Archive for #psychology

HEIGHTENED ANXIETY

Posted in Heightened anxiety with tags , , , , , , , , on August 3, 2013 by Karen unrue

spinning the brain

Heightened anxiety
spins the brain.
Its like a pot being
thrown
by a drunk.

My shape
and my form
I try hard to maintain,
Cos I know
If I can’t
I am sunk.

images

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THE LOVELY YOUNG MAN

Posted in THE LOVELY YOUNG MAN with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2013 by Karen unrue

young man 2

A lovely young man
came to see me.
A good looking
young man,
28 years old,
with a good job,
and his own flat.
I was
a mentor
in a
mental health charity.
HE WAS TROUBLED.

depression

Recently, his
ANXIETIES
had spiralled into
DEPRESSION.
He didn’t understand
what was wrong.
He’d always found
relationships
difficult, he said,
even with family.
But lately his friendships
had become increasingly
strained.
Then his girlfriend
had left him
and now he was
on medication.

help_pills_c
He said,

“It isn’t that life is hard, it’s that I FIND LIFE HARD!
And I don’t know why”.

Early on
In our sessions
I asked him
a question –

WHAT IS YOUR BOTTOM LINE?

I explained
I wasn’t talking about
the Visible Panty Line
that expensive underwear adverts
promise to eradicate.

NO!

In this instance –

The BOTTOM LINE is the description of yourself that you believe to be 100%
TRUE.

It is indicated in how
you complete the sentence –
I AM…….
when no one is listening.
When its
just you
in
quiet solitude,
being brutally honest
with yourself.

who am i

The lovely young man
thought about it
a while,
then
admitted to me
his
BOTTOM LINE
was
I AM … NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
I AM … TO BLAME.

Peoples underlying beliefs about themselves will always impact their thinking and then their behaviour.

I explained this to him and that his BOTTOM LINE was influencing everything in his life, including his relationships, and that only when he changed his beliefs about himself would “living life” become easier for him.

“But how do I do THAT?” He gasped

I said,
“It is possible.
I know because I have done it,
and I will show you how”.

I told him –
Your BOTTOM LINE is a label you wear.
A label you have allowed to define you because you believe it to be true.

So we talked about labels and how we acquire them.
How when we come into this world our label is blank –
blank labels
we have no opinion of who we are – not good or bad.
And that the opinion we will eventually have of ourselves,
our BOTTOM LINE,
will develop over time –
AS OTHER PEOPLE WRITE ON OUR LABEL.

handwriting

What people write on a child’s label varies.
It depends on the environment in which they are raised.

A healthy environment label will most likely say –
“you are lovable,
interesting,
fun to be with,
and you can do anything you put your mind to”

An unhealthy environment label will most likely say –
“you are a nuisance,
stupid,
in the way,
and you will never amount to anything.”

dysfunctional

Yes, it’s a genetic lottery.
We have no say about
the families
we are born into.
And the kids in
unhealthy families
have an
uphill battle.
But even kids
in nurturing families
are spoken to
carelessly
or unkindly
at times.

NO ONE IS IMMUNE.

I explained that children have what child psychologist’s call
CONCRETE THINKING.
This means that children (up to 14 or15) take personally everything that is said to them,
and believe it to be FACT.

They don’t have the capacity, as adults do, to take into consideration the
circumstances or the mood of the person speaking.
Adults can differentiate between the truth and an opinion.
They know that an opinion is often rooted in some issue that the person voicing it is having, and can, therefore, disregard it.

Children can’t do that.
To a child
ugly things aren’t said because –

“mum is having a bad day”,

mum pulling her hair out

or “dad has money worries and is short-tempered”.

finances

NO

To a child –
Ugly things are said
Because
THEY ARE TRUE.

BUT,
I explained to him
WHAT IS ACTUALLY TRUE
is that the ugly things
that are said to us
as children
are NOT facts
but
OPINIONS.

