The shortest day and my father’s birthday

It’s been awhile since I have written a blog post or properly caught up on people’s posts, so I hope my regular readers are doing ok. Life has changed completely since our new puppy Daola became part of our family. Looking after a pup and getting through each working day with 2 shifts (morning and evening) has been very different to what it was before. A lot of adjustments have been made and I must admit the first 3 months have been tough. It’s been similar to looking after a baby, even though I don’t have kids. This is what most people have been telling me, anyway. Daola has needed constant entertaining, training and up to 8 trips outside for pee pees. Luckily now, things have started settling down a little. She doesn’t need as many toilet trips outside and her walks have been reduced to 4 a day, including her very brief toilet outing at 5:30 am before work.

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Daola 4 months old

 

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Daola 3 months old

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Daola 5 months old- Still enjoys lying on mine and hubby’s back

We have been very lucky to have chosen a pup that is affectionate, cuddly, playful, loyal and always extremely happy to see us, after brief times apart. As a previous cat person, I have completely fallen in love with being a dog mum for the first time. Its been lovely seeing her learn from us as quickly as she has and she seems to be quite intelligent as well. Stubborness and of course selective listening are quite common traits of Daschunds, so at times I have felt very frustrated.

In early December we had a brief holiday and we took Daola with us to Greece for 3 nights, as it had been 10 months since I had last flown home. The last time we were in Athens, we had to empty the flat that we had used for almost 5 years. This was an important decision as it still connected me to my father, which I was already estranged from.

Luckily, our trip to Greece in December wasn’t as challenging as we were worried it would be. We booked a quiet pet friendly hotel in a nice quiet area and Daola luckily slept a lot and was generally very good during the flights. Although the journey was around 7 hours in total, including trains, taxis etc..she did great for a 5 month old pup.

Staying in the hotel we chose, actually had a lot of pros if I were to compare it to the flat we had been staying in over the last years. We had breakfast made for us, we had very good WIFI (which we never had in the flat), there were no cockroaches or outdated toilet drainage systems and I didn’t need to clean anything, as I did upon arrival every previous time. The only cons of going to Greece now is that I no longer have a home there and I no longer have a father or half brother I am able to visit. Due to the toxicity of my father’s way of life, it is just impossible. This always makes me sad understandably and as it is my father’s birthday today, I am feeling even more vulnerable.

My brother unfortunately always tells me about the fact that he is sending my father his birthday gift. He also still talks about him in such an innocent manner. He just doesn’t have the capacity to understand the complexity of why it is too painful for me to talk about him. He also hasn’t seen my father act narcissistically or maybe is just not able to accept that both his parents are narcissistic. I have allowed my brother to continue living in his little bubble of my father being the non narcissist but once again I feel like I have to swallow my frustration and true feelings due my brother’s special needs.

As so many of you know, I always feel very lonely at this time of year, when I realise how much I have lost. I still miss my Dad and always seem to drift into imaginary fantasies of what it could have been like if he had made healthy choices. I imagine how it could have been if he had chosen a healthy wife and had a healthy lifestyle. How we would all spend Christmas together and I would teach my half brother all sorts of important things. There was once a time, where my brother, my half brother, my Dad, his wife and I would all spend Christmas together. Although it never felt comfortable, it still meant that we had our Dad in our life. Now that is no longer the case. He is too sick to think of us affectionately. He is too addicted to his wife and current life situation. We don’t matter anymore. We used to matter much more to him, when we were still a family and he was still married to our mum.

On a more positive note, I just wanted to write that despite the underlying sadness I feel on my Dad’s birthday today and generally this time of year, I am so incredibly grateful to have my hubby to cuddle up to and to have Daola in our life for our first Christmas together. We may not have our parents or other family but we do have a lot of love in our own home. I never want to take what I have for granted, as I know how tough life has been at other points in my life. I value each and every moment of relaxation, calmness and joy.

So for all of you out there who are also struggling with grief at this time of year just remember to notice the beauty that surrounds you. Remember to notice the little things that may otherwise go unnoticed. Remember to value those passing moments of love and joy and capture them in a blog, in a poem or in a photograph. Capturing these happy moments in my life is so important for my mental health. We all need something to hold onto when things get tough.

Today, I will hold onto to some of these happy memories.Photographs have always been my most treasured possession so I will always dig them out and remember.

Christmas 2006

My father, brother and my father’s wife in 2006..Although I disliked her, spending Christmas together was important.

