When you grow up in an abusive situation, your mind learns things that are very hard to unlearn. Yes, it’s a form of PTSD, and it can throw you for a loop:
I still avoid many things that remind me of her; I still flinch sometimes when people raise a hand near me — a hand not raised in violence may I add. I still sit and question my self-worth sometimes. I know this all won’t just go away — that just because I’ve accepted it all for it was, it doesn’t fix anything. It just puts the pieces into perspective.
For me, PTSD is living my life knowing that sometimes, things are going to be scary and will put me back in a dark place. But I’m getting better at fighting my way out of there each time.
I appreciate this article’s attempt to help people understand that a grown up who suffered abuse as a child is probably going to have what look like weird reactions to things, yet in context they make perfect sense. For example, one of my abusers smoked. The smell of cigarettes on someone’s breath is still a very uncomfortable thing for me to be around. It’s not because I am so repulsed by anyone who smokes, in fact, I’m really not, but it’s because there’s still, all these years later, an association in my brain between that smell on someone’s breath, and being abused.
The trick is not to somehow “fix” that association, but to learn to accept it, and look past it to the reality of the current situation. That’s how we grow as survivors.