Posts Tagged ‘AWARENESS’

PTSD has a physical part and an emotional part

When my childhood trauma ignited in my mid 50’s, the physical side of PTSD exploded along with these nasty intrusive thoughts.


The physical, my fight or flight mechanism erupted 10 to 15 times a day. Our nervous system has another controller, another entity that can take over the operation now.

He/She is called PTSD.

My first goal focused on calming the fight or flight mechanism, trying to shut down the PTSD explosions.

We need our fight or flight mechanism for normal danger, for defense and protection, not for the abstract danger of PTSD.

After we have calmed this adrenal stress response, what remains are the symptoms, dissociation, hypervigilance, avoidance, flashbacks, emotional deregulation, startle response, difficulty concentrating, sleep issues, distortion of time, and unlimited intrusive thoughts.

Intrusive thoughts remind me of a Gatlin gun firing, they are much faster and much more numerous than normal.

Time spent ruminating in the past or trying to predict the future fuels PTSD. It is similar to pouring jet fuel onto a fire.

Dissociation is the kingpin of all these symptoms.

PTSD thrives when we leave the present moment, grasping intrusive thoughts in the past leads to suffering.

PTSD is confusing, time is distorted, usually, we have a beginning and a middle for our trauma narrative, the lack of an ending is the issue.

Healing is not a cognitive journey. Words will not heal us.

Our trauma is stored on the side of the brain that contains no words, no good or bad, no right or wrong.

Trauma is stored at the time it occurs with our abilities at that age.

Childhood trauma is stored at a young age without the brain being developed, so our abilities are limited.

Certain parts of the brain needed to heal are not yet online and functioning.

Our goal is to bring all old trauma into the present moment, so we can integrate it.

The Shame Trigger Questions

Brene Brown:

“How do we start to recognize our shame triggers?

What do we need to do to start acknowledging our vulnerabilities?

I think we begin by examining each of the shame categories and trying to unearth the unwanted identities that cause us shame.

As I was interviewing both men and women, many of the same phrases kept coming up in the interviews—the ones that I heard over and over were “I don’t want to be seen as . . .” and “I don’t want people to think I’m . . .”

There were many variations on this including, “I would die if people thought I was . . .” or “I couldn’t stand people thinking I’m . . .”

As these phrases indicate, shame is about perception.

Shame is how we see ourselves through other people’s eyes.

When I interviewed women about shame experiences, it was always about “how others see me” or “what others think.”

And often, there is even a disconnect between who we want to be and how we want to be perceived.

For example, one woman in her seventies told me, “I’m OK when I’m alone.

I know I’m changing. I know things are slowing down and everything is not what it used to be.

I just can’t stand the thought of others seeing it and dismissing me as a person.

Being dismissed is shameful.

To help us begin to recognize some of our shame triggers, let’s look at the questions I use in my workshop sessions. We start with these fill-in-the-blank statements, which should be answered separately for each of the shame categories:

I want to be perceived as __, _____, _________________, ___________ and __________. I do NOT want to be perceived as ______, ____, ___, ______ or ___.

These are fairly simple statements; however, when you start to think about these questions in relation to the twelve shame categories, this can be a probing and powerful start to the process.

But it’s important to remember that it is only a start.

As I’ve said throughout the book, there are no easy answers or quick fixes.”

Brene Brown on Shame

“After studying Dr. Uram’s work, I believe it’s possible that many of our early shame experiences, especially with parents and caregivers, were stored in our brains as traumas.


From the book, “I thought it was just Me” by Brene Brown

This is why we often have such painful bodily reactions when we feel criticized, ridiculed, rejected, and shamed.

Dr. Uram explains that the brain does not differentiate between overt or big trauma and covert or small, quiet trauma—it just registers the event as “a threat that we can’t control.”

In her work on “remembering the wound” versus “becoming the wound,” Dr. Uram explains that most of the time when we recall a memory, we are conscious that we are in the present, recalling something from the past.

However, when we experience something in the present that triggers an old trauma memory, we reexperience the sense of the original trauma.

So, rather than remembering the wound, we become the wound.

This makes sense when we think of how we are often returned to a place of smallness and helplessness when we feel shame.

After our physical fight, flight or freeze response, “strategies of disconnection” provide us with a more complex layer of shame screens.