 

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All 3 of us siblings together- 2007

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Glyfada/Greece-Summer 2010 Dad and half brother

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Fishing with my half brother- summer 2010 Glyfada, Greece

 

Love Athina ♥♥

 

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The fear of messing up..CPTSD

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Those of us who experienced abuse as children are absolutely terrified of messing up. Although making mistakes is a huge part of learning and of life, in an abusive home we got punished for things we didn’t deserve to be punished for and the punishment was directed at our core as a person. It wasn’t the usual discipline that healthy families use.

We were called names such as stupid, slow, dumb, sensitive, bad, unworthy etc. We were emotionally abused over and over again which led us to develop CPTSD. Now as adults we suffer with emotional flashbacks. Every time someone is disappointed in us, we are flashed back into the emotional state of our childhood. We feel small, defenseless, vulnerable, helpless and devastated.

The reason I am writing about this, is because I had a bad day at my morning job on Tuesday. My friend hadn’t told me she wasn’t working with me (usually she always lets me know), so this distracted me a little from my usual routine. I went into hypervigilance mode, checking the charts & dates of rooms I had to set up for the workshops. When we work together, I always start from the ground floor and work my way up through the kitchens and check the rooms on all 4 floors. We usually share the rooms that need setting up when we work together but on that day I had to prioritise and do things slightly differently.

After checking the chart over and over again, I got on with setting up 4 different rooms on various floors and when I was eventually finished, I was very pleased with how I had completed everything.

5 mins before the end of my shift, one of the ladies that was doing one of the workshops, turned up and said that the rooms weren’t set up. I was puzzled and told her that I had just set up 4 rooms. Luckily this lady, was genuinely lovely and had made me feel very comfortable since starting work there. She pointed at the chart and said it’s the 23rd today not the 22nd. What happened unfortunately, was that I had set up Monday’s rooms instead of Tuesday’s. I didn’t need to go in on Monday morning, so I completely misread the chart, thinking that it was Monday.

I was absolutely horrified and apologised immediately. Luckily she was very understanding and had a giggle saying ‘you are getting old’. Her room was only for 4 people, so it wasn’t really a big deal. Unfortunately on the ground floor however, there was a room that needed a 12 person set up and the workshop had already started!

I ran downstairs, dreading the confrontation with the German speaking lady and when I got there she obviously wasn’t pleased at all. She had already set up a trolley with drinks, cups, coffees and biscuits. I once again genuinely apologised and asked her what I could do to make up for my mistake. She just said help me put everything on the table, which meant I had to walk into a room full of people and the workshop presenter and start placing all the cups and drinks on the tables. One of the gentlemen started mumbling to me in German and I was completely lost in my frazzled state. I didn’t undertstand a word he said. Eventually the lady told me, to not worry about finishing it and I left to make a few more fresh coffees.

It took me another 30minutes to undo all the rooms I had set up in vain and return the drinks, freshly made coffees and cups to the kitchen.

Needles to say, I felt absolutely awful and I could hear that voice in my head saying you messed up, you are a failure, you are hopeless, you are slow..I was in a deep emotional flashback, even though nobody was actually that angry. All it took was the disappointed look on the lady’s face, to send me into a devastating flashback.

When I got home, I had a good cry and comforted myself saying ‘you had a flashback, you are not a failure, you just made a mistake’.

My past unfortunately will keep following me around, no matter how simple a mistake I make or how unimportant the actual situation is to an outsider.

As long as I continue to remind myself that I am only human and it is ok to make mistakes, then my flashbacks should hopefully lessen in intensity. They will always remain a challenge but it is one that I have to keep working at overcoming.

Thank for reading

Love Athina ♥

 

Ritual abuse survivors are heroes

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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..

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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

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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.

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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 ♥♥

 

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 ♥

 

 

 

Parental narcissism-Maternal narcissism is the deepest wound

The bond between a mother and her child is such a special one, that people wonder how it is possible for a mother to be abusive towards her child.How can a mother want her child to suffer? How can a mother feel so envious of her daughter’s happiness, that she tries to sabotage it? How can a mother dismiss her child’s successes? This is something that unfortunately happens all the time and more and more survivors of maternal narcissistic abuse are coming to terms with the reality of who their mother really was and unfortunately still is.

In this video, I go through the traits of a narcissistic mother which are identified in a very useful book written by Karyl McBride, a renowned psychologist who has extensively researched narcissistic abuse.

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.