Facing love addiction

In a nutshell, love addiction is being dependent on a relationship, even though the relationship itself is a source of pain.

Sometimes, the pain is about your partner being physically, sexually, or emotionally abusive. Sometimes, it is about a partner who openly does not love you. It can be that your partner is in the throws of another addiction, such as alcoholism, workaholism, or sex addiction. The issue may me narcissism. Repeated betrayals. A loved one being married to someone else. Whatever.

Life in this relationship is painful, chaotic, unhealthy. On some level, you know that the relationship is not good for you. You may even be clear that it is destroying you. And yet, you find it impossible to walk away. You sometimes make attempts to do so, only to realize that ending the relationship is truly unbearable. You go back, and now on top of everything you despise yourself.

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Two great healing podcasts

Can podcasts help you on your healing journey ? The short answer is yes, they can.

Healing podcasts and books can both give you helpful information, but podcasts have more emotional substance. It’s easier to trust someone you hear than someone you read. Which is why their emotional tone is at least as important as their content.

So whether you are convinced by podcasts already, or willing to give it a try, here are two podcasts able to improve your day, and sometimes much more.

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Emotional Flashbacks

Quite by chance, I took an incredible book with me during my holidays : Complex PTDS, from surviving to thriving, from Pete Walker. I bought it because of its amazon reviews. I remember one stating : “if you buy only one recovery book, buy this one”. This is quite a statement.

You will soon see my own review for this wise book, but one of the central ideas of Pete Walker, emotional flashbacks, deserves its own full post. I can’t believe I, whith all my reading and studying, came accross this idea only now. It does resonate with my whole experience, my whole life.

My experience with emotional flashbacks

I remember precisely when I kind of understood on my own what it was. I was standing, waiting for a tramway to go to work one morning. It was more than a decade ago, but I still recall how beautiful Paris was in the morning light. My significant other was travelling for a few days, and as usual when it happened, I was feeling scared and confused. I hadn’t slept much.

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How long does therapy take?

I started my recovery from sexual abuse more than 2 decades ago, with the help of a therapist. Before that, I had been reading psychology and self help books for a few years, looking for answers already in my adolescence.

At the time, one of my most pressing question was: how long will my recovery take before I feel better ?

What I wanted is to be over and done with as soon as possible, as something I could cross on my to do list. I wanted to move on. I would have loved someone to tell me, you know, it is going to take two years, two years and a half, max. Then you can go on and live a normal life.

Fast forward to now, coming back from a few weeks of holidays: wether I like it or not, it is never over and done with. My recovery is still happening now, even when I decide that it is not because I’m on holidays and I’d like to relax.

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Signs you are depressed

Depression from the inside

This first post on depression described its diagnostic criteria. It’s more of an external point of view, very useful to understand quickly if someone suffers from the Black Dog. It’s also very interesting for doctors and clinical psychologists exchanging information about a patient or clinical studies.

But these standardized descriptions do not tell what depression feels like from the inside. And I believe sharing this inner experience is important. It’s easier for us to relate to emotions and thoughts than to a DSM 5 list of symptoms.

Most of us spend a lot of time and energy criticizing what we believe are our character traits (along the lines of : stop being so sensitive, lazy, procrastinating…), not realizing that they are classical symptoms of a disease.

And it is true the distinction is difficult to see especially when we have been living with depression for a long time, sometimes from early childhood.

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Are you depressed ? (the quiz)

How I met depression

I spent my 17th year like many other young women: obsessed with a young man. Unfortunately, the guy was showing no interest. At all.

At the time, I still believed that I could change someone else’s feelings with unlimited love, patience, and sheer persistence – I’m sighting as I’m writing this, but well, you know, I was 17.

And then, the inevitable happened: nothing. The guy continued showing no interest. But my obsession turned into a nighmare, and I was getting worse. At some point, I had the distinct impression I was going crazy.

