I would guess about everyone has heard of flashbacks, but I don’t think all that many people realize there are different types of flashbacks. This post is going to explain them.
The first flashback is the type everyone knows. It’s where the person having the flashback feels as if they are reliving a traumatic event. It’s much like you’re watching a movie in your mind, but it seems so real, it can be very hard to differentiate between reality & the flashback as it’s happening.
There are also emotional flashbacks. Instead of feeling as if you’re reliving a traumatic event, you feel the emotions of a traumatic event flooding back to you. Something seemingly unrelated can trigger this, such as someone using a phrase your abuser used during the traumatic event or speaking to you in a similar manner to your abuser.
Both types of flashbacks also can trigger a sort of body flashback where you feel physical pain that you felt during a traumatic event. As an example, I’ve told the story before of how my mother threw me into a wall when I was 19. I had back pain for 10 years after that, then God healed me. Although God healed me over 18 years ago at this time I’m writing this, if I have a flashback of the night that happened, or sometimes if I just think about it, my back starts to hurt.
Having had all three types of flashbacks, I’ve learned some ways to cope with them that help me, & I hope will help you too.
During the flashback, I find it extremely important to keep myself grounded. People do all kinds of things to make that happen. Some clap their hands loudly, stomp their feet hard or hold an ice cube. I prefer touching something with either a very coarse or very soft texture. Smelling something with a strong scent is helpful too, such as lavender essential oil. A bonus of lavender is it has anti-anxiety properties to it, so not only does it smell lovely but it helps calm you naturally. I actually keep a small vial of lavender essential oil near me at all times just in case I need it. Whatever you choose to do, it needs to be something that basically “assaults” your senses to override the flashback & keep you grounded in reality.
It’s also a very good idea to remind yourself that this is only a flashback. It isn’t real. There is nothing that can hurt you happening right now. You’re completely safe.
Also try not to focus on anything else as the flashback is happening. Instead, focus only on getting yourself through it. Nothing else.
Once the flashback has subsided, chances are you’re going to feel tired. They take a lot of energy, physically & emotionally. That is totally normal. Try to take it easy if you can, & get some rest.
When you have recovered & feel able, I really recommend thinking about the topic of your flashback. If it was reliving a traumatic event, what was the event about? If it was an emotional one, do you know why this flashback was triggered? What happened that made you feel the way this event did?
From there, you can begin to deal with the event however works best for you. Pray, journal, talk to a close friend, a pastor or therapist or a combination of these things. Don’t forget to really feel the emotions connected to this event. You’re allowed to cry or get angry about it! In fact, you need to do so. Feeling the emotions will help to get the out of you & help you to heal.
A wonderful thing will happen as you heal from this painful & traumatic event. It will lose much of its power over you. It won’t hurt so much to remember it anymore, & it’s likely you won’t have a flashback about that particular event again.
This day is a difficult one for me. On November 28, 1990, my mother physically assaulted me.
It was the day before Thanksgiving. I got home from work & as soon as I walked through the door, I could tell my mother was itching for a fight. No idea why. My father could see it too, so he quickly said he got a new model airplane & wanted me to see it (we shared a love of models). I practically ran downstairs. I knew it was best never to give in when she was in that mood, so I was grateful for the means of escape.
We were downstairs for a few minutes when my mother stood at the top of the steps, yelling at me. I’m not proud of it, but I finally had enough when she called my car “a hunk of junk” or something like that. I snapped & cussed her out. It just happened. I don’t think the words went near my brain – they just came out. This enraged her, & she started yelling at my father. “Did you hear what she just said to me!? Are you going to let her get away with that?!” My father quietly went upstairs, & left the house while my mother raged at him.
Meanwhile, I went into my room to grab my keys & purse so I could do the same. As I walked back down the hall to get to the door, my mother stepped in my path. She told me she wasn’t going to let me leave. I told her get out of my way before I make you do it. She blocked the doorway by putting her hands & feet against it. I pushed her aside (not knocking her down, just knocking her a bit off balance so I could rush past her). I ran to grab my shoes & by then she was steady on her feet again. Before I knew it, she was in my face, & slammed me into the wall beside the front door, & held me there. My head was the only part I could move.
Two things went through my mind at that moment…
Suddenly I blacked out, I assume from the intense pain & fear. When I came to a moment later, I was biting her on the arm. She & I were both shocked at what I had done. My shock wore off a bit faster than hers, so I ran out the door & to my car & sped off in a cloud of tire smoke.
I believe my mother wanted to kill me, & if I wouldn’t have blacked out like that, she probably would have succeeded.
Interestingly, I caught up to my father at a traffic light. We pulled over & I told him what happened. We then went to my now ex husband’s parents’ home since it was nearby. My father later went to his parents’ home in Virginia. I moved in with a friend’s parents that night, & got my things from my parents’ home a couple of days later.
Naturally, my mother never accepted any responsibility in this. In fact, when I had to quit working a few months later, she told people I was just lazy & faking back problems to get out of working. And, in 2014, my father mentioned this incident.. He told me it’s ok, I didn’t have to apologize for busting up his wall. How kind, right?! I never even thought of how the wall was damaged, but he said it was really bad. He fixed it though, so I didn’t need to apologize. I told him I had no plans on doing so! Not my fault my mother broke it by slamming me into it!
This incident along with having extremely selfish in-laws who have demanded my husband & I spend the day with them no matter what (I spent it alone when I refused to go) is why I absolutely hate Thanksgiving. Kinda hard to feel warm & fuzzy about the day when there are memories like this assault & years of jerky acting in-laws associated with it.
I honestly thought I was ok with this incident. (Well, as ok as one can be when they think about their mother trying to kill them & father abandoning them to an obviously raging lunatic.) What makes it even harder, I think, is this year, the dates have fallen on the exact days they fell on in 1990, so in some weird way, I almost feel like I’m reliving that time of my life. I feel some of the same shock & anger I felt when it happened, just to a much lesser degree. I feel disappointment too. In my father for abandoning me that night, in my ex for making it all about how he felt about the incident & not caring about my pain (I think he even spent Thanksgiving with his family out of state the following day, if memory serves correctly), & my friend’s father who found it hilarious I bit my mother. I’m even disappointed in my mother for not only attacking me but using it as one more weapon to trash me to other people then expecting me to act like it never happened. I’m also disappointed in myself for failing to press charges against my mother. The thought never crossed my mind until not long ago when I friend mentioned it.
I’m also less than thrilled that thinking about this has made my C-PTSD flare up. Hardly surprising though. So if there are spelling or grammar errors in here, please pardon me. I tried to catch them all a couple of days after writing this, but it doesn’t always happen with flare ups.
