PTSD: Awareness of my masculinity was the problem

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My therapists have helped me improve, cared about me getting better, but PTSD still persisted, life was a mine field.

This week my spiritual teacher, at no cost, uncovered a crucial factor impacting my life.

Underlying all my trauma was this identity my father pounded into me, being a man. How to act, how to always be strong, how to never show weakness, was the alpha male model I developed.

This rigid male character looked powerful on the surface, underneath was a cauldron of fear and panic. How I was taught to interact with other men was the problem.

Over a decade of therapy and no mention of toxic masculinity, as I suffered, defending that image of manhood.

As stated in the last post, my gloom and doom disappeared, the unexpected consequence was my current dealings with living.

A neighbors questionable action upset my household this week. My first response, my old masculinity wanted to confront this neighbor with force.

That kind of response was so natural, I did not even think about it, almost reflexive.

That light bulb went off again, a response was not warranted, I finally needed to prove nothing. As I realized this fact, all the conflict and anxiety dropped away.

I wanted to heal from old trauma, never thought about how that would change today’s interactions.

All that therapy and the important issue of toxic masculinity never surfaced.

I thought my healing journey was exhaustive, reading and devouring everything about childhood PTSD.

How did I miss this integral part?

I worked on “Ego”, recreating and affirming a worthy new one.

My own flawed masculinity always was in control, stealthily but firmly in charge.

So many of my issues have softened with this big shift away from being some crazy alpha male stud.

My main two therapist have helped me on my journey and I am grateful.

Blaming others was part of my toxic masculinity.

It is the fear of our “Ego” being annihilated.

That can not happen but I feared the hell out of it.

I could not let this demon go, until my spiritual teacher pointed it out.

Awareness was the gift she bestowed on me and I am grateful.

Never give up, never give in, always take action in the face of fear.

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Doom and Gloom has left the building

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For months after an old betrayal exploded, I did not want to be that guy, shamed and humiliated. Combined with my abusive childhood, I was overwhelmed.

Life felt dark, worthless, I regretted being alive. Nothing I tried worked, my meditation practice and all my therapeutic tools only granted me a brief respite.

Gloom and doom was horrible for a life long overachiever.

Losing desire for life shocked those close to me, I was not fun to be around.

Therapy was not working, so I searched out a spiritual solution.

When I joined the Kundalini zoom group, it was different, unique and soothing. I did not see the depth, skill or power of the leader at first. I had not experienced a person like this since professional baseball, a leader, a person who can inspire others.

As developed and strong, my meditation practice was missing something.

After a couple months of showing up everyday Jennifer, the spiritual leader, called me twice, she took time out to personally help me.

The second call worked. She pointed out my toxic masculinity, my concept of being an alpha male, experienced my betrayal.

After watching the documentary “The Mask you Live in”, a big bell went off. I dropped that toxic “Ego” and a heavy weight disappeared.

All my gloom and doom was connected to protecting that alpha male image. As long as this was my identity, I suffered.

It happened so quickly, after all the months of work to improve changed nothing, I was astonished that betrayal lost its power instantly.

Life had changed in an instant again. Not the first time or probably not the last.

If you follow this blog, you can chart the highs and lows of a person living and battling childhood trauma.

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https://www.pinterest.com/pin/197665871138158696/

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We can never give up, we never know when that change will happen.

We need to persevere when things seems hopeless, hopeless has been part of my PTSD journey.

A Crooked Path

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For a decade, in therapy, working to heal from childhood therapy, I improved, however PTSD still thrived.

On my own, I meditated, worked diligently to let go and create a healthy, worthy “Ego”.

I got stuck when a terrible betrayal resurfaced. That me felt shamed and worthless.

My spiritual teacher addressed this issue for me. She pointed out being raised in toxic masculinity, being a real man (Ego) defined me.

We are never responsible for others behavior, but toxic masculinity gives us rigid guidelines of behavior.

Instead of creating a new “Ego”, which never worked for me, she told me to just throw this old one away.

