Love and Other Drugs

 So many of us who have been traumatized as children, who were unloved or not loved enough, who were rejected, abandoned, abused, develop addictions later on in life. The trauma that we suffered in our childhood leads to pain, anxiety, emptiness, depression, self hate, and on and on and on. All these feelings are extremely unpleasant and painful to feel, therefore we try to get away from them by using something or someone to mask the pain. This can lead to addictive behavior. Addiction is not only to substances like alcohol, or drugs, you can also be addicted to a person. In the case of alcohol, although a depressant, it increases dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, and one of our feel good chemicals. So initially, alcohol makes us feel good, due to the increase in dopamine. However, its depressant effect takes over soon after, and also one needs to drink more and more to get the mood enhancing effect, all of this can lead to alcohol addiction or alcoholism. Same with drugs, they can alleviate anxiety, make us feel good temporarily, but again, it may take higher doses to achieve the same effects and that can lead to addiction. And people can have the same effect on us, this is known as “love addiction,” one can be addicted to a lover or friend, as this also produces feel good chemicals in our brain.

Love addiction is extremely destructive. You are dependent on a whole other human being for your happiness! Really?! I know, I get it, I’ve been there. The feelings swirling inside of you from your childhood trauma are so painful and heartbreaking, that you, without even knowing it, put the responsibility of your happiness on to someone else’s unsuspecting shoulders!

This is because you do not know how to soothe yourself, so when you are thinking of your “love” interest, you’re not thinking painful thoughts, or you think this person you’re addicted to will do it. And believe me this has nothing to do with love, and everything to do with addiction. You think you can’t live without this person, you get a high when you see this person, it’s all about you. True love is selfless and you care about the person you love more than yourself, ok if not more than, at least as much as… Addiction is different, it’s a fix, it’s something you crave, it’s a very self involved thing. With addiction, most people are trying to reduce their own suffering, unfortunately, they are using self destructive behaviors to accomplish their goal of no suffering. The goal is positive, the methods… perhaps not so much…

It’s because you don’t know how to tamp down your fight or flight from going from 0 to 500 in 5 seconds, you think the presence of the person you’re addicted to will do this.

It’s because no one taught you to love yourself, to value yourself, to forgive yourself, you think the poor person you are addicted to will do it.

Your boundaries were continuously violated, you never learned what a boundary was, so you want to be totally enmeshed with this unfortunate person you are addicted to, and whose boundaries you don’t know how to respect.

The above three are skills that people who grow up in loving, nurturing, normal homes learn when they are young children.

We people, who grew up in abusive, abandoning homes, do not learn these skills when we are children.

Well it’s never too late to learn. Never too late to reparent yourself, or work with your inner child. Meditation can be used to calm your flight or flight response. There are apps for your cell phones such as Headspace ( that will help you learn meditation. This can take as little as 10 minutes! There are resources that will help you heal from love addiction, here’s a link to a book that helped me a lot;

And one last thing, this is very important, we adult survivors of child abuse and abandonment sometimes get so involved in our feelings and feel so sorry for our own selves that we don’t even realize that we are trespassing on other people’s rights. We do it totally unknowingly, however, we do do it. Let me give you an example, the person we’re addicted to, known as “poor person” from hereon in, is busy, hasn’t answered our texts in a few days. Our abandonment issues are extensively triggered by this because we think this poor person has now abandoned us. So we bombard them with every manner of contact we have for them, Facebook messenger, Snapchat, texting, emailing, Whatsapp, and many others in this age of technology, all begging, apologizing, and generally making as big a pest of ourselves as possible. We have no boundaries, we think this is ok. Well it’s not ok. This poor person should not have to put up with this level of, frankly, harassment. If this poor person is our friend, they did not sign on to deal with this. The bottom line is: You and I are responsible for our issues and for healing from them! Some friends will hold our hand and walk with us, and some won’t. But, no one has to. It is wholly our own responsibility to get help, to realize what our issues are and to heal from them. And once the healing has taken place, at least to some degree, we can be friends with anyone, yet be dependent on no one. We’ve won the war of independence, congratulations! This is not to be harsh, but to help us realize what we’re doing is not in anyone’s best interests, including our own. It’s a difficult lesson to learn, but once we learn it, and we (and I am definitely included here) can live our lives without being dependent on anyone else to make us happy, once we own our own lives and become responsible for ourselves, then really and truly, we’ve healed and we have arrived! 🙂

