Are Flashbacks Just Memories?

If you have PTSD you are aware of how frightening, and mentally upsetting that flashbacks can be. They can occur when there is a trigger than reminds you about the original trauma. 

I have heard from more than one person lately that their therapists are minimizing their experience with flashbacks. Therapists are not all trained in basic neurology, although in my opinion they should be. Understanding how the brain processes memories, and what happens to that process during a traumatic event, is important to the understanding of .

This is a response I left for another blogger who had this experience with a therapist. I have had clients of mine say very similar things about their therapist not understanding about flashbacks. Sometimes people are told that flashbacks are “just memories” and that it is not that bad.

Many mental health professional are compassionate. Some psychiatrists and therapists are also educated in neurology, but there are some that do not understand about flashbacks and what happens in the brain to cause flashbacks.

I have heard stories from my clients about  being traumatized in therapy. Survivors of narcissistic abuse need someone to validate their reality. There are therapists than end up re-traumatizing their clients by invalidating their reality when it comes to flashbacks and also the effect of gaslighting and mental abuse on the victim.

Most importantly, compassion for the client is necessary. You cannot treat someone and help them, if you are going to invalidate their experiences and their reality. Meeting someone where they are …mentally and emotionally…is showing your humanity. 

If you ever feel worse leaving a therapy appointment than when you went in, then something is wrong. If you feel invalidated, minimized, or criticized for things you feel and say, then you need to ask for another therapist.

They are being paid to help you heal and be whole again. So if you feel that your therapist is not a good match for you and your trauma, then it is okay to search for another therapist that understands PTSD, C-PTSD , surviving abuse, or the type of trauma that caused your post traumatic stress.

It is very important that you can express your thoughts and feelings. If you experienced abuse as an adult, or emotional / mental abuse growing up, then you have had years of not being believed and not having your reality validated. 

Here is my message to all of the clients I have helped with this issue. 

Flashbacks are most certainly different than memories. She was minimizing your pain and invalidating your reality. I do not know if she is just ignorant about the neurology of flashbacks or if she was intentionally minimizing you.

At least 10 percent of therapists and mental health professionals are pathological narcissists, because they like to be in that position of power of people’s heads and also it makes them seem believable when they call their partner mentally ill when they claim abuse. You need to be aware of this, and be proactive to protect your own mental health. 

Flashbacks are memories that have not been integrated properly by the brain. During trauma, the brain and body are flooded with high levels of adrenaline and cortisol. High levels of cortisol, especially when it is on an on-going basis, interfere with the hippocampus part of the brain. This is the part that is in charge of filing memories into the correct place.

When the cortisol interferes with the hippocampus, the memories of trauma are not filed into the past, like they should be, They are not processed as memories filed into the long term memory. So those memories are left lingering in the brain, without being put into the right box.

So the traumatic experience, and sensory images and feelings from that trauma, are non-integrated…they are fractured parts of you . This is why when something triggers the memory….like an object, a place, a smell, a sound, etc…the brain brings back the memory of the trauma as if it is really happening to you…in the present….rather than the past.

The adrenaline and the cortisol kick in , just like in the original trauma, and you feel like you are there in the trauma again. The brain cannot tell the difference between the event being in the past or in the present, because it was not able to file the memory into the right place in the brain, ‘

I think therapists should have to have some basic neurology education. Then they would at least understand that flashbacks are not just memories….I am sorry she acted this way to you. It is re-traumatizing when therapists do this to their clients.

Sending you healing and compassion.
Annie ❤

Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents

Parents with narcissistic personality disorder never think of their adult children as adults. There is no respect for boundaries or your right to make your own decisions.

While other parents guide their children to become independent adults, narcissistic parents attempt to condition their children to serve their agenda.

Whether you are the golden child or the scapegoat is dependent on a variety of factors. Usually one child is chosen to be the golden child. If they comply with the wishes of the narcissistic parent, then they will probably retain that role. Otherwise they are in danger of being knocked off of the pedestal.

The scapegoat child is often the one that insisted on being authentic and questioned or exposed the methods of the narcissistic parent. Other times the scapegoated child just got that role because there was already a golden child in place.

The narcissistic parent projects the qualities of their grandios false self onto the chosen one…the golden child. There is unreasonable pressure put onto this child to live up to what the parent demands.

Scapegoated children can be subjected to mobbing by the family members. The narcissist creates the narrative for the family. Anyone who does not follow blindly is usually punished.

As part of this shared psychosis, created by the narcissist, the blame for any faults, failures or shortcomings of the narcissist will be put onto the scapegoat.

Different families have somewhat different dynamics, since there can be more than two children. Some children may be ignored completely because they do not fill the role of either the golden child or the scapegoat.

Anyone can be knocked off the pedestal at any time. Narcissists can be vindictive and quick to punish with emotional or other means.

Adult children of narcissistic parents carry trauma from their childhood. How they interact with the narcissistic parent may keep them in a childish lifestyle, or they may divorce the narcissistic parent and break contact with them.

Other adult children struggle to maintain independence while the narcissist makes their lives a living hell.

Learning about narcissism and pathological liars, can help you to understand why your relationship with your parents is like other people’s. Malignant narcissists are master deceivers and manipulators.

If you grew up with a narcissistic parent then you may be suffering from C-PTSD from emotional, mental or other abuses. Finding out more about emotional trauma and C-PTSD can help you to find freedom from the narcissistic chains that bind you.

Even if you have gone No Contact, or have limited contact, the emotional trauma and emotional flashbacks can still permeate your life.

🌷Check out the gentlekindness facebook page and gentlekindnesscoaching.com site for more information and help with Overcoming Narcissistic Abuse

 

 

 

Don’t Eat the Word Salad

Humans were all made individual, with unique gifts, talents and passions. While society or your family may think they know best what path you “should” follow, the authentic path for you is only known to you.

We have been conditioned to follow the pack, and to blend in with the other worker bees.  The of the heads of the large organizations like businesses and churches, all have their own agenda.

The personal agenda of the leader of an organization may be kept hidden by the leader. If you do not know someone well personally, you have no way to know what their true purposes are.

The machinations of psychopathic and narcissistic leaders are disguised as good will to others, or good will towards the members. It is easy to fall prey to just taking things at face value.

We want to believe that other people have good intentions. Psychopaths that are in the top positions, government, churches, and the ones that control the media, have brainwashed us into believing that most leaders are basically good people.

They go out of their way to shine a light on community service projects they support, and they make sure attention is brought to the few “good deeds” they have supposedly done.

You have been systematically brainwashed into turning the other way when you see things that bother you. Regular people have been trained to assume that their gut feelings are off base, if those feelings don’t seem to match the general consensus.

We have to begin to reactivate that connection with our intuition and our gut feelings. It is part of our neurology for our own protection.

Remember the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes, if it was read to you as a child. If you are not familiar with the story, then I encourage you to get a copy of the book and read it.

We are intelligent human beings capable of assessing things that we see. Most people are moral and have empathy for others.

There are systems in place to make you doubt what you see and feel, in order that certain people can interpret the meaning for you. Remember you are an individual as well as part of a society.

Think for yourself and do not let manipulative people override your critical factors, with a bunch of jumbled word salad that makes no real sense.

PTSD Re-traumatization and Self Isolation

PTSD is a term most people have heard, but often they do not really know what it means.

If you tell someone you have PTSD, it may be hard for them to know what you mean by that, unless they have it themselves or maybe they have a close friend or family member with it.

People with PTSD have trouble with relationships, but not for the reasons people think.

Once you have been traumatized, and then re-traumatized by triggering situations, you feel generally unsafe and there is a natural tendency to want to retreat…back up your steps and run for cover.

People with PTSD can be re-traumatized by people who do not understand, and by people who are more concerned with their own agenda than really understanding.

When someone with PTSD has certain triggers, and explains those triggers to someone, it is important that they are validated and respected. If someone wants to care about a loved one with PTSD, they need to really listen to that person, when they talk about what triggers them. 

*A person that intentionally uses your triggers against you is dangerous to your mental well being. 

