You're welcome, Shay! I believe that God put us together for a reason and I feel a great need to be here for you.
It is understandable that you are tired. Emotions can wear you out like nothing else. It's like after you have a good cry, you just feel drained and like you want to sleep. That may be a sign you need a break from this, even if it's just a few hours. Your mind can only take on so much then it needs time to process all of it. And be sure you are being good to yourself. It's so easy to forget when you are busy like you are.
Therapy and recovery is a process. And it's common to feel you reach a point where you can't imagine you have any issues left, then out of the blue you get hit by something. PTSD recovery can take a while and is often tricky because the effects the trauma has on people. PTSD affects the whole person mind and body. It causes all kinds of symptoms and to address them takes time. Also, you have some childhood issues that affected your ability to cope with the trauma. From what you said, it sounds like Linda's goal is to help you address both so you are completely healed. And I agree with her. You will feel better able to cope if both issues are addressed.
I think Linda wanted you to bring a college picture for the very reason you found out on your own. She wants you help you see who you were at that time and connect with the young woman you were before and after the trauma. And you did see on your own how affected you were after the trauma. That was what I was talking about when someone has PTSD, it affects the whole person. And for you, the effects were literally on your face.
You may want to think about a response you can have for your family should they discover your nightmares. Something simple that you can repeat over and over until they drop the subject. You can also have P back you up with her own comment, if you want. I can help you with that if that is the way you want to handle it. Or you can bring up the medical reason with the REM explanation, if you feel they would back down with that story. The goal here is to be sure you don't have to spend your time defending yourself. If you have to do that, it may bring up some of your old issues from childhood. By setting boundaries, you can feel more in control and maybe even overcome some of the feelings from when you were a child.
I think there is a good chance your migraines might at least reduce or happen less frequently. Migraines can be affected by emotions so the calmer you feel and the less stress you have, the less migraines.
If you are in doubt at all about telling your father about rejoining your former partner at his firm, then you may want to hold off telling him. But before you decide, one of the things you might want to explore is why you want to talk to your father about it. What are you looking for him to say or do? What do you feel would happen if he did approve? Or didn't approve?
It's great that your ex partner's wife was willing to talk with you about the possibility of you going back. What she said was encouraging!
Shay, I am so touched by what you said. I have to confess, it brought tears to my eyes! Thank you so much for your kind words.
Don't worry about the typos. Just let me know if I misinterpret something you say. I'd rather you and I have a chance to talk than anything else.
It sounds like your former partner's wife can hold a grudge! It's good you could be the bigger person in that situation and hang in there while she worked out how much you should pay for her feelings about the situation. It sounds like she might be easily hurt and people who are usually do not let go until they feel they can be on even ground again.
It sounds like your father was quite excited about you going into business for yourself. But I wonder how much of that was about you and how much of that was because you were doing something he was interested in? Because you have decided to make a different choice and go back with your partner, how happy would your father be? If you feel he would disapprove, then the whole situation becomes about him and not about how you feel or what you would be happy with.
When it comes to your nightmares, you do not have to let your parents or anyone else know what they are about. And if your parents feel you should be over the trauma already, then they may not even connect the nightmares to what happened themselves.
One of the ways you can cope with your parents reaction is to separate what is about them and what is about you. For example, if you have a nightmare and they imply that you are not over what happened to you and this makes you weak, that is their issue. They are saying they judge others and decide if they feel they are weak or not. In other words, they feel ok passing judgment on others. But my question would be, who appointed them experts on what people feel and if they are allowed to feel it? What gives them the right to pass judgment? Society tends to see people who pass judgment in different ways. One, they are justified because either they are an expert or they hold a position of judgment, like a Judge in a court, or two, they think highly of themselves and look down at others. This is not saying that your parents are bad people for their points of view. But seeing what they do as unhealthy behavior can help you distance yourself from their criticism. They do not have a right to criticize you or how you feel. They are not all knowing experts on anything related to what you are going through. They are simply judgmental. And that makes it something you do not have to accept.
Parents who love do so without judgment with their children. They guide, punish if needed and love most of all. Children thrive in that environment. But when children are criticized for what they think and feel, they learn to dislike themselves if they do not meet their parents demands. Self esteem and perception is affected. They may judge themselves and others as a result. And they do not ever feel they measure up.
I do not recall if I gave you a link about PTSD that I use often. It covers a majority of the symptoms and provides good information about the effects of traumas. It may be helpful to you in finding the symptoms you have. Here it is:
Once you are familiar with the symptoms it will be easier to figure out which ones you have.
It may be too early to decide what your sexual preference is. From a Biblical perspective, you already know what God says so that is a decision you have to make for yourself and your relationship with God. But as for deciding now, there is a lot to work through yet so you may want to go slow and see where it takes you.
