Tag Archives: trauma

Realizing How Wrong Abuse Is Can Help You

I realized something recently that has been a big help to me, & I believe it can be to you too.

When remembering some of the traumatic & abusive events I’ve been through in my life recently, suddenly I started seeing just how wrong those things were.  Oddly, doing that small gesture has helped loosen the hold the damage from such events had over me.  I think that happens because I never really questioned these things before.

If you’re reading my blog, chances are you too have experience with narcissists, so you probably know just what I’m talking about.  Narcissists don’t allow you to question anything.  Whatever they say or do, that is the end of the matter.  They’re right, according to them, & you aren’t allowed to think otherwise.  Especially with parents, when this happens often as a child, you learn not to question things, just accept them as fact.  Seeing clearly that they were wrong & accepting that is a big step in breaking the hold this abuse has over you.

I recently had a flashback about something that happened to me in late 1989 when I was 18.  My current ex husband & I were dating, & I hadn’t moved out of my parents’ home at that time.  I forget why, but he wanted to use my car one day, so we swapped cars.  I was off work that day & my mother insisted I go to the grocery store with her.  I said before I went, I wanted to put gas in the car since it was low, as usual.  I’d do that then meet her at the store.  I did, & on my way to the store, I lost control of the car & landed in a ditch around a turn.  It was raining, & the ex’s car had bald tires, so it’s no surprise this happened in spite of me being very careful.  Thankfully I wasn’t hurt, & his car only had minimal damage.  This happened close to my ex’s parents’ house so I went there.  A nice man driving a dump truck took pity on me walking in the rain & gave me a ride.  When I got there, I told the ex’s dad what happened.  He arranged to get the car towed & I called my mother at the grocery store (pre-cell phones, obviously).

You’d think ditching the car was the trauma, but it wasn’t.  When I called my mother, she  yelled at me, telling me she knew when I didn’t show up, I’d been in an accident & it served me right for driving that piece of junk car.  The ex’s father was furious at what happened, blaming me for driving recklessly.  The ex’s mother also blamed me but was at least nicer about it.  The ex, believe it or not, was glad it happened, because it meant his parents would finally buy him the new tires he wanted.  Later that evening, the ex & I visited my (narcissistic) grandmother who wouldn’t have cared less what I had went through that day.

For years, I accepted that this accident was my fault & I deserved what I got.  It simply hadn’t crossed my mind to question that until my recent flashback.  Suddenly it hit me how incredibly wrong this whole event was!  I didn’t know just how bad the tires were- all I heard was they were wearing out so be careful.  I never thought to check for myself.  It wasn’t my car, so why would I, especially when my ex was a mechanic?  Also, this could’ve been avoided if I’d had my own car- it was ridiculous my ex wanted to have mine as often as he did at that time.  Granted, mine was the better of our two cars, but if he wanted better, he should have got his own better car!  My ex’s parents should have replaced the tires, too, since they knew just how bad the tires were.  And lastly my mother.. that is how she treated her own daughter after her first car wreck?!  No “Are you ok?”  or any sign of concern, just yelling at & blaming me.  Considering her mother didn’t care either, it’s obvious where she got her lack of compassion.

For the first time, I finally realized how wrong all of this was.  Every single person in this scenario was wrong except me, the one who got all the blame!  I realized how wrong it is that the only person who was nice to me in that incident was the dump truck driver- a total stranger!  This entire situation was wrong- every single thing about it!

Looking at the situation differently reminded me of turning a kaleidoscope.  One small turn & the scene inside looks entirely different.  At least kaleidoscopes give a pretty picture.  This was far from pretty, but at least it helped me to release the guilt I felt for almost 29 years!

Since this happened, I’ve been looking at other situations in a new light, & having the same type of results.  The slight turn of the kaleidoscope gave me a new perspective, & enabled me to release guilt, shame, & false beliefs while accepting the truth in their place.

Dear Reader, I urge you to try this too.  Think about a specific trauma in your life from a more objective perspective.  Try to look at it as if you’re watching a movie, for example, or as if it’s happening to someone else, so your emotions are not so involved.  Chances are, you’ll see how wrong & unfair it was as I have.  Did it help you to release any guilt or false beliefs you had received as a result of that awful experience?  If not, ask God to tell you the truth about it, & I have no doubt He will help you to release those things!

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

C-PTSD, PTSD & Nightmares

When you first learn that you have PTSD or C-PTSD, you will hear about having nightmares, but very little has been discussed about what kind of nightmares.

 

When I first realized I had C-PTSD in 2012, I read everything I could find on the disorder, & kept seeing nightmares on the list of symptoms.  I assumed it would be dreams repeating traumatic events.  Unpleasant, for sure, but I lived through the real thing so I figured I could handle the nightmares.

 

Not even close!

 

I have had nightmares ever since I can remember, but the frequency has increased greatly since 2012.  And, of the many nightmares, very few were actually reliving the trauma.  Instead, many were very strange, such as having my car stolen then totaled, finding a little child I needed to protect or other odd subject matter.  I honestly wondered what was wrong with me.  How could I have such awful & strange dreams yet nothing of the trauma I have been through?  It seemed completely bizarre to me.

 

Recently I realized something.. these dreams may not be specifically about trauma, but they share similar emotions to traumatic experiences I have had.  The nightmares often leave me feeling powerless, abused, unloved (even hated), helpless & more.

 

I’ve heard a few people say their nightmares are much like mine- not about traumatic events, but about events that trigger similar emotions.

 

I believe this means such nightmares must be a normal part of having C-PTSD or PTSD.

 

If you too are having odd, unsettling nightmares, then know you aren’t alone.  Nightmares are part of PTSD & C-PTSD, unfortunately.

 

As disturbing as they are, they may be able to help you.  Dreams & nightmares alike have meanings.  They’re never random, even though they feel that way.

 

Dreams can show you areas you need healing in or areas where you have healed well.  They can show you things you weren’t aware of or you need to be aware of.  They also can simply help you because your brain is  processing some information.  The brain processes information every single moment, even when you’re asleep.

 

If you want to understand your dreams & nightmares, prayer is the best place to start.  Ask God to help you to understand them & learn what you need to know from them.