Yours in mental wellness and health,



Exercise, Reading, Healing

I went to the gym today to begin using my personal training sessions. My trainer, Jaime, measured me and I am so thrilled, I found out my waist is 25 inches! Also, I did 25 sit ups, 20 pushups, and the “wall sit” for over 2 minutes! I could have kept sitting too 🙂 Pretty good stats for the beginning. I feel really happy, and excited to be embarking on a physical fitness journey again. I’ve let exercising slide a bit, but it is time. The beach is only a few months away haha.

Sorry for the “Dear Diary” tone of this post, but that’s all I have today, and actually, considering I feel a real sense of wellbeing, it is enough for me 🙂

The reason I’ve been ignoring the physical side of me is because I’ve been intensively working on the emotional, abandonment, abuse issues and healing from them. I have read one book (a long one), and I still have many more on my list. And happily, what I have learned from the book I’ve read and from perusing many others, as well the wise people who wrote them, is that healing is possible! It is very possible! And unbelievably so, but I have been feeling the beginnings of healing inside me. I recognize my “inner child”, or Little, and I recognize when she is feeling scared and I know to give her love and reassurance. That is healing! Not to get beside myself, and feel bereft, and look to something or someone outside of my self for help or love or anything. But to give this love and reassurance to my self, that is healing! And I am doing this all the time now. And, so, as a result, I am feeling emotionally stronger, more resilient and much less needy. Hallelujah!

Below are the books I have ordered. I have read “From Abandonment to Healing” by Susan Anderson.  And  I’ll be starting “Changing Course” by Claudia Black next.


BOOK 1BOOK 2Book 3

Been tackling abuse/abandonment issues. Thank goodness, bipolar is under control!

 My bipolar disorder (BPD) is under control, has been for roughly a year now! For that I must thank a good friend, who refused to see me any other way than at my best. I took this friend’s advice and increased my lithium to 900 mg per day. And voila! Bipolar wise I am stable. It’s a good thing too, because dealing with this abuse/abandonment “thing” would have been a million times more difficult if the BPD wasn’t lying low. 

What I am learning about abuse/abandonment is that it is one (two?) of the most painful things one can go through. The feelings stored inside me of pain, despair, terror, shame, and fear, massive amounts of anxiety, anger from when I was a little girl being subjected to all this, what is it, insanity, criminal behavior, sociopathy? Well, just pick one. Anyway, those frightening and deeply painful and anxious feelings, forgotten feelings, I now have to bring to the fore and feel them, and process them as an adult and then supposedly, they go away. I am feeling them alright, last night I was reading something about abuse/abandonment survivors and addiction to a variety of things. Something about what I was reading made me feel like I was going to die. At first I tried to run away from it, but then I told myself that this is exactly what I have to feel and process to get better. So I tearfully thanked those feelings. 

So here’s the thing, you are horribly abused, over and over, as a child, you have horrible emotional scars but you hide those feelings away, they are too painful to feel. And you have to survive the next beating, you can’t sit around feeling sorry for yourself. So now, as an adult, you have a repository of all these awful feelings and unmet needs, and they pop up when they are most unwelcome. And you over react, you feel like death, you basically turn into that little battered, unprotected, unloved child you were when you least want to. So now, as an adult, in order to stop reacting like an abused/abandoned child, you have to bring those terrifying feelings to your consciousness, feel them, process them and let them go. This is how you get over the pain and violence that happened to you, the pain and violence that happened to me when I was 4-14 years of age.  One more thing, you cannot just bring up these feelings at will. They are deeply hidden, and anyway, who would willingly want to feel like death? These feelings come up in response to situations where something reminds your subconscious of how things were in your childhood. Or some other stimulus, like reading something, etc.  Writing about each incident you remember over and over so that you go from a child’s perspective to finally an adults view of what happened also helps. There is another exercise that I call “Little, Big, and You as the Mediator” I will post about that next time. 

