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#453553 - 11/13/13 09:14 PM Confusing Now with The Past
ForeverFighting Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/09/05
Posts: 1058
Loc: New Mexico, USA
I'm bunkered down at home, fearing that the phone will ring. If it rings, I jump and a feeling of dread comes over me. If the doorbell rings, I hide, my heart pounding fast, hoping they won't hear me. What happened?

My boss always seems proud of me, jokes with me, and isn't really my boss--just a coworker. But he's big. He's tall, big boned, and intimidating. Like my dad was. At our last meeting, he seemed upset. I had presented something that it appeared he didn't like. I emailed him, and he didn't respond. I felt like my take on a subject was the right way to go, but I couldn't convince him.

It's so ridiculous! After that meeting, I totally fell apart. I'm in fear. I've missed two days of work out sick. I can't talk on the phone without almost having a panic attack. I can't think about going tomorrow. It is totally insane fear. Like I have to avoid everyone, because people are mad at me.

And then tonight I made the connection between a little boy who learned to read his dad and me as a man who is still reading people. I became so hyper aware of dad's every move, the tone of his voice, when his joking changed even slightly, so I knew when to stop. It's like the boy has to say everything just right, do everything perfectly to keep dad happy. Any slight error on the boy's part means dad changes and becomes terrifying. Meanwhile, mom is either laughing or sobbing. Who's job is it to keep mom happy? It's a totally learned behavior! It is my job to anticipate what will make every person I see happy so that I will be safe and cared for. Anything I do wrong could lead to confrontation, or worse, no one will love me. No one will protect me, and I'll be left alone. And when that happened, I felt like a dirty rag. It's this wrong internal belief that I am responsible for other people's emotions or behavior.

Let's see, can we count how many times that happened to me as a boy?

The only way to defuse the present is to remember that I don't need to do this anymore. I associate disagreement with fear. Disagreeing with dad meant danger. Now I have to remind myself that I'm not in danger anymore. I can trust that even if someone disagrees with me, that doesn't mean that it is permanent. My therapist said abuse puts us in a land of extremes. Everything is black or white. I trust 100% or not at all, and I tend to assume that people will either like me completely or hate me entirely. Like my childhood home. Either dad was smiling or he was exploding. I still get ultra vigilant and then reclusive.

I have to get it through my head that I am not responsible for how other people feel. And if they feel something bad, that doesn't mean I caused them to feel it. I also need to remember that an unhappy person isn't always a dangerous person. I can't believe I'm still thinking thoughts that came from my horrible family. argh.
_________________________
ForeverFighting

"This search for the truth--it's not for the faint of heart."--Goren on 'Law & Order: CI'
"The former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart."--Isaiah 65:17

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#453660 - 11/14/13 06:08 PM Re: Confusing Now with The Past [Re: ForeverFighting]
traveler Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 3517
Loc: somewhere in Africa
Forever - i get it.

did we live in the same house?

LEE
_________________________
As my life goes on I believe somehow something's changed
Something deep inside...
I've been searchin so long to find an answer
Now I know my life has meaning
Now I see myself as I am, feeling very free...
When my tears have come to an end I will understand
What I left behind: a part of me. Chicago


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#453662 - 11/14/13 06:12 PM Re: Confusing Now with The Past [Re: traveler]
Jacob S Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/01/13
Posts: 614
Loc: where the shadows lie
Originally Posted By: traveler
Forever - i get it.

did we live in the same house?

LEE


Exactly. When I read this I thought "did we live in the same BRAIN!"

Quote:

It is my job to anticipate what will make every person I see happy so that I will be safe and cared for. Anything I do wrong could lead to confrontation, or worse, no one will love me. No one will protect me, and I'll be left alone. And when that happened, I felt like a dirty rag. It's this wrong internal belief that I am responsible for other people's emotions or behavior.


This was exactly my childhood and is still a struggle not to fall back into.
_________________________


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#453687 - 11/14/13 09:36 PM Re: Confusing Now with The Past [Re: ForeverFighting]
ForeverFighting Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/09/05
Posts: 1058
Loc: New Mexico, USA
Thanks, guys. I feel better today. After I wrote it out, it helped. It puts everything that was in the past back in the past, and everything in the present makes a little more sense. I almost need to repeat to myself when things feel like that, "They're not out to get me. It was the abuse." I used to carry a paper in my wallet that said, "It's not happening now." It's incredibly frustrating that sometimes I still need that paper.

For some reason it usually takes me a couple of days to make myself do the emotion work on myself. When things were bad a few years ago, I used to make myself write something here every day. It really helped. I'm in a much better place now, but it's still true. I need to look the beast in the eyes occasionally to remember that I don't need to run anymore.

Take care.
_________________________
ForeverFighting

"This search for the truth--it's not for the faint of heart."--Goren on 'Law & Order: CI'
"The former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart."--Isaiah 65:17

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#453724 - 11/15/13 05:22 AM Re: Confusing Now with The Past [Re: ForeverFighting]
don64 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/09/13
Posts: 827
Loc: St. Croix, USVI
Hi ForeverFighting,

You could plug everything you have said into me and it would fit like a glove. I have made a breakthrough in the past day that seems major to me, and it came from reading posts from someone on another site. This guy is also very similar to me, abuse from infancy on, to age 3 1/2 with me when mom had another 2 kids to satisfy her needs. But, the breakthrough for me came about with a physical abuse issue.

