The apparently normal functional part of me and the part carrying all the trauma

Ecdysis

MyPTSD Pro
So, during childhood trauma, I learned how to perfect those two roles ^^

Always appear normal, functioning fine, regardless of how bad the trauma, abuse, neglect was.

It's how I grew up.

Later, that "skill" helped me get through life as an adult too.

Function. Appear normal. Say you're fine.

Then breakdown at home. Come undone. Dysregulate. Isolate. Try to get re-regulated so you can leave the house again, seeming fine.

This cycle is my life.

There are many drawbacks to it. For one thing, by appearning (and usually insisting) that I'm fine, I've missed out on a lot of support and help that the traumatised part of me would have needed.

I did trauma therapy for years... but basically the goal of trauma therapy was to "deal with" the trauma, so that I could appear/ be "fine" 100% of the time.

Another drawback is that apparently-fine me will get me involved in all sorts of stuff - sign employment contracts, commit to volunteer work, take on tasks and projects, etc etc etc... That traumatised me has no hope of living up to.

So mostly, I've learned to sign up to these things "part-time" and try to squeeze in enough downtime around the edges so that I can continue to cope and to function.

This last time tho, I've bitten off way, way, way more than my traumatised part can chew.

For a few years, I went into over-functioning mode... Working 60 hour weeks, sleeping 4 - 5 hours per night just work-work-work-function-function-function...

Until it (predictably, sigh...) ended in burnout... And since then I've been soooooo non-functioning, but with a huge amount of long-term commitments I signed up to, some of which are cancel-able but many of which are not and it's a f*cking mess.

I don't know how to deal with it.

Both aspects of me are real.

The part carrying all the trauma is real.

But so is the functioning part - this isn't some kind of fake thing.

I think everyone is functioning/ non-functioning at times... I guess that without major trauma, for most people those things are kind of blended with each other tho.

There's not that stark contrast of two things which feel like opposites and which I can't get to co-exist properly.

At the moment, I seem to be stuck with the non-functioning trauma-carrying part 95% of the time.

But I know that if/when I recover some functioning, that part of me will start signing me up to new jobs, projects, responsibilities again.

The functioning part of me *really* wants to deny the trauma-carrying part of me exists. The functioning part is convinced if we can just work out *how* to function 24/7, then the trauma-carrying part will magically disappear.

To explain how nuts this is... The functioning part of me has often considered taking on 2 full-time jobs - working a day job and working a 2nd job at night and has reasoned that that would be fine because I don't really "need" sleep. Or that if I worked 2 x 8 hour jobs, that would still leave 8 hours per day - enough to get sleep and do some household chores.

That kind of crap sersiouly sounds "doable" to my functional part.

And the problem is, I've done "undoable" stuff before, many times. Surviving childhood trauma does give you the kind of "superpowers" where you can use your survival reactions to push through situations that are beyond nuts and use dissociation to cope with the un-copeable.

So unfortunately, my (over)functional part doesn't regularly get the reality checks she "should" be getting... Because I *can* do impossible things (I just may spend a week catatonic, dysregulated, dissociated, suicidal afterwards... but hey... I still got the impossible thing done, so that's what counts, right?)

But this time I've seriously painted myself into a corner... The fallout is pretty bad.

It would've worked out, if I'd been able to keep working 60-hour weeks and hadn't gotten sick(er).

I could still make it sort of work out, if I could snap out of this depression and got back to hyper-functioning.

I don't want to be in the space of the non-functioning trauma-carrying part.

But ignoring it/ shoving it aside/ denying it/ pretending it's not there is seriously not working anymore.
 
The therapy I have been workkng with has been mainly Transactional analysis. Which is about certain parts/ego states and helps to understand all this.

What I worked on is understanding what these parts are. What their functions are. Where they belong. And ultimately how to integrate them. Integrating results in new behaviours, new themes and scripts for behaviour.

It's not a choice of functioning and non functioning. Those are messages those parts have had to survive. There is the integrated middle ground.
 
Yeah. In theory I know this. I've dealt with it a bit in trauma therapy before too.

But I don't want to *be* the non-functional, trauma-carrying part. I don't want that to be me. I'm quite happy being the functional part, that has brief blips of non-functionality, that we try to ignore and just carry on.

I'm "okay" with the traumatised, non-functional part of me... umm... existing. Like, she can sit in the corner, quitely and not make a fuss and not interrupt my functional life. That would be fine.

