Self-Sabotage in Complex PTSD, PTSD, and Survivors of Child Abuse

Self-sabotage is most of the time not intentional, though it is extremely frustrating.

On the one hand, you want to change, but a part of you seems to be holding you back.

When things are not going your way you might either get angry with yourself—for not achieving what you set out to achieve—or project your frustration onto others and blame them.

Signs of Self-Sabotaging Behavior

Sabotage can come in many forms and can be very evident at times, or be more subtle.

Relationships are an area where sabotage becomes most apparent. Again, it is not that you intentionally try to hurt the other person or wreck the relationship, it is that you have default survival patterns that are coming to the foreground because you are having to act in relationship with someone.

Self-sabotage is most of the time not intentional, though it is extremely frustrating.

For example, and this is just one possibility, your spouse might have to go on a trip for business or family reasons and this, unconsciously, threatens you because you have been neglected and felt abandoned as a child. Closer towards your spouse’s trip you get angry, throw tantrums, become accusative, and even get horrible headaches, all in an attempt to prevent that trip from happening.

The reactions that are a result of your conditioned survival patterns are often disproportionate to the situation or circumstance. To make things worse, you will possibly trigger each other and feel activated, project onto each other, and continuously cycle into blame, guilt, shame, self-reproach, and self-righteousness.

When you are calm, however, your behavior actually reflects your love and affection for your other half.

It is as if you have multiple parts within you that are fighting for dominance and conflicting with each other. In my counseling sessions I often refer to this as the adult part, which sees clearly what you want and in which direction you want to move, and the child part within you, that has, because of your traumatic experiences, other objectives: mainly keeping you safe and alive.

It are these two parts that are in conflict with each other.

Self-Sabotaging Thoughts, Actions, and PTSD

The other major area of self-sabotage is when you have certain intentions or things to do but somehow you are not able to start them, break-off halfway through, lose interest, have bouts of amnesia and forgetfulness, or freeze up in the process.

You might be fully conscious of not wanting to persist with a certain action because your anxiety mounts, and thus you channel your energy into superficial occupations (youtube, fb, over-organizing, ruminating endlessly, getting focused on less important things, cleaning, and so on and so forth).

Self-sabotage might also happen on a more unconscious level in which you might get physical reactions or even illnesses which prevent you from reaching your goals and completing your intentions.

What Causes Self-Sabotaging Behavior?

As said earlier, there are different parts within you that have conflicting interests. It is those conflicting interests that contribute to self-sabotage.

While your intentions might be sound and clear, the child part within you might perceive a new direction as threatening. That child part within you sits at a deeper part in the brain. That part of you was created when your nervous system was still developing. Thus that deeper part, your child part, or unconscious, has a lot more power and force. You can try to overcome it through force of will, but it will almost always take the upper hand because those reactions are tied in with survival.

Secondary to this is that when you hold two states of mind. One part of you says “yes” and another part of you says “no,” and so, you are not sending out a clear message to yourself, others, and the world. What comes back to you, then, is dissonance which can further contribute to your not getting to where you want to be.

How to Stop Self-Sabotaging in Relationships and Oneself

How to stop self-sabotaging isn’t as easy as telling yourself to not do it.

First of all, you have to become aware that you have different parts of yourself that have different objectives. If you can validate both parts of you then that helps you to stop fighting with yourself. You can then genuinely give your attention to both parts in an attempt to align your intentions.

Once you are not further engaging in conflict with your self-sabotage, you will have the energy to observe yourself. Observing yourself is crucial in working through the deeper fear patterns that are preventing you from making significant changes.

In which ways are you aware of how you self-sabotage? Leave your comment below.

  • Eve says:

    HOW do I lose the inner child and the over powering survival mode emotion. I have had enough of being dominated by my past, a consequence for a choice I was powerless to control. I am nearly 50 years old, I have researched; been to countless therapists etc and yet still I am negatively ruled by my f@cking past! When does this stop? When will I unlock these shackles that control every aspect of my life so that I can live the remainer of my life like a ‘normal’ human? Enough is enough..

    • martin says:

      Eve, Hi, I am in the same place, and I can’t give you any advise that will make your life better, all I can say is, we just have to keep on searching, asking questions and make a point to start to heal. I turned 50 in Jan and I also just seem to do the same old stuff over and over
      again, despite wanting to change and even trying. Be strong, I do believe there is hope.