But then there are people who just don’t want to listen to or respect your boundaries. Your perceptions are not of an significance to them. 

Everyone has personal boundaries, but people with post traumatic stress disorder can suffer severe re-traumatization when a loved one does not honor their trigger boundaries.

Some triggers cannot be avoided, such as loud noises that may occur independently from either person. However, talking someone into going to a loud dance club, or guilting them into going to fireworks, when it has been made clear that loud noises are triggers, is abusive.

People who have PTSD from the military, and people who have PTSD from domestic abuse have different causes for their symptoms, but some things are the same.

The fight-or-flight mode is activated by the amygdala. If the brain perceives a threat, even if that threat is not real, the amygdala will send chemicals into the body like adrenaline and cortisol.

 The feeling in the body of a “perceived threat” and a real threat is exactly the same. The same physiological responses occur, including blood pressure elevation, and feeling of extreme fear and the feeling that you have to act right away.

Someone who had their jaw fractured by an abusive boyfriend, who suddenly stormed towards them in a fit of anger, may be triggered by someone coming quickly into their personal space, especially if that person is angry.

Once you have asked someone not to do certain things which trigger you, it is a terrible feeling when they still continue to do them. It feels very violating, and only serves to break the trust bond.

Relationships need to be based in trust. Intimate relationships, as well as friendships and family relationships have to feel safe. If one person does not feel safe, then there is a lack of understanding and a lack of trust.

Without both parties feeling safe, the relationship will break down. People with PTSD can find it difficult to trust again, after others have invalidated them about their symptoms.

Sometimes someone will disbelieve you, minimize your trauma, or accuse you of trying to manipulate them with your explanations about your trauma and your triggers. This is very painful and re-traumatizing.

People who have PTSD or C-PTSD from abuse were invalidated as part of the abuse process. Their emotions were minimized, disregarded and made fun of.

To have someone close to you minimize your PTSD, or disbelieve you is re-traumatizing. It gives  the victim into an emotional flashbacks or actual sensory flashbacks.

You can only tolerate being traumatized and re-traumatized so many times.

Soldiers that come back from war only to be disrespected by civilians, or invalidated and ignored by the Veterans Administration, are being re-traumatized.

It is a way of invalidating a person’s reality. This has negative effects on the person’s mental and emotional state.

People with PTSD can be perfectly good and caring partners and friends. They just need validation, respect and understanding.

But after repeated re-traumatization, a person feels isolated and too vulnerable to take a chance on trusting another person again. This leads to self isolation, depression, and often suicidal thoughts.

Evolutionary psychology tells us that our subconscious brain feels threatened by the potential that we would be completely isolated, shunned or thrown out of the social circle.

A Little Evolutionary Psychology

In the past, humans lived in social survival groups called tribes.  Being accepted and included by the tribe was critical for survival. Being shunned would have meant death !

Our primal brain  (called the reptilian brain) perceives rejection by the tribe to be potentially life threatening.  When we are feeling a similar kind of threat, it triggers the fight or flight response in our limbic system of the brain. The amygdala becomes active and send all kinds of alerts and chemicals into the body.

Technically, we could survive living alone and isolated these days, but we were not meant to live in isolation… especially isolation due to “mobbing” or “scapegoating” by the tribe.

This is one of the reasons that scapegoated family members, suffer such severe mental and emotional trauma.

People with PTSD need to feel that they will still be accepted by the Tribe (family, community…whatever applies to the situation…).

They need to know that their personal reality will be validated, even though it may be very different from that of other people. The experiences someone with PTSD has endured may seem strange to people that have not ever had that kind of trauma in their reality.

Isolation can cause death by suicide or “failure to thrive.”

Self isolation will almost always cause severe depression. But being re-traumatized is just as bad, and the brain will try to lead people away from that pain.

Our primal brains are designed to take us away from danger, or perceived danger….and towards pleasure. But the “away from danger” is the priority.

Re-exeriencing the feelings of danger, fight or flight chemicals and physiological responses, is not something that anyone could tolerate on a regular basis.

