Are You Being Gaslighted By An Abuser?

If you have ever been psychologically abused through gaslighting it may be a long road back to trust your true perception. This is a detailed explanation of what gaslighting is and how it undermines our reality. The gaslighter wants to warp your perception and bend your reality and when they do it leaves terrible damage in its wake.

Self-Care Haven by Shahida Arabi

50 Shades Of Gaslighting: Disturbing Signs An Abuser Is Twisting Your Reality

“Gaslighting is essentially psychological warfare, causing the victims of malignant narcissists to question their own reality. By playing puppeteer to the survivor’s perceptions, the manipulator is able to pull the strings in every context where his or her target feels powerless, confused, disoriented and on edge, perpetually walking on eggshells to keep the peace. Malignant narcissists take it one step further when it comes to their victims; they engage in concrete actions that pathologize and discredit their partners. They play the smirking “doctors” in their intimate relationships, diagnosing their victims like “unruly patients,” all while downplaying their own pathological behavior. While they can also do this through a smear campaign, the most covert predators tend to use more underhanded methods to come out on top. A victim whose credibility is weakened serves as ammunition for an abuser, because…

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Yes – we have an epidemic of depression

Yes, we have an epidemic of depression in our society today.  But truthfully, how could anyone today on some level not be sad?  The gap between how beautiful life can be and the way it too often is is heartbreaking. Anyone who is not on some level grieving the state of the world today is perhaps not looking very deeply.

We are depressed today because life is off. We’re depressed because too often we have no sense of our place in the universe, our relationship to the source of existence, a deeper sense of purpose in our relationships with other human beings, or any sense of reverence toward any aspect of life.  Our entire civilisation is ruled more by fear than by love.

Marianne Williamson

From Tears to Truimph

I am sharing this quote because so often in our society being depressed can be looked on as a moral failing or weakness but the deeper truth that I experience is that so often those who are depressed are those who can have a vision that is more closely in touch with the depths of a soul that suffered.  Pathologising people for depression is such a serious issue and we need to change it.

Undergoing abuse or despair or loss or abandonment leaves real scars on the soul and these are trying to make their expression heard in depression, so we need to listen with empathy to people’s real heartbreak and support them with feeling and expressing it.

I know I go on about this issue a lot on my blog but I feel very strongly about it and today I was triggered again to write this as a family member shared with me a horrific abuse she went through which she shared with her parents only not to be believed years ago.  I cannot share what it was on my blog as it is a private issue for her but I was so outraged when I heard what she had suffered and she has had a number of hospitalisations as a result.  If she had been supported, believed and empathised with at the time and her trauma dealt with she would never have had to be diagnosed with a  so called ‘mental illness’.

Turns out now certain teachers at her school are now trying to imply her son should be diagnosed with a speech impediment or with Asperger’s, she has also been told that he is ‘too caring’.  What the fucking hell is happening in our society?  Anyone who does not meet the mainstream, anyone who is sensitive or carrying certain different ways of being or processing information is then wacked with a diagnosis?  It is just pure craziness and makes me feel ill, it really truly does.

I felt so angry with my brother yesterday after finding out what he put my niece through all of those years ago.  I felt so ashamed that he is my brother but it now makes a lot of sense of how numbed out he is and apparently he has not one memory of his childhood.  It makes clear to me that we can only have empathy if we are connected to our own emotional reality and have a connection to our heart, feelings, pain, joy and happiness.   Of course we all live in separate skins and our experiences vary so often we cannot see things from another perspective, but to imply then that someone is lying or making something up, due to the fact it may rock our own view on things without making the effort to reach out and extend our minds and hearts in openness to me seems wrong.

This morning I have been thinking about what it comes to mean and how it affects us if we are not truly seen in childhood.  I opened my Hope for Today reader and read this reading a few moments ago :

Before Al Anon I had a false sense of self.  Because of their diseases my alcoholic father and mother who grew up in an alcoholic home couldn’t see themselves clearly.  They weren’t able to help me either.  As I grew up I sensed that my parents couldn’t see me at all.  I felt invisible and voiceless  I had no idea of my likes and dislikes, let alone what I would or would not accept in a relationship.  I felt empty inside.  When there did seem to be something inside me it felt like someone else’s experience.

The reading goes onto explain how slowly the person began to recover a sense of themselves by working through the steps of and learning about who they truly were inside.  About how doing so enabled them to throw off the criticism of their father and the feeling they were given by their mother that they were nothing but a burden.  By seeing themselves no longer through someone else’s eyes but through their own they slowly began to reclaim a sense of self.

It seems to me that the most important work of recovery lies in the inward journey of becoming more conscious of who we are and what we really feel independent of outside influence of what parents, education or society tries to tell us we are or should be.    Keeping our focus on our own heart is so important, as is recognising the value and meaning of our instinctive reactions to things, lest we be hoodwinked or bamboozled by others who in being damaged themselves try to force us away from certain responses or reactions.  The integrity of our soul when compromised in this way causes us so much confusion and unrest.

