The Need to Blend In and the Drive to Stand Out

Standing Out
In my house, chaos ruled. The only consistency was inconsistency. I learned quickly that the rules could not be understood, but I still tried to understand. Like most children who grow up in an abusive household, I worked hard to make sense of my environment. I made “logical” conclusions about cause and effect. I knew that there were very few actions without consequences, so I did my best to be invisible. This seemed to be my best strategy to avoid abuse. In reality, there was no way for me to avoid abuse as long as I lived in that house. But I was sure there was a secret formula. There had to be a way to stop the abuse because I was sure that somehow, it was my fault.

Since I started recovering memories, I have rarely been able to grasp the order of events. Memory recovery does provide a clear understanding of the event, but does not clearly delineate the time frame or my age. And it is more confusing if the events happened within days of each other. Sometimes I remember being abused but do not remember what event I may have associated with that abuse. But I have learned that I always associated the abuse with something. This makes my recovery work a bit more complicated. Continue reading

Fight Flight or Freeze

Wolf in Sheeps Clothing

Adults who have not recovered from complex childhood trauma usually relate to others in one of two ways. They either relate to others as a victim by underestimating their power in a situation or they seek out power over others. I wish I could say that each person chooses one or the other. It would be easy to spot the victims and the bullies if that was the case. Unfortunately, it is usually a combination. While they probably have a favorite style, they may fall somewhere on the continuum between a full-fledged bully and powerless victim. And it may be inconsistent within each relationship.

Before my recovery work, my personal choice was that of the victim, but I have bullied. And honestly, I still have to work hard every day to avoid playing these roles. I write often about my struggles with my internal oppressor and how living as a victim is dysfunctional at best. However, the inner bully is just as important to address. Continue reading

The End

The End

One of the most important things I have learned in recovery is that everything is temporary. And in recovery, this is not a bad thing. Most of the painful emotions can only be tolerated with the understanding that they are temporary. Of course, it has also brought the understanding that the joyful moments are fleeting as well. Sometimes that knowledge helps me to savor them. Sometimes that knowledge causes me to hold back.

The idea that things of this world are temporary has been around a long time. It is not new. If we wait long enough, everything, from our physical bodies to planet Earth, will be gone. And yet, most of us live our lives under the notion that we can change that. We spend a lot of time trying to prove that it’s not true. We hold on to things. We hold on to our kids. We hold on to relationships. We hold on to emotions. We try to tell ourselves that it will always be like that. And when it isn’t, we pine for what used to be. Continue reading