One of the most popular topics in all my content is the problem of loneliness and isolation. I knew this was common for those of us with Childhood PTSD, but from the comments and the e-mail I’ve received from all of you, I learned that loneliness is not just common, but a core issue for a huge proportion of us.
This is part seven of my Resilience series, where I break down some of the big obstacles that stand in the way of healing Childhood PTSD, and the strengths that we can develop to overcome those obstacles. The obstacle I want to talk about today is an aspect of loneliness and isolation, that’s a little hard to define, but I call it “defendedness.”
It’s a weird word, right? What I mean is, a kind of fragility we get sometimes. We’re fragile, and we think we can’t handle being around something that bothers us, so we try to control it. We control other people by telling them what they can and can’t say around us, like “Don’t use that word.” Or we make elaborate rules that we think we need other people to follow in our company, like “Don’t make jokes in front of my friends,” “don’t eat’ (I don’t know) ham in front of me because it reminds me of this thing that upsets me…”
Do you know what I mean by fragile and controlling?
What we’re trying to do when we’re defended is not get triggered. Because for us it’s really costly to get triggered — we get dysregulated and we might lose hours or days in terms of the ability to get things done or focus. And that can seem like it makes sense, because when we’re triggered it’s hard to function, hard to be friendly, hard to go to work. So we get points for our good intentions here. And you know what? Some people will play along with our rules. But trying to keep your PTSD brain regulated by controlling other people just never quite works.
Defendedness is not a boundary, so don’t confuse the two. Defendedness is an obstacle. It’s a wall we put up. We think we’re blocking out triggers but what we block out is basically everything, including surprises, including things that will help us grow, and especially — we block out connection.
So this is a long background explaination about how we use defendedness to try to maintain some safety. But it the end it only makes us lonely.
Now here’s why defendedness was never going to make you safe. There’s no safety because putting up walls only puts in you prison. you’re never going to be able to make the world be just how you want it to be. When are you ever going to be able to get out of that prison? The future? No!
What you can do is calm the trigger. And this is what I teach in my Healing Childhood PTSD course — you can save all that energy you’re spending trying to control your environment, and instead enjoy your life by simply growing more neutral to the things that used to upset you.
Now of course.. I’m NOT saying you should be neutral in the face of abuse. We don’t tolerate abuse. We still get to say no to things and walk away from what we don’t want. But if we choose to stick around, we can be more open-minded and accepting that people are different. They’re not all like us, they don’t fit what we want and that’s OK.
When you know that, and you’re not so triggered by people having different opinions and ways of expressing themselves, you will become more appreciative of the goodness in most people, the wonder of them. When you can shift into this less defended mode of interacting, life unfolds for you, and reveals to you, what you were looking for in the first place, which is connection and meaning.
Now I know — These are the things that were taken from you when you were abused and neglected as a kid. And back then, staying safe meant defending yourself against people and life. But now, there’s a way to be more open to it all, to love and be loved defenselessly, and still keep yourself intact and safe. That’s the strength you’ll need to break through the walls you’ve put around yourself: You probably weren’t expecting me to say that — but It’s LOVE!
Imagine yourself, calm inside, with nice shiny boundaries, motivated by love for other people. I’m telling you: Increase the love! Bring the love!
And PS: Codependence is not love. Trying to make people love you is not love. Love is the energy you bring to people you encounter in this day, no matter what’s gone on. You can increase the love in the world. THIS is where your loneliness gets healed. Walk the path of love. If you want my help follow the links below. This is why we heal. And we’re doing it together.
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