I have started a page on my other blog on the role of trauma and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in addictive behaviours. This is a condition very close to my heart, literally.
For me PTSD is one “co-occurring” condition which has greatly contributed to my overall alcoholism and the severity of my alcoholism.
It greatly contributed to my initial drinking especially via the effect alcohol had on me.
My traumatic incidents in early to middle childhood mixed with my insecure attachment to my mother meant I was always wary of people. I always left distinct from other people, even my immediate family.
I was wary and anxious, paranoid that people were thinking and talking about me. I never felt I could be myself around others even my best friends from childhood.
I was always holding something back, always left like I was protecting some invisible wound. I now believe that invisible wound was an emotional wound oozing shame.
Then I found alcohol. I felt I had come across the elixir of life.
It made me more me, a better me, a friendlier, warmer, less dismissive, less fearful me.
A me that got on great with others, effortlessly, even others I had not particularly liked before.
I became the life and soul of the party. I never classed alcohol as a drug because I thought drugs took you away from yourself whereas alcohol almost brought me home to myself.
I fitted my skin better and felt more comfortable in it after drinking alcohol. I loved that warm golden glow, the liquid bliss.
It made me go “phew!” and allowed me to escape myself.
A lot of this I believe was trauma mixed with insecure attachment mixed with an abnormal reaction to alcohol.
Trauma and insecure attachment alters the stress parts of the brain which heightens the effects of alcohol. It allowed me to connect with people. Gave me that “comfort and ease” which was illusive in everyday life.
In recovery this connection with people is essential too. We recover with the help of others, we learn the program via others.
We have to trust another person. So what happens when we lose that trust or never gained that trust. And don’t we have to trust in a God of our understanding? Faith seems to be about trust too?
The reality folks, is I don’t have a lot of trust period.
I love and trust my wife absolutely. After that…?
I have a lot of trust for various others such as some members of my family a few friends but generally my childhood has left me fearful and mistrusting. All my immediate family and beyond love me but there is expressing love and there is demonstrating love, they are very different I find.
The worse thing is I also take over from God in many ways because I am not trusting enough to let Him get on with running the show.
This weekend proved to me I need additional help with trust, with my PTSD.
I mean I have come to the realisation I need outside help, professional help, EMDR help for my trauma – the two major issues I have in recovery and which act as my most likely relapse triggers scenarios are both to do with trauma.
This weekend I convinced myself that my unintentional actions had indirectly upset someone in recovery.
I had not real proof of this. I was kinda paranoid about it more than anything.
My head eventually went into a tail spin as a result of thinking I may inadvertently have caused harm in another recovering person. I was full of shame and anguish as my head immediately went into catastrophic thinking, thinking the worse, that his person might take it so bad that they may even relapse, and might even die!!
My thinking was constantly trying to convince me the worse case scenario was about to happen and it would be my fault. This is called PTSD thinking.
When I as a child something terrible happened and someone caused me trauma via a life threatening situation.
I blamed myself for this trauma, convinced myself that it was somehow my fault that this had happened. This was me dealing with my helpfulness and hopelessness in the face of extreme trauma. Trying to somehow control the uncontrollable.
Somehow I could have adverted this if I had acted differently? This is trauma in a nutshell, thinking one is guilty for something beyond one’s control.
In retrospect this seems insane to think I as a child could have any control over this incident. It had nothing to do with me.
Years later this incident (and others) had burnt into my brain and my heart. When I unintentionally hurt (or otherwise think I have) who is vulnerable like someone in recovery I have this terrible reaction that they may relapse or die.
It is irrational but it is there and it has to be treated professionally.
Someone else’s adult life is not in my control, only my adult life is in my control (and I get a lot of help with that)!
In order to be in more in charge of this adult life I have to deal with that traumatised child, and via professional means.
The problem has become clear, it has become a broken record in my head. The scales have fallen from my eyes.
Action is required.
Recovery is about taking action, not thinking about taking action.
My PTSD and alcoholism got fused into one condition, although they each have different voices in my head.
There is other voices too – the trauma voice, the OCD voices, the insecure attachment voice/ the less than voice/ the not good enough voice – mostly voices of shame provoked by childhood trauma.
There is also the addict voice of the chronic malcontent, nothing is good enough and too much is never enough.
So there you have it, one definitely from the heart.
That is where recovery has to happen ultimately.
This is where I hope the still voice of recovery will eventually reside.