There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds. Laurell K. Hamilton
Recovering from narcissistic abuse is not your average break up. Comparing narcissistic abuse to a toxic relationship, is similar to comparing an adult lion in rage to a newborn kitten. Narcissistic abuse is difficult for the healthy mind or anyone who hasn’t experienced it to properly comprehend. The major difference between a toxic relationship and narcissistic abuse is that a toxic relationship leaves victim’s in control, whereas narcissistic abuse breaks down victims, and rapes them of their decision to stay or leave through continued lies, threats, manipulation, coercion and gas lighting. The tactics used by a narcissist to control their sources of supply are done to keep them hostage. This week Happiness Weekly identifies the difference between grief and trauma, so you can choose the most appropriate healing or therapy for your situation.
The difference by definition:
Grief is a multifaceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something to which a bond was formed. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, it also has physical, cognitive, behavioural, social, spiritual, and philosophical dimensions. While the terms are often used interchangeably, bereavement refers to the state of loss, and grief is the reaction to loss. Grief is a natural response to loss. It is the emotional suffering one feels when something or someone the individual loves is taken away. Grief is also a reaction to any loss. The grief associated with death is familiar to most people, but individuals grieve in connection with a variety of losses throughout their lives, such as unemployment, ill health or the end of a relationship. Loss can be categorized as either physical or abstract, the physical loss being related to something that the individual can touch or measure, such as losing a spouse through death, while other types of loss are abstract, and relate to aspects of a person’s social interactions. Wikipedia
Trauma, which means “wound” in Greek, is often the result of an overwhelming amount of stress that exceeds one’s ability to cope or integrate the emotions involved with that experience. A traumatic event involves one experience, or repeating events with the sense of being overwhelmed that can be delayed by weeks, years, or even decades as the person struggles to cope with the immediate circumstances, eventually leading to serious, long-term negative consequences, often overlooked even by mental health professionals: “If clinicians fail to look through a trauma lens and to conceptualize client problems as related possibly to current or past trauma, they may fail to see that trauma victims, young and old, organize much of their lives around repetitive patterns of reliving and warding off traumatic memories, reminders, and affects.” Additionally, psychological trauma is a type of damage to the psyche that occurs as a result of a severely distressing event. Wikipedia
Is it trauma or is it grief? Defining your issue
The reason I wanted to share this blog is that narcissistic abuse or any kind of abusive break up is far from your typical break up where people will often experience grief because they have lost someone close to them. Often an unqualified person will regard the sufferer’s symptoms as being associated with grief. Grief generally runs its own course and resolves itself, but trauma doesn’t. In fact, it’s important that if you identify yourself as traumatised from a life event that you do seek help from a qualified mental health professional in order to cope. The lack of treatment where trauma is the issue, can often worsen the condition. If you are still suffering after a significant amount of time (months), without feeling any progression and it feels surreal at the same time, the issue is almost certainly trauma.
Common in victims coping with trauma according to MDJunction – people helping people:
- Talking about trauma is difficult initially
- Guilt includes self-blame for what happened
- Anger often involves violence towards yourself or another
- Pain involves loss, terror, helplessness and fear of danger
- Your self-image and confidence are distorted and undetermined
The easiest way to define whether you are suffering from grief or trauma is to concentrate on your emotions – are you feeling fear? Are you having nightmares about a person? Generally fear is the dominant emotion with trauma. Are you feeling sad? Are you dreaming of being back with the person you have lost? Generally sadness is the dominant emotion with grief particularly when it feels very realistic. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, the issue is likely to be grief.
The upside of grief according to MDJunction – people helping people
- Talking about it can help
- Your self-image and confidence remain intact
- Symptoms decrease over time
It is as simple as that!
Moving forward from grief and trauma
Although their symptoms may initially appear similar, the approaches to recovery are completely different.
As mentioned above, someone suffering from trauma will need to seek professional consultation to address their issues. Whereas someone suffering from grief will eventually move through the five stages, and can generally feel their emotions move through each stage.
The five stages of grieving include:
- Denial and isolation
The Australian Psychological Society offers tips on managing trauma, but I still highly recommend that if you have identified this as your problem that you seek professional assistance as soon as you can. The sooner you deal with these fears and emotions, the faster you will be able to deal with them.
Before I go I wanted to share this cartoon on the five stages of grieving by Vinh.ly:
You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. John Bunyan
The efficiencies of the internet are moving us towards a more insular world and it is becoming more difficult to be mindful of helping others. According to the Dalai Lama that is our sole purpose in being here on earth – to share our compassion and help others.
