Connection

Since my PTSD diagnosis, one of the hardest things for me has been remembering how to connect with people.

It seems so strange, that one day, you could be great at connecting with people, and seemingly the next day, you have a severe mental illness that makes you feel alienated and incapable of belonging anymore.

In truth, it didn’t happen overnight. It took so many years of child abuse, years of domestic abuse, years of seeking help and being unable to find the right kind of help, years of trauma after trauma, before I snapped.

Think of a snapped rubber band. Trash? Irreparable? Or can it be put back together or repurposed by someone with enough fire and determination?

I don’t know the answer. I am the rubber band.

I have fire. I have determination. Will it be enough? Can I put me back together?

It should come as no surprise that, some days, I’d rather just give up. Me, sober? Me, sociable? Me, functioning? Seems like a lost cause.

It takes everything I have to believe in myself, but even that is not enough, because I’m human, I mean, as much as I’d like to believe that I can do this alone, I know that I can’t.

Before my diagnosis, I considered myself an extrovert. I mean, having friends again, being able to connect with people again, that’s my whole reason for wanting to get better. So how could I possibly do this alone?

The problem with PTSD is that I am now terrified of other people.

I often hear this symptom described as a function of other illnesses, but rarely do I hear anyone talk about it as it relates to PTSD.

I am afraid of other people, because other people have hurt me. And not just one or two, and not just a little. Other people have hurt me so badly that it’s left me with a debilitating disease that I now have to contend with for the rest of my life.

And sure, some of them put up red flags. I’ll take some accountability for that, for not recognizing red flags back then, or for recognizing them, but excusing them. That was my bad.

But they didn’t *all* put up red flags.

I don’t know if I’ve ever quite expressed this before, so it feels really hard to write. I’ve been estranged from so many people. But being estranged from my sobriety group, at the time I needed them the most?

Oh, man. That fucking killed me. It killed me. I am dead.

It really fucking killed me.

And to stand up again, and look people in the eye again, and to believe that they want to help me when they say, “I want to help you,” fuck, it’s hard to believe. I want to believe it more than anything. But it’s so damn hard.

I have found a new group. And the women there have been nothing but supportive, so far. And I’m just waiting, waiting for them to tell me I’m not good enough, to tell me I’m a waste of time, that I’m just one of those lost causes who will never get better, that I’m just playing the victim and it’s all my fault…

Waiting, and hoping that they don’t.

Sometimes I find people who I want to be friends with. And then I flash back to women who I thought I was connected to, women who I cared about more than they even knew, who just ghosted me for having PTSD…

How do you look into someone’s eyes, and trust them, when you’ve only ever been betrayed before? How do you keep believing in good relationships when you’ve never successfully maintained one yet?

How do you go on?

Well, that’s where I am right now. Reaching out is so painful. Reaching out hurts so bad. But, as therapists are so fond of saying, “The only way out is through.”

Try try try try try try try again.

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