5 tips on healing codependency & dysfunctional relationships

This video is the 2nd one of my codependent series on my Youtube channel.

It is mostly informational in text, with the help of a few cute characters! Just the way I like it! ♥

Feel free to re-blog or share 🙂

I love cute things and music…so here you go ♥

Love Athina ♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.

Codependents & Narcissists in a relationship. Why are they so attracted to each other?

Happy Monday to all of you! It’s the 1st of August today and time seems to have flown by so quickly!

Today’s post is about another topic very close to my heart, due to my own healing journey from codependency to healthy love. It most definetely wasn’t easy to get to where I am. It required perseverance, determination and a little bit of hope.

To heal from dysfunctional relationships & codependency, there are 5 steps that are important to take.Having a therapist who specialises in healing from codepedency, is important in guiding you.

  • The first step is becoming AWARE that your choices or actions are dysfunctional.
  • The second step to changing dysfunction is understanding the source of the dysfunction, so where did it come from?
  • The 3rd step is grieving the loss of a healthy childhood. An abusive childhood usually leads to poor choices in relationships & life in general. Without a stable & nurturing childhood you never learn healthy love, healthy boundaries & your emotional regulation is damaged.
  • The 4th step is understanding the complexity of changing self-defeating behaviours & changing certain defense mechanisms, that protected you in your childhood but no longer serve you in adulthood. It takes time, patience and self-compassion.
  • The 5th step is actually trying out new relationships when you have made progress in your healing. You have to make a few more mistakes and discuss these with a therapist by your side, so you can see where you went wrong and how to improve this next time.

When I first found out I was codependent back in 2008, it was like the blindfold was taken off my eyes for the first time. Before learning this, I had a suspicion that something wasn’t right in my relationships but I had no idea how to change this.

I felt like I was in an emotional maze and had no idea which way to go. Everytime I thought I was making better choices in regards to who I was in a relationship with, the more unbearable the heartbreak became.I desperately wanted to be loved but wasn’t able to figure out this painful puzzle! At some point I was so exhausted from the traumatic end of each relationship & the subsequent self abandonment, that I decided to move countries! I wanted a new start…I hoped that I might meet my future husband if I moved away but I never in a million years thought I actually would..Sometimes you need a little bit of luck too!

When I moved back home to Greece after 11 years of living in the UK, I was met with more drama, a flare up of my CPTSD and a father who abandoned me over and over again. I was back in therapy again with a new therapist and was finally diagnosed with CPTSD. I was told both my parents were ’emotionally handicapped’ but that therapist never told me my parents were narcissistic. Maybe she decided at the time that it wasn’t relevant to me.

Despite this she looked after me very well. Each step I took into uncertainty, she held my hand.

I was also entered into a group psychotherapy group and it was extremely beneficial. I was in a group with 5 other people that also had similar backgrounds and it was very healing.

Support is crucial in healing. Without all this I would never have made progress.

The video above is a simple explanation (I hope) of the general dynamics of a codependent & narcissist in a relationship. Maybe you will see yourself in this and get curious. If you do, then please connect with me and I would be happy to have a chat with you.

Please feel free to re-blog this post so it reaches more people! Thank you 🙂

Much Love Athina ♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.

 

Speak your truth..

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Speak your truth, be yourself and if people don’t accept you then it is their loss, not yours!

If people don’t value your reality, your kindness, your honesty then they don’t deserve your time or your love.

When speaking your truth, have you ever felt overwhelmed with emotion? What has the emotion been? Anger, frustration, sadness, loss, disappointment?

The worst of all these for me was always frustration and then deep sadness..

When talking to a narcissistic parent, you feel all of these times 10!

Continuing to speak your truth despite the pain, frustration, loss and anger is very important…Don’t ever let anyone keep you silent..

Love Athina ♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.

Are you a chronic over-explainer?

Where does over-explaining stem from?

People naturally feel the need to make sure their point of view is clearly understood when in conversation with someone else. Nobody wants to be misunderstood when expressing an opinion or thought.

What happens however when someone feels the need to always over-explain something?

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Is this something that stems from an underlying anxiety, that they will be misunderstood?

Yes

Is this also something that happens because in the past they might have been misunderstood quite a lot and for this reason they have to make sure it doesn’t happen again?

Absolutely..

Does over-explaining ever make you think, that the person doing the over-explaining, must think that the person they are over-explaining to must be stupid. Does this make sense?

I have been on both sides of this. I have over-explained to someone who got what I was saying from the first sentence and said I didn’t need to explain further. They said, I am not stupid, I get it. I have also been over-explained to and could immediately tell that the other person was anxious and insecure about something.

In my experience, many individuals who suffer from low self-esteem or people-pleasing, have an almost compulsive need to over-explain. This usually stems from childhood abuse, where either 1 or both parents were unable to meet the child’s needs and were unable to understand the child’s feelings. If parents don’t have empathy, are self-centered and dont have the ability to genuinely listen and understand, then a child will chronically feel frustrated, misunderstood and alone.

Have you ever tried to explain a simple concept such as sadness or feeling alone to a person who lacks empathy?

The reply is usually uncaring and hurtful.

