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Therapy / Re: Emdr not clinically indicated for cptsd?
« on: December 31, 2019, 06:50:26 AM »
I'm with Bix. I tried EMDR with an EMDR specialist and it just made me worse.

The problem was compounded by the fact that so many see this is a miracle treatment/cure so negative results get pooh-poohed too easily. On top of that, I was told that I was not responding properly not because the treatment was wrong for me but some combination of I was in denial and/or resistant to being treated (at all) and/or I just needed to find someone who did it properly, I was seeing a therapist so therefore could not know what I was talking about, and/or anything other than the fact that EMDR just made me get worse instead of better. Essentially I was being gaslighted by the people who were supposed to be supportive of me and my treatment needs.

Be careful of EMDR and know that it might work for many but it is also harmful to many of us. If it works for you then more power to you. However, if it is making you worse then it is OK to say so and try something else, no matter what anyone tells you about it.

p.s. I have responded very positively to sensory motor psychotherapy so all of the baloney trying to make it my fault is just that, baloney.

Ideas/Tools for Recovery / Re: Meditation with cptsd
« on: December 31, 2019, 06:36:55 AM »
I have never been able to do the sit-still-and-have-a-blank-mind type of meditation that so many insist is the right way to mediate.

I thought I could not meditate at all until someone close to me who has an interest in the topic pointed out that I do meditate. I go on early morning walks and touch base with myself and my inner children and my feelings, and just let my thoughts and feelings flow through me to see what comes up. It turns out that this is not just a form of meditation but a 'valid' one. So, now I know I can mediate. I just generally need to be in motion while I do it.

Ideas/Tools for Recovery / Re: Re/Claiming Denied Interests!
« on: December 31, 2019, 06:33:44 AM »
This is a good topic - thank you for taking the initiative to start this thread.

I have been doing a lot of art work lately. I have discovered that I really enjoy water colour painting. I have also been playing a lot with mixed media projects, which I take pleasure in doing, especially if I can make one with lots of textures.

This for me is a (re)claiming. I did not know I had any skills in art until I started pushing back on my abusive NM. She is really good at art, so, of course, I was never 'allowed' to be too. Then, I went through a stage of not wanting to do art so to not be good at something that she is good at and to have skills that I likely got from her. But, the call in me to create, to explore, to make art, is just too strong. So, now I do it because I enjoy it and it feels good, and I have can something for me without it being in reaction to my mother either way.

And, I am enjoying it, and it does feel good. I am finding it is often also very therapeutic too - when I do art I am fully in my body and feeling my feelings and expressing them in my projects. There is something to be said for that too.

Having an Exceptionally Difficult Day / My Therapist is Retiring
« on: February 22, 2019, 03:06:06 PM »
So, I found out last appointment (earlier this week) that my therapist is retiring this summer.

At first I was fairly numb about it. But, now the feelings are hitting me and they are unhappy ones - fear, anger, sadness, and a few other related ones. UGH! I am trying to stay in the moment, and practise self-care, but this week I have slid back somewhat, with dissociation, and emotional flashbacks that I have not had in this way for quite some time. I also have a lot of things going on in my life right now (many of them positive), and a number are looking to come to a head this summer... after my therapist retires. UGH!

That is as far as I have gotten with all of this. UGH!

Frustrated? Set Backs? / steps forward - internal backlash in return
« on: October 12, 2018, 01:29:10 AM »
So, I have been taking a number of positive steps in my life: caring for my health (diet and exercise), networking for my career, making sure to stay in touch with friends, flirting with a guy I like, etc.

And now, big surprise (<sarcasm) I feel like crap. My inner self - those cancerous mental and emotional tumours my NM implanted and fostered in me since I was born are not just festering but actively trying to kill me again. I now feel sad and unmotivated and tired and sad and more sad and more and more sad and the suicidal ideation is back full force (not suicidal but not different enough from suicidal either). And instead of enjoying progress, I just want to go to bed and hide and cry and sleep and cry some more. But I can't because I have work and a life that I am trying to hold on to so I will force myself to keep going enough though I do not want to.

UGH! Does it never stop?!? Can I never just make progress and be happy about it without this internal backlash? It takes enough energy to just take these steps. I have none left to also fight the backlash.


I have had smell flashbacks. I do not always know what they are attached to; I have more 'body memories' than 'cognitive memories' of past events, but I do have smell flashbacks.

