Loving parents-Unknown territory..

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Today I was thinking about how lucky people are, who are part of a loving and close family..

The type of family you can turn to when something goes terribly wrong. The type of family you know will feel your pain and will offer to help you even if you don’t ask..The type of family that would always put a roof over your head, even if they didn’t have the space or money.

When I am not keeping myself busy, there are these moments of calm where I sit back and imagine how my life could have been if I was lucky enough to have such a family.

As Christmas quickly approaches, my heart aches once again with this deep feeling of sadness.I’ve had this feeling since I was a child.

I know my parents couldn’t have done more due to their NPD, however that doesn’t change that deep longing for comfort in the arms of a loving parent.

My husband unfortunately also shares this feeling with me, although not in exactly the same way. He luckily had a mentally healthy mother who managed to bring him up with integrity, unconditional love and by always putting his needs first. She unfortunately suffered with an autoimmune disease however and was physically suffering when my husband was only a child. His father was not a part of his life so he also never felt this feeling of safety & security. He had to leave home when he was only 12, so his mother’s illness didn’t affect him more than it already had.This was to prevent codependency, which could have been detrimental in his life otherwise. He went to school abroad and lived with 2 separate host families, who sadly weren’t very comforting. He then moved abroad again to live with his half sister, her Dad and his partner in Greece. He managed to finish school there and create some wonderful memories with friends, however nothing seemed to fill that void of ‘missing out’. His mother died when he was in his early twenties and he didn’t have a choice but to just accept it.

Now we are both in our 30’s and we can’t help but wonder what it would have been like to have family like this to turn to. Even as a mentally stable adult, people still need their parents. For those of us however who missed out on a nurturing and stable family home, this is all the more challenging. My own mother tells me how she doesn’t know how she would cope if her mother died. My grandmother is 92 and my mother is 63. This feels incredibly unfair to me..How the hell am I supposed to feel, when I am only 34 and my mother has never even felt like a mother?! She is still a child in so many ways and I had to grow up fast from a very young age. I was also the scapegoat in my family with my brother being the golden child. He was the one with the disability and his needs did and will always come first.

As much love as my husband and I share (which I am incredibly grateful for) this doesn’t make up for the lack of belonging we both feel. It is an emptiness that unfortunately doesn’t go away and all we can do is create a family of our own. We have both decided we don’t want to have children, as we feel a deep sadness about the direction the world is headed in. If we don’t feel safe in it as adults, how the hell are we supposed to protect our children?

We will be hopefully getting a dog next year which we are both extremely happy about and we have agreed that if I ever feel the need in the future to look after and care for a child, then we could consider fostering. I have looked after children for over 8 years and still currently caring for a 4 year old here in Germany who only has his mum. This poor kid is already showing signs of abandonment issues due to his father’s lack of interest in him and he is a wonderful little boy with a brilliant, hard working mum. It gives me immense happiness to care for those in need and I will continue to do so, even without children of my own.

I will leave you with this cute photo of the dog breed we will be getting next year 🙂 Hopefully we can find a rescue dog, as that is always the best thing to do.

Thanks for reading x

Love Athina ♥

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

Hello Anxiety my worried friend..

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I am nearly ready for my trip to London and an unexpected wave of anxiety just hit me, making my hands clammy, my head feel lightheaded and my breathing shallow, as you would naturally expect.

Usually the first thought when anxiety hits us is ‘Oh no!!’, it’s back again…

I won’t lie to you..It’s never fun at the beginning but I know better than to let it overcome me…I know myself..I know my triggers..Travelling (especially flying), leaving my comfort zone (home) and the fact that I will be meeting my mother tomorrow, for the first time since December..Things are generally easier with her, as I no longer miss her or need her..I grieved my losses..I just think of her as visiting a needy, overly-dramatic friend..I know how to set boundaries..I have always managed our conversations over the phone, mostly with ease..Face to face is different however..She is observing me, my sensitivities, my reactions etc..as she always did…seeing whether I will be affected by her manipulations..her drama..We are luckily only meeting for a couple of hours for lunch, after I have seen my brother..He will be escaping the minute she arrives.. 🙂 Good for him!

When we meet, she will be bringing one of our much loved paintings with her, which I am really looking forward to. Hubby and I bought it when we lived in Cornwall before we moved away..We ended up leaving it with her before moving to Germany, as we didn’t want it to get damaged. Now I will have to figure out a way to bring it home!

 

In general I know how to manage my anxiety..breathe and accept it..don’t fight it..So I talk to it..Like it is a worried friend..I say ‘Hey Anxiety, I see you are back..that’s ok..it makes sense you are here..but we will deal with this together..’

I also know that any bilateral stimulation also helps..Walking, typing whilst I write this blog post..and tapping..

My flight isn’t boarding until 19:15 and I have to get a tram, then bus to the airport..Once I manage the first part of the journey, I will definetely feel more relaxed. I always do.

Then it’s just waiting around..

I am looking forward to seeing my cousin who is in her early twenties and seeing her family’s flat in London, with a beautiful view of the Thames..It’s been so many years!

