"Just" emotional abuse

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Rain

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"Just" emotional abuse
« on: September 23, 2014, 02:21:28 PM »
My childhood was a vacuum of what of was emotionally needed.

I am grateful to Pete Walker to detail this in his Surviving to Thriving book, that the core of abuse is emotional abuse for us all.   I did not have the outer layers of abuse that make me gasp and cry when I read many of the stories detailing sexual, physical abuse here at OOTS.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2015, 01:42:42 PM by Rain »

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globetrotter

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Re: "Just" emotional abuse
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2014, 03:48:42 PM »
That's very interesting. I understand the emotional abuse and neglect - curious if your grandparents drank? The patterns follow forward. My parents were both drinkers.

A friend of mine is going through EMDR, and I kind of wondered the same thing - so many years, so many memories - how do you address every one of them?

My therapist is a big fan of Peter Levine and Somatic practitioner. She always asks about how my body is reacting when we talk about trauma, and I have to check in to be aware of it. Usually, I'm shut off from the physical reactions. I think it's excellent how you are focusing on how your body reacts and are addressing it by relaxing vs numbing out, which is my M.O. I think that grounding exercises and meditation are helpful - though I myself am really bad at finding time for those things. Do you ever try breathing exercises or meditation?

Re: "Just" emotional abuse
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2014, 04:42:18 PM »
Rain, I am not experiencing exactly the same symptoms, but I think I'm in the same boat.  I too was "only" emotionally abused and dealt with a lot of criticism.  I too grew up alone in my room (though my isolation was by choice; being alone meant not being around my borderline mother).  No alcohol/drug abuse, my material, physical and educational needs were taken care of, and we looked like a normal family to everyone around.

I started therapy in 2011, ended up going no contact with my mother in 2012, she died in 2013, and now I am back in therapy and having emotional reactions to things from childhood that I never had reactions to before, to the extent that I had thought I just hadn't cared about some of them.  I only started experiencing full-on emotional flashbacks and panic attacks after I started therapy.  I don't shake and tremble, but I have felt like I was about to go crazy and I have had panic attacks where I have felt the need to hide, avoid windows and go into a closet, etc. even though I was alone in the house and live on a quiet street.  You are not alone in what you are experiencing. :hug: 

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Rain

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Re: "Just" emotional abuse
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2014, 05:17:35 PM »
Wow, Finding Your Voice.   This validates a lot for me!!
« Last Edit: April 11, 2015, 11:19:23 AM by Rain »

Re: "Just" emotional abuse
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2014, 06:48:03 PM »
My CPTSD is mostly from emotional abuse and neglect, and my parents weren't addicts, nor had they PDs. My father had an accident that changed him forever. My mother went into "crisis mode" for the next twenty years. She rarely had any time for me once I stopped being a small child. She was swallowed up whole by work. I took that as a matter of course. It seemed so obvious that our own concerns had to wait until my father was cured. It took me years to realize: yes, she was overworked - but she also chose to prioritize other things above me; she regularly unloaded her accumulated frustration and rage onto me, so I never know what eensy little thing might set her off; and she very resolutely discouraged me from doing anything that was messy, or loud, or meant I had to leave the house. I spent most of my time in my room, doing quiet things that were easy to hide. (Writing. Drawing. More writing. Then writing in English because I was worried she'd read my stories.) The rest of my time I spent watching TV with my father, who never talked to me or acknowledged my existence in any way. I rarely left the house, because if I was out of her sight, she was worried sick. The boredom of it was unimaginable. I used to ration activities out. To this day, I connect to tales of arctic explorers in a way I can't ever connect to "happy childhood" tales.

As for EMDR, do it with someone who knows about emotional flashbacks. My therapist had no idea. Neither had I. What she told me is: she'd do that tapping thing, I'd close my eyes, remember a scene, and then memories would come up - visual or auditory memories. What came up was simply just a feeling of absolute horror, of utter panic. I gasped for breath and said: "This isn't working! We have to stop! This isn't working! I want to stop!" (i.e., I wasn't exactly making a calm request - I was clearly panicking.) She asked me if I'd had any visual or auditory memories. I said no, there was nothing. She dropped the subject, and we talked about something else for the rest of that appointment. (She didn't even ask me if I was alright.) I was triggered and hypervigilant for three sodding days. And after those three days, I wasn't feeling fine, I was simply feeling the calmer kind of hypervigilant.