It's funny, I do not think I have ever seen smell flashbacks in the literature, and I do periodically browse the CPTSD literature (such as it is). I think that lack is troubling because a) there really is not enough research on CPTSD overall, b) those doing the research are not getting the full story, and c) it makes those of us experiencing phenomenon such as smell flashbacks question our own reality and experiences. Maybe now that CPSTD is in the DSM it will be studied more?

But, anecdotally, yes, smell flashbacks does seem to be a thing for at least some of us with CPTSD.

Hi SE7,

Good for you! It takes a lot of courage and strength to leave an unhealthy situation and to be LC/NC with those who would harm us.

You asked if anyone else was going through the same type of responses. Not to make light of things but to offer some hope - The good news is that no, I am not. However, I DID go through almost the same type of response right after I left my abusive FOO. So good news; this too shall pass. There is hope.

For me it helped to give myself time to grieve the loss of my family and relationships with my family members. Yes they were bad for me but they were everything I knew, and I did love them and believed that they loved me. These are huge losses and it is normal(1) to be all discombobulated after separating from them.

For me there was also a great deal of confusion and a giant void. Yes, I was out of a chaotic situation and one that was harmful to me but now what? What (1)should I be feeling? What should I be doing? I had no idea what to do with all of that energy I had been spending on being hyper-vigilant. I had not idea what to do with all of that energy that I had been directing towards fear, unhappiness, anger, etc. I had no idea how to just be in the world. How to have a more nuanced, balanced, and even happy experience of emotions. I had no frame of reference for any of that.

It took a lot of time and therapy and homework and trial and error but I have figured it out - OK, figured out a lot of it; I am still working on a lot of it too, but now in a more stabilized emotional and physical place. You will get there too.

Looking back, for me what helped:
  • going to the library and sitting quietly where I could be around people in a 'gentle' (clean, quiet, safe) space but not be expected to interact with anyone
    -gradually, I added 'ask the librarian a question about a book' in order to have safe, gentle interactions with fellow humans
  • going for walks in my neighbourhood
  • going for walks in local parks/wooded areas
  • bubble baths and chocolate :D

But yes, at the very beginning even these actions were way beyond what I was capable of doing, and no one (including me) could force me into any of it. Often, I sat on the kitchen floor and cried because I did not even have enough energy to make a bowl of cereal, and was not even hungry but felt that I 'ought to' eat. Often, I sat in the living room and cried because I did not have the energy to even read a book even though books had always been my go-to refuge in times of stress, and I did not even have the energy to pick a book if I had had the energy to read it. Often, I sat wherever I was and cried because even though I had done this brave, healthy-for-me action (separating physically from my FOO) I felt lost and alone and uncertain and scared and wondering what in the world I had done to my life. I was in this big, dark, empty void and had no idea how to get out and it was uncomfortable and scary terrifying.(2)

In between crying, and with the support of the therapist I had at the time, I did my best to just feel the nothingness left in the void after I stopped having to feel alert and sad and angry, etc. all the time. That part was also tremendously uncomfortable and terrifying. Even though it was uncomfortable to live in a constant state of alertness and fear, I had not noticed that uncomfortableness fear until I was left in the void and the void. At the time, to me the void was far scarier. It was so big and dark and empty, and unknown.

But, I promise you over time, and with trial and error, and hopefully supportive others (professional or otherwise, and including people here on the forum), you will eventually start feeling again, only this time along with anger and sadness, fear and alertness, you will now have room for other feelings - happiness and contentment, satisfaction, joy, love, etc. And, at first, all of these new 'positive' emotions were tremendously uncomfortable for me too (2). (ah, irony is a nasty one sometimes). Yes, these are 'positive' emotions, but in their authentic forms they were so unfamiliar to me I had no idea what to do with them. And, because they are 'positive' there is a huge taboo for us to be uncomfortable with them. Plus, I felt all kinds of other emotions such as guilt, for having them. It was a bit of a head trip. But with trial and error and patience, and supportive others, I have been figuring it out. I am fortunate too that at the time I had a decent therapist, and currently have a very good one.

You will figure it all out too. This experience - the living without the constant dart attacks, the living without the alertness and hyper-vigilance, the being on your own is all new and raw for you. But, it is also a bit like learning a new instrument or new sport. It will take practice. Worse, it also has a fair amount of unlearning old ways. Recently, I read Clara Hughes'(3) autobiography. She talks about moving from speed skating to cycling and back again. Some of the skills of one carried over into the other but in many cases she had to unlearn the movements and strategies of one to be successful in the other. For her it was often a painful experience that took huge amounts of work. But, in the end she medaled in both at the Olympics and on other world stages, proving it can be done.

