What it feels like..

fontcandy-22

It is important to let go of the need to try and fix or help your npd/psychopathic parent.

They are not able to change..

They will take you down with them..

They will exhaust you until you have nothing left for yourself..

Always practice self-care and keep minimum or no contact if possible.

Love Athina ♥

Please don’t use this post as your own. Always re-blog and ask for permission if you want to use any of my images.

Ritual abuse survivors are heroes

∗∗Possibly triggering ∗∗

Before starting this blog and my own journey of healing from child abuse, I had never come across Ritual abuse..I never knew there was such evil in this world..I knew about psychopaths and narcissists..I knew about some of the awful things that have happened to children who have suffered abuse.I know there are many paedophiles out there who live out their sick fantasies without any care for the long-lasting, life-altering effects on their victims.

The physical, emotional & sexual suffering that a lot of child abuse survivors have endured are known to many. Unfortunately, amongst those many people that have knowledge of this, nothing has been done..This is sad & unfair..

I actually felt guilty that I never knew about ritual abuse..This is something that people need to know about..It is despicable and incomprehensible to me that there are so many sick people out there that cause so much harm. No matter what someone feels or what perversions they may have, they are ultimately the ones that can stop their impulses to harm.

I have met many incredibly brave & awe inspiring survivors of this sort of abuse, who I have the privilege of calling my friends.I will soon be reading their memoirs and although it is very tough to read details of this sort of abuse, it is important to allow these brave survivors to tell their story. It is healing & it is necessary.

For those of you out there, who have experienced this sort of abuse, you are always welcome here. You an inspiration to me.

Much Love Athina ♥♥

 

The orphans of abuse

It took me such a long time through my journey of healing, to realise that I was always an orphan growing up..Yes, I had parents..Yes I was fed and clothed and had a roof over my head..Yes I went on holidays from the age of 3 until I was 16 with my family..Yes I had an education..It is more than most ‘genuine orphans’ had..Those who didn’t have their own home and were abandoned by their parents or lost their parents to death..who didn’t have their basic needs met due to poverty & illness..who were neglected severely..who changed foster homes time and time again..

I don’t claim to compare myself to those children and adult children..

When I talk about orphans of abuse, I mean the orphans who never felt loved by their parents..Who never felt supported or safe in their home..Who were never able to be true to themselves..Who were never able to grow up with confidence and inner stability..Who were never able to express their thoughts or feelings, due to fear of punishment or being ignored..

I talk about the emotional orphan..I am an emotional orphan..

This blog post is dedicated to all you emotional orphans out there, who never felt loved, who still feel that you can’t trust others or be loved..who still struggle with mental health problems..who never got the chance to choose your parents..who never had the opportunity to live without trauma..

mychildwithin-healing_from_trauma-%e2%80%a2-instagram-photos-and-videos

With the appropriate healing & support, you can find that love within yourself..Self-compassion is key to filling that emptiness..Grieving the lack of emotional comfort & love, is also crucial to healing..

Intolerance to vulnerability shows you that there are so many emotionally insensitive or incapable people out there, that refuse to talk about difficult emotions..

This isn’t healthy..It is dysfunctional..

Prevent emotional orphanhood…

Love Athina ♥♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by My child within-Healing from trauma and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.

Home sweet home

home-1519808_1920

Hello dear followers,

I made it back safely to Germany last night and although London was a lovely break away, home is my favourite place in the world..When I say home, I mean my actual flat where all my comforts are..The little bubble of a love nest hubby and I have created, that keeps us safe and loved. I wouldn’t trade it for anywhere!

The reason I am so grateful for our home is because the minute I arrived in London, I was flooded with a wave of anxiety. I felt awful with bad stomach cramps, frequent trips to the toilet, sweating, clammy hands, rapid heart beat, etc.You get the picture!

As much as I was looking forward to seeing my cousin after so many years and finally getting to see their new London flat, I was out of my comfort zone and my body & mind kept reminding me of this.

The fact that it was very humid and warm made matters worst. Heat always exacerbates my anxiety symptoms, as I am sure a lot of you anxiety sufferers can relate to.

In addition to this, the fact that I was staying with someone who I know wouldn’t have compassion for my mental illness, made me feel even more on edge. My aunt is the sort of person who lives by the quotes ‘I live life to the full’ and ‘I never dwell on sad things’. She is also the type of person who doesn’t like being dragged down by other people’s troubles and who loves showing off all the time..Lets just say, we are worlds apart!She is living a lifestyle of luxury, constantly jetting off around the world and doesn’t seem to understand that others around her, don’t have it as good.

