abuse, domestic violence, emotional abuse, malignant narcissistic personality disorder, mental abuse, narcissistic victim abuse syndrome, Narcissists, Uncategorized

PTSD Triggers and Being Re-Traumatized

PTSD is a term most people have heard, but often they do not really know what it means.

If you tell someone you have PTSD, it may be hard for them to know what you mean by that, unless they have it themselves or maybe they have a close friend or family member with it.

People with PTSD have trouble with relationships, but not for the reasons people think.

Once you have been traumatized, and then re-traumatized by triggering situations, you feel generally unsafe and there is a natural tendency to want to retreat…back up your steps and run for cover.

People with PTSD can be re-traumatized by people who do not understand, and by people who are more concerned with their own agenda than really understanding.

When someone with PTSD has certain triggers, and explains those triggers to someone, it is important that they are validated and respected. If someone wants to care about a loved one with PTSD, they need to really listen to that person, when they talk about what triggers them. 

*A person that intentionally uses your triggers against you is dangerous to your mental well being. 

But then there are people who just don’t want to listen to or respect your boundaries. Your perceptions are not of an significance to them. 

Everyone has personal boundaries, but people with post traumatic stress disorder can suffer severe re-traumatization when a loved one does not honor their trigger boundaries.

Some triggers cannot be avoided, such as loud noises that may occur independently from either person. However, talking someone into going to a loud dance club, or guilting them into going to fireworks, when it has been made clear that loud noises are triggers, is abusive.

People who have PTSD from the military, and people who have PTSD from domestic abuse have different causes for their symptoms, but some things are the same.

The fight-or-flight mode is activated by the amygdala. If the brain perceives a threat, even if that threat is not real, the amygdala will send chemicals into the body like adrenaline and cortisol.

 The feeling in the body of a “perceived threat” and a real threat is exactly the same. The same physiological responses occur, including blood pressure elevation, and feeling of extreme fear and the feeling that you have to act right away.

Someone who had their jaw fractured by an abusive boyfriend, who suddenly stormed towards them in a fit of anger, may be triggered by someone coming quickly into their personal space, especially if that person is angry.

Once you have asked someone not to do certain things which trigger you, it is a terrible feeling when they still continue to do them. It feels very violating, and only serves to break the trust bond.

Relationships need to be based in trust. Intimate relationships, as well as friendships and family relationships have to feel safe. If one person does not feel safe, then there is a lack of understanding and a lack of trust.

Without both parties feeling safe, the relationship will break down. People with PTSD can find it difficult to trust again, after others have invalidated them about their symptoms.

Sometimes someone will disbelieve you, minimize your trauma, or accuse you of trying to manipulate them with your explanations about your trauma and your triggers. This is very painful and re-traumatizing.

People who have PTSD or C-PTSD from abuse were invalidated as part of the abuse process. Their emotions were minimized, disregarded and made fun of.

To have someone close to you minimize your PTSD, or disbelieve you is re-traumatizing. It gives  the victim into an emotional flashbacks or actual sensory flashbacks.

You can only tolerate being traumatized and re-traumatized so many times.

Soldiers that come back from war only to be disrespected by civilians, or invalidated and ignored by the Veterans Administration, are being re-traumatized.

It is a way of invalidating a person’s reality. This has negative effects on the person’s mental and emotional state.

People with PTSD can be perfectly good and caring partners and friends. They just need validation, respect and understanding.

But after repeated re-traumatization, a person feels isolated and too vulnerable to take a chance on trusting another person again. This leads to self isolation, depression, and often suicidal thoughts.

Evolutionary psychology tells us that our subconscious brain feels threatened by the potential that we would be completely isolated, shunned or thrown out of the social circle.

A Little Evolutionary Psychology

In the past, humans lived in social survival groups called tribes.  Being accepted and included by the tribe was critical for survival. Being shunned would have meant death !

Our primal brain  (called the reptilian brain) perceives rejection by the tribe to be potentially life threatening.  When we are feeling a similar kind of threat, it triggers the fight or flight response in our limbic system of the brain. The amygdala becomes active and send all kinds of alerts and chemicals into the body.

