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What Someone Living with Complex PTSD Wishes You Knew

What Someone Living with Complex PTSD Wishes You Knew

Living with Complex PTSD (CPTSD) is never easy. There are hurdles to jump and bullets to dodge, and trust is always a “thing.” Crawling outside the confines of isolation long enough to trust and connect with other people is not always an enjoyable experience. The risks will always be great, and scary and daunting and will sometimes literally hurt.

Just beyond contentment, sits a nagging suspicion that relationships are charitable, indentured or malignant; even when it doesn’t necessarily parallel reality. Emotion and Intellect are often opponents in the fight for sanity, stability, and control.

Around every corner lurks the menacing fear of opportunity — someone you care about may see those ugly things inside of you and leave. Trust is, and may always a “thing,” and it’s sometimes embarrassing how much extra attention, patience and time you need. 

There are hurdles to jump and bullets to dodge, and trust is always a “thing.”

You feel guilty for the way you are, even though you know it’s not your fault, and don’t allow many people “in.” When you do, it’s not ever simple. Sometimes you wonder what scares you more — the prospect of being loved or rejected.

Sometimes you feel like a burden to those who love you. You understand how irrational your fears may seem to others, but have no choice because you must honor and placate your past. You’re cautiously making the rounds, and sometimes that’s exhausting enough for one day without actual cause for alarm.

You want to feel safe and secure and you wish, more than anyone, it was that easy. You constantly work to find balance between your own boundaries and the needs of others; which is often like stapling Jello to a wall. It doesn’t always stick not matter how hard you try — no matter how much you want it to. You may hate and or abuse yourself with alcohol and other substances, food, self-harm, or by other means, and have absolutely no idea how to answer when people ask why, because you genuinely don’t know. 

You wonder sometimes if you’re even worth the effort others are so willing to put into being close to you, and you loathe how often you need reassurance that they’re all in; that this is what love looks like. 

It is not easy to love someone living with Complex PTSD.

There are hurdles to jump and bullets to dodge, and trust is always a “thing.”

You may be pushed away when you get too close and met with anger when you take a step back. There will be confusion and mixed signals; whole weeks of being sent to voicemail for fear of connection or apologies. Some days you’ll reach out into a dark empty space where this person used to be, and indifferently asked to wait there until they return.

This love will be different than any love you’ve experienced. You may at times wonder if you’re doing more harm than good by unconditionally supporting such bizarre behavior. There will be days you want to walk away and other times you want to run. You may question whether this person you’re loving can even feel or appreciate it. You may get tired of reassuring and reiterating the fact that you’re still here.

It will be exhausting. There are very few people with the patience and determination to break down walls and make so much space for someone else’s pain and healing process without pushing. It will be difficult not to forget you’re job is never to fix them. Your job, if you choose to accept it, is to love them while they’re broken.

If you are one of these people, please know your kindness keeps us going in ways you will never fully understand. You hold a piece of our heart we don’t share with many, and we will be forever grateful for the safe space you hold it in.

“It is not our job to fix people. It is our job to love them while they’re broken.” – Julie Maida

Thank you for offering the space to be messy, fearful, and exactly who we are and need to be moment to moment. Thank you for making it safe for us to need you and for being a sturdy place for us to lean without fear of falling over. Thank you for showing up in all the ways you do to and giving that extra time and patience without shaming us for needing it.

You will never fully understand what your presence means to us, and a whole lifetime will never be enough time to explain. Knowing you’re there makes it a bit easier to knock on padlocked doors and trudge through.

Having you beside us, as we walk through and sort the broken pieces to find the person we know is there somewhere, is a comfort beyond the ability of my words to express.

We really can’t imagine what we would do without you. We’re so grateful everyday we don’t have to. We love you a thousand times more than we may ever feel comfortable telling you. The ability to trust in that love is often our only saving grace.

If you or someone you know is suffering with PTSD, please follow this link and connect with the wonders of trauma informed/focused therapies to find some relief. 


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