Lately I’ve started to feel settled with my life and with who am as a person, which I would like to consider a sign of maturity. Since the big 40 is not that far away, I can say it’s about freaking time. I have always been the responsible type, and responsibility is often mistaken for maturity, but I have come to understand that being an adult means rather to be at peace with yourself and to accept that it is time to stop dreaming that one day you’ll change – or others for that matter.
I will never be a social butterfly, and I’ve learned to spare myself of the dread of spending time with people I don’t like and to keep at bay high maintenance relationships – even the pleasant ones. I love how I only get to speak with my (very few) friends once in a blue moon, but each time we pick up where we left off. I have many flaws, I am a grouch at heart and I am probably, most than anything else, the fucked up product of a very troubled upbringing, which left me with a deeply seated anger which shapes my view of the world and at the same time, rather counter intuitively, a lack of compassion for myself.
Most of my life, I’ve signed up for social things and invested time and energy in relationships because I was distraught at the thought of “being abnormal” or showing my true antisocial colours. However, after finding out accidentally that there is a thing called Complex PTSD, I’ve come to understand that becoming a social butterfly is not a matter of faking it until you make it. You’ll just never make it, and the effort put into faking it is worthy of a better cause.
CPTSD is a complex disorder, a learned set of responses to various circumstances, often caused by growing up in a severely abusive and neglectful family and it is considered “a failure to complete important developmental tasks”. It is not an inborn disability. Its cause is not nature, but nurture – or indeed the lack of it, through abandonment and abuse (physical, verbal, emotional, spiritual).
The mechanism of CPTSD is very simple: when a child’s natural need for bonding and acceptance is met with rage and abuse all the time, eventually he will give up on seeking help and human connection. Avoidance becomes the defensive response of choice and the traumatised child becomes an aloof adult. The perpetual bullying coming from the family induces feelings of humiliation and helplessness, which later in life come back as emotional flashbacks, triggered even by benign events. Also, some of the key features of a healthy adult are missing, since they have never developed during childhood: self-compassion, self-esteem, the capacity for self-expression, the ability to relax.
Some of the traumatised children become perfectionists, subconsciously thinking that our flaws make us unworthy of love, and maybe one day, when we become smart and pretty and flawless enough, our parents will love us. Sadly, that day never comes. In the meantime, we apply self criticism on everything we do or say or think, in order to avoid mistakes which not only would make us unlovable, but would also bring further punishments, abuse and hate upon us.
But enough with the whingeing. The purpose of the post is not to explain myself, but to shed some light on the Complex PTSD topic which is a rather “new” affliction and therefore many have never heard of it. Below, some thoughts from other survivors of childhood trauma. I am sure many of us can relate.