Posts Tagged ‘Pain’

PTSD: Never Good Enough

The consequences of my dad demanding perfection: As one therapist put it, on your gravestone is etched, “Never Good Enough”.

My first revelation that my childhood was horrific came out of his mouth.

My dad never showed remorse, he was a tyrant inside our house, but his presentation toward the world was different.

Constant criticism and violence were the weapons of enforcement dad used.

I became the ultimate overachiever, fear and the need for approval dominated my life.

Being the ultimate grinder, thinking I could reach peace of mind through accomplishment failed miserably.

Failure did not dull my effort while I was younger.

Being 70, I am older and weaker, not able to muster a herculean effort and attitude anymore.

I always blamed my unworthiness for my plight.

Unworthiness was a constant companion, I thought it was my failure, not my abusive father’s.

We are so confused when our caregiver harms us.

I have studied normal people, they have amazing abilities.

They trust, attach and feel safe with each other.

They have a natural joy around others while we feel danger and mistrust.

Our anxiety and fear levels are foreign to them.

I have lived my life predominately in survival mode.

It makes all the difference in the world, survival mode is designed for surviving imminent threats, not a way of living.

A nonabused child rarely enters survival mode and if he/she does it is for short periods.

It is the difference between having peace of mind, and feeling safe compared to spotting and avoiding danger at all costs.


“Pain is a fascinating phenomenon”


From The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self by Alex Lickerman MD

“Pain is a fascinating phenomenon. The way the brain registers physical pain, for instance, is not only complex but counterintuitive.

Though the pain of a stubbed toe or a headache may seem like a single, unified experience, it actually represents the sum of two different experiences created by two separate areas of the brain—one called the posterior insula, which registers the sensation of pain (its quality, intensity, and so on) and the other the anterior cingulate cortex, which registers pain’s unpleasant character.

We know this is how the brain experiences pain because of imaging studies and because patients who’ve had damage to the anterior cingulate cortex feel the sensation of pain but not its unpleasantness.

That is, they feel pain but aren’t bothered by it (interestingly, in some people, morphine has the same effect). 

When the anterior cingulate cortex isn’t functioning, pain is still experienced but seems to lose its emotional impact and thus its motivating force.

This finding, that the sensation of pain and the unpleasantness of pain come from distinct neurological processes that occur in different locations within the brain, explains how a single pain stimulus can cause such subjectively different pain experiences.

Even if the physical sensation of pain remains constant, our “affective reaction” to it—how much it makes us suffer—will vary tremendously depending on several factors.”

PTSD: Does it have a sexual component?

From my experience, PTSD takes a dark turn when sex is part of the abuse.

Whether it be rape, sexual assault or betrayal, this type of PTSD is damaging.

Except for war, females are twice as likely to have PTSD.

PTSD discussion boards are full of women who had been sexually assaulted as little girls.

How does this impact intimacy and trust?

They never go back to normal or the way things were before the rape.

Some are trapped and suffer, it is sad to witness their hopelessness.

Does your PTSD have a sexual component?

How much does it impact today?

It takes action, practice, hard work and guts to heal

First class menu


“Meditation is a matter not of theory but of practice, just as it does not satisfy your hunger to read a restaurant menu if you are not going to eat something from it.”

Matthew Ricard from “Happiness”




My two cents: Healing is not a spectators sport, reading heals nothing, it takes daily action.

We PTSDers avoid and isolate, go numb and sedentary.

Taking action in the face of fear and anxiety is a necessity.

It takes great desire, focus and persistence, besides courage to heal.

It is a moment-to-moment battle with our thoughts, anxiety, and fear.

Know the playing field, be prepared, have an attack plan, and finally develop your tools.

Healing is not for the faint of heart, victims find it difficult if not nearly impossible to take action.

We must prepare and accept PTSD’s suffering, then take healing action in the face of this fear.

We start with small actions and small incremental gains with daily work.

Sedentary is closer to death, action closer to life.

Your decision, your life.

happy Healing!

Third class menu not so elegant!