 

A good dream dictionary is a helpful tool too.  I use a website (there are many to choose from).  They can help you to see what each item in your dream represents, which can make it easier to interpret them.

 

It’s also a good idea to keep track of your dreams.  Write them down & look them over from time to time.  That can help encourage you when you see how far you’ve come.  It also can help to remind you of things you need to deal with.

 

Personally I write down my dreams & nightmares, plus what I find the meaning of everything I can remember in them.  Colors, objects, people, feelings.  Once it’s all written down, I ask God to help me to understand what the dream or nightmare meant.  It’s proven to be quite helpful to me many times.  It could benefit you as well

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Triggers

Triggers are things that remind us of things in our life.  Good triggers are wonderful, such as the sound of that whipped cream in a can being sprayed always reminds me of my late kitty, Delta, who would do a little happy kitty dance for a dollop of that whipped cream.  Her cuteness always made me smile.

 

Unfortunately there are also bad triggers, such as something that triggers a bad memory or even a flashback to abuse or trauma.  Although I live not far from the town my parents have lived in since the year before I was born, I avoid going there as much as possible.  So many things in that town trigger bad memories & even flashbacks there.  On my way to the vet’s office once, as I passed the library where I worked in my late teens, I had a flashback behind the wheel!  Thankfully it happened at a red light.  Also thankfully, Sabrina, the cat that had the appointment, knew something was wrong & helped to bring me out of it by gently scratching my hand. (Interestingly that was the only time she has scratched me in her entire life)

 

When you have PTSD or C-PTSD, you naturally try to avoid the bad triggers as much as possible.  Even so, triggers still happen.   No matter how careful you are, at some point, someone will say something, you’ll hear a sound, or you’ll smell an old & familiar scent that can mentally transport you back in time to a place you try never to think about.  It’s simply impossible to avoid triggers entirely no matter how careful you are.

 

Since you can’t avoid triggers, the only other thing you can do is manage them when they do happen.  The best ways to manage bad triggers that I have found are to stop what I’m doing, breathe deeply a few times, ask God for help, & focus on something to help keep me grounded.  Good triggers can help in this situation.  I have some perfume that my grandmom gave me when I was a kid.  Smelling it helps to keep me grounded because not only is the scent fairly strong, it automatically reminds me of someone very special to me when I smell it.  Like flashbacks, it takes something rather strong to the senses to help keep your focus- a very soft or rough fabric, a strong scent, or something very cold (like an ice cube).

 

I have a small flashback “kit” that contains two small sample size perfume vials- one of that perfume from my grandmom in one & the other lavender scented oil (lavender is known for its relaxation properties) & a very smooth, pretty pink quartz rock to hold.  I’ve found these things help to keep me grounded during a flashback or trigger.  If you find things that work for you, I would suggest creating your own flashback kit, & keep it with you in case you are subjected to a trigger or have a flashback.

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Why Remembering Childhood Trauma Feels Different As An Adult

I’m going to take a wild guess that I’m not the only victim of narcissistic abuse who has experienced this kind of situation.  I’m hoping sharing it will help those of you who have similar experiences.

 

When I was in either seventh or eighth grade, I experienced the scare of my young life at that time.  My parents & I went to the grocery store one night.  While there, we ran into my friend, her parents & brother.  She & I went off to check out the makeup while our families shopped for groceries.  Shortly after we were separated, a very creepy guy started following us & trying to talk to us.  He scared us both badly.  Thankfully, we found my friend’s parents as we were trying to get away from the creepy guy, & she told her parents what happened.  Her father was a very big, imposing man, which worked nicely in our favor.  As Creepy Guy approached, her father put his arms around us both & told the guy to leave his daughters alone or else!  Creepy Guy left us alone.  My friends father told me to stay with them until we found my parents.  Upon finding my parents a few minutes later, he told my parents what happened.  I don’t remember if they even thanked him for protecting me.  We went to one cash register, my friend & her parents another.  Creepy Guy was outside the store at this point.  He was looking in the window at me, waving & smiling.  My father said & did nothing.  My mother continued putting groceries on the conveyor belt & said to just ignore the guy.  By the time we left the store, Creepy Guy was gone.  That was the end of the situation.  Neither of my parents asked if I was OK or showed any concern for how scared I had been.   I never thought about the incident again until I was around 40 years old.

 

When it came to mind one day, I was suddenly very shaken up.  This guy was just very creepy, I don’t know how else to describe him.  It was painfully obvious his motivations with my friend & I weren’t good.  Yet, my parents didn’t show an ounce of concern, not even after my friend’s parents told them what happened.  These were good, Christian people- they didn’t lie or even exaggerate!  Why wasn’t what they said taken seriously?!  If I had a child & this happened to her, I would’ve called the police & spoken with the store manager, not to mention, tried to comfort my child.

 

In considering this situation, I also realized that not only do my parents still shop at this same grocery store, my mother sent me there to do her shopping a few times before I moved out.  I didn’t feel any anxiety in that store during those times I visited it.  It’s only been as a middle aged woman that I feel horrible anxiety if I’m near that store.  Thankfully I don’t shop at that store or have any reason to go near it very often.

 

I was wondering recently why this is.  Why as a child, was I ok, but now, 30 years after the fact, even a quick trip through the parking lot sends me into a panic attack.  God showed me the answer.

 

As narcissists, these parents demand to be treated as gods, basically.  There is no room for anything except for their reality.  You aren’t allowed to have feelings, needs, etc. with a narcissistic parent because that makes you a “bother.”  All that exists with narcissistic parents is their reality, period, & anything to do with you isn’t important.  If you experience a trauma, they won’t care.  It’s not a big deal to them because it doesn’t affect them.  As a child, you accept their reality as your own.  When something traumatic or even simply painful happens, & your narcissistic parent(s) acts like it’s no big deal, you internalize that.  You accept it wasn’t a big deal & ignore your feelings.

