Sufferer I wasn't beaten so I don't deserve to use a diagnosis as an excuse

NotTooLate

Confident
This will be long and unedited. I just need to put this out into the universe. I don't expect anyone to actually read it.

Where to start?
My depression and anxiety became unbearable a couple of months ago so I finally decided to see if a counselor could help me figure out a couple of things. I had no intention of delving into my past and for the first month, all of the sessions were very superficial to current issues. After one particular session, something got triggered and I brought a whole list of things I wanted to get out to the next session. That list included the risky behaviors, promiscuity and rapes that occurred over 25 years ago during high school and college. The list lead us to talking about how I've always felt the rapes were my fault and that I should have never put myself in the situations. The session ended with a bunch of raw, open wounds and I was numb for a couple of days. A few days later I woke up at 4 am, wide awake with the need to write out a plethora of thoughts that were in my mind. That's when it all came spilling out. All of the things I've been trying to ignore for decades.

Timeline:
-My dad beat my mom while she was pregnant. I was born a month early.
-She stayed with him until I was 2. I don't really know anything about what that period was like. I only know that at one point, he was really physically sick and held her hostage with a rifle so she couldn't get away. I also know that he beat her and at least broke her nose.
-from 3-5: she worked a lot (waitressing) and my grandparents and an older woman took care of me while she worked. I'm not sure what else happened during that time, but I do know she hung out with a biker gang so there were undoubtedly some pretty wild times
-at age 5, I was sent to a different state to live with my aunt and uncle while my mom and her boyfriend set things up to eventually move there too. I'm not sure how long I lived with my aunt and uncle. Years later my mom told me that she sent me there b/c there was a hit out on her boyfriend because another gang member accused him of raping the gang member's sister. Despite that, my mom thought it was a good idea to stay with this guy and move with him to a different state to get away from the gang. At least she sent me somewhere safe for a while.
-age 5, my mom married that guy and she said he started beating her on their wedding night. He is who I call my dad.
-age 5-10, they were married and he beat her on a regular basis. He was an alcoholic and did a lot of drugs. My mom worked a lot and I was home alone or home with him a lot. He was usually nice to me and a textbook abuser to her. Beat the crap out of her, bought her gifts and told her it would never happen again. Repeat.
-she finally left him and then he stalked her, followed her everywhere, threatened any guy he saw her talk to, including her boss
-after a couple of years, he started dating (and abusing) another woman. They had a kid and got married. He continued to stalk my mom.
-mom started bringing guys home and had sex with them in the room next to mine. I heard everything.
-She was still working a lot and I was home alone late into the night most nights. Occasionally, her friends would bring her home completely shitfaced for me to take care of.
-She would get angry at me for being upset about the "boyfriends" and drinking- she deserves to have a life and to be happy
-she sent me to live with a different aunt and uncle for a summer when I was 11ish. I'm sure she thought it would be the best for me, but I didn't understand it at the time.
-another summer was spent at another aunt and uncle's when I was 16 because she couldn't deal with me. I had started acting out by then.
-during the years between 10 and 16, my dad continued to harass her. I don't know the details, but we packed up our house and moved in the middle of the night to live with a guy she had met in another state. It was terrifying. The only people who knew we were moving were my uncle and my best friend's mom who was the realtor selling our house.
-new state, new HS. Junior year was horrible and I ended up drinking all day, every day. Whatever alcohol I could get was poured into a Super Big Gulp cup and sipped on through the day at school. I skipped a lot, partied a lot and started having a lot of sex.
-moved to a different area and spent my senior year at another new school. Met a better crowd and managed to only drink at parties, but still partying, promiscuous and spiraling out of control.
-went to college b/c my mom made me since she never got to go. 5 years of partying, getting into massive debt, a few rapes, a few gang rapes and a lot of self hate.
-met a guy who somehow saw something good in me. He came into my life when I was exhausted and so completely broken, at rock bottom. He was nice and patient and wouldn't give up on me no matter how hard I pushed him. He still stands with me 25 years later. He saved me.
-After 7 years, I got my bachelor's and graduated on the honor roll thanks to 2 years of getting all A's thanks to my husband saving me from myself.
-years spent trying to be happy- why shouldn't I be? I have a great husband and our life is pretty good.
-years of never feeling good enough, years of underachieving, years of beating myself up, years of pushing people away, years of avoidance and isolating, years of depression and anxiety
-counseling sessions
-complex PTSD diagnosis
-today. Sitting here still thinking that it's all just an excuse and wondering why I can't just "get over it" or "snap out of it" and move on.

