18th February 2016 at 6:03 pm #9887
I talk a lot about the people I lost due to dealing with abuse, homelessness and bullying at work all at the same time, but very recently I reconnected with someone.
I had been hearing rumours about myself and people were making comments towards me so I decided to address the rumours. I also wanted to make sure I was clear for the people I had lost to better understand what I had been dealing with.
So I wrote a statement, and posted it on a social networking site. I wrote it in a professional tone, devoid of emotion, and stated what I had been through. I didn’t go into detail anywhere, just general descriptions along the lines of “I lost my income and soon became homeless” (not a line from the real statement, but shows how I wrote it). I know some people would say I made a mistake in doing this, but it felt important as I am trying to have a fresh start living in the same area, but it felt like no one was giving me that chance.
I won’t lie, but I was really hoping my old friends would see it and get back in touch. The way it’s written isn’t seeking attention or anything, and makes it clear I don’t have the same problems I had last year. Obviously I have no way of knowing whether people saw it or read it, unless they get in touch.
One person I was close to a few years ago did read it, and did contact me. On the old forum I often referred to friends I labelled as M and G. This person was neither, she was a friend I met before them. We had a long middle of the night chat and are now back in regular contact. I’m happy about this, I have missed her and often recall advice she gave me in the past and used it for more recent events.
However, I have PTSD and it is largely towards friendships. When something triggers me I have horrendous nightmares, often several a night and it can go on for weeks. This leads to me being depressed and highly anxious throughout the day. So overall I am doing better in life, my general anxiety has improved greatly, I “don’t sweat the small stuff” and think about things much more clearly. I live in a clean environment for the first time since my teens, I don’t have full independence, but I have a lot more than I did, and I am working towards getting housing sorted for myself. So I’m doing okay, but when triggered it feels like I take a million steps backwards and it scares me out of letting people get close. Anyone new gets instantly pushed away, but this person feels a little different as she knew about the abuse and the bullying at work, and says she can see the changes and progress I’ve made.
I find it hard though. I’m so scared of being hurt again and it’s making me realise that I still have a lot to work through. I guess I have to work out who I am all over again, I am still trying to identify and change patterns of behaviour I developed due to abuse… I guess it’s all part of a long journey.
So I was completely upfront with this person, I said I am still working through things, that I have a poor sense of boundaries and trying to learn healthier ones, that I am trying not to expect the kind of behaviour from other people that I got from abusers. I have this really strong feeling that I don’t want to have secrets anymore, I don’t want to hide anything and I don’t want to talk about what I have been through, but I don’t want to feel I have to hide it anymore. I am trying to accept it as part of me, part of my story and I no longer feel ashamed about the basic skills I don’t have (such as cooking), because I’m not lazy, I didn’t neglect learning out of choice, I was prevented from having access to a kitchen, even for food storage. I remember one occasion where I was forced to eat out of a bin – and I mean literally forced, as in stood over and made to do it. I’m excited to learn these skills, and that’s what I have to focus on – that I am eager to learn, and not blame myself that I haven’t done it sooner. I wasn’t able to.
Having people in my life who know about the abuse and how much I have progressed could really help, I believe, because I would have someone to ask basic questions to and be seen as progress rather than weird.
I guess I am just “thinking out loud” and seeking feedback on my thoughts, as I have no other understanding outlet.
What are others experiences of reconnecting with people? I am not fully out of the abuse, but getting there.
18th February 2016 at 9:14 pm #9897StarmoonParticipant
Hi :). Abuse clouds everything for us, makes all our beliefs of ourself like a massive whirl wind. I don’t know what’s acceptable from anyone anymore. I find myself second guessing everything and what I should or shouldn’t tolerate. I’m at the very start of recovery and I hope that I’ll learn healthy boundaries. I hope you’re getting the support and help you deserve in order to find yourself. Know that you can always trust us on here and that there’s lots it us in the same situation.
I think we have to take risks in everything including trusting people. It’s so hard when you’ve been hurt but reconecting with people when you know yourself better can be such a positive thing. Don’t feel bad about the social media thing or the manner in which you wrote it. It has its different benefits for different people. I would believe that the people who have taken the time to read it and get in touch are genuinely caring
18th February 2016 at 9:48 pm #9906Peaceful PigParticipant
Hi Alone, it’s good to hear how you are getting on. You sound like you’ve made great progress in the last few months. You sound really positive with a clear plan for getting fully safe and healing.