Healing, love, and laughter. May our lives be full of those! Hugs, my friends. 

A NAMI story of recovery from PTSD


 As I voraciously read and search for ways to heal myself from the abuse and abandonment I was put through as a child and the ensuing PTSD, I am so grateful and inspired to find stories like this, of recovery from the same things I struggle with. These stories give me so much hope that one day soon, I too will be whole and healthy and no longer in pain. Also, I learnt about Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) which I plan to learn more about. Thank you brave soul, for fighting and being stronger than your abuse, and for posting your story. Bravo!

Personal StoriesPTSD: My Metaphorical Experience

Imagine riding a new red bicycle. You are gracefully balanced and cruising down the neighborhood. Your bike has all the amenities for a fun ride- working petals, a nice fancy horn, and colorful pom-poms blowing in the wind. Now imagine riding that same bicycle with one petal broken, and a tire slightly deflated- you still can move, but it takes more effort, and you are losing speed. At the beginning of my diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder, sometimes it felt like there was a nail in the tire of my bicycle, and no matter how hard I kept pedaling and moving my legs, the air still slowly deflated the tire, eventually leaving me at a standstill.

Coming to terms with my diagnosis, finally met acknowledging my painful past, in hopes of a brighter future. After avoiding the trauma for so long, it finally made its way back to me, in the form of an expiration of the statute of limitations this past December. I could no longer avoid the deep pain I felt of injustice, fear, and victimization. My tire didn’t just pop, it exploded, with chunks of rubber left as remnants on the ground.
Deciding to do Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) was one of the bravest things I have ever done. Facing my past head on and allowing myself to truly process and heal from the assault was incredibly difficult. I have never cried so much, felt so much and simply allowed my emotions to be there. It was a very raw and emotional experience. As the weeks passed by I felt myself start to grow stronger, with a new strength of resilience and hope. I felt like I finally was able to give my pain and trauma the grieving that it deserved; its own rite of passage.
As more time went on, I started to become a new person. A person that realized that it was okay to be sad, to feel emotions, to look at the past and acknowledge what happened. I knew that it would no longer break me and that I could move forward in an honorable way. Through this experience I now know how strong and brave I am- and that my trauma is only a small piece of my autobiography, not the narrative. As I move forward, I can see a bright future filled with dreams and goals that I hope to accomplish. As I step forward, I now see that my bicycle is no longer broken in a way that slows me down- it is resilient and powerful. As the tire remnants are pieced together carefully one by one, they have created a stronger tire that no longer will deflate when it hits screws or nails in the road- making it an incredible bike with history.
I now stand incredibly humbled of how far I have come, knowing that this is just the beginning of incredible things to come. I am forever indebted to my family and friends, thank you for being there, for sitting right with me with my pain, for holding my hand when I knew it was painful for you to see my trauma. I can never thank you enough for believing in me, and for allowing me to finally believe in myself. For helping me to not be ashamed of PTSD and the experiences that I have been through, but being proud of the person that I am, the person that I have become. Your kindness and support is the greatest gift you could ever give to me. The greatest gift I gave myself was recovery.

Understanding the Pain of Abandonment and Abuse

Here are two things I found on the Internet, the first one is from a treatment facility website and the second one is a sort of abbreviated child abandonment 101, which includes physical abuse.  Yes, folks, here is my history, written out in black and white. The bold ones are mine.  I own them, or have owned them in the past. Lovely way to have been brought up, can not thank my parents enough. The damage was done to me and now I am responsible for reversing it. Well I damn well am going to reverse it. One way or another I am going to! Everyone tells me it can be done, but no one has yet told me how. It’s as if they are guarding some huge secret. But I will find out how and I will do it. I know I have the strength and the perseverance. I’m going to call the place below called the Refuge. If their rates aren’t too exorbitant, I may check myself in there, after my play. And hopefully, out will come a new and improved version of Samina.