We were not built to feel in danger all the time. Being in a state of hyper-arousal all the time depleats the immune system and causes mental disorders.

People with PTSD need understanding and validation.

They need their loved ones to be sensitive to their triggers, and to pay attention to what the person asks and needs. 

Otherwise. the relationships cannot continue in a way that is safe for the PTSD sufferer. The person with PTSD will shut down and crawl inside of themselves. No healthy relationship can be sustained without safety for both people. 

 

Standing up to Your Pathological Narcissist?

Living with a pathological narcissist means being forced into giving up your own identity, dreams, rights, and opinions. They are always right, , and anything you do that seems like you are trying to be an equal, will be shut down.

It is difficult for people who have not lived under the heavy weight, of the dark shadow, of a pathological narcissist to understand.

People will tell you that all you have to do is stand up to them,  and assert your boundaries. But if you have lived with one of ….”the people that have no conscience” … then you know that the consequences that follow any attempt to assert your individuality, are met with severe punishment.

The malignant narcissist knows the weaknesses of their victim. If you love your children, they will threaten them, or turn them against you.

If you need your car to get to work, they will remove your car and refuse to return it until you submit. If you have friends, they will manipulate them, lie to them and ruin your relationships.

If you are seriously ill, they will tell people you are faking being sick to get out of seeing them. They will “accidentally” run into your employer and tell them you are pretending to be sick in order to get time off from work.

If you are struggling financially,  due to repeated undermining behaviors by the narcissist, they will tell others how much they have helped you financially,  and how ungrateful you are behaving to them.

If they humiliate you be spreading personal information they spied through your computer to discover, they will make it clear to you that they have more dirt on you. ….. Comply or suffer. 

They will convince you to quit your job and then shame you. They will offer for you to move in with them, saying they need you there, only to send out Christmas card letters telling everyone how much you are imposing on them.

When you attempt to get a job, or start a business, to make enough money to move out, they will undermine you at every turn. …steal your keys and take your car out for an oil change, when you need to get to work.

When you complain that they took your car when you needed to get to work, they will tell you that since they are now helping with the maintenance of the vehicle ( the one oil change that it did not need,  and you did not ask for) that the title to the car should actually be in their name… It’s only fair, right?

When you have a business appointment that you have to get to on time, they will block your car in with theirs, so you cannot get out.

When you ask them to move their car, they will demand all the information about your business, so that they can further undermine you.

When you get a pet for comfort, they steal the supplies you bought for it, and put them where you cannot reach them. Then they nail the cage to a table in their yard, so that you cannot take it.

If you purchase any property, like furniture, they will insist it was always theirs. If it becomes damaged they will demand that you pay for it.

If you live with a psychopathic narcissist, they will break your appliances and scream at you for breaking them. You will go without a shower or a stove….even when you rent (which is unreasonanly high) has always been paid on time to them.

When you tell them that these things are legally required to be working, they will tell you they have other projects to finish in the house first, such as new wall paper in their bedroom.

If you use their shower and the pipe behind the wall leaks, they will tell you the water damage was caused by you not knowing how to use the shower curtain. When you show them the floor next to the shower is dry, they ignore you and continue to explain how to properly pull the shower curtain closed, so that you do not damage their house again.

When you ask the plumber, right in front of the narcissist, if water from the shower curtain not being pulled tight could send water pouring through two floors of celings, he laughs and says no. When you remind the narcissist of this conversation the next time they tell you there was water damage due to your not pulling the shower curtain closed, they deny the plumber was ever there.

When the therapist tells you to bring the narcissist to therapy with you, because the therapist feels that everyone can live in harmony once the therapist teaches everone proper techniques for communication, DON’T DO IT!

The narcissist is not unaware of methods for communication. Their methods are intentional and not accidental.

Make no mistake. The narcissist is in full control of their communication methods.

They are able to behave during the idealization (honermoon) phase. They are not confused as to why everyone is not getting along… or about why all the relationships around them are in chaos.

They divide and conquer, with a Machiavellian philosophy.

The ends jusitifies the means.

They say one thing to you, and the opposite to someone else. They deny saying things, manipulating you, and threatening you.

