Because of Our Past: Reflections of a Circumstance Surrounding a Sick and Toxic Family

Originally written February 2014. The text in orange below was the biggest edit, but there are other edits that I didn’t indicate. However, they are all completely relevant and helps the story to flow, even if it does make the post even longer than it already was. Heheh.

In addition, I want to share the comments that were written below this post when it appeared on Safire Falcon, the blog I had started and written at before starting and settling into this one. So I will include them below in the post, rather than putting them in the comment section. 


“We are who we are because of our past. I’m not talking about what we do or don’t do for a living. I’m talking about who we are within. We walk on eggshells because of the past and I believe that we treat each other the way we do because of the past.”

I wrote the above paragraph to say to my sister quite some time ago, back while in the midst of a very stressful time in my already toxic family’s life, my father’s terminal illness.


Edit on 8/11/17: It was this event and circumstances surrounding it that made clear the toxicity within my family. The sickness had nowhere left to hide. Of course a family like this needs a dumping ground or what is commonly referred to as a scapegoat. That scapegoat was me. And boy did they dump on and walk all over me. I also want to mention and clarify the part of my statement above, in reference to what we do (or don’t) for a living/career.  

Throughout my childhood, teen years and early adulthood, there was this underlying message that a career is an important part of identity. It was never said, never, outright. But the message was certainly there. Both of my parents had good jobs/careers. The industry my father was in wasn’t quite as stable as the one my mother was in, but he always did something. Even when he went into sales, which he claimed not to enjoy, he still did well, even winning awards and other fun prizes. 

Like I said, the words were never, “You must do what we are doing to have worth. But the message was clear that it was an important part of identity to have a career or even a solid talent and be really good at it.  I always wanted to find my talent and make money at it. I think maybe it might be writing, but I never knew how to make money at it and I didn’t have much help.

I remember once, writing an article or a poem or something and sending it off to a bunch of magazines. I was so excited about it and told my father. He immediately became impatient and condescending telling me, “You’re not supposed to send the same thing to all those magazines. You pick one and send it to them.”

I felt like I was stupid. But how the fuck was I supposed to know that? It’s not like he made any effort to nurture me in my writing or guide me in making a living at it.  Fucking pecker head.


So back to my sister: I had had a conversation with  her not long before writing that statement above, all the way at the top of this post, with the plan of saying it to her at some point, when the opportunity arose. It never did. In fact the opportunity had passed and I was left with the frustration and need for acceptance that I had frozen, once again, when given my window to state my case.

I hear a lot about fight or flight but it seems most people who talk about those human defense mechanisms  forget one…FREEZE! (This, before I had known about Pete Walker’s book, Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving. At the time I wrote the bulk of this post, most of what I was reading and listening to, left out FREEZE and certainly didn’t mention anything about FAWN either.)

Freeze tends to be my go-to defense mechanism, at least up to this point, when it comes to my sister and other family members too. When I get into a situation where it’s appropriate to stand up for myself, I fumble, stumble and stutter or just stop talking altogether. The last time I was in a particular situation that would have been appropriate to verbally defend myself,  I sat there listening to my sister tell me how screwed up I am/have been. And when I did venture a statement or question, it was completely ineffective. Waved away with a “Yeah but…” or ignored while she leaped over it to continue berating.

Despite my “I feel” statements and non-aggressive approach, I was going to once again come away from this ‘conversation’ feeling as though I’d been attacked by a rabid dog.

However, despite her being so vicious in response to my last attempt to strengthen our relationship, I was about to begin being freed. Even through all the blame, shame and finger pointing.

When she stated:
“I’m done talking about the past with you!!”
,  I realized that I no longer ‘had’ to try to ‘fix’ our toxic relationship or the dysfunction between us.

She said, “You have a choice,” as if she were an angry mother scolding a child.

She continued, “You have a choice to sit and wallow in the past, to spend life in a depression. I don’t have time to resolve every little thing.”

She used herself and her husband as an example. That if one of them does or says something hurtful, they say they’re sorry and move on.

And there in-lies the difference…there was no apology to me. Ever. There was no consciousness on her part when it came to what was at the root of all this toxic sludge and dysfunction.

Although I don’t actually think depression is a choice for the most part and is an illness, at that moment I did realize that she was never going to really hear me or be willing to listen to me.

I actually made a conscious decision in that moment to let go of all the shit between us that had been left unresolved and kept us so emotionally distant. I let go at least to the point that I knew I would stop trying to work things out with her.  I also decided in that moment that I would be working out a way to sever ties with her.

It was a relieving feeling actually. And I’d had this pain in my left shoulder blade for years. But as soon as I made that decision about her, that pain disappeared.

She was never going to see my point or validate anything I felt and I was certainly never going to get apologies for her bullying nor was I going to get any acknowledgement that she had been verbally abusive, never mind admit to remembering the physical attack years ago.

