Healing from Parental Narcissistic Abuse
Okay, so those of us who come from abusive homes with one narcissistic parent…or both for the REALLY unlucky ones…know that our family LOOKED normal on the outside to most other people. Our private hell was just that…private. We are trained VERY early not to share family secrets. We learn to stuff emotions, to deny everything about ourselves, deny our want and needs…indeed to deny our very humanity at times…just to survive. So we learned that there is no such thing as normal and we glibly say, “What’s normal? Heck, every family has it’s problems!” once we become adult survivors of narcissistic abuse. It’s a coping statement. It’s a shame filled statement…it’s our equivalent to whistling in the dark.
But we’re not interested in covering the definitions again…we’re interested in healing. We wounded children want to know STEPS TO TAKE to heal! When I first got on the various forums, blogs and websites about narcissism, I ended up getting frustrated. I didn’t want to JUST dump, I wanted SOLUTIONS. I’ve been dumping for years, I’ve looked for solutions and tried pretty much everything out there in the way of recovery and therapy (I ended up using drugs and alcohol to numb the pain so I have more than one issue…as many of us do.) What truly helped me was KNOWLEDGE of the truth that my mother is the one with the problems. Yes, I learned well and yippee skippee, in so many ways I am just like dear old mom!
BUT I am NOT a narcissist. I do have many learned behaviors but the difference between her and me is that I CAN unlearn — and AM unlearning — narcissistic behaviors. I’m not stuck, she is. I can get healthy because I know I’ve got problems. She cannot see she has problems so she just keeps burning through people, always on the constant search for narcissistic supply like a vampire driven to find fresh blood. How awful for her. The plain fact is that if YOU are on this site, you are NOT a narcissist either. Narcs don’t go searching for truth, healing, answers or anything else because they cannot, will not, admit they have any problems. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t want to change; didn’t want help and healing.
Okay, so there are stages we need to go through in order to get on with the healing. 1) Admit that yes, one or both parents are narcissists and that they have damaged our lives. 2) Recognize that a lot of the thoughts in our heads are NOT our thoughts but brainwashing and programming. 3) Grieve for the fact that we do not have, nor will likely EVER have, normal, loving parents. 4) Recognize that the more we learn, the more likely we are to start experiencing emotions that we do NOT know how to cope with. 5) Learn the wide variety of emotions that are available instead of the limited ones we were “allowed.” In most dysfunctional families, the big three are “sad, mad, happy.” No room for ecstatic, doubtful, fearful, hopeful, aggravated, mellow or whatever deeper “shades” of emotions because emotions simply were not / are not SAFE.
By the way, this is NOT a tried and true “12 step method” but instead what I’ve gleaned from personal experience and LOTS and lots of reading on the subject. 6) Find a group that deals with family dysfunctions (there are no “Narcissists Anonymous” groups yet but there are some where you can find help. Celebrate Recovery is one (Christian based) and Adult Children of Alcoholics (spiritual but not religious) deals with many of the same issues that children of narcs face…indeed, most alcoholics exhibit many NPD tendencies and some are true narcs…but some are not and the behavior may change along with many other things in their life if they get into alcohol recovery.
Thriving Recovery is also Christian based and what I like about it is it combines secular AND Christian recovery principles but with an important twist…it goes into the latest research and knowledge about the human brain, it’s structure, it’s needs and how to re-wire the neural pathways and literally change our thinking patterns and brain’s reactions.
Okay, more tomorrow, going to bed for now!