So for the love of all that's wonderful, please take VERY good care of yourselves. Pick a therapist who knows about CPTSD. Failing that, make VERY VERY sure that he or she knows what your flashbacks are going to be like. Or make sure your therapist will check for every last little possible sign of flashbacks, and will pay close attention to your reaction afterwards.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2014, 06:55:17 PM by schrödinger's cat »

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Kizzie

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Re: "Just" emotional abuse
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2014, 06:54:12 PM »
I agree Rain, our internal landscapes do seem to be quite similar and I think it that when it comes down to it, in the end it’s emotional abuse and neglect and we all suffered the same developmental arrests Walker lists in his book (p.22). 
 
The "just" emotional abuse thing had me stuck taking Prozac for years, decades actually believing I had chronic depression, it was "just me" and making no headway, just struggling to keep my head above water.  I thought because I wasn't sexually or physically abused I was not really abused although I realized from the Adult Children of Alcoholics group I went to that my family was at least  dysfunctional. I couldn't quite round the corner to abusive/neglectful though.  When I found OOTF I realized just how much my M's and B's PD behav was abusive/neglectful much like my F’s behav due to drinking. And then there was no going back to thinking "Well, it's just me."  My body sure knew and has kept letting me know all these years - I just wasn't listening.

I love the idea that for every symptom there is a cause.  It’s wonderfully freeing (and yes a little daunting ;D) when that realization comes - that those of us who suffered  "just" from emotional abuse/neglect are not making too much of things, that life in our FOO injured us and we need to be heard and to heal. 

One stray thought I had when I was reading this thread is that emotional abuse and neglect go hand in hand.  I see that my FOO were abusive quite clearly now, but I hadn't really considered that they were neglectful.  Being unable to connect with them whether it was because my F was in an alcoholic fog, or my M and B were doing their PD thing left me alone, very alone and very afraid.  I have had empty, cold house dreams like yours and never really understood why - essentially no one was ever home in my childhood.  So tks for sharing that, another piece of the puzzle has dropped into place  :hug:
« Last Edit: September 23, 2014, 08:46:30 PM by Kizzie »

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Kizzie

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Re: "Just" emotional abuse
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2014, 07:00:41 PM »
As for EMDR, do it with someone who knows about emotional flashbacks. My therapist had no idea. Neither had I. What she told me is: she'd do that tapping thing, I'd close my eyes, remember a scene, and then memories would come up - visual or auditory memories. What came up was simply just a feeling of absolute horror, of utter panic. I gasped for breath and said: "This isn't working! We have to stop! This isn't working! I want to stop!" (i.e., I wasn't exactly making a calm request - I was clearly panicking.) She asked me if I'd had any visual or auditory memories. I said no, there was nothing. She dropped the subject, and we talked about something else for the rest of that appointment. (She didn't even ask me if I was alright.) I was triggered and hypervigilant for three sodding days. And after those three days, I wasn't feeling fine, I was simply feeling the calmer kind of hypervigilant.

Holy cow Katz, that is exactly what happened to me!  Now having said that I don't want to spook anyone completely away from EMDR as a possible tool for recovery because I just saw the other day somewhere on some site (and I will try to find it again), a course in EMDR specifically designed for CPTSD.  And I would like to think it would have to be somewhat different because we have emotional versus visual flashbacks for the most part, and our trauma was ongoing.  The psychiatrist I saw earlier this year said using EMDR for CPTSD is akin to trying to unpick the noodles in a bowl of spaghetti - where to start? 

So if the T uses an approach designed for treating PTSD, it can make things worse (and it did for me - like Katz I had a panic attack that lasted for 2-3 days after each session).  What I do like about EMDR and the science backs it up is that it stimulates different parts of our brain so that we are able to engage the whole brain in our healing and that sounds very promising given the fact that we have entrenched thinking patterns. 

