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Topics - blues_cruise

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Successes, Progress? / Breathed through a panic attack
« on: January 27, 2020, 01:41:31 PM »
I'm currently easing myself off anti-depressants which I had started taking about 3 years ago due to depression, anxiety and panic attacks. I'm doing it extremely slowly, reducing my intake by 5mg per month so as to help my brain get used to it. I've been learning a lot about the reptilian brain and the prefrontal cortex just recently (thank you, Bessel van der Kolk!) and it's really helping me to understand what is happening in my brain when something triggers me into panic mode, and how important it is to self-soothe and try to keep my breathing calm. I'll be confronted with feelings of panic more as I come off the anti-depressants and I'm hoping that with the coping mechanisms I've been developing over the years that I can learn to take the sting out of them and feel more in control without medication.

The other day at work my boss caught me off guard and queried something, which turned out to be a human error I had made. Of course, my amygdala registered this as a threat from an authority figure and kicked off into fight or flight mode, triggering flushing, tense muscles, mouth dryness and tears behind my eyes. Amazingly though, I recognised what was happening and knew that my best option was to breathe through it. I made a conscious choice to attempt to untense my body, regulate my breathing and speak kindly to myself and within a couple of minutes it had passed! I couldn't believe how much more in control I felt compared to years ago when this first started happening.

I'm not shaming myself either for being so obviously distressed in front of my boss because none of this is my fault and I can't control my amygdala or other people's reactions. I've only just started to understand what's happening in my brain myself, so I can hardly expect other people to immediately understand! I can only control my own reaction to it and to continue self-care and coping techniques.  :yes:

And with that, it's time for yoga.  :))

Going Low/No Contact with Abusers / Feeling shame over no contact
« on: December 30, 2019, 11:31:17 AM »
I've been no contact with my (suspected) N father for nearly three years, though saying that 9 months in I had a moment of guilt and sent a Christmas card so perhaps officially it's more like two years. Anyway, the last couple of months haven't been easy. My birthday is in November only a few weeks before Christmas, so I've had a double whammy of hoovers from my N father, the first of which contained a letter along with my birthday card claiming that he misses me. No apology or any indication of self-reflection or desire to change though. Admittedly I eased into no contact by fading away rather than writing a letter to explain, however as the adult child in this 'relationship' should I really have to be the one to point out all the poor behaviour that led to this? How is it not obvious to him that if he treats people cruelly then the consequence is that they will withdraw from him? It just shows to me that he hasn't done any of the necessary self-reflection or positive behavioural changes that would be needed to have any form of relationship. He seems to think that he can just soften my heart by sending me letters and gifts and that I'll somehow just slip back into the old routine. It can't work like that. It just saddens me that he doesn't have any emotional intelligence whatsoever.

Anyway, emotions have been high and with all the family idealisation Christmas promotes I've been feeling the pressure of being no contact. I want to remain no contact and whenever I have listed pros and cons of getting back into contact the only things on the 'pros' list are that society would stop judging me harshly and that it would please my father. The cons are having a relationship with an unkind person who I do not like and allowing myself to be sucked into the abuse cycle. I'm just not doing it and it annoys me that people seem to think that I should. A couple of family members were supportive to begin with but now that the reality that I'm serious has sunk in they seem to have distanced themselves from me. I don't think they appreciate how abandoned I felt as a child living alone with someone so emotionally abusive and how much it has affected me into adulthood. I didn't have another parent around to protect me or any kind of distance from him or way to escape; it was daily psychological torture.

I keep thinking that there surely must be something I could do to feel better and I'm coming up blank. I'll be fine for a while but then I remember that I have a parent who I no longer speak to through my own choice and I feel shameful about it, like I'm defective and a horrible, cold person. I unfortunately read something on the internet yesterday by a self-proclaimed childhood trauma recovery coach who was condoning remaining in a relationship with abusive family, and it made me feel so angry and sad that someone who otherwise seems quite knowledgeable about recovery would suggest that it's the right thing to do. If I were mentally strong enough and had a healthy level of self-confidence and assertiveness skills to have rock solid boundaries and simply shrug off the harassment and abuse that comes with it then I would entertain contact just to stop getting judged negatively, but until them I'm not putting myself back in the firing line.

Just getting this off my chest really, it's been bothering me so much of late but hopefully once the new year is in it will settle down.  :dramaqueen:

Family of Origin (FOO) / Distancing myself from enablers
« on: July 05, 2019, 11:33:00 PM »
After months of guilt (my default reaction) and confusion on my part, I feel like I've finally gained some clarity tonight. Just getting this off my chest!

Brother has distanced himself with me completely over the past year and a bit following me confiding in him about the abuse I went through with NF. Tonight I went on his Facebook page because I randomly felt strong enough, and found that back in March he had posted a light-hearted photo of our father which pretty much painted him as a kindly, funny old man. It's like he's made a conscious choice to completely reject me and embrace the lie, even though he knows it's fake. It's sort of sad. He touched upon feeling the trauma of being the golden child back in 2018 but chose to hide under a rock rather than confront the truth.

I could go down the rabbit hole of being angry that he's enabling the false, innocent facade of this child abuser and hurt that he's blatantly not on my side, but you know what? I'm choosing to let go. I'm so sick of being painted as the one that's wrong in the family, even more than that I'm sick of the constant shame spirals I work myself up into which result in me believing that it's true. I know my truth and the abuse that I went through and I know so many others do too. You can't force people to see what they don't want to, nor should you need them to see it in order to be at peace with yourself.

There is an odd peace from finally knowing exactly where I stand with the siblings. I feel so done with people who are incapable of empathy and who choose to invalidate what I've gone through. My family is proper messed up and I'm seeing properly how deeply the dysfunction actually runs. I'm so relieved to be an adult and to be able to choose my FOC. Happy to be here in this safe place with you guys too.  :)

General Discussion / How do you say "no"?
« on: May 14, 2019, 10:53:16 AM »
I often feel like I should say "no" to requests (usually from family) which I'm not on board with, but I've never learnt how to say no to anything and struggle to know what's reasonable and what's not. Generally I will stretch myself to the point of extreme stress and lack of sleep rather than risk inconveniencing someone else, but it's got to the point where I know I'm being walked all over. I've had learned helplessness for so long and major anxiety over social situations because people can be so unpredictable, but I acknowledge now that if people treat me unfairly then I can bark back at them. Basically I have more power to protect myself than I've been giving myself credit for, but I don't know how to bark or when it's appropriate to!

Does anyone know any good resources for learning how to say "no"? I was brought up to believe that unfair situations had to be tolerated and that there would be major repercussions (often lasting months) for not doing what I was told, but I know now that this isn't healthy. I don't know how to put a healthier approach into practice though.  :Idunno:

Inner Child Work / Having your books and toys given away
« on: January 23, 2019, 11:14:41 PM »
The one and only time NF ever took it upon himself to 'have a sort out' in the house was when he gave away my books and toys to others in the family. His piles of rubbish were left untouched for years but he found the motivation to give away my things. He may well have asked my permission to do so, I can't really remember and I don't think I was too concerned at the time when I was a teenager, but now as an adult trying to reconnect to my very young self I find that I'm craving all my lovely childhood books back. One book in particular was a beautiful, pop-up Christmas book from an auntie and I have no idea where it ended up.  :'( I also had so many books that I enjoyed reading at bedtime with my mum. I really do regret letting him have free reign of it all, though saying that even if I had said no he probably would have made my life a misery for wanting to keep it.

My mum didn't have a personality disorder and I believe she was a 'well-intentioned' enabler, however she did the same too. A fair number of the toys I enjoyed when I was little were hand-me-downs from my siblings but they felt like my toys. There was one in particular which I adored and it was my absolute favourite. For some reason she ended up giving it away to my cousins who lived hundreds of miles away and who we saw about once a year. I don't think she did it to be cruel, I think she was just oblivious to the fact that I loved it, and in a way that hurts just as much. I was the third child (I think 'the lost child' for a long time) and I think they just treated these things as surplus and unimportant by the time they reached me.

I've never really gone without anything material so it's not like I didn't have other toys to play with or was unable to buy more books as I got older. It's just the fact that these were mine (or at least I thought they were) and they made me happy when I was little. I remember the feeling of enjoying them but I can't re-live it the way I perhaps could if I physically had these things still and could read, smell and touch them. Anyone relate to this? I feel a bit out of order even writing this, as though I'm being bratty for ever expecting to have been able to keep them!  :Idunno:

Family of Origin (FOO) / Family rejection as the scapegoat
« on: December 03, 2018, 03:20:27 PM »
Anyone else find that whenever you bring up your past abuse to family members it gets ignored or played down?

For instance, in a vulnerable moment a while ago I shared with one sibling (I'll call them sibling 1) a particularly distressing thing that my father did to me when I was about 12. Sibling 1 was shocked and seemingly empathetic at the time, however next time I saw them they had completely changed their tune and were saying how they would always stay in contact with our father "because he's my dad". I wasn't expecting sibling 1 to go no contact the way I have, however the comment hurt because there was the implication that they disapproved in me moving away from my scapegoat role and protecting myself by no longer communicating with our father. Even after what I had previously confided (which was a massive and probably misguided leap of trust on my part) and how supposedly upset for me they had been.

I've been reading about toxic family dynamics recently and something I read the other day said that a family member who truly had your wellbeing at heart would stand up for you and have your back in the face of being smeared by your parent. My siblings don't do that. They will criticise our father behind his back but not say anything in my defence when I'm being openly criticised. Any reference to my past gets ignored by my other sibling (sibling 2) as though I haven't confided in him.

Another big glaring thing recently is realising the criticism that happens between my siblings behind their backs. Sibling 2 will message me with criticisms about sibling 1 and it's starting to make me wonder what they must criticise me about. Both siblings are critical of our narcissistic father but neither of them have ever shown any remorse about the fact that I was left living entirely alone with him and bore the full brunt of daily abuse for years. They never reached out to me very often during that time and yet they blame the situation as a whole on this rather than regretting that they didn't do more. I was the young teenager and they were the adults. As adults should you not maybe feel some responsibility if your much younger sibling appears to be in a terrible situation, or am I being too judgemental here? I know they had their own stuff going on but I was just a kid and I was probably taking most of the direct abuse so that they didn't have to. It's like they just stuck their heads in the sand and ignored it/didn't care because it wasn't directly affecting them.

They've both started to communicate more with one another over the last few months too while seeming to withdraw further away from me. Sibling 2 has started leaving it longer and longer before they respond to my messages. Sibling 1 sent a message a while ago suggesting we meet up, to which I responded the same day. They then never bothered responding again. Then months later on Facebook I get a public message on there from them rather than privately wishing me a happy birthday and saying we should meet up soon! I mean, huh? If you genuinely want to meet up then contact me properly and respond to my message so that we can actually arrange something, stop with all the gaslighting BS.

I've never really considered just how far the toxic dynamics stretched to in our family until now. I guess once you're really away from the chaos, as in 100% no contact, then you really do start to see how badly under the thumb the rest of the family is. They totally still see me in my scapegoat role too and I don't think they want to acknowledge that I should be treated with respect the way that any other individual person with a mind of their own should.

Just my little rant (EDIT: actually, it's incredibly long - sorry!) It keeps going round and round in my head so thought better out than in. Anyone relate? After years of focusing on my father's behaviour and learning about his personality disorder I feel like I'm only just scraping the surface with my siblings' behaviour and it's coming as an upsetting shock. I feel like I've been deluding myself.  :'(

Birthday / Birthday tomorrow
« on: November 20, 2018, 01:41:47 PM »
Feeling anxious. It's the second birthday of no contact with NF but the first one where I think extended family have been fully aware that we don't speak anymore. I'm wondering whether certain people will bother sending cards to me this year and a lack of communication will make their thoughts about me quite clear I think. I'm not hugely sure why I care, these people weren't there for me when I was having a tough time growing up with him and I rarely see them. They're all unknowingly part of a major family dysfunction with little self-awareness. I think it's just hard knowing that there is so much one-sided untruth out there and it feels unjust.

Birthdays have been used as a tool by NF to keep me in line, certainly for the last 15 years or so anyway. There's been so much anxiety over the years about whether he'll try to humiliate me with a sarcastic card or just generally treat me with contempt. I at least won't have that uncertainty anymore. Last year I binned his card without reading it and if one turns up this year (I actually doubt it, I think he's given up) I will do the same. I'm not sure if I'll be sad if I don't receive anything from him, perhaps, but I think there will be more relief than anything.

It would be nice to change my negative thoughts towards my birthday, it's a long process. At least there will be cake. I hope.  ;)

I can't figure out if I'm just very introverted and prefer my own company or whether I could enjoy having friends if I opened up more and perhaps found others who are on a similar wavelength. I just find it really exhausting and difficult reaching out to someone when I usually don't feel like it. It's not because I don't like people, far from it, I just don't really have any desire to be around people that often. I get overwhelmed so easily and more often than not I'm just very tired and don't feel up to socialising.

I have a friend who I used to work with who I see now and again and that friendship is just confusing to me. I'm a bit better than I was at responding to messages but sometimes a day or so might go by until I feel in a good enough place to message her back. I really have made more of an effort recently though and have explained that I'm just bad at keeping my phone nearby. She seems to have really withdrawn far more than that lately though and on a couple of recent occasions I haven't had a response from her to a message until 5 days later. She is a really sociable person and in the meantime I see her chatting to other people on Facebook. She's not a bad person but it makes me feel a bit  :disappear: Now I'm not really sure how to go forward, because on the one hand I know you should make an effort to hold on to friendships but at the same time perhaps I deserve better. I actually don't really know how to 'friendship' with someone and what should be expected! My childhood and teenager-hood was spent fairly isolated with really just one toxic, possessive 'friend' and I didn't really have any experience of positive, healthy friendship and didn't learn social skills or assertiveness. :sadno: I am trying to put it right and improve but I don't know what's right or what's wrong!

Anyone else struggle like this when it comes to friendship? It just seems like a complete minefield.

Employment / Taking a mental health day
« on: October 10, 2018, 07:39:48 AM »
I got up this morning for work and just could not face it. Wednesdays are always a busy day with the office being full which I find so awkward and triggering. I sit alone downstairs on reception with the main office space being upstairs and I always feel left out. It's a weird environment where people mostly work in silence save for a few conversations which always feels awkward to walk in and out of because I never know whether I should make an effort to speak or whether they just want to be left alone. Some days are better than others and the mood in the office can greatly lift or plummet depending on how easy a job has gone or what kind of mood the boss is in.

Today I just could not face the spontaneity of it. My car needs petrol and I was already running late and I just froze because I was getting overwhelmed and could not face driving an hour there only to be on edge and triggered for several hours, then driving an hour back and only having a few hours in the evening to recover. I of course called in sick rather than giving all this as a reason as no-one would ever get it.

Does anyone else here do this from time to time? I feel a bit guilty but just know I needed this today.

General Discussion / Just too sensitive or more to it?
« on: September 20, 2018, 09:29:55 PM »
(Edit: Just to warn you I describe a nightmare below which could be triggering.)

I was thinking before going to sleep the other night how I was starting to feel a bit more level headed and better about where I'm at right now after 18 months of no contact with my N father. I even started to feel a bit of empathy towards him regardless of years of his damaging behaviour, then I started to wonder if I was overreacting about everything. I then went to sleep and had the most horrendous, disturbing nightmare in years, where I was back in the dark family home and being tormented by some kind of poltergeist with my parents sleeping in the next room and completely ignoring my frantic screams for help. I woke up with my heart racing feeling scared and completely out of sorts again. I haven't had a nightmare like that in so long so I know it was because I was thinking about him.

I can't help but feel that my sub-conscious knows so much more about what happened to me than I can currently remember. I always end up wondering whether I'm deluded and everything that's happened is my fault for being thin skinned and oversensitive. I mean, did I really have it worse than my brothers? Why am I unable to be around NF without feeling extreme anxiety whereas they can manage it? If it was really that bad then surely someone would have stopped him, or at least tried to reason with him? How can I be 30 years old and feel so terrified of the thought of being anywhere near my own father, when other people can cope with it?

I do feel healthier having distance from him which I suppose is very telling, however it feels like I was stronger as a child as I was able to cope with him back then. Perhaps everything I should have felt back then I'm able to feel now but now I'm in the position of experiencing these feelings in a far safer place the response from my nervous system feels over the top and not in keeping with current reality. I guess it's all one big emotional flashback. Does anyone relate to these feelings? I'm not sure I've relayed any of this very well! I possibly haven't posted in the right place either so sorry if that's the case, feeling somewhat tired and confused right now.  :stars:

General Discussion / Massive anger
« on: August 07, 2018, 06:16:40 PM »
Lately I've been experiencing overwhelming anger about how my father (and really my whole family) treated me and just generally life in general when I was a teenager. It was bad enough having an abusive father to begin with but to then have to watch my mother suffer a cruel disease, die so young and ultimately leave me alone with him at 15 is just  :fallingbricks:. What makes me really mad is that looking back with an adult pair of eyes I can see that she showed signs of wanting to get out of the marriage and I just wish so badly that she could have made it. It's so tragic and I hate him for ruining and wasting the life of someone who deserved so much more.

Plus my family, I hear of members of the family saying now how awful they think he is but not one person ever reached out and tried to help me when I was alone and needed them most. Not one. They say this stuff and yet will still befriend him on Facebook and send him Christmas cards. I mean, huh?!

Anyway, there is a practical point to this post. I'm wondering what other people do to process their anger. It's overwhelming and I've never felt this so intensely before. I can only assume that for the first time I'm starting to feel safe enough to feel it properly, so I don't think it's entirely a bad thing, though I guess it could be if I misdirect it.  :Idunno:

General Discussion / Struggling to form verbal words and sentences
« on: July 04, 2018, 08:21:27 PM »
I was trying to form a sentence today and it just would not come out. I knew what I wanted to say but stumbled over my words. In fact, it wasn't even a long sentence, all I was trying to say was, "That sounds sensible" and I think it just came out as: "Sa sen..."  :stars: I tried twice, realised it wasn't happening and then gave up. It was so frustrating and I felt like a very small child. I'm sure the person I was trying to talk to thought it was bizarre but I'm trying not to think about that too much, it was just such a mental block and I couldn't help it. I have had a horrendous day today emotionally after a stressful day yesterday and I think it's catching up with me. I think this is the worst my speech has ever been though and it came as a shock. :( Anyone else get this? I feel like I would have been better off just staying in bed today.

Something triggered me into a flashback today where I felt creeped out and violated. A couple of my NF's comments came to me that made me feel sick. I couldn't speak about them as a child and didn't necessarily understand that they were inappropriate, as in not full-on sexual abuse but comments with a sexual undertone which made me feel massively uncomfortable. One example is when I was eating as an 8 or 9 year old and dropped a bit of food down my front, the way that children of that age do. He pointed this out in front of my granddad and said, "You dropped food down your cleavage" which I didn't understand. My granddad laughed and NF looked smug. Looking back this was just such a weird thing to say and it grosses me out now I do understand what a cleavage is. How can anyone relate that to their 8 year old little girl? There was also a time around a similar age that he had a friend round and tricked me into reading a story next to a topless photo of a 'glamour' model in his newspaper, then loudly exclaimed that I was being dirty for staring at the woman. I don't think this was right. Dads shouldn't do things like this, right?

Another one that continues to upset me is when my mother died and I started to do our washing together. He pointed at the dirty washing as I loaded it in and said something along the lines of, "What do you think about our underwear swirling about together in there?" It makes me feel sick. He also made comments out of the blue about my body on a couple of occasions when I had hit puberty and said that he had noticed it changing. All this made me feel so uncomfortable. He never acted on anything but the comments still feel perverted and dirty to me and really not the type of thing you should be saying to your daughter. I feel like it really damaged my confidence and made me self-conscious and ashamed.

We don't speak anymore but I think if I had ever have confronted him on this then I would have been told that I was overreacting and couldn't take a joke. I never laughed though. I never felt happy to see him as a child and just seemed to be an object of ridicule much of the time. Then he wondered why I was distant from him and didn't want to be around him the way I did with my mother, which made me feel like I was inept in some way and guilty because frankly as a little girl I didn't understand why I felt the way I did towards him either. I thought I was the problem.

Sorry not sure if this is in the right place or if any of it is particularly coherent or not. Just felt like I needed to get this out of my head.   :Idunno:

Successes, Progress? / Sort of a bittersweet success
« on: March 27, 2018, 09:40:30 AM »
Back when I was 16 I had an appointment with a genetic counsellor regarding the possibility of there being hereditary cancer in my family. My mum had died from it at the age of 51 and my grandmother had the same type of cancer which she also died of. The advice at the time was to seek further advice in my mid to late twenties (little bit past that now - I put off thinking about it!) with a view that there would be greater understanding and more research undertaken to give me more up to date advice.

So this has been on my mind for about 14 years, even more so in the few months since I hit 30, and I finally plucked up the courage today to see my doctor with a copy of this original letter and to see where to go from here. She is seeking further advice on my behalf and has also referred me for a blood test to see if that flags anything up. I'm a bit scared as I do get symptoms of this cancer which could so easily be confused with irritable bowel syndrome, plus CPTSD of course which is mentally and physically exhausting. I am marking this down as a big success in all and I'm proud of myself for being brave and confronting this. In the run up to this appointment I've been practising yoga, taking time out to rest when I need to and speaking kindly to my inner child when I've felt anxious. I was very nervous speaking to my doctor but kept slow breathing and I think I handled it really well. When the inner critic was telling me I shouldn't bother doing this and that I'd be wasting people's time I told Negative Norbert (he has a name now  ;)) that I deserve to look out for myself and that I have as much right as anyone to get checked out.

I think I did alright. Now going to walk my lovely little dog and chill out for the rest of the day.  :rundog: :zzz:

The invitation from NF to attend his wedding turned up in the post earlier in the week. All flying monkeys have been summoned. I'm expected to attend to be humiliated and gaslighted (as if I'd put myself through that). 4 months into no contact last July and out of the blue he proposed to his partner after years of stating that he would never marry her. The marriage itself doesn't bother me, it's the blatant manipulation behind it that rattles me and it's not something I can explain to anyone other than those who have had close contact with personality disordered people and understand what makes them tick. He's always been obsessed with leaving a supposed inheritance and assumes that myself and my siblings care about it with the same vehemence, so I think in his eyes remarrying is the ultimate revenge as he'll probably leave it to her. She's a spiteful, shallow person herself but he's still just using her. I don't know if she realises or if she thinks she has the upper hand but either way it's toxic. Anyway, I just don't care about his money and never have. All I've ever wanted (particularly with him being my only surviving parent) is to have a father who genuinely loves me and wants to know me for me rather than as an object. It makes me so sad that this is what drives him and I'm really in self pity mode at the moment.  :'( Why could he never just want to know me without the guilt, humiliation and power plays?

I also know that this wedding, rather than being a genuine show of love and commitment, is the ultimate way for him to rally flying monkeys together in an attempt to put me in my place. I acknowledge how self-absorbed I sound saying that, but I know it to be true because I know him and what drives him. It's no coincidence that the proposal took place after 4 months of not talking. He gets a huge thrill out of playing the victim and having all attention on him. It's a method of forcing contact from me and puts me between a rock and a hard place: attend and be humiliated, which is his favourite method of torture and control, or don't attend and be the 'bad' daughter. Either way I'm 'bad' and being punished so there's no question of what I'm going to do as I 100% refuse to put myself through that. Underneath my instinct to protect myself though there's such an empty sadness that he plays sick games like this rather than wanting an adult relationship. I think I'm mourning what I've never had/will never have.

Ugh, I had an instant panic response when opening the invitation. My hands were shaking, my heart was racing and I pulled a muscle in my stomach because I tensed up so much. My IBS has flared up for the first time in months and it's painful. I'm so tired and feel very tearful. My own father has this effect on me just by sending me cards! No contact is the best option for me but it does really hurt. Sorry for such a self-indulgent rant, just feeling alone at the moment and felt like I needed to get this all out somewhere in a safe place! :fallingbricks:

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