Confusing patterns.

This is an older post about a very confusing time for me during my recovery journey. It’s very common for people with Complex PTSD who survived narcissistic abuse to believe they are narcissists themselves, but if you think you are one, most likely you are not. I definitely have narcissistic traits, some that I picked up from my abusers, others that may be inherent, but I don’t have NPD.

Two years ago, I became so certain I did that I actually started a second blog about it. That blog has been taken down, though some people did tell me they found it helpful and that makes me happy. It’s very common for people with C-PTSD to believe they have NPD. but I just couldn’t leave the blog up because it started to feel like a lie.

Lucky Otters Haven

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In the almost year and a half since I’ve been blogging, an interesting picture has emerged. I started to blog after I went no contact with my ex (actually very low contact since we have children) as a way to process having been a victim of narcissistic abuse, first by my family of origin, then by my ex. My focus for the first six months or so was primarily on my abusers, and my rage at narcissists in general. Most of my articles were about narcissists and narcissism, and I read everything I could about it too. I became close with other ACON (adult children of narcissists) bloggers. I wasn’t ready yet to take a good long look at myself and what I could do to help myself, other than staying far away from abusive people. But it was a very good start to a journey that proved to be…

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The “Four F’s” of C-PTSD

This article was originally posted in April, 2016.

I also wrote a review of Pete Walker’s wonderful self help guide for survivors of complex PTSD, which you can read here:

Book Review: Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving by Pete Walker 

Lucky Otters Haven

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I just began reading “Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving” by Pete Walker. I can already tell I won’t be able to put it down (I will write a book review when I’m finished, which shouldn’t take long). I’m also going to bring this book to my next therapy session because I want my therapist to see it.

Walker, who is a therapist and also a survivor of narcissistic abuse and sufferer of C-PTSD, is an engaging writer and definitely knows his subject matter. In one of the first chapters, he discusses the “Four F’s”–which are four different “styles” of coping that people with C-PTSD develop to cope with their abusive caregivers and avoid the abandonment depression. Whatever style one adopts may be based on several factors–natural temperament, the role in the family the child was given (scapegoat, golden child, “lost” or ignored child), birth order, and other factors.

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Available…

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Checking in.

The place where I am staying for the HeartSync training seminar (The Aqueduct in Chapel Hill, NC) is very beautiful, but I also get a very bad Internet connection so it’s extremely slow and I also can’t get the pictures I took to load.   The property is in a heavily wooded area.  As soon as I am able (probably when I get home on Friday) I’ll share the photos as everything I have learned–and it’s a lot.   More than I could have imagined in my wildest dreams.

I have a LOT to say about this week and what we are doing, and the unbelievable things that are happening to me, and that I have witnessed happen to others.   I understand a lot more now about why I became the way I am and what happened to me and why.   This experience is probably the most intense emotional and spiritual adventure of my life, and it was sorely needed.  It’s miraculous the way all the many obstacles were moved aside so I could have this opportunity (my being able to attend didn’t seem possible a few weeks ago), because this is where God wants me right now, and he can move mountains if need be.

It’s a lot of hard, hard emotional work.  But the benefits are more than worth it.

I didn’t realize just how much more healing I had to do, and how very broken I still am.  I am still so far away from where I want to be.

But my faith in God has strengthened tenfold if not more.    I felt Jesus’ presence VERY strongly in the training room both today and yesterday.  I became emotionally overwhelmed several times  but I also knew this was a very good thing and I was releasing pain and trauma and feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit indwelling in me.

I have very powerful “guardians” (psychological “protectors” that keep the functional/conscious part of the mind separate from the emotional/unconscious part.  With abuse and trauma, these guardians become numerous and powerful.)   Guardians aren’t in themselves “bad.”    These guardians are necessary and help us keep good boundaries, and for people who have suffered trauma and abuse, the guardians helped us to survive.  But they can also do their job too well and shut you off from being able to connect with your emotions, with others, or even with God.   They are the ones responsible for setting up protective defense mechanisms, whatever they are.

