Tag Archives: traumatic

The Body & Mind Hold Onto Trauma

At the time of this post, it’s October.  October 3, 2017, I got the call that my father was on a ventilator without much time left to live.  He died twenty days later.

During that time, as I’ve shared before, I was subjected to cruel attacks, multiple times a day, from my family because I didn’t break no contact to say goodbye to my father.  My home & cell phones rang constantly, & often when they rang, they would ring for five to ten minutes straight.  I got tons of text messages & social media messages. I dodged all calls & messages as best I could, but there was no escaping reading the first part of some messages due to how texts, emails & social media messages are designed. The hatred & venom coming from even that little bit I read was simply astounding!  And, one of the social media messages was from the account of my aunt who had been dead for three years at that point!  I’d blocked her daughter some time before & she used her mother’s account to try to bully me.  Ain’t family grand?

As a result of that horrid time, every October, I struggle.  It’s like a month long emotional flashback.  I can count on depression, anxiety & nightmares plaguing me even more than usual on top of the natural sadness connected to my father’s death.  The fact this happens during my favorite time of year makes this even more frustrating. I just want to enjoy the beautiful leaves changing & cooler temperatures in October!

The reason I’m sharing this is in the hopes of helping anyone reading this who experiences something similar. 

Sometimes we go through things that are so traumatizing, that even well after the trauma is done, we can’t help but suffer effects.  Even if we try not to think about it, it’s still lodged in the back of the mind, not going anywhere.  We might get anxious or depressed around the anniversary of the event without even realizing the date.  Or, we experience the same emotions we did at the time of the trauma.  This is known as an emotional flashback.

The body remembers too, & as a result, we may feel ill, have some unusual aches or other odd symptoms without medical cause suddenly appear for a brief time.  If you were physically injured at the time of the trauma, you also may feel the pain of that injury again.  This is what is known as a somatic flashback.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic wand to wave & make these symptoms stop.  If only it was that easy!  Instead, if you want to survive this with some semblance of sanity, you are going to have to do some work.  Not all of it will be bad, but some will be pretty unpleasant.

You are going to need to face your feelings about what happened & feel those emotions.  You can’t ignore feelings or they will manifest in some pretty unhealthy ways such as in the form of addictions, self harm or self destructive tendencies.  My best friend says, “you have to feel your feels” & it’s true.  To do this, you need to find healthy outlets that help you.  For me, that means prayer & writing in a journal.  For you, it could be speaking to a counselor, pastor or trusted friend.  Whatever works is what matters. 

“Feeling your feels” is hard work, & you will need to take breaks when you start feeling that it’s just too much.  What helps you to relax?  Creative outlets are wonderful for relaxing & healing your soul.  If you don’t have one, it might be time to find one.  If you are out of ideas, notice what your friends are doing.  One of their hobbies might appeal to you.  Or, consider what you enjoyed doing as a child & start doing that again.  Get some finger paints, doodle, or buy a coloring book & crayons. 

Take care of your physical needs as well.  Make sure to allow extra time for you to rest since emotional work requires a lot of energy.  If you like exercising, go for walks, swim, ride a horse… whatever you enjoy that helps you to feel good physically.

Most of all, don’t forget to lean on God.  He will show you what you need to do, & help you to get through this trying time.  All you have to do is ask for His help.

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Perspective On Personal Problems After Narcissistic Abuse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Sharing Some Inspiration

I recently caught a show on the Oxygen network about the Cleveland strangler, Anthony Sowell.  I believe the show was called, “Snapped Notorious: The Cleveland Strangler.” If you don’t know him, he was a serial rapist & murderer in whose Cleveland, Ohio home the bodies of 11 women were found. 

I found the show fascinating.  Not only because of my interest in true crime but mostly because of the surviving victims.  At the end of the episode, four victims who miraculously survived Sowell’s attacks were interviewed.  They were very strong & inspiring ladies!  I regret that I didn’t make a note of their names.  I was too busy jotting down notes from what each lady had to say to think of names at the time, but if you get to watch this show, you can find out their names.

Anyway, what these ladies had to say was so inspiring & I think also very valuable for victims of all kinds of abuse, which is why I wanted to share their wisdom.

One lady shared that she wants to start an organization called Cracked Not Broken whose sole purpose is to tell people there is always hope.  She said too that there needs to be more support for victims.  She’s right.  There isn’t much good support.  She & the other three ladies on this show supported each other though, & that is so wonderful!  I think victims of crimes & any type of trauma & abuse need to support each other because they can do so better than anyone else.  They understand the pain, the difficulties in healing, & more.  What healing could take place if more people supported each other rather than compared their traumas or minimize the traumas of other people!

