Tag Archives: trauma

The Body & Mind Hold Onto Trauma

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.

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

Perspective On Personal Problems After Narcissistic Abuse

When you have been subjected to abuse at the hands of a narcissist, whether that person was a parent or romantic partner, obviously it does a lot of damage.  Most everyone knows about the depression, anxiety, C-PTSD, low or non existent self esteem, inability to make decisions & difficulty trusting other people.  One thing that is almost never mentioned though is how greatly your perspective about your problems is damaged.

What I mean is this.  I mentioned a problem in passing to a friend recently & didn’t really think anything of it.  Her reaction was shock that this had happened.  I had offered no clues anything was wrong, let alone I was going through something so difficult. 

Later I thought about this & realized I’m pretty messed up!!  First, the problem was serious & I didn’t take it as seriously as I should have.  I brushed off my feelings about it as not important, & me overreacting rather than recognizing there is a problem that needs attention.  Second, in coping with said problem, talking about it never crossed my mind.  I’ve always been the one to talk to, not one who talks about my problems.  Not to mention the bad experiences I’ve had when I finally do open up.  Often when you aren’t one to talk about problems, people assume you’re stronger than you are.  When you finally do open up, some people invalidate & minimize because they think you should just handle things & leave them out of it.  That is a topic for another post though.

In contemplating all of this, I realized that the reason I am messed up in this area is due to narcissistic abuse.

Narcissists constantly make sure their victims feel unimportant & are all too aware that the narcissist is the only person in the relationship that matters at all.  Naturally, if they are the only important person, then their problems are important too.  By default, this means their “unimportant” victim’s problems are also unimportant.  After being exposed to this treatment, over time, it affects a person.  Eventually, you too believe that your problems are unimportant. 

Narcissists also convince their victims that they are oversensitive or overreacting, which also gets inside a person over time.  I haven’t been around a narcissist in years, but my automatic reaction was still to assume I was overreacting to my problem.

Narcissists also value secrecy.  They forbid their victims to discuss the abuse.  If they do, the victim will pay dearly.  This secrecy becomes a way of life in time.  Discussing things like personal problems isn’t something a victim may consider an option.  For me, it’s such a deeply ingrained habit not to discuss them, it seldom crosses my mind that I have people in my life I can talk to.

If you are like me in this area, I would like to let you know what I am telling myself.  It is perfectly OK to question things.  If something bad is happening, don’t automatically minimize your feelings.  They are valid!  Consider the situation & ask yourself why do you feel this way?  Maybe you are being overly sensitive, but that is fine!  That simply shows an area where you need more healing.  Or, maybe you aren’t.  Maybe you have been wronged & are upset for a very good reason.  If you need to deal with this challenging situation, your emotions can help motivate you to do that.

If you are unsure, then one thing that can help is stepping out of your comfort zone & talking to someone.  You are allowed to do that!  No one can tell you what you can & can’t discuss.  Talk to someone safe & non judgmental.  That person’s reaction will tell you plenty.  Remember my friend being shocked at my situation?  I honestly didn’t realize my circumstances were so bad until she reacted that way.  That was very eye opening to not only that particular situation but my incredibly dysfunctional way of handling problems. 


While God created people to rely first on Him, there is nothing bad about looking to friends for help sometimes.  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 in the Amplified Bible has this to say about friends, “Two are better than one because they have a more satisfying return for their labor; 10 for if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and does not have another to lift him up. 11 Again, if two lie down together, then they keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? 12 And though one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

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

PTSD, C-PTSD Pain

I read a truly interesting article recently on TheMighty.com.  The author spoke of her life with C-PTSD.  She was in a relationship with someone who pointed out how she was able to (as he described it) swallow physical pain & continue on as if nothing happened.  Apparently she didn’t realize she did this, which lead her to research why she behaved in such an unhealthy way.

Long story short, she learned that people with PTSD tend to be very out of touch with pain or very highly in tune with it, depending on their mental state at the time.  Often in times of really bad anxiety, people with PTSD experience oversensitivity to pain.  Anxiety causes the body to tense up, which certainly could explain that.  It also explains why many people with anxiety experience chronic pain in their bodies.


Interestingly though is what the author described next.  After a serious injury, her anxiety levels were very high, which triggered other pain not related to the injury.  The man she was dating then noticed how at times she’d just “swallow” the pain after a minute & go on as if nothing happened. 

This is a survival skill that can be very useful.  If you’re in a dangerous situation & can ignore the pain long enough to get yourself to safety, clearly this is a very useful survival skill!  In daily life however, it isn’t.  In daily life, it means you will ignore your pain & not take the time to rest & recover that you need.

I have realized I do this.  After my back injury at 19 when my mother threw me into a wall, although I was in constant pain of varying degrees for 10 years, there were times I was so disconnected from the pain, I wondered if people who said I was faking the pain so I didn’t have to work were right.  Maybe it wasn’t all that bad or maybe I wasn’t even injured at all.  Hardly healthy behavior!

Another point in the article is people with PTSD who dissociate generally tend to have a much higher threshold of pain than people without the disorder.  Dissociation is known for allowing a person to disconnect from emotional pain, but it also can allow a person to disconnect from physical pain as well.  This means they naturally won’t feel pain as intensely as others who don’t dissociate.

Knowing this information was very helpful for the author of the article, because it helped her to change how she thinks about her chronic pain & treating it.  I believe it also can be extremely helpful for the rest of us whether or not we have issues with chronic pain. 

Recognizing that it is very unhealthy to disconnect from physical issues helps you to have a better perspective on them.  Unless you’re in a very dangerous situation, this survival skill isn’t needed.  It’s healthier to recognize what is happening & deal with the issues accordingly. 