I was allowing her behavior toward me to cause me fear of being myself. I needed to be on my guard around her and be extra cautious as to what I said to her and around her, lest it be used against me in the future however benign my half of the conversation may have been.

During that same conversation and realization, she told me that she didn’t want to have to worry about every little thing that came out of her mouth when she was around me. Ironic.

Then said, “And I don’t want you calling me to tell me negative things about family members.”

This is yet more irony.

Again I froze saying nothing. At that point I just wanted the conversation to end. It reminded me a little of feeling trapped on the phone with a couple girl-friends when I was about 13. They’d been calling me names, making fun of me then threatening to “beat me up” if I hung up on them.

I recall feeling like I couldn’t wait for them to tire of their bullying so I could be set free. And that’s the feeling I had that day on the phone with my sister.

Thing is what she’d said was bullshit. She’d just insinuated (or is it implied?) that I had done something that I hadn’t. And before that, in a twisted way, accused me twice of doing things she’d actually done.

Just weeks after these perverse and even insidious accusations, I heard her catching herself when she just about started to make a comment about my brother and her frustration with the way he keeps things so disorganized.

She stopped herself before she said anything negative, but had gone far enough in what she was telling me and from her tone of voice, I knew exactly what her complaint was. It helps that I know my brother too.

Referring to the other accusation she so cleverly formed into a demand, the one where she said she didn’t want to hear me trash any of our family members. Well…

In the past she and I would be talking on the phone or I’d be visiting and she’d have some problem with our  mother. She’d compare her with other moms of her friends, because our mom wasn’t the grandmother to her kids my sister wanted her to be.

She hated how our mother wouldn’t spend more time with her kids. But instead of going to my mother, the person she had the issue with, she bitched about it to me. This is her MO and had played the same game with me, speaking and complaining to my mother about me.

The difference between my mother and me though, is that I did not call my mother to try to make her do what my sister wanted. I had the presence of mind to know that the issue was between the two of them and I had no business getting in the middle of it. In fact I think I might have even said to my sister, “Why don’t you talk to mom about it?”

As for the realizations that flowed during that phone conversation, more accurately referred to as a berating session:

I woke up to the fact that the eggshells…
(not only the two of us walked on…which she believed in her warped mind, that I was the cause of and didn’t see I walked on them too…but the eggshells the entire family walked on among each other)  would most likely never be truly cleaned up and until I had the opportunity to remove myself, I would not stop feeling like a garbage dump.

Not that I hadn’t had the choice to stick up for myself. I suppose I did. But I didn’t feel or see it that way because of the fear of more abuse I’d already had enough of.

I was afraid for my safety.

But I was also afraid that if I attempted to express myself, the words wouldn’t come out right. I would fuck it up. And then I’d be back where I started and the rumination would be even worse than if I hadn’t said anything at all. Ruminations like, “I should’ve said this, not that.” “I should’ve been more articulate in what I did say.” I’d also kick myself for having tripped over my words.  So with all that in mind, combined with the ‘Freeze’ response I kept my mouth shut most of the time.

During this berating session of hers, she’d given me an ultimatum to either step up or walk away, completely disregarding any of the reasons I had for being so hesitant to ‘step up’ for my father. In fact it wasn’t even because of my father so much, even though there were certainly reasons regarding him. It had much more to do with my siblings and knowing full well how they would likely treat me if I got involved on their terms.

And that’s the kicker, there were more than those two choices but I “Froze.” Ironically I felt the need to choose only between the two of those because of my fear of the abuse I was sure I’d have to endure. No other choice was clear to me at that time either.

And you know what’s even more fucked up: The same fucking ultimatum was thrown at me by my brother before that berating session with my sister and then in a later phone call with my mother.

I gave it some thought, to walk, each time it came up while being barked or whined at. Maybe it would’ve been healthier for me if I had walked away. Perhaps more peaceful.

But my father was dying and despite his abuse of me throughout my life, I didn’t really want to walk away from him. Not at that point. But I think about all this that I’m writing right now and wonder how he would have felt and what he would have thought, had he known the way I was treated by my siblings and mother trying to get me to step up…particularly my sister and mother because I’m sure their motives were so, that they wouldn’t have to put in so much time in being with my father.  My brother was already spending all of his free time away from work there, so although he was still a POS in this situation, I know it wasn’t all about relinquishing responsibility for him.


Added 8/11/17: I want to ask my father, “How does it feel to have a family who’s so toxic that three of them gang up on one to get her to help care for you? How does it feel to know that your youngest daughter is a bully toward your oldest daughter? How does it feel to know that your ex-wife, the mother of your children is participating in manipulation, guilt tripping and triangulation against your oldest daughter?  How does it feel to know that there is all this sick toxicity surrounding you in your time of need?


My family thought I was selfish for ‘making it about me.’  God forbid I have the rational fear of the two (actually three) people who have a history of treating me like shit, whatever the fucking circumstance is, even a dying father.

