Hey - I am actively participating in a face to face session for partners of SA survivors. The things that I am learning definitely apply to me as well as we are examining a model of "trauma response" that there is an overload of anxiety that results in all kinds of weird and wild swings between extremes of mood, perception, thought, behaviour, etc.
While I am there and learnign supposedly for my partner, I am finding more about myself than anything. I have come to a recent "discovery" about myself, as I am also a trauma and abuse survivor. This may have some merit to people here. So here goes.
One thing I have just been learing about myself is the distinction between WHO I really am and what I do in response to trauma. For years, I have been the biggest drama queen - over reacting, screaming, crying, clinging, etc. I have turned many people against me because of this behaviour. But recently, over the past few years, now that am in a much healthier place and space (mentally, physically, emotionally, financially, etc.) I have noted a major shift in my own behaviour.
This has brought up the thoughts on how I and my partner respond to trauma. My fiance (who is an introvert by nature), when threatened, shuts down, becomes cold, becomes eerily "in control" and unempathetic. I go the other way (and I am an extrovert - i dont know if there is a correlation??).
One thing that happens is that when we are in such a "state" its very easy for others to see us in this state and think "this is who you are". I was in my trauma state for so long (living at home) that I started to think that this is who I was, which was reinforced by my own family (the source of my trauma).
But am I really that way? No. EVERY animal, when cornered (perceived or real) acts strange - cats hiss and scratch, dogs bark and bite, horses kick and run, humans either lash out OR cave in, or waver between the two - but does that mean we are all nasty animals? NO we are reacting to threat - either perceived or real.
I guess, ok I just had this insight, is that I think a major key to trauma and abuse recovery to re-learn to perceive the world differently - as it really is rather than what our minds have taught us when we view it through a victim's lens.
That we have to learn that the world is not as scary as we have learned it to be, that we are no longer helpless little children letting the big bad world make decisions for us and abuse us, but that we are active, vital adults, that we are key players in our own lives. At that point we become survivors rather than victims.