Jillians t1_iyeqjmk wrote

>I have never "entered into" a "relationship" of my own free will - every interaction has at least an element of force and/or coercion.

This is actually case in point here. We tend to be withdrawn, aloof, defensive, wary, maybe even aggressive or openly skeptical. Healthy people see that and respect our boundaries, and keep their distance. Unhealthy people are the ones that push themselves past all that and into our lives. From the inside, it looks like only abusers and users exist, because everyone else is actually respecting us, our boundaries, and our personhood.

>And that comes to pass because human beings inherently drive toward transactional relationships.

This is yet another artifact of the same situation. I'm telling you that since it's been our only experience, our brains can only make sense of relationships from this transactional frame. The belief that everyone is like this is what helps us cope with our experience. This whole system we developed was learned in order to cope with a difficult environment growing up, but it's this very way of coping, this survival brain, that is holding us back. We only learned how to survive, we never got to live and be our own person.

>What if you grew up knowing that other people were abusive, and you went out of your way to reject everything they did or stood for?

You can only reject the behavior you can recognize as abusive. My point is that these are only surface level issues that are obvious, but the foundation that allows that behavior to exist in the first place has been normalized. Without digging deep, it's easy to to keep running into the same fundamentally dysfunctional situations that bear a different flavor of abuse. You can only reject what you recognize that you should reject.

I get it, we want to see the world in a way that makes sense based on our experience. That's how brains brain. This view of the world and people is learned. Whether or not we accept or reject the environment we grew up in, we are still coping with it in order to survive, and then we continue to operate in that mode which assumes everything is still the way we knew growing up. While it's true that as a society we tend to reward toxic norms, that doesn't mean individual people do the same. It's only people in power who want you not to have any who are the ones that benefit from the current cultural narratives. You are just tuning into this one station, there are others out there. I've been in your shoes, I know how it seems, and I know how impossible it was for me to see it any other way. It doesn't have to be that way, that's all I am saying. I wouldn't be surprised if you thought my entire message to you felt like an assault on your being and felt both condescending and completely detached from your reality. You have the right to your feelings, and to see things as you do. So no worries.

Anyway, I'm sure I am not telling you anything new to you. It's easy to see that it has not been easy for you in this world, but it's not your fault. Even if you hate yourself, that is something that comes from the outside. It's learned behavior. It all is in my experience, and it can be unlearned. People who grew up with healthy norms will never understand what it's like not to have them which can further our own alienation, but that's not the same as toxic disconnected and / or abusive relationships.


Jillians t1_iyefhqm wrote

As someone who is also healing from CPTSD, I know this reality. You get raised a certain way, and leave home thinking that you will finally be free from the abuse. We enter new relationships thinking that they might finally work out since they lack any of the obvious behaviors that were harmful growing up.

What's less obvious is that these toxic environments are only enabled by toxic norms. They can only persist if communication continues to be broken, and emotions routinely weaponized or ignored. When we think we are free, we are really only just finding people who are only marginally different from our caregivers growing up.

It's easy to see ourselves as the cause as we are the common denominator in all these interactions. What has really happened though is that we've learned to see ourselves a certain way, and that way is beneficial to abusers, and they pick up on it. It also skews our perception of normal and benign behavior, so things like ambiguity in relationships can feel very dangerous.

The result is that healthy relationships can feel very triggering and dangerous, and since we have never been in one we don't realize how they work. All we learned was transactional relationships. We only know how to see things this way, and are lacking context for a different experience. It's literally impossible to experience relationships differently unless you get lucky to stumble into it, or you deconstruct and unlearn all those unhealthy behaviors. It's not just a switch you can flip to suddenly be a different person and make up for years of healthy social development.