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Messages - 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 / Re: Two Great Quotes
« on: January 18, 2020, 12:21:06 PM »
I love these. :) I think these quotes can apply to both the survivor and perpetrator of abuse too. The perpetrator has the option of owning their actions if they choose to and ultimately our own responsibility is to protect ourselves from their poor behaviour when they choose not to.

Going Low/No Contact with Abusers / Re: Feeling shame over no contact
« on: January 18, 2020, 12:12:08 PM »
Ultimately he hurt me time and time again with no acknowledgement or remorse and it just became unbearable.

You've hit the nail on the head when it comes to forgiveness for me. I used to feel so guilty, ashamed and as I later came to realize, angry when I would read something about forgiveness. For me forgiving would be not only be turning my back on younger me and what she endured, but might invite more trauma because like your F my NPD parents  do not acknowledge their behaviour nor feel remorse and that will never change.  If I don't keep my distance and keep that in my mind the abuse will repeat itself if I open that door again.

I do feel compassion now I know my parents developed NPD because of a lot of trauma in their lives as children, but I find I have to be careful not to let that overtake me so I do continue to protect myself.

Yes, absolutely.  :yes: Having done a fair bit of reading on trauma I do recognise that my father shows a lot of signs of having been traumatised himself and I feel empathy for that because I know how horrible it is to go through, however I also recognise that we all have a choice and that it's not my responsiblity to take the emotional blows for him. Rather than do the enormous amount of self-reflection and healing work needed to break the cycle he instead chose to self destruct and carry out the very same abuses to all his children. This just baffles me as I can't imagine why on an earth a parent would do this to their children with the full knowledge of how horrible it is. Any empathy is just non-existant or completely miniscule. I think acknowledging his pain is as close to 'forgiveness' as I can get without enduring contact and the sacrifice of my self-identity that would go with it.

Going Low/No Contact with Abusers / Re: Feeling shame over no contact
« on: January 01, 2020, 07:44:31 PM »
Thank you so much for the supportive replies and happy new year to you all.  :)

Reacting to this is completely understandable Blues, TBH it is why I am apprehensive about the proliferation of trauma coaches on the internet and cautious about what they advise.  We're (survivors of relational trauma) just beginning to understand finally we need not feel guilty or ashamed and that in fact staying in contact with our abusers may inflict additional trauma and/or trigger old trauma to the point where we cannot feel/think clearly enough to recover and heal.

Thanks Kizzie and yes, absolutely. I mean, I'm all down for forgiveness which is what this coach endorses, but I think boundaries and self-care are just as important, if not more so. There's no point in forgiving a parent for past wrongdoing only to have them attempt to do it all over again. Plus I don't think 'one size fits all' when it comes to this. This coach apparently comes from a background of child neglect driven by her parents' alcohol and drug abuse but when she was a vulnerable child it was obvious to outsiders that she was being badly abused and neglected and as a result she had trusted teachers and neighbours around her who would help her, if only via small acts of kindness or offering brief stays of refuge when her parents were kicking off. In my situation (and I expect this is true for a lot of us) no-one had a clue how bad the psychological abuse and emotional neglect was at home and since I had no obvious signs of malnutrition or bruising it was assumed that my dad was a good parent. My mum played along with the delusion too so outside closed doors all was assumed to be fine.

Blues-cruise, I admire you for following your heart's instincts.  :applause:

I also concur with Kizzie that there's too many self-proclaimed self-help gurus out there who lack credibility pretending to help vulnerable people. I know of one highly-acclaimed author who was praised for inventing a word ('woundology') which is no more than a cleverly disguised put-down of abuse victims. Based on what I've seen,  she has no notion of what she's talking about, except perhaps feeding off of those trying desperately to find some way to find hope.

Survivors deserve understanding and empathy, not taunts and suggestion they're somehow to blame for their circumstances.