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How to increase our self esteem

In my early twenties, I was certain the solution to increase my self esteem was to succeed, to win the holly grail of achievements. Once I would have a great job, a great partner, friends, a cool house and a cool life, then, my self esteem would be ok.

What a disappointment.

I sometimes hear people trying to explain the fleetingness of good feelings when reaching their goal. For me, even fleetingly, it did not happen: achievements never increased my self esteem, not for a minute. Nothing.

You will find a self esteem definition in a previous post. I have also tried to explain the meaning of a low self esteem in another. Here, let’s talk about how to increase our self esteem. (Hint: it is not by reaching goals.)

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The meaning of low self esteem

Part one of this series on self esteem explains what self-esteem is and how you can measure yours. Part 2 now examines the meaning of our self esteem.

We often believe that our low self esteem is caused by who we are, or some mysterious vulnerability. It is not: often, it’s a direct consequence of what happened to us.

And this, my friends, makes a real difference: it is not about us.

Of course, having a self esteem issue does not mean we have necessarily been through a trauma. And violence can have many other consequences . Sometimes, our self esteem stays miraculously intact regardless. The relationship between sexual trauma and self esteem is not that simple.

But psychologists have long known that sexual violence creates long term damage in our self esteem. Why it is so is not that difficult to understand: it’s all about the messages we receive.

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A self esteem definition

Clara’s talking to herself

To illustrate a definition of self esteem, let’s have a look at the internal dialogue taking place in Clara’s head :  « I have been so ridiculous in this meeting. When my boss asked for my opinion, I blushed, then blurted out something that made no sense at all. I feel so ashamed.

Deep down, the reality is that I’m incompetent at work. Other people seem so self assured; I just feel lost. I never really know what is the best thing to do. I never really succeed in anything. I’m really not up to the task.

In reality, I feel stupid and worthless most of the time, in any type of social interaction. What I say or do is often silly, if not downright inappropriate. I can not even count the times when all I wanted to do was to disappear into the ground. I hate parties. I hate dinners.

And I’m not even talking about my love life: it’s even worse. »

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Am I codependent ?

Codependency

Codependent no more, from Melody Beattie, was one of the first self help books I bought. It has been very, very useful, all these years.

I have read it once again recently and it has stood the test of time. It’s still great, and it is still relevant for survivors of violence. Especially at the beginning of recovery, when we are completely lost.

Strangely enough, it is not about recovery from sexual abuse. Beattie defines it mainly as a consequence of being involved with alcoholics, even if she widens her definition somewhat.

The thing is, I have never been involved with an alcoholic, or any person caught up in a chemical dependency. My family of origin was dangerously dysfonctional, but no trace of alcohol at home.

Still, I could recognize me on each page of this book. This confused me for a while.

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Recovery: where to start

Me too : Recovery works

I do consider myself in recovery for more or less 25 years. Yes, it is a long time, and I realize it can seem discouraging.

It does not need to be. I started to feel better relatively quickly – granted, considering the state I was in, it does not seem such a feat.

But still, it was important to see my situation improving. It created the space for a lovely feeling: hope. One day, I will be fine. And sure enough, one day I was just fine. Not “happy ever after” fine, but fine most of the time.

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Me too: what is sexual violence ?

Stranger violence

My friend Sara always stayed in her home country, France. For reasons she never articulated, she did not like the idea of travelling abroad. It was not a real problem for her though, and she organised her life around it.

One day, Sara was promoted. Part of her new responsibilities included travelling abroad. Before her first trip, anxieties mounted to an almost unbearable level. When the day came though, her business trip web very smoothly, and she came back relaxed and satisfied.

This episode triggered some self reflexion: why was it initially such a problem for her ? She remembered that as a yound adult, she travelled to North Africa with a few other friends. The whole time, the group of girls had been harrassed by unsolicited, insistent and intrusive male attention. Some nights, it was impossible to sleep because of the never ending ringing at their doors. Sara realised that her anxiety at the idea of travelling appeared after this unfortunate first experience.

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