They will never admit what they do, or what they say to you behind closed doors. They deny reality to discredit you, turn people against you, and to create chaos so that they can be on top.

They intentionally use techniques of brainwashing and creating a … “shared psychosis”…in order to  to scapegoat certain people. The family members  who seem to want to hold onto their identity, and will not let the narcissist make them bow down to their greatness.

The narcissist will retaliate against you when you try to shed light on the truth. Their secret identity is hidden under the mask, and they hate you for knowing who they really are.

They will stop at nothing to destroy you, financially, socially, and physically. Their tactics will cause deterioration of your physical and mental health.

Why don’t people simply just stand up to the narcissist they are living with and assert themselves?

Because often times  you have a better chance escaping them without severe damage, if you let them think they have control, while you are secretly filling your bank account and packing boxes that you hide in the closet.

The retaliation by a psychopathic narcissist is so severe it has driven many victims to suicide. Unless you have lived with them, you cannot imagine what they are capable of.

Narcissists Drink Your Tears and Your Anger


 

Red Flags of a Psychopathic Narcissist

When you are with a devil of a partner, you do not see their dark side at first. The really good predators are skilled at creating a shared psychosis…an illusion that you are two perfectly matched souls….destined to be together

When you are with an authentic partner, who has true compassion for you, they do not feel the need to state things like….

I have compassion for you.

I don’t usually have compassion for other people, but I have compassion for you.

Other people do not really understand you or see you. But only I see the real you.

No one sees your talent but me.

I am the only one who has really loved you.

I am the only one who could really love you.

You are so different from other people that I am the only one who understands you.

You are too special to be with anyone but me.

No one will love you the way I do.

You are the only one who can save me.

I would die without you.

You would die without me.

You and I do not belong in this world.

We are nothing without each other.

You can only do great things if you are with me.

I will kill myself if you leave me.

I will kill myself if you….

I will kill myself if you don’t….

My life was nothing before you.

You don’t need anyone but me.

Your friends are not really your friends. Only I am.

Everyone always lets me down in the end.

Everyone disappoints me sooner or later.

Every relationship I have ends up with them abusing me. You will do the same.

Everyone leaves me. So will you.

No one is willing to give me what I need.

I never get enough help from anyone.

People should help me and do what I ask, without wanting something in return.

If you really loved me you would not expect things in return for doing everyhing I ask you to do.

How can I believe you love me if you are not waiting by the phone when I call?

How can you do things for other people when I am so needy?

How can you do things for yourself (like take a shower) without checking that I am okay first?

I should not have to be there for you to prove my love.

Love is about you being there for me and doing things for me that I can do myself.

Love is being there for me when you have an impotant business meeting to go to.

Love is being there for me, when your friend or family member has an emergency.

Love is about being there for me when you have an emergency.

Love is being there for me when you are sick or sleep deprived.

Love is giving up all your friends and family for me.

Love is you knowing that my job is more important than yours, but that I not help you pay your bills.

Love is YOU paying attention to MEEEEEE and me ignoring, rejecting, demeaning, minimizing and lying about you.

 

 

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do no harm

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 called Narcissistic -Abuse

Mask

I get you now !
You have no real smile
 
Just hundreds of variations
of…
 facial expressions
tones of voice
hand gestures
and right things to say
 
Stories to impress men
Words to captivate women
Threats to coerce employees
Lies to deceive everyone
 
Various identities 
to keep your life in boxes
So your lies won’t overlap
 
Six cell phones with different numbers
Seven email addresses 
At least four different companies 
 
That’s as far as I know
Maybe there are more…
 
Various online dating profiles 
A computer program to scan for prey…
 
Empaths
Codependents
HIghly Sensitives
Romantics
 
The innocent
The abused
The naive
And the lonely
 
The young ones
The old ones
And anyone in between
The poets 
The artists
And the ones who want to save you
 
You show a vulnerable side
That is nothing but an act
You make them feel your pain
But you are mirroring theirs back
 