The fact is when a whole family gets involved with anything, it’s about all of them. And it was about all of us. My brother spent most of his non-working time with my father so he was pretty much never home. My father decided he didn’t want kids around so my sister’s time with him was limited. Which meant the times she could’ve been there, but only with her kids, needed to be filled and that usually fell on me.

I wanted to be there, but I didn’t want to be bullied into being there on their terms. I wanted and needed it to be on my own terms. Again I was the throw away who didn’t matter. And if I said no, I was pushed. And if I said no still I was still given a hard time. Agreements were ignored, my brother barked at me one day on the phone because he “NEEDED TO KNOW NOW if I would be available to be there every night until dad went to bed.

This happened a few weeks in and was suddenly dropped on me. After being barked at, I gave my brother what he wanted. He actually didn’t want to know…he needed to know that the answer was yes. No room to think and the message was, do it or you’re a horrible person.

Forget the fact that I had an on-call job, nights, that I would now have to quit. I was already struggling to put enough gas in my car to get to and from my father’s place. And was never offered money to do that. I had to ask and I was afraid to.

I’d known when I made the decision to give in to their demands and ultimatum, I’d have angry chaos and abuse to confront and basically absorb. I knew I wouldn’t stand up for myself. I did at times but not without some kind of recourse. Even when I stuck to my boundary after my sister’s attempts of violating part of an agreement I’d made with my mother, I spent that whole day shaking, scared and rehearsing what I’d say if my sister confronted me.  Turned out to be a waste of time but doesn’t change the state I’d been in because of it.

The exhaustion I felt certainly wouldn’t let me defend myself physically or mentally if I needed to. I think I was also trying to control what they all thought of me.  There was still some of that left despite my knowing it was a matter of time before I did take them up on their offer to walk the fuck away. The fear of losing their love was still a factor even though I didn’t really have it to begin with. And then there was the sense of obligation pounded into me..

“Step up or walk,” is what was presented to me, by ALL THREE FAMILY MEMBERS. Mother, brother, sister. It makes me want to cry thinking about this again.

What I wish my response would have been to these three sick fucks:
“Those are not the only two choices. I will be there if I want and if I choose to walk that is my business. But I will be seeing dad and caring for him if need be, on my terms. And I will not be forced into anything pertaining to this situation via shame or guilt.”

But alas…

I thought it would be easier. After all, the abuse now had a time limit. Once my father passed, I would be taking that walk they all offered me in their ultimatum.

My father passed April 1, 2013 in the early hours of the morning. I remember because it was still dark out when I got the call from hospice. I had left just a few hours before…around 10pm the night before. And I’d actually thought about just sleeping there in the big oversize chair that was in my father’s room.


So my sister was right in her statement about choice, but not exactly the way she meant it.

I do have a choice not to continue hitting my head against a wall in attempt to resolve issues that someone else has no interest in.

I do have a choice in discontinuing to get acceptance from someone who doesn’t want to give it.

I had other choices too, that I wasn’t quite clear enough about, at that time to see, or if I could see them, wasn’t feeling brave or confident enough to enact. The feeling of needing to keep myself self physically and emotionally safe as possible was priority.

I did feel some shame and regret. And in some ways felt that I deserved to be abused.

To my sister on the phone that day, I found an opening. But I used it to weakly present the idea of the past actually being the present. I asked her, “Don’t you walk on egg shells because of events from the past?”

I was feebly and pathetically attempting to point out that our dynamic was formed over time through our behaviors. And the roles in the family, and the way we related as children and young adults, as well as lack of proper teaching from our parents on how to relate and resolve, was at least partially responsible for how we related now.

And in my mind the only way to change the toxic dynamic in the present was to resolve the past, by awareness of our own behaviors that created it all. But it was not to be.

As per her usual response it went something like, “Yeah but you…” and she fell into her habit of finger pointing and blame.

She was stuck in being right and making me the bad guy. I was tired of being verbally beaten. So I gave up and let her have her say. As usual.

So… Are we what we are because of our past?

I think it has a role in molding us. As kids our brains are malleable and in addition we all have innate traits and abilities. But they will be effected by how we are nurtured or abused. I’d say most of that takes place without our awareness too. And many adults who are in pain and manifest it in a myriad of ways, don’t and won’t look at it. Won’t look back. Will stay in denial. But there are others of us who are aware, who want to get past the denial and resistance. Who fight the confusion and frustration. Who want to separate what they own from what belongs to others.

And either way, maybe that is dictated from the past.

And maybe those that fight to work things out, to change, to make themselves better people, are who they are (or who they are becoming) DESPITE the past.

 


 

Comments from original post: (I am posting these for myself more than anything else.)