And I have invested in trauma therapy over the years, to help the trauma-carrying part. It's not like I just ignore her all of the time.

But I don't want her to be "part" of "my" life. I want my trauma therapist to "fix" her so she can basically go away for all intents and purposes.

I think I'm addicted to being the functional part... because conveniently, that part wasn't traumatised, so it's like magically making the trauma disappear.

Ugh, damn. I was going to work on another topic at my next T appt, but I guess I'm going to have to focus on this because it's become seriously unworkable as it is.
 
I think you goal and wish is feasible and what integration is about? But perhaps with some shifting of terminology or how you hold it?

Integration is, and this is all how I see it (!), about acceptance. Accepting the past. Accepting it has had impact. Accepting the good. Accepting the bad. And integrating it to be part of you and your story. So parts of you don't sit separately in the corner. But you invite them in, embrace them. And then they can go back to the past. And not be hanging around in your present. Their function is gone. They become a memory. And you become you.

Unless there is a diagnosis of DID and parts are separate entities, but it sounds like you don't have that diagnosis?

Edited to add: and compassion is key. I found that traumatised me needed a lot of compassion to be able to be let free. So hard to give ourselves. But they never had it. So: finding a way to show love and compassion to that part will help.
 
back in the 70's this was called, "compartmentalizing" and viewed as a good thing for somebody like me who wanted to be both an engineer and a wife/mother. by the 90's, this balancing act was believed to be the cause in the spike of female heart attack patients. here in the 21st century, my efforts to fit into both worlds has been complicated by the need to "play date" in order to give my foster children a social life. the cross-generational aspect of learning how to play date as a senior citizen has added a few colorful bubbles to that brew. bless my young heart. . .

i STILL haven't figured out which me i need to learn how to be. just mask it all. . . can i just shed the old skins and be a brand new kind of me?
 
I guess I'm scared that if I invite the trauma-carrying part in then it'll constantly be with me.

I get that's kind of the point.

But there are (good?) reasons why she's sort of split off (an no, no DID).

It feels unsafe and like it will cause a bad mess to change it.

Ughhhh

I know this stage of my life (late 40s) is about finally doing this work and becoming whole.

I hate what that entails tho.

Isn't there some magic trick that lets me bypass this?

I ranted about it in my diary earlier and realised it's mean and dismissive to call the trauma-carrying part "non-functional". She's non-functional regarding daily life tasks because she's doing the very heavy lifting of carrying the trauma, which is hyper-functional in its own way.)

Ugh... so, the narrative I have the "least" resistance to is: I now have to seek the help, support and healing that was missing in childhood. So it's just stuff that's got a slight time delay (well, 4 decades) so it's kind of just like something that was stuck in the mail and is getting delivered late.

That's the version that least makes my brain explode/ implode and that raises the fewest defenses/ resistance.

I wonder whether maybe viewing her as younger (ie the ages the trauma happened) will make me more compassionate and less rejecting? I think I currently view her as and adult who "mysteriously" sucks at adulting and hence I view her as incompetent and annoying.
 
Isn't there some magic trick that lets me bypass this?
When you find it, let the rest of us know!

The journey through all this crap sure is hard. They have to invent a better, easier, quicker way!
I wonder whether maybe viewing her as younger (ie the ages the trauma happened) will make me more compassionate and less rejecting?
That could really help.


It's understandable that the thought of trying something different is scary. Because it's the unknown and the worry if it is too overwhelming to manage. Been there. Also been there in my 40s trying to navigate all this.
But: it's do-able. Not easy. By any means. But do-able.
 
Sigh... I feel a bit stupid now... the level of stupid, where it's almost hilarious (in a stupid way).

This trauma-carrying part that I want to distance myself from so much... I'm stuck "in" that part for the last few years.

So much for distancing myself from her 🙄

But instead of accepting it, I've been telling myself it's "bad" and "wrong" and that I need to be the functional part again NOW. (Which has obviously not worked at all.)

The functional part seems so inaccessible to me right now - and yet, I still "identify" with it completely... Wow, brains are complicated (and sometimes stupid).

(I realise it's not literally stupid, it's a coping strategy, but I need to laugh at the stupidity of it to at least cheer me up a bit.)

So I guess I have to accept that currently, I "am" the trauma-carrying part and I totally suck at adulting and that's totally appropriate because I'm in the midst of dealing with trauma.

Ugh... I hope I can "hold" this perspective in my head and it's not gone in 5 minutes, the next time I'm distracted by something.