Dr. Linda Hartling, a Relational-Cultural theorist, uses Karen Horney’s work on moving toward, moving against and moving away to outline the strategies of disconnection we use to deal with shame.

According to Dr. Hartling, in order to deal with shame, some of us move away by withdrawing, hiding, silencing ourselves and keeping secrets.

Some of us move toward by seeking to appease and please.

And, some of us move against by trying to gain power over others, being aggressive and using shame to fight shame.

During a recent workshop, I was presenting these strategies of disconnection and they were lettered on my slide (a, b, c.).

A woman raised her hand and asked, “Is there a d for all of the above?”

We all laughed.

I think most of us are d’s—most of us can relate to all three strategies of disconnection.

I know I’ve used all of them, depending on why and how I feel ashamed and who I’m with.

I’m less likely to move against when there is a power differential (bosses, doctors) or someone I’m trying to impress (new friends, colleagues).

In those situations I’m more likely to move toward or move away.”

Navigating people with PTSD


Ptsd symptoms combined with depression make it hard to act like nothing is wrong.

I have mood swings, times when I stay in my room.


In real life, nothing significant has changed.

My insides are a mess, my anxiety and sense of trauma danger escalate.

It is hard for me to live with anyone and vice versa.

Guilt comes knocking but my shame meter makes guilt seem powerless.

Many souls have constant challenges, trauma-filled lives of pain and suffering.

We either numb ourselves, kill as much of the pain as possible in denial or fight the daily battle.

Judging our life, our battle, our effort, ends badly.

If we compare our life to a normal person, nothing good follows.

I have to accept how different, how limited my life and emotions are.

My effort has to be enough no matter how much anxiety and pain fill my day.

I have to accept being a loner, my aversion to being around people, my fear of betrayal and ridicule and accept my symptoms as part of me, my life.

That image of a happy-go-lucky man is a mirage.

For me, I have never understood how certain friends were happy-go-lucky, expecting things to turn out good.

I do not understand how people trust each other.

My brothers, 12 and 14 years younger, trust much more than me, the firstborn.

Dad changed with five kids, two jobs, and being middle-aged helped.

He was only 27 when I was 10. He resented me at 16 when my mom got pregnant.

I finally do not blame myself.

Is that healing?

What does happiness look like for you?..


Failure or should I say fear of failure has followed me subconsciously since early childhood.

If happiness depends on being normal, thinking like an unabused person, we are doomed to failure.

Some failure is beyond our control.

My father never said a kind word to me, he criticized my every action then physically beat me severely.

The world holds so much more danger and loss for me.

My dad demanded perfection, nothing less than a great professional baseball player was acceptable.

I failed him, miserably, I was a thing to him.

I feel at risk around people, I do not trust them, do not know how to trust them.

Betrayal left a permanent stain in college, intimacy died in the face of opportunity.

People have been treacherous in my life.

Happiness for me does not involve lots of people or any somedays.

At 70, I can not change the damage, the impact on my life.

I strive to improve every day but I have avoided people, groups, crowds, and organizations.

Solitude is much safer and more fulfilling in my world.

What does happiness look like for you?

PTSD insights

People diagnosed with complex Ptsd (childhood abuse) struggle on the cognitive side of our brain, the left hemisphere.

Pixabay Jordan_Singh


Childhood trauma is irrational, common sense thinking leads us in circles.

The right hemisphere, our creative side, connects with our heart without thought.

The right hemisphere only knows this current moment, right now, the only place where PTSD dies as long as we immerse ourselves.

I have to leave worry alone, leave what might happen, and leave the past alone to escape PTSD.

Ptsd is not a single battle, each day brings challenges, a crisis could ignite a war.

Attitude can not depend on results.

I am a habitual man from my earlier days.

I get up, meditate, work on healing, do my chores and hike every day whether I feel great or suicidal.

We need a few things that PTSD can not stop or impact.

We need wins, actual power demonstrated through action.

This is not for the faint of heart, being a victim is easy, takes courage and strength to take daily action.

I may hide at times but I always do my routine.

I find a kind of peace with the familiarity.

My mind relaxes in the middle of focus.

A Christmas Wish for you: Never give in, Never give up!


Lately, I have been struggling, old trauma resurfacing has impacted my life negatively.