My Dad: My abuser,

Look at those locks, early 1970’s

I grew up in a bubble of fear, fear of what my dad would do first, he had a feather trigger, could become violent in seconds.

Dad was only 16 when mom got pregnant, he was young, volatile, and resented the hell out of me.

The world did not recognize my dad’s greatness, his answer was to have a son who was the greatest baseball player on the planet.

This was not a request or suggestion, he was damn serious. I was told I needed to be twice as good as everyone else.

He beat me every week multiple times with a specially designed large paddle.

To this day, I do not know how my father could beat me so violently. I could never hit my kids, guess you see why.

My therapist asked me one day, did he beat you anywhere it showed. I never realized how calculated that son of bitch was.

He was an angry, resentful man who drank way too much.

He resented people and the world, he was a narcissist, a violent alcoholic on top of that.

He taught me to distrust people and the world.

He called it killer instinct, when you have an opponent down, you crush them, their will, you let them know they can never beat you.

Hard to make friends or be one of the guys when dad wants you to destroy other kids..

His distorted perception of the world was passed onto me.

Dad and me against the world, that little boy got
lost, traumatized, and suffered.

This was his war but he stole my childhood and life until I left for good.

I was his pit bull, all that was missing was the cage to transport me to the competition.

This is at the core of my healing, my discovery and awareness of my childhood abuse lead to improving over time.

I know healing will never be complete or life will never resemble a normal person’s life.

As an adult my father was intimidated and afraid of me.

He was not so brave facing a grown man, me.

I have told my daughter not to have me buried anywhere near him, cremate me and spread me around the mountains.

If I give up or become a victim, my father wins.

That is purpose enough to never give up.

Understanding the limitations of seeking pleasure, avoiding pain

Pleasure is the happiness of madmen,

while happiness is the pleasure of sages,”


Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly


My two cents: Chasing pleasure can lead to addiction, then suffering, whether it is money, power, sex, sugar, food or status.

Moderation and awareness decide how we chase pleasure.

We sure avoid pain and chase approval with a vengeance.



PTSD: Spotting Evil

Abused kids experience evil early and often.

Childhood becomes a time of absorbing damage, fearing for our lives, instead of attachment to our caregivers followed by feeling safe, loved.

The rest of life will be tainted with evils destructive damage to the brain.

Spotting evil (danger) will be our mind’s subconscious priority for the rest of our lives, whether we are aware of our behavior or not.

Evil leaves an indelible mark, future achievements do little to lighten the burden of evil.

In due time, we learn to distrust people, isolate more, we are building our invisible prison to protect ourselves from the evil we see.

Our perception is flawed, evil in childhood brought the scourge of complex PTSD, suffering became part of daily life.

We are confused, we see others (normal people) navigating life without the daily issues we face.

Why do some traumas never heal, never integrate, never stop haunting our existence?

I have one betrayal buried for decades, which recently exploded into my consciousness during this quarantine.

I can not change how it was stored, no other trauma impacts my mind and life so severely.

My childhood trauma is almost dormant as this betrayal dominates my thoughts.


While I have integrated much of my childhood abuse, gaining relief and a chance at happiness, my 19-year-old self can not escape the constant flow of intrusive thoughts.

How can a public betrayal carry such damage, I do not understand why my mind is impacted so severely.

What is it about this event that absorbed such damage, that wants no part of being that guy?

Common sense or any cognitive approach fails quickly.

All my tools, therapies, and meditation practice only give momentary relief.

I do not understand the power of this one traumatic event.

Without my violent abusive childhood, my betrayal would not have damaged me so much.

I understand that but does not help me heal.

Is there one trauma that has more power over others in your life?

Figuring out traumas impact


Why is our inner critic so powerful, so loud, so abusive?

My mom got pregnant at 16 in 1950’s America, dad was resentful of the burden I brought into his life. Kids raising a kid, add in one of those 16-year-olds is a violent narcissist, a recipe for failure.

Constant criticism and violence wired my brain to spot danger above all else, any other desire or need only received intermittent attention.