Despite this, I managed to enjoy parts of my trip, even though my body was tense 80% of the time..I was annoyed at my inability to relax but then again reminded myself that this is what life is like living with CPTSD.

On my first day there I went to visit my mum and brother. It was lovely to see my brother face to face and see him in his home town. Unfortunately our time together was cut short, as my mother decided to show up an hour early, even though SHE had arranged the time that suited her and somehow seemed to have conveniently forgotten (as narcs do). This was completely unexpected for my brother, so he got up and left immediately when my mother arrived. He hates spending time with her, as he is now also aware of all the abuse he has endured. I  ended up spending 3 hours with my mother which was bearable but I would have much preferred to spend longer with my brother.

In the evening when I returned back to London I went to dinner with my aunt & cousins which was in a lovely part of London I had never been to before, called St Katharine Docks.

st-katharine-docks

It had many restaurants and pubs scattered around the mini marina and it was very romantic at night when all lit up. We had dinner in a rather posh restaurant and I must admit, this was the biggest challenge of my day, as my anxiety was through the roof and I was exhausted from the heat & travelling of the morning. I don’t particularly like posh restaurants as I was brought up eating at tavernas in Greece, where everyone shares tapas and things are very laid back.The good thing is, I survived without any escalating anxiety and eventually made it home by 11pm.

My last day of my trip was spent doing what I wanted, which was lovely. No stress, no early starts, less travelling round London and a tiny bit of shopping. My anxiety levels were much more bearable and I also went out for dinner with some close friends, so the day ended perfectly.

How do you feel when leaving your comfort zone? Do you get anxious? Or are you someone who loves adventure and never feels stressed?

I’d love to hear your thoughts

Love Athina ♥♥

 

Last session of EMDR

Thank you to all my recent followers and welcome to my humble abode!

Today I am seeing my therapist again after almost 2 months of not seeing her..

We will be discussing the last session of EMDR we will be doing, to tackle my awful emotional flashbacks when it comes to severe criticism.

Growing up, my father used to help me with my Maths, Physics and Chemistry homework, until it got too much and I always ended up in tears. This was mainly in Secondary school, when things got tougher..Going to Greek school was a pain in the ass, as the way of teaching wasn’t very helpful. A lot of the lessons were mostly taught with the principle of simply memorising what you had learnt, without actually understanding the material.

My father is a perfectionistic overt narcissist (NPD), so everything you did had to be perfect. If you couldn’t understand something, he thought you were stupid. I remember the countless times where we would be doing my homework together when I was 12, 13 years old and he would say things like ”Why can’t you understand it? Are you stupid?”..”How can you not get it, its so simple!”. He would roll his eyes, lose his temper and end up shouting at me. This happened most of the time. I would feel worthless, stupid and unlovable. He treated me differently, he was ashamed of me. He was the sort of person who said ”What would people think?”..

My mother on the other hand, who is a covert narcissist with NPD would always find sly ways to discourage me from ever trying certain things. She would also say you are not good enough, you won’t be able to do it..Don’t be so sensitive, don’t be so pathetic, don’t be so selfish etc etc…You get the idea..So if you think about both your parents constantly criticising you and being unsupportive, then the result is a nervous reck of a person. When it came to learning or trying new things, my self-esteem was almost non existent and I had no idea how to become better, smarter or less selfish!

EMDR is very useful in tackling traumas and emotional flashbacks. The most prominent one I am left with is this tone of voice of annoyed disapproval & criticism.Someone recently found it incredibly ridiculous that I haven’t completed my driving license or learnt German. Simple things to most people, are very difficult for people who were abused their whole life, by the very people who were to supposed to encourage and love them unconditionally.

People who haven’t had to live with flashbacks and trauma and Complex PTSD, have no idea how challenging certain things can be. I generally have no problem learning and trying out new things, if they are things that I am interested in. When it comes to things I find tedious or overwhelming due to my CPTSD, well then it becomes challenging.

Love Athina ❤

”Being the other one” by Kate Strohm

May I just start this post off by saying that this is a title of an incredible book that made me cry when I first read it.

