Tag Archives: childhood

Childhood Wounds That Can Affect People Into Adulthood

Childhood experiences help to form us into the adults we become.  Those of us with traumatic childhoods naturally turn into dysfunctional adults.  Hopefully we realize this & want to become more functional & healthy.  Sometimes though we aren’t sure where to start.  I firmly believe that getting to the root of things is best.  If you garden, you know that you can spray a weed with poison & it will vanish for a while, but it’ll come back again.  However, if you pull it up by the roots, it’ll never return.  Healing is the same way, which is why I tell people that getting to the root of issues is so important.

Relating to healing, I mean you need to look at what is causing the problem, not just the problem itself.  If something makes you angry when you remember it, for example, why does it make you angry?  Did you not feel heard?  Did you feel unloved, neglected or invalidated?  Recognizing your anger is only part of the process.  Once you identify how the event made you feel, you can truly start to heal.

Certain childhood wounds cause certain behaviors, which is what we’re discussing today. 

A childhood abandonment wound happens when a parent isn’t there for their child either physically such as if the parent dies or the parents divorce, but also happens if the parent isn’t there emotionally such as in the case of narcissistic parents.  The abandonment wound manifests as someone who hates to be alone, who is afraid of loved ones leaving them, & may be codependent. People who are emotionally unavailable or out of touch with their feelings are very attracted to those who have abandonment wounds.

A childhood neglect wound results from a parent neglecting their child’s needs.  The neglect can be as obvious as not providing the child with food or medical care, or it can be less obvious such as a parent regularly not caring that their child is upset.  This type of childhood wound manifests as low self esteem or even self hatred, a lack of boundaries, being quick to anger, & repressing emotions.  People who are attracted to someone with a neglect wound are the type who don’t appreciate them & often even make them feel invisible.

A shame wound is very common among those who have experienced childhood narcissistic abuse.  Narcissists use shame as a weapon because it is so incredibly effective.  Where guilt makes a person feel as if they have done something wrong, shame makes a person feel as if they are wrong bad or incredibly broken for doing whatever they did.  Shame damages or even annihilates self esteem.  A person with very low or non-existent self esteem is easily controlled & manipulated, because they lake faith in their decision making abilities & intelligence.  They look to others because they feel so ill equipped.  This wound manifests as an intense disdain for asking for help or for things, feeling bad or flawed, & lacking boundaries.  Narcissists are attracted to those who have shame wounds.

If any of these describe you, know that hope is not lost!  You can heal!  Now that you know the root of your problem, you can find the most effective means of healing.  It will take time & work, but you can heal!  I believe in you!

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Nostalgia After Trauma

The definition of nostalgia is a longing for the past, in particular a time that is associated with good memories.  People who have experienced trauma may have a predilection for having an appreciation for nostalgia more than the average person.

When a person experiences trauma, such as growing up with abusive parents, often times as adults, they long for certain things that take them back to a happy time in their life, in particular in their childhood.  I admit to being one of these people.  I have a small collection of toys from my childhood that I love, & I regularly listen to music from my teen years in the 80’s.  These things bring me a lot of joy. 

Eventually though I thought this was strange behavior on my part.  My childhood wasn’t exactly the best time of my life, so why would I want reminders of it?  Finally I realized why.  The answer is simple.  Security.

Whatever trauma you have experienced, it changed you & your perception of life.  That is how trauma works.  It can make you feel very insecure & skeptical, even cynical.  A natural coping skill after trauma is to want to find some sense of security wherever you can.  Sometimes finding that security manifests as mentally revisiting a time when you felt comfortable & in control. 

Consider this.  When growing up with narcissistic parents, you have very little control, especially if your narcissistic parents were the engulfing type who had to control every aspect of your life.  Those few rare moments of having control over your life felt empowering.  For me, my most empowering times of my younger days involved music.  Either listening to the radio while alone in my room as a teen or when I drove my first car while listening to any music I wanted to.  Now that I’m an adult, music still gives me that feeling of empowerment.  I frequently still listen to similar music as I did in my younger days.  I also have added more music to my repertoire that makes me feel that same feeling of empowerment.  And you know something?  There is nothing wrong with that!