I feel just the same about reconnecting, it can feel terrifying. I have some friends that are always offering to help me out, and I really need the help, but it scares me so much. But from the reading on trauma I have done, it seems we can’t heal in isolation. So we stay stuck in our pain, or take the risk.
The new connections I’m starting to make are very different types of people to those who have been drawn to me throughout the rest of my life so I think that’s a good sign that I’m going in the right direction. I still really struggle with the whole boundary thing too. I also have a long way to go recovery-wise, but so far so good! I admire your courage to still be reaching out X
18th February 2016 at 11:01 pm #9919AyannaParticipant
I decided to stay alone. Every single friend has disappointed me and I do not forgive them. I think my healing will progress when I remain alone and nobody stresses me out and disappoints me.
19th February 2016 at 2:44 pm #9945
I wrote a long and difficult reply, then suddenly I was logged out and lost it all… argh! Don’t have time before work to attempt to rewrite 🙁
20th February 2016 at 1:14 pm #10021
I really wish my post hadn’t disappeared, so frustrating having to try to remember and be so honest again to rewrite! Will write in word then copy over this time :/
Thank you for the replies!
Starmoon, that is exactly how I feel too, that I don’t know what is acceptable from anyone, even myself. Until I met M and G I didn’t even realise I was being abused and used in my other friendship, but it was a friendship from childhood, so I guess it subtly and gradually turned into what it ended up as. I became co-parent to someone else’s children, managing her messed up finances and getting the family back on their feet. I was with them daily, but as soon as I had any problems that needed help I wouldn’t be contacted/invited over for weeks. I was ignored and rejected on my birthday, but expected to help her plan surprises for other people, who she called best friends in front of me. She would laugh if I described any of the abuse at home, and treat it like it was for her entertainment.
I thought I was helping a friend who was going through a hard time, but didn’t realise I was actually being used and neglecting my own life! Seems so obvious now! And whenever I met someone new, this person would start spreading lies between us and trying to destroy the friendships, so I thought she was the only one sticking by me.
I don’t have any support, and afraid to accept the little I have been offered. M was so sweet and caring, I can see now how genuine he was, and not being able to understand why he suddenly cut me out makes me terrified of getting close to anyone else. I have nightmares about it. I feel like I don’t know what I did wrong, I tried to both protect him from my drama and accept his support at the same time. With G, she would stay out of my problems, and I wouldn’t discuss them with her. She would tell me she’s not going to pry, but that she’s here when I’m ready to talk. Then when I did accept the offer and contact her in tears saying I’d been made homeless, she ignored me. I let it go, and not long afterwards she had a problem that I helped her with, and when it was over, I kept saying I really need a friend, I need to talk through what’s happened so I can try to leave it in the past, but she just kept ignoring me. She also offered to do a certain favour for me, I kept declining at first and once I accepted she didn’t speak to me for weeks. I’ve given up, my gut instinct always told me not to fully trust her, and I guess it’s proved to be right
The only one who genuinely stood by me was M, and I somehow drove him away, so terrified of it becoming a pattern!
20th February 2016 at 1:21 pm #10022
Peaceful Pig, it sounds like you recognise me, I’m glad! So far no one else has made the connection, I really didn’t want to change my username, but was made to 🙁 Like you describe, M and G were very different (G at the start, not so much at the end) to the people I had been making connections with in the past. The above person I described is an example of the big difference! I have always ended up with friends that need something from me, even if the relationship didn’t start off that way.
M was the first person to ever treat me as an equal, he taught me (unknowingly) that equal friendships didn’t only happen on tv, but in real life too. He didn’t use or need me for anything, we just enjoyed each other’s company and supported each other. He offered me help so many times, and at first I kept declining and eventually I admitted that I trust him, but I don’t want to confide in him if it means losing him. He promised it wouldn’t. I learned to spot the signs of something bothering him, and would gently start getting him to open up. His unconditional support made me want to get out of the abuse forever, to get away from people who used me and abused me and to build a completely new life, surrounded by genuine, positive people. For the first time I could be myself, and not only was it okay, but it was welcomed! I started to learn a lot about myself and wanted to learn more, and push all my boundaries. The more he accepted and understood the abuse patterns, the more I wanted them gone completely.