Treatment For Abandonment & Attachment

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD of Abandonment

Treatment Options for Abandonment Trauma at The Refuge

Continuing Care- What Comes Next?

Fear of abandonment is among the most anxiety-provoking situations in childhood. When parents get home late from work or suddenly leave town, a child may feel mounting anxiety and fear about their parent’s safety. Children feel an emotional attachment to their parents and feel insecure if this is absent; often going to extraordinary lengths to re-establish it. The loss of a parent due to death or divorce often causes a child’s fear of abandonment to intensify, often well into adulthood. When a child grows up with an absent parent, they may have feelings of grief and blame themselves for their parent’s absence. When the child is completely deprived of any contact with his or her parent, they may attribute parental abandonment as a result of something the child did or did not do. Young children are egotistical, believing they are the cause for events in which there is no logical connection.

The damage caused by parental abandonment is particularly devastating if it happens before the child understands that he or she is not be responsible for others actions. If this happens, the child grows up with the belief that there’s something wrong with them that makes them unlovable. While the remaining parent may be able to provide emotional support and help the child develop a healthy sense of self-esteem, oftentimes very young children will still believe they are at fault.
Other types of childhood trauma can also lead to abandonment anxiety, such as childhood abuse, neglect, parental substance abuse, depression, or other mental disorders that parents unavailable can lead to long-term abandonment trauma.

Abandonment and Attachment
Children are born hardwired to become attached to caretakers which is critical for adult functioning and the development of interpersonal relationships. Childhood abandonment – real or perceived – causes problems forming secure attachments which can set the stage for poor quality of later relationships. Children who do not form secure attachments to their caregivers face challenges socializing with peers; the way most children learn social behaviors. Fear of abandonment is not found exclusively in childhood and can be seen in adults as well. Some adults who experienced childhood abandonment feel the effects and struggle to form satisfying relationships throughout their lifetime. A lack of a social support network deprives them of resiliency factors that provide protection from stress and a coping mechanism for handling the hardships in life.
While there are many effects of child abandonment, the hidden danger is that the person may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of long-term attachment issues, ongoing fear of abandonment, and lack of a supportive social network. Since an adult struggling with childhood abandonment has been silently enduring the psychological, emotional, and physical effects of abandonment for years, they may not realize that their feelings can be changed.
Signs and Symptoms of PTSD of Abandonment
The symptoms of PTSD related to early abandonment can significantly impact a person’s daily life, activities, and stress levels. Symptoms of abandonment trauma may include:
Mood Symptoms:
Intrusive, debilitating anxiety

Chronic feelings of insecurity

Chronic depression

Decreased self-esteem

Feelings of loss of control over life



Obsessive thinking and intrusive thoughts about the abandonment

Behavioral Symptoms:

Attraction to those who are unavailable to re-enact of the original abandonment
Heightened emotional responses related to abandonment triggers, such as feeling slighted, criticized, or excluded