You have made it through everything you have made it through. So, you know that you have the strength to do this too. And, the rewards of getting through the void are really worth it. You have already achieved Olympic-medal level standing in the dealing-with-darts category. I have every faith that you will also achieve Olympic-medal level standing in getting through the void. I encourage you to give yourself time. You are adjusting to a huge new reality and sometimes that means sitting and crying, and feeling terrible and that is OK (well, not OK OK as it feels terrible, but OK in that it is a - ahem - normal, expected part of the loss and grieving that you are experiencing).  I also encourage you too to do your best to practise self-care, in whatever form self-care works for you and in whatever form you are able to manage, even if it is something as -ahem - 'simple' (1) as brushing your teeth sometime this week (that one was a goal for me while I was in the void - it might or might not apply for you).

Right now everything kind of sucks for you and I think, unfortunately, that is a stage in the process. Fortunately, it is a stage and it is a process. It will not last forever and eventually, with fits and starts and trial and error, you will move to a new stage. You will, step-by-step eventually move out of the void and into a new, better place in your life.  :hug:

(1) Forgive me for the use of draconian words like 'normal', 'should', and simple but I want for better ones right now.

(2) Forgive me also for making everything sound so bleak. At the time everything did feel bleak, even when I was 'doing the right thing'. But, I ended up feeling that much worse because people never talked about this side of the equation, and worse because those that understood my situation were doing 'good for you' and 'expecting' that now I had done it life would be milk and honey for me (and being surprised and less understanding to me when it was not). I wish someone had told me that it is - ahem - normal to have discomfort and fear during this process - or joy, or anger, or frustration, or whatever it is we are feeling. There is no 'right way' to feel any of this, and it is OK to have whatever feelings we are having even if it is the so-called 'negative' ones.

(3)Because even many Canadians are unfamiliar with Clara Hughes, or know of her but not her story - Hughes grew up with an alcoholic father and enabling mother. She suffered from depression for most of her life though either did not know about it or, later, was in denial about it. She channeled her energy into sports (speed skating and cycling), later realizing that she was using the physical pain of training to try and replace the emotional pain she was experiencing, and also trying to use medal-winning to fill her void. She is the only athlete to have won multiple medals in both the winter and summer Olympics. Retired from that level of sports, she is now an active humanitarian (with Right to Play and a few other causes), an Officer of the Order of Canada, and a Spokesperson for Bell's Let's Talk Mental Health initiative. (most of the above taken from her autobiography). I have huge respect for her and what she has accomplished.

Is it possible to use the 'I feel' statements?

E.g. 'I feel sad when you make jokes about my weight because it hurts my feelings. I would like you to stop making these types of comments.'

I have found that the I feel statements can be effective because they have whole truth. They focus on your feelings, which are unique to you and true for you.

I admit, I have no children, but do work with many of various ages. From what I can tell, usually by Kindergarten or so (younger than your godson) most children understand about hurting people's feelings (often having experienced themselves). Generally, if children understand that they have hurt someone's feelings they feel badly for having done so and do their best to avoid doing so in the future. (totally anecdotal but that has been my experience).

Neglect/Abandonment / Re: Witholding opportunities
« on: July 30, 2018, 08:54:35 PM »
I think witholding opportunities, and trying to taint any opportunities someone tries to create for themselves are in fact abusive. I never really thought of this so much before, because I was focused on the more obvious abuses, but this really bothers me now. It mostly bothers me I didn't get away and do my own thing, pursue the arts, get out of my stockholm syndrome and went NC at age 18. I wanted to run away since 14 but I was afraid I would be returned home only to be beaten more.

I agree; it is totally abusive. The narcissistic parents steal so much from their children. I am sorry that your NM stole so much from you. I often weep in my T's office when I realize (or finally admit) to another part of my life that my NM stole from me, and reading your post I realize often when was taken was opportunities - to try new things, to learn something new, to pursue an activity that would have made me happy, etc.

I think that this stealing is partly a failure to recognize the children (or anyone else, but their children are an easy target) as separate beings from the NM (or NF). Ironically, I think the stealing is also partly because the NP (Narc parent) recognizes that the child is trying to individuate and the NP must do everything possible to stop the process - the child must, from the NP point of view, remain continuously dependent on, subservient to, and even a part of the NP rather than ever becoming a full Self in an of themselves.

It is not just abusive; it is an attempt to steal our very Selves (which, I guess by definition is also abusive...).

