Skip to main content

A Day Off

When I started this blog a few months back, I only intended to write maybe two or three times a week. Instead, I've kept a steady stream of posts going every weekday. I've found it's been a necessary and helpful outlet to express my thoughts, and also for me to observe how things are shifting and changing as I process the effects of abuse in my life.

I am a professional writer and I am accustomed to the discipline of writing every day, but I never intended for this blog to become something I do with my professional hat on. I wanted it and needed it to be something I do for me, without rules, or a feeling of obligation of daily maintenance. As a writer, I know the trap of feeling guilty about not writing.

Yesterday, I was feeling particularly fried. Emotional flashbacks are particularly intense for me around holidays, and Mother's Day and Father's day are some of the most difficult days of the year. Father's Day reminds me that I never really had a father. I had an abuser. And while I am happy and relieved to know there are so many great fathers out there that my friends gush about on social media, I am also acutely aware of what it feels like to not have one. So, with that, and with some deep level processing from EMDR therapy, my whole body froze up. My migraines returned, my hamstrings seized up so I could barely walk. My nerves were doing funny things, and parts of my face went numb. My brain felt hot and swollen, a sensation I'm now figuring out is directly linked to my processing. I did some serious heavy lifting in therapy, and my body told me about it.

So Monday, I took the day off. I checked myself into a spa, and I soaked, baked, stretched, breathed, and relaxed all day. After about three hours, I unwound enough to be able to take a nap. This is huge, because I am often exhausted, but too wound up to be able to nap. I am a fan of TRE, which is a tension release exercise that helps with trauma. I twitched and shook all day long. It was an entire day of much needed self-care.

Processing trauma is difficult work, and I am learning that self-care is not some indulgent, bored housewife thing. For a survivor of trauma, it's critical. As someone who was denied a "self" in childhood, it is about learning to reclaim it. My need for quiet space and time to reflect seems to be more pronounced than the average person, and I am learning that it's okay to require the time. I am learning, more and more, on a deeper level, how to better listen and care for myself.

It's amazing progress. And even though trauma recovery is hard work, it is good work. I believe it is lifesaving work. It is never too late to liberate yourself from the effects of abuse. Choosing to feel difficult feelings for the sake of releasing them is far better than living with the mask on, disconnected, and vulnerable to the lies and fears that keep you stuck. Ask me how I know.


Popular posts from this blog

No, There Are Not Two Sides

I was in a meeting where a mediator was trying her best to stay impartial to a situation where a large volume of well-documented verbal and emotional abuse had occurred. She was a trained professional, but professionally speaking, she didn't want to be in a position to take sides on the issue. She offered the worn-out platitude, "Well, there are two sides to every story..." I let it slide the first time she said it, but when she said it again, I stopped her.

"Actually, when it comes to abuse, there are not two sides. There is abuse, and there is the recipient of abuse. The recipient of abuse is not at fault for the actions of the abuser."

Her jaw dropped a moment, then she nodded slowly. She knew I was right, and in this moment, a light went on. The situation she was mediating was not about two people having a disagreement. It was about a serial abuser attacking someone else who had done nothing to provoke the attack. She couldn't stay impartial. It was h…

Trauma Isn't Lazy

Trauma survivors seem to worry more than most that they are being 'lazy' when they aren't 100% productive. Let's expose that lie, shall we?

The traumatized brain is anything but lazy. In fact, it is over-worked, over-stimulated, over-active, and over-stressed. Trauma survivors have an enlarged amygdala, which triggers the fight-or-flight response. In a survivor, this response goes haywire. It cannot perceive between something that happened in the past with what's in the present. The brain remembers trauma in the form of flashbacks that constantly re-create the experience.

A traumatized brain is always on alert. Hypervigilance is constantly running in the background, assessing the situation and trying to report back to the rational brain what it finds. In order to keep up with everyday situations, it often must work hotter and harder than a brain without trauma.

Say a non-traumatized person wants to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. No sweat, right? It requi…

The Difference Between a 'Normal' Parent and a Narcissistic Parent

Those who have survived abusive childhoods at some time or another have run into someone (or many people) making banal excuses to explain away their experience. "Parents aren't perfect." "They were doing their best." "Just wait until you're a mom or dad." While it's true that no one is perfect and most people don't intend to hurt their children, these excuses wound children of narcissistic parents at their core. These sorts of trite phrases are often used by narcissistic parents to manipulate and dupe others into believing their child is the unreasonable one. It is not possible to ever reason or win an argument with a narcissist. In order for the child of narcissistic parents to have any identity at all, they must get far away.  While it is considered "normal" for most families have some form of dysfunction, narcissistic homes are especially toxic. The following are some common differences between "normal" parents and …