Another lady stressed the importance of never minimizing your experiences.  Many victims of abuse minimize their trauma.  Since she said this, I assume victims of crimes do it as well.  It’s not a healthy thing to do!  To heal, you need to accept what was done to you for what it was, not some watered down version of it.  Then you can get angry about it & really start to heal.

She also said the only way to heal is to “get that stuff off you”.  That is so true!  Holding things in doesn’t help anyone & is detrimental to mental health.  This particular lady suggested reaching out for help.  If you are unwilling or unable to do so, there is always journaling.  That is incredibly helpful in “getting that stuff off you.”  Better yet is prayer.  God truly will help you to heal from anything!

Another lady said victims need to know they didn’t deserve what was done to them & not to blame themselves.  This happens to so many people who were victimized in any capacity.  The woman who was raped blames herself for wearing a short skirt, the person whose car was stolen blames himself for forgetting to lock the doors, the victim of a narcissistic parent blames herself for making her parents abuse her.  This is so wrong & it needs to stop.  No one can force another person to abuse them & no one deserves to be abused.  Period!

Another lady said just because the person who hurt you didn’t see your value, that doesn’t mean you don’t have value.  You are valuable!  You deserve to love yourself.  And, as you heal, take each day a step at a time.  Don’t rush the healing process.

Lastly, this same lady said one thing that helped her to heal was to keep her head up & never give up.  Clearly she knew she had no reason to be ashamed of what happened to her, so she wasn’t going to carry that shame!  So very wise!

I hope you were as inspired by these brave, beautiful ladies as I was! xoxo

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Acting Normal After Trauma Can Create Shame

I’m a huge fan of the ID channel’s true crime shows, & I watch them often. It fascinates me the things that people are capable of. Not only those who commit heinous crimes, but those who have the strength & wisdom to outwit their attackers & survive brutal attacks.

Recently I was watching one of these shows. In it, a woman’s ex boyfriend kidnapped her under the guise of saying he wanted her to come with him to say good bye to his daughters. He said there was a party in another town, & he would take her to the party where his daughters would be so she could say good bye. On the way there, he threatened her & even tried to choke her. Sadly, when they got inside the house where the party supposedly was, it was empty & abandoned. It’s where he killed her.

What got me about this show was what happened just before they got to that house. The boyfriend told her to behave herself when they arrived at the party, in other words, act like he hadn’t just tried to choke her. It struck me – that is exactly how narcissists act! They can do the most painful, vulgar thing to a victim, & victims aren’t allowed to show others any signs of the trauma they just survived.

Naturally, narcissists do this to hide their horrible behavior so they can continue to do it & to impress whoever they want to impress. However, there is another facet of this behavior. Not allowing someone to act as if they have been through trauma instills shame in them.

Hiding your emotions in such a situation is good for survival, but at the same time, it can make you feel like something is very wrong with you for being upset about the trauma. I wonder if it’s partly because of how narcissists think. Many act like their victim is supposed to be able to do anything. Not because that victim is capable or smart, but because they want the victim to do things. Certain things are just expected of a victim, no matter the victim’s abilities, strengths or weaknesses. Acting normal after trauma is one of those expected things. When you feel as if you can’t act normally or struggle to do so immediately after a traumatic event, you can feel ashamed of your feelings.

Another reason for shame in such situations could be how many people treat victims. So few people are sympathetic to victims. Many people expect victims to “just get over it”, “let go of the past” or “forgive & forget.” Not a lot of people have patience for a victim who still shows signs of having been through trauma & they do their best to get them to act normal. Being around such people can instill a great deal of shame in a victim.

I’ve also experienced shame by being around someone who isn’t affected as strongly as I am by similar traumas. As an example, my husband is someone who can go on no matter what. No trauma slows him down. I’m not sure why he’s that way & trauma hits me much harder. There have been plenty of times I would see him keep going to work, working in the yard & doing other normal things after something traumatic happened. Yet, let something not as traumatic happen to me & I struggle to do things I do every day. This kind of comparison also can instill shame just like being told to act like nothing happened can.

When you experience this type of scenario, & chances are you will at some point, you need to turn to God. Pray about it. Tell Him how you feel & ask for help.

