Archive for the ‘emotion’ Category

I think a lot of us with PTSD struggle with the concept of a healthy body image.

After being repeatedly degraded, sexualized or desexualized, being mocked, and condescended to, raped and beaten… I am no longer surprised to hear of eating issues, body dysmorphia, and a general lack of love for your-self.

It took me a long time to realize the correlation between my weight losses and gains and being abused. The first time I “came down” with anorexic-like behaviour, I was 15 or so, and being abused emotionally, physically, and sexually by my first serious boyfriend.

I gained weight after, and lost weight again in a similar situation. By the time I was being prostituted a couple years ago, my “bf” (read: pimp) at the time liked the fact my body was curvy and voluptuous. Instead of escaping the situation, I internalized all the cr*p he was feeding me about being “only good for one thing”, and took it out on my body, losing weight again. When I met my next bf, who “rescued” me (never trust a white knight– their armor is tarnished, as is their souls), I was down to an abnormal weight for myself. The longer I was with him and more dependent I became on the relationship, the more I hated the body he loved. I gained significant weight before the night he tried to kill me, but after that event, it was like a no-holds-barred food buffet in an attempt to stuff my emotions.

Anyways…

I didn’t start liking myself until I started spending time with myself. I realized I had to have some positive emotion towards myself in order the change the pattern. I’m still trying to figure out the mechanism that lead to change within me, so that I can share it. All I know was that after the rape three months ago, I had enough.

In conversations with one of my exes, it becomes blatantly clear to me exactly why I turned to someone who rose red flags in my mind. As sad as it sounds, he made me feel completely unwanted– like I had no value sexually.

Bizarre, how I reacted, one would think that I would welcome the change from a literal sex slave, to… unsexed companion? But I’ve finally had to admit to myself that I’m simply not in a place mentally where I can be with a man, and not be physically intimate. I feel useless. And lonely. And dirty. And convinced that if he’s not getting any from me, he is getting it elsewhere.

So as soon as I cut him out of my life (again), I turned to a guy I casually saw, and who DID see sexual value in me. Enter feelings of validation. He rose red flags through mock-hitting me, accusations of cheating, and constantly checking up on me throughout the day… But I did not count of being assaulted by him.

I digress though, this is supposed to be about body image.

I had my massage yesterday, which was interesting. It incorporated BodyTalk techniques to help release trauma from my body (the areas worked on were my back and neck and face). Some of the spots she worked on felt completely numb to me, while pain flared elsewhere, and images flashed through my mind reminding me why I was hurting there.

It is very hard to relax during a massage. I hate being seen without my clothes on, to the point where I will put of showering or changing my clothing so I don’t have to experience myself naked. Touch without alterior motives is completely foreign to me (and perhaps on of the big problems I had with the ex mentioned above).

It’s hard to admit, but it went well. It was difficult emotionally, and afterwards I could not stand the thought of being in close proximity with anyone. The thought of anyone coming up behind me has me paranoid (not unusual).

The fact that my sex drive has bounced back through healthy eating and the elimination of libido-supressing medications has me a little freaked. Part of me worries I will act out like I used to. But the fact that I have an awareness I didn’t back then, helps me realize that self-destructive behaviour is unlikely.

Sorry for the disjointed thoughts. I seem to be a bit all over the place today. I really did intend on writing a well thought out post on Body Image.

Stay Safe ❤

I think the power of touch can be transformative, considering that we carry so much trauma within the body.

I also think there is a lot of power in our denial of touch– it says a lot about the depth of our hurt that we cannot allow someone to companionably or compassionately hold us, caress us.

I never used to have that problem– denying touch. I would crave it, and I would find it. I never questioned how much my need for touch was actually destroying my ability to be intimate. I went about finding touch in the wrong way– acting out sexually, when what I needed was compassionate and healing  touch.

So I ended up completely abhorring touch, and denying it to myself. And I wonder, is that behaviour any healthier? I am depriving myself of a basic human need.

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-trauma-touch.htm

http://culturemagazine.ca/activism/the_liberating_power_of_gentle_touch.html

I have been doing tons of work, by myself, and with others, to help integrate body and mind. It’s been working so well so far, I feel less PTSD symptoms, I’m less reactive, less stressed, I don’t have violent nightmares anymore (or dream at all).

