If you're a survivor of severe childhood abuse/neglect how do you cope?(16 Posts)
I was dissociated for decades and barely blinked an eye, although my medical records refer to constant depression and suicidal feelings. Now I'm in midlife and involved with therapy, I feel worse than when I was dissociated. I'm not coping well frankly. It hasn't helped that I have no immediate support network, I lost my entire family due to the fall-out of my neglect being revealed. So if you were abused/neglected like me, how do you cope? How do you manage to show yourself love and compassion?
I'm 43 now, I have been dealing with family neglect and abuse in about the last three years, I was dissociating for decades. I don't have medical records about any of it, but I was very depressed and had suicidal ideation (only in retrospect do I see it).
Dissociating is a way of protecting ourselves from having feelings that are too risky to express in an abusive family, it would probably have made things worse to protest, as a child. I have seen a counsellor too, and like you had a period of extreme anger and sadness. I have cut off my entire family, a remaining sister only last November. I feel at times very isolated until I remember I never really had them, so to speak. There is nothing to lose. Turning dissociation into righteous feelings of anger etc are what this is all about, as an adult, dissociation will get you nowhere, it was the tool of a child who had no options and no power.
It's ok that you're finally in a place where you can acknowledge your feelings about the past, it's not easy but given time you will get past it (this is what I say to myself anyway). I'm out of the line of fire now and the stress and panic responses are easing off. Why this morning I slept until 4 am, which is practically a lie-in.
What I did is turn it all into art, and I know that might sound twatty, but 3 years ago I just got myself a bunch of FIMO polymer clay and started making shit. I hadn't made anything in years, and you know what, it's really bloody good, what I'm making now. I have plans to sell it, got me a website and learned how to build it.
What are you interested in OP? What have you always wanted to do that you have been unable to do so far? I really believe recovery is about finding yourself, because your wants and needs have been buried for so long. Midlife is a crisis for everyone I think. To move past it with grace and into the second part of our lives takes skill, and especially so if you feel you haven't lived the first part at all, due to every fucker wanting a piece of you.
Create create create! Make new friends (I volunteer in a charity shop, working with old ladies, love it, my grandparents were cunts pardon my French). I haven't got many friends either, have had to ditch a few after realising how remarkably like my family they were. No matter, I am only 43 and the odds of making no new friends from now to 80 is very slim I would reckon.
Check out the stately homes thread about abusive families, if you haven't already. Come back at me with a list of dreams you have for yourself, no matter how outlandish. I'm going to retire to Spain, it's in my sights. You have my warmest wishes x
I was sexually abused by a family member from5 years old, which culminated in rape when I was 11. I had a textbook response, suicide attempts, substance & alcohol abuse, self harm, promiscuity, an eating disorder, psychosis & sever depression.
I dissociated to the point that I have no other childhood memories other than when the abuse was very physically painful. Even then I sometimes draw a blank. School memories, holidays, parties etc I remember nothing.
I grieved for my childhood, I was diagnosed with PTSD after I was raped again as an adult that triggered a shit storm of trauma. I had psychotherapy, trauma therapy, DBT and EMDR. I had different types of medication.
The thing that has helped me the most though, without doubt us having my DC's (if I feel particularly bad I engulf myself in caring for them as it distracts) and doing a masters in psychology. I understand my responses because I studied them in depth and have the knowledge & theory behind the emotions. I now work in that field and I can honestly say I have never felt more soothed. Hope this helps OP. I know it's anecdotal.
Mine is like a combination of the previous two posts.
It's early days but I have become creative and am seeking appropriate forms of help, trying to realise my dreams. You might find the literature on self-compassion by Neff helpful. I have tried to treat myself like I would do a best friend. Have isolated self from family for years and developed different relationships with my DCs.
You are free to make the rules up - I find this so liberating. Good luck, OP.
Therapy made things worse, then better in a new, more lasting way. I used to feel like I would die just waiting between therapy sessions as it awakened all those old unmet needs. But things got so much better.
