Why Keeping Telling Your Narcissistic Abuse Story Can Keep You Stuck
This week, we will talk about the negative effects of keeping repeating your story over and over. Of course, all of us who went through narcissistic abuse want to be heard and validated, and thats why we need to tell our story. However, from a neuroscience perspective, the more we keep telling our story of abuse, the more we are slowing down our healing process. Today, we will explore how our mind works and understand what happens in our body when we talk about our story of abuse, and what can help us to overcome this trauma. What You Will Learn In This Episode: – Why repeating our story of abuse over and over makes our healing process slower – What Trauma Vortex is and how we get there – What happens in our body every time we relive our relationship with a narcissist – Why we must pay attention to the content we consume on the internet and on social media about narcissistic abuse Much of the content about narcissistic abuse we see on social media is about how terrible it is, whether it is made with humour through memes or actual stories. And it is awful indeed, but that kind of content focuses on the narcissist, on the abuse and, therefore, activates the negative feelings we had while enduring that abuse. The way I see it, our focus should be elsewhere – on our recovery, what we can learn about ourselves, and what we can use from it to grow and evolve. Resources:
Postnatal Depression Or Symptoms Of Narcissistic Abuse
I had a fascinating conversation recently about postnatal depression and the symptoms of narcissistic abuse, and I thought it would be interesting to do an episode about it. Today I share the different challenges I faced during pregnancy, my own experience with postnatal depression, and the realisation that what I was feeling was mostly trauma-based. What You Will Learn In This Episode: – What triggered my inner wounds during my first pregnancy, and why I felt not good enough as a mother – How I ended up with the belief that I had to choose between being enough either as mom or wife, but not both – Why I decided to stay after finding out my ex-husband was cheating on me – Looking at postnatal depression as protector parts distracting us from being in a loveless marriage When we come from a place of anger, depression, anxiety, self-harm or addictions, it could be a part of us protecting us from a core wound our brain believes is too painful to feel. Narcissists are specialists in shining big spotlights on our inner wounds, and the more they do that, the more our protector parts show up and get louder. Eventually, what we think is the problem, actually is a symptom of the problem, and for us to experience post-traumatic growth, it is crucial we get curious about it. Resources:
We May Discover Our Truest Most Authentic Selves
There can be a powerful silver lining after going through this hideous ordeal: a newly discovered authenticity.
According to Gaum, the one thing she wishes every survivor knew is that the process of healing from narcissistic abuse tends to unleash a raw and courageous authenticity. Because recovering from narcissistic abuse allows us to dismantle narratives and replace them with authentic ones, Dr. Ramani explains.
So as we divorce ourselves from the notion that were not good enoughthat we were never good enoughwe start to realize the things the narcissist said about us werent true. We learn that our experiences and feelings are valid. We learn about our needs and boundaries. We realize that our sensitivities dont make us weak. All of that helps rebuild our self-esteem, our sense of selves, our identities. Which, for even the most functional, healthy adults, is a process that can take years.
So even after suffering through terrible abuse, we now have this: a more whole, intact sense of self, and a new sense of autonomy. And, as Dr. Ramani says, survivors actually have the opportunity to do the important inner work that will pay dividends for a lifetime.
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What Does It Look Like
We all desire attention and admiration from the people around us.
But people with NPD may react with narcissistic rage when they arent given the attention that they feel they deserve.
This rage may take the form of screaming and yelling. Selective silence and passive-aggressive avoidance can also happen with narcissistic rage.
Most episodes of narcissistic rage exist on a behavior continuum. On one end, a person may be aloof and withdrawn. Their goal may be to hurt another person by being absent.
On the other end are outbursts and explosive actions. Here again, the goal may be to turn the hurt they feel into an attack on another person as a form of defense.
Its important to remember that not all angry outbursts are episodes of narcissistic rage. Anyone is capable of having an angry outburst, even if they dont have a personality disorder.
Narcissistic rage is just one component of NPD. Other conditions might also cause episodes similar to narcissistic rage, including:
- paranoid delusion
There are three primary reasons that narcissistic rage happens.
Key Takeaways About Recovering From Narcissistic Abuse
It is a long, bumpy road ahead for the victim of narcissistic abuse. Their confidence, self-esteem, self-efficacy need to be rebuilt and they must get in touch with the friends or family members you lost due to the narcissistic partners control over everything you did. Do not feel ashamed at seeking help from a mental health professional or a support group. You are not alone and you do not have to recover by yourself.
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We Might Lose People But Well Also Create Newer Healthier Relationships
Some people cant understand, or wont want to understand, our trauma.
Telling our friends that our ex-partner was abusive might mean forcing them to pick sides in the break-up. Telling our family that our parents narcissism damaged us irreparably as a child might alienate us from the rest of the family, because were bringing an ugly truth to the surface that theyre not prepared to deal with.
