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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.
When children grow up with narcissistic parents marry, it can be incredibly challenging. Usually, either one person is a narcissist & the other isn’t, or one is trying to heal & the other prefers staying in their dysfunction. The last scenario seems to be the most common. There isn’t a lot of information available on the topic, which is why I opted to discuss it today. It happens pretty often & people in this situation know how to handle it!
When you learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, it can be so incredibly freeing! That’s how it is when you learn truth, though. Not everyone sees it that way, however. The truth isn’t always pleasant or easy, so many folks prefer to avoid the ugly truth in favor of pretty lies. The pretty lies are easier & preferable to some people because they’re what is familiar. Familiarity doesn’t always breed contempt. Sometimes it breeds cognitive dissonance in the adult children of narcissistic parents.
That cognitive dissonance can be incredibly difficult to live with for someone married to a person who prefers to avoid it whenever possible. When you see the truth so clearly & someone you love avoids it like the plague, it is so frustrating!! You just want them to wake up & see the truth, but they won’t. Instead they continue to tolerate their toxic parents abusing them & even you & your children if you have them. They also will fight you on this topic, even if they aren’t normally disagreeable. If you complain about their parents, they will tell you things like it’s your problem & to leave them out of it. If this kind of thing doesn’t make you want to scream, nothing will!
I prayed about this behavior recently when it came to mind & God showed me some things.
While this behavior feels intensely personal, it isn’t. It’s about them, their dysfunction & self preservation.
When a person has a spouse that loves them & a narcissistic parent, the spouse is the safer of the two people. In this situation, the adult child knows someone is going to be angry & they will suffer for it. In their minds, the spouse is the safer one. They’ve had a lifetime of knowing just how incredibly cruel their narcissistic parent can be, so they do their level best to avoid their anger & cruelty. It’s safer to deal with the anger of a loving spouse than a narcissistic parent, so they choose (albeit unconsciously) the safer of the two people to anger.
Unfortunately for the spouse, this means that their dysfunctional mate is going to put them in some pretty awful positions. They’ll expect their healing spouse to tolerate whatever the narcissistic parents dish out, & when the healing spouse doesn’t, arguments are going to happen. Even if the narcissistic parent in question is the healing spouse’s parent, the dysfunctional spouse most likely will be upset if the healing spouse is setting boundaries or even severs ties with their parent. The dysfunctional spouse is going to minimize, excuse or even deny abusive behaviors. This can be so difficult because the healing spouse wants to heal but also wants to have a good relationship with their dysfunctional partner. Sadly, the relationship can only be so good while one is dysfunctional & the other is trying to heal.
If you’re in this position, you will need God’s guidance on how to navigate this situation. He knows so much more than you could possibly know so let Him help you! And, pray for your spouse to see the truth & be able to handle it, too. That is what someone in that position truly needs!
Also always remember that your spouse’s reactions aren’t personal. They’re about that person’s dysfunction. Keeping that in mind will help you to be less hurt & angered by their behavior, which will in turn help you to deal with the situation more effectively.
Don’t be afraid to set your boundaries! Just because your spouse is fine with being abused doesn’t mean you have to tolerate it. Protect yourself & if your spouse is angry about it, that is that person’s problem. There is nothing wrong, bad or even un-Christian about protecting yourself!
When you must discuss your spouse’s or your narcissistic parent with your spouse, try to keep your emotions under control. Any anger shown on your part could make your spouse become very protective of the parent in question, which will start a fight between you. Avoid it as much as possible by remaining calm when discussing parents!
Lastly, don’t give your partner an ultimatum to choose either you or their parent if you want to stay married. Those who do that usually lose their spouse. The one given the ultimatum feels their spouse is being manipulative, which naturally pushes them away & towards the parent. Don’t put your spouse or yourself in that position. If you end up wanting to go your separate ways, find another way to discuss it. Ultimatums end in anger & make the situation worse.
I wish you the best!
One thing I have noticed a great deal of in the community of abuse survivors is comparisons.
Those without PTSD or C-PTSD sometimes think those with either disorder are weak, & shame them for being so weak.
Those who have siblings shame those of us who are only children, because they think we had it so easy growing up without abusive siblings.
Still others who were older children look down on their younger siblings for having it so easy as to be “spoiled” by the same parents that abused them.
The problem is that these mindsets make no sense whatsoever.