If you feel you might like to try to date first, or even just develop a friendship before you consider anything else you could try. You would need to take it one step at a time. The person you are with would need to be understanding and also be willing to work with you on developing trust and closeness. Because of what you went through, the relationship would need to have extra time to develop. But I have no doubt that with the right person, you could have a relationship.
I don't recall, when do you need to leave for your parents? I wanted to know how much time we have to talk through your visit.
I hope you have a peaceful sleep tonight!
I meant my words. I really do feel blessed.
I leave for my parents' on Saturday. And it's not like I won't have internet there. I will keep up with you while I'm there. Goodness knows all I have to do is say I have work to do and they would leave me alone forever with my laptop.
Actually, I can use that. It wouldn't be a lie --- I will have work to do and I am taking some work and, obviously, my laptop with me, so if I feel uncomfortable about anything, I can go off by myself or with P. Also, my parents are not overbearing. They are fine with me doing whatever I want to do. My sister is overbearing, but that's just her.
I don't know why I am so worried. It's not like I haven't seen them once or twice a year for the last decade. I guess maybe it's because these issues have been just brought to my attention. I seriously thought my family was totally normal (except their behavior around death and grieving) until recently. I thought I was the abnormal one. Hmmm. Also, if this makes sense --- I think I am just concerned because I am feeling overly sensistive these days, and, well, I don't know if it's the right word, but I guess I would say "fragile." I just don't feel as emotionally protected as I normally would.
I think my dad would probably be fine with my going back to Louis, as long as I set certain terms. And he would be a good one to help me figure out the terms for which I would negotiate. He would rather my stay on my own, but that is his own prejudice. I really think he will be okay with whatever I do. I would hate to let him down, but I just feel like this would be better for me. Maybe it's not God's plan, although I feel it is. If it is not, then He will close this door, and if he does, I will still do fine on my own or going with another firm or whatever. I have a lot of options - a number of firms have asked me to join, but I would rather deal with the known rather than the unknown, and I think my former partner and I need each other. But again, I think my apprehension is based on my feeling that I can't handle any kind of conflict or disappointment right now.
The whole relationship issue makes me sad. I have been alone for so long (not totally alone -- I have good friends -- but without a relationship), which I thought was my own choice -- that I'm just super independent. But I guess now that I suspect it is likely an effect of what happened and my failure to deal with it, I realize I may not want to be alone. I didn't have very much experience before that, and I have had none since, and so I feel like I have issues from that, too. I can't even imagine dating a guy. I am so used to keeping my distance in that way. I know I give of a perpetual air of unavailability, which has served me well. The only guys I really trust are married, I feel totally comfortable with C, and he knows pretty much everything, and he is gentle and kind and patient, and frankly, I think he is attractive. But he is married and he is my minister. And that is likely precisely why I trust him, feel comfortable around him, and can find him attractive. He's safe.
As I said before, I am drawn to older women, but you are clearing up the reasons for that. Don't you think that is kind of clear now? It certainly makes me think maybe there's not just something wrong with me (that I can't resolve, at least). But it's not a sexual thing. I don't think. But I don't want to be alone the rest of my life. What if I can't have sex? What if I just can't do it or it hurts too bad? I am worried about all this. I do agree that my preferences will likely become more clear after I work through this other stuff. But it concerns me. I do know what the Bible says, but I don't understand thw situation. And, frankly, that's not any worse than my deciding I am going to go out and cleep with one of my guy friends. What do you think? Do you think I'm gay or just confused or just want to see another, less scary solution to being alone? What is ironic, is that my parents would be totally fine if I am gay.
To be clear, my parents wouldnt say these things out loud to me (probably), but they would tell my siblings what they think, and it would also be obvious to me, because I can read them. But I had the same attitude as they did --it doesn't make sense to me why I couldn't just ignore this whole thing and have it go away -- so how could they understand? It does not jive with our upbringing, where something happens, whether it be injury, hurt feelings or death, and it's over. Maybe if this had happened to anyone else in my family, they would have dealt with it quickly and completely and be unaffected by it anymore. But I guess I'm just not like that, as much as I wish I were.
Thank you for the link. I odn't know if you gae it to me earlier, either. I'll see when I pull it up. As I said, Linda had me go through a 3 page list of symptoms and mark which I think might apply. The problem is -- because I was 21 and in my senior year of college, it was necessarily a time of transition, and so I don't know what I would have been like in my real adult life, if this hadn't happened. So I don't know what things and feelings and beviors are just me or what might be a result of or affected by what happened. Does that make sense?
Well, thanks for your reply. Back to work for me ..... I am actually getting some stuff done!
