Tag Archives: healthy

Thoughts On Emotional Healing

Recently, seemingly out of nowhere, I suddenly felt as if a ton of bricks landed on me.  I have had one very hard, painful year & currently have quite a bit going on.  The intensity of it all hit at once.  I really felt overwhelmed for a while & couldn’t stop crying.

 

Eventually I did though, & realized what was happening.  I hadn’t really dealt with things very well.  In fact, I avoided thinking about some things, stuffing my emotions like I always used to do.  Old habits die hard, & apparently that one resurrected briefly without me realizing it.  I think my old habit returned because I had so much happening at once.  I didn’t have time to cope with one thing when three more bad things happened.

 

Upon realizing all of this, I have formed a plan.  I will take things one issue at a time.   When I first realized I had problems stemming from my childhood, I thought I could deal with everything at once.  Forgive my parents, accept the fact they were abusive, face being depressed & anxious, think positive, & all would be fine.  Naive?  Oh yes.. but truthfully, I didn’t realize how deep my issues went or have any grip on this emotional healing stuff.  Now I know better, & I have learned that a lot of times, it’s best to face one issue at a time, as it arises.

 

What I mean is this…

 

As an example from my life, part of my issue is the fact that when my father was dying, so called “family” came out of the woodwork to tell me what I needed to do regarding my parents,what a horrible person I was for not obeying them or “forgiving & forgetting” & not “honoring” my parents.  Mind you, this is on top of the death of my father.  Instead of lumping this all into one thing to deal with, I’m dissecting it, & dealing with each issue as I am able.  Here are the issues:

 

  • My father died.
  • I was attacked by many people at that time over a few months, but in particular my father’s final month of life.
    • Some people were strangers, so dealing with their nonsense isn’t too hard.  I don’t know them so they don’t mean anything to me.
    • Others were family & those relatives fall into 2 categories:
      • Family I once had been close to & felt betrayed they treated me this way.
      • Other family I never was close to so the fact they attacked me was a big shock in addition to the pain of the things they said & did.

 

I think it’s healthier to deal with things this way because the events of that time are very distinct & complex, not to mention overwhelming to face all at once.  Even just the one part with family is difficult because there were two very different dynamics at play.  My relationships with these people were very different, so naturally that means I must deal with the situations differently.  Plus, doing this also gives me smaller things to cope with rather than trying to tackle one huge issue.  Smaller bits will be easier to cope with, which is especially important since I have C-PTSD.  Having the disorder means my brain is broken.  I have to treat myself gentler than a person without C-PTSD treats themselves.

 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed too, Dear Reader, I’m sorry.  It happens sometimes & it’s rough, I know.  Just try to remember to approach the situation in small doses, especially if you too have C-PTSD.  Break it down into manageable parts, & deal with those however works best for you rather than tackling the big picture all at once.  The little things will add up to form the big picture.  Also remember, Psalm 23:4 says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”  (KJV)  Sometimes when you’re facing your pain, it feels like you are all alone.  People don’t understand, & may avoid or even abandon you during your darkest hours.  God isn’t that way though.  He loves you & is with you no matter how bad things may be.  xoxo

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Boundaries Are Important, & Not Only With Narcissists

Boundaries are a very important part of life, but perhaps even more so in victims of narcissistic abuse.

Narcissists don’t allow their victims to have any boundaries.  This creates victims who think they aren’t allowed to have boundaries not only with the narcissist, but with everyone.  Lacking healthy boundaries sets a person up to be used & abused.  Even the kindest, most well meaning people can inadvertently take advantage of someone without good boundaries, because the person doesn’t say no.  How can anyone know what they’re asking someone to do is a problem if that someone doesn’t say no?

Boundaries are like the fence that surrounds your yard.  They show you where you end and other people begin, & what is & is not your personal responsibility.  Your emotions, beliefs, desires & behaviors are your responsibility.  Likewise, the emotions, beliefs, desires and behaviors of other people are their responsibility, not yours.  You do not even need to have an opinion on these things.  If they are hurting you or are being self-destructive, however, Ephesians 4:15 says that you may speak the truth to them in love about the issue.