OPINIONS VOICED OUT OF ISSUES THAT THE PERSON SPEAKING IS HAVING AT THE TIME.

The lovely young man
suddenly
straightened up
in his chair.
There was a
light in his eyes.
He had heard
something
that
resonated.

He recounted that one night
when he was
seven years old
he’d been put to bed
by his mother.
She then went downstairs
and soon he could hear
her and his father arguing
in the lounge below his bedroom.

bth_couple-fighting_zpsaf14a3e4

This was nothing new – they argued quite a lot.
But this one escalated
to such decibels
and went on for so long
that he became alarmed –
and then frightened.
He crept downstairs in his pyjamas
and stood in the hall next to the
closed living room door.
SUDDENLY
his mother burst out of the room.
She saw him,
pointed her finger at him
and said,

pointing

“ITS YOUR FAULT I’M STUCK IN THIS GOD-AWFUL MARRIAGE.
IF IT WASN’T FOR YOU I COULD LEAVE AND HAVE A BETTER LIFE.
ITS YOUR FAULT I’M STUCK HERE AND UNHAPPY”

She then stormed upstairs
leaving him standing alone
UNDER THE WEIGHT OF HER WORDS.

The lovely young man
then told me
that from that moment on
he felt responsible
for his mother’s
happiness.
He tried hard
to be good,
to be funny,
to be there
for her.
And felt guilty
when she was unhappy.
It was his fault.
SHE HAD SAID SO.

He said that with every relationship that mattered to him from then on
he felt he had to make sure the other person was always alright.
Their happiness
was his responsibility.
It was a joke at first.
They teased him a bit,
said he should “chill”.
He tried to stop
trying so hard.
But lately things only got worse.
And one by one
his friends fell away.
Then his girlfriend
said she felt smothered
and walked away too.

girlfreind leaving

“BUT IF WHAT YOU ARE SAYING IS TRUE” he said excitedly,
“Then my mother wasn’t speaking A FACT ABOUT ME! Was she?
She was just VOICING AN OPINION out of the anger she was feeling!”

He took a deep breath as the reality sank in,

“And so THE TRUTH IS “ he continued,
I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE for other people’s happiness – am I !!”

I smiled, and said, “THAT’S RIGHT”.

And he smiled too.

smile

Over the weeks we worked on erasing the opinions he had worn as the truth.
He gradually wrote his own label.
Redefining himself
and learning to
live his life FREE from
THE WEIGHT OF HIS MOTHER’S WORDS.

It wasn’t easy,
but with hard work
and perseverance
he began
breaking the habits
of thinking
and behaviour
that had caused
him to
“find life hard.”

The lovely young man,
a couple of years
after our sessions had ended,
spotted me in a restaurant.
He came over.
He was smiling.
He told me how well his life was going
Then took me to his table
and introduced me to his girlfriend.

I must say –
they both looked
VERY HAPPY INDEED.

_smitten__couple_in_love_figurative__figurative__08959ab3929e456a74457a4d6210735a

Have any of the labels you have been given created problems for you?

If you look back with an adults eye can you see that most likely they were not facts but opinions?

what are some of the opinions you have believed to be facts?

I will discuss in more depth some of the techniques for working yourself free from damaging opinions in my next post.

Do you have any questions you would like me to try and answer?

I would be happy to give it my best shot !

PEOPLE GROW IN THE STRANGEST PLACES

Posted in transformation through trauma with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 16, 2013 by Karen unrue

chick and egg
Did you know that you are not supposed to assist a baby chick
as it chips its way out of the shell of the egg its hatched in.
Poor thing looks so weak and helpless.
Looks like he won’t make it.
It looks traumatic.
But apparently
the very act of working his way slowly out of the shell and into the world strengthens him.

Transformation through trauma

Yes it’s a cliché,
but its true!

I never thought I’d be grateful for the shit I went through in my marriage.
Or for the depression and anxiety I experienced
in the ensuing years
as I rebuilt my life.

But there did come a day, some years later,
When I began to realise that all I had been through:
the process of forgiving
both myself and him,
rebuilding my identity
and self-esteem,
learning to live
without guilt and fear.
Had actually caused me to
GROW
as a person.
I had more compassion
more wisdom
a greater lust for life.

I had pecked my way out of the shell.
I was strengthened.

Now don’t misunderstand!
I would NEVER want to go through any of that again!
And it’s been a difficult journey

BUT I LIKE WHO I AM AS A RESULT OF THE JOURNEY I’VE BEEN ON.

journey
It is a strange phenomenon
That people,
like flowers and vegetables,
seem to grow best
in shit!

Here is a poem I wrote about that.

If you could buy what I’ve been through,
I wouldn’t recommend you do.
This is MY life.

The past I’ve had I can’t undo
no matter how I might want to.
THIS is my life.

Not all fairy tale, bedtime story,
or bed of roses always sweet.
There have been times of pain and suffering
that have knocked me off my feet.

But over time as I’ve reflected.
I’ve learnt it’s best that I accept,
This IS my life.

And the question asked, “what might have been?”
Has become redundant now I’ve seen
that by accepting my life is THIS
I get to see what I almost missed –

THAT PEOPLE GROW IN THE STRANGEST PLACES

plant covered people 2

Have you found this to be the case?
In what ways?
What are your experiences?

REBUILDING CASTLES

Posted in rebuilding your life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2013 by Karen unrue

castle pic
My castle had been under siege
for ten years.
Cannonballs,
battering-rams,
fighting on the ramparts,
hot oil,
and raging enemy fires
had all caused it,
over time,
to become –
AN UNINHABITABLE DWELLING!!

What had been a fairly
SAFE PLACE
to live in when I met
my husband,
had, under his
CARELESS,
and often
BRUTAL
Behaviour,
ended up –
A RUIN!
storm 2
I was open to
the elements!
Rain fell in,
wind blew through,
there was no
PROTECTION
from the cold, and
little shelter from the heat.

I WAS VULNERABLE!

Before the bombardment
I had been outgoing –
at ease in company.
NOW I shivered
amongst strangers,
and was TIMID with
friends
and even family.
I awaited,
CRITICISM
and feared –
REJECTION.
shy 1
I WAS VULNERABLE!

How could I
REBUILD my walls?
RE-TILE my roof?
REPLACE
my windows?
Become
A SAFE PLACE
to live in once more?
PROTECTED!
How could I again
become –
A HABITABLE DWELLING?

When I, and my two-year old son, escaped my husband, we left America and came to live in England where I was born and raised.
Most days I would spend some time walking through the countryside, my son in his push- chair, talking out loud to myself (to the amusement of many a grazing cow!)
stroller
I was speaking out my search for clarity, trying to make sense of my vulnerability, figuring out the mechanics of re-gaining my sense of identity, so that I could find some way of building myself up again.

I knew it wouldn’t happen over night, but I had to start somewhere!

My first little breakthrough came on one of these walks.
I realised that in order to feel comfortable in social situations again I had to –

“SHIFT THE FOCUS”

The “ruined” me, the vulnerable me, was anxious at social events.
I did not enjoy them.
I was too busy wondering what impression I WAS MAKING or whether others were FINDING ME INTERESTING, wondering whether or not -THEY LIKED ME!
I was filled with anxiety.
I would leave a party or dinner and analyse MY PERFORMANCE.
“Damn! Why did I say that?”
“Good grief I sounded boring”
“Well, I won’t get asked back!”
Etc. Etc.

THIS WAS NOT SERVING ME WELL!

So I made the decision to practice “shifting the focus”.
I made myself a little mantra I could use to remind myself –

“THINK LESS ABOUT IMPRESSING
AND MORE ABOUT BLESSING!”