I don’t even know why I’m writing all of this as a blog post. I do promise to keep my writing real but even so, this isn’t like me. Usually things like this I write in my journal, maybe sharing details later once I have had some time to come to terms with whatever the trauma was. For some reason though, I felt I needed to write this in my blog instead. Maybe someone who reads my blog needs to see this. If that describes you, Dear Reader, I really hope this post helps you somehow. ❤
Today’s post is a reminder for everyone who has been invalidated…
Your pain is real, & there is nothing wrong with you for feeling that pain. You aren’t crazy, stupid, weak, “wallowing”, living in the past, looking for attention or whatever other invalidating things you have been told. You have no reason to feel shame for what you’re feeling. Other people have no right to judge you. They aren’t you & they haven’t experienced the things that you have experienced. How can they say that you should or shouldn’t feel what you feel?! They can’t!
You, Dear Reader, are just fine. I know it may not feel that way, but it’s true.
Anyone who has survived narcissistic abuse is going to have some issues as a result. It’s just what happens due to the horrible nature of the abuse. Admittedly it, well, it sucks, but it’s also unavoidable. People lacking compassion & empathy fail to understand this. Or, they may see you dealing with your own pain & it serves as a reminder of their pain that they are working hard to ignore. That is why many people invalidate others- to shut them down so they don’t have to face their own issues & pain.
You’ve survived a lot, & if others can’t understand that or feel they must hurt you for it, they obviously have some problems! You hold your head up high & ignore the invalidating jerks! You go on, doing what you need to do to heal, & pay no attention to the invalidators of the world. You have survived so much, you can survive a person who doesn’t possess the humanity to display basic respect & love for a fellow human being!
I have a knack for remembering dates, including kinda obscure ones, that even having brain damage hasn’t affected. I graduated high school on May 13, 1989, for example.
Two other dates I remember are August 23, 1990 & November 24, 1990. Those were the dates I met & then broke up with a man I was involved with. He made me feel so guilty for breaking up with him that ever year for many years, I dreaded those dates because I’d feel such guilt. Although he was only in my life briefly, the dysfunctional relationship had quite an impact on me.
January 31, 2014, I learned that he shot & killed his boyfriend & then himself two days before. The news came as a complete shock to me since I had absolutely no clue of his orientation or capacity for murder. Keeping in mind my knack for remembering dates, all those dates bring him to mind & every time, make me sad for him, his family, his victim & his victim’s family.
A few times, I’ve mentioned the date in passing conversation & the person I was speaking with told me, “Just don’t think about it.” It sat very wrong with me, even when I knew the person had good intentions, & I’ll tell you why.
“Just don’t think about it” is invalidating. You’re thinking about something that bothers you & are trying to talk it out, yet the other person shuts you down. That is invalidation. Why they do it doesn’t change that fact.
If you “just don’t think about it”, how are you supposed to heal from the incident? If you want to heal, you have to think about it & process the emotions connected to it. Not thinking about it is no help at all!
Not thinking about it also contributes to mental & physical problems. It can create anxiety, depression, anger, high blood pressure, heart disease, & kidney disease. It also reduces the effectiveness of your immune system, leaving you open to sickness.
Obviously, “just don’t think about it” is not good advice & you should NOT follow it!
I’m not saying you should think of nothing but the traumatic event you were told not to think about. Instead, I’m saying work with it. Realize you feel as you do for a reason. Maybe it’s there to let you know now is the time you should face this issue. If so, face it. No, it isn’t easy to face past trauma, but do it anyway! If you face it, it will lose much maybe even all of the negative effect it has over you. It also won’t affect your physical health.
If it’s something you’ve already dealt with like I have dealt with my situation, maybe it’s a reminder to pray for the people involved. I know, praying for a person who has abused you, especially one with no remorse or who has made you out to be the abusive one is tough, but do it anyway. Do it not because this person deserves your prayers, but because God wants you to do it & because it really can help you. Praying for those who use & abuse you is incredibly helpful at releasing the anger & even bitterness you feel towards them. Carrying such things around isn’t good for your health, so why do it? You can maintain boundaries or even no contact while not carrying around anger.
Whatever you feel when something traumatic comes to mind, honor those feelings & know they are there for a valid reason. Accept them without judgement. Face them however you feel you need to do in order to heal. Pray for the abusive person if you can too. Whatever you do though, remember that “just don’t think about it” is terrible advice. Ignore the advice, & take good care of yourself!
Recently I read an article about symptoms of PTSD. I didn’t think much more about it at first, but it kinda bopped around the back of my mind a bit for a few days.
A couple of days later, my husband & I had to go to the doctor for our health insurance. His appointment was first, & we texted periodically. He mentioned the doctor was concerned about his depression. When I saw the doctor, I asked him about it & he said, “I see a lot of people day after day. He has the look many have who have been depressed for years.” I thought it was an interesting statement- he’s very observant!
A couple of days later, something hit me. Our doctor didn’t say a word about my mental health. Not a comment one about me looking like someone who’s been depressed for years, even though I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t depressed. Somehow, my lazy Susan-esque brain connected that with the article I read about PTSD symptoms. In that moment I realized just how much I have been ignoring my C-PTSD symptoms. I’m so good at it that even my observant doctor had no idea I struggle with C-PTSD.
Yes, I’m hyper-vigilant, but you probably wouldn’t know it to look at me. Rather than upset people by startling easy, I am on constant guard, surveying my environment so not much surprises me.
I also get very quiet when I have flashbacks. Naturally I’m quiet anyway so that isn’t a huge red flag My husband has seen me have many flashbacks, but hasn’t noticed a lot of them because of that. I don’t even tell him most of the time when I have flashbacks. I just recover & go on the best I can.
These are just two examples, but there are others.
Thinking of such things I realized how incredibly unhealthy this is that I ignore so many of my symptoms. On the outside, I look like I’m managing the C-PTSD just fine, but on the inside is a very different story.
In considering all of this, I think this happens simply out of habit. Growing up with narcissistic parents, I learned early never to “bother” my parents with my problems. My purpose was to take care of them, not the other way around. As a result, like most children of narcissistic parents, I learned to hide or even ignore anything that didn’t please them. I ignored emotions, illness, thoughts, wants, & needs. Now here I am, an adult in my 40’s with my own life, still hiding & ignoring important things that I shouldn’t be hiding or ignoring.
No doubt I’m not the only person in this position, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on the issue with you, Dear Reader.
It’s important with PTSD & C-PTSD to manage your symptoms. Ignoring them isn’t the same thing. Managing them means you have some control over your symptoms. Ignoring them means you’re working hard to pretend they don’t exist, which shows they have control over you.
Ignoring symptoms also means the problem won’t get fixed or at least controlled. It also can mean you face health problems because emotions that are ignored can cause stress & we all know stress is terrible for your physical & emotional health.
With both PTSD & C-PTSD, there are some symptoms that are just a part of life but others that can be managed. Flashbacks come to mind. Rather than ignoring them or simply accepting them, why not make them work for you whenever possible? Flashbacks can be a sign of a particular issue that you need to work on. I’ve learned that if I deal with the issue my flashback was about, I don’t have another about that particular issue. The same goes for nightmares. This also can work with anxiety. Figure out what is the root of this anxiety. Ask God to help you if need be. Once you know the root, you can face the problem & eliminate one cause of your anxiety. Chipping away at it one issue at a time can help make it more manageable.
Maybe your symptoms are flaring up because you’ve been pushing yourself too hard lately or it’s near the anniversary of some traumatic event. If that is the case, your brain is trying to tell you to slow down & do some good self care. Listen to the symptoms! They’re trying to get your attention for a reason!
Remember, PTSD & C-PTSD are potentially life threatening disorders. They should be taken very seriously. Ignoring your symptoms isn’t going to help you & can hurt you. Pay attention to your symptoms- your brain is trying to tell you something, so listen to it!
It seems like there is a strange believe among many people that processing trauma quickly is a sign of strength. People are admired for getting back to work or a normal routine quickly, & it’s assumed they’re “over it” when they do that. Unfortunately a lot of people who others think are “over it” are actually avoiding dealing with their pain.
Healing from trauma of any sort isn’t a quick process. How could it be? Trauma overloads your mind, emotions & even body. It’s impossible to simply shake it off & move on. It’s even worse when you’ve been exposed to repeated traumas, such as in the case of child abuse.
Never let anyone make you feel weak or ashamed because you’re not “over it” yet. Truly processing trauma takes time, & lots of it. It also takes a great deal of energy & courage to face the ugly truth, to get angry about it, & to grieve about it. It may take a lifetime to do. There is no shame in that. It doesn’t mean you’re weak. It means you’ve been through unimaginable circumstances.
I realized something recently that has been a big help to me, & I believe it can be to you too.
When remembering some of the traumatic & abusive events I’ve been through in my life recently, suddenly I started seeing just how wrong those things were. Oddly, doing that small gesture has helped loosen the hold the damage from such events had over me. I think that happens because I never really questioned these things before.
If you’re reading my blog, chances are you too have experience with narcissists, so you probably know just what I’m talking about. Narcissists don’t allow you to question anything. Whatever they say or do, that is the end of the matter. They’re right, according to them, & you aren’t allowed to think otherwise. Especially with parents, when this happens often as a child, you learn not to question things, just accept them as fact. Seeing clearly that they were wrong & accepting that is a big step in breaking the hold this abuse has over you.
I recently had a flashback about something that happened to me in late 1989 when I was 18. My current ex husband & I were dating, & I hadn’t moved out of my parents’ home at that time. I forget why, but he wanted to use my car one day, so we swapped cars. I was off work that day & my mother insisted I go to the grocery store with her. I said before I went, I wanted to put gas in the car since it was low, as usual. I’d do that then meet her at the store. I did, & on my way to the store, I lost control of the car & landed in a ditch around a turn. It was raining, & the ex’s car had bald tires, so it’s no surprise this happened in spite of me being very careful. Thankfully I wasn’t hurt, & his car only had minimal damage. This happened close to my ex’s parents’ house so I went there. A nice man driving a dump truck took pity on me walking in the rain & gave me a ride. When I got there, I told the ex’s dad what happened. He arranged to get the car towed & I called my mother at the grocery store (pre-cell phones, obviously).
You’d think ditching the car was the trauma, but it wasn’t. When I called my mother, she yelled at me, telling me she knew when I didn’t show up, I’d been in an accident & it served me right for driving that piece of junk car. The ex’s father was furious at what happened, blaming me for driving recklessly. The ex’s mother also blamed me but was at least nicer about it. The ex, believe it or not, was glad it happened, because it meant his parents would finally buy him the new tires he wanted. Later that evening, the ex & I visited my (narcissistic) grandmother who wouldn’t have cared less what I had went through that day.
For years, I accepted that this accident was my fault & I deserved what I got. It simply hadn’t crossed my mind to question that until my recent flashback. Suddenly it hit me how incredibly wrong this whole event was! I didn’t know just how bad the tires were- all I heard was they were wearing out so be careful. I never thought to check for myself. It wasn’t my car, so why would I, especially when my ex was a mechanic? Also, this could’ve been avoided if I’d had my own car- it was ridiculous my ex wanted to have mine as often as he did at that time. Granted, mine was the better of our two cars, but if he wanted better, he should have got his own better car! My ex’s parents should have replaced the tires, too, since they knew just how bad the tires were. And lastly my mother.. that is how she treated her own daughter after her first car wreck?! No “Are you ok?” or any sign of concern, just yelling at & blaming me. Considering her mother didn’t care either, it’s obvious where she got her lack of compassion.
For the first time, I finally realized how wrong all of this was. Every single person in this scenario was wrong except me, the one who got all the blame! I realized how wrong it is that the only person who was nice to me in that incident was the dump truck driver- a total stranger! This entire situation was wrong- every single thing about it!
Looking at the situation differently reminded me of turning a kaleidoscope. One small turn & the scene inside looks entirely different. At least kaleidoscopes give a pretty picture. This was far from pretty, but at least it helped me to release the guilt I felt for almost 29 years!
Since this happened, I’ve been looking at other situations in a new light, & having the same type of results. The slight turn of the kaleidoscope gave me a new perspective, & enabled me to release guilt, shame, & false beliefs while accepting the truth in their place.
Dear Reader, I urge you to try this too. Think about a specific trauma in your life from a more objective perspective. Try to look at it as if you’re watching a movie, for example, or as if it’s happening to someone else, so your emotions are not so involved. Chances are, you’ll see how wrong & unfair it was as I have. Did it help you to release any guilt or false beliefs you had received as a result of that awful experience? If not, ask God to tell you the truth about it, & I have no doubt He will help you to release those things!
So many of us raised with narcissistic parents have heard the phrase “just let it go” too many times to count upon mentioning our awful upbringing. People fail to realize that we would love to let it go & not think about it anymore. Unfortunately, it’s just not that simple!
Narcissistic abuse is incredibly ubiquitous. It doesn’t simply affect one small part of you- it permeates every area of your mind & even body. All of your thinking stems from the perspective of someone who was abused by a narcissist. Your body may reflect that abuse too, even if the narcissist didn’t attempt to hurt you physically. The constant stress of living with a narcissist can lead to adrenal fatigue, thyroid problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, C-PTSD or PTSD (which are both brain injuries resulting from surviving trauma).
Simply put, you can’t “just let go of” such things no matter how much you wish you could. And honestly, why would you? To make some cold hearted, unfeeling person more comfortable in your presence? Life experiences- good, bad or indifferent- made you the person you are. Learn from them all & grow!
There are some things you can let go of, however. You can let go of:
The next time someone tells you to “just let it go,” you can tell them what you have let go, using the above statements as an example. Or, if you really want to throw them for a loop, ask them what exactly do they want you to let go of & how they recommend you go about doing so.
So many survivors of narcissistic abuse I’ve spoken with take on so much blame for being abused. They say things like, “I should’ve known he was this way when we first met…” or, “I was a difficult child.. my mother had to be hard on me.”
