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Topics - Butterfly

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Recovery Journals / Journey from Oz to "Meh"cca
« on: November 20, 2016, 01:41:03 PM »
This is my story and is a work in progress will be back to edit

From the outside looking in our family was warm and close and we had fun, and we did . . . sometimes. That's the thing about abuse and personality disorders, things change on a dime. One moment laughter and fun and without warning a dark storm cloud rolls in for no reason at all and it wasn't in the forecast.

Growing up in a multi-generational home there were layers of abuse as grandparents abused my parents, in turn my parents abused us, their children. So we didn't see it as abuse, this is family, this is love, this is . . . normal. We didn't know any other way, no way to measure, so this was our normal.

Enmeshment and complete lack of boundaries was normal, anyone can say and do anything to anyone and it was accepted. Name calling was common, physical abuse came out of nowhere without warning because uPDm had had enough. Constant hypervigilence became necessary for survival in a very real way. Being able to read the mood to try to 'forecast the storm' meant I might escape the rage. But to the outside world presenting the picture of a perfect and happy family was paramount. Keeping our 'dirty laundry' from outsiders was very very important.

To make matters worse enF blamed me for uPDm rages telling me it must be my fault she's in this mood despite the fact that she was in this mood when I arrived home from school and I'd tried my best to coddle and help her but she was still in the mood when he got home from work. I'd failed my job as a daughter by not controlling my uPDm. So began a lifetime of becoming the toxic emotional dump for uPDm and my being held responsible for her emotional and mental wellbeing.

When I reached adulthood I was fully enmeshed, no boundaries, I didn't know where I ended and others began, I was codependdently wrapped up in helping others. My entire sense of self worth based on how much I can do for others to the complete neglect of myself. Several times I tried to have a sit down discussion with uPDm and enF about what an adult relationship with them looked like for me. Simple, yes? Not for an enmeshed daughter. Wanting to live my life with my new husband, have my own friends, come and go without reporting my whereabouts to them caused massive Hoovers, fits of crying, raging, pleas that 'all we want is a close family' and on and on until DH and I would comply and fall back into our assigned role as submissive children.

Finally we relocated to the other side of the continent, we were free, we had a life. However the FOG reached across the distance and my mind, heart, emotions were still very much codependently enmeshed. We were finally Hoovered to move back after uPDm told us they didn't have long to live. That was 13 years ago when they were middle aged and we fell for it hook line and sinker so moved back to care for them except they didn't need care and our lives slowly fully enmeshed once again.

It was suffocating, my body was in pain, my mind and heart were screaming, I didn't know I was experiencing cPTSD. Doctor after doctor pointed to depression, no medical cause for the utter lack of strength and fatigue. Me? Depressed? My life was great, or so I thought, ignoring the nightmares and lifelong thoughts of suicide. I really was in the FOG and didn't even see I was fracturing to pieces from the stress and cPTSD.

Shopping and lunch with them daily meant I was immersed in abuse between the fun times. They are fun but then the dark storm clouds roll in without warning. Being in daily contact with the abuse meant constant triggers, there wasn't a moment I wasn't triggered and hypervigilance was required at all times. How could trauma become post traumatic if it was constant, current, not in the past? Once I was in actual fear for my life as uPDm rages threw her into a driving frenzy and I'm still not sure what triggered that episode. Daily contact meant daily episodes and I came home, curled up in a ball, wrapped in a blanket, crying and sipping wine to self medicate escape.

Episodes. That's what I'd always called her rages as if they were single individual occurances and not the constant control it really was my entire life. I remember the day I was head butted out of the FOG by uPDm. For an entire month before that day she raged with passive aggressive digs and outright hostility. My crime? I'd run errands without her. Yes that's right. Research lead me to Out of the FOG and my journey began. Newly armed with tools I prepared to battle to take back my life, well take my life since it wasn't something I really ever possessed. I had never individuated or fully separated. It was time.

The recurring lifelong nightmare that plagued me was a dark figure chasing me. Desperately I tried to move, to scream for help, but no sound came from my open mouth and I was paralyzed to move in the dream. My journey out of the fog was mirrored in my nightmare, as I learned boundaries and found my voice in real life then in my nightmare I was able to whisper a small protest and whisper for help. The faintest whisper but it was a start. As I found my voice in real life, verbalized boundaries, spoke up to the bullying and passive aggressive attacks then in the nightmare I screamed and fought the faceless figure. Finally I had my voice in real life and in my nightmare. Today there are no more nightmares.