Cheesy – I know.
But it helped me remember to –

• Focus on the person/people I am talking to
• Really listen to what he/she/they are saying.
• Let them know by words and body language that I’m interested in THEM.
• Ask them questions.
• Put them at ease.
• After the event DO NOT analyse WHAT THEY MIGHT THINK OF ME.
• Focus, instead, on WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY AND WHAT I THOUGHT OF THEM.
conversation 2
It took time and practice.
I didn’t always get it right.
But gradually I began to enjoy the company of other people again as I re-learnt the freedom of unselfconsciousness.
And because I made others feel good about them-selves – they enjoyed my company and invited me out again.
This began to improve my self-esteem
and, in turn, enabled me to dare be a bit more my REAL self.
And so I began again to establish my sense of identity

Little by little bricks got added to my walls,
some roof tiles went on,
a broken window got replaced.

I WAS BECOMING A SAFER PLACE TO LIVE!
yellow castle

This is only my story, my experience.
I realise that everyone has his or her own unique story to tell.
Has an unhealthy relationship left you feeling vulnerable?
How have you found a way of building yourself up again?
Maybe you are only just leaving a bad relationship and feeling quite lost.

I’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU.

THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT!

Posted in learning to soothe yourself with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 2, 2013 by Karen unrue

I was a child/teenager

with a vivid imagination!

It’s impact

On “bed time” varied.

Some nights,

weary from the day’s activities,

I’d drop off

to sleep

when my head hit the pillow.

child-sleeping

 

 

 

 

Other nights

I would wrestle with

VERY REAL,

but imaginary,

THINGS

that arrived,

uninvited,

when the light was off.

These were usually

ANTS OR SPIDERS.

Sometimes other monsters.

nightmare

 

 

 

 

 

The only way to survive

their onslaught,

was to lie still

flat on my back

with my sheet and blankets

pulled over my head

and tucked up tight

under,

and around,

my body.

Eventually, exhausted

by their attempts

to penetrate my defences,

the ants or spiders

died in droves

and disappeared.

 

I must have looked

ridiculous.

egyptian-mummy

 

 

 

I was an ancient mummy,

or a murdered body,

ready to be placed

in the back of a car

for disposal.

 

I DIDN’T CARE.

It worked.

It was my

COPING MECHANISM.

 

In later life,

dealing with real

fears and anxieties,

in very real situations,

this cocoon method of coping,

YOU WILL NOT BE SURPRISED TO LEARN,

was of very little use.

It no longer SOOTHED me.

 

WHAT NOW?

question

 

 

 

 

 

What this example from my childhood/early teens shows is that the coping mechanisms we develop when we are young become “not fit for purpose” when we are adults.

It is the same with coping mechanisms we develop in the abnormal atmosphere of an abusive relationship. They do “not serve us” well once we are learning to live again in the fresh air of freedom.

We need to develop new ones that DO serve us well.

This takes time, testing out what works best, and, I would advise the input and assistance of someone who understands. This can be a good friend who has been on her own journey of recovery, or a professional experienced in the subject.

abuse2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For me a breakthrough was having it explained to me that my abuser had not been speaking the truth when he demeaned me, criticised me, verbally attacked me.

He had been voicing his opinion of me.

And his OPINION WAS DISTORTED.

(Remember the tilted room!)

His opinions were voiced out of his own damaged past,

or he was simply a bully who enjoyed

causing pain.

He was not speaking the truth about me.

 

I WAS NOT WHO OR WHAT HE SAID I WAS!

 

I could begin to emerge from under the covers.

Because the ants and spiders (the things he said)

Were not real,

NOT TRUE.

 

I could begin the journey

Of UNBELIEVING

his distorted words,

and start learning

how to love myself again.

How to SOOTHE myself.

 

I will talk more about this in my next blog.

I WOULD REALLY LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU !

What were some of your childhood/teenage coping mechanisms?

How have you learned to find ones that “serve you well now”?

