***Trigger Warning – This article speaks about domestic violence***
The relationships between those with CPTSD and family are usually difficult. Typically the problems fall beyond the usual ‘you took my sweater’ level of travail.
Last night as I was trying to keep my mind off some of the very many stupid things I could do, I trolled through Facebook. Probably not the best idea at the time. But, hey, emotional storm and compromised rational thought.
So, I see a set of lovely photos posted by my sister-in-law of the family vacation at the lake house. The vacation is currently in full swing, and I am not attending.
I didn’t get left out, even if my fear of missing out is running rampant, I remind myself I bowed out. I declined. I chose to stay at home, in the heat, waking up at 4 am to walk the dog, and again at 7 am, and at noon, and at 5 pm, and at 9 pm. In the daylight hours between dog walks, I try to keep busy. No, edit that, I keep busy. It is a desperate business that sorts the laundry cabinet. It scrubs the baseboards. It mows the yard in 90-degree heat. It drives mindless, repetitive motion.
Anything to keep moving and not to think. I chose this. I remind myself. Every minute that drags by. I chose this.
So they are off having fun and enjoying each other’s company and I am here. Alone. And fighting off a crisis and the urge to do something stupid with senseless housework, while the work I want to do, but can’t face because it would allow me to think, languishes.
Yeah, it’s not pretty. I knew it wouldn’t be. I knew I would feel like I was missing out. Like I was forgotten. Like I was supporting everyone else’s fun, at my own expense. Cue the resentment — everyone gets a vacation, and I don’t.
But, I chose this. Don’t ever forget that part of the equation.
Yeah. SIL is posting vacation photos. And I’m feeling depressed because of FOMO. But I also know that my mental status is not up to it. So I’m sitting here in the metaphorical dark feeling sorry for myself. And my consolation is that at least I’m not ruining things for everyone else.
Good question. The reason is in the quoted post above.
Because I knew that I would not be able to handle a family vacation. I was terrified of falling apart or blowing up. And, hey, I’m falling apart. So, I guess I was right. Wasn’t I?
Or have I fulfilled my own worst imaginings? Wait a sec, I’m still here, so not THE WORST imaginings. But, still pretty grim, not a happy place, and sucking majorly. I knew I would struggle with this situation. And I still said – I would rather struggle alone than be with you all.
That sounds pretty damning, doesn’t it?
I should provide some context before you think my husband’s family is some parody of terribleness. They aren’t. They are probably relatively ‘normal.’ But, I don’t know “normal”.
Normal feels, rowdy. It feels loud. It feels crude. It feels seriously uncomfortable. I don’t know normal.
Besides, my family only gets together if there is a corpse in the room, so a life-oriented gathering is really bizarre.
And there are young children and emotions, and I said loud already didn’t I?
Plus I know that MIL isn’t my biggest fan. Hey, she tried to set my husband up with a girl she liked better than me. I’m not exaggerating there. Yeah, that one still stings.
So, a really alien type of setting, all crowded together in a house, having FUN! Their kind of fun. Boisterous, rowdy, loud, drunken, crude, no boundaries fun. And it freaks me out, to one degree or another, every time.
And I don’t do well. I retreat. I shut down. I try to escape. I sleep or try to at least, but that usually doesn’t work well. I walk, a lot. And I spend my vacation, trying to avoid the gathering, as we are all crammed together in one house.
Not a recipe for success.
I don’t want to explode. I don’t want to irreparably damage my already tenuous relationship with his family. So, I chose, as I have several times in the past, to miss out. I choose to isolate myself because it is better than inflicting my emotions on the family.
And there’s the second point of this little exercise. “Inflict my emotions on others.”
I operate, 90% of the time as an automaton. Rational, logical. I can out Spock, Spock. Emotions are dangerous for me. Exhibit A, I’m sitting here writing this so I don’t do anything ‘stupid’.
It’s not that I really like it, but this is how I remain functional. I function. I don’t live, but that is another essay entirely.
But, maybe that thought is a part of this essay.
Emotion, as we are told, is a cornerstone of feeling ‘alive’. So a big part of my journey has been trying to connect with – well pretty damn near anything: my body, my emotions, people. I don’t think it’s going well.
I have come to a point where I have found some of my emotions. Big, scary things like rage and resentment. And I can’t share them. They render me mute. I lose all my words. (You wouldn’t think that from the length of this ramble, but there it is.)
What remains is me, soaking in this unexpressed torrent of emotion. And, even if I could speak, I wouldn’t.
I wouldn’t speak, yell, scream or express myself in any number of ways because in my home growing up showing emotion was dangerous. People left. People hit.
And when it got loud, when the dishes flew, when the walls were punched, and the doors are broken, I hid. I withdrew. I became small. I waited for the quiet after the storm. My emotions I tucked away, well, stuffed away is more accurate. I was the sunny child. I was the happy child. I was the easy child. I had to be, or *poof* people vanished.
I learned to like the house when it was empty. I learned that solitude was a haven. And that the price for my peace was loneliness.
So, yeah, I knew this would hurt and I chose it anyway.