We were up last night, cuddling in the corner of the couch where I once believed the lies of a narcissistic drama loving pathetic excuse for a family. “Do you want to go to bed?” “No, no, no.” Little arms around my neck. How did this happen, when did my baby become all limbs and torso and tall, who is this child who will hold my gaze indefinitely, pressing our foreheads together so we each have one giant eye, who answers my promptings of “Who does Mama love?” “Who makes Mama happy?” correctly.

I remember the first night in that same spot, and I think a lot about trauma all the time, worrying about your little brain and my own. It will never be enough. We didn’t cocoon, really, but we became hermits so maybe that should count for something.

I bribed you back to bed with juice that you were too sleepy to drink. I would have stayed on the couch with you if it had been at all comfortable, and if I didn’t have to get up this morning. As it was you went to bed and slept peacefully, or so it seemed, and I went to bed and was woken with a panic attack (again) after dreaming that my current (good!) boss and a coworker set up a meeting with me to tell me I had received a promotion but it was at the church. I could have the job I wanted in 2010, or I could stay in my current job. In the dream, I decided against my will to go with the church, because it was more money and, in the dream, I thought more flexible hours. I didn’t want it as I agreed to it, I didn’t want to have to pretend to agree with the things I would be required to agree with, or believe things I didn’t believe, or deal with the politics and drama and people and cult behaviors, and the entire thing was a nightmare I still haven’t fully been able to shake. I realize now why I dreamed it, at least partially – some similar conversations/events not involving me at work. But I woke up hyperventilating and shaky and super anxious. I would never, ever, ever choose that. No matter how miserable I am now, I would never. And yet it was what I thought I wanted.

So I go back to googling trauma and PTSD and anxiety. I fail to call back someone who mentioned questions about dissociation and trauma and I realize the word “dissociation” is a legitimate description of the complaint I’ve had for months, which is that “my brain just shuts off” intermittently throughout the day. “I’m doing a thing, and then I’m not. It’s just gone.” How many people have I said this to? So many. I don’t know the cause. It feels like microsleeping, or maybe it is. There’s something else to worry about.

Then I decide no, that’s dumb, it was a dumb church, that was all. Except if I read through lists of “signs you’re in an abusive relationship”, they fit. With my former boss or with the church. Can you be in an abusive relationship with a whole church? So many of them are accurate. The connection of psychological or emotional abuse to trauma doesn’t seem crazy at all.

Emotional abuse in the workplace provides more articles. Scholarly ones. But emotional abuse seems so strong. Until I remember that my narcissistic bossย managed to post my position online without telling me I was fired, posted it two days before the holidays hoping I wouldn’t notice, and never told HR about it. How did that even work? Who was in charge of website updates? And would it have even mattered, with the amount of nepotism and power that his supervisor had in her favor?

In conclusion, 3/3 members of this household have night terrors.