After my first Tweet using the hashtag #PTSD, a PTSD & CPTSD support site followed me on Twitter and so I followed it. (The quote comes from a tweet from that site.) I have learned that there are many more out there who are experiencing the same kind of pain as I am as a result of the same kind of abuse by narcissists and sociopaths as well as other violent and traumatic situations. I have known for over a year that something had snapped; that I was somehow different or damaged. It wasn’t until I was at the Orthodox Peace Fellowship Conference, last Fall that I could put a name to it. There were a number of military people there, and a major focus of the conference was addressing PTSD. An Orthodox Christian psychiatrist, who is also a four star general, gave a definition of PTSD by listing the symptoms. I had an “O shit” moment. He had listed several possible markers, saying that one didn’t have to have all of them, but a preponderance of them would indicate that one had PTSD. Well, I had all but one.
I have never been in the military, so it came as a surprise to me. However, I have had my life threatened on several occasions. I have been bullied and lied to and manipulated by narcissistic, if not sociopathic, clergy on many occasions. This is a pattern repeated over and over by those suffering Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Another note, though is that the 4-star general is trying to get the label changed so that it is not called a disorder. This is in line with all of the scientific literature in the field, as well. What happened with me and with all the others and with all of the soldiers who were programmed to kill is not a disorder, but a natural response and survival mechanism, without which we would not survive with our psyches intact in the battlefields we face. In the case of the soldier, it is combat. and he needs to be reconditioned and deprogrammed for his new environment. In cases like mine, I cannot go near sociopaths or narcissists until or unless I am ready to boldly not accept their authority or judgment, whatsoever. This is a sticky wicket when there is ecclesiastical authority involved. But I have been told by an arch-priest who is also a therapist to stand up to bullies.
This is where the graphic and caption come in. In the summer of 2012, when I was in the hospital with strokes caused by complex migraines, I had very strange auras with migraines. One time, I had what I call “Picasso vision”. This does not fully capture it, but almost. Every face I saw was terribly disfigured. It was so convincing that I believed it was real. It was happening in my brain, not my eyes. One’s default setting is to trust one’s brain. One nurse’s aide’s face was so horrible, I thought, ‘How can she live with that?’ I know. I’m a terrible person. Then I went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. My own face was equally grotesque. I thought, this disease has sure taken its toll! The only one who looked normal was my beautiful wife. I saw her through the eyes of love. Now, much of the way we perceive ourselves is taken from our read of how others perceive us. This works out OK if one has an unwounded psyche and is not exposed to narcissists or sociopaths. If one is, an extra wall of defense needs to go up and some reminding needs to be done, hence the caption: “What other people think of me, is none of my business.” The reverse of that, of course, is, “You can keep your opinion to yourself!” It’s to develop a bit of a thicker shell for those whose trust and loyalty has been betrayed.
For the mean time, there are places I may not go and people I do not want to see. I will never respect or trust those people after the level of lies and abuse they have heaped upon me. I do hope to be able to be in the same room without being in danger of a migraine causing stroke as I am now.