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Readers: My blog moved! And it's better than ever. #1 The NEW url is: Please update your RSS feeds. #2 Take a sec to join the GWNI Mailing List to receive an email from me when extraordinary things occur. -amy Continue reading
I want to say Thank You to readers who have donated to Guess What Normal Is this past year. I have been able to put your donations to good use. I will be unveiling the new-and-improved GWNI site...very, very soon! Feel free to get a jump on things and subscribe to the GWNI e-mailing list. (Yep, that's new, too!) Thanks to all of you, dear readers, I have been able to hire Nicole Bateman of The Pixel Boutique to re-envision... Continue reading
I'm not sure if she ended it, or if I did, actually! Despite my frustration toward her impatience, criticism, controlling, and moodiness, I valued the friendship (as a Loyal adult child!) I called a couple times and left voice mails. She returned my calls, but not quickly and her voice messages were very...nice...very formal. And I thought, "What's going on here?" I had a decision to make - call her and find out why she was being distant (mad?) and resolve it, invest in us, or... not. And I realized that I didn't want to call and find out -- I just wanted out. So I just never called again. And the feeling must have been mutual, because she didn't call again either.
This post was written forGWNI by a reader in the UK, his meditation on being an adult child on the periphery of angry rioting in London. South London, all terraced houses, 24-hour newsagents, and run-down council estates all crushed in cheek by jowl, has, this week, resembled a war zone. As an Adult Child this is not a scenario I'm unfamiliar with. Dysfunction? Home territory. Intensity? Check. Excitement? Oh yes. As I lay awake at night the sound of sirens... Continue reading
That must have been no fun, but great that you realized it. When I look at most of my friendships, I can see that the friend and I were drawn together in ways that were completely subconscious at the time, and while a lot of them have turned out to be mutually nurturing and supportive and fun, there was one that I ended when I realized that the level of negativity and criticism was too great. I felt horrible about ending it, because it was right after the friend had done me an incredible favor. And we'd been friends a few years. But, still, the favor was undercut by passive-aggressive vibes. And those vibes...made something click, or snap! It was that final instance that somehow pinged all the previous instances and I suddenly saw the historical pattern between us, me.
Hey Jane, that's awesome. How did you know the friendship was toxic, what were the cues? Yeay for you!
We feel so broken sometimes. So put upon. So tired. Must we always have to re-do, do-over, re-jigger, and work so, so hard to have a normal, right, life? Depends on how you look at it. The un-chosen, poorly-tuned, oblivious life isn't very rewarding, so in that sense the oh-so-hard work is worth it. And, that's life. If you want things (happiness, to be the big boss, a bigger salary, to live in a sun-drenched state), you will need to... Continue reading
Ever had trouble saying goodbye, ending a conversation, leaving, or getting people out of your house? Have you ever noticed that at some point during a conversation or visit that you're ready for it to end but that you can't seem to make it end? As if you're...a prisoner of the conversation? That has happened to me. When it has happened, I feel it in my body: I feel a fuzziness in my head, a pressure behind my eyes, and... Continue reading
Hey Amy - thanks! Welcome to the family :-) We're big and acutally supportive. No way are we alone, not by a mile.
Something I learned from my therapist not long ago is that when I have a clear sense of alternatives, of options, that not only do I immediately feel less stuck, saner, but I can also then be moved into action. That is, I perceive that not only do alternatives and options exist in life in general, but also alternatives to the very first option that comes to my mind as well (that first idea, the one that seems best, the... Continue reading
Erin, that sounds like a double-whopper, both authority figure dominance as well as boundary violation that you're fighting. Sounds like you're fighting a great fight. For what it's worth - fighting with nervousness, fear or anxiety doesn't make you any less fierce. Sometimes we have to stick up for ourselves with our fear in tow. It's a new skill, to stay balanced and self-directed on new and unfamiliar ground. But I think the fear of backing down that comes with treading on new, unfamiliar ground is good-scary for people like us. You won't let yourself down - you might fall back a step, but then you'll do two steps forward ... And thats progress in the long run. Be kind to yourself. Keep us posted! Hug, Amy
Erin, you lie because when you were a child the people who were supposed to accept your truth rejected it and molded you to say what they wanted to hear (for you, lies). It's their fault. Not yours. They failed you...for unfair reasons of their own. You're breaking free bit by bit (you have those books nearby!), and each time you risk telling your truth, you heal and you grow. (Not easy, but do able.) And I'm rooting for you.