The full title is Being the other one – Growing up with a brother or sister who has special needs by Kate Strohm

heart-1394794_1280

The reason this book touched me so deeply when I first read it, was because it was the first time I had felt validated for being the sister of a special needs brother. That someone out there finally acknowledged that I mattered too even though I wasn’t the one with special needs growing up.That even though I wasn’t the one that demanded as much attention as my brother, I deserved to at least have my frustration, my anger and my sadness acknowledged. This is something I never had validated as a child. It was near my 30th birthday that I finally understood a whole other side of my childhood that also lead to my CPTSD diagnosis.

Too much responsibility on a child can interfere with normal social development and the establishment of independence. From a very young age, I became a ‘mini mother’ to my brother and my mum and dad just allowed this, as it was easier for them. This and the addition of both of them suffering with NPD, made things extremely difficult for me and of course my brother. It was an abusive & neglectful environment and I was told repeatedly by many kids my age that I was always too serious growing up.I always resented that and thought there was something wrong with me. On the other hand however, I also realised how much the grief of having a disabled child or sibling, is unsupported and unknown by normal families.

Siblings of children with special needs are usually expected to grow up faster than their peers.While parents have to focus so much attention on the child with special needs, many siblings learn to look after themselves.

Another big problem for siblings is that they end up feeling very isolated, because nobody understands how tough it is, to always put their needs aside for their special needs brother or sister.They also tend to feel a range of emotions that they never get a chance to discuss, such as anger, depression, embarassment, fear & guilt.

Siblings miss out on attention from parents, learn to put the needs of others first before their own and at times they may also wish they had special needs so they would have the same attention from their parents. They may at times feel pressure to be perfect to make up for their sibling’s special needs and also may have built up resentment towards the brother/sister with special needs, because they get treated with more leniency in all regards.

I love my older brother very much and would do anything to protect him. It isn’t his fault that he has these special needs and even though I will always wonder what it would have been like to have a ‘normal’ 36 year old brother now, I am still glad he is in my life and that we can share our feelings and fears.

The sad reality for me is that if my parents were healthier and better able to offer unconditional love, then both my brother and I would have been allowed to be ‘our true selves’. We both would have been allowed to make mistakes and not get punished for them, we both would have been allowed to express our likes and dislikes without being rejected and we both would have been able to better deal with our sadness. Him for the fact that he knew he wasn’t normal and felt rejected because of this and me for the fact that I never felt important enough, because I didn’t have any special needs. It is a sad reality that, even though our family was never balanced due to my brother’s special needs, I greatly believe that it was MORE my parents’ NPD that caused the greatest harm. The reason I say this is because since meeting my husband and his family, I have finally witnessed a healthier family dynamic where there was is one disabled child and one healthy child.These 2 boys are now my nephews but when I was living in Greece I started nannying for my now sister in law and looked after the youngest of the 2 boys.

For privacy purposes, lets assume that the youngest of the 2 boys is called ‘Peter’ and the eldest is called ‘Adam’. Peter was the youngest of the two boys and was around 8 years old when I started looking after him whereas Adam was 12. Peter unfortunately suffered a stroke at the tender age of 3 and ended up with special needs and semi-paralysis in both his right arm and leg. This meant that he wouldn’t be able to use his right arm and leg as he once used to. Also the older he got, the growth in his right arm & leg were also compromised, which resulted in him limping and not being able to use his right arm properly. His special needs aside from this, were also in regards to his learning and attention span. I was employed as a nanny, to play with him and help him after school, whilst his mother worked. I was also asked to make sure that both boys didn’t get into too many arguments or aggressive play fighting as brothers sometimes do.

The difference I noticed in this family, was the fact that both boys were allowed to be individuals and most importantly were allowed to be kids. Neither of them had to help around the house, be ordered around or asked to do too much for the mother. Peter and his brother were both treated fairly when it came to discipline and Adam was allowed to have a sense of freedom in his own life to pursue many hobbies, have time to himself and grow in confidence. He was never asked to help with his brother, he was never asked to stop what he loved doing, was never asked to be someone he was not. The only thing I would have maybe done differently as a parent,  is given Peter a different type of attention, as unfortunately despite his disabilities and unlucky path in life, I can see that he acts in a very attention seeking way, in an almost narcissistic way. His mother never appropriately grieved the loss of her healthy child and has since always talked about how good he is at everything, when the reality is that this poor kid is unable to really do anything.

