Getting caught up in the details

I am a person who noticed details, even down to the smallest one. This ability of mine to be detail-oriented helped me to excel in inferential statistics, become a top employee at the places that I’ve worked, and also to become aware of what was going on in AA in terms of destructive social nuances. It has also helped me in terms of allowing me to see the holes in research and society and to design studies and write about what I see in a critical and thorough manner, and it helps me to take better care of my cats and spot health symptoms quickly.

This ability of mine though is quite the problem right now. As I work through trauma, I get caught up in the details about what happened. I want to know exactly how, what, and why these things happened to me. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I have gotten better at dealing with some of the unknowns of my life, but I still find myself focusing on the details of it all, and this is retraumatizing for me.

Another area that my tendencies to look at and analyze detail causes disruption in my life is in my ability to understand how individual people play a role in my life. For example, David and I have different love languages. I know this, but I still get caught up in the details of what I believe a supportive partner to be. We went to relationship counseling a few years ago and discovered that David’s main love language is acts of service, while mine is words of affirmation. But, even though I remind myself that David shows love in different ways than me, I still get caught up on how he is not fulfilling my needed words of affirmation and can’t always see the big picture. It’s like my brain gets stuck, and then all of the fears that I have about relationships spill out into my brain.

I get so focused on the current details of the here and now that I can’t always focus on what happened a week ago, and I miss important details about what is going on in my life. I believe that this actually contributed to my dissociation and denial when I was in abusive relationships because I was focusing on things like my sobriety and my cats and couldn’t or wouldn’t look at the reality of what was going on. I had to know that my life was better than drinking. This was a big part of my sobriety, however, I have learned that even though I faced more challenges in my sobriety than my drinking that I do not have to drink because of it. I also think that the focus that I had on these fears and my sobriety led to my repressing memories as an adult.

Leaving AA was paramount for me to work through these conditioned fears and ideas about what sobriety must look like and begin to accept the trauma that I’ve gone through during the last 10 years. It helped me to no longer focus on the details of what the program touts sobriety to be. I believe that the tendency of members there to constantly focus on the positives of sobriety versus drinking only allows people to be blind to the problem of predation within AA. Because it happened to me I am better able to see when other people are doing this as well.

Overall, I am much better at combining the details into a whole within academic subjects rather than my personal life. I only hope that I can apply this strength to myself and my life now in constructive ways. I know that my psychiatrist is thinking about putting me on a tricyclic antidepressant that reduces obsessive thinking. I also think that time will help me to sort out the problems of focus that I have as a result of my time in AA.

Isn’t it funny how some things work for us for a long time and then eventually they don’t? This trait helped me for years until it didn’t. Now I want to find solutions and work through the reasons for why it stopped working. I believe that is likely a personality trait, is associated with trauma, arises from my neurodevelopmental disorders, and worsened when I was in AA (all of those fourth steps and obsession on character defects only made me more hard on myself). All I know is that it is currently wreaking havoc on my life.

For those with PTSD and/or neurodevelopmental issues, do you have problems in this area? How do you change or channel your focus? And do you feel like these traits bring positive things to your life? Thanks!

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