The recovery process for me, has been a very difficult and challenging one. Filled with points of peace, after my one year milestone passed since the demise of my relationship, then brief glimmers of light after that when I became ill.
Unless one has been through it, the process in waiting for social security is a brutal one. Morning until night is filled with intense worry, stress and pain. The longer the wait is, the more of an albatross I feel around the neck of others. My independence that I was cultivating is gone. Trying to find ways to survive is exhausting. Trying to do it when you’re so tired and your health is poor is another. But trying to do this with C-PTSD and depression feels nearly impossible.
Last week, I tried to convey how this process was affecting me. Although most people are ‘polite’ there are others that engage in victim blaming. It is this way with those I once thought close to me. At no other time have I seen empathy extend as far as to the end of one’s nose and then stop. Unless it’s happening to them, it isn’t happening. And if it’s not happening to them, then victim blaming appears to be the best ‘choice’ in distancing from the situation. What adds to my pain is that many people believe that PTSD and depression are choices, and with this thought process, it’s easy to see why victim blaming becomes the ‘choice’ of those who perceive it as such.
If one can’t be present for a good friend, during an extended time of crisis, can one truly be considered a genuine friend? I do think that there are people who care, but whose discomfort with my desperation and loss of hope is something they feel they cannot fix. It’s true, they can’t, but walking away is ten times more painful. I have very few that have not walked away and their endless well of support and strength has helped me weather storm after storm. There is nothing like a crisis in a person’s life, that will show them what’s behind the mask of those around them.
Ironically, those who have caused more pain to me, are those who proclaim that I need to ‘turn to God’ and who view my feelings of hopelessness, depression and PTSD as some sort of ‘failure’ on my part in my inability to conform to religious dogma and beliefs that have never suited me. It isn’t Christianity I so abhor, per se, it’s the narcissism involved in the projected propaganda and rhetoric along with the assumption that I do not adhere to God in faith through my circumstances. “If you’re still ‘suffering’ there is something YOU are not doing.” And this. . . is victim blaming. “Just turn to God…you NEED God, HE will provide for your every NEED”. I prefer a more realistic approach: God does not plant money trees in our yards. God does not provide the monies to pay a bill to avoid shut off. God does not provide ‘instant mechanic’ when your car breaks down on the freeway. It’s my opinion that the biggest gap in the reasons that the sick, the mentally disabled, the poor, the elderly and other such vulnerable groups suffer, is not so much self inflicted, as it is governmental DEPRIVATION policies, stigma and stereotyping of those who have mental health issues. What it means to be Christian today, has turned into something that I find repulsive and lacking empathy and compassion.
Some people who say these things aren’t necessarily victim blaming, but they are terribly ignorant. God never said that we won’t endure LIFE, trials or outright suffering, as well as moments of joy and peace. I’ve seen these sorts of statements directed at others in my life too and when I have, I can see the face of the person that this is directed at, fall in sadness. It’s a form of not only victim blaming, but also invalidation of their pain. These sorts of things are said to avoid compassion, to avoid ‘doing something’ about it. It’s to justify an absence of true support, even when the ‘support’ asked for is not asked monetary, but merely making an effort to walk in the shoes of another. . .
Unfortunately, I’ve had many a survivor at my door, due to abuse and exploitation of guilt and shame by those in positions of ‘power’ within their church. The spiritual and emotional pain from this, has caused several survivors to go the atheist route. I do not judge them and I do not shame them, for their unwillingness to conform and the dangerous outcomes to them emotionally, when they don’t. My own ex psychopath was a licensed Pastor and worship leader at his church. There are many wolves in sheep’s clothing that do a great deal of damage when they victim blame through shame.
Evangelicals tend to take a position of being persecuted or victimized when others do not agree with the dogma or their particular beliefs. I do not abide by cherry picked ‘sin’, nor will I tolerate a narcissism, subtle, but yet alive within the evangelical community, that harms or hurts people. The God I serve, does not and would not, exploit hatred, shame, guilt or judgment upon others consequently hurting them, while taking a position of self righteous pontification based on scriptural anecdotes that give them permission to cause harm. Not all Christian affiliations are like this, only those that are extreme and align with a certain political affiliation, whose motive is not about love and compassion. The law of attraction applies here, as it does in many other areas of society where hatred and intolerance are disguised as for the betterment of all, when in reality, it is only for the betterment of a few, while the rest are left to ‘burn in hell’ in some way.
I have many survivors here of differing faiths. I do not disrespect their right to believe as they wish, and ironically, NONE of them have victim blamed. From Muslim, to Jew, to Methodist, to ATHEIST, they have EMPATHY in spades. None of them have projected dogma nor implications to conform. I greatly appreciate this.
