The commitment to move forward & guilt vs shame

On accountability and the benefits of remorse, its surprising relationship (or lack thereof) to shame, and thoughts regarding working towards making a better future for ourselves by learning from our past.

Note: I use past tense for some people who are still currently in my life as I am going to eventually separate myself from them by legal means. This is a process so it takes time but want to clarify that emotionally, I am finally done letting my remaining toxic interpersonal relationships affect me. That being said, you can love someone still and know it is an unhealthy relationship and thus separate yourself from them. This will be another post at a later time but some notes on toxic interpersonal relationships here.

I have made many egregiously bad choices in my life. Among them are selfish and destructive choices I feel rightfully guilty over, such as the long-term and vile harassment of another person online, spurred by insecurity, both self-loathing and conceit, and self-righteousness. Another is blatantly dismissing the testimonial of an abuser’s little sister who had entrusted me with the secret that her older sister had broken her arm. This should not have remained a secret, and she and I both suffered for my denial of a very real problem. Out of more self-righteous thinking and behavior, I have meddled in situations that are not mine, further worsening some people’s circumstances in the process. While I would like to think they were purely well intentioned, I know my self-righteousness and own feelings of victimization have played a huge role in these particular actions, which is a major reason why my approaches to helping have sometimes caused further damage instead. Little works in crises when one is letting their inner (and still-hurting) child lead the way.

These wrongs that I committed hurt and even worse, potentially traumatized or helped traumatize others. My guilt here is justified and teaches me to not commit these sins again. Guilt is a positive emotion when it is about true heartfelt remorse. It is inspired by awareness, both of self and others, accountability, and is more central to ethical behavior than religion or law. The reason for this is that guilt is an internal measurement, and regardless of whether someone is more extroverted feeling, like me, and pays close attention to external rules and cues, or is more of an introverted feeler and pays close attention to internally formed rules and cues, guilt is what betters all of us socially when, like all discomfort and pain, we choose to grow from it.

For someone whose auxiliary function is extroverted feeling, (Fe), I learn too slowly. I effect change too slowly. And when I am unusually sick or stressed, I sometimes fall back on unhealthy and harmful behaviors, often again spurred by self-righteousness and unresolved feelings of victimization. I do recognize the urgent need to stop it, as those behaviors help no one and cause more hurt than resolution. I raise my voice, and when I say “raise my voice,” I mean I yell when I get angry.  And I become someone I myself can’t stand because I know I am causing hurt, and for reasons that at the end of the day, conflict with the behavior. I want people to listen and understand because when I yell, I feel hurt and ignored or misunderstood. But I know – when I am thinking rationally – all anyone does when they yell like that is hurt others and themselves. That’s why I have asked people to tell me when I am starting to raise my voice, so I can check myself and quiet myself down. It’s no one’s responsibility but mine, but I lose awareness, the sight of the goal (positive inter & intrapersonal development), and rationale in the heat of the moment and still need external reminders to calm the f*ck down. I have only gotten loud like this in the past three years. I’ve come to realize why but reasons for an unhealthy behavior do not and should not ever be confused with excuses. Still, unlearning this has been hard, and I have made only minimal progress since it was brought to my attention almost a year ago. Guilt, or perhaps the more specific term and meaning — remorse — is powerful and can greatly help to rectify bad behavior, but it is not the lone motivating force. I am making progress however and through identification and an implementation of coping skills, I hope to make this a past behavior more quickly.

Guilt vs shame

There is another feeling many people may relate closely to guilt – I used to too – but I caution strongly against making them so close. I can’t really remember where I first learned of the vital difference of meaning of these two words, but I know that actually proactively learning the difference took a long time even after. I do remember staring at the worksheet/handout in my early teens, trying to sift through events and circumstances in my head while utilizing the words’ very different meanings but having great difficulty in doing so. (Note: TRIGGER WARNING for disordered thoughts, including thoughts related to disordered eating and sexual trauma.) Continue reading “The commitment to move forward & guilt vs shame”

hOMETOWN blues (TW)

I know I’ve written about my PTSD before, but this is something I want to continue elaborating on because it haunts me in more than just the way of sexual trauma. I have let it ruin so many of my interpersonal relationships and have gone charging, barreling through red flags because of it. I have compromised myself more than a thousand times; belittled myself, pleading on my knees to the wrong people for things I didn’t even want. I am still so caught up in a cycle of self-abuse that it is hard for me to understand what to value, what to drop, and how to manage either/or.

I am deeply sad tonight. I have made a trip to the hospital this year already and have already relentlessly put myself in bad situations. Being assertive is difficult. Being honest and being clear are difficult, too. I am often, in many cases, neither/nor, but I am working on developing ways to cut through the bullshit and be honest and clear with myself and other people.

I still hurt a lot. My memories still hurt a lot. The wash of hopelessness once I cross that stateline, that pain of reliving every object, word, and trauma that had hit me and shocked me in that town.

My suicide does not look like razorblades or cocktails of pills. It does not look like a noose. It looks like a town in western Pennsylvania, made of bland, collapsing houses and trailer parks on grassy hills. At times, I feel like my suicide was sown there; handcrafted by the children and adults of that town, who tried to rob me of my dignity, strength, and love.

I met a few good people there. But while I was there, they could not unstitch the fabric that was sewn for me. Even after, they could not retrieve all of the seeds that were sown. Besides the sexual assault, other things festered in me. Ugly, gross, sad, miserable things. I felt hatred and loathing towards myself and the world. I did not have a normal childhood. The friends I made and in early childhood were sick people, and the things that happened in my childhood were sick things. I did not have a normal adolescence. I had no dates, was invited to no parties, didn’t get a job, didn’t go to prom, didn’t graduate from high school. I was, however, abused. I was raped. I starved myself. I self-harmed. I purged my meals. I attempted suicide. I was hospitalized. Out of those few good people I had met, every one of them had their own hell to go through, too. I felt really alone, even in the company of my own little “group.” There was one particular person who went to great lengths to help me, and she did, but I never fit in anywhere, never felt truly accepted or understood, the harassment from others continued, and I still felt so alone.

I feel bad, because I cannot make it there for weddings. I cannot make it there for funerals. I am not okay with that town. I am not okay with what the people there did to me and what I did there to myself. Every corner, avenue, and structure teems with horrors I’ve memorized and relive on nights like these. Every slam to my psyche. Every rock to my legs, every plush animal thrown over the fence, every threat, every rumor, every lie, every jeer and jibe and rejection and bruise.

I have not come far enough to really handle a recovery blog. Let’s just be real. I thought I was, but I’m really not. I tell all of you that this blog is part of my recovery; that I’m still recovering; that I’m still not where I want to be. All of that is true. It remains true. This blog is a work in progress. It is the story of my journey. Part of my PTSD is realizing how much power I have to relinquish to people and events to feel this horrible way, and to do horrible things to myself. That in itself is too much for me tonight.

Sleep well. Let’s make tomorrow a better day.

 

V.

An Open Letter.

Hello, traumas.

Let me begin simply by saying you are no longer welcome here.

Your abusers’ language and actions are motivated by a voracious hunger for control, lack of conscience and/or lack of empathy, and deep insecurity. Thus, with me having recognized this, your abusers’ behavior will no longer find my empathy, fear, or obedience. I am not yours to do with what you want. I am not yours to damage.

I am simply not yours.

The people whom you’ve saddled me with have all had problems; it’s true. No one would try to destroy someone else out of a healthful self-love. You’ve sent me ruins of trauma. You’ve sent me shells of people. You’ve sent me killers, rapists, pedophiles, torturers, and bone-breakers. You’ve sent them my way and promised me to them as a way out. But you must understand, traumas, you don’t have that right, and you don’t have my permission.

Let’s get some things straight.

The way I have reacted to you has not been free from guilt or scandal. I have hurt people myself. I have acted impulsively and have even tried to exact revenge–a laughable concept, by the way, since revenge still puts me under your control even though I am tied to it by my own responsibility. I’ve walked down that path and have jumped that bridge. You cannot kill me through me.

That being said, I have attempted suicide in your wake–many times. I have been hospitalized in wards and hospitals both medical and psychiatric in your wake. Many times. I have slit my wrists, overdosed, tried to drown, tried so suffocate, tried to choke myself to death because of how I’ve felt with you.

And consider this:

I am still alive.

There is a girl whose birthday is in a few days. She just found me on facebook, although I’ve only had a facebook under my real name for… less than a month? You remember her, traumas; I know you do. She groomed me well as a kid and early teen: isolating me, hounding me, controlling me, manipulating me, breaking me day in and day out for years. She may have been abused. I do not know. At this point, I do not care. She has had a hard life, I know, and at this point, I do not care. I cannot care. I must be indifferent, traumas, because you will understand this:

Nobody owns me.

I care about the people who could become like her, sure. If I had different neurochemistry and a different situation, I could easily be like her. We all could. But I don’t pity her, and I certainly do not owe her empathy. I do not wish her ill. I no longer wish for her to understand what she has done. She will never understand it, just like I’ve learned I will never understand her. But I don’t cater to or cower beneath these caustic crowds anymore. I don’t feed the snakes, as I’ve learned a lioness needs no pride but her own.

I have a birthday coming up soon, too.

My twenty-fourth is the first birthday I am excited for. One of hopefully many more.

So, goodbye, traumas.

You’ve granted me wisdom and understanding I sometimes wish I never had but am better for. I am still learning; I am always learning. You come back; I come back harder.

You aren’t going to win.

 

 

 

 

Taste Bud Principle & sexual violence

Major trigger warnings for sexual violence and explicit detail of its aftermath. Victims of such ordeals may not need to read this. But I’m betting you almost everyone else does.

Continue reading “Taste Bud Principle & sexual violence”