Luckily for my niece she understands her parents damage, not having essential needs met though has caused deep loneliness and suffering for her.  Through out it all, over years she has learned to rely on herself, but that self reliance at times has left her so alone.  Our lives have similar themes.   Her own suffering has made her wise.   Wise enough now not to take on the advice of psychologists recommending she have her son tested so to be diagnosed and labelled.  In this increasingly insane society it seems to me we need to keep our wits about us lest we fall for much of the clap trap that is being espoused.  We have to be strong and rely on the guidance of our deepest souls so as not to be bamboozled or led astray and if we were not seen and validated in childhood we need to address and heal that wound so that we no longer surrender ourselves to false outside definitions which keep us in locked in prison.

The power and necessity of self expression in healing trauma

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I woke late this morning to hear the tail end of a very powerful interview with an aboriginal writer and artist. Rhonda Collard Spratt who has recently written a book on the trauma of being one of the stolen generation, those precious young children who were forceably removed from family and community ‘for their own good’ by white people who actually invaded their country and set up missions to educate them out of their indigenous ways and subjected them to all kinds of abuse.

She was sharing about her experience, about the power of story and the importance of grieving for those of her people who suffered abandonment and abuse on an emotional level due to be stolen and were subjected to harsh discipline.  One of the things she said which really struck me were the words :  “Many of my own people are drowning in their unshed tears”.  She then spoke of the essential need to grieve, of taking that little one on our knee, caring for him or her, loving him or her, listening to his or her pain, letting him or her shed tears.

She also went on to share about how many times when she has tried to share her pain or her story she has been ‘shut down’ by white people.   I hear it myself all the time on various media, white commentators saying how its been going on too long and that aboriginal people ‘need to put the past behind them’.  Little understanding is given to how that is actually done nor is their a recognition that is a process and that what was stolen in childhood left wounds, wounds and memories that will always be there no matter how much so called ‘healing’ happens.

It is really only since the formal apology to aboriginal people in this country which occurred in 2007 that attention is actually being given to the grief of the stolen generation together with the recognition that what was done all those years ago caused great hurt and trauma which has left a lasting legacy, especially of addiction for so many.

In another interview last week a woman who was subjected to years of sexual abuse by a priest was speaking about her experience about which the movie Don’t Tell has been made.   Her therapist was also interviewed and she was saying how important an apology or recognition of what was done to children is, and how healing is blocked when we cannot find this.  I know this is an issue I have struggled with all of my life, mine was not sexual abuse, it was emotional neglect, invalidation and teasing but I have been so often gaslighted or blamed in the past that I learned to turn my painful feelings inside and medicate them with booze and drugs.

In the interview the aboriginal woman was saying how many of her own people have died due to medicating pain in this way.  She was speaking of how essential it is for others not to judge, to show empathy and understanding.  She then spoke about going back to one of the communities with a fellow sufferer where she had been abused and of how the person wanted to hit one of the priests she saw there.  The person involved would hang aboriginal children on the clothes line when they wet their pants, leaving them hanging their for hours.  My immediate thought was that the priest deserved a smack!  I was thinking about that, what happens when we are not allowed to express the anger in some way and of how grief is so much a part of that anger and may only be felt once and after the angry outburst can be expressed.

Internalised anger is, I believe, behind so many auto immune diseases.  It relates to pain gone inwards or internalised, buried deep inside the tissues, healing involves externalisation and ex – pression that we press the pain outwards and let it exit the body.  We need places to pour in into too, places to contain it, and validation is so important in this regard, for from my experience and understanding when invalidation or blocking of our feelings happens we can de – press it and all the now toxic unexpressed feelings and pain gets sent back inside to kick around in our systems where it burns and lives a vibrational charge and other imprints dumped deep in the cells.

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At the moment in Australia there is a huge push by aboriginal people for recognition of what happened to them in the past.  Deeply painful as it is, what occurred for indigenous races all over the world at the hands of imperialist colonialism is part of the evolutionary story of mankind.   These primitive people are immersed in the unconscious and connected to the earth and to the deep soul in ways so many modern people are not, due to the evolution of ego centred consciousness where religion and materialism became so powerful as a way of defending against and finding meaning when humans were confronted with the power of destructive forces, namely the Black Plague which killed millions.  To be black or of a different colour to so many whiteys was to mean one’s value was diminished.  A lack of empathy and a rugged need for possession and survival was what pushed so many to overrun and steal and kill and disempower indigenous races.  It was a case of the heroic ego gone wild.  Such stealing and killing and disempowerment forces live on, these things happen not only on an outward physical level, but also as deeply powerful psychic forces both within and without form any of us who suffer abuse and neglect or shaming of our emotional selves and are now trying to recover while being left with a deeply painful legacy of years of trauma.

