Archive for survival mode
I grew up receiving the message that I was not that important. My feelings were invalidated and my emotional needs were discounted. And ‘that’ causes some life-long belief systems to develop when it comes to self-care and self-love. Learning that I was not important led me to discounting myself. This led to putting myself and my needs last and to breaking agreements that I made with myself. Breaking agreements with myself leads to not trusting myself in the same way that I don’t trust other people who break agreements with me.
The start of a new year always reminds me of this issue. I love the beginning of a new year. I relate a new year to a new page, a new blank slate that I can fill up in any way that I want. A new year brings new choices, new opportunities and new adventures. I often think in terms of “this year I am going to…..” and when I don’t do what I promise myself I will do, I damage the relationship I am building with myself. I damage my self-trust.
When I first noticed that I was doing this and that I didn’t actually trust myself because of it, my solution was to stop making agreements with myself. That didn’t pan out to be the best answer because the message that I was giving myself was this: If I can’t keep agreements with myself I won’t agree to anything at all. And that thought is related to many of the abuse tactics that I lived with for so long. For example in the past when I got upset with my husband for always being late, his solution was to stop agreeing to any specific time. (he admits today that he thought this was a genius idea and also admits that it was abusive) So he would call and ask if I wanted to go with him somewhere, but he would not tell me Read More→
“It wasn’t just that I didn’t know what I was feeling; I was also afraid to acknowledge my feelings in case they were wrong. Survival for me had become about making sure that I didn’t do or say the wrong thing”. Darlene Ouimet
This morning my husband needed me to pick him up at one of our hay fields where he was dropping off his semi in preparation to haul some hay. The ground is covered in several inches of snow here and the last couple of days have been mild and the snow is very heavy, wet and slippery now. He pulled into the field in the Semi and I was driving the pick-up truck close behind. I was trying to ‘guess’ where he was going to park the Semi with the good intention of picking him up to avoid making him trek on foot through the snow. I advanced into the field and he held his hand up to alert me to ‘stop’ where I was. I felt uncomfortable.
He seemed to be driving the semi in random patterns and I jumped to the conclusion that I must have gotten in his way when I drove into the field. I assumed that he was trying to back the Semi up to the haystack, but he couldn’t because I was parked in between the Semi and the stack. I tried to get out of the way but I realized it was really slippery and I was starting to get stuck in the snow. On top of that, I didn’t know exactly where to ‘go’ now and I didn’t want to make things worse, so I just stayed where I was.
I became aware of my old default mode coming up. My old default mode operated under the belief that I could never do the right thing and that I always did something stupid when I was trying to help. I felt my face get a little hot. I imagined that Read More→
Every so often I get a comment that I just have to share with everyone because it is so full of the truth that can help so many others. This is one such time! This comment from Doren came in on my article “Survival Mode and an Alternate view of Narcissism.” Doren has given me permission to re-print her comments for the sake of highlighting this very common concern;
Doren wrote: “All my life I’ve been in survival mode, barely able to make eye contact in public (in case people see the ‘real’ bad me I guess), trying always to please them, and if they have a problem with me they are right and I am wrong. It stems from this deep down feeling of badness in me—it’s hard to admit, but this feeling of badness gets to where I think I’m evil or the devil himself and that I will go to hell when I die. This has caused me a lot of distress and I wonder if feeling such a degree of badness is normal?
Here is what I struggle with—that I’m the ‘exception to the rule’, that yes other survivors deserve healing and are essentially good but NOT me. Perhaps this just tells me how ingrained my sense of badness is.
I have no choice but to work to heal or to die. My entire life has been greatly diminished due to childhood. It hurts so much to see the extent of the damage, but inside I feel, to get better I have to face this. Essentially I have been in hibernation since about 15. And I have thought that this was because I am weak, bad, unmotivated, etc.” Doren
I can assure you that this degree of ‘feeling’ is normal and even common. This is how we are brainwashed to become submissive and compliant. We are convinced that we are ‘bad’. We are slowly persuaded that everything would be okay with ‘them’ if only we were not such a problem. Part of the problem is that we have been so convinced of their faultlessness that we forget to examine them or any of their actions. It doesn’t occur to us that they don’t abide by the rules of love and relationship that they demand we abide by. That is what ‘brainwashing’ is.
The definition of Brainwashing: (link from the free dictionary by Farlex)
1. Intensive, forcible indoctrination, usually political or religious, aimed at destroying a person’s basic convictions and attitudes and replacing them with an alternative set of fixed beliefs.
2. The application of a concentrated means of persuasion, such as Read More→
“Although some features of narcissistic personality disorder may seem like having confidence or strong self-esteem, it’s not the same. Narcissistic personality disorder crosses the border of healthy confidence and self-esteem into thinking so highly of yourself that you put yourself on a pedestal. In contrast, people who have healthy confidence and self-esteem don’t value themselves more than they value others”. ~ The Mayo Clinic
I would like to add that people who have healthy confidence and self-esteem don’t value themselves LESS than they value others either.
I was not drawn to this quote because it helped me to understand narcissism or narcissistic behaviour but because it reminded me of how much I was willing to see myself as ‘the problem’ when I first began the healing process that I write about here in ‘emerging from broken’. So many ‘victims’ of dysfunctional family systems or any type of abusive or one sided relationship see themselves as the one who might be the narcissist. Narcissistic people groom their victims to always look at themselves and make every effort to avoid letting anyone look more closely at them. They make sure the flashlight of self-examination is always firmly on Read More→
R.E.S.P.E.C.T. find out what it means to YOU………
A lot of my emotional healing grew out of realizing the truth about some of the concepts that I had been taught wrong. The people who were in a position of power in my life taught me a lot of false definitions of words like love, respect, relationship, trust, forgiveness and a few others. Growing up from so young with the false definitions I had been taught caused me to automatically accept them as the truth.
