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Hello Dissociation, My Old Friend

I've always been a daydreamer. As a kid, I spent hours in my own created worlds, whether it was swirling around in an inner tube on the lake, or staring out the car window, lost in some internal medieval landscape with fairies and unicorns. In fact, all of my "good" memories of my childhood are the dreamy ones. As an adult, I formed a career around the those worlds I created. Most of my friends are creative types who live in their own worlds, too. When I need to unwind from a long day, I can get lost for hours thinking about what it's like to live in other places and times. When I'm driving, I'm never actually on the freeway. I'm composing stories to be written until somehow I arrive at home. You could say I have an active imagination. You could say I live a creative life. You could also say that I dissociate.

Dissociation is a coping mechanism, common among abuse survivors. When someone experiences an intense threat, the brain splits off from traumatize…
Recent posts

Why You Can't Be in a Narcissistic Relationship 'Just A Little Bit'

Ending a relationship of any kind can be tough, but when someone tries to disentangle themselves from a narcissist, sociopath, or psychopath, the experience is a special kind of hell. From the beginning, partners are groomed to cater to the needs of the narc while denying all of their own. It's an insidious process of devaluation that happens so gradually, few recognize what's happening until it's too late. Eventually, the partner of a narcissist will feel guilty for having any needs or boundaries at all. The narc's constant requirement to be the center of attention at all times ensures that no one else can exist in that space. In the world of a narcissist, they are always right and everyone else is always wrong. If you don't go along with their program, they are always the victim and you are always the perp.  Anyone who does not feed the insatiable ego of a narc at all times will be punished, and narcs are experts at dreaming up ways to be particularly and intent…

Why I Never Keep Secrets

My mother had a knack for triangulating people through toxic secrets. She learned the behavior from her mother. She would start out by dropping some heavy piece of information that as a child I had no business knowing, and then say, "Don't tell your (dad, brother, teacher, grandma, etc.) because I don't wan't to upset them."

Essentially,  this meant I was screwed. Not only was the information itself a source of stress, but I also had to worry that whatever it was didn't leak out. Even if it didn't say anything, if the person found out, I would be blamed and deemed "untrustworthy." On top of all that was an ethical dilemma. The person my mother was keeping secrets from had a right to know. When they inevitably would find out that I kept the information from them, they would be upset with me, not my mom. The stress piled up, and I suffocated under its toxic weight.

Because of toxic secrets in my family, I was psychologically and sexually abused. …

Emotional Neglect Harms As Much As Overt Abuse

I grew up in an extremely dysfunctional home with a raging, alcoholic, narcissistic father. I still carry a lot of pain over the traumatic memories of his irrational outbursts and propensity to punish me for imagined slights. I struggle with an overbearing sense of responsibility and need to be blameless as a result of his abuse. But recognizing the ways he abused me and my subsequent hangups are pretty easy to identify. Though painful, my father's overt behavior is not as difficult to process as the other forms of abuse I experienced. The hardest is emotional neglect.

The constant baseline in my home was not angry outbursts, it was neglect. It was the chronic, constant expectation that I would not cause any trouble or upset by having needs of any kind. If I did attempt to be seen or heard, I would be punished. My parents were experts in emotional neglect and covert abuse. As a young child, I was expected to require minimal upkeep. My physical need for food, clothing, and shelter…

Why Spiritual Abusers Love To Say "God Told Me To"

Whether you run in evangelical circles or not, chances are you've encountered someone who has started a sentence with, "God told me to..." and finished it with something inspirational, aspirational, or irrational. Depending on the denomination, it might get thrown around as a common catch phrase, or it might be reserved for more serious, "big" declarations. Either way, narcissists in the church love to exploit it. Here's why.

When a narcissist says, "God told me to..." it is almost always in order to over-inflate their own status or position while simultaneously absolving themselves of any personal accountability. What better excuse is there? If a narcissist claims God told them to quit their job, who can argue with that? Certainly not their wife, or their children, or anyone who might be counting on them to pay the bills.

Perhaps a narcissist decides to move their family to another country because God told them how they would be "lifted up&…

Emergencies are Easy- Healing is Hard

A couple weeks ago, my daughter had a medical emergency. I was four hours away. My husband and I had just hiked in to a remote location, eager to spend a few days in silence and contemplation. It was also much-needed chance to re-connect with each other. The last few weeks had been especially busy, and my C-PTSD brain was barely hanging on as it was. I was exhausted in every way, and this trip was the carrot I had been dangling to make it to the holiday. I knew after a few days of recharging, I would get the rest I needed. It was a healthy gift to myself and to us as a couple.

I had one bar on my phone, which was enough to push the message through that our daughter was in the hospital and they planned to operate in the morning. So, we packed up, threw on some snow shoes, and hiked out in the dark. I was straining to not think about the mountain lion I encountered on my last trek in. After a driving on narrow highways full of oncoming high beams piercing my migraine, we arrived at the…

I Have Much More To Say

One year ago today, I created my very first post, I Have Something To Say. This was a huge milestone in my recovery for a few reasons. Because of the type of abuse I experienced, I had a huge mental and physical block about speaking up publicly. The knots in my stomach, lumps in my throat and overall panic came from a very real history and experience of being punished for telling the truth. When someone has been silenced and de-humanized from a time before they could even speak, it creates seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Ironically, I have spent much of my adult life learning how to write and express myself in creative ways. And yet, giving a voice to the parts of me that were abused were so blocked, I couldn't admit out loud what happened, let alone write about it directly. Too much misplaced guilt and shame prevented me from integrating my identity as an abuse survivor into my professional life. Sure, bits and pieces leaked out. I would casually mention to friends I trusted…