The Pay It Forward movement has been particularly active on Facebook this year. You may have noticed several posts that read:
“To start this year off in a caring way I’m participating in this Pay-It-Forward initiative:
I don’t usually buy into these things, but due to a recent act of generosity I have decided to get involved, this is for real.
The first five people who comment on this status with “I’m in”, will receive a surprise from me at some point in this calendar year – anything from a book, a ticket, a visit, something home grown or made, a postcard, absolutely any surprise!
There will be no warning and it will happen when the mood comes over me and I find something that I believe would suit you and make you happy.
These five people must make the same offer in their Facebook status and distribute their own joy. Simply copy this text onto your profile (don’t share) so we can form a web of connection and kindness.
Let’s do more nice and loving things for each other in 2014, without any reason other than to make each other smile and to show that we think of each other. Here’s to a more enjoyable, more friendly and love-filled year.”
So while our modern world seems to be encouraging selfishness, greed and isolation – Happiness Weekly looks at some ways that you can help others this week without having an agenda of your own. Truly helping others means there’s nothing in it for you – in fact, the person you may help may never be able to repay you and that’s the ultimate aspiration in truly helping others.
The benefits of helping others includes:
- Connecting you to someone in an otherwise very lonely world
– Enhancing someone else’s life
– Making the world a better place to live
Things you can do to help others
- Teach them something new
– Smile and be friendly
– Volunteer for a charity
– Start your own charity
– Make a donation
– Share your knowledge
– Help someone do something – e.g. cross the street, change a flat tyre, get from A to B
– Donate something you don’t use
– Comfort someone
– Buy food for a homeless person
– Listen to someone
– Do a chore for someone
– Send a nice email
– Share your favourite things (movie, song etc) – if you enjoyed it, someone else may too
– Give a loved-one a massage
– Praise someone publicly
– Be patient with someone
– Tutor a child
– Make a care package for someone
– Speak up for someone – sign a petition, write a letter etc.
– Offer to babysit
– Share what you have
– Find out what’s valuable to someone and get it for them
– Present an opportunity to someone or make them aware of it
– Give transparent feedback to better performance (without being too critical)
– Introduce people to each other, help people network
– Give someone a gift
– Do something nice for someone without expecting anything in return
– Welcome a new neighbour by baking for them
– Use your power to help people around you have a good day
– Only see good in people and treat everyone accordingly
We’re all here together and the only certainty is we have one life and we’re living it now. Help others to be the best they can be where ever you can, because if everyone surrounding you is doing the same, imagine the powerful world we would live in.
Pages that helped inspire this blog:
I saw taillights last night, in a dream about my old life. Everybody leaves and I would expect as much from you. Gaslight Anthem
According to abandonment.net, abandonment is about loss of love itself, that crucial loss of connectedness. It often involves breakup, betrayal, aloneness.
Outofthefog.net describes it as: an irrational belief that one is imminent danger of being personally rejected, discarded or replaced.
People struggling with abandonment issues include those going through the ending of a relationship as well as searching adoptees, recently widowed, and those suffering the wounds from earlier disconnections.
Many people, men and women, have abandonment issues that may manifest during childhood but surface later in life when the person is on his or her own in the world. Their core belief is that no one likes them and those that love them will leave.
Abandonment issues may particularly flare up if you’re going through a break up, separation or divorce and are entirely alone, either physically or emotionally. This week, Happiness Weekly looks at abandonment and really helps you to understand what it is and how to cope.
What is abandonment like for the person suffering?
Abandonment is a cumulative wound containing all of the losses and disconnections stemming all the way back to childhood. Abandonment.net says that for sufferers abandonment is:
- A feeling
- A feeling of isolation within a relationship
- An intense feeling of devastation when a relationship ends
- An aloneness-not-by-choice
- An experience from childhood
- A baby left on the doorstep
- A woman left by her husband of twenty years for another woman
- A man being left by his finance for someone ‘more successful’
- A child left by his mother
- A friend feeling deserted by a friend
- A father leaving his marriage, moving out of the house, away from his children
- A child whose pet dies
- A little girl grieving over the death of her mother
- A little boy wanting his mommy to come pick him up from nursery school
- A child about to be ‘replaced’ by the birth of another sibling
- A child needing his parents but they are emotionally unavailable
- A boy realizing he is gay and anticipating the reaction of his parents and friends
- A teenage boy with his heart twanging, but afraid to approach his love
- A teenage girl feeling her heart is actually broken
- A woman who has raised a family now grown, feeling empty, as if she has been deserted, as if the purpose of her life has abandoned her
- A child stricken with a serious illness or injury watching his friends play while he must remain confined to braces, wheel chair, or bed
- A woman who has lost her job and with it her professional identity, financial security, and status. Now she is left feeling worthless, not knowing how to occupy her time – – feeling abandoned by her life’s mission
- A man who has been ‘put out to pasture’ by his company, as if obsolete
- People grieving the death of a loved one report feelings of abandonment
- The dying fear being abandoned by their loved ones as much or more as they fear pain and death
- Suicide is an excruciating form of abandonment
- Abandonment is all of this and more. Its wound is at the heart of the variety of human experiences, and is found in the uniqueness of each person’s life.
