Tag Archives: abuse

How Our Stories Keep Us Stuck

One of the most common questions victims of narcissistic abuse ask me is “how do I stop thinking about it?”  There are a lot of reasons we get stuck in ruminating about the narcissist and what he or she has done.  Often the behavior you have witnessed is atrocious, even unforgivable as you might see it.  So we are not talking about the behavior here.  We are talking about YOU. What can you do to stop this ruminating cycle of obsession and hyper-focus on the abuser and the abuse?

We don’t often think about how our stories keep us stuck, but this is exactly what happens.  Everybody has a story.  The story might go like this.  “He was having an affair with another woman for the past three years we were together and every time I felt suspicious and ask him questions he told me I was crazy and got really upset with me.  I ended up feeling I was the problem and believed I was just needy and insecure.”

Okay, so this story is a painful one, no doubt.  You are likely feeling betrayed, used, deeply hurt and conned.  Your feelings are real.  I acknowledge them and you need to give yourself permission to feel the pain of this deep betrayal.  Feeling the feelings is an important part of your recovery.  But there is more.

When we experience a traumatic event, our tendency is to tell people about it.  We talk about what happened to us. It is both a way to process the trauma and get other’s opinions on how they see the event.  This is what we call validation.   You might tell yourself, “If you also believe that what he did to me was absolutely horrible, then it proves I’m not really going crazy.”

Often when with narcissists, they pull the “crazy” card, as a way of denying responsibility and controlling your reactions to their behavior.  It is also their way of controlling how other people see their behavior.  If a narcissist can get others to believe “you are crazy,” then they don’t look so bad.

The tendency is to want to defend yourself to all those “others” who have heard the “you are crazy” story.  But this doesn’t help.  People will always believe exactly what they want to.  People will believe what serves them the most.

What is important is not what others believe, but what YOU believe.  A minister once told me “It is done unto you as you believe, so don’t you believe it.”  We actually can choose what we believe.

Are you going to believe your “victim” story to the point where it continues to drive the dagger deeper into your heart every time you tell it to yourself or others?

The best way to shift the story is to learn to catch yourself while you are telling it, and also look for the lesson.  We can learn something very valuable from every life experience; even the most traumatic and painful.  So what did you learn from the experience?

The story I told earlier about the woman whose significant other had been cheating on her for the past three years and made her feel like she was crazy when she communicated her concerns with him, has an excellent lesson.  The woman did not trust herself.  She allowed the man she was with to make her feel she was crazy rather than align with her own intuitive knowing.  She felt in her heart that something wasn’t right.  She was suspicious of him and her suspicions proved to be true.  What she can learn is to trust her intuition.  She can learn that the part of her that knows something is not right is trying to communicate with her and she needs to listen and follow through, rather than go deeper into denial.

This woman’s responsibility in this situation is her own lack of trust in herself.  Her trust in herself was trumped by her significant other’s accusations of her.  Of course, once she found out the truth, she realized her partner had been lying to her and manipulating her and she feels very angry about this.  But at some point, she has to take responsibility for her part by acknowledging that she knew the truth but was unwilling to own it.  It was easier for her to stay in denial.

Her story can now change from “my partner was cheating on me for three years and everytime I said something to him about my suspicions, he made me feel like I was going crazy,” to “I knew something was going on but refused to trust myself.”  The first story makes her feel like a victim, but the second story gives her power.  Why?  Because she can do something about it.  She can’t do anything about who her partner turned out to be.  She is powerless to change him and his behavior.  But she does have power to change herself, to begin to build trust in herself and listen to her intuition.

Changing the story to one that empowers you, takes the “emotional charge” off the situation.  It can be difficult to admit the deeper truth to yourself, but the truth is what sets you free.  This is not about blaming yourself in any way.  There is a huge difference between self-blame and self -responsibility. With self-blame you are saying “it is my fault he had the affair because I wasn’t enough.”  Or you might say “it is my fault because I didn’t trust myself.”  When you are self-responsible, you are saying “what he did was terrible and I can’t change who he is, but I do have the power to change me, to listen to my “inner voice” and trust myself.”  We can’t go back and change the past, but we can surely change how we do things in the future.

One thing that needs to be understood is that each time we reinforce the version of the story that leaves us feeling powerless, we are ripping the scab off the wound and experiencing the pain over and over again.  There is a difference between fully experiencing one’s pain and releasing it and continuing to activate the pain body over and over again with the stories we tell ourselves.  When we do this, we are re-living the painful event over and over and re-traumatizing ourselves as a result.

Our stories are powerful!  So we need to be very selective about the stories we are telling ourselves.  Are they victim stories, or empowerment stories?  Choosing to upgrade your stories from victim to empowerment will make the difference between staying stuck in your pain and moving out of pain.

The Core of All Wounds

Dr. Judy Rosenberg, psychologist, tells us that human disconnect is at the root of our wounds.

As human beings, we need to have connection with others and the more disconnected we feel, the more difficult it can be to have healthy relationships with others.

The original cause of human disconnect happens in infancy when there is a lack of connection with the Mother and Father. This lack of bonding or connection with Mother can happen for a number of reasons including premature births, resulting in having to be in an incubator, postpartum depression or any other kind of depression, rigid rules having to do with allowing the baby to “cry out” rather than comfort and soothe the baby, personality disorders, mental illness, physical illness, addiction and even death or divorce of a parent. We also have extreme circumstances such as childhood abuse and incest.

