My mental health issues and recovery are mostly based on understanding my trauma from childhood. So all these books have a central theme of childhood trauma and recovery. I will update them whenever I read more on these.
This is the list as of August 2020
When I started my healing journey, I was unaware as to why I went on doing many things in my life that don’t add any value at all. I didn’t even realise that I was distracting myself from facing the pain the reality causing me. Nothing has a singular cause I believe. My distractions and addictions were an act of escaping from reality. But they were also due to from many other reasons like self-hate, sabotaging behaviours you learn due to the hate, coping mechanism from childhood etc.
My major way of distracting myself from a task at hand is to watch mind numbing amount of television or any show on the internet. When I say mind numbing, it literally was at the peak of my addiction. I lost my brain cells from doing nothing. But I couldn’t stop. By then I had spent years doing that. It was and still is, difficult to stop all together. The other thing I was addicted to was junk food. Food was a major comfort for me because it was with me when I was sad and lonely most of the times in my childhood. I can handle this addiction a lot better now but still struggle at times. Nowadays I tend to treat my addiction equivalent to any other substance abuse like alcohol or drugs. They do harm me in ways the other drugs do. And I got to be better in beating them.
I know what to do and how to do even, to beat these addictions and distractions. Still I don’t. I am still stuck in the phase of blaming things around me. I still have a lot of self-hate left in me. I don’t have the self-esteem that loves to see me succeed. It’s like my inner critic takes pleasure in seeing me fail. So before turning to beat my addiction, I have to accept myself, love myself and show compassion towards myself. I have started my journey towards those goals now.
I binge eat. I have tried and failed all the time before knowing why but now I am getting better. But it is a lot of effort to not overeat. It is a vicious cycle. It primarily stems from the deeply embedded self-hate. The self-hate comes from the narcissistic abuse. I try and overcome the hate by pacifying my inner critic but it wins sometimes. The victory ratio favors me nowadays compared to those days where it was not even a battle worth fighting.
I never had a decent relationship with food. I had zero awareness as to what I ate in a day till the age of 25 even. I still don’t understand as to why I did not eat enough vegetables growing up or why I did not realise they were healthy. I struggled with obesity from the age of 10. I always had an on and off relationship with healthy weight. Even if I did manage to maintain a decent weight, I had more fat than muscle. I binged whenever I wanted to self-sabotage. Eating junk is still my way of comforting myself when things get complicated. I don’t know how to look at this dynamic of overeating and my narcissistic parents. I am still processing the events from childhood regarding the relation. So eating disorder will be a recurring topic in my healing journey.
I do remember that growing up we had to make sure that my father had enough vegetables to eat because he never bought vegetables enough for all four of us. It was an unspoken rule that vegetables are for dad and that we should eat less. It is not like we were poor. He spent more than enough on snacks. He was even proud that he learnt that from his father. Or maybe he never got to have enough snacks growing up that he fed us a lot of snacks. I never once realised that they were unhealthy. I ate junk like they were proper meals. It was like his way of taking caer of his children rather than teaching them proper ways of eating. My mother binged on snack as soon as she came from office because of her stress. I binged on junk after school. No one told me that what I was doing was unhealthy. Also I had no sense of control as in when to stop. I used to overeat till I felt queasy.
I struggle with serving size till date. That’s why I make it a point to not have snacks at home nowadays. I cannot just control myself. Learning about proper diet at the age of twenty seven was a huge revelation for me. I manage to eat well most days nowadays though I spend a lot of my brain space in controlling cravings and avoiding junk. What and how to eat still takes up lot of my time. I just hope I will reach the point where I have a healthy relationship with food soon.
For sometime after I figured out that both my parents were emotionally immature and narcissists, I just wanted to wallow in self-pity and hate them with all my might. It was the first instinctual thing for me to do because all the nonsensical emotions I carried with me all these years made perfect sense. I was so elated with finding an answer that I did not want to move on from that and think about what happens next. As you might know, this stage doesn’t last long if you truly want to recover from the abuse and heal yourself.
The obvious next step for me was to confront them. Again, as you might have guessed, that did not go well. I did not try much either on that front because by then I had read enough about how the confrontation with narcissists never works. So I decided to leave that altogether, though I do lose control and ask them when some situations provoke me. I cannot be always so in control around them. At least not now.
So the next step and the only sensical step for me was to understand them. Forgiveness was not part of the process. Just understanding them as to why they turned out that way. The answer was simple as in any psychological trauma do get carried through generations. My parents did not have a good childhood. Especially, my mother, I would say. They both had absentee father figures. My dad had to deal with the loss of his mother in his teen years and was deeply traumatized by the world when there was no other adult to replace her. He was never cared for. My mother, on the other hand, was one of the last in the many children my grandparents birthed and was least cared for based on her accounts. She was ignored, she was teased for being ugly, she was not listened to and she had to care for her sister’s children when she was figuring out her life. She grew up feeling she was not valued.
Even the glimpses of family history were enough to make me realize that my parents did not know any better. But I could still not forgive them because they could have stopped the abuse with them. It was not like they intentionally carried forward the abuse but they did not try enough was what I feel. Maybe I will be able to move past it completely one day. That day is not here yet. I do feel a lot lighter nowadays having found the heart to understand them and not be angry. That is mission accomplished as of now.