 

Years later as an adult, you see things differently.  If you’ve learned about narcissistic abuse, you definitely see things differently than you did as a child.  You realize how messed up your narcissistic parent(s) is.  You see things differently than you once did.  You no longer blindly accept your parents’ reality but instead accept the real, reality only.  You may even have a child, & see things as a parent rather than only seeing them as an abused child.  You see things through more mature eyes plus with the influence of things you have learned & things you have healed from.  That is why if you look back at something from your childhood you hadn’t thought of in a long time at this point, you realize how messed up it was!  You see your parents lack of protection or concern, & instead of taking it in stride, you get angry or hurt.

 

When this happens, it can be hard at first.  When I first thought about Creepy Guy after all those years, I was angry & very hurt that my parents showed so little concern about a potentially very serious situation.  (I also wished I’d had the chance to thank my friend’s father for protecting me before he died, but that’s another issue).  I was also less than thrilled- yet one more thing to deal with from childhood.  UGH.  I realized something though that helped me.  I realized how far I’ve come.  I was so dysfunctional back then, I accepted that this possible rapist or murder being interested in my friend & I was no big deal.  Now, I see how sick it is my parents ignored the situation.  I realized that my view now is normal & that showed me how much healing I’ve done.  Definitely a good thing!!  So please keep that in mind if you go through this experience, Dear Reader.  Seeing things in a healthy way like I did is proof that you are healing, & that is a huge blessing!

 

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When You’re Suffering…

I read a wonderful quote recently & unfortunately I have no clue who said it.  It reads,

 

“Something very beautiful happens to people when their world has fallen apart: a humility, a nobility, a higher intelligence emerges at just the point when our knees hit the floor.”

 

Not only are those lovely words, but it’s very true.

 

Devastating events are painful, & no one wants to go through them.  Unfortunately though, they are an inevitable part of life.  Trying to focus on the good that can come out of bad things will help you get through them.  I admit, that can seem impossible at the time, but it really is possible.

 

Getting sick last year, I quickly gained a new perspective.  I stopped sweating the small stuff.  I abandoned friendships that were one sided or superficial.  I realized I had to stop putting up with being mistreated, & say no or stand up for myself.  I cared less  what others thought of me & my beliefs, & became  a bit more outspoken about them.  This chased some people out of my life.  The symptoms forced me to rest often, which I truly needed to do but didn’t do before.  (Although I still struggle in this area, it has improved somewhat)  So in a strange way, I’m actually glad for what happened- it caused me to become mentally healthier & take better care of myself.

 

I know this isn’t easy to do, especially in the throes of a painful situation, but look for what you are learning or how you are growing.  If you feel unable to do so, ask God to help you.  While doing this may not seem useful, it really can be.  You’ll gain wisdom you didn’t have, which can help you to heal & maybe even to help others as well.  Learning about narcissism was that way for me.  I was devastated by narcissistic abuse my entire life, then suddenly I learned I wasn’t the problem- NPD was!  That knowledge helped pick me back up after being knocked down, & eventually to help other victims too.  I can’t say I’m grateful for the abuse I’ve gone through, but I am grateful that God brought good from it.  It means that suffering counted for something!

 

The same thing can happen to you, too.  Why not make a decision today to allow God to work good things out of your pain?  Ask Him to do so, & He will.

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

You’re Much Stronger Than You Think!

Something crossed my mind recently…

 

I thought about how I dealt with the abuse as it happened to me in my younger days.  I didn’t deal with it.  For one thing, I didn’t have the time.  It was one crisis after another after another for years.  I didn’t have time to deal with something before something else happened.  For another thing, I grew up thinking I never had any real problems.  It didn’t matter how much something hurt me.  My pain was never validated, so I believed it was no big deal.

 

As a result, I went on with life as if nothing happened no matter what trauma I’d just endured.  Like, when I was 19 & had my first nervous breakdown.  I locked myself in my parents’ bathroom & was catatonic for roughly 5 hours.  By the time I came out, I had about one hour to get to work.  I was at work on time, & went through my day as if nothing happened, in spite of being tired & feeling very “off.”  The prior year, my mother came to my job, screamed at me in the parking lot, humiliating me.  When I went back inside, I took a few minutes to relax only because my supervisor told me to, then got back to work.  In fact, after both situations, I ended up comforting my now ex husband because he said such situations were hard for him, rather than receiving comfort from him or anyone for that matter.

 

I used to think these things meant I was strong but I realized something today.  I wasn’t strong- I was dysfunctional.  True strength would have meant I faced these situations & took care of myself after.  Instead, I told myself they were no big deal.

 

When you are abused by a narcissist, you get a very warped view of all sorts of things, including what true strength is.  Pretending things don’t bother you when they do isn’t true strength.  It’s merely setting yourself up for these things to manifest in bad ways at a later date.

 

I’m telling you this today, Dear Reader, because if you feel weak, like so many victims do, because you can’t seem to “get over” the abuse  you endured, you need to realize you aren’t weak.  Quite the contrary.  It takes a lot of strength to face past abuse & trauma.  It doesn’t take a lot of strength to ignore it.

 

It takes a lot of strength to live daily with PTSD or C-PTSD.  It’s  incredibly difficult living with constant memories of things you wish you could forget but can’t, managing symptoms, pulling yourself out of a panic attack, calming yourself after nightmares or coming back to reality after a flashback.  Things things take a great deal of strength.

 

It also takes a great deal of strength to change, to try to live a healthy life instead of a dysfunctional one.  Change can be scary since it’s going into foreign territory.  The familiar is comfortable, even when it is painful, so many people find it easier to stay dysfunctional than to change.

 

Developing new & healthy boundaries is downright terrifying when you haven’t had them before, so setting & enforcing them also takes a tremendous amount of strength.  When people who had weak or no boundaries first start to set them, they meet with a LOT of opposition.  To press on even though everyone around you is calling you selfish or wondering what happened to that “nice” girl you used to be takes a lot of strength!

 

So you see, Dear Reader, just how strong you are?  Give yourself some credit today.  You are  so stronger than you give yourself credit for!

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A Day In The Life With C-PTSD

Today, September 6, the day I’m writing this, was one rough day for me.  I’m hoping sharing it here rather than in my private journal can help others.  I also hope my writing makes sense- it’s really hard to write when the C-PTSD flares up.

 

To start with, I woke up first thing in the morning after a restless night full of nightmares I barely remember & repeatedly waking up for no obvious reason.  I started out my day very tired, which made concentration harder than usual.  It also means my moods are more erratic.

