Just Call me Spiderman

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There was a time when I was confident that I knew myself. I was friendly, emotionally stable, happy, had a positive outlook, maintained healthy friendships, gave of myself for others, and could do anything I put my mind to. I worked hard at people-helping jobs, and had a vision to be a counselor or pastor. I got married and thought that's how I would spend the rest of my life.

Then everything changed. My wife turned on me and became a viscious enemy. My faith community turned out to be horrifyingly abusive. My business fell apart. My mental health took a terrifying nose dive.

I relocated to ****** ****** and tried to start over. I was in a constant state of exceedingly high anxiety that ultimately ended up being debilitating. In this state i couldn't even think straight and life was like a horror movie, yet I managed to get a job and start schooling to become a Mental Health Therapist.

I gave 110% for as long as I could, all the while under constant attack from my wife. I finally collapsed into isolating myself in my house. I could not handle interaction with the outside world any more. I had to quit working and attending online college courses.

I could not function at all. I spent 2 years curled up on my couch totally debilitated. I tried every psych med in the book to no avail. I white-knuckled my way through every miserable day just to be able to escape to sleep again for another restless and tormented night.

No hope was in sight. I thought I'd spend the rest of my life in this condition. Finally, out of utter desperation, I turned to alcohol for some sense of relief.

Alcohol did bring some relief. I started to function to a minimal degree and went out with my wife. Just when I thought things might be improving, my wife cheated on me and we got a divorce.

I truly had no clue who I was any more. I kept drinking to numb the pain and be able to function with some degree of normalcy. I had absolutely no clue who the man was behind the bottle nor what his true condition was.

After suffering constant and debilitating torments for 6 years, I just wanted to enjoy a few days of my life before going to the grave. That was my only real purpose in life.

In this condition, and fresh out of a rotten marriage, I ran into a lady who was kind to me, fun to hang out with, and of a lovely heart. She and I clicked and started to form a friendship then more. It seemed like maybe there was hope for my life after all.

Again, I didn't have a clue who I was or what I had to offer. I didn't know the extent of my psychological and emotional damage or how it would effect people around me. I didn't realize I was in no condition to offer myself to an intimate relationship.

In the end, I badly hurt the lovely lady who I formed a relationship with by withdrawing from her. I had no intention of doing so. I still loved her, but I could not handle the normal conflicts of new relationships.

I didn't even know this about myself until our breakup occurred. Conflict arose several times and I fled the relationship because of the intense agony it caused me. It's hard to explain unless someone has experienced it. It's not just being hurt or upset. It is being paralyzed and tormented with horror as if your life is in imminent threat.

It is absolutely unbearable. As much as I wanted to remain in the relationship, I simply could not. My reaction to conflict was taking me back to the bedridden state of paralyzing anxiety and depression that I had just come out of. I literally just could not handle it.

If I knew that this is the condition I was in, I would have never allowed my lady friend to become involved with me. In fact, I am currently not able or willing to let anyone get involved with me for this very reason. I have apologized profusely to my dear lady friend and tried to explain my regret for the hurt I caused her, but there is no undoing what I have done.

Now I must live not only with the pain of having hurt my precious friend, but also with the conflict of still having feelings for her but having to protect her from getting close to me. It is one of the worst struggles I've ever endured.

I sometimes have to laugh at myself to ease the weight of the pain. A thought that just occurred to me which kind of made me chuckle is that I'm like Spiderman. Always wanting intimacy, but never able to let anyone close for their own protection.

It sucks!

Maybe it won't always be like this. But this is who I am for now, who I am reduced to being by this damnable condition called Complex PTSD. If someone told me they were in this condition I am in, I would not believe except that now I have experienced it myself. In fact, I was in denial for quite some time. It just doesn't seem possible, doesn't seem like traumatic life events could so fundamentally change a person. But they do.

Fundamentally different. I am a fundamentally different man than I was all my life. I am not confident. I am not able. I am not emotionally stable. Far from being able to do anything I put my mind to, I can hardly do anything. I cannot socialize. I cannot handle intimacy. My body perceives interaction with people as a mortal threat. I can't work or attend classes. I barely leave my house. Many days I can't even think straight. In today's popular vernacular I am a hot mess. I stopped drinking. I am seeing a therapist. I've found a faith community that I sometimes attend. I am coming to terms with the man who I now am.

The greatest struggle is still having the desires of the man I used to be and not being able to fulfill them. To love and be loved. To sit around joking with friends. To enjoy being in the presence of family. To work. To shoot the crap with my neighbors.

I do a little of some of those things. But it's not an easy thing. It is filled with trembling in the body, torment of the emotions, and racing thoughts.

I don't have anything to offer that I used to have. I no longer have a purpose in my life except to try and get better. I find I am able to relate to others in situations similar to mine. You might be surprised how many of us there are.

At 50 years old I am forced to rebuild my life with barely any of the usual tools and abilities. I have to relearn how to have relationship with little capacity to tolerate it. I have to do all this with a fond memory of what it was like to be "normal" and no way to approximate that condition. And with my limited funtionality, I have to try to make amends for the harm I've caused in discovering this new person I am.

What a challenge. Some days, I'm so overcome with fatigue, and despair, anxiety, brain fog, and pure misery that I simply can't even try. Some days all I can do is sleep.

Other days are better. At times I can feel almost "normal." At such times, I am tempted to take on more than I can, only to find myself slammed back down into debilitation again. This makes it hard to even step out on good days to learn my new limitations and abilities. I don't even know what I can and cannot handle. How utterly frustrating for me AND anyone who would be close to me.

It's bad enough that I have to endure this. I really don't want to put such a burden on people around me.

So, this is where I am today. Like I said, it's hard to believe, but I've had to accept it. Only in facing where I am now will I ever be able to move beyond. I am not having a pity party, but being real and transparent about where I am right now.

I am a different person than I've ever been or know how to be. Multiple severe traumas have changed me. I don't know me.
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