The PTSD-Identity wants to destroy our dignity. As it is busy gnawing at our own self-worth it also seeks to erode the dignity of those we care about and who care about us. Our human dignity is associated with our sense of self. If it can be damaged, then we are more likely to be cast adrift and without compass.
As PTSD’s soul wound tries to take over our identity it endeavors to isolate us from all of our healthy relationships. The more PTSD shoves us into isolation, the closer we come to self-harm and in some cases suicide.
The PTSD-Identity engages numerous avenues of attack in order to damage our basic dignity. Each of us have (or had) a set of basic standards which inform our fundamental understanding of what it means to be dignified. These standards are part of what form our character.
Many people who have survived trauma experience the loss of their dignity. Part of this loss is attributable to the wide range of PTSD symptoms such as promiscuity and PTSD coping mechanisms such as substance abuse or reckless gambling.
Another contributor to our loss of dignity comes from our fellow human beings who cannot (or willfully choose not to) understand our experience and subsequent suffering.
Some people are downright toxic and thrive off the suffering or belittlement of others. To state the obvious, we should avoid these individuals because they seek to dampen the value of our lives.
We can also be further wounded by those who just can’t understand us and unwittingly wound us through their ignorance. These folks are not to be out-right quarantined from us as they do not intend to be toxic, they don’t enjoy our pain. They are not vampiric in their feeding off of the suffering of others.
We need to figure out how much truth people can stand. We need to sort out how much of ourselves we are willing to leave vulnerable. We engage this process so we do not totally isolate ourselves.
At the same time we ought to maintain a self-awareness of our relative vulnerability (sometimes known as vulnerability to relatives….Yikes!) so that we do not unwittingly put ourselves into the PTSD grinder by getting blind-sided by someone who perpetrates drive-by caring. These self-assessments may need to be done a few times a day, especially when one is “socially expected” to attend functions where the vampires hang out.
If we can protect our dignity we can keep from being totally isolated by the PTSD soul wound. This is much easier said than done. It means we need to find ways of managing our PTSD in ways which are not physically, socially, and spiritually destructive.
At the core of things we must remain awake to the fact that we have value. PTSD wants us to abandon our dignity. If we abandon our dignity then we will lose even more hope and the understanding that each of us are created in the image and likeness of God.
A Few Questions (not Merely Rhetorical):
- How do we learn that we have dignity?
- How can we best function to keep our dignity but not self-isolate?
- How can we reconcile our trauma history and our PTSD with our inherent self-worth?
I am very interested in what readers think and practice in their own individual PTSD journeys. What do you think about “dignity”? How to discover it, how to nourish it, and just what dignity means in terms of our relationships.
I hope that the Year 2014 is one where you may have healing, grace, and dignity.
Semper Pax, Dr. Z
[I’d like to thank all of those who have kept my well-being in their intentions and prayers. The Year 2013 has been full of health adventures and the Year 2014 looks to be yet another opportunity to excel, so to speak. I don’t accomplish as much as I would like. That frustrates me, a lot. Yet, I choose to stay in the game and enjoy the Life I have been blessed with.]