By the way -- hw exactly would I go about "taking a break " from this. Usually, I am trying NOT to think about things. I'm just not so successful recently. As far as taking care of myself, I don't know what to say. I eat and I try to sleep, and I take the medication I am supposed to take, I go to therapy at least once, usually twice a week, I did that bloody sleep test and am keeping in touch with Dr. M, I'm going to church, and I work. I don't know that I can handle much else. :)
Okay --- I read the article for which you sent me the link. Can we go over the symptoms ad factors?
Symptoms os PTSD:
2. I don't really have flashbacks, except in nightmares.
3. I have nightmares.
4. I don't know that I have or have had feelings of intense distress when reminded of the trauma. ???
5. I don't know that I have intense physical reactions to reminders of the event (e.g. pounding heart, rapid breathing, nausea, muscle tension, sweating), except during or after nightmares. Except now, when I think of the mean one, and sometimes in Linda's office, when she has me really remember details, and I get deep into it, I will shake and get really feverishly hot, and i do get nauseous and my heart pounds and I get tense all over, and sometimes I hurt where they hurt me, but these things do not happen at a mere reminder of the event.
Symptoms of PTSD: Avoidance and numbing
--------------------As far as avoidance and numbing:
1. I guess I avoid feelings of the event and thinking about it, and I guess I avoid closeness with guys and somewhat closeness with other people.
2. I don't think there are any important aspects of the event I can't remember.
3. I don't think I have lost interest in activities or life in general.
4. I guess I do feel detatched from others, and I used to feel emotionally numb (I miss that now :) ).
5. I don't have a senses of a limited life span. I don't think I'll ever get married, but I went right on to prepare for my career, etc.
1. I do have difficulty both falling and staying asleep.
2. I am irritable, and sometimes (but not often) have outbursts of anger.
3. I have a lot of trouble concentrating.
4. I don't think I am hyper-vigilant. Proabably I have been the opposite in the last 19 years.
5. I am super easily startled, but not as easily scared -- I watch murder and abduction and r*** investigation documentary shows every night and it doesn't bother me.
1. As discussed, I am irritable and have a little bit of anger.
2. Obviously, the guilt, shame and self-blame has been an issue.
3. I don't have substance abuse issues.
4. I suppose I do have some trust/betrayal issues.
5. I don't think I suffer from depression and hopelessness.
6. I do not have suicidal thoughts or feelings.
7. I do, I guess, feel alienated and alone, and have since the event.
8. As for physical aches and pains, I'm not sure. I'm generally healthy except for some basketball injuries and the complicated and regular migrains. I have back/neck issues, but I imagine that is a residue of the numerous car wrecks in which I have been involved, and years of playing basketball.
While it's impossible to predict who will develop PTSD in response to trauma, there are certain risk factors that increase your vulnerability.
Many risk factors revolve around the nature of the traumatic event itself. Traumatic events are more likely to cause PTSD when they involve a severe threat to your life or personal safety: the more extreme and prolonged the threat, the greater the risk of developing PTSD in response. Intentional, human-inflicted harm-such as rape, assault, and torture- also tends to be more traumatic than "acts of God" or more impersonal accidents and disasters. The extent to which the traumatic event was unexpected, uncontrollable, and inescapable also plays a role.
1. I think it did probably involve a severe threat to my personal safety, at least.
2. I don't think, comparatively speaking, that the event or threat was necessarily extreme.
3. The event was not particularly prolonged -- only 2-3 hours, I would guess (although I really have no idea how long it was - it could have been shorter).
4. It was intentional and human-caused, and not an "Act of God," per se.
5. It was deifinitely unexpected, and probably uncontrollable, to an extent,
and I don't know whether or not it was inescapable.
As to the other risk factors;
1. I didn't have any previous traumatic experiences, and none at an early age.
2. I have no family history of either PTSD or depression.
3. I didn't have a history of physical or sexual abuse.
4. As far as a history of substance abuse, I did abuse alcohol. I smoked pot for a short time in HS, but that's it.
5. I didn't have any history of anxiety, depression or other mental disorder.
6. As that time, I didn't have a high level of stress in normal, everyday life.
7. I guess I lacked support, some due to my own fault, some due to my knowledge about the way my parents are, some due to the fact I was in college, living with a bunch of other 18-22 year olds.
8. From what you have said when we've been talking about my family, I gather had a lack of coping skills?
So I didn't have most of the risk factors. Why did I develop PTSD, and apparently, recently, with a vengeance???
I do seem to have a lot of the symptoms, but I was trying to gleen from that what other issues I need to work on next. If I understood you correctly, it is the issues on which need to be worked, and not the sumptoms???
Since I laid this all out, any thoughts? Observations??
Good morning Shay!
