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Forums / PTSD & Trauma / Old fella, same old feelings

Topic: Old fella, same old feelings

13 posts, 0 answered
  1. Slim Man
    Slim Man avatar
    6 posts
    16 June 2020

    At aged 5 I came out of hospital with a body drastically changed by polio. I was weaker, my legs wore callipers, kids much younger than me could do lots more than I could, including ride a bike faster and for longer, climb trees much more ably, beat me in running. playing footy and in fights. John, my little brother's best mate, 6 years my junior challenged me in a swimming race. He won easily. I've always felt inferior to other people, especially blokes. And feeling 'less than' turned into feeling disliked, not good enough and not fully part of the group. My physical best always fell short. My footy coach, dickhead man that he was, after an opponent strolled past me at fullback to score a try, castigated me saying, "he was your man to tackle." I failed on every physical level as I grew up, despite doing my best.

    And today, at 72 years old, I still consider I'm failing, not good enough, 'less than and inferior to' and thereby destined to remain on the fringes of life and social groups. I even feel I'm not good enough for my kids.

  2. Emmen
    Champion Alumni
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    Emmen avatar
    390 posts
    16 June 2020 in reply to Slim Man

    Hello Slim Man,

    Welcome to the forums.

    You've been through a lot, but I cannot help but admire your strength and fortitude. To have your body weakened by polio at the tender age of 5, having your growing years made difficult by the insensitivity of others...it's something that would take a toll on anyone.

    I'm glad that you have told us how you are feeling today, after all these years. You are most certainly not inferior to anyone. Physical abilities are not all that make a person. At 72 years old, you've got a wealth of life experiences that others do not. You must have a very strong character, to have dealt with this all your life and still have the courage to come and tell us how you feel.

    It's not our circumstances that make us who we are, but our choices. You are not destined to remain on the fringes of life or social groups unless you choose to remain on the fringes, whether it be for a fear of failing or because of your belief in your inferiority. So take the step to make things happen and see yourself in your best light because there is more to you than your physical self.

    Take care,
    M

    1 person found this helpful
  3. Slim Man
    Slim Man avatar
    6 posts
    16 June 2020 in reply to Emmen

    Thanks M for taking the time to write a response to my post.

    I can't write more at the moment as my emotions are very raw. I will read your response again ion the hope it will lift me from a terribly low ebb.

    Slim Man

    1 person found this helpful
  4. Emmen
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    Emmen avatar
    390 posts
    17 June 2020 in reply to Slim Man

    No worries, Slim Man. Take as much as you need and respond whenever you feel like you are able to. This space is yours to talk any time you wish to.

    M

  5. Slim Man
    Slim Man avatar
    6 posts
    25 June 2020 in reply to Emmen

    Rejection (Big R) is something I've never stopped feeling. If not the Big R , a non or ambivalent acceptance, a wondering how I'm regarded by whomsoever. I think I felt that way when I was in hospital and those all-powerful doctors deliberated on whether I could go home, or not. Or, at least I thought that's what was going on in their heads. It probably wasn't because my stay in hospital was possibly below the average number of months. Some poor kids were in hospital for two years. But the thought of my or their stay saddens me and angers me. Those bloody doctors had me in their hands as I looked up from my bed hoping for the "you can go home" words. And now, I often feel not good enough to "go home" which translates to "not good enough (NGE)".

    I might be over-thinking this but I need to write it down as a possible way of dealing with my NGE feelings. Oh how I hated those doctors - pompous, distant, up-themselves men in white coats calling the shots on my life. And I reflect back on a psychotherapist who never got close to understanding or treating the NGE feelings. So long on his couch and it's only now I, without his help I can understand my sense of non-acceptance and my expectation of rejection, which sometimes, and probably not often enough I curb the spiral which stops me fro doing anything and just waiting around to die so all of this will come to an end. And I have to curb the deluge of self-hatred which I see as the end point of feeling rejected and expecting non-acceptance.

    I don't want to be self-indulgent but I've never expressed these feelings in therapy, but they are so prominent in recent months, probably triggered by the virus and my subsequent and first time exploration of the polio virus. And the discovery of photos of a convalescent home where I was sent after my time at the Kids Hospital.

    I want to like myself more by not trying to impress people in the dumb hope that they will like me, accept me. But, I can see that no amount of my 'try-hard' behaviour will deliver what I want. I know it has to come from within. Are there any 'Learn to like myself' pills at the chemist shop?

    S M

  6. Emmen
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    Emmen avatar
    390 posts
    25 June 2020 in reply to Slim Man

    Hello S M,

    I'm glad to see you're writing back again. I hope you're feeling somewhat better these days, and that sharing your story is allowing you some relief.

    Unfortunately events from our past can haunt us in terrible ways for years and years to come. Your experience with polio has left you feeling like you are inadequate - firstly when your body appeared to fail you, and then when people around you treated you badly. Yet it is also the case that our childhood experiences can colour the world we see in a particular way. Let's go back to the hospital doctors. You felt like you were not in control of your life; rather, the doctors were in control. Because they didn't let you go home, you felt that you were not good enough to go home - a perfectly valid thing to feel when you're going through so many disappointments as you did. However, it also possible that they were thinking to themselves, "Well, this is a fighter we got here. His body may be weak, but his resolve is strong." Had you known that they were think this, you may have gone through life knowing that you were admired for your resolve. As you've said yourself, it's what you thought of the doctors' thoughts that haunted you, not what they actually thought (which you were probably not privy to). I wish they had encouraged you more back then and told you that you were a strong, resilient person. And if you doubt my assessment of you, then consider that you came round to understanding your own sense of non-acceptance and expectation of rejection all on your own. You did that, yourself. You had that strength in you to examine your own feelings and come to that understanding.

    Making a list of your NGE feelings, examining how these feelings affect your behaviour and deciding how you can address it sounds like a good way to get your thoughts in order. Unfortunately there is no 'learn to like myself' pills at the chemist shop, but this is a journey, S M. You've already started on it and if you continue down this path, you will slowly start to see the results.

    - M

  7. Slim Man
    Slim Man avatar
    6 posts
    28 June 2020 in reply to Emmen

    I really value your comments and I truly feel they carry a warmth and a heart felt concern and acknowledgement of some of those 'nasties'' that my head created in hospital.

    I came home an angry and troubled little boy and there are so many times I feel I'm still that little boy - fighting for recognition, troubled by my new body, less than other boys and unable to keep up in a world then that was very 'outdoorsy', physical and sporty. And I recall crying and my mother weeping when I told her how a boy once ridiculed described the way I walked. Even at this age now I'm conscious of the way I walk.

    I'm not at the low ebb I was when I first wrote on the BB Forum. Your words have helped and taking time out to write and reflect has been of some help too.

    Nonetheless, I find it hard see myself as strong and tough to reach where I am now as some kind of resilient survivor. I find it hard to acknowledge what you see. Maybe I should stop letting the 'other stuff' get in the way of recognizing the 'wins'. Thanks for your words of support

    SM

  8. Emmen
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    Emmen avatar
    390 posts
    30 June 2020 in reply to Slim Man

    Hello SM,

    I'm asking you to change everything you believed to be true about yourself, and that's not an easy task. I have faith that you will slowly start to see yourself in a more positive light. Give it time. My well wishes are with you.

    If you ever need support or if you simply want to talk about how you're feeling, this thread is all yours. I'd love to hear how you're getting on :)

    Take care,
    M

  9. hob2
    hob2 avatar
    43 posts
    5 July 2020 in reply to Emmen

    "..feel I'm still that little boy - fighting for ..."

    Love that boy; hes yours to look after ! try hard for him.

