The shame that binds us – Part I.

So what’s it like in relationship with a benign narcissists or someone with narcissistic tendencies? We will call this ‘living with N’. We are not going to address the malignant narcissist because there is already so much content out there, and the conclusion is always to get away and quickly. Keep in mind, all of us, to some degree are self-absorbed and self-centered at times. Just because someone ranks high at times on the “selfish” scale, does not mean they are high on the narcissist scale; even though they may show tendencies.

Also keep in mind this is not about the ‘external’ narcissist. This is more about understanding your own internal N or reactions to N that have caused you to lose yourself. In the shame cycle this is step one; separation from self. Many of us we were not taught how to go within, self soothe, comfort, and breath as a child. Instead of “do you need a hug” we heard “What’s wrong with you? Why are you doing this to me?”.

These judgements, criticisms and lack of positive intention in modelling non-hostile communication, left us to internalize the emotions of others as though “we” are the problem. We took on the fear, guilt, stress, anger, shame, depression and sadness of others until we no longer had an identity. We became enmeshed. This is the shame that binds us!

It’s no wonder we learned to confuse “being enmeshed” with “being in love”.

In order to understand self, we must understand a core dynamic between ‘over-givers’ and ‘over-takers’. Over-givers and over-takers are the yen and yang ‘dynamic pull’ to achieve balance. We often see a ‘sensitive’ paired with an ‘insensitive’.  The purpose of the ‘dynamic pull’ is to achieve balance.  We can learn to create internal balance without an external ‘aggressor’. 

The process of looking inward for answers, breaks shame cycles and cuts cords of dependency. We must be able to identify our roles, so we can then learn to set limits, and begin the process of untangling our core self with others.  We will start to learn our own identify apart and separate from the person we’ve attached ourselves to.

This is a process that requires deep inner work.  Some of us are so stunted we’ve yet to cut cords from our primary “over-taker”. This “over-taker” is literally in control of our emotional world no matter how independent we may appear on the outside. This person has the power to “trigger” us right back into our childlike state which means if they are happy with us, then we are happy. If they are not happy with us, then we are in pain and will seek by all means a way to reconnect with them.

We will forgive their transgressions; psychological, physical and sexual abuse or in some cases all three. This abuse can be overt (hitting, screaming, shaming, yelling, raging, judging) or covert (withholding, silent scorn, disapproving silent looks, ignoring or total inattentiveness). Many abusers engage in both covert and overt as they have an arsenal of weapons they shuffle through with the intent to harm.

We will allow them to attack us, hurt us, and tear us down but seek them out even after they do all these horrible things. We have not learned to cut cords emotionally, and until we do, we will suffer and stunt our own emotional development. If we are not careful we can become just like them!  We may start to demonstrate some of their key N traits.  This can happen for many reasons.  After feeling so helpless, we may enjoy too much being in a position of power to the point we abuse it.  We may be so afraid of being hurt, that we lash out if we perceive a threat, but what if there is no threat.  What if we just lashed out from a fear we may be hurt but the person was innocent?  This makes us the aggressor and the other person the innocent. 

“The hardest truth I’ve ever swallowed is looking in the mirror and realizing at some point I went from being the victim to being the abuser.”

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