Rivka: I agree with your thought that some people are… smaller than you or me. Your sister sounds like my mother. She doesn’t listen. She doesn’t understand my point of view. I want closure from her. I want an apology, and she says I am a spoiled brat. I don’t think your sister can see the big picture like you do. And your brother, he wants what he wants. It doesn’t matter if you have a job to go to. It’s really hard when one member of an abusive family wants to make things better but the others want to continue and to deny. I feel for you. I’m sorry you are going through these growing pains.

Safire Falcon (me): I didn’t really mean that anyone is smaller or better than me. Not that I haven’t entertained that thought, if I’m being brutally honest with myself. But I’ve thought he complete opposite as well, so…

I’m guessing you’re referring to the end of the post where I say something about trying to be a better person. (?)

I was talking about being a better person in comparison to past self, up to the point where I’m in a situation that gives me the opportunity to respond differently.

I reread the post (and edited a little too being the perfectionist that I am) and didn’t see anything (or take anything out) that said that I think I’m a better person than some people.

But if I’m missing that, I would love to have it pointed out to me. Because even though I was angry at this situation with my family, I wasn’t trying to get the message across that I think I’m ‘better’ than them.

I think I’m more aware, awake and willing to see what they don’t though.

Rivka: You did not say that you think you are better than your siblings. I’m saying for you. “Being more aware, awake, and willing to see” is self-actualization, the goal of every human being. Their vision is small. Yours is big, and it depresses you when you are around them. I would guess that you both feel sorry for them and feel hurt by them. I’m sorry I made you uncomfortable.

Safire Falcon: Oh no, you didn’t make me feel uncomfortable. I just wanted to be clear and make sure I didn’t miss something in my own writing. lol.

Thank you for the clarification. What you say is very comforting and validating. In fact you are right about what I feel. Pity as well as hurt. I couldn’t have worded it better.

I never thought of my awareness as self actualization either, which is quite helpful too. I remember first hearing that word in my early 20’s and thought of it as something I’d probably never reach given my depression and what I felt was my lot in life, which was to work jobs that took me nowhere.

I am learning that I am more than my job. Thanks again for clarifying. I was concerned it might come off as being a bit angry but I wasn’t at all.

Rereading these now, I could make some corrections in what I wrote. Like how “I feel, pity and hurt.” I feel anger too. A lot of it.

Self-actualization: Referring to my last comment, there’s that mention of job again. The messages we get as children are so ingrained, it’s ridiculous. It is just registering to me that Rivka is telling me that waking up is actually self-actualization.  But I’m still stuck in believing it has to do with understanding my purpose in life which in my mind connects to a meaningful (to me) career, something I dedicate my life to, a way to be productive and contribute to society.

I think I have made even more progress in waking up now that I can see more clearly what Rivka was saying to me.  It looks like I missed Rivka’s point a couple times in these comments, which is frustrating.

A Family Scapegoat Wakes Up

The email she sent after a traumatic, devastating and seemingly unconnected event, was an exploding point of so many things boiling under the surface from decades of accumulation.

It was about the abuse endured and how she couldn’t make sense or a connection between  the words of love and caring spoken and the actions that showed otherwise.

After the damage was done though, she suspected the email and the words in it would be used against it somehow. But events turned in such a way that it was proven to her. She knew now it was the perfect ammo for them to blame and point fingers at her for all the problems that exist in the family dynamics. To tell her how mean she was. To tell her that it was full of stuff she should’ve gotten over by now. To let her know how difficult it is to be a parent.

In their minds it was all her fault. If she wasn’t depressed, if she’d just get out of the past. If she’d just keep her mouth shut. If she’d just go back to sleep…

If she went back to sleep they could all continue to use her as their scapegoat.

But maybe if she’d stayed quiet and went along and believed, thought and felt the way they all do and did, she wouldn’t be their scapegoat.

What would they have to blame her for?

Just the fact that the family has a scapegoat should give it away that they are all a mess, not just her.

Healthy families don’t have scapegoats. Healthy people don’t find it fun or useful to manipulate, triangulate, take advantage of and abuse one family member. (Or any for that matter.)

If they loved the scapegoat and she did indeed find the courage to express herself feeling like a scapegoat, they would not wave away and invalidate her feelings as ridiculous, then proceed to tear apart her character once again. At times, falsely, attacking her for characteristics of others, not hers.

If they cared about their scapegoat she wouldn’t be the scapegoat.

She’s aware of the egg shells surrounding her. But they’ve got plenty that she tip-toes around too. They all tip-toe around each other too. But they turn a blind eye to those.

She’s expected to own all the mistakes, arguments and all the egg shells too.

In their mind it is she that is always the selfish one. She is the one that should be sacrificing. She is the one who is expected to do whatever they want or need, exactly when they want or need it,  on their terms.

As much as she has tried to discuss the dysfunction and toxicity, none of them want to listen or take their share of the responsibility. No one else is accountable. If she is hurt she is expected to absorb it.

How dare she address it? “Suck it up!” they say, “Grow thicker skin…make the choice to be happy.

She made a choice all right, and walked away forever.

