So as of the last year or so, after quite a few years of hard work and research that i've put in, I've reached a conclusion that I am suffering from what's called C-PTSD. I certainly have a narcissist (or someone that suffers from narcissism) in my life, and that person is my father (and others in the immediate family, like aunt, uncles, grandfather, etc.). During this research i've conducted, I stumbled upon the work of a psychologist by the name of Pete Walker, who has found a possible explanation for the way that a lot of us may be. His research has deduced that during childhood, a lot of us in the world end up developing maladaptive defense mechanisms in response to trauma and stress. These are evolutionary responses we've learned according to what he mentions. He labels these, the 4F's. We know the first 2 (the way he labels them are a different context as opposed to what it's generally known as) as fight (Narcissism or Aggression) or flight (Avoidant and/or Obsessive Compulsive). The other 2 are what's called fawn (People pleasing, or Codependence) and freeze (Dissociation). Normally, when one grows up in an environment that allows them to be secure, all of these traits would be used during specific situations. However, when a child is suffering prolonged stress over a lengthy period of time, they will eventually "choose" one or 2 of these 4 responses and it will become the dominant response, regardless of the situation.
While I was always very in touch with my emotions, I definitely struggled with finding a sense of self, and from as early as 9 years old, this was when I became hyper-aware of my indifference. I was aware before that something was wrong, it never really hit me what it was exactly that I could form into coherent words in my brain. I had all these different emotions, from sadness due to the fact that I couldn't reach my parents expectations, envy that my younger cousin (Golden Child) had more loving treatment from that family which was very apparent to me (which caused me to hold resentment towards him), and my fathers bewildering behavior that I didn't question very much. I was aware that this was not normal, but somehow I still normalized it. "I'm sure all dads act this way sometimes" I rationalized to myself. However, my moms complaints about him still kept me aware of something being off.
But anyway, so throughout this point, I'm pretty sure that my first response became dissociation (apparently I had done it since I was very, very young), since I had nowhere to run, and I was forced to sit through the multiple-hour lectures and listen to every word. He would ask me if I heard what he said, and my mind couldn't seem to process it all, and eventually I would end up dissociating..which would then make it even harder for me as he would ask me questions about what he just said. If I couldn't repeat it verbatim and tell him what it means, then he would repeat it again. And again. Until I forcibly got the message. Now, while this isn't something I would consider "abuse", it definitely is an example of a defense mechanism to stress I developed. This doesn't go into the hurtful things he's said and done to not only me, but my mother as well. But this is an example of something that a lot of people don't normally deal with, either because their parents beat them instead when they didn't reach an expectation and/or did something wrong, OR because their parents were a lot lighter on their children, as they knew that there were some things they couldn't comprehend yet. My father had ridiculous expectations of me, forcing me to read chapters of huge adult books that I couldn't comprehend (Shit like Ancient Aliens and the Anunnaki/Nibiru theories, imagine being around the age of 7-8 trying to read this) due to the accelerated vocabulary, in which he would then proceed to ask me what I learned from it. Rinse, repeat. And there were moments where if my mother didn't step in and tell him enough is enough, I would be stuck in this brainwashing process.
And again, these are small examples. There's bigger ones that I won't get into. Eventually due to a lot of these stresses I experience from the pressure my father, as well as the strange family dynamics in the other immediate family members, and bullying a few years later, I eventually developed the flight response. I went from somewhat social, to completely Cluster A Personality Disorders (Schizoid, Paranoid, and Schizotypal), which slowly evolved into Cluster C (Avoidant, Obsessive Compulsive). In simpler terms, whatever fragment of self I had, disappeared ever since. It wasn't until a few months ago that I realized my father had fit the symptoms of the fight response, and even though he wasn't physically abusive, the aggression always presented itself when he was angry (as well as the more passive signs). I also learned a few weeks ago that I have a problem with intimacy, which I didn't even realize. I always felt that because I desired it, that I wasn't fearful of it, and that I would have no issues. Apparently this is also part of that attachment disorder, and I happen to fit the category of the Fearful-Avoidant, which I wasn't entirely sure of, but after some long research I can certainly confirm based off of bittersweet experiences I've had with people, that this is most definitely true for me. So at the moment, I can relate to the hybrid that Pete Walker describes, the Flight-Freeze. And it also describes how I feel my enneagram tritype mentions it, 4-5-1, "The Researcher"..
This information was eye opening. A new way to see myself and others that I once thought were an enigma to me. I finally see that I can't find my sense of self because I never truly had one..I created a false self based on the pressures of my environment around me, as my true emotions would be unacceptable to these people. To assert my boundaries, present my emotions and still be following their form of "respect" would have been an impossible combination, as presenting my true self is exactly what they don't want to see. It would automatically be a form of disrespect. Scrutiny would be all around, in a never-ending argument of people that can't even see that they're as brainwashed as I. As a result of all this social conflict, I developed so many maladaptive tendencies and unhealthy behaviors that i'm finally able to see as wrong. However, since it's currently impossible for me to get therapy or help, (as my family is convinced i'm just making excuses to have a reason to leave school, which is not the case, I couldn't care less about that), i've been trying to take the healing process into my own hands, first by learning. That's all i've been doing so far, and eventually I will understand all I need to know to take action. Whether i'm HSP or not, i'm not sure, as I still question even now what exactly is distinct about an HSP..(I feel I would fit the category but i'm still skeptical of it).
Can anyone relate? I'm curious..this kind of information is important in that it can change many lives and open peoples eyes to the truth. It took me 7 years to figure out what is wrong with me and where exactly it came from, and knowing that there's some kind of answer out there brings my mind somewhat at ease.
If you want to read the details on how C-PTSD works and how Pete Walker describes the process, look at his page here. :)
Pete Walker, M.A. Psychotherapy