What does it look like?
Abandonment is ugly and generally pushes people away. For example:
- A spouse assumes their partner is having an affair without any objective evidence.
- A mother does not allow her teenage child to form romantic or peer relationships.
- A boyfriend calls or texts repeatedly – 15 or more times in a single day.
- A girlfriend shows up at an office function to which she has not been invited.
- A divorcee stalks his ex-wife after the dissolution of the relationship.
Some examples of statements from people who have a fear of abandonment include:
- “You’ve never loved me.”
- “I know you are having an affair”
- “You prefer them to me.”
- “You never want to spend time with me.”
- “I know you want to leave me”
Symptoms of abandonment include:
– Clinging. One of the prominent symptom observed in people suffering fear of abandonment is reaching out or clinging to the person whom the sufferer is in relationship with. Since these people live with a fear of being left alone they tend to hold on to the person, which at times drive them away from the one they love.
- Reaching out. The person will generally reach for someone they have a relationship with, which may form unhealthy relationships. It may also lead the person to realise their worst fear by driving the person they’re clinging to away.
- Panic/dreading. Generally it’s over small indiscretions, but their reactions are severe. They call often if the person they’re clinging to is late, fails to pick up the phone, doesn’t call right back or refuses to meet with them for any reason.
- Emotional blackmail. Strongly linked to panic, the person may threaten self harm to their loved ones, which is a sign of desperation.
- Complacent disposition. Seemingly ok, they may take on the most disgusting household chore or sexual activity even when they don’t want it.
- Leaving relationships. In an attempt to keep from being rejected, the person may bounce from relationship to relationship, so they are the ones doing rejecting. Even if it’s going well, they may leave thinking it’s only a matter of time.
- Continual need for reassurance. The person may look for constant reassurance of affection or love. If they don’t do this, then they may be doing it more subtly but in a more destructive way to the relationship, for example they will continually test the person they are with to ensure they still love them.
- Weakened sense of self worth. They feel happier and more confident when someone else is there to prop them up and protect them. Which is why they may try to surround themselves with someone – ANYONE – when they are feeling desperate.
How abandonment will destroy your relationship?
These tips are from Johanna Lyman.
1. You keep looking for flaws in someone who is potentially a good partner for you. You concentrate on their faults.
2. People think you’re shy or reserved. You don’t trust people which makes you hard to get to know. You’re afraid to let people in because you don’t want to get hurt, so you end up lonely instead.
3. You fall in love hard and fast, and over and over again. You don’t know who to be as an individual so you’re always in a relationship to hide from getting to know yourself. You can’t do enough for your partner and are a giver. You can’t understand why your partner doesn’t appreciate you.
4. You love the chase. You’re really attracted to someone when you’re trying to catch them, but once you’re in the relationship you get bored. You withdraw emotionally, and your partner starts to think they’ve done something wrong.
5. You are a perfectionist. You believe if you get it right, you won’t get rejected. Whether “it” is a work project, the way your home looks, how you dress or what your body looks like, perfectionism is a thief. It steals your happiness under the guise of preventing rejection.
How the relationship cycle works when you have a fear of abandonment
About Phobias published this piece about how the relationship cycle works when you have a fear of abandonment.
People with a fear of abandonment often follow one of a few basic patterns. This is how a typical relationship may evolve:
1. Getting to Know Each Other – At this point, you feel relatively safe. You are not yet emotionally invested in the other person, so you continue to live your life while enjoying time with your chosen person.
2. The Honeymoon Phase – This is when you make the choice to commit. You are willing to overlook possible red or yellow flags, because you just get along so well. You start spending a great deal of time with the other person, you always enjoy yourself, and you start to feel secure.
3. The Real Relationship – The honeymoon phase cannot last forever. No matter how well two people get along, real life always intervenes. Although this is a very normal and positive step in a relationship, it can be terrifying for those with a fear of abandonment, who may see it as a sign that the other person is pulling away. If you have this fear, you are probably battling with yourself and trying very hard not to express your worries for fear of appearing clingy.
4. The Slight – People are human. They have foibles and moods and things on their minds. Regardless of how much they care for someone else, they cannot and should not be expected to always have that person at the forefront of their minds. Especially once the honeymoon period is over, it is inevitable that a seeming slight will occur. This often takes the form of an unanswered text message or unreturned phone call, or a request for a few days of alone time.