      • Eve says:

        The searching will never end, I belive that now. I had hope when I realized WHY and have used every last energy cell to grow and learn my way through, to no avail. I have the most beautiful Disney smile and known to be the happiest woman ever, until I go home to a house as empty as my aching lonely heart. I know I will never hold down a relationship after so many failed attempts and have accepted I am a miserable outcast purely surviving and waiting to die. It angers me so much that I have been robbed of the life I deserve. My anger, victim mode and defense my greatest enemy but it hangs on like a leech. Nice to read these articles though, at least they hi light why I am such a fuck up and I can justifiably lay blame, – for what it’s worth.

        • J.J. says:

          You’re not a fuck up. The fact that you’re lived to tell the tale and are aware of the patterns means you’ve already overcome great obstacles. More power to you! Keep on truckin’.

        • Aneesha says:

          Hi Eve & Martin, I am on my trauma healing journey too. A bit left field but my Buddhist practice of chanting Nam myoho renge kyo and engaging with the community has really helped me find power over my life. Over the last 7 years of practice, I have been able to cut my narcissistic family off, focus on my own healing and found my dream job. The road is still a lot of work but I feel like as I keep doing my practice it opens up avenues I could never have imagined before. This gives me eternal hope and I believe that I will indeed build a life of happiness beyond all imagination.

          If you are curious – or depending on where you live. I wish you all the healing and joy in your lives. <3

        • Pam says:

          I feel the same sometimes. You are not alone. Our illness is not our fault but yet we carry so much guilt. Prayers for you 🙏 if it wasn’t for the good Lord I wouldn’t be here today. At least we have hope of a pain free body and mind one day. A perfect body ❤

        • Larissa says:

          I really get frustrated, too. I relate to so much of what you write! I get therapy when I can afford it, do self-therapy regularly using books, etc. but changing this aspect of myself is a very long slog.

      • Julie says:

        Hi Eve & Martin,
        I too have been shackled to my abusive childhood, I tried the whole ‘Joyce Meyer’ forgiveness routine, but was hurt even more, so I ended up inviting more trauma & chaos not just into my life, but into my kids lives…
        One thing I do know that helped me is understanding my coping mechanism as a child, became problematic behaviour as an adult, so knowing this I was able to be more aware of it, specifically with dissociating…. anxiety….. I had a therapist help me learn to sit with the memories in a safe space OFTEN, until they didn’t have the impact on me so much anymore….. don’t get me wrong, last week I had to go into hospital with pneumonia & asthma, I could barely breathe, I had a panic attack that sent me tacky cardiac because I’m terrified to be around people I don’t know when I’m vulnerable ie: sick…

        • Eve says:

          Hi Julie. I can relate on so many levels. My anxiety, anger, frustration and cynicism affects every friendship, personal relationship and family relationship and it only compounds my negative self image further, especially after I take such great pains to be aware and conscious of not acting “the victim”, in fact I am the master of disguises when I’m with anyone! I have taken note of your experience as it is not something that has been suggested yet. In fact of all the therapists I have been to, not ONE has ever asked me to verbalise my incidents, ever. To this day I have never uttered a word to anyone and would not know how. Maybe the opportunity/person will come around, I don’t know? Thanks for that.

          • Rebecca says:

            Hello Eve.

            I have worked through an awful lot, including a covert narcissist spouse of 20 years. I came through it, but don’t know how. I felt that my entire self was in pain, even my soul. I share that now, only because I can say I have worked through the forgiveness..mostly. I also learned that that does not mean I have to invite those people back into my life, and I don’t. It was difficult, but neccesary to set healthy boundaries. Everyone takes a role in the family, and I was the “sick one”, who didn’t question, just did what everyone told me to.
            It wasn’t until my 50s that I saw how abusive some were. So much work, but feel I’m prevailing..finally.

            Recovering my faith was also paramount, and attending an Unbound conference, where I learned of the evil that can be placed upon us.
            One last, and very important piece was the power of being able to write out or verbalize to a trusted counselor or friend, who is comfortable (some aren’t).
            So, seek a trustworthy friend, and Christ is ready, when you are 🙂
            Be well. Blessings!

    • Ireen says:

      Innver child therapy or voice dialogue?

      • Roland says:

        It really depends on the level of expertise of your counselor/therapist.

