are times to either clear out space to really dive into them, or to shift the work into more day-to-day wellness management.
@I totally agree with you....balance is a huge part......how much we have going on, how emotional the moment it, how much energy, our physical health.....all play a part in balancing life....and how much time we choose to spend on resolving/understanding our traumas.
 
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