What Happens Next
For those with a fear of abandonment, this is a turning point. If you have this fear, you are probably completely convinced that the slight is a sign that your partner no longer loves you. What happens next is almost entirely determined by the fear of abandonment, its severity and the sufferer’s preferred coping style. Some people handle this by becoming clingy and demanding, insisting that their partner prove his love by jumping through hoops outlined by the fearful partner. Others run away, rejecting their partners before they are rejected. Still others feel that the slight is their fault, and attempt to transform themselves into the perfect partner in a quest to keep the other person from leaving.
From your partner’s point of view, your sudden personality shift seems to come from out of left field. If the partner does not suffer from a fear of abandonment, he probably does not have the slightest idea why his previously confident, laid-back partner is suddenly acting clingy and demanding, smothering him with attention, or pulling away altogether.
Similar to phobias, it is impossible to talk or reason someone out of a fear of abandonment. No matter how many times your partner tries to reassure you, it will simply not be enough. Eventually, your behaviour patterns and inconsolability could drive your partner away, ironically leading to the conclusion that you fear most.
How to deal with abandonment issues
Overcoming these symptoms can be the first step to becoming a self-satisfied, content person for anyone suffering from this condition.
A person going through abandonment issues can do the following:
- Relaxing the mind by practicing yoga can help greatly. Yoga will keeps the mind calm and free from an sort of negativity.
- Understanding the power of the mind and its capabilities improves self-awareness.
- It is a good idea to stop getting attached to people. Detachment does not mean not caring about them, but it means maintaining a distance and not relying on anyone else.
- A busy life helps in forgetting the past and takes away the attention from unnecessary things.
- Engaging in a sport or giving more time to work, going out with friends, etc., can divert the mind.
- Aiming high, setting goals, and doing things that would add to the feel-good factor, works really well.
If nothing seems to help the situation, talking things out with a friend or spouse or seeing a psychologist, would definitely help. Take it day by day.
Why it’s important to fix your abandonment complex
Abandonment can lead to other disorders including anger, depression, anxiety, co-dependence and fear of intimacy. Unfortunately there’s no way to fast track getting past these issues, especially if they’re significant – hang in there and find yourself a psychologist. Tackling this one will be well worth it in the end!
Insecurity is an ugly thing. It makes you hate people that you don’t even know. Unknown
Feeling secure with your job, your body, your decisions, your relationships – it can seem like something hard to come by – but it is certainly worth working on.
Feeling “safe” can be generated from opposing dynamics which create conflict – which means just because you feel secure in one aspect of your life at the moment, doesn’t mean you will feel that way all the time. The problem with this uncertainty is that people try to change things so they are secure again and do feel safe, and this can often look as though you don’t know what you want – and ultimately get confusing for you and the people around you. To avoid this, we need to make ourselves aware of the conflict before it erupts.
How can you help your partner to feel more secure?
– Be emotionally available, honest, trustworthy and authentic. Act with integrity
– Spend time doing things as simple as cooking and cleaning the house together, because it sends a message that you are committed to being with her and the relationship is going somewhere
– Avoid being distant emotionally or physically, because it will invite feelings of loneliness, isolation and put the fear of a break up in your partner.
What you can do as a partnership to encourage feelings of security?
– Give up limiting fear-based beliefs. If we are to find true happiness in a relationship, it requires dissolving the beliefs and assumptions that create painful fears and controlling behaviours
– Figure out what makes you and your partner feel safe and secure, and go out of your way to ensure both of you have that as often as possible.
What YOU can do to feel more secure!
– Dress nicely. When you look good, you feel good
– Take care of your hygiene. A trip to the beautician may even help to make you feel better
– Sit up straight. People with slumped shoulder and lethargic movements display a lack of self-confidence
– Exercise regularly – I will improve your physical appearance and helps you spend time constructively. Power walk, people with confidence walk faster
– Volunteer – concentrate on the contribution you can make to the rest of the world
– Compliment others and break the cycle of negativity
– Make yourself win: let go of the past, ignore hurtful negativity and make yourself happy
– Create daily affirmations. Make a list of things you like about yourself
– Start with small steps to gain confidence in your decision making ability
– Be yourself. Stop trying to please others and think before you sacrifice your own needs
– Avoid negative people
– Face your fears and learn from your failures
– Reward yourself when you succeed with your goals
– Practice letting go
– Concentrate on what’s right with the relationship and build on that
– Learn how to realistically view your relationship
– Find assurance within yourself. No one else can make you happy.