And that is why it is so essential for us to connect to the child within us, that part of us that like aboriginal people can feel him or herself to be connected to the earth and stars, that natural joyous spontaneous part of us which reaches out in love, does not take refuge from fear in separation, attack and killing off, that part of us that is open to all that we feel and all that we see and all that we know deep inside.  When this part is stolen or when it goes missing or is buried deep down inside, we lose so much of our essential connection to spirit, we lose our powerful rebel yell, we lose our joy, our hope, our strength, our power to say ‘No’ and we become immobilised and have difficulty moving with the feelings to flow forward in healing, instead blocking them or burying them.

What was being spoken of this morning in that interview really concerned that process.  The advice she gave was to find some way to be able to tell the story of what happened to us, to sing it, to write it, to paint it, even to dance it out.  These are all ways of ex – pressing of pressing the experience out and giving it some kind of shape and form outside the container of our body.

In true healing we open ourselves body, mind and soul to our story, to whatever pain arises, we welcome it in, we give it a place, we say to it “I see you, you are real”, but healing involves also the deep recognition that this pain is not ultimately stronger than the deeper spirit in us which can open to be its container and can become then too the releaser too of what ever pain, feeling or expression needs to be liberated in the singing, in the writing, in the telling, or in the dancing.  This to me is both the witnessing and the shedding which are such necessary parts of healing.

In another interview last night a video was aired of a young man who went through a very deep depression and recorded his raw pain one night alone on video on his computer in a Tennessee hotel room.  He felt the only way to go through that dark night was to express it, and to have no shame, but to be naked, raw and real.  The video was shown last night on the Australian Show The Project.  He has now started a movement called The Heart on Your Sleeve movement which is a kind of counterbalance movement towards the social media sharing of happy, shiney experiences.  It is a movement to encourage those who struggle to express the authenticity of their experience.

So many of are suffering not only due to ‘mental illness’ but more as a response to the trauma history of our collective which is now seeking understanding and expression.  As I see it there is a deeper movement going on.  Its beyond what I can express this morning in my blog and breakfast is calling, but I think it involves realising that we all suffer and feel vulnerable, that strength lies in sharing that vulnerability, in opening our hearts to the truth, in banding together to accept and love and show tolerance, compassion and understanding.  To begin to pay more attention to depth of our being than the mere superficiality of our at times empty  or pretence filled ‘over doing’.  And that perhaps this awakening happening on such a collective level shows that as a collective we are at an essential time of growth in recognition and understanding towards a necessary evolution of consciousness in which as we connect to truths in our own cells we also connect to the cells of mother earth and learn how the ways we seek to run, deny or numb our pain impact there in terms of mass consumption and overriding of those indigenous cultures who have so much to teach us about how we could reconnect to nature within and without.  Its just a thought I will leave you with as I go off to get breakfast.

The cold shut down thing that narcissism is was never your fault

I get a bit triggered by recovery rage in terms of narcissistic abuse/recovery.  I still have a spot of compassion for the narcissist somewhere and when I think about it why should this be?  They act hurtfully without any care for our feelings putting their own needs first at every turn and then can act shaming and disparagingly towards us at the end when they dump and discard and blame us the victim who fell for it over and over and over again nurturing the seed they planted that some where, some how there was some fatal flaw with us.

Really it would be right to be raging mad and show no forgiveness.  But maybe the one we most need to show forgiveness for in this situation is ourselves.  If we continue to feel sorry for and or make excuses for the narcissist it will end up badly and we can and do feel ashamed for not having seen or for sacrificing our own tenderness and hurt on the alter of their devaluation or abuse.

The freedom for us only comes when we have the courage to walk away with our wounded heart.  We need to find those who will nourish our heart and help us to deal with the fallout.  I look sadly back on where I ended up around this time of year six years ago when the narcissist dumped me.  I had moved in with him, reluctantly and then accompanied him away on trip that I didn’t enjoy, sacrificing my own needs for his the whole way along.  I was not a victim as I chose to go because I had the empty hungry heart that was full of unresolved need from childhood and so many other ‘dumpings’.  Come to think of I it now I never had one partner who really every connected to me emotionally and I am sure that at the time of those other partnerships I was so scared of being hurt due to my past that I had massive defences in place against being hurt again and so at the first whiff of abandonment I would act out.   I now see in those earlier relationships before I got into recovery I too was emotionally unavailable.

Anyway this time six years ago I ran back to Sydney driving all night in my car ending up with a narcissistic relative who then kicked me out. I had a disastrous attempt at online dating, well not totally disastrous as I actually met a couple of good guys who treated me well, but at that point the wounds the narcissist had planted in me where growing into plants of pain that twisted their tendrils around all of my internal organs and made it impossible to sustain a new, loving connection.  And then sadly the realisation began to dawn that this was a deep wound that needed to be tended and healed from within, not outside.