In my effort to move away from dogma and shaming regarding a person’s faith, any comments on my blog, suggesting that I need to conform in some said way, will be immediately removed. Any comments directed at others survivor’s with the same purpose, shall also be removed.
My faith is a deeply personal one. There have been times where evangelicals will show up at my front door, with the assumption of course, that I am not one of ‘them’. “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?” I have the same response every time: “Why, yes I do! And just as I do not discuss my ‘personal’ relationships with the exception of those closest to me, I prefer to keep my personal relationship with Jesus, just that. PERSONAL.”
Because I do not follow evangelical assumptions, nor wish to conform to evangelical personal beliefs, does not make me a ‘victim’, nor is it appropriate to follow up my unwillingness to conform with shame or victim blame by believers of this ‘faith’. I wish to make clear that if your personal religious beliefs are helpful to you, you are more than welcome to share them here, as long as they are in reference to yourself and how your faith sustains YOU. I’ve learned a lot about other ‘religions’ in my pursuit of spiritual growth, some of which have taught me more then what was once my tightly embraced, yet close minded evangelical position, as well as they have helped me tremendously in helping survivors whose faith is not like mine.
While my circumstances are very painful and frightening, they’ve also ‘attracted’ victim blame in other ways and from other people in my life. This has become so bad, that it led to several mental health crisis, including despair leading to suicidal thought. I’m most fortunate to have an excellent trauma therapist, familiar with the disorders, who has literally been my rock throughout this whole ordeal.
In utter exasperation, exhaustion and with a feeling of intense hopelessness and despair, I made my blog private for a few days and instead chose to focus on this with my therapist in an effort to stabilize myself. She is very good at putting into words, what do not come for me as my ability to verbalize my thoughts are paralyzed by incoming victimization. I was overwhelmed, my PTSD and depression symptoms out of control. It’s very frightening to me to be in a place of spontaneous emotional freeze, but it happens most when exposed to fear, chronic anger, pathologicals, hate, intolerance and within the last year, deprivation. If you are the child of a pathological parent (or two), I’m not sharing something that is foreign to you, for all the aforementioned is a daily staple in life with a pathological family.
I shared with my therapist all that I was feeling and experiencing lately. I shared with her the issues surrounding victim blaming. Much of it in the form of the following; “You just haven’t hit rock bottom yet” (WTF?), “You brought this on yourself”, “You need to ‘change your perspective’, “There are others that are worse off than YOU”, “You’re not thinking positively enough”, “You’re not turning to and trusting GOD”, “You’re in this place because of your CHOICES, and you need to take responsibility for them, THIS will heal you!” , “You’re so busy being the ‘victim’ you can’t see ‘solutions’, and my personal favorite, “You’re TOO sensitive! You need to grow a thicker skin!” and “You’re not GRATEFUL enough”. . .
My therapist had a slight look of bemusement on her face. Perhaps it was my way of expressing it in physical and emotional exaggeration, thick with sarcasm. When in reality, I was deeply hurt.
Then I began to sob. Which is just what was needed. The pain of secondary wounding, growing and festering in me for over a year, had finally taken its toll. This process, all by itself, is a traumatic one.
My therapist beautifully connected my current circumstances to my past trauma. I’ve often felt that I was reliving my pathological growing up environment all over again. Flashbacks, nightmares, dissociation, numbing, depression and suppression were all outcomes of reliving my original pathological family dynamics, day after day. . .and I wasn’t even aware of it. I was feeling it, but logically blaming myself for my inability to pull myself up by my bootstraps, not realizing that I didn’t have any.
My therapist ‘compared’ my current dire circumstances, as related to my pathological family dynamics while growing up in this way:” We would not take a soldier who fought in the Iraq war, who saw killing of comrades or Iraqi’s, and who is now home and suffering PTSD and put him back in Iraq. What do you think might happen if we did so? How would we expect this veteran to react, behave, or to think?” Her perspective allowed me to let go of the shame, the guilt and the victim blaming. Everything that has happened to me and is happening, made sense to me. It makes sense why I internalize all of it.