Having this problem myself, I also realize that there are times it feels like you should be ashamed of having a physical problem which probably contributes to disconnecting from your pain.  The narcissists that have been in my life had zero tolerance for my illnesses or injuries.  In fact, I never told my parents I nearly died from carbon monoxide poisoning in 2015 because of that. 

I know health situations can be incredibly hard to handle.  Adding in this dysfunction to the health problems can make them utterly miserable.  In fact, I’m not really great at handling health issues myself.  I have found something that helps me to have a healthier perspective on health issues.  That is to remind myself constantly that there is no reason to hide the problems anymore.  My health is my responsibility, & I have every right to handle it however I see fit.  If that makes me something bad in the eyes of other people, so be it.  They don’t live in my body & don’t know how I feel.

Sometimes there will be simply dysfunctional but not narcissistic people who have no patience for others with health problems.  When dealing with them, I remind myself of the same things.  Also, when their opinion hurts because it is so negative & unexpected, I remind myself they must have some sort of dysfunction when they respond to the health problems of someone they care for in such a bad way.  Doing that helps to take much of the sting out of their thoughtless words.  It’s an excellent reminder that what they say isn’t personal.  It’s about their dysfunction, not me.

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A Suggestion To Help You Enjoy Life After Narcissistic Abuse

Some time back, I decided that rather than simply inform those who follow my work of information about Narcissistic Personality Disorder & ways to cope, I wanted to branch out a bit into ways to add more joy to their lives.  Today’s post is about that very topic.

A few years ago, I learned of hygge.  It is a Danish word used to describe a lifestyle of coziness, contentment & comfort.  I haven’t done as much as I would like to with what I have learned about this concept but I’m working on it.  I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned with you today.

In order to create a hygge lifestyle, I think it’s wise to start by examining your life.  What activities can be cut back on, eliminated or done more efficiently to give you more free time?  It may help to give you a clearer picture to write out what you do.  Consider these things & eliminate what you can that isn’t productive or that doesn’t add joy & value to your life.  If some things can’t be eliminated then consider how you can reduce your obligation to or time spent on these things.  The more free time you have, the more time you can devote to the things that bring you the most joy in life such as your hobbies & people you love.

Another aspect of creating the comfortable hygge life is examining the relationships in your life.  Most everyone has people in their life in certain mental boxes.  There are the people closest to you such as your spouse, children, & closest friends & relatives.  Slightly further out are people you still care for but not as much as those closest to you.  There also may be people further out such as co-workers & acquaintances.  The farthest out should be the toxic people.  Consider all of these relationships.  What relationships are worth focusing your time on?  Which are the most healthy, loving & even fun?

When it comes to relationships, I’m a firm believer in quality over quantity.  Better to have three awesome people in life than seventy iffy people.  Keeping only the best relationships means you have more time & energy to focus on those wonderful people who deserve your best.  It may be awkward & even hard to do, but eliminating the bad relationships & focusing on the good relationships is a wise move that adds joy to your life.

What is your home like?  Your home should be your sanctuary.  Make your home that way!  I don’t care if your home is a studio apartment or a huge mansion, it can be made into a comfortable safe haven on any budget.  Decluttering is an excellent place to start turning your home into that haven because clutter is a known cause of anxiety.  Also the less stuff you have, the less you have to clean & maintain.  Keep only the things that are useful & that bring you joy.  Decluttering doesn’t have to be overwhelming.  Start with one drawer, then move to another, then a shelf, then a closet.  Add things to dispose of to either a trash bag, box to donate to charity or give to friends & loved ones.  Get rid of the boxes & bags as they fill up.  If you wonder what is worth keeping & what isn’t, ask yourself some questions: if you had to move tomorrow, would this item be worth moving?   Does this item add joy or usefulness to my life?

Keeping your home clean & organized will reduce anxiety.  A little work each day can maintain a clean, organized home with minimal effort.

Invest in small changes such as a new paint color or cozy sheets on your bed.  These changes won’t require much of a financial investment but can make your home feel more inviting & comfortable.  They even can make it feel like a very different place. 

If you lack ideas for changing your home, look at homes in all different styles.  Something will appeal to you, & once that happens, inspiration won’t be far behind!  I love Victorian era homes, & although my home isn’t completely Victorian, I have enough of that influence to make it into a comfortable, cozy sanctuary.

Also, be sure to place pictures that are important to you around your home.  Whether those pictures are of important people in your life, pets, pictures you have taken or artwork isn’t important.  Display those pictures to add to the cozy feel of your home.

Creating a hygge lifestyle may not be the most important step in enjoying life after narcissistic abuse, but it sure does help.  Why not give it a try?

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Lesser Known Signs Of Trauma

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!

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Sharing Some Inspiration

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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Acting Normal After Trauma Can Create Shame

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

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About Anger After Trauma

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. 

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

Are Dreams From God?

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!

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How Best To Help Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse

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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Trauma Responses & Guilt

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.

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If Someone Hasn’t Proven Themselves Safe, They May Be Proving Themselves Dangerous

I was thinking about something not long ago. In October, 2017, my father died. His final twenty days, he was in the hospital, connected to a ventilator. We were no contact by this time, so my “family” decided that not only did they need to tell me this, they needed to harass & try to bully me into saying goodbye multiple times a day, every day.


I deleted & blocked access to the worst of the worst of my relatives, the ones who constantly bothered me. Some others I left the door open for contact. We remained Facebook friends & I didn’t block their phone numbers back then. Not one of them contacted me during that time or after my father’s passing.


