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At the time of this post, it’s October. October 3, 2017, I got the call that my father was on a ventilator without much time left to live. He died twenty days later.
During that time, as I’ve shared before, I was subjected to cruel attacks, multiple times a day, from my family because I didn’t break no contact to say goodbye to my father. My home & cell phones rang constantly, & often when they rang, they would ring for five to ten minutes straight. I got tons of text messages & social media messages. I dodged all calls & messages as best I could, but there was no escaping reading the first part of some messages due to how texts, emails & social media messages are designed. The hatred & venom coming from even that little bit I read was simply astounding! And, one of the social media messages was from the account of my aunt who had been dead for three years at that point! I’d blocked her daughter some time before & she used her mother’s account to try to bully me. Ain’t family grand?
As a result of that horrid time, every October, I struggle. It’s like a month long emotional flashback. I can count on depression, anxiety & nightmares plaguing me even more than usual on top of the natural sadness connected to my father’s death. The fact this happens during my favorite time of year makes this even more frustrating. I just want to enjoy the beautiful leaves changing & cooler temperatures in October!
The reason I’m sharing this is in the hopes of helping anyone reading this who experiences something similar.
Sometimes we go through things that are so traumatizing, that even well after the trauma is done, we can’t help but suffer effects. Even if we try not to think about it, it’s still lodged in the back of the mind, not going anywhere. We might get anxious or depressed around the anniversary of the event without even realizing the date. Or, we experience the same emotions we did at the time of the trauma. This is known as an emotional flashback.
The body remembers too, & as a result, we may feel ill, have some unusual aches or other odd symptoms without medical cause suddenly appear for a brief time. If you were physically injured at the time of the trauma, you also may feel the pain of that injury again. This is what is known as a somatic flashback.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic wand to wave & make these symptoms stop. If only it was that easy! Instead, if you want to survive this with some semblance of sanity, you are going to have to do some work. Not all of it will be bad, but some will be pretty unpleasant.
You are going to need to face your feelings about what happened & feel those emotions. You can’t ignore feelings or they will manifest in some pretty unhealthy ways such as in the form of addictions, self harm or self destructive tendencies. My best friend says, “you have to feel your feels” & it’s true. To do this, you need to find healthy outlets that help you. For me, that means prayer & writing in a journal. For you, it could be speaking to a counselor, pastor or trusted friend. Whatever works is what matters.
“Feeling your feels” is hard work, & you will need to take breaks when you start feeling that it’s just too much. What helps you to relax? Creative outlets are wonderful for relaxing & healing your soul. If you don’t have one, it might be time to find one. If you are out of ideas, notice what your friends are doing. One of their hobbies might appeal to you. Or, consider what you enjoyed doing as a child & start doing that again. Get some finger paints, doodle, or buy a coloring book & crayons.
Take care of your physical needs as well. Make sure to allow extra time for you to rest since emotional work requires a lot of energy. If you like exercising, go for walks, swim, ride a horse… whatever you enjoy that helps you to feel good physically.
Most of all, don’t forget to lean on God. He will show you what you need to do, & help you to get through this trying time. All you have to do is ask for His help.
I have just completed another mini book called “A Biblical Perspectives Mini Book: Loving Someone with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”
As the name implies, this book is about ways you can help someone with C-PTSD. It also includes information on the science behind C-PTSD, symptoms & the awful emotions that go along with it.
It currently is only available in ebook format just like my other mini books. For now anyway. That may change in the future.
This book is available at the link below…
I read a truly interesting article recently on TheMighty.com. The author spoke of her life with C-PTSD. She was in a relationship with someone who pointed out how she was able to (as he described it) swallow physical pain & continue on as if nothing happened. Apparently she didn’t realize she did this, which lead her to research why she behaved in such an unhealthy way.
Long story short, she learned that people with PTSD tend to be very out of touch with pain or very highly in tune with it, depending on their mental state at the time. Often in times of really bad anxiety, people with PTSD experience oversensitivity to pain. Anxiety causes the body to tense up, which certainly could explain that. It also explains why many people with anxiety experience chronic pain in their bodies.
Interestingly though is what the author described next. After a serious injury, her anxiety levels were very high, which triggered other pain not related to the injury. The man she was dating then noticed how at times she’d just “swallow” the pain after a minute & go on as if nothing happened.
This is a survival skill that can be very useful. If you’re in a dangerous situation & can ignore the pain long enough to get yourself to safety, clearly this is a very useful survival skill! In daily life however, it isn’t. In daily life, it means you will ignore your pain & not take the time to rest & recover that you need.
