An open letter to my friends with CPTSD:
You are first and foremost, not alone.
I know having PTSD symptoms daily feels debilitating. Most days you pretend to be normal so you can pass as fine when people ask.
The truth is, you do not want to have to sit down and open the can of worms of "what is wrong". You feel most people are just making small talk when they ask how you are doing.
I know it in my soul that you do not in fact ever feel fine. You spend your days walking on eggshells, like a ballerina. You might literally walk on your toes up staircases and hold the door as you shut it to be gentle or silent.
You try to multitask and achieve multiple things but it translates as 10 open tabs and throwing in laundry but forgetting it in the machine throughout each cycle. Things take so long to do, you feel burnt out by the end of the night and want to focus on atleast one thing you'd been hoping to do.
It's frustrating when people need you, not because you do not want to help but because you spend your mental tokens on being there for everyone else constantly. YOU KNOW you will say yes if anyone asks. So you choose to sit alone, perhaps on the toilet or in a small room with the door shut. It's not peaceful being alone. But it soothes your nerves to not be needed all the time.
You might really love the grocery store, the mall, an open and busy park. To walk amongst strangers all happy and busy feels so good. Like you can take a deep breath. Take an adventure. Be uninhibited.
Being around family, especially the one you created, can sometimes be painful. Especially when you feel inadequate or strange around them. You feel like you have the perfect image of wife, mom, sister, or daughter, [husband, dad, brother, or son as a man], in your head. But you do not meet the requirements to be perfect or even great. You struggle with your self-esteem and feel broken. But you are determined to at least be a source of smiles and warm hugs. To be known as loving and kind, even if quiet and "fine".
It is not a fakeness for you to be kind and quiet. On the contrary, you care immensely about these traits. You want to be better than the people who hurt you -- even who raised you. To show them kindness and consideration you never received as a child. To show you are not the bad person they painted you as. To show everyone they deserve love.
I know it's hard to show yourself, love. It feels selfish and inconsiderate to ask for time off or time alone. To ask to take a shower at 2 in the afternoon or soak in a bubble bath. So you're a night dweller. You enjoy the late-night hours because you do not have to compromise with anyone else for them. In fact, staying up in the darkness to work on something you love or watch a show makes you feel NORMAL. HELD. SEEN. You get to give yourself this time and it is precious.
So what if you lose sleep because you wake up early? Sometimes it's hard to fall asleep. You watch your partner snoring or your kids tucked in nicely. You see the world resting while you are wide awake with all this... adrenaline. What is happening is all the clenched and pent-up emotions during the day are finally coming out. Your balloon is letting out some pressure. No one else understands it, but this is self-care.
Your teeth and jaw may ache late in the night, your body sore and achy. While everyone says the remedy is sleep, you just want to rest from the stress of the day. Rest the act. Rest the passing as ok. Rest the masks.
You want time to really be you, whether it's with a piece of cake and unheld back tears - or writing feverishly in your journal with some tea to sip as you get out the dark feelings. You welcome those feelings to come out poetically because you know it's healthy. It's one of the most NORMAL things you can do. Acknowledge that the world is not all light and beauty.
You often try to be agreeable or distant with others about your opinion. You learned that others' opinions are like matches. Easily, you can share yours back and they will strike it against the box. Igniting their flame is your nightmare. You hate conflicts, big or small. So you stay inside your mind, talking endlessly about your own thoughts and conclusions. It's safe in your mind space. It's your home.
Only you do not remember when you moved in. It's like you have lived there forever. Always meeting yourself in this safe space when things go wrong. When you think something is up. When you smell something off. When you have had an idea or plan. You built a whole life here in this home. And though you love the safety, I know you wish that just once you could invite someone over. Someone who would understand.
I want you to know there are people like you. Who desperately want a guest of their own. Someone to help them open up that door and share all those thoughts, repressed emotions, conclusions, and ideas. Someone they can trust to be gentle and open, respectful and compassionate.
The only issue is you will never meet each other if you never reveal who you are and what you go through.
No one will ever know to ask to be invited in if you just smirk and say "I'm fine".
Those who have been through the same experiences, they are also "fine" acquaintances but WOW can they be amazing friends.
The kind who see you for your true self.
Not someone who is damaged and broken.
Someone who is strong, resilient, brave, creative, deep, intuitive, aware.
It feels scary right now to open up or tell anyone what life is actually like. You fear your body and mannerisms will give it away when you are around others normally. Like on holidays and celebrations, when you sit quietly off to a corner with your food. Not because you are antisocial but because all of your senses are heightened and hurting. The noises are loud and uncomfortable. The small talk is excruciating to listen to. You're too aware, too deep to sit and pretend verbally.
When you choose who is in your room, it will be so different. Everything will feel shifted.
When you have people in your corner who get it. And they suggest herbs to help your nerves. They give you a squeeze ball or texture keychain to soothe your anxiety around others. They make you laugh and talk deeply about society. And they make you feel a sense of belonging like you are important to the collective.
The Collective of Victims of Abuse.
Those who did not ask to have anxiety, depression, PTSD, OCD, PPD, Disassociation, Antisocial personality disorders, or other mental health issues.
Those who did not ask for the family they were born into or the abuse that developed in their marriage / partnerships.
Those who were caught up in toxic situations and too fearful to leave them, sometimes fearful for their lives.
You are not alone.
And I'm sorry it has been so lonely until now.
But I'm here to be your guest because I understand it all.
And there is much we need to talk about. ♡
I believe that you can change others' lives.
If you start living in your truths and letting yourself unravel.
I believe that others are waiting for us too.
And that we can team up to feel, to heal, and mark history.
You may have been born into this space and have lived through what you did, but your future is still unwritten.
Sending you so much love and compassion,
J.S. Jaded Savior
Mental health blogger, content creator, and creative writer. I write about trauma, mental health, and holistic wellness to empower other trauma survivors. Follow my blogs @Jadedsaviorblog @Startthrivingnotsurviving linktr.ee/jeangrey888