At the time, I thought their behavior meant they were safe, but I later realized something. Although they hadn’t proven themselves to be completely toxic & unsafe, they also hadn’t proven themselves safe either.


In situations where you are unsure about whether or not a person is safe, it’s very important to figure the issue out!


Sometimes you simply don’t know a person very well, so they don’t feel comfortable discussing certain topics with you. In all fairness, that could have been the situation with my relatives. I never was very close with most people in my family, so I didn’t know them terribly well. Anyway the closeness or lack thereof in the relationship should be taken into consideration when attempting to decide if a person is truly safe or unsafe.


If the person in question is a relative, I feel it can be important to know their immediate family & the relationship they have with them. That can be very telling. In my situation, the people were part of a branch of the family that was pretty enmeshed with each other. No one spoke up to their mother. Whatever she wanted, thought or believed was right, period. In fact, I saw only one person stand up to her one time about what I thought was a trivial matter & oddly, she never said anything in return. The incident did show me how much anger this person had inside, though, which unsettled me.


If the immediate family of the person in question is dysfunctional, you can guarantee the person also will be. The type of dysfunction is very important. Someone can be dysfunctional but trying to heal & change while also being kind & gentle. Yet, other dysfunctional people can be oblivious to just how dysfunctional they are, & they live their life out of that dysfunction, causing pain & chaos to others. This is how my family members are. They think they are functional & pretend any past trauma never happened. They live in their dysfunction in a self righteous manner. A person who doesn’t face their own dysfunction like this is going to be toxic to others to some degree. They may be invalidating to someone who mentions past trauma, saying things like it wasn’t so bad or it’s in the past so you need to let it go. Or, they may be outright cruel & say or do whatever they can to shut that person down. Clearly, people like this are unsafe & need to be avoided!


Another thing to consider.. if the person in question is close to someone who is actively abusive to you, it’s a very safe bet whatever you say to them will get back to the active abuser. It may simply be said in passing without ill intent, or it may be very deliberate on their part. Either way, abusers have absolutely NO need to know anything whatsoever about the people they abuse. Chances are they will use the information to cause suffering to their victim. Even if they don’t, I believe their toxic behavior has caused them to lose all right to know anything about their victim. So, even if the person doesn’t show obvious signs of being toxic, at the very least, it is likely they will mention you to your abuser.


I hope these tips will help you to surround yourself with only safe, good people! xoxo

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The Four Trauma Responses: Fawn

Experiencing trauma, in particular repeated trauma forces people to develop certain responses in order to cope with their horrific experiences.  Many people waver between two or even more of the four trauma responses, but usually people use one much more than others.  A lot of children of narcissistic parents use the fawn response.

The fawn trauma response is when a victim tries hard to please their abuser so the abuser will stop whatever painful thing they’re doing.  They will try to distract the abuser somehow, do something they know their abuser likes, & go along absolutely anything the abuser wants.  While this may stop an abuser at the moment, over the long term, this doesn’t work.  Fawning shows abusers that their abusive, toxic ways can be used to get whatever they want from their victim.

Fawning still affects a person long after the abuser is out of their life.  Fawners are often very devoted people pleasers who have no real boundaries.  They falsely believe that losing yourself in relationships is totally normal.  They also are prone to very dysfunctional & abusive relationships, including more than one relationship with narcissists.  This leads them to focus on the needs & wants of other people much more than their own & often to their own detriment.  They also seem to have no real identity of their own, often becoming what other people say they should be. 

Fawning often is encouraged in society.  Primarily by abusers but also by ill informed people who see people who fawn as generous, loving, even Godly rather than dysfunctional.  This makes overcoming fawning behavior especially hard for those engaging in this behavior, because even though it can hurt a person, it also can be the one area they feel gets them love & approval, & maybe even makes them  feel worthy of love.

There is hope for replacing this dysfunctional behavior with much healthier behavior.  As always, I firmly believe prayer is the best place to start.  God will help you, so let Him!

Focus on healing from the trauma in your life that made you develop your fawning ways.  The more you heal, the healthier you will become in every way.  That means you will decrease your unhealthy behaviors more & more as you heal.

Remind yourself as often as you need to that not pleasing someone doesn’t mean you’re bad, wrong, or unworthy of love.  You simply may have made a mistake.  Or, maybe they were wrong to expect this particular thing out of you.  Don’t assume you were automatically wrong.  It is just as possible the other person was wrong.

Feel your feelings.  Whatever you are feeling, accept those feelings without judgment.  As you do, you may see that they aren’t appropriate to your current situation.  They could simply be triggered by old issues.  They also may give you insight on ways you can do things better.  In any case, they can teach you, so let them do that by feeling them.

Slow down & examine your motives.  Ask yourself why are you doing something for someone.. is it out of love or out of hoping to get their approval?  Am I saying I’m happy to do this even though it is too much for me right now?  Am I taking on too much responsibility?

In time, your fawning ways can & will be replaced by healthy ones.

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The Four Trauma Responses: Freeze

When someone has experienced trauma, in particular repeated trauma, they learn to use specific trauma responses to help them survive their particular situation.  While many waver between two or more, most people primarily use one trauma response.  Many people raised by narcissistic parents primarily use the freeze response.

Freezing means much like the name implies, you freeze & are unable to handle the situation in a healthy way.  Think of a deer on a highway during the night when a truck comes barreling towards him.  He stands still, staring at the truck & unable to move to save himself.  People can & do react the same way sometimes.  Sadly, freezing often is a good choice when dealing with a narcissistic parent, because it reduces the likelihood of that parent turning even more abusive.  Equally sadly though is this survival tactic doesn’t help when dealing with other people.  In fact, often the lack of response of a victim is taken as consent, so the other, non-freezing person assumes whatever they said or did was acceptable to the freezing person.

