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Resilience — 27 Comments

  1. Hi Joyce,
    I took the quiz and it said my resilience is strong. I don’t feel resilient.
    One thing I’ve noticed is that I”ve been most successful when I give up.
    I gave up trying to lose weight and lost 6 lbs just by sitting all day and eating cucumbers with tarter sauce and crab legs….I guess.

    When I left my spath, I gave up trying to be with him.
    Before that, I gave up trying to understand what he was doing and then it became clear as a bell.

    Different people are different. I’ve never been able to succeed at things I didn’t enjoy. The resilience I have is based on being in the flow with something that matters to me.

    Definitely, other human beings have been my life savors. They taught me what I needed to know, even the spaths in my life.

    I want to be like the man whose faith is as great as a mustard seed so I can move mountains. Right now I can only move spaths.,

    • Joyce, I took the quiz, as well, and the results were that I have “average” resilience.

      I believe that the quiz is extremely subjective because the results rely heavily upon my own perceptions of myself – my beliefs ABOUT myself, and how I FEEL, rather than what I “know.”

      Sky, I don’t know if “giving up” describes what you chose to do. I think “surrender” is more accurate. I didn’t “give up” on the exspath when I discovered what he REALLY was – I saw the facts and evidence of what he is, and sort of “accepted” that I could NEVER, under any circumstances, remain loyal and faithful to someone who did the things that he chose to do. LMAO!!!!! What I mean to say is that I could not refute or deny the physical evidence of his activities and interests.

      My counselor has told me that I have incredible resilience and that I’m resourceful. SHE is looking at my experiences with an objective eye, while I’m looking at my entire Life as a series of failures. If I remove the emotion (feelings) from the equation, then I have to agree with her that I survived the winter under extraordinary circumstances. And, this is a fact that I should really be PROUD of. So…..this is something that I’ll need to discuss with her, this week.

      So, I think that a cursory quiz might be helpful, to some degree, but it’s not “accurate” in the whole scope of our survival and recovery.

      • Clarifying “giving up” vs “surrendering,” I had the same choice before me when I discovered that Mike had forged and fabricated military documents to present himself as a wounded combat veteran. Even with the physical evidence, in hand, with stolen and altered official stamps, seal impressions, and actual “practice sheets” of forged signatures, I chose to call the records department to make absolute certain that Mike had never even left the East Coast.

        At that point, I surrendered Mike to his own choices and realized that there was nothing that I could do to help him. He had made irreversible choices, deliberately, and “accepting” the facts for what they were didn’t necessarily mean that I had to “like” them.

        Resilience………….like Muhammad Ali, I would hope to be just as resilient as he was. Knock me down, and I get back up all the wiser to watch for that right cross that took me down before it’s thrown the next time. 😉

  2. Yea, the little “quiz” is probably not scientifically significant, but at the same tiime, it gives you IN THE QUESTIONS (not the answers) facts about what we need to do to BE resilient. If that makes any sense. I tried to be as objective as I could be and I came up “average” and iin some ways I realize I AM resilient, and in other ways I know I’m NOT. The PTSD is proof in itself that I’m not as resilient as I hope I was, or I would not have gotten the PTSD. At the same time, I realize in many ways I am more than AVERAGE in resilience.

    In reading the article in the Mayo Clinic news letter, I realize I am DOING all the things that they suggest, and I also realize that I am improving rapidly since this last “melt down” over the parole protest preparations which got me into a TAIL SPIN of anxiety, fear and depression.

    I also realize that the stress we experience, either external stress or internal stress (from anxiety etc) has physical and emotional consequences that take TIME at peace to resolve. If the stressor is big enough, then we actually lose brain cells (PTSD etc) and we are never the “same” but we are “okay” if that makes any sense.

    IF nothing else, reading these articles on resilience has helped me to confirm to myself that I AM doing the things I need to do to increase my resilience and help myself live a healthy and productive life after trauma from multiple situations, from my husband’s death in the plane crash, to my son Patrick’s sending a man to kill me. I thought the articles might be of interest to others and h elp them focus on helping themselves.

  3. Joyce,

    The test results said that I have average resilience. I had a therapist (and others in my life) tell me that I’m strong. When I told the therapist that I don’t like hearing someone tell me that I’m strong, she came back later and said that I am resilient. By now, I think I’m mainly wiped out – my resilience has been used up by one crisis after another.