This makes me sad. People need to have a balanced view of blame rather than taking on too much.
If you too grew up with a narcissistic parent or two, there is a great deal of blame to be laid on your parent(s). If you have C-PTSD, anxiety or depression issues, struggle with self-harm or eating disorders, chances are very good the root of those problems lies with enduring narcissistic abuse as a child. Nothing you did could create these problems for yourself. It is your responsibility to deal with those problems, but not for having the problems.
If your narcissistic mother shamed you, told you that you were a mistake, ignored you or was abusive instead of disciplining you, the fault lies with her. No matter what a child does, a child cannot make her parent treat her in such cruel ways. No bad behavior is a valid reason to abuse a child!
Having trouble relating to other people after being raised by a narcissist or two is completely normal. The blame for that can be traced back to your narcissistic parent(s). However, the responsibility for making changes to have healthier relationships is on you.
Not having a healthy balance in such areas & accepting blame for these things can lead to nothing but misery. False guilt, shame, depression, anxiety & more can result.
Do you place blame where it belongs or do you take on too much blame, Dear Reader? I urge you to take a long, hard, honest look at your situation. Ask God to help you identify areas where you’re in need of balance. He will!
I realize that saying your narcissistic mother is to blame for your problems as an adult can trigger unkind, even cruel, comments from others who don’t understand narcissistic abuse. That being said, I urge you also to consider carefully who you discuss this with. Aim for safe people- people who have been through similar situations, who are non-judgmental & have your best interest at heart. If you’re unsure if anyone in your life currently fits that description, then check online. There are many online support groups. (I have a Facebook group that is full of love & support. You’re welcome to check it out if you like.) Talking about it can help you a great deal, when you talk with the right people.
When you first learn that you have PTSD or C-PTSD, you will hear about having nightmares, but very little has been discussed about what kind of nightmares.
When I first realized I had C-PTSD in 2012, I read everything I could find on the disorder, & kept seeing nightmares on the list of symptoms. I assumed it would be dreams repeating traumatic events. Unpleasant, for sure, but I lived through the real thing so I figured I could handle the nightmares.
Not even close!
I have had nightmares ever since I can remember, but the frequency has increased greatly since 2012. And, of the many nightmares, very few were actually reliving the trauma. Instead, many were very strange, such as having my car stolen then totaled, finding a little child I needed to protect or other odd subject matter. I honestly wondered what was wrong with me. How could I have such awful & strange dreams yet nothing of the trauma I have been through? It seemed completely bizarre to me.
Recently I realized something.. these dreams may not be specifically about trauma, but they share similar emotions to traumatic experiences I have had. The nightmares often leave me feeling powerless, abused, unloved (even hated), helpless & more.
I’ve heard a few people say their nightmares are much like mine- not about traumatic events, but about events that trigger similar emotions.
I believe this means such nightmares must be a normal part of having C-PTSD or PTSD.
If you too are having odd, unsettling nightmares, then know you aren’t alone. Nightmares are part of PTSD & C-PTSD, unfortunately.
As disturbing as they are, they may be able to help you. Dreams & nightmares alike have meanings. They’re never random, even though they feel that way.
Dreams can show you areas you need healing in or areas where you have healed well. They can show you things you weren’t aware of or you need to be aware of. They also can simply help you because your brain is processing some information. The brain processes information every single moment, even when you’re asleep.
If you want to understand your dreams & nightmares, prayer is the best place to start. Ask God to help you to understand them & learn what you need to know from them.
A good dream dictionary is a helpful tool too. I use a website (there are many to choose from). They can help you to see what each item in your dream represents, which can make it easier to interpret them.
It’s also a good idea to keep track of your dreams. Write them down & look them over from time to time. That can help encourage you when you see how far you’ve come. It also can help to remind you of things you need to deal with.
Personally I write down my dreams & nightmares, plus what I find the meaning of everything I can remember in them. Colors, objects, people, feelings. Once it’s all written down, I ask God to help me to understand what the dream or nightmare meant. It’s proven to be quite helpful to me many times. It could benefit you as well
Triggers are things that remind us of things in our life. Good triggers are wonderful, such as the sound of that whipped cream in a can being sprayed always reminds me of my late kitty, Delta, who would do a little happy kitty dance for a dollop of that whipped cream. Her cuteness always made me smile.
Unfortunately there are also bad triggers, such as something that triggers a bad memory or even a flashback to abuse or trauma. Although I live not far from the town my parents have lived in since the year before I was born, I avoid going there as much as possible. So many things in that town trigger bad memories & even flashbacks there. On my way to the vet’s office once, as I passed the library where I worked in my late teens, I had a flashback behind the wheel! Thankfully it happened at a red light. Also thankfully, Sabrina, the cat that had the appointment, knew something was wrong & helped to bring me out of it by gently scratching my hand. (Interestingly that was the only time she has scratched me in her entire life)
When you have PTSD or C-PTSD, you naturally try to avoid the bad triggers as much as possible. Even so, triggers still happen. No matter how careful you are, at some point, someone will say something, you’ll hear a sound, or you’ll smell an old & familiar scent that can mentally transport you back in time to a place you try never to think about. It’s simply impossible to avoid triggers entirely no matter how careful you are.
Since you can’t avoid triggers, the only other thing you can do is manage them when they do happen. The best ways to manage bad triggers that I have found are to stop what I’m doing, breathe deeply a few times, ask God for help, & focus on something to help keep me grounded. Good triggers can help in this situation. I have some perfume that my grandmom gave me when I was a kid. Smelling it helps to keep me grounded because not only is the scent fairly strong, it automatically reminds me of someone very special to me when I smell it. Like flashbacks, it takes something rather strong to the senses to help keep your focus- a very soft or rough fabric, a strong scent, or something very cold (like an ice cube).
I have a small flashback “kit” that contains two small sample size perfume vials- one of that perfume from my grandmom in one & the other lavender scented oil (lavender is known for its relaxation properties) & a very smooth, pretty pink quartz rock to hold. I’ve found these things help to keep me grounded during a flashback or trigger. If you find things that work for you, I would suggest creating your own flashback kit, & keep it with you in case you are subjected to a trigger or have a flashback.
Children of narcissistic parents often experience similar types of abuse when growing up. So many of us have spoken to others & said things like, “Yea!! My mother did that exact same thing!” Many of my readers have told me their stories & they sound oddly similar to my own. Their mothers told them they were crazy, fat, stupid, ugly, worthless, etc. They used similar gaslighting phrases to my mother’s, such as “I don’t remember it that way.” “You’re crazy!” “What is wrong with you?” The similarities are uncanny! In fact, I’ve often wondered if they all have some sort of secret narcissistic instruction manual since so many narcissists act very similar.
The abuse isn’t the only thing that’s similar about being raised by narcissistic parents. The damage done is oddly similar.
