Reflections on Life Thus Far

My life. My story: Exploring mental health, spirituality, meditation & random thoughts I have

Epigenetics and family trauma A link to a short but interesting piece on epigenetics and healing trauma.

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This One Is Worth Watching!

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Made me cry but good tears at the end 🙂


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Understanding Is Forgiving

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To me, if you want to forgive anyone the easiest way there is by understanding them. But what if you didn’t really know them yet their existence had an effect on you. In my case I am trying to understand a grandparent who committed incest with his daughter (my mom) over the span of her childhood. I would really like to understand what caused his behaviour so I can drop my anger towards him. He’s been dead a long time but his actions influenced my upbringing since my mother sexually abused me too (primarily covert abuse). I have released 99% of the anger towards my mom but I have not released any toward the grandfather.

How does one go about understanding someone you never knew? At this rate I am not going to be able to forgive him at all. My heart is not that generous.

©Natalya Lyubov, Reflections On Life Thus Far, 2016.

Tapping Solution Video from World Summit 2013

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Tapping Video with Louise Hay and Nick Ortner

 


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Writing Exercise (Day 2)

My counsellor gave me some exercises to encourage writing with emotional awareness. Often I get stuck in my head and miss opportunities to connect with my inner experience. So I have finished day 2 of 4 of my writing exercise and feel content with how it went. I wasn’t expecting it to take the turn it did but I’m pleased I thought of it and allowed myself to include it in the entry. Day 1 I settled on discussing being constantly infantilised by my mother throughout my childhood and teen years; today I continued discussing that a bit more but got into my issues with fear around men. Mom taught me when I was a child that pretty well all men were potential sexual predators so I never had boyfriends. She also talked about sex like it was something scary and repulsive so I avoided all intimate contact. Fortunately I am introverted and enjoy my own company but I felt like it would have been nice to enjoy a relationship instead of living like a nun. I didn’t expect for this issue to come up today in my second day of writing so I wonder how day 3 will go now! FYI-I am not afraid of most men now and have changed my views around sex in a positive/healthier manner thanks to therapy.

©Natalya, 2014.

 


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Did The Writing Exercise (Day 1)

So I did my first day of writing for the writing exercise my counsellor gave me. You can see my post from yesterday to read about it more if you like. Anyway, I didn’t want to do it at first but decided to go ahead and try it and found myself writing about being infantilised by my mother. Surprisingly I didn’t feel angry but I did feel sad. I think this is fine because it was a sad experience and I’m still dealing with its lingering effects (I did feel briefly like I was a child but thankfully that has passed since coming back to the present). Tomorrow may be the same or different-don’t know yet. Either way I’ll do my writing for tomorrow.

When I’ve completed the four days I’ll know better about whether I’ve dealt with all the emotions surrounding my past traumatic experiences or not. For today I am proud I overcame my apprehension and settled on an issue that turned out to be just the thing for me to address.

©Natalya, 2014.


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Speaking Out Heals Shame

Rev. Jordyn Morrison Clason, Ph.D. ~ http://www.RealClairvoyantPsychic.com

Experiencing trauma can lead to shame depending on the nature of the trauma endured. When we’re filled with shame we retreat inside ourselves and fear having others know what we’ve been through; as though we were somehow to blame even though we intellectually know that’s not the case. It’s ironic really because if you experienced trauma from a person or group of people, they, not you should be feeling the shame. Yet they lack the moral conscience for this so the survivor of the trauma ends up with it instead. This seems terribly unfair in my opinion. But we see it all the time with abuse survivors; they think they were at fault somehow no matter what their head tells them. It’s difficult to reason with your emotions because they aren’t reasonable! So you have to muddle through the emotional baggage ’til your head and heart are on the same page. Not an easy task no matter who you are.

In my experience, speaking about my traumatic experiences sort of relieves the pressure inside me; it’s like the steam from a kettle being released. For all the years I carried around the shame of my past I believed keeping it to myself would be easier but it wasn’t. Instead I had unrelenting depression and anxiety never feeling at peace for very long. When I started psychotherapy I didn’t talk much about the abuse I’d suffered because I couldn’t allow it to surface. I thought if I did then I might fall apart (which I did later). So I wasted years talking about my symptoms never discussing the causes of my chronic depression and anxiety/panic disorder. All this because I carried so much shame inside me that I figured no one could accept me due to abuse. How sad that I had so little self worth and love for myself that I couldn’t imagine telling anyone what I’d been through. I’d also minimised what I’d experienced a great deal too so felt unjustified in feeling the way I did; like we need to have reasons for our emotions! Sometimes they are irrational but we aren’t robots so that’s just how it has to be.