    1 person found this helpful
  10. Slim Man
    Slim Man avatar
    6 posts
    6 July 2020 in reply to hob2

    The little boy who came home from hospital, forever changed, has NEVER loomed so large as now. I still cry my eyes out for him. I was so lost, so bewildered and have a feeling the self-hatred I feel now had its beginning back then. And the anger. And the sadness that trumped all the aggressive behaviour towards teachers. I lost every round and usually ended up crying, not solely because of the pain from the physical abuse. I cried because of terrible hurt I carried with me. That little boy who was hurting inside was easily reduced to tears and when Barry physically abused me I cried because I couldn't do anything about it. I just had to cop it. I often cried, embarrassing myself.

    How to love that kid now, I don't know. I have a clear picture of him. I understand him. I feel for him. And how he tried to compensate I fully get. But it was never going to work for him.

    I need more guidance on how I relate to this kid in callipers whose tendency was to lash out. And then break down into prolonged sobbing - when all else had failed and the teachers and the stronger kids had won 'hands down'. He was a good kid, but he was also lost and wishing he was someone else.

    SM

    Thanks for your continued help.

  11. Sophie_M
    Community Moderator
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    Sophie_M avatar
    6652 posts
    6 July 2020 in reply to Slim Man
    Hi Slim Man,

    It's great to see that you've found some comfort in some of the words of our community members. We're so sorry to hear that you have been through so much. We understand that coping with these experiences must be overwhelming. We think you are so strong.

    If you ever feel that you need to talk these experiences through with a counsellor, it might be worth trying MensLine. MensLine Australia is a free 24/7 telephone and online counselling service for men with emotional health or relationship concerns. You can contact them on 1300 78 99 78 or https://mensline.org.au/

    If you would like to speak to a counsellor about experiences of childhood trauma, you can speak with a Blue Knot Helpline trauma counsellor for support on 1300 657 380 (Monday - Sunday between 9am - 5pm AEST) - https://www.blueknot.org.au/

    Please feel free to keep reaching out here and keeping us updated on your journey whenever you feel up to it.
  12. Slim Man
    Slim Man avatar
    6 posts
    20 July 2020

    So much has become obvious to me in the last few weeks. And all because it was written about so thoroughly in a book about the impact of polio on kids. It's never been so stark and the honesty of this writer, her decision to write so realistically about this topic is what has triggered my recent episodes of sadness about what I lived thru daily in a world that I could participate in only partly. I wanted to be like Mac and Cliff. I wanted to have legs like Willsy and shoulders and chest that allowed Brian to win every swimming race he entered. I just wanted to be normal. Nobody ever knew, except possibly my Mum how humiliated I felt time and again when physical prowess was needed and I wasn't up to it. It was so goddam lonely after a race at the athletic or swimming carnivals each year. Nobody teased me, as far as I can remember, but I felt kind of lonely.

    I understand more than ever my my abiding feeling of not being good enough which has stayed with me all of my life. I recognise it in other people, too. Or, rather I interpret their behaviour in light of my own experience. Recently, i watched two young blokes sparring in a boxing ring. One was vastly superior to the other. I had to leave; I couldn't bear to watch one guy struggling to match the higher standard of his opponent. I felt so sorry for the 'lesser' skilled fella I just had to leave. He tried hard; he was brave; but the look I saw on his face I interpreted as fear, failing to cope, hopelessness, sadness. All my interpretation, of course, but I understand my response more than I ever have. I cry when I write this stuff, but I feel I need to write it. But it has to stop soon. I understand so, so much now since I've started to write it. I hope it brings change in me somehow, a change that basically makes me feel better about myself.

  13. Emmen
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    Emmen avatar
    390 posts
    22 July 2020 in reply to Slim Man

    Hello again Slim Man,

    To find a book that you can relate to so well sounds almost like the work of fate. Along with your sadness has come a greater understanding of what you have gone through, and in revisiting those memories, I hope you see things in a different light. It's not you who are deficient in any way, but rather, your circumstances have been difficult. It must feel less lonely knowing that someone out there has penned this honest book that mirrors your experiences.

    You are changing. It may not be an instant change, but with every new understanding, with every new bit of knowledge, you've started the process. And that's something you need to be proud of. I certainly am proud of you for doing this.

    Take care,
    M

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