I have realized I do this. After my back injury at 19 when my mother threw me into a wall, although I was in constant pain of varying degrees for 10 years, there were times I was so disconnected from the pain, I wondered if people who said I was faking the pain so I didn’t have to work were right. Maybe it wasn’t all that bad or maybe I wasn’t even injured at all. Hardly healthy behavior!
Another point in the article is people with PTSD who dissociate generally tend to have a much higher threshold of pain than people without the disorder. Dissociation is known for allowing a person to disconnect from emotional pain, but it also can allow a person to disconnect from physical pain as well. This means they naturally won’t feel pain as intensely as others who don’t dissociate.
Knowing this information was very helpful for the author of the article, because it helped her to change how she thinks about her chronic pain & treating it. I believe it also can be extremely helpful for the rest of us whether or not we have issues with chronic pain.
Recognizing that it is very unhealthy to disconnect from physical issues helps you to have a better perspective on them. Unless you’re in a very dangerous situation, this survival skill isn’t needed. It’s healthier to recognize what is happening & deal with the issues accordingly.
Having this problem myself, I also realize that there are times it feels like you should be ashamed of having a physical problem which probably contributes to disconnecting from your pain. The narcissists that have been in my life had zero tolerance for my illnesses or injuries. In fact, I never told my parents I nearly died from carbon monoxide poisoning in 2015 because of that.
I know health situations can be incredibly hard to handle. Adding in this dysfunction to the health problems can make them utterly miserable. In fact, I’m not really great at handling health issues myself. I have found something that helps me to have a healthier perspective on health issues. That is to remind myself constantly that there is no reason to hide the problems anymore. My health is my responsibility, & I have every right to handle it however I see fit. If that makes me something bad in the eyes of other people, so be it. They don’t live in my body & don’t know how I feel.
Sometimes there will be simply dysfunctional but not narcissistic people who have no patience for others with health problems. When dealing with them, I remind myself of the same things. Also, when their opinion hurts because it is so negative & unexpected, I remind myself they must have some sort of dysfunction when they respond to the health problems of someone they care for in such a bad way. Doing that helps to take much of the sting out of their thoughtless words. It’s an excellent reminder that what they say isn’t personal. It’s about their dysfunction, not me.
Some time ago, I shared something on Facebook someone else disagreed with. The way this person stated their opinion triggered shame in me because they sounded much like my mother & ex husband used to sound when they disagreed with me. The good part about this was I realized very quickly what was happening. This person didn’t intend to shame me. The way they stated their opinion was simply a trigger, nothing more. I also realized this person was wrong, but rather than blindly believe this person or get into some big debate (which I absolutely hate), I simply deleted my post.
Do you have any idea how very important this is?!!?
Until the last few years, when someone disagreed with me, I automatically assumed I was wrong, they were right & I should be ashamed of myself for thinking what I did. Growing up hearing how wrong you are about everything will do this. You naturally assume you’re wrong about everything, even when every fiber of your being knows otherwise. I’m sure many of you who also were raised by narcissistic parents can relate all too well to this. The behavior goes deep & is hard to change. Yet, I conquered it!!! That is worth celebrating!
Another common behavior of those of us with narcissistic parents is to minimize our accomplishments & not celebrate them. I always thought my parents expected me to do great things not because I was smart or talented, but just because they thought I should do those things. As a result, I learned not to celebrate anything I did because I figured I was just supposed to do those things. It took me writing several books before I created a celebratory ritual that I do once I publish a book. Prior to that, I just published a book & started another. No celebration was involved.
Some time back, after considering such things, I decided to celebrate more often & that includes when I recognize how much I’ve healed. The incident I mentioned at first almost went uncelebrated. Old habits die hard, after all. It took a few days for me to realize what had happened & that I should be proud of myself for healing to this point. When I did though, I gave myself a mental pat on the back for healing.
I want to encourage you, Dear Reader, to do the same.
There are going to be times when you backslide in your healing journey. We all do that. Chances are good you spend plenty of time beating yourself up for those times. I certainly do! Why not spend at least the same amount of time celebrating your successes? The more you do that, the better you’ll feel about yourself. And as an added bonus, the less the backsliding times will affect you. They’ll still annoy you of course, but they won’t be devastating.
