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Messages - zazu

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1
Frustrated? Set Backs? / The Vast Grey Ocean
« on: January 13, 2015, 11:29:48 PM »
Hi all,

I haven't been around much due to setbacks that have made it difficult to communicate. I liken it to floating in a vast grey ocean, where the only emotions are misery and fear.

Maybe this setback will one day become part of recovery, because what set this off was uncovering a bunch of truths that sent me headlong into despair. Once I can work through these truths, it will be beneficial. Right now, though, it's just hard.

Writing this down may help sort this out in my mind. Sorry if it's disjointed - it really is a big mess of emotions, all twisted into bizarre shapes by my upbringing. But I do want to sort them out.

I mentioned here on the board once about how in the past I'd felt "haunted" somehow, and that it might have been related to grief but it wasn't clear how. Talking about it, my husband mentioned that what I described did seem most similar to grief, but enlarged exponentially and sort of split off, so it became a landscape I was living in, instead of an emotion inside of me.

Indeed, I had (privately) noted some months earlier that by the time I was 21, I'd already experienced more loss than I would ever recover from. At 21, I only suspected this, and hoped it wasn't true. but at my age now, I realize, it was true - the kinds of loss I had experienced by then were the kind that most people carry with them forever. This is just life - this is the past and I can't change it now, no matter how much I want to - it's the same, probably, for anyone who's gone through this sort of thing. But the revelation that came with this was what knocked me into the "grey ocean" - that as huge as the losses I'd suffered, I'd somehow shoved my grief aside because my emotions were invalidated. I wasn't "allowed" real emotions in my FOO.

Sorry if this this sounds nonsensical. It is quite peculiar. Who isn't allowed to have real emotions? The best way I can explain is this:

My mother is a malignant narcissist. I've learned through experience - If you are happy, she will knock it right out of you. If you are having a negative emotion, she will somehow feed on it. (No, I can't really explain, it's like a vampire though - the word "negaholic" describes her perfectly) She may try to take the emotions over- say, if you are angry, she'll become more angry. If you are sad, it's as if it's something you did to her. If you are grieving, she will use it for a sense of her own power. If there is a tragedy on the news, for instance, she seems to get an actual high off of it, as if it's a drug (When she crashes after the high wears off, there will be a rage). So, suffice it to say, it's not safe to have emotions around Nmom.

But there is another component to this, too. NM will invalidate other's feelings. it's as if she's the only one who is allowed to have real feelings at all. Just the other week I was shocked (but not surprised) to hear her tell a grieving woman that she had no right to feel sad over the death of her husband of 50 years - her life wasn't anywhere near as bad as NM's! This is pretty much par for the course for those outside the immediate FOO circle - so one can imagine how she treats those inside. So...in short, NM will feed off other's feelings while at the same time invalidating them and saying they don't exist or they have no right to them.

This is all background for my realization, really. In light of all this, I realized that, as a youngster, I'd imagined (or was told, maybe) that I'd be able to have real feelings when I was a real grown up, like NM. When I could think like her (she's big on wanting people to "think with her mind") then I would be a real grown up and know what it was like to have real emotions like NM. In the meantime, everything I believed I felt was made up or fake.

Nuts, I know. But it's true. All my life, no matter how much it hurt...it wasn't real. Only NM could hurt. Heartbroken? Made up silliness. Grief, loss? It somehow belonged to NM, instead. Things like being a victim of crime? It's as if it was all done to embarrass NM and shouldn't affect the victim at all. We should all feel sorry for NM's embarrassment at someone else's victimization. The victim has no right to feel anything at all, except maybe ashamed for embarrassing NM. As over the top as that sounds, that's exactly what it's been like for me and I daresay many other persons in NM's family. All my life, I was capable of the most peculiar thing - I could be suffering a physical injury and fully believe I was "just faking", despite crying from the pain. That's how much I'd accepted the invalidation of my feelings.

Well, the reality of this has finally hit me. That all that pain and grief I felt? It was actually real  pain and grief. NM being the "real grown up" and the rest of us not being able to experience grown up feelings? Not true! NM's emotional age is very young, maybe 9 at the most, and usually younger. In truth, I've been more mature than her since childhood. I'd actually been grown up and had a right to my feelings all this time. My problem was that I'd believed her when she'd said all those things. She'd used humiliation as such an effective teaching tool, you see.

So, anyway, these last weeks it's as if I've been re-experiencing all these hurts and losses and griefs, but with the knowledge that they were real, that it wasn't just my imagination, that it wasn't just something I was imitating or learned in a book (a popular accusation - "you don't feel that way, you just read it in a book"), or trying to steal from NM, or anything else - it was real, grown up grief. Now I have to feel it that way.