At times it feels like there is no hope only darkness and suffering.

You have read desperate posts of suffering and hopelessness.

I can not hide my tough times, Ptsd will impact us the rest of our lives from time to time.

But that’s not the whole story.

I have not given up.

My effort to heal remains the same, I continue to search for that opening.

Do not give in, do not give up.

Some days that is my purpose.

If I was dependant on results, quitting would be much easier.

Sometimes, putting in the work, in the face of helplessness is all I need.

We have to find gratitude in our effort.

Recognize the difficulty that we face, revel in the ability to take action in the face of fear and anxiety.

I have sat many hours in silent meditation, alone with my mind, observing my trauma thoughts.

Giving up is easy, victimhood does not end well.

Know that taking daily action, resisting, fighting to improve holds pockets of joy and satisfaction.

Victimhood carries the known sufferings that we accept as our destiny.

Victimhood carries no hope.

Never giving up need not succeed to bring purpose and some satisfaction.



childhood relational trauma.


From “Understanding and Treating Chronic Shame” By Patricia Y. DeYoung

“I believe most symptoms of so-called mental illness, from depression and anxiety disorders to personality and dissociative disorders, have something to do with childhood relational trauma.

As a relational therapist, I’ve had ears for the quiet trauma hidden in stories of clients’ early relationships with fragile, needy, wounded parents.

I have also heard in accounts of cruel, abusive caregivers the deeper story of trauma inflicted on a child’s longing for loving attachment.

Once hurt, human beings have remarkably creative ways to repel and avoid further harm, and so relational trauma engenders a wide spectrum of self-protective symptoms.

There are common symptoms, too.

Clients often tell us about anxiety far stronger than their life situations warrant and about depression that drags them down even when everything seems to be going well.

The anxiety and depression seem to come from nowhere.

And then there’s that other ubiquitous symptom of relational traumachronic shame—that clients don’t usually mention, though they may speak of problems with self-confidence or self-esteem.”



shame is a relational problem



From “Understanding and Treating Chronic Shame” By Patricia Y. DeYoung

“My frame for understanding these clients begins to emerge:

Shame seems like a one-person problem, the negative self-feelings a person has because he or she believes “there’s something terribly wrong with me.”

But in fact, shame is a relational problem;

it has relational origins and it desperately needs relational attention,

even though it is kept out of sight and out of the reach of relational contact.”


My two cents: When our first caregivers fail to attach to us, feelings of less than, unworthy, damaged turn into shame.

Without a connection to either caregiver, we will struggle with emotional regulation and healthily attaching to another person.

Knowing shame is a relational problem, opens up a new avenue of exploration, hopefully healing.



The Compassion Chronicles Embarrassment: Healing the Shame of Childhood Abuse Through Self-Compassion by Beverly Engel L.M.F.T.


Shame Is Not a Singular Experience. Just as the source of shame can be all forms of abuse or neglect, shame is not just one feeling but many. It is a cluster of feelings and experiences. These can include:

Feelings of impotence. When a child realizes there is nothing he can do to stop the abuse, he feels powerless, helpless. This can also lead to his always feeling unsafe, even long after the abuse has stopped.

Feelings of being exposed. Abuse and the accompanying feelings of vulnerability and helplessness cause the child to feel self-conscious and exposed—seen in a painfully diminished way. The fact that he could not stop the abuse makes him feel weak and exposed both to himself and to anyone present.

Feelings of being defective or less-than. Most victims of abuse report feeling defective, damaged, or corrupted following the experience of being abused.

Feelings of alienation and isolation. What follows the trauma of abuse is the feeling of suddenly being different, less-than, damaged, or cast out. And while victims may long to talk to someone about their inner pain, they often feel immobilized, trapped, and alone in their shame.

Feelings of self-blame. Victims almost always blame themselves for being abused and being shamed. This is particularly true when abuse happens or begins in childhood.

Feelings of rage. Rage almost always follows having been shamed. It serves a much-needed self-protective function of both insulating the self against further exposure and actively keeping others away. Fear, hurt, distress, or rage can also accompany or follow shame experiences as secondary reactions. For example, feeling exposed is often followed by the fear of further exposure and further occurrences of shame. Rage protects the self against further exposure. And along with shame, a victim can feel intense hurt and distress from having been abused.


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