Today, one of my primary guardians apparently stepped aside long enough to allow me to drop all my normal defenses and release a motherload of trapped pain.  That happened because God can get through to certain guardians.

That experience, which happened this morning, rocked me to my core. It started as a trigger during a process called the Immanuel Approach, in which you are instructed to remember a “five bar moment” when you felt connected to God.    For some reason I misheard the facilitator and believed I heard her tell us to find a moment where we felt connected to God through a connection with another person.  I tried to think of something and just couldn’t.  All I could think of were my connections to God through nature, music, or art.  I didn’t know how to connect with people. Hell, I didn’t even know how to talk to them.   I was already feeling very emotional and triggered, and that started yesterday, but manifested at first as a lot of undifferentiated emotion, not necessarily bad or unpleasant.

But today was different.   My perceived “failure” during the exercise made me feel like I was dying or going crazy.   I realized only later that I wasn’t reacting to this small mishap (or perceived mishap); what happened instead is this “small thing” brought my abandonment trauma out in the open, and I was forced to deal with it.  But I wasn’t really alone.

I felt completely abandoned and lost. I lost any semblance of composure because I realized I’d never really had a spiritual moment or real connection with another person–and therefore I believed I couldn’t do the exercise.   I shot up out of my seat, ran out of the room and started sobbing as soon as I got out the door.  I blindly ran around the back of the building, collapsed on the steps and started sobbing like I haven’t sobbed since I was a child.    All those old feelings of being incompetent and unlovable came flooding back.  Also painful feelings of abandonment, not fitting in, being rejected, always being the odd one out, feeling “different” than others, and also feeling like no one could be trusted.  I felt like a loser and a fuckup.  I was convinced no one really liked me and I didn’t fit in here or anywhere else and never would,  and I should just leave.   I also felt a wave of hateful envy toward the people there who had a stronger “functional” side than I did (more on this later).  And then beat myself up mentally for having such ugly feelings even toward the person who had helped me get here.    What was I doing here, anyway?  I didn’t belong here.  I didn’t belong anywhere.  I never had.

But God wasn’t about to let me just leave–or leave me stranded crying into the void.    I looked up into the trees and demanded to know why he’d bring me to this place only to abandon me and make me feel like an unlovable, incompetent fool.  Was he playing some huge cosmic joke with me as the butt of his joke?   I was angry and felt the void inside me threaten to swallow me whole.    My whole body was shaking with sobs and I was hyperventilating.  I felt so weak I couldn’t even stand.  The sobs just came in uncontrollable waves.  It scared me just how much I was crying.  This wasn’t the soft crying and shedding a few quiet tears I’ve done in therapy or by myself on occasion.  This was deep, raw pain coming from a very hidden place where I have never ventured to go. The abandonment trauma was unleashed and right in my face.

The shaking was an important part of purging trauma.  All higher animals and humans do it. I remembered seeing a Youtube video about the way animals release trauma.      If an animal has been attacked and survives the attack, they will initially freeze, and then as the trauma is released, they will begin to shake and tremble as if convulsing.   I remembered and incident with my cat and a rabbit about a year ago.    My cat had caught a bunny and I managed to get her mouth opened so she dropped the bunny.  Fortunately, the rabbit was unharmed.  I put the cat inside and came back outside to try to make the rabbit run away.  But when I returned, the rabbit appeared to be having convulsions.  I though it had been mortally injured, but then it suddenly stopped and ran off across the yard.   I didn’t realize what had happened until a few months later when I saw the Youtube video explaining this phenomenon.

Finally, I asked the Holy Spirit to come and fill all the holes left in my soul by trauma and abuse.   (It’s not necessary to have a cognitive memory of the original trauma–in fact it may not be possible if the trauma was very early, because before the age of 5 or 6, myelinization in the brain hasn’t been completed yet.  But even though a cognitive memory may not be possible, you can still have an emotional/somatic memory.  More about this later).