But now that M has suddenly cut me off, I feel that I don’t know what went wrong, so I can’t risk being myself. My own family hated and abused me, and then I lost the people I cared about, so I keep thinking it must be me. I can’t stop the wondering and questioning going around and around in my mind, I feel like I can’t ever put myself out there again, unless I know how to prevent it from happening again.
To be honest, I keep thinking that it could be a case of I talked about the wrong things, and held back the bits I shouldn’t have. For example, I would jokingly reveal the next problem to occur, and by jokingly I mean I would turn it into a joke, such as comparing my life to a tv show, and I would assume the joke would be taken as such, but to avoid overloading someone, I wouldn’t describe my plans to overcome it. So maybe it seemed I was talking about problems, and not the solutions? But if that’s the case, and he genuinely cared, shouldn’t it be resolvable?
I’m anxious to discuss this next part, I fear judgement and criticism but I need to share it somewhere, and hopefully ladies here will be understanding.
I’ve had people who know me and M not believe me that he isn’t talking to me. People who know us, and people who I talk to in the hopes of gaining some insight and show written conversations to, all ask me am I sure he’s not talking to me? I keep being told I’ve misunderstood something, I’m making a mistake. People who had private conversations with him in which I came up have started telling me he cared so much and wouldn’t just cut me off. It’s SO hard to hear that! They all say talk to him, but I’ve tried!
And then I’ve had a couple of people talk to me about “signs”. A few things have happened that I have repeated to others in frustration, for instance my phone sometimes randomly flicks back to text conversations we had years ago! Happy, calm, non-stressful conversations and it breaks my heart to see them again. That’s one thing, the next is that I have tried on multiple occasions to delete the messages, but my phone crashes every time and they stay there. I have managed to delete conversations with others, I tested and recovered them. Then I had an incident at work where I was handed something that was identical to the last gift I ever gave him, and it’s not my responsibility to deal with this particular thing at work, so I called for and handed it over to the person responsible. Ten minutes later I was removed from my own tasks and handed the item back and asked to sort it out! People keep telling me these are signs I’m not supposed to give up on him. I don’t understand what that means, I am not going to keep contacting someone who isn’t responding.
I want to be clear, I am not obsessed with him, I do not see him as the solution to my problems, I am working on those myself, but there are only three people in my life who I genuinely care about as family and he was one of them. If someone who so obviously saw me as family that others saw it too cut me off, I feel like I don’t know how to prevent this happening again. This person who has got back in touch with me, who I knew before M and G wants to be supportive, but apart from being upfront and honest, I don’t know what to do. I feel like I have to keep her at arms length and barely talk to her because if I let her get close to me, she will hurt me like my family and other friends :'( I know it’s silly, but my heart just screams “No!” any time someone tries to get friendly with me. And I find myself questioning and doubting my every action. I have always been someone to send random happy/funny/positive texts to people, or just discuss something that happened in the day, but now when I pull out my phone to do so, I stop myself. I know people such as M enjoyed these messages, but now I debate whether people really want to hear from me. So I don’t send them. Then when I’m stressed or something is bothering me, I also feel I can’t contact anyone because I haven’t had any happy/general conversation with them in the meantime because I kept avoiding that…
I must sound like a right w****o, and I know I’m not explaining myself as well as I did in the original message that was lost!
I guess I am trying to say that I am terrified of reaching out as I don’t understand what went wrong with M, and I believe space and time should resolve things between people who were genuinely close (as they have with the person I am now back in touch with). I agree that we can’t heal in isolation, I was so cut off from the world by my family, then by a friend and it’s only by getting out there that I see what I’ve missed and want it. But I can’t take anymore pain right now, so it’s catch 22. I need the PTSD induced friendship nightmares to stop, that would be a big help!
Sorry, I think I’m talking nonsense, so going to stop!
