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.