Since the topic of this post is about anxiety, how do you cope with it?

Do you have soothing skills in place? Do you observe your thinking and try to think more positively? Do you have things with you that comfort you?For me, I always have a bottle of water(for my dry mouth), my mp3 player (to block out noise) and chewing gum.

Lots of love Athina ♥♥

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

 

Run.Rabbit.Run.Ptsd award

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My dearest friend Lottie started this Run.Rabbit.Run.PTSD award

The wonderful https://theblackwallblog.wordpress.com/ nominated me for this award and I am really grateful. Both bloggers are remarkable writers in their own right.

Please check out their blogs as listed above.

Thank you  for considering me for this award, that previously was known as the Blogger Recognition Award.


The rules:

Thank the blog who nominated you, share the link and award on your blog.

Write a brief story on how you started blogging and

any advice you would give to a new blogger.

Select nominees (max 15)

Advise nominees.

I started blogging over a year ago now, as a way to heal from the discovery that both my parents have narcissistic personality disorder. It was a very painful time for me, as my father had just attempted suicide, so I was suffering with really bad ptsd. Since then I have shared my experiences, courage & hope in my journey of grieving the healthy parents I never had and growing in confidence & self-compassion.

I have since qualified as a life coach, specialising in supporting others in their journey of healing from narcissistic abuse and try to be a mental health advocate for Complex PTSD in particular and reducing the stigma associated with recovery.

The advice I would give new bloggers is to give your fellow bloggers a chance. It is mostly a loving & supportive community. Be supportive to others as well as writing your own posts. Take the time to acknowledge what others have written and leave comments when you can. Friendships can be formed through the blogging world and healing is a huge part of it for those with mental illness.

I would like to nominate the following bloggers:

https://dbestmentalhealthblog.wordpress.com/

https://justbreathe826.wordpress.com/

https://thesecretdance.wordpress.com/

https://outloudkaren.com/

They have all had struggles with mental health, so as a mental health advocate I would like to give them the attention they deserve.

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 ❤

Believe in your ability to heal & thrive!

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Healing is possible..Having better mental health is possible..I am living proof..Years ago I was struggling so much with everything from anxiety, depression, flashbacks, constantly being triggered, feeling extremely worthless, unloved and found it very hard to trust people..I couldn’t even relax in my marriage, even though my husband is the most caring and loving person I have ever met..

Having 2 parents that are abusive and no other healthy role-models to turn to, means that you grow up without that feeling of safety & love that most people experience..

I have made huge leaps in my recovery and so can you!

I will always have Complex PTSD, as my brain was ultimately ”damaged” with the constant stress of the first 30 years of my life..Now I am 34 and I feel much more stable..

Where are you on your recovery journey? Do you feel hopeful? or does everything feel hopeless?

I am hoping that this post will give you hope!

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

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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.

Is the silent treatment over?

After a very emotional week and a tearful birthday yesterday, I finally started feeling a little better this morning. I was happy my birthday was over to be honest, as I didn’t have to think about the disappointment of not having caring parents. I survived the fact that my father wasn’t going to contact me after a year of not talking and that from now on my birthdays and holidays were going to feel a little more empty.

Around 15:15pm today when I was having an afternoon nap, my father actually attempted contact. Luckily I was fast asleep so didn’t hear my phone. It was in my bag on a very low volume and since I hardly have anyone calling me on it, I didn’t think to check it. After about 2 hours, my husband and I went out in the car to head to the shops and I wanted to check the time on my phone. There was a txt message and missed call and I already knew this was unusual. First of all, nobody calls my phone. My 2 friends here in Germany always send me Whatssup messages on my phone and the rest of my friends contact me through social media. If I get any coaching clients that is also via email.

It is incredible to think that after a year of no contact, after no effort to acknowledge me when I walked into his place of work, after the fact that he had removed my photos from his work desk and after the fact that he has purposefully tried to punish me from taking money from our shared account for over a year, he now decided to call me, a day after my birthday! Why?

Why would my Narc father call me to send me his wishes after all this? A normal, healthy father might eventually realise his mistakes, put his selfishness aside, apologise for the way he treated his daughter and do everything he could to reconnect. My father isn’t normal or healthy however and he has proven this time and time again.

Like I said, I missed his call when I was asleep however he had also left a voicemail. I was sitting in the car with my husband wondering whether it would be good for me to listen to his voicemail or whether to just delete it. My husband put his hand on my leg and said,” Listen to the voicemail if you like and then we can talk about it. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.”

I listened to the voicemail and it was a very simple message saying ” Happy birthday, I hope you had a lovely day yesterday, wishing you all the best”.

In all honesty, I felt anxious, I felt confused and I felt like nothing had changed, whilst at the same time worrying that the shit was going to hit the fan all over again.His voice sounded calm, collected and genuine, like it used to be before his suicide attempt, before he discarded me, before he hired a lawyer against me. That calm voice was the Dad I had been missing, the Dad that would drive me to work, the Dad that would play basketball with my friends and I when I was 13, the Dad who would laugh a lot and bring kittens home, so my brother and I could play with them.This ‘nicer’ Dad was waking up this little voice inside me saying ” See, he does love & miss you after all”.

This little voice however, was instantly drowned by common sense. The common sense which says that Narcs have an ulterior motive. That they don’t just forgive unless there is something in it for them. That they don’t go from cruel, hurtful & neglectful to warm and forgiving without a reason.

In my case, the ulterior motive is the money that I still have in my savings account, that my Dad wants back. The money that I am sure my Dad would manipulate me for. That even if I were to thank him for his wishes by sending him a message, he would then wean himself back into my life, maybe even fake an apology or come up with some excuses about health problems, his wife treating him bad etc, just so he could eventually ask for his money back…Because he knows I am kind, because he knows I feel others’ pain, because he knows that he can guilt-trip me and get me to do what he wants, like he always did..because after a year of not talking, his narcissistic supply is low and he needs me..because I always made him feel good as I am his baby girl, the daughter he adores..The daughter with a heart of gold, that he proudly told people about.

The problem is that I WILL NOT FORGET the daily pain I have felt in the last year since his suicide attempt and discard, I WILL NOT FORGET the manipulation, I WILL NOT FORGET the constant lying, I WILL NOT FORGET the angry look in his eyes, I WILL NOT FORGET the day his lawyer called me,  I WILL NOT FORGET the way he ignored me when I was sitting a desk away from him in his office and I WILL NOT FORGET the day I arrived at hospital, when he was lying in a coma because of his wife’s threats!

It is too big, too much, too unsettling, too upsetting and too traumatising to just fall straight back into the way we used to speak, just so he can eventually ask for his money back.

Even though I spent the whole week before my birthday worrying about how I would get through the day without feeling down in the dumps, now that he has actually made contact, I am feeling suspicious and can’t allow myself to think of him as the Dad I remember when I was younger..

The day my Dad attempted suicide was the day everything changed..He is a sick man, whose obsession with money has destroyed nearly all his relationships and whose 2nd marriage has been an early death sentence.

If only..

 

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If only I could turn back time

to when things used to be just fine

I lost you when

despair took place

and then became

your losing face

I fought a wall

I could not break

Control and power

became your fate

Despite the present

My love won’t bend

You are my Dad

until the end.

 

 

 

 

1 year on WordPress today!

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When I started blogging a year ago today, I was in a very dark place going through yet another traumatic event in my family. I was able to write about my experiences and also help others through the things I learned. This year has been invaluable in my healing.

I want to thank you all for following and supporting me through this journey.

I also want to thank all recent followers for joining my little world!

I never thought I could have discussed such personal experiences with people I hardly know and yet feel so validated and heard.

With the progress I have managed to make in my recovery, I am now able to continue paying it forward through a second blogging platform and the creation of a brand new Youtube channel. If I can also reach at least a couple of people through there, I will be eternally humbled.

As a Scottish/Greek living in Germany with little German, it has been difficult to get work. My Complex PTSD makes it very difficult for me to find the motivation to learn German properly, especially since I find the language very difficult. My short-term memory is terrible and I have only really been able to invest time and energy in training to become a Life Coach, as helping others is something that I derive great joy from.It is always easier to learn things you enjoy and are passionate about.

If you haven’t already figured it out, this is also my blog: https://couragecoaching.wordpress.com/

and brand new YouTube channel :

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZeoDmVdW7gTuBDqOcd7qkg/featured

I thought it was appropriate to reveal these to you on my 1 year WordPress anniversary!

Lots of love ♥

A stranger’s kindness means the world

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How many of you can relate to meeting people that you hardly know and feeling touched by their kindness & empathy. Empathy isn’t something that can be faked. It shines through!The way a person talks, the way they smile or the way they listen can recharge your lonely batteries and fill your heart with hope. A true gem of a person is loved by many and is also incredibly sensitive and emotional. They are a thoughtful, gentle person who offers to help without anything in it for them. They do it because they feel your need, they sense your struggle and they are fulfilled by offering what they can.

I’ve experienced this feeling with my therapists and with very distant family. I’ve experienced this from wonderful doctors in moments of illness. I’ve experienced this from complete strangers on the street where I once fainted due to heat stroke.There are many moments in my life which have been made easier and more bearable due to people who have genuinely cared. Some of these people I am also privileged to call my followers on this blogging platform and other social media.

When someone understands you and there is a true connection, it is treasured. Unfortunately this isn’t felt with people who have NPD, even if they are family.There is a huge difference between helping someone with money, donating to charity or supporting someone with superficial means. This isn’t the same as having true empathy.

I am very much aware of the difference over the years as I instantly feel energised and supported if I am with the right people and low and depleted when in contact with toxic people or family members.

The love of strangers can sometimes save us from utter devastation and complete self-destruction. I value these people more than they will ever know. I value YOU!

If you are in the mood for a wonderful film that will possibly bring tears to your eyes, then check out the link below::

http://gimmeshelterthemovie.com/