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Newly diagnosed. How do I make sense of all of this?


New Here
Hi all,

I'm a 38yo male, newly diagnosed with C-PTSD (with the Fawning repsonse type). I've been listening to a some YouTube video and listening to the audio book "Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving" and whilst I tick almost all of the symptoms I'm not really sure how it came about exactly.

Pretty much all of the content I've listened to refers to bad parenting being the cause of C-PTSD. But this was not the case for me. My parents were and are great. Supportive, calm, rarely argue. Home was a pretty stress-free environment. My home life as a child did not reflect the examples given in the literature.

School, on the other hand, was different. I grew up in the country with a lot of freedoms - playing outside, exploring, etc. School was the opposite to that - very rigid, lots of rules, stuck inside all day, teachers yelling at you if you stepped out of line. I would get into trouble quite a lot, not because I was a bad kid but because I didn't really understand the rules. At first getting into trouble didn't really affect me to much, but about 6 months in I just kind of snapped. I remember getting into trouble yet again and just breaking down into tears. I kept saying that I didn't understand why I was getting into trouble. I just remember feeling very broken and sad. From that day one I was an ultra-good kid. I would check in with the teachers several times throughout the day to see if I had done something wrong. I would cry whenever a teacher raised their voice at me, I would cry before school begging my parents not to take me. Although I didn't get in trouble much anymore school became a source of absolute misery for me. I became quiet, shy and jumpy.

Things only got worse in high school. Although I no longer had any issues getting into trouble with teachers, my timidness and shyness made me an easy target for bullies. I went to a very small high school with very few cliques - if you didn't fit in with the group there was no other group to fit in with. I was bullied very, very badly, and at one time sexually assaulted. This was the time I started developing suicidal ideations. I had the repeating thought on my walk to school "If you were dead you wouldn't have to do this anymore".

During my adult years, all of this pretty much disappeared but I still felt very down. I think because the workplace had similar connotations to school - have to be "locked in" there for a set amount of time, following orders from bosses, etc. Also, the bullying and "loss of self" had a very bad effect on my confidence, self worth, and social life.

I've had a few relationships with some very lovely and kind partners, but after a while they felt more like duty for some reason - eg I had a duty to ensure they were happy which often meant sacrificing my own happiness. Fawning, I guess. To my own shame and regret, I just got burnt out in these relationships. They did nothing wrong, but I just got too exhausted trying to constantly "provide" and be a good partner for them (even though they didn't necessarily need it) - of course, playing the role of People Pleaser.

About 4 years ago I met my current partner. Things are different in this relationship. To be blunt she frightens me at times. Her personality really digs into to my C-PTSD triggers. She has a short fuse and often gets angry. She likes things to be very orderly around the house and with our activities - aka there are many "rules". She often "gets me into trouble" (starts an argument) for doing things I feel are harmless (eg playing video games). When we have an argument, I get completely bulldozed and end up Fawning and betraying myself by agreeing to do things that I don't feel comfortable with. I've realised I've given so much up (hobbies, possessions, friendships) just to mitigate the chances of an argument. I also never voice my feelings anymore because they are likely to either cause and argument or be "logiced" away.

This has caused an extreme amount of tension in our relationship and I am in the worse shape I have ever been, mentally speaking. I'm scared and jumpy all the time, frightened of what mood she's going to be in when I get home and not understanding what I will or won't do to set her off.

Coupled with this is an immense amount of shame. I feel terrible for not being clear with her, especially around having children or not. Right now, I don't feel capable of being a parent - especially after this diagnosis. I'm too sick and need to work on my own mental health. Though I want to try and express this to her, an argument ensues and I end up Fawning and agreeing to try to have children, even though the very idea scares me to death. At the time, at the peek of the argument I just say things to "get through the night". I feel so sad - not only am I betraying myself, I'm betraying her by being dishonest and leading her on. She has her flaws, but she doesn't deserve this.

Looking back with the knowledge of having had this illness I feel like I've been a terrible person. I've lied, been dishonest and hurt people and not been true to myself. Getting the condition may not have been my fault, but I am responsible for the actions I've done "under the influence of it".

So yeah, sorry for the wall of text. I find myself lost at sea. I'm in a horrible situation at home, and feel appalled with myself. Having this new perspective has really been life altering for me, and, for now, not in a good way. I'm struggling to come to grips with all of this, particularly the dynamics of my relationship and my "new self". Any advice is appreciated!
You are moving in the right direction by seeking help and doing the work. However it is important to remind yourself that you are at the beginning of a process for which your response built in childhood circumstances for which you had no control are coming to your rescue in a setting where you do have control. Meaning if this will be your forever relationship then start by figuring out one rule you won’t let your partner direct at you if it doesn’t fit for you. This now is about choice. You can choose your own rules, your own habits, your own direction in life with a supportive partner. If you are concerned this partner is not going to join you onthe journey of recovery then you have the added problem of what to do with the relationship. Your partner has issues from the past presumably based on what gets controlled or anger response. We sometimes get into relationships that feel similar to the ones from childhood. In some ways your partner is unknowingly bringing up the past. So as a child you didnt have resources to deal with it, you do now by doing the work. Consider yourself in a whole new school so to speak, where you get the chance to build strength in how you navigate these things. But seriously if partner is not along for the healing journey by way of acknowledging their stuff as well as letting you work on yours, you will find the fawn always out and about. I’m a fawn and I go there so fast I don’t even know how I got there. Took me a long time to remind myself that I’m a work in progress. I also have adopted a new phrase question where I ask myself, whose life am I living? That one is the one I’m finding helpful as I do so much of what you said, always for them nothing for me.
Being diagnosed with PTSD without any kind of trauma history would confuse me, too. Much less CPTSD, which requires an even longer and more varied trauma history. I’d be looking for a second opinion.
When I first contacted the va for help I told the therapist that I remember iraq not being that bad but I could barely remember anything about so I started digging. Eventually I found my unit on a Facebook account I made to try to remember. I tried to contact some of them with no success and then I recognized a face but I couldn't place it and he happened to be the top detective in one of the largest cities in the US so I called his office. It was my CO in iraq. As I was hearing his voice things started flooding back. It was real bad. Ptsd all over again.

My point is are there any gaps in your memory where you don't remember things? Maybe thats an avenue to explore with a therapist? Just my 2 cents.