So, that's me. I'm new here, but not sure if I belong. Not sure if I'm willing to give myself an "excuse" of why I haven't been able to find true happiness and fulfillment after 49 years.

If you actually read this, thank you. I just had to get it out.
 

Rosebud

MyPTSD Pro
Hi @NotTooLate I'm sorry for what you and your mom went through.

Minimizing away or denying most traumatic things is often par for the course. If they didn't have the impact they did it's unlikely you would have been left with the same level of hopelessness and self destruction. It's also normal to feel ashamed and like you're making too much out of it, and expect to 'be over it' and stop 'complaining'. Especially if it's passed and especially if you had to solve things by yourself and there was no room or thoughts for your own needs. And it's a lot to grieve and acknowledge, that's not malingering or blowing it too out of proportion. No child or adult should need to endure what you did, and it's very heartbreaking and overwhelming.

You should take heart in all you've accomplished and what good is there. One day you may see yourself as your H sees you.

Welcome to you , right in time for Christmas. Even if early Christmasses weren't the best this one is different in a whole new way because you've reached out. 😊
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Welcome and sorry for all that happened to you.
You're in good company here. It really helps with people sharing experiences and feelings.

Fellow person here who had the depression hit in my 40's and realisation that childhood wasn't all that I had decided it was. Rapes, drinking, drugs, blaming myself etc etc too.

You've been coping all these years, and now those coping strategies (minimise, dismiss, blame yourself, move on, forget) don't work anymore (hence depression), and now it's time to find new ones. Which involves accepting the feelings, shifting blame onto those that caused the trauma and hurt, and giving yourself permission to have these feelings.
 

RussellSue

Not Active
Hello @NotTooLate and welcome.

I've been in recovery for a long time and it really strikes me how often trauma survivors turn to blame themselves for their own suffering -- as if human beings are inherently good and right or bad and wrong. It's as if we believe that we ought to ascend all circumstances and that our brains should be healthy even if they were formed while saturated in stress. We understand when traumatized dogs keep to themselves, but ourselves? No. We get value judgements far ahead of fact-based assessments.

I want to really encourage you to read about adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and their effects on adults if you have not already. There is a wide road between laying down and dying and completely overcoming childhood trauma. Most of us here are somewhere in the middle, struggling with the effects of trauma but making forward progress.

There is a lot of stigma surrounding PTSD and cPTSD and mental illness, in general. But, even larger society is beginning to see that this stigma is unfair.

Accepting that you have trauma does sometimes hit people as a pardon for their mistakes, but there is a lot more to being in recovery than waving a flag to say that you were handed a disadvantage. Once a person chooses recovery, they also choose to do a lot of work on themselves. It is NOT the coward's way even if the initial acceptance of being a victim looks that way on the surface. I'm a trauma victim and I have ongoing anxiety, but knowing that means that I have to find ways to function in healthy, sustainable ways, rather than creating wreckage and harming myself in the process which is all I could do without that understanding. Knowing that my background damaged me is not an excuse but it does produce a different set of life rules that involve a lot of internal discipline and work if that makes sense.

I hope that you can turn your thinking around. Trauma recovery is a battle that can be won. Living with unresolved trauma because you don't want to feel like a whiney bitch? Having worked in hospice, I don't think it ever really works. It haunts people when they stop moving. And it usually manifests itself in a lot of life regrets, too.

Take care of yourself. You are worth it.
 

ladee

MyPTSD Pro
Welcome to the place that everyone here understands your story. If not all of it, the 'feelings', yes we understand.

Having PTSD is far from having 'excuses'. We do have 'reasons' tho. And as others have shared with you, there is a way out of those feelings that make us feel worthLESS. We are some of the strongest, smartest, most hard-working humans on this planet.

Welcome to a 'tribe' that understands, welcome you, and are here to support and validate whatever comes up, and celebrate the victories. And there will be victories!!

Very glad you are here and very sad for the reasons. Welcome!!
 