As an example from my own life, as I’ve written about before, I lived with awful back pain for ten years.  During a fight with my mother, she threw me into a wall.  I felt my entire spine crack from my tailbone into my neck when I hit the wall & was in pain for ten years after.   I saw several doctors, had over fifty x-rays & an MRI.  I was told no injuries showed up on the x-rays or MRI.  Every single person I saw with the exception of one chiropractor was convinced I was faking the pain.  I should have stood up to all of them, but instead I quietly accepted their diagnoses.  Between that & other people in my life who were convinced I was faking it, I wondered many times if they were right.  By silently accepting people’s accusations of faking my pain, that only seemed to confirm their suspicions of me.  It also made me wonder more & more if I really was faking my back problem or if something was truly wrong.

This happened all because I learned how to use the freeze response so well as a child.

If you have used it as well, you probably can relate to my story.  Also like me, you probably dissociated often as a child & possibly still do to some degree, struggle with making decisions, & isolate yourself. You also probably come up with good responses hours or even days or weeks after a confrontation but can’t think during the confrontation.

While freezing may have helped you to survive the narcissist in your life, it doesn’t help you in other relationships.  In fact, it is likely to hurt you instead of help you.

When in situations that trigger your freeze response, your best place to start is with prayer.  God will help you & ground you so you can function in a healthier way.  Also, please remind yourself that you are safe now.  You don’t have to freeze to protect yourself.  You have rights including the right to speak up for yourself & to protect yourself.  You aren’t doing something bad by taking care of yourself.  The other person in question isn’t the narcissist who would abuse you for taking care of yourself.

Also take a deep breath in & exhale slowly.  It will help you to calm your body & mind very quickly, which will help you to figure out a better way to handle your situation.

Doing this will help you over time to reduce the frequency of the freeze trauma response & enable you to respond in a healthier way.  It won’t happen overnight but it will happen.  Hang in there!

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The Four Trauma Responses: Flight

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. 

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The Four Trauma Responses: Fight

Experiencing trauma, in particular repeated trauma forces people to develop certain responses in order to cope with their horrific experiences.  Many people waver between two or even more of the four trauma responses, but usually people use one much more than others. 

During traumatic experiences, those who exercise the fight response do exactly as you would expect.  They fight.  They are obviously angry, they will cry, ball up their hands into fists, their jaws will be clenched tightly, & they look ready to attack anything that is in reach.  Sometimes they do, usually punching walls or slamming doors. 

Clearly this type of trauma response can be useful.  If someone is afraid of you, they aren’t going to attack or abuse you.  Unfortunately though it can backfire, & in particular with children with narcissistic parents.  When a young child gets angry at their narcissistic parent, that parent won’t tolerate that.  Narcissists want their children to show no emotions whatsoever, & anger at the narcissist’s abusive ways is the least tolerated emotion.  Narcissists expect everyone, in particular their children, to tolerate their abuse indefinitely & without complaint.  Standing up to a narcissist says their behavior is wrong & won’t be tolerated, which creates a narcissistic injury.  In other words, their pride is damaged when they are told their behavior is anything less than perfect.  Often narcissistic parents step up their abuse in these situations.  These children learn not to show anger towards their parents, & often take it out on innocent victims. 

The repeated use of this trauma response can cause many problems that last into adulthood.  Some problems are the inability to handle anger in a healthy way, a quick temper, becoming a bully, becoming controlling & sometimes even becoming narcissistic or showing some narcissistic tendencies while not being a full blown narcissist.  It seems to me these behaviors are all about having some control &/or hurting others before the angry person can be hurt. 

This sort of behavior doesn’t have to be permanent though!  With effort & time, you can develop healthier habits!

As always, I highly recommend starting with prayer.  Ask God to help you change, to show you what you need to do & anything else you can think of.

You will need to accept that you don’t have to control or bully others, too.  Remember, even God doesn’t control people.  If anyone has that right, it’s the Creator of the universe!  If He won’t do it, what makes you think you have the right to do so?

It will help to consider other people more often, too, not only yourself.  Consider others when you make decisions, when you make plans, when you speak.  Consider their wants & needs, too.  What do those close to you want & need?  How can you help to meet those needs & wants?

When you feel yourself getting angry, stop.  Take a deep breath & release it slowly.  This will help to calm your body & mind, & that will allow you to think clearly about the situation.  When you think clearly rather than simple react, you may realize the situation isn’t really worth being angry about like you thought it was at first.

Also please know that you are going to need to heal from the events that created this behavior in you in the first place.  I know it’s a scary thing, but you need to face those things in order to heal.  I promise you, it WILL be worth it!

The lasting effects of an overused fight trauma response don’t need to be such a big part of your life.  While it did help you survive for some time, & can be a useful tool, there are clearly many negatives!  You can make healthy changes & live a happier life!

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Narcissists Aren’t The Only Ones Who Have Important Things Happen To Them

Anyone who has been subjected to narcissistic abuse knows that unless it affects a narcissist, a narcissist isn’t going to care about it.  Period.  As if that isn’t bad enough, they train victims to feel the same way.  No matter what happens to a victim, it isn’t important.  You could be lying in a pool of blood after someone hacked off your leg while the narcissist with you has a cold, & that narcissist will do their best to convince you that your freshly severed leg is no big deal.  Their sniffles though, now that is a crisis, so you need to stop whining about your leg!

Narcissists manage to convince victims of the lack of importance of their problems subtly.  They’re so subtle, most of us don’t even pay attention to what they are doing until years later when we realize it.

