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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Complex PTSD is not something that is well known, even in the mental health industry. This disorder plagues people who have encountered narcissistic abuse and trauma. If you do not learn to manage and minimize the symptoms associated with CPTSD you will be bound to a BPD like life. This was enough to scare me straight after experiencing the wrath of BPD trauma filled individuals my whole life. Recovery is the divider between personality disorders and survivors. Cluster b personality disorders stem from trauma, so you have seen your future if you choose to skip this step.
The journey to recovery is far from simple, but it is manageable if you break it down into steps. These are the steps that helped me make progress without overwhelming my body and mind with uncontrollable anxiety and igniting my fight or flight response. Your body and mind want to heal, you just have to give it the right tools.
- Arm yourself with knowledge about cluster b personality disorders-know thy enemy
- Identify your root wound and original abuser-you were groomed by someone in childhood to accept these kind of people and ignore the red flags
- Identify the toxic people in your life currently-find the red flags you have been ignoring and the people who make you feel uneasy, bad, guilty, unworthy, less-than, etc
- Go No Contact with all the toxic people in your life-use the Grey Rock technique when you cannot go No Contact
- Find a knowledgeable counselor, coach, or friend who is familiar with narcissistic abuse and recovery
- Let the healing journey begin and be patient with yourself-healing is not a linear process
The shock of realizing that your whole life has been preparing and grooming you to be a pawn for cluster b personality disorders to use is a heavy reality to swallow. However, feeling sorry for yourself will not help your healing journey or recovery. Realize you are human and this is apart of your evolution. The real tragedy would be to continue to live in the dark as a pawn for toxic people and become toxic yourself.
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Narcissists do not just abuse people, they wage an energetic war on our body, mind, spirit, and life force. Many people feel severing contact from all toxic people in their life is extreme and unnecessary. This is understandable, because it is a drastic measure and often includes cutting most people out of your life.
The fear of being alone is at the root of thinking no contact with all toxic people is extreme. Why in the world do you not deserve to have all healthy respectful people in your life? Is it because it would be a completely new paradigm? People who experience narcissistic abuse have experienced energetic warfare since before they can remember(and before their birth). When we are born to toxic people, who groom us to be in narcissistic abusive relationships as adults, we do not know what it is like to have a healthy energy body(Read How Narcissists Use Energetic Cords-Spiritual Warfare here).
Eckhart Tolle speaks often of how humans live out of their pain body. Well, healing your energetic body goes hand in hand with healing your pain body and becoming present in the moment. Most people have never experienced their own energy untainted by others. It takes months to remove all the energetic hooks and cords that have been inserted into our energetic body throughout our lifetime. Most people are completely unaware of the energy play that cluster b personalities use.
Without a connection to source energy, cluster b personality disorders are energetic vampires who are always in fear of energetically drowning. Thus, every time we interact with a toxic person our energetic body is injured. After a lifetime of having our life source energy stolen and siphoned, most people have no clue how powerful their own life force energy truly is.
When someone says they do not believe cutting all the toxic people out of their life is necessary for their recovery, they are basically saying they do not deserve all nontoxic interactions. We all deserve to be treated fairly and not be preyed upon. Until you can say this for yourself, you are not ready to recover.
Are you done being abused yet?
When making new friends and reconnecting with old friends after narcissistic abuse, it is imperative to figure out who is toxic and who is healthy. Healthy people will aide in your healing journey, while toxic people will add to the struggles of recovery. Recovering from narcissistic abuse is a lifelong journey. When you think you have arrived, you are faced with a new obstacle in life that leads you right back to recovery. You are worth the life of your dreams and every time you compromise it is rooted in your belief that you do not deserve your dreams.
Recently, I have been working on meeting new people and reconnecting with some of my old friends. After going within, working on myself, and my root wound, it is time to get back out into the world. However, going back out into the world is not without speed bumps.
Here are 9 signs, I have encountered, that shed light on a person’s toxicity:
- They enjoy hearing about your problems and things you are struggling with because they enjoy your pain more than they can share in your successes.
- They use your given name more often than necessary.
- They over share their issues and struggles, but rarely share successes or things they are happy about(besides material possessions).
- They talk a big self-care game, but rarely participate in it or follow through.
- They know a lot of people and enjoy talking/gossiping about them.
- They often talk about their traumas, but rarely share how they addressed and/or dealt with these issues to heal.
- They treat you as a toy/possession rather than a freethinking individual.
- They study you rather than get to know you or catch up with you.
- They bring up past experiences you shared that involve your vulnerability(if you knew them before).
When you know and realize the signs and feelings that go along with toxic people, it is easier to weed them out of your life. Be a ruthless gardener and protect the garden of your life like the true gift it is.
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Check out: The Narcissist’s Flying Monkeys
I have found a weird kind of safety parking at my Mom’s house. Her house is toxic and makes my liver hurt and most of her food is poisoned. But she is not to blame. She is living in her own Truman Show just as most of the women in our family. Luckily, I have always been the black sheep so she understands that I question everything. It is just who I have always been and she knows my favorite question has always been “Why?”
My thyroid/throat, chest, and liver hurt when I am in her house for a long period of time. All my binders and vitamins that have been in my Jeep have been poisoned. They give me the lead lips and angry feelings. I have not been this angry in a long time and after reading the past handful of blog posts I know you all can see it too. This is how I felt most of my life. I was a really angry and anxious person. It is so different than the person I have become since I left Oregon.
The cult leaders must have wrote me off as dead until I started speaking out about being on the Autism spectrum and being an INFJ and genius. Why are they so against me being me? It must threaten who they are and what they plan to do. Who else has questioned their mental state after watching content on TikTok? Did you grow up in a family that felt like a cult? Were the men in your family covert narcissists? And the women/Mothers BPD? I would love anyone who can relate to my story to comment and let me know I am not alone.
Narcissists cannot survive without their enablers. Flying monkeys are people who turn a blind eye to red flags, blatant abuse, and the narcissist causing most issues rather than resolving them. These people are usually unaware of the abuse they are perpetuating and participating in, but ignorance does not make the damage they create heal faster.
Flying monkeys also play into narcissistic family cults. When narcissistic supply is not easily obtainable, a narcissist always has their family to fall back on. Narcissists rarely go no contact with their family of origin, even when there are highly dysfunctional members. Turning these dysfunctional family members into flying monkeys allows the narcissist to perpetuate abuse on their target whenever they choose. Family members in a narcissistic family cult are taught loyalty and blind devotion from a very young age, so these flying monkeys will normally last a lifetime.
Narcissists use flying monkeys to spread and perpetuate their smear campaign after their true colors are seen. These people are used to do the narcissist’s dirty grunt work. Flying monkeys do not think for themselves and often take everything the narcissist says at face value. Even when faced with the truth about the narcissist, flying monkeys would rather stick their head in the sand than admit the narcissist is not the victim he/she claims to be.
A narcissist needs to have flying monkeys for narcissistic supply and reinforcements. These people allow the narcissist to continue to believe all the grandiose things they believe about themselves. Flying monkeys may be unknowingly perpetuating narcissistic abuse, but this does not mean they belong in your life. Going no contact with all people who have bought the narcissist’s fantasy, that they sell as reality, is imperative to your recovery.
Remember the truth is often not as easy to swallow as the great fantasy the narcissist sells. Have compassion for these people, because at one point in time you were one of the narcissist’s flying monkeys too.
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Check Out: Narcissistic Abuse: Nature Versus Nurture