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Hi Lady. I've seen you on the PTSD board and others trying to read, learn and educate yourself. I applaud you for this. With PTSD, if you aren't willing to do the hard work, it doesn't work. I get very frustrated with people who want instant cures and don't want to work at therapy as you have probably seen in my posts. PTSD is one of the toughest things to overcome. Some therapists will even tell you it's manageable but not curable. Rubbish. I've worked my ass off and I'm doing really well...and that is according to the therapists I've worked with who said I should not have survived let alone done so well.

That said, I want to talk about templates and I'll use myself as an example. Don't feel you need to talk about your trauma but I am fine talking about mine.

I was abused severely as a young child. By the age of 4(3 days after my 4th birthday to be precise)I attempted suicide for the first time. I had been so badly abused by both parents on my birthday that I wanted to go away and never come back. My mother took me to the beach(northeast Atlantic) where I went into the water and didn't come out. I stood and waited for the waves to take me away. I loved the water and wanted to go live there forever. I thought I could become a mermaid.

But a part of me wanted my mother to rescue me. I wanted her to show me how much she loved me by picking me up and wrapping me in a warm towel and carrying me up the beach. I stood in that cold water, shivering and waiting. I finally sat down crying, my lips turning blue and still she ignored me. Finally a lifeguard came over and picked me up and took me to my mother who, quite embarrassed, yelled at me and told me to lie down in the sun and warm up. I was not rescued and in fact, I was further abused and abandoned.

Fast forward to my adult years. Whenever I got into an intimate relationship I subconsciously feared I would be abused and/or abandoned. So I ended up unconsciously testing my significant others to see if they would leave me or abuse me. I always hoped they would rescue me just like my mother didn't.

The problem was, the person I really wanted to rescue me was mom. So I would make the test one they would always fail, just as she did. I was never really aware of any of this until it was pointed out to me over and over and over again. I just kept replaying that day on the beach in every different form it could take, but at it's heart, was the beach all over again.

I even did it again just last year with a therapist. I knew I had to leave him due to insurance and so this fear of abandonment just came flooding back and I did it again. It was one of the first things my new therapist and I worked on.

He was the one who told me to think of it as a template. I do a lot of crafts and so I use templates for scrapbooking and painting and stenciling and all sorts of stuff. It's simply a pre-done plan to follow. And the abuse I went through set me up with pre-planned behavior. I was abused and abandoned and expect deep inside that everyone will do it to me.

So how does this apply to you or does it? I don't know. Can you identify anyone in your past who has made you feel the way you feel now? Did someone abandon you, physically or emotionally? Did someone hurt you so you want to hurt back? Are you replaying your fears like I did? If you can identify the person who hurt you the most and then identify the "template" for the behavior, then you can recognize it and stop it.

Someone had to hurt you a lot to have you doing it as an adult repeatedly. But knowing what you are doing is half the battle...more than half. You've got that part. Figuring out the origin of the behavior, for me, was the key to changing it.

When I start to feel that fear coming on, I have to tell myself....I can't go back and make my mother rescue me and I have to stop trying.

Who didn't rescue you?

thank you for responding.

Yes, I dont have a problem writing about it either, I too was a victim of child abuse, my mother was physically abusive and she is clinically depressed and is OCD, when I was about 7 (2nd grade), she had accidently gave me a black eye because I had gone outside and dirtied myself and fell asleep in the living room. Well, the next day she sent me to school and obviously the teacher asked what happened to me and I told her because I didnt really know any better and a few days later my teacher sent me to the nurse and basically, I never saw that teacher again, the cops came and took my brother and I and we were in foster care and all I can remember is the loneliness I felt and well, when I described this to my therapist he tried EMDR, because he said it was a good memory for us to work on.

So I suppose we have this in common, I too am recreating something and driven by the fear of being abandoned and left alone.

I guess i feel this way because I missed my mother, she wasn't all bad and she was all we had, my brother would spend hours talking on the phone telling her to come and take us back and she would just tell him that she would but I never said anything, but I would always cry at night because I missed her and I hated where we were, i often thought that the abuse was better than being where I was now and that I would try to not make a mess (she was OCD about everything being clean) ever again so she wouldnt have a reason to get upset with us.

I think when we were returned it was one of the happiest days of my life.

but ever since I started dating the same happenes over and over again, I behave the exact same way, and it drives everyone away. And I also take part in this testing, I test how much they love me and how much they care, and everyday it's a new test just to see if they really care of if they will leave and it's so stressful. I even think to myself "if they say this or dont say or if they text now or dont text now blah blah blah" it's one big giant test, and no they dont pass, and it just hurts me more and more.

The last guy that this happened with, he came back after 5 months and I thought I could be different this time, I thought I could, but it's become apparent that I cant, I thought about 12 step programs for the unhealthy behavior, I've learned that this is my drug of choice, I hate alcohol and I dont do drugs, but I'm just as much of an addict.

I really just need to speak to someone who can guide, because I feel so alone in this right now.

honestly, I didnt know, until you pointed it out that this could all be because of the PTSD, I was only aware that it caused me bad episodes (sometimes). Like if I would be talking to him and he got upset and hung up one me i'd go crazy, crying like a child with this enourmous amount of fear in my gut that I just didnt know what to do, but it didnt happen too often, but maybe all of this is fueled by the same fear.
Yes, lady....this is PTSD.

You have the fear of being hit but also the guilt of reporting it. Then the extra trauma of being ripped away from your mother and the guilt of watching your brother cry.

Template......fear of abuse....(need to know if they will hurt you)....leads to fear of abandonment......(will they leave if they hurt me or I hurt them?)....leads to guilt/depression for pushing them away.

This is what you keep repeating. You test to see if, like your mom, they'll hurt you because you need to see if the hurt will result in abandonment and then you feeling guilty for having caused it........because you find out it does cause it....if they don't hurt you, you hurt them and then they abandon you...and then you feel guilty because you started it.....and it just goes in circles.

So how do you even start to stop the cycle? Probably the first step is to realize that you shouldn't feel guilty for telling the teacher. You didn't know the consequences. It sounds like an over reaction by child services. That was not your fault. It was your mother's fault for hitting you, not you for having the black eye and telling the truth about it. That is the easy part(like any of this is easy).

And when you get into a relationship.....get to know them and then, be honest. Tell them what you might do and ask them to help you not do it. Tell them you might push them into hurting you or you might do it to them. If you can be open and honest with yourself and them, then you might get a partner in recognizing it. Work with a therapist in examining your own behavior looking for that trigger...what triggers you to hurt them or trigger the testing behavior. Often, something, like OCD behavior? might trigger your behavior. If that seems to be the trigger, find people who don't have OCD at all.

Here is what I am learning is the most important thing of all.....don't feel embarrassed or guilty or ashamed of any of your behavior no matter how hurtful it/was is or how negative or game playing or anything else. It is a pattern you developed as a child in order to cope with the situation you were in. It was how you as a child survived. It was good for that reason. Very good.

But as you've grown older, that excellent behavior that kept you alive no longer is needed. And it's messing up your life because no matter how much you test....those significant others aren't your mom and you can't undo the black eye or anything else.

Since we all hang onto "survival skills", it's hard to let go of but these survival skills are turning into killing skills....killing your adult life. So it's time to replace them with adult skills.

This is what therapy is about. Not rehashing the past abuse, but identifying the no longer needed survival skills and replacing them with adult skills that bring happiness and togetherness.

If I can do it....anyone can. But you have to be brutally honest with yourself(which you are already doing) and then particularly kind to yourself because you were just a kid and trying to stay alive.

It's tough work but so worth it.

gentle hugs...............Jenny

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