Personally, one of the best things I could have done years back was to go non-contact; and stick to it. I'm still haunted by much of what went on, but followed my heart in staying clear of further damage I might have come by had I succumbed to the guilt flag some tried to wave in my face.

Best to you -- none of this is ever easy.

Thank you woodsgnome, regardless of how hard it often is I don't think I would ever have started the self-care necessary to feel better had I not have withdrawn from contact. No longer do I have to endure the dreaded anxiety of imminent phone calls, the frustration of being bullied during the call and then days and days of emotional recovery. Such wasted energy.

I think you're right, it seems like some of these self-help gurus are in a position where it could be easy for them to take advantage. I do think the one I was looking into means well but clearly has little background knowledge or understanding of how insidious and permanent the effects of personality disorders can be, particularly the purposeful psychological manipulation of the abusive parent. The most comfort I get is from others who have been in a similar situation and have an understanding of how it feels, plus published authors such as Pete Walker and Bessel van der Kolk who have years of experience surrounding trauma and whose work and insight I feel better able to trust.

:grouphug: for you blues_cruise.

fwiw I have tried to explain to FOO why I can't maintain contact but in their narc way they twist up my words and just plain don't listen. They play devil's advocate instead and try and find a flaw in my reasoning or prove I'm using the wrong words etc. So I think doing a fade-out NC is just fine!! I know I'm not the only one whose words just don't get through.

Thanks Blueberry. I'm fairly sure that upon receiving a letter of no contact my father would instantly have phoned all family and friends up to play the victim and smear me to all who would listen. It's what he did in the past whenever I dared to defy him after all. And yes, my words would have been twisted! Ultimately he hurt me time and time again with no acknowledgement or remorse and it just became unbearable.

The sad thing is, I think he does have lucid moments where he wants to make an effort and it really feels like a punch in the gut to reject that when in the moment he probably is genuinely trying to do something good and reconcile. I just think it's so fleeting, plus his unhealthy coping mechanisms (i.e. using other people as an emotional punchbag) are so deeply ingrained and his ego so massive that he would just feel entitled to continue mistreating me and pushing for too much unwanted contact if I gave him even a foot in the door. Before resorting to no contact I was willing to communicate via email only but he threw it back in my face and insisted on phone calls, which just created far too much anxiety within me.

Anyway thanks again all, it helps to share this stuff.  :hug:

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) / Re: Distancing myself from enablers
« on: July 08, 2019, 09:19:06 PM »
Thank you for the encouragement and support everyone.  :)  :grouphug:

Wonderful that you are choosing to avoid the rabbit hole and let go of the people and things that keep the CPTSD running full steam Blues. Going NC/LC with my family has been so healing.  I hadn't realized that contact with them required as much energy as it did and that I was constantly reacting to them versus living my life.


Thanks Kizzie, yes, the energy spent reacting to the FOO is so tiring and it's a relief to feel my mindset start to change. No contact with my father really does feel akin to escaping a cult, or at least how I imagine it might be feel (scary and confusing!) When I saw the photo of him though I pretty much just thought, "Ah well, I know what he's really like" and got on with my day. It does feel like progress.  :)

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.  :)

She was given an ice cream cake to celebrate her leaving and she shared it with everyone but me.

 :witch: >:D :snort: That's a horrible thing to do! How petty too, it screams volumes about the type of person you were dealing with.

You can't stop the emotional flashback but you can acknowledge that although this person's behaviour is entirely about them and not you, it still hurts to be treated like that. I hope you're feeling a bit better a couple of days on. I mean, yay, the  :witch: has flown away!  :cheer: You don't have to deal with her ever again.  :hug:

General Discussion / Re: How do you say "no"?
« on: June 11, 2019, 09:43:03 PM »
I've met some people who just ignore or blank parts of conversations where they clearly feel their answer is no.

These are successful personable people, they just skip elements during conversation they dont fancy responding to and move on.

It might be an easier technique to practice than actually saying no.

