The always on guard part…when it starts from your childhood, and as an adult you have no clue what you are protecting yourself from. In a place like church, when I first started…. I’d sit through it all, and run out as fast as I could to get away from anything that could turn adverse when the service was over. It took a long time for me to settle in there, literally years of checking over and over again to see if I was going to be safe, or was someone going to, in some form, push me around.
I could not go into a bank for years without massive amounts of tears – don’t ask me about the relationship, I have no clue. The theory is that it was a self-esteem issue. I still stay away from them. Online banking is a God send. This part of the PTSD came after I’d married my first husband. And it was in full effect by 1984ish. I went into the local community bank in New Richmond, Ohio. The teller went to school with my then husband. She was in shock that he could find anyone to marry him. He was just really a bad person. The first clue from the outside world, that something was really wrong. My inside world really already knew. From that day on, if it was the trigger or not, I could not go into a bank again for years and years. It was flat out traumatizing to even try.
It was around this same time period that I started having major issues when trying to drop off resume’s. Oh the tears… pure hell to even think about pulling the door open. Weeping uncontrollably by the time I got there. Again, I am fairly sure that was mostly self-esteem issues– but the fear of people at that point, the idea of watching my back, it was just flat out overwhelming.
In a public place you put your back against the wall (Purposely) and in a corner so you can watch everything happening. The door and it’s use by EVERY person coming and going. And it doesn’t stop automatically, it goes on for literally YEARS until you know what it is, and have a talk with yourself (well, actually a lot of talks, over and over again), and you can begin to make yourself feel safe. I had realized I was doing this way before I met Clyde. I had no idea what meant. I’d been on the defense my entire life, always looking over my shoulder. Even in high school, I tried to dress as a tough thug type (though, I am today 100% positive no one knew it but me) in dark clothes and a dark wind breaker. This was an attempt to scare (bad, questionable) people away or at least keep them at a safe distance.
Clyde is what changed this for me. Partly cause he puts himself literally in the corner, but not for the same reasons I did. And the fact that he took the corners from me, has forced me to deal with my fear. I rely on him now for the most part to watch my back in public places. He knows it. Partly because he knows my issues and he knows that I feel safe with him. In some ways I feel like I have a protective shield around me when I am near him. I know I don’t though. LOL.
Starting a business after say, 1996. A computer consulting business, where to be perfectly honest, I should at this point be rolling in money. I am not. What was my limitation? My limitation is that I did not feel safe in the world. In order to keep myself safe no matter where I went, I only went to home/businesses that had received a recommendation from someone I knew. This way I was relatively safe. I refused to advertise the business, because then I’d come in contact with strangers…. I was constantly “guarding myself.”
I have complex PTSD. All that means in plain English is that I have been traumatized more than once. I was victimized by my father. That was and is evident. Then I was traumatized by my ex husband. And then there were smaller ones that made life difficult for awhile: The Loma Preita Earthquake, a neighbor from hell (Stalking, etc.). Life has been rough on the one hand, but I am sure that genetics play into this on the other.
Still, the saddest part of this for me, is that no one ever saw it. No one ever realized. I never got the help that I needed until I was well into my 40s. Because for one thing I had to KNOW it was a problem and express it before anyone could help me. But, part of it, I think, is because people who should have seen were not paying attention. Add to it, that it’s minimized to this day by some. You realize something about yourself. You want to talk about it. No one wants to hear it except the therapist. And I will tell you, there are times when a therapist doesn’t work anything close to what a mom, dad, sister, or brother, or even a best friend would. Think about that!