I'll see if I can find out some more on EMDR for CPTSD and post what I find. 
« Last Edit: September 23, 2014, 07:06:50 PM by Kizzie »

Re: "Just" emotional abuse
« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2014, 07:52:14 PM »
I like the metaphor - a bowl of spaghetti, exactly. Start anywhere and the rest will follow.

I had dreams of suddenly finding myself in a house that belonged to strangers. I had the clear feeling of being a trespasser, someone who definitely wasn't supposed to be there, and in every dream, I'd tip-toe and hide and try to find the way out, but the house was so big and labyrinthine that I never found it.

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Kizzie

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Re: "Just" emotional abuse
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2014, 08:49:28 PM »
I had dreams of suddenly finding myself in a house that belonged to strangers. I had the clear feeling of being a trespasser, someone who definitely wasn't supposed to be there, and in every dream, I'd tip-toe and hide and try to find the way out, but the house was so big and labyrinthine that I never found it.

Now that is a clear cut dream - at least it is to me now.  Your FOO's house did belong to strangers and there was no way out. 

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Rain

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Re: "Just" emotional abuse
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2014, 08:50:30 PM »
Schrodinger's cat
Your start in life sounds like fingernails scraping on a chalkboard, like it was slowly painful.  With the Susan Forward Emotional Blackmail book, I get the sense that when people get highly stressed, which moves them into the fear space, that they do these hurtful, selfish things.


Kizzie
I love when pieces of the puzzle come together.  :hug:
« Last Edit: April 20, 2015, 01:47:15 PM by Rain »

Re: "Just" emotional abuse
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2014, 07:59:06 AM »
Rain, thanks for your reply. It's funny - being validated in this is like having a load taken off my mind. And if somebody can avoid that same disaster that I experienced --- that makes me feel better about that crappy EMDR session, too. So thanks.

...With all the reading lately, like the Susan Forward Emotional Blackmail book, I get the sense that when people get highly stressed, which moves them into the fear space, that they do these hurtful, selfish things like a PD does.

Oh yes, I'd absolutely agree. Also, there's this: http://outofthefog.net/CommonBehaviors/TunnelVision.html. This explains SO MUCH.

A question to everyone. Emotional abuse and neglect isn't necessarily about the ONE painful incident, it's about what day-to-day life was like. So I noticed that I'm always feeling a lot better if I consciously avoid everything that reminds me of home. I moved to another part of our county, which in Europe is enough to make sure that people's accents are VERY different. My mother's kitchen has white walls, so we painted our kitchen red. My mother loves potted plants, so I'm avoiding EVERY SINGLE kind of plant that she prefers. If, on a Sunday, the radio happens to play the Schubert or Mendelssohn Bartholdy (the way our radio station did when I was little), I at once switch to a station that plays heavy metal.

I used to be super confused about this. Why am I feeling like Busy Lizzies give off bad vibes? Why is it always like petunias have cooties? Why do I see certain things and just get this feeling like - brrrr, I have to run the other way? I used to think I was simply being childish. Nowadays, I'm kind of using it as a chance to make myself feel better. If I'm getting this helpless, bored, lonely, EF feeling again, I'm sometimes consciously trying to find out if there's something too FOO-like around, or if there's something I could do that my FOO would NEVER EVER do.

Does anyone else get that? What are these even? Cooties? They're not triggers. Busy Lizzies or petunias don't trigger me. They just give off bad vibes.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2014, 08:23:38 AM by schrödinger's cat »

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keepfighting

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Re: "Just" emotional abuse
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2014, 09:37:29 AM »
A question to everyone. Emotional abuse and neglect isn't necessarily about the ONE painful incident, it's about what day-to-day life was like. So I noticed that I'm always feeling a lot better if I consciously avoid everything that reminds me of home. I moved to another part of our county, which in Europe is enough to make sure that people's accents are VERY different. My mother's kitchen has white walls, so we painted our kitchen red. My mother loves potted plants, so I'm avoiding EVERY SINGLE kind of plant that she prefers. If, on a Sunday, the radio happens to play the Schubert or Mendelssohn Bartholdy (the way our radio station did when I was little), I at once switch to a station that plays heavy metal.