They maintain momentum in interactions which is something else that needs practice, I cant do either, but I admire the skills.

That's interesting, I wonder whether they successfully get the "no" through via tone of voice and reaction alone? Might be one to practise.  :)

bc, i really related to your words about being shouted down, etc., so often that even the tiniest inconvenience toward another feels dangerous.  working on saying no, for me, has been a process.  along w/ that has been the idea that if someone asks me for something, i've got to do it 'right now' (i can hear my father's voice ringing in my ears as i wrote those words.)

i think what has also helped me w/ the idea of "when" it's appropriate to say 'no' has been checking in w/ someone else, either here or in real life.  i hadn't the faintest idea, except perhaps when i truly felt like i was in a dangerous situation, what types of requests, suggestions, etc. were ok to say 'no' to.  as i asked for guidance in this area, i began to be able to see more clearly where my boundaries belonged and what types of situations were edging over them.  then i was able to practice w/ more confidence as time went by. 

knowing and understanding our boundaries and rights as humans is something we should have been taught from the get-go.  re-wiring our brains takes time, patience, and practice.  best to you.  i'm better than i was at this, but, dang, it can be confusing.  love and hugs

It's like trying to get somewhere in a canoe without being given a paddle. Yeah, we should have been taught these skills from an early age and I'm angry that I wasn't. I was shamed for being 'shy' whilst being actively encouraged to never stick up for myself in the FOO. It's nice when someone else understands, thanks sanmagic7.  :)

General Discussion / Re: How do you say "no"?
« on: May 28, 2019, 08:45:56 PM »
Thank you all for your advice, really helpful stuff for me to think about. It dawned on me last night that I don't even know why I worry about the effects of saying "no", since I'm the black sheep of the family anyway and can't really win either way! My mum's way of coping with my uNPD father was to submit to anything and everything he said, so I think I've still got that outdated survival mechanism in place.

Humans are built to be social. Instinctively, primitive man banded together to form stronger communities, hunting parties, etc. We have developed to express our individuality but in ways that do not put our position in the "tribe" at risk. To behave in a way that puts us at risk of rejection is to risk abandonment and danger, putting our very survival in jeopardy.

I'm reading a great book at the moment by Marisa Peer and that's exactly what she gets across. It explains the unwritten hierarchy in disordered families too. I certainly always knew that my place was to be seen and not heard.

FWIW it sounds like you do know but like so many of us here who have been taught to ignore our boundaries and feel guilty, selfish, bad ..... it's just difficult to put ourselves first.  Maybe somewhere to start is saying "No" to small things that will not upset the apple cart too much and then try bigger things once you get used to enforcing your boundaries more?

Yep I think so. Unfortunately I panic easily when faced with needing to be assertive too, which makes me all the more self-conscious about having to do it. Building up to it with little things probably is a good idea. I doubt I had a safe enough environment to start testing the word "no" when I was a toddler and I more than likely got shouted down and made to feel scared, so ingrained in me is probably the core belief that expressing anything that might inconvenience another person, however tiny, is dangerous. In fact, my physical reaction to it really is quite extreme (racing heart, tremors, etc.) so I think way back before I can remember I was made to feel terrified to show any defiance. I don't imagine for a second that uNF would have been sympathetic to toddler tantrums or crying. It helps in a way to realise this so that I don't blame myself too much, just need to do a bit of brain reprogramming so that I can cope a bit easier as an adult.

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:

Family of Origin (FOO) / Re: Conditional Love and Parents
« on: March 04, 2019, 10:01:29 PM »
Hi goblinchild.  :) What you describe sounds like my father and his approach to parenting, which was always inconsistent and based on what I could give him rather than any expectation being placed upon him to be the caregiver. I relate to what you say about your true self not being the actual target of your mother's attention and affection and know how soul destroying it feels not to be seen or heard.

