Abuse as a form of pain relief…

I hadn’t realised until yesterday how much I rely on being abused just in order to function in a half-normal way…

If people see me, for the most part I’m smiling, working, singing, laughing, or whatever. I do this because my emotions are shut down. I don’t feel the emotional pain that needs soothing, but is frankly overwhelming and unmanageable. I have numbed it. I have my pain-relief for emotions and it’s very effective.

But what is my pain relief?
Being abused. If my emotions are too overwhelming and there isn’t somebody around to abuse me, I’ll either go out and look for an abuser (rational head switched OFF) or abuse myself by starving myself and self-harming.

WHY?! I hear you all scream. HOW COULD YOU BE SO STUPID?!

It is not stupidity. There is a very logical explanation for this very illogical behaviour.

If a person is stressed, or overwhelmed with emotions, then they instinctively look for methods in the past that have alleviated the emotional distress, and allowed them to return to a normal human being. This is at least a short-term intervention strategy until a better long-term plan has been found or used. For example, if a person suddenly feels overwhelmed with stress in the office and wants to scream and swear at the person irritating them, they are more likely to make a cup of coffee, step outside for some air, regain control and go and firmly but professionally tell said person where to “shove it.”

What if your past taught you that emotions are dangerous – tools for people to hurt you with – and you must switch them off ASAP? What if your past also taught you that the fastest and most efficient way to turn emotions off is if someone hurts you so badly that you dissociate? What if this was taught to you consistently and 100% efficiently for 20 years? To the point that you don’t even think about it, you just instinctively know that being abused means you shut down your emotions, and can therefore think straight and plan your escape… your escape from the abuse, which is causing the bad emotions, which are shut down from abuse. You see the cycle of hell going on here??

So I’ve had 20 years of this cycle. I’m not sure yet how to break out. My emotions overwhelm me, scare me, intimidate me and hurt me beyond measure. I instinctively go out looking for an abuser to rape me so that I am numbed, or failing that I starve myself, cut myself, and hurl emotional abuse at myself. It works. Everytime. Suddenly I’m numb-bot again and can function.

But of course it’s only a short-term solution, because the effects of said abuse cause emotional damage. Which adds to the already emotional upheaval. So an even bigger attempt to numb the emotions is needed. So the abuse needs to escalate.

Cycle of *hell*. And I don’t always realise I’m trapped in it…until I feel trapped, and have no way of escape…

J

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2 thoughts on “Abuse as a form of pain relief…

  1. It works at a physical level, releasing endorphins, which have a numbing effect.

    I think the answer is to work at finding other ways to take the edge off before the emotions are so unmanageable you shut down and start acting out of habit and instinct.

    You’re eating an elephant, here. A bit at a time. That’s the best you can do. It’s not easy and it’s definitely not fun.

    I’ve had some luck with using some DBT methods, especially distress tolerance.

    Take care and keep at it. You’ll get there.

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