the physical toll

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all4peace

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the physical toll
« on: August 20, 2018, 03:10:17 PM »
I've been reading again about the physical impact of stress, harassment and abuse. I know many of us have felt this in our bodies, on all parts of the severity spectrum. As I got into another long stretch of insomnia, I've been trying not to panic. And yet I'm so aware that this has a very real physical toll. I know it by how easily I get sick, my gut health, headaches, the dark circles under my eyes. And then I read an article today about sexual harassment in the workplace, and the cardiological toll it takes on women to be in a position of being constantly under threat.

Forgive me if I'm overgeneralizing, but I feel that as women (those of us who are women) we tend to be wired for connection and bonding. We are also physically more vulnerable than the male gender, so evolutionarily speaking we are already at some very low-grade level aware of the threats around us. If you don't believe this, tell me what happens in your body when a car slows down right next to you while you're walking, or a man's gaze lands on you for far too long, or you feel your children are under threat.

Then stick us in a PD family, in which we are not only not protected, but often violated or neglected in all the ways it is possible to violate or neglect another human (again, on all parts of the severity spectrum). Our nervous systems are stuck in fight/flight/freeze/fawn, our brains rewired for danger, our ability for self-protection harmed, and our expectation for safety and protection completely missing. And yet we stay, trying so hard to forge bonds, create connection and not lose our family.

Is it any wonder that once we make it to adulthood we are more likely to end up in PD relationships, in PD IL families, targets of sexual harassment via coworkers and others? Our already stressed bodies struggle to feel safe and stay safe, to calm ourselves down, to be whole and healthy. And yet our bodies don't always get the message.

I have reached a new level of "No more!" Being unable to sleep isn't just a bummer. It's the route by which I am more likely to develop heart disease and diabetes, things that could shorten my life and dramatically worsen the quality of that life. If you take the ACE study, someone with my level of childhood stressors (much less adult) shortens a lifespan by 20 years. I have told myself, "Not me. It's not going to happen to me." And then I live my life, still feeling the threats of people around me who won't respect boundaries, who don't listen to "no" and who attempt to push in where they are not welcome.

I'm posting this as much to hold myself accountable as anything else. I'm asking DH's help in standing by my side in a place of protection. And I'm promising myself that I won't take any more clear, consistent, repeated violations of my dignity and rights, nor my DH's or our children. It's not just a bummer when people refuse to listen to us; it can be deadly over the long term.

Ok, off my soapbox.

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Absent Minded Artist

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Re: the physical toll
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2018, 04:12:28 PM »
 :yeahthat:

all4peace,
Thank you so much for the share. 
I feel that, as women growing up in PD families, we were programmed to put ourselves last. Correct me if I'm over generalizing, but it's almost like our maternal instinct kicked in way too early in our lives. The physical and emotional burnout that new mother's go through is something we experienced as children. No wonder we are always sick!

I have had to learn over time that it's not only ok, but that it is necessary, to take care of myself. It doesn't come naturally, and sometimes I need a "tough love" kick in the pants from my better half. 

Ok, now someone else's turn to get up on the soapbox.

« Last Edit: August 20, 2018, 04:15:45 PM by Absent Minded Artist »
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Aerie

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Re: the physical toll
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2018, 04:37:21 PM »
 :yeahthat:

I couldn't agree more. I've recently started to have awareness of the physical toll that the stress and anxiety from years of abuse by my NM has had on me:
Tightness in my throat making it hard to swallow, unable to get a full deep breath, tightness across my shoulder blades, aching in my neck and jaw, jaw clenching/teeth grinding, headaches even when I'm wearing my glasses (which I know I slack on), stomach pain, heart-racing/pounding episodes, insomnia and exhaustion/over-sleeping, picking at my nails or cuticles until they bleed. There's probably more I'm not even aware of.
 I've always blamed it on a high stress job, or overwhelming amount of commitments for my 3 kids. Those things may have something to do with it, but they're tangential...the crap with NM is the center of it.

Thank you for posting this, it's yet another post that opens my awareness to the manifestations of years of neglect and abuse.

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Starboard Song

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Re: the physical toll
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2018, 04:48:40 PM »
It's not just a bummer when people refuse to listen to us; it can be deadly over the long term.

You are so correct.

During the midst of our crisis, I was getting 3 or 4 hours of sleep a night, rarely more than 5 hours. It severely affected my work, and it affected my enjoyment of hobbies. Co-workers have told me I was a different person: altered.

I was hyper-vigilant during that time -- a trait that still returns on a hair-trigger -- and that made me irritable. I was known as the easiest person to relate to at my company, so my run-ins with employees and clients were noted.

