Tag Archives: Aftermath of Domestic Abuse

Finding Inner Peace When Your World Is Falling Apart

After leaving my ex I felt empty and hopeless, I had never felt so broken, I can’t even describe the pain. I wanted to beg him, I did beg him at one point, something I had never done with any man. I had no pride left because I felt I had nothing left to lose, I had invested everything I had into the relationship. All I could see in my future was unhappiness, loneliness, poverty, and regret.

My mind was constantly rehashing every aspect of our relationship, I spent hours on the internet trying to find out what my ex was doing, hooked on trying to figure him out and expose his lies. I obsessed about “if only”, “what if”, and I envisioned how happy he was with “her” and how she was getting everything and more than I had wished for and deserved. I relived the relationship day in and day out. He was in my dreams (nightmares), and my every waking thought. I couldn’t talk about anything else, my pain ached through my whole body. I just wanted out of my body, I had panic attacks, desperate to stop the pain.

At times I felt like I was trudging through quick sand, no matter how I struggled to get out of it, I only sunk deeper. Other times it felt more like I was being battered by the ocean, I would break through the surface, gasp for air, get hit by another wave crashing down on me that pulled me under, bashed me against the rocks, until I didn’t know which way was up. I would see the light, break through the surface again, gasp another breath, only to get pulling down again.

Yesterday I had YouTube playing on the tv while I painted and as happens, I went from watching Oprah Soul Sunday to a few hours later watching Eckhart Tolle. Then I remembered how listening to him had helped me stop my mind and find inner peace. Here is a quote of his;

Any action is often better than no action, especially if you have been stuck in an unhappy situation for a long time. If it is a mistake, at least you learn something, in which case it’s no longer a mistake. If you remain stuck, you learn nothing.

Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

Yesterday he was asked by a member of his audience what the catalyst was to him finding Inner Peace and he said it was different for everyone. But most people reach a point of “hitting rock bottom”, hating their lives, themselves, of in his case, wanting to die because he couldn’t stand being unhappy any longer. That is where I was, I couldn’t go any lower without dying. While taking a course on being a life coach the class was asked to think of a time we felt like a failure. I answered, “I woke up and realized my suicide attempt failed.” There isn’t much lower than that. Compounding was feelings of worthlessness was my ex, who; when I told him I had failed in my attempt to kill myself told me to try again because “no man would ever want a suicidal, paranoid, bitch like me.”  It was then, that I fully realized; I was responsible for my own healing, and my worst enemy was/is the voice in my head telling me lies, lies I had been told my whole life.

I became acutely aware of what my mind was saying and started sorting out the truth from lies. The negative voices, my mother’s voice, “you can’t make money doing that, if you could, someone would be doing it already”, “what are you going to do now? You can’t survive”, “you always were too (fill in the blank)”, “that’s nice (my painting) but no one will pay money for it”. That is until I started selling my stuff in a popular antique store and her classy friends were raving about how talented I was.

I knew, if I wanted peace of mind; I had to stop ruminating over; what others thought of me, what might happen in the future, what I could have done differently in the past, how much I had lost, and all the other things I had no control over. I had to start living my life as purely and honestly as I could, every day. If I slipped one day, I could always start over tomorrow morning. All I had was this moment and I was never going to find happiness anywhere but in my own mind.

Life is a series of lessons, either we learn them or we end up stuck and angry, sad, and resentful our whole life. No matter how carefully we plan, or how hard we wish, life is going to happen and we can flow with it or fight it all the way. It is when we fight it that we lose our inner peace.

90% of what we worry about never comes to pass. When faced with a choice or dilemma and people around us demand we make a decision, is when we make poor choices. Decisions made under duress are the ones we often regret. We should never do anything that doesn’t sit well in our gut. I have learned that the best thing to do when you don’t know what to do; is nothing.

“Nothing!!!?? How can you do nothing? I need to fix the problem”

No, you don’t. If the answer doesn’t come easily to you, if you have to canvas friends and family to see what you should do,  you need to do nothing. Try it, more than half the time the problem solves itself or an answer becomes obvious. For example; my mother had a friend who wanted to rent out his basement. It didn’t have a kitchen or private entrance, it was just a bedroom, bathroom and bar fridge with a hot plate, but they would allow Stella. She really wanted me to take it.

