Over the last few months I have done a lot of reading about healing from being raised in a neglectful family. If we are going to assume that neglect is included under the umbrella term of abuse I found a meagre pile of resources, some of them moderately helpful. If we define neglect as a beast of its own as some people researching in the field do, I have found nothing I can recall from the top of the head that was even moderately helpful. Despite seemingly remembering that neglect is by far the most common way to acquire a mental injury no one seems to talk about it, no one has any healing to offer. The neglected, oh irony of ironies are still neglected.
From the aforementioned meagre pile of somewhat constructive advice I compiled this:
– being raised in any version of a non supportive household will cause your brain to develop differently
– among the dramatic difference in development is a loss of natural tendency to explore and learn, instead all energy is funneled towards mere survival (which is still not achieved by many nonsurvivors…)
– to date there is no known healing tool available that actually rewires the brains of those hurt by the people they are required to trust the most
– since the people you grow up with are usually your only possible way of acquiring food, shelter and mentoring you learn that whatever they do is safe and are conditioned to seek out similar people in later life
– any healing that can take place is essentially geared towards rewiring as in unlearning and relearning every experience you made in early life
– usually being raised in a non supportive household means that even finding ways of starting your journey to a healthier life is severely difficult because you were conditioned to fear, hate and run from supportive things
The term “Narcissist” and how it might be detrimental to healing past the anger stage
Recently I came across this page for . The dictionary was somewhat helpful in finally understanding the me.
However the site got me pondering the matter of narcissism again. I’m struggling with the term narcissist and have been for a while now. My main bone of contention is how it seems so loosely defined that apparently every abuser is a narcissist to the point that the two terms seem to be interchangeable, so why have both? The core of narcissism seems to be a fundamental lack of empathy which in turn informs their abusive and/or neglectful behaviour. Narcissism and abuse/neglect seem to be causally tied together. Also many people I am reading about seem to permanently use the narcissist label to throw blame, hate and vilification towards whoever hurt them.
I am also curious about male narcissism and how things affect sons. My one grandfather might be classifiable as an enabler, but I’m not so sure about the second grandfather and my father. It feels a bit like autism with gender reversal where you only describe half of the spectrum (the male symptoms in autism and the female symptoms in narcissism) and pass it of as the whole thing.
I have not written in a long time. Meanwhile I have contacted 60 hospitals treating traumatised patients, lost another long term friend very suddenly and both came with ugly revelations. But I am a person who has an uncanny ability to see a silver lining in every terrible thing that has happened to me and this ability has not left me.
I think for the first time in my life there is now no one I communicate with on a daily basis. I’m well and truly lonely and it’s given me time to think and understand some things. My biggest lightbulb is that my biggest problem was not that I was abused. Rather I have been emotionally neglected. Pete Walker has linked the pain coming from emotional neglect to a scenario that made me understand A LOT.
He said all (human) children are hard wired to know they should not be alone, they rely on their parents to defend them from predators, nuture them and keep them warm asf. So the fight for the parents attention to a young child (Walker cites the age of six) is a fight for survival. I’m pretty sure the idea that we are safe from my often invoked saber tooth tiger regardless of our elders actions or inactions does not compute yet for our brains.
Emotionally it’s still being left to fend for oneself when young = being in mortal danger.
So the pain I’m dealing with does not come from abusive messages such as I’m not worth the oxygen I breathe or whatever else verbal abusers say. My pain comes from not being acknowledged to exist at all. By the very people who are responsible for my existence. Which in a way is akin to not actually existing. To me it feels more brutal than killing me. But that might be overdramatising things and I’m not a fan of measuring my own pain against other peoples pain. Pain is pain. I just feel a need to verbalise my own, make me realise what happened. I’ve not even been worth my parents time to insult me.
