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Complex-PTSD and Sense of Self: What Does Jesus Say About It? Part One

Updated: May 23

Well, hello there! (Big, deeply warm hug)


I published a book in November called, Calling Him Trusted: Developing a relationship with Jesus while living with Complex Trauma Disorder. The excerpt below is from the book. I hope it helps you understand how a person can lose their sense of self or never develop one. Sometimes we, who have Complex-PTSD, struggle to recognize our underdeveloped sense of self. Recognizing and acknowledging our underdeveloped sense of self can be an important step in the recovery process.


***

“Children can’t be witnesses.” That's what the cop said when my mom called for help after her boyfriend beat her up while we watched. It was her word against his. She had no marks on her body and her boyfriend left before the cops arrived.


Because there was nothing the cops could immediately do for us, because there were no “witnesses,” I watched my mom, after the initial letdown of not being protected, walk back into the house, smoke a cigarette to help her calm down, and then prepare herself for her boyfriend’s return. She had to steal herself to disregard the beating so she could “live” as many days or hours or minutes as possible without another beating.


Once I moved in with my dad, this type of “living” would become normal for me as well. Every day I would put on the face, project the mood, or show the interest that would be most pleasing to him, to minimize the anger, the beatings, and the rage.


Although I couldn’t be considered a witness, I carried every memory, every trigger, and my stripped sense of self into my marriage.


***


Most of the time, in order to manage the abuse, we deny ourselves a self; we steal ourselves, our identities, our emotions, our desires, and our hopes in order to maintain safety even if safety isn’t a reality. And sadly, for those of us whose abuse started at a young age, a sense of self does not have to be stolen because it was never developed in the first place. When there is no adult to comfort you, empathize with you, care for you or protect you, the development of a sense of self becomes stunted. Therefore, one frustrating outcome of abuse and one of the criteria for having Complex-PTSD is lacking a sense of self.


For too many years I lived without a clear understanding of who I was and, therefore, without a clear understanding of what I wanted. I lived only in extremes where I either hated something or I loved it. Because I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted, I couldn’t answer the “why” for anything I loved or hated. This kept me from being able to compromise in relationships or make decisions for myself.


Can you relate? Do you have Complex-PTSD and lack a sense of self? Do you want to know what Jesus says about this? Comment below and let me know where you're at, in your process, regarding developing your sense of self - I'd love to hear about it!


Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life and have life abundantly” (John 10:10b). Jesus created us as image bearers wanting us to know and believe that our identity is rooted in Him. With our identity in Christ as our foundation He wants us to have a clear sense of self, knowing what we like and dislike, to whom we belong, and understanding our why.


Check out parts two and three in this series to hear specifics about our image bearing traits that should be the foundation for our sense of self!

I hope you have a safe place to sleep tonight and a full belly. Praying for your mental health.

-Evangeline


Book cover displaying a wood anchor with a pink flower on it.
Calling Him Trusted

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