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Content not being happy

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Content not being happy

Postby Terry E. » Wed Jul 18, 2018 9:30 am

My dear mother in law who I never thought was too perceptive confided in my wife before she passed on, that I never seemed to be happy.

I have the usual PTSD and low trust but have been successful in life without burning or using others. I am proud of that.

After talking with some others survivors who agreed with my mother-in-laws summation I have been giving it thought.

I am not unhappy. I never would describe myself as that. I have a host of physical issues that remind me every day of what happened and it seldom gets me down. It is me. It is my life and I am fiercely proud of surviving.

So I have been giving my lack of happiness some thought.

Without getting into some very bad stuff I realise that as a child I learnt happiness would sometimes be followed by terror and pain. I can say it hurt more when I was happy. I learned to half expect it and when I had periods without it, I was content and kind of happy in that. I knew it would not last and it never did.

As an adult I have cultivated a feeling of never being in the moment. Almost never.

Not at parties, rock concerts sporting events. Not with my children. (It does help in times of crisis though).

I don't have ups but I don't have downs. It is how I coped as a child. I would have no idea how to change.

It is me. It is what I am. I am content in that. I know no different.


Yes, I am content in not being "happy".
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Re: Content not being happy

Postby quietgirl2538 » Wed Jul 18, 2018 1:21 pm

I catch myself not being in the moment. Like why can't I just enjoy this concert? For some time, sadness seemed to be just around the corner. I had the PTSD feelings where I couldn't enjoy the moment and it took some years before I felt like my mom was gone and couldn't interfere in my life. It took a while to know that I was in charge of my life. I moved thousands of miles away. Then later I moved again and I had to keep in touch with family, and I could not avoid the drama that always sucked me in. I now don't keep in touch with my mom. Sure I see her at times, but I don't have her in my life like before and it's so nice to feel some peace like that. To know you're not going to get yelled at or be put down and have to take it because you have to.

There are moments I feel happy and I treasure those.

Life has shaped us. In our circumstances we found ourselves in, we were/are shaped and that is who we are/became. For me, I explain it this way. This is the best I can do with what I have. This is who I am. I am good. I am perfect just as I am, at this moment. And I repeat that to myself until I feel it and in the process I know that I am perfect just how I am.

You saying, "Yes, I am content in not being 'happy'. says to me that you are happy just as you are.
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Re: Content not being happy

Postby malfif » Wed Aug 01, 2018 9:34 pm

Terry E. wrote:As an adult I have cultivated a feeling of never being in the moment. Almost never.


This! A million times this!

It is the main thing I speak with my therapist about now, after the bulk of the actual abuse has been dealt with. I can NEVER be in the moment. With my therapist's help, I have gotten better at identifying in the moment that I'm not in the moment, but I still have no idea what to do about it. My therapist always makes me feel confident that I will succeed, but when I'm at home by myself, that confidence goes out the window.

I have managed to pinpoint that it's about anger. Anger is used to make a threat back off. When you have experienced a situation where you were either unable or not allowed to express your anger, eventually you learn to always suppress it, and now you can never get in touch with it. As I am still in the mode that I'm not allowed to be angry, I subconciously know that I will not be able to make a threat back off, and as a result I'm always afraid. Fear is a difficult emotion to carry inside you non stop, and so the brain shuts off from reality to try and distract from the fear of it all.

I actually achieved full conciousness once, after a therapy session. I had told my therapist about something from my childhood that I felt so deeply ashamed of that I had never told anyone about, and I couldn't sleep at night because of it. My therapist replied very forcefully that what happened was not my fault, that I was a child and did nothing wrong, and that I have a right to stand my ground if someone tries to shame me. Hearing her say that with conviction really made me get in touch with my core, I felt like a whole being. I was raging with anger, and it felt SO GOOD. It didn't last long, as I had no one to take the anger out on, but it showed me that it can be done.




I wish you all the best, OP. Please, please, never give up hope! I KNOW that you can do it! I also know that it's a bitch, and that it takes a superhuman effort, but it's a much better option than to "be at peace" with never being at peace. ALLOW yourself to feel whatever you are not feeling - WHATEVER you are not feeling!
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Re: Content not being happy

Postby Terry E. » Thu Aug 02, 2018 3:45 am

Thank you. Both of you.