It's hard, but hopefully, I'll get through it eventually.

2
C.,

I don't have much practical advice except to ask if there is any way you can be the "safe" person in your niece's life. Having even one person she can trust as a safe and nonjudgemental support can make a world of difference.  Even if her parents do love her, it may be a little easier for her to trust someone outside her immediate family. If your brother is in denial, that makes it even more important that there is someone who is "in the know" about the family troubles.

It would be nice to heal the whole family, sure, but trying to bring your bro out of denial might open up a new set of problems. Just try to concentrate on your niece right now. Maybe by setting an example with your niece, he may develop some awareness of what's going on with his/your FOO. Maybe family therapy might come into it when they decide on a course of treatment.

Good luck and I hope your niece feels better soon. I've been where she is, and desperately wished there had been someone to be there for me. As it was, I was grateful for the kindness of the strangers I met in the hospital, and I still rememeber them to this day. All the same, they were strangers. There was no way to maintain a relationship/support system. With your niece, you already have a relationship. Maybe you can be the one who helps her develop her support system.

 

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Therapy / Re: Art Therapy: Self-acceptance collage
« on: December 26, 2014, 11:53:35 AM »
bheart, it's lovely! I know it's meant to be meaningful, but it's so pretty, too. :)

I've tried to take on this project myself, but have run into difficulties. Since the OP said we were supposed to note our feelings, I'm considering that to be part of the process. (I'll probably post about it in the regular art therapy thread when I'm up to it. It's kind of convoluted.)

I'm hoping to see more collages soon!

4
Oh, wow, thanks for responding to this thread, 'cos this is something I've really been struggling with for the last couple of days. :hug:

This all makes me glad my NPDmother never used the word "love" and indeed, she admits that she never loved any of us (she's proud of this - as if love was a sign of weakness). So, luckily, the word "love" hasn't been tainted too much. Also, thankfully I was able to grasp the difference between attachment and love after undergoing my first serious heartbreak as a teen. (I had wailed to my shrink "But I need him!" and the doctor said "need isn't the same as love." That was a lightbulb moment!) So that's two misfortunes that had eventual benefits - yeah, it would have been better if those situations had never happened, but since they did - well, I might as well consider myself lucky.

Identity is the struggle I'm having lately. What Flookadelic mentioned, finding some identity beyond the trauma.  As mentioned in the Butterfly Hug thread, I've been processing a lot of stuff, maybe enough to start uncovering the person behind the all the symptoms. There is a sort of blank "who am I?" feeling there.

It's becoming clear that I'm still so afraid of my mother and any other authority figures (or anyone who behaves as if they are an authority) because it feels as if they can rip away whatever fragile identity I have, twist it into something ugly, then place it back on to me and I must be what they say. Of course this feels terrible and awful, as if it's some kind of soul murder and I've no right to a defense. This causes intense self-loathing and a "freeze" response. But...it also occured to me that if it hurts so much, then there must be some small, buried part of me that is protesting - and that protesting bit must be the "real me".

Hopefully, I will be able to uncover that buried person, even if it's slowly. I may have to process loads of this stuff before I can get to love and acceptance. Maybe the butterfly hug method is working so well for me because it doesn't require such an affirmation of love and acceptance to start with.

smg, it's interesting you have Pete Walker's bill of rights posted on your wall. I don't have it, (it's uncomfortable for me as well) but I do have a copy of Martin Luther King, jr.'s "I have a dream" speech posted on my wall. I've never had to face racial injustice, but the demand to be treated as human, with equal human rights, is something that deeply resonates with me. I think about the civil rights protesters in the 60's and how they stood up to generations of institutionalized injustice. It must have been frightening and I wonder where they got the inner strength. I barely have the strength to stand up to my mother and she's just one woman - an especially pernicious woman, mind you, but still just one woman. I try to let that inspire me.

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Therapy / Re: Art Therapy: Self-acceptance collage
« on: December 23, 2014, 08:49:42 AM »
So, would it be okay if we put together images of things that we have positive feelings about? Because I have a terrible time trying to think of my positive qualities and even moreso trying to think of images to represent them! But there are things that give me strong positive feelings, which may tell something about personality and values. etc.

Would that work or would it be defeating the purpose?


6
Therapy / Re: Art Therapy: Self-acceptance collage
« on: December 21, 2014, 09:28:37 AM »
Nice collages, Rain and Lovely!  :)
They tell me more about who you both are as people. :yes:

It's an interesting project. One that might be too challenging for me, actually! I can't understand my own artwork - I have to leave that to other people, lol.

