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I Forgive Myself for Who I was in Survival Mode

by | Dec 12, 2023 | All, Life with an Alcoholic, My Struggles, Personal Development, Relationships, Stress & Anxiety

Are you living in survival mode? For more years than I want to admit, I was. I survived a relationship that wrecked and broke me. And every day people ask me that dreaded question….”Why did you stay for as long as you did?” and in all honesty, my answer is not a good one. Sometimes I find myself sharing a story from my past with someone, and seeing the look of horror on their face as I tell it. My first thought is always “Yeah I just heard that for the first time too.”

Looking back, I’m often embarrassed and angry with myself for the way I managed the trauma of a severely toxic relationship. And lately, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find the right words to describe what it feels like to live this way, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s probably not something that can ever truly be expressed to the fullest. But here’s my best attempt.

Survival mode is a like a cousin of PTSD, in that it results from trauma –likely long-term trauma or sometimes traumas that happened consistently for a short amount of time. It can also be from traumas that happened in a pattern, so they created a sense of a new confirmed reality. If you’ve lived like this, you understand exactly what I’m talking about.

What do I mean by trauma? I mean experiences that evoke terror, extreme stress or an overwhelming panic that causes your adrenaline to spike far past what it might during a really exciting action film. I’m talking about fear-inducing situations that don’t match the average of your life experiences in their level of severity. My traumatic experiences changed the way I defined my world in a twisted way.

Being in a relationship with an alcoholic narcissist altered my perceptions and reset my idea of “normal”, because my brain couldn’t make sense of what was happening. In order to survive the chaos and pain that comes with loving a man who abuses alcohol, I had to put on my blinders and get through whatever was happening like it was just a regular day. Because when you go through that kind of trauma, it’s easier to accept your reality, rather than face the uncomfortable truths – otherwise it’s too devastating to process. So, when my brain couldn’t make sense of the logic behind something, (because logic does not exist in the behavior of an alcoholic narcissist) I sought out ways to justify my “normal” and accept what was happening. That way I could feel “in control” of the intensity of what I was feeling, and convince myself that it was  “normal”, regardless of the vast extremes of toxicity I was experiencing.

Living this way, kept me outside of my life – and more often than not, I was unable to truly engage and enjoy the world I was living in. So, I drowned myself in work and busyness to avoid dealing with the traumas I was enduring on a daily basis. This was not healthy or sustainable, but it was the only way to manage being in a constant state of reaction, stress, and exhaustion.

The woman I was while in that relationship, is not the woman I am now; and I often wonder how I ended up in that kind of relationship. It’s simple. I was a naive 29 year old woman who didn’t understand or recognize addiction, narcissism was not a word in my vocabulary, and I still believed that everyone was inherently good.  By the time the red flags started to become clear to me, I was in too deep. I thought I was in love. Children were involved. I thought I could fix him. Silly girl.

I am not sharing my story because I’m looking for sympathy, or want to be seen as a victim. I am a victim of my own choices, and no one is to blame for anything. I blame myself for losing sight of my worth and believing that I couldn’t find someone else to love me.

So, while we’re not responsible for getting ourselves into these situations, we are responsible for getting ourselves out….and the only way out is through it. My story was meant to be mentorship to somebody else, so I’m going to keep telling it. I went from surviving to thriving, and you can too.

XOXO,
Allison Rose

Allison Rose

Founder at Filter Free Bullsh!t Free

Entrepreneurship is my addiction, Sharing my story and empowering others is my passion. My girl gang, my family and tequila shots fuel my soul & calm my head. I’m here to inspire and to be inspired.

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