I am so grateful that I eventually found myself a good therapist and for blogging and online information and support which really pulled me through.  But I also now know that a therapist only takes us so far in this healing, in the end it is our deepest self that needs to step in to love us and make us know that we were never worthy of the kind of abuse we had to put up with in the narcissistic relationship.  We didn’t fall for it because we were stupid, we fell for it because we longed for love but it seems to me we were naïve when we fell for the bait in that we had no reference for what a narcissist could do to us our of their injured self.  Because we have pure hearts that want to give and love that kind of thing is not on our radar and when it hits us out of left field we are punch drunk.

Come to think of that analogy when I first spent the night with my ex narc I got really dizzy.  It was the most bizzare energetic thing. I had been sober for 14 years at that point and I actually felt drunk.  I was so spun out by his energy that I got out of bed and then fell down and hit my head on the bedside table, that was the first of three ‘falls’ or going unconscious that I had in that relationship.  I wont go into all the ins and outs of the others on here but its clear to me many years later that something intense was going on energetically.

My ex narc had deep wounds.  He was deeply defended against grief.  Expressions of grief or compassion could send him ballistic.  For me to be with someone like that was impossible due to the grief I was carrying from all the hurt of my past.  I look back on those dark lonely painful years that led me into that relationship, of the accident I had had only 2 years before as a result of pain over the ending of my marriage when it proved to be deeply emotionally unsupportive and see how much my deeper self was trying to tell me something was wrong. For years coming out of the later relationship I blamed myself, if only I had done something different it would not have ended that way and the narc reinforced this view in email after email.  I now know that is DEFINATELY NOT TRUE.

I was only ever an innocent child longing for love, but that child also had to mature to understand that the world is full of pain and those who have been irrefutably deadened and damaged by it. There is no magic cure for narcissism.  For the narcissist to heal they would have to face depths in themselves which they rarely can.  So if you escaped and survived, please do not do what I did for over 4 years, do not blame yourself.  Do get informed on narcissism and learn about their damage, know it wasn’t anything you did or didn’t do or could or couldn’t change.  For in the end it was a learning experience; a  bitter, painful and excrutiating one for sure but one that led to a deeper darker education of your soul. The only one you have any power over is you and you need all of your power to heal and recover the wounds left by the narcissistic relationship.

The freedom to feel your feelings and think your own thoughts : some reflections on overcoming cognitive dissonance

One of the most interesting aha moments I had years ago was when I realised that a lot of what I thought was feeling was actually thinking disguised as and mimicking feeling. I remember catching myself trying to figure out how I should feel in a situation and then thinking myself into feeling it, but it wasn’t real feeling, it wasn’t how I truly felt in that situation and the difference between how I truly felt and what my mind had decided I should feel was so stark in contrast that it made me stop, observe the process and take stock of how often I may have been doing this with ‘feelings’.

Comment by blogger An Upturned Soul

How safe or secure do you feel feeling what you feel?   Can you trust the feeling, know it is part of you and that you have a reason for having it?  One of the most confusing sayings I heard in 12 step groups is the saying “feelings aren’t facts”.  On one level I get this we may be feeling scared in a situation in which there isn’t any thing to fear, but does that take into account that in the past we went through something really terrible in a similar situation so the past feeling was real, it might just not apply to this new situation?  There is also the tendency we can have to project feelings on others and think they are real when they may not be what the other person is feeling.

We may often be told by others “aren’t you over that by now?”,  or “haven’t you moved on?” or “what’s wrong with you?” That last one sparked the end of a very close AA friendship many years ago.  It didn’t address the emotions that were being triggered or the complexity of the situation and many years later the sayer of it has owned their own narcissism.    Is it other people’s right to say how we feel or should feel?  Is it really helpful for us to question our own feelings too much?  Are others right if we still don’t find ourselves in a space where we have fully digested the experience of loss or betrayal or something else? No, we have not been shown empathy.

Self doubt is not something we are born with.  Self doubt is something that gets sewn deep into the fabric of us in an invalidating environment.  The term cognitive dissonance is one that describes what survivors of emotional, mental and sexual abuse go through in and outside of the relationship.  It is a painful state of being that causes torment and agony in victims.  Here is an explanation from the brilliant and informative site of Kim Saeed who herself survived such a relationship.

Abusive relationships often reshape your entire belief system. If you are like most victims of narcissistic abuse, you experienced a distorted sense of reality throughout the majority of the relationship with your partner. When your partner’s alternating sweetness and rage suddenly defied everything you believed about him or her, you experienced an internal conflict known as cognitive dissonance. This created great self-doubt about your ability to predict a partner’s abusive potential in the future. As human nature asserts, you began to seek ways to remove the cognitive dissonance, most likely by denial.