7
Successes, Progress? / Re: Success With Butterfly Hug Method
« on: December 21, 2014, 09:07:20 AM »
Hi all.  :wave: Thanks for your comments. I'm glad the post had some value :hug:

SC - yeah, it is a bit like Mr. Spock, isn't it! It's pretty helpful to have super logical Spock as a counter-point to that out of control emotional side! And Rain - now that you mention it, I can see how there's a child self at work there, too. That might even explain moreso why the emotional self has such a hard time verbalizing too - if she had her way, she would probably just wail, like a child unable to express herself any other way.  Alovelycreature, I hope this method helps you too, if you decide to use it.

I've had more realizations in the past few days, which is awesome, but has left me rather worn out at the moment. Like getting big doses of truth, one after another. There is a sense of having a new reality to adjust to.

Some of the EF's have disappeared, and it feels strange. Not that it's a bad thing, it's just that I was so used to them (after having them for so many years) that there are blank spaces where certain intense fear reactions used to be. It's left me scratching my head wondering what to do with the blank spaces! That probably sounds crazy, but maybe it's a bit like having money worries for so long that when the person wins the lottery, they don't know what to do with themselves.

Being mindful of what sometimes happens to lottery winners (often, a lot of heartache), I've been aiming to fill the blank spaces with positive associations and affirmations, upbeat music, having fun with the kids, etc.

One of the things about PTSD/C-PTSD that really gets me down is how the symptoms cause me to withdraw into myself, the attention constantly being drawn to all this "internal data" flooding in. It doesn't leave enough energy and attention for the outside world, including other people. So having some of that space freed up, I could do things like play tag or dinosaurs with the kids without the hypervigilance interfering so much, which was nice.

Hopefully, the improvements will continue.

8
Successes, Progress? / Success With Butterfly Hug Method
« on: December 19, 2014, 10:51:41 AM »
Hi. I just thought I'd let you all know that I've had some success dealing with EF's though the butterfly hug method. 

For anyone who doesn't know, the butterfly hug is a self-soothing method that uses bilateral stimulation. The person crosses their arms across their chest (as if they were giving themselves a hug) and places the right hand on the left shoulder and the left hand on the right shoulder. The person then gives each shoulder a tap or squeeze in an alternating pattern, much like a heart beat. The bilateral stimulation, a bit like EMDR, helps the emotions come together with the rational mind in order to process the emotions or the flashback.

This can be part of therapy, but it can also be a self-soothing method for someone who is in the midst of a flashback when there is no one around to help.

I was surprised that such a simple method had profound effects, but it has. I've finally been able to learn (understand, in a deep internal way) things that could never sink in before. The best way to describe is probably by example. So, I'll give an example of the mental process of working through one of my EF's. I'll call the different parts of my feeling and thinking the emotional mind and the rational mind.

................................
Early morning EF hits while sitting in the garden.

Emotional mind: I'm afraid! I'm afraid! Something bad is going to happen!
(start butterfly hug process)

Rational mind: Why are you afraid?

Emotional mind: I don't know! I'm dissolving in terror. Something is bad and wrong!

Rational mind: What is bad and wrong?

Emotional mind: I am bad and wrong. They are going to find out. They are going to catch me!

Rational mind: Who is going to catch you?

Emotional mind: The authorities will catch me! They'll catch me and judge me and I'll find out the truth and my mind will shatter!

Rational mind: What authorities? What law have you broken by sitting here in the garden?

Emotional mind: My mother. Mother is the authority. She will catch me.
(blur of panic here)

Rational mind: For what reason will your mother catch and punish you?

Emotional mind: I don't know. She'll catch me just being here, being myself. Not being her. I'm paralyzed. The fear won't let me move!

(Something happens here, as if the parts of my mind/emotions begin to come together)

Rational mind: It's interesting that you're afraid of being caught by your mother, when your mother has much more to fear from being caught. She has done many unethical, even illegal things, yet it's you who are afraid of being caught and judged.

Emotional mind: Blank - no articulated thought/feeling

Rational mind: It's interesting that you fear being caught and judged by a person who has no grounds to judge you, based on her own actions.

Emotional mind: Relaxing. Begins to see the wisdom in that. 

Rational mind: In fact, your mother seems remarkably free of the guilt and fear that you've been experiencing.

Emotional mind: Begins to feel relief sweeping away the EF

Rational mind: You are feeling your mother's guilt. She transferred it to you.

Emotional mind: But why would she do that? 

Rational mind: By transferring the guilt feelings and responsibilities for her wrongs onto you, she
can remain innocent and free of this type of fear in her own mind.