You show them some compassion
From scripts inside your head
 
You repeat their own words back
That they forgot that they had said
 
They think you’re for real
A man that they could care for
Someone who needs their attention
And maybe mothering too
 
They know if they invest their time
Your love for them will be true
 
You train them all so well
To jump when you ring the bell…
Like Pavlov and his dog
Waiting for the food
You create a real addiction
Then make them beg for more
 
You let them paint the illusion
A dream from inside their mind
Exactly the way they picture it
A different mask for every crime
 
You become their favorite fantasy
Be anyone they want you to be
 
You lift them as high as you can
Upon your pedestal of gold
 
The higher you can lift them up
The farther they have to fall
 
And fall they will …
Make no mistake
 They won’t see it coming
Your skill has such grace…
 
You’ll come up behind them
Contempt on your face
 
You’ll yank out that stool
And cover all traces
That you ever planned it 
Or could hardly stand it
 
To play the role of vulnerable and weak
 
Now you are TOWERING 
Over your catch
 
Pour on the gasoline
And light up your match
 
Burning their hopefulness
And reasons for living
Corrupting their soul
Transfusing your sinning
 
You think…
“You thought you were winning?”
 
Ha!
 
Your face slowly changes
The expression is dark
 
She feels like she saw it once
In one of your glances
But it passed all too quickly 
And you covered with romances
 
She tries to beg forgiveness
As you tell her what she’s done
You project all of your sins
And she wants to give in
And confess to the crimes
You committed
 
But before she can speak
Your image just blackens
Becoming no more than a shadow in her mind
 
The terror in her nightmares
For so many nights to come
As she lies all alone filled with dread
 
She thought you were real
And that you could feel
Like the other men she had once known
 
But you wore a mask 
That she helped you to cast
As you once hung on her every word
 
And now there’s another 
Just waiting to instruct you
To create a new mask in every detail…
 
As you listen intently
The details are mentally filed
Your plan is being formed as you fashion a smile
 
She thinks you’re so sweet
And is utterly amazed
At how you share all her hopes 
And admire her dreams
 
As you hold up the mirror
And show her herself
It is a match made in heaven for sure
 
She wonders how she found someone
She has so much in common with
Someone who feels just the same
 
As you study her strength
And look for the cracks 
You will shove your knife through
All too soon
 
A brand new mask has been forged
For the new prey to love
And sacrifice all that she has for
 
You suck all her blood 
And you take all she has
With the promise that all will be repaid
 
You will buy her that house
With the white picket fence
That she carries the picture of
In the pocket of her dress
 
But she does not see
That you were a different person to me
 
And will make another mask
When you are done with this task
 
It’s all such a chore but you’ve done it before
 
One mask for each girl 
Let the games begin to twirl
They all end the same in the end
 

Flash Fiction Writing Prompt #16

This writing is for the Flash Fiction challenge from The Secret Keeper  blog. You can see the details of the challenge HERE.   The five words that had to be included in the writing are | COMFORT | HEAD | SPACE | MELT | WICKED |

 

Faith Versus the Facts

A decision had to be made as to whether to accept his words as the truth, or to confront him with the facts. She had always taken comfort in his honesty and openness with her. 

She gazed into his eyes as he talked, but in her head she was playing out the events of the last few hours before she met him at the restaurant. As he reached over and touched her hand, she remembered how this used to make her heart melt. 

The evidence said that he was lying to her right now. The female voice on the phone….the airline tickets….

She knew if she accepted what the facts pointed to that she would also have to question all of the other times he told her he was going away on business.

If he were lying to her now, while looking into her eyes, then it would mean that he was not the person he portrayed to her. It would mean he had a more sinister and wicked nature than she had ever considered. 

If she were to accept the facts, then she would be forced to re-write her entire reality,  for entire time they had been together. 

There was no space in between his words, as his continuous talking continued. It was almost as if he was doing this intentionally. So she took another sip of her wine to dull her senses. Then, rather than going over the facts as they were, she began to mentally re-write them and the meaning behind them. 

It was less painful to re-frame the facts to fit what she wanted to believe, than to have to change her belief to fit the facts.

 

 

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