I have an confession to make. I am insomniac. Or rather I do sleep well enough once I manage to actually fall asleep. But even with my beloved Hypericum I occasionally do not sleep before 3am. So I wanted to blog about what it is like to be in owl mode. Of course this is all tightly connected to the neglect going on in my life so there is this sob story too. I’m hoping maybe I am not all alone in this. Even if I frequently feel the kind of abuse I was subjected too is not at all discussed anywhere. It always seems to be about narcissists. So here is my story, in hopes I can find others with similar stories.
I started having sleep problems in kindergarten already actually. Maybe even before that. My mother would regularly lie down with me for the midday naps a toddler should have… My mother slept well during these hours apparently. I also could not sleep in kindergarten when everyone else was sleeping. The kindergarteners were very ignorant of my issues and I learnt to pretend I was asleep as good as I can.
My food sensitivities also made a flashy early entrance: I refused to be breastfed. Mother went through quite a bit of trouble because of me foregoing natural reflexes altogether. As a three year old I would only eat one meal, all the time. My various relatives all needed to be kept up to date which was the meal of the year from then on if I came over. There was stuff I liked to eat and there are MANY things I abhored.
I often struggle with having cut off my abusive family. Still I never seriously considered getting back in touch. I know many other people who do have a much harder time sticking to the resolve of walking away from their abuser. It’s already very hard for me. I feel for everyone who struggles with these kinds of things. To the observing eye it has to be next to incomprehensible.
So why do we all have such a hard time? Are we that dense? Devoid of any logic? Blind and deaf? Selectively amnesiac for the bad sides of our relationships?
I do not think we are dense. Humans are creatures of habit. We prefer things we know well, things we can predict and know how they work over the great unknown. This is the reason we have a tendency to reenact our trauma in first place. We are used to this. We know these feelings and situations well and we are attracted to what we know. In a sick way it makes us feel safe. In another way I think our brains have the weird idea that we can find a way to “fix” things by subjecting ourselves to the pain over and over and over again.
I remember the first moment when I was not depressed. I have been walking back from school and for a brief moment, one, two steps the transmitter party in my head was over. It was one of the most horrible moments in my life. I have been depressed for so long, I knew how to deal with not having any energy, with not sleeping at night, with not knowing how to be happy. I knew all this and I knew it well, that’s been all my life. Knowing what it is like to not be depressed even for just two steps was horrible. Knowing what I was missing out on, how it might feel on the other side of the veil. Continue reading
I think many of us abused folks know stories about the terrible childhood of our abusers, about their various medical issues, about all the side effects of the pills they have to take which make them shitty human beings, about that car crash or that time they got robbed or bullied or whatever it was. A popular misconception that I am battling myself atm is how this does not excuse abuse. I have stressed the importance of owning your own shit.
One common characteristic of abusers is that they deflect blame. They do not discuss what went wrong and take steps to ensure it does not happen again. They cast themselves as a victim of whatever circumstance suits them if they acknowledge things went wrong at all and that’s that. So they do not own their shit and likely make you own it instead. This is why it is ab-use, the wrong way to use something or rather someone.
The trouble here in my opinion is we harbour a wrong sort of compassion. We make excuses from them we would not make for ourselves. We go back to the stories I described in the first sentence and obviously the past of the abuser has a way to shape their current actions. Normally our thought process ends here. Continue reading
Today I want to tell you a little story about a young bird and a street smart cat. I am also going to give you a link to show you how the life lesson these two animals learnt apply to me. So stay with me it will make sense in the end 🙂
Once upon a time there were two former street cats who got adopted into the house I lived in. We lived next to a very busy street and the owner of the cats feared for their lives if they let them out. It was also in the adoption contract that they were to be indoor kitties. However the boy became increasingly mischievous and eventually downright aggressive. Biting and scratching my shoulder bloody and when I let him know this was unacceptable behaviour he eventually turned to a weaker recipient of his desperation: his sister. Up to this point she just behaved became increasingly neurotic and depressed by the lack of sensory stimulation. They both wanted out. Badly. Eventually another couple living in the house and I convinced the owner that we could walk the cats on a leash.