Confusion and self doubt is this trauma bonding ?

  • 8 Replies
  • 472 Views
*

Sheppane

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 105
Confusion and self doubt is this trauma bonding ?
« on: September 14, 2021, 09:39:09 AM »
Im really struggling today.
Recently I have felt so much confusion in my relationship with FOO. I have been working on myself for many years, trying to understand and coming to terms with the past and the enmeshment which existed,  which for many years I didn't really see. It has taken a lot of work to try and detach from unhealthy patterns and not feel in the FOG about it.

In the last few years I have realised how compliant I always was and the roles I played in order to keep things calm, always attending to each crisis , underneath it all seeking the approval and belonging though I never saw it like that at the time. Fear of punishment and shame if I stood up against the system, silencing myself to " keep the peace ". Confusing enmeshment with love. Automatically feeling responsible for others happiness, absorbing their feelings and codependently trying to manage it all, feeling that was what a " good" person would do. Not understanding that healthy relationships are reciprocal,  accepting crumbs , accepting punishment and shaming, internalizing these messages to be a true reflection of myself. As my self worth has grown my feelings of inappropriate guilt have subsided somewhat.

I'm beginning to see the pattern of what I can only describe as trauma bonding. Cycles of relief " its all OK now" when I meet with my siblings or parents and I don't get triggered. Or not as much as I used to , recognising no FOO is perfect. Then the inevitable self doubt sets in " you are misreading all this , you are trying to keep yourself safe but these people DO love you , they are hurting because you have detached " the list goes on and on. Discountung the past, making allowances always. There were overt rage episodes directed at me, but infrequent. It is more a story of covert disapproval,  disappointment,  baiting with guilt and stoking up feelings of obligation " you never do enough for us , I would love to have the relationship with you that X/Y has with their daughter ".  Mom used to tell me when  I was a kid that she wished she was my friend,  as I treated friends better than family/ cared more about them. I now see that was not my job when I was a kid. Now it is more " You don't call enough / visit enough / include us. "Of course all of this works the other way too. No one calls me and yet that is my fault . But always that lingering self doubt - are they right? In ways I would love if all the repressed feelings towards me were verbalised,  then at least I would know for sure. Instead I have to rely on replaying interactions to trusted others to ask them " did I judge that correctly ? " constantly doubting my perceptions. Also trying to listen to my body which screams at me and being led by that, something I have only learned to do in recent years. Trusting that my body's response often has a wisdom ahead of my cognitive interpretation. And yet, even the doubt around that- maybe my body is overcalling it. My T says no, to trust it.

And then the cycles - seeing how working a recovery programme I am responsible for my part only and the freedom in that and the joy when I can interact and not get triggered. Followed closely by the feeling of " look, these relationships are getting healthier , we met up and I feel OK ". Until I don't.

When things go well , or at least better than previous, my inner child is so overjoyed. Feeling the belonging she wants/ craves. " you see, it's not that bad ". Sometimes that lasts a few weeks. Until some overt / covert message comes through and I'm triggered again. For days. Lovebombing with lots of contact via messaging / Facebook, thinking " it's ok , they DO care ". And then I set a boundary or similar and then it is silence for weeks / months. Until I make contact. And so it goes.

And I wonder - maybe they are giving me the silent treatment . Or maybe they miss me but don't want to call. So I call and it's either frosty passive aggressive or a bit more normal. But at least that resolves the addictive part of me that wants the contact. Even though I know I need to break it.

I hear people talk about vvvvlc/nc and I realise - hey - that's what they have already done in relation to me !  I detach , and stop participating in dysfunction and suddenly no one wants me anymore. It is so sad to realise that I am the only one trying to sustain these relationships.  But at what cost.

It's easier to see the FOG when Im triggered,  easier to get intouch with my anger. But when things are " ok/ better...hell.....sometimes even enjoyable " it is SO confusing. These repeating cycles. Geez it is mind boggling and exhausting. Thinking I have clarity. And the  I don't.

And the difficult part is I know they have their own wounding. Deep down they do care and love me. Except that the subtle punishment , my irrelevance,  the guilting of me is the way that is exoerienced. The nearest to feeling loved is the conversations when I am reminded how much they love me but how hard I make it by not involving them/ seeing them enough etc. So I leave feeling like the bad guy. I feel sorry for them and believe them. I am getting better now at catching this and saying " no this is not true" , and knowing that their feelings about me are not facts.

Today for some reason I feel lost in it all. I cant find my balance. Weeks of silence and suddenly a voicemail out of the blue. How are you ? Just checking in ?

So they care ? I'm wrong? Or is this just the cycle of push pull. I'm so utterly confused.

