Adjusting to life after exclusively existing with a psychopath

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After I escaped my abuser, I was initially overcome by confusing and devastating emotions. I felt lost, as though I was roaming an unfamiliar planet.

It had been so long since I had the right to my own self and my worth, that almost nothing felt okay. Though I did experience significant relief, I was disoriented since my prison-like world with him was all I knew. Venturing out into my own life was intimidating.

Because dysfunctional lifestyles can become deceptively comfortable when toxicity becomes our norm. What else is there?

I became alarmed at the details that started surfacing once…

In recovering from religious indoctrination, I have questions

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In total secrecy as a teenager, I watched the M. Night Shyamalan movie “The Sixth Sense,” because thriller and horror movies were forbidden in our religion. Since I expected it to be demonic, I was most shocked that the child who saw dead people in the movie felt so familiar and similar, to me.

But my special ability was not “I see dead people,” it was “I see angels.”

I was raised as a pastor’s daughter in an evangelical, non-denominational church. Like royalty, I was born the year my father founded this church. Perhaps that’s why I was treated like…

And what to do about the pandemic’s domino effect on mental health

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Our news feeds have consistently blasted the alarming death tolls from the COVID-19 pandemic that spread rapidly and changed our lives drastically. We watched statistics rise and fall and rise again; we grieved with those who lost loved ones to COVID-19, we scurried to manage closures that immediately affected us. We developed our own opinions on controlling, preventing, and treating it all.

But there has been much less recognition of the horrific toll on mental health that the pandemic has taken. Isolation, closures that limited access to physical and mental healthcare, restrictions set in place to try to help us…

It wasn’t the answer I was looking for, but it was the answer that I needed

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I thought that healing my Mother Wound and all of my past traumas would result from acknowledging and sharing my pain, then accepting it as a major part of who I am.

After countless hours of writing and undergoing therapy on this topic, I felt fatigued about it all. I was exhausted from ruminating, processing, and discussing this personal source of anguish.

All the “trauma dumping” and “word vomit” in the world wasn’t alleviating me.

Healing this wound would require more than positive self-talk, set on repeat, as though I could rock to sleep years of cumulative emotional pain. …

The confusing aftermath filled me with shame

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Escaping an abusive partner is a life-altering experience. It requires bravery and strength, but most of all it requires painful awareness.

It is the moment we realize we get to have a choice and set that choice into motion to change our existence.

When I realized the truth that the man I spent a decade with was harming me, though I had not yet grasped the full extent, my life became a frightening and anxious whirlwind. With brain fog, I made plans to leave and cut him off completely. I began reaching out to others for support, not just for…

Though I’ve come far with dissociative symptoms, sometimes I get lost too

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Since I began the journey to heal my traumas with EMDR and cognitive therapy, I started noticing that I’ve been responding more calmly to triggers than ever before. Though I have a long way to go, I sense that my mind is more at ease.

Still, sometimes when an unexpected trigger comes out of left field, I am immediately relocated to a different place, time, body, and reality.

Dissociative symptoms can be a common, primary reaction to triggers, and the more I learn about it, the more I have grace for myself in those moments.

“Dissociation is a disconnection between…

I was unsure how effective it would be

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When I first heard of EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy, it sounded a little gimmicky, like someone was going to hypnotize me then send me on my way.

However, EMDR is not a magic trick. It is “an extensively researched, effective psychotherapy method proven to help people recover from trauma and other distressing life experiences, including PTSD, anxiety, depression, and panic disorders” as described by the EMDR International Association. And it is hard work.

The process looks like this: the therapist directs my lateral eye movements, a shifting of eyes back and forth by following an external stimulus…

Because I took my power back

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Thanks to Lisa Martens for inspiring me to write this, after reading her piece on doing all the things she never got to do, which depicted our very similar stories of abuse. Also, for anyone who spent years in a controlling, abusive relationship, I highly recommend writing a list of sorts about what you finally got to do after leaving.

You robbed me of living my life, aggressively taking away my self agency. You dictated my every move, and put me in a mental cage to let me decay.

But the day I escaped was the first day I realized…

Because I realized the power of his abuse, not because I’m a monster

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Trigger warning: this piece depicts abuse, please proceed with care.

I was in my early twenties. A few years had passed from when my stepbrother and I were able to move away from each other, from our shared parent’s home.

I didn’t yet know that the extreme hyper-vigilance I had when I occasionally visited my father’s home, on edge that at any moment my stepbrother would show up, was because I had been traumatized and abused by him.

My single goal in our forced step-sibling relationship was to stay away from him, at all times and at all costs, as…

Because of negative core beliefs that have hurt me the most

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In seeking therapy for complex PTSD and anxiety that had been eroding my mental health for years, I felt overwhelmed by the amount of trauma I had to process.

Some days I feel like I have only scratched the surface. But on those days, I reassure myself that any progress is still progress, and at minimum I at least have the awareness to choose to be on this wild ride towards mental health.

After surviving the torment from a narcissistic, abusive partner for a decade and realizing the utter distress of my mind in the aftermath, I knew that the…

Scarlett Jess Perrodin

Mental health advocate, anxiety juggler, abuse escape artist, maternal aura. Personal stories. Some hints of humor. A diamond in the rough is still a diamond.

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