Victoria S. Hardy

Victoria S. Hardy

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Healing Loudly Part Three

I had a revelation this week, as it dawned on me that it isn’t the memories kids growing up in abuse repress, it’s the emotions connected to the memories that get stuffed down and buried. I have always remembered the abuse, tucked away and compartmentalized in the back closet of my mind, but what I had buried were all the emotions a kid feels when undergoing years of systematic and intentional abuse.


Growing up under a covert narcissist, one determined to break my spirit, and leave me ever dependent on them, a lot of emotion gets pushed aside and buried in the name of survival. The abuser controls everything, from comfort, food, and sleep, to whatever emotion is deemed appropriate to express, and in my upbringing only the abuser was allowed to express any emotions. My emotions were unimportant, ridiculous, the mark of an insane person, and completely unworthy of any attention or concern.


And it was those severely repressed emotional responses to systematic abuse that have been bubbling to the surface these last few years of sobriety. I was ill prepared to deal with them as I had been taught I had no right to them, no right to feel any way that my abuser didn’t approve. My abuser had a very limited range of emotions, and I was expected… No, it was demanded that I share only the emotions of my abuser, and disregard any of my own feelings.


Growing up like that, all my formative years spent trying to mold myself into my abuser’s screwed-up and limited emotional range left me unsure of my own emotions as an adult, and it sure explains a lot about my own life. A kid just wants to be loved and accepted, and that is something I never experienced as a child, which left a deep longing in me, and is the reason I put up with such insane abuse as an adult. I’d been groomed, beaten, and brainwashed by the continual abuse into not only yielding to the desires of the molesters who found me during my fourteenth through sixteenth years, but for accepting even more abuse as I grew up. My emotions had little meaning to me as I tried to fit myself into the emotional range of my abusers in adulthood, just as I learned to do as a child.


It occurred to me last night that I experienced at least a hundred abusive episodes at home between the ages of eight (when my sister died) and seventeen (when I left home pregnant and married). If it happened just once a week, then it’s literally hundreds of times, but I will settle with just the number one hundred for now. At least one hundred times of being hit, condemned, told how awful I was, and how much I was hated as my mother, my abuser, took out all her frustrations on me. It’s a miracle I have as much sanity as I do, it’s a miracle I’m not a hopeless and helpless mess, and although I am a bit of a mess, I managed, though the grace of God and God alone, to recover a spirit of optimism and hope.


So for those of you wondering, talking, scrutinizing, dismissing, and choosing sides, understand I’m not recovering forgotten memories, those have never changed, I am experiencing the emotions denied a severely abused and neglected child. Finally God has allowed me a space to feel and heal those deep, and unwarranted, wounds.



Tuesday, April 05, 2022

Healing Loudly Part Two

I should have known. It always happens. I should have known. The day after I posted my last blog my back tried seizing up several times, and I was left with what I will refer to as that pre-seize pain, afraid to move much in case it decided to fully debilitate me for days or longer. Thankfully, after some slow, long, stretches, and breathing exercises, it has calmed now, but it always happens or something similar, when I speak out.


More than a decade ago my articles were very popular on the Internet, and when I’d see how many views they were receiving and I’d get the emails that always came, I would have massive anxiety attacks, trembling all over. It was the fear of being seen, of being known, of getting in trouble by drawing attention to myself, a legacy of growing up under narcissist abuse.


And it seems I’m not alone, most children growing up as I did, both the scapegoats and the golden children tend to end up with medical issues. I know that I have certainly suffered vague, apparently impossible to diagnose sicknesses and physical ailments, and I’ve had a lot of surgery. The constant drama, the gas lighting and confusion, the fear of being caught, even when you’ve done no wrong, and the constant fight or flight stimulation leaves victims of abuse in poor physical states. We tend to suffer autoimmune disorders, constant rigid muscles, depression and mood swings, anxiety, digestive and heart problems, and a myriad of other stress related issues. 


There are biological reasons we survivors of childhood abuse suffer throughout our lives, and it has to do with the development of the brain, and the chemical reactions that occur when we are under threat. Our bodies and minds are poised to remove ourselves from the threats, but as children there is nowhere to go, no safe place to escape, we are trapped, and the body holds on to that and does not forget. Over and again we experience the trauma, and over and again it remains trapped in our bodies, and soon we find that we are constantly in pain.


The legacy of child abuse does not end when we become adults as our brains have literally been changed by the abuse, re-wired by the abuse, and in my case, I also have the damage done by many concussions.  The changes done by childhood abuse affects the cells in the anterior cingulate cortex, which plays an important role in the regulation of emotions and mood. Studies have shown significant changes in the white matter of the brain, which is made up of myelinated nerve fibers that, much like the electrical wires in our homes, conducts the brain’s electrical system. The myelin is the nerve fibers’ protection, and those who suffered childhood abuse have a stunted myelin system.


Childhood abuse also affects the development of the amygdala, our system to emotional regulation and to reward and satisfaction, as well as the hippocampus. The hippocampus helps with memory, cognition, and learning new things, and studies have shown that in childhood abuse survivors that part of the brain is shrunken and it has to do with the repeated and unexpressed fight or flight reaction that bathes the area in cortisol and retards its growth.


Although the abuse does cause physical changes in the brain, it is my belief that consciously healing also changes the brain, for the better. When I was younger, before I knew anything about Complex PTSD, before I realized that I was raised and abused by a covert narcissist, and when I still worked diligently to fit in with my family, pretending the abuse never happened, I was in poor physical and emotional shape. I suffered many physical ailments, had strange debilitating illnesses that defied diagnosis, and felt sure that I was crazy. I took handfuls of daily medications, and never found much improvement for my issues.