Dear Reader, chances are you have experienced symptoms like this, probably more. Maybe it’s even what brought you to my blog today. If you are experiencing such things, then please know you aren’t crazy! You’re far from it in fact. You’re a normal person who has experienced extremely abnormal things, & had a normal reaction to them.
I can’t tell you today that the symptoms will all go away quickly, because they won’t. Prayer, love & support from those around you, counseling will help you get healthier. Prayer in particular is the most important thing you can do to help yourself. Remember, the Bible referred to Jesus as “The Great Physician” & “Wonderful Counselor”- who better to help you get through this? Also, the more you learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the more it will help you to see that you were not the real problem, contrary to what you were told. You may need to go no contact for your healing to progress, or at the least go low contact. The more distance between you & your abusive parent, the better it is for your mental & physical health. You’ll gain clarity you can’t have when in their presence often. You also will stop functioning in survival mode, which will allow you to think of yourself for once rather than your parents.
The symptoms resulting from narcissistic abuse are nothing to take lightly. Take care of yourself. You deserve to be happy & healthy! xoxo
So many people I talk to that have survived narcissistic abuse tell the same story about how people in their lives responded to them discussing the abuse. They were met with invalidation (“It couldn’t have been that bad!” “Other people had it way worse than you did.”), scolding (“How can you say those things about your own mother?!”), disbelief or being accused of being unforgiving or needing to “get over it”.
Especially in the early days of awareness of narcissism & learning what you went through really is abuse- you aren’t crazy or to blame like you were told- this sort of behavior is devastating. The more you heal, the better you can handle it, but I don’t think it ever stops hurting at least some to be met with such indifference to your pain. It can leave you bitter & angry if you allow it to.
In all fairness, you certainly have a right to be angry at people who say such things! It’s heartless & hurtful! So get angry! Get it out of you so you can forgive. You don’t deserve to live with that anger inside of you, stealing your joy! Whether the other person deserves your forgiveness or asks for it is irrelevant. You deserve better than carrying around anger inside of you!
That being said, there are other ways to cope.
Journalling is a wonderful thing. It is a completely safe way to get your feelings out, especially if you use a password protected journalling website. This will help you to let go of all the negative feelings.
Focus on the positive. Just because one person mistreated you doesn’t mean everyone will. Appreciate your good friends & let them know you appreciate them! What other good things are in your life? Maybe start a gratitude journal- daily, write down at least 2 things you’re grateful for.
Accept the fact that not everyone will understand what you’ve been through. In all honesty, narcissistic abuse can be hard to wrap your mind around, especially if you’ve never been exposed to it. (Even if you’ve been through it, it’s hard to grasp!) And sadly, some people have no desire to even try. With people like this, it’s just smart not to discuss the topic of narcissism. They won’t be convinced of anything you say because they lack the desire to understand. When that wall is up, it stays up, & nothing you say can make a difference. Stick to more neutral topics with this person, & if you need to discuss something you’ve been through, then seek out someone who understands.
Something I’ve noticed about survivors of narcissistic abuse is many become very sensitive. The smallest thing can hurt or devastate them. It’s quite understandable, really. After being verbally abused so much, they probably have reached their limit, & just can’t tolerate any more insults, invalidation, etc.
Unfortunately, they are often also very sad people, feeling abused or mistreated when no such thing was intended.
Does this describe you? If so, then I urge you to consider making a change!
Try to remember to respond rather than react. What I mean is stop for a moment before feeling or saying anything. Think- did this person say something hurtful to you just after losing a loved one? Being fired? Stubbing their toe on the coffee table? Then they aren’t trying to hurt you out of maliciousness- they’re in a bad mood. It’s nothing personal! Remind yourself it’s nothing personal- the person is just in a bad mood & you just happened to be there. If you aren’t sure, then ask God to tell you the truth. Is it you or is the other person having a bad day?
On the other hand, if the person is deliberately trying to hurt you & you know this, then you know what? It’s also not personal. This person has issues & for whatever reason, finds you a good victim. You haven’t done anything to deserve this- the other person simply has problems. I’ve reminded myself of this with my narcissistic mother repeatedly. She got mad at me when a friend of hers complemented me once, & spent the rest of our time together making me miserable. It hurt, but I reminded myself this is how she is! She is so insecure, she can’t handle anyone in her presence getting any positive attention from anyone, so she will do her best to ruin the positive attention by being demeaning & hateful.
I know this can be hard to do with narcissists, but it does get easier in time. The more you learn about NPD, the more you understand that they have big problems, & you are NOT one of them! I’m speaking from experience- this really is true! I feel like thanks to realizing my mother has problems, I’m a narcissistic abuse navy seal by now. It takes quite a bit to phase me anymore. After my mother spending hours & hours screaming at me, telling me what a horrible person I am, really, what else is there?! A stranger flipping me off in traffic isn’t going to upset me for more than a moment. Someone obviously hating me & trying to bully me? Yea, whatever…. I’ve dealt with bigger & badder & survived.
Most of all, keep a good relationship with God as your top priority. Know you can go to Him anytime, asking for help. In fact, ask Him other ways to help you not to take things so personally.
If you’re over sensitive, then there isn’t something wrong with you. It’s just proof you’ve been through way too much pain. But, you deserve better than going through life hurt all of the time just because someone acted insensitively to you! Please, for your own sake, Dear Reader, try to put into practice what I’ve mentioned here. Your life can be much happier for it!
There are conflicting messages for victims of abuse. Some people encourage victims to speak out. Help raise awareness! Confronting your abuser will be good for you! Others encourage victims to keep quiet. Stop dredging up the past. Forgive & forget.
Rather than stating what I think victims should do, I would like to encourage you to decide what is right for yourself. After all, being vocal about being abused can be very challenging. Being vocal about it means you’re reliving some of the most painful experiences of your life. It also means some will criticize you harshly. You may lose friends & family who side with your abuser. Is this something you can deal with?
There are pros & cons for speaking out as well as staying quiet. You need to consider them seriously before making any decisions.
Silence isn’t always good, as it can encourage an abuser to continue abusing. Knowing the victim won’t tell anyone what is happening gives the abuser free reign to do as she/he pleases without fear of consequences. It also means things can stay pretty much the same for the victim in that her friends & family will continue treating her as they always have. Silence allows the victim to continue in the familiar place that she is accustomed to. This can be a good thing, to a degree, especially if she does not feel strong enough to confront her abuser or even discuss what has happened, & if this is only a temporary place.
Telling her story can empower the victim. She takes back the power that her abuser stole by forcing her to stay silent. She realizes it’s her story & she can do as she sees fit with it. She can help & inspire others who have been through similar circumstances if she opts to go public with her story (such as blogging about it, for example). By speaking openly about what happened, she also can give her family the opportunity to grow & to heal. However, telling also means that she can be setting herself up for criticism, even from those closest to her. Those she believed were on her side may turn against her. They may refuse to believe her, tell others she’s lying, or invalidate her pain if she speaks to them about the situation. And, if she opts to confront her abuser, that can open up a new world of pain. Abusers hate confrontation, especially narcissistic abusers. The abuser may turn the entire situation around, blaming the victim for what happened or denying they did anything wrong. Often, the one telling the truth is demonized by abusers as well as those who may have known about the abuse but did nothing. Many people can’t live with what they have done, so they vilify the victim.