There is also a comfort in knowing that not every single thing in your past was terrible, that there were some good times too.  Thinking that there was no good in your life is a dreadful feeling!  It can feel as if your life had no purpose.  Reminding yourself of the good times, even if they were few, is very comforting. 

Not to mention, only thinking of the bad times is simply depressing!  Reminding yourself of good times is much less depressing & conducive to a better mood. 

If you find yourself longing for certain things from your past, please know there is nothing wrong with you.  Even if your past was full of terrible & traumatic events, there is nothing bad about waxing nostalgic for the few good times.  Just enjoy the nostalgia when you can.  Listen to those old songs & remember your first slow dance or sharing songs with your childhood best friend.  If you see a toy at a flea market that you used to enjoy playing with as a child, why not buy it?  When you see it, it might just make you smile, & that is a lovely gift to give yourself.

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When Children Aren’t Allowed To Say No

Narcissistic parents are notorious for not allowing their children to have any boundaries.  They have no problem going through their children’s personal belongings or even breaking or getting rid of things their child uses or loves.  Children are allowed no privacy, & some narcissistic parents go as far as removing their bedroom doors.  Possibly the worst thing narcissistic parents do is refusing to allow their children to say “no”.

Narcissistic parents are too self centered to realize or even care that by not allowing their children to say no, they are teaching their children some pretty terrible lessons.  When children learn that saying no is bad & not allowed, this teaches them that others can treat them however they wish.  This opens the door for other wicked people to abuse these children.  It also sets these children up for a life of misery because they don’t believe they have the right to say no to anyone, no matter what.  They also believe that they have to say yes to everyone & everything, & that obviously is a huge problem!

Children need to feel safe knowing that there won’t be any repercussions if they say things like, “No”, “Stop doing that,” “Don’t touch me”, “That hurts”, “I don’t agree with you” & “I won’t do that.” 

When a child doesn’t experience this ability to set reasonable boundaries, they can turn very submissive.  Their boundaries become very blurred.  They change their likes, dislikes, views, etc. depending on the company they keep.  They lose their individuality.  They do above & beyond what is reasonable for other people, even to the point of enabling terrible behavior.  They tolerate way too much, including abusive behavior, because they don’t believe they have the right to do otherwise.

When a person grows up not allowed to say no, the fear of what could happen can become paralyzing, & they literally can’t say the word no.  This fear happens because of many possible reasons.  Some of those reasons might be the fear of hurting other people’s feelings, fear of someone’s anger, fear of being punished, fear of abandonment or the fear of being seen as selfish, bad or even ungodly.  This fear also can happen because a person is too hard on themselves, & if they say no, they judge themselves very harshly.  They condemn themselves as horrible people, so they don’t say no in order to avoid feeling that way.

If you recognize this as your behavior, you’re not alone.  This is so common among children of narcissistic parents.  The good news though is that you can make healthy changes.

I always recommend starting with prayer in any situation, & this one is no different.  Asking God for help is never a mistake.  Also ask Him to show you the truth about where you end & others begin, what you should & shouldn’t tolerate, how to start setting healthy boundaries & anything else you need help with.

Also start paying attention to how you feel.  Does it bother you when someone expects something from you?  Why does it bother you?  If it feels unfair since they don’t ask others to do as much as you or they want you to do something they could do themselves, that is very reasonable!

Start small!  Start by not answering your phone if you don’t want to talk to the person calling or something like that.  The more you gain confidence in smaller boundaries, the more it will help you to go on to bigger ones.

Know people are going to be upset with you for your new boundaries.  Rather than being hurt by this, think of it this way.  Safe, good people will be happy for you & encourage you.  Only toxic people are offended by reasonable boundaries.  Seeing toxic people for who they are may be painful, but it’s also a good thing.  It shows you who you need to remove from your life.  And, removing them allows more time & energy for those who truly deserve that from you.

Having good boundaries won’t happen over night, but it will happen.  Just stay with it!  You can do this!