Another ‘issue’ couched in victim blaming is the idea of ‘choice’. I did not choose to be born into a loveless, highly and extremely pathologically sick family. I did not ‘choose’ to be born with the intense level of sensitivity that I have. I did not ‘choose’ to be ruthlessly abused. I did not ‘choose’ the familiarity of pathology that guided all of my choices in adulthood (and yes I take personal responsibility for those choices). I did not choose to be hated instead of loved, targeted instead of nurtured. I did not choose to be catapulted into the adult world, woefully and painfully unprepared in basic life skills, let alone coping skills. I did not choose poverty. I did not choose my PTSD, my depression, my Lupus, my Hashimoto’s disease, my spinal stenosis with cord impingement, at the cervical (that now needs surgery but will not be done due to financial, medical and ‘home’ related instability) and lumbar level that leaves me in excrutiating pain, ETC. I did not ‘choose’ to be stigmatized, demonized, belittled, ‘assumed upon’, and that my poverty is again ‘assumed’ to be some sort of ‘character flaw’. I did not choose my disability, limitations that make it impossible to be steadily, consistently employed.
I did not ‘choose’ this process to take far, far longer than what was originally forecast when it all began. No matter what ‘choice’ I make in my life, my PTSD and depression in particular, is NOT. A. CHOICE. When I had stability, however briefly after the relationship with my psychopath ended, I had moments of true peace, but it also led me into a direction in my life and on this blog, which I now deeply regret. While the blog was down the last few days, I took some time to read prior posts. This process is amazing. It is not a spontaneous one and for many of us, a process we will have to work on the rest of our lives. This pertains especially to those who have come from highly pathological homes, where even the most minute crisis, turns into ‘reliving’ trauma. But a pattern started to develop as I read my articles in that I had begun to ‘victim blame’ too.
There is a point in recovery, once all the abusers have been discarded from a survivor’s life, that a faux ego boost appears. There is a period of ‘relief’ and ‘victory’ in having kicked the toxic to the curb. As with anything in recovery the first few years, it is one extreme to another, as we attempt to stabilize ourselves once the psychopath is gone and we are seriously working recovery without distraction. Not only did I see this within myself, but countless times over the years in others too. These are folks I once agreed with and stood ‘on high’ with. They’re the ‘positive thinking tyranny’. . .
I was victim blaming. I read a post of mine that made me cringe. I remember exactly where I was in process and how full of EGO I was. I shamelessly ripped survivors a ‘new one’ that did not conform to what amounted to my own personal ideology of how recovery works and how the process is done. I found articles that I posted that were further ‘proof’ of how survivors merely perceive themselves as ‘victims’ but can clearly ‘choose’ another course and alter it for the better. What this is, is BULLSHIT. Ramblings of my muse, sitting drinking mai tai’s, pontificating from a sunny beach in Cabo. . .
I hurt survivors doing this. If you were someone reading here at the time and felt ‘victimized’ by me, you have every right to feel that way and I owe you a huge apology and hope you’ll forgive me for invalidating your pain. On the flip side of that, I regret my temporary ego boost, in feeling I’d completely overcome my pathological past, and at having kicked my ‘spaths’ to the curb, because in reality, healing and recovery is not spontaneous and several elements must be in place for one to enjoy each victory, big or small. For every faux ego boost I’ve engaged in during my recovery process, I’ve lived to experience ‘karma’ as a result. I often feel that ‘God’, if nothing else, wishes to keep me somewhat humble in that everyone’s process is different and that there is not a timeline in which recovery is achieved and then it’s ‘over’. Life has complications on its own and we can never, ever predict what will come next. That ‘one’ complication can throw even the ‘most healed’ survivor into emotional or mental health crisis with PTSD and depression and this is especially so for survivors of pathological families.
Survivors often believe (as I once did too) that when they’re over it, that it’s really over for them. They’ll never get involved with another disordered one again. Yet two years later, they are asking for help because they’re involved with a narcissist. They’ll never experience PTSD again, yet when their parent passes away, the flashbacks and pain reduce them to needing therapy for PTSD symptoms. They’ll never allow another toxic individual into their space, yet their boss at work is a pathological bully and their physical and emotional strength begins to deteriorate, as they fight to hang on to their employment. They’ll have a new life, after living most of it in hell, only to discover that years of stress have taken a toll on their bodies and that they have terminal cancer, a disabling and chronic autoimmune disorder, or heart disease, bringing back to the forefront, chronic and disabling symptoms of hopelessness, despair and deprivation (in these cases, LIFE itself), feelings so familiar to those who have had pathological ‘nurturing’.
We live in a society now that is overwhelmingly narcissistic. Filled with hatred and intolerance. Filled with exploitation by those in power, filled with scapegoating and ‘victim blaming’ vulnerable segments of society, and very few see this as the problem. Compassion and empathy seem fleeting, lack of empathy and conscience, overwhelming.
While I can ‘know’, logically, what I ‘should’ do when it comes to my depression and PTSD, I’m not as yet successful in tying it into my emotions. I make concerted and valiant efforts to reach out, to share, to attend my therapy regularly and see my doctors with equal consistency. . .