Yesterday on my previous post “how to recognize when your best interest are not being considered” when referring to her mother a commenter wrote “I am sure she thinks she deserves to be respected…” and it got me thinking about how much learning the truth about definitions of certain key words and concepts helped me in my process of overcoming depression, trauma and low self-esteem.
When I refer to a person in a position of power I am not just referring to our teachers, the police, or judges or government. I am also referring to “our elders” and our families. My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles were all in a positions of power in my life. My in-laws were in a position of power in my marriage and in our lives. All these people were in that power position because they were “the adults” and I was a child. In my childhood that meant that they were right and I was wrong. In my adulthood, this belief didn’t change because they never let it. In both cases (as a child and as an adult) this is called a dysfunctional relationship because the elders decide and communicate that not everyone in the relationship has equal value.
It was a huge part of my survival mode to go along with these false teachings and when I became an adult I still believed the false truth that Read More→
I was reading one of my own quotes today about my willingness to share the blame in the past and thought that it deserved to be expanded upon because it is a popular subject here on Emerging from Broken. Blame sharing or willingness to share blame seems to be especially difficult if we are dealing with it within our own families. ‘Blame sharing’ and ‘blame sparing’ both seem to be part of the problem and are stick points in recovery from neglectful or abusive childhoods.
Here is the quote: “When I started to try to figure out why I was such a mess, I found that one of the stumbling blocks in my way was that I was and had been willing to share the blame for everything that happened to me. I had been told that acceptance was the answer, and I tried to accept that something must be WRONG with me because “I couldn’t accept,” and I concluded that I deserved to carry the responsibility for the mistreatment I had suffered.” Darlene Ouimet
I got thinking about the concept of “blame sharing”, where it comes from, how it starts and what it actually means, and how I could communicate that information more clearly by showing exactly the way that I overcame blame sharing in my own process of emotional healing. As always I have to show how it got there in the first place in order to show how I overcame it.
When I talk about my willingness to share the blame for the treatment that I received I am talking about specific things that should never have happened to a child that I was willing to actually take a share of the blame for. I was willing to share the blame for things that happened to me when I was powerless over my circumstances; things that I convinced myself that I was NOT actually powerless over. There is a chain of events when a child is damaged. There are consequences to the messages that children hear and accept as the truth when Read More→
Today I was thinking about how many emails I get from people who sincerely want to find validation. Unfortunately most of them want validation from the people who invalidated them in the first place. I am always thinking about ways to communicate WHY hurt people seem to think that if the people who invalidated in the first place would finally validate, then life would be so much better. It is the way our belief systems have been fed and formed that is at the root of this dilemma. And there are MANY hidden false truths back there that govern the confusion we are dealing with.
It occurs to me that the people in my own life who invalidated me had this kind of “if you don’t comply ~ Good-bye” attitude towards me. In realizing that truth I remembered that my mother always said “if you don’t like it, lump it.” I don’t remember if I ever wondered what the hell that meant but I always took it to mean that if I didn’t like it, too dang bad. And that means the exact same thing as “if you don’t comply, good-bye”. When I got older she started to say Read More→
I received a comment from a reader this week that just blew my socks off. I was inspired, flattered and thrilled by her words. I was reminded of why I do this work and why I chose to create this website (emerging from broken) in the first place. This is what it is all about! These comments are so filled with life and hope that I asked for permission to share them with my readers because hope for emotional healing was the first key for me. Please welcome Diane and her lovely comments by sharing your thoughts with her and I.
Diane’s comments came in on the blog post “Security Blanket of Coping Methods ~ My Survival Mode” which was written over two years ago in February 2010!
Here is what Diane said:
I found the archives! I didn’t know there were archives, so now I have so much more to read and learn and grow from! Yay! I went through something so life changing last week and weekend and I have spent this week simply allowing the reality of it and the joy of it soak in. I became healed and free at the core of my being from the abuse of my parents..from caring about them and what they used to think of me…from wondering WHY did they abuse me…from excusing them from abusing me…from hating myself to loving and liking myself…and the list goes on! This is what I have been hoping, praying, searching, crying and desperate for!
Last week the puzzle pieces to my childhood all fell into place for the very first time in my life and I was able to let all of the blame and shame and hatred and dislike and rejection of ME GO forever. I now feel WHOLE as a person for the very first time…I don’t even feel damaged! I was crushed like a bug and now I am not. Now I feel compassion for myself…which I have never felt before. I want to heal more and more the bad habits I developed in trying to cope with abuse and neglect and Read More→
I was not heard for most of my life. My voice was silenced in many ways. I was sexually abused from a young age. I don’t remember if I “told” or not in those young years, but there were signs. There were physical and mental distress signs that went unaddressed. That is a form of not being heard.
My mother used violence to vent her anger and frustration. My father either didn’t notice or didn’t care; he never tried to stop it. Who could I tell? The way things were in my family was “my normal”. In my survival mode, I only knew to keep trying harder to be “good”, to be what those manipulative people wanted and to be quiet because it seemed to me that I was causing a problem for them.
I don’t know how I kept going.
I know I told about a teacher who was emotionally and psychologically abusing me in grade 5. I told but I was ignored. I was shushed. I was silenced. I was lectured about “respecting my elders.” I was not heard. When I finally got so sick that the pediatric specialist asked to speak to me alone (without my parents) he ordered my parents to take me out of the class I was in. My parents didn’t want to do it and the Dr. said he was going to get a court order if they didn’t remove me from the presence of that teacher.
That doctor heard me. But my parents did not hear me. I felt I was “wrong” for telling. I knew that I had caused Read More→