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About Brain Fog After Traumatic Experiences

When a person dies, their surviving loved ones often go through something called “grief brain.”  Grief brain is that brain fog that happens after losing someone you love.  It happens because the grief is fresh & new so you haven’t had time to adapt to it.  It also happens because you’re trying to figure out how to adapt to this “new normal” of life without your deceased loved one.

The brain likes certainty so it can predict what is going to happen.  Going through your daily routine is comfortable.  You know what is going to happen.  Little surprises can create a bit of anxiety but seldom anything terrible.  Bigger surprises such as the sudden or unexpected death of a loved one, creates a great deal more anxiety.  Suddenly the brain has to work much harder to figure out what is happening.  It focuses on what is wrong & how to fix this situation.  With resources focused on the situation, the brain has much less resources available to focus on other things.

This brain fog, or grief brain, after someone dies is a perfectly normal part of the grief process.  Not that it feels normal at the time, but it is.  It also doesn’t last forever, thankfully!

Losing someone you love isn’t the only situation that can cause such a brain fog.  Trauma can cause it.  Repeated trauma definitely causes it.

Trauma damages the brain, it’s a well known fact.  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder & Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorders are in fact less mental illness & more brain injuries due to traumatic experiences.  Brain damage from trauma as well as the brain trying to adapt to life after trauma definitely create a brain fog.  That fog can be one of the most frustrating parts of having C-PTSD or PTSD. 

I’ve had symptoms of C-PTSD ever since I can remember, but they developed fully in 2012.  One of the last symptoms to develop is this brain fog.  And, it got worse after suffering brain damage from carbon monoxide poisoning.  I’ve spend a lot of time frustrated with it, but I have learned some ways to cope.

Naturally prayer is a constant.  I ask God to help me however I need, & He listens when I get frustrated about forgetting something or can’t focus.  He is so helpful!  Even simply offering comfort is a huge help sometimes.

I also try to accept it for what it is.  I wouldn’t get mad at my body if I had cancer & became disabled because of it.  How can I get mad at my brain for not working right after all it’s been through?

I firmly believe in hoping for the best while preparing for the worst.  I hope & pray things improve, but if they don’t, I have ways to cope.  Brain injury of any sort is very unpredictable & also very unique to each person.  You just don’t know what the brain will do.  Cope with your symptoms as best you can while hoping & praying they improve. 

Use technology.  I love Google Keep for notes & to do lists.  I also love Google Calendar for helping me keep track of appointments & dates bills are due. 

Writing is very useful tool, too.  I don’t mean necessarily writing books.  I mean writing in general.  Keeping a journal is helpful for documenting your life as well as coping with your emotions.  Writing to do lists can be helpful because the act of writing things down can help the brain to remember them easier.

Spending time being creative is helpful, too.  Draw, paint, work with clay, cross stitch, take up woodworking.. whatever you decide to do isn’t important.  Making something with your own two hands is all that matters.  It helps exercise the brain by making you think of how to make whatever you’re trying to make & is incredibly rewarding when you see the fruits of your labor.

You can cope with brain fog!  xoxo

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Signs Of Surviving Child Abuse In Adults, & Ways To Cope

There are some very clear ways to identify a survivor of child abuse.  These symptoms also are detrimental to the mental health of said survivors.  If you recognize these behaviors in yourself, then please don’t beat yourself up.  We’ve all been there!  Try to accept them as nothing more than a sign of having experienced some really terrible things, then find ways to heal from them however work best for you.