No one can control someone with healthy boundaries.   You will show others that you have confidence & self-respect, & that you love yourself enough to take good care of you.

By learning about boundaries, you will quickly learn what is & is not important to you, therefore you know what you need to confront another person about, & what you can let slide.  You will be more sensitive to the early signs of resentment or anger that let you know that your boundaries are being violated.  It is best to nip things in the bud, rather than to let the problem continue until it is much bigger.

Boundaries also enforce consequences.  Galatians 6:7 says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”  Often, many people try to interfere with this natural law to avoid painful consequences, however, doing that often causes bigger problems.  Boundaries allow this reaping to take place because you know that it is not your place to interfere.  People need consequences for their actions, good or bad!  How is someone who does good things for others benefited by never receiving recognition or a reward for their good works?  That person becomes discouraged, potentially even bitter.  Or, what good does it do anyone to say or do anything they want, & never suffering when they cause others to suffer?  This person learns nothing, nor does she have any opportunity to grow and mature or grow closer to God.

When you first begin to set boundaries, some people will not like it.  They will tell you that you are being selfish or uppity, or they may ask what happened to the “good girl” you used to be.  Reasonable, safe people will accept & respect your new boundaries with no problems.  Unsafe people will not.  If others cannot respect your healthy boundaries, then they are the ones with a problem, not you.  Setting boundaries is a very good way to learn who is safe & who is not.

For your first step in getting started on boundaries, I strongly suggest you spend some time asking yourself these questions, & really think about your answers:

• What things am I no longer willing to tolerate from other people?
• What things do I need from other people?
• What boundaries do I need to set in my own life?
• How can I enforce them in a healthy way?

When setting your new boundaries, be very decisive about them. Wavering in your boundaries can lead to problems, such as others not not respecting your new boundaries.

You also need to figure out healthy ways to enforce those boundaries. Some simple phrases that may help you are:

• “I’m not going to do that.”
• “I won’t discuss this subject with you.”
• “You’re entitled to your opinion, but so am I.”
• “If you don’t stop talking about this subject, I’m going to hang up the phone (or leave the room, etc).”
• “No.”

Enforce your boundaries with consequences when necessary.  Hang up the phone, leave the room, or whatever your consequence is.  If you do not enforce your boundaries, people not only will lose respect for the boundary you are setting, but they will lose respect for you as well.

Remember to respect the boundaries of others too.  You may need to write down what you are & are not responsible for regarding others in your life.  Everyone is entitled to the same things that you are- lack of judgment on their own emotions, beliefs, desires, & actions.  And remember- you are also not responsible for the feelings & well-being of others.  People are also allowed to freely express their emotions.  While you may offer sympathy, it is not your responsibility to make things all better for them.  If you have done wrong by them, however, then it is certainly your place to apologize & try to make it up to them for the pain you caused.

You will need to tailor this information to your unique situation, but you can do this!  Even if you are afraid, as most people learning to set boundaries for the first time in their lives are, do it anyway!  The benefits of boundaries outweigh the risks.  You will have more inner peace than ever before, you will feel less burdened & freer since you do not need to be responsible for some things you once were (such as the happiness and choices of others), & you naturally will begin to attract much healthier, happier people into your life.

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

Getting The Most Out Of Your Life

Three years ago today, I suffered the most terrifying trauma of my life. I nearly died from carbon monoxide poisoning. My husband & I didn’t know it that day, but apparently somehow a bunch of debris suddenly gathered behind my chimney’s flue, pushing it slightly closed. Not enough to smoke up the house when the fireplace was lit, but it was just enough to fill it with carbon monoxide after hubby left for work.

As seems to be my new February tradition, I’ve been thinking a great deal about this recently. Coming close to death definitely makes you reevaluate your life. Plus the damage to my brain changed my personality a great deal, which is actually a good thing in some ways. I’ve gotten better at self care & not tolerating abuse among other things, so I’m still getting to know this new me & what I want & need.

One thing that I realized that I need to remind myself of frequently is life can change drastically or even end in an instant. (I certainly didn’t wake up on February 27, 2015 expecting to nearly die that evening or that it was going to be the first day of a new life full of weird health problems & a lot of brain damage.) I think it’s an excellent idea to life life without regrets, because you don’t know when or how your life will change or even end.