What I really want to know is do others exoerience this self doubt / confusion especially when it is more subtle / covert ? My T doesn't find it subtle/ covert at all! Is it all trauma bonding? And how do I know what's true?

Thank you for allowing me to vent.

*

LemonLime

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 232
Re: Confusion and self doubt is this trauma bonding ?
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2021, 12:54:56 PM »
Sheppane, I'm so sorry.   I want you to know you are not alone.  Your circumstances are a bit different from mine.  It's really only my sister who is disordered in a PD-way.  The rest are enmeshed/enablers.  But I've sometimes wished she was more overt instead of covert.  The covert part keeps the secret, which is what makes me feel crazy and isolated.   I really do get it.   The confusion and flip-flopping.  I will write more later when I have time, but please know you are not alone and take good care of yourself today.   The confusion is perhaps the most difficult part of all of this for me.  Hugs.

*

Sheppane

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 105
Re: Confusion and self doubt is this trauma bonding ?
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2021, 02:40:13 PM »
Thank you for your kind words Lemonlime. It matters to know Im not alone and someone else understands this confusion. For some reason today it feels really difficult. I'm on vacation  soon and I think I'm feeling fearful of sitting with all of this. Constantly questioning myself and full of self doubt. At other times in recovery I have felt much stronger and sure of my path. What's eating me up is feeling I am abandoning FOO , feeling that perhaps I have misjudged it, that they are all hurting deeply because of me and my choices.   Though a part of me knows that isn't correct.  And I know I have no control of their feelings. Fear of future regret I guess, that sense of how can I know this is the right path. And the loneliness too, the happy memories, which keep attacking me to make me think actually I've got it all wrong. Thank you for your support  :)

*

Boat Babe

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • 1030
  • To survive is necessary. To thrive is elegant.
Re: Confusion and self doubt is this trauma bonding ?
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2021, 05:29:50 PM »
I get it Sheppane and am sending you a big hug. And yes, it does sound like there are trauma bonds pulling you one way as your informed and rational mind pulls the other way. Mixed emotions eh. It's really hard and no wonder you feel self doubt at times.

Do that old self care thing and be very, very kind to yourself.
It gets better. It has to.

*

nanotech

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • 897
Re: Confusion and self doubt is this trauma bonding ?
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2021, 11:15:31 AM »
It isn’t easy, and when we detach from them, it can confuse our emotions terribly. 
The PDs will bring up genuinely good times to try to draw us back in.
They will also gaslight us, idealising the family relationships as ‘close’ and ‘loving’.
Lots of lovebombing and feigned neediness is to be expected.
Yet look at their actions, not their words.
In your response, try to move to thinking, rather than feeling.
We are trained to respond emotionally. We are used to feeling responsible for their happiness. This is their ‘norm’ and it was ours.
Detaching from their dysfunction also requires us to detach from our emotional reactions to their dismay / incredulity/resentment/ anger etc.
Take a step back from the feelings- you don’t have to feel them- they come from them, are superimposed and are not authentic.
They don’t come from our own hearts.
They are the leftovers from the abuse, that’s all.

*

LemonLime

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 232
Re: Confusion and self doubt is this trauma bonding ?
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2021, 03:42:53 PM »
Hi Sheppane,
I re-read your post, and am present to the word "whiplash".  The description you give of how your family interacts with you would give anyone whiplash.  The inconsistency, the lack of a true underlying constancy with love and basic trust and respectful actions.   There is no basic level of respect that you can count on.   Your family is unpredictable and inconsistent.

We know that unpredictability and inconsistency is very damaging to young children, and frankly it is also damaging to adults.   Humans need to be able to have basic needs met in order to grow properly........food, attention, interaction, mirroring.    We all need that, and when we don't get it, it changes us neurologically.

I wonder if that is what you are experiencing.....simply the natural consequence of inconsistent and enmeshed relationships with your FOO.  Your mom has said inappropriate things to you.....she wished she was your friend, because she would have been treated better.    Your mom is self-centered and inappropriate, to say the least.  And when you grow up with that, it's difficult to know at first that it's not right. That it's not normal or healthy.   And we can spend the rest of our lives trying to figure out why we feel bad, and why we are so confused.

You are an empath, and you try to see their side and understand their point of view and that they are doing the best they can given their own upbringing.  It's a wonderful trait to be empathetic, and I hope you keep that trait forever.   Also realize that being empathetic makes some of this journey a bit more confusing, because it's harder to "cut bait".    As you said, when you're really triggered it's sort of easier in some way.  To see what is true.   And when you're triggered it's probably easier to create healthy boundaries.