 

I decided to go to the local craft store for some yarn for a new crochet project.  Although I spent 3 days prior out all day & it wore me out beyond description, I thought maybe going for a brief drive & visiting a craft store alone when it’s not busy would be doable.  Yea… that sounds good in theory.. in practice though?  Not so much.  The parking lot was super busy since other stores in the shopping center were packed apparently.  Then, the cashier at the craft store was on her first day, so she was confused & learning as she went rather than being fast like the lady who was training her is.  UGH.. I wanted out fast & there was no escape!  Not one other register was open!  I got my yarn & made a mad dash for the parking lot since I felt like the agoraphobia was going to overwhelm me.

 

After leaving, I went to visit a dear friend.  The brief drive shouldn’t have been full of triggers & anxiety, but it was.  On the way to her home, I followed a car for a good part of the journey that resembled a car an old boyfriend of mine drove.  This ex died in 2014 after killing his boyfriend, then himself, in their home. It was all over the local news at the time & very hard for me to come to terms with for a while after that, since I didn’t realize how he was.  The story was a complete shock to me.  Seeing this car reminded me of our brief relationship, & how incredibly sad his story was.  Also it made me grateful I escaped him unharmed.  I have no doubt he would’ve killed me if I’d stayed with him.  When I left him, I had NO idea how dysfunctional or dangerous he was.  All I knew was he spent hours screaming at me when I broke up with him that evening, telling me I was making a huge mistake, he was a great guy, I’d regret leaving him, I was ruining his life, etc.  (Nothing out of the ordinary for me since my mother screamed at me constantly in my last couple of years before moving out of her home.)  As a result, I spent many years beating myself up for ruining his life.  Learning of his death in 2014, I realized how dysfunctional he was which set me free from that guilt, however, the story was so sad, I still feel pity for him, the man he killed & their families.

 

There was also a surprising amount of traffic out today & the exhaust fumes made me feel sick, thanks to the over-sensitivity I have to carbon monoxide.  Surviving carbon monoxide poisoning can do this to a survior, & frankly, it’s a real nuisance!  I got a nasty headache, stomach ache, & I felt woozy after breathing in the fumes that doesn’t want to go away.

 

I also realized the date on my way to my friend’s house.. September 6.  On that day in 1990, I hurt my back at work.  Not terribly, but pretty painful.  As it was healing, my mother threw me into a wall during an argument which made the pain a thousand times worse.  Shortly after, I had to quit working outside my home.  My mother never believed my back was injured, & told anyone who would listen how I was so lazy that I was faking the injury so I wouldn’t have to work again.  In fact, my doctors even thought I was faking it, & said similar things.  I was told so often that I was faking it, I wondered if I really was faking it.  Years later I learned people with PTSD often have lower back pain with no known physical cause- you’d think a doctor back then would’ve sent me to a counselor, but no one did.  Instead they shamed me for being lazy.  The memories of that experience made me angry.

 

Thinking of how my mother responded to my back pain triggered other intrusive memories I really don’t want to have.  For one, about a year ago, my mother called one day & said my father told her my ex husband hit me.  She said she had no idea, & if she’d have known, she would’ve called a lawyer about this & straightened it out!  The fact is she did know- she blamed me for making him hit me right after it happened.  She saw the bruises I wore- the most obvious injury was the shape of his hands were on my wrists in the form of bruises.  It was just one more time she didn’t care about my pain.  Other memories intruded my mind, against my will & I was unable to push them away.  They reminded me of many painful times that my parents have abused me & I was supposed to tolerate it all quietly, with a smile, including our most recent fight in May & how they have quit speaking to me since then, even though they were in the wrong.  I was angry & sad all at once remembering these things.

 

Did I mention I’m still having difficulty grieving the loss of my 2 cats since May?  Grief seems to magnify other issues, making them even more challenging than usual to deal with.

 

This awful, miserable day meant I had to hold in my tears or anger until I was alone since no one was responsible for the emotions.  It’s just a part of the disorder & no one I was around today should be forced to feel bad for making me cry or making me angry.

 

I’ve also reviewed this post at least 10 times to make sure my writing makes sense, because making sense is so hard to do when the C-PTSD flares up.

 

This is typical of a day in the life of someone with C-PTSD or PTSD.  Any little thing can trigger thoughts that they don’t want to have yet are helpless to prevent.  Mood swings & anger &/or depression can be triggered easily too.  To be honest, it’s sheer hell to live with.

 

PTSD or C-PTSD are not a result thinking too negatively.  They aren’t wallowing in the past or looking for pity.  They aren’t playing some “poor me” card, looking for attention or pity.  They mean someone has experienced such trauma in their lives, it literally broke parts of their brain.  They are serious mental disorders with symptoms that can easily be out of control.  They mean the person who is sick has good days & bad days.  On good days, it may seem like the patient is totally fine.  That isn’t the truth however.  On good days, this usually means the patient is just better at hiding his/her symptoms than on other days.

 

I’m not explaining this because I want pity.  I’m putting it out there because I know many people who read my work live with PTSD or C-PTSD, & can’t always explain it to other people in their life.  I’m hoping this will help those people relate to my crappy day.  Maybe they will now be able to explain to their counselors or their friends & family just how triggering & difficult a typical day with PTSD or C-PTSD can be.  Sure, my specific circumstances may be different, but I’m sure the basics are the same- agoraphobia, unexpected triggers, & intrusive thoughts & wicked mood swings.  Please know, Dear Readers, I pray for you daily.  Living with PTSD or C-PTSD is horrible, & I pray for God to heal you & until He does, show you how to live with the awful symptoms.

 

Also, you’re not alone!  You’re not crazy!  There are so many of us who live with these symptoms due to traumatic experiences.  Having PTSD/C-PTSD doesn’t make you weak or a failure or any other ridiculous thing you’ve been told.  It’s a sign you reacted normally to very abnormal circumstances.

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Talking About Your Trauma

I’ve been reading lately about discussing abusive & traumatic experiences.  It seems many people have very definite opinions on the matter.  Some think it is the duty of the victim to talk about it, to raise awareness & help other victims.  Others think talking puts unfair pressure on the victim, & they’ve been through enough.