  4. Blue, I scored average too…and I’m sure that in some ways I AM resilient but I know that in other ways I’m not. I tend to keep a “straight” face to others, but inside I am melting down. Those who know me well can usually pick up on it when I am in the “spin cycle” but others not so much.

    Back when I was in college, a course I took required us to make a video of a “client” and a “therapist” interactions. We paired up and each person would be the client once and the therapist the next time. Then we were videoed. Back when I was young I actually did some modeling work, but being on live video TERRIFIED me with stage fright. While we were making the video with me as the therapist I remember my heart pounding POUNDING and I felt like my lab coat was flapping in the breeze of my heart pounding. I had stress sweat pouriing out from under my arms and running down between my boobs.

    When I was the “crazy patient” it was the same way.

    After the video was made we had to look at it and critique ourselves and each other.

    On the video, I LOOKED “calm cool and collected” as the therapist and as the patient I looked totally crazy.

    My partner and I were the ONLY ones to EVER get 100% on this part of the course testing. But I KNEW how really scared and nervous I was and how much “stage fright” I had, but you could not SEE it.

    So, is that resilience? I’m not sure. I just know that even at that time I remarked to myself that I had learned to “fake it” at my mother’s knee, and that you were never supposed to let others know if you were afraid or anxious, etc. so I learned to “keep up a front” of being strong.

    I’m sure in some ways I AM “strong” but at the same time, it takes ENERGY to keep up a front and it wears you down. In the back of my mind I KNOW what I should “feel” but at the same time, I want to APPEAR strong even if I’m not.

    At the aircraft crash, I went into “medical knee jerk” and tried to manage the situation until the medical professionals arrived. Yet, I know I was in SHOCK…I literally could not see, my vision was tunnel vision. I kept “functioning,” even thought to call my friend to come get my dogs and my milking goats because when I left for the hospital I didn’t know when I would be coming back. I knew my friend would milk my goats and take care of my dogs. So I had presence of mind to do that, and to pack a few clothes and emptied my coin change jar into my purse so if I was at the hospital for days I could get stuff out of the vending machines.

    Yet, afterwards I kept on taking care of my terminally ill step father etc. until he died six months later. But I was on “auto pilot” and not functioning well at all. I couldn’t work, no short term memory. Was falling apart in my heart….tried to go on, covered up my emotional grief, etc. and tried to “appear normal” but you know, appearing “normal” when the situation is bad is NOT “normal” and I know that, but it was a struggle.

    Even now, I KNOW what I should do and I am DOING it to take care of myself, but it is a day to day struggle sometimes. I just do my best to put my faith i n God to be there for me.. I know though that I sometimes over react to situations that I would NOT have over reacted to prior to the plane crash.

    We get TIRED emotionally just as we get tired physically when we do hard work. Even doing the simple things of life from day to day are more tiring than they would have been without the stresses we have endured. That’s why it is very important to keep down STRESS in our lives and give our minds and bodies a rest so they can heal. It is never “done” we have to continue to work on ourselves and living in a healthy way.

    God bless.

  5. This topic stayed on my mind today, Joyce. So I thoght I’d copy and paste it here so we can discuss the questions;
    The bold are my answers to the multiple choice questions.
    Question: Are you usually calm in high stress situations?
    Yes VERY CALM as calm as a spath. and as soon as it is over I fall apart. (they forgot to ask that part)

    Question: When something terrible happens, which of the following statements best reflects your feelings?
    “Why does this always happen to me!”
    “Things are bad, but hopefully I’ll be able to learn from the experience.”
    “Things will never get better and I’ll never recover from this.

    Question: During a crisis, do you:
    Try to solve the problem, but become overwhelmed.
    Blame external events or other people for creating the situation.
    Focus on steps you can take to resolve the problem.

    Question: Do you feel confident in your ability to tackle problems?

    Question: Are you able to laugh at yourself or find humor in a situation, even during difficult events?
    Yes, most of the time, i can find humor in anything.

    Question: Do you often feel like you have become a stronger person due to your life’s experiences?
    Somewhat I gained knowledge and lost innocence. Innocence seems stronger than knowledge. But we’ll see who wins in the end.

