Understanding and dealing with recovery and trauma during holidays/gatherings OR any day through the eyes and hearts of all victim’s of abuse!

Understanding and dealing with recovery and trauma during holidays/gatherings OR any day through the eyes and hearts of all victim’s of abuse!

From my Book: Greg Zaffuto – Author – From Charm to Harm and Everything Else in Between with a Narcissist

The holidays are particularly hard for ALL victims of abuse without a doubt because it can connect them to many different, explosive, and painful emotions/memories that are linked to the their past or even to their present if the abuse is happening now. The holidays are stressful on their own yet alone having to deal with those painful emotions that surface because of past abuse. Abuse in itself is traumatizing, but returning to memories or situations around the ‘abuse situation’ reopens those wounds as well as retraumatizes the victim. More than often it all surfaces as extreme anxiety, depression, withdrawal, isolating oneself, moodiness, feeling agitated, and even fear. These feelings/reactions are all VERY apparent to many victims and survivors right now and when these painful memories consume us it can take us to a very dark place. Remember this if you remember anything, you are NOT crazy, you are not overreacting, AND you are not alone. You have a right to your feelings even as much as they feel so terrible and insurmountable at this time SO to start you must make YOURSELF a priority with self-compassion and lots of care so you can feel OK right now because you deserve the right to feel comfortable in your life.

Holidays are usually celebrated with family and friends. If the family has been broken because of abuse the victim/survivor may have been shunned for any number of reasons – for example just disbelief from other family members as it concerns their personal abuse, OR the family members have been and are the abusers, or a terrible smear campaign has destroyed the integrity of the victim to the family. This can also be true as it concerns close personal friends that are like family. If it is a spouse that has dealt with an abusive partner the family unit may be separated and now plans have to be made to share the children with the toxic parent that feels entitled to use this opportunity to create chaos AND THEY DO. There may be a ‘new’ spouse/partner involved (the abuser remarried or is in a new relationship) and that can definitely be more than a difficult situation to have to deal with because the victim may still be grieving the emotional loss and the abuser might be using this opportunity to ‘show off’ their new spouse or partner. Then there can also be financial issues as the result of separation of a spouse as well and the extreme feeling of desperation that surrounds it. Lastly, it can also be ALL of these things combined and it is an insurmountable flush of so many negative emotions and feelings.

Many times, the target/victim has dissociated themselves from an abusive family or spouse and finds themselves alone during the holidays. There are many scenarios that can be playing out and all of them can be triggering causing a victim/survivor to feel isolated.

When a child has been raised in an abusive situation and is the ‘scapegoat’ of the family they are probably still subject to the same abuse they have experienced as a child but NOW as an adult – especially if they are still connected to the toxic family member(s). Some children do not even know the true happiness that other families have as it concerns a holiday because they were made to feel worthless within their own family unit and this feeling stays with them throughout their adult life and especially crops up during the holidays. Victims/survivors react in many different ways trying to deal with the overwhelming despair and none of it is easy.

The main point here is that whatever stage of recovery a target/victim is in there are triggers from memories and it can be something as simple as hearing a song, or watching other people prepare for their holidays and hearing how excited they are, or the despair from the anticipation of having to be with toxic family members. SO, what can we do RIGHT now to help ourselves to get out of this disparity?

First things first – remember YOU ARE OK and so are your thoughts and feelings about your fears and anxiety. So some and words to help out during this difficult time:

1.) Reinstate and harden those old boundaries to avoid running head on into chaos if you must have any connection with your abuser. Do not allow any type of crazy-making to spark with any toxic person in your life, or as I call it, ‘flying under the radar’ with them with simple acknowledgements of hello, goodbye, small generic comments, and do not go deep with them with ANY conversations. This is minimal contact with boundaries for when you have to connect with your abusers. Do NOT allow them to drag you back into the abuse scenario. An abuser always attempts to control people in their immediate environment and they will achieve this any way they can and usually it revolves around their crazy-making and chaos to upset their target and then turn it back onto them – DO NOT ALLOW IT by avoiding it!

2.) When you feel trauma because of the connection to certain triggers TRY to put yourself in a completely different situation the moment that trauma strikes fear in your heart and mind. Do something, anything, even if it is just stepping outside to change your immediate environment, or walking away from the toxic person if you are in a personal ‘one on one’ situation. IT WORKS to remove yourself to a safe zone and you will learn to use it as a tool/mechanism after you see how it helps.

