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CPTSD: From Surviving To Thriving. Discussion thread

AliceinWonderland

AliceinWonderland

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Hope that makes sense?
Total sense. And you're right, they were the adults, they were the ones with the responsibility to protect and nurture us, and treat us with kindness, and they chose not to. They chose to put themselves and their own feelings and comfort first.

That sounds horrible the way your mother went into attack mode when you tried to talk to her. I tried to talk to mine too as an adult, and she went into victim mode. Apparently is was her not me who deserved more pity. She was more concerned about being exonerated for things she'd done wrong (in my view, definitely not in hers), and justifying her actions, than in actually admitting those things and recognising she could have done things differently. So it was a wasted effort on my part to try and talk to her. I never even bothered with my father, I knew he wouldn't have the decency to even listen to me, he would go into attack mode instantly. I don't speak to him now.
 
AliceinWonderland

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Yes! That is something I only recently realised. Having to grow up without emotional support or guidance is a terrible thing. Neglect is a terrible thing.
Yes, it's something that has only recently been dawning on me. The enormity of what we were deprived of is a lot to get your head round. Especially as it's a hard thing to 'see', it's an absence, not something you can so easily point to. Emotional neglect doesn't look like bruises, and can't be described in physical terms like an action that's been done to you, or observed in the same way as physical neglect. It's more subtle and harder for the outsider to observe. But it's impact is equally deep as more obvious, more tangible abuse or neglect.
 
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Coolname

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Total sense. And you're right, they were the adults, they were the ones with the responsibility to protect and nurture us, and treat us with kindness, and they chose not to. They chose to put themselves and their own feelings and comfort first.

That sounds horrible the way your mother went into attack mode when you tried to talk to her. I tried to talk to mine too as an adult, and she went into victim mode. Apparently is was her not me who deserved more pity. She was more concerned about being exonerated for things she'd done wrong (in my view, definitely not in hers), and justifying her actions, than in actually admitting those things and recognising she could have done things differently. So it was a wasted effort on my part to try and talk to her. I never even bothered with my father, I knew he wouldn't have the decency to even listen to me, he would go into attack mode instantly. I don't speak to him now.
How horrible for you. Narcissism in action. For some people it really is all about them. The rest of us are little more than objects in their minds.
 
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Coolname

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Yes, it's something that has only recently been dawning on me. The enormity of what we were deprived of is a lot to get your head round. Especially as it's a hard thing to 'see', it's an absence, not something you can so easily point to. Emotional neglect doesn't look like bruises, and can't be described in physical terms like an action that's been done to you, or observed in the same way as physical neglect. It's more subtle and harder for the outsider to observe. But it's impact is equally deep as more obvious, more tangible abuse or neglect.
Fully agree. Beyond emotional neglect, there is the practical side. Never having anyone to turn to for advice on anything. That is another absence that I found difficult to grasp that had huge implications for the future.
 
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I've read chapters 7 & 8 multiple times. Chapter 7 was strongly connected to chapter 6, chapter 8 is Emotional Flashbacks. It has given me so many ideas of how to self-soothe. Applying some of the lessons from this chapter to the section on Self-Medication allowed me to explore a feeling and the associated self-destructive response.

Today, I didn't overeat as a response to a strong and frequent emotion. I think I now have a handle on this emotion and, after addressing a few further instances, can place it in the solved category. I think the method used is applicable to many future scenarios. Today was a victory thanks to Pete Walker & me :dance: .
 
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The part I was reading was in the chapter on Shrinking the Inner Critic. I can't find it now, but he said something along the lines of 'if you don't activate the fight approach, you won't be able to benefit from other approaches to shrinking the inner critic'. And by the fight approach he meant getting justifiably angry at those that have harmed you when you were young and defenceless, who broke, crushed and obliterated you, and did enormous damage to your self esteem and healthy psychological and emotional functioning.
I've now read chapter 9, Shrinking the inner critic.

On first read, I thought the idea of getting mad at the inner critic was a bit silly.
My big takeaway has been learning to differentiate between my CBT type inner critic of "I can't do it", "It will be a disaster because it is me", etc. and what seem to be the fundemental assumptions that those predictions are based on. I am incompetent, I'm mad, I am useless, I am shameful, I am ugly, I am weak, etc.

The first set of criticisms emanate from my distorted logic and I have been somewhat successful at managing those by contesting the logic.

The second set do not emanate from me but are the words of my bullies. They are well worth becoming angry over. Identifying them as originating outside myself, and using anger at the originators as the hook to dismiss them, seems to be a promising route. Before today, these assumptions were, not unnoticed but not seen in the same light. I look forward to using this new understanding to make that 🤬 abusive internalised bully shrivel up and die.

Pete Walker is brilliant!
 
AliceinWonderland

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The second set do not emanate from me but are the words of my bullies. They are well worth becoming angry over. Identifying them as originating outside myself, and using anger at the originators as the hook to dismiss them, seems to be a promising route. Before today, these assumptions were, not unnoticed but not seen in the same light. I look forward to using this new understanding to make that 🤬 abusive internalised bully shrivel up and die.
Yes, it's the fundamental assumptions, for me that I'm a 'bad' person, useless, worthless, and not worth anyone bothering with, that cause me the most grief. I hadn't made the link between me thinking/feeling these things, and the messages I was given by actual real people. It's not so much the actual words ''you're rubbish" or similar having been spoken to me, it was more the inference by their actions or other words that told me I wouldn't amount to much, I had no good qualities, and they had no faith in me etc etc. They taught me to be ashamed of myself, because they saw nothing in me to be proud of, or to praise, or often even to actually notice or bother acknowledging. Certainly nothing to validate. There was an underlying message that I got everything wrong, and from that I inferred that on a deep level I must be wrong. Faulty, inherently unacceptable, flawed, and a hopeless case.