  • Blaming yourself for what happened.  Children seem to take the responsibility on for their parents’ bad behavior rather than face the fact that their parent has done something pretty terrible.  It’s totally normal!  However, it isn’t helpful once you’re an adult.  It’s ok to admit your parents were less than perfect, & yes, even cruel.  No child can make any parent abuse them, including you.  Abusive behavior lies squarely on the shoulder of all abusers, never their victims.  ALWAYS!
  • Accepting what your parents said as the gospel truth.  Abusive parents lie.  Period.  They also convince their children that their lies are the truth.  Not only that the abuse was the child’s fault, but that the child is unlovable, stupid, ugly, useless, no man/woman will ever want to marry that child & more.  It’s time to start challenging those false beliefs as they rise up in you.  Ask yourself, what evidence is there that what your parent told you is true?  I would guess there is no real evidence at all!
  • Unhealthy coping skills.  Watching too much TV, emotional eating, sex, shopping, drugs or alcohol.  Whatever coping skill used is unimportant.  The fact is the person using such coping skills is trying to avoid the pain inside.  Although these coping skills may have served you for some time, it’s time to retire them & face the pain.
  • Being a people pleaser.  Growing up afraid of rocking the boat where your parents are concerned can create a habit of people pleasing.  This is so unhealthy!  Of course, it’s good to care what people think.  When that rules your life & makes you do things that you disagree with or hurt you, however, there is a big problem!  Learn to say “no”.  It’s perfectly ok!
  • Lack of good self care.  Self care isn’t all bubble baths & eating ice cream.  Self care also involves taking good care of your physical & mental health, resting when tired, not overworking, & having good boundaries.

If you’re wondering where to start changing these behaviors in you, the best place I know of is what I always recommend.  Prayer.  Ask God to help you to be healthier & to heal from the trauma you have experienced.  He truly will!  One thing I do is when something comes up, I ask Him to tell me the truth about it.  “Am I right to feel *insert feeling here*?  Why or why not?” & listen for His response.

Read about the type of abuse you experienced.  Chances are, you’ll find other survivors experience similar things to you.  Learning there are others out there going through what you are can be extremely validating.  It also will help you to learn how to cope with what you’re experiencing when you see how other people got through it.

Do you keep a journal?  If not, now is the time to start!  Seeing things in writing can be so validating & clarifying.  It also can help you to keep track of the truth.  Abusers, narcissists in particular, love to reinvent the past, & lie about the present.  Having written documentation helps you to keep track of the truth so you don’t get lost in their lies.

I truly wish you the best, Dear Reader.  Facing pain & changing dysfunctional behavior isn’t easy.  However, it is worth it when you’re healthier, happier & behaving in a much more functional way.

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Tips For Healing From Childhood Trauma

Childhood trauma is a terrible thing.  It forms so much of who we become as adults, good & bad.  Unfortunately usually there is much more bad than good.

The way to help minimize the bad is to heal.  To do this, you have to face the trauma, & that involves facing the emotions connected to it.  I know, this isn’t exactly fun but it’s quite necessary for healing.  Emotions demand to be dealt with, so not doing so will result in them manifesting in such toxic ways.  They will negatively affect your mental & physical health.  They can draw you to unhealthy relationships & circumstances.  That’s why it’s so much healthier to face trauma than to avoid doing so.

An effective way to do this that I have found is loosely based on Craig Hill’s “The Ancient Paths” book & seminars.  Start by looking at your life.  What areas are you consistently struggling with?  From there, you can ask God to show you what the root of the problem is.  When I have done this, God has shown me a memory, & usually it’s from childhood.  I focus on that memory, remembering everything about it that I can – what happened, where it happened, who was there, even more insignificant things like scents, sounds, who wore what clothing.  Remembering as much as possible makes it more real, which triggers many emotions.  Once I feel the emotions I tell God that in that situation I felt a certain way, like helpless, ashamed, stupid, ugly.  Then I ask Him to tell me if what I felt was right.  Was I right to feel the things I did?  I then listen for His response.  There really is healing & life in God’s word!  When He has spoken to me, I end up feeling so much better!  So much of the pain just disappears.

There is still a bit of work to do after this, however.  You will need to feel your feelings.  I mean really feel them.  Cry, get angry, yell… do whatever helps you to feel those emotions so you can get them out of you.  I often tell God just what I’m feeling.  He really can handle that & offer comfort during these painful times.  You may need to do this a few times to purge yourself completely of the emotions.  That depends on the trauma & how you as an individual feel about the situation.