I Started DBT

Last night was the first night with the group. Lucky for me, only four of us showed up plus the two therapists that run it. Meaning, I was relieved there wasn’t the full house of ten people + the 2 therapists.

I just met one of the therapists for the first time last night as well. And he seems really nice, but also dedicated to what he’s doing. He clearly enjoys it. Both therapists are young, which is to be expected I suppose. It’s been a while since therapists and psychiatrists were actually older than me.

The other therapist, the one I’d already known, is my individual therapist.

I’m not going to say anything else about the therapists right now because I don’t want to jinx anything. Last time I got excited about a therapist, she turned out to piss me off and frustrate me more than help me. She talked a good game on the phone, about knowing how to help those with complex trauma and that ended up to be bullshit.

But then she’s also the one who FINALLY picked up on my impulsive behaviors when I talked to her about some things that had been bothering me and she found this DBT program for me. So I’m thankful for that.

However, I do think there were plenty of other indications before that when I was in therapy with her and she could’ve caught it earlier.

I was also sitting there thinking last night while I sat at that table in that tiny conference room. “This should’ve happened a long time ago.”

In all the therapy I’ve been through, both psychiatrists (when they still had office hours and were also therapists), psychologists, social workers and two hospitalizations, DBT should have been offered to me repeatedly.

I even had a therapist once who saw the BPD traits. He’d suggested a book for me to read that mentioned some of the traits of BPD, even mentioned borderline personality disorder.

When I saw him again after finishing the book, I told him that I saw me in those traits. He nodded and quietly said, “Yeah.”  But instead of informing me of DBT and helping find a way to get it, he continued to not help me. In fact he was abusive. This I realized later though, in hindsight.

It’s hard to think about all the time wasted, the years behind me I’ll never get back. For one, my parents had no idea what they were doing, never helped me figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up, didn’t help me deal with emotions, disappointments, heartbreak. Even my joy was dowsed.  It’s no secret they were causing what they should’ve been helping me cope with.

And two,  because the professionals that were supposed to be there to help, allowed me to slip through crack after crack after crack.

Dark Truth Between the Lines

I am slowly going through and editing old posts and taking stuff out of private mode. Since the family BS is coming up again and still, I thought this was an appropriate one to reblog. It was beneficial in a bitter kinda way to come across it. Very sad.

Sleeping Tiger

dark_forestI went through the emails exchanged between my father and me back in 2012 and 2013. I think I know why I forget certain things now. It was difficult to read what I wrote as well as some of the things he wrote. But more disturbing is what’s between the lines really.

Some emails were about getting his furniture and other belongings out of his apartment because he was moving in with a woman and wouldn’t have room for the stuff where he was going. We kept going back and forth about working out a time to do it. Our schedules conflicted. In fact I noticed some contradiction in a couple of his emails as well.

He kept saying he’d arrange to be there when I could get there. He’d even bring his girlfriend down to the apartment if necessary. But later insisted on the fact of being up there…

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Rethinking a Self-Diagnosis of Narcissism

I just read a post on Lucky Otter’s Haven, that got past me last year…well August 2015. You can find it HERE.

As I read, some thing occurred to me. And I think it’s something I’ve been having trouble with for the last week or so.

A while back…on December 20 to be exact, I put up this post basically confessing to being a covert narcissist and borderline.

Now, I’ve been diagnosed by one therapist as a borderline. I self-diagnosed the narcissism. I can’t bring myself to refer to myself as someone having NPD.

Since I’ve written that post…and I felt pretty strongly about what I wrote because of my behaviors…I now think that I was wrong.

Let me make clear that I am interested in the truth and have no problem with admitting to these things if they are true. Not that I like it or want to be that way…and that is kind of the direction I’m headed here and leads to the point I’m trying to make.

So before I go on with my point as to why I think I’m mistaken about my self-diagnosis of narcissism (as far as it is a disorder for me) and in addition why I think the BPD diagnosis is wrong as well, please read the paragraph below in blue and in quotes.

It’s from Lucky Otter’s post that I linked above. But please go read the whole post/article to put it more into context.

“So what is evil? Evil to me means a person who wants to bring harm to others and has no remorse over what they do and doesn’t care about the suffering they cause–and even enjoys it. It’s a person who goes out of their way to hurt others. It’s a person who tries to destroy the reality or the soul of another human being. It’s a person who never feels guilt or shame over their actions and has no empathy for the pain they cause. All evil people (as far as I know) are of the Cluster B persuasion and most are narcissists (or ASPDs), but not every narcissist or borderline is evil.”

In the article, Otter made the point that narcissism (and BPD) run on a spectrum so there are degrees of each personality disorder.

For the most part I’ve agreed with this and in a way I still do agree that there are degrees of narcissism in people. In fact, there is narcissism in everyone. We need it to survive. We need to care about ourselves so we can stay alive, so we are driven to eat. So we are driven to care about ourselves enough to keep a roof over our heads, have friends to keep us company and to even care about anyone else.