And suddenly I “heard” God say (in my heart) that he loved me and had me exactly where I was supposed to be — releasing pain and trauma.   He told me all these things I believed about myself were lies that I’d been programmed to believe by my abusers and traumatic things that happened when I was very young.   It also turned out the facilitator had never even said anything about  having to remember a moment of connecting to another person; I heard the words wrong, so sure that I was required to “connect” with someone in order for this healing process to work.

That’s all I can say right now.   I will write a lot more about this experience and how HeartSync itself works (and the theory behind it) when I get back on Friday.  It will probably be a long post.  I have so much more to say. Although this is in no way “fun,” I have a feeling it’s going to change me in profound ways that I can only imagine right now.

I’ll explain a lot more about how this process works when I return.  Right now, I am drained emotionally and mentally but pleasantly sleepy too.  My Internet connection sucks, so a more detailed article and photos will have to wait.

 

“An Open Letter to My Abusive Husband”

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A very courageous woman named Samantha wrote this “open letter” to her abusive, narcissistic husband which appears on her blog The Narcissist’s Wife, which I recommend for anyone trying to divorce or leave a narcissist.

Her “open letter” had me on the edge of my seat because it’s so triggering and fits right in with the article I just posted about “Daniel.” Narcissists all follow the same rulebook: Idealization and promising you the world, followed by The Devaluation and finally straight up abuse.

I am only posting the first part; to read the whole article there is a link to read the rest on her blog.

An Open Letter To My Abusive Husband…
By Samantha Matthews / July 22, 2015

Things were bad right from the start, but I was too young and naive to see it. That’s why you picked me, isn’t it? I was so trusting, and innocent. I had no idea you were broken, no idea our relationship wasn’t normal. I believed you when you told me I was messing up, and I didn’t question you. You could control me, keep me at arms length, and enjoy all the effort I gave into making our “relationship” a success.

And then, one day, I started to notice. Notice how controlling you are, how you turned everything I had issues with back on me, and how you never admitted you were wrong. I notice how you never listened to me on anything, and would later tell me the same truth after you heard it from another source. I noticed how you discounted my opinions and called me a hypochondriac whenever I felt sick. I noticed how you kept me separate from your friends and your social life, and resisted any efforts on my part to make couple friends we could hang out with together.

I noticed how you left me to grieve my grandfathers death alone, and didn’t give me so much as a hug. I noticed how you hid my engagement ring and let me search frantically for an hour before you told me you had it, and how you thought that was funny even though I was in tears.

I noticed how you lied to your friends, your boss, and your family, easily and without a good reason, just because you didn’t feel like doing something. I noticed when you told me about the drugs you did for the entire time we were dating/engaged, how you changed when you stopped doing them. I noticed that I never even knew you had been lying to me then. And how you thought that that revelation shouldn’t change a single thing in our marriage.

I noticed when you complained about how boring the hospital is while I was recovering from having our first child and pushed me to rush us home, and how you discounted all my pain and discomfort during my second pregnancy even while I was working 6 days a week at our business and taking care of a four year old.

I noticed how you never helped me in our business, even as you yelled and raged at me for how poorly things were being run (in your opinion) and how I needed to do more at the shop. I noticed how even when you committed to doing something, I ended up being the one to take care of it. And I noticed how you took and took and took money without contributing at all. To the extent that we ended up having to close the doors. I noticed how you blamed me for that too.

I noticed how you have discounted, dismissed, and mocked all of my accomplishments over the last 13 years. How you tell me the things I’ve done don’t count because they weren’t as good as what someone else did. You tell me I don’t follow through with anything, but you sabotage my efforts and make me feel horrible, and then throw it in my face if I do anything different than what you would do.

I notice how you talk about people behind their backs and say horrible, judgmental things about them. And I checked your phone, I saw how you say those same things about me too. How you mock me and only refer to me as the wife, as though I am not anything more. I notice how you put me down in public and deliberately humiliate me in front of our friends, in order to tell a story or try and make yourself look good.

Read the rest of her article here:
http://www.narcissistswife.com/an-open-letter-to-my-abusive-husband/

Chicken soup for abuse survivors.

I love Delusion Dispeller’s videos. Follow her on Youtube.
This is so inspiring and I love the butterfly she wears on her cheek.