Also think about your situation objectively. It’s not normal to act like nothing happened after trauma. It’s normal to feel certain things & to act differently. If it was 95* outside, it’d be normal to sweat. Would you be angry at yourself for sweating in such hot weather? No, because it’s totally normal & understandable. Similarly, it’s normal & understandable to act differently after trauma. You have no reason to feel shame for acting differently.

Just remember, Dear Reader, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you for being affected by trauma, no matter what the narcissist or insensitive people may think. xoxo

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About Anger After Trauma

Often people who are very forgiveness centered seem to think that to forgive someone means that whatever they did to you no longer triggers any negative feelings. You will be completely immune to any upset on that topic.  For example, if your narcissistic mother constantly told you that you were fat, & someone else calls you fat, if you have truly forgiven your mother, some people think that means that this other person’s words won’t bother you in the slightest. 

I really don’t believe that is true.  You can forgive someone yet still be angered by certain behaviors.

Forgiving someone doesn’t always mean you have forgiven & forgotten what they did, & everything is now unicorns & rainbows.  Forgiveness can mean that you release any expectations on them of apologizing & trying to make it up to you for wronging you.  While doing this is a good thing, it doesn’t automatically release the anger or hurt you feel that their actions caused.

Even if you have managed to release all anger & hurt you feel at the person who has hurt or even abused you, their actions still can be very upsetting.  Let’s say for example you were robbed at knifepoint.  You have recovered from any physical injuries & have forgiven the robber.  Maybe you even learned he was out of work at the time & trying to get money to feed his starving children, so you felt some compassion for him with his plight.  Do you really think that all of this would make you ok with anyone robbing anyone at knifepoint?  No!  It definitely wouldn’t, because you know this behavior is wrong, no matter what the story behind it is.  You also know how it feels to be in that position, the terror & anger it stirs up in you, & wouldn’t wish that on anyone.  If you were in this situation & heard of someone else being through what you have, you naturally would be upset, no matter how much or little anger you feel towards the person who hurt you.

Honestly, I think it is not only normal to be upset by reminders but healthy.

Not being bothered by reminders of your trauma would mean you are desensitized to it.  How is being desensitized to trauma good?  It doesn’t help you, & may in fact hurt you.  If you’re numb to the trauma you experienced, that probably means that you have ignored it for a very long time rather than process it.  That is not even close to mentally healthy!   

Being desensitized to trauma doesn’t help others who have experienced trauma either.  If you think what they say was a traumatic experience wasn’t a big deal, & you tell them that, it will instill shame in them.  They will become ashamed of being so affected by something so “trivial”.  They will wonder what is wrong with them, why they were so traumatized by something that other people wouldn’t be bothered by.  They could begin to shut down & ignore their pain rather than deal with it.  Doing this could lead to a plethora of problems such as physical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or digestive disorders.  It also could make them turn to substance abuse, shopping addiction or promiscuity rather than face the fact that they are hurting.

Dear Reader, please know that no matter how much you have forgiven your abuser, things that they have done will continue to upset & even anger you, & that is totally normal!  In fact, let the emotions motivate you!  Become an advocate against the type of abuse or trauma you experienced.  Talk about it, so people know that these things are wrong.  If you feel bold, write a blog or a book.  See what you can to do get laws changed so other abusers like yours will go to jail.  Good truly can come from those feelings, & remember, they aren’t proof that you are unforgiving or bitter.  Far from it.  They prove you’re a person with a wise & compassionate heart. 

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Trauma Responses & Guilt

Many of us who have experienced trauma experience a lot of guilt about how we responded during a traumatic event.  I have experienced this.  When my mother & I got into an argument & she threw me into a wall when I was 19 in 1990, I blacked out & bit her during the assault.  To this day I remember how shocking it felt to hit the wall then suddenly coming to as she was releasing her hold on me that pinned me to the wall.  And when I came to, I ran from the house & sped away in a cloud of tire smoke.  For many years after, I felt incredibly guilty for the entire event.  Mostly because I bit my mother & she had a scar from that, but also for the fact I gave in to her.  She was itching for a fight the moment I walked in the door after work that evening.  I recognized the look immediately & in spite of knowing nothing about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I knew getting into an argument would result in something bad for me, yet I did it anyway. 

While it may sound ridiculous to you, this triggered an intense amount of guilt in me!  I gave in rather than simply leave which would have been the smart thing to do.  And, thanks to me, my mother had a physical scar.  Horrible!