        • Katie says:

          What do you look for in a therapist or search for? I’ve been through quite a few and still haven’t found one that meets these needs?

          • Roland says:

            Finding the right person/therapist can be a frustrating process and I wish I could give you a clear answer to your question. Your best bet is to see if he/she has some work published with which you resonate and go from there. That work should include experience with complex trauma and in my understanding, incorporate some form of a somatic or presencing approach. Have a look at this page too for online counselors: I will be adding a third person later this month. Hope this helps.

          • Julie says:

            Someone who is trained in trauma informed care!

          • Eve says:

            Katie, I have been to one and all in the past. I stumbled on a new option of therapist purely by chance. The difference – assertiveness, she really focused and listened (passionate about her role)
            Good luck sifting though all your options – it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack!

    • Roland says:

      Hi Eve,
      When you suffer you naturally want to get away from it, be done with it, get rid of it, or overcome it. It is a natural response because you feel constantly overwhelmed and hence suffer. The “getting rid-off response” is a dissociative response and simultaneously keeps the very pain that you want to avoid in place. It is more about embracing the child part within you and holding the space for that part, which is you, in order to process the emotional residual charge that is in the past and continued in the present moment. Once you start to get more containment to hold the upsetting emotion in awareness, the energy of emotion starts to flow into presence.

      • kathleen says:

        I so relate to what you are saying Eve. I like Roland’s reply about processing emotional residue. Even so, at 52, I know intimately the ongoing feelings of bitter sorrow and regret for what might have been, had I not been so badly abused, neglected, blamed and abandoned as a young child. For instance, I was unable to sustain a relationship with a healthy person and I was not able to have children as a result, until it was too late for me. Yet I am still in touch with my very deep maternal instinct as I witness all kinds of other awful abusive people being parents, and it makes me sick inside. (I have also experienced discrimination on the job for not being a parent but that is another topic).
        I digresnow understand that my PTSD symptoms will remain for life, it’s just about how to manage them when they come up, and remembering as best I can what is likely to set the stage for a spiral. Lately I am having some anxiety and fear around security because my employment situation is changing, and my mother has terminal cancer. Normally this would be enough to do me in. This time I am making an extra effort to stay inside my body with yoga (though I trained as a yoga teacher 10 years ago, my practice is on and off because I have a very hard time being consistent, and this too is a form of self sabotage, knowing what helps and heals and then avoiding it). These days when I am really feeling awful, I have been trying to breathe very gently into my heart, and visualize the soft energy connecting with the back of my brain … it may sound a bit out there, but after decades of personal work and every type of therapy and self-help, this is what I’ve come to. Breathing and staying inside my body, rather than fleeing into despairing repetitive thoughts. It doesn’t always work of course, but you know, we survivors do what we can. I hope you have a better day, today Eve. Sending you good thoughts.

    • Nancy says:

      I recently tried EMDR and it freed me from a particular incident memory that haunted me from my childhood .

    • Ayesha says:

      We are all one eve. I think being spiritual helps u heal , let things go. Forgive urslf and ur past and know that u are worthed.

    • Dorien Knight says:

      I think that the question: ‘How do I lose my inner child’ will create a negative turmoil. You don’t get rid of your parts… healing comes by welcoming them all and see the good intention of each part. If the part is trusting you (the adult) it don’t have to scream so hard anymore (internal family systems)

    • Rebecca Bennett says:

      One of the strategies I do and have others do as well is become the type of parent to the inner child, which I lacked. I tell myself that as a child I could not handle _____________, but as an adult I can. For example, as a child I could not handle the 700 mile move from my grandparents, I felt no control, no say, no nothing, but as an adult, I feel grief and loss and reflect on how. I feel those emotions for the first time whereas I had to internalize everything and accept it when I clearly did not.

