Little Miracles.

GodsGrace[1]

God keeps sending me all these little gifts and surprises that are becoming proof to me that he listens and cares.   I’ve written about a few of these before.  A few others are too hard to explain so I haven’t talked about them. Another one happened today, sort of a big one.

Katie from Dreams of a Better World blog and I have been having a lot of discussions (in the comments) about the nature of suffering and what it means.  She’s also written some excellent and moving blog posts about it.    A whole book could be written about this topic (and maybe has), but here’s the short version of what we both think suffering means.

God doesn’t cause us to suffer or make bad things happen.  He isn’t a big bully in the sky. But he allows those things to happen and asks us to trust him when life looks hopeless.   He uses those things so we learn to lean on him, and then he will begin to show us in small ways that he is there, and that increases faith.

What happened today seems like a dream, but I think it’s the beginning of a spiritual awakening…maybe.   Time will tell.  I know I’m changing, and they are all good changes. I don’t think these changes would be happening without God and the reason why things never changed before, was because I wasn’t ready to trust him or lean on him yet.  I was still too proud and too suspicious and untrusting and skeptical because of my past. But you need to lean in completely and just let go. But that came later.

You reach a spiritual low that can go no further, in our cases caused by prolonged abuse, and one day we realize we must fight to survive.   But we’re so weak and beaten down, how can we fight?   But we do.   We get angry at first, and rage and pound our fists against the walls and at the sky and maybe at God himself.  But soon the angry fires burn themselves out and are replaced with a sort of openness.  I can’t explain this openness but it happens after the anger.  It’s like you’re empty and waiting.  Waiting for what, you don’t know.   You’re exhausted.

If you’re a writer, you start to write. Katie and are both write and that’s the tool God has given us to draw us closer to him, and to help us make sense of what happened to us. So we started blogs. For someone else, it might be art or music. Creativity is very close to spirituality, and it is given to us through grace.

That’s when God steps in.

And then everything begins to change.

Getting back to the conversation Katie and I were having in the comments about suffering, I decided to go to Mass today.  I never go on Saturday but something told me to go today.  The homily was about–

You guessed it.  The nature of suffering and how God uses it to humble us and mold us into who he wants us to be. 

I couldn’t believe it. This couldn’t possibly be a coincidence.   I felt my heart open.  Wiping away tears, I looked up at Jesus on the cross and whispered thank you.

After a lifetime of not knowing what I was put here for or what I wanted to do, and not being passionate about much of anything,  the clouds are finally beginning to clear and some kind of plan is coming together for the rest of my life, and it’s nothing I could have ever dreamed up myself.

Whenever I tried to make choices without God, I always made the wrong ones and was back to where I started or worse.   But now, I’m finally starting to see the path that God has laid out for me, because my faith is growing.  And it’s the little miracles like what happened today  that are helping with that.

 

 

Advertisements

Am I am empath?

sad_angel

I’m a little scared to post this, but I’m going to anyway. I’ve never regretted posting anything I’ve felt shy about posting.

Until very recently, I always thought people who say they’re empaths sounded a bit grandiose or even a little narcissistic. I never thought I was an empath, but as some of the toxic thinking patterns I was so trapped in begin to fall away (this is a very slow process!), I find that I’m better able to “see” things I couldn’t see since I was a small child. The “things” I see are what lies behind the facade all of us have to some degree or another, a facade which narcissists have become so effective at building that their real selves are all but obliterated (but they’re not really).

I was very emotional as a child and felt everything around me intensely. My sensitivity made me not only prone to being a target for bullies, but also physically vulnerable: I spent a lot of time sick and I had many allergies.   I had terrible ear infections that left me nearly deaf in my left ear.  The doctors said I was healthy and couldn’t figure out why I was always so sick.

Abused by my narcissistic family and the bullies at school, I gradually learned that it was too dangerous to fully feel my emotions or to connect with people on an emotional, meaningful level. I was made fun of or punished in some way. So I shut myself off from feeling anything but the most banal or self defeating emotions, only those that concerned myself or ensured my survival: fear, anger, jealousy, frustration, boredom, sexual desire, and a pseudo-love known as limerence.  Rarely could I feel true sadness, joy, love, contentment, friendship, connection with God or nature, or caring deeply for another.  I felt like I couldn’t connect with other people meaningfully but was still always quick to take offense to insults. This manifested in unpleasant ways like “going off” on people or losing control.   I often scared people with the intensity of my rages and low frustration tolerance.   Fear–a survival emotion–remained dominant.   My programming told me I needed that fear to survive, but it sure hasn’t made for a pleasant time of things, and made me afraid to take any risks at all.

Worst of all, my heart became closed.  I stopped being able to laugh or cry with abandon or with another person.  I loved the idea of getting close to others and having meaningful relationships, but the reality was just too scary and the relationships I did have were either meaningless and shallow or unhealthy and toxic.   I learned to isolate myself from others and avoid other people because other people meant pain.  I isolated myself not only physically, but by making it difficult for people to be around me.   I couldn’t stick with anything.  I couldn’t finish anything.  I couldn’t achieve anything.     I was afraid to fail because failure meant certain rejection.  This is what my narcissistic family taught me.  This comprises the genesis of my BPD (which I think is finally beginning to fall away).

Five things have led to my ability to begin to let go and to reconnect with the self I lost as a child and young adult, listed in order of their importance to me.

