Self-Reliance Only Goes So Far
I’m not good at asking for help. I have accepted it or requested it in my life to be sure, but its not something I am very good at. A lot of us who are considered “helpers” have this streak in us and it can often lead to challenges with boundaries and saying no. In my brain, I have the added complexity of Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) to contend with, which makes reaching out all the more difficult. I expect that people will say no or let me down; many times they have. Self-reliance is all I have ever really known.
Let’s lay it all on the line here because being less than honest isn’t gonna be authentic. I trust almost no one; my ability to care about myself is a daily struggle; deep down I feel I am absolutely worthless, no matter how much good I try and do in the world. There, I said it and part of me is wincing cause it all seems so pathetic. But the logical part of my brain, the one that I engage at times like this, knows that there are real reasons for why I feel this way. The trauma and abuse I have endured in my life, particularly during my developing years, left an imprint that is not easily removed. The reality is that it may never go away.
I say all this not to make anyone feel sorry for me or to remove hope from others who live with the same condition. I say it because its important to stare head on at those ugly truths which confront us; it is the only way to work on overcoming them. Leaving them in the dark or trying to work around them does nothing. Sure, it can feel safer that way, or the illusion of happiness can be manufactured, but the only real way out of this puzzle is to face it. Taking these emotions and ugly truths about myself and exposing them to light isn’t easy and takes a lot of work, both mentally and emotionally. I use my therapy sessions to confront those pieces and look for mini goals I can achieve. Part of the process has been to work on personal boundaries and learn that saying no doesn’t make me a bad person and reaching out for help doesn’t make me weak.
This isn’t how I want to live my life. Every day I work hard, some days harder than others of course, to strive for the goals I have set for myself. There are big ones, like going back to school to finish my degree, but often they are small victories that build me up when I am down. Days like today, when all I did was get in the shower and complete a few errands, could be looked at as a failure, however I strive to consciously make the choice to celebrate what I was able to accomplish. And believe it or not, I texted a friend tonight and asked for help. Ten, fifteen, twenty years ago this is not something I could have done. I would have wallowed in my dark place, tried to “suck it up”, lashed out at myself as a failure, or done self-harm of some kind. CPTSD is just how it says….complex. However, by taking a deep dive in to the hurt, pain, and trauma, and not thinking we have to do it all alone, we can emerge stronger and more powerful than ever!