As you read this, you probably are thinking things like, “But you were only 19!”  “You didn’t know about narcissism!”  “You were defending yourself!”  “You couldn’t move so how else could you defend yourself?”  And you know something?  Those are all correct.  That isn’t how it felt at the time of the incident however, or for over twenty years after it happened.

Do you feel guilt about a response during a traumatic event too?  If so, please show yourself the same mercy you were just willing to show me! 

During trauma, the brain is overridden by survival instincts.  While that is a good thing in the sense that survival instincts will help you to survive, they also may cause you to behave out of the ordinary & in a way that may be embarrassing to you.  Please try to let that go!  Survival instincts are there for a reason.  They help a person to survive.  Whether your instinct is fight, flight, freeze or fawn, that instinct helped to save you from a potentially even worse fate.  That makes your survival instinct pretty impressive!  Don’t discount it!  Embrace it!  Be grateful that it is partly why you survived!

Don’t forget to analyze the event too.  If you analyze it, you had no other choice.  Maybe you’re thinking that you did, but also consider yourself at the time.  You may not have known any better, which led you to make the best choice you could at the time.  This can be difficult, I know.  I’ve spent a lot of time beating myself up for poor choices I’ve made in my life, too, but you know something?  That is a waste of time!  You aren’t the same person you were who made a less than ideal choice during a time of extreme duress.  You did your best & that is all anyone can expect.  You also survived the traumatic event, so you should be proud of yourself!

Please just remember, Dear Reader, that even if your trauma responses haven’t been what you wish they were, you have no reason to be embarrassed or feel guilty about them.  They did their job, which was to help you survive.

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The Four Trauma Responses: Fight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tips For Healing From Childhood Trauma

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Very Wise Words About PTSD & C-PTSD.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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About Flashbacks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Busyness: An Unhealthy Trauma Based Way To Cope

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Minimizing Your Abusive Experiences

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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When Places Or Items Trigger Traumatic Memories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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There Is More Than Fight Or Flight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How Childhood Trauma Affects Adults

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Shock & Abuse

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How Trauma Can Stunt Emotional Growth

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.

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Feline PTSD

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!?

 

Punkin, September 29, 2017

 

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.

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Why People Believe Narcissists Instead Of Their Victims

Those of us who have survived narcissistic abuse all seem to wonder one thing- why does everyone believe the narcissist & not me?!

I certainly have.  I was in my late teens when my mother’s abuse hit its peak.  During that time, I noticed that her friends no longer were friendly & nice to me.  Women who once obviously liked me no longer would even make eye contact with me or speak to me.  It wasn’t hard to figure out my mother told them something awful about me.  What I wondered was why would they believe her lies when they knew me well.  They had to know I wasn’t the terrible teen my mother told me & others that I was.

I think I have some ideas as to why people believe narcissists in these situations.

The person who doesn’t believe a victim may be a narcissist.  I have noticed narcissists don’t believe people easily.  If someone says another person hurt them, unless there is undeniable evidence such as broken bones, many narcissists don’t believe that person.  Maybe they simply have no interest since it doesn’t center around them.

Narcissists are also phenomenal actors.  They can create any impression they wish.  If they want to appear kind when they aren’t, they can do that with no problem.  Highly intelligent even though they aren’t particularly smart?  They can pull that act off too.  Their chameleon like ways blend well with their superb ability to read people, which enables them to appear in the most appealing way possible to each individual person.

Many people look for the best in others, not the real in others.  People see the narcissist as a good person, as the narcissist wanted them to, so when a victim tells others of the terrible things the narcissist has done, the victim is not believed.  People don’t think someone as “good” as the narcissist could do such things.

There’s also the fact that narcissistic abuse is so outlandish, it’s hard to believe.  Looking back at things narcissists have done to me, even I have trouble believing they happened, & I was there.  People with no knowledge of narcissism can have trouble believing your stories of narcissistic abuse simply because of the bizarre nature.

Some people who don’t believe victims also come from backgrounds of abuse, yet have not faced their pain.  Instead, they live ready to shut down anything or anyone that may remind them of their pain or that threatens their flawed belief system that all is fine in their world.  I know a family like this.  The father was horribly abusive to the children growing up.  The mother stood by his side, & failed to protect them.  In fact, she instilled the belief in them that it was their place to protect her, not the other way around.  The adult children were very protective of their mother.  They treated her as if she was a young child, in need of constant care, coddling & protection.  No one was allowed to mistreat her or criticize her, even if they were telling the truth.  None of them have any tolerance for anyone setting boundaries with their parents.  They seem to believe that you tolerate anything & everything from your parents with a smile.  They also will believe any lies a narcissistic parent tells them about their child, not their child.