Yet– I know I have to add in therapeutic touch to help give me a boost. It is the one thing I am not working on. I still shy away from other peoples touches, and feel uncomfortable getting hugs. I’m beginning to feel that some focused touch on my back would be particularly helpful, as I store a lot of trauma there, as well as my face, and who knows where else. I think it would be especially beneficial to my detox process. As well as give me the building blocks for emotional intimacy (something that has always made me cringe).

I have a massage appointment in another hour, with the same woman who does BodyTalk with me, so I know for sure she has some experience with (emotional) trauma and it’s physical effects. The idea of a focused touch on places where I won’t even touch myself has me stressed, to say the least. But it’s too late to back out now– I have been avoiding therapeutic touch for several months now, and have never had a massage with the goal of releasing trauma… I would just dissociate for the hour. Not healthy.

So, wish me luck 🙂

Stay safe ❤

I am beside you, and yet so far. I feel your breath, the strength of your body, I hear the soft words you speak to me.

And yet…

Sigh. I am saddened. I see this as a weakness I must eradicate from myself. I must somehow purge you. I cannot go back to the way things were, and yet I do not know if I can go forward and “forget”.

Part of me feels unwanted here, like you are simply resurrecting a memory of me, and it is loneliness that has you reaching out. The fact you won’t make a move on  me both gladdens me and frustrates me. I don’t seem to be a place yet where I can simply lie beside any man and feel adequate on my own if there is no sex going on.

I just want to be validated somehow. That I am not here for nothing. That I am not a complete and utter fool.

Is it so wrong to hope that if I can change so much over the last few months, that you have changed also?

No need to answer that– I know the answer.

The holidays always seem like a very volatile time to me. At a time when we are pressured to be “thankful”, all we can think about is the stressors and triggers in our lives that are all coming to the forefront.

Personally, I have checked out from all the holidays and get-togethers the last few years. By now, my family is more surprised when I make an appearance then when I am absent. For a long time this used to make me feel incredibly guilty. I felt I was being a bad daughter/niece/cousin/granddaughter.

This year I have come to the realization that my actions have meant that my mental health has been better preserved for all the avoidance. It means I was better able to care for my Self.

Because it is not just the pressures of family we end up contending with… It is pressures surrounding food, and how we end up reacting (emotionally) when there is such abundance.

Being around our triggers, it is normal for us to turn to something easily accessible to comfort us. We evolved with a sweet tooth as a survival mechanism (as part of our primal ability to stave off starvation). Often this means that the overabundance of calorie dense, sugar and carb laden foods become a substitute for more constructive outlets for our emotional distress.

There is a growing body of evidence showing that there is no such thing as “all things in moderation”, and that willpower, although possible in small doses, really does us no good. The real saying should be “out of sight, out of mind”.

Why am I talking about food?

I find that many of us use food as a reward or a punishment. We either go all out and shove our emotions down with unhealthy foods, or we deny ourselves to the point where we do not recognize our hunger. Actually, both ends of the spectrum do not recognize real hunger. And that hunger can be a metaphor for emotions such as love, grief, sadness, anger, happiness. Overeating or starvation is a good way (and “socially acceptable” way) to numb out.

Going on a holiday binge can lead to the “abuse voices” critisizing us, berating us. It can start a downward depressive spiral that is hard to dig out of.

If you cannot avoid family on the holidays, consider modifying the holiday recipes you usually cook. If you don’t cook, look up some easy recipes with simple ingredient lists and short cooking times. Focus on desserts. They are the typical trigger foods, and if you have something that you know is “safe” to eat, you will be less likely to binge.

On a personal note: I have gone both extremes, I have been anorexic, and am now a recovering emotional binge eater. It was a snap decision to change when it hit me that the source of my health problems were dietary. I have now gotten off one antidepressant, off one pain med, reduced a mood stabilizer, and an anti-anxiety/anti-migraine med. I had suffered from edema in my feet for months, and not only is it gone, but I can now sprint in intervals, when I was previously unable to run for years.

My focus is health, so it is a bonus that I am down 10+ pounds (necessary weight loss though!). I have increased my intake of healthy fats, like coconut oil, and butter (!), and I find that that has eliminated my cravings for sweet and carb-y foods.

The desert I had tonight was an almond flour muffin with cacao nibs and coconut sugar. It is dense and filling, so while it is a small muffin, one is enough, and fills me up.

Looking at the cause of your emotional eating / starvation can help you tap into emotions that you thought were long dormant. Healing needs a synergistic look and effort. It is not linear, or easy. But the results can be well worth the effort.

Stay Safe ❤

 

I live with my family, and my parents, as much as I regret saying this, recently seem to be the source of the raging anger I have burning inside me.

Last week they went overseas to see family, leaving me and my younger siblings on our own. I didn’t put my finger on what was different in the last week, I just knew something within me IS different. Finally, today, it hit me.

I am not angry.

It is amazing how that burden of emotion leaves us when the source of that negative emotion leaves our vicinity. There is a sense of freedom, a taste of exhiliration, a lessening of the bodily tension.

I also got myself a pillow pet. My therapist told me about them. They are a cross between a pillow and a stuffed animal. And very comforting to cuddle with. Anything that I can rely on for comfort that is not a man, is a good thing for me right now.

I never allowed myself the comfort of stuffed animals or dolls as a child, to my recollection. I remember thinking that I did not deserve it. I did not feel worthy of the toy. What comes to mind is the feeling of shame, when I think about being a child trying to play with dolls or stuffed animals. I’m not sure why. I know that sometimes I ‘performed’, and played with them because that is what ‘normal’ kids did… anyways…

My parents being gone, and my increased ability to comfort myself by holding onto my pillow pet has allowed me to get to a place mentally, where I can get back on my diet/lifestyle plan.

I’ve released almost 6lbs so far (saying I “lost” weight implies that it needs to be “found”.. um, no thank you!). Yet I have gained much more –

The edema in my feet and calves has reduced by about 75%. And I am sleeping much deeper and longer, without nightmares. I feel more stable emotionally during the day, though I still have my moments. But overall, I feel stronger, and more in control.

I find myself looking forward to meal times. My chocolate intake has gone from obscene to none, without any cravings. Ditto any fast food, iced tea (my vice), or similarly bad things. I am full, satisfied, and not panicked over the thought of “releasing” the weight, because I know I have a good support system around me. It may not be my family like I would wish it to be – but I worked hard at building a supportive circle, and plan on maintaining it.

I plan on making the most of the next week and a bit while my parents are away, so when they return, I remain focused, and strong minded 🙂

Stay strong!

To my parents:

I feel like sometimes you do not know how to deal with me. Like I am the odd one out in the family. I look in from the outside and hate the feelings of anger and jealousy within me for your ‘normalcy’. I hate that you cannot relate to me, and that I have to adjust myself in order to relate to you, when you are the adults, and I the child.

I struggle with the brainwashing of years past that told me you hated me and wanted only the worst for me. As much as I want to trust you, and as much as I trust you now, there is a part of me that simply… cannot. The seeds of distrust were sown within me long long ago, and it is something that cannot easily be undone.

I feel like you misunderstand my actions and the intentions behind those actions. And that the way you deal with me simply intensifies my trauma. I know you do not mean to do this, but even though it is unintentional, the trauma still happens…

When you accuse me of being unwell, or of not taking my medications, or of needing help, or more therapy, it makes me feel like giving up. It makes me look at myself in a way that – “well if that is all the progress they see (which is to say, nothing), I might as well die”.

When you blame me for all the shit that has happen to me, I want to lash out. I don’t, of course, but I become hateful due to your victim-blaming. You always conveniently leave out the child-molestation… yet I wonder – whom do you blame for the incidents when I was a child? Me, still? Or yourself? Or better yet, the abuser, where the blame should be placed?

Obviously my will and my faith in God keep me going, but I should also be able to rely on you as support. And the truth is, I can’t.

When you yell and nag and scream at me to clean up, it is not because I am intentionally messy. Yes, it is true that I am not innately clean like you, dear mother. But neither have I ever loved living in a pig stye. I know no matter how many times I explain, you either cannot accept, or will not listen, when I tell you that the mess provides me with psychological comfort. Just as cutting, drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes comforted me, so does the mess. I do realize it pains you to see it – it aggravates you and annoys you.

But I have to think of myself first – I am not hurting myself physically anymore. At least, I don’t as long as the mess is there. When you yell at me, I leave the house and smoke in an effort to regain control of my emotions. You see, taking the mess away is taking away my control, and it feels like I am being raped all over again.

When you take it upon yourself to tidy, I feel violated, enraged, helpless, grieved. Like giving up. And I stuff all those emotions away and pretend everything is okay, when it fact it is not. And my body knows it because I end up in more pain, with more exhaustion, with more psychosomatic asthma symptoms….

