Cavity

I wonder if emptiness (of all sorts) is part of growing old. For some people, it is a simple matter of empty nest or retiring from a job or perhaps losing a partner. For others, it is more than that. Having worked near them, I happened to know that the favorite topic of elderly people is discussing who are not around anymore among their peers and family members. The conversation eventually leads and always ends up to the unavoidable examination and exploration of their own mortality and how much time they have left.

Another thing which fascinates me about older people is the interesting phenomenon of seemingly (or actually) falling (madly) in love in their last years of existence. I can tell you with conviction two events which I had observed from close by quite recently. One is about the grandmother of someone who is dear to me. She is well in her eighties already. A no-nonsense woman who doesn’t mince her words, stubborn and argumentative, she is the last person I thought would lose her head over someone who is not only young enough to be her youngest grandson but also sleek and in my eyes fake.

He was her nurse at the beginning but soon escalated to be the center of her universe. His visits were the only thing she was looking forward in her day to day life, so much so that she started cooking dinner for him, buying him gifts, phoning him dozen of times a day, tracking of his whereabouts and she associated his daily tasks of giving her baths with mutual attraction she even bought new sets of lingerie each week and never failed to tell to family members in details how he undressed and held her and how tender and careful he was, how tall, how handsome how kind, you get my drift. 

During family gatherings, she reserved a prominent seat next to her for his apple of the eye she even did it at the “coffee table” after her husband’s funeral to the chagrin of her own children and grandchildren who are by the way opposed and scandalized by her unusual behavior. As it happens, authorities found out that the nurse is guilty of malpractice (together with his mother- talking of apple not falling far from the tree- involving money from his patients) and was sentenced and convicted. Even before it happened and there were already talks of his professional misconducts, she defended his virtue and integrity with her life and she still does even he is proven guilty already. What a love (or obsession) can do.

Another case is my very own mother. When she was alive she fell in love with one of my boyfriends (a very fine example of a tall dark and handsome and a body to die for but for some unknown reasons didn’t work for me) and like the old lady above was thoroughly smitten with the boy in his twenties. She was in her seventies that time, energetic and more alive and more supple than I could ever hope to be. When we broke up my mother cried for two weeks straight and refused to leave her bed. She never cooks again after that and often neglected not only her own personal hygiene and appearance but also of her quarter. I was flabbergasted and still is whenever I think about it.

I wonder if this strange phenomenon is unique only to these two cases I know or happens to most if not everyone and what are the factors, the reasons behind these incidents. It is the void, the cavity, the emptiness of growing old and being alone realizing it is their last chance they are trying to fill or it simply happens? Are they trying to create a focal point in their otherwise bleak existence to brighten their darkening days and have reasons to wake and stand up every morning? A last effort to feel and experience what was to take to their deathbeds? I don’t know. But whatever it is, I hope it will not happen to me. But in this life, you never know… 

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Stifle

That’s what I’m trying to do every minute of each day_ suppressing the need to let out all the pent-up emotions which have been building all these years. Stifling the desire to shout, to lash out, to let go of all the anger, the frustrations, the disappointments I’ve been holding on for so long, swallowing the bitter tears smothering the urge to just walk out and run, run as fast and as far away as I could and never come back. I am trying to keep myself in check because I know for a certainty that once I start I will not be able to stop. And from there, there is no way back…

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Living With C-PTSD Following An Abusive Relationship

For many years I was in an extremely destructive relationship with someone who has NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) and during that time I was regularly subjected to a variety of emotional, mental and physical abuse.

Every day I walked on eggshells, living in fear of saying or doing something that might trigger an aggressive response.

Many people might wonder why I, or anyone else, would remain in this kind of environment, but by the time I fully recognized that I was in extreme danger, I was already badly emotionally and mentally weakened and debilitated.

I was living in terror waiting to be attacked at any moment and yet I did not feel as though I had the strength or courage to remove myself from it.

Abuse doesn’t always happen overtly and it isn’t always easy to recognize. Often it is a covert, insidious, invisible drip that slowly poisons the victim’s mind so they don’t trust their own judgment, is unable to make life-changing decisions and feels as though they don’t have the coping skills necessary to get help or leave.

It took me a long time, and everything I had, to pull myself from the bottom of the deep dark hell I existed in and to get myself to a place of safety.

By the time I walked away, I thought that the nightmare was over. But in so many other ways, it had only just begun.

The terrors of the taunts, torture, and torment that had become my normality didn’t subside. They remained alive and relieved themselves in the form of intrusive, regular flashbacks.

Many months after I had left the relationship I discovered that I was suffering from C-PTSD, (Complex Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.) C-PTSD is a result of persistent psychological trauma in an environment where the victim believes they are powerless and that there is no escape.