Spotting danger powered my PTSD symptoms: hypervigilance, isolation, avoidance, fight or flight firing, and depression grew stronger.

Calm, confident, relaxed never happened.

It’s a vicious cycle, power the symptoms and suffering expands.

How many seriously abused kids rewire their brains enough to escape PTSD’s damage?

Very, very, very few, I believe.

Many abused girls become drug addicts and prostitutes, boys become alcoholics, drug addicts, then commit violent crimes.

Child abuse and betrayal changes lives.

Looking back, I have had things done to me that I would rather have died instead of being shamed and betrayed. The damage done made life miserable.

A normal person would commit suicide if they inherited my brain, my childhood, my betrayal.

My intrusive thoughts would fry their brains.

I wish others could experience my mind for a day.

Yeah, they would feel intense fear, heightened anxiety, and worthlessness.

People, crowds, and strangers would feel dangerous and manipulative.

You would isolate yourself just like me and avoid triggers exploding.

Spotting danger would dominate every waking minute.

How exhausting!

Calm and confident would be strangers.

Updated: THE PAIN PARADOX from “Trauma Sensitive Mindfulness”.


There is one more idea in Buddhism and MBSR that shapes our orientation to mindfulness: the notion that our avoidance of suffering can exacerbate it.



Mindfulness experts John Briere and Catherine Scott referred to this as the pain paradox—the observation that our natural tendency to escape, deny, or withdraw from pain only intensifies and prolongs the distress.

What we resist, the saying goes, persists.

This paradox was key to Kabat-Zinn’s introduction of MBSR to the medical community. (

When he originally approached doctors with the idea of having patients meditate, Kabat-Zinn was advocating for a fundamentally different approach to suffering—one that lay at the heart of the Buddhist tradition he’d trained in.

“From the perspective of mindfulness,” he wrote, “
nothing needs fixing.

Nothing needs to be forced to stop, or change, or go away.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, this idea raised eyebrows.

Western medicine was built largely on helping alleviate people’s pain, offering interventions such as medication or surgery.

Mindfulness ran completely counter to this paradigm. How could paying closer attention to one’s pain alleviate it?

Yet doctors were also open to the idea.
Each of them had patients they couldn’t cure and who were resistant to conventional treatment approaches. Doctors and their patients had little to lose.

The first MBSR studies thus began with those who were suffering from chronic pain.

Kabat-Zinn wanted to see whether they could mobilize their own internal responses to the suffering they were experiencing. “We invited them, paradoxically,” he said, “to put the welcome mat out for whatever sensations they were experiencing, just to see if they could attend to them moment by moment and ‘befriend’ the actuality of their experience, even briefly.”

The results were successful. Patients found that their relationship to pain shifted positively when they practiced mindfulness.

At times, their pain even disappeared. Patients also reported discovering that the vexing sensations that lived inside them were transient and shifting.

Rather than being constant throughout their day, the pain was shifting over time—a huge realization for those who felt perpetually burdened by their bodies.

Mindfulness was helping people relate to their pain differently.

For some, it was even opening a door to a freedom they had forgotten or had previously not known.

I favor Ptsd over Depression

PTSD has energy, cortisol and adrenaline, fear and danger, it’s much more exciting and enjoyable than deep depression.

Depression sucks the life out of you, for abused kids it is devastating.

My legs have stopped moving while hiking from depressive thoughts and emotions.

PTSD, I can engage and battle, calm my fight or flight mechanism while observing my trauma.

Depression, I have no answer for the shame it carries.

It is an awful mental disorder, it drained the little peace of mind my life enjoyed.

Seriously abused kids get crushed by betrayal.

We fear the outside world, when we get betrayed from inside our circle, life collapses.

We will never understand how a mate betrays us, a permanent scar will make trusting another impossible.

It’s such a narrow and risky existence, death does not scare me, being ridiculed or betrayed scares me.

Death before dishonor rings true in my world, my father drilled that into me.

I have experienced a betrayal that bad, publicly shamed for a mate’s actions.

What is your worst betrayal since childhood?

Is depression or PTSD harder for you?

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