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A Family Problem

jajingna

jajingna

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Learning about complex trauma, I've started to see that everybody in my family has it, or so I believe. My parents are dead, but they were troubled, and I can only guess what their inner world was like. Mother had a serious mental illness, schizophrenia, so when I was young (teenage-young adult) I started learning about that with a bit of reading.

I never understood my father though. He just seemed to be inexplicably angry and unapproachable. Looking back I think maybe he had social phobia. For some people that presents as a gruff exterior, and they are bitter and want to be left alone. That was him. He had an odd communication style that remains within the family. Mostly though he was a "do not disturb" sort, with unpredictable moods, and could lash out with his bitterness and anger for whatever small reason.

Now the sons are all grown men. It's only been recent that I've come to this realization how deep trauma runs, how it has manifested over the years. I see men who are not doing well, who were more resilient when younger, who seem rather burdened after living with a lot of pain for a really long time. There are so many characteristics or symptoms of this that it could fill a book. A big one might be shame. Another is frustration over life not turning out better.

Anyway, this post is long enough for now. Feel free to reply if you wish. I might have more to add later on.
 
jajingna

jajingna

Well-known member
Joined
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Messages
8,207
Location
Canada
Hey Racer, just spouting out some thoughts here, journal style I guess. It would be interesting to hear from everybody in the family on this. Well, that's not gonna happen. But that would make for an interesting story perhaps, if you could have a bunch of different perspectives on things. How did everybody see the ways things were? How do they see them now? Of course you can't get a story from a dead person.

Anyway, it's just me and my imagination here, and some memories too. I suppose what goes on is the parents pass down their trauma. Inter-generational problems. So they would have larger stories, their families of origin plus the one they made. Only two out of seven sons had any children. Eldest brother had a son and daughter. He died a few years ago at age 60. And my younger bro has a daughter who seems to be doing well in another town.

I wonder about genetics in this. And there's epigenetics too, a different sort of thing. That also sounds important. Genes interacting with environment. Was watching a video last night had a doctor who specialized in young children's mental health, said PTSD signs can be recognized in babies as young as nine months old. Then there was mention of body memories. It's like the body holds on to things in its various systems like the nervous, limbic and immune systems.

Stress is a big thing. This is a stress disorder forum. It seems to me that the body learns a way of coping from a young age, and that may remain the coping strategy for a long time. The ways the nerves behave, how emotions get processed may be learned at quite a young age.
 
jajingna

jajingna

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Location
Canada
Last night the video was about trust issues in complex trauma. Seems like a big thing. Trust sounds complicated. If those closest to you, the ones who are there to look after you, do not treat you well, how can you develop trust? Whether you've been abused, neglected, disrespected, whatever else going into that melange of mistreatment, you were taught people are not be to be trusted.

I think my father probably did not have much trust. Since he preferred to be left alone it seems he wasn't interested in having us around. It's perplexing why a couple would have seven children when they didn't even seem to want to look after them properly. Or they would have liked to, but were not capable. I know it must have been very hard. They were both ill. Having a bunch of youngsters around was added stress. As much as anything else I think stress might have led to father's early death. He was only 59. Those final years with cancer were brutal.

Anyway, it's hard to trust after the family treats you bad. You get the message that anyone close to you is also dangerous. So now you don't want anyone to get close. It can hurt if you let someone near. You are guarded, a bit aloof, distant, self-protective, and others might find you unfriendly sometimes. You could be a total sweetheart, just scared of more hurt and pain. Then how can you get close to anybody when it scares you? You suffer without any close connection, but you fear making one. You shrug it off and say, "eh, people, who needs 'em, really, I got my cat, good enough for me.." when really you want a human to be close to.

But you just can't do it, esp. not with family members. They're the pain-makers. You cannot trust them. You are on guard around them. They irritate you and give you stress. No closeness in the family extends to no closeness with anybody, though you've had a few friends, more like drinking buddies.

Trust is complicated. Hard to build, easy to break, very hard to rebuild once broken. A bit of cruelty can easily crack something that is fragile like trust. It demands consistent respect and even kindness. Being disrespected or treated unkindly will ruin trust, and so you will find it hard to risk trusting anybody. After all, the family hurt you. They were the source of most of your pain. And you still don't feel comfortable with them.
 
jajingna

jajingna

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Joined
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Messages
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Location
Canada
Well, that's a lot to think about. Without trust that people will treat you with respect, with some kindness and regard for your dignity, with some acceptance for you as you are (not as they wish you were, or as you wish you were, or as you wish they were... but as you and they are now), where are you at without that trust? You are in an anxious state, one of uncertainty and unpredictability too. You have to navigate their changing moods, their instabilities, their lack of trust, their doubts about you, their considerations of you as being "not good enough" and you internalize all this and see it in yourself. Then you become moody and unstable, causing more problems in daily living. It makes you tired and unhappy, and you have a lot of stress.

You also have a strong critical voice inside you (often their voices) that puts yourself down often, and you have the outer critic too that is dismissive of them and others. You judge and criticize them because you don't really trust them, and you don't feel like they are giving you enough reason to respect them. They've been rude and insulting and patronizing too. And there's even more than all this that goes into this big bundle of dysfunction. A lot of hurt feelings are there inside you and inside them too. You find them toxic and feel you're better off not being around them. But now you're anxious and lonely without any close connections.

Oh I haven't even watched the full video yet, just a bit. Guess that's a good one for later:
 
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