If I don't think about it it didn't happen (learning, not so much)

David1959

Confident
I learned very early in life, at age 10 to compartmentalize my life. This is how I survived my abuse, unfortunately, that skill learned at an early age that probably kept me alive has also ruined my life. It is not just the abuse that I compartmentalize it is everything in my life. After 50 years of doing this I do not know how to do anything else and it is a habit that leads to a lot of damage. I am terrible at dealing with negative issues and do my best to simply avoid or pretend they are not happening.

My history is very complicated and finally going through this process my life seems so confused and unclear. Like most people in the world life goes up and down with good and bad things happening. I lived for 40+ years pretending I had a normal life and a chance but I now am beginning to understand all that is a fantasy. Actually the fact that I have done as well as I have is a sort of miracle in itself. While my childhood and life was a mess I have managed to give my 2 children as stable and normal a life as possible. I never went to college although I should have, circumstances growing up and choices I made resulted in that being impossible. I was basically on my own from 17 and wild. They are both now grown 34 & 27 an economist with a masters and the other a PHD. I was fortunate that I had the ability to pay for my kids schooling and expenses so they both graduated with zero debt. This may be the only thing I have not f*cked up in my life.

When I think back to my childhood the bits and pieces I can remember, I do not like what I see and bury that as well. I managed through the years of my kids growing up by basically burying my entire life so I could deliver a sense of normalcy to them but now it is all leaking out. If it all comes back, I am not sure I will be able to survive and live with myself once that becomes uncovered. I start with a new T next week and I hope that helps because at the moment I feel like a hollowed out shell surviving by burying every emotion trying to escape! Like the little Dutch boy sticking my finger in the dyke, it is no longer working
 

Sues

Confident
Hi, I can really relate to what you're going through. I buried most of the bad memories as well. I remember when I was living with my abuser and after something bad happened I would say to myself over and over, "It doesn't mater. Don't think about it. It didn't happen." I would keep saying it until it was true.

I'm glad you are starting with a therapist to help you deal with all of this. I didn't start therapy until a couple of years ago when the memories decided to come out of the box in my head that I had them locked away in. That's what happens. We forget, we bury stuff, we go on with living, but those memories aren't really gone. They're just waiting to pounce on us.

It's time for you. It's time for you to take care of yourself and start to learn how to heal. I hope that you can start down that road of healing slowly, at your own pace and with what you need, not with any expectations of others.
 

David1959

Confident
Hi, I can really relate to what you're going through. I buried most of the bad memories as well. I remember when I was living with my abuser and after something bad happened I would say to myself over and over, "It doesn't mater. Don't think about it. It didn't happen." I would keep saying it until it was true.

I'm glad you are starting with a therapist to help you deal with all of this. I didn't start therapy until a couple of years ago when the memories decided to come out of the box in my head that I had them locked away in. That's what happens. We forget, we bury stuff, we go on with living, but those memories aren't really gone. They're just waiting to pounce on us.

It's time for you. It's time for you to take care of yourself and start to learn how to heal. I hope that you can start down that road of healing slowly, at your own pace and with what you need, not with any expectations of others.
Thanks Sues - We all get very myopic when it comes to our mental health and it is alsways nice to hear from someone who understands or that their is even someone that understands.
 

shimmerz

MyPTSD Pro
I was fortunate that I had the ability to pay for my kids schooling and expenses so they both graduated with zero debt. This may be the only thing I have not f*cked up in my life.
I think you are being very hard on yourself. Compartmentalization is a coping mechanism and may well be the reason that you survived. It is a skill. A skill that you might want to think about focusing on to dismantle as it seems you no longer need it. Compassion, my friend. Compassion and kindness towards yourself.
 

ladee

MyPTSD Pro
Some of those old coping skills will come in handy with what you are doing for healing.

I really hope you got a therapist that is going to listen and it's very important that you have input.

I do have to say that even tho these memories have to be dealt with, you did an exceptional job at raising your family and maintaining as long as you did. That same strength and integrity will serve you well on your healing journey.

Just don't forget that this place is here for you, the people here have a lot of collective experience to always let you know you are not alone on this journey.
 

David1959

Confident
Some of those old coping skills will come in handy with what you are doing for healing.

I really hope you got a therapist that is going to listen and it's very important that you have input.

I do have to say that even tho these memories have to be dealt with, you did an exceptional job at raising your family and maintaining as long as you did. That same strength and integrity will serve you well on your healing journey.

Just don't forget that this place is here for you, the people here have a lot of collective experience to always let you know you are not alone on this journey.
Thank you Ladee - I have found this site a lifeline to both learn about what others have been through as well as expressing myself safely
 

Freida

Sponsor
If it all comes back, I am not sure I will be able to survive and live with myself once that becomes uncovered. I start with a new T next week and I hope that helps because at the moment I feel like a hollowed out shell surviving by burying every emotion trying to escape!

yep.
I am still convinced that at some point I'm going to end up catatonic in a closet.
Ts kept assuring me that won't happen but.......

forgetting to stay alive and relatively sane?
Pretty common around here.
Until the day it will no longer be ignored
But it's not actually a bad thing. It means you are ready to work towards healing
It's a sucky, scary, horrible process - but it will be worth it because eventually it helps us learn to feel again - to get back what was taken from us.

If I could go back to the beginning of therapy I wish I would have listened to people who told me to slow down and let it unfold at it's own speed - not the speed I wanted to "cure" it. Because it would have made the process way less painful. I ended up setting myself up for failure a bunch of times trying to power thru figuring out how to not use the coping skills that kept me alive to deal with the events that led to those skills. Think of it as a whole new way of thinking. This is why this forum is so important - because we are all here on the Island of Misfit Toys and you are surrounded by people who get it.
 

zaniara

MyPTSD Pro
o give my 2 children as stable and normal a life as possible. I never went to college although I should have, circumstances growing up and choices I made resulted in that being impossible. I was basically on my own from 17 and wild. They are both now grown 34 & 27 an economist with a masters and the other a PHD. I was fortunate that I had the ability to pay for my kids schooling and expenses so they both graduated with zero debt. This may be the only thing I have not f*cked up in my life.
I'd say you succeeded in SO MUCH! Like with the most important things in life. Giving your kids a good childhood and helping them ge a real good start in life! After suffering so much your self that is an extremely big accomplishment! But your kids still need you in some ways, and I think they need a parent who is healed and happy and who loves himself too. So they can see how its okay to do that. Congratulations for being brave enough to seek help now. It might be tough process at times but stick to it. If some things might fall apart for a while do let them, now when your kids are grown you have the opportunity to take care of you. I hope the therapist is a good match.
 

David1959

Confident
I'd say you succeeded in SO MUCH! Like with the most important things in life. Giving your kids a good childhood and helping them ge a real good start in life! After suffering so much your self that is an extremely big accomplishment! But your kids still need you in some ways, and I think they need a parent who is healed and happy and who loves himself too. So they can see how its okay to do that. Congratulations for being brave enough to seek help now. It might be tough process at times but stick to it. If some things might fall apart for a while do let them, now when your kids are grown you have the opportunity to take care of you. I hope the therapist is a good match.
Thank you I am trying. Had a very tough session with T yesterday as she is starting to peel the onion and there are so many layers
 

Friday

Moderator
I lived for 40+ years pretending I had a normal life and a chance but I now am beginning to understand all that is a fantasy
If you haven’t read Primary cognitive distortions (negative thinking styles) yet? Toooootally worth it, for one, but for two, I’m going to quote part of it below.

Cognitive distortion forms the backbone of PTSD.
The 10 primary cognitive distortions are:
  1. All or nothing thinking -- You see things in black and white categories. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure.
  2. Over-generalization -- You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.
  3. Mental filter -- You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it so exclusively that your vision of all reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that colors the entire beaker of water.
  4. Disqualifying the positive -- You reject positive experiences by insisting they "don't count" for some reason or other. In this way you can maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences.
  5. Jumping to conclusions -- You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion. (Involves mind-reading and fortune-telling.)
  6. Magnification and minimization -- You exaggerate the importance of things, or you inappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny.
  7. Emotional reasoning -- You assume that your emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are, as in "I feel it, therefore it must be true."
  8. Should statements -- You try to motivate yourself with "should" and "should not," as if you have to be whipped and punished before you could be expected to do anything.
  9. Labeling and mislabeling -- This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. Instead of describing your error, you attach a negative label to yourself.
  10. Personalization -- You see yourself as the cause of some negative external event which, in fact, you were not primarily responsible for.
Jumping from compartmentalization to it was all a fantasy? Is one of those classic PTSD all-or-nothing swings... that also tooooooootally disqualifies not only the normal life part of those 40 years, but also the brilliant and amazing parts of those years.

As an example? You probably weren’t pretending to love your kids. Loving your kids is both normal AND amazing. As are, undoubtedly, giant huge swaths of both your life, and where your life intersected with other people’s lives, creating very real moments to them & you.

Really seeing the effects of trauma on our lives for the first time can be like getting swept up in a maelstrom. And it’s the easiest thing in the world to lose ourselves in that. To get swept up in black & white thinking (an even better way is blue or not blue thinking, by the by. Same thing, except black&white is so cliche we often don’t think past familiar words. Just because something is not-blue? Doesn’t actually tell you what color it is. There are more “shades of grey” & colors in the world, than blue & not-blue).

Even a single anchor point can help, but a whole durn port in a storm? Is priceless. The normal, amazing, & REAL parts of your life? The parts that weren’t fantasy, weren’t pretend, are things to hold onto. How much you loved your kids (port) to the simple honest memory of a cold drink on a hot day (anchor), and countless other examples along the way can provide a helluva lot of strength & security, when everything else is feeling like it’s come unmoored.

Having those anchor points, and friendly ports? Doesn’t negate the rest of it. Again, it’s tempting to go all-or-nothing, in either direction. Sources of strength doesn’t mean there is no pain. Times that are real down to your bones, don’t mean there aren’t times you’re faking normal full speed ahead desperate not to get caught out, and holding on by the skin of your teeth! I’m mixing my metaphors a smidge, but hopefully you see my point. Rather than one cancelling the other out? It’s more complicated, is all. Which is a good thing, when you’re at risk of losing things like the love for your children, and every good moment before and since... because in pain we crave simplicity. All or nothing. Black and white. Real or pretend. But some things are more complicated than that, and aren’t worth losing at any price.
 
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