Isn’t it funny how our mind and body shield us from remembering our traumas until the circumstances are just right for you to safely start processing them? I saw it many years in my Mum, whom in her hour of need finally found a kind soul who was receptive to her extremely private nature and the depth of her need to be heard welling up underneath it. When she found that very valuable relationship, the floodgates opened, and the horrors of her own childhood emerged.
In my case, it was the treasure of finding a working environment where I could not just contribute professionally and make a difference to the world around me, but where for the first time in my life I felt safe in a professional environment. Safe to open up and be myself. Safe to share, and be open about my needs and aspirations. Safe to speak up when I felt overwhelmed, or stressed, or scared. Safe in the knowledge that my team and my manager had my back.
It is priceless to be part of such an organisation.
I had come home. Truly, properly home. And it was so precious to me that it stressed the crap out of me. The thought of losing it drove me up the wall. I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. The slightest thing would set me off, and I had not the faintest clue why.
I decided to seek help. I knew the tune of depression and anxiety well enough to recognise I’d danced this dreary waltz before. But this was different. I had not before felt this disconnected, this cold numbness inside. I’m a feeling, compassionate person, but now I would see friends post on social media about day-to-day things that had affected or upset them, and I wouldn’t feel a thing; couldn’t bring myself to respond. Same with face-to-face contact. I was just empty, almost dead inside. It scared seven buckets of crap out of me.
Then there was this outright panic about travelling by public transport. It had started after I had broken my ankle and I just never got over it. That injury hit me hard.
By the time I was on the waiting list for treatment, the avalanche had gathered pace, and what with my newfound safety at work, my struggle of the past few years since my Dad’s passing and subsequently my Mum’s passing blossomed into a startling acknowledgement – my own childhood was marred by neglect and emotional abuse.
Just that acknowledgement moved mountains for me. But having my goldilocks spot at work made all the difference. Flexible working, great awareness and support for mental health, and just an all-round awesome team around me. The willingness and openness to learn about CPTSD and how to support me were amazing.
Not all of us are so lucky, and I honestly count my blessings. It’s a huge step to take, to decide and trust in this way – I think most of all it was a case of trusting my own judgement. I was constantly going ‘I think I can trust them to do right by me…’ and there just came a point where I had to take the leap. After learning about CPTSD and reading The Body Keeps the Score (Van der Kolk, Bessel) and From Surviving to Thriving (Walker, Pete), I had come to re-evaluate a few of my prior experiences and realised that my own, trauma-coded thinking and behaviours did play a role in those. With much more light shone on the murky triggers for my thinking and beviours, though, I was now in a much better position to start challenging those. Armed with that toolkit, I was able to make that very vital decision: these people are not out to cheat or exploit you. This is a good thing.
It is 2020 now. I have declared it the year of self-care and have already taken a couple of actions that will stand me in good stead this year and in the foreseeable future. But more about that in a future post. The take-away is that once you find a good thing, challenge your trauma-coded thinking and behaviours to help you hold on to it. You deserve good things. You deserve to have a goldilocks spot of your own.