Emotional mind: Ooooh! I get it! I finally get it!!
..................................

At that point, I experienced complete relief from the EF and ended the process. And you know what, I really did "get it'. The thing about my mother's transferring guilt onto others is something  I knew rationally but would not sink in emotionally. But it's been about four days now, and the knowledge is stll there, internalized.  :thumbup:

Because this is a fairly mild process and I have a lot of EF's this is something I have to do quite a bit, but it really does help dissolve them and sometimes there's an incident like above where the EF is completely processed and new knowledge takes its place.

I just thought I'd offer up my experience in case it might help someone else.


9
Podcasts, Videos & Documentaries / Re: CPTSD coaching on youtube
« on: December 17, 2014, 09:09:03 AM »
Oh, I love Spartan life coach! :cheer: I spent a whole week last month watching his videos - very helpful. I admit at first I was thinking, no way will he understand, no way will he get it (being so used to people not "getting it") especially coming from a martial arts perspective and all...I thought he would just say "suck it up!" lol.  but I was very pleasantly surprised.

He really knows what he's talking about.

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zazu, I think I might know that feeling. I don't know your trauma history, so I can't say for sure, but I get that feeling when I hear certain songs - not necessarily sad songs, but when I am in one of my obsessive relationships, whatever song I hear a lot when I'm with that person, if I hear it after it has crashed and burned, I can't handle hearing the song any more. It overwhelms me with this feeling sort of like you describe, I would almost call it a longing or yearning, but much much worse, because it is so intense it makes me want to die. I read somewhere that it's abandonment, and I think there might be some truth to that. I was abandoned at age 3 by my father, he left and I never saw him or heard from him again. I don't remember him at all, and never consciously thought about it until I started having all these emotional problems and "train wrecks." Is it possible this might be similar for you?

Yeah, I could see how certain music could trigger intense feelings of abandonment. I guess the trick is knowing what "abandonment" feels like - probably a lot of us just feel a severe something, a distressing feeling, but have a hard time putting a name to it. And music creates such strong emotional responses. Sometimes certain songs will make me cry, but not because it's a sad song, or sentimental, but something - perhaps it's some form of grief?

I suspect that my "haunted" feeling is related to grief of some type - it feels almost like someone has died, that I've lost someone beloved - but who it is, I don't know. That makes it a little spooky. As if I should know who I grieve for, but that information is lost.

The most confusing feeling I've ever had was after watching my eldest child's graduation from military boot camp. I was overwhelmed by feelings I could not name and spent the whole 5 hour drive home trying to figure out what they were. Of course I was proud, but also absolutely distraught. But judging by the faces of some of the other parents there, perhaps they were feeling somewhat the same. I just don't know the name for it.

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Therapy / Re: Boy, this Tapping EFT stuff WORKS!!!
« on: December 13, 2014, 10:01:33 AM »
By the way, 15 years in Texas without insurance.... I always knew there was something about that state....

I'm currently in that exact situation, so that probably explains my devotion to do-it-yourself therapies, lol.

MaryContrary, thanks for your description, especially how your EF's were linked to each other.
It makes a lot of sense.

I can't do tapping yet (due to intense resistance of the self-acceptance part) but I'm doing the do-it-yourself EMDR butterfly hug technique, which seems to be making headway with that. Once I get that cleared away, hopefully I'll be able to proceed with the EFT.

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Hi, VA (sorry, I can't bring myself to abbreviate your name to "voiceless" or "agony"!)
I'm glad you are beginning to be able to put names to your feelings. Knowing the name is  perhaps the first step to handling it. There are lists of "feeling words" online that may be helpful. One of my kids has alexathymia related to Asperger's syndrome, so we talk about feeling words quite a bit.

This is something that's been on my mind recently. I'm usually pretty good about identifying emotions, but there is one thing that happens to me that is apparently unusual. I came up with what I thought was an appropriate word to describe it, but when talking about it to others, no one seems to know what I mean.  :sadno: I'll describe it here, because it may be part of C-PTSD.

I call it feeling haunted, because that seemed an obvious choice. Most people have heard of a haunting melody, or of being haunted by memories, and the feeling seemed to be in the same vein, but when I tried to describe feeling haunted, even my therapists drew a blank. This is the most evocative way to explain it -

Does anyone remember soap operas, back in the day? My mom and sister used to watch them a lot back in the 70's and 80's. Well, on American soap operas (I don't know about other countries) when a character was remembering a sorrowful and/or dramatic moment, the scene would go misty, the remembered voices would echo and there would usually be some sad, yet slightly ominous music in the background. The type of feeling evoked by such scenes is what I call feeling "haunted".