Someone who managed to escape an abusive childhood or abusive marriage without PTSD or C-PTSD should be grateful for that fact rather than judging others who live with these disorders. Those without such disorders are in the minority. The fact is that surviving an abusive relationship often causes either disorder, & it’s not very common to escape without them. Rather than looking down on those of us you may deem weak, instead be grateful that you don’t live with PTSD or C-PTSD. Be grateful you don’t have any idea what it’s like to live with crippling anxiety & depression, or have nightmares every night, or live with being so hyper-vigilant that your own spouse coming into the room where you are can make you feel blind terror for a few moments. Living with such horrible things is an absolute nightmare. Be glad you don’t suffer with this!
If you think those of us who were only children had it easy, then think again. I won’t say it’s easier for only children to survive an abusive upbringing than those with siblings, because each situation has its own unique challenges. I will say as an only child, I can speak from experience in saying that being the sole focus of a narcissistic parent’s rage is a nightmare. It’s just as bad of a nightmare as it is for someone who grows up with siblings who turn out like their parents, & abuse their scapegoated sibling. One is no better or worse than the other, simply different. Different does NOT mean one had it easy & another did not.
Rather than waste time comparing your experience to someone else’s, I would like to encourage you today to accept not only your experiences but the experiences of others to be valid. Everyone who has survived abuse has seen some horrific things. While yes, some experienced worse than others, that does not make the experiences of those who experienced less horrific abuse any less valid or abusive. Abuse is abuse & it hurts. Period. Accept that. Validate your experiences. There is nothing wrong with this! In fact, doing so can help you to heal. Not doing so, & comparing your experiences to that of others invalidates your pain. It makes you feel your experiences don’t matter. They weren’t so bad, so just ignore them & pretend they never happened. That mindset is incredibly unhealthy! I know facing your demons is hard, but it also is healthy, brave & a strong thing to do. It’s necessary if you wish to heal from the trauma in your life. So why waste time comparing your experiences to those of other people when you can help yourself to heal?
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!
When you have experienced trauma in your lifetime, in particular repeated trauma, it’s going to affect you. Some expected signs of trauma in a person are things like depression & anxiety. There are a host of other, lesser known signs that can be extremely disruptive to a person’s life.
Hyper-vigilance may be the most common sign of trauma in a person’s life. It happens often in a person who has lived with their abuser, such as the child or spouse of the abuser. Living with an abusive person means you must be on your guard at all times, so you don’t do anything that upsets the abuser. That hyper-vigilant behavior often stays with a person long after they have ended the relationship with their abuser. It also leads to a host of other problems.
Physical pain in victims of abuse is often a sign not of an injury or illness, but of having experienced trauma. In particular, this pain often manifests in the neck & back. This is due to living in a hyper-vigilant state for an extended period of time. Hyper-vigilance causes your body to be in a state of not only emotional but physical stress, & that can cause physical pain in spite of there being no injury.
An extreme startle response is also caused by having to be in a state of hyper-vigilance. It manifests as being drastically more startled than you would expect to be in a specific situation. This startle response often cause anger or even tears in the startled person.
Sleep disturbances is another common sign of trauma in a person’s life. Nightmares that either relive the trauma or trigger emotions similar to those experienced during traumatic episodes happen often. Waking up often during the night or struggling to fall asleep in spite of doing things to help even including taking sleep aids are also common. Some people can wake up throwing punches, because they are so accustomed to protecting themselves. This happens with those suffering from PTSD who have served in the military or those in law enforcement.
Being too busy is a trauma response that many people employ. These people will keep themselves as busy as possible during their waking hours. They work long shifts, participate in many activities & rarely take time to just rest, even when they’re sick. They do this as a way to avoid facing their pain. If they don’t have time to think, they also don’t have time to think about their pain.
Similar to being too busy is losing yourself in activities. Staring at social media or watching tv for hours is another way to escape facing pain by focusing attention elsewhere. While neither is bad, doing so for hours on end is unhealthy, especially if the one doing so is unable to stop.
Eating disorders can be another sign of unresolved trauma. It is a way to regain some control when a person feels like they have no control otherwise.
Avoiding places & people that remind a victim of past trauma are more trauma responses. No one wants to face reminders of pain, of course, but those who have been through extreme trauma will go to great lengths to avoid it.
Avoiding conflict is very common in those with traumatic pasts. When abuse happens during conflict instead of dialog designed to work things out, it instills fear in a person about conflict with anyone, not only the abuser.