Prior to the abusive relationship, you always thought you were not the type to fall under somebody’s psychological manipulation, but you did. When your awareness of the relationship first changed from feeling loved to feeling mistreated, you may have told yourself that he or she was just in a bad mood. As your partner began to exhibit more frequent bouts of gaslighting behavior, where he or she would deliberately confuse you and accuse you of acts against them, you felt very conflicted about your partner’s feelings for you. Early attempts to leave your abuser may have resulted in blaming and threats against you for daring to leave the “best” partner you ever had. This created a lot of cognitive dissonance.

When you act in ways that contradict your beliefs, it is another form of cognitive dissonance. Subconsciously, you will remove the dissonance with the same thought patterns that caused your dissonance to begin with.

Evasion of what you don’t want to acknowledge creates a sense of denial, and the dissonance it creates is known to destroy lives.

Twisting the truth eliminates the facts that you don’t want to accept, so it reduces the dissonant feeling.

Seeking validation from others can be good if they have your best interest at heart. If they are a negative influence in your life – such as your toxic partner – the removal of cognitive dissonance through these harmful methods will only reinforce your denial.

Refusing change of your current thoughts and beliefs allows you to adhere to them, removing the dissonance.

According to Kim the above are all negative ways of dealing with cognitive dissonance.  They play into the hands of our abuser who gaslights and tries to deny the fact they are acting in unloving ways.  It may be a way we seek to hide from a painful truth that would enable us to grow and separate.

The following are some positive ways to deal with cognitive dissonance taken from Kimis post:

Speak to a trusted friend. If you keep your troubles to yourself and continue contradicting your own thoughts and feelings, it only serves to perpetuate your confusion and self-doubt. Like it or not, you have learned through psychological manipulation how to abuse yourself in a similar way that your narcissistic partner inflicted upon you. The important aspect of this is to have at least one friend or relative whom you can count on for positive and unbiased support. Don’t seek support from friends and family who may be well-meaning, but only offer placebo advice such as, “Why don’t you just break up?” and “I don’t know why you stay with him or her, anyway!”

Keep a written journal. Express the confusion and conflict going on in your head and in your heart by just pouring those thoughts on paper. In doing this, you liberate the trauma and become more self-aware of your inner thoughts, allowing you to consciously shift your thinking. Go back to read your entries about once a week to observe the patterns of your thoughts. Observe whether they are becoming more positive, or if they are slipping back into denial.

Experiment with reading and writing poetry. Poetry can help you to remove your cognitive dissonance much like the journal, letting go of the trauma. It helps you connect to and express your deepest feelings and inner conflicts, fostering a sense of inner peace and tranquility.

Try to become more extroverted. Introverts are more apt to emphasize negative outcomes of trauma, whereas extroverts are more apt to seek positive outcomes. In addition, extroverts tend to seek input from others, broadening their perspective on life and situations, while introverts go out of their way to avoid the input. If you are introverted, it would be very beneficial to join some positive social groups in your community. Socializing with positive people who share your interests both personally and professionally can reduce cognitive dissonance.  (Remember to choose company that will emphasize new beginnings and positive outlooks).

Source :  https://letmereach.com/2015/08/07/cognitive-dissonance-removal-strategies-harmful-vs-healthy-ways/

I find the last recommendation very interesting.  If we can increase positive connections with those who are not emotionally abusive and with those who don’t foster our cognitive dissonance we are able to feel a lightening of mood which affects our entire being, in my experience.  Just yesterday I had coffee with a trusted friend who I could talk to about what was going on and who affirmed and believe me, it was such a nurturing experience.

When we choose recovery we need to limit contact with people who create cognitive dissonance within us.  Once we start to feel confused we slide back and lose the valuable ground we have had to work hard to gain if we have suffered emotional abuse and invalidation.  Knowing we have a right to feel what we feel and know what we know is very important.   As a close friend said to me recently, “our emotions come from our spirit”, so a spiritual awakening for me as spoken of in recovery is no mystical experience is it a case of being able to trust, act on and be guided by our real feelings and thoughts.

Healing from co-dependency and covert abuse

Healing from co-dependency is possible, but it is not easy. Many awarenesses need to be had before someone can actually begin reprogramming the subconscious mind with new healthy data. What children observe in childhood through repetition, observation and consistency becomes the framework for all future relationships, which includes the relationship with the self. Co-dependents have been conditioned out of any relationship with the self, because they have been programmed to worry more about what others think about them than what they think about themselves.

Lisa A Romano

https://www.lisaaromano.com/blog/codependency-and-covert-abuse

My life was on the verge of collapse when I walked into my therapist’s office for the first time looking for help. My mind had become a knotted ball, and my life was a matted mess. With every fibre of my being I hoped that this man could help me make some sense out of what my life had become. By the end of that first therapy session I had learned that I was clinically depressed, but that my depression was caused by co-dependency.

Being raised by two unrecovered adult children of alcoholics, was akin to being raised by alcoholics. At the time all these ideas were new to me, and I had no frame of reference to fit them into. I was simply a young, mother of three small children who hated her children’s father, who believed she had no right to feel what she felt.

For years I had stuffed my feelings, and learned to deny my reality for the sake of others. I had spent the better part of thirteen years trying to get my first husband to talk to me, so we could get on the same page….  As odd as it was to be diagnosed with a disease I did not understand, it was just as exciting to discover there was actually a name for what I had. What I had was a people pleasing disorder that prevented me from being able to honor or even connect to my self. Co-dependency, as it turns out is the product of emotional childhood neglect.

Although even the most well meaning parents can create co-dependent children, the main cause of co-dependency is childhood emotional trauma. Co=dependency begins to get rooted into a child’s psyche when they experience attachment traumas and grow up feeling emotionally, and psychologically invisible to those they love. When children are not mirrored back a positive sense of self, they are denied the safety of familial bonds that allow them to feel wanted, needed, loved and like they belong to those they love. When these crucial bonds to others are corrupted or denied, the brains of children go into survival mode.

Many children sadly are never able to move out of operating in survival mode, and instead get stuck in a state of fight or flight mode. Co-dependency is a disease of mind, body and soul. If you are co-dependent you may not actually understand that what is going on inside of you, is what is causing the hellish realities outside of you. …..many adult co-dependents have forgotten the wounds they were forced to deny so long ago. Healing requires us to awaken the dormant feelings we were forced to abandon, so we can integrate them psychologically and move from survival mode to thriving mode.

https://www.lisaaromano.com/blog/codependency-disease

C0-dependency is a result of being raised by self absorbed or emotionally wounded or unavailable parents.  We do not know this when we are wounded emotionally as co-dependents.  We have not been able to have our own reality.  We may have been told our emotional reality is wrong or distorted, as a child we cannot put the blame and shame back where it belongs but in adult hood we can once we have a name and label for what ails us.  We can then take steps to get informed, heal old patterns, undo negative self abusive programming and heal.  We can learn to set boundaries with our inner critic which is often an introject absorbed from the parent’s attacks that we internalise and use to beat our true self up.

Lisa herself has written several books available on Amazon.  I have her book of affirmations on Loving the Self.  Much of the self blame and shame we absorbed from dysfunctional parenting is not ours to own.  It was not our fault we were narcissistically abused.  We can take steps to heal  Self love, self care and information from positive sources and role models will help us heal, but first we have to break the programming and attachment trauma that tends us to bond with abusers or people like our parents.  We have to learn that the love we seek from outside in the end has to come from within by breaking down old programming and learning to love and value the precious child we always were underneath the damage, a child now an adult who needs all our love and support to thrive.

Why is feeling fully so problematic?

Why are feelings so problematic to us in this culture?   To feel means our body is in touch and connected to something, for example we feel the touch of our clothes on our skin or the touch of the breeze caress our face. The antithesis would be to be anaesthetised or numb which is what happens under the influence of a drug, for example during surgery or dental work or when as youngsters we learned from others or due to our fear to withdraw from feeling what we felt into a substance. in response to the way others responded to us feeling.

I know that emotion and feeling are not the same.  It seems to me that emotions have a mental component in response to what is done to us or how others respond to us feeling something.  For example, imagine a parent hugged you and it hurt and you went “Ow” and then your parent got angry with you or told you “don’t be silly, that didn’t hurt” how much more tangled and complex our emotions around that event would become.  We could begin to feel anger as a contraction or clenching in our body in response to unkind, unempathic, invalidating words and then we may feel fear and sadness and hurt as well, all as a response to others who responded to us in a certain way!   All sorts of things and sensations and responses would occur in our body as a result.

If we valued our parent’s perception we may begin to doubt ourselves.  “Was what I felt real if they said it was not?”  We may begin to believe that it is too difficult to feel as we did and so we must not feel that way.  But without knowing how we really felt we can’t really connect to the truth in our body and our cells. And if we tell ourselves we were wrong for having that feeling the result is the feeling gets blocked, it doesn’t move out and just work its way free, it gets stored inside, possibly with a lot of damaging thoughts.

How much better to say to ourselves.  Its okay, darling.  When they hugged you it hurt and then it hurt more to be told it didn’t hurt.  That doesn’t make what you felt wrong it means the other person didn’t show empathy and wasn’t sensitive to your feelings.

As children we cannot do this, but as adults who are beginning to heal from invalidation abuse we can.  We can learn to touch base with our inner child and no longer invalidate him or her or his or her feelings.  We can learn ways to recognise and self soothe.  We can learn when to withdraw from what is hurtful or damaging without making up a lot of stories about how we are wrong to do so.  Our body would feel heard which is where our inner child lives.

Our real feelings wont hurt us if we just recognise them.  One of my favourite quotes from Alice Miller an expert on narcissistic abuse of emotionally sensitive children speaks of how our true feelings never lie, they give us essential information.  Miller goes on to say that if you are with anyone a therapist or other person who invalidates your feelings you need to recognise this.  You need to limit involvement with these people until you can recover long enough to find out how you really feel  You can take your feelings seriously but without magnifying them.  You can let them be, let them breathe and set them free. They will not then possess you so much.

Validating your feelings is important.  If you are emotionally sensitive and were raised in an insensitive environment there is  going to be a lot of healing to do because you will, like me, have internalised many messages telling you to over ride, discount or doubt your own feelings.  Your feelings will then grow inside into a much larger force that gets attached to a lot of thinking and over-ruminating and your feelings will coagulate into a huge undifferentiated mass which if left til much later in life to unpack may threaten to overwhelm you.  It will be most important that you surround yourself with others who are able to validate you and not confuse you more.  In the end you will be the one who can then validate your own feelings and when you meet with emotional invalidation you will recognise it but learn not to take it too seriously.  You wont let the hurt lodge so deeply inside you.  At least that is my experience.

Swings and roundabouts

Sometimes its a rollercoaster ride in my head.  These days I am trying my darndest to get myself up, out and moving into the moment before my head does swings and roundabouts in the early mornings and then late at night I can get stuck in thinking things over and over again and coming up with inner deficits and concerns about my own narcissism which may or may not be true.  I think what is happening for me lately is I am beginning to see that as much as I have been a victim of trauma in the past there is also a part I can play in keeping it going in the present.

I feel the best way to tackle my inner confusion is to get writing and get honest about what is going on ‘upstairs’.  I am aware I often need a reality check.  Just the other day when I read one of my blogs to my therapist that I was quiet happy with, and she said to me “that was really beautiful”, I began to feel a glow of pride and then inner critic started to trash it in my mind. I shared this with Katina and as usual she just raised her eyes and smiled.

Last night I listened to two of Richard Grannon, the Spartan Life Coach’s videos on covert narcissism.  He was saying how we become vulnerable to being doormats to overt narcissists if we weren’t allowed to self champion in childhood and got slammed for asserting our boundaries and sticking up for ourselves.  In the second video I watched he went on to list the 2o traits of covert narcissists which may also result from childhood shaming.  Its  long video, 45 minutes in all, and I only got just over half way through as it was late and I was listening on my tab which was low on power, also I was finding it painful to hear, because going around in my mind was this thought  “wow I wonder if some of those traits don’t apply to me?”

It’s a constant dilemma when we suffer from narcissistic injuries and wounds from childhood to know that we are weak in some areas and feel shame or concern for our very real deficits.  One of the traits he was discussing was the covert narcissists tendency to ‘play the victim’, to constantly draw attention to childhood wounds and injuries.  I got to wondering just where is it that we can draw the line with these kinds of issues, when is complaining about our wounds a cop out, or when does complaining over and over turn us into covert narcissists?    After posting an earlier version of this particular post I happened upon some other videos from Ross Rossenberg on co-dependency one of which explained how remaining trapped in victim consciousness comes from a perceptual or cognitive distortion we take on that we are powerless over present abuse and just have to put up with it.

Many of us who have narcissistic injury or trauma wounds from childhood were not allowed to know it  We may have been told all the time ‘but I love you’, or ‘but you were so loved, or ‘I did it for your own good’.  It is hard enough to claim or feel justified in cataloguing our injuries, grieving our pain, learning we need to set boundaries and/or did not deserve this kind of abuse’ and until we know this, until we know what happened to us we cannot stop similar things from happening to us in the present due to the compulsion to repeat.

Richard actually discusses this kind of abuse in one of his videos, saying how it is much harder fro those of us who were abused and then told we were not (gaslighted) than for those of us who just suffered outright abuse.  We are not allowed to know what we know, see what we see, feel what we feel or hear what we hear.  I could really identify with this state of being which leads the alarming lack of confidence that is one of the big hallmark figures of covert narcissism.

Anyway you may be interested to watch the video so I will provide the link at the end of this blog.  I am going to discuss the issue with my therapist on Tuesday but I know what she will say and what she has said to me in the past :  “Deborah we are all somewhere on the narcissistic spectrum”.

Despite this I want to learn more about how my covert narcissism maybe affecting me so I can grow into a healthier adult. I guess in some ways I may always carry a level of insecurity that others who were affirmed in childhood consistently don’t carry.

Post script : after posting this and listening it to again I found a link to some videos of Ross Rosenberg on healing from self love deficit disorder.  I felt this lack of self love and sense of being trapped in victim explained the aspect of covert narcissism Richard touched on in a clearer way.  It helped me to realise I am not a full on covert narcissist, but I do have a deep deficit of healthy narcissism and have struggled with the deficit of self love which Ross Rossenberg discusses in the video I will connect to in the next post.

 

The precarious life of the emotional invalidee!

This title came to mind this morning as I was going about my life thinking about insights I had since learning yesterday of the concept of the sensitive emotionally invalidated person…… My therapist was explaining how precarious and difficult is the life of those who carry deep sensitivity in this life and meet with invalidation at every turn.. Seeing and feeling deeper than others can see and feel, they feel alone.  Sharing insights and feelings only to be told they are wrong, bad, confused or mixed up for feeling that way fucks with their heads, with their sense of self value and with the belief that they have viable inner stand point.

This precarious state of affairs was reflected in a dream image from last night.  When my disabled sister was alive and I was meeting her to take her to a movie or out to lunch, a maxi cab had to be called to collect her in her wheelchair,  since she was wheelchair bound for the later part of her life.  Last night I dreamed that she arrived in the maxi cab but as the wheelchair came out of the cab she had lost both her legs, they had literally been amputated from the waist down.  Thinking about this image today the phrase “I don’t have a leg to stand on”, came to me and the association to what my therapist and I had been discussing towards the end of our session yesterday.

My therapist often talks about the need and process of me finding my ‘sea legs’ a way of being able to hold onto a calm strong sense of an inner centre when powerful emotions come and I find myself met with invalidating voices within and without.

Part of what I experience on a bodily level together with my psychological issues  of self doubt due to emotional invalidation has been the feeling that I am being spun around in some way.  In one of my two major accident traumas I was literally flung head first over my bike doing a somersault and landing with my head cracked open by an iron foundry on the Mill Road in Cambridge while there in 2005.  Since this time that I have experienced the spins.  They come along around the time the accident occurred most evenings or just after I eat dinner.  At the time they occur it as though my body is flooded with phlegm, I am spun and drowning.  It is hard to breathe.  Come to think of it this reflects how I feel when I hit the stumbling block of others invalidation, dismissal and gas lighting.

Meeting a lack of validation and understanding does literally leave us without a leg to stand on and spins us off centre.  We are cut off from the waist and from a grounded, deeply rooted understanding of our essential being and self which requires we embrace the truth and value of our feelings empathy or sensitivity and anguish, anger and pain over meeting invalidation.

As emotional sensitives we may have been subject to many projections from others who may even have been threatened by our true selves, they may have a hidden agenda for treating us as they do.  They may have felt threatened or they may have had no reference point for dealing with us.

If we could not be truly heard, affirmed, supported, nourished, empathised with, mirrored and if instead we were shamed or actively discouraged from expressing what we long for and need to express we may have lost contact with the essential nature of who we really are.  We may feel cast out, wandering in what seems like an alien universe for many years.  Some of us may never even find the way back home and we may choose to depart.

Life becomes precarious, confusing, challenging and disorienting until we can in some way find the way back home to the depth of heart and being that felt and was in contact with a whole universe, too large for others to understand or recognise.

After constantly hearing that I shouldn’t be feeling what I was feeling and that my observations couldn’t be trusted, I began to label myself hysterical, dramatic, and other words used to make people…… discount their emotions.

http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/10/common-phrases-gaslighting

For those who are not aware of the term, gaslighting is a subtle form of abusive communication used by others to invalidate or disregard an emotional truth we are trying to express or address.

By an act of synchronicity while writing this article and being on Facebook I came across a link to an article online on gaslighting that included the following quotes:

A common result of gaslighting is questioning everything. You may feel like you’re going “crazy.” Like you don’t know what’s real and what’s imagined. Like you can’t even make the simplest choices, because you find it impossible to know what’s “right” and what’s “wrong.”

You may feel like you’ve lost your sense of self – like you need someone else to confirm that your perception is correct before you trust that anything you believe is true.

This is exactly how gaslighting erodes your trust in yourself. When you’re constantly hearing that you’re doing something wrong, it’s only natural to begin to question whether you can do anything right.

Getting angry or sad or fearful in response to mistreatment or injustice (both of which gaslighting are) makes perfect sense. You have every right to express your emotions in a healthy way.

And allowing yourself to feel what you really feel – instead of burying your emotions under shame – can be profoundly healing. You can be honest with yourself about what you’ve been through, how it affects you, and what you need.

Reframing your thinking to see your vulnerability as strength, rather than weakness, can help you escape the cycle of self-blame and move through a cycle of healing.

Instead of believing your vulnerabilities put you in a position to be abused, think of it this way: Someone took advantage of your positive qualities, which is not your fault. But those same qualities helped you get through it to be the powerful survivor you are today.

http://everydayfeminism.com/2016/03/healed-from-gaslighting-abuse/

Regaining our ground from invalidation abuse takes time, healing and a lot of insight.  There are resources out there.   We can learn to heal, grow strong, accept the gift of vulnerability and see how it actually is a great strength, contrary to what many others would have us believe.

For help in understanding emotional invalidation the following web article may be also be useful :

https://www.verywell.com/emotionally-invalidating-environment-425303