The guy I got the help from says that he has learned to go back to the original event in his imagination, and to feel the original event. He says doing this clears up the original damage and clears up the craziness associated with the original damage. This is a little simplistic rendering of what he said, but basically the idea.

I have been aware for a long time that I was beaten with a folded up newspaper or magazine on the head, face, and ears most likely from walking or even earlier. I also knew that this was a very big deal for me and had caused me psychic damage. I had never been able to really feel this event, and "seeing" it was always like viewing it through a gauze curtain. But, when I focused on actually placing myself back in the event, I discovered some amazing things. I discovered that the beatings were so horrible for me, so traumatic that a piece of ME vanished. The piece of me that vanished was the piece that was able to tell me if I was comfortable or not. And so, the stage was set for a lifetime of psychologically abusive relationships--up until now at age 64. And, the only I was able to continue repeating all I had ever known was to not be able to feel it. I was terrorized into shutting down my feelings. They were just not there to give me clues about how to live in a non-abusive way.

An amazing thing has happened as I have continued to move back to this original event. I have discovered that all the work I have done for years has "grown" MYSELF enough to be able to hold this experience in consciousness, and to take language and understanding back to this original injury. In other words, I now have the skills to integrate this early damaged version of myself, bring it fully into consciousness and have it as part of supporting me on my journey instead of tearing me down.

As I said, this is new, but it feels real. I have been able to set healthy limits for myself in a situation where I have always repeated old self-destructive patterns. All the old triggers were there to hook me and reel me in. I was able to not bite. This is a first. For the first time ever, I am hopeful that I can grow myself out of my early damage. I have never lived in a satisfying manner this whole life. This new skill is giving me hope that growth, evolving, is possible for me. I wish you well with your very familiar issues.

Don
_________________________
Divine Law is not judgment or denial of self truths. Divine Law is honoring harmony that comes from a peaceful mind, an open heart, a true tongue, a light step, a forgiving nature, and a love of all living creatures. Jamie Sams & David Carson, Medicine Cards

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#453758 - 11/15/13 10:49 AM Re: Confusing Now with The Past [Re: ForeverFighting]
traveler Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 3517
Loc: somewhere in Africa
WOW!

i am in awe.

this is so profound.

thank you, Don.
_________________________
As my life goes on I believe somehow something's changed
Something deep inside...
I've been searchin so long to find an answer
Now I know my life has meaning
Now I see myself as I am, feeling very free...
When my tears have come to an end I will understand
What I left behind: a part of me. Chicago


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#455105 - 11/26/13 09:19 AM Re: Confusing Now with The Past [Re: ForeverFighting]
SamV Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/13/09
Posts: 5947
Loc: Talladega, Alabama, USA
Quote:
I used to carry a paper in my wallet that said, "It's not happening now." It's incredibly frustrating that sometimes I still need that paper.
I have that on my phone, "I am safe, I am calm, I am relaxed". I need it every once in a while.

Quote:
I now have the skills to integrate this early damaged version of myself, bring it fully into consciousness and have it as part of supporting me on my journey instead of tearing me down.
This is the essence of recovery don, thank you. Being able to go back in our consciousness and relive the abuse, the acting out and the shame, then using our new tools of recovery to repair the damage done. Wonderful share.
_________________________
MaleSurvivor Moderator Emeritus 2012 - 2014

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#455143 - 11/26/13 04:45 PM Re: Confusing Now with The Past [Re: ForeverFighting]
MarkH Offline


Registered: 11/19/13
Posts: 15
Loc: Florida/Maine
Thank you for sharing this. As I was reading your words, I could feel the anxiety and fear that you shared. I had images of the exact same situation with my father. I had to be very careful or he would "go off." My mom, too, was either crying or telling me it wasn't that bad. To not let his words hurt me. When he shot my dog for not holding both ears up, I looked at him and said, " I am glad my ears stand up." He laughed and walked away. My mom was crying and telling me that he didn't mean it.

Today, I am very tuned in to those around me. I, too, try to make everyone happy so that I won't get hurt. Sometimes I feel so paranoid. I feel like I am being hunted. The simple fact is, my dad WAS out to get me when I as a child. He did verbally and physically abuse me over and over. I was not safe. I was not wanted. I was alone. I was terrified that I wouldn't survive. No wonder I feel paranoid. I am learning that when I start to feel as if I am being "hunted" again by whatever situation occurs, I need to remove myself from the situation as soon as possible, find a safe place and sit with myself and comfort that wounded child. If I acknowledge that in that moment I am "still there" emotionally, I can give him voice and comfort him. When I feel calm, I then move back into my "adult mind" and remind myself that I am re-experiencing feelings that are from the past. I am not stuck in that home now. I am not living at his whim any more. I am my own man with my own job, my own family and my own life.

If I don't first acknowledge the vulnerable "child" and soothe him, my self statements are less effective. Over the past several years, the number of times that I end up "back there emotionally" has lessened. In fact, I drove by the house that I lived in not too long ago. I parked across the street, imagined that I went inside, pushed my dad into the wall, picked up myself as a little kid and drove away. He is now safe with me. It felt so good to be there for myself.

Thanks again for sharing. It really helped me.

Mark H

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