I also think there is another reason people believe narcissists over victims.  Those who aren’t facing their own abusive pasts feel bad when they see others who are.  Maybe it makes them feel ashamed for not being strong enough to do so or it simply reminds them of the pain they work so hard to ignore.  But, I do know for these people, it’s easier to believe a narcissist than to believe their victim & face their own pain.

When you come across someone who doesn’t believe you, then Dear Reader, remember, it has nothing to do with you.  The person you’re speaking with has their own issues.  Normal, mentally healthy people listen to a victim’s story & believe that person unless there is strong evidence that the victim is lying, not the other way around.

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Shock After Dealing With Narcissists & Their Flying Monkeys

Sometimes, narcissists &/or their flying monkeys go above & beyond in their abuse.  They behave so outrageously or abuse a victim so often, a victim can’t cope.  When this happens, it can thrust a victim into a state of shock.

I spent much of my late teens in shock due to the daily abuse from my mother, & it also happened during the last few months of my father’s life in 2017.

Being no contact with my parents never seemed to bother anyone until my father’s health started to decline.  Once that happened, I was contacted by relatives (some I knew, some I did not), strangers (two police officers, my father’s barber, my parents’ neighbors) & acquaintances.  Every single person had the same message- they shamed me for not having a relationship with my parents, commanded me to talk to them, to say goodbye to my father “so he could die in peace,” telling me I needed to forgive & forget, they’re the only parents I’ll ever have, I should go to them because “if I was a parent, I’d understand” how me staying away made him feel, & other similar,  ludicrous statements.

The final twenty days of my father’s life while he was in the hospital were the worst.  They included an excessive amount of abuse for me.  Daily, I would receive a barrage of these cruel, heartless, shame/guilt inducing type messages & people I don’t even know telling me what they thought I should do with no interest in me.   Since they kept finding ways around the blocks I’d put in place to send me messages, there truly was no escape.  I ended up trying to save all messages without reading them for evidence in case I ever needed it, but even so, I couldn’t avoid seeing a small portion of the messages due to how email & social media messages are set up.  I don’t use voicemail so I didn’t have to hear anyone’s voice at least.

The end result of all of this for me was shock.

Today it’s a little over 11 months since he passed away & I still feel some degree of shock.

Has this sort of thing happened to you too, Dear Reader?  Have you ended up in a state of shock due to the sheer volume of or intensity of the abuse from the narcissist or flying monkeys in your life?  If so, I have learned some things about this state that I believe can help you.

Don’t judge your feelings.  Even if they seem strange to you, they’re there for a reason.  Just accept that they have a purpose & don’t ignore them.  You’ll figure out their purpose.

Don’t try to push yourself to get over this shock.  It happened for a reason & that reason is because you’ve been subjected to some very serious trauma.  The shock is protecting your mind from feeling all of the emotions at once.  Let it do its job!  It will diminish in time, as you’re more able to face the trauma(s).

If you start to feel overwhelmed, imagine yourself putting some emotions or traumatic incidents in boxes on a shelf.  Deal with what you can however works best for you, & when you feel you have handled that, take that box off the shelf & deal with its contents.  Once you’ve dealt with that, take down another box if you have a few on a shelf.  If you can handle one thing at a time, it’ll be easier than trying to deal with multiple traumas at once.  I think trying to face too many things at once is much like plate spinning!  

Take good care of yourself.  It can be hard to eat or not to eat too much when you’re upset.  Try to maintain your normal eating habits as much as you can.  If you’re one who doesn’t want to eat, make sure you take daily vitamins to help you get daily nutrients.  You need to be healthy physically to handle emotional traumas.

Try to get as much rest as possible.  Emotional healing is hard work & you will be exhausted!

Take it easy when you can.  Sometimes time spent just staring at a good movie or sitting in the park watching people can be very restorative.

Spend time with your pets if you have them.  Animals are amazing.  They not only understand when their human is suffering but they know just what to do to help.  Let your furbaby help you!

Talk to safe & supportive friends or loved ones.  Write in your journal on those times you don’t feel like talking.  Both of these things can help the shock dissipate by making the situations seem more real.

Avoid people who don’t “get it,” but especially at this time.  They can make you feel even worse than you already do.  This state of shock can make you feel super sensitive.  Even if you normally can brush off someone’s lack of support & understanding, if you’re in that super sensitive place, you can’t.  In fact, their words &/or actions may send you into a downward spiral of depression.

Most of all, cling to God.  Your faith is what will help you more than anything to get through this awful time.  When I was going through this trauma last year, I know there is no way I could’ve survived without God’s constant gentle, understanding & loving presence in my life.  He helped me to maintain my sanity, not reach out to these abusive jerks & tell them off or seek revenge & to do exactly what His will was, which worked out beautifully in the end.  He can & will do the same thing for you.

 

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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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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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Who Am I After Trauma?

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been having some really rough C-PTSD times lately.  The last few days, it’s been a lot better, thankfully.  Going through the rough times lately have gotten me to thinking.  I realized I’ve changed a lot since May, 2012 when the C-PTSD became full blown, but I hadn’t really thought about it until a few days ago when I realized I’ve been berating myself rather than accepting myself or trying to discover who I am post-trauma.

There are plenty of books & online counselors on  the topic of discovering your post trauma identity.  Obviously there is a need for such knowledge- trauma certainly changes you, like it or not.  I haven’t ready any of those books yet or spoken to a counselor, so I’m just starting to learn about & pray about this topic.  I hope & pray these things I’ve learned so far will help you as they are starting to help me..

I’m seeing that I need to learn to accept the fact I have C-PTSD, & its ugly symptoms without judgment.  I keep beating myself up about being so “weak” as to have C-PTSD.  You see, I’ve always been very strong.  In fact, when I had my first nervous breakdown at age 19, I went to work the next day.  I was catatonic for 5 hours that night, had no sleep at all, yet went into work the next morning as if nothing happened. I survived awful abuse, then went on to school, & no one had any idea what had just happened to me.  It seemed like nothing could affect me for long, until C-PTSD came along.  Now?  Let my kitchen sink clog up or me have any small change in my routine, & I’m in a state of panic.  It’s beyond frustrating!  I’m trying to remember some things.  First, C-PTSD isn’t a sign of weakness- it’s a sign of having survived some pretty terrible traumas.  Second, C-PTSD is a terrible, life-changing, even potentially life threatening disorder.  It’s not something one can control, so its symptoms are going to rear their ugly heads, including the lack of ability to cope well with about anything, crying at the drop of a hat, anxiety attacks, etc.  Third, I wouldn’t judge anyone else with C-PTSD.  In fact, I have friends with it, & have not once thought they were weak, stupid, useless, etc., so I need to extend that same kindness to myself. Fourth, I need to take better care of myself when the symptoms flare up. It’s ok to take a day off to relax after a particularly nasty flashback, for example.  And, I also need to be more aware of what makes my symptoms worse, what triggers I have, & be more understanding of myself regarding them.  They’re a normal part of this disorder, & nothing to be ashamed of.

I need to accept the fact that trauma changes a person’s brain, especially repeated, ongoing trauma like I have experienced.  Like it or not, it’s a fact.  Basically, PTSD & C-PTSD are brain injuries.  Brain injuries can make drastic changes in a person!  I’ve become very forgetful, very emotional, moody & a lot of times I have trouble finding the right words I need.  All are symptoms of C-PTSD & nothing to be ashamed of.

I need to accept changes that have happened to me since C-PTSD.  I don’t laugh as easily as I once did. I still have a sense of humor, but I’m a lot more serious than I used to be.  I’ve always been an avid bookworm, but now, reading a book overwhelms my brain very easily, which made me lose interest in reading.  Reading on my tablet is easier, but I still can feel overwhelmed sometimes.  I’ve lost most interest in my favorite hobbies- knitting & crocheting.  Writing has become very difficult on most days for me.  I don’t know it these things will ever come back.  Hopefully they will, or maybe even be replaced by other interesting things that I can enjoy just as much.

I also need to accept the fact I need to ask God for help with the simple things much more often than I used to.  Thankfully, God doesn’t mind helping, & in fact, wants to help.  However, I still feel weird about asking Him to help me remember to do something or help in accomplishing something simple because I’ve forgotten how to do it.  Thank God He is patient & understanding!  He has not once made me feel as if I need to do something on my own or not bother Him with my silly requests.

I’m certain there is much more to add to this list, but so far this is what God’s been showing me about handling my post-trauma identity.  I hope it helps you as well!  xoxo

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