People with BPD are also known to be narcissistic and also fall on a continuum. So although it’s not the same disorder, you’ll find that there are many things in common, which is probably why aware borderlines may feel they have NPD as well.

I was beginning to sway to think that maybe some people with NPD are truly aware of their behavior and they want to get better.

But I don’t know. I think it’s more likely that the people who think they have NPD, who even have behaviors that point to such a disorder, actually have complex PTSD.

There are those with complex PTSD have been misdiagnosed with a cluster b and that’s where I have a problem.

It seems that if evil is defined by having no remorse for the pain one causes, then could it really be that someone displays a behavior that is normally identified with someone with a cluster b, but the person is remorseful, how is that person a cluster b?

Seems to me the person is likely not. And certainly not evil.

Trapped

trapped by drowningI hope others had a better holiday season than I did. I’ve been miserable and feel so fuckin’ trapped I can’t stand myself. In addition I’ve been so angry at Mr. B as well.

Mr. B (in case I haven’t explained things properly) is a man who I’m dependent on. Yup I said it. I’m a damn loser. When we first moved in here together, I had a full time job. But I left it because it was toxic.

After a couple months I started working for a pet sitting company, another job I wasn’t happy in and was actually taken advantage of by my boss and sexually harassed by her pig husband.  I felt trapped in that job after that happened and it took me a few months to finally decide to tell her what he’d done. She didn’t believed me, but I was no longer trapped in that job.

I have felt trapped in pretty much every job I’ve ever had because I never enjoyed any of them. And I believe that much of that had to do with what was going on within me more that it had to do with the job.

After I simultaneously quit and was let go over the phone with my now ex boss, I set out to find something else I could do and in between, worked for another pet sitting company.  I later found out they were doing something I feel was unethical.

When I first started with them, we agreed on an hourly rate. I would call in at the beginning of the day so they knew when I started and again at the end of the day so they knew when I was finished. I’m guessing this was so they could build trust because I also had a time sheet that I wrote my hours on.

After about a week, one of the owners asked me why it was taking me so long to finish my day. I was confused. I said that my timing was actually pretty good and explained to her that I was staying a half hour for each visit and my drive time was about ten minutes between each stop.  It was then I was ‘enlightened’ to the way they did things.

“No no no. Each visit should only be 20 minutes and then it should take you 10 minutes to get the next client’s house.”

In the business owners’ minds, the visit added up to a half hour for the sitter because they were counting drive time…which in most cases didn’t take longer than 10 minutes. This way, since they were paying by the hour, they could cut costs. It’s just my guess though, that in doing it this way, it kept their payroll down.

They were lying to their clients. But as I indicate before, I did not know this going in.

People leave 9 to 5s and the rat race to pet sit and dog walk because it’s supposed to be a more relaxing way to make a living.  I was not only disappointed because it meant less pay for me, but also more hurrying at each client’s house, making the job more stressful.

My previous boss sucked in some ways as I’ve illustrated one big one. But when I went out and about my day, she left me to it. I didn’t have to call her when I started or when I finished. I kept track of everything on a sheet she’d email me and drop it off to her and leave it in a big ol’ flower pot outside her house.  Since she paid me by the visit, I didn’t have to worry about the time, although I was pretty consistent most of the time with keeping on schedule. But if something happened that made it necessary for me to take longer at a client’s house (things like needing to clean up vomit or diarrhea, or comfort a spooked dog, tend to a wound) I didn’t have to stress about taking ‘too long.’ I’d simply tell her what happened and that was that. It was no skin off her wallet anyway.

Being rushed in this way by the second pet sitting company wasn’t comfortable for me. I had gotten quite comfortable in the way the previous boss had done things and in fact it was a much more ethical and honest way as well as allowed for the sitter/walker to relax on the job much more.

I have gotten off topic somewhat. Having to have a job though has always made me feel trapped because I never liked any of them. But yes, I have a habit of rambling off topic because I free associate.

What I want to say is that I’ve gotten myself into a situation where I’m absolutely miserable despite the kindness of the man I live with.

There’s some resentment because there’s no sense of partnership. But then, that’s my own fault isn’t it? Looking for or pushing for some partner type situation when it’s just not available from where I’m trying to get it from.

At this point, now that I know I have C-PTSD, I understand a lot more and I’ve spent time talking to him about it as well. But it seems he forgets. Certainly nothing changes.

The biggest problem lately has been actions that cause hyper-vigilance. And when this happens, I feel like I’ve been sabotaged. Like it’s done on purpose. And I don’t understand after having explained and talked to him over and over about PTSD and what the symptoms are and even reacting to things he’s done, he still.does.not.get.it.

And I don’t get how he doesn’t get it.

He claims he forgets. He claims he doesn’t think about it, he says he’s not doing it deliberately. But to me it translates as, “If this is happening because he forgets, he must not care that much.”