When we don’t confront our past it tends to show itself in maladaptive patterns until we recognise where they’re coming from. For some this means abusing one’s self or others so it can be serious. Once the trauma can be remembered and processed it allows us to stop looking for distractions. Our minds don’t have to spend so much energy on repressing what happened to us. If you’re like me sharing what happened to us can be scary or even threatening; yet that’s what’s needed for one to end the behaviours destroying us or other people if we perpetuate the hurt inside us onto others. You can’t be free ’til the secrets are outside of you because that’s what loosens our abuser(s) hold on us. They wanted us to keep quiet and hope we took responsibility for what was never our fault to begin with. If we had had the coping tools to know better we would have done better but most abused children aren’t lucky enough to have the resources or simply are too young to process what happened in a meaningful way.

Ideally, our abuser(s) would recognise what they did to us as wrong and make restitution but too often this never happens. Usually it doesn’t happen because the abuser was also abused and can’t face their own painful past, it takes courage to confront painful memories and process our hurt emotions. So sometimes our abuser(s) just aren’t courageous enough to deal with their own pain and continue to make others suffer. Or maybe the abuser(s) aren’t alive so restitution isn’t an option. But you can still face your pain and know you are making a difference because you won’t be perpetuating abuse/pain onto more people. In fact you can also come to appreciate you are stronger than your abuser(s) because you’re choosing to confront your pain. This might also be an opportunity for you to see that your abuser(s) felt so awful they couldn’t bear to face what happened to them so took the ‘easy route’ by hurting other people. It really isn’t easier to hurt other people than face your own pain but I think it takes less effort because it doesn’t require that you challenge yourself. For that reason I consider it the ‘easier route’.

Anyhow back to my main argument of talking about your trauma or ‘spilling the beans’; personally, I prefer ‘airing the family’s dirty laundry’ as my preferred term because it just sounds ‘spicier’ and a bit titillating! But I digress… Once I finally told my therapist about the sexual, emotional, psychological, physical abuse and neglect I felt free. The shame had begun to dissipate like morning fog when you live by the coast. I still felt some shame when I had to hide my past in front of other family but it was beginning to be more manageable. Once you open the proverbial can of worms there’s no putting the lid back on. The secrets you protected from your conscious mind won’t be forced back into hiding. You can try to deny it happened for awhile but usually the truth wins because you can’t really ‘unknow’ what you know once you’ve confronted it. This is a good thing even though it doesn’t feel in the least bit good to begin with! I felt so awful I reverted to my eating disorder I’d been in remission from for a couple of years because starving temporarily numbed me and took my focus off the new awareness I had concerning my past. I think it’s fair to say any addictions you had in remission may flare up temporarily until you can ‘digest’ what you’ve learned. Mine gave me a respite from having to face things I didn’t feel capable handling. In essence it was easier for me to deal with my eating disorder and try to manage that then it was the horrible reality of my mother sexually abusing me.

Busyness is a way to escape ourselves. My family suffers a lot from this in order to avoid their childhood abuse coming to the foreground of consciousness. Idleness is not a ‘sin’ but an opportunity to go within and understand yourself better.

I’m feeling stronger these days internally but it’s been four years since I ‘discovered’ the type of abuse I’d been through and I haven’t been employed the entire time either. In fact I quit paid employment because I felt I’d been delivered such a huge psychological blow I couldn’t possibly continue my job. For quite awhile I worried about what I would end up doing with myself since I was no longer employed or a university student. My identity came crashing down. The pieces were flimsy to begin with so it’s likely for the best I had to reconstruct my idea of who I was again. What I’ve discovered along the way is you’re a lot stronger than you ever imagined. I didn’t think I could survive the distress I was in yet I did and I am healthier now than I have ever been. Yes, I am still unemployed but people should not base their value on their employment status. You are not your job, car, house, or any other material/external thing. It took me until recently to realise I could be worthy as a person without a paid job. I was always brought up to believe you had to be educated and wealthy to be worthy but that’s not true at all. What’s in your bank account doesn’t make you wealthy because wealth ought to be measured by happiness and love, not dollars and cents (or Euros, Yen, Pounds etc.). One can give back to society and/or their community through volunteer work or helping family. I won’t elaborate on this though because it’s too much for a post meant to discuss trauma and shame. Perhaps I’ll do a post on economics another day!

What do you think about the ‘truth setting you free’? Does sharing what happened to us with someone we trust heal us from our shame? Have you experienced abuse/trauma you kept hidden from others (perhaps yourself as well) then discovered/shared it and experienced relief?