When I first learned about all of this, I naively thought doing it once or twice would heal me completely.  Unfortunately healing from trauma is an ongoing process.  You have to heal from one incident at a time instead of all at once.  I can’t tell you it’s ever easy, but I can say that the more you do it, the easier it gets.  You get stronger as you heal, which enables you to face things better.  You also grow closer to God, because facing trauma in this manner makes you depend on Him for help.  It naturally strengthens your relationship.  It also helps you see God as He is, your Heavenly Father, rather than how you view your earthly parents.  So many abused children grow up seeing God as unreliable & untrustworthy as their earthly parents.  It’s natural, unfortunately.  Working on your healing in this way naturally changes your perspective on Him, & draws you closer to Him.

Also remember that doing this can be very emotionally draining.  It’s only natural that dealing with such negative & strong emotions would leave you feeling drained & a bit raw emotionally after.  When this happens, take good care of yourself.  Rest, be sure to eat healthy & relax as much as you can.

I know this all sounds intimidating, but truly, you can do it & you’ll be very glad you did!

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Lies Victims Of Childhood Emotional Neglect Tell Themselves

When a child’s emotional health is neglected, they grow up dysfunctional in many ways.  One of those ways is they learn no healthy coping skills.  As a result, lying to themselves becomes a common way for them to cope.

Lying about what?  Anything & everything!  I remember years ago, I got my father a cell phone & my mother was angry about it.  Eventually he was tired of her complaints & got rid of it.  When she told me about it, she said she had no idea why he did that.  I could see that she was trying to convince herself of that, but she knew the real reason.  Remember, my mother’s mother was a narcissist, & extremely cruel to my mother her entire life, including neglecting her emotional health.

That is just one example, of course, but there are many other lies victims of childhood emotional neglect tell themselves.

Another lie is “I don’t matter.”  Of course you matter!  Everyone matters!  The lie stems from being raised by parents who act like you don’t matter.  It’s easier for a child to believe they don’t matter than to believe their parent is incapable of treating them as if they do matter.  Any problem in a relationship between a child & his parents usually means the child assume he is to blame.

“I’m not good enough” is another lie stemming from childhood emotional neglect.  When children are treated by their parents as if they aren’t good enough, they assume it’s because something is wrong with them rather than their parents.  That, however is a big lie!

“I’m unworthy to ask for help.”  Childhood emotional neglect teaches children that they are undeserving of “bothering” others by asking for help, especially from their parents.  This couldn’t be further from the truth!

Another common lie is, “I should be happy.  I have no reason not to be happy.”  When a child’s emotional health is neglected, they very easily can become depressed, yet may not know why, even into adulthood.  They fail to realize they have been abused which is a valid reason for depression.

“I don’t need anything.”  is a common lie, too.  Of course you need something.  Every person has needs.  Sadly, being emotionally neglected in childhood trains children to believe that their wants & needs aren’t important, so they learn to ignore them.  Years of ignoring them means they aren’t in touch with their needs at all.

Another common lie is, “I’m ok.”  When someone is mistreated, it’s normal to be angry or hurt.  When the child of emotional neglect is mistreated, although they may feel some anger or hurt, they’re disconnected from their feelings enough that they may not realize that.  Or, they may recognize the anger & hurt, but believe they aren’t allowed to feel that way so they say, “I’m ok” instead.

“Anything you want is fine with me.”  When a child survives emotional neglect, they learn early on it’s easiest just to go with what their parents want so they don’t get in trouble.  After a lifetime of this, it becomes such a habit, that these children act this way with everyone about everything.

If you realize you have said these same lies, you are not alone!  Start paying attention to what you say more so you become aware of ways you lie to yourself.  Ask God to help you to help you recognize those lies.   Once you recognize the ways you’re lying to yourself, then you can deal with them.  My favorite way is to ask God to tell me the truth.  Am I right to feel as I do?  Please tell me the truth, Your truth.  He does & it really helps me to see things more clearly.  Writing about how & why I feel as I do is also helpful because seeing things in writing gives great clarity.

I wish you the best in defeating these lies & living a healthier, happier life!  xoxo

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How Abuse In Childhood Manifests In Adults & Ways To Cope

Children who are abused by their parents without fail show signs of that abuse in their adult years.  This post addresses some of those signs.