Know that young Marty assumed a flawed mask of strength and power, which brought weakness and fear.

Your suffering is tied to this rigid “Ego”.

Throwing away an “Ego” that existed from my earliest memories is so soothing for my being.

This small adjustment feels like freedom, a huge burden has melted away.

How can such a small shift make this big of an impact?

We never know what will make a difference. Hopeless and helpless have disappeared

Now, let’s see if this lasts and another impediment is removed.

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The male Ego and Trauma

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My insecurities living up to the male ego my father demanded, caused so much anxiety and fear.

Being a man meant never showing weakness, hiding emotions and being prepared to respond to any threat with force.

I was not the man of my father wishes, I was far from the alpha male, superstar he envisioned.

Navigating life was difficult, failure lurked around every corner. Worry and fear of failure entered my mind at every turn.

I could not be seen as weak, never could back down, and my nervous system and stomach bore the brunt of living like this.

All that fear of failure made an anxious, scared boy.

My spiritual teacher pointed out this toxic masculinity, said it was a prison of my own construct.

I see that finally. My dad was not a brave man, never went to bars or fought another man, he was a giant beating my ass half to death.

He wanted me to be the man he never was. That is extremely sad, his weaknesses caused my trauma.

All that suffering, and most of my trauma happened to that toxic “Ego”, the man I was supposed to be.

I find that it is easy for me to let that toxic “Ego” go, release it and all trauma it collected.

It is like a big weight has lifted for a couple of days.

Moral of story: I have been suffering lately and it has felt helpless, but we never give up, this is part of our journey, our challenge.

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my therapist steers me back to the Emotional Freedom Technique

https://www.juliaanastasiou.com/holistic-therapies/emotional-freedom-technique/

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My therapist has me digging up my EFT experience. He recommends more physical, more rhythmic, more action tools to counter Intrusive thought.

The tapping combines action with words thus occupying my mind thoroughly. At times witching T.V. I play solitaire to occupy my mind.

Solitaire takes no thought, so multitasking with a movie stops intrusive thought, or any thought for a while.

This is a technique we can master and practice at home.

The more tools we possess, the chance for wellbeing increases.

My set up is: Even thought I was betrayed, my masculinity is safe and secure.

This set up has to resonate for each one of us.

Here is a how to on EFT on u-tube.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pAclBdj20ZU

Somethings may seem awkward and uncomfortable but some have worked for me.

We can not be rigid if we want to heal, be open to new therapies and ideas.

The Mask You Live In

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A documentary about male toxic masculinity.

http://therepresentationproject.org/film/the-mask-you-live-in-film/

This is eye opening for me. What I have always taken for granted, what I believed a man was supposed to be, has been the cause of many, many issues.

Factor in my father’s special sauce, I needed to be twice as good as all other male ego’s on a field of competition.

To be that dominate Ego, all social interaction at school had to be consistent.

My mask was contrary to my personality. I just wanted to fit in, to have friends, to be secure and accepted.

Baseball was a hybrid battle for my dad with tactics and psychological warfare.

No crying in baseball, you never show weakness, always play hurt, and never back down. You win and dominate.

With a healthy male ego, my college betrayal would not be about me or my masculinity.

Wow, that seems ground breaking.

I wanted to share this as I dig deeper into this subject.

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My Spiritual Teacher poses questions for me

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My spiritual teacher says, my “Ego” did his job extremely well and helped me survive childhood. Wow.

Thank him and soothe him, do not battle and interrogate him.

She talks about our divine masculine and feminine sides.

Funny, she says my feminine side is active, look at my empathy not repeating what my dad did to me. Interesting concept.

Had to digest those words for a while.

Maybe having the abuse I endured through childhood, gave me a better life than being in another environment. Her words bring ideas I have never imagined.

I realize all my PTSD symptoms are directly related to my “Ego”.

If I meditate, focus intently, my PTSD goes away, along with my “Ego” for a while.