C-PTSD is slightly different than PTSD, which is brought on by experiencing one solitary, traumatic incident, or it can develop due to an accumulation of incidents. Although both C-PTSD and PTSD both developed from my experiences, I identify more with C-PTSD, as it was the effects of the prolonged exposure to repetitive and chronic trauma that I felt I couldn’t escape from that affected me the most.

For many months after leaving the relationship I struggled to sleep at night, and when I did I often woke trembling after experiencing terrifying reoccurring dreams. On many occasions when I did eventually sleep I would sleep solidly for at least 24 hours, in such deep slumber that I would struggle to wake from it and when I did I would feel fatigued, spaced out and as though I was numbly sleep-walking through the day.

I was easily startled and panicked at the slightest sudden movement or loud noise.

I was ultra-sensitive, on edge and highly alert most of the time, which I believe was my mind’s way of forming some sort of self-protection to keep me aware so that I avoided similar potentially dangerous situations.

At the mention of certain words, names or places I felt nauseous and dizzy and would become extremely distressed. A painful tight knot developed in my stomach every time something occurred to remind me of the trauma.

I still have difficulty remembering large phases of my life, and for a long time I struggled to stay focused, and my concentration abilities were very poor.

I would get upset easily, especially if I was in a tense environment. I had constant anxiety and was regularly in fight-or-flight mode.

I didn’t eat properly. I had no motivation and suicidal thoughts regularly flooded my mind.

I had lost my spark.

One aspect of the aftermath of the relationship that affected me most was the daily gaslighting that I endured. This left me finding it difficult to believe anything people would tell me, and I analyzed, questioned and dissected everything.

Forming new relationships, whether friendships or romantic, was almost impossible as I struggled to trust people’s intentions and felt scared of possible underlying, hidden motives and agendas for their words or actions.

I dissociated from most of what I had been through and pretended, even to myself, that the abuse wasn’t as serious as it was. Partly because I felt ashamed that I had not left sooner and also because I wanted to defend and protect the person I was involved with, as I still cared for him. Therefore, I rarely mentioned the relationship to anyone and froze and shut down through stress (sometimes resulting in a meltdown) if anyone tried to talk to me about it.

It got to the stage where I withdrew completely as leaving the house became overwhelming and a major ordeal because I wouldn’t/couldn’t open up and connect and I felt terrified of everything and everyone.

One thing that became apparent and harrowing was that although I had gained enough strength to walk away and I felt empowered by the decision knowing that it was the right choice for my emotional, mental and physical health, I was suppressing all my emotions and feelings and I was far from okay on the inside.

There were many rollercoaster emotions trapped inside me and trying to ignore and contain them was doing more harm than good. In many ways, the ending of the relationship had signaled closure to one phase of my life and had opened up a new chapter that was going to take a little time to get used to.

It appeared that while I was in the relationship I had become so used to enduring a wide variety of narcissistic behaviors that they had almost become normal and acceptable. Stepping away from all that I had known felt like I had walked from one planet and onto another and I hadn’t got a clue how to navigate it on my own or how to relate to anyone on it.

I soon realized that unless I started to focus on healing myself, I would remain a victim of my previous circumstances as the build-up of emotional injuries, wounds, and scars needed urgent attention. Otherwise, they would seep out and silently destroy sections of my life without me being aware that the past was still controlling me.

It was up to me to rebuild my strength and confidence, otherwise, I would end up alienating myself and causing further damage.

I had a lot of inner healing work and restructuring to do and trying to convince myself that just because I had left the relationship everything would be okay, was not going to be enough.

The first and most significant step I took was admitting and fully accepting that the carnage I had experienced was real and had a huge impact on my emotional and mental wellbeing.

I had been surviving by a fragile thread in a domestic war zone and for far too long I had been intimidated, manipulated, lied to and threatened, amongst many other toxic and dysfunctional behaviors. The whole relationship had been an illusion and resulted in me having serious trust issues as well as losing the will to live. I not only struggled to trust other people, but I also realized I had no faith at all in my own intuition, perception or judgment.

Finally, I gave myself permission to take as long as I needed to heal, even if it meant I would spend the rest of my life slowly putting the pieces of my life back together. I came to terms with the fact that there is no timescale for healing and there was no hurry.

I allowed myself to grieve the relationship and the loss of the person I had separated from. This was extremely difficult to do as I had so many mixed emotions due to the scale of the abuse. For a long time, I denied my grief, as it was complex to come to terms with how I could miss someone who had been responsible for vicious behavior towards me.

One of the hardest parts to dealing with this grief was feeling as though I could not talk openly to anyone, as I believed no one would understand how I could remain in such an abusive relationship and still miss many aspects of that person and the life I had with them.

The reason getting over this type of relationship can be so difficult is that many narcissists display both “Jekyll and Hyde” type characteristics, one minute appearing extremely loving and affectionate and the next crippling, cruel and cunning.

It is not easy to explain that I deeply loved and badly missed one side of the person I was involved with, and disliked, feared and never wanted to hear his name mentioned at the same time. Even thinking about this can make one feel a little crazy as it does not feel natural to love and hate the same person.

One essential step toward healing from narcissistic abuse, I believe, is finding someone to really confide in and who doesn’t judge or question anything that is said. Being free to talk openly and comfortably without having to over-explain is vital to start putting the accumulation of experiences into some sort of context. If there isn’t a friend on hand, it is worth taking time to seek out a good counselor with an understanding of C-PTSD deriving from abusive relationships.

The most important thing that helped me to heal was focusing more on healing and rebuilding myself. Although I took time out to research and gain knowledge and understanding of the type of abuse I had been subjected to, I spent far more of my time indulging myself in whatever felt good for my soul.

Slowly and surely I rebuilt myself, formed new friendships, learned to trust people and forgave all of the past. There are still days that it haunts me, but there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel and although it can be difficult to believe that when you start walking through it, as soon as you take the first steps of acceptance the path ahead begins to become clear.

Healing comes by taking one small step at a time, with gentle, loving care and without hurry.

~ Elephant Journal via Alex Myles


Sadly it happened to me. It took me twenty years to wake up and gather all the courage I could muster to walk out and leave for good. Though not every instance of the story above is similar to mine -some of them are better a lot is worse- the experience is similar though different in context. I still suffering from the consequences of my bitter past. I still lock the door and sleep with a big knife under my pillow. I still have nightmares and trust issues and still blame myself for everything. I have no hope anymore that it will get better in time. I am too old and learned to live with the traumas. But who knows… maybe miracles do exist. I’d like to experience a day without me being in a fight or flight mode. I wonder how it is to feel safe. Normal and safe. – Bebong 

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Tardy

I’m always on time, contrary to what the world says about our sense of punctuality. We are so famous for our habit of tardiness (along with equally famous mañana habit also known as the love of procrastinating) that we’ve been given a term for it — Filipino Time. Americans coined the phrase in the 1900’s because they were annoyed by our lack of respect when it comes to honoring appointments by coming on time. Tardiness is widely practiced in our country in all walks of life and generally accepted as part of our culture. I, myself don’t understand it and cannot tolerate it from others but what is my wish compared to those of the majority.

Besides, I can’t say that patience is really one of my virtues. I even have trouble waiting for the bathtub to be filled with hot water I rather take a shower.

When it comes to appointments or even a simple family visit (their places or mine) I will have a difficulty sleeping the night before, thinking all sorts of scenarios, all about what could go wrong. Meetings stress me out to the max sometimes I really believe it would cause me a heart attack. Funny thing is, you can’t detect any of those inner turmoils the moment itself. I’m cool as a cucumber (and I’m not pretending) being an extroverted introvert – I know how confusing it is for people so to give you some idea what I’m talking about allow me to directly quote an article I’ve read on the net:  Everyone expects an introvert to be shy and reclusive. And we can be, but extroverted introverts also like to get out there and mix ‘n mingle. When we’re “on”, we are sociable and friendly. When we’re “off”, we hurry home to recharge in solitude. Even though we spend way more time introverting than following the crowd, people only see our outgoing side. They don’t realize that our social batteries are drained very quickly and so forth and so on – I manage social gatherings pretty well and can enjoy them up to a certain degree. Beyond that, lights off for me.

But like I said, detest it or not, I’m always on time. And if something happened in between that hinders me to be punctual, I see to it that I let those who are involved know that I will be late or will not show up at all plenty of time beforehand.

What about you? What are your views about punctuality?

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Daily Prompt:Tardy 

Candid

I stole this shot while passing by and had to do it quickly before he notices me. I couldn’t help it. The man, his dog, the place… it’s all perfect. 

(The feature image, I took while on vacation. I was sitting on a bus waiting for it to be filled and happened to witness an interaction between a mother and a daughter just outside my window. The girl wanted to play in the dirt but her mom didn’t allow her so she cried silently. I managed to capture one single shot before the bus took off. Can you see the single teardrop running down her cheek? And her expression… Priceless! This is probably one of the best candid shots I have ever taken in my life.)  

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Horizon

“Make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future.

The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty.”

-Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

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Agile

It’s in in the business world today_ to be agile. Especially in IT. They have agile consultants functioning as coaches, managers, facilitators, and everything you can think of. I should know, I am married to one. Mind you I have yet to see his agile side and managing capacity at home. His facilitating techniques and coaching methods think it is still early days. He must be good. They will not pay him a lot of money if he isn’t, will they? Maybe it’s me. I can’t follow conform or be govern. Unless I see that the methods are working and the leader is worth following. So far, I’m still waiting for some signs. I wonder how much more time must I wait. My time and patience are running out… 

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