Abused children grow up believing they have no control over what happens in their lives.  This is because abused children are not taught that they have the right to have boundaries or even to say “no.”  That faulty thinking often carries into adulthood when the abused child finally realizes that he or she has as much right to have boundaries as any other person.

Abused children also grow up into a false person of who they really are.  Children want their parents’ love & approval.  It’s only natural to feel this ingrained need so strongly.  With healthy & functional parents, it’s a good thing.  With abusive parents however, it’s not so good.  In fact, a child can be so starved for their parents’ love & approval, they learn to live in whatever way they believe is pleasing to their parent(s).  A child whose parents tell her she needs to be a nurse when she grows up may become one, all the while hating her line of work because she really wanted to be a teacher, or vice versa.  Sadly, this can continue until that child gets to know the person that God created him or her to be & discards that false self.

Abused children grow up not in touch with their emotions.  Abused children are often told that their emotions are unacceptable.  Usually the only acceptable emotions in a home with abusive parents are the emotions of the abusive parents.  They criticize their children for having a bad temper when they are righteously upset at being abused.  They call their children oversensitive & mock them for their emotions.  These children learn quickly the best way to deal with their emotions is not to deal with them, so they push them deep inside so they don’t have to feel anything.  While this is a useful survival skill with abusive parents, it doesn’t serve anyone well long term.  This child needs to learn to trust his or her emotions, to recognize them & find ways to cope with them in healthy ways.

Abused children often become people pleasers.  Children whose parents abuse them learn quickly the best ways to avoid abuse is to please their parents.  If they can just be good enough, smart enough, talented enough or pretty enough, their parents won’t hurt them anymore & will love them, they believe.  Sadly this mentality carries into adulthood, & that abused child is an adult who worries about pleasing other people at any personal cost.  This adult is angry, bitter & miserable, yet feels unable to make any changes.  Realizing what is happening is the first step.  Once that has happened, learning about boundaries & developing healthy self esteem will help tremendously.

Abused children learn not to trust their instincts.  Narcissistic parents love to gaslight their children.  Gaslighting in its simplest definition is when someone distorts another person’s reality in such a way that the victim learns quickly not to trust their own instincts or perceptions, often even their own sanity.  Children whose parents gaslight them grow up with instincts like every other person, but they lack the ability to trust those instincts.  As a result, they frequently end up in situations that are bad for them or abusive relationships.  Even if they felt somehow that something was bad for them, they ignored it since they don’t feel they can trust themselves to know what is best.  Learning to trust your instincts after a lifetime of gaslighting is NOT a fast process, but it is possible.  Listen to your instincts, & observe what happens.  Chances are, you’ll see those instincts were right time after time.  The more it happens, the more you learn you can trust your instincts.

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How Childhood Trauma Affects Adults

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How Trauma Can Stunt Emotional Growth

Years ago, prior to learning about narcissism, I had a friend who counseled people at her church.  She told me how she believed many people were stuck emotionally at the age they were when they experienced deep trauma.  This makes a great deal of sense to me, especially knowing what I do now about Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Looking at some of the narcissists I’ve known in my life, they were abused, neglected or both in their childhood, or faced something very traumatic such as a life threatening injury.  My father, for example, nearly died at only fifteen from a traumatic brain injury, thanks to some drunk driver hitting his car head on.  Although he was a mature adult in ways such as keeping a full time job, maintaining & repairing his own car & home, in some ways, his behavior was very immature.  He seemed to think he should have whatever he wanted, just because he wanted it.  That is entitlement but it’s also a very immature behavior.

My late mother in-law grew up in an extremely dysfunctional environment.  At 15, she got pregnant & married my father in-law.  By all accounts, their marriage was not a happy one for many years.  Her behavior was quite immature, & often reminded me of a teenager.   Like my father, she seemed to think she should have what she wanted simply because she wanted it.

Obviously, not everyone who has experienced trauma, abuse or neglect in their childhood is like this.  However it seems to me that many narcissists are.  So many act very immature, & if you look at their lives, many also had some sort of trauma in their childhood.

