Hypervigilant Silence

drawing of a woman thinking there is danger everywhere as part of hypervigilant programmingThere is a lull, a feeling of silence, that suddenly falls around me. The only thing I hear is the ocean. Like when you hold a conch shell to your ear. A background noise that makes it hard to hear. The enveloping darkness covers me like a blanket, continuing to block out all other things. It is the C-PTSD hypervigilant programming.

That C-PTSD hypervigilant programming triggers my brain to accept what is familiar, what I have been doing my whole life. The shield of hypervigilance has kept me safe for so many years. It keeps me from hearing things, from seeing things, and from knowing things. And it has kept me from living and thriving for all of these years.

It is a false shield. It is the familiar hypervigilant programming born from years of abuse. It is what I have always done.  As long as I don’t challenge what it tells me. If I start to push back on what it whispers to me, continues to say to me, the darkness grows tighter. The whispers become louder. I am breathless within my mind.

Survivor

I am a survivor. That is the mode that I am supposed to stay within. The constantly being on guard, waiting for the other shoe to drop, so speak. It is this hyper-vigilance that I was programmed to live within all of the time. 

If I let my guard down, bad things will happen. What are those bad things? Who knows? There are no specifics in those whispers, just bad things. Those “bad things,” those amorphous dark clouds, threatening to leap out from behind every corner.  It is how my brain was programmed to see the world. 

It is not healthy, and I cannot sustain it. But the programming tells me otherwise. It tells me to keep going, to keep the hypervigilance. Without it, I won’t survive; I won’t make it. Whatever that even means. I have no idea.

Whispers of C-PTSD Hypervigilance Programming

The programming whispers to me and tells me there is no other way that I am not worthy of living any other way because people will fail me. And that I will fail because I am dumb enough to put my faith in others. I know that without the help of others, I will fail. 

But do I? Do I know that? And those two questions that I just wrote, that is what the programming tells me. I am second-guessing myself because I don’t know what the truth is. I do, though. Somewhere deep within myself. 

But it is buried so far down, covered up by all of the lies. The lies that over time became the programming that holds me imprisoned to this day. I am surrounded by danger. It may be dangerous now or sometime in the future, but the danger is everywhere. And it is unpredictable. But that doesn’t stop my brain from trying to predict it.

Hypervigilant Predictability

What is that person in the car doing? Who is that walking towards me? What are they doing? Which direction are they going? Is it weird if I go in the same direction? But that is the direction that I want to go. Do I change my direction? I can go that way, around the block, so that I don’t have to get near them. 

Those are a sample of the myriad of questions that goes through my head. Those occur within seconds of seeing another person on a sidewalk, walking into a store, driving down the road, etc. You name it; that is what I am analyzing. I need to be able to adjust to whatever those strangers are doing. 

I never knew other people didn’t do what I do. I thought everyone was an overly keen observer of other’s behaviors to determine what they are going to do. There are people out there to do what I do. It is not a superpower; it is a resilience power. I developed this power after years and years of trying to predict the unpredictable world around me. 

Breaking Hypervigilant Programming

Drawing of a woman trying to break the hypervigilant programming by telling herself that there is no more dangerI don’t have a magical recipe to stop hyper-vigilance. I wish I did. It is a lot of time spent listening to that inner voice and determining what is helping and hindering me. If it is hindering me, it needs to go. But it isn’t that simple. When is it that simple? Never.

First, I have to sit with what that programming is telling me. “There is danger everywhere?” That one is a continuous proverbial monkey on my back. What makes things dangerous? Is there anything specific? No, then what does that mean, danger everywhere?

It is those moments that I spend time between telling my brain everything will be okay. There is no danger. And I have to talk myself through that by not allowing myself to scan the environment for potential dangers. There is no danger. Until there is some danger and then the hypervigilant programming starts all over again.

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