    • M says:

      yes I ask that too … and I don’t get an answer … but I know that I feel better if I choose to be positive about the present … I choose not to blame someone ‘for ruining my life’ … I choose to take responsibility for choices I have made (again and again and again) … and I have no expectations around having a perfect life … I just appreciate having a life … and the little blessings that come my way … even if it is just seeing someone else’s baby smile … take joy in the joy of other people … get enough sunshine and dirt on your skin … I am sorry that your burden is heavy and pray that it can be lighter today, and for every tomorrow …

    • Debbie says:

      This is going to sound far out, but I’ll tell you my experience. I’m in Alcoholics Anonymous. I have been for a few years. Finally, I worked the 12 Steps with all my heart. Things won’t change automatically, or maybe they will, but you can be sure they’ll be coming up on ya. We get to forgive ourselves. (Best Book in the world: I thought it was just me – but it isnt. By Brene Brown)
      It’s about Shame!!!!!!! We think guilty is bad, but we think shame is worse. Guilt: I’ve done bad. Shame: I am bad. May I add, there are many parts of the ‘Anonymous’ program. Quite a few of them apply to me, I admit. I believe they would do the 12 steps there, if that helps at all.

    • Anna Wood says:

      I gave my inner child a voice, a pen and paper and let her have her say. She had a lot to say!! My little child still strops and shouts and sabotages and I have to remember to be Mum to her which I forget sometimes and then she creates chaos!

  • DD says:

    Resilience, circumstance, context, in addition to slightly different epigenetic variance enabled me to (very barely) survive several adverse childhood events, while my younger brother by 19 months and only I sibling grew up with did not (he completed suicide at 23). I have worked hard and had the good fortune of having excellent mentorship over the years. I have been in a (mostly smooth, following early marital counseling) stable marriage of 24 years. I have been working toward a doctoral degree in sociocultural anthropology since 2006. I have finished all coursework requirements, conference presentations, field research, and interview transcripts, both in the Dakota (Sioux) language with accompanying (gloss) English translations in 2014. Now that it’s time to write-up this ethnographic project (titled “Sioux Valley Dakota Nation: Perspectives on Language and Identity”), I find myself in complete self-sabotage mode. I just can’t seem to sit and write. I seem to insist on editing whilst writing; each sentence must be acceptable and properly citated before moving to the next. It’s so frustrating. I have made, and been utterly unable to meet, several self-imposed deadlines to my research committee co-chairs (and others) these past few years. The deadline is looming for the seven-year limit to get the dissertation drafted, edited, approved by committee members, successfully defended, and finalized administratively with both the department and the graduate college (by or before fall of 2020). I am under the regular care of a psychiatrist and meet several times a month with a licensed clinical counselor/social worker, both of whom are trained to deal with CPTSD. I have been diagnosed with, and am being treated for the bouts of major depressive disorder (bedridden for days, weeks), generalized anxiety disorder, and adult ADHD. I work closely with my counselor to set and ACTUALIZE my goals towards finishing my program with a degree in-hand, but so far, nothing really works. That I’m fighting myself totally resonates and aligns well in terms of describing my present situation. While I work hard to focus on my progress rather than awfulizing my lack thereof on the dissertation writing, the negativity bias has been dominating (and “winning”) regardless. Any suggestions, Mr. Bal? Thank you for your very useful articles and for getting much-needed information to a large wounded population of folks in a disastrously dysfunctional culture with multiple historical tramas, on collective and individual scales, affecting both our selves and our societies.

    • Roland says:

      Trauma is so big that it seems like we have become blind to it. When you are in self-sabotage mode, hold yourself there for a moment. Don’t try to force yourself to work or divert your attention into the superficial. Connect with the feeling of self-sabotage without further judging it. See how it feels, the texture of it, where it sits in the body. It will likely feel like resistance, avoidance, a not wanting. Now track that feeling and ask yourself: “What is it that I don’t want to come close to?” Ask it honestly without trying to figure out the answer with your thoughts. The intention is to connect with the underlying emotion of avoidance. If you can get this far, you will connect with the deeper pain, and that likely has elements of fear connected to it (hence the avoidance). Think of fear of failure, rejection, feeling inadequate, a trauma of embarrassment (either from an individual experience or that runs collectively in your culture/tribe). If you can connect with that and give space and containment to that, you are starting to make headway and dealing with your self-sabotage, but on a very profound level.

      • Geertje says:

        Yes. I do. I have learn from a therapist to take my inner child in my arms. To look at her, feels her pain and to be there with her and love all what is. Now so I can see of feel my struggles and go in and feel, feel, feel without thinking. And after that I take the feelings with me in my heart and there is love and kindness for that feelings. And there is space for other feeling to! It feels great! In thoughts every time I thanks my therapist for her words ; Take your inner child in your arms.
        And there are times I can’t and I survive.

