“What is real?”
This is a question that frequently shakes me when clients and students ask it to me.
The asking of it reveals the deep psychological abuse that’s been perpetrated on them. Reality has been folded into confusing knots, riddled with exceptions, blame-shifting, and gas-lighting. Their personal sense of reality lies on the floor of their minds as a thousand shards of glass.
Nothing makes sense anymore.
This is deliberately done by the abuser in each phase of the Seduction-Abuse-Discard cycle.
The target starts to lose sense of their own feelings, reality, and perception in Seduction. The grandiose, intense, and addictive nature of seduction triggers their brains into a fawning state, interrupting the brains critical reasoning capabilities. They start to go into a “fog”, losing contact with their bodies, their senses, and becoming engulfed in the attention of the seducer.
The abuse phase tears apart the target’s trust in their own ability to sense reality and see what is happening. Their complaints, pain, and boundaries are deranged into weapons against their own sense of what is real. They’re made to question their recall on things and to internalize the emphatic and often passionate diatribes of the abuser as truth. “Am I the problem? Am I the abuser? Did I earn this? What is wrong with me??”
They begin to trust the abuser is right and who they should trust. They begin to distrust themselves and discard their own sense of reality.
Then comes the discard phase. This takes what is left of reality and shatters it against the wall. The target’s confidence in understanding what has happened to them escapes with the abuser. They’ve lost their center of reality. They cannot trust themselves as they’ve been convinced they cannot see reality effectively. They MUST depend on another.
This is where they’re most vulnerable to being hoovered back into the abuse cycle or absorbed in new one.
What’s worse is the codependent brain has its own set of fantasies that keep it locked into seeking out perpetrators. This comes from the brain’s fawning response. It is how it has coped with the terror and the neglect. It is how it survived.
And it is here where we must confronting reality and bringing into perspective what is real. We must restore reality through sane-making.
To quote myself from a previous post:
“Codependent fantasies are built with 4 elements: Beliefs, Illusions, Denials, and Primacy Of Emotion.
Beliefs are what the person believes is real about the fantasy. They’re comprised of assumptions made about yourself, the situation, and the other person involved in the fantasy.
They include claims like, “their love makes me lovable” and “they’re the only one that could complete me” and something is better than nothing”.
Beliefs feed the Illusions (aka false ideas) we create about the other person. Illusions reinforce the claim that the Beliefs are reality and factual. Common Illusions include, “they’re bad behavior is solely because of trauma” and “my love can heal them”, and “by changing me, I will change them.”
Beliefs and Illusions are protected by Denials.
Denials are actual facts about yourself, the other person, and the situation that contradict the Beliefs and Illusions. These include, “their abuse isn’t that bad”, “your pain isn’t that important and not really that severe”, and “They’re not abusive, they’re traumatized.”
Denials will always defend the abuser and condemn yourself.Beliefs, Illusions, and Denials are powered by the belief that Emotion dictates reality. I call this, “The Primacy Of Emotion”. It is inherently contradicting, as only certain emotions denote reality and others are signals of “work to be done.”
Dominantly, The Primacy of Emotion defends and upholds that Euphoria is THE signal that the relationship is “meant to be”, is “my twin flame”, and the pain in the relationship is the pathway back to the Euphoria. This is why codependents are hooked on fixing themselves. They believe by fixing themselves, they will change the abuser, and the relationship will return to the Euphoric state.
This is the ultimate fantasy.
We crack the Fantasy with gentle sane making. Sane Making is the process of acknowledging, legitimizing and integrating one’s personal experience and being able to denote the facts regarding situations so reality and truth can be coaxed out. It is both painful, confronting, and deeply critical that we make this journey. One cannot be free of the trauma bond’s grip or codependency’s influence without this.”
This is the initial work of any codependent – coming back to reality and trusting that reality as legitimate.
Today, consider trusting YOUR lived experience as real, valid, and legitimate and see what shifts for you.