I’m not telling you this to excuse the abusive behavior of narcissists, of course.  There is no valid excuse for abuse!  However, understanding them can help you a great deal.  It can help you not to be as hurt or angered by their abuse because you see it’s something wrong with them.  (This information is always a good reminder since they love gaslighting so much.)  It enables you to predict their behavior so you can protect yourself.  It also can help you to remember that basically, you’re dealing with a bratty child in an adult’s body & deal with them accordingly.

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Unconventional Grief

Most people assume there is only one type of grief, the grief that happens when someone you love dies, but there are other types as well.

People also can grieve when they move, get a divorce or lose a job.  There is also something known as anticipatory grief, which happens when you know someone is dying.  This is especially common in families where someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s due to how this terrible disease destroys a person’s personality before it destroys their body.

Unconventional grief is different.  It is grief that is triggered by unique circumstances.  I experienced it when learning about the many new limitations because of how damaged my brain was after surviving Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.  It also can happen when someone is diagnosed with mental illness or when a loved one has a substance abuse problem.  Unconventional grief also can happen as a result of trauma & abuse.

When you grow up with a narcissistic parent or two, & you finally learn about narcissism, although it is a great thing, it can trigger grief.  Suddenly you realize that you aren’t the problem, which is certainly good news of course, but realizing what your parent was is difficult  & painful to accept.  It hurts that the one person who was supposed to love you unconditionally didn’t, & lacks the ability to do so.  You also realize how much your parent took from you, such as your childhood & self-esteem.  And, it suddenly hits you that there is no hope for your relationship.  Prior to learning about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, most people have some hope that one day their parent will realize what she did, apologize & change for the better.  Learning about NPD squelches that hope completely.  That is a tough pill to swallow!

Facing these ugly truths absolutely can cause a person to grieve, & it’s extremely painful.  It’s also difficult to understand because of the limited view of grief that most people have.  How can you grieve when the person in question is still alive?!  Well, it’s surprisingly easy to do actually.

When my father died in October, 2017, I didn’t cry.  I cry easily especially when losing someone I love, but I didn’t cry.   I barely have felt sad at all since he’s been gone.  No doubt any of my family that may be reading this thinks it’s because I’m a cold, evil person, but that isn’t the case.  It’s because I grieved him enough when he was alive that his death didn’t have a very profound effect on me.  And you know something?  Many other adult children of narcissistic parents I’ve spoken with have said that they felt the same exact thing when their parent died.

Unconventional grief can be incredibly difficult, but you can get through it.

Pray & pray often.  You will need the wisdom, guidance & comfort of God to get through this.

Don’t judge your emotions.  Accept them.  Examine them without judgement or criticism.  Feel them.  Pray, talk or write about them to cope with them.

Anger is an especially common part of this sort of grief.  If you feel a lot of anger, it’s normal!  I know, you probably grew up like most of us with narcissistic parents did, believing you aren’t allowed to be angry.  Stop that now!  Why are you angry?  Face it head on & deal with your feelings.  The pain will lose its power over you if you face it.

You also may start to remember only the good times.  They are good to remember, but don’t forget the bad as well.  Embrace the good & heal from the bad.

Write in a journal.  Writing is very cathartic, plus it will help you to have documentation.  You may even decide that you enjoy writing, & opt to start a blog or write a book.

Find online support groups & websites.  Learning that others are experiencing similar things to you is very helpful.

Don’t expect this grief to end entirely.  It will get better, but it may never end entirely. It’s like losing a loved one- you grieve most right after the person died, but even many years later, the pain is still there, just not as intense as it was at first.

If you’re experiencing unconventional grief, Dear Reader, know you aren’t alone.  You can survive this!  It will take hard work & won’t be easy, but you can do it!

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Ways Trauma In Childhood Affects People Throughout Their Lives

Most people who were abused as children face lifelong problems as a result of that abuse.  The problems can be debilitating at worst, or they can at best be really annoying, but they are there nonetheless.  This post is about some of those problems.

