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Messages - I like vanilla

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31
Family of Origin (FOO) / She's trying to hoover me... UGH!
« on: December 16, 2017, 04:41:12 AM »
I have been no contact with my parents for more than seven years, and low contact for several years more than that (including several attempts at no contact before getting hoovered up again). I have been making peace with the idea that my parents never really loved me. My mother is an uNP and my father an enabler with abusive, explosive rage. I suffered all forms of abuse at their hands.

I have found a good therapist, whom I have been seeing for three years. I have been working hard at recovery and at having a good life with good loving people in it. I have largely been succeeding, with some snags, obstacles, and hiccups along the way I am moving forward step by step. I have even started being good with the idea that I will likely be spending the holidays on my own (my friends are out of town with their families and the parts of my family that I still speak to are far away). I have had a rough few months (fighting suicidal ideation, etc.) and am finally getting my feet under me.  I have made plans for self care days with activities that feel good to me and have actually been looking forward to a nurturing break.

Then - KAPOW! I get home today and discover that my NM has sent me a Christmas card. UGH! Seriously?!? How does she always seem to know when I am starting to feel a bit better??? I feel like someone has tried to pull the rug out from under me. UGH!!! It has been years since I have heard from her, the last about four years ago with emotional blackmail with the veiled threat that my father was ill and I must see them before 'it's too late'... then blissful nothing. But now THIS!! Do the hoovering attempts ever stop?!?

Please, someone tell me that the hoovering will stop at some point... OK maybe don't because I suppose I unfortunately would not believe it anyway.

UGH!!

32
Successes, Progress? / Re: Identifying real feelings
« on: November 26, 2017, 05:55:53 PM »
blues_cruise that is great - the feeling your feelings part, anyway. It is difficult to feel feelings, especially uncomfortable ones like sadness, and especially when we already have a pattern of response that we must first overcome that hinders us from feeling our feelings. You did it! Great job!

Plus, feeling feelings is a HUGE step towards healing. So, great job there too.

33
Successes, Progress? / Re: The battle cry of a psychiatric nurse
« on: November 24, 2017, 04:09:53 PM »
Redrat, thank you for sharing such a hopeful story.

The world needs more people like this nurse. We need more people like this nurse. I am glad that you have her on your side.

34
The Cafe / Re: Superhero therapy
« on: November 21, 2017, 03:18:47 PM »
I like the idea of superhero therapy, and have on occasion sought them out myself.

But, I have also hit the wall that virtually all of the superheroes out there (in the comic-book-and-other-mass-media sense) are male. And the female ones tend to be half naked and/or weaker/'less' than their male counterparts. So, I have never really been able to find a superhero that I connect with and am often triggered by the ones that are out there (I was called a 'tomboy' as a child because apparently I was 'doing gender wrong' by playing outside instead of baking with dollies in the kitchen). Admittedly, Violet and Helen on the Incredibles are fairly good ones.

35
Successes, Progress? / Stood up to manterruption
« on: November 21, 2017, 03:10:39 PM »
Yesterday, I learned a new word 'manterruption': when a man speaks over top of a women as if she were not even there.

This happened to me at a seminar at work yesterday. During the Q&A several men asked questions of the male speaker; one of these men even taking up much more than his share of the Q&A time. Finally, there was a space for me to ask my question. Before I had gotten even half a sentence out, the speaker spoke right over the top of me, responding to the question that he thought I was asking rather than the question that I would have asked had I been allowed to speak. I spun into an emotional flashback and missed both his response 'to me' and the rest of the session. I left the session shaking and upset and went to hide in my office. Then, I got angry.