What do you think is your answer, Dear Reader?
Before you answer that question, I urge you to pray. Let God give you advice on which way to go, & how to go about it. Also, allow Him to give you the strength you need, because either way is very challenging. You will need His strength. And remember, 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “But his answer was: “My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak.” I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me.” (GNT) God will empower you to do anything you need to do!
Going no contact with a narcissistic parent (or two) is an incredibly difficult thing to do. It takes a tremendous amount of prayer, thought, discussion & energy to make that decision. Chances are you feel peace about your decision even though it hurts things came to this. You read about the smear campaign & flying monkeys, so you feel prepared, but the truth is, you aren’t. Other things can happen that no one warns you about.
One of the other things is the incredible influx of memories, nightmares & even flashbacks that happen.
I functioned my entire life with my parents in survival mode. It wasn’t until they were out of my life for almost one year (this past May 5) that survival mode finally stopped. I finally felt safe enough to let my guard down, not worry that at anytime they may show up at my home, may call or I may see them in a public place. It was as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders! At least until the nightmares, repressed memories & flashbacks started.
While I’ve experienced them all for many years, the sheer amount was shocking. It seemed like I couldn’t go a day without something happening, often a few times a day, & frankly, it was overwhelming & scary at first. Upon praying about it, God spoke to my heart saying I no longer have my parents in my life demanding so much of my attention & focus, so now is the time to heal. When memories came up, or nightmares or flashbacks happened, pray, & He would enable me to heal. He truly has!!
Each time something happens, I pray about it. I feel the anger or hurt, & tell God about it. I often journal about it too, because something about seeing things in writing is so validating. It’s a good reminder that I didn’t deserve the things that happened to me & that none of it was my fault, as I was told.
Doing such things has brought me a tremendous amount of healing in a short time! Yes, it’s been difficult, but I’ve been through much more difficult things. And, as a bonus, at least these difficulties have a purpose- to help me to heal. Thankfully, things have slowed down quite a bit. I can go a couple of days without a nightmare, repressed memory or flashback.
If this happens to you too after going no contact with your parents, Dear Reader, don’t be surprised. In fact, I would encourage you to go with it. This may be a time of great healing for you. If it happens, I would recommend you start by praying. I don’t even know why I didn’t pray as soon as things began to happen, but it was a mistake on my part. As soon as I did pray though, my healing started to make real progress. I’m sure yours will too! All you have to do is trust God & work with Him however He suggests.
If you have PTSD or C-PTSD, you know about nightmares. You have them so often, they aren’t a surprise. They’re just a way of life. Yet, little is mentioned about the nightmares.
I’d always had frequent nightmares, but it got much worse in 2012 which is when I realized I had C-PTSD. I began having several almost every night, which of course led to a lot of fatigue. The nightmares also became even more vivid than usual, which is saying something since I’ve always had very vivid dreams. They became so vivid in fact, that often I would wake up feeling as if I’d just done whatever I did in the dream. If I dreamed I ran a marathon, for example, I woke up physically tired & achy.
After learning about C-PTSD, I assumed the nightmares would be about reliving traumatic events, which does happen, but only rarely. Most of my nightmares are about strange things- being an adult yet having to repeat high school & relying on my mother to take me rather than driving my own car; while repeating high school as an adult, being unable to find or remember the combination to my locker; my car being stolen &/or totaled; my husband mocking me when I was obviously upset or rejecting me somehow; or someone letting my cats outside & they ran away. Strange stuff! I finally asked God about it after waking up for yet one more bizarre nightmare. What He shared made a lot of sense & I think it will if you too suffer with odd nightmares like I do.
The brain constantly processes information, whether the information is good, bad or indifferent. Our dreams are often a result of that processing, because the brain doesn’t take breaks. Sometimes we don’t remember dreams because they weren’t important- the brain simply processed something unimportant. Other times, it tries to make sense of horrible things that have happened, which is where nightmares come into it. Sometimes the brain relives those awful, traumatic events in an attempt to understand it, but not always. Sometimes nightmares look as if they have nothing to do with traumatic events on the surface, yet they actually have a lot to do with them.
While the circumstances of the dreams may be different, the emotions they stir up feel exactly like some trauma you have experienced. My nightmare of my car being stolen & totaled? It caused a huge amount of anxiety & fear, & I felt completely helpless. Eventually I realized it triggered the exact same emotions of my seventeenth birthday. That day, my mother took my gifts from my then boyfriend/now ex husband & destroyed them on the way home from school. She blamed me for making her do that & making her car messy. The event caused me so much anxiety (knowing I’d have to tell my ex what happened to his gifts), fear (wondering what she was going to do next) & I felt helpless (she destroyed the gifts as I was picking up her Avon order & gone for maybe 3 minutes- I couldn’t have known what she was going to do or stop her from doing it)
When these nightmares happen, the good news is that they have a purpose. They show you that there is an area in which you need more healing. It can be hard to figure out, so I highly recommend asking God about it. He loves you & wants to help you, so let Him! Ask Him what did that dream mean? If you like, you also can look up symbols on a dream dictionary website- I’ve done this. I write down everything I can from my dream- items, colors, feelings- then look up what each means & write it down beside each item. Sometimes things make more sense to me when I see them in writing so that can be a helpful tool.
Once you realize what the dream was trying to make sense of, you can heal. Work on coping with the traumatic event however works for you- pray, talk to a therapist, talk to a close friend, write in your diary. What you do doesn’t matter, so long as it works for you.
I know nightmares are a very difficult part of C-PTSD & PTSD, but they are also unavoidable. Why not make them work in your favor by learning what they’re trying to help you cope with? Once you do, the nightmares often go away or at the very least don’t happen nearly as often. I haven’t had a dream about my car being stolen or totaled in a couple of years. 🙂
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (NKJV)
As many of you know, I have agoraphobia. Leaving home, sometimes even to go into my yard, is very difficult or impossible. Anxiety takes over & logic that nothing is going to go wrong or hurt me goes out the window. Quite frankly, it sucks.
Recently I’ve been wanting to go for a drive. That’s all- just enjoy a short drive in my awesome car. However, the agoraphobia left me at home & my car sitting…
A few days ago, I opened up my email first thing in the morning. I get a Scripture delivered daily. That particular day the Scripture I shared above was in the email. When I read it, something clicked in my mind. No, God didn’t give me a spirit of fear. My agoraphobia is NOT from Him.