I realize living every day like it’s your last isn’t quite possible. You still have a job, housework, budgeting, family obligations & what not to consider of course. But, I think it’s an excellent idea to get in any joy in life where you can, to do things you want to do or try new things as often as possible. Even little things can make a big difference. Go for a drive without a destination in mind & blare your favorite music on the radio. Grab a milkshake once in a while. Buy a new color of nail polish (one of my favorites) or dye your hair a fun, funky color. Tell the people you love how much they mean to you, why you love them & do it often. Make time for a hobby you love or pick up an old hobby you once abandoned. If time is an issue, look over your schedule & streamline it. I have a routine for my housework that helps me to maintain a clean home with spending the minimum amount of time on it. Doing a little almost daily is easier for me than doing a lot a couple of days each week since I run out of energy quickly. It also allows me more time available for writing, hobbies, spending time with friends or whatever I want.

It seems to me that society values being busy, but that just isn’t healthy or conducive to enjoying every moment in life. There is absolutely nothing wrong with not being productive 24/7! Even God took a day of rest after creating everything, & then told His people to do the same! (see Genesis 2:1-3) He did NOT create people to be non stop busy. He created people to work & also to take time to enjoy their lives. When you get to the end of your life, don’t you want to think about what a well lived life you had & not what a busy one you had?

Another thing society values that I realized isn’t healthy is being overly positive. Yes, positivity is good. It can help you avoid depression. However, being too positive can set you up for disappointment. Did you know many people who commit suicide are known for being optimistic? They became depressed when they were repeatedly disappointed.

Being too positive can set you up for feeling shame, too. If you’re very positive yet end up feeling negatively or unable to find good in a situation, it can make you feel terrible shame. That’s not good! If you know very positive people, you also know you can’t tell them you’re sad or disappointed, because they’ll make you feel ashamed of yourself. They’re not people you can be real & honest with, & that’s not good either!

I’ve found I have much more peace & less stressful being realistic. Sure, I look for the good, but I’m also not ashamed for getting depressed, angry or disappointed sometimes. I’m also not ashamed to say sometimes, things just stink & I can’t find anything positive in the situation.

Another thing to consider… your relationships. While soul searching after my awful experience, I also took the time to evaluate the relationships in my life. When I realized that through the complete delirium of the poisoning, I still had the sense to tell my husband as soon as I saw him never tell my parents about this, it was a huge wake up call for me. I knew anyone who wouldn’t care that I nearly died couldn’t be a part of my life, & they wouldn’t have cared. I also realized some friends weren’t good for me or at least they weren’t what I wanted in a relationship. The relationships were too one sided & some didn’t even care about what I experienced. Saying, “You’ll be fine”, “But you didn’t die!” or “Glad you’re ok.. so anyway *subject change*” after such an experience showed me how cold & uncaring these people were.

What about your relationships? If, God forbid, something terrible happened to you, could you count on the people in your life being there for you? Would they be care about your pain & suffering or would they brush you off? If they wouldn’t be there for you, then it might be time to consider whether or not you really want them in your life. You deserve good, loving people with whom you can have an equal & loving relationship. There is nothing wrong with refusing to settle for less than that!

John 10:10 is beautifully said in the Amplified translation: “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].” Jesus died not only so we could spend eternity with Him & have a relationship with God the Father, but also so we can enjoy life while we’re alive here on this planet. There is no good excuse not to enjoy your life! You deserve it! Jesus obviously thought so too! So why not start thinking about ways you can add more joy to your daily life?

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Reassuring The Narcissist When You’re The One Who Is Hurting

Why do narcissists expect you to reassure them when you are the one going through problems?!  This seriously irks me.  Maybe I’ve lost all patience as I’ve gotten older, but lately this pushes my buttons badly.

My husband will be visiting his parents today, & I’ll be alone. We’ve spent a few holidays together in our 20 years as a couple, but most he has spent with his family.  I’m ok with it now.  I decided to change my perspective several years ago & now look at holidays as a laid back day I can enjoy by myself.  (I discussed this in my last postif you care to read about it.)