In her mind it was the answer to my homelessness problem. (Because living with her with my dog was totally out of the question. Not that I had asked to live with her and was living in my car, sleeping in her carport sometimes, but that didn’t look good if her friends found out.)

I went to see it. They seemed like a nice couple but I didn’t immediately jump on it. My mother made a deal of $500/month with me doing the yard work. I was getting $700 a month on government assistance, I had heart failure, my heart was functioning at 17%. I couldn’t afford $500 a month and couldn’t promise my health would allow for me to physically do all the yard work. Besides that, their big tv was downstairs and he said he’d be coming downstairs to watch his sports and to practice his singing because he belonged to a barbershop quartet.

I was polite when we left, thanked them very much and said I’d get back to them, but needed to think about it. My mother was pissed! It was perfect! I was being stupid and stubborn not snapping it up. What was I going to do? She had gone to the trouble to arrange this, what would they think if I didn’t take it? I gave her my reasons for being hesitant, I would have no privacy, no kitchen and most importantly, I couldn’t afford $500/month and it wasn’t worth $500 a month and I couldn’t DO the yard because of my health.

A few days later the family was invited to my mom and step dad’s for Mother’s Day supper. When I arrived my brother immediately started in on me about not taking this golden opportunity mother had found for me. That I was being selfish and crazy to not jump at it. After all beggars can’t be choosers. I tried to explain why I was hesitant but mom had obviously already made his mind up. I decided I was NOT going to succumb to pressure no matter what, I didn’t feel at peace about it. At dinner my mom sat down and said to me, in her most cheerful phoney voice,  “Did you tell your brother about your new place to live?” I said, “There was no need, you had already filled him in.” She denied it. I said, “oh for God’s sake mother! Stop with the lies! I am so sick of you talking behind people’s backs trying to manipulate things the way you want them. I am done! Stop trying to pressure me into making a decision. I told you I need time to decide and I can’t afford $500 a month.” She looked hurt, (Fuck!!)”But where will you live?” 

I walked out and drove home. I stopped at the gas station close to my mom and contemplated going back, but I knew it would be because I felt guilty, not because I was sorry.

The next day I called the friend of my mother and told him I appreciated him offering me the basement but I had to be honest; there was no way I could afford $500 a month, couldn’t do the yard work because of my health and didn’t feel comfortable about him coming downstairs to watch TV, I am a very private person.

He asked how much I could afford and I told him the government allots $350/month for rent. He said that would be ok and he said he would move the tv upstairs and not watch it downstairs. I agreed to move in and ended up living there almost 2 years. He ended up reducing the rent to $200/month and my health improved so I could do some yard work. I still didn’t like living there but it enabled me to get back on my feet.

Without going into my mother’s upbringing and the demons in her head, her need to control everyone and everything has contributed to some of the worst mistakes I have made. It has taken me most of my life to learn to trust my gut and ability to make good choices.

So many times we get so focused on what we think we must have that we totally miss out on great opportunities right under our nose. We try to make things, people, cooperate with what we want to happen, what we think will make us happy. And we have this “anything worth having is worth fighting for” mentality when we should look at it from the point of view of, “when you have to compromise your core self in order to make something happen, maybe it’s not meant to be.” And never ever make decisions when you are in panic mode.

We all need to look at the under lying reason we feel panicked. Often times it’s ego driven. As with my mother, her need to find me a place to live had very little to do with concern for me and more to do with what her friends think of her. Her need to be thought of as a caring person, her embarrassment over her daughter being homeless. She was prepared to put me in the position of not being able to pay my rent just to save face.

When we split from the narcissist he always rejects us, even if we are the ones to leave and even if we know it is for the best; the minute he rejects us our ego kicks in. The narcissist almost always find the “love of his life” immediately after the split and our ego tells us there must be something wrong with us. When he blames us for the demise of the relationship, it our ego that needs to be proven right. When people believe his lies about us, it’s our ego that needs to prove him wrong. When we should know that true friends wouldn’t believe him and we have nothing to prove. We should live true to our core self and not concern ourselves with what others think of us. “what other people think of us is none of our business”. We don’t like everyone we meet, it’s egotistical to expect everyone we meet to like us.

It’s egotistical to think we are the ultimate woman that any and all men want, able to please every man, nor should we want to please every man.