By celebrating these times, I don’t mean you have to have a big party or anything so elaborate. If you like that, by all means, go for it! If not, that’s fine too. The celebrations can be simpler. I often reminded myself of how far I’ve come. I remember some things from my younger & much more dysfunctional days then thought of how that person is now a stranger. God has helped me heal so much, I don’t even recognize the old me. I sit with that for a while, knowing God truly has blessed me. Sure, I still have issues. I still have C-PTSD. But, I also no longer make rash or foolish decisions based on what other people want while ignoring what I want. Other people can no longer control or manipulate me. These are really important accomplishments! It took a lot of work & listening to God’s guidance to get to that point & I am proud of myself for what I have done.
You should feel the same! Be proud of everything you have accomplished in your healing. Even the baby steps count, so if you feel you’ve healed in one tiny way, be proud of yourself for that! That still took work & is something special. Congratulate yourself on a job well done!
I was going to simply write about this in my journal but since many of you who read my work have told me you share the INFJ personality with me & also have various types of brain damage, I figured putting this out there might help others too.
Being an INFJ isn’t easy. Naturally we feel things deeper than many other people. We also see red flags of toxic people many don’t even notice & think something is wrong with us for noticing. We’re often misjudged because we tend to be quiet around people we don’t know well & we’re naturally rather private people. We also are subjected to some pretty ridiculous expectations, like no matter what is happening in our lives, we should always be willing to listen when people have problems & be the one to do all the work in relationships. It also seems to me that people think we either don’t have problems or are able to handle anything, so we aren’t really allowed to have bad days or be in a bad mood.
Even more frustrating than this is being an INFJ with a malfunctioning brain either due to a traumatic brain injury or C-PTSD or even both. Being an INFJ with both C-PTSD & a traumatic brain injury, I can tell you that frankly, it really just sucks sometimes! Today has been one of those times.
I woke my husband & myself up at 4:30 this morning from a nightmare that made me wake up having a particularly nasty panic attack. It took quite some time to fall back asleep & by the time I did, it was time to get up. A few hours later, I had a flashback. One of these alone would be hard enough to deal with but having both in a short period of time was rough. Add in the brain injury making my cognitive skills not function as they should & that makes everything even harder. It’s been a really long day already & it’s not nearly over yet.
The natural inclination for INFJs in such positions is to go on as normal & not burden anyone with their problems. I’m no exception. I even hate writing about this when it’s not going in my journal where only I will see it. But, for some reason, I felt I should write this out today to let my fellow INFJs know you’re not alone!
Being the rarest of the MBTI personality types, it’s just a given we will be misunderstood. This can make you feel like a freak but just because you feel that way doesn’t mean it’s true. Unique isn’t a bad thing at all! Far from it! It sure beats blending in with the crowd. Besides, I’ve noticed INFJs tend to find other INFJs & become friends with them. We also get along well with INFPs who can understand us surprisingly well. These friendships are truly a treasure!
If you too have C-PTSD, I know it’s awful. Absolutely awful in every way. But, there is one good thing about it. C-PTSD is not a sign of weakness like many people foolishly think it is. Quite the opposite. It is proof that you survived something that was meant to destroy you. I’m not saying be grateful for C-PTSD of course. If it could be returned to a store like a bad birthday gift, I’d say return it today! What I’m saying is just remember C-PTSD is proof that you are an amazing person who is strong, courageous & has a great will to survive.
Lastly, if you have a brain injury too, I truly feel your pain, literally & figuratively. Brain injuries are incredibly frustrating at best. They cause some really obnoxious physical symptoms such as terrible headaches & seizures. They can steal your identity, your talents, your memories & leave you feeling incredibly stupid. They also can help you to recognize what is truly important in your life & give you the courage to focus on those things. They can help you to gain the courage to stop tolerating people in your life who don’t love & appreciate you. There are very few good parts of having a brain injury but the ones I just mentioned are extremely good!
I hope this post helped you to know you aren’t alone in your struggles. Don’t forget to take good care of yourself, mentally & physically, but especially during trying times. If other people don’t understand your natural need for self care, that isn’t your problem. Do what you need to do!
I recently caught a show on the Oxygen network about the Cleveland strangler, Anthony Sowell. I believe the show was called, “Snapped Notorious: The Cleveland Strangler.” If you don’t know him, he was a serial rapist & murderer in whose Cleveland, Ohio home the bodies of 11 women were found.
I found the show fascinating. Not only because of my interest in true crime but mostly because of the surviving victims. At the end of the episode, four victims who miraculously survived Sowell’s attacks were interviewed. They were very strong & inspiring ladies! I regret that I didn’t make a note of their names. I was too busy jotting down notes from what each lady had to say to think of names at the time, but if you get to watch this show, you can find out their names.
Anyway, what these ladies had to say was so inspiring & I think also very valuable for victims of all kinds of abuse, which is why I wanted to share their wisdom.