Wow, you did a lot of work last night! I need to run out and I want to give your posts the attention they deserve so I'll be back to post later in the morning, after my appointment.
See you then,
That's ok. I thought I'd give as much input as I can.
I think your idea of saying you have work to do while at your parent's home is perfect. It will give you an out and if your parents respect your need to work, there will be little resistance to your exiting the room.
It makes sense that part of your reason to worry about being at your parents is that you have changed. You now have insight into things that before you may have known, but didn't feel ok looking at. Changes like that are bound to make you nervous about how you will feel and react to your family doing things the old way. You are moving further and further away from the dysfunctional point of view into a healthy outlook. You need to change your coping mechanisms in order to deal with the reaction from your family. And that can cause you to feel anxious.
Another part of it is facing the criticism and judgment. Now that you are more aware of your feelings, those comments are going be more obvious to you. And you mentioned before that you felt exposed and raw. That is because your defenses are coming down. The real Shay is coming out and looking at the world in a different way. You won't always feel as you do but until you get used to it, you may feel a bit exposed. That can make you feel vulnerable. And your parent's do not sound like they do vulnerable very well, so you may be apprehensive about how they will treat you and how you'll respond.
It makes a lot of sense why you are attracted to C. He is older and married so he is safe. He is nothing like the men that hurt you. He is quite the opposite. And that may be a good guideline for you when you seek out a relationship. Someone like C who has those qualities can help you connect with them and feel ok starting a relationship. I think that as you work through your feelings, you will become more open to a relationship. And that you may start showing signs of your interest to other people, either consciously or unconsciously. Other people will pick up on that and may feel better about approaching you.
At this point, it sounds like your sexual feelings are just confused. Like you said, you had only one prior experience with a man before those guys attacked you. Since then, that has been your sole experience. And being attacked can make you feel turned off from men as a whole. You may begin to see men as able to hurt you to that extent so you seek the safety of women, who cannot hurt you in the same way. If you look at the characteristics of both sexes, women would naturally appeal to you more because of the lack of nurturing you received as a child and the attack. Both are good reasons for you to have feelings towards women, particularly older ones who can take care of you and may have motherly instincts to care for you. I don't necessarily think that your sexual orientation has changed as a result, however. Just your view of what is most comfortable for you.
By taking a break, I meant that you might want to do something that distracts you from working on your issues. A day at a spa, going to the movies and dinner, an amusement park, etc. All those things can help you think about something else for a while and allow your brain to process all you have been working on. And that can help you discover new things and work through old issues better.
You really did a lot of work on the PTSD link I sent you. Since you did break it down so well, do you feel it might be helpful to share with Linda?
There are two issues here. One was your childhood and the "training" you got from your parents about repressing your feelings. You may not feel it was extreme, but it was. Children are bundles of emotion. Most children are good examples of an ID- in Sigmund Freud's theory of the ID, Ego and Super Ego. Most adults are good at the Ego/ Super Ego because they cover their feelings and use defense mechanisms. But children do not. What you see is what you get, which is why most people like children. They are unpretentious. But in your case, you were not allowed to be a child with normal feelings. You had to take on the dysfunctional adult defenses that your parents used. As a result, you carried these defenses with through early adulthood and during and after the attack, where you used what coping mechanisms you learned from your parents to respond.
The second issue is the attack. Severe attacks like you went through cause PTSD. But because you already had emotional repression down to a science, you used that defense and pushed your symptoms down. But because the defense was not strong enough, your nightmares began to appear. The nightmares were only the tip of the iceberg of what was underneath in regards XXXXX XXXXX symptoms. That is probably why you feel all your symptoms appeared after you started seeing Linda. Your defenses broke down when the nightmares started and you felt safe enough to let your feelings out. The symptoms where there all along, you just were so good at repression they didn't come out until you felt safe.
I think all of us would like to feel we know a lot about everything! I wish I did ;)
That makes even more sense, Shay. I was a bit surprised that you were able to hold all the trauma in until recently, but people can do amazing things! But now that you explained you have been having nightmares all along, it makes much more sense. Thanks.
You went through quite a lot with your nightmares. I can imagine that you were quite unsettled by all of it. I'm glad you clicked with Linda. Your experience with trying to find a therapist is not uncommon at all unfortunately. I always say it's much like finding your regular doctor, it takes some time to find one you think can help.
It's ok to feel overwhelmed by this. You have been through a lot. That is what Linda, Dr M and I are for. To give you what you need to get through this.
You sound like you have a busy day in court. I hope everything works out well for you!
I'm heading off to bed, just checking in to be sure all is well again with JA. They were down for a while tonight!
Talk to you tomorrow,
JA is still having problems. I think it lost the question you just sent. I'm going to check back in a little bit to see if it's fixed yet.