To me being unhappy is the worst part of life. That was basically my whole childhood from 7-22. As an adult I am financially ok. I help people who need it. I am a good person. Not just someone who is not a bad person. I have some interests I am passionate about (Comics comic art - health and "fitness " )

I am almost totally at peace with myself.

and I will never really get the "in the moment " thing, but if you have never really had it you never miss it.

thanks to you both again.
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Re: Content not being happy

Postby seabreezeblue » Sat Aug 04, 2018 9:41 am

Terry E. wrote:as a child I learnt happiness would sometimes be followed by terror and pain. I can say it hurt more when I was happy. I learned to half expect it and when I had periods without it, I was content and kind of happy in that. I knew it would not last and it never did.


Happy is the most dangerous thing isn't it.. trust is suicidal.

That thought process running in the background is what led me into abusive relationships as a young adult - i didn't understand that was what my subconscious was saying, but i always got scared when anyone seemed actually nice.. i'd run - i'd feel ashamed.. not good enough - couldn't trust enough.

because monsters don't live under the bed.. they live inside people don't they :(


I've still got a lot of issues to unpick, but every now and again lately i'll find myself 'in the moment'.. and catch myself, curious and intrigued at how this happened.
I caught myself a couple of months back - chatting to neighbours and realising that i felt a part of a community.. that i felt accepted - at ease. It's not always like that.. nowhere near 'always' right now, but just those few moments of simply 'being' are really special.

I think the first time i really gave the 'in the moment' stuff some thought was during my driving lessons.. i had to focus solely on what i was doing during the initial learning process, and i remember thinking about it after one of the lessons - was strange.. for the first time ever, i'd been completely in the present - meeting..being with the flow of real time.

I think for us here Terry, that being content and comfortable enough with yourself.. that's happy enough xx
Shine me a light up
and i'll run round the moon..



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Re: Content not being happy

Postby Terry E. » Mon Aug 06, 2018 4:04 am

seabreezeblue wrote:
because monsters don't live under the bed.. they live inside people don't they :(



Thanks, yep, they really exist.

I have never been able to watch horror movies or any movie with suspense. I could never work out why. Was I easily scared ?? Then as a young adult I faced down physical violence without blinking, and knew that I did not actually get scared.

The horror movies repeat what happened to me and what happens in my nightmares. It is the realization that the pain is coming and there is no way to stop it. Those moments are somehow imprinted in my cortisol responses. Someone attacks me with a baseball bat and I am fine. Try and watch a scary movie and I literally shake and sweat.

In PTSD I keep telling people that the nightmares get better. I just turned 64 and had my first one in maybe 2 years. It was those moments of terror when all of a sudden you know what will happen. After 60 years !!
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Re: Content not being happy

Postby quietgirl2538 » Tue Aug 07, 2018 2:43 am

Hugs Terry!
“There’s an Asian expression that ‘a burden shared is halved.’"

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Re: Content not being happy

Postby seabreezeblue » Tue Aug 07, 2018 11:02 am

echoing those hugs from QG xx

I wish i could figure out a way of stopping those nightmares.. it's only been around 20 years since i left the worst of it (well.. the parent stuff anyway), and while i don't get nightmares that often anymore, i'm still getting them every couple of months or so..
i literally wake up sobbing like a small child - takes ages to pull myself back into the here and now.. :(

do you get them at a particular time of year, or have any triggers for them at all? (lack of sleep/when you're ill etc)


I'm okay with horror movies in general.. but the suspense parts i do really struggle with
Shine me a light up
and i'll run round the moon..



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Re: Content not being happy

Postby malfif » Thu Aug 09, 2018 10:22 am

I was thinking about my parents just now, and suddenly it hit me that I'm still subconciously telling myself that "this isn't really happening". Even after breaking off contact with them, my subconcious still refuses to accept that they did what they did.

By extension, this makes one feel like nothing is really happening, and then it becomes impossible to be in the moment, because the moment doesn't exist.
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Re: Content not being happy

Postby avatar123 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 10:46 am

Very good points above. Learning to not be in the moment is a really good example.

Another is learning to narrow your emotional range, to cut off the low end and not feel so badly all the time. This tends to also cut off the high end, so you don't feel all that happy either. You end up being in the middle, just kind of going through life. Nothing horrific but nothing great either.

These things are hard to unlearn. You really need experiences that highlight the things you're missing, but those tend to take you out of your comfort zone. Gets harder to do that as you get older as well.
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