So last night, my father called.  He invited me to go to Thanksgiving dinner with my parents again.  I thanked him & declined again.  Suddenly he has a bee in his bonnet about me spending a holiday alone.  I ended up reassuring him it’s ok.  This really ticked me off.  Why is it I’m the one who in the past has been hurt badly by this, yet I am supposed to reassure my father who isn’t in the least bit affected by this scenario?  How does this make sense on any level??   Yet, I realize this is a very common scene when dealing with a narcissist, be they overt or covert.

When my dog, Danya died suddenly in 2009, my mother called as my husband & I were trying to get his body (he was over 100lbs) to the car so we could take him to the crematorium.  I told her what we were doing, & she went on to tell me how hard this was for her, & wanted me to comfort her.  Really?  She never gave Danya the time of day when he was alive…

When I told my father I was divorcing my ex-husband, his response was, “Can I still be friends with him?”  He was upset that he might lose his “friend,” & I told him it was up to him & the ex (even though inside I was hurt this was even an option).

If you think about it, I’m sure you have had similar experiences with your narcissistic parent as well.  Am I right?

I am trying to think of ways to deal with this especially annoying habit.  So far, all I can come up with is to say you have to go then leave the room or hang up the phone, or change the subject.  After all, narcissists aren’t like normal, healthy people.  If you explain that the behavior is wrong or painful, they will take offense & either go into a narcissistic rage or they’ll use the behavior more often just to hurt you.

If anyone else has a better idea, I would love to hear it.  Not just for my benefit but for the benefit of others who read this blog as well.  Please leave your suggestions in the comments below.

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“You Need To Do Something!”

Why is it when people hear you say something about your abusive parents, they say that YOU need to fix it rather than saying something to your abusive parents? That never fails to amaze me.

Yet again recently, I heard another comment along these lines. It was only one of MANY I’ve heard over the years, & when I thought about that, it really ticked me off. Over the years, I have heard things like, “YOU need to make things better with your parents” or, “YOU need to get into counseling so YOU can figure out how to fix things with your parents!” more times than I can count. The truth is I have tried to make things better with my parents, & even got into counseling when I was seventeen to try to figure out how to make things better with them. I have done all the work while they have done nothing.

Time & time again, I have tried talking to my parents about how their behaviors hurt me, & they don’t make any changes. They don’t listen to me enough to hear what I have said, nor care enough to change anyway. Two examples popped into my mind- I told my father that it really hurt me badly to hear him complain about my mother & their bad marriage to me. He said, “Oh ok. I’m sorry. But-” then he went on to complain about her for another forty-five minutes (I timed it). Since, he has not stopped griping about his marriage problems to me every time we spoke, aside for a short two month period after his sister spoke to him on the topic. Suddenly, he was right back at it again, though. The other example is with my mother. She insults my cats when she sees them. This one is too fat, that one too affectionate, etc. I have told her over & over again to knock it off, yet she didn’t. One day on the phone, she asked if she ever offended me with something she’s said about the cats. *sigh* I told her yes & reminded her that I’d told her to stop it. She was shocked- she claimed she had no idea I was upset, let alone said anything to her.

So please tell me – why I am the one who should do all the work on a relationship with these people?

All relationships are a two way street, whether they are friendships, romantic relationships or a parent & child relationship. Any relationship that is one sided is not healthy! Even healthy relationships may be a bit one sided sometimes, but when that is the norm? It needs to stop, otherwise anger, bitterness & resentment build up in the one who does all of the giving. That person also can lose self-esteem, because she may learn she is simply around to be used.

Don’t take those guilt trips when people tell you that you need to fix things with your abusive parent(s). I don’t, & I don’t believe I am being a bad person for it! You have every right to expect to be treated with civility & simple respect & courtesy, just like every other person. Doing all of the work in a relationship, even with a parent, is NOT civil, respectful or courteous to either person involved.

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Safe vs. Unsafe People

Good day, Dear Readers!

