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Showing posts from October, 2017

Scapegoat Upside: It Probably Saved My Life

I was the scapegoat in my family, and my older brother was the golden child. According to my abusive parents, he could do no wrong, and I could do no right. We were often pitted against each other, as narcissists tend to do with their children. My brother beat me up daily after school, and when I told my mom about it, she shrugged and made it my fault. If he complained about me, she immediately took his side and I was punished. My father alternately ignored or raged at both of us, but my mother made it abundantly clear that my brother was the favored one. She fawned over him like she fawned over my narcissistic father. In her world, males were to be enabled and blindly followed, and females, well, were in the way.

To them, I was the "annoying" one when I spoke up about things that weren't normal. I was the "over-emotional" one when I reacted to things that were not normal. I was the "rebellious" one when I challenged things that were not normal. When…

Trauma Bonding

As someone who experiences complex trauma from child abuse, it's frustrating when a friend, family member, or say, an entire political party, continues to stay with an abuser even when they know he's toxic. But I understand it.

Trauma bonding, also known as Stockholm Syndrome, happens when the negative experience of abuse becomes so great, the brain switches tactics, attempting to "go along" with the abuser at any cost. VoilĂ , it doesn't hurt as much any more. Trauma bonding often happens in long-term situations where there is no perceived escape, such as childhood abuse or when someone is held captive. Some victims of abuse are cowed into submission over repeated attacks, simply worn down to a point where they no longer can muster any resistance. It then seems easier to disappear into one's self, or dissociate, rather than take any action to get away. Others become agreeable, cooperative, and can even fall in love with their abuser as a form of self-protect…

Codependent or Empath?

There are a number of resources and articles for survivors of narcissistic abuse, and taken in all together, are extremely helpful in better understanding the abuser and our own role in the abuse. There is a certain type of person narcissists, psychopaths, and Cluster B abusers tend to seek out. Terms like "codependent" and "empath" are tossed around, sometimes interchangeably, but they are not the same.

A codependent's core issue (like the narcissist) is low self-esteem. They attach themselves to an alpha personality for their identity, and are constantly looking outside of themselves for validation and definition. They are helpers and fixers. Many people in the caring professions, such as teachers and nurses, tend to be codependent. They crave external praise and will go to great lengths to enable others in order to be liked. A codependent's sense of happiness and self-worth can be entirely dependent on the moods, actions, and feelings of the alpha. Code…

That Familiar Pain

After many years of carrying the emotional burden of narcissistic abuse, it's no wonder I am often debilitated with frequent neck and shoulder aches and migraines. I know where they come from. I know why I get them. I've lived with them most of my life. My vision blurs. Sometimes, like right now, every sound stabs my ears. Sometimes, I even get "abdominal migraines" when the stabs move to my gut. It's a not a normal pain, but it is a familiar pain.

There are, of course, many things I do to try to prevent, manage, and heal the pain. A strict diet, therapy, kind self-talk, stretching, caffeine, whimpering into my pillow, etc. When the pain reaches a certain level, there is no pill or bargain for my eternal soul that will make it go away. I just have to wait it out. The headache I have today is actually a result of something moving in therapy- one of those great worse-before-it-gets-better deals.

This familiar pain is in so many ways a metaphor for the kind of heal…

100 Reasons It's Important to Speak Up

Today I celebrate my 100th post on I Have Something to Say. I started this blog only six months ago as a way to reclaim my own voice, and to sort out my thoughts as I heal from the long term effects of childhood trauma. Like many others, I was coerced into silence by my abusers. The terror that raised me remained more present in my life than my parents ever were. I started this project because, for me, it was the best way to face my fear. In order to break old ties, I needed to make a public declaration. I was abused.

Today I celebrate not only my own journey, but all of those who have read my posts and resonated with them. Abuse thrives in silence. It loses its power the more people call it out.

100 Reasons it's Important to Speak Up:
You will reclaim your voice.You will reclaim your power.You will reclaim your indentity. You will feel better.You will face your fears.You will inspire others. You will inspire yourself. You will make it easier to speak up next time. You will make i…

Why Psychological Trauma is More Damaging Than Physical Trauma

You were lied to on the playground.  "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." Neuroscientists and psychologists have proven in spades that words hurt most of all.

But first, let's establish that abuse of any kind is horrible, heinous, and deserving of attention and care. The impact of physical trauma ought never be minimized in order to shine a light on psychological trauma. Not only is all trauma valid, all perceptions of trauma are valid. Two people can experience the same event and have drastically different outcomes. One's experience isn't more or less valid than another. If it hurts, seek help.

Physical trauma is visceral. There is hard, objective evidence of abuse. Most people don't question its validity. It's cut and dry. "If he hits you, you should leave." If you are beaten or shot in a senseless crime, no one will try to convince you it didn't really happen. Children who are physically abused are far m…

Before Forgiveness

One of the most common non-helpful responses to someone suffering from the fallout of abuse is to push the victim toward forgiveness too soon. Usually it's coupled with some form of shame that the victim "should" feel something other than whatever she is feeling. Sometimes, it's coupled with well-meaning platitudes- "It's the Christian thing to do." It's offered as the fix-all solution to help her "set it aside," "snap out of it," and "move on."

Here's the thing. Pressuring people to forgive prematurely only prolongs the healing process. The only way to fully process what happened is for the victim to feel her feelings, whatever they may be. People who have been psychologically abused by narcissists and other dark triad personalities have been brainwashed into all kinds of shame-based falsities that their thoughts, feelings, ideas, and opinions don't matter. Essentially, they were taught to believe that they we…

"But I Know Him..."

Recently I shared an op-ed on social media calling out a celebrity who had a history of untoward behavior and had sexually harassed the author of the op-ed when she was underage. Right away, a friend came to the defense of the accused, claiming she worked with him on a project. He was nice to her, so therefore he can't be a creep. The author's probably lying.

After a long facepalm, I took a breath, and responded to my friend.

"I encourage you to reconsider that the person you worked with could be as {the author} describes. I don't know him at all and I've never met {the accused}, but I do know a lot about the nature of abuse. When someone speaks up about sexual abuse, odds are over 90% they are telling the truth. Abusers don't usually sit around twirling their mustaches. They are often charming people much of the time. I know someone who was babysat by the Manson family. They were good babysitters and she wasn't harmed, but her experience of them d…

A Celebration

Today, I am celebrating my blog's six month anniversary. In the last six months, I've written almost 100 posts (this is #96). I've also gained a new community of amazing supporters. I've have received several notes over the months from those who can relate, and those who have shared my blog to help a friend. I am deeply grateful.

When I started this project, it was an important step in my own recovery. Making a public declaration about my abuse was perhaps the scariest thing I could do. It was also the most life-giving thing I could do. While my rational brain knew that it was important to speak up, my subconscious was absolutely terrified.

Fear had paralyzed me for so long, reclaiming my own voice and my own experience was essential in releasing the power my abusers had over me. I had to combat the fear that my abusers would jump out of the shadows at any moment, and, by any means possible, find a way to make me shut up. I'm sure anyone who has been abused can r…