Anyone who thinks this stress is just an annoyance is really not taking it seriously enough.
Radical Acceptance, by Brach   |   Self-Compassion, by Neff    |   Mindfulness, by Williams   |   The Book of Joy, by the Dalai Lama and Tutu
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Spirit Girl

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Re: the physical toll
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2018, 10:15:00 PM »
That wasn't a soapbox in my view all4peace, it was so well articulated and not something anyone has spoken of before - thank you for doing that so well!

Recently I've acquired a 'mystery illness', the doc cannot diagnose it. Any stress or overexertion means I need to pull back on busy-ness. It has been nice in a way as I've spent more time on learning to become wiser. It does interest me from your post that it might have to do with a long time being in fear then bringing a sense of fearfulness into my adult life e.g fear of losing my job, fear of financial ruin, fear for not having good life skills and so on.

I like that you're not buying into that study of a shortened life span. I've a group of 3 friends, all a little older than me. One of them said I would die first because of my past ie unNPD parents' actions. I was not happy to hear that. I don't even say all that has happened to me either so I was a little taken aback!

We will be fine, we can refuse to believe studies or what people say. Our strength and perfection was there all along. Now is the time to shine.

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truthseeker4life

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Re: the physical toll
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2018, 11:13:23 PM »
Totally get this post. Thanks for it all4peace

Yes our physical health is so overlooked when we are taught not to have needs or wants by our FoO as children.

For goodness sake - how many on this forum feel as if their bladder is going to explode before they use the bathroom?Overlooking basic needs and not listening to my body 101 - yeah that's me.

I gave up caffeine almost 7 years ago because the combo of caffeine plus the stress of my husband's addiction amd horrible marriage let me get almost no sleep every night. I was near suicidal with the state of things at the time.

Since I gave up caffeine and use a blue light filter on my phone I actually get tired between 10-12 as opposes to my usually 2am plus. But that does not mean I go to bed when I am tired - oh no - of course not.

So getting myself to be actually tired at night (read lessened anxiety) has only been possible after 7 years of therapy, 12 steps groups and minimizing my time around FoO.

It takes all of this just so i can feel sleepy at night. 

Sleep has always been an issue for me - conditioned really as that's when my parents use to fight and I was suppose to fall asleep amongst all of it and pretend everything was fine. 

This has been on my mind for a while - better self care around allowing myself to try and get 8 hours of sleep consistently each night.

I am terrible about taking care of this need to sleep for myself. Wondering why I feel depressed and tired when duh I get 5 hour's of sleep and that single glass of wine I have each night I know it messes with quality sleep.

So self care around lessening my anxiety so I am sleepy at night has happened for me but not self care around my need for sleep.

Baby steps I suppose.

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Dinah-sore

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Re: the physical toll
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2018, 11:38:23 PM »
You are so correct. Our bodies hold onto all that tension, and all of those stress chemicals. I was listening to gabor mate "When the body says no" on youtube the other day and he says it causes illness.

I actually have a disease that is totally affected by stress. I now believe 100% that it was caused by my childhood. Even today, I could not work or do anything because my disease was causing me so much pain that I had to lay in bed all day in the dark with pver the counter pain relievers that didn't even take the edge off.

I am sorry that you have been struggling with insomnia and health problems.

Your post was so succinct. It is true. That feeling of a car pulling up next to us. Men don't really understand that, unless they were abused as well. I was thinking about what happened to my DD a few weeks ago (getting touched inappropriately) and how my DH has no clue the fear we carry as women.

Thank you for sharing. <3
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KD5FUL

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Re: the physical toll
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2018, 12:59:17 AM »
When I was living with my NPD ex husband I had a lot of gastroenterological issues that completely resolved when he was no longer in my life.

Growing up with my NPD father and possibly psychopathic stepmother definitely was the cause of me having insomnia during my teenage years.

I also had problems eating.  It wasn't an eating disorder, per se, but I was too stressed out to eat normal portions it with normal frequency;. Maybe it's because family dinners were always like walking through a minefield.
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Fightsong

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Re: the physical toll
« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2018, 08:04:56 AM »
developing awareness of my body has been sad for me. Sad that Iíve lived so long without real awareness of so much. Physical and mental I suppose but since this is chiefly physical stuff that. How I managed / lived with physical health conditions with so little attention -because they just were. How I get on with stuff despite feeling ill or being injured.