What are they?

DO YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS?

I’d be happy to have a go at answering them –

To begin a dialogue with you.

SOOTHE

Posted in learning to soothe yourself with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 30, 2013 by Karen unrue

A baby cries.
A mother wakes,
and takes the baby in her arms.
She coos,
she sings,
she sways.
And soon
the baby,
soothed,
sleeps again.

soothing mum 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A child falls.
A mother stoops,
and takes the child in her arms.
She talks.
She tickles,
She wipes tears.
And soon,
the child,
reassured,
plays again.

Mother Tickling Son Outdoors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A child that is soothed by a parent when growing up knows how to self-soothe as an adult.
A child whose experience has been indifference, neglect, or outright abuse; a child who has not been soothed, will not know how to self-soothe as an adult.

It is a “hole-within” that a child carries into adulthood.
And many, otherwise self-sufficient adults, will find that when troubles come it is a hole into which they fall.
In the darkness and the loneliness of it they find they lack the resources to light a candle and be reassured.
They lack the vocabulary to form words that soothe and encourage and lead them into daylight.

candle_in_the_dark_1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And even those of us who were soothed as children can be robbed of the ability to self-soothe as adults.
A “hole within” can open up if we find ourselves in an abusive relationship.
This is because the abuse, be it emotional, mental, or physical, will, in time, erode our self-esteem and replace sound judgement with self-doubt.

Everyone of us is different.
Each one of us reacts differently to such a hole.
But in one thing we are all the same –
We will have to fill it with something.

Alcohol
Co-dependency
Over-work/ambition
Sex
Shopaholicism
drugs

The list is endless.

I found myself co-dependent.
My identity, sense of worth, became utterly subsumed.
Unless my husband was pleased with me –
I was nothing
and afraid.

After I had left him I remember clearly realising
that never again
would he tell me
“Its ok.”
That from now on I had to learn to
Feel it was “OK” for myself.
I had to learn again how to
Self-soothe.

It took me years.
It wasn’t easy.
But I did it.
Don’t despair.
You can too.

learning to soothe yourself

learning to soothe yourself

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ll talk about it some more in my next post.

Please remember you are not alone.
It is not your fault.
There are many of us.
You can be whole again.
DO NOT GIVE UP.

MAGNIFICENT COLLISION

Posted in Behind closed doors with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 27, 2013 by Karen unrue

A friend’s husband of 11 years left her for her best friend.

“What a bastard!” we said.

“Poor girl”

We rallied round.

“We’re so surprised.” We said.

“You two always seemed so good together”.

Days passed and the shock and tears subside.

And then she confesses something that none of us expected.

“Yes this really hurts, but what I have never told you –

Is that he has been abusing me for years. These tears are also for all those times I could never tell you about.”

I wrote this after hearing what she told us.

I wrote it about her,

But also for the 1000’s of women going through abuse silently right now and

Still looking like the perfect couple.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO!

TELL SOMEONE.

YOU DESERVE TO BE SAFE,

TO BE TREATED WITH RESPECT,

AND TO BE LOVED.

MAGNIFICENT COLLISION

It was a magnificent collision.

All twisted metal,

Broken glass,

Blood on the seats.

She hadn’t seen it coming.

He was driving,

He always did the driving.

They thought it was the crash that killed her.

But they were misled.

Distracted by jagged flesh and broken bones

They did not see the damage done during more private incidents.

You see

It was not his leaving that destroyed her

But all the years he stayed.

car wreck

LOOSENING THE CHAINS

Posted in learning to love yourself again with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 25, 2013 by Karen unrue

chains

I had left my abusive marriage but I was still rocked with self-accusation and, despite knowing better on a rational level, I still blamed myself for his behaviour toward me.

What if I had ….. ?

Maybe if I hadn’t ……!

Perhaps I should have……!

If only I had …… !

One day, several years after leaving, I contacted a domestic abuse organisation and they sent me some literature.

I opened the envelope and when I pulled out the pamphlet and read the title I burst into tears.

“IF YOU HAD BEHAVED BETTER I WOULD NOT HAVE HAD TO PUNISH YOU”

Oh my god!!!

Someone understood!

Someone knew how I was feeling.

I was not alone.

I began to learn that his behaviour had not been a rational response to something I had done or not done.

His treatment of me was abnormal.

It was the beginning of a healing for me.

I could start trying to love myself again.

Here are the lyrics to a song I wrote as my recovery began to take hold.

LOOSENING THE CHAINS

When she emerges from the wreckage she is changed.

In some indefinable way she’s not the same.

And with the healing of her wounds there come the scars,

but there also comes a wisdom in her heart.

From somewhere she found the courage to survive.

But more than that – she re-learned to be alive.

And each breath she takes is like a second wind

And each day – a chance to begin again.

Now she knows

Now it’s understood

That freedom isn’t easy to attain

You only get there through a barrier of pain

But if you persevere – in time you will loose

the chains that hold you hostage to abuse.

Learning to love herself has been the greatest gift

Cos she’s the one she found it hardest to forgive.

But she was young, and as they say, “love is blind”

And trusting him was her only crime.

She doesn’t have to punish herself anymore

Cos she’s not guilty of the things he blamed her for.

And she’s daring to believe that she’s ok

And that the happiness she’s found won’t be snatched away

Now she knows

Now it’s understood

That freedom isn’t easy to attain

You only get there through a barrier of pain

But if you persevere, in time you will loose

the chains that hold you hostage to abuse.

——————————————————–

Walking the road to freedom

Walking the  road into freedom.

THE CONTORTONIST

Posted in domestic abuse with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2013 by Karen unrue

The man took his new wife to one of the rooms in their home and opened the door.

“Look at this tilted room,” he said.

She turned to him in surprise,

“This room’s not tilted.”

“Yes it is!” he replied.

Thinking he was playing some kind of game – she laughed.

His bottom lip began to tremble and his eyes welled up.

“You really can’t see that this room is tilted?” He insisted

“No, because it’s NOT tilted.” She said.

Her husband then fell to the floor, and lying in the foetal position he began to sob.

“No one has ever seen things the way I see them. I thought you would because you’re my wife – but no! You obviously don’t love me!” He blubbed.

She was confused and concerned and stooped to comfort him.

She reassured him of her love.

 

The incident passed.

 

However, every few days he would again take her to the doorway of the same room.

“Look how tilted this room is.” He’d say.

She would reiterate that she didn’t see a tilted room, just a normal one.

Once again he would end up sobbing on the floor and state that no one had ever understood him, that he’d thought she would be different and love him enough to see things his way.

And again she would stoop down and comfort him.

 

One day, after several weeks of this, she had had enough.

Upon being taken to the doorway of the room again, she said,

“What is wrong with you? The room is NOT tilted!”

When his bottom lip began to tremble she lost patience with him.

“Oh yes! Go ahead and cry! That will solve everything!” She said.

His lip hardened and his face changed.

He slammed her hard up against the wall, made a fist and held it in front of her face.”

“IF I SAY THE ROOM IS TILTED THEN THE ROOM IS TILTED! DO YOU UNDERSTAND YOU FUCKING BITCH!”

He turned her to face the room.

“LOOK!” he said.

She was terrified.

He had never behaved like this before.

 

She lowered herself onto one knee,

Bent herself sideways,

And tilted her head.

 

Now the room looked tilted.

 

“Yes I see.” She said quietly.

 

And from that moment on she did.

 

Because the only thing that stopped him getting angry was seeing things his way.

 

Seeing the tilted room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vennie Kocsis

The life and times of a cult child

Ramblings of Ruin

A collection of stories.

Life In Detox

Recovery Blogger. Sober AF. Photographer. Storyteller. Writer.

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