What helped me cope during that time:
- Online support. I found a website called Havoca very helpful and the MN Stately Homes thread.
- Self-care even when I didn't want to.
- Calling Samaritans when I felt overwhelmed and unable to cope or emailing them when talking was too hard.
- Distraction. Watching films and TV I'd already seen helped as I couldn't handle any suspense.
I wasn't neglected or abused in my childhood, so I have no advice. I'm just sat here with tears in my eyes, reading this.
I'm so sorry you had to go through this. I have 3 children under 7, and it breaks my heart to think that someone would treat them in this way.
I already tell them over and over how much I love them and how wonderful they are. I'm going to do it more today.
I hope you all reach some peaceful place soon.
Honestly? Self harm and alcoholism. But I know that's not very helpful. Therapy is often a difficult process, but worth it in the end. Take small steps, celebrate even the smallest achievements. Focus on you, and the things that make you happy. Treat yourself, hug yourself. Some days just making it through the day is cause for celebration.
Utterly in agreement with the others - therapy is so hard but for once I have someone sticking up for me and carrying my problems and feeding them back to me.
I used to abuse alcohol but have been sober since 2015 and it has helped me with self-respect.
Distraction is wonderful - music, songs, languages, art, knowledge. Helps enormously. Ditto having children and another source of unconditional love.
Oh and the book Home Coming by John Bradshaw was also a huge help.
for you OP
Thank you everyone, it's been quite uplifting reading your posts. I didn't expect such long answers! I'm heavily involved with different therapies at the moment and it takes its' toll on you, working through the pain. I think we minimise the trauma in our brains as a way of surviving but when we open up and acknowledge what actually happened, it's almost too much to bear.
Hi OP and hi to everyone on here
I think you're right OP - it's a slow journey and you can only deal with as much as you can bit by bit. I had a decade of therapy in total which helped but also I've found physical stuff (think yoga, craniosacral etc) has helped also. I went NC with relatives, and like pp says when it felt painful I remembered that they weren't there for me, ever, anyway, I had always felt lonely.
Agree with pps that being creative and my unconditional love for dcs have helped massively. Lately meditation also.
I also read self help books, the best for me has been 'inner bonding' by Margaret Paul.
Finally, it's never too late to make friends OP so please don't think that. I'm older than you and have made new friends beyond your age. Good luck to you
I relate to so much of the above, I have always avoided real self harm, drugs, & alcohol, but was a over the top party animal back in the misspent youth, I still feel isolated and lonely but cope I need to go back to Therapy and am considering something like Somatic Healing anyone got any suggestions on this or which type or therapy, or centre. Will check out some of the above recommendations. Ha plus a self hug
I would like to attend meet ups or some organisation will check out the
I think of therapy as being like squeezing a boil - it really hurts at the time, and the stuff that comes out is horrendous, but the eventual feeling of relief when you're no longer carrying that weight alone, is worth it (or was for me).
The only thing is that no-one can tell you how long it will take.
Very very best of luck to you. I hope light appears at the end of the tunnel soon.
I've recently heard of attachment therapy. Might give that a go.
Thanks for your thread, op. It has been very soothing for me.
Peggy, I don't know if it's the same thing but I bought a quantum healing programme from Melanie Tonie Evans. I think it's also known as inner child healing. It's a series of recordings that is designed to shift trauma out of your mind and body. It's simply identifying the feeling in your body then going through a visualization process to shift it.
You don't actually have to do anything but listen and visualize. There's no recalling terrible memories or anything upsetting. It does it all for you. She has several videos on YouTube.
I've been dealing with something that has been causing me severe emotional pain. I could feel it in my heart and all over my body. I couldn't get through a day without fighting back the tears. I would grade the pain at a ten. After listening to these recordings just a few times I'd say it's down to a two. Still upsetting but much more manageable. I'd really recommend it.
Raised over a million pounds for vulnerable mothers and their children in East Africa.
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