I was sitting at a picnic table, at a campsite, in the woods-- and someone said something that made it all make sense.
Okay, back up a bit-- I went camping last weekend with a group of people I know mostly from online. It's a group where you can sign up to attend events, where you may or may not know the other people there, but you at least know you have a common interest in the event. I was busy moving Friday night and Saturday morning, so I arrived a day after everyone else, and it was close to dark when I arrived.
If you've ever tried to set up a tent in the dark in the woods, you understand the importance of getting set up before it gets dark. Even with headlamps and other handy lighting gear, it's difficult.
When I arrived, only one person introduced themselves-- the couple of other people there that I knew from previous events sort of nodded in my direction. Actually, no one really said much of anything.
Needing a place to sleep, I set to work getting my tarp, tent, stakes, and other gear from the trunk of my car into the woods. After about 20 minutes, I had my tent set up, and my chair unfolded and set up next to the campfire. Actually, no one said much of anything then, too. (A couple of people did say "Excuse me" when they almost tripped getting past me, which I suppose counts for something.)
The next morning was a little better, I guess-- I didn't sleep all that well, but morning sunshine and coffee can do a lot for a person, and I felt a little more social. I was still a little pissed off that no one had offered me any help the night before, but in daylight was actually a part of the conversation around the picnic table.
One of the women there said something that made it all make sense.
She was talking about someone she'd met at another similar group outing; she'd become friends with this guy, and he'd eventually asked her out, on a date. She'd said no-- she was confused, didn't want the complications. She went on to say that she was perfectly fine being single, that she was in a place in her life where she'd figured everything out and didn't need to go on dates. She figured that when (and if) she found someone, then she'd know.
Know? Know what, exactly?
That's when the fog cleared-- it wasn't necessarily that these people were assholes when they didn't offer to help my unpack my gear. (Side note: it's the same overall group I talked about here when I was talking about defectiveness, but not the same individual people.) It may well be that the reason they didn't help, was that by not helping, they weren't opening themselves up to being helped later on. Exchanging help would imply that someone needed help, that somehow they weren't a strong independent individual. They didn't need to exchange help for the same reason they wanted to do things with other people, but "not date".
This is a group of people who don't share secrets.
Sharing secrets is, I believe, one of the secrets to dealing with PTSD. First you have to learn to share your secrets with yourself. Then, at some point, healing and survival depends on learning to share your secrets with other people-- not just any yahoo on the street of course, but people you trust.
The trick, then, is to find people that you can trust, that also know how to share secrets.
Which is where it all makes sense.