Thanks for saying what you took from this chapter. It's given me more food for thought :peace:

Pete Walker is brilliant!
Isn't he! I'm glad it's helping you so much.

I think there's a lot in this book that would be helpful even if you don't have c-PTSD. I've been telling friends about it, and a couple have asked to borrow it after I've finished :) There's a lot in it people relate to.
 
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it was more the inference by their actions or other words that told me I wouldn't amount to much, I had no good qualities, and they had no faith in me etc etc.
Yep. It doesn't have to be overt or spelled out, all the different types of messaging hit home.

I've been recommending the book too, but no one is borrowing my copy :D I have so many passages marked to return to, one read, even in depth, isn't going to do it.
 
SunnyDaze

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I forgot about this thread. I'm gonna do my best to start reading the book again,beginning this evening.
 
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Chapter 9, The Outer Critic.

I was smugly confident that I didn't have an outer critic. I was wrong. My main takeaway has been that I have a voice that assumes everyone I don't know well is a bully waiting for an opportunity to violently or verbally attack / humiliate. I suspect this voice is what supports my fear of others and my fawn response. A really good realisation. Now I can see what is going on, I can address it :).
 
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Coolname

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Chapter 9, The Outer Critic.

I was smugly confident that I didn't have an outer critic. I was wrong. My main takeaway has been that I have a voice that assumes everyone I don't know well is a bully waiting for an opportunity to violently or verbally attack / humiliate. I suspect this voice is what supports my fear of others and my fawn response. A really good realisation. Now I can see what is going on, I can address it :).
Re-read chapter 9 and engaged in some painful reflection. My outer critic does more than the above post. For the last few years, I have been fighting my tendency to pigeon hole people. If my first impression is negative, the inner critic labels everything about them as negative.

This goes beyond labeling others as dangerous. Part of me has internalized the hierarchy I perceived as a child. I have friends I care for and respect, but I treat some people with a distinct lack of respect, in the same way my inner critic mercilessly judges myself as being less than others.

I subconsciously look down on some people who exhibit characteristics that I am ashamed of having had in the past, or characteristics that I an ashamed of having now, or have shamed myself out of, as being less than me. This is an unwelcome surprise, I pride myself on being non-judgemental.

Understandably, I have bought into the ranking of myself by bullies and am subconsciously applying it to myself and others.

Happily, I do not apply this to friends. I do apply it to some acquaintances & some colleagues, unless they are clearly friendly and non-threatening. It is clearly a maladaptive safely behaviour. A response to my belief that others are dangerous until proven otherwise.

As outlined in the book, this traps me in a negative cycle. I see some people as too good for me and myself as better than others, leading me not to engage with either type unless they make an effort. In some situations, I also take things too personally and feel disproportionate anger to others. This chapter has made it clear to me that I am transferring old assumptions and old anger onto new people.

The above behaviour causes me emotional pain and considerable interpersonal problems.

I am pleased that this chapter has caused me to reflect and reevaluate how I view others. I am pleased that I can see my hidden judgements and ranking of people. Now I can work to remove this psycho-social millstone.
 
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Chapter 11 is on grieving the losses.

4 techniques are recommended.

Anger
I can feel anger about how I was treated and I am practicing this feeling, trying to make it habitual. It really helps!

Crying
This one is beyond me for now, but I remember how cathartic crying was when I was a child. I will work on it when the support group restarts.

Verbal Ventilation
Have achieved this, connecting with the emotions, during counselling. I want to try outside of counselling, at an appropriate moment, with a trusted friend. Identifying and connecting with my emotions is the culmination of years of work. I feel so much less tightly wound, so much better as a result.

Passive Feeling
Again, this has been the culmination of years of work. Again, I feel so much better as a result. The exception has been the sadness and overwhelming sorrow I have been feeling in recent weeks. I'm not certain what is going on. I'm hoping that this sorrow represents my grieving process.

Another excellent chapter, not least because it gave me an understanding of what grief is. It also gives a purpose to grief and sets out an endpoint for grief work.
 
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Chapter 12 - Managing Abandonment Depression

A lot of this chapter was familiar to me. I did a Mindfulness course some years ago and therapy has taught me to sit with and explore emotions.

What it did do is help me to identify my own self abandonment. It is clear to me that my next step in recovery is to re-parent myself. Not just with a compassionate, valuing and accepting approach, but also by disciplining myself in a nurturing way. ie. Enforcing a regular bedtime and creating other habits that are good for me.

This chapter also me feel a little guilty about not routinely engaging in Mindfulness for a few years, I know it helps me and I want to create a habit.

This chapter also reminded me that I have never fully engaged with Mindfulness. I have used it for relaxation but I have ignored the bit about embracing and exploring thoughts and emotions that insist on attention. I sneakily used mindfulness techniques to push these thoughts and emotions back down instead :D:whistle: Seems like a good idea to fully embrace regular Mindfulness practice.

I've also read the remainder of the book, although useful, there is nothing else that I feel moved to share. I want to read through the book again, this time with a highlighter. Following that, I will move on to the next book on my list.
 
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