Healing doesn’t happen overnight, and it has been at least a decade of consciously working to be physically healthy, and the changes look vast from where I sit now, but it was a slow and steady, step by step, process of cleaning up my diet and lifestyle. Still, though, I felt ‘off’ until I confronted the abuse and began to acknowledge the damage done and the traumas that I experienced.


I know that there is hope on the other side of these realizations, and I know that although the abuse and concussions caused brain changes and damage, I can heal. When my son experienced brain damage from a fungal infection in his cranial fluids and central nervous system, I saw the improvements achieved through simple puzzles and exercises that reopened neuro-pathways, so I know it’s possible to heal. All it takes is intention, prayer, and hard work, and consciously moving forward.


We can’t heal what we don’t acknowledge, and acknowledging the abuse has been one of my more challenging experiences, but I am determined. Let us not give up hope, and know that there is light at the end of the dark and scary tunnel.



Monday, March 21, 2022

Healing Loudly From Narcissist Abuse

I never wanted or expected to be a spokesperson for healing from narcissist abuse, but here I am. I read a statement recently that we should heal loudly so that others can use our experience for their own healing, and it’s been stuck in my head and in my heart, that I have some responsibility to help others heal. It goes counter to my programming and training to speak out, to really speak out with the truth, and I have to admit it’s an incredibly hard and frightening thing to do.


These last six months have been difficult, the realizations and the full context memories have literally knocked me on my ass a time or two, and the anxiety has been nothing like I’ve ever experienced – the fear and trembling of working out my own salvation. I was asked not to write about my abuse as it may hurt my abuser’s feelings, and for the last six months I’ve held my tongue, once again isolated, and working against my own best interests. Working against my own best interests was how I was trained, and the lies and pretense is the wardrobe I was expected to wear for the rest of my life.


I knew speaking out would cause others to turn their backs on me because that is simply the way it is when you grow up in narcissist abuse. Growing up as I did you have this entire world of pretense and lies thrown over you, and you are expected to uphold those lies to the world, and as the abuse started so early with me, you carry those lies and pretense just because that’s simply the way it is. You carry the pretense even when everything inside is screaming that it’s a lie, you put on a smile and face the world and pray no one sees the truth.


I am done, I can no longer pretend, and the truth is I was one of the scapegoats in my family. The other scapegoat was my oldest brother, and when he grew into a man, dangerous and unpredictable in our abuser’s eye, the role fell onto me, as I was just a kid and a very easy target.


I have avoided looking into the topic of narcissism for years, both consciously and unconsciously, knowing that once I opened Pandora’s box there was no returning to the way things were before. And strangely, there was a bit of a mourning period of letting those old illusions go, realizing that things were never the way they were presented to the world, and acknowledging that I was never the person my abuser insisted I was.


There are many kinds of scapegoats in the narcissist dynamic, and I am beginning to understand that I am the truth teller. The other types of scapegoats are the rebel, the caretaker, the problem-solver, the protector, the perfectionist, and sometimes another covert narcissist is born under the selfish and incredibly damaging abuse. Being a scapegoat is a very hard and damaging road to follow, and it is the scapegoat who carries the burden of all the frustrations of the family, and the blame anytime anything goes wrong. The energy has to go somewhere, and the scapegoat is the receptacle where all that gets dumped. 


The dynamic is very clear, written about in books, shown in movies, and yet I avoided looking into it for years, the fear of facing the truth almost greater than the pain of being scapegoated my entire life. There are several types of narcissist, and narcissism is defined as a personality disorder in which the narcissist is selfish, lacks empathy for others, has a sense of entitlement, a need for admiration, and an inflated sense of self-importance. People growing up under that dynamic are very damaged, both the golden children (the chosen favorites) and the scapegoats are damaged. No one does well in a narcissist family, except for the narcissist themselves, as the children have long been divided and conquered, and have learned the hard way that keeping the narcissist happy is the only way to find what resembles peace, but that semblance of peace is always short-lived.


Some may ask, why now? Why talk about it now? It’s in the past, it’s over, why dredge up the old ghosts now? But the truth is it’s not over until the injured parties say it’s over, and it sure isn’t over for me as I now have to wade through the years of my life, the traumas I swallowed as something I deserved, and consciously begin healing my mind and my body. It’ll be over when I say it’s over, and not a second before.


I was asked to hold my words, to not write the truth of my own life on my own blog, and to keep silent until the narcissist died, and I had planned to do that, but something broke. Something inside could no longer hold the pretense, my body was giving out, my body was rebelling against the lies. It is completely unjust to expect another person to carry lies, and the simple act of asking me to do so is just another textbook example of being scapegoated. Once again the comfort and selfishness of the narcissist becomes more important than my health, my recovery, and my entire existence. Once again the narcissist’s feelings outweigh everything else, including my own health, but that is nothing new to me as my medical needs were neglected in childhood by the narcissist. I’m not going to continue down the path that says I am less than, my needs less important because others, outside of me, deem it so. 


The answer is no. I told that person that I would write what God inspired me to write, but the fear of speaking openly held me back, fear of retribution, slander, and rejection. God has been pressing on me to heal loudly, to help others in what I am an expert in, and I will no longer remain silent to protect the feelings of the person who went out of their way to hurt me and make me struggle. I will no longer protect the person who deliberately and with intent made my childhood a living hell, and I will no longer pretend simply to appease others who are invested in maintaining the lies.


If my words can help one person, then I must put myself out there, no matter how uncomfortable and afraid that makes me. So for a while this blog will be dedicated to overcoming and healing from narcissist abuse, there are more of us out there than I ever imagined.