Many people who experienced abuse in their childhood develop PTSD or C-PTSD.  It makes a lot of sense this happens considering that abused children are exposed to at least a couple of life altering traumas in their life, usually many more.  In case you don’t know this, PTSD & C-PTSD happen when trauma is severe enough to “break” the brain.  Physical changes actually happen in the brain that cause PTSD & C-PTSD.  Neither are mood disorders or the result of thinking negatively like many people seem to think.  Medication &/or therapy can help you to manage the life disrupting symptoms.

Even if an adult survivor of child abuse doesn’t develop PTSD or C-PTSD, chances are good that person will suffer anxiety &/or panic attacks &/or fears, even phobias.  When you’re raised by someone whose behavior is violent & unpredictable, you naturally become anxious.  That anxiety can stay even long after the abuse has ended.  Ending the relationship with an abusive parent is naturally a smart thing to do, but that doesn’t mean all problems are solved.  While it removes further abuse from happening, it doesn’t stop the anxiety that the abuse created.  It takes a lot of time for that to diminish. It may never stop entirely.  Learning ways to calm yourself such as through deep breathing can help calm you when anxiety gets bad.  Prayer is also very helpful.  Medication can help as well.  Also, learn to push yourself beyond your comfort zone.  Take tiny steps at first, then once you’re comfortable with the small steps, push yourself a bit further.  It’ll help you to be more confident in yourself & less anxious when you see what you can handle.

Lacking good coping skills is common as well.  When you’re subjected to daily abuse, you simply don’t have time to process one trauma when another happens.  It’s overwhelming!  It also leads to a pattern of not knowing how to cope because you haven’t been able to do so.  You will need to learn coping skills, such as how to slow down & look at the situation objectively so you can find ways to cope.

Many adult survivors of child abuse also are willing to settle.  They don’t want to be in the same or a similar situation to what they’ve been through, so rather than take a risk, they settle.  Pushing yourself out of that comfort zone can be scary, but it needs to be done.  Start with small things.  As you get more comfortable, push yourself to do bigger things.

Talk to people you feel safe with, & let them help you as you heal.  It can be super easy to become a total recluse, because it feels like no one else has been through the things you have.  As you open up to safe people, you may realize that others have been through similar situations.  Sharing these experiences can help you to become closer & also to help each other heal.

Many victims also hold in their anger.  As a child of an abusive parent, it’s a useful survival skill.  Abusive parents can’t & won’t deal with their child’s anger, so it’s safer for the child to hold it in.  As an adult though, it’s no longer a good skill.  Instead it becomes unhealthy both physically & mentally.  You have to learn how to release your anger in healthy ways, such as in prayer, writing in a journal or talking things out with a safe person.

Almost all victims of child abuse avoid confrontation as adults.  Growing up with abusive parents, we learned early in life that confrontation involves rage, name calling, possibly even physical violence.  The truth though is that isn’t always the case anymore!  Not everyone is like our parents.  You need to learn that it’s ok, even loving (believe it or not) to confront someone who is mistreating you.

Adult victims of abusive parents also have issues with boundaries.  Abusive parents don’t let their children have boundaries, & perhaps out of simple habit, those children grow into adults with no boundaries.  You will need to realize that you have every right to have & enforce healthy boundaries, as well as learn ways to develop those boundaries.  I highly recommend reading “Boundaries: When To Say Yes, How To Say No To Take Control Of Your Life” by Dr.s Henry Cloud & John Townsend.  The book changed my life!  I even created a free online class based on the book.  It’s available at my website at this link:  http://cynthiabaileyrug.com/Boundaries-Book-Study.php

Lastly, most adults abused as children also end up in unhealthy relationships.  They replay the abuse they experienced as children in friendships & romantic relationships because it’s familiar.  While this is normal, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy.  You need to recognize unhealthy people & avoid them as much as you can.  You can do this by learning about people like your abusive parent.  For example, if your parent is a narcissist, learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder so you can recognize the signs easily.

Surviving consequences of abuse is never easy, but it can be managed.  You can & learn to enjoy your life & thrive in spite of your traumatic experiences.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism