The talk about complex PTSD and fawning got me thinking. Because complex PTSD is a bit of a late arrival to the DSM, and so is the fawning addition to the trad fight/flight (later freeze) idea, I had not thought of my experience in these terms.
I experienced some rough times growing up, which has caused some damage to me and my two older siblings. I bore the worst of my Mum’s alcoholism for some years, and didn’t wholly cut her off like my sister did.
I think I probably would be diagnosed with something in the mild CPTSD realm and if I had to choose a habitual response, it would be to freeze.
Luckily, there were a few things growing up which probably saved us. I won’t go into those, but am grateful for them.
InkHulk might relate - he has spoken of a close relationship with his brother.
I had grandmothers and some friends, so always had some healthy attachments which showed me light at the end of the tunnel.
In adult professional life, that trauma has been crafted into patience, tolerance for stress, calm. The other day, reading a thread here, I remembered that civil war line ‘don’t shoot till you see the white’s of their eyes’’. Sometimes my patience is kindness, sometimes it’s hard as nails.
Somewhat typical of my programming, in response to my wife’s betrayal, I - got calm, waited, watched (and hurt), hid a little. Then reconciled…predictably.
InkHulk has spoken of the point he let his father go.
I think I would have let my wife go if she had continued her affair for more than a few days after d day, but short of that, I was able to put up with a lot.
My wife has her own, real, but different to mine, FOO traumas, which would have caused anyone to struggle with self worth.
My brother, sister and I all coupled by our mid 20’s and have been faithful, I’m pretty sure. So our brand of trauma seems to have been more of an inoculation, even if we have our internal demons, so to speak.
Does anyone have insight into what takes the traumatic background into an adult need for external validation, with a sexual acting out edge?
Somehow, when life has thrown ethical problems at me, and it happens pretty often on my line of work, I was able to pause (now I’m thinking that may be just a bit informed by FOO trauma), and then rely briefly on an ethical default framework, until I could find an even better response which felt right emotionally.
Honestly, without trauma, I think I would have been an okay (and simpler) person, but probably with a mix of mild narcissistic and people-pleasing tendencies. I’m not much like that now and haven’t been since my teens. I think I closed that off from anger as much as anything else.
I think my wife did not do the same things. I think fear of social judgment and failure stopped her committing to be ‘just her’. She had every reason to comprehend there was a chink in her armour and she left it there, for fear of closing off possibilities.
I think trauma made me settle with being just me, and letting go of superfluous things, but at some cost.
InkHulk - any thoughts on why your traumas led one way and your wife’s another?
[This message edited by straightup at 7:48 PM, Friday, September 22nd]