I think my point in wanting to share all of this is that I'm beginning to feel confused. Even when I'm away from her I'm starting to have a harder time feeling genuine. Finding that core in myself that I like, identify with and feel can give and receive love genuinely is getting harder. I feel like I'm loosing it in a haze. When I'm in a situation where affection is being given or received I just snap back into that old mentality and even though I hate it and it scares me it's like I'm wearing a mask I can't take off. I feel like I have to be something other than myself or act a way other than what I feel. Present a front. I wish I could understand it better but it scares my brain numb and I feel like I'm trying to think with a block of swiss cheese.

I understand that I've conflated receiving love with embodying someone else's coping mechanism and internalized it to the point where it's difficult to "take off" when I'm dealing with people who aren't my mom.  But I feel so sucked into it when I'm with her. How can I be around her and not be sucked in?

It is really hard. I'm no longer in contact with F but it was exhausting being confined into my little box when around him to 'keep the peace' while desperately wanting to explore who I really was. I felt like an empty shell for so long. When you've been brought up within a toxic family value system you naturally accept it as your lot because you always had to growing up in order to survive. I think when you then see other people's ways of living more authentically and healthily as an adult it's natural that you want to experience something more genuine too, but the transition is very difficult when individuating has always been actively discouraged.

Something that's really helped me is the concept of having healthy boundaries (with everyone, not just a parent). The toolbox on the Out of the Fog website has really good pointers on this: and perhaps it would be a good start as you work out how to navigate what you are and are not comfortable with. Ultimately if your mother's behaviour is upsetting you then it's not healthy and you shouldn't be expected to forego your own peace in sake of hers. I hope this makes sense.  :hug:

Family of Origin (FOO) / Re: Rightfully Indignant at FOO
« on: March 04, 2019, 11:56:31 AM »
Hi Dandelion, such a great post.  :)

You sound like a loving, fun, respectful person to be around and I'm glad that you're now starting to see that and surrounding yourself with what sound like good people. What you said about your outer critic has struck a chord with me and made me see that I'm struggling with similar: I'm convinced people will belittle, hurt and abandon me, with little trust or benefit of the doubt ever given towards them. I'm so glad you're making in-roads with this, I hope to start working on doing the same.

I strongly suspect that your FOO felt threatened by your intelligence and genuinely witty sense of humour and as a result bullied you using crass 'humour'. Except you were never in on the joke, which is just cruel. Why anyone would do that to a child rather than loving and celebrating them for who they are I will never understand.

The clear days are so good when they come and I think they're insights into what healthy is. Wishing many more for you.  :) :yes:

Inner Child Work / Re: Having your books and toys given away
« on: January 29, 2019, 05:27:48 PM »
Thanks for the responses, it really helps validate how I feel on this one. Was wondering if I was being a bit too sentimental or silly for missing these things.

I remember the connection with the person who gave it to me; or the time spent with that particular object, for example, hours spent reading a favorite book, etc; all the feelings associated with that could be a stick or a rock (I'm fond of both), so it's not the monetary value of the thing.

Yeah, that's exactly it, it's not just the physicality of the item it's what it evokes. I could lose myself in my imagination as a child and a lot of these toys and books helped me cope with a scary childhood. For me, choosing to give my stuff away first and foremost was just more of the same attitude of, "Well, it's only Blues' things." The frustrating thing is that I think he did ask me at the time if he could give these things away and as a naive teenager I didn't realise how precious they were so I didn't protest. He still actively chose to give away parts of my childhood though rather than decades of his own clutter. Plus now my life is relatively much calmer now it's easy to forget how quick he was to fly into a rage when he didn't get his way. I suspect I probably just said "yes" to have some peace and not set him off as my only focus at the time was to get out of that living situation as soon as possible. There was no room for sentimentality and I guess now I'm out of constant fight or flight mode I have the capacity to reflect on these things.

I do have a few books I managed to hold on to, so maybe I had some foresight at the time or had been keeping them safe without knowing it. That's something to hold on to I think.

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:

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