I’ve asked him at least three times to read about it. But he hasn’t.

And I am tired of who I am around him now too, because what I’m talking about above is,  he’s done or said something to trigger me, I rage (he can’t get a word in to defend himself) and after I’m done, he acts ashamed. Then I feel like shit. Even if I don’t rage and speak angrily, (like tonight) I still feel like shit.

I feel sabotaged from any progress and it feels worse than if some stranger did it in public because that stranger doesn’t know. I get sick of going into a room feeling calm and walking out of it with heart palpitations, exhausted, angry, stressed out so bad I want to get in my car, drive away and NEVER come back here.

Tonight I was writing out a plan for myself in a journal, organizing my thoughts, which has been difficult for the last I don’t know how many years.  Things I want to do, things that need doing. I’m waiting for SS (disability) but with no income, things are tough. So I want to start doing things to take care of myself physically and emotionally as well as start something that could lead to an income. And at the very least get myself well enough to get some kind of job.

Right now, if it wasn’t for Mr. B, I’d be homeless. This is a dangerous, tightrope without a net kind of situation which just adds to the stress and hyper-vigilance as well.

I had a plan to get right back to my journal/planning and organizing my thoughts right after making a smoothie. But it turns out to be a break I should not have taken. Instead I’m writing this post instead of continuing with what I’d started earlier, because the anger just saps my focus and concentration.  Keep reading to find out what took place in the kitchen.

When I have a set back, I feel much of the time it’s caused by Mr. B (as far as PTSD symptoms are concerned).

I feel like I take 10 steps back when his actions effect me in such a way I become startled and it activates the hyper-vigilance…after I’ve maybe taken a step forward. At this rate, with this dynamic, how can I heal?

I hate to blame. I’ve been really conscious of not doing that and have been working on taking responsibility. My having PTSD is by no means his fault. But our dynamic has become so toxic, it is contributing to keeping me ill.

Last week, I avoided him in the evening in the kitchen and was out and cleaned up even before he got home. This was the decision based on a blow up the weekend before.

This weekend, I stayed holed up in my room for the most part. But then we had it out over a repeated conversation, a slight change of plan on his part and no communication. The no communication thing has been a problem since I can remember and a big trigger for me. It’s what’s caused a lot of distance between us for a long time.

Tonight, things felt a bit more relaxed. He was home early, in the kitchen making himself something to eat and I went down to make a smoothie. I do dishes as I go, when I prep stuff to eat, and there was also a glass container he put in the sink to soak. It had had oatmeal in it that we were trying to decide if it was still good or not. Things were light. It felt good. He decided the oatmeal was fine and put it all in a pot to cook and eat as part of his dinner.

Then I went to pick up the glass container soaking, in order to wash it. Jokingly, he said in urgency, “Don’t touch it!”

Now if you don’t have PTSD, or if you’re not hyper-vigilant, this can be funny and there was a time I would have thought absolutely nothing of this, laughed about what he’d done and move on. However, a lot of the symptoms I have now are either more intense or new because of relatively recent events that has triggered the trauma from childhood even more.

So this was not funny to me. At first, I jumped a little and I just simply didn’t laugh. I was hoping to be able to leave it alone, keep my mouth shut about it, make my smoothie and get out of the kitchen. But I could feel the anger building. He’d done this as a joke on Christmas morning too. I had walked down to the kitchen and he was doing dishes. I knocked on the door jam so he knew I was there and so as not to startle him. This has happened more than once and when he’s startled it effects me too, making me jump. After I’d already started talking to him about what I went down there for, he decided to be funny and he said, “Oh I forgot…” and then jumped and acted startled.

I jumped out of my skin. It startled the hell out of me. I threw a bottle cap across the kitchen I’d been holding and screamed WTF? Then turned and went up to my room. Slammed the door to release the anger and sat on the floor and did some deep breathing.

So tonight, him doing this so soon after Christmas and my hyper-vigilant reaction to something similar, I couldn’t hold back. I didn’t rage, but I was angry and it was in my voice. I again, went through why this effects me, how it effects me, why I’m pissed off…AGAIN.

I am at a loss.  I’ve asked him to read about it. Tonight I mentioned finding an online support group for people who live with people with PTSD. But I don’t hold out much hope.  The only thing I can come up with in order to minimize this bullshit, is to get in and out of the kitchen before he gets home. I will have to figure something else out on the weekends.

Our timing has never been good, out of step and out of synch and it’s not getting any better. If I don’t want to be in the same room with him, it is likely I will have to actually ask him to leave or to let me know when he’s finished. I’m seriously sick of taking the chance of making myself worse in this situation.

If he isn’t doing this deliberately, this is a man who doesn’t listen, doesn’t learn from mistakes and definitely doesn’t get it. I can’t force him to read about it. I can’t make him join a support group. I can merely suggest and then he’s on his own. However, he’s made some things pretty clear already.

