Book Review: Believing Me, from Ingrid Clayton

I came across Ingrid Clayton’s work while listening to an excellent podcast about Trauma Bonding; I liked what she had to say and the way she said it, so I bought her memoir, Believing Me.

Sure enough, I liked her book. Maybe it’s because our stories have similarities. Maybe it’s because she manages to describe universal aspects of trauma. Probably both.

Believing me can be useful especially for those of us who have been traumatized in our family of origin. It helps validate the weird dynamics of such families, and normalize our trauma responses later in life.

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Maladaptive perfectionism

I used to view perfectionism as a kind of plague, nothing less.

I remember preparing for job interviews, and being ready to answer perfectionism as my greatest weakness. It was a cliche but honest response : I was a real perfectionist. But I would not have hired one, and truth be told I would not have hired myself.

I was ready to give this answer because I knew most recruiters did not understand perfectionism. They would view it as a positive weakness in the workplace. I was probably wrong, but fortunately nobody asked.

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Book Review: The Body Keeps the Score

The Body keeps the score is the book I would have needed decades ago.

I would have needed it when I decided to do whatever was necessary to heal. I believe it would have saved me years of confusion.

And even if I feel much better these days, it is still an amazing read.

This book feels validating, compassionate and insightful. It explains perfectly how a traumatized person feels and thinks, and why.

More importantly, it’s full of hope that recovery is possible and points to proven, but not generally talked about, healing modalities.

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Feeling dead inside

I was 17 when I realized I was feeling dead inside. I know I had already felt like this as a child. I did not have the words to describe it, but the experience was there already. Unfortunately, it followed me into my young adult years.

If you ever felt dead inside, you know how dark this place can be. It’s the fabric of depression. It prevents us from enjoying whatever is good in our lives; it can destroy our relationships, our successes and our health. It can leave us unable to feel love and caring, unable to mourn a loss – and ending up wondering if indeed we are able to love at all. It can prevent us from reaching our goals, even if we have the necessary energy, intelligence and skills. It can even prevent us from wanting anything at all.

We are going through the motions, disconnected from other people, life, and ourselves, and we are wondering what is wrong with us and if that’s all there is.

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Why do I always fall for the wrong guy ?

“Why do I always fall for the wrong guy?” I must admit it’s a question I asked myself a few times. And when listening to a very interesting podcast with Dr Frank Anderson on Trauma and Internal Family System, the answer came in a reaI “aha” moment.

To be honest, I already knew the answer – or rather, let’s take the grandiosity out of this – my answer. But this very smart psychiatrist and psychotherapist summed it up with a few elegant sentences : “Most adult romantic attractions are really us trying to heal an early attachment wound. Instead of seeking this healing from another person, what we need to do is seek the relationship, get triggered an activated, and then do our work.”

This is brilliant.

Let’s have a look at these few sentences.

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Why am I lost in my thoughts ?

Yesterday, my daughter asked me if I was not feeling bored while walking. I told her my truth: no, I am never bored while walking. I have all these thoughts in my head. Even when my brain is not focused on doing something, like working, organizing an evening out, or talking with someone, these thoughts and dreams are still here and keep me busy. I don’t even remember the last time I felt bored.

My daughter’s consciousness is apparently less overly active than mine: when she’s not busy doing something, she does not have all this activity in her mind. So, she explained, while walking she’s bored. I assured her boredom has never killed anybody and it’s a normal part of our experience. I also felt secretly happy: she does not dissociate like I do.

What is dissociation ?

Being lost in one’s thoughts from time to time is normal. Spending lots of time in one’s head, thinking or dreaming about stuff, sometimes to the point of preferring alone time to living, is not. We can call it being very distracted, suffering from maladaptive daydreaming, being lost in our thoughts, and even sometimes being an introvert. What it really is, is life avoidance. It is a form of dissociation.

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Me Too Therapy best healing books of 2022

I hope, dear reader, that you had a great start of 2023 ! I don’t know about you, but I never struggled to find a purpose each new year. I had a very clear one, even if I would have preferred not to have it: getting well. If you are on the same quest, I wish you a 2023 year full of insights, progress and healing.

Part of my own healing path has been to read books about recovery from trauma or any topic that I am struggling with. It didn’t do all the work, but it definitely helped to feel connected, to understand myself and to show me the way to a better life. Without these books, I would pretty much still feel lost.

In 2022, I’ve read about 20 healing books (not all published in 2022 by the way). They’ve all been helpful in some way, but three of them have been really awesome.

If like me you are into books as healing tools and do not know these ones, I suggest you give them a try. They may become a great help for you in 2023.

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Book Review: Self-Care for Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents

Self care is the basis of recovery from Trauma, Addictions, Depression, and many other psychological issues. It is an absolute must for a healthy, comfortable life. Often, this is what we never learned or what we forgot because of what happened to us.

I once believed that self care meant buying myself stuff, or taking a hot bath with candles. I don’t know where I picked up this idea (probably from people who have an investment in me buying stuff, like women’s magazines): shopping or taking a bath are not my thing. That’s not what self care means for me.

Self care means we are able to identify our needs, we believe that we deserve their satisfaction, and we take action to get these needs met. It took me decades to understand this, and I believe I still have much room to grow.

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Facing love addiction

In a nutshell, love addiction is being dependent on a relationship, even though it has become 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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