Technically, we could survive living alone and isolated these days, but we were not meant to live in isolation… especially isolation due to “mobbing” or “scapegoating” by the tribe.

This is one of the reasons that scapegoated family members, suffer such severe mental and emotional trauma.

People with PTSD need to feel that they will still be accepted by the Tribe (family, community…whatever applies to the situation…).

They need to know that their personal reality will be validated, even though it may be very different from that of other people. The experiences someone with PTSD has endured may seem strange to people that have not ever had that kind of trauma in their reality.

Isolation can cause death by suicide or “failure to thrive.”

Self isolation will almost always cause severe depression. But being re-traumatized is just as bad, and the brain will try to lead people away from that pain.

Our primal brains are designed to take us away from danger, or perceived danger….and towards pleasure. But the “away from danger” is the priority.

Re-exeriencing the feelings of danger, fight or flight chemicals and physiological responses, is not something that anyone could tolerate on a regular basis.

We were not built to feel in danger all the time. Being in a state of hyper-arousal all the time depleats the immune system and causes mental disorders.

People with PTSD need understanding and validation.

They need their loved ones to be sensitive to their triggers, and to pay attention to what the person asks and needs. 

Otherwise. the relationships cannot continue in a way that is safe for the PTSD sufferer. The person with PTSD will shut down and crawl inside of themselves. No healthy relationship can be sustained without safety for both people. 

 

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abusive relationships, aftermath of abuse, anti-social personality disorder, emotional abuse, gaslighting, healing after narcissistic abuse, healing from domestic abuse, healing from narcissistic abuse, leaving an abuser, malignant narcissistic personality disorder, mental abuse, mental illness, narcissism, narcissist, narcissistic abuse, narcissistic abuse syndrome, narcissistic victim abuse syndrome, Narcissists, PTSD from domestic abuse, PTSD from mental abuse, red flags of a narcissist, scapegoat, scapegoating, self esteem, Uncategorized

Healing from C-PTSD and PTSD from Mental Abuse – Identifying Your Own Voice

It takes practice and patience to learn to hear your own intuition and inner voice, after you have been conditioned over time to ignore your own true perceptions. 

 You have a wisdom inside of you that is compassionate and intelligent. You can choose to perceive yourself and the world around you in a whole new way !

The narcissist tried to silence your voice, minimize it, confuse it and discredit it. But you still have an inner voice inside of you…. that can lead you in ways that will support your mental and emotional health. 

Feel your senses and what they are telling you.

Every sensation is part of your guidance system. If something feels wrong, it probably is.

You can Learn How to Over-ride the Untrue Perceptions 

Learn to trust your intuition and to hear your own guiding voice. There are other voices in your head, but you can learn to tell which one is your own. Programming put into your brain during childhood emotional and mental abuse will cause the negative “tapes” that play inside your head. 

Negative tapes playing in your head, are just left over voices with false information from other people.

Things you hear yourself thinking that are negative about yourself, are like computer viruses that were put into your brain, without your consent!

When you are very young, you depend on your parents and caretaker to interpret the world for you. You turn to them to explain the meaning of things that happen.

Children need to know they have innate value, that is detached from mistakes they make or things they do. You have innate value. The things you do or do not do, do not change your true worth as a person.

Once you know that you have worth, then you will be able to do and try things you could never have imagined you could do !

Self Soothing

Self soothing is an important skill that people who grew up in emotionally abusive households, never were taught. You were not taught to sooth yourself, but rather you were taught to berate yourself and shame yourself. 

Children and teenagers need guidance to learn how to sooth themselves, when something bad happens. If you have C-PTSD from mental abuse as a child, then your feelings about bad things that happened to you were minimized, criticized and called selfish.

Learning what selfish is Not

You need to learn that it is not selfish to set boundaries, and to protect your emotional and mental health. You have every right to take care of your own brain and your own heart.

