This may seem very odd. SURELY one would know. But apparently not always, especially if one's own birth was the very first traumatic event that fired up the survival system.
For so long, there has been only one suspect, her partner, Steve, who is prone to 'throwing off' at her when stressed, rooted in his own childhood wounding. For many years, she was convinced he was working without an accomplice, the sole cause of much suffering and misery.
However, in the words of fellow seamus, Jeffrey Lebowski, new evidence has come to light, man.
A very interesting article was slipped under her door late one night that blew open the whole case. It presented evidence, by way of a cute but detailed diagram, that PTSD was no doubt running the show whenever she felt that there was no way she could stay in the relationship, which was often.
(Image courtesy Heidi Hanson www.new-synapse.com)
Things were better than they'd ever been for a while. Steve was less defensive after Wendy confessed she might, just possibly, be doing what the diagram suggested and became more open to hearing when he was throwing off blame. Both were practicing mindfulness in their own ways and Wendy was using Somatic Experiencing (SE), working to help the body follow through and release old, stuck trauma responses, very effectively...and also learning about the superego, or Inner Critic, the protective structure of the mind that fires up in the face of early trauma to protect one from risking punishment or shaming ever again but which becomes an out of control, larger than life nefarious voice in the head, often disguised as one's own thoughts.
Eventually, life became challenging again, as it does. Steve got stressed and Wendy was blamed for something. Before long, she was once more very confused about what was going on. This time however, with that little extra awareness, thanks to the SE and the mindfulness, she started compiling a list of clues:
can’t tell if partner is awful and it’s all him
obsessive scrolling on fb
thoughts focussed on how ‘everything’s stuffed’
desperation, this time attached to finding work
loops of negative and over thinking
more sensitive to loud and high pitched voices and sounds
distant from everyone
hear my voice from far away
panic attack in sleep, struggle to breathe
hear noises, think intruders are in the house at night
muddle words a lot more
unable to recall any good times
painful, tense scalp
stronger than usual chocolate craving
a hard-to-describe feeling of intensity, noticed more by its absence when things subside
Perhaps what could lead her to evidence that PTSD was running the show was a number of these clues showing up at the same time. This list to refer back to was a major breakthrough. Her thoughts were SO DAMN CONVINCING and it had never occurred to her before that thoughts, as much as feelings and sensations, could be PTSD symptoms. In fact, she had never even noticed these clues 'clustering' before now. SE was providing a container for the whole 'trauma shebang' and she was starting to see that she was bigger than it and outside of it.
Wendy felt her benefactor-mind-turned-super-villain fade into the shadows and poured herself a scotch on the rocks, no scotch. It had been a good day's work.
www.new-synapse.com a fantastically helpful, insightful blog
Superego/vicious inner critic: http://soulwithoutshame.com
The Big Lebowski movie
and many years of Sarah Paretsky's kickarse VI Warshawski Private Detective novels
Special thanks to Steve for permission to reference him