Have you ever tried to reason with someone who has a low IQ and has intellectual disabilities?

They are not able to understand certain simple concepts because they just aren’t able to and if you insist on trying to make them understand, you can make yourself feel crazy with frustration.

When does over-explaining become chronic?

This usually happens when someone is unable to simply state something, that doesn’t need explaining, to someone who hasn’t even asked for an explanation. It becomes chronic when a person feels the need to explain in great detail and repeats themselves over and over again.It becomes chronic when it is a habitual thing that someone does all the time, even with people that are understanding and empathetic.

The particular thing I would like to highlight in this post, is that over-explaining becomes habitual for people who have suffered narcissistic abuse. If you are constantly around someone who makes you doubt yourself by gaslighting you, who doesn’t validate and understand your feelings and always tries to manipulate you, then it is only natural that you will be chronically frustrated when communicating..

I would love to hear your thoughts on this..

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.

Much Love Athina ♥

Trauma bonding & love addiction

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In all my previous relationships, I always thought that intensity equaled love. I fell for the same abusive partners over & over again, that were mostly narcissistic & emotionaly unavailable. I had this deep desire within me, to fix and rescue and fight for their love. For many years I thought this was normal! In each relationship, I hoped that they would change and be able to offer me this unconditional love I was so desperately craving. What I didn’t realise at the time however, was that I was only trying to fill the void my parents’ had left after years of neglect and abuse. I was trying to resolve this feeling of not being lovable, through choosing further unsuitable partners that resembled the normality of my childhood abuse.

Each time a relationship ended I felt utterly crushed and devastated. I relived my abandonment over and over again and still had this intense feeling of  bonding with each and every one of my abusive ex’s.

The article in the link below, explains this bonding very well.

The part where it says ”there is a biological craving for intensity than no normal relationship will satisfy” is something that I deeply felt for 20 years and could never shake off..The more excited and addicted I felt to these men, the better..

I was always easily bored and not in any way attracted to healthy & stable men..I felt anxious and uncomfortable around them..This wasn’t my normal..I wasn’t normal..I was traumatised and stuck with what felt comfortable..and unfortunately comfortable for someone who has suffered abuse and trauma, is to crave more abuse and trauma..Sticking with what is familiar is more comfortable than doing something that feels unfamiliar, as us humans are creatures of habit & conditioning.

Growing up in an unsafe home makes later unsafe situations have more holding power. This has a biological basis beyond any cognitive learning. It is trauma in one’s history that makes for trauma bonding. Because trauma (and developmental trauma or early relational trauma is epidemic) cause numbing around many aspects of intimacy, traumatized people often respond positively to a dangerous person or situation because it makes them feel. It is neither rational nor irrational.

..the survivor can come to find that it can be almost impossible to relate to anyone, even family or old friends, except superficially. There is a biological craving for intensity that no normal relationship will satisfy.

http://www.abuseandrelationships.org/Content/Survivors/trauma_bonding.html

When I was first diagnosed as codependent in therapy, in 2008, I started attending a codependents anonymous group in London. I found it helpful inititially when I was recently out of a relationship but as time went on, my therapy was enough. Through the codependent meetings I also learnt about love addiction and being addicted to the need for love..This is something that I remember from the very young age of 13 where I would fantasize about my prince charming taking me away from my family and giving me everything I needed emotionally..As I got older, this intense need transformed into the most important thing in my world..Each boyfriend I subsequently had, became my everything and I felt completely hopeless and depressed without them..

This link below might be useful for some of you to identify whether you might be a love addict..This usually stems from childhood abuse, so don’t be too harsh on yourself! Healing is possible!

https://www.addiction.com/addiction-a-to-z/love-addiction/love-addiction-101/

In 2012 I was healed enough to be attracted to a healthier partner.With the help of more therapy I persevered through the anxiety of unfamiliarity and eventually got married. Marriage was something I was completely against after my parents got divorced.I never believed I could achieve healthy love let alone a marriage. I am still amazed at how much my life has changed. In 2008 I thought that life would never get better again..Now I sit across my husband and feel incredibly blessed to be loved and cherished for the first time in my life..My friends always felt more like family and I can truly say that I finally have a family in my friends and husband.

Any recovery process requires effort, patience and self-insight. It requires commitment, painful exploration and courage. It is possible to reach a deeper level of contentment, so each step forward is extremely important..

 My experience is vast in regards to relationship dynamics and overcoming narcissistic abuse. I am humbled to offer loads of advice on this blog and through my YouTube videos, as I believe that it is important to assist others on their journey. We all heal together..and we can all help each other..Whether some of you are only just starting your recovery process and whether others are ‘healed’, makes no difference..The connection and knowledge is crucial..The exchange of information is powerful..

Love Athina ♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Narcissistic abuse survivors

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As some of you already know, I have great insight into narcissistic abuse, after a tumultuous life with 2 narcissistic parents, many narcissistic ex-partners and narcissistic ex friends. Before my father discarded my mother in 2000 and filed for divorce, he had already met his second narcissistic wife. He had already lined her up to fill his emptiness and later had a child with her. The cycle of abuse unfortunately continued and there was nothing I could do to prevent it.He has been married to her for 16 years now and it has been the most destructive, soul destroying relationship I have ever witnessed.