Well, back in my teens through mid 20's, I would feel this way quite often - sometimes for days. If I had been lost in memories of a tragic love or something, this would have made more sense, but it would come out of nowhere, seemingly be attached to nothing, and stick around making me uneasy. Had my life been a soap opera, that sad and ominous music would have been following me around everywhere - walking to work, doing laundry...

I mistakenly thought most people had a similar experience, that it was an ordinary emotion like "happy or "sad", but apparently not. After having a round of successful therapy in my mid-20's, I stopped getting this feeling in daily life, but it's still attached to certain memories from the pre-therapy years.  Recently, while working through some old memories, I realized that this haunting feeling may have come from an unconscious awareness of something that my conscious mind couldn't accept or understand at the time. A sense of something being wrong, but not knowing what it was.

I thought I'd mention it here, because it really does seem like it could be C-PTSD related.

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Ideas/Tools for Recovery / Re: Self-Soothing
« on: December 11, 2014, 11:05:00 AM »
Oops, I just saw the replies to my November 8th post! I'm still having a little trouble navigating this site so ...sorry about that. :blush: I'm sorry you all have had similar experiences. It's really not fair, is it? Really, what did they expect would become of us, not even being allowed healthy, human, self-soothing behaviors? Even animals in the wild are able to lick their wounds.  :'(

Recently I was able to put another item in the self-soothing category that I can accomplish without guilt or shame (though it is a tad embarrassing). I realized that watching fashion videos gives me a feeling of peace and contentment. It's embarrassing because fashion is so superficial - but this is probably why it's pleasant. I think so much. Way too much! With fashion, you don't have to think, just look. Like a vacation for the mind. :)

Maybe it's a bit like the ballet. It's visually interesting, and my mother has no more control over the fashion world than the ballet world. My NPDmother might think everyone should wear rags, but she can't stop Paris fashion week! See, that's the rebellion kicking up again.  ;D

This might seem a surprising comfort for someone who was shamed over her appearance, but in my teens I worked as a hairstyle model (yeah, a funny occupation for "the ugly sister" - needless to say I did not get the job through my FOO) and it was a fun and happy experience with lots of positive reinforcement. That may be the reason it escapes the shame feeling that pollutes so much else.

14
Therapy / Re: Binaural Beats
« on: December 11, 2014, 01:51:49 AM »
Oh you tube - didn't think of that ! Combined with visual that must be awesome. Would you mind sharing the links? No problem if you're not comfortable posting them but thought I'd ask. :)

Oh, no problem. Youtube has probably thousands of these videos of varying lengths but the two I'm particulary attached to are rather short. I just play one several times in a row, then I switch to the other. Beware, though, they have ads at the beginning - that can be a bit disconcerting when switching from one video to the other. I make sure I take the headphones off first!

Ascension - theta meditation binaural beat
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFI2WFtaYrk

Gamma wave 40 hz. isochronic tones
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fsm6gGph4xA

They both have nice music, but the theta wave vid has the beat underneath the music and the ischronic tone you can hear above the music. I think the ones with music are more pleasant than pure sine waves, which kinda make me feel like I've had my head in some machinery, lol.

15
General Discussion / Re: What Does It Mean To Confront Trauma?
« on: December 11, 2014, 01:20:08 AM »
Now I'm kind of worried if I said the right thing. I mean the thing with the narrative. It's really and truly only something I read about ten years ago in a book about PTSD. So it might or might not apply to CPTSD. It makes sense to me, granted, but still... Please, please be cautious, yes? What you're going through sounds so difficult already, I wouldn't want something I said to make matters worse for you.

Even so, I'm glad you got an epiphany out of your EF. I like your way of seeing things - "since I'm going to be miserable anyway, I can at least be miserable in a way that's useful". THAT is gumption.  :applause:   :hug:

What you say about your memory souns very familiar. It's like my memory is fragmented into layers and aspects and facets and fragments. I have a kind of narrative for some things, but its emotional aspect is as yet rather thinned out and grey-ish. I think most emotions are as yet detached from it.

Oh, not to worry, SC. Obviously there are going to be many perspectives on these things - if there was one, definitive cure for PTSD/C-PTSD we would all be fine by now, eh? And I take full responsibility for any fool-headed idea I undertake, though I would not necessarily recommend that to anyone else.

And yes, that practical aspect...make your suffering worthwhile!  ;D

I do thinks it's helped, actually. Today was much better. Hopefully the trend will continue. Hopefully you will feel better in time, too.  :hug:

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