Remember when we were young and thought we could disappear and become invisible by just putting our hands over our faces? Me too. 

That’s still my go to when life gets hard; when I’m feeling really fucked up and/or triggered. I retreat to my corner, put my hands over my face, rock back and forth, and hum loud enough to drown out all the things.

I stop trusting myself and the people around me. I remember I’m a HORRIBLE picker of people, and why, and decide hurt is inevitable. It’s only a matter of time before everyone leaves. So I throw the first punch – hit first – to soften the blow. 

And it works. People leave. My fears are confirmed. I feel overwhelmingly relieved, because I’m safe again. Usually, I’ll just make new friends or connect with someone I haven’t spoken to in a while. I’ll move on with my life, and as if I’m selling cheese at the deli counter, I’ll call out, “Now serving number 43.” 

During a super dark place last year, I lost trust in everyone (including myself). I was wrapped up in so much fear and hurt I couldn’t see straight.

Most of the people I’d drained myself empty for had moved on to vamp someone else, and I was feeling beyond fragile. That old familiar voice of “you’ll never…” and “you’re not…” got louder than ever, and I was far too tired to argue. So, I battened down the hatches and prepared for the worst in everyone. 

As someone with an extensive trauma history, I have perfected this art and it has always worked. I’m like WICKED good at it. Over the last 43 years, I’ve succeeded in eliminating a great number of people from my life, and dropping memories of them like people scatter ashes.

I cannot think of even one exception or exclusion. When I’m done, I’m done. If you hurt me – especially more than once – I toss you into my own version of the Bermuda Triangle and you’re never seen again.

This last time, my best friend was the last push; and the one that hurt the most. I tried like HELL to rebound and replace her, and became increasingly aware of the fact that connecting with other humans – like really connecting – is HARD AF. Because I come from a place where connection isn’t safe. SO many people don’t understand the ways Complex PTSD locks you up with no key, and real connection can feel like hunting unicorns.

Isolation is lonely; even when it’s the safest option. Luckily, as I said, I’m a highly trained adapter – a black belt in “I’m sorry, WHO?” 

But it didn’t work. I couldn’t fucking forget her no matter what or how hard I tried. I could not move on. For a whole year, I missed her. I knew I had pushed too far to ever expect her forgiveness, so I tried harder to mourn and let her go.

Yesterday, assuming she’d probably blocked my number, I sent her a text. I told her I was really missing her and I didn’t know what else to do with it. Two hours later, she responded. She reminded me that blocking my number wasn’t something she would do, and expressed what this year had felt like for her. We reconnect as much as we were each capable of, and said some things we both needed to say. We committed to better. I promised I wouldn’t push again and she promised she wouldn’t leave. 

I woke up this morning feeling a bit more connected to self. I felt incredibly grateful for grace and forgiveness, and comforted by the fact that I’ve truly only ever lost those who didn’t deserve to stay.

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L A
2 years ago

Wow, it’s like you know me (are you spying on me?) and I am immensely grateful for what feels like a cautionary tale. I still (for now) have that irreplaceable ‘best friend’. One of the chores of adult friendship is to communicate boundaries & I have failed to do this with her. We of complex PTSD have unique boundaries people don’t ‘get’, & I have not done the work of explaining what those are (sometimes they are hard for me to locate). Deep breath, while I hold on & try not to lose my trust in her for something she is not aware of. Yet. I just don’t trust myself to explain it to her. This is hard. Thanks for your help, your perspective is righteous!

Nicole
2 years ago

Love you. And this.

Maria Yanakakis
2 years ago

Thank you so much for allowing yourself to be vulnerable, and sharing your thoughts and feelings associated with being in relationships (with yourself and others)! You’re amazing and definitely not alone!

2 years ago

Thank you, Maria. It’s so easy to forget that, isn’t it?

You’re super amazing, too. ❤️