Hi (Please tag as slime) so long story short I was emotionally abused by my cousin since she could ever abuse me (so my whole life) and just as I basically am away from her, it occurred to me that my grandmother (whom I live with) is really manipulative and constantly triggers panic attacks for me due to how similar she acts to my cousin. I'm a minor and I depend on her to live and idk how i'm gonna make it till I move out, im just constantly angry and upset. Any advice on how to deal with this?
I can relate and empathize with how hard it is to be living in an environment that is often triggering and reminds you of past trauma and abuse. I am sorry you are stuck living with your grandmother for now. If there is anything you can do to find yourself another place to live, I highly recommend it, though I understand that this isn’t always an option. Keep reminding yourself that this living situation is only temporary, and that you will one day live somewhere you feel safe.
Some other things you can do, many of which I personally do now, as I am currently also living in an extremely unhealthy environment is:
- Create a safe space for yourself- whether its in your room, around your bed, a spot on the floor in the corner- wherever you can- and keep some comforting items there within arms reach like a stuffed animal, a journal, a candle/incense/something that smells good, lotion, a book, nail polish etc - healthy things you can sit down and engage yourself in when you are triggered or stressed or just need to be alone for a bit.
- Make plans to be out of the house as much as possible, even if some days it means just sitting outside or going for a walk. If your grandmother will only let you out on certain occasions, even offer to run errands for her- just so that you can get away from her and out of that environment for a bit.
- Have plans to look forward to. Maybe it is a lunch date with a friend next week, or a movie coming out next month you want to see, or your payday when you can spend $5 on yourself, or the release date of a band’s new album, even if its little things like that, it can still make the days passing by feel more bearable.
- Stay connected. Being in an unhealthy environment can be draining, but we still need and deserve support and to be social when possible.
- Reach out for support. Confide in a friend, family member, teacher, guidance counselor, or ideally a therapist if possible, and let them know what you are going through. We don’t have to face these things alone.
- Take care of yourself. Make sure you are eating, exercising, sleeping & hydrating, all in moderation. Get up, shower, brush your teeth on the bad days, even if you don’t want to. Everything on this bulleted list is self-care, but in particular make sure you are taking care of yourself physically, as this will help make you less vulnerable to the triggers and hopefully help you face them with more strength. it is harder to cope when we are vulnerable.
- Find a (creative) outlet. You said you are constantly feeling angry and upset. I wonder what you do with those feelings and how you express them. One healthy way to express them is through a creative outlet. Maybe thats writing, blogging, singing, painting, drawing, making art of any kind, dancing, playing an instrument etc. Or getting out that anger physically by doing karate, going for a walk/run/swim, punching a pillow, throwing ice cubes at hard surfaces (they often shatter like glass, its rather satisfying!), ripping up paper, thats all I can think of right now, but there’s tons more ideas out there. Like Here: 40 Ways to Cope with Anger
Also check out these resources on coping with emotional abuse and setting boundaries:
- A master post: For Victims of Emotional/Psychological Abuse
- Coping with flashbacks
- Caring for yourself
- Psychological abuse
- Therapy for abuse victims
- Tons of abuse information and coping links
- 10 ways to build emotional boundaries
- Creating emotional freedom
- Healthy personal boundaries
- Emotional boundaries
Keep these things in mind, and keep hanging in there. You will be free from that environment before you know it.