NotTooLate

Confident
It's so confusing when I also remember the good times. Was it really all that bad? I think that's where I get hung up. I don't have a ton of memories, but there are several of my mom and I doing fun things together. Does that balance it all out? If it wasn't always bad, shouldn't I just be able to let go and move on? My mom did make sure there were fun times. Maybe everything was better than I remember and yeah, maybe everything I did as a teen and college kid was just me being me, a slutty, drunken loser. Maybe I'm just a pathetic person.

Sorry, just random thoughts.
 

ruborcoraxxx

MyPTSD Pro
It's so confusing when I also remember the good times. Was it really all that bad? I think that's where I get hung up. I don't have a ton of memories, but there are several of my mom and I doing fun things together. Does that balance it all out? If it wasn't always bad, shouldn't I just be able to let go and move on? My mom did make sure there were fun times. Maybe everything was better than I remember and yeah, maybe everything I did as a teen and college kid was just me being me, a slutty, drunken loser. Maybe I'm just a pathetic person.

Sorry, just random thoughts.
In the middle of any catastrophe, you will have good times. In the moments I still was with the man that has beaten me up, there were hilarious and tender moments. But it doesn’t erase the terror, and actually you start to sort of align yourself with what you want to feel—a good moment and denying the way you’re actually feeling (your body screaming to get out of there, but you don’t see how, so you carry on). Now the good moments I remember are very few, and in the beginnings. The cost is to become very confused about what you do actually feel and then having a tendency to put yourself in situations you at least know have to do something or cut out, something it being the same thing like alcohol allows. I did dive inside of myself like inside of a mystery ball if I can say.

But please, don’t call yourself a slutty drunken loser, no one deserves these appellations. Suffering and getting lost and trying whatever we can isn’t pathetic and will never be. It demands courage even (or even more specially) to go through the thickest shit. You went through, and the living proof you weren’t what you say is that someone has seen beyond and understood.
 

Justmehere

Moderator
Welcome tot he forums!

I'd like to propose a different way of looking at the diagnosis of PTSD.

PTSD isn't an excuse nor is it a badge as to if this or that trauma was or wasn't terrible or not. When people go through trauma they sometimes develop PTSD, they sometimes have other mental health conditions. Sometimes they end up with no lasting mental health issues at all.

Having been through trauma is only one part of the diagnosis of PTSD. The label of PTSD is a tool to refer to a cluster of symptoms. It's a tool to recover.

You are by no means responsible for the horrible events you have been through. The good times do not erase the bad times and the impact they had on your nervous system and mental health. It's very common for abuse survivors to experience good and bad times with their abusers. The good times are often why people stay.

Minimization of trauma can be a way to cope with the pain. Right now, you are very much minimizing the weight of what you have been through - that's ok, but I hope in time you'll give yourself permission to start validating your pain is legit. You deserve healing. Period. This crap about the good times making abuse in impactful or drunkness or anything else you listed excusing rape.. or any of that making you a pathetic person -- that's completely wrong. It's crap. It's what abusers wanted you to believe snd they are idiots. You are worthy of support and help.

You are not responsible for what they did l at all. You are responsible for your recovery. You have taken very brave as good steps to recognize your suffering and to begin to get help and grapple with these difficult topics.

You are a courageous and brave survivor. You have a lot to be proud of.
 

Friday

Moderator
I’ve never thought of PTSD as an excuse. I think of it as a challenge.

Knowing why I do something, or where it comes from? Never excuses what I do. It’s just an explanation, is all. How useful an explanation depends on what I do with it. Knowing an infection is caused by germs? Doesn’t excuse the infection, much less magically banish it. (I KNOW you were caused by microbes! Be gone! Ummm... Be gone? BE GONE! Huh. Now why didn’t that work???). It does give me the tools to know to keep a wound clean, to use soap, take antibiotics/anti fungal/etc., etc.... IF I understand the basics of germ-theory AND have the things I need to clean and treat the infection. I could be the worlds top infectious disease specialist, but be stuck in a muddy ditch, and have neither the ability nor tools I need to clean, much less treat, the infections oozing into the mud.

Knowledge? Is just a starting point.

Okay! I know WHY this is happening... next step? Doin something about it. That’s gonna get a bit complicated, but what in life worth doing isn’t?
 
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