Rosenberg says that breast feeding, eye contact and skin to skin contact is very important for the infant to build a strong sense of self. When a mother or father looks lovingly into the eyes of the baby, the baby is provided healthy mirroring and gets the sense he/she is loved and valued.  If a parent is “distracted” or preoccupied, this kind of connection may be limited, or not happening at all.

Once we are adults, we can’t go back and change the circumstances of our childhood but we can heal by understanding and learning how to connect with ourselves.

Understanding that the original relationship of baby to Mother and Father is the cause of the disconnect wound, does not mean we “blame the parent.”  Developing this understanding helps the “adult child” to realize the disconnect wound was not his/her fault but healing it in adulthood is his/her responsibility.

The disconnect wound, like the sins of the Father, are passed down from generation to generation and until someone in the family tree breaks the chain by healing their own disconnection wounds, the problem will continue to be passed down.

There is a huge difference between fault and responsibility. Blaming anyone for how we feel will not help us to heal. But truly accessing our “feeling” states will help us reconnect to ourselves, to God/ Spirit and to each other in a more authentic way. Continue reading The Core of All Wounds

Anchoring Love in a Time of Fear

14610936_1277621358970672_4565553264326758542_nThe energy on the planet, especially in the U.S. is very intense right now. That intensity has found its way into my life, even as I have done my best to stay positive and anchored in love. What has been the most difficult thing for me is feeling so judged by people when I express my views, which are positive, hopeful and anchored in the vibration of love. I ask those who lash out to take responsibility for their own emotions, and they lash out more.

Finally, I resolve to disconnect from those who are expressing such hostility. But often they chose to disconnect from me first because of their disappointment in me.

I am healing some pretty deep wounds; as are we all, and one of the most difficult things to experience is feeling judged and having people disappointed in me. It triggers my core shame. I don’t like the way I feel. I want people to like me! I want to be accepted. I want to be approved of. But this is being challenged right now. Continue reading Anchoring Love in a Time of Fear

Vulnerability After Narcissistic Abuse

meditationinnerchiAfter you have gone through the painful trauma of narcissistic abuse you are vulnerable, fragile and heartbroken. It is easy to reach for an addiction or a new relationship to distract you from the pain. If you meet someone of the opposite sex who seems understanding it may feel like a breath of fresh air after being devalued and discarded. We crave positive attention, affection and comfort.

True recovery; however, involves finding the courage within yourself to face the dragon on your own. This doesn’t mean you don’t reach out for support from others who understand or those who can offer professional guidance. What it means is that you make a commitment to yourself to stay out of intimate relationships until such a time where you feel truly healed from the abusive one.

In my line of work I have seen far too many people go from the frying pan into the fire. I’ve had clients who initially come to me with the deep wound of narcissistic abuse who disappear as quickly as they come, right into another relationship. The new person in their lives may appear to be everything the ex wasn’t. But within months the client is back with a new wound; another heartbreak.

We can never completely avoid heartbreak. It is a part of life, but we are so much more vulnerable when we are coming out of a deeply traumatic relationship. We are vulnerable to love bombing and other predatory behavior. Those who have had one narcissistic relationship after the other will tell you there just wasn’t enough time in between relationships or they interrupted the healing process in lieu of comfort.

The healing process is uncomfortable. It is painful. We all crave escape from it. But our true strength is not found in escape. It is found in learning to be with our pain and use it to propel us to the next stage of our personal evolution.

How much time is enough time? Well there is no time limit for healing. It is a deeply personal journey and only you can make that call. Only you know when you are feeling strong and ready to enter the world of dating that comes from a deeper trust in yourself resulting in a greater ability to trust the right person.

We often must kiss a lot of toads before we meet our prince or princess. But even the prince will have a few warts. Nobody is perfect! And if you are seeking perfection you are likely to find it in the narcissistic facade. Unfortunately that facade will crumble and our carriage will turn back into a pumpkin but it will run over us first.

One thing many people recovering from narcissistic abuse don’t understand is that you bring with you your own lack of trust, your own fears of abandonment and rejection, and your fears of unworthiness. These are the demons you must learn to confront on your own. If you don’t you will likely unconsciously project them onto the next relationship and even if you haven’t attracted another narcissist you may believe you have. If you haven’t learned to trust and value yourself you will be deeply sensitive to any sign of invalidation, rejection, abandonment and so on.

When you can take the Hero’s journey through the dark abyss of your own soul, then you will emerge a Hero. When you are willing to go through the process of metamorphosis you will emerge a butterfly. If you interrupt that process out of fear, loneliness or desperation you will find you get stuck between the worlds; the old world and the new one. You cheat yourself of your higher destiny; which is to become that Hero in your own life; the one you can trust and rely on to face any challenge life puts in your path.

The journey of recovery is not for the weak of heart. We must call upon all of our hearts strength to persevere and rise above temptation. We must learn to “say no” to the temptations of going back to the life we have outgrown and we must “say no” to any new temptation that would interrupt our process of full recovery.

This can be one of the most empowering and rewarding journey’s you will ever take. Embrace it fully and with appropriate support and you will find within you someone you can truly love and be proud of. Once you reach this level, you can attract a new mate from this higher frequency and have a much deeper, more loving, nurturing and empowering relationship.