I think indirectly in some ways, maybe I’m struggling to get closer or wishing he was someone I could get closer to, in the midst of all this chaos. I need support and he just stays static. It’s like he’s there to use as a life preserver (an inanimate object) but he isn’t actively reaching out to help in any way.

It would be nice to have someone “push” me out the door to take a walk. Someone to make us dinner once in awhile. I’m not difficult to please, a simple spaghetti dinner and sauce from a jar is enough for me.  (This is something I long for even without PTSD.) I have given up trying to cook for the two of us. Not that he didn’t appreciate it, but I just feel like I’m struggling to help myself. If it works out at times and there are leftovers, like in the case of cooking a pot of rice or pasta, then fine. But I don’t have the organization and my motivation isn’t consistent to make meals for the two of us every night now.

Someone who initiates communication about different things and doesn’t just assume I would know. Someone who likes to light the fireplace. We have one and it hasn’t been touched in all the years we’ve lived here.

Someone who ‘gets me.’I find myself having to explain my trains of thought and jokes to him. So irritating. In all the years we’ve lived together, I feel like he doesn’t know me.

Even someone who knows what I need even before I do sometimes. After living together for 12 years, this is not so far fetched. I know couples like this. Oh but, that’s right, we’re not a couple.

I feel like if he could help me through this, give me the support I so desperately need and STOP sabotaging me, I could heal enough to start helping him financially again.

Thing is, I’m so sick of being trapped here, I would leave if I could.

Progress Report, Daily Details + Link and Video for Childhood Trauma

I did nothing toward the logistic progress of any book yesterday.

I have some things listed on eBay and something sold so I packaged that up.  That task seems to still take me longer than I’d like. But I was more efficient about it than I’d been in the past. Maybe breaking it up into chunks was helpful for me. PTSD can really do a number on focus and organizing.

I made sure to not get too anxious about doing it right away. Just because an order comes in doesn’t mean you can’t eat first if you’re hungry. So that’s what I did. In between I got some laundry going too, since I had to go to the basement to get the big box of bubble wrap anyway.

During the actual bubble wrapping and boxing the items, I listened to a video on Self healing trauma. I’ll link it below. The guy has a website too so I’ll link that as well.

My meals were on the healthy side: A smoothie for breakfast; a salad with chicken and the ranch dressing I made yesterday from cashews, for lunch; and poached eggs with cheese and rice for dinner.  The cheese isn’t the best choice but eggs with cheese is just so tasty.

I had also done some reading in the morning, so my breakfast didn’t happen until about noon. And I spent too much time on Facebook during the whole of yesterday.

I got out for that bike ride, just as I’d planned but don’t think it’s a good idea to include that in my exercise plan anymore for now.  I do need to get outside more though, so I’m thinking along the lines of walking on flatter ground for short distances. Soon it will be getting darker much earlier so I will need to get that in earlier, perhaps before eating dinner would be ideal.

I had some really bad and scary heart palpitations last night that started after dinner and got worse as the night went on. So by the time I went to bed, things inside my chest were quite uncomfortable and alarming.  This isn’t completely new and I’d experienced them before after some somewhat high intensity cardio. High intensity for me means pushing up a few hills on my bike.

Given past eating habits, fairly recent weight gain and my continual depression and grieving process, this isn’t so surprising. I said the palps aren’t new, but they are new in the bigger picture since I’ve only been experiencing heart palps for the last couple (if that) years.  They are mostly mild, when I have them but I’ve experienced more intense ones, one other time before last night.

At first I thought they were coming from having eaten the salad dressing which contains some olive oil and sesame oil. In the past with careful observation, I’ve noticed the palpitations have started immediately after consuming concentrated oils, such as the two mentioned. But then I realized, although the oil may have contributed, it was the bike ride that was the real culprit.

I took a few supplements that I’ve heard and read from some naturopath doctors that are good support for the heart. One I included was niacin and I believe that opened up my blood vessels enough to get the palpitations to stop and regulate my heart again.

I hadn’t taken niacin for quite some time and the last time I did, it hadn’t had such an intense effect. But last night it only took one capsule and within ten minutes (if that) my skin felt like it was kinda burning. Not generally a pleasant feeling. But feeling that, made it feel like it was working for me all over. The skin on my face particularly was pulsating, my sinuses were swelled up and I had to breathe from my mouth, but my heart had calmed down so I in turn did also.

Please note this DISCLAIMER: That I said I BELIEVE the niacin helped. I am not a doctor and I don’t KNOW for sure if this helped. Do not take this as medical advice. Do not take this as a claim for a cure. Whether it stopped my palps for the moment or not, it certainly did not cure the problem. Such an issue as heart palpitations calls for seeing a doctor.

Click here to check out the website I referred to above. The website is called Wild Truth written and run by Daniel Mackler.

The video I watched yesterday also with Daniel Mackler: