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Topics - blues_cruise

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Employment / I've resigned!
« on: May 12, 2021, 02:45:36 PM »
Eek, I've finally handed in my notice. I have a little e-commerce business I've been building up (or trying to) over the past 5 years and I'm leaving to concentrate on doing that full time. I was feeling really anxious about having to go back to sitting in an office (having had over a year of working from home and being able to have quiet time and regular breaks when needed), so it was the push I needed to go for it.

Have just done the hard bit of doing the dreaded phone call and emailing across the formal letter. Now I'm sitting here kinda thinking, "Err, what have I just done?" lol  :spooked:

My business venture might work or it might go spectacularly wrong, but with lockdown easing here really steaming ahead I don't think I would ever have left until I really pushed myself to. I hope I've done the right thing!  :Idunno:

United Kingdom / UK - NAPAC
« on: March 26, 2021, 10:53:29 AM »
NAPAC is an organisation which provides support to adults who have survived an abusive childhood. They offer email and phone support services, recommended reading, downloads, links to legal advice and many other resources.

Successes, Progress? / Got angry and slammed the phone down
« on: March 11, 2021, 12:36:34 PM »
Had a horrible man on the phone earlier who I think was trying to scam me into giving account details. Even if it was legitimate, he was rude and pushy and it hit a nerve. I felt violated and knew I did NOT have to tolerate being spoken to like that. I got so angry that I gave him an earful and then slammed the phone down. :))  I got angry! I used the feeling to protect myself! Woohoo.  ;D

General Discussion / C-PTSD, seasonal affective disorder plus lockdown
« on: February 03, 2021, 11:50:55 AM »
I think January was the toughest month I've had in years. With the days finally becoming longer February is looking up but it's so cold and dark all the time and we're in lockdown in the UK at the moment, so we're cooped up indoors and only allowed out once a day for some exercise. I always struggle with winter at at the best of times, but this is just something else entirely. It's really triggered my C-PTSD something chronic, which I think is because my trauma really became repetitive when I was stuck living alone with my abusive father and as a teenager with no money or support system I had no means of immediate escape from the house. My DH is not abusive and treats me kindly and with respect, plus I'm an adult now so I know that logically it is not the same situation, but trauma brain is seeing the parallels in the circumstances and going into overdrive.

Home has been my safe place for years and as much as I love my husband, I'm used to having the house to myself far more and having breathing room to process my emotions and re-regulate. When restrictions weren't so rigid he was going out exercising with a friend every weekend which would give me a few hours of uninterrupted quiet time for C-PTSD 'maintenance'.  Now I don't have that I'm feeling irritable and low nearly all the time and resentful that trying to keep emotionally regulated is so much harder. I end up exhausted and grumpy and on really bad days my nervous system seems to be firing on all cylinders constantly. Yesterday was awful and just one slight annoyance sent me into full anger meltdown, which was kind of scary. My emotions felt completely out of control and like I had reached my limit and then some.  :( The front door had swelled with all the rain we've been having and I couldn't unlock it to take a delivery. Huh actually, I hadn't put two and two together until now, but looking at it logically I'm really not surprised that it set me off. Doors no doubt symbolise escape for me, even in the present day. Many years ago if uNF had been raging the front door would have been the quickest route to run to in order to get to somewhere that felt safer.

At least when this was happening in the summer there was the garden to escape to for a breather and pleasant distractions. I feel bad complaining because I know many others have it so much worse but I must say, I already feel better for having ranted about this. It's too much to keep bottled up all the time. How are you guys all doing?  :grouphug:

Recovery Journals / Blues Cruise's Journal
« on: December 28, 2020, 06:08:41 PM »
Not sure how to start this! I've thought about starting a recovery journal for a while though, so here I am.  :) Hoping to use this as a way to express myself when I need to, get thoughts down in writing rather than having them endlessly cycling around my head and to move forwards.

I'm so very glad that Christmas and my birthday are done with. November and December are always really stressful months and I find that the season just passes me by with little significance, other than me being noticeably busier and more stressed out by obligation. I'm already looking ahead to spring and keeping an eye on the evenings getting later (excrutiatingly slowly, but it's started happening!)

I randomly logged in to Facebook for the first time in ages yesterday and found that I had a friend request from someone I used to work with. She deactivated her account a few years ago and then activated it again a few months ago. Obviously she's bored over the holiday season and hoping for a snoop, because we were never close or had anything in common. This is the kind of shallow interaction I'm making an effort to move away from because it's just pointless and I have no real time, inclination or energy for it. Needless to say I've ignored the request. There's nothing to see anyway, I don't interact with it other than to look something up now and again if I need to. Once upon a time ignoring a friend request like this would have been unheard of for me and as a people pleaser I would have accepted it to be 'polite', so I'm actually quite pleased that I've recognised the need for that boundary.  :)

Leading on from that, I'm hoping to become more comfortable in my skin as time goes by. I hope this leaves me more open to attracting healthier, respectful people into my life rather than the self-absorbed acquaintances I've been entertaining for the last few years.  I hope to be able to be more authentic too and to give more of myself to people. I haven't in the past for fear of being rejected, but that only leads to 'friendship' based on a fake persona that I've created. I'm trying to 'be' a bit more often and to do things I enjoy so I can learn who I actually am and try to respect myself more. Toxic people seem to have a radar that alerts them to potentially suitable targets and I think I've been leaving myself open to being manipulated and used by people like that for far too long. It's slow work, but I'm getting there in accepting that it's OK to stand my ground on things and to not say "yes" to everything.

Employment / Done with it
« on: December 06, 2020, 11:27:26 AM »
I experienced a day of passive aggressive digs, sarcasm and complaining from my boss on Friday. This behaviour is so reminiscent of my father and the lack of escape from it triggers me terribly and takes me back to being 14. My brain is now resolutely telling me "ENOUGH!" I am just so done with it all.

I've put up with episodes of the above along with a couple of other instances of workplace bullying at this place for 5 years. I've stuck it out while putting some money aside for capital for the part time business I've set up in my spare time. Quite honestly, my mental health has suffered terribly with the toxic office environment, early mornings and long commute. I haven't been living and I've been in a state of constant hypervigilance and exhaustion. The job is dead end and thankless. I've been putting in so much effort over the past few months and been getting nothing but stupid digs and complaining in return.

I was spaced out and tearful all day yesterday and this morning I feel nauseous and tired. My body aches and is telling me that this situation is not healthy or right. I cannot cope with this job anymore. All the signs are telling me to quit and to take the plunge properly with my business venture. It's not making enough profit to live on yet but then I haven't had the time or energy to grow it with my current circumstances. I don't think I'll ever do it otherwise, I'll always just be in the vicious cycle of never finding the "right time" or not being able to dedicate enough time to it because the part time job takes everything out of me.

It really feels like everything has come to a head and that I really need to make a change. I've powered through working with C-PTSD for so long and I'm starting to feel just how ill the wrong environment has been making me. It does feel like a disability. I can't cope with offices the way that other people seem to be able to, they make me feel trapped.

Can anyone relate to this? My nervous system has gone into overdrive with it all and I'm feeling rubbish. :(

Frustrated? Set Backs? / Frustrated at my limitations
« on: November 18, 2020, 10:51:56 AM »
I've had a really busy couple of days and got loads done, but I've pushed it too far and I'm now stressed and agitated. I've been doing very well lately with self-care and giving myself time to breathe, meditate and do yoga, which all really helps to ground me, but it's so hard finding a balance between that and having to 'adult'.

It's made me see how much I'm likely to struggle when I go back to working in the office in the new year following the second UK lockdown (which admittedly I'm pushing a bit, some colleagues have been going in fairly regularly and there is pressure for me to go back sooner). I won't be able to have a quiet 10 minutes laying down on the bed when things get overwhelming, or to go water my plants when the screen is hurting my eyes and the phone's shrilling at me too much, and I'll have to present as always being "ok" to colleagues and visitors. I feel abnormal and guilty for needing that extra self-care and for coping so badly with every day life things that other people seem to have no trouble with. H asked me yesterday if I would be going into the office today to get some things done and it tipped me over the edge; NO! I would have been far too on edge and stressed to be in that place today. It felt like he was pressuring me and I think he was shocked when I told him how stressed out the thought made me. I think having had so many months at home and being allowed the opportunity for fewer triggers and better self-care (which has done wonders for me) it's going to feel like a big step backwards.

I really want to leave that incredibly unsuitable workplace and I will, I know I will and I WILL create a better set of circumstances for myself, I just seem to constantly have things to do which get in the way of planning to get out of there! I sell things in my own time and I want to focus my time and effort on that, but there always seems to be something that gets in the way of me being able to prioritise it, which in turn extends the time I have to spend working at the job I hate. It's frustrating. Just needed a moan.  :fallingbricks:

Going Low/No Contact with Abusers / The prospect of long-term NC
« on: August 13, 2020, 04:16:23 PM »
When I first began no contact it was very much with the mindset of using this as a boundary in order to focus on working through my trauma and to not allow myself to be bullied by my father anymore. VLC had completely failed and my mental health was terrible while I was still in contact with uNF. I always said that if I ever got to a point of feeling like I would be better able to cope with communicating with him then I might reconsider extremely low contact with many, many boundaries in place (once I had figured out what these actually were and how they were supposed to work). I had never had a single boundary in place with him and when I tried a couple it was clear that he would never accept them.

3 and a half years later I'm now seeing that I'm most likely going to be keeping no contact permanent for the foreseeable future. Whenever I imagine being in contact with him again I get this massive pit of dread in my stomach and it feels so, so wrong, like I would be throwing myself back to the wolves. I'm just beginning to really understand how much trauma gets stored in the body and learning coping mechanisms for the resulting anxiety. Like many of us might have realised on our journey with C-PTSD so far, I think it's going to be something that I'm going to need to navigate very gently for the rest of my life. I hadn't realised just how much abuse I had experienced and how much damage it had done to my nervous system. I'm only really starting to genuinely slip out of my long-term dissociation and depression and I'm enjoying the experience of individuating and learning who I am and what I want out of life. My own father would try to sabotage this if I allowed him even an inch, because that's what he does.

So I'm now thinking that I may well never speak to him again, or at least not for a very long time, and it's a weird thing; I don't know how I feel about it. Sad I suppose, but also relieved. It's the last thing I would ever have wanted (because who doesn't want a dad?) whilst also being one of the few things I am certain is the healthiest course for me, so there's this weird juxtaposition between the two feelings I find myself having towards the permanency of no contact. I think I'm grieving a bit, I don't know. There are also fleeting thoughts about what I might do if there's ever a carehome or deathbed scenario but I'm just going to have to cross that bridge when I come to it.

I'm just putting this out there to get it off my chest really! As time goes by and I find myself well into my 30s it's something that seems to be coming up for me a lot.

I was recently listening to a podcast on the topic of taking too much responsibility for the actions of other people and it really hit home for me. I do this all the time and when someone mistreats me or does something offensive I end up obsessing over what has happened and scrutinising the memory for any inkling that I did something wrong and proof that it was my fault. I do this with memories of interactions with my father, even though I know he was abusive and that in reality I wasn't a terrible person who deserved it and that I couldn't have possibly controlled his poor choices. More recently I've been finding myself taking too much responsibility too for a friendship which has fizzled out, even though I logically know that the friend has also chosen not to make much further effort and that it's not entirely my doing. It's one of those scenarios where you just grow apart and need different things from social interactions and is probably understandable on both sides, except I'm uncomfortable letting go of people even when we're not compatible and I default to blaming myself! I think deep down I believe that I'm not worthy of friends and should feel lucky that anyone wants to know me, so I'm chastising myself for not making more of an effort even though what I'm logically doing in this particular situation is putting an emotional boundary in place.

I'm thinking this is all probably rooted in shame and an ingrained, hypervigilant fawn response which used to help protect me but is now rather outdated. It's so frustrating to constantly have that nagging in my head and feels like I'm constantly at war with myself! Does anyone else have this happen on a regular basis? For me it's daily/constant and it's so exhausting to constantly be trying to call myself out. I'm improving in that I can at least attempt to identify what the reality of a given situation is, however it's so hard to actually believe it at my core.

I didn't write a letter explaining no contact to uNF, however 3 years later given that he claims to be clueless about my reasons for no longer having any open lines of communication with him I'm getting to a point where I feel I would like to set this out in stone for him next time he attempts contact. It's for myself as much as anything as I feel so much shame for having just gone quiet and it feels like a big burden. In fact, just lately the shame has been feeling excruciating and I think I'm taking far too much responsiblity for it.

I've just tried writing a draft letter to practise what I might say when the time comes and frankly after only a sentence in I just felt like it was hopeless. I want to get across the point that it was his awful behaviour that led to this and pass the shame back where it should rightfully belong, however it feels impossible to do this without it looking like I'm attacking him...which will just trigger him further. It feels so ridiculous trying to explain to your own parent that being horrible is a valid reason for not wanting to talk to them. My reasoning is as simple as that too, basically: "There were constant occasions where you were very unpleasant to me and showed no signs of remorse or desire to change...I got fed up with it."

Someone with suspected narcissistic personality disorder is just going to feel attacked by that though and go on a rampage. He's got no ability to self-reflect and protects his ego by living out the delusion that he's great and everyone else is the problem. I guess maybe I could say, "I was left feeling sad and hurt by how you had chosen to treat me and saw no prospect of you self-reflecting on your behaviour and choosing to improve it" and leave it at that. I could maybe even suggest that he seeks professional mental help if he is unable to figure it out on his own. Must admit, it feels a bit cheeky (but empowering) saying that.  ;) I really don't see why I should have to spell it out to him though, plus in an ideal world the most healthy, positive thing and a way forward to reconciliation would be for him to seek help. There is no way he ever would, but I might feel better for suggesting it rather than ignoring the elephant in the room and enabling him the way that the rest of the family chooses to. There is no way I am qualified to even scrape the surface of his disorder. He has a LOT of issues that he has never dealt with.

Maybe it's not such a great idea. It's just so frustrating though, I don't see why I should be lumbered with all this shame because he takes no accountability for it. I think I automatically tell myself I'm a bad person for fading away but how can I possibly explain it all without prompting drama or encouraging harrassment? I'm not sure how to feel better about it. I just really feel this is an unfair situation and that I deserve to be heard and tell my truth in response to all his gaslighting, you know?  :sadno:

General Discussion / How do you grieve?
« on: March 01, 2020, 02:22:57 PM »
I was triggered today in the kitchen when I was cooking breakfast and my husband manoeuvred around me collecting things to load up in the dishwasher. I felt discomfort and a bit of revulsion and I knew I was emotionally flashing back to living alone with my father as a teenager. Emotional incest was rampant and I never liked being in a dressing gown or pyjamas around him (as I was this morning, but with my lovely, safe husband). After my mum died it always felt like he treated me as a substitute wife rather than a daughter and he had no concept of giving me space or privacy. It always felt icky and wrong, particularly with the covert sexual remarks or personal comments that would sometimes come up.

I was really agitated and wanted to process this flashback, and I ended up trying out the steps in this article: It ended up with me crying my heart out and then feeling a sense of peace and true validation of what I had gone through. This is the first time I have ever managed this and it sounds odd to say that I was thrilled at crying, but it felt so good to finally release this emotion and grieve!

I'm now wondering if anyone else has successfully experienced this. I come from a family where expressing emotion was just not the done thing and I would be ridiculed as a small child for crying. My SIL remarked at my mother's funeral when I was a teen that she was shocked that myself and my brothers didn't cry, and looking back I'm shocked myself that I was so closed off because I remember having a lump in my throat and wanting, no needing, to cry but feeling like it was unsafe to show so much emotion in front of people. I feel like everything I was ever taught in my family regarding emotion was just so wrong and toxic.  :no:

Friends / Letting go of a friend
« on: February 26, 2020, 08:32:31 PM »
I don't know if I expect too much, if I'm over-sensitive or whether it's the opposite entirely and I'm growing a bit more of a backbone. Basically I feel quite discarded by a 'friend' and have done so for a while. If I text her then it can be up to a week before she will respond, throughout which time she will have been messaging other people, going out with all her other friends and using Facebook. She's a massive extrovert. So on that front I'm pretty much just low down on her list of importance. It's got worse over the last few months and I don't really see much point in bothering with someone who blatantly can't be that bothered with me. I'm not perfect and can take a while to respond to a message if I'm feeling particularly low so I've been very tolerant, however this is tolerance framed by the understanding of how mental health can make a person disconnect. I can only have so much tolerance and benefit of the doubt and realistically I know she's just using me.

The big thing (or at least it feels big to me) and something that really upset me was her completely forgetting my birthday and not even realising until a few days later. Our birthdays are close together with hers being at the beginning of November and mine towards the end. Even though I was really struggling with anxiety I made the effort to go to her party where there were a lot of people I didn't know (my anxiety is social and this was really triggering for me), spent a long time and a fair bit of money picking out gifts for her and wrapping them nicely and spent more money and time preparing some party food to bring along. I didn't expect her to go to all that effort for me because I didn't have a party or anything like that, but she couldn't be bothered to even give me a late birthday card.

So I've been debating whether there's any point maintaining any illusion of 'friendship' or to bother making any more effort with someone who I've started to feel has really given me little reason to care anymore and the answer is no. I'm feeling so done with it. It's very similar to the feeling I had when I couldn't take any more contact with uNF, like both my brain and heart get on to the same page and say no to allowing anyone to take advantage of me. It's good in a way because I'm starting to see more of my worth and not hold on to the wrong people just for fear of being alone. I don't think I'm being unreasonable, am I? That's the thing, this is so new to me and I've always been such a people pleaser.

Just felt like I needed to get this off my chest, it's been on my mind so much! My brother's also massively distanced himself from me and barely bothers to contact me either. On the one hand it's hard not to blame and shame myself and assume all the responsibility (the old mindset I guess), but on the other I know I'm a kind, good-hearted person and don't deserve to feel like that.

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.  :)

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