Complex PTSD is one of the parting gifts of leaving narcissist abuse behind. It really is the gift that keeps on giving and many people do not understand how deep it’s effects run. Yes, you survived the abuse, but now you have to process it all and reprogram your brain and body to realize you are safe and worth love.
Growing up in a narcissistic family cult means I never knew what safe or love actually felt like. I had a weird obsession with the Holocaust as a child, because it was the only group of people I could relate to. I had prison guards, rather than parents, and felt like a prisoner of war. This is what separates PTSD from CPTSD. PTSD is an isolated incident and CPTSD is living on-going trauma.
I do not know if many people can understand what living a life of trauma feels like, but it is a corrosive experience that washes away your soul. Growing up as a prisoner of war made being in a romantic relationship with a narcissist seem like a cake walk. I stayed because even at its worse, it was still a hundred times better than the abuse I grew up with that I thought was love. When you are raised in a war zone an encounter with a terrorist is not really enough to make you see the red flags.
Even after being diagnosed with PTSD when I was 20, I still did not feel understood and/or resolution. I continued to downplayed my childhood abuse, because I had forgotten most of it. My brain was protecting me and I am very grateful. During this whole period of being diagnosed with PTSD and having a nervous breakdown, my BPD Mother was present enough to gaslight me and to get the information she needed to garner sympathy from everyone she could. Staying in contact with my BPD Mother added over a decade to my trauma and recovery. I spent over 15 years on anxiety medication continuing to think the problem was me and my inability to be resilient. This is why I write about narcissistic abuse and growing up in a narcissistic family cult.
Here are 13 signs you are suffering from CPTSD:
- experienced childhood neglect
- experienced other types of abuse early in life
- experienced domestic abuse
- experienced human trafficking
- experienced being a prisoner of war
- lived in a region affected by war
- Difficulty regulating emotions, which can manifest as extreme anger, depression, suicidal thoughts, and quick swings from one to another
- Losing memories of the trauma or reliving them
- Dissociation, feeling detached from oneself
- Changes in self-perception, including feeling totally different from other people and feeling ashamed or guilty
- Challenges in relationships, including difficulty trusting others, seeking out a rescuer, or even seeking an abuser
- Distorted perceptions of the perpetrator or abuser, which may include ascribing all the power to this person, becoming obsessed with him or her, or becoming preoccupied with revenge
- Loss of a system of meanings, such as losing one’s core beliefs, values, religious faith, or hope in the world and other people
CPTSD does not have to rule your life. Healing is a process, but it is possible. Recovering from narcissistic abuse and CPTSD is one of the most rewarding and difficult experiences I have ever had. There is so much hope on the other side, start your journey today.
(written FEBRUARY 20, 2019)
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