    Question: Do you take the time to take care of yourself, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising and getting plenty of sleep?
    No This is difficult for me right now, compared to how dedicated I used to be to my health. I’ve completely changed compared to the extremes of diet, exercise, supplements, beauty regiments etc.. GONE.

    Question: Are you confident in yourself and your ability to accomplish goals?
    Somewhat I’m sure my magical thinking will kick in any day now and Jesus will appear. I’ll keep y’all posted.

    Question: Are you able to identify the emotions you are feeling and understand what caused these feelings?
    Yes, most of the time Better than ever before.

  6. Good points, Sky. I answered pretty much like you did, but something Truthy said resonated with me and I have been ruminating about it about resilience….in the trust article she said we really didn’t h ave “trust” restored to them but instead we lived in FALSE HOPE that they would change.

    I realized how right she was and I also realized that I have always “kept up a front” most of the time about how I am coping….not letting anyone see me “bleed”—not wanting to appear “weak” or incompetent.

    I KNOW what I need to do to be healthy and I do most of it most of the time, yet I still feel the need to keep up that front. So in some ways Ii AM resilient, but in other ways I am not. I also got to thinking about how I am probably keeping up a front even with my therapist. I think I need to discuss that with him.

    I’m not nearly as “with it” as I wish I was, and doing the research for some of these articles is as much or more help to ME than to anyone else.

    • Joyce,
      me too about writing articles. It forces us to ground our thoughts. I tried to write one on forgiveness but couldn’t. I’m not there yet. the reason I’m not there yet is because of my malignant hope. As long as I wish things could be different, hoping to “get pay back”, reconciliation, admittance, understanding or validation from people who just CAN’T do those things, then forgiveness is off the table for them.

      That’s why I wrote the priest article. The court system did it’s part but the perpetrators are still squirming.

      I was reading the latest on Sandusky. Penn State and the governor of Pennsylvania have tried so many maneuvers since last year. And it’s ALL ABOUT MONEY.

  7. Bluejay, in my mind, “resilient” means that we come back after a trauma. Do we come back the way that we were prior to? No, of course not. Do we bounce back like a tennis ball? Some do, but most of us don’t. Do we tend to learn from our experiences? Some of us do, and some of us don’t. But, the majority of us DO come back after being predated.

    Joyce, Sky, et al, I’m also very calm in a crisis situation. When I type, “crisis,” I mean a sudden, unexpected crisis like an automobile accident or emergency situation. The “practical” self takes over, goes through the motions, and gets things done that MUST be done. I’ve been the first at the scene of many accidents and took matters under control, immediately. I was also awarded for just doing what needed to be done at work, one time – NOT for my performance as an employee, but for taking charge when someone was seriously injured.

    But, when the crisis is over, I fall apart. And, I mean that I cry, experience anxiety, shake, and cannot function for a bit of time.

    Okay. In situations where I am being systematically betrayed over a long-con, I do not recognize being the frog in a pot of water that’s being heated to a boil, slowly. I am not AWARE that I’m even involved in a crisis situation until it’s too late to walk away with minor damage – well, this used to be the case.

    What’s the difference between a sudden crisis and a long-term betrayal? NONE. In both scenarios, we had no idea – no precognition – no forewarning – that a crisis was imminent. In both scenarios, I moved through on auto-pilot. Often, I can recollect very little of what I did, or how I got through it.

    So, having typed all of that, I believe that we are, indeed, very resilient because we are still upright, breathing, and discussing our experiences and recovery FROM those experiences. We sorted out how we were going to survive the aftermath of our various betrayals – paying the bills, going to work, and doing the things that NEEDED to be done to survive.

    Recovery is a cognizant endeavor – a deliberate course of actions that we undertake in order to process crisis experiences, as well as to prepare ourselves to avoid FUTURE crises, especially with regard to predatory human beings.

    Yep……..we’re all quite resilient and I’m grateful for each one of us and the sharing of our experiences and recovery. We are resilient, alone, and as a community.

  8. Truthy, your point is well taken…my husband was cool, calm and collected during an immediate crisis, and in the crash that took his life, he totally took control of the airplane the student had put on a crash trajectory, and kept the plane up right. If the student had no failed to shut off the electric power, no one would have suffered a scratch. Yet in situations of betrayal (He had some business partners steal his multi-million dollar business and wreck it before we married) he was not resilient. I firmly believe these men who defrauded is business were psychopaths, one finally went to prison later on another fraud deal.

    I had a roommate once who did a suicide gesture and Ii called “911” (emergency in those days) the phone operator who once you connect with the operator, unless THEY disconnect you can’t hang up, your phone line is trapped. The operator was savy and when my roomie “made” me tell the operator “all is okay” the operator said “someone is making you say that, right?” I told her “Yes, everything is okay” and soon the police and EMTs arrived. After they hauled her off, I sat on the curb bawling like a baby and her boyfriend said “YOU’RE the one who ought to be locked up.” Nice guy.

    That falling apart after the crisis event like a car wreck or that event I described above is normal. Even after I became a Nurse Practitioner, I worked emergencies where people coded and we did advanced CPR…the first time or two I didn’t “fall completely apart” but it did get the adrenaline flowing for sure. Later in my years on a rural fire department we were the first ones to encounter motor vehicle wrecks and had to hold the line for several minutes (25-45) until the bus got there. Sometimes those calls were for heart attacks or strokes, and sometimes those people were our friends, relatives and neighbors.

    THAT kind of emergency I have handled WELL for the past 35 years, it is the betrayals and the plane crash that killed my husband that overcame my resources for resilience.

    I read once, and can’t remember where or I’d cite the reference, that people who FREEZE when in a crisis situation are more PRONE to PTSD than people who do not freeze like a deer in the headlights.I am a FREEZER for at least about 10 seconds. In a car crash I was driving in when I was preg with Andrew I saw the crash coming, knew I couldn’t prevent it and totally DISSOCIATED, blacked out entirely and didn’t “wake up” until the crash was over. I remember thinking “I’m sorry the baby is going to die with me” and then “turned off” my mind like a TV..the screen went black.

    • Joyce, that’s horrific about the auto accident – I believe that I might have done the same thing. I guess that’s what I always did in a crisis situation – dissociated and went through whatever motions necessary.

      Often, after those situations, I was unable to recall what happened or what I did. I actually believed that this was a “good” attribute and went to EMS classes because I thought that I was able to handle such things. I never finished the courses because I was sitting in class, one day, and the instructor said that the first course of action was to always establish an airway, “…except in a case of decapitation where an airway is a moot point.” The class erupted in nervous chuckles and a few groans – typical emergency personnel humor, of course, but I snickered and then gagged. A few days later, I discovered that I was pregnant with Bob and ANY mention of injuries caused my gorge to rise. Yeah…..quite off-topic.

      I don’t believe that there are “levels” of resilience. Either we are, or we’re not. Those of us who ARE resilient are still alive. Those who were NOT were either murdered, outright, or by proxy. I think that’s the point that I was trying to get to from the start of this very important discussion.

      We either survive, or we don’t. And, IMHO, the survival is, itself, a testament to an individual’s resiliency.

  9. Well, truthy, as far as resilience being “either you do, or don’t” I respectfully disagree with that. I think it is like “tall” that there are degrees of it. Yes, we have to have SOME in order not to turn our faces to the wall and either die or go insane, but just as depression is not an either or, but a scale on a continuum I think resilience is also.

    In :”Man’s search for Meaning” Dr. Frankl points out the different ways people coped with being in the Nazi prison camp…some literally turned their faces to the wall and died, some became bitter and hateful, and some endured and came out whole emotionally.

    I just finished a book about two young American women and their 6 companions from several nations who were in Afganastan doing charity work, and they were arrested and held captive by the Taliban. They were eventually rescued when George Bush sent a SEAL team rescue helicopter to get them out after the Taliban were driven from Kabul. The different ways the different prisoners coped, as told by themselves and the others who were with them, was very interesting. One woman was so terrified she hid under furniture for a great deal of the time they were held (4 months) but their strong faith in God helped them to cope as well as knowing that their families were trying desperately to get them released.

    The UNCERTAINTY of what was going to happen to them…be tried, be executed, be whipped, etc. and being moved from one prison to another, at times on a daily basis, and the bombing of Kabul by US and allied forces while they were being held kept them in constant terror. They were however being held in a group so that helped them to cope.

    I’ve always been interested in how people cope in captivity, from Viet Nam era and WWII era, and actually knew a man who was on the Batan Death March as a prisoner…the ability of people to cope with some of the worst torture is amazing…but some come out more whole than others.