Vulnerability in social situations

Emotional flashbacks from the time of abandonment/abuse

Addiction to self-medicate

Hyper-vigilance related to perceived threat similar to original trauma

Panic attacks related to unconscious triggers

Treatment Options for Abandonment Trauma at The Refuge

The severe, long-term consequences of childhood abandonment should be addressed as soon as possible; however this does not always happen. A child may grow not knowing there is an alternative to the way they feel. If PTSD does develop, these individuals may take it in stride, failing to identify the symptoms. These people may feel hopeless; that their future won’t be any better than their present or their past. Many have come to believe that they caused the abandonment and deserve to live a life of misery.
If you feel that you are in crisis, or are having thoughts about hurting yourself or others, please call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately.
While the fear of abandonment is a normal in childhood, at The Refuge, we know that there are many people who experienced actual or perceived abandonment during their development which may, in some people, become PTSD. Our PTSD and trauma treatment program includes a variety of therapeutic options to help process your early experiences and connect these with the ways this trauma has led to life-long difficulties. You deserve a life filled with happiness and the support of friends and family. Our compassionate, caring staff will provide you with empathy, treatment, and experiential methods allowing you to travel the path toward the life you want to live. We will show you how to accept your experiences as unchangeable and move past them. We’ll work with you to develop trust with techniques to aid in establishing and maintaining fulfilling relationships. We use empirically-validated therapeutic approaches, as well as experiential techniques to help you begin to heal.

Treatment approaches to abandonment trauma include:
Interpersonal therapy (IPT): focuses on social relationships and re-establishing normal roles in your life. This may include trusting others, increasing low self-esteem, setting emotional boundaries, increasing intimacy, an strengthening social situations. The goals of IPT is to help individuals establish a sense of mastery and control over life through establishing interpersonal relationships. We may use cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to teach you to identify inaccurate thoughts and learn to replace them with positive, accurate thoughts. Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT) integrates various strategies and validates your experiences, stabilizes your negative emotions, and helps you cope with stress. You will learn to accept your experiences, view them without emotion, and establish a plan to move past them.
Group therapy: We provide a variety of group therapy options at The Refuge. Our process groups will allow you to process your experiences while our psychoeducational groups will educate you about your difficulties, treatment, and other topics. The benefit of group therapy is that you will find you are not alone in what you’ve gone through and will be with peers who understand first-hand your experiences, thoughts, and feelings.
Intensive family therapy – Family Week: Families and loved ones are crucial in supporting you during your recovery. It can be difficult for those who’ve experienced abandonment to identify loved ones they feel comfortable involving in their therapy. We encourage you to identify at least one person in your life that you trust and will likely remain a stable presence in your life. Helping your loved one understand your experiences, disorder, treatment, and aftercare plan can help them understand you better and improve your relationship.
At The Refuge, we use a variety of methods to engage the senses as we are a holistic treatment center. Some of the sensation-based, experiential techniques we use include:

Art therapy

Creative expression

Ropes courses

Equine therapy

Music therapy

Dramatic experiencing


Sharing assignments and journal entries with the group and gaining feedback

Continuing Care- What Comes Next?

During your time with us, we’ll learn much about you and the trauma you’ve experienced, which allows your treatment team to identify the most appropriate aftercare options. Many people choose an outpatient setting with a high level of structure such as our partial hospitalization program (PHP). This program allows you to focus on your treatment during the day while slowly integrating back into our community. Other people may feel they’ve made enough progress with us to discharge home with referrals to traditional outpatient therapy and community resources. Whatever the next step on your journey, The Refuge will support you the whole


Claudia Black M.S.W., Ph.D.
The Many Faces of Addiction

Understanding the Pain of Abandonment

Living with repeated abandonment experiences creates toxic shame.

When children are raised with chronic loss, without the psychological or physical protection they need and certainly deserve, it is most natural for them to internalize incredible fear. Not receiving the necessary psychological or physical protection equals abandonment. And, living with repeated abandonment experiences creates toxic shame. Shame arises from the painful message implied in abandonment: “You are not important. You are not of value.” This is the pain from which people need to heal.
For some children abandonment is primarily physical. Physical abandonment occurs when the physical conditions necessary for thriving have been replaced by:
lack of appropriate supervision
inadequate provision of nutrition and meals

inadequate clothing, housing, heat, or shelter

physical and/or sexual abuse

Children are totally dependent on caretakers to provide safety in their environment. When they do not, they grow up believing that the world is an unsafe place, that people are not to be trusted, and that they do not deserve positive attention and adequate care.