I am not a parent myself and would never claim to know what it is really like, so I am not judging my sister in law in any way. However, it is a real shame that Peter, who is now 12 is showing more and more signs of narcissism, is feeling more and more ill at ease with his peers and is watching his now 17 year older brother do all the things he will never be able to do. This is a very harsh thing to watch. I have a lot of compassion for both my sister in law and Peter but I must admit, I feel a little jealous of how wonderfully Adam has turned out to be. He is a good looking, smart and talented young man who has values, respect and kindness. He is able to self reflect and one day admitted to me that he is quick to judge people. This came after I talked to him a little bit about my parents and my estrangement to my father. He listened incredibly attentively and was very sensitive in his response. He said that there are a couple of kids at school, which seem very quiet and a little bit strange and at the beginning he thought they were weird. After he got to know them however, he said that they had had a really difficult childhood and were actually lovely boys. When I say that I am a tiny bit jealous of my 17 year old nephew, I mean it in the kindest way possible. The jealousy comes from comparing my own childhood and teenage years, which were incredibly difficult due to neglect I suffered. Unlike my nephew, I didn’t and still don’t have a healthy amount of confidence to live a fulfilling life in the way that I know I could have. I am content but I know I could still make improvements. I also have suffered from depression and Complex PTSD from the age of 15-16..My nephew doesn’t have any mental health problems whatsoever and thank goodness for that! So when I say I am jealous, I still have my moments of feeling grief for how things could have been different for me.

Unfortunately, it took me a long time to grieve my lost childhood in many ways. This only happened in the last few years, in a deep enough way and I guess I still have some more grieving to do..It is never too late to start your life from scratch and with my recovery, self-help reading, therapy, blogging & love from my closest friends & husband, I am feeling much happier and more content with my life.

My brother is also happier, as he has also tried to distance himself from our mother (which he knows was abusive) and it is only our parents who are now missing out on quality time with us, as we will no longer tolerate their abuse.

I have so much compassion to those of you with complex trauma

I watched a documentary last night about a lady who lives with dissociative identity disorder and I must admit I found it fascinating, as well as deeply moving.

I have great compassion for anyone who has experienced complex trauma in their childhood, as I know how hard it is to overcome the complexity of  what you are left with. It affects people both mentally & physically and can hinder the ability to live a healthy and productive life.

There are so many people suffering with a mental illness due to childhood trauma and it really is incredibly unfair. It is such a shame that some people are strong enough to heal from trauma and can do this without causing harm to others, whilst others don’t heal and inflict more pain. This results in generations of family members suffering from trauma & abuse and so the vicious cycle continuous.

The brain is incredible in finding ways to cope with severe trauma, and one of these ways is to dissociate. As someone who has complex trauma, I only have experienced minor dissociations with the following symptoms:

  • Feeling disconnected from myself

  • Problems with handling intense feelings and thoughts

  • Sudden and unexpected shifts in mood – for example, feeling very sad for no reason

  • Depression or anxiety problems, or both

  • Feeling as though the world is distorted or not real (called ‘derealisation’)

I also tend to have problems with my memory and cognitive function.

For those of you with Dissociative Identity disorder, I feel compelled to say that I think your brain is amazing! I don’t of course think it is amazing that you have this disorder, as it makes me deeply sad to think of the abuse that you must have endured.I just think it is incredible how the brain creates a defense mechanism to protect us from overwhelming distress. Dissociative Identity Disorder is a good example of what the brain can do to protect us.

Dissociative Identity Disorder, is characterised by the appearance of at least two or more distinct and relatively enduring identities or dissociated personality states that alternately show in a person’s behavior, accompanied by memory impairment for important information not explained by ordinary forgetfulness.

No matter what your mental disorder, I have great compassion for all the suffering that goes with it. However, I don’t have compassion for those who are bullies and  cause suffering.

Each individual journey of healing is unique and yes, sometimes as fallible humans, we tend to make mistakes and hurt people along the way. The most important thing however, is that we are aware of this and can grow from it.

As it is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder awareness month, I would like to also mention that Complex Post Traumatic stress is very real as well and the more people that are aware of it, the less the stigma for those that suffer from it.

FontCandy (50)

Much Love ❤ Athina

 

Intense EMDR session but very hopeful!

This blog post is mostly about a very intense EMDR session I had today, but before I go into detail about it I just want to include the following text about how psychological trauma affects the brain..

