I know all caps is shouting on line but this next behavior would be all capitals.
“I have trouble accepting any kind of love because growing up, it was always given with strings attached or used a tool for manipulation. I don’t trust that others have the capacity to love me unconditionally, so I hide away parts of myself, never allowing myself to experience the vulnerability that comes with being loved, chosen and accepted by others.”
How did I change this? I haven’t. I toned it down a lot. I expected my counselor to talk to me about learning how to trust others. He didn’t. Instead, he taught me to love and trust myself. Yup, you read that right. He taught me to LOVE and TRUST MYSELF. Mind you this was difficult task. I viewed myself as unlovable. I knew the darkness that lay within. How could I love all that yuck? My counselor took several different approaches. He taught me that I am not my abuse. My past does NOT define me. I am my own person and I can trust my judgement. Do you see where this is going? When I trust my own judgement I recognize when someone is smoothing talking me and using kind words to manipulate me. I miss the cues from time to time but I am a work in progress. I learned to share a little, if that is accepted then I share more. I also was taught boundaries. Not every nice person is safe to share my story. He also had me watch two of Brene Browns videos. I keep this link in resources. Every few years I watch them again.
Brene Brown TED talks on shame and vulnerability. https://www.ted.com/speakers/brene_brown
As I see myself as a lovable caring person, I accept others that see me the same way. It was not what I was expecting in the least.
Another thing I do to increase trust in myself is take Karate lessons. I will say up front, not all karate teachers are the same. Some have that old killer instinct and they themselves are abusers. Fortunately, my teacher understands PTSD. He’s never explained why he understands, but he does. My first melt down in class when I sobbed for almost 10 minutes he didn’t say a word. When I came back the next week I started apologizing. He stopped me mid sentence, “You have nothing to apologize for.” Wow. It was an amazing moment. Interestingly, his acceptance of my crying jag, helps me not to melt down. I know I can if I need to but it is not big deal one way or another. I spent 4 years in karate class and I love it. I believe it has done more to help me trust myself than any other one thing. I have to be able to control my movements. I push myself to do things that simply were never on my list of things to do at my age. Yes, I can do a standing roll. I started karate class as a suggestion from another PTSD article I read. I didn’t know how or why it would work but I was willing to give it a try. If you choose to try karate, meet with the teacher in advance to make sure they are willing to take on the challenges of PTSD.
Learning to love and trust myself I more easily see when others love and trust me. It is awesome.