One lady shared that she wants to start an organization called Cracked Not Broken whose sole purpose is to tell people there is always hope. She said too that there needs to be more support for victims. She’s right. There isn’t much good support. She & the other three ladies on this show supported each other though, & that is so wonderful! I think victims of crimes & any type of trauma & abuse need to support each other because they can do so better than anyone else. They understand the pain, the difficulties in healing, & more. What healing could take place if more people supported each other rather than compared their traumas or minimize the traumas of other people!
Another lady stressed the importance of never minimizing your experiences. Many victims of abuse minimize their trauma. Since she said this, I assume victims of crimes do it as well. It’s not a healthy thing to do! To heal, you need to accept what was done to you for what it was, not some watered down version of it. Then you can get angry about it & really start to heal.
She also said the only way to heal is to “get that stuff off you”. That is so true! Holding things in doesn’t help anyone & is detrimental to mental health. This particular lady suggested reaching out for help. If you are unwilling or unable to do so, there is always journaling. That is incredibly helpful in “getting that stuff off you.” Better yet is prayer. God truly will help you to heal from anything!
Another lady said victims need to know they didn’t deserve what was done to them & not to blame themselves. This happens to so many people who were victimized in any capacity. The woman who was raped blames herself for wearing a short skirt, the person whose car was stolen blames himself for forgetting to lock the doors, the victim of a narcissistic parent blames herself for making her parents abuse her. This is so wrong & it needs to stop. No one can force another person to abuse them & no one deserves to be abused. Period!
Another lady said just because the person who hurt you didn’t see your value, that doesn’t mean you don’t have value. You are valuable! You deserve to love yourself. And, as you heal, take each day a step at a time. Don’t rush the healing process.
Lastly, this same lady said one thing that helped her to heal was to keep her head up & never give up. Clearly she knew she had no reason to be ashamed of what happened to her, so she wasn’t going to carry that shame! So very wise!
I hope you were as inspired by these brave, beautiful ladies as I was! xoxo
I just thought I would let everyone know I’m thinking of making a change in my writing. Instead of only sharing what I learn about NPD, narcissistic abuse, & C-PTSD, I have decided to expand that a bit into ways to add more joy into your life.
Since I turned 50 in April, I guess you could say I’m having a mid life crisis of sorts. (No, I’m not going to divorce my husband, date a guy who’s half my age & buy a Mazda Miata.. lol) I’ve come to realize how little I’ve enjoyed my life. NPD has taken up so much time & space in it! It’s time to make some changes.
You know how the Bible says that the enemy has come to steal, kill & destroy, & is looking for someone he may devour? Well, I firmly believe he does this, but not always in obvious ways. Sometimes those ways are subtle. Being abused by a narcissist is both obvious & subtle in its devastation to one’s life. The abuse itself is obvious of course, especially when it’s someone raging at you like an overt narcissist does or giving you intense guilt trips like a covert narcissist. But the aftermath is much more subtle. It is so easy to get caught up in obsessing over trying to understand what happened & ways to heal, that you can fail to enjoy your life. That has happened to me & I’m tired of it! I would guess that many of you reading this feel the same way.
At the time I’m writing this, I have about 8 months worth of blog posts written & scheduled to publish. You won’t see many posts on enjoying life for a bit because of that. I may rearrange & reschedule as I go to interject some but I’m not sure yet. That depends on what I feel God wants me to do. More of those posts definitely will be published in the future along with my usual educational type of posts though.
Please just bear with me through this. I’m not entirely sure yet how this is going to play out. I’ve felt God putting it on my heart to write more about enjoying life from a Christian perspective as I learn to, but as of the moment, not many details have been forthcoming.
Thank you for your understanding & patience with me, & always being there! I love all of you! xoxo
Those of us with C-PTSD are all too aware of the bad triggers. They remind us of traumatic & painful events, sometimes even to the point of having flashbacks. They can be a good thing in the sense they show what areas need more healing, but they sure don’t feel so good when they happen!
There is another kind of trigger too, which is much more pleasant & much less talked about. Good triggers are just as important, yet sadly there isn’t much information available on them.
Good triggers are things that can trigger joy, comfort, pleasant memories or nostalgia. For me, the smell of Old Spice cologne always reminds me of my Granddad, who I adored. The song “You’re My Best Friend” by the band Queen always reminds me of my husband since that is our song. The scent of a fireplace burning on a cool autumn day reminds me of my favorite time of year & triggers a sense of coziness.