My sib has caused so much confusion for me......a little bit of confusion when we were kids, and then a lot of confusion when her disorder escalated a few years ago and she raged at me a few times, using all kinds of things I had shared with her in confidence against me.   It was so so confusing, and I had to read a lot and get therapy to even understand that the thing I was feeling was confusion.   It was like my head was spinning and I couldn't even know what I felt.  This forum has helped me name the feelings and start to pull apart the tangled mass of twine, to see what is what.   And to allow me to decide what twine I want to keep and what twine I want to throw in the dump.

I have found that I have been reviewing my whole life through a different lens lately.   I'm now remembering "weird" things that happened with sib and seeing a more nefarious/manipulative side of the things she said and did.    And like you, I'm trying not to read things into every interaction.   Some are surely very innocent, as my sib is very very covert and definitely is capable of empathy.   It's just that there is a true disorder there, and she can't always hide it.  And I believe now that there was much time when she was trying very hard to keep a lid on her jealousy and rage, and that I was unaware that she was struggling.  I just assumed she wasn't feeling well, or was annoyed with something minor.   But I suspect now I was seeing the tip of the iceburg and that her jealousy and insecurity are always with her.  It's just that she is smart and somewhat aware, so she tries to hide it, I believe, in order to make her relationships "work".  But most of her relationships ultimately fail because she hasn't and won't deal with her PD traits.  Of course she rationalizes why those relationships fail, and puts the blame squarely on the other person.

I have gone VLC with her for 3 years now in order to try to get my head in order, study and read, and figure out my own boundaries.   I also flit between empathy and anger at her.   Frankly it's easier for me when I am angry because then I'm more sure about my boundaries.   The confusion comes when I feel empathy for her.  And also I feel scared when I think about my parents passing and it being just her and me.   We have no other sibs and my kids have only her as an aunt.  So it's complicated but I know I can't let my guard down just to try to create happy family times and to try to have a normal time with sib and to give my kids more access to her.    I probably will never have a normal time with her, because it's not safe and I can't "unsee" what I have seen now.   So the level of contact I will have with her in the future is unknown to me now.  I haven't decided and I'm not going to rush myself.   For now, less is more.   I deserve as much space as I want after what she has done to me.

There are three types of people in my FOO and extended family:
1) the ones who have never seen sib's dysfunction because sib is careful not to be dysfunctional around them.  This includes all my extended family
2) the ones who have seen the dysfunction and know it's not really ideal or normal, but who refuse to create any consequences to sib (my parents)
3)  the ones who have seen the dysfunction, realized it's a PD, and who have set healthy boundaries for the relationship  (that's just ME)

So it's really lonely.  And it's really hard to hear from extended family how awesome my sib is.   And the extended family has also mentioned that sib has told them that sib is "worried" about me because I seem sort of distant, and that I act weird when I'm around her.    So it's clear that sib is trying to get control of the narrative, and sow seeds of doubt in extended family's mind about my own mental health.   She is busy laying the groundwork, trying to "frame" me if you will.   So that extended family will take her side if push comes to shove.   Truly it is creepy.

I hope you are feeling better today Sheppane.  Know that you are most certainly not alone.   The PD's whole "thing" is to confuse you, because it works to their advantage.  Take good care of yourself, build your self-esteem and your healthy boundaries.   Chuck the guilt out the window.   This is a journey, and not a quick one.  Things will evolve.   Hugs

*

bunnie

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • 529
Re: Confusion and self doubt is this trauma bonding ?
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2021, 09:00:38 PM »

And the difficult part is I know they have their own wounding. Deep down they do care and love me. Except that the subtle punishment , my irrelevance,  the guilting of me is the way that is exoerienced. The nearest to feeling loved is the conversations when I am reminded how much they love me but how hard I make it by not involving them/ seeing them enough etc. So I leave feeling like the bad guy. I feel sorry for them and believe them. I am getting better now at catching this and saying " no this is not true" , and knowing that their feelings about me are not facts.

Today for some reason I feel lost in it all. I cant find my balance. Weeks of silence and suddenly a voicemail out of the blue. How are you ? Just checking in ?

So they care ? I'm wrong? Or is this just the cycle of push pull. I'm so utterly confused.

What I really want to know is do others exoerience this self doubt / confusion especially when it is more subtle / covert ? My T doesn't find it subtle/ covert at all! Is it all trauma bonding? And how do I know what's true?

Thank you for allowing me to vent.

I absolutely experience self doubt and confusion after dealing with uBPDs in my family.  It's almost after every interaction with the couple I'm in LC with and the ones I'm not in contact with have sneaked in a few hateful messages via mail and text (using someone else's name and ph#).  I've questioned myself almost daily. I've guilted myself too many times to count. If I'd just handled this latest situation with more tact, self control, wisdom, then I wouldn't be in this position and the family would at least be more whole than it is.