And my awareness of those things like my physical reaction under threat- ie if the car slows or the man feels threatening - I really have lists my tolerance for that. I feel I used to stuff it all away and just plough on. Now more often that not it does stop me in my tracks and I notice it. And yes I can tell myself I am safe and can take steps to make myself safe. So it isnít steps backwards. But what I used to bury and not listen to is now getting through loud and clear!

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Adria

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Re: the physical toll
« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2018, 11:11:32 AM »
You have articulated this so well. Thank you for putting it into words that describe how many of us feel.  I have been doctoring most of my life for one thing or another. I just found out why. There are four main auto immune diseases that trigger auto immune symptoms. My doctor told me that most people have one or two of these main auto immune diseases. Upon testing, he shook his head and said he could hardly believe it, but I had all four. I believe it because of how I've felt all my life going from an abusive family to an abusive marriage and abusive in laws.  I have always felt like an old lady. Stress really does take a toll. I believe lately, though, I am starting to come back to life.

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Bloomie

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Re: the physical toll
« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2018, 01:18:14 PM »
Such a powerful declaration in your post all4peace!  :applause:
Quote from: all4peace
I'm promising myself that I won't take any more clear, consistent, repeated violations of my dignity and rights, nor my DH's or our children.
and
Quote
I have reached a new level of "No more!"

Yes to everything you so eloquently said! It's time to guard the safety of our homes so that we can sleep, living and working environments, relationships, use our voices, exercise our right to unapologetically disengage to whatever level we choose from those who will not/cannot manage their harmful behaviors in relationship with us.

We can take off our own responses of fawn, freeze, fight, flight because we do not need them anymore as we learn to be empowered in our relationships, and confidently put on truth, reasoned action, calmly standing our ground, staying the course and making the choices that lead to integrated physical and spiritual health and emotional maturity, well being, peace, protects our ability to flourish and live our best lives.

I recently was given a picture of 7 young adults all of which I have close, intimate knowledge of their home environments. 4 of them lived in homes where they were cherished and empowered and their parents refused to adopt the toxic belief systems and life style of their FOO. Their parents reached that level of 'no' that locks arms and moves against the generational forces to keep the status quo and perpetuate toxic family systems. Just plain out NO MORE no matter the fall out and personal cost.

3 of them were raised in abusive and chaotic homes where all kinds of addictions and PD behaviors played out while the family stayed snuggly within the greater toxic family system.  Any movement of these young adults away from that disordered system was immediately and decisively quelled.

Just the physical manifestation of the differences to their health that could be seen in this one picture alone blew my mind and broke my heart.  The 4 young adults whose parents chose to leave that toxic system and all it entails... to create a safe and secure home for them to grow and thrive in, a stable foundation to build their own lives/family upon - are indeed thriving and glowing with physical health.

The 3 young adults who have remained in the toxic stew of their disordered FOO where stress and drama and bitter raging and seething resentments are what they swim in every single day, show a level of erosion of their physical health (already!) that will most certainly shorten their lifespan significantly as they all currently present with serious health issues like diabetes, hypertension, morbid obesity, depression, alcohol and drug dependency, and the like.

We say "NO MORE" for our own health and well being and we say it for our children and grandchildren as well. The stakes are high to all of us! Standing right there with you in your declaration all4peace!




« Last Edit: August 21, 2018, 01:25:29 PM by Bloomie »

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LSK1999

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Re: the physical toll
« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2018, 04:47:56 PM »
All4peace, thanks again for a wonderful thread. All of you ladies are my soul mates. Reading all of your comments brought me to tears. You too know what it's like to live in abuse ridden bodies and my heart aches for me and for all of you. All4peace while everything you said resonated deeply within me, you said something that I have recently noticed seems to be a huge trigger for me. When a man looks at me for a second too long I get very triggered. I know this is a little off topic, but this is weird to me. I want to attack them and punch them in the face or I feel really scared? Has anyone else noticed having issues with this? There was a time in my life where it wouldn't have bothered me to feel like a man was checking me out...lol. Now it makes me feel insane? Thanks again for this post, it should make us all really wake up to how important WE are and how much we really deserve to love and care for ourselves. We down right deserve some extra love and care. I am starting to wake up to the fact that all of this could have been avoided if it weren't for the actions of but 2 people. My parents, mainly my NM, but also my abandoning father.