Please think about what good triggers you have, & write them down. If you are unsure, I can offer you some ideas…
Another thing I am in the process of learning about to bring joy into my life is the Danish concept of hygge (pronounced hoo-ga). Hygge is about creating a cozy, comfortable & relaxed lifestyle that leaves you with a feeling of well being & contentment.
There are no hard & fast rules to living this lifestyle, other than what makes you feel cozy & comfortable. I have come to realize that less stuff is an important aspect of hygge to me. Less stuff means less to clean & maintain, & less clutter in my home, all of which help me to be more relaxed. This also means my home is easier to clean, because of having less stuff which also helps to contribute to a more relaxed state.
Learning about hygge also inspired me to simplify every aspect of my life. For example, each week I have most of our bills paid automatically by going on a credit card that gives cash back. I pay this credit card bill weekly, so it doesn’t get out of control, & sometimes I also use the cash back to help pay the balance.
Focusing on your good triggers, creating new ones as well as living a more relaxed & comfortable lifestyle are all very good for bringing more joy into your life. I hope you are inspired to make some healthy changes in your life!
My publisher is offering 10% off all print books until May 28. Simply use code SELLDIRECT10 at checkout.
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If you have been interested in getting the print version of any of my books, now is a good time! My publisher is offering 15% off when using code SPRING15 at checkout until May 7, 2021.
My print books can be found at the link below…
Most of us have used terms like, “That drives me crazy!”, claimed something gave us a “panic attack” when all it did was startle us, or even described a moody person as being “bipolar” even though that moody person wasn’t diagnosed with the disorder. Phrases like this have been part of the way people talk for God only knows how long.
I believe there is a problem with using these phrases though. By using these phrases so freely, they dilute very serious mental health disorders.
Claiming something drives you crazy makes insanity sound like an annoyance rather than a serious mental problem.
Panic attacks are also much more than being startled. They can feel like you’re having a heart attack. They are physically & mentally debilitating. After I have one, I feel very emotionally drained & exhausted for quite some time after.
Saying a moody person is bipolar makes Bipolar Disorder seem much less serious than it is. Those with Bipolar Disorder aren’t simply moody. Manic episodes can involve some very risky & even dangerous behavior. The down side is seriously bad as well. The depression can be so severe as to include suicidal ideation.
If you think I am over thinking this situation, then consider this. As a victim of narcissistic abuse, doesn’t it offend you when someone carelessly describes someone’s selfish behavior as narcissistic? You have seen narcissistic behavior up close & personal. You are all too aware that it is extremely different than someone doing something without thought or consideration of other people. It is more than selfishness. It is abusive, malicious, cruel & dangerous to your mental & physical health. Lumping someone who simply was thoughtless in a momentary lapse of judgment in the same category as someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder is deeply offensive to anyone who has seen the unmasked narcissist first hand.
I really don’t think most people are being malicious when they say something “drives them crazy” or some other phrase related to mental illness. These phrases have become so common place, no one really thinks twice when saying or hearing them. They simply have become an everyday part of our vernacular. The problem with that is over time, very subtly, they reduce the meaning of real & serious mental disorders. Sometimes, even make them laughable. This just should not be the case!
If you realize you use such phrases, please reconsider doing so. On behalf of my fellow “crazy” people, I ask you to stop it. I know what I live with having C-PTSD & there is nothing laughable or trivial about it. Having to fight your own mind to get through the day is serious & an incredibly difficult way to live. It isn’t something I’d wish on my worst enemy. Having my mental health trivialized or turned into the butt of a joke is insulting.
What makes this situation even worse is mental illness is seldom believed. If a person wears a cast on their leg, people see this person obviously broke their leg. They offer that person sympathy. Mental illness doesn’t have a glaring piece of physical evidence that is undeniable proof of the mental illness. Those who suffer with it often aren’t taken seriously because they look “normal.” Living with that then the trivialization of our illness is extraordinarily hard. Proverbs 18:21 says the tongue has the power of life & death. Please remember that & choose your words wisely!
Experiencing trauma, in particular repeated trauma forces people to develop certain responses in order to cope with their horrific experiences. Many people waver between two or even more of the four trauma responses, but usually people use one much more than others. A lot of children of narcissistic parents use the fawn response.
The fawn trauma response is when a victim tries hard to please their abuser so the abuser will stop whatever painful thing they’re doing. They will try to distract the abuser somehow, do something they know their abuser likes, & go along absolutely anything the abuser wants. While this may stop an abuser at the moment, over the long term, this doesn’t work. Fawning shows abusers that their abusive, toxic ways can be used to get whatever they want from their victim.
