If I open my heart to good things, they will die/ be destroyed and the pain of the loss will almost kill me

Ecdysis

MyPTSD Pro
I've got some free therapy sessions through the local women's shelter until my "proper" therapy starts in July.

I got retraumatised a few years ago and that actually affected me worse than the initial childhood trauma.

One reason for this that's been identified in my therapy so far is: I was very "armoured" throughout childhood trauma - I used every defensive mechanism I could think of.

By contrast, in the retraumatisation, I was 100% trusting and open and didn't see it coming at all (see Friday's thread on "betrayal").

Unfortunately, this experience has seared itself deeeep into my subconscious.

The counsellor at the shelter suggested today that I should look for small moments of positivity and gratitude throughout the day to help combat my depression.

Valid advice, and I'm sure it's something we've all heard umpteen times in therapy.

This suggestion of hers was the only time during the session where I started crying and was quite distressed.

I told her "I know it's daft but since this retaumatisation, my brain is utterly convinced that if I open my heart to anything good, valuable or beautiful then that thing will die/ vanish/ be destroyed/ be tainted/ turn out to be an illusion and I feel like that loss will kill me because that big loss came so close to killing me and I just don't have it in me to cope with anymore heartbreak so my heart is sealed shut with a massive iron lock on it to protect me."

Rationally, I know this is a shiiit coping mechanism/ defense but it's what my subconscious is convinced is the only safe option (core belief).

At the same time, living like this is unbearable. It sucks every last molecule of joy out of my life and all that's left is a desert wasteland.
 
my brain is utterly convinced that if I open my heart to anything good, valuable or beautiful then that thing will die/ vanish/ be destroyed/ be tainted/ turn out to be an illusion and I feel like that loss will kill me because that big loss came so close to killing me and I just don't have it in me to cope with anymore heartbreak so my heart is sealed shut with a massive iron lock on it to protect me."

Rationally, I know this is a shiiit coping mechanism/ defense but it's what my subconscious is convinced is the only safe option (core belief).
Perhaps try something different than opening your heart?

It may mean choosing OTHER good/valuable/beautiful things to bring into your life, at least for awhile, than you would ordinarily choose… but it would start the process of bringing good/valuable/beautiful things into your life… without the fear of losing them. As you don’t particularly care for them, to begin with.

For example? If you’re arts & sciences? Try maths & politics. Something you can recognise intellectually as having beauty or value, but not something that speaks to your soul.
 
full empathy on this dilemma, Ecdysis. i like using broken bone analogies to talk about psychic injuries such as broken and betrayed trust. of course a trauma is gonna hurt worse when it lands it the precise spot of a previous injury.
By contrast, in the retraumatisation, I was 100% trusting and open and didn't see it coming at all (see Friday's thread on "betrayal").
early into my recovery, i often made similar claims about myself. then i realized that denial is not just a river in egypt. my 100% open trust was still heavily laced with flashbacks, hypervigilance, catastrophizing and other ptsd residuals of the earlier betrayals. i wasn't as **over it** as i had been telling myself.

dunno if this fits your case, or not, but gentle empathy and healing hopes for the phenom.
 
Hi @Ecdysis . I relate totally to your post. Though I would say the actual fear of it happening daily has decreased for me in general, though any given moment can bring it up, and I live most moments steeling myself for the shoe that will fall in the back of my mind and in my awareness. But I have come to realize, this part of what you said (though I relate to all of it):

I feel like that loss will kill me because that big loss came so close to killing me and I just don't have it in me to cope with anymore heartbreak so my heart is sealed."
for me doesn't feel like a cognitive distortion, it seems a (true) fact. Not just seems, there is actually truth in it, that's why I think it's hard to argue with ourselves otherwise.

But I have learned this, mostly from others: a wise person I know said suffering and love are 2 sides of the same coin; we do sign up for suffering the moment we choose to love. I long since remember even Mother Teresa saying ~"True love is painful. If nothing else at some part you will be parted".

When I was about 11 and my 1st dog died (I had had many losses, deaths, my dad worked away, illnesses of others, uncertain circumstances, dangers etc etc, so I wasn't a stranger to loss, death, uncertainty, fear or stress, I can remember it being expected and just a fact-of-painful-life by maybe 5 years old already). However, she was with me from birth, and I realize now was my protector, confidant and emotional co-regulator too. So when she died (and worse yet it was a poor Vet's choice of treatment that brought it about at that moment at least), I simply said I'm never getting another dog.. Apparently my dad (hugely impacted by losses, illnesses of others and stress since a very small boy) told my mom, "We have to get another dog." I said no, I was plenty old enough to not need protection, but mostly I would have no part in it. He did anyway, right away really. The 'puppy' (he was one) was Gigantic (he didn't look like a puppy to me at 8 months). It took me about 3 hours to let myself fall absolutely head over heals for him (which was about 2 hours and 59 minutes longer than would be my norm ☺️),. But I can remember the moment I saw his vulnerability it did it, and then his response to me sealed the deal. I chose to put my thoughts of my self (for my self, my heart's protection) aside because it was he that needed me/ us.

So I guess what I mean, I believe you feel very deeply, and maybe it's who you are and couldn't change it, really, or the inclination to it, any more than you can change your eye color. The fact that you feel so deeply a loss is because you love so deeply. That's pretty amazing. And to be part of life, which is fluid, I think to live passionately and true to your nature/ authentic has a cost but it is who and how you are.

I can't recall, but the poet either Rumi or Hafiz said something like the depth of your sorrows will inversely correspond to your capacity for joy. Definitely your potential for the capacity to love, I feel, as well as your understanding for others. And really, others need that, I believe. You will make choices most others wouldn't think of, small and large, even mini-choices in your day. It makes you incredibly precious, especially when it's rare.

I hope there is something in that useful. Best wishes to you.
 
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