I feel settled and thoughtful this morning. I know that doesn’t exactly hook you in to reading my post.

My brain works when I am settled like this. It’s a much more interesting place to be. I like it. I think I never imagined that as an outcome: I wanted the pain to stop, I wanted to have better relationships, I wanted not to go into tailspins. I never thought life would be more interesting for me without anything necessarily changing on the outside.

A few days ago, I felt sort of hopeless about myself, thinking I work so hard, but here I am with no job and no home of my own. I barely feel I have friends. Hard work has not magically solved anything, although I always believe it will.

I guess it won’t necessarily, but it makes it a lot more interesting to be me.

There were some thoughts I wanted to share.

One of them is that I have struggled through this situation with my friend, I have thought about what she is doing that makes me uncomfortable and tried to look at myself and back through my life to understand when I might have done those things and why I did them.

It shed light on my relationship with my ex-wife and the dynamic between us. There were things I did I was not aware I was doing or what effect on her they had, and things she did I could not understand the motive for.

Looking back, I wish we had been able to talk about how things affected us. It seems there was such an emphasis on rules, rather than understanding one another. It wouldn’t have helped our relationship, but it would have helped me. When your father kills people, rules can seem to lack significance, but I understand consequences and outcome. I understand the idea that something I am doing does not give me the outcome I want.

I thought about how my friend has been essentially bringing this head full of anguish to me and dumping it in my lap, as though she wants me to fix it. First, she told me to leave, and she wanted telling me that to fix it. Now she tells me she feels guilty, and she wants me to fix that. I don’t want to fix things for her.

I think I did that. My partner legitimately did things intentionally to hurt me, but coming to her for help with it merely transmitted my trauma experience to her, to which she added all of her childhood issues. I never got this idea that it’s difficult and people can’t, that emotions can be contagious and other people don’t always have better tools for coping with them than I do. If I can’t cope, maybe the person I want support from can’t cope either.

There was a lot of talk of self-care, but not the reason for it. It’s not that other people won’t or shouldn’t. That’s sometimes true, but more often they can’t.

I spent a long time trying to learn healthier habits of various kinds, trying to imitate people who haven’t been traumatized, not realizing that I need the coping skills to manage my world–not theirs.

I know we avoid that reality, because the trauma is so intricately linked to shame: a person in power who can’t or won’t control themselves–is too easily dysregulated and impulsive–and covers their shame over that by blaming the victim. If I admit to the impact of trauma, I have to manage the feelings I had at the time: sexual predators say the child “provoked” them; caregivers who abuse their children express similar beliefs about their children during abuse.

But how do I come to terms with their malevolence? How do I manage feeling the shame I had when I was abused so that I can know what it was? Mostly, it’s too hard, and we find ways to push those experiences away and not know them.

I’m not unique in that regard. That was one thought. We are not really meant to understand reality in isolation, nor are we meant to manage our feelings alone, but trauma is hard and if it is not your trauma, you can get through it by simply pushing it away.

So I won’t dump my trauma experiences on anyone again. I don’t like it either.



4 thoughts on “

  1. Alexandra Roth August 9, 2017 / 6:01 am

    So, do you mean you won’t tell people about your childhood trauma, or what do you mean?

    In my personal life, I’ve found that even if someone can and does help me with my feelings, I still have to have a sort of plan for how they are going to do that. If I just come to them all falling apart, they tend to say things I find alienating and then it’s worse. So I have to pull myself together enough to be able to say, Please just listen, or Please don’t take sides, or I don’t need you to fix it.

    But that implies that I actually do fall apart with people and I haven’t done that since I was a teenager. it’s more that those teen experiences were so upsetting that as soon as I could, I learned to manage my feelings better so I could manage the experience of telling them.

    The down side of this is that I rarely let people just take care of me. I’ve never developed that. I’ve become very skillful in managing my relationships but sometimes there seems to be a certain rigidity or withholding on my part that makes me sad.

    Oops, I might be no longer commenting on your post correctly. Sorry! See question above.

    • Ashana M August 9, 2017 / 6:43 am

      Well, I don’t think there is a correct or incorrect way to comment. My posts are pretty meander-y. Feel free to meander in your comment, as far as I am concerned.

      I mean really my feelings about anything, which sounds pretty horrible, when I put it like that. Having someone in front of me while I am having a difficult experience nearly always make it worse for me–and for them. I guess it’s something I need to think more about. It might be I have in the past tended to want to talk about feelings that seemed so bad to me, I wanted someone to be able to fix them for me, and that’s not fair. People end up being used as objects that way.

  2. Alexandra Roth August 9, 2017 / 8:51 am

    I’m not sure if that’s always true, that people are used as objects in that way. Sometimes aren’t you just letting them in to your world?

    Sometimes people just can’t help. Ain’t that the truth. I’ve spent the last two and a half years helping my young adult daughter through a deep depression – not as a therapist, of course, but through getting her treatment and changing the way I relate to her and understanding her much, much better, and taking her to various doctors to figure out the remaining illness, which turned out to be narcolepsy.

    And it just wrung me out. Her deep despair was so contagious that I got depressed along with her, and then as she got better and I got better, I found that I had very little left to give to my husband or my son. No one’s blaming anyone, but it seems to me that I’ve been permanently changed by this, as by a high fever. But I think you’re right in what you seem to be saying, which is that sometimes people can’t help or even receive what you are saying and it’s easiest if you can feel “no fault, no foul” about that and not think it’s because you are impossible.

    • Ashana M August 9, 2017 / 9:11 am

      I think when I am so overwhelmed by my own experiences that I actually do reach out, I don’t have enough left over to keep track of how I am affecting the other person. I’m fleeing myself, and it probably feels so shameful to me to be in that situation that I don’t want to know. When I am managing my own experiences, then it’s letting people into my world.

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