      • DD says:

        Nina pidamayaye washte (Dakota gloss “you give me goodness/fortune/healing, etc.” English gloss: (Many great thanks to you from me.”) for taking the time to respond to my comment and inquiry. It’s pragmatic and will be useful, but I also know it I as a process rather than a “quick fix.” But that’s okay. Nothing worth persuing, no dream hardfought to realize and actualize—is ever “free,” without cost in some way (or ways). The documented and ongoing research on the neurobiologically plasicity of our brains gives me much optimism. I do know I always have a choice or choices: “When something bad (or even very, very bad) happens (and one stands in the face of the negative), there are at least three or four options. Let the damage and pain define, destroy, or develop one’s identity, agency, autonomy, and life expeeience; regardless of mitigating factors (culture, history, colonization, political policies, nation-state control, etc.) beyond one’s control.” Best to let that go on a personal level and get into a healing relationship with one’s self through healthy interpersonal interactions and relationships with others. I’ve also heard it said, “Be kind (to yourself and thus) to others; you can never really know how heavy a burden of pain and damage another person may be (is likely to be, in some way or another) carrying.”

        Thanks again for all you do, Mr. Bal! You are kind to disseminate and share your expertise in this critical area of healing from such tragic, intergenerational, damage from human abusiveness. Hurt people, well, hurt people. But we can always heal. Where there is still life, there is also hope, choice, and a chance to heal (the caveat here, however, is healing happens relative to the degree one is willing to work towards this most-necessary goal). Please pardon my digression.
        Here’s wishing you and your, and all of us, only the very best on our various life journeys.

  • Annelle Kamfer says:

    Im being treated for bipolar mood disorder with mania and aggression and ADHD. im a very broke single mother and Ive learned a couple of things through the past cpl years of self sabotage: 1) When youre down….GET UP!! You allow yourself for one minute to wallow in that self pity and it will keep you down and eat you. GET UP!! 2) Every little bit counts. Every little bit is never enough. Do more!
    Its a crazy mixed reversed psychology i use on myself. It works for me.

  • Andie says:

    Has anyone heard of or tried NLP therapy? Neuro Linguistic Programming, basically rewiring the emotional pathways that we have followed since young. I’ve heard of it working for one person but that’s all I’ve heard about it at all, doesn’t seem to be widely known.

  • Charlene says:

    At 58, I have lived with doctors medicating me for anxiety and depression. Finally, about 5 years ago, after being hospitalized for an attempted suicide, I was diagnosed with cptsd, from abuses experienced from childhood through my mid-forties. Lately, I have been struggling with depression so badly. I am dealing with dark thoughts, that I will not go through with, because of my love for my family, but, I can’t seem to control the thoughts. I feel so locked up inside. So lost and painful. I don’t know how to break those locks. What do I do.

    • Roland says:

      Hi Charlene. Please go through all the resources on the website. If you can, purchase a copy of the trauma essentials. If you want to dig a little deeper, consider the trauma care meditations or working with one of the counselors of this site. Healing from trauma is a tough road to take. Don’t give up! Go with the little steps.

  • Claire says:

    Holy meow, I really needed exactly this article in my life right now! I am stuck at work and cannot bring myself to make any kind of progress on my projects. Thank you so much!

  • Jesse says:

    Eve, as some have recommended a good therapist and inner child work can help immensely with this. I do (as a client and as a thrrapist) Internal Family Systems, and it has been the most helpful therapy.

    One thing that jumped out about your question was the idea of losing that inner child. IFS doesn’t judge or try to counter that inner child, but all parts are welcome. They need to learn that you are now safe, and the things they did to protect you aren’t needed anymore. But your inner child doesn’t need to leave, just heal.