 

It seems to me that in a way, they’re both right.

 

Proverbs 31:8-9 says,

“8  Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.

9  Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.”  (KJV)

 

I believe this clearly states that it is right to speak up against abuse.  But, if you notice, it says to “speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.”  That could be those who are still being abused & unable to escape, but it also could be those who are recently traumatized or even those who only recently realized they were abused (as abusers love to convince victims they are helping, the victim made them hurt them, it isn’t abuse, etc).  It can be hard or even impossible to talk about your trauma when you’ve only recently escaped your abuser or learned what was done to you was abuse.

 

So how do you know what is right for you to do?  Pray.  Ask God to show you what He would have you to do.

 

If you feel speaking about your experiences is the answer for you at this time, it can be scary, I know.  Lean on God to enable you to do it. Not everyone who discusses their abusive experiences is in the public eye.  God may not want you to write a book or blog.  He may instead send people across your path periodically who need to hear your story.  That calling is no less important than those who are in the public eye.  Helping people cope with their pain is an extremely important calling, no matter how it is done.

 

If you don’t feel the need to discuss your experiences, probably this means you have some healing to do first.  Talking about things really isn’t easy.  Abusers always make victims afraid to talk.  When you first escape the abusive situation or first realize what was done was actually abuse, you may need to think & pray a lot to come to terms with things.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that!  Do what you need to do!  Prayer, writing in a journal & even writing letters you never show to the abuser are excellent places to start.  Never feel bad if you’re in this place!  Everyone starts their recovery somewhere, & often it’s alone.  Besides, if you hope to be one who can help other victims, you have to be able to do so.  Self-care is vital!  You have to take care of yourself if you want to be of any help to others.

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Trauma Changes You

Trauma actually can cause physical changes in the brain. That is why PTSD & C-PTSD happen- the brain is actually broken due to traumatic experiences. The physical damage to the brain causes the awful symptoms of both disorders.

However, I don’t believe you have to have an actual disorder to be changed by trauma.

I have C-PTSD, but the symptoms didn’t fully manifest until the spring of 2012. Prior to that, I have experienced many traumas, & I realized I changed after several of them, long before the C-PTSD.

In 2010, my house was hit by lightening while my husband & I were at a friend’s wedding reception. When we came home we learned a window unit air conditioner had been hit, & caught fire, but somehow the fire went out. The neighbor’s tree beside our driveway, where my car sits, was hit, as was their brick chimney. There were large limbs & bricks surrounding my car, but nothing touched my car. Coming so close to losing my car, furkids & home was extremely traumatic. It made me appreciate them all even more. I constantly snuggle & tell the furkids how much I love them now (sometimes to their disappointment..lol). Cleaning my home & car also aren’t as big of a nuisance as they once were.

Shortly after the lightening incident, upon leaving a store, my shoe got caught on the curb & flung me into oncoming traffic.  Thankfully I was only sore & embarrassed, but that oncoming truck that came within inches of hitting me scared me!  It made me realize that life can change or even end in an instant.  Since then, I take better care of my mental health now instead of ignoring when the C-PTSD flares up. I am less rigid in my routines, opting to do fun things whenever the opportunities arise. I also constantly reevaluate things in my life & am much more open to making changes than I was.

Things like what I have experienced are normal. Trauma is so dramatic, how can it not change you in some way?

The changes may not be as drastic as mine have been. Sometimes, it’s small changes. For example, since I developed C-PTSD, I am not as interested in knitting & crocheting as I had been. I loved doing both ever since I was five years old, so suddenly losing interest has been very strange to say the least.

Have you changed as a result of trauma? If so, you are completely normal! It’s ok! These changes may simply be a part of the new you. Why not embrace the changes? You may discover new interests or a renewed passion for an old one. You may have a new appreciation for the people, pets or even things in your life. You may wish to end old relationships that aren’t beneficial to you or the other person, & that too is fine. It may be a good thing. Maybe it’s time for a fresh start. You also may change often, your likes or dislikes changing frequently.

I encourage you to pray if you are unsure of or uncomfortable with the changes happening to you. God will reassure you of what is fine & let you know if something is wrong.

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Body Memories- Yes, They Are Real!

Today, my lower back began to hurt after a long time of no pain.

 

I hadn’t pay attention to the date.  This time of year in 1990 was turbulent for me.  I was 19 & had moved out of my parents house immediately following my first nervous breakdown that May.  I had been engaged to my now ex husband, but broke up with him shortly after.  I dated two other men over the next few months, one of which I moved in with.  We were very ill suited for each other, & on our third month anniversary, November 23, I told him I was moving out.  He spent most of that night screaming at me.  (Sadly, I was so used to my mother screaming at me, I fell asleep during his ranting- he wasn’t nearly as volatile as she was).  I moved back in with my parents the next day.  That arrangement lasted until the 28th (yes, 4 days) before I had to leave my parents’ house again.  That was the evening my mother threw me into a wall & hurt my back during an argument.

 

Over the years, I’ve tried not to think much about that time in my life.  The man I lived with has since committed suicide, & after 10 years of back pain, God healed me.  It all seemed over & done with.  Apparently not, though since my body is acting up.

 

This is what a body memory is like.

 

Your mind may not remember a traumatic incident, but your body remembers everything.

 

I think body memories can be a good thing, although they certainly don’t feel good at the time.  They make you question what is happening, which can reveal a repressed memory.  Once a repressed memory is revealed, you must deal with it or continue to repress it.  The best thing I have found to do is deal with it.  Yes, it’s hard.  Yes, it’s painful.  However, I believe memories come back to the conscious mind at a time when you are most able to deal with them.  I think God allows things to be hidden when you simply cannot deal with them, then brings them back to your remembrance when you can.

 

If you experience sudden pain, anxiety or depression with no known cause, you too may be experiencing a body memory.  Often, body memories are physical but they can be emotional too.  Today  before my back began to hurt, I realized I’ve been extremely emotional, mostly anxious.  If such things happen to you, you aren’t crazy.  You are simply experiencing a body memory!