If you grew up in an abusive environment, then you were told it was selfish when you tried to express your feelings about the things that were happening around you. The controlling parent wanted everything to revolve around them. They never considered your feelings about decisions they made, or their behaviors. 

You probably developed “emotophobia” from being shut down every time you expressed your feelings about ad things that happened. Even expressing good feelings like joy, and self esteem were crushed down, and called selfish. 

The Shaming Voice

Shaming is one of the worst of the “viruses” that was programmed into you. No one self shames naturally. Babies do not come into the world feeling shame. 

Parents that are manipulative, narcissistic, and mentally abusive, shame you for things that you should not have had to feel bad about. Now as an adult, you still hear those voices in your head anytime you make a mistake, or even do anything that elicits a negative reaction from other people.

What Thoughts are Your Own?

Thoughts that you are a bad person, that you are inadequate, and that you will fail when you try to do something….these were programmed into you over years of negative reactions to you by your caretakers and people you trusted to love you. 

Other people may have added to your negative perceptions about yourself. Teachers, bullies that were your peers, abusive babysitters and other people that you were exposed to as a child, may have added their own toxic spice to your view of yourself.

When you feel passionate about doing something that you feel called to do…

When you feel confident about something you want to give to the world…

When you know just for a second that you have something special to offer to the world, because only you have the unique gifts that you were born with….

When you feel called to help someone else, or other people in some way, by using your own ideas, knowledge, love, and other gifts…

These things are your own voice and you can tell because these thoughts support you.

But…..

When that thought comes in that tells you that …

you are not good enough

you are inadequate

there is something wrong with you 

you do not deserve to be happy

you have nothing special to offer

you will just screw it up so why bother trying…

These are the NOT your own thoughts and you can tell because they do not support you. 

You have my permission….to give yourself permission to….. Let Go of All Thoughts and Behaviors that No Longer Support You.
Just because someone told you that these negative perceptions about yourself were true, does not make them true!

Emotional Wounds

Living in an abusive, chaotic traumatic childhood left emotional wounds on your heart. These wounds are carried around by you.

They are fed by the negative thoughts that someone once told you were true. Thoughts that you are not good enough. Thoughts that the world around you cannot be trusted and that you should shut yourself down and never try to bloom into the beautiful flower that you really are. 

Abusive Partners Re-open Old Emotional Wounds

Old emotional wounds were reinforced by any abusive partners you ended up with as an adult.

Abusive partners are highly skilled at identifying and re-opening old emotional wounds. Narcissist and psychopaths target people who are carrying emotional wounds from childhood. They can identify you from other people.

Abusers know how to gain your trust , so that you will reveal all of your weaknesses and wounds to them. Then they will turn the table and throw salt in your wounds, in order to control you.

Your reptilian (primal) brain always tries to keep you away from danger. The abuser know how to activate that fight or flight mode in your brain, and make you feel in danger.

The reopening of emotional wounds is so painful, that it is one of the favorite tools of the narcissist to use against you. 

They will make it clear to you that they will injure you in the worst possible ways, if you do not comply with them. They will use your old wounds against you, by threatening to, and by throwing salt into them.

You will want to avoid this pain by any means possible, and then you will comply with them in order not to have to be re-traumatized by someone recreating your past trauma for you.

You Can Self Generate Feelings of Self Worth

Once you realize that the negative programs in your brain, are not true, then you can begin to re-write these programs in ways that best support you. You never learned to self generate feelings of self worth, but you can learn now.

If you want to find out more…please visit my web site gentlekindnesscoaching.com and add your name to the email list.  ……Also you can follow me on my gentlekindnesscoaching facebook page !

domestic abuse, emotional abuse, life, mental abuse, narcissism, narcissistic abuse, Narcissists, Psychopath, psychopathic abuse

Aftermath of Narcissistic Abuse and Problems with Executive Function

PTSD from being is an ongoing abusive relationship can cause problems with remembering things, paying attention and focusing. You feel like you are lost in a fog and that part of your brain is gone. It is hard to do normal tasks that are usually no problem at all.

This feeling of being in a fog is not uncommon with PTSD. You will be reading something and then end up having to re-read the same paragraph three times and still not know what you read.  You might have trouble following simple verbal or written directions. You feel like you are coming down with Alzheimer’s disease.

Many people that experience this brain fog are afraid to say anything about it.  You probably feel like no one would understand and it is also hard to describe.

Have you ever looked while you were driving and had no idea where you were? This happened to me several times during the first couple of months after my abusive relationship ended. It was scary and I felt like I was going crazy.

This brain fog is weird and scary. You wonder if it will go away and when it will stop. Are you stuck like this feeling stupid and unable to function forever?

Usually this is a temporary response to severe PTSD after an abusive relationship. It will probably go away. It does help to know that you are not the only one.

This brain fog is a result of the brain changes that occur when your brain is experiencing  trauma.  Certain parts of the brain are now on overload, like the amygdala which is in charge of the “fight or flight” mode. Your brain is on constant alert scanning the environment for threats and danger.

Our brains were not designed to be in a constant ongoing state of alert like this. The “fight or flight” mode is designed to be on for a few minutes in order to prepare you for dealing with a dangerous situation. It is not supposed to endure a situation like being in a constant state of threat by an abusive person.

The “Executive Function” is the part of the brain that controls functions that have to do with organizing, managing tasks, creating and following steps to get something done and focusing on what you are doing. People with a low executive function will have trouble paying attention and focusing.

When the amygdala is in a constant “On Mode” , other parts of the brain are affected and end up working at a less functional level. The executive function effectively “takes a hit for the team.”

With your executive function down you will have trouble with many things including concentrating, following directions and having a clear mind.

battered women, bipolar disorder, domestic abuse, domestic violence, insomnia, OCD, poem, poet, post traumatic stress disorder, PTSD

Who Are They

Who are They to say we are…
too fat
too dumb
too afraid
too uneducated
too quiet
too shy
too loud
too impulsive
too set in our ways
too sloppy
too independent
too compliant

Who are They to say that we are only…
a nurse
a teacher
a stay at home mom
a working Mom
a playboy
a rebel
a womanizer
an addict
a mental case

Who are They to say that we can’t…
change jobs
change cities
change our minds!
get married
get divorced
learn yoga
dance
go to college
learn something new

Who are They to say that we have no right to…
talk to them
confront them
disagree with them
stand up to them
defy them
leave them

Who are They to say that we can’t become…
a poet
a businessman
an entrepreneur
a parent
a friend
a traveller
a lesbian
a mother
a spiritual advisor
a leader of men
a thinker of new ideas
a creator
a visionary
Ourselves

abuse, acoa, battered women, child abuse, domestic abuse, domestic violence, health, healthy relationships after domestic abuse, mental abuse, mental illness, narcissist, PTSD from domestic abuse, women abuse

Abuse and Insomnia

People that are in an abusive domestic household are very likely to develope insomnia. There is a tremendous lack of feeling safe. In order to sleep, we have to feel comfortable and safe.

We are aware that we are vulnerable when we are asleep. We are vulnerable to physical attack. We cannot see someone coming towards us. We also cannot protect our home, our possessions, our cash and credit cards, etc while we are sleeping.

For those people with children in the house, they also can’t protect their children while they are asleep.

People in these situations are forced by real safety issues to adjust their sleep routine. They may sleep in the living room with the lights on. They may create some kind of makeshift blockade for the person to be slowed down by , on the way to the bed.

I used to hide my purse in a different place each night before I went to sleep. I also used to pile things in front of the couch I was sleeping on to create a barrier. I always slept with the light on.

These behaviors become a routine that makes us feel safer. It is not surprising that the routine will be carried on, even when we have left the danger behind us.

To this day, I sleep with my purse right next to the bed. I cannot sleep if it is in the kitchen, even if I am alone in the house. It causes me too much anxiety to sleep, even though I rationally know that no one is going to steel my money.

The feeling that my money could be stolen and my personal items thrown out all over the floor, is an extremely unsafe feeling.

I spent an entire winter in New Jersey with no heat once, because of financial abuse of a domestic partner. He thought his beer and cigarettes were more important than filling up the oil for the heat.

These behaviors are not something you should feel ashamed of or stupid about. Of course you are an intelligent person who knows that the abuse is in the past.

You know that these behaviors are no longer needed. Or are they? If you still need these routines in order to feel safe to go to sleep, I would say go ahead and leave the lights on, sleep on the couch or whatever. It is more important that you sleep.

You went through an extreme trauma and your brain needs to heal. Your brain is trying to protect itself from more trauma. If forcing yourself to put the purse in the kitchen is going to traumatize you, don’t do it.

If you still have the feeling of being unsafe when you sleep, try to think of ways that you might feel safer. I don’t care how stupid someone else might think it is.

The therapist might tell you to force yourself not to keep the same rituals you had when you were being abused. It really depends. It is the lesser of the evils.

If the behavior is not hurting anyone or yourself then it is ok to continue it for as long as you need to. The need for sleep is far more important than forcing yourself out of safety rituals before your brain is ready to handle it.

Sleep deprivation is dangerous to you. It is far more important that you can sleep than almost anything else, including what some therapist tells you.

Insomnia causes severe sleep deprivation. Your sleep cycle is disturbed. You will eventually not be safe to drive. Your job will be in harm’s way because you will be in danger of oversleeping and cannot focus at work.

Give yourself a break. First things first. Your brain needs to heal from the trauma. You need sleep to heal.

Sleep first, feel better, feel safe, then worry about having odd behaviors.

Find ways you can feel safe. Keep someone on the phone with an open line while you are going to sleep, sleep with teddy bears, sleep on the couch or in your child’s room with them. Buy extra locks for the doors.

Talk to someone at bed time about how you feel about sleeping. Write your feelings down on paper or on wordpress. Sleep with your clothes on if you need to. God knows , I slept with all of my clothes on for months after I got out of my abuse house.

I slept in everything but my shoes.   Keep in mind, I was sleeping all alone in my room .

There was no one dangerous or abusive living with me anymore. But my need to feel covered was a strong need of my brain in order to feel safe enough to sleep.

These things can’t be rushed. Your brain has the job of protecting you by alerting you of danger. When the brain becomes traumatized by being on alert too long, it gets kind of sick.

It can’t just shut off. It still feels the need to protect you by letting you know you might be in danger. Let it slowly get used to the idea that you are ok now.

Trying to force yourself out of trauma will cause you more trauma. Be kind to yourself. Do the best you can to make yourself comfortable and safe, so you can sleep.

If you still can’t sleep at night then try to get some sleep during the day. Sleep deprivation will inhibit the brain’s ability to heal from the trauma.

abuse, battered women, domestic abuse, domestic violence, healthy relationships after domestic abuse, how to have a healthy relationship after domestic abuse, mental abuse, mental health, mental illness, narcissist, PTSD from domestic abuse, relationships, self esteem, women abuse

Love Your Partner Because You Want to…relationships after domestic abuse

Living with narcissistic abuse has an effect of making us feel unworthy. Many of us leave abuse, only to repeat the behaviors we learned from the abuser. The narcissist taught us that we had to give and give in order to be loved. We were not worthy of love simply based on who we are.

The narcissist taught us that we had to give unreasonable amounts to them. Unreasonable amounts of effort, unreasonable amounts of time and unreasonable sacrifices of our own lives. We were expected to give up the people and the things we loved, in order to prove that we loved them.

Constant sacrificing to the point of your own personal detriment is not love. Someone expecting you to sacrifice your dreams and the the things you love, is not love on their part.

We are worthy of love. It is not our actions and sacrifices that make us worthy. It is the person that we are. A partner should find value in just being with us, being close to us, being loved by us. There is no need for constant demands from someone. We should not have to give so much more to them, than they even come close to giving to us.

There should not be a balance scale or a meter that they hold up against us, to measure how many things we have done for them today. They should not compare us to ex girlfriends on how much we give. They should not compare us to other women in other relationships.

Narcissists are masters of deception. Make no mistake, they twisted the truth around in their favor. When they compared you to an ex girlfriend, they were not telling you the whole story. When they are telling you to be like “So and so’s ” wife, they are making that situation up too.

They demand not only for you to be perfect, but to be more than perfect. They do not want a perfect woman; they want a slave. The narcissist wants a slave that will be there at his beck and call.

They change the rules on us as we go. As soon as we think we have the perfect routine down that will please them, they change the rules. It is all about domination by lowering your self esteem. They do not want you to feel good about yourself, or ability to be a good wife or a good girlfriend to them. They want you to feel inadequate and worthless.  That is how they control you.

Once you have self esteem, then you realize that you do not deserve to be treated in the ways that they treat you. They wold lose their power ti control and rule you, if you were to recover your self esteem. The narcissist game is to constantly crush your self esteem down.

So, what does this mean for us once we are out? We still carry those feelings of being inadequate and worthless. We still feel that in order for someone to love us, we must be at their beck and call 24 hours a day. We must give more to our partner than they give to us. We must constantly measure what we have done recently for them.

In a new healthy relationship, we need to feel that we are worthy to be loved. We can do living things for our partner, but that is what they are…loving acts. If we do a loving act for our partner, it does not need to go onto a list. It is simply something we did because we love them.

When our new healthy partner does something for us, we need to feel worthy to receive it. They should be doing it for us, out of love. If they show us care and love, by doing something for us, then it is because we are worthy of that love.

Little by little, we need our self esteem back. It will allow us to be truly loving to our partner. We will be able to show them our love, because we want to, and not because we are afraid not to.

abuse, battered women, domestic abuse, domestic violence, life, mental abuse, mental health, mental illness, narcissist, post traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, PTSD from domestic abuse, red flags you are dating an abuser, women abuse

Revisiting / Reliving Domestic Abuse… Understanding and Living with trauma

The aftermath of being in a relationship with a narcissist is riddled with revisiting the trauma and retraumatization. You may be well aware you are experiencing these things or you may not know why you are feeling and reacting in the ways that  you are.

You may react to things in a way that does not seem consistent with what is actually going on. This may be a reaction out of a traumatized brain to stimuli that is threatening to you, even if you don’t really know why.

Revisiting / reliving the traumatic events can be different for different people. Some people will be triggered by watching movies, seeing news articles or reading books about similar things that happened to them.

Someone who was traumatized by being constantly screamed at, belittled and called names may be triggered into a state of post traumatic stress by a tv show that shows a character screaming at and criticizing someone.

This kind of trigger is an obvious connection to the traumatic situation that the person endured.  Watching the character being treated in the same way you were treated, brings up the past feelings of helplessness, shame and confusion. Your brain may flashback to a time when you were treated in a similar manner.

Flashbacks may include vivid, detailed memories of what happened or instead  bring up the feelings without a clear picture. Sometimes the brain goes into a kind of shock that creates an amnesia effect.

You may have events or entire periods of time blacked out from your memory. They may come back over time, but I would never suggest pushing yourself to force the memory.

Anything that is an association to  your trauma, can trigger a severe anxiety state, called post traumatic stress. It could be a song, a noise, an object, or a location.  It can even be a type of situation. If you were repeatedly embarrassed and humiliated in a diner, then being in a diner at all (any diner) may bring feelings of extreme fear and discomfort.

You may never be able to eat in a diner again. That’s ok. There are plenty of other places to eat. You have to respond to your trauma with compassion and kindness.

Living with a traumatized brain requires mindfulness and compassion towards yourself. Be mindful of the things that trigger you, Be aware and allow your feelings to be. You may be able to do things, when you are further along in the healing process that you cannot do now. There is no need to retraumatize yourself by subjecting yourself to disturbing or anxiety provoking things.

Be kind to yourself. You deserve some kindness and acceptance.

Blessings,

Just Another Lovely Wounded Lady