I used to be super confused about this. Why am I feeling like Busy Lizzies give off bad vibes? Why is it always like petunias have cooties? Why do I see certain things and just get this feeling like - brrrr, I have to run the other way? I used to think I was simply being childish. Nowadays, I'm kind of using it as a chance to make myself feel better. If I'm getting this helpless, bored, lonely, EF feeling again, I'm sometimes consciously trying to find out if there's something too FOO-like around, or if there's something I could do that my FOO would NEVER EVER do.

Does anyone else get that? What are these even? Cooties? They're not triggers. Busy Lizzies or petunias don't trigger me. They just give off bad vibes.

It's African Violets for me - I still can't buy them because they were my uNPDm favorite flowers. They don't trigger me, I actually like their bright and cheerful colors, but I can't and won't buy them.

Frankly, I think this is a remnant of adolescent behavior - trying to assert ourselves as individuals. I don't know about you, but I've never really hit puberty - I had to be a grownup by the time I was 8 and missed practically all 'normal' stages of development. Asserting myself as an adolescent was not an option - it was too dangerous for me - so I'm guessing that avoiding things that were typical for my uNPD parents is really more or less catching up on my adolescence...

Emotional abuse often takes on the form of being kept so busy catering to the toxic person's needs that you just don't get the time to take care of your own needs or even learn to recognize that you are neglecting your own needs. It can also take on the form of emotional enmeshment so it's hard to tell where the toxic person ends and you begin... Maybe purposefully avoiding things that remind us of a toxic person is just a way of giving ourselves leave to take care of our own lives now?

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Rain

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Re: "Just" emotional abuse
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2014, 01:08:25 PM »
Thanks for the Tunnel Vision link, schrödinger's cat!
« Last Edit: April 20, 2015, 01:48:23 PM by Rain »

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bee

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Re: "Just" emotional abuse
« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2014, 04:35:08 AM »
It has been very difficult for me to admit I was abused. Made more difficult by my M going on about what a good Mother she is. She made a big deal about not physically beating us. Making sure I always understood that all difficulties were my fault. I was in so much mental pain as a kid, that I used to wish that she would hut me so that there would be evidence. She also brainwashed me with programming that all therapist and psychiatrist are shady. That they will all implant false memories, and they will all blame the mother. My M thinks ahead.

So it took me until my late 20s to see a T. I worked with her for about three years on coping skills, never once thinking that my M was not how all mothers are. I finally grasped reality in my 30's after going back to T due to a difficult life event. CPTSD symptoms escalated after I spent time with my mother last fall following about 8 years NC.
I still sometimes doubt myself that it was 'that bad'. More evidence of brainwashing I think.

I too have done EMDR. It works for me, BUT I would still caution those who are thinking about it. I worked with my T for years before we tried it. We started on things that were only mildly upsetting to me. She taught me how to calm myself, and we practiced it, a lot. She stops the EMDR, and goes through the calming routine frequently. Even with all this I had a session that I couldn't breathe at the beginning of processing the memory(I was terrified). It got better though. I am always exhausted afterward.

I love the suggestion to remove reminders of the past. That is self care that I can grasp. I have a tendency to think 'that should not bother me', and therefore spend energy trying to ignore it. It is very normalizing to see that it is ok to remove the thing that is bothering me. Now to try to pay attention to what triggers me that I can change.


Re: "Just" emotional abuse
« Reply #14 on: September 25, 2014, 07:24:48 AM »
I get these thoughts, too. "A truly mature person would be above even noticing such a petty detail." There's a thread somewhere around here about enmeshment and engulfment, and reading this was a bit of an eye-opener. The people who emotionally abused me tried to control me down to the tiniest detail. They rejected or abused my opinions, my looks, the way I walked, the food I liked, the way I worked, simply just everything. My mindset, my habits, even the furniture and the kind of tea I prefer, everything got attacked. The battle ground was everywhere. It's only logical, then, that even tiny things remind me of trauma. After all, even tiny things were pretexts for abuse.