Preferring observation to participation and wanting to really live

Status
Not open for further replies.

Strangelongtrip

MyPTSD Pro
I spent the first year of the "really bad PTSD time" (starting October 2015) in a state where life felt incredibly real. I was a literal hurricane but I did things. I tried things. I keep pushing myself. I spent the next year being pretty ridiculous as well, skinny dipping, smoking, sex, drinking, anything to numb myself but in 2017 I finally went to a good therapist and have been recovering since then. Really recovering. I've had panic attacks and disassociation since 5, grew up in an environment that I think caused part of my PTSD (or at the very least contributed to its eventual development), developed self harm etc. I look back on the past few years and think, at least before I was recovering I was doing SOMETHING. I went to school on a campus, now I finish online. I saw friends in person, now I mainly just text them because they live far away. I joined clubs and organizations, I had a work study job, I even joined a sexual assault survivors group. But I gave up all of these things over and over--clubs, jobs, groups. I always felt like there was something about me that people are not going to accept, so I just give up. I avoid rejection. I feel uncomfortable all the time around most people. I attempt to date emotionally unavailable women because I don't want someone to really see me. Every time I showed someone who I was that I wanted to date in the past year, they rejected me. I spend more time looking at people doing things on social media than I do actually going out in the world and doing something. I scroll and scroll and say "I can't do this because I'm fat and no one would date me or be friends with me" and "I can't do this because I'm not that pretty and I'm not that smart and I'll never achieve that so I'll just look at people doing it and wish it was me." Observing, in a way, has always been my way of living. I prefer observation to participation. I always have, even without extreme trauma. It's safer and I don't have to risk anything.

I also developed a coping mechanism of my output and productivity being what I assigned my life's meaning to. Even if it won't amount to "anything", and I won't get lucky and make something "important." Last night I realized that I am putting my entire happiness on the idea that I am working towards an end goal. I feel like this is dangerous because goals are sometimes partially luck, and I've seen what happens when you get there and it has its own challenges. Instead, I want to start participating in life now. I want to live my life now. I'm done making excuses as to why I can't live and participate, except...I'm not. They just warp and become even stronger like some sort of mutant enemy. I don't know where to begin, too. How do I participate in life instead of just watching? I'm terrified. I feel like I've been living in a haze since 2017. I don't know what it means to be a "recovering/recovered" person and to feel real. I just feel like I have to either resort to my own ways, or live entirely detached, because attachment is suffering. Nothing seems worth what could happen to me if I get hurt again like I did before. I have an astrology app that said something along the lines of falling out of touch with reality is the same thing as using drugs to escape it (if you read this and know the app, we are one haha). I also think about a line from a song that says "thinking about the future as if it's going to make you happy, escape from reality." I don't feel connected to myself, or life or the idea of living in general. I feel like I'm dreaming most times.

I want to really enjoy my life but I don't know what that means. How do you enjoy your life? What does that even mean? I could join groups etc, but what am I passionate about? What do I actually care about? I used to be so passionate. I used to care so much. And I was miserable then too. How do I balance? I feel so solitary all the time. I feel just enough to care but not enough to put a plan into action. How do I get started and actually participate?
 

Teasel

MyPTSD Pro
I want to start participating in life now. I want to live my life now.

Congrats - it's the first step :)

I don't know what it means to be a "recovering/recovered" person and to feel real. I just feel like I have to either resort to my own ways, or live entirely detached, because attachment is suffering.

And joy :)

I don't think any of us know what it is to be recovered before we get there, myself included :)

I don't feel connected to myself, or life or the idea of living in general. I feel like I'm dreaming most times.

I think this is a really good place to start.

A couple years back I started a journal to keep a few short notes each day on getting in touch with myself, connecting to who I am, finding out how I feel, what I want. Because I was pretty bloody clueless. It helped too. Maybe you could do something small each day to help you connect with yourself.


Recently I've had a bit of treatment on the NHS for ptsd. 2 groups come to mind that deal with the kinds of questions you're asking. One of them dealt with helping us find out what we value, what we enjoy doing, what, if anything, we used to do that we might like to take up again. And various things like that. You can do the process too if you like here or just google tree of life exercise to see other examples.

The other group that is really helping me is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy..really really helpful in getting me to unhook myself from negative thinking spirals and begin taking steps towards things that are in line with what I want out of life.

So the tree of life group and Journaling and looking at lists of values helped me begin figuring out what I want and feel and value

And the Acceptance and Commitment therapy group help me to begin making steps towards those things.

The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris explains Acceptance and Commitment therapy in a very easy to understand way and he has free audio files here
Best to you :)
 

Strangelongtrip

MyPTSD Pro
Thank you @berlinda thats all very helpful!! I really like the idea of acceptance and commitment therapy. I struggle a lot with that. I’ll look into those resources and read up on it!
 

jenkins

New Here
I'm glad it sounds like you are improving. :)

I always felt like there was something about me that people are not going to accept, so I just give up. I avoid rejection.
You sound overly worried that people will not accept you or like you. That is not a good idea, stop assuming things. I used to do that too, I assumed things without basis or evidence. It made life so difficult and miserable. It was a bad habit that I worked to change.

This sounds very common IME. In one study they found that women have many more neural connections in their brain than men. This made it easier for women to juggle several different tasks at once. Men are generally not very good at this, but men are good at focusing like a laser on a task. The bad part is all these neuron connections tend to make women overthink things. Just be aware of this and try not to make this a bad habit, do not over think things. You don't know what people are thinking, and you shouldn't worry about that anyway. They are there with you because they want to be. Don't worry about the rest.

Last night I realized that I am putting my entire happiness on the idea that I am working towards an end goal. I feel like this is dangerous because goals are sometimes partially luck, and I've seen what happens when you get there and it has its own challenges.
You got it! IMO, the only goal in life is to be content with what you have, not to have more than the next person. But in the process we usually have to work on our problems to be content.

I don't know where to begin, too. How do I participate in life instead of just watching? I'm terrified.
Try new things that make you go out of your comfort zone. One of my things I did was do an obstacle course 3 stories high in the trees... over an alligator zoo. I was over lots and lots of alligators. Now it was perfectly safe because I was hooked to a safety line but I had no idea how hard it would be. It was actually a pretty tough workout, but it wasn't impossible, and some of the views were really nice high up in the trees.

Even if you don't know if you would enjoy it, try it. Try new food. Try new restaurants. We've been going to all the tiny non-chain restaurants all over town and found some really good ones!

No one can live your life but you. So get out there and try something. I like to garden in the growing season, I like growing flowers, and growing my own food. It's just a bit of food but it's still fun.

One should not live their whole life in the future, nor in the past, there must be a balance. Keep the past in mind to learn from it, look to the future to have something to look forward to, but don't forget to live right now too. Apply balance in everything.
 

Strangelongtrip

MyPTSD Pro
You sound overly worried that people will not accept you or like you. That is not a good idea, stop assuming things. I used to do that too, I assumed things without basis or evidence. It made life so difficult and miserable. It was a bad habit that I worked to change.

I think that's part of it, I'm trying to be better about it and instead say "do I like this person" but that kind of messes with me too because it's like...I don't like everything about anyone. I think I still have a black and white view sometimes. I'm learning to accept people for their flaws etc. because I should accept me for my own but it's hard.


They are there with you because they want to be.

Very true!! I feel like because I went out with people when I didn't want to other people must do this as well.

No one can live your life but you. So get out there and try something. I like to garden in the growing season, I like growing flowers, and growing my own food. It's just a bit of food but it's still fun.

One should not live their whole life in the future, nor in the past, there must be a balance. Keep the past in mind to learn from it, look to the future to have something to look forward to, but don't forget to live right now too. Apply balance in everything.

I'm learning balance a bit more, it's a process but it's been good!!
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top