My overtly narcissistic mother simply ignored my problems.  I might as well have said nothing, because she would act as if I didn’t say anything or talk over me to change the subject.  There were other times if she did listen, she would blame me for the problem, even when I wasn’t at fault.

My father & ex husband, both covert narcissists, used a different tactic.  They would let me talk, listening to every word I said.  It seemed like they cared, but they didn’t.  They wouldn’t respond like a normal person & say “I’m sorry that happened to you” or “Are you ok?  Can I do anything to help?”  Instead, they would tell me how upset they were or how hard my problem was for them.

For example, the night in 1990 when I was 19 & my mother threw me into a wall, both my father & ex husband turned that into their crisis.  My ex said how upset he was that my mother did this, he was furious with her for hurting my back, etc. etc.  Not once that evening or in the years following did he offer me any comfort.

My father brought up that night periodically until he died.  Mostly about how awful it was that when he walked out, my mother locked him out of the house.  His keys were in his pocket & he could’ve come back inside at any time.  He also mentioned how bad the damage was where my mother threw me into.  It took him time to patch it up.  A couple of years before he died, my father literally said to me, “It’s ok.. you don’t have to apologize for busting up that wall.  I fixed it & it’s all over.”  I was blown away!  Why would I apologize?  Yes, it was me that broke a wall but not due to my own carelessness!  It was because my mother, who was much stronger than me, threw me into the thing!  And for the record, I told him this.

Although narcissists are clearly very good at training their victims to think their problems don’t matter, that doesn’t mean they are correct.  Not by a long shot, in fact.  For some reason, I never saw it until a few months after my mother died.  That is when I suddenly realized how it happened & how terrible it is!  I repeatedly have told myself that it wasn’t so bad, how my parents & ex treated me.  I’ve even doubted having C-PTSD in spite of flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, depression & more.

Please learn from my experiences!  Don’t buy the narcissist’s lies!  What happens to you *is* important!  It does matter!  Acknowledge your experiences for whatever they were.  Admit to yourself that you did great sometimes in spite of what the narcissist tells you.  Also admit that the traumatic ones were bad.  There is nothing wrong with that!  In fact, it’s a good thing to do because once you realize that, you can start to heal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Socially Acceptable & Unacceptable Trauma Responses

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.

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Sale On All My Ebooks!

My ebook publisher is offering a sale on all of my ebooks from July 1-31, 2020. They will be 25% off. They’re available on my website or use this link to go to the site directly: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/CynthiaBaileyRug

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Tips For Healing From Childhood Trauma

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Very Wise Words About PTSD & C-PTSD.

Recently I was speaking with a fellow blogger, Linda Lee at https://ablogabouthealingfromptsd.wordpress.com (it’s a great blog!  Check it out!).  We were talking about how we don’t believe God created people for things like surviving abuse & losing someone we love which is what makes coping with such things so incredibly hard.  During this conversation, she told me something very interesting.  Some time ago, she spent time under the care of the well known Meier Clinic.  In fact, she was blessed enough to be under the care of Dr. Meier directly!  After a lifetime of abuse & bad mental health diagnoses, this was an incredible blessing!  What he told her made so much sense in her situation, but I believe in other people’s situations as well.  It sure fit mine!  It probably will fit your situation too!

“You are NOT mentally ill.  What you have is called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Although PTSD is classified as a mental illness for insurance purposes, the reality is that having PTSD after experiencing overwhelming trauma is perfectly normal — no less normal than it is to bleed, if somebody cuts you with a knife.  You see, God did not create us for abuse.  God is love, and He made us in His spiritual image, which means that we were created for kindness and love, not for abuse and hatred.  God created us to love and be loved. But when we get hate instead of love, when we receive abuse instead of kindness, we are damaged by that.  Being damaged by abuse does not mean that you are weak or crazy.  The strongest, sanest person in the world will develop PTSD, if they go through enough trauma and abuse.  Just as the strongest man in the world will bleed, if you take a knife and cut him.  Human skin was not created to withstand the sharp blade of a knife.  In the same way, the human soul was not created to be traumatized and abused.”

I have beat myself up a LOT since learning I have C-PTSD.  I’ve told myself I’m so weak & other people had it worse & all kinds of heartless, invalidating things.  It doesn’t help when other people’s words & actions re-enforce such things.   I have found that sometimes those who have suffered abuse yet don’t have C-PTSD can be as judgmental as those who lack empathy for those who have been abused.

Anyway I find Dr. Meier’s words to my friend so comforting!!  Having C-PTSD or PTSD is a very normal response to a very abnormal situation!  These disorders aren’t a sign of weakness.  They are a sign of being normal.

Also, notice that he said. “The strongest, sanest person in the world will develop PTSD, if they go through enough trauma and abuse.”  That tells me that no one is immune to traumatic responses.  Every single person has a breaking point, a point where enough is enough, & the trauma they experience will cause their brain to develop PTSD or C-PTSD.  Everyone’s breaking point is different, so there is no point in judging others who have one of these disorders.  No one is immune!

The next time you’re feeling weak or like a failure for living with PTSD or C-PTSD,  I hope you’ll remember what Dr. Meier said.  Print them out.  Save them somewhere on your computer or phone.  Share them on Facebook.  Whatever you do, please remind yourself of them!  I certainly plan to do so & do so often!  It can get too easy to go down the rabbit hole of thinking you’re a failure for having such a problem & that isn’t right!  No one is immune!  They are natural reactions to highly abnormal circumstances, nothing more!

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About Flashbacks

Those who don’t have flashbacks usually have no idea what a flashback truly is.  They sometimes think those of us who have them are exaggerating or being dramatic about something we remembered, & have little patience for us because of our “drama queen” ways.

