PTSD will endeavor to make us refuse human contact. It wants us to be isolated from healthy relationships. It wants us to disintegrate as social and spiritual beings. As bad as that is, PTSD-survivors can be pushed into further isolation due to issues with trust, or encounters with dickweeds and/or vampires (And, yes, I used the word “trust” in a sentence).
Our isolation can be for any number of reasons that are associated with trauma survival and subsequent PTSD.
Our trust may have been shattered due to who in particular damaged us. If it was a person who was supposed to be responsible and trustworthy, like a parent, coach, teacher, or clergy member, the violation of trust is amplified and harder to recover from.
If our trust has been violated, especially by a “grown-up,” someone we are supposed to be able to trust more than others due to their being a blood relation or a person in a position of responsibility, then it is amazingly difficult to find the ability to trust ever again. This makes our PTSD worse, even if it initially feels like the safe thing to do.
These people are Trust-Breakers whose past actions continue to damage us long after the initial acts of trauma had been inflicted. Like a chronic illness, they damage us long after initial exposure by making trust so very difficult for us to risk. Just thinking about trusting can be painful.
Dickweeds all suffer from Compassion Deficit Disorder. Rather than go out of their way to help us heal, they go out of their way to find ways to blame us for our trauma and the resulting PTSD.
Sexual assault survivors will hear, “Was she drinking, what was she wearing?” Military veterans will hear, “You volunteered, what did you expect?” The message from these dickweed questions is: You should have known better, It is all your fault; and, Don’t expect me to care.
Dickweeds all try to blame the victim so as to avoid having to travel the unfamiliar ground of compassion for another human being.
Another version of dickweedery is seen when people and/or political think tanks moan about the financial costs of helping people who need it. Rather than care for the traumatized human person, who was created in the image and likeness of God, they allow money to trump human decency. It’s another version of Compassion Deficit Disorder, where one has more compassion for personal and corporate wealth than they have compassion for abused children.
Vampires seek out our suffering and purposely make it worse. The more we feel miserable, hopeless, or on the brink of despair, the more life they suck from us. They would love to go cluck-cluck-cluck and then be seen as sorrowful over our PTSD-related suicide.
These vampires seek to inject you with spiritual darkness in the form of despair and seek to bolster themselves by stealing your light and your hope. In this way they feel better about themselves because they made you look and feel small.
They inflict their damage through various parlor games where they ask leading questions designed to make you feel like a failure. They make statements designed to make you feel like you are a hopeless lost cause. Usually, especially in the case of relatives, they frame their vampiric questions in a way so they can claim to be “interested in you,” and to show they “only want what’s best for you.”
They trump themselves up by making someone who is suffering or disabled, and thus in need of compassion, look small. They only think they can be big if they somehow make other people, especially you, feel small. It’s what vampires do; it’s in their job description.
Remember: It’s Usually Just Drive-By-Caring
In terms of dickweeds and vampires: The world will always be full of them. Once identified, they are best avoided if at all possible. Some will enjoy making you feel small. Others will experience delight if you lose your temper. If you do lose your temper they will use it as a reinforcement of how beyond hope you are and then act as if they are the victim and you are the problem. These people know how to play the victim card even as they deny compassion to real victims.
Dickweeds and vampires each engage in various forms of Drive-By Caring. They want to be “seen” to care, when they could really care less. They want to seem to care because they get some other benefit from appearing so. The benefit they seek has nothing to do with showing you compassion or helping you to heal.
The way to defend your dignity against this is to not take the bait. Not everyone, even family, have an automatic right to know the details of your personal trauma history and how you are currently experiencing it.
It took me a long time to realize, in spite of a lot of discouraging experiences, that few of the people who asked how I was, or what had happened to me, really were asking from a position of love, respect, or caring.
