Friday, November 22, 2013

shame rage spiral of doom

I'm consciously trying to keep depression at arms length.

This is not easy.

I've been trying to put myself back together. This is not easy either, but it's necessary if I want to keep the depression away.

Being raised in a home with a sadistic narcissistic parent has damaged me. As a child, I had to fracture my self to adapt to the crazy crap at home and while this kept me from feeling the bad stuff while it was happening, long term effects, not good.

My spouse endured much of the same crap I did when he was growing up. The fact that we both are still alive, that we are not bitter mean stunted people, and that we've managed to be good parents to awesome kids despite everything, is evidence that we're fucking awesome.

While I've just about knitted my fractured self together for the first time since I was 3 years old, everything isn't all better. I'm not better. I mean, I'm better than I was, but there is still work I need to do, and every day I run the risk that some little thing will send me into a shame spiral.

And that's what happened today.

I got an email from a family member with a link to a study that suggests obesity is a cause of migraine headaches. I've had many migraines. I currently am a bit on the round side.

It might be easy to say I'm overreacting and that I shouldn't feel hurt. I am a chubby gal, though not medically obese. How would he know I'm not "really" obese? I am fat. Perhaps this person was really just approaching me in the spirit of loving kindness.

Only, I know that's not the case, given past experiences, given the physical and emotional torture this person inflicted on me as a child. Given the fact that I have dealt with anorexia and bulimia. This person
knows to insinuate I'm obese will hurt me a lot. A lot a lot a lot.

When dealing with a narcissist, it's almost impossible to defend yourself. The victim is often scapegoated, undermined, and shamed. Eventually you just admit you're wrong, even if you're right, because it's less painful to simply be wrong than it is to defend yourself against the relentless emotional bashing.

I was tempted to email this person some information about the possible correlation between obesity in women and childhood physical and/or sexual abuse, but I think the safest thing for me to do is just disengage from further contact.

In the meantime, the episode left me sick, sad, physically numb, and full of rage. Before I could see what was happening, I'd transferred the anger I was feeling toward my fat shaming relative to my husband, who was sitting there saying words he thought would be reassuring. I think he said, "That's laughable!  You're not obese. That's a crock of shit." But my fractured mind heard my husband say, "You're ridiculous, of course you're obese. You're a piece of shit. Everyone thinks you are obese and a piece of shit." I could not hear his real words, just the words I'd been taught I deserved to hear.

Some part of my brain was grounded enough in reality to reel me back in. I asked my husband to tell me again what he had said. I reminded myself that my husband is my ally and friend, a person who loves me no matter how fat or thin I get and he's proved this to be true in his actions toward me. I was able to see that the fury and anger and rage and sadness I was feeling was intended for someone else, and the depth of my emotion belies the depth of the manipulation and cruelty that had been inflicted on me in the past.

When I named the true target for my anger and when I gave myself permission to believe that I had a right to be angry, I felt the rage leave my body.

I've recovered enough and reintegrated my self enough to recognize that I really was a victim of abuse as a kid, that I do not now nor have I ever deserved to be abused, and I'm not the morally flawed inferior party in all of this.

I'm the okay one. He's the one with the problem.

In the past I would have gotten stuck in the misdirected rage. This whole incident would have triggered a severe depressive episode. It could have sent me into a deep enough depression that I might have seriously contemplated hurting myself. As it is, I felt like crap for the better part of the afternoon and evening.

I'm still experiencing physical numbness in my arms and legs, my thinking is slower than usual, I'm tired and a little sad, but I'm functional, and that's a success.

I'm not all better, but I'm getting better.

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