Fawning still affects a person long after the abuser is out of their life. Fawners are often very devoted people pleasers who have no real boundaries. They falsely believe that losing yourself in relationships is totally normal. They also are prone to very dysfunctional & abusive relationships, including more than one relationship with narcissists. This leads them to focus on the needs & wants of other people much more than their own & often to their own detriment. They also seem to have no real identity of their own, often becoming what other people say they should be.
Fawning often is encouraged in society. Primarily by abusers but also by ill informed people who see people who fawn as generous, loving, even Godly rather than dysfunctional. This makes overcoming fawning behavior especially hard for those engaging in this behavior, because even though it can hurt a person, it also can be the one area they feel gets them love & approval, & maybe even makes them feel worthy of love.
There is hope for replacing this dysfunctional behavior with much healthier behavior. As always, I firmly believe prayer is the best place to start. God will help you, so let Him!
Focus on healing from the trauma in your life that made you develop your fawning ways. The more you heal, the healthier you will become in every way. That means you will decrease your unhealthy behaviors more & more as you heal.
Remind yourself as often as you need to that not pleasing someone doesn’t mean you’re bad, wrong, or unworthy of love. You simply may have made a mistake. Or, maybe they were wrong to expect this particular thing out of you. Don’t assume you were automatically wrong. It is just as possible the other person was wrong.
Feel your feelings. Whatever you are feeling, accept those feelings without judgment. As you do, you may see that they aren’t appropriate to your current situation. They could simply be triggered by old issues. They also may give you insight on ways you can do things better. In any case, they can teach you, so let them do that by feeling them.
Slow down & examine your motives. Ask yourself why are you doing something for someone.. is it out of love or out of hoping to get their approval? Am I saying I’m happy to do this even though it is too much for me right now? Am I taking on too much responsibility?
In time, your fawning ways can & will be replaced by healthy ones.
When someone has experienced trauma, in particular repeated trauma, they learn to use specific trauma responses to help them survive their particular situation. While many waver between two or more, most people primarily use one trauma response. Many people raised by narcissistic parents primarily use the freeze response.
Freezing means much like the name implies, you freeze & are unable to handle the situation in a healthy way. Think of a deer on a highway during the night when a truck comes barreling towards him. He stands still, staring at the truck & unable to move to save himself. People can & do react the same way sometimes. Sadly, freezing often is a good choice when dealing with a narcissistic parent, because it reduces the likelihood of that parent turning even more abusive. Equally sadly though is this survival tactic doesn’t help when dealing with other people. In fact, often the lack of response of a victim is taken as consent, so the other, non-freezing person assumes whatever they said or did was acceptable to the freezing person.
As an example from my own life, as I’ve written about before, I lived with awful back pain for ten years. During a fight with my mother, she threw me into a wall. I felt my entire spine crack from my tailbone into my neck when I hit the wall & was in pain for ten years after. I saw several doctors, had over fifty x-rays & an MRI. I was told no injuries showed up on the x-rays or MRI. Every single person I saw with the exception of one chiropractor was convinced I was faking the pain. I should have stood up to all of them, but instead I quietly accepted their diagnoses. Between that & other people in my life who were convinced I was faking it, I wondered many times if they were right. By silently accepting people’s accusations of faking my pain, that only seemed to confirm their suspicions of me. It also made me wonder more & more if I really was faking my back problem or if something was truly wrong.
This happened all because I learned how to use the freeze response so well as a child.
If you have used it as well, you probably can relate to my story. Also like me, you probably dissociated often as a child & possibly still do to some degree, struggle with making decisions, & isolate yourself. You also probably come up with good responses hours or even days or weeks after a confrontation but can’t think during the confrontation.
While freezing may have helped you to survive the narcissist in your life, it doesn’t help you in other relationships. In fact, it is likely to hurt you instead of help you.
When in situations that trigger your freeze response, your best place to start is with prayer. God will help you & ground you so you can function in a healthier way. Also, please remind yourself that you are safe now. You don’t have to freeze to protect yourself. You have rights including the right to speak up for yourself & to protect yourself. You aren’t doing something bad by taking care of yourself. The other person in question isn’t the narcissist who would abuse you for taking care of yourself.
Also take a deep breath in & exhale slowly. It will help you to calm your body & mind very quickly, which will help you to figure out a better way to handle your situation.
Doing this will help you over time to reduce the frequency of the freeze trauma response & enable you to respond in a healthier way. It won’t happen overnight but it will happen. Hang in there!
Experiencing trauma, in particular repeated trauma forces people to develop certain responses in order to cope with their horrific experiences. Many people waver between two or even more of the four trauma responses, but usually people use one much more than others.