Rather, I experienced a lot of voyeuristic vampires who got off on my trauma. I also experienced quite a few people who told me all the reasons I really didn’t need compassion or consideration – such as being physically crippled and having PTSD nightmares is a Gift from God … I don’t recall ever having those things on my gift registry … Yikes!. These people, dickweeds and vampires, contributed to my despair at the time and put me at greater risk for suicide at a time when I was very vulnerable.
In full disclosure: I’ve been associated with PTSD for several decades and I have met some real quality people as well. Not everybody is part of the Drive-By Caring crowd. Fortunately, there are some people who don’t judge but who choose to be merciful and compassionate. The most authentic will not demand to know your personal trauma history if you opt not to choose to share it (and it is your choice!).
We have survived our initial traumas. Now we need to survive the dickweeds and vampires who would make our PTSD worse. The way we do this is to be careful who we share our story with.
Your suffering is sacred. You did not ask for it, but it is sacred. Your suffering is like a pearl and ought not to be thrown before swine.
By denying dickweeds and vampires the particulars of our own sacred personal history and how we continue to suffer, we deprive an arsonist of another house to burn down. After a few tries, and yes, some of these jerks can be distressingly persistent, they will move on to other people, seeking fresh game, and someone else’s spiritual blood to gorge upon.
Risking Trust, Again
Frankly, if we have been violated by someone who was in a position of trust, we may never be able to fully trust again in this lifetime. Not 100%.
I know that is stark, and I am not trying to be discouraging, but the more “safe” and “trustworthy” our violator was supposed to be, the deeper the damage to our ability to trust.
Can we never trust again? Is it hopeless? Of course not. We can learn to trust again.
We can regain and rebuild an ability to trust, but it comes a piece at a time and it is an adult’s conditional trust. People will still fail us, but we will need to be less vulnerable to them (just as we reduce our vulnerability to the Drive-By Caring crowd), so when they let us down we will not be significantly wounded.
As adults we discover that some people are more trustworthy than others.
We also develop trust as a muscle and a set of conditional experiences.
By muscle I mean we learn to trust in small things with someone, and if they prove reliable, trustworthy in small things, then we can begin to risk trusting them in larger, more sacred things.
At the same time, this is a conditional trust as individuals show they can meet the conditions of trust, or not, before we invest greater trust in them.
This is not unlike how we eventually make acquaintances and then some of those acquaintances develop into friendships. Some of those people may become a close, particular friend. And, who knows, one of them may even become your partner or spouse.
Learning to trust again can be risky and painful. But, it can be done, if we decide to risk it.
If I decided I want to run a marathon, then I need to train and condition. I won’t make it if I try to immediately run the marathon without any prior prep. I need to train, over time, on small distances that lengthen as time goes on and my abilities improve. The same goes for learning how and who to trust.
PTSD Wants Us to Never Trust Again … But We Can
Remember, PTSD wants us alienated, isolated, and dead through self-harm. In order for this to occur, it needs to poison us against trusting anyone ever again. Given that situation, you know it will be a journey. It will have ups and downs.
Life in the resurrection will be far superior to this one. But, this mortal life does not have to be so bad, regardless of how bad some Trust-Breaker, Dickweed, or Vampire has wounded us in the past (or tries to wound us in the present).
We carry our wounds, we seek healing for our wounds, but we never have to be defeated by these wounds in a way that keeps us from risking friendships with other people, accepting ourselves, or even risking acknowledging and loving God.
Even wounded, our life can have meaning, joy, hope, and even trust.
As Always: You have value.
Semper Pax, Dr. Z
[Thank you to those who have been praying … and sending those positive vibes … for my most recent health adventures and my grief. I continue to miss my mother, I always will. These days I feel like I am spending a fair amount of time on the Ship of Light, Ship of Fog and then get overwhelmed with a weeping crying jag and kind of lose touch with things in the resulting fog. It’s healthy and is actually good for me to process the grief and loss this way. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to mourn this way and to have a mother who always loved me. I miss her and I look forward to seeing her whole, healthy, and happy in the resurrection.]