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Tag Archives: 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!
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!
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.
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
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
I recently added something new to my repertoire, & I’m pretty proud of myself for it. I now have an Amazon Alexa skill for the Echo, Echo Dot, etc. about narcissism. It describes some signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. There isn’t much available in the Alexa skills about narcissism, so I thought it might be a good idea to add some to it. I don’t know much about creating these skills, so this first one, being very simple, was a good experiment for me. I am hoping to add more skills about NPD as time goes on. I’m thinking of adding some of my free ebooks maybe? Not sure yet… I’m figuring this out as I go, so this may be my only one. We shall see though! I’ll share when (& if) I add new skills.
If you’d like to check it out, here is the link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07P1T5163/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-skills&ie=UTF8&qid=1551105049&sr=1-1&keywords=narcissism
It seems like when someone is suffering in some way, the majority of people have no clue on what to say. Rather than saying nothing or admitting they don’t know what to say, most people make insensitive, hurtful or even invalidating comments….
- “You should be glad your grandmother died.. she’s not suffering anymore.”
- “I know you’re sick. I had that same problem & it was horrible. I ended up in the hospital & in more pain than I thought was possible!”
- “The reason you have this problem is you just don’t have enough faith!”
- “You should be grateful it’s not worse! Other people have it much worse than you do!”
Comments like these are invalidating & hurtful. They also make the person with the problem feel as if they are whining about some petty little problem instead of the crisis they are facing. These are the last things a person needs to feel but especially at this time!
If someone you know is having a problem, then please, PLEASE seriously think about what you say to that person. You don’t want to make them feel worse than they already do. Also, a good idea is to ask God to give you the right words to say. He will be glad to do so. Luke 12:12 says, “The Holy Spirit will give you the words to say at the moment when you need them.” (VOICE)
Don’t forget too that people are individuals. Even if you have experienced the exact same problem as your friend, you both will handle it differently because you’re individuals. Just because your friend feels differently than you did or is handling the situation in a different way than you did doesn’t mean that friend is wrong.
Remember, the situation is about your friend, not you. Even if you experienced the exact same problem, keep the main focus on your friend, not you or what you did. It’s fine to share that information if your friend asks, but the main focus should be on your friend.
This brings me to another point. Don’t offer advice unless asked for it. A lot of times, people just want to vent or talk about their problem to help them get some clarity. They aren’t looking for you to solve it. They’re looking for you to listen & offer empathy.
Don’t go too far with positivity. Sometimes being too positive comes across as invalidating. When I survived carbon monoxide poisoning in 2015, I nearly died. It was tough to come to terms with. Upon telling one person that I came very close to death, that person said, “But you didn’t die!” That comment came across as something was wrong with me for being upset instead of only being grateful I survived. “I’m so glad you didn’t die!” would’ve been a much better response. That response would have shown the person accepted that the situation was bad & they care about me rather than basically shaming me for being upset as any normal person would’ve been. Being positive can be a good thing but sometimes it’s also ok to admit something is very wrong, & to respond accordingly.
There are also some situations where you simply have no clue what to say. When a person loses someone they love, for example, there is nothing in this world you can say to make their pain go away. Rather than try, simply be honest. Admit that you don’t know what to say, but you’re there for them if they need anything. When my father was dying, a couple we’re friends with stopped by our home one day. Neither had said anything so I wasn’t sure if they knew about my father or not. I mentioned it along with the abuse I received from the flying monkeys at the time during our conversation. They said, “We saw you mentioned it on Facebook, but honestly, we had no clue what to say. We’re sorry all this is happening.” That may have been the best thing anyone said to me at that time. They were honest, non-judgmental & not critical at all, which was just what I needed.
Lastly, don’t forget to offer to pray with & for your friend. I’ve noticed even people who don’t share my faith appreciate the offer a great deal. Prayer seems to offer comfort to most people, no matter their religious beliefs. However, if the person in question is angry with God or adamant in believing He doesn’t exist, this is not a good thing to say. Nothing says you can’t pray for that person when not in their presence though…
Dear Reader, please keep these things in mind when someone you know is suffering. These simple tips will help your friend & maybe even strengthen your relationship.
Years ago, prior to learning about narcissism, I had a friend who counseled people at her church. She told me how she believed many people were stuck emotionally at the age they were when they experienced deep trauma. This makes a great deal of sense to me, especially knowing what I do now about Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Looking at some of the narcissists I’ve known in my life, they were abused, neglected or both in their childhood, or faced something very traumatic such as a life threatening injury. My father, for example, nearly died at only fifteen from a traumatic brain injury, thanks to some drunk driver hitting his car head on. Although he was a mature adult in ways such as keeping a full time job, maintaining & repairing his own car & home, in some ways, his behavior was very immature. He seemed to think he should have whatever he wanted, just because he wanted it. That is entitlement but it’s also a very immature behavior.
