Broken Legs

Right now, I’m feeling really messed up.

I know a lot of trauma survivors–mostly online, but some in real life, too.  And right now, I feel like all of them have their shit way more together than I do.  I’m not talking about external stuff like jobs and so forth–I think I’m doing decent with that stuff, all things considered.  I feel like I’m way behind everyone else at recovering emotionally, and I feel like I’ll never catch up because I’m much slower, too.  I see people who are able to be much more compassionate toward themselves, see themselves as worthwhile, believe they deserve things, and so forth.  People who’ve been in treatment for far less time than I have, people with worse or more extensive trauma histories than mine.

And I think I MUST be faking it.  These other people are REAL survivors, and they’re getting better much faster than me–so my problems aren’t real.  It’s like my family keeps saying, I just fake all these symptoms so I don’t have to grow up, get a job, and take care of myself.  That seems like the only logical explanation for why other trauma survivors get better but I don’t.

It’s not the only explanation, though.  The other explanation is that I’m more broken, for some reason, and there’s no hope of ever fixing myself.  And that is too scary to think about.  I’d rather just be faking it.  If I’m faking it, I can just stop.

This turned into a huge crisis while I was at Sheppard Pratt.  I honestly couldn’t tell what reality was, and that was terrifying.  It happened when my therapist wanted me to start challenging/rewriting/breaking some of my internal rules.  I think that’s what’s happening now, too.  I had therapy homework over the weekend that would’ve REALLY broken the rules.  I didn’t do it.  But now I’m freaking out (actually, it’s probably some of the kid parts) because she’s going to be mad at me for not doing it.

My therapist at Sheppard Pratt told me to think of this as a symptom.  Either denial is the symptom of trauma/DID, or the faking it is a symptom that something else is wrong.  “Either way, it means you need help,” she said.  I’m trying to frame it in those terms now, but it’s not making me feel much better.  I’m crying right now, and I don’t even know why.

When I was hospitalized once, years ago, I remember a group therapy session.  One patient said she didn’t feel like she should talk because what was going on for her wasn’t as bad as what other people were dealing with.  Another patient said, “Imagine if you and me were in a car wreck.  I’ve got two broken legs, and you’ve got one.  Just because I have two broken legs, that doesn’t mean your one broken leg doesn’t hurt.  Yours is still broken, and you still deserve to get help for it.”

I’m trying to have that kind of compassion toward myself, but to be honest, I just can’t.  I could have compassion for almost anyone else, but not myself.

I wish I could stop crying.  I don’t want to cry in therapy tomorrow.



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4 responses to “Broken Legs

  1. One thing to consider is you know all the way through how broken you are, but what you see of everyone else is exactly how much brokenness others are willing to display in public. So, it’s possible that some very together people are not quite as together as they seem. Also, how broken you are isn’t your fault. It has something to do with what other people have done to you. It also has something to do with circumstances when you were young that you had no control over, so opportunities to develop resilience. Everything from whether you were in sports, had good teachers, or had a family pet made a difference. But those are often things kids don’t choose. Our parents sign us up for Little League or make a point of letting us know it will be too much trouble, we are slotted into whoever’s class fits the schedule, and begging for a dog only gets you so far. And that’s just a start. So healing may be easier for some people than others. Good for them. I’m glad everyone’s life doesn’t suck as much as mine has. For me, it made an enormous difference that I was placed into care when I was a toddler. I had no control over that, and it’s pure luck that I ended up in the foster family I did, and I was probably lucky that I was placed at a crucial developmental stage. If it had been later, it might not have had the same effect. But my sister was not placed into care with me. I assume she was left with my parents. And she, I suspect, is far more broken than I ever was. I got lucky–and it’s still been decades of hard work to get where I am. Whether healing is easier or harder for you than someone else is not your fault, but if it’s harder then I can see why you would be sad about that. Take care.

  2. ~meredith

    it’s really hard to learn compassion for self when it’s the same self that got shit on day after day, after day… just because. it’s something that has to be cultivated, but that’s really hard to understand in the middle of feeling really shitty. recognition is a badge, too. seems you’re on that one, right now.

    stay tight.

  3. I find people who have it “together” on the outside often have a harder time on the inside. I personally struggle with both. I think you are brave just for surviving. I have a hard time with self compassion too, but I really think you are doing well and I hope you could maybe accept it for someone else.

  4. The broken legs analogy is a really useful one. All too often I beat myself up and believe whatever my struggles may be, they are nothing compared to what others are going through. I really felt for you, reading this. I realise I’m reading this months after it was posted, but I hope you do find (or have found, or are on the way to finding) that compassion for yourself. You deserve it.

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