3.) Try to stay away from defining yourself from the past or present abuse. Always remember that NONE of this was your fault – it was situational abuse. Disallow yourself from saying you hate the holidays or a situation – it is not that you hate the holiday, etc., you hate the abuse and the consequences of it – so just be clear with yourself by defining the truth that NONE of this is about you – it is about the personality disordered abuser that caused this pain. There is no resolution as far as it concerns the abuse – because ALL abuse is wrong and nobody deserves to be abused for ANY reason.

4.) JUST SAY NO if that is where you are at! If in your heart you are DONE with your abusers be it family, ex-spouse, partner, etc. – go complete no-contact and with a fervent connection to the truth that YOU are breaking the chain of abuse and TRY to connect to new places, people, connections or traditions that celebrate YOU!

5.) When you have flashbacks don’t be your own worst critic or you will fall backwards into those negative messages that were forced into your head from your abuser. Confront those thoughts with the truth that this was situational abuse and DISSALLOW yourself from falling back into that darkness. What you are experiencing are ‘triggers’ or flashbacks from when your environment WASN’T safe as well as your emotional well-being was neglected. Those triggers will undoubtedly make you feel like life has abandoned you. Don’t search for reasons that DEFINE you as the problem and attempting to change because of those disparaging messages from your abuser. The only change that concerns you is removing yourself from the abuse and reinforcing that you deserve/deserved so much better than abuse.

6.) Identify that feeling of fear as what it is – fear of the experiences from your abuser that has taken you down so far and now occupies your mind/life and resurfaces as anxiety. This is very real to many victims/survivors. Again, do your very best to STOP those thoughts and put them away. Think of it as your own therapy or behavioral modification. Many years of your life may have been spent in an abusive situation so there are some very strong/negative messages that have impressed themselves onto your mind and heart. Do NOT isolate yourself in this process, reach out to a trusted friend or someone that can help you through the times you feel really stuck. It sounds simple, but it is VERY important to do so even if you have to reach out to a support group for help. There are compassionate people out there that have experienced this and they can add light and hope to your situation – find them and seek their wisdom.

7.) Allow yourself to grieve the abuse and the loss. It is something we must do in every aspect of life (as it concerns loss) so do not sell yourself short by feeling you cannot grieve your own abuse and loss. What it does is puts a perspective that what happened to you was a consequence of an action that was pretty much out of your control and initiated by a disordered person and events. It is you owning the truth that once again it was NOT your fault or anything you are or aren’t. It will help you raise to a higher plane of recovery by processing the truth – just do not stay stuck in the what if’s and reviewing those traumatic incidents over and over again in your mind.

8.) PERFORMING – Don’t try to overcompensate by over-giving or feeling that you must be a certain way because you are imperfect – no you ARE perfect, BUT you were in an abusive situation that had NOTHING to do with you. Overcompensating to please toxic people will only leave you very frustrated. You do not owe them anything, but you owe yourself love, compassion, and hope for a better future AND you will find it.

9.) One last thing – do not compare yourself to other people that seem to be enjoying the holidays, or believing that they have it so much better than you. YOU are an amazing and unique person that has experienced trauma because of an abusive situation and even though you are feeling so much pain now you are healing. Unfortunately, the pain does come along with the journey to recovery and it is part of the grieving that is necessary to move forward. We have setbacks, triggers and pain – but each new day is one more day that you have survived – so look at each day as a testament of your strength – you ARE moving forward with each new day. You are stronger than you know and that is why you are here today. You are also VERY important to this world more than you know! Happiness comes from within and that is our goal when we have been abused – creating and finding that inner happiness and it only starts with us. Time is always part of the process and it is different for all of us. Always believe in yourself because YOU are what is important now.

This is a partial list to hopefully help you out through the immediate despair that you may be feeling right now. Is it the perfect list for everybody – no – but it is a start to help guide you to a recovery that is personal to you. One where you will recognize that healing revolves around getting healthy both physically and emotionally. It is self-compassion where you put all of your energy into YOU and not reflecting on the abuser and trying to fix them or the situation. I wish everyone peace, hope, and love at this time whether you celebrate the holidays or not. Remember – After Narcissistic Abuse – There is Light, Life and Love. ❤ Greg

Posted on December 20, 2019, in Narcissism. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Thoughts or Feelings you'd like to share?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: