Emotional Smothering Is a Type of Abuse
Karen's Blogs » Abuse and Trauma
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3M ago
I blog a lot about abuse: how to recognize it and deal with it. Somehow I haven’t written much about one particular type of abuse and that’s called emotional smothering. It begins when parents stifle your wants by trying to make their desires yours and vice versa. They often don’t do this intentionally but, nevertheless, smothering literally takes your breath away. And along with your breath go your rights and power to make your own decisions and take pride in them or suffer the consequences. Children and adults in this situation may become so used to the blatant and subtle ways parents smothe ..read more
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Sore or Scar
Karen's Blogs » Abuse and Trauma
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2y ago
What’s the difference between a scar and a sore? In my mind, a scar is something that once hurt but is no longer painful, while a sore is something that hurts right now. You view a scar as being about something that happened to you and recognize that it isn’t happening now. A sore is different: it’s an active wound that keeps hurting. It’s helpful to think about events in life as scars or sores in order to distinguish what’s active and really needs our attention and what’s a memory to ignore. Here’s an example. My client Lloyd was the oldest of six children and their unofficial caretaker, what ..read more
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It’s Time to Live for What You Fought for in Childhood
Karen's Blogs » Abuse and Trauma
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2y ago
Every once in a while a client latches onto a phrase I’ve said because it speaks to them. This happened when I suggested that it’s time for my client Jill to “live for what you fought for.” What I meant was that she’d struggled through an abusive childhood only to live like she’s still stuck on the battlefield.  The truth is that many clients feel and act this way. The war is over, but they can’t seem to climb out of the trenches and delight in freedom, clear skies, and the calm of inner peace. Dr. Jon Connelly, founder of Rapid Resolution Therapy, describes it this way: It’s as if you’re ..read more
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Healing from Parental Abuse
Karen's Blogs » Abuse and Trauma
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3y ago
Here are excerpts from a client’s letter showing her triumph over trauma from a highly abusive father. I hope her growth inspires you to continue on your path to healing. “I finally get it. I get that my father is incapable of loving me, feeling empathy by putting himself in my shoes, caring about my feelings, etc. I see that he is sociopathic and a malignant narcissist and it feels so very painful. I see that I have believed the lie that I am not worthy of being loved as he continues to put others needs over mine. I see that I have believed that I was crazy, wrong, a trouble maker, too sensit ..read more
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Look for Answers to Today’s Problems in Yesterday
Karen's Blogs » Abuse and Trauma
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3y ago
“Boy,” said a client, “this childhood stuff really can mess you up!” I couldn’t help but chuckle. In fact, we had a long, shared laugh about the validity of this statement. What’s as true is that you might not realize in which ways and to what degree your upbringing is messing with you. The good news is that it’s never too late to learn. To do this, you must first erase blame from your brain. Your parents may have caused your problems, but they too had childhoods and parents, so it’s useless to point fingers at them. Who else is there, you might wonder, to blame, so you fault yourself for not ..read more
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On Rugs, Anxiety and Eating
Karen's Blogs » Abuse and Trauma
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3y ago
One day I had two sessions in a row in which clients expressed fear that the “rug would be pulled out” from under them. One talked about how anxiety about things going wrong drove her straight to the cookie jar and the other shared that it made her go over and over things she’d done and planned to do to make sure things would work out. If you ever have constant fear that a rug will be whipped out from under you, read on. I also recommend that you read my blog Are You Often Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop. When either Mom or Dad is poorly attuned to their child’s needs, there may be loss of ..read more
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Do You Have Adult Post-bullying Syndrome
Karen's Blogs » Abuse and Trauma
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3y ago
Many clients with eating disorders report that they were bullied in childhood. Are you one of them? Are you sure you even know what bullying is? Truth is that many people minimize the mistreatment they had at the hands of peers or family members and don’t realize that what they endured is bona fide bullying.  Kate Baggaley in “How Being Bullied Affects Your Adulthood,” says this about adult post-bullying syndrome, or APBS (not a clinical diagnosis): “Bullying is corrosive to children’s mental health and well-being, with consequences ranging from trouble sleeping and skipping school to psy ..read more
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How We Become Who We Become
Karen's Blogs » Abuse and Trauma
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3y ago
It will help your emotional and social development to recognize the stages you’ve gone through to get to be who you are emotionally today. More importantly, it will help you understand that you can, within obvious limits, pretty much be whoever you want to be now and in the future. The point is that you can change, so why continue to struggle and suffer. Why not invent the self and life you want? Stage 1: Your thoughts and actions are determined by your parents and other adults—by what they say and don’t say and do and don’t do      When we are children, our parents and other ad ..read more
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When Old Memories Co-opt the Present
Karen's Blogs » Abuse and Trauma
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3y ago
A client and I spent a session getting to the roots of an upsetting reaction she couldn’t shake after a dinner out. Her intense feelings are typical of what happens to us when events that are over and done with rear their ugly heads in the present. We’re unsettled in two ways: first, by whatever happened to cause our distress and, second, by the immensity of our distress over a situation that we know intellectually is no big deal.  Here’s what happened. My client had dinner with friends at a restaurant she loved but hadn’t visited in a while. She enjoyed her selection—mahi-mahi corn tacos ..read more
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Trauma Can Make You Freeze Up Emotionally
Karen's Blogs » Abuse and Trauma
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3y ago
  Common reactions to trauma include flight or flight. But many trauma victims and survivors also react with a freeze response. According to Stephen Porges, professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, what we call the freeze response is immobolisation, “…the critical point of the experience of life-threat trauma events.” (“Stephen Porges: ‘Survivors are blamed because they don’t fight,’” by Andrew Anthony, The Guardian/The Observer Psychiatry, 6/2/2019, accessed 6/6/19). He describes it as “… this inability to move, the numbness of the body and functionally disappearing ..read more
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