    • Eve says:

      Thank you for your input Jesse. Since these posts I have done a little more research and have begun to address new suggested ways to work on certain areas that require a different approach to overcome. Just sharing was a great start and my attitude has improved dramatically. I have found a new local therapist, however I won’t be able to see her for a while but it’s a start and just the ‘thought’ of a new and highly recommended therapist excites me – HOPE!
      I am already feeling more confident and this has allowed me to open my mind a little more, enabling me to explore and begin tackling issues differently. Slow but sure is the answer. I am very grateful that I discovered Roland’s very helpful guidance. His constant communication has mostly always been very relevant and extremely helpful in assisting to fight the demons that have controlled my life for so many years, mainly due to complete obliviousness and ignorance.
      I have to mention again that I am BLOWN AWAY by the positive effect that even just a little HOPE has given me, it’s relieving and a lovely reality.
      If there are any other helpful avenues/tools/literature to explore that would assist me on my path that is recommended I would be more than happy to know about them. Thanks again

    • Eve says:

      Hi Jesse. Yeah, lots to learn still, even at 50. My mindset is already changing slowly with this new found knowledge. Therapists arn’t exactly a dime a dozen this side of the world but these online platforms and feedback are very useful.
      The ‘inner child’ theory is a foreign thing to me, never heard of it before so need to do more research on that. I want to be FREE and start ‘living’ so badly. Nature is my only relationship (and I love it!) it’s beautiful but there is a gaping hole to fill in order to bring myself to balance

  • Tammy says:

    Uuuugh this reiterated my self sabotage tendicies. Which tells me I need more work. Which means I need to push harder with more determination than ever to stop this behavior.

  • Christopher says:

    Me ; me and definitely me and i am not jiking

  • Chad says:

    That was a way I wasn’t fully looking at so makes sense.

  • Felipe says:

    Hurts inflicted when we were powerless (as a child) manifest themselves as powerlessness (as an adult) to similar situations. Know that every little step is a step in the right direction and that courage comes from knowing that facing fear is worth the cost. Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend have written two books that I would recommend to anyone reading this article “Boundaries” and “Safe People.”

  • Katharine Plebanek says:

    Very insightful

  • Michele says:

    Eve and all suffering, Please all read this article about a new therapy (zapping the brain) helping Navy Seals with PTSD. The center that have this treatment have a few locations in Los Angeles, Dallas, San Diego etc. after such a long period of time with PTSD from child abuse I think having this treatment could be helpful for all. It is painful to read hearing how much you want to break the cycle and not feeling like you can on your own. Maybe this treatment could help. By the way my husband of 27 years just turned 50 and realized he had been abused as a child. All of these memories started rushing in. Terrible. Sorry for you all but appreciate your comments as we are just through the stage of “did that really happen.” As he came from a very nice, upper middle class “perfect” Beaver Clever family. We are in shock. With that said, is all of his behaviors and actions as making more sense to me. I feel like his actions have all been a part of a big puzzle that didn’t fit together or make sense to me (why is he doing this? Why doesn’t he want to do that?) now with this information and educating myself about the side effects—-it’s like Ah ha! I understand now why you don’t want to move and be closer to your parents. He is at the stage of the process where he is all but a shut in. He has had chronic pain for 15 years and it has progressed where he is unable to move. (No grocery store shopping, no work for 15 years because of the pain.) Anyway, I hope and pray this article and treatment if you can do it helps get you the life God intended you to have.

  • Barbara Wade says:

    This is the second time I read this post. For some reason it didn’t stick the first time. I have always been aware of the two parts, but wrote it off as an evil part of me that was trying to kill me. Like a self annihilating force. And I mean force. I have to force myself to take care of myself, no really, drinking water, taking meds, exercising, anything that has to do with taking care of myself. I struggle with that EVERY day, all day long, and to divert my attention from that I do useless things that just take up time. What an eye opener, to be able to bring understanding to a lifelong issue. It isn’t solved yet, but it IS a new day, a brighter day, just knowing.

  • Teraya says:

    I’m not surprised to read post’s of the impact of adults living with childhood trauma and complex PTSD. I relate as well. I’ve experienced all thing’s other’s mention. The rotating hospital door in pysch wards, meds, self-harm response and on it goes for me. My story not unique. At 53yrs old I learnt new words … disassociate, hyper vigilance, hyperarousel, triggers and a few more. I met a suitable pyschologist of course as a result of crisis and … well …over 3 year’s my mind began to unravel. I’ve lived in my mind all of my life it seems. Don’t know when it happened but I slowly grounded in real time. I wasn’t prepared. My fury had faded I didn’t know how to protect myself I was vulnerable to this real world….and … well …on it goes for me. I did feel relief to not have fury. The wave of identity loss and who am I? …on it goes. Assistance I have now medical, community services, OT to manage (my mind) has given me the vision to live. My day is VERY structured. To the half hour. I have less chaos, less need to be busy, gaining an understanding of where ‘thoughts’ belong, less medication, I feel some thing’s emotionally. I’m still learning to manage my mind. I want to live. My reward ?? Dead people who have harmed me as a child did not annihilate my ability to learn. I didn’t and will not forgive them. I do pray to God to forgive them as I simply cannot.