And as I write this, I discovered through my face book news feed, that Robin Williams committed suicide this morning and had been dealing with severe depression. This devastated me. As I read through several posts by varying individuals in the film and music industry, as well as close friends of his, there were also some posts that were filled with as much victim blaming in death, as they were in life. “YOU CHOOSE YOUR PATH! YOU DON’T HAVE TO COMMIT SUICIDE!” Ironically, this came from an evangelical who subsequently stated that if Mr. Williams had “God” he would not have ‘chosen’ to take his own life.
You can ‘know’ what’s wrong. You can be active in trying to alleviate symptoms, but victim blaming and misunderstanding about mental illness, tends to make those of us suffering remain silent. Day after day, we reach out in some way, while in our hearts and minds, we feel such an intense and gripping emotional pain, and it is not choice. NO ONE wants to feel this way. This is why I’ve not written on my blog. Who wants to hear all of that ‘negative’ stuff? And that’s exactly what happened.
As a writer, I’m not that great. I do not believe the sun shines outta my ass. But if even one of my posts brings understanding about psychopaths and the severe damage they do, what these individuals do to their children (particularly if you’re ex is a psychopath and you share custody, I’m living adult proof of the consequences to a CHILD), to their family, friends and society at large, then I’ve done what I feel I’m suppose to do.
If my writing touches one soul suffering in silence and enduring victim blaming, persecution, heartache and pain as a result of PTSD, depression, anxiety or chronic health problems, then I’ve done what I feel I’m suppose to do.
It’s been suggested by some survivors that my blog isn’t as good as it use to be. Last week, I received an email that challenged a QUOTE for God’s sake. It wasn’t about me and what I wrote at all, but about a feeling of invalidation for this individual’s progress. It was an inflaming comment left and my refusal to allow it, that created this email exchange.
I know there will be people who disagree with me, even become angry at me, but I have boundaries here that I intend to stick too and not *just* because of my PTSD and its many triggers, but because I’m MINDFUL of other survivors who also have triggers. I’ve received plenty of emails by survivors who were very upset by another comment on this blog and I’m very sensitive to survivor’s pain, particularly those just out of their relationship, or those just discovering the extent of familial pathology. This does not mean that every comment is deleted and in fact, I rarely have to do this at all, but when comments appear to me as passive aggressive, baiting, predatory, or potentially hurtful to others, they WILL be deleted immediately. If a comment or a post is upsetting and you feel you must comment or write to me, please give it some serious thought prior to doing so. I will not engage in triangulations, nor will I engage in those who wish to ‘bait’ me into discussion that would be disruptive, not only to me but other readers.
As you can see, this blog deals with very a very sensitive and upsetting subject. Many survivors on this blog suffer immensely with PTSD and depression too. Where other blogs believe that all comments should be allowed, I do not share the same about mine, due to the nature of the subject involved here. There are thousands and thousands of blogs online and I strongly encourage those who read here and find themselves more upset than not, to find support elsewhere that meets their needs. Sometimes, this is necessary and I do understand it.
Last, but not least, this is my blog. I’ve spent far too much time concerning myself with how others perceive me in how I write and what I write about. My writing efforts in the future, will be from my heart and not *just* a third person like diatribe about psychopaths. I’ve learned that while discussion about them is important, even critical for survivors to heal and for the public to understand who and what they are, I find it even more so with so much societal, cultural and governmental upheaval. No, this will not turn into a political page, but keeping up with politics is something I do, both to educate about psychopaths and in taking a ‘temperature’ of society in general. Political blogs and pages are great places to visit for me personally, when I’m well enough to tolerate the overwhelming hatred, intolerance and pathological religious zealousness that I see. It’s like taking a sociology class in some ways. :)
But most important of all, is that if even one survivor finds information and healing support here, that’s what this is truly all about. I’m very proud of this blog and my work in it. Although I’ve not been able to be as active as I wish I could be due to my circumstances, each survivor that comes here means something to me.
Your pain, heartache PTSD, depression truly matter to me. I care a great deal for all people, but admittedly my ‘weak’ spot is hatred, intolerance and victim blaming. It comes in so many disguises, but I see it when it comes.
In conclusion, I dedicate this post to Mr. Robin Williams extraordinaire, whose love, compassion and empathy shined brightly within his talents and his many, many kindnesses to others, who thought him a true inspiration. An empathic man who used his gifts to help others, to create, to share, but whose empathy and sensitivity was a curse, manifest in depression that he could not endure. As an empath, it’s so much easier to deeply love and care for others, than it is to love yourself.
I see your spirit soar, Robin, you are free. . .