But, I think there is hope. For many of us we somehow managed to tuck our Selves in someplace safe where our NPs could not find it. The key now is to figure out who we are and how to let our Selves out and be safe (protected by us) in the world. I suppose the downside is that by tucking ourselves away we ultimately have to deal with the process of uncovering our Selves and usually while also managing CPTSD. Unlike those with PTSD from a one-off event, who aim to be 'the person they were before the bad thing happen', those of us with childhood-abuse CPTSD are now on the journey of learning who we are (our Selves were so young when we secured them away that parts must now be developed).

I think this board helps with that uncovering process.  It is a complicated, difficult, painful, joyous, and ultimately satisfying process for all of us, but one worth doing. 

GOOD FOR YOU! That you have the courage to start the process, and continue the process! YOU are DEFINITELY WORTH the EFFORT!

The Cafe / Re: Nature Heals
« on: July 23, 2018, 12:45:47 AM »
You're right Jdog. Nature does heal. My therapist often gently reminds me of that.

The research also agrees; my dissertation work touched on the topic, and I have since pursued it out of personal interest.

Having an Exceptionally Difficult Day / Re: Nobody takes care of me
« on: July 23, 2018, 12:41:55 AM »

That totally sucks that you have so many people needing and demanding care and no one to give some back. Good for you to start taking naps; that is self-care and boundaries all in one (carving out some space for yourself to rest).


Hey Hope- good topic as I too feel uncomfortable with animals in clothes too, also animals doing tricks, etc.  For me it's because it is so disrespectful to the animals with whom we share this earth.  We put them in clothes and teach them to do tricks to entertain and amuse us which is kind of how I felt as a kid.  I was dressed up and trained to do "tricks" like smile when I felt like crying. 

It just seems to indicate a profound lack of respect, and it objectifies and demeans others be they animal or human.


I am currently reading a book called Supernormal by Dr. Meg Jay. In one section, Jay reviews research about children from abusive homes vs. those from good and good-enough families. The research shows that children from abusive families are much better at noticing facial expressions related to some emotions, particularly anger than other children,  and anger recognition was consistent across the studies even when there were mixed findings for other emotions. For us, it has been a survival mechanism to notice anger in others as quickly as possible so that we can adjust our behaviour (another skill that abused children excel in vs. their parents) or otherwise respond, usually in the fight-flight-freeze-fawn modes.

I wonder if the ability that you and Little Hope have to really see the vivid details of others' faces relates to this ability to see and respond to anger. In a new situation your body automatically read each person to determine safe or unsafe. Being able to see the vivid details of their faces would be instrumental in making these decisions. Once your body decided someone was likely safe then it could return to normal vision and move on to the next person.  (?)

Hello Hope (and Little Hope),

I am sorry to hear that you are unable to be close to your sister. Unfortunately, divide and conquer is a common strategy by dysfunctional and/or abusive parents of their children. This strategy both gives narcissistic supply  (ah the thrill of watching the siblings squabble  :pissed:) and keeps the siblings from comparing notes and banding together as they realize the games that their parent(s) are playing against them.

Unfortunately too, sometimes these wedges formed in early childhood are difficult to overcome even in adulthood. It is understandable that you check your sister's FB page; you are curious about who she is and who you are in relation to her. I hope you are able to work things out with her. I managed to rework and rebuild relationships with my sisters but remain out of touch with my brothers, even though I would really be overjoyed to have contact again with one of them... It is a mixed bag that seems to depend largely on whether and how the siblings feel about reconnecting.

For the uncomfortableness around animals in clothing, I am unable to say what is going on inside you and Little Hope, but reading your posting I realized that I have generally been uncomfortable with animals in clothing too - both the costumed pets people post on the internet and the type of art and story that you cited with animals in clothes, etc. Reading you posting gave me a chance to reflect on the source of discomfort (thank you for that). For me, I am guessing that animals in clothing represent two types of gaslighting both of which push my own buttons related to the types of abuse I experienced in my FOO.

The first type of gaslighting comes largely from the animals in costumes videos on the internet. I avoid those videos like the plague. They do not so much make me uncomfortable as angry. While some of these animals seem indifferent to their costumes, many show fear, distress, anger, and other signs of upset for being forced into these clothes. The gaslighting comes in when the humans, instead of removing the distressing clothing, videotape and laugh and enjoy the pet's discomfort - UGH! And the comments talk about how 'cute' and 'funny' it all is... double UGH! I realize that for me, this gaslighting of the pets pushes the button laid in me when my family (largely mother and older brother) would torment me then when I gave the predictable and entirely reasonable responses of anger and upset, would gaslight me, telling me I had no sense of humour and ought to loosen up, it was just teasing, etc. They never cared about my feelings they cared only about getting narcissistic supply from my reactions - these video posters similarly seem to not care at all about their pets' distress, only about getting good footage to garner more likes on social media. I emphasize greatly with these pets.