20th February 2016 at 1:22 pm #10023
Ayanna, I also feel that way and I find it so hard to try to reconnect with people and doubt myself every single step of the way. Maybe you’re stronger than me, I don’t know, but I keep trying to fully give up on people but I feel so lonely. I struggle not to end up back in abusive situations just for some company! My family always criticised me for emotions, for hobbies, likes and dislikes, so I naturally hide them. When I had friends it was amazing to be able to get excited about things, to smile at something I enjoyed and have that smile returned! Now I just think what’s the point and don’t do anything I enjoy, and find the abusive comments I have heard so many times come back to my mind.
I’m planning to get more counselling sessions to see if that helps, but as I can’t afford travel costs they offer me telephone counselling, which I can’t do at home and it’s too cold to sit outside on the phone for an hour, so may have to wait a few more weeks yet.
20th February 2016 at 7:32 pm #10042SerenityParticipant
Hi Alone ( I know what your name was on the old site!),
It is very scary going into new situations, and we are always worried about getting hurt again.
One thing I tell myself is, I used to be such a trusting person and gave 100%, whoever the person.
Now, people would need to earn that 100%- in terms of, I would need to really know them and trust them.
So in general everyday life when I meet new people, I tell myself to give / open up 70% ( keep 30% back).
That way, if they end up letting me down in any way, I have that 30% of myself kept safe to fall back on.
This figure comes I to my head too when my kids are being a bit unkind, maybe after seeing their dad. I repeat to myself that I am not 100% a mum, only 70%- I am 30% just me! This helps me detach and limits the hurt.
I don’t know how or why I came to this figure, I just did.
Also, on the Pattern Changing course they advised not too open up too quickly to new people and reveal your vulnerabilities, as they might use this against you.
Of course, this might be able to be different with a friend you have known well in the past- there may be more knowledge about this character and trust there.
Good to see you here x*x
20th February 2016 at 10:18 pm #10063
I really admire your courage and perseverance despite (through no fault on your own) being subjected to enormous abuse by your family and siblings. I too remember you from the old Forum. You are doing so well. I am so pleased for you. You so deserve (as we all do on here) to heal fully from the abuse and you are doing everything you can to heal.
Serenity, that percentage 0f 70: 20 when meeting new people is fantastic and even using it (to protect ourselves) when our children have been heavily under the influence of their ‘abuser dad’ is fantastic. I’m going to start applying the 70:20 percentage myself as I too can relate to the above posts and have been too trusting and open with people who unbeknown to be ‘didn’t have my best interests at heart’.
20th February 2016 at 10:19 pm #10064
Sorry, 70:30 percent lol
21st February 2016 at 12:44 pm #10093
I’m pleased you also remember me! I’m really not happy about being made to change my name, I was told it’s too close to my email address, but I explained that the email address was also created to be anonymous, for contacting support sites etc, but still wasn’t allowed to use it. I actually chose it based on a TV character who adapted to negative situations and excelled during tough times, but despite that decided to overcome all her problems that no one even realised she had and be a new person. I changed the spelling of her name also, it has no connection to me and wouldn’t identify me, but I guess it is what it is, and nothing I can do about it. I’m sure I won’t stick with the name Alone, but I can’t think of another one that has that positive meaning behind it.
I’m a little different, in that I rarely give 100%. Years ago I was too trusting too quickly, but I was burned and learnt from that. Now I’m told I hold back too much! Finding the balance is so hard. I never fully trusted the person I called G, I never told her about my problems at home, just that I had some. I also said I live with someone with a mental illness so sometimes things are tough. If she saw bruises I lied about the cause of them. Something never felt right, I never felt she was someone I could open up to, and it turns out I was right. With M though, I knew him years and we were very close before I started trusting him with that side of things. Compared to the behaviours and reactions of other people I still believe he was genuine.
I find I can’t give to anyone new at all. People now get about 10% of me, if I put a figure on it. I can have a laugh and a joke and a chat about random things with people, but more than that I can’t handle. It brings on the PTSD and nightmares, and I just can’t get to a place where I believe anyone is genuine anymore, I feel so scared and like I somehow messed up things with my best friend, so won’t be able to prevent it happening again in future. When I say I can’t trust people, I don’t mean with my life story, I mean I don’t trust people to turn up to things, I don’t trust people to respond to a text, I just don’t trust people to be a friend anymore. If I lost the person who cared about me so much that it was glaringly obvious to everyone, how do I prevent it happening again? I just can’t put myself out there with anyone new, despite loneliness and feeling rejected tearing me apart.