I went back to the seminar room. The speaker and some of the audience were still there, so I waited until he had moved away from the main group (almost chickening out but holding my ground). I then approached him and politely but assertively said 'I feel frustrated because I tried to ask a question but you interrupted me halfway through the sentence'. During this sentence he tried to jump in and interrupt me to make excuses, so I had to start the sentence again and repeat the whole thing. I could see him realizing that he had just done it again. I continued 'you let the men finish their questions but spoke right over me while I was talking. I need you to know that. I need you to be aware of that because I felt really dismissed.' Fortunately, this time he got it. He apologized for having spoken over me and thanked me for pointing it out to him. I am not sure that he fully got it but do think that he got it enough that he will take it away and think about it.

I feel so proud of myself for having done this. Partly, I am happy because the speaker teaches post-secondary classes and really does need to be aware that he does this because if he did it to me, a colleague, it is likely he is also doing so to his students who are somewhat lower on the arbitrary hierarchies that exist in academia (and the students are in much less position to object). Mostly, I am happy because that was REALLY difficult for me to do - I had to go and cry in the washroom afterward because it was so emotionally stressful to me. I am (re)realizing how strongly conditioned by my FOO I was that I both had the initial response to accept being spoken over as if my voice does not matter, and that it was also so difficult to speak up to an older man about his poor behaviour. In my family my NM was the largest, most obvious problem and speaking up against her was lethal. But, I was also raised in a 'father knows best' household (all of us ignored mother behind the scenes), and had a father who would explode in vicious rage-filled temper tantrums when thwarted by someone lower on the hierarchy than he was. So, to stand up to someone who is so much like my father was particularly difficult and I DID IT. And I know that I was right to do it. I feel no guilt or regret, just proud of myself for standing up for myself. I DID IT!


36
Friends / Re: Looking for advice
« on: November 21, 2017, 02:50:19 PM »
First, great job in asking for your tent back. That was a difficult task and took a great deal of courage on your part. I hope that in the midst of this kerfuffle that you have managed to take a moment to feel good about yourself for that.

After that, I think Rainagain might be on to something. Yes, you want your tent back. If someone borrowed my tent I would want it back too, both for the principle and for the fact that I would hate the idea of having to get a new tent because I find shopping stinks. But, I am with Rainagain in wondering if you might not also be seeking reconnection with this, ahem, 'friend'.

The fact that this friend calls herself a narcissist is a red flag. Years ago, when I started on my healing journey and still was dismissing and ignoring my instincts about people I was reading self-help books on how to be in a good relationship and how to spot those who are poor choices for friendship and romantic relationships. The advice from one book (apologies because I can no longer remember the title to provide a source) was to the effect was 'if someone tells you that they are an a$$hole then believe them, or at the very least avoid them'. The idea are:

 >quite often people who are a$$holes (narcissists, bullies, etc.) will tell you that so that they can take advantage of you and treat you badly and when you complain can respond 'but I told you that I am an a$$hole'.

>Alternatively, the person is not really an a$$hole but is saying so for another reason, e.g. to seek reassurance from you (us) that they are not a$$holes. The problem here is that this person is in a bad place emotionally and psychologically (for which we can sympathize and empathize) but instead of seeking help from a professional who can guide them forward on their healing journeys, they are seeking out a co-dependent who can subsume their own identities, lives, and healing journeys in order to spend their time bolstering the ego of the insecure person who is unwilling to do their own healing work.

Either way, the person is a poor choice for healthy friendship.

So, I hate to say it but you might have lost both your tent and your friendship... But if that is the case you will, at least, be in a better place for not being with someone who claims narcissism as a personality trait and the cost will have been your tent (rather than your car, home, other relationships, self-esteem, and even Self).

37
General Discussion / Re: POLL #2 - Re "Complex" in CPTSD
« on: November 21, 2017, 02:34:00 AM »
I am realizing that the complex depends on what happens to the rest of the phrase. Currently the 'complex' is in the context of 'as opposed to regular PTSD'. If the phrase is changed entirely then complex is possible but not necessarily necessary.

p.s. is post #1 the first one on the thread where we started talking about the naming?