People who think like this need to understand something.  Flashbacks aren’t the result of someone being overly dramatic.  They also aren’t simple memories or even repressed memories.  They are much different.  They’re intense & complicated.

Flashbacks aren’t as simple remembering a traumatic event.  All of your senses kick in & you see, hear, smell, taste & feel the same things you felt when the event originally happened to you.  It literally feels as if you’re reliving the traumatic event, even though logically you know you aren’t.  It can be very hard to tell the difference between reality & the flashback.

If you’re very lucky, when a flashback happens, you still maintain enough composure to remember to ground yourself somehow.  Touching something with an extreme texture, such as burlap for example, can help.  Or, smelling something with a very strong scent like lavender also can help.  The trick is to override your confused senses with something real in order to get them to focus on something other than the flashback.  Grounding yourself like this can be quite effective in helping you to get through the flashback.  Even so, remembering what to do in the midst of a flashback is something else entirely.  It’s incredibly hard to have focus on anything when your mind & body are trying to convince you that this horrible memory isn’t just a memory, but it’s happening to you all over again.

As if all of this isn’t quite enough, once the flashback is over, you’re drained both mentally & physically to the point of exhaustion.  I have described it as feeling like I was hit by a huge truck.  The anxiety of it tenses your muscles greatly.  When it’s over, those muscles can ache badly for a while.  Your heart races during the flashback & it takes time for it to slow back down once the flashback dissipates.  Chances are very good your stomach will be upset & you’ll have a nasty headache for a while as well.

In addition to the physical side of flashbacks, there is also the mental ones.  Flashbacks are utterly depressing.  It’s so unpleasant remembering traumatic events under any circumstances, but it’s even worse when you feel as if you just relived it.  They also can make you feel ashamed for not being healed from the trauma by now, embarrassed if it happened in front of another person or other people, & they take away your hope of having a normal life without flashbacks.

They also make you incredibly anxious because you wonder when is the next one going to strike?  Will it be just like this one or will it involve another traumatic event?  What if it happens when I’m driving?  What if it’s worse?  Is it possible to get stuck in the flashback & never come out of it?

If you’re one of those folks who never has experienced a flashback, I’m telling you, count your blessings!  Thank God for this!

If you know someone who has flashbacks though, I hope you will remember this information & treat your loved one accordingly. Remember that this person isn’t seeking attention or being overly dramatic.  They are dealing with a very difficult & painful mental illness.  They have experienced something or some things so traumatic that their brain physically broke!  It isn’t your loved one’s fault they have flashbacks, & chances are excellent if this person could find a way never to have them again, they would.  So please, be patient & understanding with anyone you know who suffers with flashbacks.  A little gentleness can help us more than you know.

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Busyness: An Unhealthy Trauma Based Way To Cope

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What NOT To Say To Someone With C-PTSD

Many people tell those of us with C-PTSD some pretty stupid, insensitive & even invalidating comments about our disorder.  It’s utterly frustrating how people can say things like these & think it’s ok or even that they’re being supportive.  It’s also frustrating how sometimes when these things are said to us, thanks to our disorder, we can’t think of what to tell these people about why this is a bad thing to say.

Below are some frequently used comments & retorts to them.  Feel free to share this post with anyone who you think can benefit from reading this.

“I know how you feel!”  I don’t think so.  C-PTSD is a very weird & painful disorder.  You can feel like you’re going crazy when symptoms flare up.  You also can be suicidal.  Even two people with C-PTSD can experience their symptoms differently.

“I think a lot too.”  Really?  You think that’s what C-PTSD is?  No.  There is a big difference between the average person thinking a lot & C-PTSD.  When a person is “always thinking”, they can control it at least to some degree.  Good luck doing that with the thoughts that come with C-PTSD.  There are ruminating thoughts which are thoughts that play over & over again.  There are also intrusive thoughts, which come to mind at any time, no matter where you are or what you’re doing.  We also can’t forget hyper-vigilance, which is being completely focused on one’s surroundings in an attempt to spot any hint of danger to our physical or mental health.  These things are awful & often impossible to control.

“Everyone has nightmares!”  True.  Everyone does have nightmares.  Not everyone has nightmares nightly or almost nightly, often even multiple times in a night.  Not everyone wakes up in a blind panic from a nightmare, either.  Not everyone has nightmares about utterly bizarre things that stir up similar emotions to the traumatic events they have survived.

“You need to stop thinking about the past.”  Well, thank you for that insight.  I never thought about that!  *sigh*  Those of us with C-PTSD want to stop thinking about the past, but our brains won’t let us!

“Everyone has flashes of bad memories.”  Flashbacks are so much more than that.  They’re bad memories that feel like they’re happening all over again.  They can make it very hard to discern between the memory & reality.

“Think happy thoughts!”  “Be more positive!”  C-PTSD isn’t about thinking too negatively.  It’s an actual mental disorder.  Our brains were broken due to the traumas we survived.  The damage means we can’t control our thoughts like someone without C-PTSD can.

“You need to see a counselor!”  It’s not that easy!  Not all counselors understand C-PTSD.  Also, not all counselors understand the best ways to treat people who have suffered through trauma, period, let alone multiple traumas.  There is also the fact that many of us have tried counseling, only to find some counselors are as toxic as the people who abused us in the first place, so we have a strong lack of trust in those in the mental health field.

“You just need to take a pill.”  Also not that easy.  Do you have any idea how many anti-anxiety & anti-depressants there are available?!  I don’t but I do know that it’s a lot!  There are also varying classes & strengths of these medications.  Most also take at least about two weeks to start working, so you may take something for a long time before seeing any changes, good or bad.  Finding the right dose of the right medication can be a very long, frustrating task.

