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Survivors Speak (Mariel) – A Healing Journey

This week we will hear the story of Mariel. She is the author of From Darkness to Embracing the Light: A Spiritual Guide to Reclaiming your Life after Soul Crushing Relationships (which you can find linked in this interview).

She has a doctorate in sociology and social psychology from the University of Maryland and a Master’s in writing from Johns Hopkins. She has written 8 books of poetry. Her education consists of many life lessons over the years on her spiritual journey.

When asked what she loves most, she shared: her love of travel, healing, sunsets, swimming, and living her best life now and in the future. She is sharing her story with us from Florida, USA with her beautiful boy cat Rocky at her side.

Her Story

I believe that my father’s abuse resulted in the dimming of my light and my true self for many years. His sexual abuse of me at age four, plus his neglect and verbal and emotional abuse my entire life, made it difficult to have a long-term fulfilling relationship and from having the self esteem to lead and achieve greater things.  

The Good and The Bad

I did have a happy 8 year marriage many years ago which ended because we were going in different directions career wise.  I had several other shorter term happy and healthy relationships, but the individuals just weren’t the ones for a lifetime.

But it has been a very long time since I have had a healthy relationship. I have a strong desire to move to higher levels of peace, love and joy and to have a companion to share life with. I currently have all my needs met, protectors in heaven, God all around, and a healthy body. I am working to heal myself of all that ails me with regard to sleep, mood and other effects of the trauma I experienced in my early years in order to move forward to my best life in my next 20 years. 

On the other hand, good resulted from the abuse because I became a strong and resilient person determined to do better than my father in terms of kindness, doing good in the world, and being the best aunt to my niece. I was determined to be independent, and made my own living for my entire life despite two marriages. I received three degrees beyond the bachelors.

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Time Slipped Away

I chose not to have children because subconsciously I was afraid of doing what my father did to me (which I didn’t know until I was 72), I did not want to be a neglectful and verbally and emotionally abusive parent. It wasn’t until my 40’s that I felt safe to have children and then I was in menopause.

Finding My True Self

I would say the biggest gift to being trauma bonded and then realizing my worth only later in life was that I could identify and avoid narcissistic and abusive men after that.  I broke the trauma bond by therapy and the many practices I detail in my book, including energy practices, forgiveness, loving myself, good self care, and extensive self education. I hope by writing the book and answering over 1400 questions on healing on Quora that I can help the half a million people who have looked at my answers to questions on trauma, narcissism and healing.

What are a couple things that have helped you manage your C-PTSD from day to day? Talk a little bit about what it is like to live with this diagnosis.

What helped me manage trauma from day to day is prayer, meditation, exercise, walking in nature, my support animal, and using tapping or the emotional freedom technique for pain or insomnia.  I only have tender, kind and supportive friends, and I eliminated negative people from my life. I lead a fulfilling life, helping others on Quora to overcome trauma and abuse. And I am constantly learning new techniques such as laughter, understanding my family history through genograms, Reiki, acupuncture, and halting negative thinking.  I also use dowsing to help me make decisions when I cannot decide what is in my best interest, and it feels like a guiding angel is helping me.

The Internal Shift

Several years ago, I had a kind of transformational shift where I was able to see how quickly I got pulled into depression and how quickly I gave up my dreams for the pursuit of the temporary pleasure of a narcissistic relationship chosen because of the trauma bond with my father.

I used all of the techniques in my book to heal from this successfully, including mindfulness, yoga, yoga nidra for sleeplessness and insomnia, a supportive church community, the Quora community, a daily gratitude list, and forest bathing when possible. I found that helping a friend, volunteering, forgiving a driver in traffic that cuts you off, or saying something nice to a clerk can be healing.  Start small with forgiving someone as forgiveness of a toxic person can take some time.

One psychiatrist recommends shaking your whole body to fast music. It is hard to be depressed or anxious whenever you do any of these activities. They are energy movers and help to move positive energy in and toxic energy out.

From Trauma to Inner Peace and Self-Love

Over the years, I didn’t realize I had been traumatized at this young age, but did seek the help of many therapists. In addition, I joined Adult Children of Alchoholics groups and was in Al-Anon for 20 years. This helped me to realize that my family was dysfunctional, that there was a support group and I could heal from this family dysfunction. I found Al Anon supportive and spiritual, and led me to a deeper life of spirituality.  I believe you can come out of darkness of trauma and abuse to peace, hope and love. 

Even if I have not met my soulmate, I have learned what love is, and I love myself, flaws and all. It is very important to learn to love yourself, pull yourself up in terms of self confidence, and heal from the trauma. Until I had the relationship with the last narcissist I dated, I had not learned of the early abuse. But then it all made sense– how I trauma bonded with inappropriate men despite being extremely picky in my choices. I know I am a Divine being who has been placed on the earth for a purpose and that purpose is to share with others what I have learned, how I healed old traumas, and encountered miracles at my lowest times.  

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Advice & Reassurance

My heart had been betrayed, but it was now open to the suffering of the world and the desire to alleviate it–not to give up myself for it, but to educate those who want to listen to the truth of who we are.

A Message to Survivors

We are bigger than the broken heart, the trauma and pain we suffer, we are here on this earth as souls making our way, finding our way back to God, and if we can do so by helping others, then that is a blessing that comes from trauma, a blessing that comes from pain.

We all have had some kind of trauma. I had a traumatic childhood and traumatic relationships. However, with age comes some wisdom and I realize that the trauma was there, but I have coped with it and moved on, I have healed enough to be healthy and to not be run by the trauma. It doesn’t define me.

All of us are broken in some ways, one just has to accept it and look for the lessons and good that come with it. Knowing  this brings much freedom. Freedom to live as we wish to live, to form boundaries and say no to what is not good for us, to find joy in sunshine peeking through clouds, a friendly face, or whatever small thing that happens on a gloomy day, a day as a gift to move forward into one’s life purpose, the inspiration that comes in a flash on a silent retreat, to turn the next page into joy and purpose, watching the waves come in and out like life’s ups and downs. 

I’d like everyone to know that if you are brave you can heal your own life, you can set out day by day to make your life better, forgive the past and open to the future. Because the future is yours for the taking.

You can wallow in the past, rue the day you met your narcissistic ex or were in an abusive family,  and sink into the pits of despair.  You could hold onto resentment, anger and blame for yourself or for your ex but it is just that, holding on or you can learn to accept and heal.

I learned that I must let go of the past in order to heal, I must see it as an act in the play of my life, only important for how it moves the story along until the end. The end will come and I didn’t want to still be on Act 2.  I have learned the lessons of the past despite my unwillingness at first. As they say in AA you have to be willing to accept that you have no power, no power over people, places and things, and no power over anyone but yourself.

Find Your Miracles

You will find miracles in your everyday life: every day since I healed from my abusive past has had prosperity, gratitude and freedom.  I am free to ask for what I want, to set boundaries so that I am comfortable, to pursue the activities I want, to engage with people or not, and to seek my dreams.  One of the greatest gifts from my past was to realize how much freedom I have, how I had imprisoned myself in “should haves,” “could haves” and other negative self-talk and resentments.

Now I open my arms to embrace myself, and I am the heroine of my own story.


A link to Mariel’s book, available for purchase by clicking the image. $9.99

“This book is mixed genre and includes memoir, prose and poetry describing my experience and lessons learned from being in relationship with individuals with the personality disorder of narcissism, part of the Dark Triad of disorders, and my recovery from the trauma of abuse at age four, and several narcissistic relationships. By using the 25 practices detailed in the book, I was able to heal from trauma, depression, anxiety, and acute stress that resulted from narcissistic relationships.”

Mariel Gordon
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Closing Comments

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