The fake syrupy sweetness and "support" of my mother is so obviously self-serving. This last family drama she managed to almost convince me that she's matured and changed and wants what is best. Yet she is almost gleeful that she is "not going to lift a finger to heal the family!" I do believe my father wants healing, yet he is so emotionally and mentally inept that he often slips up and creates more issues. Or so he would have me believe.

Aging alongside these people is not easy. I'm still learning that periods of relative peace and calm does not mean what it means for healthy families. My peace and calm was hijacked at birth to mean that I swallow fear and anger amidst overt and covert manipulation, chaos and confusion. I was taught that I was only happy when I'd soothed my parents and N sibling's volatile mood swings and cleaned up the family mess.  Family happiness meant that my parents were in a good mood BECAUSE of dysfunctional thinking and behavior. It is very confusing, sad, and abusive. I've decided not to allow them to change who I am, however, I no longer care about their perception of my level of goodness either. If that makes sense.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2021, 09:43:40 PM by bunnie »
To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize - Voltaire

“Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on. - Eckhart Tolle

*

Sheppane

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 105
Re: Confusion and self doubt is this trauma bonding ?
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2021, 05:34:20 PM »
Thank you all so much for your replies :)

Boatbabe- what you said about being pulled with trauma bonds one way and rational mind the other way really helps. It helps me to validate that yes this is trauma bonding tug of war and I need to remember not to stay just on one side. 

Nanotech the identification really helps. What you said about it being " leftovers from the abuse " made me think. I hadn't realised my feelings to be inauthentic / superimposed but that makes a LOT of sense. The confusion when we detach. It is just that, confusion. So I don't need to believe these emotions of guilt and self doubt. I always listen to my emotions , or try to, trusting them to be accurate. But actually these are mixed/ confused/ unreliable. Untrustworthy unconscious projections even. It was good to be reminded also of the idealising because that was a real thing in my FOO and I'm sure fuels a lot of these emotions, especially guilt.

Lemonlime - lack of constancy,  unpredictability- yes ! I'm only thinking now how crazy making it is to experience this. I am always in the " up" phase or the " down" or the in-between recovering from last or fearing the next. As you say all this confusion is maybe simply the result of living like that,  always wondering what's happening next. And when it is calm,  or " good" then thinking I have made the whole thing up. Or it's my fault. Enter guilt again!

I agree it is so much easier when angry to see it clearly and set boundaries , and know its OK to do that. It's so much harder when it is subtle and leaves so much room for second guessing.

I'm sorry for the loneliness you have in being the only one to see things truly as they are in your FOO. And also that your parents willingly enable it is very painful. That narrative you describe about your sibling being " worried" sounds like a very manipulative form of " worry" , rather than true compassionate concern. It is so hard to have to watch all that.

Bunnie- you said about periods of peace and calm not meaning what it does for other families. Yes !!! Im only seeing how I compare mine to other healthier families and other standards and how much that feeds the confusion. I need to make sure not to judge these sometimes short lived sometimes longer periods as a sign that actually everything is OK. That also leads me down the path of .." you ser, its all fine, you are making this up" ...and when I am guilted by FOO DURING these peaceful periods it is mind-blowingly confusing. I can really identify with personal happiness being dependant on clearing up the mess. So sad really. But I love what you said about no longer caring about their perception of your level of goodness.

Thank you all for your comments and for reading the long post.

Some thoughts:
1. I am not responsible for the feelings of others.
2. Therefore I do not need to feel guilty of their disapproval/ rejection. I did not cause it. Those feelings are entirely up to them.
3. I do not need to carry any guilt which is not mine
4. If others choose to use guilt to manipulate me I can choose to reject it. I do not have to automatically believe it to be true.
5. The combination of strong feelings of confusion and self doubt / obsessing and feeling guilty is a dangerous spiral. When it occurs I will ask myself am I feeling afraid / being manipulated in some way ? If the answer is not obvious might it be that a trauma wound is being triggered in some way ? What am I really feeling ? I will try remind myself the guilt is not mine, though at the time it always feels like it is ....

Thank you for listening and any comments welcome !


*

Boat Babe

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • 1030
  • To survive is necessary. To thrive is elegant.
Re: Confusion and self doubt is this trauma bonding ?
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2021, 05:51:01 PM »
I love it that by sharing and supporting each other we learn and grow. I just love the courage and honesty of this forum.
Hugs and solidarity to all.
It gets better. It has to.