Over the last few years, I have reached the end of my tolerance for dealing with abusive, selfish, manipulative or narcissistic people. Having dealt with a couple of people like this recently, I thought I’d share some ways to recognize safe people vs. unsafe people.  So many people who have survived some type of abuse often attract unsafe people, & have trouble recognizing safe people.  I was that way too, but have learned the difference.  I hope this post will help you to learn the difference!

Safe people respect your time- they don’t assume you are going to wait for them to call or show up at a certain place. Unsafe people, however, have no respect for your time or life.

Safe people ask, rather than make demands. Unsafe people are entitled, believing they deserve whatever they want or need, even at the expense of others.

Safe people do not jump to conclusions. For example, if you don’t answer the phone, they don’t call you back 15 times in a row. Safe people assume you are unavailable, & either wait for you to call them back or they call you back several hours later or the next day. Unsafe people call you back repeatedly, assume you didn’t answer the phone because you are mad at them, or try to make you feel guilty or get mad at you for not answering their call. That is a control tactic- forcing you to deal with them on their terms.

Safe people aren’t judgmental & critical. They don’t say things like, “well if I were you, I would-” or judge or criticize you for decisions you make, things you like, etc. Those are invalidating behaviors are cruel!

Safe people help & support you, rather than mock you or tell you how your problem affects them. This is a huge pet peeve of mine, as I have experienced this many times. The day my dog, Danya, died suddenly & unexpectedly, while my husband & I were trying to gather his body (he was over 100lbs- not easy to move him!) to take him to the vet’s for cremation, my mother called. I told her what happened & what we were doing. She went on & on about how upset she was over his death, not asking once how my husband, I or our pets were doing.

Safe people don’t expect you to be their “trash can.” What I mean is when a person dumps all of their problems on you, & expects you to listen to whatever they want to talk about while ignoring anything you have to say. That is being a trash can. Unsafe people do this trash can thing all of the time.

I hope this helps you to recognize the safe, good people in your life. Remember, you deserve to be surrounded by safe, loving, compassionate, empathetic people. You do NOT deserve to be abused & mistreated!

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What Is The Difference Between Guilt & Shame?

Many people who have survived abuse, especially childhood abuse, don’t realize there is a vast difference between healthy, normal guilt & toxic shame.  We are taught from day one to feel shame- ashamed of who we are, what we think/feel/do/like/don’t like & more.  This is absolutely deadly to one’s self-esteem.  When you are ashamed of who you are, you want to hide from the world- you don’t want to expose anyone to the terrible person you believe you are.  You would love to be invisible.

Guilt, however, is a very useful, healthy tool in life.  Guilt doesn’t make you feel ashamed of yourself- guilt makes you feel ashamed of something you did that was wrong instead.  Guilt speaks of the action, while shame speaks of who you are.  For example, if you come home after a very trying day, & snap at your husband, you should feel guilt.  Enough guilt for acting that way to make you say, “I’m sorry, Baby.. I’ve had an awful day.  It’s not fair of me to take it out on you though.”  Once your apology is accepted, you let it go.

Shame however, would make you tell yourself that you are a terrible person.  You shouldn’t have acted that way- only a bad person acts like that!  You may or may not apologize- shame may make you feel too embarrassed to apologize- but you will beat yourself up for being such a bad person.

Do you see the difference?  Guilt says, “I did something wrong,” where shame says, “I am wrong & bad.”

Do you have a healthy sense of guilt, or do you feel shame?  If you are in doubt, ask yourself how you feel after doing something that hurts another person’s feelings.  (And yes, you will- we ALL do hurtful things sometimes, no matter how careful we are to avoid it).  If you quickly do what you can to make amends & let it go, then you are feeling healthy guilt.  If you beat yourself up for being a terrible person, you feel shame.

It can be hard to overcome shame, especially after a lifetime of experience with it, but it can be done.  As you work on your healing, your self-esteem naturally improves.  You also see things in a much healthier perspective- you begin to realize that you are NOT at fault for everything, as you heard you were when you were a child.  You realize that things were done to you that you didn’t deserve, & nothing you could have done would have made you deserve to be abused.  These things help you to feel less & less shame as time passes.  

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