The first step was boundary work and tying boundaries to core values strengthened me as a person, through boundaries I was able to separate and individuaute. By defining core values I found my authentic self. Unfortunately me as a separate individual isn't something uPDm or enF understand​ or accept. They define love as enmeshed and any other love language is foreign and not a 'real relationship' so at this point an adult to adult relationship isn't happening. It's ok. I accept their limitations and allow others to be themselves, make their choices and live the consequences. 

Another key was learning to feel feelings, to name them, to recognize anger at a lower level instead of just ignoring what my body was screaming. EF and triggers are a signal to me things have gone too far and I had to pay attention to emotions at lower levels. I had to learn to recognize anger. Maybe I even needed to learn to feel anger. Anger signals a violated boundary. Since I had never had boundaries before I had to learn what a broken boundary felt like and what anger at a broken boundary felt like and then how to respond to that anger. So after boundaries my next task was learning to feel and respond to anger at a low level, to be able to speak without freezing. Having boundaries attached to core values made them a part of me, they became internal, responding to boundaries became more of a natural response, very little thought required.

I know who I am and so does everyone who interacts with me since I'm able to clearly articulate my values and boundaries. Other people are responsible for their feelings and I'm responsible for me. My marriage is improved since both DH and I learned boundaries and how to better communicate. I've learned to have needs and limitations. Friendships are enriching and sources of mutual encouragement. Association with others is strengthening and upbuilding.

Contact is currently low contact, occasional email or text for wellness check, talk of neutral news topics, weather, even less frequent occasional phonecall. Family gatherings are medium chill, casual conversation about common interests. I never did do a time out or NC so the key for me was dialing back contact to allow time between contact to heal from triggers. We never did have the heart to heart regarding the past. No need since it would be denied and gaslighted or the usual massive Hoover. I drew a line in the sand and from that day addressed abuse in the moment as it happened. Nothing about others changed, I changed, I decided the abuse was over, I took my power.

The FOG, the Fear Obligation Guilt, exist only in our head and only if we allow it. Once we choose to take our power the FOG can evaporate and we can begin to heal from cPTSD. Its been months since feeling triggered, any uPDm 'episodes' give me feeling of Meh and make me roll my eyes inside thinking 'there she goes again' and I walk away or end the conversation. Working on myself, boundaries, healing was intense and daily, I was relentless and pursued wellness as if my life depended on it, because it did. In a very literal way my physical well-being was on the line not to mention my emotional and mental health. My healing journey continues and i wish all here peace and healing as well. You are not alone and life does get better.

Checking Out / Checking In
« on: October 07, 2016, 10:02:08 AM »
It's been a long time, far too long, and I miss the community here. Had some major surgery and it's been a difficult recovery. It's as expected but very involved, and difficult. Painful and draining. It's made me sleepy, always sleepy, even now off the pain meds I'm still sleepy.

Anyway I'm checking in and not sure how often I'll be back but just wanted to give a wave

Ideas/Tools for Recovery / Processing Emotions
« on: January 11, 2016, 01:19:50 PM »
This is helping so much I thought I'd share it with the community. Lately I've been looking into feeling my feelings since they were suppressed for so long. I've learned there's 4 base categories and all 4 of them are normal and human. The theory is there is no bad emotion. Mad, Sad, Glad, Scared and three levels of each with the lowest level being the most desirable in my mind. Some Info here.

Ok so now that I've identified these emotions what do I do with them and how exactly to I feel them. Yes, unfortunately this is what it comes down to at my age - learning to feel an emotion. Something I should have learned from infancy but infants naturally suppress anything not pleasing to caregivers in order to survive.

Here's what I found - a technique called RAIN and here's a neat video explaining the process.

For me it works better and is more therapeutic than Inner Child work which I generally find so very difficult.

Books & Articles / Series of Articles on Six Components of Empathy
« on: January 03, 2016, 12:39:39 PM »
Part of cPTSD for me has been being hyper-aware of others emotions. As a child it meant my survival to read the mood of those responsible for my care and adapt my behavior. This was necessary for continued feeding and housing but has not served me well as an adult. Walking into a room and picking up on non-verbal emotional cues as well as tones of voice imperceptible to others was overwhelming.

Since beginning my Out of the FOG journey and working on cPTSD I've come some way in balancing empathy with being empath. Still I've got a way to go yet in this journey.

This series of articles is just what I need:

Obviously as an empath I was stuck in Emotion Contagion but the other aspects of empathy being so well defined and the articles that follow may help get me target recovery and balance my emotional wellbeing in this area.

(If you're unfamiliar with the concept of empathy vs empath see this thread here.

General Discussion / Frozen EF Anger - what is this?
« on: March 02, 2015, 11:28:04 AM »
Backstory - I've made so much progress with EF, nightmares, IC, ICr, etc. The challenge is I'm still in contact with uPDm who tends toward Passive Aggressive (PA) episodes. Her attempts at suffocating engulfing enmeshment is resolved as I've done well with boundaries and finding my voice in Medium Chill. For me OOTF means I'm not manipulated into feeling Fear Obligation Guilt so Hoovers are ineffective. Check.

Here's my issue: her PA episodes aren't nearly what they were in my childhood, she'll do minor huffing and puffing, sighing etc and I never ask her what's wrong, pay it no mind is the thinking on OOTF and that has helped me tremendously. Don't give the toddler the attention.

BUT at this point even the minor huffing and puffing is immensely triggering. Not that day, no that night I sleep well. It's the days that follow after for some reason I wake in full EF in the middle of the night. Angry at myself for freezing, replaying the event in my head but rewriting the script to where I leave and then playing future scenarios with my strong voice instead of freeze and so my brain spins and my body shakes. For hours

My T had said any behavior however minor I don't feel like tolerating I need to say 'if you're going to behave like this im leaving' which intellectually I get but I freeze. What am I afraid of? Honestly I don't know. If she were to yell I'd be so justified to walk away and stay away so I almost welcome yelling over this seething PA anger. I really want to say 'I'm going home now' but I freeze.

Any suggestions on how to unfreeze? I have a feeling if I can just do this once I'll be ok but I need to get over that hump.

Therapy / Mindfulness / Meditation - genetic and cellular benefits
« on: February 23, 2015, 11:05:44 AM »
This article was so helpful in reinforcing the mindfulness meditation I've been doing. Thought I'd share it.

“What is the truest form of human happiness?”  Steven Cole asks.

It’s a question he’s been considering for most of his career—but Cole is an immunologist, not a philosopher. To him, this question isn’t rhetoric or a thought experiment. It’s science—measureable and finite.

Cole, a professor of medicine and psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles, has spent several decades investigating the connection between our emotional and biological selves. “The old thinking was that our bodies were stable biological entities, fundamentally separate from the external world,” he says. “But the new thinking is that there is much more permeability and fluidity.”

His latest project is the examination of happiness in biological terms. “There’s an intrinsic connection between our direct experience of happiness and the perception of that experience in our bodies, as represented by changes in our biologic mechanisms. We’ve found that happiness can remodel our cellular composition,” he explains. Specifically, Cole and his team of researchers at UCLA have found that happiness seems to alter the function of immune cells. “It’s no question that the mind and immune system are intrinsically linked,” he says. “Our body is a literal product of our environment.”

As he explains, the immune system has two primary functions: to fight infection and to cause inflammation. The first function, known as the antiviral response, is generally considered positive because it helps ward off external threats, like viruses, that might otherwise harm the body. The second function, known as the inflammatory response, is less positive because its efforts to keep healthy immune cells circulating in the body can also cause tissue damage.

Cole has found that the balance of these two functions of the immune system may change based on life experiences. His work has shown that negative experiences like a new cancer diagnosis, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and low socioeconomic status may cause changes to someone's immunologic profile. “Over the past 15 years, our work has shown us that diverse social and psychological experiences that cause a sense of threat or uncertainty can evoke a similar response in our immune cells,” he says.

Listening to him explain his work is part philosophy lesson, part cellular-biology lesson, a scientific discourse on la dolce vita. “We're beginning to understand that life experiences like chronic stress, loneliness, and social isolation negatively affect our immunologic profile. This gives us a sense of how not to live—but more importantly, it also tells us something about how to live, because there are concrete things we can do to actively promote a positive change in our immunology,” he says. “The biology of happiness is in our hands.”

But how exactly do our immune cells register this abstract concept of happiness? The answer depends on how “happiness” is defined.

“There are two distinct forms of happiness, hedonic happiness and eudaimonic happiness, and our bodies respond differently to each type,” Cole explains. “Hedonic happiness is the elevated mood we experience after an external life event, like buying a new home,” while eudaimonic happiness “is our sense of purpose and direction in life, our involvement in something bigger than ourselves.” Of the two, eudaimonic happiness in particular is associated with a better-functioning immune system, according to Cole.

To determine this effect, Cole and a team of researchers from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, asked 80 healthy adults to fill out questionnaires about their well-being. The researchers then analyzed the volunteers’ answers to assess their levels of eudaimonic and hedonic happiness, and took blood samples to study the functioning of their immune cells. They found that a high score of eudaimonic happiness, more than a high score of hedonic happiness, was correlated with a better genetic expression profile, meaning the immune cells showed high rates of the antiviral response and low rates of the inflammatory response. The researchers posited that though both types of happiness may look similar on the outside, the corresponding genetic expression profiles are quite different. “When we asked people how happy they felt, both [the high eudaimonic and high hedonic] groups seemed about the same,”Cole says.  “But when we looked at the cellular and molecular level, it looks like people with high levels of eudaimonic happiness are better off, immunologically speaking.”

“We already know ways to achieve hedonic happiness, but how can we live our lives to evoke a eudaimonic experience in our immune system?” he continues.

One way is through mind-body practices, like meditation, which “have been shown to cultivate positive and happy immune cells,” he says. Research has linked meditation to reduced negative inflammatory activity, increased positive antiviral response, improved function of specific strains of immune cells, and higher antibody production.

But perhaps the most striking theory posed of meditation is that it could alter genetic material.

In recent years, a new field of study, known as mind-body genomics, has emerged. Among the most well-known researchers in this area are Nobel laureate Elizabeth Blackburn, a biochemist at the University of California, San Francisco, and her colleague, psychiatrist Elissa Epel. Through a series of studies, the two found that meditation could affect the ends of DNA known as the telomeres, which act as protective caps for genes. The longer the telomere, the greater the protection conferred for the DNA strand, and the longer that cell can survive.

And telomeres, like immune cells, seem to respond to emotional cues.  Negative external conditions like chronic stress that reduce eudaimonic happiness may shorten telomere length, while stress-reducing activities like meditation may help to maintain it.  “Telomeres are affected by many things, but they are directly affected by stress. So we can see how improvements in our mental health, through the practice of meditation, might be linked to improvements in our telomeres,” Epel explains. “They offer us a window and some insight into how we are living, and help us appreciate how what we do today can affect our health tomorrow.”

As the field of mind-body genomics matures, the focus is moving towards gaining a better understanding of not only how DNA could be structurally changed by meditation, but also whether meditation can alter DNA functionally, through changes in how genes are expressed.  In one recent study, for example, meditation was linked to enhanced expression of genes associated with insulin secretion, telomere structure, and cellular energy and function, and decreased expression of genes linked to inflammation and stress. What’s more, blood samples collected during the study found that experienced meditators showed changes in their genetic activity after just one meditation session.

With 21,000 genes in the human genome, Cole, Epel, and other researchers have just scratched the surface of the connection between our emotional and biological selves. “We are an ever-changing conglomeration of cells very much influenced by our experience of the world around us,” Cole says. “At the rate we’re going, we have more data than we can make sense of. It’s this process that helps us get closer to understanding the black box. Who knows? Maybe in the future we may be able to sequence our own genes.” Epel agrees: “We don’t yet have the technology to monitor our telomeres, but it’s coming.”

In the meantime, though, the lessons of mind-body genomics still apply. “The experience you have today will influence your body composition for the next 80 days, because that’s how long most cellular processes hang around,” Cole says. “So plan your day accordingly.”

Sleep Issues / Nightmares - new realization
« on: February 04, 2015, 11:48:21 AM »
Regarding my Nightmares - I've discussed in a previous thread - I recently realized a huge connection. The theme of my nightmares throughout my life is my inability to speak, to have a voice. This directly mirrors my worst problem in real life.

So since my nightmares are finally resolved and slowly over the years I've recovered a wee voice in my nightmares it's time to do this in real life with uPDm. I need to now speak, to stand for myself. I have no problem doing this in general, just with uPDm. At this point in my recovery I realize what my wishes and desires are and have no problem exercising my rights and boundaries even with uPDm. Recently though in an exchange with uPDm I lost my voice. Hopefully it's another major turning point for me.

Therapy / Binaural Beats
« on: December 06, 2014, 12:43:06 PM »
Lately I've been experimenting with binaural beats and was going to post but out of curiousity I searched first and found Zazu had brought up the topic in another thread.

Here's a bit about it but basically the frequencies are either energizing or calming depending on the setting of the frequencies. It's helped me with my sleeping, relaxing, getting out of panic mode. I'm not sure if it might even be relieving the tinnitus.

There an android app I'm enjoying that has some presets but also allows custom creation of a beat session. It's free and it was the easiest to use of the apps I tested and has the most useful information on the science behind the frequency ranges. It's Binaural Beat Builder and has an icon that's a set of headphones with a blue zigzag between the earphones.

Has anyone else heard of or are using binaural beats? If so what app do you use and how has it helped?

General Discussion / Brain Release
« on: November 25, 2014, 12:02:26 PM »
There so much I've been processing related to nightmares and the headache I've had for five months now. (medical professionals are baffled and there is no reason physically for me to have such pain) I thought I'd share some of the research I did this morning on the various parts of the brain, their function, and I put some of this together with the self massage thoughts we had discussed here on the forum.

Somewhere along the line my body told me very specifically to cradle the side of my head where I was having very intense pain a particular day and to hold it in a very specific way. What happened was that tears simply started flowing, I was not crying, I was not sobbing, in fact I didn't feel any emotion at all except relief. About three more times since during my most intense headache I simply softly held a particular part of my head and the same thing happened, just a rushing release.

I've also been actively, and quite forcefully, massaging the part of my head that hurts the most. today while I was reading something here in the forum something clicked, I started looking up parts of the brain and their various functions and purpose. Guess what I found? The very area of my head with the most intense physical pain, the very part of my head that wanted to be held and cradled, is the very part of the brain that holds the emotions. Somehow I don't think this is a coincidence and I thought I'd share it here.

Sleep Issues / EMF / Electromagnetic fields
« on: November 10, 2014, 09:18:15 PM »
Ok I have a way out there question. It so happened that last night I had another nightmare, but I happened to notice that it was when I had the electric blanket on. Occasionally when I have trouble sleeping the electric blanket helps soothe me and lul me back to sleep. It's often during the wee hours of the morning that I have The electric blanket on and coincidently it's also during these wee hours of the morning I would typically have a nightmare. I haven't noticed if the nightmares have happened when I have not had the electric blanket on or off but did take note last night. But I'm wondering if anyone has done any sort of research into EMF. Is it possible the EMF field is messing with the electrical brain system somehow and maybe there some sort of connection to the nightmares? Not that it would negate the emotional purging The nightmares are accomplishing or all of the emotional connection to the nightmares. Just wondering if the EMF is some sort of trigger.

Checking Out / My Update
« on: October 31, 2014, 11:30:08 AM »
Just wanted to pop in to let you know I've had a bit of a physical setback, emotionally very well with my new therapist, but ran into a setback with some physical issues I had earlier this year I need to take care of those for a bit. Will pop in and out as I have time between doctor visits. Everything is under control so not to worry, just an FYI.  :hug:

General Discussion / Appointment
« on: October 20, 2014, 07:29:33 PM »
So excited! I have an appointment this week. Left messages for four therapists that appeared to be a good fit and made an appointment with one. Sounded really nice on the phone and we had a good conversation so I feel comfortable. Hope all goes well.

Neglect/Abandonment / Emotional Abandonment Questions
« on: October 12, 2014, 11:10:33 AM »
Ok so reading this morning about emotional abandonment from infancy and here's where I need help sorting. Maybe this should be three separate threads but my mind needs to sort all three.

First, the period of time I felt abandoned was after I was school age and family tragedy took the adults away emotionally. So as an infant I'm pretty sure I received some normal attention and actually have some fond memories of just before school age. So the thoughts about early infant abandonment don't connect with me. Is anyone else feeling that way?

Once school age and I wanted to be an individual human is when my personality disordered mum really got twisted up and abusive so besides the tragedy making a mess she couldn't handle having me separate. Yet my presence angered her. Which lead to trying to please and comply and be perfect but at the same time struggling to be a separate person. She was always angry, always on edge, this is when her passive agressive manipulations really came out on me. I lived in fear and terror every minute I was home and only at peace when out of the house or in a closet. Then when I became a teen she wanted an instant best friend and I was all too happy to enmesh thinking this is a normal adult mother daughter relationship. So don't feel emotionally abandoned during teen years, in fact much to much emotional connection to mum during those years. It's like my life was in stages, does that make any sense?

Here's the thing, through it all I had my younger sister and we were always close, we escaped together. Plus during the time I felt most adult abandoned she was old enough for us to be close and play. Mum was all too happy to have us out of her hair and we were all to happy to not be there get hit. We'd disappear or hide for hours only coming out when necessary for food. Does having a sibling help lessen the emotional abandonment? Is EA worse in an only child?

General Discussion / Grieving
« on: October 03, 2014, 10:29:01 AM »
From another post I thought it might be good to break off on the subject of grief rather than hijack that conversation. He's the original post link:
Hope it's ok with Katz I started this new thrad from your post.

And the article in the post:

Soul ache is considerably harder to assign to the losses of childhood, yet those who take the grieving journey described below come to know unquestionably that the core of their soul ache and psychological suffering is in the unworked through losses of growing up with abandoning parents. These losses must be grieved until the individual really get that her parents were not her allies. She needs to grieve until she stops blaming herself for their abuse and/or neglect...until she fully realizes that their execrable parenting caused her posttraumatic stress. She needs to grieve until she understands how her learned habit of automatic self-abandonment is a reenactment of their abject failure to be there for her.
I'm not sure and I'm still processing the article in my mind but this may be why I have difficulty with grieving my childhood. 'Really getting my parents aren't my allies' and 'stop blaming myself for their abuse' if that's the final states to the grieving process then I'm there so maybe that's why there's no need for me to "try" to grieve. The very thought of grieving feels so contrived and forced for me right now.

It was sudden and swift when I came OOTF but it was a journey begun 30+ years ago so maybe that's why it just seems sudden. Last year the lightbulb went off and I think the 30+ year journey was like a puzzle where all the pieces suddenly snapped into place. The day I read about engulfing narcissistic mothers and how the child is an extension of herself and not a separate being was the day I curled up in a ball and slow burning tears just flowed without much sound or fanfare. That was my grief and I think for me that was it, the moment, the grieving was over.

Sleep Issues / Nightmares
« on: September 10, 2014, 07:53:28 PM »
I haven't gotten through all CPTSD reading I have to do but I wanted to put this out there. I'm plagued by nightmares. Not often and the timing is sometimes odd.

This weeks visit with uPD mum (I'm LC MC) went well yet I had a nightmare last night of epic proportions. In my nightmare mum was driving far too fast through my current location. I was in deep fear for my life. I was trying to scream no and stop but could only manage a nearly mute whisper of the words.

When the car slowed enough for me to jump out I did so and found myself running through back ally's and businesses of my home town where I grew up. She wasn't far behind on foot and still all I could manage was a muted whisper 'no' over and over. She tried to get the police and the tax man after me but they dismissed her.

Finally I made  it through one building and out the back door and she was there waiting, outsmarted me, telling me I couldn't get away. And then I woke up still whispering a muted no but in my final waking breath I screamed out loud NO.

12 hours later I'm still shook up from the nightmare and I know what it's all about but I so wish the nightmares would stop.

Years ago I went for a sleep study because I would wake in the middle of the night choking. I thought perhaps I had sleep apnea but the test results came back with absolutely no physical reason for me to wake up choking. And I know what that was about two because every time I feel suffocated I wake up choking.

So I'm not sure if nightmares is a symptom or not but I suspect it is and welcome any comments or insights you might have.

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