So while recovery enables survivors to better express needs and boundaries, it can also cause us to lose relationships along the way. When survivors of narcissistic abuse come out about their experiences, they are often met with disbelief, invalidations, minimizations, gaslighting, and blame, even from people who they love and believed they could trust, says Gaum. Survivors stories of abuse are often met with statements like, but Ive never seen them behave that way, or well, there are two sides to every story, or if was so bad, why did you stay so long?
Some of these relationships might be permanently damaged or fractured, which can be terrifying. But while we can never be fully prepared to lose relationships, its not all bleak there are plenty of emerging organizations specifically working to make survivors feel more heard and understood by telling survivors stories, and encouraging survivors to connect, validate, and support one another.
How Does Your Mind Respond To The Trauma Associated With Narcissistic Abuse
Following each traumatic event you go through during narcissistic abuse, you will deal with uncomfortable and potentially devastating emotional and psychological effects. For example, it might mean you deal with experience denial and/or shock. So many survivors of narcissistic abuse tell me that they do not even realize that they are being abused until they feel too stuck to leave or until they are discarded and trying to figure out what happened.
In any case, you might find yourself living in the stress response for days or weeks before going through a series of emotions that could lead to healing. Note: while some level of relief may occur for those who are still dealing with narcissistic abuse, it is very difficult to fully heal unless you free yourself of the ongoing abuse. In most cases, that means youll need to go no contact with your abuser .
When you stick around and continue to tolerate narcissistic abuse, youre doing more than making your life harder. The ongoing abuse makes it nearly impossible to heal, and this can result in a serious impact on your overall health and wellbeing.
Symptoms of emotional and psychological trauma include the following.
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What Is A Toxic Relationship
A toxic relationship is similar to a dysfunctional relationship, but it is in many ways far less repairable. While therapy and ongoing effort can repair many dysfunctional relationships, toxic relationships are physically and/or psychologically unsafe. They can even be life-threatening for one or both partners involved. A toxic relationship involves more negativity than positivity, and it doesnt emotionally support one or both of the people involved. When narcissistic abuse is part of a toxic relationship, only the narcissists needs are addressed and the victim is actively manipulated and abused in order to facilitate this.
Toxic relationships will involve resentment, contempt, communication problems, and varying forms of physical, emotional, and psychological abuse. In the most extreme cases, you may need medical help and intense therapy to begin recovery. I always suggest seeing your doctor and getting checked out on a regular basis anyway, and I think it is an important first step in narcissistic abuse recovery. This way, youll know for sure what youve got to deal with, and you can get your doctors advice on taking the next steps in your personal journey toward recovery.
No Or Minimal Contact
If you do not have any more entanglements with them, keep it that way. Do not even dream of staying friends. Keep accountable to someone you can contact when you want to communicate with the narcissist. If you have joined responsibilities and assets, engage professionals and intermediaries. This applies even to going to your previously shared property to collect your belongings.
Co-parenting with a narcissist can be more difficult than parenting on your own they’ll use your children as puppets to hurt you further and undo the parenting you do. If you are fighting legal battles with your narcissistic ex, they’ll use the court as their new playground for abuse. Remember, they know which buttons to push to discredit you so do your part by engaging trusted lawyers and therapists who truly understand narcissistic abuse, have your back, and support you to be in an emotionally stable place. It takes a village to reclaim true freedom.
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Can You Get Ptsd From A Narcissistic Parent
Partner abuse is the most common type of narcissistic abuse, but its not the only form. While partner abuse usually lasts for only a few months or years, narcissistic abuse by parents can go on for decades.
Complex PTSD symptoms from narcissistic abuse are nearly guaranteed in children of narcissistic parents.
This is especially true given the power dynamics between parent and child, with the children being completely reliant on the parent for both material and emotional support.
Narcissistic parents use that dynamic to extract narcissistic supply at will, demanding that their child show love and adoration on demand to receive food and affection.
A childs relationship with their parents acts as a roadmap for future relationships too, with narcissistic parents inculcating a belief in their children that love is transactional.
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Stabilize Your Life And Living Conditions
You may need help in the beginning. Many victims stay in an abusive relationship because they dont have the financial resources or support to leave.
Your abuser will only think of himself. Remember, it is all about him. He will never make it easy for you to leave while you are supplying his needs. He will make you believe that leaving him is impossible. Remember it is NOT love. It is inevitable that one day he will discard you. That is his nature. Go now!
You will have to be creative. Do not risk your safety by staying. Many cities in America have secret places where abused women and their children can be housed and helped to start a safer life. There are resources listed below that can be of help.