38
Successes, Progress? / At least I got something out of it
« on: November 19, 2017, 04:55:31 AM »
I hope I am on the correct board for this topic, and am OK if the moderators need to move it to a different board.

Since the summer I have been working with a career counsellor to move on from my dead-end job with an abusive work culture. At the start of the process, the career counsellor interviewed me, including discussing my FOO (as it is relevant to a number of topics such as management styles and preferred boss's style, etc.) as well as a number of standardized aptitude, personality, skills, and other tests. My counsellor and I went over the test results, combined with his impressions and intuition based on his experiences as a both a clinical and career counsellor. During the discussions, I realized how many of my really strong traits arose or were honed by experiences in my abusive FOO. I am the second-oldest of many siblings, and the oldest of the girls. Because my parents practise a particular form of conservative Christianity, and because my older brother is the golden child and likely somewhere in the cluster B world, I was the parentified child who raised my siblings, my parents, and myself from a very young age (in the single-digits). This situation necessarily forced me to learn skills and to hone traits in a very intense context - I am learning that from my child-self's perspective a life-and-death context. 

So, in going over the lists of my strengths and skills, I have started thinking, well, at least I got something out of it. Here is what I have gotten out of being raised in my position in my FOO:


I am gifted at intraspection
-I am extremely adept at reading a situation and knowing how everything, and for me more so everyone, fits together
-e.g. who is fighting with whom, who is having a bad day, who wants to be in charge, who is in charge, etc., etc.
-this is a skill I learned/honed keeping track of everyone and everything going on in my FOO because I was responsible for it and them all

I am very adaptable
-I can adjust to changing circumstances and not be phased if something does not go as planned
-actually, I rarely make plans (e.g. I go on vacation and decide each day what to do after I get there)
-being the responsible person in the chaos in my family forced me to learn this skill

I am able to work independently with little or no supervision
-that is the story of my life...
-of course, the other side of the coin is that I feel suffocated by a boss who pays too much (read any) attention to what I am doing

I am articulate
-I had the role of making my FOO look like the perfect family to the outside world, so I learned to speak well and present well to others

I am good at getting things done despite the BS going on around me
-again, the chaos of my FOO combined with my role as the only responsible person meant that I had to learn how to do this growing up
-currently, I work in the social justice/environmental movement where getting stuff done despite the BS is pretty much the way things are done
-and research shows many of us who were abused as children end up in 'helping careers' so I suppose my career path was also somewhat a result of my childhood (and I enjoy being in the sector I am in, even though I dislike my current employment)

I am resilient
-I can be hurt and disappointed but keep moving forward
-many people have hurt me, many of them FOO, along the way and I have had many disappointments, but overall I am functioning surprisingly well
--I have not accomplished this alone, having received support from my friends, sisters, T, and others along the way, but I have also had to do the work of overcoming my circumstances
-the downside is that I am now having to learn to feel my feelings and still keep going on (oh, that and I got CPTSD)

I think there are probably a few other traits and skills that I have gained or honed because of my, ahem, 'upbringing' but these are some of the strengths that were highlighted in my discussions with my career counsellor. Now, CERTAINLY, I had some of these traits to begin with and likely could have practised them in more healthy ways (and I am finding these ways as I move forward in my healing journey). And CERTAINLY, I would NEVER have and NEVER would choose to gain and hone these skills through being abused. NOR would I ever wish this type of practising on anyone else (there are a small number of people I might wish evil upon, but in other ways...). BUT since I did have the childhood that I had, and since I have no time machine to go back and find my infant self a better home, now what I can do at least is think 'well, at least I got something out of it...'

39
General Discussion / Recovering to 'Me Now'
« on: November 19, 2017, 04:14:31 AM »
I am not sure if this is in the correct category, so am OK if the moderators move it. It is about recovery but also a bit of a philosophical exercise too.