I feel like a child in some respects, I don’t know how I should react to certain things. When someone you really cared about cuts you off without a word what is the appropriate behaviour? I know my family would yell and get angry, aggressive etc. I know I’m not like that. I’m someone who steps back to go through my emotions, then attempts to talk with a clear head. I thought my way was the best way, but clearly not, if it has lead me to the place where I’m ignored and in pain! And every time I try to talk about it, to let it out and gain some clarity, people are so convinced I’m mistaken, they say he wouldn’t do that to you… he cared so much… talk to him… it’s frustrating and hurts to hear it!! Even when I was having counselling, I would describe conversations or outings, and the counsellor would tell me I’m overthinking based on the behaviour of my family and that I need to stop being so hard on someone who seems to be so understanding and patient!
I think it’s because I can’t come to any kind of understanding that it’s driving me so mad… With G I can see where she used me, I can see patterns that indicated she was going to let me down in the end, so I can make peace with that. I’ve decided I’m not going to make an effort with her anymore. With the childhood friend I mentioned, I was hurting at first, and couldn’t understand why she was capable of giving so much to others but then rejected and hurt me all the time. But now I can see the pattern there also. She needed someone to swoop in and fix her mess, and that was it. I served a purpose. I actually don’t like opening up like this here tbh, it’s really not easy but I can’t keep holding everything in!
Thank you LONC, I really feel like I have changed a lot, but still have so much to do. I no longer see myself as pathetic, (except for when it comes to friendships!) but instead recognise that I am working hard to overcome things, and should be proud of it. It’s not my fault, so I try not to blame myself but it is really difficult. I’m pleased that you found the responses to my post helpful, I think it’s great when we can take things from each other’s posts and apply it to our own lives.
Got to get ready for work, doing six days in a row, not sleeping due to nightmares, hopefully I’ll get a peaceful nights sleep at the end of it all lol
21st February 2016 at 12:53 pm #10094
Healing and recovering from severe abuse and trauma is hard work. But we’re putting the work in by coming on here and sharing honestly and looking for support, not trying to do it on our own (which would be impossible given the extent of the abuse we were subjected to) and our sharing honestly (to find answers for ourselves) helps others too!
All in all, a win-win situation. Keep posting.
21st February 2016 at 3:51 pm #10108SerenityParticipant
There are so many different kinds of people in this world with different strengths and weaknesses, good and bad.
It’s hard to know what lies beneath with people when you first meet them. Only time and witnessing their behaviour will show us.
I completely understand what you mean when you say you are overcome with PTSD if you open up too much. Certain situations trigger me in my PTSD even now.
We are isolating ourselves from the joys of company if we are too scared to open up at all, yet we can go backwards if we get hurt. We are mentally and emotionally vulnerable.
So in reply to how to reconnect, my answer to myself ( it may not be the answer for you) would be to create your own firm boundaries and visualise your strength and protection maybe.
For example, write down a list of the information you are happy sharing with people and what you are not. Keep to it for now. You might change in the future, but for now that’s what you are happy with.
I sometimes visualise a glass bubble around me if I find myself in situations where I know I might start feeling attacked in any given moment. So if anyone displays unkind behaviour, I kind of have a protective barrier. It takes a lot of visualisation over time to make this image really effective- but it has been for me, a stopped me sinking ( a bit like the 70:30 tactic).
Might it be helpful to find a tactic like this which works for you, and helps you feel safe, something you can retreat to if needed?
I think its important for me to have this as a constant companion, as real life is fast and fluid: you meet different people quickly and sometimes briefly; you need to be well-armed!
Have you looked into eye movement therapy for your PTSD, which your GP might offer? Also, reading up on or following NLP ( neuro – linguistic programming ) might help with positive self-talk and have you heard of body tapping, tapping main meridians in your body which apparently helps mental strength and focus?
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