I am writing this here because here it is safe. You know about this blog, but would never think to read it because you want to deny everything that has happened to me. You want to deny and pretend and compartmentalize. And so I follow your lead, and it is destroying me slowly.

I wish I could be this truthful to your face, but the truth is, I would not want to hurt you.

You might think me cold and calculating, but really, I am just trying to spare your feelings while you kill mine.

Your loving daughter

I just finished watching an interesting case on Law and Order UK –

A young woman, who spent two years being stalked is pushed down the stairs. Initially the cops believer, but as evidence is scarce it becomes obvious the police doubt her story. She insists that she needs help, has been begging for help for two years, and that if she is not helped, she will be killed. Two days later she is found stabbed to death in her apartment.

What can we learn from this?

Plenty.

Emotional abuse is nearly impossible to prosecute, and it is hard to do anything effective against stalking until your life is in danger.

Emotional abuse will eventually escalate to physical intimidation, sexual coersion, threats of violence, and finally, actually laying of the hands on your person – physically, sexually… All in violence.

There are also honeymoon phases. These phases come just when you need them most, and can be the most psychologically devastating as they keep a victim off balance and feeling as if they are crazy – as if the abuse was just their imagination.

The one thing that is certain is that abuse does escalate.

There are certain red flags to look for, that I’ve noticed seem to be a pattern among abusers (in my experience). For me, with all my abusers, these red flags were always there.

Trust me: Abusers tend to say this a lot. There are key words to look for, sentences like “I’ve been told I know how to treat a woman right…”, “Trust me…”, “I’m always told I’m caring and kind”, “Trust me, I look out for my woman”.

My Woman: This possessive and objectifying term is always used. Listen to the way he speaks to you: are you a cherished companion, or does he seem to label you as more of an object that he needs to look out for an protect (at any cost necessary)? Is he jealous of your time away from him? Does he keep tabs on you during the day when you are not together through text messages or phone calls? Sometimes it is the total opposite – he will ignore you for days, and then contact you and berate you for not initiating contact, or maintaining consistent contact with him.

Mircoexpressions: Deception is something we all like to think we are good at detecting, but it is something we, as women, are more likely to miss out on. Studies show that woman are more likely then (normal) men to smooth over social mistakes. In other words, if we see something in a man’s expression that does not agree with what he is saying, chances are, we will excuse it, not wanting to discomfort the other person. PLEASE DISCOMFORT HIM!!! Look for expressions that leak: a crooked smile (phony!), if he usually talks with his hands, if he is being deceptive, he will likely not use his hands as much (the opposite applies as well).

When normal people feel emotion, it is expressed on their faces first before we consciously realize what that emotion is that we are feeling. In abusive men, this displays as the opposite – it’s the emotion first, then the mircoexpression. Look at body language, tone, voice characteristics. Do his words match his actions?

Eye Contact: These men are practiced deceivers. They know to maintain consistent eye contact with others. It is often victims that do not maintain eye contact – they may look away due to nervousness, disgust, shame, sadness, or guilt.

Brainwashing: Abusers will say things to you like “you are lucky I love you”. But that will not be the only verbal technique used to break you down. He will question your intelligence. Belittle your appearance. Condescendingly speak to you. Isolate you from others by making you feel worthless, and instilling a feeling of clingy-ness onto the abuser – this is because he “lowered himself to be with you”, and thus, you should feel “special”, because truly, all you are is a “worthless slut (insert his choice insult)”.

Crazy Making: He will have you questioning your own sanity. By reverting back into the honeymoon phase, and becoming again the charmer, he will make you feel like you have overreacted, are hysterical, need help, and gosh, aren’t you lucky to have him to help you through this confusing time?!

Changes within you: Do you find yourself acting more quietly around him? Walking on eggshells? Are you fearful? Are you dressing more conservatively, or more provocatively, in order to please him, when it is not your style? Are you gaining or losing weight? Are you forgetful? Sleeping more, or less? Are you anxious or panicky? Do you have this sense of impending doom? If any of this sounds familiar, you are likely in a situation you should examine closely, and get out of.

If you detect any of this type of behaviour, GET OUT! This type of behaviour only escalates over time. Abusers are constantly testing limits. If you forgive him, he will abuse you more, and in even worse ways.

Stay safe!