We humans are a lot alike, despite our many differences. One thing that most people have in common is expecting everyone to see things the same way they do. If I like something, I don’t understand why everyone else doesn’t like it, too. And if I dislike something, anyone who does not share my dislike must have a screw loose.
This human tendency is especially pronounced when it comes to religious and political beliefs. My side is the RIGHT side, and everyone else is DEAD WRONG. Since history began, people have been killing each other over their ideological beliefs. It’s still happening now, all over the world. Scary!
Another area in which we expect everyone to be like us is in our physical and mental abilities. If you can keep your house and yard clean and tidy without too much difficulty, you probably don’t understand why your neighbors don’t do the same. “They must be lazy. They are rude and thoughtless. They don’t care that their place is an eyesore, bringing down the value of the whole neighborhood.”
Of course, you would make an exception if the owner of the run-down house was 102 years old, or if her spine had been crushed in an automobile accident and she is now confined to a bed or wheelchair. In the case of a quadriplegic, because her injury is physical, you wouldn’t dream of calling her “lazy.” You certainly wouldn’t go next door and berate her for “living in the past” because the accident that paralyzed her happened “years ago.” And you would never think of telling her that she needs to forgive the drunk driver who crashed into her, forget about the accident, and focus on living in today, in order to make her paralysis magically go away!
But when it comes to invisible injuries like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD – most people really don’t seem to get it.
Fifty years ago my mother tried to gas my entire family to death. This is just one of many extreme traumas that I experienced, both as a child and also as an adult, in the abusive relationships that my insane childhood had “groomed” me for.
When I allowed comments on my blog, although the majority were affirming and kind, I also got a surprising number of comments from people who thought it was their duty to inform me that because my traumas happened so long ago, I should be over them by now.
Yes, I have come a very long way in my healing journey over the past fifty years. As a teenager and as an immature adult, I was utterly broken by my traumas. I was shattered: mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Today, I am so much better than I was years ago, the difference is like night and day. I am deeply grateful for this.
But there is still a lot of “ordinary life” that I cannot easily manage, because of my PTSD. Allowing comments on my blog is one of them. Not being on Facebook is another.
A large part of my trauma, in my childhood and in my sick adult relationships, involved verbal abuse. Until I finally got some good therapy and learned that I can walk away from abusers, I was verbally put down so much and so often, I had zero self-esteem. I’m not talking about “low” self-esteem. I had ZERO.
I was brainwashed from my earliest childhood into believing that I was a loser, I was worthless, I was unlikable, I was unlovable, I was crazy, and I had No Rights. As the scapegoat in my family of origin, after decades of being bullied by judgmental haters, I had learned to HATE MYSELF.
When I hated myself, I wanted to die… because how else could I escape ME?
Today, thank God, I know better. Today I know that I am lovable, I am loved, I have rights, and I deserve consideration, kindness, and respect, no less than any other wonderful, unique human being on this planet. It is my birthright! It is, I believe, everyone’s birthright.
And yet, although I know all these things today, I am still very tender and raw in places, like a burn victim who cannot bear the slightest touch, not even the weight of a bed sheet, on her charred skin.
Back when I was on Facebook and I allowed comments on my old PTSD blog, I became the target of trolls, bullies, haters, and religious freaks – along with a few “well-meaning” people whose criticisms were “meant to help” me, although their words still HURT – because they do not have a clue about what it is like to be me and live in my shoes.
Some of the comments that were posted, either to me or about me, were breathtaking in their cruelty and ignorance. The most hurtful comments came from people in my family of origin. Many of these comments were posted by much younger people, who hadn’t even been born when the worst of my traumas happened. And none of the hateful commenters were there to witness the traumas I endured. Yet they insist that I must be a crazy liar, because my elderly mother is “too nice” to have ever tried to gas us all to death while we slept in our beds. She goes to church! She bakes cookies! She tells jokes! She smiles! She hugs people!
Yes, and Hitler had his friends and lovers, too. (No, I am not saying that my mother was as bad as Hitler. She only tried to kill her own children, not exterminate an entire race of people.)
I couldn’t take the online bashing, as it was too much like the abuse I grew up with. So I got off of Facebook and ended my old blog. Then a year or two later, after I had healed enough, I began to blog again. But I cannot, at this present time, allow people to comment here. I wish I could, and I know that many of my readers and followers wish I allowed comments. I also know that my blog would get a lot more traffic if I did. But I literally, truly, do not have the emotional ability to handle comments, at least not at this time.
My PTSD injuries may not be visible, like the injury of a crushed spine.* But my injuries are no less real and no less crippling. Expecting me to allow comments here, after what I went through with hateful, bullying comments a couple of years ago, is about as realistic as expecting a person who is paralyzed from the waist down to run a marathon.
Like it says on the sidebar of my blog and at the bottom of most of my posts, I have disabled comments in order to focus on writing my memoir. This is true. But I have also disabled comments because I found out the hard way that if I allow them, sooner or later the trolls, the crazy haters, the fanatics, and the know-it-alls who “just want to be helpful” will be back.
My memoir would never be finished if I had to handle all of that now. It is difficult enough to write, as it is.
I love that I can still enjoy congenial online community by commenting on the blogs of other kind, gentle, and understanding people. And I also appreciate it when someone says, in response to one of my comments on another person’s blog, that they wish they could comment to me here, on my blog. I wish they could, too! I really do.
***Someone recently told me (in her reply to a compliment I left on her blog), that she stopped following my blog because, as she put it, I am “stopping the conversation” by not allowing comments. In her opinion, she said, what I am doing is “not blogging.”***
That particular blogger isn’t a hateful bully or a mean troll, as far as I can tell. She is probably just one of the ill-informed who “means well” and is “trying to help” with “constructive criticism.” But even so, I resented her judgmental attitude. Just because SHE can handle comments does not mean that EVERYONE can.
God knows I am doing the best I can at this time in my life. I am running marathons, compared to the way I was when I was at my worst, in my most broken condition!
I would like to close now with this thought: Please – let’s all try to stop judging other people for every little thing they do “differently.” Because we really don’t know what it would be like to walk around in any other person’s shoes.
God bless and Merry Christmas!
In Truth, Peace, and Love ~Linda Lee
*Although PTSD is invisible to the naked eye, numerous studies using brain imaging technologies have found that trauma physically changes the structure and function of the brain, in both animals and humans. This means that PTSD is an actual physical injury. People with PTSD are not simply “wallowing in self-pity” or “refusing to live in the present.”
Counting your blessings, focusing on positive thoughts, trying to live in the present moment, and forgiving the person who injured you may help to a point, just as these tactics can help a paralyzed person feel less miserable in his wheelchair. But it is not possible to merely “think your way” out of PTSD, just as one cannot positively think themselves out of paralysis.
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