PTSD Spirituality: Trust, Dickweeds, and Vampires

Half Cup

Half Cup

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.

Trust:

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:

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:

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.]

Comments

  1. LOVED THIS, THANK YOU!! And sending prayers for you during the grieving time… Quick Q w/ intro and sharing – I have been reading an amazing personal account of 6 men (soldiers) and a young woman who escaped Siberian Gulag camps during WW 2, met up, and made a year-long journey together into India and freedom. The author said that after he had been in Drs’ care for a bit, THEN came the real difficulty of recovering; he was surprised when he was finally told ALL that was wrong w/ him physically, and the recovery process was a long one. Q – Does this make sense to you as a general concept/process in healing from a series of traumas? I think perhaps that is happening to me – I am starting to get unfrozen emotionally; I am feeling new freedom and function; but now I am aware of the personality splitting when it happens more; now I have to deal w/ the difficulty of personal interactions b/c I am not isolating as much; now I am trusting God more, but the new times of joy, release, and rest give way to extreme anxiety and DIDing in this in-between-wilderness time. (I do get fascinated w/ how complex we are, and do enjoy the new glimpses of understanding re: God’s purposes and design…) So, does the recovery process from extreme physical hardship etc described above, parallel recovery from PTSD once comparative safety is gained, do you think? (It does help me to put these things into words, and connect with you, thank you so much.)

    • Hi Anne,
      I’ve been in a sort of slow-motion what with recent happenings and appreciate very much your condolences. Grieving is ongoing.
      The short answer to your question about thawing is “Yes.” As we recover, we can start to feel more and potentially heal more. This is a two-edged sword as it means we can possibly get re-traumatized because we are feeling more … but also that we can heal more deeply as we are able to better get our minds and souls around the wounds which have afflicted us. I hope to write an essay on this before the month is out.
      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

      • Yes, I understand the/your need to take Life slowly… I appreciated your reply as always! Something new in this emotional thawing process for me, is more gratitude towards God for his provision, even in the midst if difficulties. My prayer re: this two-edged sword time is “Please make my deepening relationship w/ You worth the suffering.” I read about ppl looking to God as escaping slaves, for example, and Him helping them, and them being full of gratitude even in the midst of great hardship… Helps me keep going!

      • P.S. Look forward to your essay 😊

  2. I can so relate to the inability to trust. My uncle molested me for years as a child, later my father abandoned us, and my husband abused and rejected me. I have worked very hard at not letting the PTSD overtake me, but it is impossible for me to trust anyone, including God, although I work at that too. I’m learning to accept that some parts of me will always be mentally and emotionally broken. Giving up is not an option.

    • Hello Doniabeth,
      You have certainly been through the grinder at the hands of horrible people. Words are inadequate to express the horror these men put you through.
      And, as you say, “Giving up is not an option.” The fact that you recognize that these traumas and subsequent PTSD have damaged your ability to trust indicates that you might still one day be able to trust. Our PTSD does not ever want us to realize how it affects us and that it is damaging our ability to trust. To be able to realize that PTSD harms trust and to be able to acknowledge it has damaged our own personal ability to trust is part of the healing journey. To be able to acknowledge this is a victory over how PTSD wants to ruin us.
      You are right, giving up is not an option.
      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  3. Trust is everything, particularly to a child. I do not understand why those who hurt them seem to view the child solely as an object to gratify their sickness. I was molested and could never, ever conceive of doing that to a child. I’d have to end my own life. I do not understand. I do think the betrayal is so shocking and searing, so imprinted, that the child carries the grief and horror of it forever. Jesus had strong words for abusers, but it is difficult to understand how God allows a life sentence for victims and for these sick bastards to do so much damage, even unto the point of being pornographers. We have free will, and the paralysis of that will is something that a lot of victims of abuse struggle with, because we feel always that doom is lurking around the corner. This post was very good as it focuses on recovery and gives hope that despite others’ bad choices, evil choices, even, we can move towards Light. I wish others could recognize how much abuse victims struggle and how many effects and burdens we carry in a society that spits us out and forces us to do many unfair dances. Heaven will be a reversal of the self-serving human order that casts away those who don’t seem to fit the mold of “success” and “health” that seems so vital to these narcissistic times.

    • Hello Annie,
      What has happened to you was and is horrible. Child molestation is an evil. The pain and suffering through PTSD extends into our adult lives. Having had our trust violated so early makes it very difficult to trust in the future. But, it can be done, but we will never trust as a child again. We can indeed move into the Light, no matter how brutally we have been victimized by our molesters. To trust again, is one of the greatest challenges we will experience. Yet, we are never truly alone, and we can trust together.
      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  4. Dr. Z, so happy to see you in my inbox (and I got a laugh, too, with your topic sentence). 🙂

    I’ve been having trust issues with the new therapist (and my health plan), but I have my fighting ducks in a row. (The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act is one everyone with a chronic mental illness should be fully aware.)

    I just wanted to let you know you made me smile just by being you, and, of course, your always thought-provoking essays. Glad to hear you are doing OK.

    Take care, John. Don’t be a stranger. 🙂

    Harry

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