  • TLC says:

    My husband is a contractor and with the isolation and remote working during COVID shutdowns I was experiencing difficulties in my relationship. Once he lost his job and was home all the time (I work remotely) and our arguing, his name calling is horrible, began to escalate all day long, I just wanted to escape. So one day he got in my face and I triggered. My step-father, one of my main abusers, is also a contractor and when he didn’t work the abuse increased exponentially and so did the violence.

    I had it in my head that the aggressive stance my husband was taking and the little push here and there, and I mean little and only when I’d chase him down, was going to increase to severe physical violence. So, I took off for an overnight with our son ( I thought I was saving my two year old from harm and potential abuse) and refused to let him know where we were. Then less than a week later I called the police and he was arrested for an accident that happened 3 years prior, two days before his birthday. Things calmed down and he got into my face again and I filed a restraining order against him a month later only to drop it 5 days later because it was in my own mind that I was in danger, not the reality.

    I have lied repeatedly throughout our relationship so I won’t hear his disapproval or feel rejection. Now, my relationship is trashed, there is no trust, I haven’t ever shared my feelings with him and I just react and blame him for everything.

    Just so you know, I am 45 years old and was abused verbally and physically until I escaped at age 18. My mother was the primary abuser, her second husband was the ‘beater’ and her third was the beater and molester.

  • Kayak Ben says:

    I notice that I become very insecure when my wife goes away on a trip, which I can link intellectually with trauma over my mom going away when I was a kid. (This was shortly after my dad left our family, and where my mom was going was actually to the psyche ward). I often act out in different ways when my wife goes away. I can understand it with my mind, but the trauma, and the coping behaviour are deeply rooted, and I have a lot of trouble living in accordance with my intellectual understanding of the situation.

  • Stephanie says:

    Hello! Has anyone hear tried Dialect Behavioural Therapy? I bought myself a work book. I have found sometimes that the best teacher is myself. I have books ive read on chakra openings and reiki. Alternative ways of medicine can be helpful if you believe in the process. Some people dont. I am going through a lot and i can tell that my inner chils is screaming inside me. It makes my anxiety through the roof. I have experienced many very traumatic things from age 5 to 28, my age now. I can still feel myself going back to the survival coping mechanisms but i am ruining everything around me slowly. I was hurting myself, self medicating with alcohol and drugs which just made all the things i was feeling that much worse. I am willingly to try DBT to help with my unresolved traumas as i no longer want to suffer. It has been so many years and my body is suffering physically from all the stress and trauma. We need to find healing and peace other wise our physical health takes the bullet and we suffer in other parts of our life if left unhealed. I will always have hope as I know i have felt it, just so long a go its like a memory. But i know it is out there, whether it is a temporary thing or not, i need some sort of solution.

    • cheryl says:

      Hi Stephanie, I am a bit late but I learned when dealing with complex ptsd symptoms, you really have to have the right therapist and teacher or it will cause further trauma. I attended a dbt class for six months, it did nothing for me. I would more so suggest finding some support while doing the book yourself and you would go a lot futher. DBT is a great tool but its not something you just pick up from reading it or attending the class. I also want to ad, that everyone I know who have done cbt and dbt have not used the tools long term. the best advice would be to think positively and create a new future. Think big : )

  • Cassandra says:

    It’s helpful to accept both conflicting sides. I’m on the web looking for articles like this because here I am, doing it again. Success for me as a child led to humiliation and punishment. I’m a high achiever and have achieved some pretty incredible goals but I usually either destroy my achievement after it’s done or am unable to got the extra few inches to complete a project that promises to be amazing. Then I might rebuild the whole thing again but on a lesser scale where it’s less noticeable. It’s totally frustrating… Yet fleeing back to the familiar is so natural. Failure feels safe. However… there is the possibility of creating and strengthening new neural pathways where success feels good and safe. We have all had the experience of being proud and being complimented somewhere in our psyche even if it was a kind assistant teacher who praised us for succeeding in learning to tie a knot. Even some small thing like that can be meditated on and strengthened and anchored. Basically it’s an NLP tool. Sometimes I find that my inner child demands I revisit a trauma in a new and deeper way and meditate on it and imagine my now-self swooping in and crushing my abuser and protecting my little child-me. I get seriously annoyed that it happens over and over again but yeah, it does and it will and patience is required. Reaching out to people who understand how fucking tiresome it is but there it is. Love yourselves people. That’s the only way out. And you are fucking loveable, just the way you are at this moment. Say it. Over and over again. God Bless.