The agoraphobia started in 1996, just after my paternal grandmom passed away. My husband told his mother, who didn’t even acknowledge my loss- she changed the subject. A short time later, this exact same experience happened with his sister. Somehow, these experiences cemented in my mind that I don’t matter. I shouldn’t bother anyone with my problems or even my presence, which is a belief that stems from my upbringing with my narcissistic parents. Their behavior made this belief evolve into feeling like I don’t even have the right to leave home, possibly bothering people in public places.
Thinking about this angered me a great deal. As is common with many adult children of narcissistic parents, I’m suffering because of other people’s cruelty. This agoraphobia isn’t from God at all, & that Scripture was a reminder of that.
2 Timothy 1:7 enabled me not only to go for a ride, but a longer one than I originally wanted to do. And, I got on smaller interstates too! (After getting sick in 2015 & being unable to drive for a long time, I lost a lot of confidence in driving. I’ve avoided bigger roads & interstates since.)
I’m not saying I’m cured. Even thinking of leaving home now makes me tense up. However, I do know that keeping these things in mind is going to be helpful for me leaving home in the future.
I’m sharing this with you today, Dear Reader, because I know so many of you also live with anxiety &/or agoraphobia. Please consider what I wrote about here. Know that such awful things are NOT from God. It helped me to remember that & get mad at those who put the anxiety & agoraphobia on me. Maybe it can help you as well to think about it. What is the root of your anxiety? If you don’t know, then ask God- He will show you. He showed me why I have agoraphobia. I never would’ve guessed that on my own! He can do the same for you. Once you get to the root of the problem, you can work on healing it properly.
I recently was talking recently with a lady about this very topic- can someone be completely healed of the effects of narcissistic abuse? We both shared the same opinion. With God, of course, all things are possible. However, to be completely healed isn’t necessarily the norm.
For one thing, narcissistic abuse infects every area of your being. The stress of it can affect you physically, such as developing high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, or heart disease. The negativity & crazy making affect you mentally. So many victims feel like they’re crazy. Many lose their self esteem or live with depression & anxiety. A lot of victims live with PTSD or C-PTSD after leaving the relationship with a narcissist. Many people in a relationship with narcissists are affected financially. Narcissists see people as nothing more than tools to be used in whatever way benefits the narcissist, so many victims lose a great deal of money to their narcissist. Many victims are also affected spiritually because of the narcissist’s weird religious beliefs or being overly “religious”, using God to make the victim feel like a bad person, God is punishing them or the like.
For another thing, if you had a narcissistic parent (or two), the abuse is even worse simply due to the nature of the relationship. It goes so deeply against nature for a parent to abuse a child instead of loving & caring for her, that it’s virtually impossible to accept. That can deeply affect a child no matter that child’s age. Many are in denial, saying their narcissistic mother was just quirky or over protective rather than narcissistic. Some believe their covertly narcissistic parent was naive, & didn’t know any better. Or, they believe the covertly narcissistic parent was incapable of stopping the overtly narcissistic parent from abusing them for various reasons.
Also, childhood forms who you are as an adult. Whether you had a good or bad upbringing, you are a product of your childhood. I think childhood is much like the foundation of a home. If a home’s foundation is damaged, the home won’t be safe. If you had a bad childhood, your adulthood won’t be healthy until you fix the damage done to you in childhood.
You may never fully heal from the abuse. It’s quite normal. If you get to the place the abuse doesn’t consume you, you’re doing great. If you can think or talk about certain events without feeling devastated, but instead feeling more like you’re remembering an unpleasant dream, you’re doing great. It’s quite possible you may not be healed more than that. In my personal experience plus observations of the many other victims of narcissistic abuse I’ve spoken with, complete healing isn’t common. In fact, I haven’t seen it myself.
If you are like most of us & still struggling even many years after the abuse happened, please know you’re not alone! Not by a long shot! You also aren’t weak or a failure. God hasn’t abandoned you either. In fact, He is with you during the worst times, whether you feel His presence or not. I’ll close this post with a beautiful reminder of that fact..
1The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
Mental illness is very different from physical illness in many ways. One of those ways is the fact most people don’t usually believe someone has a mental illness. If you have diabetes, people can see there’s a problem. They see you testing your glucose or giving yourself an insulin shot. If you have cancer, you have xrays, mri’s & maybe even a visible tumor that people can see. But if you have a mental illness, there isn’t such evidence.
If you have Bipolar disorder, you’re just “moody.”
If you have C-PTSD or PTSD, you’re “dwelling in the past, need to stop thinking about things, need to get over it or you can’t have it because you weren’t in the military.”
If you’re depressed or anxious, “you’re feeling sorry for yourself, stop being sad or anxious, need to get out more or take a pill & get over it.” “Everyone feels sad/anxious” is another common comment.
What people fail to realize is you can’t control the symptoms of mental illness any more than you can physical illness.
As someone who is not only suffering with mental illness but also frustrated with the lack of compassion & understanding many people have about it, you may do like many people, & try to explain & justify your illness. Chances are, this will only frustrate you further.
As someone with mental illness myself, I get it. You want people to understand & not judge. You don’t want to be invalidated either. After years of thinking any problem I had wasn’t important (thanks, Mom & Dad for the invalidation), I assumed my mental health wasn’t important either. It took a long time for me to accept that I have real problems, & being invalidated by subject changes & such stupid statements as “Just take a pill- you’ll be fine” make me feel as I did growing up, like I don’t count. Frankly, I’ve come too far to live with that feeling anymore. I’ve also realized if I continue to explain to certain people who say such invalidating things, it will leave me feeling even more frustrated & angry. They only dig their heels in deeper & become more committed to know nothing of the problem at hand. They don’t want to understand, so nothing I can say will make them understand. It’s not worth my time & energy trying to make them understand
If you are in this situation as well, Dear Reader, I would like to encourage you today. You don’t have to explain your mental illness to anyone. Some people are going to want to know about it, but some won’t. Those people are committed to not knowing or understanding, & it’s not your place to make them understand or know what you live with. You will know if someone is genuinely concerned for you & wants to know what you experience. They won’t try to tell you what to do to “get over” your mental illness. They will offer understanding & support, not judgment. They will offer to help you if they can. People like this are the only ones that deserve your time & any information you wish to share about your illness.
Triggers are things that trigger PTSD or C-PTSD symptoms to flare up. A certain sound that makes you have a flashback or a scent creates a panic attack are triggers.
Unfortunately triggers are everywhere. There is no avoiding them entirely, as wonderful as it would be if that was possible. I have realized there are times when you can be more easily or less easily triggered. Certain dates (an abusive parent’s birthday for example) can make you more sensitive to triggers. Some people also are more or less triggered at various stages of healing.
So what can be done about triggers? Since they can’t be avoided completely, they need to be managed.
Prayer is the best place to start. Ask God for help showing you ways to manage your symptoms during triggers or ways you can avoid them.
Identify your triggers & avoid them when possible. This isn’t always easy, as thinking about your triggers can be upsetting. But, you need to know what upsets you so you can either avoid it or be prepared to deal with it when you can’t.