If you recognize yourself in some or even all of these symptoms, hope is not lost! The more you deal with the trauma in your life, the more these unhealthy patterns will break. Not overnight, but they will happen. Keep working on your healing however works for you. Pray, write in a journal, talk to a supportive friend or therapist… whatever you do that helps you, keep on doing it even if you don’t feel like you’re making progress. Healing isn’t a simple thing. Sometimes it looks like nothing is improving, then suddenly you make big progress. Other times, you’ll slip back into old, dysfunctional habits. It’s ok! It’s just a part of the healing journey. Don’t give up!
In case you haven’t heard the term, highly sensitive people, or HSPs, are people who are especially sensitive, just as the name implies. They also are known to have a high sensory processing sensitivity. This means HSPs can be very sensitive to all sorts of things such as textures, loud noises, & bright lights. They also are very in tune with other people, & are often easily stressed by tense situations & violence. Due to their sensitivity, highly sensitive people can become overwhelmed very easily. There are very good parts of being a highly sensitive person though. They tend to be very creative & empathic people with good quality relationships & a deep appreciation for beauty in all its forms.
In my experience of talking with many people who have been abused by narcissists, many victims of narcissistic abuse are highly sensitive people, which is why I have chosen to discuss this topic.
Due to the nature of being highly sensitive, life easily can become overwhelming sometimes. Highly sensitive people need to develop healthy routines to maintain good mental health & prevent burn out.
I firmly believe a close relationship with God to be vital. The closer you are to Him, the more peaceful you naturally feel because you know He is in charge. He also will help you figure out ways you can avoid burn out.
Getting rest is essential. HSPs need more rest than most people, due to their senses working so hard. While it may not sound it, that really can be exhausting. It’s important to get good sleep, so investing in a comfortable bed with good quality linens is money well spent. You also may want to listen to soft music or nature sounds to help you fall asleep. Pillow speakers can be a great investment for those who sleep with a partner.
Part of getting rest is prioritizing down time. After a long day, it’s very important to take time to relax & decompress. What can you do to enjoy your down time? Pray? Read? Listen to music? Knit? Think about what helps you feel calm & participate in that often, preferably daily.
Reevaluate your schedule. While being busy is valued in today’s culture, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Being too busy reduces the ability to enjoy down time, can interfere with sleep & cause a plethora of mental & physical health problems. What can you eliminate from your schedule? Are there ways you can at least cut back on certain activities? Is there anything you do that you can get help with doing from your spouse, kids or coworkers?
Reevaluate your boundaries. Many highly sensitive people are so in tune with the needs of those around them, they ignore their own needs. This clearly is an unhealthy habit! While it’s great to be there for those you love, it’s also important to take care of yourself. There is nothing wrong with limiting what you do for other people. In fact, doing so is a very loving thing to do for you as well as them.
Consider your home. Home should be your sanctuary, away from all cares of the world, where you can relax & be at peace. Does that describe your home? Clutter can create anxiety so if you have clutter, clear it out & your anxiety should diminish greatly. If you aren’t happy with how it looks, make changes to turn your home into your personal sanctuary. Those changes may be as simple as decluttering or as drastic as repainting every room.
Start journaling. Journaling is a wonderful thing. There are no hard & fast rules to it. Your journal can be as fancy or as plain as you like. It can be online only or a physical book. You can write as much or as little as you like, as often as you like & in whatever style you like. Some people write as if they are writing a letter to a friend when they journal or they write out their prayers. Others draw pictures or cut out pictures from magazines & such then paste in the pages of their journals. There are also countless journaling prompts available online to help if you get stuck.
If these suggestions seem too much, then don’t try to do them all at once. Start by doing one. Add another when you feel ready. The changes you make will help you physically & mentally.
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
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I’m a huge fan of the ID channel’s true crime shows, & I watch them often. It fascinates me the things that people are capable of. Not only those who commit heinous crimes, but those who have the strength & wisdom to outwit their attackers & survive brutal attacks.
Recently I was watching one of these shows. In it, a woman’s ex boyfriend kidnapped her under the guise of saying he wanted her to come with him to say good bye to his daughters. He said there was a party in another town, & he would take her to the party where his daughters would be so she could say good bye. On the way there, he threatened her & even tried to choke her. Sadly, when they got inside the house where the party supposedly was, it was empty & abandoned. It’s where he killed her.