Some people favor the flight trauma response over the other three options. This basically means their instinct during a traumatic event is to do anything they can to avoid the trauma. If they can run away, they will. During a traumatic event, someone who favors the flight trauma response but cannot escape will be pretty easy to identify. They are clearly anxious, which means their breathing is shallow & rapid. They may be restless, and this shows by tapping their feet or fingers. Their eyes dart around, looking for a means of escape.
In situations where traumatic experiences are repeated, such as in cases of child abuse, some long term problems develop from using this trauma response over & over again. Flight is used as a coping mechanism, & it manifests in many ways. Workaholism, perfectionistic ways, micromanaging others, the need to keep busy constantly, obsession with video games, endlessly surfing through channels or social media, & other avoidance type behaviors can be signs of someone who has experienced the flight trauma response regularly. These behaviors are designed to keep someone from thinking about past trauma. There are other signs too, such as anxiety disorders, constant worrying, inability to relax, hyper-activity & being overly analytical.
Like other trauma responses, it is understandable a person could react this way to trauma & behave this way after repeated triggers of their flight response. That doesn’t make the behavior healthy, however. Being constantly on the go whether it is mentally or physically takes a toll on a person’s mental & physical health. Changes need to be made & they can be!
As always I recommend prayer to start. Ask God to guide you, to help you to behave in a healthier way & anything else you can think of.
Look at your life. What is unhealthy? Are you constantly working eighty hour workweeks? Spending every free moment playing video games? Do you feel as if you must stay busy every waking moment? These are some examples of red flags. It also may help to ask those people who are closest to you for their thoughts as well.
Once you have identified the problem areas in your life, then figure out a plan on how to make appropriate changes. Cut back on hours spent at work if at all possible, or find another job. Set times for certain activities & stick to the limits.
Lastly, it will help you tremendously to finally face what you have been avoiding. I know it’s hard! I know it’s scary! I also know that until you do this & focus on healing & becoming healthier, any changes you make most likely will be temporary. Emotions demand to be dealt with, & if they aren’t dealt with in a healthy way, they will manifest in unhealthy ways. You’re going to suffer from the pain of the trauma or of the pain of the unhealthy manifestations of your emotions. Why not make the pain count & focus on your healing? At least that way, the pain will end & you will be much happier & healthier for it.
Experiencing trauma, in particular repeated trauma forces people to develop certain responses in order to cope with their horrific experiences. Many people waver between two or even more of the four trauma responses, but usually people use one much more than others.
During traumatic experiences, those who exercise the fight response do exactly as you would expect. They fight. They are obviously angry, they will cry, ball up their hands into fists, their jaws will be clenched tightly, & they look ready to attack anything that is in reach. Sometimes they do, usually punching walls or slamming doors.
Clearly this type of trauma response can be useful. If someone is afraid of you, they aren’t going to attack or abuse you. Unfortunately though it can backfire, & in particular with children with narcissistic parents. When a young child gets angry at their narcissistic parent, that parent won’t tolerate that. Narcissists want their children to show no emotions whatsoever, & anger at the narcissist’s abusive ways is the least tolerated emotion. Narcissists expect everyone, in particular their children, to tolerate their abuse indefinitely & without complaint. Standing up to a narcissist says their behavior is wrong & won’t be tolerated, which creates a narcissistic injury. In other words, their pride is damaged when they are told their behavior is anything less than perfect. Often narcissistic parents step up their abuse in these situations. These children learn not to show anger towards their parents, & often take it out on innocent victims.
The repeated use of this trauma response can cause many problems that last into adulthood. Some problems are the inability to handle anger in a healthy way, a quick temper, becoming a bully, becoming controlling & sometimes even becoming narcissistic or showing some narcissistic tendencies while not being a full blown narcissist. It seems to me these behaviors are all about having some control &/or hurting others before the angry person can be hurt.
This sort of behavior doesn’t have to be permanent though! With effort & time, you can develop healthier habits!
As always, I highly recommend starting with prayer. Ask God to help you change, to show you what you need to do & anything else you can think of.
You will need to accept that you don’t have to control or bully others, too. Remember, even God doesn’t control people. If anyone has that right, it’s the Creator of the universe! If He won’t do it, what makes you think you have the right to do so?
It will help to consider other people more often, too, not only yourself. Consider others when you make decisions, when you make plans, when you speak. Consider their wants & needs, too. What do those close to you want & need? How can you help to meet those needs & wants?