“It’s all in your head!”  Well, C-PTSD is a mental disorder.  Where else would it be?

“You can’t have C-PTSD!  You weren’t in the military!”  Maybe not, but C-PTSD doesn’t discriminate.  It can happen to anyone exposed to any traumas for an extended period of time.  While it happens to many prisoners of war, it also happens to those who survived child abuse or domestic violence.

I hope this post helps you to have a good response the next time someone invalidates your experiences with C-PTSD.  xoxo

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Minimizing Your Abusive Experiences

Those of us who have experienced narcissistic abuse, in particular at the hand of our parents, tend to share many characteristics.  One of them is the inclination to minimize any & all traumatic experiences, whether or not they had anything to do with the original abuser.

Some indicators that you are doing this is if you say things like:

  • “It wasn’t that bad.. at least he didn’t hit me.” after leaving a relationship with someone who was verbally abusive.
  • “Yea, that person held a knife to my throat but all he did was take my wallet…”
  • “I know my parents did some bad stuff to me but others have it way worse than I did.”

See the common thread in these statements?  Each one minimizes something very traumatic.

Another way people do this is to use the words “just” or “only” often.  Think of statements like, “It was just verbal abuse” or “He only hit me the one time.”

I realized some time ago that I have done this same thing.  What got my attention was watching a tv show about a serial killer, believe it or not.  The killer’s ex wife was interviewed, & many things she said that he said as well as some of his behavior that she described reminded me a great deal of my ex husband!  No, he’s no serial killer, but to realize he shared some behavior & personality traits with one was a big wake up call to me.  It showed me that in spite of what most people said, that marriage truly was bad!  His behavior really was abusive, & he had some serious mental health issues.  Yet, when I discussed that marriage, I often downplayed the abuse.  Realizing all of this showed me how unhealthily I’ve behaved, & also how many other people do exactly the same thing.

Minimizing one’s trauma is a terribly unhealthy thing to do!  It contributes to a root of shame, & toxic shame affects every area of your life.  Toxic shame makes you feel unworthy in every possible area of your life.  It’ll make you willing to settle for the job you hate because you don’t think you’re qualified to do a better job you would enjoy.  It’ll make you settle for a romantic partner who isn’t good for you since you believe you wouldn’t be attractive to someone better.  The same goes for friendships.  Someone with toxic shame will settle for friends who mistreat you because you don’t believe you deserve a better caliber of friends.

Minimizing also gives other people the message that what you went through wasn’t so bad.  This can lead to people having no compassion for you or others who have experienced abuse.  Since you act like it’s not a big deal, they will assume it isn’t.  It also can send the wrong message to others in similar situations.  They may think that since you don’t see the abuse as bad, maybe they’re overreacting to their situation.  Of course, this will lead to toxic shame & all of the problems that go along with it.

Dear Reader, I want to encourage you today.  Listen to yourself.  Do you minimize your traumatic experiences?  Do you use “just” or “only” often?  If so, STOP!  Trauma is trauma, no matter if someone else had it worse than you.  Don’t minimize your suffering!  Acknowledge it for what it is so you can heal.  Minimizing only causes problems!

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When Places Or Items Trigger Traumatic Memories

This post is going to sound a bit odd to many of you, I’m sure, but I hope you’ll read it anyway as I believe it can be beneficial to those in similar situations.

I saw a quote on Facebook that got me to thinking.  It was long, so I’ll summarize.  It suggested that you talk to nature.  Before cutting a tree or plant, tell it what you have in mind to do, & talk to animals with respect.  That sort of thing.

Having some Native American Indian heritage in me, I tend to do this.  It just seems to be in my blood.  I never thought much about it though until reading the quote.

I’ve always talked to my pets as if they were people, & treated them with love & respect.  Many people including many at their vet’s office have commented how well behaved, smart & loving they are.

After my mother died, I took over some of her house plants.  I’ve never been particularly good with plants, but decided to try with some of them anyway.  I started talking to them when I decided to bring them home.  I told them I was taking them home soon & I’ll do my best to take good care of them.  They’re doing surprisingly well!

Before reading this Facebook post though, I began doing this more, & that even includes talking to inanimate objects.  Reading the post only confirmed to me that I was onto something.

When my mother died, & I learned I was to be her personal representative, I was less than thrilled to put it mildly.  I hated going into her house for years, I even hated the house itself, because of all the awful memories it held.  It seemed every room had some bad memories attached.  Knowing I’d have to spend a great deal of time there triggered horrible anxiety & even anger in me.  I had no idea how to deal with this, so I asked God for help.  He told me, “Talk to the house.”  I thought I must be imagining things… then my very logical husband said the same unusual thing a day or two later, even though I told him nothing about God saying that.

One day when I went to my parents’ house, I started talking to it.  Obviously, I felt strange, talking to this inanimate object, but I did it anyway.  I told the house I realized I was wrong for being upset with it for things that people who lived in it did to me. It wasn’t fair to blame the house for the actions of people, & I was sorry.  Let’s get to know each other better.  Suddenly I began to feel a lot more comfortable in the house.  I’m not angry at the house & I don’t cringe every time I see a location in it where something bad happened anymore.

I also did this with my mother’s car, which is now mine.  There were a lot of pretty bad memories of times with her in that car, so I dreaded dealing with the car.  The first couple of times I got behind the wheel, I talked to the car much like I did with the house.  And you know something?  I don’t mind driving that car now.  I’m comfortable with the car now.

