The Indigo Wombat (indigowombat) wrote,
The Indigo Wombat

Traumatization Trajectory

The trajectory of my development was such that my infancy and pre-schooling years were spent in an uncommonly safe, nurturing environment, followed by a few years that were still safe, but detached rather than nurturing, where I was mostly left to my own devices, then an abrupt shift into a world that I was entirely unprepared for, where safety was no longer guaranteed.

I still had an innate sense that the world ought to be a safe place, but I was traumatized by repeated experiences of situations that became abruptly and unexpectedly dangerous, with no warning that I could detect.  I tried to learn to be on my guard and anticipate when such a threat might be on the horizon, but the warning signals, when I could detect them at all, didn't significantly stand out as particularly more likely than other, more benign interpretations of the situation.  I would be told that I should have anticipated these sudden, hostile events, that the signs should have been clear, and sometimes the signs that were pointed out to me were, in retrospect, ideas that I had noticed and considered but that I hadn't had any particular reason to think were a more likely interpretation of my surroundings than a more benign and sensible evaluation.

I had two choices open to me, given the experience and skills and abilities at my disposal.  Remain ever-vigilant, dismissing no possibility of sudden social danger, nerves constantly on edge, or relax and trust my sense that the world was basically a safe place and things would be okay, then be repeatedly traumatized by sudden, unexpected events where my enviornment became confusing and hostile.  I went back and forth, staying vigilant as best I could, especially in environments that were more frequently dangerous and surprising, but I would be told that I was worrying over nothing, letting my imagination get the best of me, being entirely too paranoid.  And it was draining and I didn't have the energy to maintain it.  But if I let myself trust that I was just being paranoid, and I would be safe this time, and I could rely on the reassurances from others that nothing unexpected or unpredictable would happen, then just when I let myself truly relax and feel free and happy, I would once again be blindsided by some random eruption of hostility around me that I had either failed to anticipate or failed to take seriously as a possibility.

This set the pattern for my entire life going forward from that time, a series of nested larger and smaller cycles of safety and trauma, paranoia and trust.  At my core, I'm still unable to shake my belief that the world is a fundamentally safe and benign place, and everything really will be all right.  But I've been traumatized to the point of psychological disability by these repeated experiences of sudden and unexpected hostility just when I truly allow myself to feel safe and relaxed and let my guard down.  My body and brain and biochemistry can't handle this level of vigilance.  I want to relax.  I want to feel safe.  I want to trust.  But I'm traumatized, and hurt, and exhausted.  I just want this all to stop.  I want it to be okay for me to be me, and to be able to trust my sense of the world as a benevolent place.  I'm tired of this pattern.  I want a new one.  But what are my options?
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