There have been discussions on this forum, and in my life, about the 'me before', in the sense that resources for people with PTSD talk about 'getting back to the you you were before the bad thing happened'. Of course, for those of us with CPTSD there are 'bad things' that happened.

More complicated, for many of us who have CPTSD as a result of childhood trauma and abuse (including me), the 'before' does not really exist. For me, the abuse likely started from the day I was born, and continued until I separated from my FOO. Actually, beyond that as the legacy of my FOO meant that I was still choosing abusive relationships until I got further along on my healing journey. In my case, as for many of us here, the 'before' would be 'infancy' (at, ahem, 'best') but really 'pre-natal' would likely be more accurate. So, there is no 'me before the bad thing(s) happened' to go back to. Now what?

Lately, I have been working with a career counsellor. After hours of aptitude, personality, skills, etc. tests, we have come up with a number of career paths that I would likely be really good at. I have narrowed these down to about seven those that I would be good at and would likely also make me happy and fit my values. I am excited about these possibilities and can see myself doing any or all of them.

During this process, I have been realizing how much of the abuse directed toward me by my FOO, in particular my uNM, was focused on stifling the person that I was trying to be, at that time mostly just an independent Self separate from her. The messages were also aimed toward hindering me from undertaking activities that might lead me to happiness, satisfaction, fulfillment, or any type of 'success' (where I define success as the three characteristics listed, plus making a positive contribution to the world). As I got older these stifling and hindering messages also included ideas that I may never find work that I find satisfying and fulfilling. I am also unfortunately discovering how many of these stifling messages I have internalized and which I must now fight against as I continue moving forward in my career work.

Along the way, it also occurred to me that these potential career paths are essentially the 'mes' that I would have/could have been had I had a good or even good enough FOO. In exploring these career paths, I feel like I am entering parallel universes where I can see myself as I had grown up with a good enough FOO. I also feel like I am being given an opportunity to re-capture the me that was lost to me - really that was stolen from me by my FOO.

So, now I think part of my healing journey has a goal to figure out not who the 'me was before the bad things' but who the 'me is now that I can reclaim her'... if that makes sense?  I had despaired over the idea of any ability to claim the 'me before' as that goal is essentially impossible. But, now I have some hope, because figuring out who I am now, and who I can be, is possible... and I am excited and curious to find out who I am...

40
General Discussion / Re: Is there even a cure?
« on: November 17, 2017, 04:55:01 AM »
I think there is a cure. I do not yet know what it is, but I know that I am significantly better now than I was when I first started seeing my new-ish T. And, I know that I am going to keep trying. I think too, that CPTSD is a relatively 'new' thing in the mental health world. PTSD only became a diagnosis in ~the 80s and CPTSD does not yet officially exist in the DSM as a diagnosis, so the ability for anyone to do research on treatments is severely limited (largely because there is a lack of funds to research CPTSD due to CPTSD not actually officially existing). The Spartan Life Coach once said something to the effect of 'there is a cure, even if I have to keep going until I am in my 80s, I will keep trying and will keep working with you (the viewers) to get there.' I am with him. Even if I am in my 80s, and have not yet gotten there, I will keep trying.

After that, I have had the 'how can I get to my before when I was an infant when the abuse started' discussion with my therapist. We came to the same conclusion as Obscure and Obscure's therapist - with childhood-originated CPTSD it is not so much a matter of getting back to who you were before the bad thing happened, because that is just not an option for us. Instead, it is a matter of figuring out who you are now. I am also working who I want to be and trying to move in that direction.

I think that this concern is yet another reason that we, as a community, need to have CPTSD recognized as a condition separate and distinct from PTSD. Hopefully, at some point, the decision makers will finally agree with us and with the experts, such as Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, on this issue.