  • Liz says:

    I have engaged in self sabotage again and this time it cost me my dream job and a great relationship. And now my teeth are in jeopardy. I became suicidal. It’s awful and I still don’t know how I am going to recover.

    • Maverick says:

      All the responses here sound like my mom. I’ll try to condense her life story in a few paragraphs. Essentially, my mom’s parents died in a car wreck within months after she was born. Her foster parents were her aunt and uncle who treated her very poorly. Her aunt even grabbed her by the neck one day after a day of blueberry picking and angrily said “IT IS ALL YOUR FAULT” (implying it was my mom’s fault that her marriage was falling apart).

      She was sent to therapy at around age 10 for no reason, and her aunt eventually admitted right in front of the therapist that she (the aunt) said that she always hated my mom. The therapist was immediately shocked by this and sent my mom to live with her grandparents who were part of these weird secret society groups like the Freemasons / Order of the Eastern Star and they wanted her to be in the Rainbow children (the secret order for children), but my mom refused and instead just became a hippy type kid. They had plans for her life to marry someone very wealthy and be part of the “big club” as George Carlin once said.

      She ended up marrying my dad out of Vietnam who was an alcoholic and continued her abuse (physical and mental). I remember being 5 years old jumping on his back to get him off her as he was attacking her physically. He’s no longer alive, but she also was ostracized by my dad’s entire family. Somehow they all believed my dad was the victim and not her. After my dad’s death she had neighbors move in where the husband would come over and flirt with my mom and try to touch her or grope her. He was also an alcoholic.

      I moved in with her as a protection mechanism, until we finally got an offer from my sister, to move in to this new place, but my mom has always had issues with her being a narcissist and selfish. My mom thought this would be different and even goaded my mom to come for her birthday, claiming the whole family would be there to greet her as they went out to look for new houses. We even presumed that my mom would be able to pick the house for herself but even that was a lie. We’re now seeing that my sister had primarily selfish motives for inviting us (and the other family members) to stay in this new house.

      My mom can’t catch a break, it was one traumatic experience after another. I want to include that my mom was also sabotaging before we moved, always doing yard-work, and claiming that she was too frazzled by the neighbors to focus on the plan we had together. She has been doing more yard-work now in this new house, feeling like she has to work hard because she doesn’t want my sister to think she’s being taken advantage of.

      Now going into the holidays she’s been extremely depressed, always moody, angry, lashing out at everyone, and talking about suicide. While I understand her plight and everything happening one after another, she’s also over-reacting to little things and self sabotaging plans we had. We planned on creating a book together and selling it online which I know would be a success and I think she knows it too. But now she’s saying she doesn’t care about the book and wants to just die.

      She keeps saying that she is incapable of coping with all the trauma, on top of everything else going on in the world it’s hard for her to keep a positive outlook on life. At first, I thought money and self-autonomy (getting a place of our own where my mom could finally chill out from the hard work and all the abuse) would solve these issues, but after reading this and the comments (which sound identical to the same issues my mom has, as well as the coping mechanisms of self-sabotage), she may never be happy and may also sabotage things even if they were in perfect harmony, because of all her trauma, especially the childhood trauma, without the help of therapy.

  • Tunners says:

    I find this website very useful. My current problem is I can feel positive and have very little anxiety for weeks, and then my brain will question my thinking and feelings of safety, and keeps pushing until I then fixate on a feeling of deep anxiety. I find the speed in which the anxiety can take hold very upsetting, as I’ve made so much progress with EMDR. I had a narcissistic father and was subjected to his constant mood swings as a child from affection to angry shouting. Never knew where I stood and was always on edge.

  • […] of child abuse and those who developed PTSD in their childhoods are prone to issues with self-sabotage. This often stems from feelings of unworthiness and low self-esteem that developed in unhealthy […]

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