Blog Preface: My jokes are meant to be lighthearted fun. Not jabs at anyone in particular.
There are so many ways that I want to start this. So, I’m going to outline a few key points and then we’ll jump right in.
- I can breathe again and I’m ready to rejoin the world a little more.
- I’M NOT CRAZY!!!
- These are not the droids you’re looking for.
- Validation matters
- Most people aren’t insane (in a bad way)
- The outside can be beautiful
- Therapy is cool, y’all
Now, let’s jump in.
I have been in an anxiety spiral. Duh. No crap. But here is the thing that I’ve realized. My anxiety isn’t unfounded.
We all joke about “Fake News!!!” now. Whether you liked or hated Trump, that became a household joke. Here’s the thing…
A lot of people you know are saying, “Fake News!!!” to you. Some of us, because of our pasts, are more susceptible to being derailed by that.
“What the hell are you talking about, Sheri???” Let me explain.
How many times have you had a gut feeling that something wasn’t right and someone told you that you were imagining things?
How many people have you met who gave you a bad vibe and you were told that you just didn’t know them?
How many times have you been hurting or sad or upset and a TRULY well meaning friend replied with, “Oh, I’m sure that’s not true…”?
How many times has a man said, “Are you on your period or something? You shouldn’t be upset like this.”?
Your feelings…intuition… beliefs…perceptions…are inaccurate.
Most people don’t do this out of a hope to hurt you. In fact, they often do it to try to help. (Psssssstttttt Don’t do that.)
Now, on the EXTREME of this is gaslighting. Which some of us lived in for so much of out lives that it shaped us.
- “When this happened it hurt me.” “That never happened, you’re crazy.”
- “When I met this person they made me feel like this.” “Stop causing problems.”
- “Please stop hurting me.” “I only hurt you because you deserve it.”
- “Abuse isn’t ok.” “Why do you insist on hurting me? You’re so selfish.”
- “I’m scared.” “Stop crying. You’re fine.”
Gaslighting is the extreme…it can start slowly…it builds up.. it MALICIOUSLY AND PURPOSELY destroys your belief in yourself, your perceptions, your intuition, your worth…it leaves you an empty shell accepting abuse because you’re the one who’s crazy.
Now…imagine that has been your reality at some time in your life. Imagine that well meaning people now tell you things like: “I’m sure that’s in your head.”, “You just don’t understand.”, “Awwww…I don’t think that’s true…”, “You’re just anxious.”, “Are you seeing a counselor?”, “Are you taking anything for your anxiety?”
Well meaning…they want to help by handing you an instant fix of, “You’re fine.” But you hear, “Fake news.” You’re nuts. You’re too sensitive. You’re wrong. Your intuition and feelings can’t be trusted.
You are the problem.
And so begins the outright anxiety spiral. Not because those people don’t care…but because they unknowingly hit this trigger that sent you back to your abuser(s) and you began to doubt your own reality.
That’s where I’ve been. Spiraling in this mass of, “Crap. I’m crazy. Everyone thinks I’m crazy. Everyone thinks I’m too sensitive. I’m the problem.”
No. I’m not. I am a survivor of a trauma through no fault of my own.
And there lies the rest of the issue.
I’ve always said that there is no trauma that is worse than another. The most traumatic thing that has happened to you is the most traumatic thing that has happened to you.
But there are traumas that people understand and those that they can’t grasp.
If a woman has been abused, she is supported by her community and told how strong she really is.
Your parents were alcoholics that hurt you? Oh, honey…you’re amazing and strong and I’ve seen this before and I understand.
You lost a loved one? I. Am. Here. For. You. I’ve been there and I will support you.
“I was kidnapped, have psychotic family members who have continuously abused me, sometimes fear for mine and my daughter’s safety, and got two chronic illnesses on top of it. And I’m scared.” Jeez….Drama queen much? No one has that much go wrong. All parents love their kids. You’re an attention seeker and a drama queen.
So…you watch from the outside as “everyone” (it’s never everyone, but it feels like it) is supported and loved and understood. And you see more and more that…because of a trauma that you had ZERO control over…you’re still being punished because no one can grasp the reality.
According to my counselor that is one of the biggest issues that trauma survivors face. They face a world where people want them to be vulnerable, but then are uncomfortable with the reality and the way the person handles it. And the trauma continues.
So, then we come to validation. People act like wanting validation is a weakness. Let me quote what my therapist wrote to me. “You need and deserve validation. We all do. Feeling validated is how we develop and learn to trust, and how we come to feel safe and secure within our relationships. Validation is simply the verbal expression of accepting someone’s experiences as their reality, and this is something that I do wish was much more commonly taught and understood. It’s so easy to tell someone, “I hear you, and I am validating your perception and your experience.” “
Wanting validation isn’t weakness. It is HOW WE LEARN TO TRUST.
So, then we come to the parts I needed to hear.
First of all, apparently I am actually incredibly emotionally healthy and have already done a lot of the work. *pats self on back* Not to say, I’m not nuts. We all are. But I understand my faults and strengths, I understand why I do things, I continuously work to do better. And normally I know that this is true. I have done the work. But…I have triggers that send me back to the past…and they’re not going away because PTSD doesn’t just go away. I have to learn to manage, not only my reactions to triggers, but my proximity to them.
Second, as my friend Cassie has told me many times, “Those are not your people.” Some people don’t like me. Some people will never understand me. Some people feel however it is that they feel about me. And that is their right. But those are not my people. My people love me. My people accept me. My people embrace me and make me feel safe. Even when I push away, they love me and won’t leave.
Those are the droids I’m looking for.
And, lastly, in what has apparently impressed my therapist more than anything…
She actually first suggested that I cut ties with groups of people who make me feel unacceptable…and unaccepted. Be happy with my small group of deep connections and walk away from everything else. I told her I can’t do that. Because sometimes someone who can’t understand today, gets hit with something where they’re going to need you and understand you tomorrow. Because just because they can’t understand you, they’re not bad people…they’re just bad for you. And because…if I walk away because I’m not understood or accepted because of the life I’ve led and who I am…what happens when someone else like me comes along and I would have been the one who could have made the difference for them if I hadn’t left.
Apparently, that’s like the epitome of emotional healthiness. *cabbage patch dance* To look to the future and know your presence may matter then and to try to find ways to diminish your exposure to things that are unhealthy for you.
Now…how do I do that? How do I suddenly miraculously stop caring how people feel about me? No idea. That’s why I pay for therapy.
But…back to the beginning…knowing that I’m not imagining these things…that my intuition is right…that my feelings are valid…has made all the difference in the world.
I’M NOT CRAZY!!
***mfing jazz hands, beetches***