When most people hear you have post-traumatic stress they think you have been in the military, a serious accident, or some natural disaster. What they seem to forget is that there are many causes closer to home. Or at home.
Pots is my post-traumatic stress dragon. He is big and red and loud and breaths fire. Needless to say, he is really scary. Pots did not hatch quietly. Pots was pulled into my life fully grown and angry.
Where did Pots come from? He was a gift. The kind you would love to refuse.
I had two abusive marriages. It wasn’t physical abuse that is easily seen and dealt with. It was the invisible abuse caused by emotional and mental manipulation. There was a lot of that but, a very few people saw it.
How can it be abuse if it cannot be seen? I didn’t understand it until it was too late. Looking back, I can see it for what it is.
- These can be overt (Do this or …… You did this so ….)
- They can also be implied through body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice.
- Controlling Behaviors means the abuser controls your access to the following:
- Social Activities
- Transferred Guilt
- You didn’t do it but, you still feel guilty because they are upset.
- Their anger, sadness, or other emotional reaction becomes your fault.
While this looks obvious when it is written down or talked about, it is not obvious when you are in the middle of it.
It’s like you have been put in a box and your reality changed to fit. Then all you see is what is in the box and that reality is often controlled by the person who manipulated you into the box in the first place.
Stupidity or Abuse
This is a good question because all of us have moments of amazing stupidity and the people around us can get physically or emotional hurt during these moments. If you have had moments like this smack yourself in the forehead and say, “Doh!”
Signs of stupidity:
- Your foot has suddenly shoved itself into your mouth.
- The guard in your brain went on a break and did not tell you. Thoughts that were supposed to be private have just jumped out of your mouth.
- You got angry and threw something. It hit someone, and they got hurt. Remember, if you have to throw something, throw soft things (e.g. foam balls, smallish pillows, crumpled paper, marshmallows, flour, etc.)
- You stormed out after an argument and slammed the door.
- You lost your head, yelled at someone.
I am sure that you can add other things to this list. We’ve all done it. Does that mean we are abusive to those around us? No.
Why? Because we usually follow it up with apologies, compassion, and are better behaved in the future. We learn from it and become better people. sincere apologies and true forgiveness create stronger, better relationships.
Abusers do the same things but, with a few significant differences:
- They don’t always care if your feelings are hurt.
- Sometimes they are glad your feelings were hurt.
- They somehow make it your fault.
- Things don’t change. While they may apologize, they keep doing it.
- They feel they have the right to behave that way.
The people in the abuser’s family circle often feel bad about themselves and think that something is wrong with them. This kind of abuse slowly deprives people of what is most important, themselves.
Serious emotional or mental damage can become permanent if there is no intervention or change in behavior.
Stupidity Often Becomes Silly
- Sometimes when you put your foot in your mouth, the sound of a boat with a bad motor come out. (buh…puh……buh, buh……puh…)
- Your private thoughts come out only partially formed and indecipherable.
- You threw something, and it bounced back and hit you in the face.
- You slammed the door on your cloths and you are now stuck. Or worse, on your hand and you are now in the ER.
- You lost your head and don’t know where to find it. You start yelling but forget why and it is now total gibberish.
This is a serious problem when you are seriously trying to be mad. Especially when laughter is involved. Have you ever tried to be angry and laugh at the same time? Doesn’t work.
Daughter is about 18 months old. We are all at the table eating dinner and she cannot sit still in her booster seat. She stands up. She hangs her feet over the side. She sits backwards. She sits upside down and hangs her head over the edge.
Dad is frustrated and starting to get angry. He repeatedly tells daughter to stop playing around or she will fall.
Daughter falls out of her booster seat landing on her back at her father’s feet. Dad looks down angrily and says, “And just what do you think you were doing?!” Daughter looks up at her father with a “serious?!” look on her face and says disgustedly, “I was falling Dad!”
Abuse is NOT Silly
Abuse does not end in silly moments. It always ends with someone feeling sad, hurt, or bad. If something silly does happen, the abuser only gets angrier and things get worse.
My Introduction to Pots
This was a significant moment in my life. I realized I no longer felt like me and it wasn’t just Bip being obnoxious. There was something else sneaking around inside my head.
Great….! Now something else is broken and I don’t know what it is either.
Bip didn’t like it. How do I know? Because she got agitated whenever this newcomer showed himself. The mood swings got worse. The depression got worse. I went from being passively suicidal 9 days out of 10 to not actively suicidal 19 days out of 20.
What’s the difference between passive and not active? Passive is just acceptance without action. Not active means that the thoughts of suicide are quietly slipping through my brain. I wouldn’t initiate the action, but I won’t prevent it either.
Total Emotional Blackout
Standing in the shadow of something only blocks some of the light. While Bip’s shadow was huge and very dark, some light still got through.
Pots, on the other hand, was complete darkness. He absorbed light in such a way that it seemed like it had never existed in the first place. Pots brought a darkness that was palpable and even more frightening.
I tried on many occasions to voice my need for help. The problem was I couldn’t say what was wrong. I knew something was, just not what. I tried talking to Husband about it, but he would just storm out of the house telling me to stop being a martyr. I was just fine, and he wasn’t going to deal with the drama.
I knew I wasn’t be fine, but nobody believed me. It was all in my head. Just my imagination.
I even, almost, began to believe them.
On the bright side, things in my head just got a lot more exciting. I now had a dragon party going on.
Don’t Stop Reaching Out!
This is very important.
When I was young mental illness was something you just didn’t talk about. It was something whispered about in dark corners. If it was connected to your name you became the topic of mis-informed conversations. People sometimes actively avoided you.
Bipolar and post-traumatic stress are talked about openly in today’s world. This is a wonderful thing because it is easier for people to get help. People understand that there is actually something wrong and you are not making it up to get attention.
If you know something is wrong and can’t describe it, it doesn’t mean you are making it up. Go talk to someone. Your doctor is a good place to start. Don’t feel self-conscious about seeing a therapist. Many others are seeing one too.
You Are a Good Person
Just because your brain works differently from others doesn’t make you bad or stupid or broken.
Having dragons in your head is very difficult. They don’t behave. They aren’t quiet. They can be very, very frightening.
Remember, just because you have dragons in your brain doesn’t make you a dragon. It makes you a dragon tamer.