Emotional abandonment occurs when parents do not provide the emotional conditions and the emotional environment necessary for healthy development. I like to define emotional abandonment as “occurring when a child has to hide a part of who he or she is in order to be accepted, or to not be rejected.”
Having to hide a part of yourself means:
it is not okay to make a mistake.
it is not okay to show feelings, being told the way you feel is not true. “You have nothing to cry about and if you don’t stop crying I will really give you something to cry about.” “That really didn’t hurt.” “You have nothing to be angry about.”

it is not okay to have needs. Everyone else’s needs appear to be more important than yours.

it is not okay to have successes. Accomplishments are not acknowledged, are many times discounted.

Other acts of abandonment occur when:

Children cannot live up to the expectations of their parents. These expectations are often unrealistic and not age-appropriate.
Children are held responsible for other people’s behavior. They may be consistently blamed for the actions and feelings of their parents.

Disapproval toward children is aimed at their entire beings or identity rather than a particular behavior, such as telling a child he is worthless when he does not do his homework or she is never going to be a good athlete because she missed the final catch of the game.

Many times abandonment issues are fused with distorted, confused, or undefined boundaries such as:

When parents do not view children as separate beings with distinct boundaries
When parents expect children to be extensions of themselves
When parents are not willing to take responsibility for their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, but expect children to take responsibility for them
When parents’ self-esteem is derived through their child’s behavior
When children are treated as peers with no parent/child distinction
Abandonment plus distorted boundaries, at a time when children are developing their sense of worth, is the foundation for the belief in their own inadequacy and the central cause of their shame.
Abandonment experiences and boundary violations are in no way indictments of a child’s innate goodness and value. Instead, they reveal the flawed thinking, false beliefs, and impaired behaviors of those who hurt them. Still, the wounds are struck deep in their young hearts and minds, and the very real pain can still be felt today. The causes of emotional injury need to be understood and accepted so they can heal. Until that occurs, the pain will stay with them, becoming a driving force in their adult lives.


Learning to ride the waves of anxiety

Just got back from Buffalo last night. Even ordinarily, this is a depressing, and horribly anxiety ridden time for me. All manner of fearful, depressing thoughts swirl inside my brain. So with this abandonment thing going on, I was very afraid, I mean actually afraid for myself, that I wouldn’t be able to handle it. But I am riding the waves of anxiety. Sometimes it feels like my chest cavity is full of hot red pepper, sometimes it’s so intense that it literally feels like a gut punch. But I know it is only anxiety and I ride it out. I tell myself it is only a wave of anxiety and it will pass. The thoughts, which are all fears for my son and his future, I try to keep at bay. I am also reading a wonderful book called “The Journey From Abandonment to Healing” by Susan Anderson. This book has given me so much hope that I have the power to recover and live my life without the constant fear of being abandoned. It tells of people who have recovered, therefore if they could do it why the heck wouldn’t I be able to? Of course I will. And now I’ll ride the anxious waves and try to send them love.


There is a well adjusted, normal child. He is sitting at his desk, coloring in a book.  This child’s mother says “I’m going to the store and I’m in a hurry so this time you can’t come.” He says “Fine” and goes back to coloring.

There is another child. Her mother is also going to the store and says to her “I’m going to the store, this time you can’t come, I’m going to be going to a work party after.” The child gets alarmed, and says “Please can I come?” Mom says no. The child is now upset, and tells her mom that she’ll be really good if her mom takes her. Mom still says no. The child is now agitated and upset and runs over to her mom and begs to be take to the store. Then she wraps herself around her mother’s leg and will not let her mother leave. This is an abandoned child.

How do you heal the abandoned child? How do you heal the hurt, the fear, the terror of abandonment?

Well I did a search on “How to heal abandonment issues?” and here is the link to the search: I got many articles, a few look very interesting like two below: 1)  2) and

Of course I will be going to my therapist and talking to her about all this as soon as I get back to Louisville.

I will blog about the process. Stay tuned. Same Bat Channel, same Bat time.

IMG_1084And Zumba helps inordinately