    Some of us dissociate—like I did in the car wreck. We totally “tune out” to what is happening. I saw my death ahead of me, NO way to survive that crash of a VW bug into a guard rail at 70 mph, I “calmly” accepted that I was going to die and was sad the baby was going to die with me, and “tuned out.” I tend to “freeze” when threatened like that, but strangely at the plane wreck, while I was in shock, I still kept functioning on auto pilot…some how, not sure how, but managed to call 911, get my medical emergency kit, calm down the three walking wounded, and comfort my husband as he lay dying. Yet, I had severe PTSD, and though I tried to function “normally” I was not able to do more than “keep up a front”—I actually could not read, and had NO short term memory, which is why I had to quit my job, I was not safe to practice.

    I don’t have as much resilience now as I did before the aircraft crash, because things will throw me into a tizzy like this recent melt down while I was preparing the parole protest for my son, Patrick.

    I’m “different” now than I was before the car wreck, and before the plane crash….and before the attack on my life….but I am coping, some days better than others. It isn’t that I don’t KNOW what to do to help myself, I do know and I am working hard on it, to bolster up my resiliency and to take care of myself emotionally and physically in a healthy manner.

    The support I feel from my friends and my son Michael helps that coping. Going back to therapy too helps, and I’m on my way there now.

  10. Resilience is a complicated topic.
    For example the spath seems very resilient, since nothing seems to bother him. Yet, each incidence in which he engages in denial so that nothing will bother him, takes him farther and farther from reality. Eventually he finds himself living in paranoid delusion.

    So the appearance of resilience is not necessarily resilience itself.

    I think that being able to cope with reality while IN reality is probably a sign of resilience. But most people do default into denial, I’ve come to realize. I lived there for most of my life and am only now figuring out reality. And as you often say, Truthy, “I don’t like it.”

  11. You’re right Sky that resilience is a complicated topic. It really could be just termed “coping” and of course we know that there are healthy ways to cope and unhealthy ways.

    Denial /dissociation is a protective state SHORT TERM, but if we let it go on long term it is UN-HEALTHY to the Max. Like the guy at Bates Motel, denying that mama was dead.

    The same way with us, if we, like Nigella Lawson, DENY that we are “an abused wife” we will never get out of the abusive situation. We have to FACE THE FACT of what is going on and then work through the grief process for the “losses” we suffered, and THEN we can achieve a healthy condition in our lives.

    We have to admit that there is a problem before we can fix it. As long as we deny that there is a problem, then we can’t/won’t fix it. Denial protects us from the overwhelming emotional turmoil that admitting the problem may cause. Just as Nigella denied she was “an abused wife” then she was never going to get out of that abusive relationship.

    The incident that was caught on film and publicized may have saved her life…I think otherwise she would still be with that jerk. He of course denies that anything is wrong except that SHE didn’t support HIM and defend him. LOL Typical psychopathic behavior and thinking.

    Using denial in an unhealthy way, as many of us have done, doesn’t help us to FIX the problem by ADMITTING there is one, then TAKING action. I had a friend years ago whose husband cheated on her and I knew it and she suspected it…she said to me “If someone knew my husband was cheating, I would NOT want them to tell me.” So I never told her, but she would have felt compelled to leave him if she knew for sure and as long as she didn’t know for sure, then she could live with the doubt. Not a great way to cope I don’t think, but it was what she used to cope.

  12. @Skylar-

    I am with you on not being able to forgive some people of some things. Instead I can pray for them. They are sick, twisted and whatever else you wish to call it, but none of their problem, the root of their evil is my doing. I did not cause it, nor can I ‘fix it’ so I pray to the one who can. If He shall see fit to intervene- so be it. If not? Who am I to question that?

    Their misdeeds are not my cross to bear, nor must I stand before my maker (or the courts) and be judged for their actions. I can only own what I have done, not what someone else has.

    I too have hoped for ‘paybacks’, hoped for Karma to hurry things along, hoped to see the ‘bad guy’ fall, but if they did- would that make me a better person? Watching someone fall, no matter how bad of a person they are, how badly they have treated me- is sad in a way. What they could have been, could have had, could have done, had they only focused their energy on good things…? I can only imagine, but it is just not to be.

    All of this ^^^ has brought me peace of mind in trying to figure things out, clean up the mess and sort thru the trash and destruction of those who refuse to accept responsibility or be held accountable for their actions. I can’t do that for them and I won’t. Anymore my mantra is “Walk away Pixie. Just walk away.”

  13. Pixie, your attitude is totally understandable and ultimately that’s all we CAN do is “walk away” and not associate with people who have no moral compass. We can’t install one in them. Many of them never will have any conscience or regret for what they have done to others.

    It is amazing how we can heal when we stop allowing them to abuse us or keep us in the “spin cycle” trying to believe their lies about how much they love us. LOVE IS AN ACTION VERB, not some squishy feeling. If people treat you poorly, they do not love you. Period. If people treat others poorly they will eventually treat you poorly. We have to accept that as “truth” and live our lives accordingly. Good points, Pixie.

  14. Okay, I can’t load my avatar image and I can’t use the “reply” option for direct responses. Just a heads-up on those issues. 😉

    I believe that “resilience” doesn’t factor into spaths’ behaviors. They bounce back because nothing causes them distress – except for rage and envy. They may APPEAR resilient, but they’re just using their Chameleon Powers. If they truly “felt” anything, they would appear JUST as devastated as other people do.

    The exspath wasn’t devastated, one iota, when the marriage ended. He had (IMHO) been seeking a means to end the marriage for years as soon as he used up all of my money. He was so “devastated” that he ran out, secured a new target, and was the Good Time Charlie within DAYS of his departure.

    No, spaths are NOT resilient, at all. They simply morph into what will suit them best for the next target.

  15. Joyce, you typed, “It is amazing how we can heal when we stop allowing them to abuse us or keep us in the “spin cycle” trying to believe their lies about how much they love us. LOVE IS AN ACTION VERB, not some squishy feeling. If people treat you poorly, they do not love you. Period. If people treat others poorly they will eventually treat you poorly. We have to accept that as “truth” and live our lives accordingly. Good points, Pixie.”

    The words are 100% spot-on. The squishy feeling is what we WANT “love” to be…..and, the instant we vocalize or hint at this “want,” we’re done. Spaths and predatory human beings take needs, wants, and issues and twist them into the fabric of their illusions.

    I love what you wrote so long ago: watch, listen, observe. When the words coming out of people’s mouths don’t align with their actions, that is all of the information that we need.

  16. Cripes….since I can’t edit the comment, above, I’ll just add this, here: “truth” isn’t always pleasant. Truth doesn’t always fit into our plans or systems of beliefs. For me, “truths” have been very unpleasant, uncomfortable, and harsh. But, seeing the “truths” for what they are gives me OPTIONS – I can choose to accept or ignore them.

    When people treat OTHER people poorly and insist, “….but, YOU are different – special. I ‘love’ you BECAUSE you’re different,” it’s time to run like the wind.

  17. Truthy I am sorry about the edit thing being off right now for subscribers…you can e mail me and tell me what you want edited and I can do it, but we are still having trouble with the web site….my IT gal is working on it as we speak.

    Yea, Truthy the thought that s/he will be better to me, not cheat on me, not lie to me, etc. when they have cheated on and lied to others is crazy thinking on our part. After my husband died, I started dating this guy I had casually known in my living history group. He was charming and everyone liked him. He was recently divorced. I was desperate for “love” in my grief over my husband’s death and I fell for his “love bomb” as the relationship progressed I realized that he had cheated on his wife of 32 years from DAY 1!

    Then I realized he had a “harem” of women scattered around in different towns that were “friends with benefits” and he wasn’t going to treat me any different than he had his wife of 32 years….he just wanted a “respectable wife” to keep his girlfriends from hounding him about marriage. He was also a secret drinker and driver and started always having to be RIGHT! So I kicked him to the curb, but you know It hurt so bad to admit what he was, because I just wanted to love him. Fortunately I did it before I married him.

    It is only by getting to know people well, know their history and how they treat others, and looking and listening that we can truly see the “red flags” that will eventually pop up.