Often victims keep the secrets from their family and friends. This is exactly what your abuser wants you to do. It gives him power. You remain isolated.
Lets talk about why you have kept the secrets. You feel embarrassed, ashamed, and guilty about what occurred in your home.
Your abuser has told you repeatedly that you are stupid that you are crazy and he can show a most charming face to the world. Right? You are nothing he is everything!
The thought of speaking out gives you a knot in your stomach. It makes you panic. It makes you cry. But you have made the decision to leave. Get to safety. Then tell the secrets.
Its time to shout it from the mountain tops. Tell your friends and family you need their support. Tell everyone you know. Take his power away.
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Understanding The Narcissistic Family System
In the Narcissistic Family System, the parent is not interested in being a loving, concerned parent that puts the needs of their child first. Instead, the narcissistic parent expects even demands that their spouse and children revere and worship them, much as a cult leader demands compliance and adoration from their cult members.
Children are groomed from a very young age to serve as a mirror that reflects back to the parent their own faultless image. The child that reflects the parent in the most satisfying ways will inhabit the role of the golden child in the family system , while the scapegoat child is destined to carry the narcissistic parents repressed self-hatred and disowned darkness, badness, or shadow parts.
When a parent is a malignant narcissist, family members are nothing more than dehumanized objects who are used to prop up the narcissistic parents false personae the puffed up, aggrandized, and idealized self that others must constantly reflect back to them. The spouse and children of the malignant narcissist are not able to exist and function as whole, human selves with feelings, thoughts, needs, and wants of their own. They exist only to serve the intrapsychic needs of the narcissist, which are twisted, endless, and primitive in nature .
Trauma Treatment Can Help You Address Self
Your narcissistic partner was concerned about themselves first and foremost in your relationship. They lacked empathy for you. Thus, you may have learned to have very little compassion for yourself as well. Shame may be overwhelming now. You may feel unable to comfortably show yourself much care or acceptance.
Trauma therapy can support your emotional well-being by helping you feel less fragile and susceptible to self-defeating thoughts. Separating from a toxic narcissist can be effectively aided by approaches like neurofeedback. Thereby, youll learn to support emotional regulation, more productive thought patterns, and the ability to redirect self-defeating behaviors.
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Recovering From Narcissistic Family Abuse
When an adult survivor of narcissistic family abuse first seeks out psychotherapy, they will often have no idea that they grew up in a dysfunctional or narcissistic family system. If they are the scapegoated adult survivor of a narcissistic family system, they will often present with feelings of extreme confusion, sadness, rage, and symptoms of complex trauma .
Recovery therefore begins with psycho-education regarding growing up in a narcissistic family system and the impact that this has had upon their psyche, likely from a very early age. Identifying their role in the family will also add much-needed insight in regard to how the client / adult survivor has been impacted.
Identifying maladaptive survival responses is also a critical part of recovering from narcissistic family abuse. Maladaptive survival responses are ways of coping that allowed the adult survivor to adapt to their dysfunctional, abusive family environment, but do not serve them well today. For example, appeasing behaviors that helped the child avoid the wrath of their narcissistic parent may in actuality be the trauma response of fawning, which will need to be addressed as part of a trauma-informed therapy and recovery process.
Getty image by Katia Fonti.
Narcissistic Abuse Recovery: 7 Stages Of Healing For Victims
Narcissism is an evil that masquerades as good. Like a Pied Piper this master illusionist can lead you to Hell all while making you feel flattered to be chosen to go there. Only when you wake up in Hell do you realize the real evil that existed in his fluted song. By then its too late not only have you fallen victim, but most likely you have paid for the flute, as well. ~Tigress Luv
Narcissistic abuse should not be taken lightly for it is a very unique and emotional type of abuse. You might have just ended, or are thinking of ending, a toxic relationship and seeking information on how to start your narcissistic abuse recovery process. This article is perfect to help you to shine again without fear.
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Loss Of Sense Of Self And Self
You may feel as if you have completely lost yourself. Narcissistic abuse is a form of brainwashing, and as such, it can destroy your sense of self-worth. You may no longer feel like the person you were before all this began.
In many cases, those who have experienced narcissistic abuse will struggle to recognize themselves in the mirror because they no longer see their true reflection staring back at them.
You may also have trust issues with other people , and constantly find yourself doubting or second-guessing yourself.
You may begin to feel like you are not good enough or that you did something to cause the abuse in the first place. This can lead to shame and embarrassment, which may often stop you from reaching out for help.
You may also have trouble making decisions. You may get confused by simple decisions, or you might feel unable to make any decision at all.
Narcissistic abusers will often try to derail your goals and aspirations. They want to control everything about you, down to the activities that made up who you were as a person.