Friday, October 08, 2010

Addiction to Cortisol

Today I was talking with another friend who is also a survivor of narcissistic and abusive parents, and I was explaining to her that no matter how much hope you have that you'll FINALLY be treated with respect, not made fun of, etc., the abuse never ends.  It just doesn't.  It gets worse.  We can't "fix" them and it IS hopeless, and you are better off without them.

A lot of us know this logically.  

I knew it for years until I finally dumped mine, but why the hell did it take so long?  

The wake up call was when I saw the same load of sick, psychological horse shit style head games being given to my kids.  As a parent, I can't allow that to happen.  My narcissistic parents pretty much put me in a corner, making me essentially choose between them and my kids.  It's even worse for my son, considering he has autism.  To my parents he's just a disease.

So if we know, logically, that we're going to be continually made fun of, disrespected, and made to suffer insults and every other sort of cruel behavior narcissists like to undertake in order to control us, why do we keep going back?

The first answer to that is guilt. 

I can't speak for everyone, but I was shamed and trained to feel guilty about eating too much, not eating enough, being too manly, being too feminine, the list goes on and on.  I couldn't even breathe right, and I mean that quite literally.

We're trained to SECOND GUESS ourselves in every situation to the point which we're not even sure who we are or what we like or what we stand for. 

And what's one of the worst things one could possibly do in this society?  Disown their parents.  

Most people had decent parents, so it's hard for them to even conceive why we're angry with ours, much less why we cut them out of our lives.  What's worse is we feel a need to justify ourselves to someone who is shocked at us cutting our parents out.  That's another thing these insidious bastards do to us.  We have to justify everything.

I've done it in the most ridiculous and inappropriate situations where I just straight up come off as strange.  I once said to my boss "I'm having a hamburger for lunch."  Cool.  I felt the need to add "I"m hungry and thought I needed a lot of protein."  

What this further does is support the idea that I'm "mentally unstable," which is something my parents have been telling people since around the age of 9.

If you ever do backslide and feel the need to justify stepping away from your abusers, remind yourself of something:  THEY cut YOU out a very long time ago, not the other way around.  Except they cut YOU out in a passive-aggressive way, rather than just being honest and saying "You are a prop to me."  Remember you are not even a "you" to them, until they need something, which is always more narcissistic supply.

So what's the other reason we keep going back?


No, it's NOT because "that's what we're used to."  We are addicted to the chemicals which rush through our brains when we're treated like shit.  As ridiculous as that sounds, think about a metaphor.  And NO I've never even tried heroin, but I think it's a good example here.

Heroin is fun.  It feels good.  After awhile it takes over your life and really isn't fun anymore. 

Mom and Dad love you.  It feels good.  After awhile they are so in your life that the thought of cutting them out is scary, even when they're causing you obvious pain, and inflicting it with the full intent of doing so.

I'm going to play armchair "brain chemist" and believe me, I'm SO not qualified.  I was taught to look for really old stuff in the dirt.  But, there is a chemical associated with stress, and that chemical is cortisol.

Cortisol is a chemical released in our brains when experiencing stress.  It increases blood sugar, blood pressure, and is thought to contribute to a whole shopping list of nasty things we experience as we get older, from morbid obesity to hair loss.

But it also provides a rush.  It's released from the adrenal gland, and as a TRAINED anthropologist, it's my best guess that it's an evolutionary adaptation related to our flight or fight response.

"Why the hell would I be addicted to something so nasty?!" one might say.  Well, heroin can kill you too, can't it, even though it may give a short term feeling of euphoria.

You can break free from this addiction, and the best thing you can do, AFTER getting rid of the abusers in your life is to forgive yourself every time you need a "fix."  

Learning to forgive ourselves for everything from the D we made in biology fifteen years ago to the way we didn't "smile right" at our parents, along with a whole bunch of other bullshit that in essence is completely unimportant is part of our deprogramming process.

And it is a process.

And make no mistake.  We are programmed, just like cult members.  But step number one is removing them.  It's painful, but must be done, and believe me you'll thank yourself for it in the very near future.