  18. I have a hard time forgiving the spath’s family-of-origin, having nothing to do with any of them. When I was separated, I talked to two sister-in-laws (months apart), one a sister to the spath and the other a sister-on-law who was married to a brother. After learning about some of the spath’s misdeeds (which occurred before I ever came on the scene), I said, “gee, I wished I’d been warned, I wouldn’t have married him,” to which they both said things like, “oh, well remember how much he loved you…” and the other sister said, “well, you would have wanted to fix him.” They downplay the fact that they had critical information about the spath and withheld it from me. I married the spath and almost lost my sanity along the way. Something kicked in (which I attribute as coming from my mother), where I said to myself, “I’m not going down without a fight.” Psychopathy is in the spath’s paternal bloodline, having had other relatives with the disorder (eg. his father, an uncle, a female cousin, etc.), having taken what I’ve learned about these particular relatives and tagged them as spaths.

  19. Blue, that hurts when people withhold information from us that we might have used to make a different choice…but many times if we ARE warned we ignore it. I speak from experience there. I was warned not to go to work for a woman, and I ignored it and took the job. She was totally evil and after 6 months I left the job after she screamed and yelled at me. She had done that to every person in the office, but fortunately, as a nurse practitioner I had many job openings available and had a job in two days. She was totally surprised when I turned in my resignation the next day after the screaming incident…and she came inito my office and said “Joyce, I believe we need to talk” and I said “You said everything that needed to be said yesterday.”

    I was fortunate that I wasn’t trapped by finances in having to stay in that job no matter how she treated me. Others there were not so fortunate. But I did not listen to the warning I was given.

    Another time, my husband and I were warned NOT TO go into business deal with a man, by someone who knew him well…and guess what, we ignored the warning and did it anyway, much to our financial loss.

    I do understand that bitterness you may feel toward those people, but consider that maybe even if they had warned you you would not have listened. And consider that even though the marriage was a sham, you have your wonderful children as a result. So there can be some positive outcomes to even the worst situations. Also, it was a hard lesson, but look at what you have learned.

    My husband used to say “life is a tough teacher, she gives the TEST FIRST and THEN the lesson.” So I have realized that I flunked a bunch of those tests by not listening to the advice of the people who warned me.

    I have also warned people about someone who I knew to be a thief and a liar and they didn’t believe me, and were ripped off.

    And look at my mother….she prefers the word of a murderer over my word…(head shaking here) she lives for the day he will come home to live with her and take care of her.

    She refuses to see the EVIDENCE or the truth….but I’ve been in that same situation with him, he conned me too. The only difference is that I eventually saw the light, she never will.

  20. Joyce,

    You’re right – I do have three good kids. I take comfort in the fact that they bonded to me (from birth on), figuring (and hoping) that they’ll stay normal, healthy people. Hopefully, all their developmental needs will be met, so that they can live fulfilling lives (in the present and future). Look at what we’ve all learned, those who are willing to learn from their life experiences, that is.

  21. Blue, I think that our kids can definitely be influenced for the positive, even with “bad genes” in the background, but they are their own people, and we do the best we can to bond with them, love them, and give them a moral compass and teach them empathy for others. Sometimes it “takes” and sometimes it doesn’t, but your kids are big enough that you should already be seeing some signs of problems if there are going to be any serious ones.

    We just do the best we can with our kids and pray a lot, but in the end they will make their own decisions about what kind of people they want to be. I’m at the point that I don’t think I could take credit for any positive things in my kids, or the blame for the negative things. LOL We just do the best we can.

    In therapy I am looking back and trying to make sense of some of my decisions and why I made them…ones that turned out to be big mistakes. And I would do some things differently if I were raising kids today…that comes with the “wisdom of age” I think. My childhood wasn’t “all bad” and even if my mother was not nurturing, my grandparents were, even with their flaws, they loved me and encouraged me. My grandmother was an enabler which she had been taught to be…but she was not a punishing enabler if you didn’t go along with her, she didn’t punish you for that, my mother is a different kind of enabler, if you dont’ go along with her she will punish you. Devalue you.

    It is painful to explore some of these things in therapy, but I think must look at ourselves rationally rather than through the lens of of denial. Sometimes that is painful to admit to yourself even that you did some STOOPID things, knowing in your heart they were STOOPID. LOL

    I’m learning not to live in denial and it is tough. I’ve made a lot of progress in my journey toward healing, and I know there’s still more to do. One of the things my therapist stresses is that if we CHANGE OUR BEHAVIOR, the emotions will follow. So if we force ourselves to make decisions that are good, and ACT on those decisions, then we will become comfortable with them.