My era is filled with toxic masculinity, a denial of emotions being thought of as strength.

That adds up to a flawed “Ego”, an intolerant, angry, anxious guy.

I need to filter my “Ego” through my heart. Cleanse it of the damage it accumulated navigating through childhood trauma.

Rarely, if at all, has therapy addressed my heart.

When the heart is in observer role, we are at a deeper, spiritual level.

This all resonates with me.

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Is their Purpose in our PTSD suffering, meaning?

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I asked my therapist about me finding meaning or purpose in my suffering. He chuckled, amazed that I thought there was a meaning for my suffering, that it even mattered in recovery.

Must be a disconnect between theory and reality.

My suffering in childhood did not lead to any joyful moments, did not lead to me becoming something special. Life was painful, I felt unworthy, hopeless and depressed.

I find a horrific meaning, a terrible result, a life of pain. Where is the good in all of this?

It escapes my feeble traumatized brain. I did nothing to cause my abuse, so finding purpose seems very strange.

This great epiphany of meaning and purpose has eluded me, my trauma ruined my life, if that was the purpose, it succeeded.

oh yes, I know it was not me, it was others mental frailties and issues that caused my Trauma, but the the suffering was mine alone.

Knowing my PTSD is not my fault does nothing to make it better or help me lessen the pain.

my therapist did say this quarantine has exacerbated all his trauma clients and especially his complex PTSD patients.

He said it will get worse before improving, so set expections.

. The irrational seems rational, feels real,

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The irrational seems rational, feels real, it’s called childhood PTSD, developmental trauma to be more exact.

I understand the mechanics of PTSD very well, I have no idea why my mind makes old trauma so important, so alive, so persistent, so damaging.

Irrational, I know that but knowing has not healed it.

My mind is mush, confused, anxious, worn out, in and out of survivor mode.

My mind is alert for danger, emotional danger at all times again.

This has a big impact, it isolates me and takes enjoyment out of life.

Emotional fear is so abstract when attached to violent trauma.

Its like an evil ghost haunting me.

Irrational but automatic, it happens without my input, it is exhausting and painful.

Working on forgiveness has just stirred up the shit even more.

I could scream, this is so frustrating, I have done the hard work for over a decade.

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8 Keys to Forgiveness: Part 4

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6. When forgiveness is hard, call upon other strengths

“Forgiveness is always hard when we are dealing with deep injustices from others. I have known people who refuse to use the word forgiveness because it just makes them so angry. That’s OK—we all have our own timelines for when we can be merciful. But if you want to forgive and are finding it hard, it might help to call upon other resources.

First remember that if you are struggling with forgiveness, that doesn’t mean you’re a failure at forgiveness. Forgiveness is a process that takes time, patience, and determination. Try not to be harsh on yourself, but be gentle and foster a sense of quiet within, an inner acceptance of yourself. Try to respond to yourself as you would to someone whom you love deeply.

Surround yourself with good and wise people who support you and who have the patience to allow you time to heal in your own way. Also, practice humility—not in the sense of putting yourself down, but in realizing that we are all capable of imperfection and suffering.

Try to develop courage and patience in yourself to help you in the journey. Also, if you practice bearing small slights against you without lashing out, you give a gift to everyone—not only to the other person, but to everyone whom that person may harm in the future because of your anger. You can help end the cycle of inflicting pain on others.

If you are still finding it hard to forgive, you can choose to practice with someone who is easier to forgive—maybe someone who hurt you in a small way, rather than deeply. Alternatively, it can be better to focus on forgiving the person who is at the root of your pain—maybe a parent who was abusive, or a spouse who betrayed you. If this initial hurt impacts other parts of your life and other relationships, it may be necessary to start there.”

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My two cents: I find these keys to forgiveness informative so far but have little impact on me forgiving.

I lost the ability to trust, to view the world as safe, forgiveness scrambles my brain, I still feel the shame.

PTSD brings trauma to life, like it happened last week for me.

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