And I hope that although my functioning part seems so distant and inaccessible, I can try to see it as a real, valid, existing part of myself that I will have access to again, when I've done some healing and processing work on the trauma I'm currently dealing with.

Thank you for the input that helped get a few of my brain-cells enough un-stuck to have this overdue realisation!
 
Sigh... I feel a bit stupid now... the level of stupid, where it's almost hilarious (in a stupid way).

This trauma-carrying part that I want to distance myself from so much... I'm stuck "in" that part for the last few years.

So much for distancing myself from her 🙄

But instead of accepting it, I've been telling myself it's "bad" and "wrong" and that I need to be the functional part again NOW. (Which has obviously not worked at all.)

The functional part seems so inaccessible to me right now - and yet, I still "identify" with it completely... Wow, brains are complicated (and sometimes stupid).

(I realise it's not literally stupid, it's a coping strategy, but I need to laugh at the stupidity of it to at least cheer me up a bit.)

So I guess I have to accept that currently, I "am" the trauma-carrying part and I totally suck at adulting and that's totally appropriate because I'm in the midst of dealing with trauma.

Ugh... I hope I can "hold" this perspective in my head and it's not gone in 5 minutes, the next time I'm distracted by something.

And I hope that although my functioning part seems so distant and inaccessible, I can try to see it as a real, valid, existing part of myself that I will have access to again, when I've done some healing and processing work on the trauma I'm currently dealing with.

Thank you for the input that helped get a few of my brain-cells enough un-stuck to have this overdue realisation!

I don't know if this is helpful, but I'm starting to realize that when I'm functioning well, I'm always hopeful it'll continue, and have a hard time imagining that it won't. So I plan for times I'm feeling good. When I'm not, I don't plan much of anything, beyond getting through the day.

And that makes a kind of sense: of course we overload ourselves with plans & projects when we're not so weighted down. It's very hard for me to strike a middle ground and not over schedule/overcommit, then swing back to overwhelm. But I'm getting better at it, and I think (hope) it can be done.
 
ETA, a little bit more on that….

I don’t think it’s at all strange to want to be one’s best.

When I’m doing wellest? I have ALL my skills, memories, etc. all fairly easily catalogued and accessible at will. I compartmentalize pretty damn hard, but? I can still shift easily/fluidly between those compartments to pull what I need, when I need it, and what I want, when I want it.

When I’m doing badly, my compartments tend to break down. I cannot access this, that, the other… meanwhile all these?!?… are spilled all over the damn floor. Livin life is like being asked to cook dinner in a kitchen destroyed by an earthquake/hurricane/flood, without cleaning up. It’s a HELL OF A LOT EASIER to just close the door on the kitchen and go BBQ something, rather than clean it up, much less cook without cleaning.

The first time I dealt with my PTSD? I essentially just bricked off that destroyed kitchen & found other ways to cook.

But the SECOND time my PTSD went wild? That brick wall fell down and I kept finding all these things I’d totally forgotten about, amidst the rubble… that I hadn’t missed until I was reminded they existed, and now devoutly wanted back in my life. So it was very much worth the effort cleaning up.

Bricking up that destroyed kitchen? Performed a very useful service in my life, back when. But it also cut me off from a helluva lotta things that make my life & myself sooooo much better for having them. I’m MORE myself, and MORE functional, and MORE skilled, having access to that bricked off area. But? Not at first. At first it’s sliding over broken dishes, to land on my arse, and have a pot fall on my head. And the hardest part of cleaning it up? (Trauma processing) Isn’t “just” the beginning, but often means getting help (or a pulley system) to right the stove laying on its face, and rebuild the cupboards, etc.).

^^^ Using this massive-metaphor to focus on the thing itself, rather than to rabbit hole down 10,000 projects, processes for “how”, &/or my own trauma.
 
That's an excellent description @Friday

I used the bricking-off method all my life and was quite please with the results.

But yes, a lot of the valuable stuff of who-you-are gets bricked off with it.

I'm at the point where this has stopped working. I can see some of the benefits this has (more fully, authentically, wholly me) but the price of having to deal with ALLL the mess? Omg...

And I've no skillset for this new approach built up yet. All my brick-laying skills are soooo not required or even helpful for this new approach.

I've been mulling over a similar metaphor the last few days, actually... The adult trauma I experienced felt like someone had detonated a bomb and the "house of me" came crashing down. I'm trying to differentiate that a bit now... When I've put it in words properly, I'll put it here too.
 
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