What got me about this show was what happened just before they got to that house. The boyfriend told her to behave herself when they arrived at the party, in other words, act like he hadn’t just tried to choke her. It struck me – that is exactly how narcissists act! They can do the most painful, vulgar thing to a victim, & victims aren’t allowed to show others any signs of the trauma they just survived.
Naturally, narcissists do this to hide their horrible behavior so they can continue to do it & to impress whoever they want to impress. However, there is another facet of this behavior. Not allowing someone to act as if they have been through trauma instills shame in them.
Hiding your emotions in such a situation is good for survival, but at the same time, it can make you feel like something is very wrong with you for being upset about the trauma. I wonder if it’s partly because of how narcissists think. Many act like their victim is supposed to be able to do anything. Not because that victim is capable or smart, but because they want the victim to do things. Certain things are just expected of a victim, no matter the victim’s abilities, strengths or weaknesses. Acting normal after trauma is one of those expected things. When you feel as if you can’t act normally or struggle to do so immediately after a traumatic event, you can feel ashamed of your feelings.
Another reason for shame in such situations could be how many people treat victims. So few people are sympathetic to victims. Many people expect victims to “just get over it”, “let go of the past” or “forgive & forget.” Not a lot of people have patience for a victim who still shows signs of having been through trauma & they do their best to get them to act normal. Being around such people can instill a great deal of shame in a victim.
I’ve also experienced shame by being around someone who isn’t affected as strongly as I am by similar traumas. As an example, my husband is someone who can go on no matter what. No trauma slows him down. I’m not sure why he’s that way & trauma hits me much harder. There have been plenty of times I would see him keep going to work, working in the yard & doing other normal things after something traumatic happened. Yet, let something not as traumatic happen to me & I struggle to do things I do every day. This kind of comparison also can instill shame just like being told to act like nothing happened can.
When you experience this type of scenario, & chances are you will at some point, you need to turn to God. Pray about it. Tell Him how you feel & ask for help.
Also think about your situation objectively. It’s not normal to act like nothing happened after trauma. It’s normal to feel certain things & to act differently. If it was 95* outside, it’d be normal to sweat. Would you be angry at yourself for sweating in such hot weather? No, because it’s totally normal & understandable. Similarly, it’s normal & understandable to act differently after trauma. You have no reason to feel shame for acting differently.
Just remember, Dear Reader, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you for being affected by trauma, no matter what the narcissist or insensitive people may think. xoxo
Gratitude is a topic that is presented as of the utmost importance in society. And, gratitude is a wonderful thing. Life is much happier when you are grateful for the good things in your life. I feel so much joy when I focus on appreciating little things, like going for a drive with some good music playing in the car.
There are times though that gratitude isn’t the best solution. It may even be impossible.
If you have lost a loved one, for example, you will get to the point where you are grateful they’re no longer suffering & that you had them in your life for however long the time was. To get to that point though, you first will need to go through the grief process. That is going to take time, & involve some unpleasant emotions like feeling lost & alone, anger & intense depression. To get to the grateful place is messy, & shouldn’t be skipped over. Focusing only on gratitude for that person while not properly grieving means you’re ignoring pain that needs your attention in order to heal. Ignored pain finds alternative ways to get your attention, & those ways aren’t healthy. It can manifest as unhealthy relationships, addictions, physical & mental health problems.
This is also true when it comes to dealing with abuse in your past.
There are people who tell victims that they need to be grateful for the trauma because it supposedly made them strong or it made them who they are today. This can be so harmful for victims! It’s invalidating & also can create a great deal of shame in a victim who is struggling & unable to feel any gratitude. It is so cruel to tell someone this & make their struggle even harder than it needs to be!
This post is for people who have hurt such comments about how they need to be grateful for what they have been through. There is nothing wrong with you for not feeling grateful. Healing is ugly. It involves a lot of terrible feeling emotions. It also is a grief process, because you have to accept that some pretty terrible things were done to you, & that caused you to lose precious time in your life, maybe even your whole childhood if your abuser was your parent. How can any human feel gratitude during such a process?! It takes a long time & a lot of healing first before you can feel any gratitude related to your situation.
Rather than try to create a grateful heart at this time, forget that. Not necessarily forever, but for the near future at least until you are further along in your healing journey. Focus on your healing instead of gratitude. Feel all the ugly emotions & process them fully. Then, maybe you can be grateful for some aspects of your experiences. There are a few things to be grateful for after all.
You can be grateful the trauma & abuse didn’t destroy you, that you have a lot of inner strength that enabled you to survive it, that the abusers are no longer in your life & that God has found some purpose in your pain such as writing about it to help other people. You also can be grateful for having the courage to face your struggles, because that courage isn’t something everyone has. Please remember that gratitude can be a good thing to help a person add joy to their life, but it isn’t a cure all. It isn’t a healthy alternative to pain. It isn’t like an ointment that will soothe your pain either. You can feel gratitude while also facing painful, even traumatic things have happened to you. Just remember not to try to rush yourself into feeling gratitude.
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
Often people who are very forgiveness centered seem to think that to forgive someone means that whatever they did to you no longer triggers any negative feelings. You will be completely immune to any upset on that topic. For example, if your narcissistic mother constantly told you that you were fat, & someone else calls you fat, if you have truly forgiven your mother, some people think that means that this other person’s words won’t bother you in the slightest.
I really don’t believe that is true. You can forgive someone yet still be angered by certain behaviors.
Forgiving someone doesn’t always mean you have forgiven & forgotten what they did, & everything is now unicorns & rainbows. Forgiveness can mean that you release any expectations on them of apologizing & trying to make it up to you for wronging you. While doing this is a good thing, it doesn’t automatically release the anger or hurt you feel that their actions caused.
Even if you have managed to release all anger & hurt you feel at the person who has hurt or even abused you, their actions still can be very upsetting. Let’s say for example you were robbed at knifepoint. You have recovered from any physical injuries & have forgiven the robber. Maybe you even learned he was out of work at the time & trying to get money to feed his starving children, so you felt some compassion for him with his plight. Do you really think that all of this would make you ok with anyone robbing anyone at knifepoint? No! It definitely wouldn’t, because you know this behavior is wrong, no matter what the story behind it is. You also know how it feels to be in that position, the terror & anger it stirs up in you, & wouldn’t wish that on anyone. If you were in this situation & heard of someone else being through what you have, you naturally would be upset, no matter how much or little anger you feel towards the person who hurt you.
Honestly, I think it is not only normal to be upset by reminders but healthy.
Not being bothered by reminders of your trauma would mean you are desensitized to it. How is being desensitized to trauma good? It doesn’t help you, & may in fact hurt you. If you’re numb to the trauma you experienced, that probably means that you have ignored it for a very long time rather than process it. That is not even close to mentally healthy!
Being desensitized to trauma doesn’t help others who have experienced trauma either. If you think what they say was a traumatic experience wasn’t a big deal, & you tell them that, it will instill shame in them. They will become ashamed of being so affected by something so “trivial”. They will wonder what is wrong with them, why they were so traumatized by something that other people wouldn’t be bothered by. They could begin to shut down & ignore their pain rather than deal with it. Doing this could lead to a plethora of problems such as physical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or digestive disorders. It also could make them turn to substance abuse, shopping addiction or promiscuity rather than face the fact that they are hurting.
Dear Reader, please know that no matter how much you have forgiven your abuser, things that they have done will continue to upset & even anger you, & that is totally normal! In fact, let the emotions motivate you! Become an advocate against the type of abuse or trauma you experienced. Talk about it, so people know that these things are wrong. If you feel bold, write a blog or a book. See what you can to do get laws changed so other abusers like yours will go to jail. Good truly can come from those feelings, & remember, they aren’t proof that you are unforgiving or bitter. Far from it. They prove you’re a person with a wise & compassionate heart.
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!
Unfortunately, I don’t think many people realize just how beneficial dreams are. That is understandable considering how strange dreams can be. Who hasn’t had a dream of losing all their teeth or falling? Dreams like that are bizarre & seem to have no meaning & can be upsetting.
Dreams really can be beneficial though! In the past few years, I have started paying more attention to my dreams. They have taught me a great deal about the state of my mental health, helped me to figure out causes of my anxiety & work through trauma.
When I first started paying more attention to my dreams, I wondered if I was doing something wrong. Many so called psychics have claimed to have dreams about upcoming events or clues for solving crimes. Being a Christian, I didn’t want to engage in any behavior that would go against God’s word, & I believe that any dabbling in the occult does just that. To figure this out, I prayed & looked into the Bible for answers. What I learned was very interesting!