The classic fight-or-flight response to perceived threat is a reflexive nervous phenomenon that has obvious survival advantages in evolutionary terms. However, the systems that organize the constellation of reflexive survival behaviors following exposure to perceived threat can under some circumstances become dysregulated in the process. Chronic dysregulation of these systems can lead to functional impairment in certain individuals who become “psychologically traumatized” and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), A body of data accumulated over several decades has demonstrated neurobiological abnormalities in PTSD patients. Some of these findings offer insight into the pathophysiology of PTSD as well as the biological vulnerability of certain populations to develop PTSD. Several pathological features found in PTSD patients overlap with features found in patients with traumatic brain injury paralleling the shared signs and symptoms of these clinical syndromes.  – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3182008/

neurons-440660_1280

A hallmark feature of PTSD is reduced hippocampal volume. The hippocampus is implicated in the control of stress responses, declarative memory, and contextual aspects of fear conditioning. Not surprisingly, the hippocampus is one of the most plastic regions in the brain. As mentioned above, prolonged exposure to stress and high levels of glucocorticoids in laboratory animals damages the hippocampus, leading to reduction in dendritic branching, loss of dendritic spines, and impairment of neurogenesis.4 Initial magnetic resonance imaging (M.RI) studies demonstrated smaller hippocampal volumes in Vietnam Veterans with PTSD and patients with abuse-related PTSD compared with controls.4447 Small hippocampal volumes were associated with the severity of trauma and memory impairments in these studies. These findings were generally replicated in most but not all subsequent work. Studies using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy further observed reduced levels of N-acctyl aspartate (NAA), a marker of neuronal integrity, in the hippocampus of adult patients with PTSD.40 Of note, NAA reductions were correlated with Cortisol levels.48 Interestingly, reduced hippocampal volume has been observed in depressed women with a history of early life trauma49 but not in children with PTSD. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3182008/

It’s been nearly a year since my father’s attempted suicide and everything I saw in those first few days in the ICU and his recovery, are still very much present in my mind. My brain has had so much to deal with in regards to trauma and emotional dysregulation. I see this clearly from how I am affected by all the drama in my dysfunctional family for over 30 years. Healthy people don’t have recurrent nightmares, flashbacks, uncomfortable body memories and feelings of fear. Healthy people don’t always feel on edge even when things are going well..Constant drama and trauma wires the brain in a destructive way.Luckily cognitive-behavioural therapy, EMDR & being mindful can really make a difference to how the brain responds. I have already dealt with 3 traumas so far and I am already seeing the positive results. EMDR is incredibly powerful if you give it a chance. I haven’t had a nightmare about my partner abandoning me in at least a month. Before the EMDR, I was getting them every few days.

A great way to think of traumatic memories is imagining they are like wounds. If you don’t clean out the wound really well with antiseptic at the beginning, it will only get more and more infected in time.It is the same with a trauma that hasn’t been dealt with properly. If you don’t find a way to heal the mind and reduce the symptoms, it will just intensify and affect your body in a negative way.

I have been having more and more nightmares recently of my father.The guilt that he projected onto me intensifies in each nightmare and his dark side becomes more and more malevolent..

Today I finally got round to having EMDR on this particulare event in my life and we started off by focusing on the cruel abandonment from my father, after the suicide attempt. I focused on the image of visiting him in his office and having to deal with his complete and utter coldness towards me. I was told to focus on the discovery that he had removed the photo he had of me from his desk and to sit with the emotions that came up. Each time my therapist did the bilateral stimulation my thoughts got more and more intense. I could feel that deep feeling of emotional pain in my chest and tightness in my tummy. I could see my Dad right back in the ICU, all swollen and bruised..It was like I was right back there..At some point I felt overwhelmed..tearful but also scared..I told my therapist that I felt fear..that I didn’t want to feel anymore pain..that I was afraid of what the future might still bring..I don’t want to have to deal with anymore trauma..any more pain..

We continued the bilateral stimulation quite a few times as a lot came up for me..When I was very emotional I was also trying to soothe myself..I was telling myself that I was safe and that I didn’t have to deal with anymore in that moment if it was too much..I imagined being at home, being safe with my husband and was telling myself that I would be ok, that this uncomfortable feeling is only temporary..

Luckily, after 3 more sets of bilateral stimulation I started feeling calmer, a little less focused and in a more dreamy like state..I wasn’t thinking of anything anymore..Just that I was in the therapy room and wanted to open my eyes..

My therapist said that it went well and that there were a lot of memories and feelings to sort through..I must admit I am relieved that this first session is over..Reliving something so painful is truly a challenge..I am utterly exhausted after this session but very hopeful..

I am grateful that this therapist is helping me in such a profound way..

I would greatly encourage EMDR if you feel that you are at your wits end and nothing has worked..Make sure however, that it is a qualified therapist using it on you!