My histrionic/covert narcissistic mother, on the other hand, luckily didn’t re-marry. She just had 2 relationships which didn’t work out.She has remained irritable, negative and critical. She still blames everything & everyone else for her misery and struggles to cope with her own depression.

My childhood in general was always hot & cold.One minute things were relatively normal and my parents would be kind & thoughtful and the next they would be extremely hurtful & abusive. This almost made coping with the abuse harder, as the kind moments would give me hope as a child and then when the abusive moments would come around, I was utterly devastated and confused. I then learnt that whenever my parents were kind, there were always strings attached to this kindness. I was told many times as a child ‘After everything I have done for you, this is how you treat me?’. I felt guilty and ashamed. I felt worthless and no good.

The one thing I know for certain is that for those of you who have also been affected by narcissistic abuse, you have developed a deep sense of self-awareness, a sense of gratefulness for the tiny moments of kindness that others have shown you and a high level of empathy from a young age. Most of you sought out therapy and have always helped and be-friended the shy or needy. Yes you have made many mistakes along the way, by getting involved with people who resembled your family of origin, however this is a logical result of growing up in an abusive or neglectful home.

The thing that helped me the most in my recovery was forgiving myself for struggling so much in my life. Self-compassion is the best gift you can give yourself as an abuse survivor.Recovering from narcissistic abuse means that you have to dig deep to reveal the many layers of trauma. You have to acknowledge that it isn’t going to be easy to go through all the painful realisations of your past but that is extremely important to work through each layer and grieve your losses. Trusting that others won’t hurt you is a huge struggle for those who have been abused. If your primary caregivers let you down so badly, why on earth would you trust complete strangers?

The most important thing to remember is that there is no time frame on healing and that everyone copes and heals differently.

My advice will always be to ask yourself ‘What do I need’? ‘What am I scared of’? ‘How can I look after myself’?

For those of you who can relate and understand, just remind yourselves daily that you survived an unfair childhood and that from now on you can give yourself the unconditional love your parents weren’t able to give you. In every low moment, remind yourself that you are brave and resilient.

Now in my 30’s I have already been through the darkest moments of despair and have healed extensively through many years of trauma therapy. I am now armed with knowledge,coping skills and the most important thing: the knowledge that healing is possible and that you ARE able to live a more fulfilling life. If you had asked me this same question 2 years ago, I wouldn’t be feeling so optimistic.

Now I am putting all my knowledge into helping others and it feels good! It feels good to see that others feel validated & comforted, because this is a feeling I missed out on a lot! It feels good to be there and pass on information, even if it only helps one other person. Free advice is so valuable and we can all do it! So many of us are already doing it!

Love Athina ♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.

 

Take control of your own healing

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Every healing journey is unique to each person. No journey should be judged, minimised or discounted.

Whether it is childhood abuse, emotional, sexual or physical abuse, domestic abuse, grief, a single trauma or multiple traumas, nobody has the right to criticize someone else’s journey.

If you have compassion and maybe share what helped you, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will help others in the same way. Having compassion and empathy is so crucial. Listening, without trying to fix is also important.

After you reach a certain point in your healing, you will notice that things get easier. The intensity of certain emotions lessen and your sense of self-protection and boundaries are solid. If you suffer from a mental illness, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will go away. You eventually just learn to accept that it is a part of you and that you can handle it in a self-compassionate way.

What is your experience with healing?

Do you believe you will reach a point in your recovery where things eventually feel better?

Are you persistent in practicing self-care and healing with appropriate professional support?

Don’t forget that healing is a very up and down process. It isn’t always straightforward. Sometimes just as you are starting to feel better, something else comes along which needs processing. It might feel that you are back to square one again but this really isn’t the case.

Changes happen in very small ways sometimes and it depends on whether you have regular support.

Always be kind to yourself and others going through a process of healing ♥

Love Athina ♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.

 

Breaking the cycle of your childhood abuse-Start being kind to yourself

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Of course it isn’t as simple as the 4 things written in the photo but it is definetely true that in order to break the horrible pattern of abuse from your childhood, you have to stop abusing yourself. YOU hold the answers to how much you will recover and it is up to you to start changing your thought patterns day by day..Nobody ever said it would be easy but it is possible..

The internalised messages of ‘You are not good enough, you are stupid’ are just repeats of what your abusers told you. They aren’t the ‘real’ you! The real you is a worthwhile person who deserves love and happiness.The real you is a person who deserves to heal and doesn’t need a nasty inner critic. With the help of a therapist or a coach, you can keep yourself on track. By having someone to report to, this might help you be more motivated. It is very important to keep trying as your brain needs sustained effort to learn ‘new, healthier messages’. That is why it is important to practice the above steps every day.

Your brain needs time to destroy the old habit wiring already in existence and then build new wiring for your new empowering positive affirmations.

Whatever your mind keeps hearing, it will eventually accept as truth. So what you want to do is to start repeating your new positive thoughts to yourself. Do it constantly. Do it repeatedly. Do it daily. Do it with passion, conviction and belief.