Trust, Loneliness and PTSD

One of the most difficult aspects of my battle with Complex PTSD has been loneliness.

Throughout my childhood, loneliness was something that I always felt, even when surrounded by people who were supposed to love and care for me. I just didn’t feel connected. It was as if I were standing on the other side of a great chasm, able to see the other side but simply unable to cross over to safety and comfort. There were moments of fleeting attachment… like a hand reaching, touching… but unable to grasp.

The loneliness is still with me, my ironic companion. I know it is built upon a lack of ability to trust and an unconscious need to protect myself. When I read stories from others who have a similar background to mine, I feel that same sense of isolation in their lives.

During the course of my self therapy, I have considered whether it is simple self-preservation or my feeling of ‘differentness’ that keeps me from forming critical bonds in the here-and-now. These are certainly factors, but I now believe they are more a result of the conditions of my childhood.

What lies at the heart of my loneliness is an attachment disorder, a dysfunction formed through unreliable parental relationships, a dysfunction that became a core part of my personality. In the famous poem, Children Learn What They Live by Dorothy Law Nolte, one of the lines reads:

If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.

This line clarifies the source of my loneliness. I was taught to fear people, to fear those with whom I had the closest of relationships. I built walls around my psyche because it was my last bastion of defense. Trust was broken time and time again until the pattern was firmly set.

I continue to work on this aspect of my psychology. As I do, I have actually become more isolated, but I have hope that I will overcome. I feel that I simply need the space to address this within myself first. That perspective helps combat the pain of my loneliness a bit.

Perhaps I will never have an abundance of deep, trusting relationships in my life, but I do hope to learn how to let my walls down for those who have proven they are trustworthy. I see a point on my horizon when I can truly feel connected and whole. Then the loneliness would end.