Victims Of Domestic Abuse Are 70% More Likely To Have Heart Disease

 

Broken-Heart-Syndrome

I had a friend from the blog message me yesterday asking about my heart attacks because she has been having chest pains and shortness of breath, so I thought it was time I did another post warning about the danger of heart attack after domestic abuse. Don’t let anyone “pooh pooh” you when you say you are having heart pains. People tend to think the victim is being melodramatic and not take them seriously when they complain about chest pains.

Do not ignore the signs you could be having a heart attack.

Victims need to be aware of something called Broken Heart Syndrome

Broken Heart Syndrome is a very real condition caused by severe stress and is 7-9 times more likely to affect women than men. Women who have been in an abusive relationship are 70% more likely to suffer from heart disease.

* FACT: When we hear the statistics that say a woman dies every day at the hands of her significant other, they are not including the women who commit suicide, die in an “accident” or fall over and die with a heart attack.

A report done by the Mayo Clinic says it can be brought on by surge of stress hormones such as adrenaline, which temporarily enlarges part of the heart so it doesn’t pump well while the rest of the heart pumps normally or even more forcefully. It was originally called takotsubo cardiomyopathy. The symptoms are treatable and usually reverse themselves within a few weeks. (in my case the symptoms did reverse themselves and I thought I was in the clear and ignored all the advice of the doctors,

No one said to me, “If you don’t take care of yourself you WILL die!”

* Typical stressful events that may bring on Broken Heart Syndrome are;

– sudden death of a loved one

– big financial loss

– domestic abuse

– sudden job loss etc

 

* The symptoms of Broken Heart Syndrome are:

– Chest pain

– Shortness of breath

– An irregular heartbeat

– A generalized weakness

– Back up of fluid in the lungs

Although it is reversible in most cases it does damage the heart and it makes sense then that prolonged stress can do permanent damage and in some cases can be fatal, as in my case.

*FACT: You can be having a heart attack and not know it; especially women, because they do not have the same symptoms as men. 

When I had the first heart attack in November 2011, almost a year after leaving JC; I had been working very hard that day and loaded a big load on my truck.

The "killer" load

The “killer” load

That night I was very tired and had pain between my shoulder blades, I assumed I had just pulled a muscle or was coming down with something. You know when you are getting sick with a cold often times your neck will feel stiff and achy? I sat down on the couch and promptly fell asleep. I woke up 12 hours later with my coat still on. It was Saturday and I had to get the load off my truck so I forced myself to get up. I unloaded my truck, feeling worse as the day wore on and by 2 I decided to just go home to rest. I had indigestion all day, bad gas and generally felt I might have the stomach flu and I still had this pain between my shoulders so I thought maybe a soak in a hot tub would help, but the hot bath only intensified the pain. I was sitting on the couch, the pain between my shoulders radiated to the middle of my chest like a hot poker, then my right arm went numb and soon felt like dead weight. I knew then that I was in trouble, so I Googled “Signs you are having a heart attack” and found out I was right. I took the dogs for a pee and fed them, then got dressed and drove myself to the hospital, still thinking it was probably nothing and they would send me home. But I called my son just in case, to tell him I loved him. He in turn called a good friend, Isaac who is a trucker and just happened to be in town at the time; Isaac rushed to the hospital.

 

The pain is not where your heart is. It was right in the middle under my rib cage and it was my right arm not my left that went numb.

The pain is not where your heart is. It was right in the middle under my rib cage and it was my right arm not my left that went numb.

When I got to the hospital they immediately hooked me up to machines and admitted me, indeed, I was having a heart attack. I insisted I had to go home to my dogs and they laughed at me, I wasn’t allowed out of bed at all, even to go pee for 5 days. I was taken by ambulance to New Westminster for a special dye test, where they pump dye into your veins to detect any blockages.

There were no blockages, my cholesterol levels were normal, I had none of the usual reasons for having a heart attack, I am not over weight, no high cholesterol, no blockages, I am not a drinker, I lead an active, relatively healthy life but they could see obvious damage done to my heart and asked me if I had been severely ill lately and I couldn’t think of anything.

I was released from the hospital and told to take 6 weeks off, but was back working in 2 days. Who was going to pay the bills?

Besides I felt great, the best I had felt in a long time.  I had not connected it to heart disease but I had had symptoms of Broken Heart Syndrome for a good year or more.

* Look out for these signs (that I ignored) you too may be suffering from Broken Heart Syndrome

– I noticed I had an irregular heart beat, I could feel that my heart would kinda skip a beat once in a while. I couldn’t remember if I had always had it, just one day I noticed, there was no pain so I didn’t concern myself with it.

– I had never had heartburn in my life but started having it on a regular basis

– I felt anxious, like a feeling of impending doom. But look who I was living with and had to deal with after we split, of course I felt anxious.

– I would have the sweats – I was in my late 40’s and early 50’s I chalked it up to going through menopause

– When I stood up I often felt light-headed

– I got tired quicker, but I had a physical job and was stressed a lot, stress makes a person tired and I wasn’t a kid any more.  I had gotten rid of my big truck which meant I didn’t have the crane and winch so I chalked it up to having to lift more and to the fact that I was getting older. I was over 50 and humping heavy steel, I was still in better shape than most women in their 20’s or 30’s.

– As is common when people are going through a breakup; their diet suffers. Either people lose their appetite or overeat, neither of which are healthy. For me it was easier to grab a burger while working than to go home and try to think of something I wanted to eat. Even when I ate at home I quite often grabbed a TV dinner and bag of salad. I ate because I knew I had to, not because of any desire to eat.

* The weeks immediately leading up to my first heart attack I was:

– more tired than usual and had a harder time pushing past it

– dizzy almost every time I stood up but if I bent with my head down it would pass and I would carry on

– a few days before going to the hospital my neck felt stiff and sore. Considering the job I did, aches and pains were common and I have a bad neck from a car accident when I was T-boned by a big truck.

– bad heart burn and gas, feeling like I was going to have diarrhea

– nervous, anxious

After my first heart attack I actually felt better than I had in a long time so I didn’t refill my prescription for heart meds, besides; they were extremely expensive and I didn’t have medical insurance to cover prescription.

I went about a year and 1/2 with no further problems and basically forgot about it.

Then I started working at Ccon, JC had reared his ugly head and was causing problems for me, trying to get me evicted by making anonymous complaints to the management board about noise coming from my place keeping people awake. Yet none of my neighbours had complained and I had not had anyone in my place since I moved in. He was coming in the blog under aliases trying to slander me and had several blogs of his own discrediting me and telling horrible lies about me. He would leave one up for a week or two, take it down and put another one up. He alternated between the two blogs so there was never time to have him charged. I got legal advice. The mechanic where I worked came to me and asked if I had anyone who would be stalking me. I asked why he wanted to know and he told me he was putting a new deck on my company truck and found a tracking device under the flat deck.

I was thrilled to have my new job but was a nervous wreck at the same time waiting for the other shoe to drop. I knew JC was trying to destroy me and I didn’t know when he would strike again. I had started dating the mechanic where I was working, very cautiously and slowly, but he was insistent and so sweet (sound familiar?)

 

* Symptoms before my 2nd heart attack and subsequent heart failure

– I just felt exhausted all the time.

– I had noticed I had a hard time going up stairs and there was a small hill on the way out of the park and I had to park on of the park with my big truck and walking to my truck my feet felt so heavy. I would have to stop and catch my breath.

– The first time I had sex with the guy I was seeing I couldn’t breath, I was fighting for breath the whole time and by the time we finished I was gasping for air, the slightest weight on my chest made me feel like I was suffocating. I chalked it up to being nervous about having sex again for the first time in years. (I had not been with anyone but James in 14 years)The next time wasn’t as bad and it seemed to get better every time we had sex so I chalked it up to being nervous.

– I developed fluid on my lungs and would wake up in the night to cough, like when you’ve had a bad chest cold and you have to cough up the phlegm.

– My feet started to swell, my work boots became uncomfortable and I got in trouble at work for not wearing my steel toed boots.

– I had what I thought was a pulled muscle in my right shoulder, right under the shoulder-blade. It came and went but was most noticeable when I was stressed.

– I stopped seeing the guy at work and about that time I got called into the office because they had an anonymous call from a “concerned citizen” accusing me total lies. They had another call from another “anonymous” caller with another complaint. I was able to defend every accusation but they didn’t like the hassle of dealing with whoever had it in for me and we made a deal that they would finance a truck for me and work as an owner/operator out of their yard. It was a great deal for me and exactly what I wanted so I jumped at the chance. Within 2 weeks of me getting the truck I had my 2nd heart attack. No doubt the stress of my ex trying to destroy me was a contributing factor.

But my 2nd heart attack was not like the first one because I was having heart failure which is totally different, heart failure is just that; your heart is failing and you are dying if you don’t get medical attention, which I did not until it was almost too late. My feet had continued to swell and the fluid in my lungs continued to get worse. I slept with pillows propping my up because if I laid down flat I felt like I was drowning, after a while I slept sitting up on the couch. I hadn’t slept well for weeks and my shoulder was really bothering me.

my swollen feet

my swollen feet

When I bath I lay in the tub to wash my hair and I couldn’t breath when I did that. I had to turn the shower on and stand to rinse my hair. I had not slept for 3 days when about 5 am one morning I knew if I didn’t get to the hospital I was going to die. I was having trouble breathing sitting up.

I tried to make it until morning so my mom could drive me to the hospital but I emailed her at 5 am saying I was going to the hospital and if she didn’t hear from me that is where I was. I passed out on the way to the hospital and woke up just before hitting the concrete divider between the lanes on the highway. I pulled in and parked the car crosswise in the parking stall and stumbled into the ER. They rushed me in and I was in the middle of heart failure.

The heart surgeon didn’t beat around the bush, he came in and told me that I HAD to start taking care of myself, eating right, taking my meds and reduce my stress or I was going to die. Not just that but he made it very clear that I would have died had I not come in when I did. He compared my condition to cancer that has metastasized; my heart was failing and my organ were shutting down because they were not getting enough blood. The reason I couldn’t breath when I laid down was my lungs were filling with fluid, my feet were swelling because my kidneys were failing and the reason I had been feeling so disoriented was because my brain wasn’t getting enough oxygen. The scary part about your brain not getting enough oxygen is you aren’t thinking right and don’t know you should be going to the hospital.

The thing with victims of narcissistic abuse is they have denied their feelings for so long they stop reading their bodies accurately. They are so used to being told they are over reacting, not feeling what they think they are, and the N has ignored whenever they have been sick they just stop taking the cues from their body seriously.

Plus there is so much tension, drama and trauma all the time they chalk up a lot of their symptoms as being from stress. There is so much going on they don’t have time to be sick and try to push through any pain. In my case I just refused to admit there was a problem because I could not afford to be sick. Well, I ended up sick anyway and some how I have survived and by not taking care of myself earlier I have done permanent damage to my heart and taken years off my life.

Broken Heart Syndrome does not have to be fatal.

* What you can do to prevent heart disease:

* Reduce your stress – I know what you are thinking, easy for you to say, how do I reduce my stress when my life is falling apart? For one thing you can stop torturing yourself by having contact with your ex, his new girlfriend, his family, checking his, her and everyone else’s Facebook. You can retrain your brain to think calming thoughts and to stop thinking about him. You can stop worrying about things you have no control over and things from the past that can’t be changed. Take a yoga class or learn how to meditate, take long walks, exercise of any kind is good.

Eat right – I know your appetite sucks right now, but when you do eat put good stuff into your body. Eat salads, fresh fruit and vegetables and leave the fast food and microwave dinners alone. Start checking the sodium level in the food you eat. Did you know that one TV dinner has up to 90% of your recommended daily consumption? Throw a Big Mac on top of that and you are looking at putting a lot of extra strain on your heart. It is not just the cholesterol you have to concern yourself with, my cholesterol and blood pressure have always been fine. Do not cook with salt or add it to your food, once you cut it out it is amazing how tasty food gets. Now I can’t eat things that have added salt, they seem way to salty for me.

Exercise – Go for a long walk every day, gardening, anything that get your outdoors, moving and breathing in fresh air. It clears your head, improves your mood and self-esteem to be doing something good for yourself. It gets you out of the house and perhaps out where you might meet other people.

Pay attention to your body – Don’t ignore the signs, if you catch it soon enough it does not have to be deadly or even turn into a heart attack. Your doctor might give you some anti-depressant or anti anxiety drug to help with the stress.