My late mother in-law grew up in an extremely dysfunctional environment. At 15, she got pregnant & married my father in-law. By all accounts, their marriage was not a happy one for many years. Her behavior was quite immature, & often reminded me of a teenager. Like my father, she seemed to think she should have what she wanted simply because she wanted it.
Obviously, not everyone who has experienced trauma, abuse or neglect in their childhood is like this. However it seems to me that many narcissists are. So many act very immature, & if you look at their lives, many also had some sort of trauma in their childhood.
I’m not telling you this to excuse the abusive behavior of narcissists, of course. There is no valid excuse for abuse! However, understanding them can help you a great deal. It can help you not to be as hurt or angered by their abuse because you see it’s something wrong with them. (This information is always a good reminder since they love gaslighting so much.) It enables you to predict their behavior so you can protect yourself. It also can help you to remember that basically, you’re dealing with a bratty child in an adult’s body & deal with them accordingly.
Recently I wrote this post about the time my mother tried to kill me, & the tough time I’m having regarding this incident. I wondered something. Why now? Why this year? Every other November 28 since 1990 when it happened hasn’t been this hard. Difficult sometimes, sure but not like this. So what is going on?!
A thought crossed my mind that answered that question.
A couple of weeks ago, my husband & I went to dinner at this little local bar/restaurant we like. As we ate, someone started playing the juke box. The song “Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line” by the Kentucky Headhunters came on. It immediately made me think of a story I told in this post last year. The abridged version is this…
The day of my father’s funeral, I asked my Amazon Echo Dot to play music by Wham! since I wanted something light & fun, but instead it mysteriously played Waylon Jennings’ song, “Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line”. I just knew in my heart that God & my father wanted me to know that song is kinda how my father felt – trapped & unable to protect me from my mother. I thought about my father’s notes I’d found documenting some of the abuse my mother inflicted on me & terrible things she said about me as I listened to the song. I read them that day & it was pretty overwhelming to say the least.
Anyway… when the song played at the restaurant, immediately I felt transported back to that experience. It triggered a ton of intrusive memories of abuse & naturally a big C-PTSD flare up.
Later, I prayed about it all & asked God what was that about?! He clearly spoke to my heart & said, “This was a gift from your father. He knows you have a lot of anger inside, & rightfully so. He wants you to face it & heal. He knows you’re strong enough to do that. I agree.”
Since then, I’ve been getting very angry about things as they come to mind, & my mother’s attack on me is no exception. I never realized before that I hadn’t been overly angry about it. Why? Because I felt I had to be more concerned with how others were affected.
My father complained about my mother locking him out of the house when he left the night she attacked me. His keys were in his pocket! He could’ve let himself back in at any time!!! But that was what was wrong with the situation, not my mother trying to kill me. Years later, my father complained to me about having to fix the wall my mother threw me into. He expected me to apologize. That did NOT happen & I told him it never would. Not my fault she broke the wall with my back.
When it happened, my ex husband was upset about it, but not because I’d been hurt. It was more because it upset him that she did this, rather than her actions causing me harm, if that makes sense.
Both my father & my ex wanted me to comfort them. As a result, I did (I was only 19 & knew nothing of NPD obviously), & ignored my own anger. That anger is now at the surface after 28 years & it’s time to face it.
I’m seeing more & more how valuable anger can be. Yes, we should forgive, not be full of anger or try to get revenge on people, but at the same time, anger has its place! It is an excellent motivator for change. It is also a big part of the healing process, & should NEVER be ignored! The only way to heal from anger that I know of is to get angry. Feel it. Yell, cry, write hateful letters you never send, or whatever works for you, but feel that anger & get it out of you. Then you can release it fully.
Forgiving too easily or early is an issue, like it was with me. Once I became a Christian in 1996, I heard a lot about forgiveness. I thought I forgave my mother for her attack, but what I really did was just ignore the anger that I felt. I think many victims of narcissistic abuse do the same thing.
I believe one of the best things you can do for yourself when trying to heal from narcissistic abuse is to decide early on that you will forgive your abuser, then face your anger head on. It’s miserable to do, I know, & scary when you’ve never really felt anger before, but you have to do it. Remember that anger is from God like all of our emotions, so that alone proves it is valuable. Feeling it helps you to cope with injustices done to you & motivates you to make appropriate changes. It also helps your self esteem when you get angry about what was done to you because it’s like it shows you that you are valuable! You deserve to be treated right!
As I’ve mentioned a few times, I have a wonderful kitty by the name of Punkin who has feline PTSD. Here is his picture.. is he not incredibly handsome!?
A few months after adopting him in 2014, one morning out of the blue, he attacked our little American Eskimo dog, Dixie. She wasn’t even looking at him when he suddenly jumped her. My husband & I both hollered Punkin’s name, which got his attention fast. He looked almost as if he woke up. He looked at us & Dixie, then ran off & hid. We checked on Dixie & thankfully she was fine, just very shaken up. While consoling her, my husband & I talked about what happened, & I told him that the way Punkin looked reminded me of how I felt after a flashback. I knew animals could be traumatized of course, but I was unsure if it could develop into PTSD. I did some research & learned it absolutely can. Since I have C-PTSD, I felt somewhat equipped to deal with the situation. It’s been quite the learning experience to say the least! But, my husband & I have learned & I wanted to share it for you other cat parents out there in case you too have a traumatized furbaby on your hands.
In all fairness, I’m not positive how the symptoms show up in other animals, but I believe they’re rather similar. Our late dog, Bear, had been abused & once in a while he acted quite a bit like Punkin does. I believe he had a milder case of PTSD than Punkin has. That leads me to believe the symptoms are probably quite similar among animals, not just among cats.
PTSD symptoms in cats are quite similar to humans. They have an extremely sensitive startle reflex, so they sometimes react inappropriately to situations. If they get scared, fight or flight instincts may take over. Punkin tends to freeze- his pupils dilate & he won’t move. They can be very anxious too, which means they may be skittish, hide or potty outside the litter box. Separation anxiety can happen too. They’re hyper vigilant, always extremely aware of their surroundings. Getting angry easily can be another symptom. as can being depressed. Signs of depression can mean losing interest in things they normally enjoy such as food, playing or snuggles, They may have nightmares, which you can see by how they sleep. Most cats twitch a bit in their sleep, but a cat with PTSD will do so more often & violently. Another big clue is they avoid things that can be similar to the traumatic event. I believe due to how Punkin attacked Dixie his trauma was related to a dog. She was the only animal or person in our home he ever attacked. And yes, they can have flashbacks. If you haven’t seen someone have a flashback or if you don’t have them, it can be hard to identify. When Punkin has had them, he doesn’t look quite like himself. His eyes get huge & you see fear written all over his face. He also acts completely out of character, like when he attacked Dixie, then suddenly stops. The first time it happened, he hid for quite a while, but after that, he returns to normal in a few hours. They also make him very tired.
There are some ways to cope with feline PTSD that I have found to be pretty successful.
I talk to Punkin. I tell him I understand what he’s going through, & it stinks. It’ll be ok, though, there is no one or nothing here that will hurt him. He’s safe & surrounded by other cats & people who adore him.
I also follow his lead. Punkin is very loving, but not particularly snuggly. Sometimes when the PTSD flares up, he wants to be left alone & other times he wants me to hold him. I do whichever he wants.
When Punkin has bad days, I do my best to remain completely calm in his presence. Cats pick up on the energy of their humans, so if I’m calm, he’ll be calmer. I don’t tell him “calm down”. Instead, my energy says everything is fine, & there is nothing to be upset about.
Catnip is a life saver! I started giving it to him to try to help his anxiety levels. It didn’t take him long to learn that it helps, so he goes to it often & voluntarily when his symptoms flare up. I got some very soft, fuzzy socks from the dollar store for this purpose. I put some catnip in a small rag, tie it up, & put it in the sock. Punkin also likes jingle bells so I have some with bells inside, some without. He picks whatever he likes as he needs his ‘nip. Since it doesn’t work for dogs, I used to give Bear valerian root pills. The smell is very strong & it tastes pretty yukky, so it wasn’t easy to get him to take it at first. It didn’t take him long to realize that it helped though, so he began going to where I stored it to let me know when he needed some valerian.
Some pet parents also get tranquilizers for their pet from the vet or use other calming aids that are readily available.
If you too have a pet with PTSD, following these steps really can help. I’m happy to say that Bear turned into a very loving, gentle dog from an aggressive one & Punkin’s symptoms are managed very well. He rarely has flashbacks anymore, & his anxiety levels are much lower in general.
It seems like there is a strange believe among many people that processing trauma quickly is a sign of strength. People are admired for getting back to work or a normal routine quickly, & it’s assumed they’re “over it” when they do that. Unfortunately a lot of people who others think are “over it” are actually avoiding dealing with their pain.
Healing from trauma of any sort isn’t a quick process. How could it be? Trauma overloads your mind, emotions & even body. It’s impossible to simply shake it off & move on. It’s even worse when you’ve been exposed to repeated traumas, such as in the case of child abuse.
Never let anyone make you feel weak or ashamed because you’re not “over it” yet. Truly processing trauma takes time, & lots of it. It also takes a great deal of energy & courage to face the ugly truth, to get angry about it, & to grieve about it. It may take a lifetime to do. There is no shame in that. It doesn’t mean you’re weak. It means you’ve been through unimaginable circumstances.
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!
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
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.