    An example is “stage fright”—if we have this and are uncomfortable standing up and speaking before an audience, we need to push ourselves to do this, and with a bit of time, we will become comfortable doing this. Back when speaking in front of groups and giving programs was part of my job, I was scared to death to stand up in front of a big group, but now, I can stand up in front of a large audience and speak without fear or nervousness.

    So DOING healthy things….even simple things like taking care of our health, getting the rest we need, etc. is important. I had the “work all the time” programmed in me as a child and I have always had difficulty just “doing nothing” or sitting down to read etc and not feeling “guilty” so I am taking the tactic of “all work and no play makes Joyce a dull person” and starting to not feel guilty if there are dishes in the sink that need washing, or laundry that needs being done. I no longer have guilt sitting on my shoulder making me feel bad if I sit and rest a while or relax and just enjoy myself. Even God rested one day a week. LOL

  22. Part of resilience is physical and it comes from the adrenal glands. Many of us end up with adrenal fatigue from the constant stress of being around disordered people.

    In my case, my adrenal gland triggers very quickly in a dangerous situation. Twice, in car accidents, I’ve experienced this adrenal overload and it seemed to make everything happen in very very slow motion. So this might make me seem competent during the stressful situation, but it’s just a result of becoming extremely focused. We don’t realize how much of our brain is usually thinking of something other than the present moment, until it has to really, really focus.

    Most of the time, the stress hasn’t been to that extreme but spath kept it at a dull roar 24/7, resulting in worn out adrenal glands. Even resting sometimes doesn’t help.

    On a more positive note, at least the experience has made me appreciate the amazing way that our bodies work to protect us when the need arises.

    So in that way, I guess we could say that we have all been resilient in the past because we ARE still here, despite the hell and high waters we’ve been through.

  23. Sky, you make some good points about how we react to stress, but there is a lot of stuff on the internet about “adrenal overload” and most of it is false. It is true that when our adrenal glands are stimulated they give off adrenaline and cortisol which are “stress hormones” These hormones make physical changes in our bodies. Long term changes and short term changes.

    In the case of a sudden fright, the “fight or flight syndrome” kicks in when the adrenal glads shoot out a massive dose of hormone. It effects the body in several ways. It gives us “tunnel vision” like we are looking through a toilet paper roll, we can’t see what is to the sides of us well. It also increases our heart rate, and dumps sugar by the “ton” into our blood stream to give us energy and fuel so that our muscles can fight or flee. It also shuts down the blood supply to our stomach, because if you are in an emergency situation you dont’ need to worry about digesting your food. This is why they used to think stomach ulcers were caused by stress, but in reality it is a bacterial infection. anyway, the brain also dumps out “opioids” which are powerful pain killers. If a bone is broken it also dumps out these pain killers so that you actually don’t FEEL injuries and can keep on running or fighting for a while at least. Short term, this is a good thing, long term though, when we are bitter, angry, sullen, etc. and the same chemicals are dumped into our bodies, they play havoc with our digestion…causing alternating constipation and loose stools, they keep us from sleeping well, which causes fatigue and mental fog…and they are finding out now that this chronic stress does actually shorten lives by a considerable amount.

    The body does get to a point in chronic stress however, that it doesn’t respond to adrenaline or cortisol well by doing all the things I listed above. We become “worn out” and tired. When we have a case of PTSD from either long term stress or from one huge stressor (like in my case the plane crash) we are not as resilient as we would have been because we dont’ respond to the adrenaline in the same way we used to do. Also, we are easily “triggered” into overreacting to a stressful event. More so than we would have before the PTSD.

    I don’t know if you ever heard the old saying about the “shot at and missed, shiat at and hit” syndrome but it really describes what we would feel like if someone shot at us and missed. we would have a tremendous load of adrenaline in our body, use up all our stored glucose from the liver and be weak as a kitten for 24 hours or more. Totally worn out feeling.

    Some people use dissociation, which is the “deer in the headlights” reaction, just freezing. I do that sometimes when frightened, and other times I keep going on appearing “normal” or functional, but in fact, I’m sometimes not really functional. In working car wrecks when I was on the rural fire department, I was functional no matter how bad the situation, even if it was someone I knew, but at the plane wreck I wasn’t actually very functional, though some people who didn’t know me really well thought I was.

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