It sickens me to think that my entire life's suffering truly began with the 2 people that were supposed to love me the most. I am also finding freedom in the fact that I am not required to forgive, because when I forgive I seem to forget, and then things get much worse. I am sure one day I will find it, I hope once I am more healed. But right now I still live with the horrendous toll my NM has taken on my mind , body, and soul and I will not say "oh it's okay I forgive" her actions were horrendous, inexcusable, and worst she's not even sorry. She refuses to admit her wrongdoing. I am truly sorry for the pain we are living with, it truly has taken a toll. Love and Hugs and Healing to all of you, God Bless xx

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LSK1999

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Re: the physical toll
« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2018, 05:08:25 PM »
:yeahthat:

I couldn't agree more. I've recently started to have awareness of the physical toll that the stress and anxiety from years of abuse by my NM has had on me:
Tightness in my throat making it hard to swallow, unable to get a full deep breath, tightness across my shoulder blades, aching in my neck and jaw, jaw clenching/teeth grinding, headaches even when I'm wearing my glasses (which I know I slack on), stomach pain, heart-racing/pounding episodes, insomnia and exhaustion/over-sleeping, picking at my nails or cuticles until they bleed. There's probably more I'm not even aware of.
 I've always blamed it on a high stress job, or overwhelming amount of commitments for my 3 kids. Those things may have something to do with it, but they're tangential...the crap with NM is the center of it.

Thank you for posting this, it's yet another post that opens my awareness to the manifestations of years of neglect and abuse.

We must have the same mother because every single physical symptom you described is what I cope with on a daily basis. I also have an extremely abusive and toxic NM. You are 100% dead on accurate....NM is at the center of every bit of it. It just infuriates me. Love and Hugs to you  :bighug:

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KeepONKeepingON

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Re: the physical toll
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2018, 08:20:46 PM »
Thanks for posting this all4peace,

I think that you are right about the effect that childhood abuse (or any abuse) has on your health. I have been reading The Sleep Revolution by Arriana Huffington. It's good because it goes through all the health reasons for why you need 7-9 hours of sleep a night. It also has a toolbox of ideas on how to get to get to sleep and how to sleep better. It's making me realize that I really need sleep!

Boundaries are also important, we certainly didn't learn them as kids and the older I get, the more I realize I need them.

It's strange, I used to get really bad reactions to insect bites, I would get really extreme redness and swelling and the insect bite would drip puss. During my teens, my dentist commented on the redness and swelling in my gums. While I still have some redness and swelling in my gums (2 pregnancies and breastfeeding doesn't help), my dentist has commented that the swelling and redness in my gums has gotten significantly better. I believe my extreme reaction to insect bites and my gingivitis was an indication of inflammation in my body. I too am a night tooth grinder, to an extent that I lost part of a tooth and have some chips in my teeth. Dentist also commented that my jaw was very tight and a pelvic floor physiotherapist told me that my pelvic floor and stomach was very tight too.

It's getting better, but when I think about my parents or sister, I can feel my jaw clench and tension build up in my neck and shoulders. Mediation and yoga do help though. I used to suffer from low level insomnia, I always woke up before I had to get up and was unable to get to sleep. I would also wake up in the middle of the night and wouldn't be able to go to sleep again. I have a  body scan mediation on my ipod and this really me fall asleep at night and fall asleep again in the early morning. Audiobooks on my ipod also help me fall asleep too.

All these things that suck though, while you can find solutions, it would be nice not have to deal with them! :(


Then stick us in a PD family, in which we are not only not protected, but often violated or neglected in all the ways it is possible to violate or neglect another human (again, on all parts of the severity spectrum). Our nervous systems are stuck in fight/flight/freeze/fawn, our brains rewired for danger, our ability for self-protection harmed, and our expectation for safety and protection completely missing. And yet we stay, trying so hard to forge bonds, create connection and not lose our family.

Is it any wonder that once we make it to adulthood we are more likely to end up in PD relationships, in PD IL families, targets of sexual harassment via coworkers and others? Our already stressed bodies struggle to feel safe and stay safe, to calm ourselves down, to be whole and healthy. And yet our bodies don't always get the message.

:yeahthat:
 Correct me if I'm over generalizing, but it's almost like our maternal instinct kicked in way too early in our lives. The physical and emotional burnout that new mother's go through is something we experienced as children. No wonder we are always sick!

I have had to learn over time that it's not only ok, but that it is necessary, to take care of myself.

:yeahthat:

I couldn't agree more. I've recently started to have awareness of the physical toll that the stress and anxiety from years of abuse by my NM has had on me:
Tightness in my throat making it hard to swallow, unable to get a full deep breath, tightness across my shoulder blades, aching in my neck and jaw, jaw clenching/teeth grinding, headaches even when I'm wearing my glasses (which I know I slack on), stomach pain, heart-racing/pounding episodes, insomnia and exhaustion/over-sleeping, picking at my nails or cuticles until they bleed. There's probably more I'm not even aware of.
 I've always blamed it on a high stress job, or overwhelming amount of commitments for my 3 kids. Those things may have something to do with it, but they're tangential...the crap with NM is the center of it.

