May 21, 2021 · 6:30 AM
Many of us who have experienced trauma experience a lot of guilt about how we responded during a traumatic event. I have experienced this. When my mother & I got into an argument & she threw me into a wall when I was 19 in 1990, I blacked out & bit her during the assault. To this day I remember how shocking it felt to hit the wall then suddenly coming to as she was releasing her hold on me that pinned me to the wall. And when I came to, I ran from the house & sped away in a cloud of tire smoke. For many years after, I felt incredibly guilty for the entire event. Mostly because I bit my mother & she had a scar from that, but also for the fact I gave in to her. She was itching for a fight the moment I walked in the door after work that evening. I recognized the look immediately & in spite of knowing nothing about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I knew getting into an argument would result in something bad for me, yet I did it anyway.
While it may sound ridiculous to you, this triggered an intense amount of guilt in me! I gave in rather than simply leave which would have been the smart thing to do. And, thanks to me, my mother had a physical scar. Horrible!
As you read this, you probably are thinking things like, “But you were only 19!” “You didn’t know about narcissism!” “You were defending yourself!” “You couldn’t move so how else could you defend yourself?” And you know something? Those are all correct. That isn’t how it felt at the time of the incident however, or for over twenty years after it happened.
Do you feel guilt about a response during a traumatic event too? If so, please show yourself the same mercy you were just willing to show me!
During trauma, the brain is overridden by survival instincts. While that is a good thing in the sense that survival instincts will help you to survive, they also may cause you to behave out of the ordinary & in a way that may be embarrassing to you. Please try to let that go! Survival instincts are there for a reason. They help a person to survive. Whether your instinct is fight, flight, freeze or fawn, that instinct helped to save you from a potentially even worse fate. That makes your survival instinct pretty impressive! Don’t discount it! Embrace it! Be grateful that it is partly why you survived!
Don’t forget to analyze the event too. If you analyze it, you had no other choice. Maybe you’re thinking that you did, but also consider yourself at the time. You may not have known any better, which led you to make the best choice you could at the time. This can be difficult, I know. I’ve spent a lot of time beating myself up for poor choices I’ve made in my life, too, but you know something? That is a waste of time! You aren’t the same person you were who made a less than ideal choice during a time of extreme duress. You did your best & that is all anyone can expect. You also survived the traumatic event, so you should be proud of yourself!
Please just remember, Dear Reader, that even if your trauma responses haven’t been what you wish they were, you have no reason to be embarrassed or feel guilty about them. They did their job, which was to help you survive.
Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health
Tagged as abuse, fawn, fight, flight, freeze, response, responses, survival, survive, survivor, trauma, traumatic, victim, victims
August 10, 2020 · 5:30 AM
Have you ever noticed there are socially acceptable & socially unacceptable responses to trauma? There are. The especially interesting part is the socially acceptable ones are the most unhealthy trauma responses & encouraged.
Some socially acceptable trauma responses are:
- being a workaholic.
- focusing on career over family.
- never taking breaks.
- being over scheduled or too busy.
- sleeping too little.
- excessive exercising.
- under eating.
Some socially unacceptable trauma responses are:
- taking time off to relax.
- crying or being angry about the trauma.
- admitting that it still upsets you, even years after the trauma.
- taking anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication.
- seeing a counselor.
- severing ties with an abuser.
- discussing the abuse.
When you live with PTSD or C-PTSD, trying to heal is tough enough. It’s not easy, even under the best of circumstances. It’s much worse though when you have people telling you that your healthy coping skills aren’t healthy, & insisting you instead use unhealthy coping skills.
Having been through narcissistic abuse, I can vouch for the insecurity that comes from it. It takes a conscious focus on my part not to assume someone’s criticism of me is right & to consider what is said before assuming I’m wrong, & frankly I’m not always good at this. When someone tells me I should use one of the unhealthy trauma responses instead of my healthy ones, naturally I figure they’re right & feel shame. No doubt many of you reading this experience the same type of response.
You can learn to deal with the dysfunctional response in these types of situations.
Remember, the world thinks quite skewed in the area of mental health. No one bats an eye at someone who goes to a doctor with a broken leg, yet many of those same people claim someone is weak for seeing a counselor for their mental health problems. That is just one example of this skewed thinking. Anyway just because so many people think this way doesn’t mean they are right. What others think about how you heal isn’t important. What is important is that it works for you.
Use logical thinking. When someone criticizes you for how you approach your emotional healing, ask yourself if what they say makes sense & why. For example, if someone says you’re being lazy, you need to keep busy instead of taking time off, think about this statement for a moment. How would keeping busy benefit you? Sure, you might be busy enough not to think about your problems for a bit, but that won’t last forever. Besides, ignoring emotions means they will come out in unhealthy ways later. So many addicts became addicts because they tried to avoid facing their own traumas. Considering all of this, do you really think this person gave you good advice?
Another thing to consider is people view things through the lens of their own experiences. Many people who are the quickest to judge others’ healing journeys are ones who also have been abused, but refuse to deal with that. Rather than be inspired by someone else facing their pain, they get upset by it. They often think because they aren’t facing their past trauma, they are over it. They’re functioning just fine while someone else is suffering with C-PTSD. In their mind, clearly that person is weak & could learn a thing or two from the person without C-PTSD. They honestly think they’re helping by telling the other person what they do, which involves their socially acceptable trauma responses.
Remember, just because some people think your approach to healing is wrong doesn’t mean that is true. You have to do whatever works best for you. What others think shouldn’t matter. All that should matter to you is that what you’re doing helps you to heal.
Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism
Tagged as abuse, emotional, heal, healing, health, mental, narcissism, narcissist, narcissistic, response, responses, trauma