There are a lot of Scriptures about dreams in the Bible! In the book of Matthew, God speaks to Joseph in dreams. In the first chapter, Joseph has a dream where he is told that his fiancée Mary, is pregnant by the Holy Spirit. In the second chapter of Matthew, God uses a dream to tell Joseph to take Jesus & his mother away to Egypt. Later, he had another dream telling him it was safe to take them back to Israel.
There are also many examples in the Old Testament of God speaking to people in dreams. Daniel had dreams & Joseph interpreted dreams. In Numbers 12:6, God said that He speaks to prophets in dreams.
I’m pretty sure all this means dreams have value & shouldn’t be ignored!
If you are interested in learning from your dreams, then I encourage you to do it!
To do this, start paying attention to your dreams. Remember everything you can about them. What you were doing, who was in the dream, colors, objects, locations… everything can be important so it’s smart to remember every detail you can. These things may symbolize something important or be vital pieces to a puzzle.
It often helps to write things down, too. Writing can bring clarity that considering or talking about things doesn’t, so why not utilize that?
Find a good dream dictionary, too. I like dreammoods.com, but there are other websites & countless books available. No doubt you can find a dictionary that you really like either in print or online.
Remember that dreams aren’t always significant, so you probably won’t remember every dream you have. The brain is constantly processing information, no matter if the information is good, bad or indifferent. If you don’t remember a dream, then chances are it had no real significance for you at this time. It is simply your brain processing some type of information.
The most important thing I have found to do to help understand dreams is to pray. God will help you to understand & get the most benefit from your dreams. When they are nightmares rather than dreams, He will comfort you as well as teach you what they mean. Let Him help you!
Everyone needs validation. It’s simply a built in human need that God gave us all.
For those of us who survived narcissistic abuse, invalidation was a way of life, so it’s only natural that we crave validation more than the average person. We want to be heard & understood for a change! The problem with this is so many people don’t offer us the validation we crave. Instead, they make excuses for the narcissist, don’t want to listen to our stories or tell us things like we’re just angry, we need to let it go or other similar heartless comments.
You also can’t count on gaining validation from your abuser. It is the very rare abusive person who goes to a victim, admits that what they did was wrong, ask for forgiveness & makes appropriate changes in their behavior. Sure, some do apologize at some point, but their failure to change their behavior & either accept full responsibility or failure to stop blaming others for their behavior proves that they aren’t being genuine. The abusive behavior will continue & they don’t care about the pain & suffering they caused victims. They only apologize as an attempt to pacify a victim, not because they want to improve the relationship.
Situations like these are a very good reminder that you can’t rely on getting all the validation you need from outside sources. People are flawed, & they will fail to give you the validation you want & need sometimes. You have to learn to validate yourself instead of relying on others, which is where your healing truly begins.
As always I recommend starting this with prayer. Ask God to help you to learn how to validate yourself, rely less on validation from outside sources & even to give you validation.
You also need to accept the fact people won’t always give you the validation you need. Remind yourself often that people aren’t perfect, & they will fail you sometimes. It’s just a part of life. It doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care or they don’t love you. They are simply flawed human beings like every single other human being.
You also need to accept that your abuser won’t accept responsibility for the pain he or she caused you either. That type of validation most likely never will happen. You know what happened, & that truly is good enough. Even if no one else believes you, it really can be enough when you know the truth.
What people often refer to as feeling sorry for yourself is what I think of as showing yourself compassion, & it’s something you need to do. You have been through some pretty bad things, & it’s ok to admit that both to others & to yourself. Stop minimizing your experiences & your pain! You’re only invalidating yourself by doing that!
Never compare your situation to others. Doing so often leads to thoughts like, “Well that person had it way worse than me. I shouldn’t complain.” That is so wrong & also very self invalidating! Don’t do it! Trauma is trauma. So what if someone went through worse things than you did? You went through much worse than someone else did, too. Does any of that make any difference? You need to focus on your situation & ways to heal, not whether it’s better or worse than other people’s situations.
Stop judging your feelings, too. After abuse, it’s only natural to be angry or sad sometimes. It’s natural to have ruminating thoughts about certain especially painful situations or to wonder why the abuser did what they did to you. Don’t criticize yourself for thinking these things. Accept that they’re just a normal part of the healing journey.