 

I would urge you to ask God what is happening, then listen for His answer.  That’s what I finally did, this afternoon when my back began to hurt.  I am glad He showed me what was going on!  Now I know I haven’t physically injured my back & I’m not crazy for being so emotional!

 

Once He shows you what is happening, then it is time to work with Him on your healing.  Ask God to show you what you need to do.  He truly will!

 

Also, you need to get your feelings out.  If you can, tell God how you feel.  Sometimes, talking out loud can be too difficult when the subject matter is especially painful.  During those times, you can pray silently, write in your journal or write a letter to the person who abused you.  I urge you never to send that letter- chances are, it’d only cause a great deal of trouble- but writing it then throwing it out, burning it or even keeping it hidden where it can’t be found can be surprisingly helpful.

 

Rest assured, Dear Reader, if you experience body memories like I do, you really aren’t crazy!  What you are is someone who has experienced trauma, & that is nothing for you to be ashamed of.

 

 

 

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Trauma Changes You

No one can go through something life altering & not change in some ways.  Whether the experience is losing someone you love, a divorce, abuse or something that threatened your life, that experience will change you somehow.

While sometimes the changes aren’t positive ones, like developing PTSD or C-PTSD (which are unavoidable, unfortunately!!),  sometimes the changes can be good.  That can take a deliberate choice to make the changes good, but it’s worth it.  Some examples are:

  • Losing a loved one, which causes you to realize how suddenly life can end.  You can either become terrified or you can decide to enjoy life more.  Also, you can decide that it’s time to start showing those you love just how much you love & appreciate them more often.
  • Going through a divorce can make you give up on love, or you can think of it as a stepping stone to find the person God meant you to be with.
  • Abuse can make you bitter & afraid, or you can learn from it.  You can learn how to identify abusive people, how to be compassionate with & help other victims of abuse & learn ways to heal. Also, surviving abuse gives you a different perspective than others who haven’t been abused.  You can appreciate the fact that you’re strong & don’t get flustered easily over the little things.

What have you been through that has changed you?  Are you trying to learn from your experiences?  If not, I encourage you to do so.  If you’re at a loss as to what good could come from your pain, ask God to show you.  Romans 8:28 says,  “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (KJV)  Although it may not feel like it, there is some  good that can be gleaned in your painful situation, & God will show it to you, gladly.

I mentioned a while back how I went through a potentially life-ending experience with carbon monoxide poisoning.  Aside from the fact I survived, I wasn’t sure if any good could come of it, but it did.  God showed me through that event that I had a big problem with toxic shame, which was causing me a great deal of pain & suffering.  He also showed me what I needed to do to cooperate with Him to set me free of that, & I’m making progress!  I also grew up with narcissistic parents, & also have narcissistic in-laws.  In the last few years, I have learned a great deal about narcissism, which has enabled me to help others in similar situations.  Although I’m not grateful for the painful experiences, I am grateful that God has been able to make something good from them.  That is my wish for you too, Dear Reader- that you too can see something good that has come from your awful experiences & appreciate those good things.

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“And We Know That All Things Work Together For Good To Them That Love God”

Good morning, Dear Readers!

I read a lovely quote yesterday by Budda.  It says, “Every experience, no matter how bad it seems, holds within it a blessing of some kind.  The goal is to find it.”  I thought it was a very true & lovely quote, & it reminded me of Romans 8:28 which says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (KJV)

I am not of the delusional mindset that if you are just positive enough, all the pain from the painful experiences will magically disappear.  I also will never, ever say I am grateful for the abuse & traumas I’ve experienced in my life, or that they were a blessing.  And honestly, I have yet to find any blessing in some situations even years later.  However, I am happy to say that some good has come from them.  My horrible first marriage taught me it’s better to be alone than with an abuser, to recognize certain warning signs in a man that show he isn’t good for me, & to recognize signs of abuse in a romantic relationship.  The narcissistic abuse from my mother taught me so much about what makes her act the way she does, how it has affected me, setting & enforcing healthy boundaries & more, plus it’s enabled me to help others in similar situations.

By saying these things, I’m not saying abuse or trauma is a good thing, or is necessary for building character or anything so ludicrous.  I’m also not trying to trivialize trauma.  I’m just saying I think it can be a good & healthy thing to find the little bit of positive in a sea of pure crap.  For years, I thought my pain had no purpose at all & nothing good could ever come from it.  Realizing it has, has helped me be more at peace with the traumatic events.  By that I mean that I’ve been able to accept that they did happen & cope to the best of my ability, which is so much better than how I used to handle my pain- by stuffing it down inside & trying to ignore it.

It just amazes me how God can pull some good out of so many terrible situations.  Regarding Romans 8:28, when I thought about that Scripture this morning, I thought about my gorgeous snowshoe Siamese cat, Jasmine. Jasmine was a lovely cat, but her first 7 years of life, she had irresponsible owners who passed her from home to home.  Her last owner before me was good to her, but she passed away in 2003, which is when I inherited Jasmine.  I learned early Jas had a wall up- she was obviously tired of getting close to someone only to have them abandon her.

On Christmas day, 2009, my husband found her barely responsive.  We couldn’t see the vet until the following day, but we immediately got her in that day.  The vet had taken such good care of Danya, my husky/wolf, when he had diabetes, that I was positive he’d be equally as great with Jasmine.  Not only did he misdiagnose her as having cancer or pancreatic issues, he coldly told me I should “just put her down.”  I don’t believe in doing that, plus Jasmine’s pleading eyes told me it would’ve been a mistake.  I took her home, expecting my beautiful girl to die in 1-2 days.  Instead, she started to improve.  She moved a little, then ate & drank a little.  Five days later, she sat upright!  In looking online for answers for her symptoms, I met a good friend who is a vet tech, who diagnosed Jasmine as having had a stroke!  Once she said that, i was able to take care of Jasmine & she recovered with only a little sway to her rear end as a sign she had a stroke.

During following 2 years, Jasmine had 3 more strokes, only her final one giving her any problems.  She fully recovered from the other 2.  We became even closer as I cared for her.  That wall she had built crumbled, & she became not only dependent on me for her care, but also for comfort & love.  She also fought so hard after each stroke to recover fully until she no longer could do so after her last stroke.  And even then, she fought so hard to stay alive.  Her blue eyes stared into mine for her last few hours with such love.. it was beautiful, the love she showed me.

