This webinar on complex trauma from childhood really had a realization hit me hard, a realization that I had already came to grips with, but sort of forgot as I've begun to re-appropriate my draconic self into my 'new' personality:
My draconic self is the identity I formed in a state of dissociation, to escape my everyday reality of not knowing when I'd be safe, an attempt to make an identity that was outside of the world where I had no full sense of self. I was able to show how strong and how angry I was in my draconic form. I was the controller of my own world, and could literally beat senseless anyone who posed a threat. The stories that I used to write, including that excerpt from 'Trial by Fire' are great examples of that. Other short stories would mostly circle around violently transforming into my draconic self and laying waste to other people, those who mocked me or who tied me down (sometimes literally, in the cases of some hapless scientists who had brought me in for observation/experiments). I had a looot of anger towards other people, a lot of resentment, and sometimes even lashed out in reality, at my classmates in elementary school, and sometimes even at animals, to which I am forever ashamed.
However, in my dreams, I always would be shown how impotent I truly was. I was never my draconic self, but my human self trying to act like as if I were my draconic half, snarling and clawing ineffectively at my attackers. They would just laugh at me, sometimes then attack me or keep holding me down, and usually the dream would end there, with me feeling powerless to enact any sort of change. My dreams also chronically have elements of escaping from something, being trapped, being chased, being run down by someone or something, and never fully getting away, but never being caught.
Now I sort of understand why it's been difficult to change how I feel about my draconic self. When I approach her as a concept, the connection to my past is inescapable.
On the idea of 'sense of self', my perusal into the machinations of complex trauma has helped me shine a light on my own incapacitated self identity. I've always struggled with deciding things for myself, which is why I do so well with commissions, partly why I rarely draw anything for myself (outside of just no inspiration whatsoever), and why I often wish I were just working a factory job where I had one job, and didn't have to think 'outside the box' or work with people directly, where I was just told what to do and could do it with no questions asked. That's what I grew up with, and it brings a sense of comfort, though as I condition myself and flail at what my real aspirations are, that comfort is not so blind and afraid any more. I get pangs of 'there should be more to my life/I want something different', which either means that that is actually true, or it's just what everyone else tells me. I'm coming out of the 'frostbite' of depersonalization, and while it hurts to feel and find out what I really want, it is what I know is more real than the numb I've experienced most of my 26 years.
So, now I have a better understanding of why I go along with directions so autonomously, and why I self-doubt so much, and why I deny myself my pleasure and satisfaction so easily. It's second nature when your mental and physical safety is reliant on self-denial from ever since you can remember. It's rote, and 'normal', especially when your perpetrator, in this case my father, grew up with that himself, and so knows nothing else but to 'get the job done, and don't care about your personal well being'. 60+ years of that in hard labor work has left him with two fused wrists, two stubs for fingers on one hand and one stub on the other, popped-out eyeballs, back injuries, almost no kneecaps, broken nose upon broken nose, almost completely useless limbs, and scars and wounds innumerable to count, not to mention his internal issues such as ulcerative colitis and his migraines. He still works, and sheer stubbornness and determination keep him going. But, so does his mental programming to 'get the job done, and done right'. He instilled that in me and my sisters, and to be honest, I'm thankful for it. It gave me a good work ethic, though it may be up to debate in certain circumstances. I thankfully have some ability to understand what 'lessons' I've learned are useful to me and which are not.
I have had my dad say to me and my sisters that he is very thankful that we weren't boys, and that he never wanted boys. I am beginning to think that if he did end up having sons, that his treatment of them would be far far worse than anything that we received. In his developing years, males were in a whole other world, while he saw the females in his life as much more nurturing, and more caring to him. He was abused absolutely horrendously by his father (not to mention his brother trying to smother him in his sleep every night), while his mother was so numb that she wasn't even really a part of life any more - just a husk, doing what she was told and noticeably miserable, and powerless. He felt deep compassion for his mother, and deep pain through the pain that she suffered. I feel that that and his only truly somewhat positive member of his family, his grandmother, helped buffer the abuse that we suffered as children. I do not want to know how much anger he would have towards a son, how much rage he would inflict, as they would 'deserve' for just being male, and under his power. Reminds me of an 'anecdote' my father gave a few times, about what my name would be if I were a boy. "Your initials would be S.H. That stands for 'Shit Head' ."
Reconditioning unnecessarily submissive behavior has been very, very tough, especially when I can't tell if it's hurting me, and when I can tell, don't want to change because I feel comfortable with my situation no matter how egregious it is. A friend of mine who can tell me where the bear shits in the woods has been indispensable to my improvement in that, and I cannot thank him enough for it, however hard it may be for me to hear at that time, and even though it hurts him to see me upset because of what he says. If it's the truth, though, I will work to accept it. Which brings me back to the struggle to find what is 'truth'. Right now, truth is what has the most evidence behind it, and what makes the most logical sense. I'm slowly learning that my emotions are important as well, and to act on them but to balance that with an honest appraisal of reality, to make sure I'm not reacting to ghosts of the past or false threats.
For those who have gone through similar trauma, I hope that this might help you in your meditations, and may you find the help, safety and respect that you deserve. <3
P.S. As I've written this, I've had the music from The Binding of Isaac running in the background, specifically one of the calmer, soothing tracks. I can better understand why I appreciate this game and why it's such a salve for me, if you know anything about it. It serves as a place of reflection, of exposure of what has happened, and personal resonance while the game itself is enjoyable to play. I've actually found that the new version, Rebirth's music and sound is too jarring and harsh on the ears for me to enjoy the game. If I can find a way to mod it to have the original sounds and music play instead, it'd be much more enjoyable. Or just have the original music playing in the background XP