1. My relationship with God
2. Therapy
3. Blogging and writing (self-reflection)
4. Music — it’s incredible how powerful it is!
5. Time spent in nature, including time with animals (they teach us so much)

I won’t describe the means by which these five things are working for me, since I have done that elsewhere and it would turn this post into a book. But what’s beginning to happen is I’m realizing I genuinely care about others. I never thought I did. It wasn’t that I didn’t care before, it was because I was so protective of myself I couldn’t let those feelings of caring be consciously felt. Now when I hear a fellow victim talk about a lifetime of abuse or scapegoating, I feel true empathy for them because I’m more able to allow myself to experience my own pain and process it and that makes it easier to relate to the pain of someone who went through similar trauma. So I can no longer say I’m really empathy challenged. I always had it in me.

Something even more amazing is starting to happen. I’m becoming somehow able to see the lost child in the people I talk to on both my blogs. I may have always had this ability. From the time I was a young child, I could pick up the emotions of others around me. When I picked up my mother’s emotions, she told me to stop “acting spooky.” I think my X-ray vision scared her.

But I couldn’t just throw up a false self and become a narc.  I lacked the right temperament.  It was always so hard for me to hide the way I felt. So I went into hiding instead–emotionally and sometimes physically–becoming a near hermit. I stopped being able to have any deep relationships, even real life friendships. I stopped being able to feel the higher emotions that bring us joy and deep connection with others.  These are symptoms of Avoidant Personality Disorder, which I had/have along with BPD and C-PTSD.

My life became drained of any joy or color. But now, I can see the hurt inner child in others, which is ironic since I still have so much trouble connecting with my own hurt child. This ability to see the real selves in the people who come to my blogs (or post on other blogs) even extends to people with narcissistic personality disorder. When I look at a narc now, I don’t see someone to hate or be terrified of, I see someone who didn’t get enough love and has no idea who they are.  I think of my parents and feel so sad that they spent their lives spiritually asleep instead of awakening to the authentic people they could have been.  But I don’t think they chose narcisissm–no child ever makes such a choice, at least not consciously.

I believe in No Contact. I don’t think any lay person can fix a narcissist and it’s always best to get away for your survival and sanity. But that doesn’t mean things are hopeless for a narcissist, should they sincerely want to connect with their real emotions.  More therapists are needed who have the courage to work with these difficult and often infuriating people. Therapists who can help them realize the potential to love and feel the real emotions they were born with, who can help them break down the strong fortress they have built around themselves to keep everyone out.   This must be done by professionals, and it can take a long time and it won’t be an easy road. I think there must also be a spiritual component, an acceptance that there is something–if not God, then some Intelligence or Presence–that is greater than all of us and is always healing and benevolent. I think the stigma is so bad that therapists either won’t treat them or give up when the going gets rough. Yes, some narcissists will leave. But some won’t, if the therapist is empathic and skilled enough and the narcissist wants change bad enough.

Both narcissism and C-PTSD and other problems caused by abuse all have their roots in childhood trauma. Why only focus on healing for the victims? Narcissistic abuse is a terrible thing. But it will continue as long as there are narcissists walking around allowed to get away with turning people into victims. If we can get to the root of the problem and help the narcissists themselves, then narcissistic abuse will end and there will be no more victims either. It’s analogous to alleviating crime in a city by addressing the problem of poverty that led to it. As long as you ignore poverty, crime will continue and there will always be crime victims.

I seem to have an uncanny ability to see the real, lost self behind a narcissist’s facade. This surprises me, because it seems like a quality an empath would have and I never thought I was one–just a run of the mill HSP.   But through therapy, prayer, being in the natural world, music, and writing, I feel like my heart has opened and with that, a kind of X-ray vision. I’ve actually had self aware and some diagnosed narcissists come to me (mostly on Down The Rabbit Hole) telling me the blog has helped them and they are learning from it, or admitting they want help.  A few have emailed me because they’re too ashamed of their narcissism to post on a public blog.  Right now, all I can do is try to offer encouragement and direct them to other resources. I feel empathy for them, just as I feel empathy for the abuse victims on Lucky Otter’s Haven and here too.   I wish I could help them more than I can right now.

robert_frost_quote

I think I’m being called to something–working with people with NPD (as well as other trauma victims)–that’s going to take a lot of strength and courage and could even be emotionally and spiritually dangerous if I’m not very careful or don’t know exactly what I’m doing. It’s going to take a lot of training, and right now there are a lot of logistical problems (lack of money or time to go back to school; getting older; not liking confrontation and being socially awkward in general). But I feel like God has a plan and some doors will begin to open. I can work on my awkwardness and fear of confrontation in therapy (and these things are a result of low self esteem, not an “introverted” temperament). Working with people with NPD is something very few people dare venture into.  It’s also something a lot of narc-abuse survivors have trouble understanding.  A few even think it’s wrong.   I don’t believe it is.   I’m not ready to do it yet. But I feel like this is the shape my life is taking and the reason why everything happened the way it did. It was the reason for all my suffering.

Born an empath to narcissistic parents, they could not handle my ability to absorb the feelings of those around me and “see through” facades. They worked day and night to disable my gift because they were so afraid of it. But in spite of everything, I still have the gift and I want to use it to help people like my parents, even if my parents rejected the illumination of truth that gift had the power to reveal.

Suffering can create maturity in survivors

There are a few people in this world that astound me with their ability to find the silver lining behind every black cloud and these are the people who always inspire me to do better. Katie is one of them. You should follow her blog because it’s awesome.

Please leave comments under the original post.