While I can’t say her strokes were a good thing by any means, I still am grateful that she let them change her.  We became so close, much closer during her last 2 years than during the previous 6 years when she was in better health.  She also became very close to the other cats & dogs, rather than ignoring them.  She even became more clear in her communications with me, which struck me funny since one of our dogs at the time was very good at communicating with me, & she always had looked down on him for that.

Out of such a tragic event as a stroke, something beautiful happened.  Jasmine was able finally to accept the fact she had a loving family, & to accept happily the gestures of love we all gave her.  It even seemed to give her strength & a strong desire to fight with every fiber of her being to heal after the strokes.  It really amazed me, & still does, that something so positive came out of such a horrible situation.  Her courageous love (as a good friend of mine describes it so perfectly) was an inspiration to me, & I thank God for blessing me with that amazing, lovely creature.

If you think about the bad situations in your life, what good has come from them?

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Forgiving & Remembering

I have a knack for remembering special dates, & sometimes it can be quite annoying.

 

This date isn’t a nice one for me.  On November 28, 1990, when I was 19 years old, my mother threw me into her living room wall during an argument we were having.  I wish I didn’t remember that evening so clearly, or the date that it happened, but I do.

 

Although I’ve forgiven my mother & God healed my back injury she caused that night, it’s still an unpleasant event to remember.

 

While I was thinking about this a little while ago, I thought of something else.  Just because I have forgiven my mother for doing this to me doesn’t mean I have forgotten the event.  It also doesn’t mean it doesn’t pop into my mind once in a while when something reminds me of it (such as today’s date) or that I’m completely OK with this memory.

 

So many people think once you’ve forgiven someone, you should never remember the event again.  Forgive & forget.  I disagree.

 

While dwelling on a traumatic event  indefinitely isn’t healthy, there is a time to focus on what happened so you can completely process your emotions about it & forgive the person who hurt you.  And, once you have done that, it still may pop into your mind periodically.  Less often as time passes.  When it does, chances are you will feel a little uncomfortable with the memory.  To me, it reminds me of remembering a bad dream- you know it can’t hurt you, but the memory is so unpleasant, it makes you cringe a bit just thinking of it.  Also, you may forgive your abuser, but how can you be completely OK that it happened to you?  Being abused was not fair!  I don’t see any way that one can be completely OK with being abused even if forgiveness has happened.

 

This is normal!  And that is what I wanted to tell you today, Dear Reader.  If you still remember traumatic events, even ones from many years ago, & you believe they weren’t fair or right, you are normal!  You aren’t a “bad Christian” or holding onto bitterness or unforgiveness.  Instead you are perfectly normal.

 

 

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Are You A Victim, Survivor Or A Conquerer?

Good afternoon, Dear Readers!

 

I was reading something yesterday that said something like (I forget the exact wording), “You’re not a victim- you’re a survivor!”  Although that sounds great at first read, I think it also can be a shaming message.

 

First of all, if you’ve been abused, you are a victim.  Period.  Nothing can change that.  There is no shame in being a victim.  The shame belongs to the abuser, not the victim who had no say in being abused.

 

Second, you always will be a victim of the abuse.  That doesn’t mean you spend every waking moment thinking or talking about the abuse- it simply means that something terrible happened to you.  You were a victim of someone else’s cruelty & bad choices through no fault of your own.

 

Third, the message that I have felt from such quotations is that you are to be strong, & don’t let what happened affect you anymore.  Well, that isn’t very realistic!  If you have survived abuse in any form, especially ongoing abuse such as at the hand of a parent or spouse, it always will affect you to some degree.  You may be living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder & barely functioning each day, or you may function well, but be very cynical in how you judge people, or somewhere in between, but you will be affected in some way, shape or form by what happened.  No one escapes abuse unscathed.

 

What I am trying to say is be balanced in how you view yourself.  While yes, you are a victim, you have survived, & hopefully thrived.  Even so, there may be some bad days where you feel more like a victim than a survivor, & that is OK!  It happens to everyone, & is a natural effect of living through abuse.  You can’t feel like a tough survivor every single day.

 

Personally, I prefer to use the term “conquerer.”  A conquerer is strong, which is what survivors of abuse are as well.  We find the strength to escape the abuse, then to heal, often with little or no support from others.  Sometimes, it takes every ounce of strength we can muster to get out of bed in the morning, but somehow we find that strength & do it anyway.  We resist the inclination to become bitter, uncaring or even abusive, & are loving to others as well- that takes a great deal of strength & courage.  (So many abusers were abused themselves, yet didn’t have the strength to break that cycle.)  Conquerers are also imperfect.  While great conquerors have won many battles, they also lost many, many soldiers in these battles.  They also made very serious mistakes, some even leading to their downfalls.  Yet, they remained passionate fighters.  If these phrases don’t describe someone who has survived abuse & is fighting to heal, I don’t know what would.

 

I would like to encourage you today to think about how you view yourself.

 

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Physical Pain, Stress And Trauma

Good morning, Dear Readers!

I was just talking with a friend of mine about the physical pain she suffered with for years. Finally, she found someone who not only believed she was in pain, but also found the solution for her!

This got me to thinking about myself. When I was 19, my mother threw me into a wall. As soon as I hit that wall, I felt & heard what felt like every single vertebrae in my spine pop loudly. The pain & fear of that moment made me black out briefly, it was that intense. It was so bad in fact, I had to quit working a few months later at age 20 because of the pain. I had pain constantly for the next 10 years until one day when I was watching Joyce Meyer on television. After she was done preaching, she prayed specifically for people with back pain. My husband prayed too, although I didn’t know it at the time. Within a few days, my pain was gone!

The early days of that injury were awful. I spent so much time visiting doctors. No one believed I was in pain. No injuries showed up on the xrays. They said my MRI was fine, but it “disappeared” never to be found again, so no one but the one doctor, an especially cruel & sarcastic man, saw the results. One doctor even wrote in his report I was “fine & able to work” in spite of me repeatedly telling him otherwise. I had one doctor, a very sweet, gentle chiropractor, who believed everything I told her. To top it off, my mother, the reason for my pain, told people I was faking it so I wouldn’t have to work. She often poked or slapped me right where my pain was, or handed me something heavy- anything to make me hurt.