With a little time & practice, you can learn to be your own best “validator.” You won’t regret learning this skill. In fact, I’m certain you’ll be glad you did! xoxo
Having experienced narcissistic abuse, I have learned that when you first tell people about it, they seldom know what to say. Rather than admit that, they say some things that come across as invalidating or uncaring. To help people avoid coming across the wrong way with victims, I thought I would share some things to say instead. If you are a victim of narcissistic abuse & struggling to ask those close to you for what you need, feel free to share this post with them.
If you have no experience with narcissistic abuse, it’s understandable you can’t comprehend the bizarre things narcissists do. Even when a person has experienced it first hand, the abuse is still hard for them to understand. That being said, don’t assume the person you’re speaking with is exaggerating or even making up everything. Most people aren’t creative enough to make up such things. Even if you struggle to believe what this person is telling you, if you know the person is honest, then trust what they say! Your validation will help!
Unless the person asks you for advice, don’t give it. For many victims of narcissistic abuse, we need to talk about it. A lot. It doesn’t necessarily mean we are looking for advice. Talking about it helps us to process what happened & come up with ways to cope.
Don’t assume that the narcissist is just your average jerk or is just selfish. Narcissists are so much more than that! They have absolutely no empathy & enjoy inflicting pain on their victims. Normal ways that a person deals with the average jerk don’t work with narcissists.
Don’t say things like, “You need to let this go.” All victims of narcissistic abuse know that. The problem is that it can cause PTSD or Complex PTSD, & once you have one of those disorders, there is no letting go no matter how much a person wants to do so. The disorders make letting go of trauma impossible. Managing the symptoms is the best a person with PTSD or C-PTSD can hope for.
Don’t push forgiveness. Yes, forgiveness is a wonderful thing. Yes, it’s in the Bible. However, to really & truly forgive takes time when horrific & traumatic acts were committed against a person. Shaming a person for continuing to feel anger towards their abuser does no good, & only adds to their problems.
Don’t say things like, “It takes two to tango” or, “There are two sides to every story.” By doing this, you’re telling the victim that they are equally responsible for the abuse as their abuser. That is wrong, unfair & nothing but victim blaming! While no one is perfect, no one can force another to abuse them. All responsibility for abuse lies squarely on the shoulders of abusers. Period!
Don’t trivialize the abusive & traumatic events. One of my aunts referred to the abuse I endured from my parents as “childhood hurts”. That may have been the most hurtful thing anyone ever told me. Trivializing trauma stirs up hurt & anger like you won’t believe. If you love this person, don’t do it! Even if events they describe as traumatic sound pretty harmless to you, remember that everyone experiences things differently. Just because that might not have been traumatic to you doesn’t mean it wasn’t traumatic to them. Don’t judge their definition of trauma.
Ask the victim what you can do to help. Chances are, there really isn’t much but knowing that someone cares & is willing to help means so much!
Offer to pray with & for the victim. Prayer is so comforting & knowing that someone is willing to take the time to pray for them will comfort the victim greatly.
Remind the victim how strong he or she is to have survived the abuse. Victims often feel weak & the reminder of their true strength is incredibly encouraging!
Always be non-judgmental, supportive & kind. These three traits can go a very long way with anyone who has endured narcissistic abuse.
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I recently had an interesting dream. In it, I was at a concert of one of my favorite bands ever, Motorhead. The dream was a bit odd since I’m not exactly a concert goer. Watching them on TV is as close as I get.
When I woke up, I prayed then looked up what music & concerts meant on my favorite dream dictionary website, dreammoods.com. According to the site, dreaming of a concert symbolizes unity & cooperation. Very cool.. my husband & I were moving soon & the dream made me realize how well we’re working together to accomplish this. Dreaming of music meant something different though. The site said that dreaming of music depends on the dreamer. Each genres means something different & if the genre is something you like, the music is offering you advice. When I read this, it clicked in my brain immediately.
I’ve been a Motorhead fan for a long time, but in particular a fan of their late singer, Lemmy Kilmister. In some ways he was your typical heavy metal musician. But, in other ways he wasn’t & I always thought those ways were really interesting. Not only was he highly intelligent but had a very unique personality. He was fascinated by history. Most of all though, he was unapologetic for being himself. Not like a narcissist of course, just he had this attitude of, “This is who I am. I like me. Your approval isn’t required.” Never having such an attitude myself, I admire & even somewhat envy it in others.