41
General Discussion / Re: Change "complex" to "cumulative"
« on: November 17, 2017, 04:38:35 AM »
I wonder if Dr. Bessel van der Kolk would have a stand on this topic. He was one of the lead people that managed to get PTSD recognized as a diagnosis. He is also one of the few researchers out there that I have found who recognizes that CPTSD is different from PTSD, and I am someone who enjoys this type of research so have made an effort to find journal articles on the topic (many of the others I have found are led by members of his team, and/or his grad students). I have seen him speak on Youtube, read some of his articles, and read The Body Keeps the Score. My sense is that he is fairly strong-minded but also that he cares greatly about his clients and everyone with CPTSD, and that he is truly driven to do what is best for us.

42
General Discussion / Re: Husband narcissistic
« on: November 15, 2017, 05:06:42 PM »
In some good timing, Richard posted last night a video about 'the fastest, easiest test for narcissism.' In the beginning of the video he gives a really solid description of the dynamics between the cluster Bs and the rest of us, including how the cluster Bs 'win' at their interactions with us.

43
General Discussion / Re: Husband narcissistic
« on: November 15, 2017, 12:48:40 AM »
Ah, gaslighting and projection. Two of the favourite tactics used by narcissists and cluster Bs everywhere...

I hate to say it but the only way to win against a narcissist in this type of interaction is to not engage in this type of interaction. The cluster Bs are experts at these types of conversations and, unlike us, have no conscience to stop them from engaging in behaviours that might hurt others' feelings.

Those of us with consciences often fall into the emotional-response pattern because we try to fix the problem, try to help others 'see the light' and understand how their behaviours impact others. We who are conscientious have such a difficult time understanding that the cluster Bs will never see the error of their ways, that they have no interest in seeing any errors in themselves, so we engage, argue, put our best explanations forward. Trying, hoping, trying to make it work. But the cluster Bs are unable to respond constructively. Instead they gleefully suck up all of that emotional energy to try to fill their empty selves. It is impossible for them to do anything else.

Have you heard about the grey rock technique? The grey rock technique allows for interactions when NC is impossible (e.g. the narc is a spouse, parent of shared children, a boss, etc.), but also disarms the narcs. Grey rock means giving neutral, emotionless, bland, boring responses, refusing to give them the emotional reactions that they seek and that they need.  It is difficult to do, especially at the start when the narcs push back hard to get an emotional reaction from us. But, I have found it very effective with narcs that I am not able to go NC with (e.g. my narc boss). Narcs feed on the emotions they arouse through contentious discussions (the narcissistic supply); that is the whole reason that narcs start these conversations in the first place. Grey rock starves the cluster Bs preventing them from sucking the emotional energy straight out of us. It is difficult, especially at the start but I have found that it is worth doing.

Whenever I want to fall into the old pattern and give a cluster B the emotional reaction they seek, I remind myself: 'never wrestle with a pig; you both get dirty and the pig enjoys it'.

44
Wow! That sounds very stressful!

If it helps, maybe the lawyer had some non-case-related reason? I am no lawyer so do not know what reasons people can use to ask for a delay. But, I think 'maybe he won a trip  and has to go at a particular time? Maybe his partner is due to have a baby at the same time? Maybe one of his other cases got delayed and now he needs to bump this one? Maybe he is not feeling well and needs time to recover?'

45
General Discussion / Re: Change "complex" to "cumulative"
« on: November 14, 2017, 05:43:06 AM »
Just wondering if multiple might be more commonly used  than cumulative. And if syndrome instead of disorder might be a better fit.

Even the post part isn't always accurate--sometimes the abuse or abusive patterns (syndromes) continue through life, so it's not just an after-trauma abuse problem.

What about MAIS--Multiple Abuse Injury Syndrome? At least this term doesn't carry a blame-the-victim hidden bias. Or pattern instead of syndrome--which comes out as MAIP--Multiple Abuse Injury Pattern.

 :yeahthat:

I like MAIS. It is more descriptive and accurate than CPTSD. Plus the acronym can be more easily said that CPTSD, as MAIS spells out a word.


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