One of the struggles of CPTSD and PTSD is Black and White thinking. Bad is BAD and Good is good and nothing in between. There is no such thing as sort of right. Perfectionism or else and you don’t want to know what ‘or else’ is going to be. My counselor spent many sessions trying to see that all things are not falling into a black or a white category. He wanted me to understand that life is more of a continuum.
Cleaning up one of my messes I found this quote.
Things are not false if they’re not true all the time.
Things are not true if they’re not false all the time.
True and False are often found to be on a continuum (often true of often false) is a more accurate construct.
This was not a one time lesson. I wanted everything neat and tidy none of this shades of gray garbage…..Right is right and wrong is wrong and none of this right is sometimes a bunch of lefts.
A computer works in absolutes. One way. On or Off. A set of choices yes or no. Makes choices very fast but it still can only answer yes and no. I worked with computers for 15 years. I was comfortable with their insistence of not putting a space in the wrong place. I was raised with this type of tyranny so it felt comfortable.
I remember taking a personality/intelligence test that I was very frustrated it asked hundreds of questions that wanted a yes or no answer. The questions were NOT yes or no questions.
Example, “Would you talk with someone while you waited in the bank line?” My answer, MAYBE. If I felt uncomfortable with the person I probably wouldn’t make eye contact. If the person initiated a conversation I might or might not pretend I can’t hear them. Or if I do feel comfortable, I might chatter away and I become the annoying person in line. One time the bank teller was chatting with me and she asked me how my day was….standard chit-chat for customers. I told her I was baking bread. She stated she wish she knew how. The recipe is from my aunt and super easy. I went home typed up a copy and then went back and gave it to the teller. Boy was she surprised. She was just chatting and I actually listened to her and acted on her spoken desire. I look back now and realize, she was probably just chatting and had no intention of baking bread ever. So sometimes I will chat with people in line and sometimes I won’t. But the person giving the test wanted a Yes or NO answer. I felt frustrated because if she wanted a yes/no answer she should ask a yes/no question.
I worked to learn about gray….I also learned that just because something is true sometimes does NOT automatically make it true all the time.
My childhood was packed with lies and half truths I wanted a nice neat tidy way to categorize everything. My counselor told me, “Good luck with that.” Life is not neat and tidy. Somethings are true because of that person’s perspective or experience. Somethings are false all the time but not always. It was so frustrating. I still feel very muddled trying to figuring things out.
Continuum from light to dark – truth to false – real to imaginary
I spent almost a year taking hundreds of pictures of gray…still not sure I totally understand gray or some people write grey.