Trauma in a Culture of Abuse

In late November, I planned a short break from my blog to focus on Trump’s Impeachment.

I listened in shock as witnesses like Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch testified to crimes that included threats on her life.

Screenshot_2020-05-21 Marie Yovanovitch calls Trump's disparaging tweet 'intimidating'

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.

Republican Senator threatens to impeach Joe Biden
I felt personally betrayed when the Republican Senate voted to acquit Trump without hearing witnesses.

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.

The Shutdown

Stay Home
Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

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.

How it feels to live in fear of each other

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.

For my next post, I am compiling a list of online resources for people who want to learn more about Information and Psychological Warfare.

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.

Screenshot_2020-05-23 Flip The Senate 2020 - DemCast
Graphic by Cris Palomino

 

Screenshot_2020-05-23 Opinion America’s True Covid Toll Already Exceeds 100,000

You can also find this post on #DemCast

(c) Rob Goldstein, May 21, 2020

This post is dedicated to my friend Scott Baser, who reminded me of why I write.  Thanks, Scott

Dissociative Identity Disorder: The Positives and Negatives

People have described me as flaky, high maintenance, difficult, hysterical, confusing, compulsive, and dishonest.

That last one, dishonest, is a common reaction to people with DID.

If I wanted to fake an illness I’d choose something people would believe

People tend to go with what makes the most sense based on what they know.

Most people know nothing about the mind, much less states of minds.

The other wordson that list are alternate descriptions of the symptoms of DID.

Gaps in memory look flaky, but they’re more than forgetting. These gaps
are the same as not knowing.

High maintenance means I require more medical supports and more patience from friends and family.

Panic attacks look like hysteria.

Personality switches are confusing because my alternates have different interests.

However, the words people use aren’t all negative.

People also describe me as, loving, intelligent, empathetic, compassionate, loyal, strong, and honest.

That last, honest, means I say what I think is true based on what I know or think I know.

The goals of treatment for dissociative identity disorder

My ultimate goal in life is to be a good person; it’s an ongoing project and a choice I have to make every day.

What are the words people use to describe you?

Rob Goldstein 2019

This is a companion to a previous post; ‘A Lifetime’

Writing: What Would You Do?

On January 1, I boldly announced I would publish a book of poems this year and here it is, the middle of August and I’m stymied.

I see my writer friends spontaneously publish and I think OMG, I’m such a loser.

I suppose I should congratulate myself, this month marks nine years of intensive psychotherapy, though when I watch a trump crowd, I wonder why I bother.

Psychodynamic psychotherapy is hard work.

Why is it crazy to think eight rather nice people live in my body when we have a crazy ass president like trump? But I digress.

This struggle to publish is the current topic of therapy.

How do I publish a collection of poems when I don’t recognize the work as mine.

Some the folks who follow this blog see the DID and others don’t.

I assume most people don’t see it.

One idea is to hire a psychotherapist/writer/editor.

In Friday’s session, my therapist suggested I give the alternates credit
for their work.

When I collaborated with Teagan on Hullaba lulu, I had to tell her which
alternate staged which scene.

Is it as simple as giving the alternates credit for their work?

What if I published the book as an anthology, as if the alternates are different writers?

I stopped letting them use their own names in 2013 because it encouraged fragmentation, but I’m healthier now.

I know it’s difficult for most people to understand DID, but what would you do?

Rob Goldstein 2019

Rob Goldstein: Featured on Beyond Your Past

I’m proud that I’m this week’s featured podcast on Beyond Your Past.

I have a multiplicity of conflicting opinions about everything including
my diagnosis.

These conflicts manifest as a pattern of symptoms that affect productivity.

Learning to cope with these symptoms is a primary treatment goal.

This is the core of this week’s podcast with Matt Pappas.

Dissociative Identity Disorder: Do Your Alters Agree with the Diagnosis of DID?

2011 Blackerry shot of a graffiti mural in San Francisco's Mission District
Campos

 

The Beyond Your Past Podcast is hosted by Certified Life Coach, NLP Master Practitioner, and Mental Health Advocate, Matthew Pappas. He is also the founder of SurvivingMyPast.net, a blog in support of all who have survived the Trauma of Abuse.

 

Beyond your past is a great resource for people with C-PTSD and other trauma related symptoms.

‘Portrait of Rob Goldstein #25’ and Campos (c) Rob Goldstein 2019