I believe my dream was trying to tell me that I need to share Lemmy’s attitude. There is nothing wrong with being comfortable in your own skin & not caring what others think about you. I realize narcissists try to make victims feel that way, but that doesn’t mean they’re right. They don’t want victims to feel that way because an insecure victim with low, or better yet NO, self esteem is easy to control. A person who is insecure doesn’t know what they want, think, feel & believe, which means they are going to be easily controlled.
Someone who has a healthy self esteem, however, is a threat to narcissists. They know who they are. They know what they want, think, feel & believe. They are well aware of their boundaries. Because of such things, they aren’t easily controlled or manipulated. They may be briefly but they catch on fast, & put an end to being treated that way even if it means ending the relationship.
Anyway I don’t think the lesson in this dream was only for me. I think it was for other victims of narcissistic abuse. If it was for you too, I’m sure this resonates with you as it did with me.
I have tried to develop Lemmy’s attitude. This is what I figured out about how to do that.
Naturally pray. Ask God to tell you the truth about yourself. That alone is eye opening! I did that myself some time ago & was shocked at what He had to say. He told me to research the personality of wolves, because that is what he created me to be like. I assume because of being such an animal lover, that was why He used that example. It was fascinating & so eye opening! I never would have thought that is what God created me to be like.
Once you do this, remind yourself often of whatever it is He tells you about yourself. Having the knowledge is a good thing of course, but reminding yourself of it often is what will get that knowledge inside of you. This was where I made my mistake. I didn’t focus on it as much as I should have, which is probably why I had the dream. Learn from my mistake! Think about what He said. If it helps leave notes or pictures around your home that remind you of it. Let this valuable knowledge get inside you & help you to blossom into the wonderful person He created you to be!
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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!
The definition of emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of, express, & control one’s emotions. It also includes the ability to handle relationships with empathy & fairness. People with a high degree of emotional intelligence are often kind, fair, understanding & tolerant of the mistakes of others while not tolerant of abuse.
Narcissists hate emotionally intelligent people. There are various reasons they can feel this way. Possibly because narcissists are very emotionally unintelligent, & therefore can’t understand the emotionally intelligent they hate them. Narcissists understanding the emotionally intelligent would be like the average person trying to understand how geniuses like Einstein thought. It would be impossible… although the average person at least wouldn’t hate him for his intelligence.
Another & even more likely scenario is because emotionally intelligent people aren’t easily fooled or manipulated. Narcissists want to fool & manipulate their victims so they can get whatever they like from them. Emotionally intelligent people have good boundaries & they understand people. This makes it nearly impossible to fool & manipulate them. It may happen briefly, but it won’t happen long. This makes them terrible victims of narcissistic abuse.
For the emotionally intelligent person in this situation, the narcissist & their flying monkeys will be incredibly shaming. They come up with all kinds of ridiculous things to say to the victim in order to shame them into compliance. In Christian circles, often the Bible is twisted around for the purpose of shaming the victim: “If you remember, the Bible says to honor your parents!” “Wives should submit to their husbands!” “Love covers a multitude of sins!” When Scripture isn’t used, the ridiculousness doesn’t get any better. People try to shame the victim by saying equally stupid comments such as, “You need to forgive & forget!” “That’s in the past…” “That’s just how he is.” “You need to understand her better.” “But he was abused by his parents!!”
Comments like these can create a great deal of conflict & confusion in someone victimized by a narcissist. A person who is emotionally intelligent however, isn’t conflicted & confused. They recognize the bad behavior for what it is, & have no problem calling out the people who say these things. It can hurt though & can be rather hard not to take the shaming personally sometimes.
If this happens to you, a very helpful thing you can do is remember what type of person is saying these things. You aren’t dealing with another emotionally intelligent person. They don’t say such stupid, heartless comments. Then ask God to tell you the truth & ask if they were right in what they said.
It also helps to look objectively at your situation & ask yourself does what this person said to you make any sense? If you can’t seem to look at the situation objectively, I know a trick to help. Pretend a friend has come to you & told you of this same situation happening to them. Doing this can help you feel disconnected enough to look more objectively at your situation. Please remember, Dear Reader, to be proud of being the emotionally intelligent person you are. Narcissists & their flying monkeys only criticize it because it means you see through their abuse. Don’t accept their shame! The shame belongs to them & you have no reason to carry 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.
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!