Learning Rest: Dealing with C-PTSD
My therapist looked at me and told me that I have PTSD.
C-PTSD to be specific.
I had just finished describing her how I rarely got a gift or anything from my parents, specifically my dad, that wasn’t conditional. I told her about a mountain bike I had gotten one year for Christmas. It was a really nice bike, probably cost about $1200. I was thrilled when we all came rushing down the stairs and I saw the bike with my name on it. I eagerly looked it over, and then I got the second part of the “gift.” I had to pay the stupid thing off. I. Had. To. Pay. The. Bike. Off.
I was maybe 11, had no job, I did most of the house work around the house, did a lot of the meals, cleaned the kitchen after every meal, and now I was expected to pay off a bike that was a “gift”?! Paying off the bike meant giving up my birthday money, Christmas money, doing extra yard work (on top of everything else), as well as extra, extra work around the house.
That bike became a thorn in my side the older I got.
I loved the bike, and the fact that I had to pay it off back then barely fazed me. I was so excited to have a really nice bike (it was one step below my dad’s expensive mountain bike; a fact I was very proud of). That bike was one of the nicest things I ever had. But that bike is also one of the reasons that I absolutely refuse to ride a bike today.
My dad does not simply give one of his children something without expecting something in return.
He gave me a ring for my 13th birthday, and I found out the price of that ring when I tried to get married. He believed that he owned my heart. He believed that he must give his consent before I “fell in love” with a man. My parents gave us the use of a timeshare for our honeymoon. Sorry, gave is not the right word. They let us a rent their timeshare for our honeymoon. My dad/parents seek profit from their children, including threatening to make minors pay rent, babysit without pay, making unwilling children pay for their bikes that they didn’t want but dad bought anyway.
Being told I have PTSD makes me uneasy.
It’s almost compared to how I felt when I was told 7 years ago that I was depressed. It’s a feeling of “no, that’s not me. I’m not broken.” It’s like someone saying they’re not crying as tears race down their face, sobs on every breath.
The truth of the matter is I am a classic case of C-PTSD.
I have an underlying depression that has been there for many years, breaking the silence every once in a while to put me in a viscious cycle of multiple days of bad depression. I may seem bold on here, but believe me when I say that the bold things are written after I’ve had a major breakdown, my world seems to fall apart, and/or I feel like shutting down and forgetting who I am. And yes, this post is being written after two weeks of some of the lowest spots I’ve reached in a very long time. It resulted in an emergency therapy session last week because I knew I needed help fast.
I don’t let people see me when I hit those days of emotional breakdowns, but truly, I need someone to be there. I need someone to come sit with me, hold me, and tell me that crying is a release of the poison that has built up inside of me. I just don’t know how to ask, or who to ask. I fear making people uncomfortable and making them uneasy by my open, bleeding heart. To deal with that fear, I push people away because once I know I’ve made someone uncomfortable, I am then extra sensitive to what I say around them, tell them, or ask them to do. It’s pretty screwed up, isn’t it?
I am slowly learning to take care of myself simply because I have to, or else into the deep end I go.
I had a light-bulb moment today when I realized why it is so difficult for me to take care of myself. Growing up I was never allowed to really rest. I used to love going to bed at night because it meant that I finally had time to myself, I could rest, and I wouldn’t be told to go clean or do something. That was until I couldn’t sleep, and then there was no place where I actually felt I could rest. My dad would come bursting into my room with this look of almost blind fury, yelling at me, shaming me, about how mom was doing such and such, and how dare I not do my job.
Even if I was sick, had a massive headache, or simply just needed to rest, I wasn’t allowed to.
My dad would constantly tell me and my other siblings about how mom shouldn’t have to do anything. My dad wouldn’t do shit when it came to cleaning or doing anything around the house. He only did the outside work, putting my siblings to work when something needed to be cleaned up, but otherwise wouldn’t let them help him with the lawn, trimming bushes, or washing the vehicles. (I can honestly say I have never washed a car before.) I only really remember maybe 2 or 3 times of him actually doing some cleaning.
He would sure rant about how privileged mom was and how she shouldn’t have to do any cleaning.
This is making me rage as I write this because the shame and guilt my dad was so good at pouring on me has made it difficult for me to relax in my own home, listen to my body especially when my hands aren’t working well enough to clean. Can you imagine my rage? Can you hear the frustration I feel as I try to function in a healthy way only to be thrown back when this garbage sneaks up on me?
I am finding it relieving to be able to name my mental state.
It is relieving to have something to explain why cleaning freaks me out. I see the dust at the back of the bathroom sink and I have flashbacks to my dad viciously pointing out all of the things I had done wrong with cleaning the bathroom. I tried my best to please him, really, I did, but it was never enough. The only time I can remember where my dad actually didn’t require perfection from me was one fall afternoon as I was raking leaves. I was doing my best to get every leaf I could with the rake when my dad leaned out the door and told me I didn’t have to be that particular. I have never felt so confused.
Dealing with a named condition is easier than fighting in the dark with no idea why you are reacting that way or what triggered it.
Dealing with something that is real, something that is legitimately affecting behavior, mind, memory is easier than being told I am crazy, bitter, or simply vindictive. Dealing with C-PTSD is something I can manage. There are a lot of difficult days still ahead, but I can work with this because I want to get better. I want to feel healthy, whole even though I will always carry scars. I want my healthy, happy marriage to become more consuming than my past.
I want to put my past to rest, resolve what I can, so I can focus wholly on loving my husband, being with him, and being at rest.