Thanks, Jed, for sharing this further. I was fascinated by the correlation between neglect as a form of trauma, in its being a threat to vitality and even a threat to life, and PTSD. Shocking...and revealing. I hope that the revisions to the 2013 DSM open up the diagnosis to a larger population in need of healing - and transformation. -Amy
Readers, you are in for a real treat. This winter I was fortunate enough to have two conversations about post traumatic stress disorder PTSD with trauma specialist Dr. Marylene Cloitre. The following article is based on our conversations. Do You Have PTSD from Childhood? Panic. Anxiety. Fear. Nightmares. Insomnia. Fuzzy-brain feeling. Indecision. Confusion. Out-of-body numbness. Dissociation. Reacting to present-day events from the past’s influence. These are all familiar states of being and feeling to people who grew up in an... Continue reading
How scary is it to draw a line you're not OK with people crossing and to defend it? 100% frightening. People who grewup in dysfunctional families are an extraordinarily loyal bunch. All the books about dysfunctional families and alcoholic/addict family systems point to the skewed politics of internalizations of loyalty and the fact that no matter how let down we’ve been, we stay loyal. We feel, illogically, that they’re all we’ve got and that we’re all they’ve got. Ick. Dysfunctional... Continue reading
Here's a question that a reader just asked me, which I'm answering in a post for everyone: "What recommendations do you have as far as a daily routine, therapy, or books to make the fear of losing control less prominent?" Her question was related to this post about the fear of losing control. While this may not need to be a daily ritual for long, what worked for me in curing my panic attacks, which stemmed from a fear of... Continue reading
Thanks so much for this post OAD! I wasn't familiar with the fable about the Lion and the Fox. It's great. I love having that visual and that story to remind me how to protect my curious, always-ready-to-help nature against...the ever-hungry lion. That's a really great tool! Thank you :)
This post was written for GWNI by One Angry Daughter, who explains narcissism, and her personal experiences with navigating it, on her blog. Labels May Come and Labels May Go, but the Toxic Behavior Remains the Same At the end of 2010, the Adult Children of Narcissists (ACON) support circles were abuzz with the news the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM), the standard for diagnosing mental illness, would be removing Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) from its 5th edition. The DSM-4 description... Continue reading
Thanks Freddie. It's good to be 'waking' up isn't it? Not always fun, and often painful, but gloriously rewarding and it just gets better and better. Really. It does. I'm still having waves of realizations as I heal different layers and re-wire my brain after an entire childhood spent in survival mode. We're so good at 'getting through' bad times, difficult people, uncomfortable situations, dysfunction, bad jobs, angry people...that we just continue to choose to endure situations rather than realize that we can give ourselves permission to say, No Thanks, I Don't Like Drama and to walk away from engagements that don't feel good. (We live as survivors rather than people who thrive well beyond survival.) It takes time for all of that to click, but if you do the work, the universe will send you little friendly 'here's how' signals. :-) Good luck! Drop me a line anytime.
If my ultra-normal hero, Norma Normalstrom, were to read the above statement, she would say, “Duh. That’s a no-brainer! Cancel dinner. Your child’s sick!” For people who grew up like us, it’s so not a no-brainer, it’s a dumbfounder. It’s like, “What do I do? I don’t know. My brain has stopped.” You don’t know how to react to the change in reality, so you try to bend it, wish it away, and think things like, Well, maybe he’s not... Continue reading
Now, I have lots and lots and lots of thoughts on parenting, and especially on parenting despite a ragged emotional inheritance, so please know that this is just the beginning of an unending river of thoughts over time. That's a disclaimer, a promise, and a warning! When I think about parenting, and specifically parenting as someone who was raised within a dysfunctional, codependent, and emotionally abusive household I think this: I understand my mission. My mission is to ensure that... Continue reading
Hi Paul - thanks! Just checked out your site and blog - really like your 'Eating & Budgeting' post. Really wise. Very cool how you come at that from such a unique and refreshing angle. It's good to know about what you do (and where you do it!). Curious - what do you think about the upcoming changes to the DSM (2013 revision) with regard to NPD? Do you think it will alter how people understand or define their parents...? What does that change "mean" to us?
Oh, boy, sometimes we see things we don’t want to—like a stain on my pants, one that I’d prefer not to notice till after I’ve left the house. If I notice it before leaving, my conscience won’t let me keep those pants on. I have to change, once I see the truth. It’s a call to action. (A call to board the hero’s journey!) The same is true of taking a second look at the stories from my childhood that... Continue reading
Kira, a red bike? I love it! I hope you have a bell too. :-) You've inspired me to try handstands... So glad the post resonated. You're right - people who haven't had a traumatic childhood or dysfunctional parents really can't get it, and are uncomfortable with painful childhood stories; they may hope that pointing out a rainbow in the sky will do the trick. "See that? All better now." Tee hee.