In late November, I planned a short break from my blog to focus on Trump’s Impeachment.
After the House impeached Trump for extortion, I watched in horror as elected Republican officials used their positions, and media access to spread the smear Trump demanded of the President of Ukraine.
I went numb with fear and shut down.
When faced with life-threatening circumstances, most mammals shut down and play dead and hope the predator will go away.
I felt like a five-year-old trapped in a community of violent and corrupt adults. I shut down. Threatened children must not be seen or heard.
CPTSD and Institutional Betrayal
C-PTSD is a cluster of symptoms caused by chronic childhood trauma such as physical assault, sexual assault, food deprivation, sleep deprivation, and threats of violence and death. People with C-PTSD often suffer from feelings of betrayal, defeat, and shame.
“Instead of a single traumatic event leading to mental and emotional symptoms, complex PTSD is believed to be caused by chronic or prolonged exposure to traumatic experiences. “It’s the concentration camp, the person in a bomb shelter in Syria, the soldier in war or child suffering sexual or physical abuse. It’s happening to you, or you’re witnessing it,” says Dr. Robert Shulman, associate chair of psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center.” US News and World Report
As a child, I felt hopeless as the neighbors and social services that should have stopped my Mother’s abuse did nothing or became part of it.
‘Betrayal Trauma’ is the systematic abuse by a parent, a trusted leader, or an institutional authority figure, like the President and his government.
Institutional betrayal is potent because it represents a profound and fundamental violation of trust in a necessary dependency relationship. In that sense, it is similar to abuse in close relationships – it can be more harmful than abuse by a stranger. The breach of trust, unreciprocated loyalty, and exposure to retaliation are like a knife in the back. The Wiley Online Library
Recovery is finding the will to believe that life is more than a savage facade of well-mannered hypocrisy and hate.
I was in the aftermath of lingering flu when the pandemic and shutdowns began; my partner was away, taking care of his Mother.
I’ve spent the shutdown in isolation, triggered, and regressed to the darkest years of my childhood.
I’ve watched the President of the United States murder his citizens and gaslight us into accepting it.
A week in late November became an agony of months.
Writing this, I found a recent essay at @CNN by
He writes about a world of people who are afraid to touch each other and how it feels to lose the lives we took for granted: life before the trauma of betrayal:
“Do you remember who you used to be? Before you were told that anyone could kill you? Before you were conditioned to avoid people the way you might avoid malignant obstacles in a video game? Before your brain rewired itself toward a continual search for the proper angle of evasion, the likely field of airborne dispersion, the space least contaminated by human touch?”
All this fear will have lasting consequences. We cannot know what they will be. Last Sunday, we had a visitor, a friend I’d known since childhood. Jessica knew and loved all our children, especially the youngest. Jessica got out of the car and sat on our front steps. We walked outside and stood at a safe distance. The 2-year-old ran toward her. Jessica told her to stay back.“And she looked at me with the saddest eyes ever,” Jessica told me later. “And that broke my heart.”It hurts to be treated like a monster.
There isn’t a rape victim, an abused child, an unjustly imprisoned migrant, a hungry vet, or a homeless schizophrenic who doesn’t know how it hurts to be treated like a monster.
There isn’t an LGBTQ person on this planet who doesn’t know how badly it hurts.
There isn’t a parent who loses a child in a school shooting who doesn’t know
how badly it hurts.
We are a nation of traumatized survivors.
Can we stop the abuse, accept that it happened, and heal?
As I emerge from the ‘freeze,’ I can return to the blog.
Loyal Americans placed their lives and reputations on the line to warn us that we are under attack and on our own; we don’t have to be Agents of Shield to learn a few basic principles of psychological warfare.
People are hurting in different ways, and we’ve had a rough five months.
I hope everyone is coping and staying as healthy as possible.
I look forward to catching up with your blogs.
I also look forward to hearing about how you’re coping.
Update May 23: The focus of Art by Rob Goldstein for the next 164 days is pro-democracy essays and art and articles from advocacy groups like #DemCast.
You can also find this post on #DemCast
(c) Rob Goldstein, May 21, 2020
This post is dedicated to my friend Scott Bader, who reminded me of why I write. Thanks, Scott