When you feel yourself getting angry, stop. Take a deep breath & release it slowly. This will help to calm your body & mind, & that will allow you to think clearly about the situation. When you think clearly rather than simple react, you may realize the situation isn’t really worth being angry about like you thought it was at first.
Also please know that you are going to need to heal from the events that created this behavior in you in the first place. I know it’s a scary thing, but you need to face those things in order to heal. I promise you, it WILL be worth it!
The lasting effects of an overused fight trauma response don’t need to be such a big part of your life. While it did help you survive for some time, & can be a useful tool, there are clearly many negatives! You can make healthy changes & live a happier life!
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My publish is having their “Read An Ebook Week” sale from March 7 until March 13. This means that all of my ebooks will be 25% off!
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My publish is having their “Read An Ebook Week” sale from March 7 until March 13. This means that all of my ebooks will be 25% off! Come check them out!
I’ve been getting tired of writing the same type of book so I’ve been considering other options. One of them is this book. It’s a journal created to help the reader help themselves heal from the damage of narcissistic abuse.
Each month in the journal will focus on one traumatic event, & each week, one aspect of the event. It also schedules time to relax so the healing work doesn’t become overwhelming.
In the future, I may create other similar journals on different topics, but honestly I’m not positive yet. We’ll see where God leads me.
The journal is available only in print, unlike many of my other books. It can be found at this link:
All of my print books are 10% off until December 11, 2020 with code FESTIVE10 at checkout.
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During a conversation in my Facebook group, I mentioned how for years, my father would call me later in the evenings, up to 10 sometimes, usually just to complain about my mother. Emotional incest isn’t the best way to end your day! Plus, being an introvert & talking to people a lot during the day, nights are when I want to avoid people. I want to relax with hubby, maybe some music, tv, or a craft project. I also get up early & don’t want to be awake at all hours. I explained this to my father & although he said he understood, he clearly didn’t. Not only because he lacked empathy but also because he was very extroverted. He continued his calls until I was at my wit’s end with it.
As a result, one evening, he called at 9:58. I decided to ignore the call. He called back several times during the next twenty minutes. About half an hour later, one of my cousins who lives 450 miles away called. I almost ignored it because I had a feeling my father put him up to this. Since he never calls so late, I thought what if this was the one time something is actually wrong? I answered the call & found out it was my father’s doing. He called my cousin asking him to call me & have me call my father. We got into an argument because I refused to call him that night. The next morning, my father called before 7. He shamed me for not taking his call & blamed me for making him worry so much that he had to call my cousin & my in-laws. I was livid yet in spite of that & knowing he was being manipulative & controlling, I felt guilty. This was on top of already feeling anxious because he clearly thought he had the right to “barge into” my home anytime he wanted via the phone.
This happened in late 2014. The conversation in my group about this incident made me think of something… I wonder if me having such trouble falling asleep is connected to my father’s upsetting late evening calls. It could be that my brain still expects my phone to ring at any & all hours to deal with a very stressful conversation. Logically I know it’s impossible. My father passed away in October, 2017. I have no other narcissists in my life, so there isn’t anyone left who would do this to me. Yet, it happened for a long time & I naturally became “programmed” to expecting late & upsetting calls.
The dear lady I was discussing this with came up with the term anticipation stress to describe my situation. Thinking about it, I believe this anticipation stress is pretty common with victims of narcissistic abuse.
Narcissists can be quite unpredictable & they use that to keep their victims on a state of constant high alert. The more a person is in that state, the more willing they can be to do anything to end this misery. This means they are more susceptible to being controlled & doing the narcissist’s will.
Even if the narcissist is no longer in the victim’s life, when something miserable happens repeatedly like in my situation, the brain may get stuck in a place of expecting some sort of stress. It seems to me it’s somewhat like hyper-vigilance. With hyper-vigilance, you’re constantly looking for signs of any potential danger. Anticipation stress is somewhat like that, except instead of danger, it’s a stressful & unpleasant situation.
Unfortunately at this time, I don’t know how to release this anticipation stress, but I absolutely will share anything I figure out! In the meantime, I hope it helps you to understand what is happening if you are going through something similar.
Sister Renee of Luke 17:3 Ministries is the lady who coined the term “anticipation stress”, so I’d like to provide a link to her website. Please check it out. She is an amazing lady who shares a lot of true, Godly wisdom on the topic of narcissists & surviving their abuse.
My publisher is having a really good sale on print books. 30% off!! To take advantage, use code BFCM30 at checkout.
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My publisher is having yet another sale on print books. 10% off until November 20, 2020. Use code SELFPUBLISH10 at checkout
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