©Natalya, 2014. Reflections On Life Thus Far®

 


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Transgenerational Trauma & Transmission

http://www.humiliationstudies.org/documents/ValentTransgenerationalTraumaHolocaust_15.pdf

You can see I posted a link directly above my writing that is about transgenerational or intergenerational trauma. Although it is about Holocaust trauma it is easily generalised to other groups having experienced long periods of trauma. For my situation I am using the term to refer to childhood abuse passed down through the generations. In the linked article it talks about the unconscious and unwitting process of the traumatic transmission to the next generation. This means parents are unaware they are passing their traumatic experiences onto their children because they have not consciously dealt with their grief over having experienced horrible things. I really feel the article opened my eyes to how I ‘picked up’ on my mother’s trauma even though she avoided speaking about it when I was very young.

Growing up I was abused and traumatised by my mother. Much of it happened unconsciously in so far as mom didn’t recognise her behaviour as abusive due to her own experiences. Usually children think their parents are perfect but I was only too aware mine were anything but that. They did their best but you can’t give what you don’t have. I was long aware mom was treating me badly which caused me to have a lot of anxiety as a child. I’m not sure how I ended up without that protective buffer most kids have that allows them to think its their fault not the parent’s. In any case I didn’t have that and felt very depressed and anxious growing up. It wasn’t easy because I reacted with anger to my situation but was basically told this was inappropriate; I beg to differ! From my perspective the anger was more than appropriate considering what I was being subjected to on a regular basis. It was not my fault I happened to be the poor kid that shouts “the Emperor has no clothes!” and my family didn’t appreciate my honesty.

Most kids learn to cope with their situation through denial or some other defense mechanism like repression or the like. I didn’t seem to have the capacity for this so went emotionally numb instead. It was the only way for me to cope that didn’t involve me lying to myself about my family situation. By 18 I’d already attempted suicide seriously three times and was on antidepressants. I also had an eating disorder that helped me feel like I had a bit of control along with the side effect of leaving me emotionally numb. Following my suicide attempts I entered psychotherapy for the first time and never looked back.

Unfortunately my first few years in therapy were spent on trying to get me stabilised from my depression, anxiety and suicidal impulses. Had I known about transgenerational trauma, boundaries and female to female sexual abuse I might have fared slightly better. If I’d known of these things I wouldn’t have felt so ashamed for being something of an emotional train wreck. To my mind I felt I must have been overreacting since I hadn’t been sexually abused by a man, physically beaten or anything I could pinpoint anyhow. As I stated I knew nothing of transgenerational trauma transmission, nor boundaries. Thus, I continued to feel ashamed for being “weak” thinking I’d “only” been spanked, slapped on the hands and endured messy living conditions. It wasn’t until years later I realised mom had been a compulsive hoarder. I did know she had a Narcissistic Personality Disorder though as I’d come across the disorder in a book when I was 17. The impact of her NPD on me however was unknown until I came across another book in my early 20s on the disorder’s effect on children of NPD parents. That opened my eyes and made me feel much less crazy for feeling the way I did. I won’t bore you further since this is meant to be a post not a book! LOL

Transgenerational trauma transmission was first identified in survivours of the Holocaust but has since been applied to those in other groups as well, notably Aboriginals in North America and genocide survivours. The phenomenon also applies to families where abuse has been passed down to subsequent generations. The German psychoanalyst Alice Miller described the phenomenon in her term ‘repetition compulsion’; this applies to abused children having their own children and repeating the abuse unconsciously on them. In this way the abuse is literally passed down from generation to generation until someone has enough insight to get help to stop transmission. Incidentally, Alice Miller is an excellent author with lots of books available on child abuse. The only complaint I have is she doesn’t address compassion for one’s self or parents. Otherwise she is excellent in her championing of abused children through her books emphasising truth above all else.

Can you identify transgenerational trauma in your family?

©Natalya Lyubov, 2014. Reflections On Life Thus Far®

 

 


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Mother’s Day (North America)

It’s Mother’s Day here in the U.S. & Canada; Mexico celebrated yesterday (May 10). Happy Mother’s Day to the mom’s who actually manage to do a “good enough” job. A past therapist of mine told me parents need not be perfect but they need to be ‘good enough’ which is a realistic way to think of it. There are no perfect mothers because people aren’t perfect but as long as you can express love to your child(ren) and they feel it then you’re probably doing a good job. The ironic thing is there are a lot of moms not capable of expressing healthy love but they believe they’re excellent mothers.

My mom was not capable of showing me love in a healthy manner and neglected me emotionally, she also abused me but she thought she was a great mom and it was me, the child, who had the problem! Why do we have these sort of blind spots in us preventing us from seeing what sh*t we are as parents? I’m not saying every mom that thinks she’s a good mom is actually not; what I’m saying is there seems to be a lot of moms thinking they are “the world’s #1 mom” ignoring the fact they need professional help. Mom had psychological problems because she was severely abused as a child and developed into a Narcissist but didn’t get therapy. This is the level of dysfunction I’m talking about when I mention moms being blind to their flaws.

I didn’t mean to make this post into an angry one so I’ll try to redirect my thoughts to more positive things. If you have a mom who loves you unconditionally consider yourself lucky! Be grateful you have a mom that didn’t ‘f*cK you up’ because I can tell you therapy to correct it isn’t fun. If you weren’t so lucky I can relate and send you my sympathies. My mother is dead so I am enjoying not having to be phony anymore to avoid making others uncomfortable with the truth.

Non-human animals are usually much better mothers than us…except the ones who eat their young. But aside from them they really are better than us.

The best thing one can do if you didn’t get lucky and have a loving mom is to learn to love yourself like a ‘proper’ mother would. This requires you learn compassion for yourself which is difficult to come by through merely reading self-help books. Psychotherapy with a therapist who has compassion for themselves is your best bet for learning to love yourself unconditionally. If you can find a ‘shrink’ that will sit with your emotions and make you feel accepted then you have a winner. Unfortunately, there aren’t a great number of psychotherapists like this but they are out there and when you find one you’ll know it because you’ll suddenly feel like it’s okay to actually be you for once.

So, is it Mother’s Day in your part of the world today? How are you spending the day? If it’s just a regular Sunday in your country then I hope you simply have an enjoyable day.

©Natalya, 2014.

 


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Exhausted

Sorry for not being around lately to post and read/comment on your blogs; I’ve been tired lately as I’ve had to get up early for the past 2 weeks. Last week our kitchen sink was leaking and we had called a plumber but they kept ‘blowing us off’ because whenever we called to check what was going on they were on another call! They had told us they would come Tuesday morning (Oct. 29) then it was Thursday morning and they couldn’t manage that so told us the afternoon. By that point we were frustrated from getting the ‘run around’ and having to keep calling them to find out what the status was on where they were at. Finally we just told them not to come and we called another plumbing company that came when they told us and fixed our sink. It was just nuts how the other company treated us like we didn’t matter because our problem wasn’t overly serious. We ended up needing our faucets and drain replaced as it had rotted out. We have a new kitchen faucet now that doesn’t leak! Yay 🙂

Anyway, I had gotten up early Tuesday and Thursday last week for the plumbers and the weekend messed my sleep up having the clocks go back an hour here. So by Monday when I had to get up early for the plumbers it was wearing on me. Long story short I had to get up early Tuesday and Wed. for other reasons and today I was supposed to be up at 5 am so my dad and I could be on the road early to drive the 3 hrs. to see an aunt and uncle of mine. Unfortunately, at the time I was to get up I realized there was no way I was getting up and to do so would be masochistic. End result being my dad went on his own and I stayed home. I did get up by 6:30 am but I was just not alert and felt like having to go for a three hr. drive to have a one hour visit was more than I could muster the energy for.

Yesterday, I had my counselling appointment where we discussed my desire to be able to let go of my attachment to my aunt’s (a different aunt from the one my dad’s visiting today) opinions of me. This aunt was my mom’s favourite sister and I think there’s some transference going on (for me) because she tries to act like a parent to me and I end up feeling angry. She also has ideas about what I ‘should’ be doing with my life and has shown disapproval for my search for an authentic life. Her opinion is I should have a job doing something (doesn’t matter what) that pays at least minimum wage or more and being unemployed I am just not acting like an adult. I guess I am being too self indulgent being unemployed and poor! Apparently, I’m just not ‘putting myself out there’ enough and trying. I can only shake my head. The problem is I don’t really tell my aunt my personal feelings and issues because she’s not terribly empathetic so she simply sees me unemployed and figures I’m not trying hard enough. One could argue if I told her the details/reasons for my actions her opinion of me might change for the better. But why on earth do I even owe her details about my life? I don’t! She is nosy and interferes in other’s business thinking she knows what’s best for you.

So next time I see my counsellor we’re going to try some Gestalt or ’empty chair’ therapy out to allow me to give voice to my own opinions regarding my busy-body aunt! I’ll let you know how it goes if it actually works or I am unable to get into the role for it to work. Ostensibly, I’ll be myself and my counsellor will be my aunt. Well that is what I am guessing.

That’s all I am able to write for now as my brain is still not completely ‘on’ yet 😛

©Natalya, 2013.