The other form of gaslighting, for me, I think comes more so from the animals in suits and human clothing in art (e.g. dogs playing poker, animals in the Wind in the Willows, etc.). I think, for me, these portrayals of animals in human situations pushes the buttons of being expected to be something that I am not. By putting toad in clothing, for example, the story is saying 'you need to stop being the toad that you are and instead be the human-being-creature that we demand that you be even though that portrayal betrays the being that you really are.' I think that the clothing on the animals emphasizes both the need to not just wear a human facade but also the demand to play the specific role defined by the type of clothing the animal is wearing, all entirely without consideration of the animal's own beingness. OK, yes, I am probably reading into it based on my internal buttons  ;)... But, for me, what I think I am responding to is a form of gaslighting that denies the beingness that the character has in favour of an illusion that the controller wishes that character to portray. I lived with that demand to portray a facade of who I was (and often even who I was not) to please my NM and 'earn' her - ahem - 'love'. It has taking me a long time to figure out who I am as a separate entity with my own Self and Beingness separate from my NM (my username relates to the fact at one time I could not choose between chocolate and vanilla ice cream because I really did not know my own preferences).  Again, I emphasize greatly with the animals in these human-like portrayals,

I cannot know if any of that applies to your situation and inner thoughts and feelings, but I do appreciate the opportunity to learn more about what is going on inside me. Little Vanilla says thank you too.

Having an Exceptionally Difficult Day / Re: I chose wrong
« on: April 13, 2018, 03:22:05 PM »
Cookido  :hug: That sounds really rough.

I work in academia so write this as FYI only. I do so because I am discovering that many students do not know that post-secondary institutions often have resources and systems in place for students' tough times - I did not know when a bad thing happened while I was in university and was lucky that a prof. told me... So, this is for information for you. Please use it, ignore it, or put it on the back burner for later consideration as best suits your situation, needs, and wants.

Many colleges and universities have systems in place for students undergoing difficult times. These times can be personal physical or mental health concerns, long-term and short-term disabilities, tragedies in families, accidents, financial troubles, etc. Depending on the situation and the institution, these services are usually accessed through student counselling, student resources, the registrar's office, etc. The people that work there are usually well-trained to support students in difficult situations and have likely had experience with students in situations similar to yours (of course not identical because all difficult times are unique). There is likely a process of supports and accommodations in place to help you with what you are going through and supportive people who can help you to navigate through the system and the paperwork.

Most places will allow a supportive person begin the enquires about how the systems work but will likely only respond in generalities to protect your privacy, e.g. your partner, a classmate/friend, a supportive instructor, etc.  For specifics about your situation, however, to protect your privacy you would likely be the one who has to ask (e.g. you partner would likely be able to learn who someone would need to speak to and which forms or documents would be needed for someone who is experiencing xyz situation, but would not be able to speak about your situation specifically).  Supportive people are also usually allowed to help you complete and submit the paperwork so long as you consent. And supportive people are usually allowed to accompany you to appointments - where I work instructors are encouraged to take students to supportive resource offices/people if the student is open to this support. Supportive people generally, however are often asked to wait nearby if you are speaking to a counsellor-type person (though might be allowed present for more general services with your consent and insistence).  At some point, yes, you would need to speak for yourself but you are allowed to cry and take your time while you do it and often still to have a supportive person present or waiting nearby. It sounds like you have a supportive supervisor. S/he might know about existing services where you study and might be able to help you navigate the system, or at least find step 1. The systems are generally set up to be as easy to navigate as possible but there are still systems and post-secondary institutions still do need and want processes for various situations.

The nutshell of all of that is that your uni likely has supportive people and systems in place. It will be a bit stressful to access these resources but usually you are allowed to bring supportive people and likely will find the system people to be supportive. You do have options and you do not have to do this alone; it is likely there are people in place with training and expertise in helping you get through the uni-side of things so that you can concentrate more on your healing process.

Again, I write all of this only for your information and because I know that students are often unaware that supports exist to help them through tough times and while in tough times they are less able to figure it all out. Please, do what is best for you in your situation and best for what you want and need during this time even if that means ignoring all of this and doing something completely different.


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