It was a painful time in many ways. Aside from the physical pain, it hurt having doctors act like I was crazy, making this whole thing up or being lazy, like my mother said. After about a year or so, I gave up seeing doctors. It was absolutely frustrating & a waste of time. I also doubted the pain I felt. With so few people believing me, & reminding me often of that fact, I really wondered sometimes if I was making it up. Even when I would be in pain, I wondered about it sometimes.

Then in 2010, July 25 was a rough day. While at a now former friend’s wedding reception, a storm moved into the area. As soon as the storm was over, we quickly came home & learned our home had been struck by lightening. The insulation around the one window air conditioner had caught fire, but quickly extinguished itself. Coming so close to losing our home & the furkids terrified me! My husband told my father about it, & the next time we spoke, Dad told me he told my mother what happened. He said “we could’ve lost our daughter” & my mother’s response was “you’re making a big deal out of nothing.” Her lack of caring, although not surprising, was extremely painful for me. I also learned my ex husband’s mother died that day. I’d loved her, so even though I hadn’t seen her in 16 years, it still upset me. Shortly after, one of our cats passed away very suddenly. A couple of weeks later, as I was leaving a store, my shoe caught on the curb, throwing me into traffic where I was almost hit by a truck. Shortly after that, I ended a 22 year long friendship. Somewhere during this very traumatic time, my back went out one day. I woke up in pain, & it got worse until I could barely move. I was afraid I was back to living with the constant pain I had in my 20’s. Thankfully, a friend of mine who does massage helped me quite a bit, & the pain was gone within a few days.

This friend suggested that rather than have a nervous breakdown as I’ve had before, I had a physical one this time. After all, I’d been through a lot recently. I researched stress & back pain. That search led me to PTSD, & how I think it was 55% of people with PTSD suffer lower back pain with no physical cause. That blew me away! It also led to me researching PTSD further, which later led to me researching C-PTSD.

PTSD & C-PTSD can lead to a lot of physical pain with no physical cause. Muscle aches & pains from the stress of being constantly “on guard” are very common, as are headaches, migraines, neck pain, digestive issues & inflammatory disorders (arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, etc). Personally, I have had arthritis since I was 31, but also get aches & pains all over when the C-PTSD flares up. When I am really stressed, my lower back aches terribly.

If you are suffering with some type of physical pain that your doctors say is “all in your head” or don’t believe is as bad as you say, it may be time to ask for a referral to a mental health professional. You too may be dealing with PTSD or C-PTSD. Or, you may be dealing with too much stress & need to learn healthy ways to cope. In any case, please learn from my experience- no telling how much pain I could have saved myself if I had seen a psychiatrist when I was 19.

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September 15, 2013

Good afternoon, Dear Readers..

I’m sorry for being missing in action the last few days.  It has been a very difficult week for me for several reasons.  I had a challenging lunch with my parents on Wednesday.  As I mentioned in my last entry, my friend’s kitty was kidnapped, which just breaks my heart.  I also ended a friendship of several years, because this “friend” yet again trivialized & invalidated my mental health issues.  I like her, but just cannot tolerate her ignorance & lack of compassion any longer.  Then Thursday, a storm moved through, taking down a huge part of a tree in my yard!  Thanks to God, the part of the tree that fell, fell in the opposite direction from my home & car, only taking out our ugly old chain link fence!  I saw the limb falling, & taking a part of another tree with it.  Well, sort of- the rains were torrential & the wind was gusting, distorting my view.  It was absolutely terrifying!  If that limb had fallen on my home, it could have killed my family & I!  All of this has made the Complex PTSD flare up.  Hardly a big surprise, huh?  lol

So now you know why I haven’t been around lately..  now, back to my blog..

My husband & I were talking night before last about the friendship I ended.  I told him I believe that even though she mentioned once that she was abused as a child too, she never dealt with that.  Maybe by me being open about my issues, on some level it reminds her that she has not done it.  She instead has buried her pain, & never says anything but good things about her parents.  Maybe that is why she has felt the need so many times to belittle me, tell me to “get over it,” or say “this too shall pass.”  I’m not positive about this, I am only guessing.  My husband said that sometimes people just don’t have time for the pain, or it’s too painful to face.  I don’t understand this logic at all.  

While healing is a painful process, & often a lifelong process, it is so much easier than continuing to live in dysfunction!  Yes, I currently live with constant depression, anxiety, mood swings beyond my control, anger sometimes, nightmares, insomnia, repressed memories returning to the surface & flashbacks, I realize it could be worse!  Before I began to face my issues resulting in being abused, things were much worse.  I attracted so many dysfunctional & abusive people into my life.  I had no self-esteem at all, so I allowed these people to use & abuse me.  It was so bad, I even left a man I cared deeply for, & married a man I didn’t love because he said I should marry him.  I also never spoke up to anyone who was verbally abusive to me, or had or enforced healthy boundaries to take care of myself.  I was constantly angry, hurting, feeling guilty for not living up to whatever people said I should be, & was suicidal for most of the first 25 years of my life.  I did not know myself at all, so I allowed others to mold me into what they wanted me to be.  I was deeply ashamed of myself just for being me- for looking the way I do, for liking things I liked, etc.  Worst of all, I feared constantly that I was insane, because I heard so often I was crazy & so many things were wrong with me.  Usually I heard this after confronting an abuser on abusive behavior.  I was told I was crazy for being angry that they told me I was fat, ugly, or stupid.  I “needed psychological help” because I remembered things the way they really happened, rather than agreeing with a person practicing “gaslighting” to convince me their lies were true.  

If you too are going through emotional healing, rest assured it is a good thing!  I know it’s hard, but you are working on your healing!  That is a wonderful thing!  It is so hard, I know, but it is so much easier than continuing to live in the dysfunction.  Make a list if you don’t believe me- make a list of how you were before you started healing compared to how you are now.  You WILL be surprised!!  God bless you & I love & am praying for you!  

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