Triggers can show you what areas you need healing in, so pay close attention to them. For me, hearing someone talk about being sick & having their family care for them is a big trigger for me. I barely saw a doctor growing up, my mother complained when I was sick about having to take care of me or being stuck at home with me. As an adult, my mother doesn’t believe me if I have a health problem, blames me for getting sick or injured or accuses me of faking it. When I hear someone talking about their awesome family who was there for them during a health crisis, I know that I couldn’t experience the same thing, & it hurts me. It also makes me angry at my mother for being incapable of feelings that any normal mother feels for her child, for seeing nothing wrong with her behavior & instead getting upset with me for being rightfully angry with her. All of this shows me I still need healing in this area. The good part about all of this is the more that you do heal in that area, the less power the triggers will have over you.
Also focus on the here & now. Being well aware of your surroundings can help you to stay focused on that rather than get caught up in a panic attack. This also can help you to stay in reality during a flashback. Touch something with an extreme texture- very soft or coarse fabric, maybe hold an ice cube. Smell something with a strong scent, such as lavender (which also has anti-anxiety properties) or that holds good memories for you, such as the perfume your favorite aunt wore when you were a child.
Write in a journal. Writing can be extremely therapeutic. It also can be validating when you see things in writing rather than speaking about them.
Learn what self-soothing techniques work best to relax you. They should involve at least one of your senses. Soak in a bubble bath, wear soft & comfy clothes, stretch, listen to calming music, listen to nature sounds, sing, drink herbal tea or flavored coffee (decaf is best), light a scented candle or incense, smell some flowers, read a book, watch a funny movie or tv show, look at pictures of those you love or that inspire you.
If you have read much at all about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, you have read about the benefits of going no contact. It is often the only solution, as many authors on the topic will feverishly tell you. After all, it’s not like you can reason with someone who refuses to accept any responsibility for their actions. Many times, all you can do is hope to escape the narcissist with your sanity in tact.
Unfortunately though, one thing I have noticed is many people who say that no contact is the only solution fail to mention that is it not a cure all.
Certainly, eliminating an abusive narcissist from your life is beneficial. You no longer have the daily struggles. Without their gaslighting, you can think clearer. Your finances may improve as well, if the narcissist was draining your bank accounts. You finally can focus on yourself & healing. However, without the narcissist in your life, you still will have problems that stem from your time being abused by that peson.
Please believe me, I’m not speaking against no contact. While I believe it is an individual decision & no one should attempt to force anyone into making that decision, I also realize it is usually the best solution. I just think it is very important for people who opt to remove the narcissist from their life to realize that doing so won’t solve all of their problems. Yes, it will improve daily life since they won’t have to deal with new, frustrating, abusive situations, which is fantastic. But, it also won’t solve some things.
No contact doesn’t cure PTSD or C-PTSD. In fact, there is no known cure for either. All you can do is manage the symptoms, which, by the way, can be much easier without a narcissist around!
It also doesn’t stop repressed memories from returning to the forefront of one’s mind sometimes.
It also doesn’t mean you won’t have times of missing the narcissist. They all have something that made you love them. If they didn’t, deciding to go no contact wouldn’t have been a difficult decision at all.
No contact doesn’t mean you won’t think of the narcissist anymore. Whether he or she is a parent, relative, romantic interest or friend, you have shared experiences together. You won’t forget them just because that person is no longer in your life. Birthdays, anniversaries or other special occasions will pop into your memory periodically.
Please don’t lose hope after reading these things! They don’t mean there is something wrong with you or you are irreparably damaged. They simply mean you are a normal person who has been deeply affected by narcissistic abuse.
These things also don’t mean no contact is a bad idea. Like I said, it is often the only solution to an extremely painful & impossible situation. The reason I wanted to share these things with you, Dear Reader, is so you will be prepared if you do opt to go no contact.
I read an interesting article about anxiety:
To sum it up, the author, a psychologist, suggests that anxiety & panic attacks are a result of not dealing with emotions for too long. The attacks are the mind & body’s way of releasing enough pressure so we don’t get overwhelmed.
This makes sense in a way to me. Feelings do have a way of demanding to be heard.
My first panic attack happened the night before my grandmom’s funeral in 1996. I’d never heard of panic attacks & thought I was having a heart attack. My husband had them before & figured out quickly what was going on, thankfully. Anyway what triggered the attack was thinking about seeing my family. I hadn’t seen them in a few years at that point, because my mother then later also my ex husband told me my grandparents hated me. Since my family was close at the time, I figured if my grandparents hated me, everyone else did too. I pulled away from them in 1992. I thought if I showed up 4 years later at the funeral, these people who hated me would kick me out or show their hatred of me in some other way. I didn’t feel capable of dealing with losing my grandmom, who I loved, in addition to being hated. Thinking about that was painful. I tried to push all my thoughts aside because I felt overwhelmed. Then, a panic attack started.
Other times, panic attacks have started in similar ways. Trying to push aside fear of going into a public place or ignoring anger rather than facing it can trigger panic attacks for me. Before I stopped speaking to my in-laws, knowing I was going to see my mother in-law triggered panic attacks. I knew she hated me & if we were alone for any length of time, was going to say or do something hateful. Trying to ignore the anger I felt at being forced to deal with her triggered panic attacks.
I don’t know if this psychologist is right about all panic attacks, but when I thought about it, I realized it’s definitely true for at least some of my panic attacks. Does this describe yours too?
Unfortunately the author didn’t offer suggestions on ways to cope with these panic attacks. I’m guessing though the best way to do so is to face the feelings that accompany them as soon as you can. Pray, talk to a supportive friend, journal… whatever way works best for you to cope with your feelings. I also wonder if writing in a journal on a daily basis could help. Daily recognizing your emotions & dealing with them seems like it should cut back on panic attacks.
Something crossed my mind recently.
People with PTSD/C-PTSD, depression or anxiety that stems from being abused are referred to as having a mental illness, or mental health problems. It occurred to me though that this is, in a way, false.
Yes, C-PTSD/PTSD, depression & anxiety are proof of damage in the brain, so they are in that sense mental disorders. But, such things are also normal reactions to highly abnormal circumstances. The truth is actually that these disorders were brought about by an abusive person determined to hurt you.
Having C-PTSD, PTSD, depression or anxiety aren’t signs that you are weak, a failure, stupid or anything else. They are simply proof that you have been through some traumatic things, & you survived! You are strong!
Rather than being ashamed of yourself for being “mentally ill”, why not instead embrace the fact that you are a normal, mentally healthy person who has been through some terrible things?
I’m not saying embrace your disorder- I doubt anyone could enjoy flashbacks, suicidal thoughts, panic attacks & more. Instead, I’m saying see your disorder as proof of your strength & that you have been through trauma. Not everyone survives being abused. Many victims develop terrible addictions & still others commit suicide. You haven’t done those & should be proud that you haven’t!