Like many of us in our family, my mother named her car.  Her name is Peaches, so when I take her out I often say things like, “Hey, Peaches.. ready to go for a drive?”  I also told her she was getting new tires recently.  I do the same for the house, saying hi & good bye, or telling the house what I’ll be doing today in what room.

I firmly believe a lot of us who have experienced narcissistic abuse have similar feelings.  Some things & places can offer reminders of awful situations, or even trigger flashbacks.  I suggest talking to the item in question.  It really can help you!  I know it sounds crazy, but isn’t it worth a try?  Whatever helps you to remove some pain is a good thing.  So please, give it a try.. what do you have to lose?

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How Abuse In Childhood Manifests In Adults & Ways To Cope

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

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

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

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

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

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

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There Is More Than Fight Or Flight

Most everyone is aware of the fight or flight response.  This describes how a person reacts to extremely stressful situations, such as being attacked.

Fight means you aggressively fight back, because you believe you can defeat the danger.  When it happens, you feel intense anger, may cry or punch people or things, you may grind your teeth & chances are excellent your stomach will be in knots.

Flight means you run from the danger, because you believe you can’t defeat it.  When it happens, you feel fidgety & anxious.  You can’t stay still.  You want to run for the hills immediately.

There are two other responses beyond fight or flight that are seldom mentioned.  Freezing & fawning are the other two responses.

Freezing means when you’re unable to act in these awful situations.  You can’t think clearly.  Think of a deer in headlights.  That deer sees the danger heading straight for him, but is frozen in place.  This happens when you believe you can’t escape or defeat the attacker.  Freezing literally makes you cold when it happens.  Your body feels heavy & hard to move, sometimes it can feel numb as well.

Lastly, there is fawning.  This happens when in an acutely stressful situation, you do your best to comply with their attacker as an attempt to save yourself.  Like freezing, it happens when you believe you can’t escape or defeat your attacker.  Fawning is a typical response of those who have been in abusive relationships.  People who fawn realized that fighting, flight & freezing didn’t work, which is why they resorted to fawning.  They found that concerning themselves with the well being of their abuser was their best chance at diffusing the situation.

While fight, flight, freeze & fawn are very different responses, they all share the same goal: to diffuse or preferably end the situation & protect yourself.  A problem is often people get stuck in only one or maybe two responses when each one can be helpful in different circumstances.  This is especially common in those with PTSD or C-PTSD.  The responses become habitual.  The best way I know to overcome this is to recognize what you do in such situations.  Considering how you acted, without any judgment of course, can help you to discern which acute stress responses you have used.  When faced with danger after doing this, you’re more likely to respond after a bit of thought rather than react as in acting without thought.

Another issue can be for those who have experienced multiple traumas.  We can perceive threats when there isn’t one.  It helps to learn to slow down your thinking a bit so you can decide whether or not the threat is real.  Taking a long, deep breath in then releasing it slowly only takes a couple of seconds, but it can slow your body & mind down enough to help you figure out the situation as well as the best way to respond.

Past trauma can affect your life in so many ways.  Learning to manage your responses can be one way to help yourself handle stressful & even new traumatic situations in healthier ways.

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Don’t Judge Other People’s Pain

I really think my mind is much like a Lazy Susan. It just kinda spins & I’m not always sure where it’ll stop.. lol For some reason, a few minutes ago it stopped on 2 people I was close to who both died from cancer.

The first lady died in 2009. She faced cancer I believe it was five times before she passed away. You’d think after having gone through so much pain & misery, she would’ve been bitter, but she wasn’t. She was always kind, loving, caring. Even when she felt horrible, she never failed to ask me how I was doing or what was happening in my life. She genuinely cared about my life. Even if something small but disappointing happened like I got a paper cut, she would offer sympathy.

The second lady died five years later. She also experienced cancer multiple times before it took her life. However, she was much different than the first lady. She lacked compassion. In fact, she came across like if you didn’t have cancer, she thought your problems weren’t important. Even if you had a different life threatening disease, it wasn’t cancer, so it was no big deal to her.

Thinking about this, I realized something. It isn’t just physical problems that can make people act this way. It’s all kinds of problems. I’ve seen similar attitudes in adult children of narcissists. Some who had siblings look down on those of us who were only children. They think we had it easy because we didn’t have siblings. Some who never developed C-PTSD or PTSD act like those of us who do have one of those disorders are weak. After all, *they* didn’t develop it & they had narcissistic parents too. Sometimes this attitude is even evident in those who write about narcissistic abuse. They are the ones who expect their readers to be in the same place in healing they are, or they tell their readers to “just go no contact.. I did it & it worked for me!” without knowing anything about their situation.

Dear Reader, I want to encourage you today not to act that way! Examine your behavior & if you are acting like other people’s problems aren’t as bad as yours, change your behavior. Ask God to help you to see if you’re acting inappropriately in this area.

Also remember, just because something might not traumatize you doesn’t mean it’s not traumatic to someone else. People are very different & this means we respond & react differently. Two people can grow up with the same parents, experience many of the same things, & they will tell stories of their experiences much differently. One may be upset or even traumatized while the other talks about his or her happy childhood.

Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others’ joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief].” (AMP) If you notice, it doesn’t say we should judge their situations or how they feel about their experiences. it just says we should share in their joy or sadness.

Even if you don’t understand why someone feels the way they do, you still can be kind to that person. You can offer to listen to them if they want to talk, to take them to lunch or some other outing to cheer them up or to pray with or for them. Small gestures like these can help a hurting person a great deal, definitely much more than trivializing or even invalidating their pain.

Please think before you speak when someone is trying to tell you why they are hurting. It will do you both good. The person who is hurting won’t be further hurt by what you say & you may become less judgmental & more compassionate.

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Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Narcissism