Thank you for posting this, it's yet another post that opens my awareness to the manifestations of years of neglect and abuse.

 :yeahthat:

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KeepONKeepingON

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Re: the physical toll
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2018, 08:36:50 PM »
When a man looks at me for a second too long I get very triggered. I know this is a little off topic, but this is weird to me. I want to attack them and punch them in the face or I feel really scared? Has anyone else noticed having issues with this? There was a time in my life where it wouldn't have bothered me to feel like a man was checking me out...lol. Now it makes me feel insane?

Hi LSK1999,

I think I am having feelings a bit like yours now. I took lots of really inappropriate comments about my appearance or being sexy from male coworkers for years.  I never felt comfortable with these comments especially as I always tried to dress appropriately and professionally, but was always polite and good and said nothing.

Until two years ago, when I was pregnant and the unpleasant partner in work (who made inappropriate comments to a lot of co-workers) made a comment about what I was eating. Someone had brought in a chocolate cake and I had a slice on my desk. He made a comment when passing me, that he now knew where all the cake had gone! I felt that it was none of this man's business what I was eating. In workplace environment, I will take constructive criticism on my work performance but what I eat is not part of my job at work!

I was so furious, I asked him what he had meant by this comment and told him that I didn't need comments about what I was eating when I was pregnant. I was really scared afterwards, I thought they would fire me, but they didn't! The unpleasant partner behaved like he was scared of me and didn't really talk to me again.

I believe my anger is good, it's making me speak up for myself and I think with practice I will get better at standing up for myself in a calm, polite yet firm way.

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MIB

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Re: the physical toll
« Reply #15 on: August 22, 2018, 12:39:03 AM »
Holy cow....I remember constantly being sick as a kid, "a sickly child" as my UPDM would often call me. It wasn't until this thread that I realized why. Wow.

I guess living under constant stress and uncertainty will do that to a person...  :wacko:

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Gwen

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Re: the physical toll
« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2018, 03:53:11 PM »
Thank you for starting this topic. Iím sorry for your struggle  :bighug:

I went through untold illnesses when I was in the very midst of my Parents & FOO enmeshed narcissistic behaviour and didnít practice self care. But had acquiescing and avoidance down to an art.

I remember once having an arguement on the phone with my mother. The phone call was so abusive, I was physically sick. I was diagnosed with an auto immune disease a few years back, along with a general anxiety disorder & depression, ultimately caused by my FOO and ensuing life choices.

Nowadays I wonít tolerate back stabbing and bitching and will call out behaviour which I deem abusive. Self care is imperative and is non negotiable. Your well-being will get you through most things but not if youíre not looking after yourself mentally and physically.


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RoseWater

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Re: the physical toll
« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2018, 07:36:00 PM »
" I'm promising myself that I won't take any more clear, consistent, repeated violations of my dignity and rights,"

Yes! Every word!  :applause: :applause: :applause:


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all4peace

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Re: the physical toll
« Reply #18 on: August 24, 2018, 09:28:03 PM »
It's sad to see how many of us have been affected by the stress and cortisol overload, the trauma, the neglect.

I've had to work hard to force myself to pay attention to my body. It was my body that finally forced me OOTF. And I still need to remind myself that feeling stress in my body really does get to count, no matter how long I worked to tune it out. It's a sign of distress, damage is being done, and I simply have to pay attention. I'm in middle age now, so it's more in my awareness that chronic disease can come from unrelenting chronic stress, possibly shortening my life if I don't deal with it.

I've done a lot of hard work on dealing with the past trauma and learning better tools, but I may ALWAYS feel it in my body when I have any/too much time around character-disordered people. So maybe rather than looking for how much I can take, I should focus more fully on how much CARE I can take.

Gentle hugs to all of you. Thank you for sharing your stories. I'm thankful for all the ways we care for each other on this forum.

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Bluehorse

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Re: the physical toll
« Reply #19 on: August 27, 2018, 06:00:20 AM »
 :wave:count me in. Your post is very timely for me.

My body just went NOPE in my thirties with renal cancer, pulmonary sarcoidosis and stage 4 endometriosis. That got me oftf and nc but I'm still struggling to stick to my limits with people.

Agh! It's so frustrating. I know this stuff but do you think I can do it  :unsure: