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Showing posts from July, 2018

Who Am I, and What Do I Want?

Healing from narcissistic and emotional abuse is a lifelong unraveling. One has to scrape through many layers of gunk made up from the minimization of abuse and misplaced, mis-formed thoughts about one's self and the world they live in. In many ways, I consider myself extremely fortunate and privileged to have escaped my abusers and be in a place where my soul can finally ask two all-important questions: Who am I, and what do I want?

These are difficult questions for anyone seeking to live an authentic life, but for abuse survivors, they are especially elusive. When I was a child, at a time when I was supposed to be developing a sense of self, I wasn't allowed to have an identity separate from my abusers. I existed tin order to serve whatever their ego wanted. That was it. As I naturally fought against this role, I was labeled "rebellious," "ungrateful," and "bad" for trying to seek a separate identity. Even though I distanced myself as much as p…

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 …

When Survivors Dare To Believe They Are Worthy of More

Healing can be a long process, especially from complex trauma. There is an entire lifetime of coping mechanisms that survivors must unravel before they can decide what to keep and what to toss out. The process of becoming who you really are is tough for anyone, but for those who survived childhood abuse, it means learning fundamental aspects of development that were previously denied. When a baby learns that their caretaker is unreliable, it is extremely difficult to expect others to be reliable throughout their whole life. This deficit creates a whole host of coping mechanisms in survivors. Some become combative and antisocial. Others go to the opposite end of the spectrum.

I am the kind of survivor who learned to cope by being extremely self-sufficient. I hid behind the masks of "I'm fine" and "That's okay." I never required much from my relationships because it was reinforced enough times for me to know on a visceral level that I would be let down. Inst…

When Fireworks Set You Off

I am one of many who struggle with the loud pops and bangs of the Fourth of July. I am not a veteran, but I have been through a domestic war.

The other day my kid was excited to have a new friend over. They were happily playing a hide-and-seek-type game when the child suddenly, out of nowhere, let out a piercing scream. My kids, knowing what loud noises do to me, immediately looked at me to see if I was OK. I wasn't, but I did manage to very calmly let the child know that we can't have screaming in this house before I excused myself to my room. I was hyperventilating and my blood pressure was through the roof. I texted the kid's mom with a half-legitimate excuse for picking her kid up early. What I didn't tell her was that I have complex PTSD.

I wish my body didn't freak out like this. I wish my kids didn't have to look at me with concern whenever I'm surprised by loud noises. I wish I didn't need to think ahead about having a strategy to survive basic…

Gaslighting Creates A Longing To Be Understood

When I was a child, I had no tools or language to understand the abuse that was happening to me. What I did know was that I was constantly misunderstood. My parents often accused me of doing things I never did and punished me for not doing things that were not mine to be done. I didn't know what projection was, but I was constantly accused of having malicious intent when there was none. In order to survive, I stuffed my anger and made sure to never even think a cross thought about my abusers. I attempted to be perfect, which is, of course, impossible. I became hypervigilent in anticipating the needs of others. I became the cheerful servant, like Cinderella, daydreaming about a kinder and gentler world. Also like Cinderella, I didn't understand why, in spite of all my best efforts, my family hated me so much. I thought it was some flaw of mine that I was so misunderstood.

When I grew older, I tried in vain to communicate with my abusers. I honed all the skills to write and spe…