It has been far, far too long since I posted and I am sorry! In complete transparency I have 5 draft blog posts half-written and staring at me waiting to be finished… but I have been very, extremely distracted with a really crappy situation going on at work. I promise to write about it all when I have a chance to step back and reflect on it a bit more, I am too caught up in the middle to hash it out right now. For those of you who have been reading along, it goes back to The Vulture incident.
There is something burning in my mind that I wanted to share with you in the meantime though…
A reader wrote into the contact form last week and needed some support. I responded to her message, and she said something in her reply back that really resonated with me and I wanted to share it with all of you. She said: “I think the hard part that others don’t understand is that it’s not the beatings that were the worst part of it all. It was how he made me feel about myself. Like I didn’t know how to live life. Like there was a code that every other normal decent human being followed that I somehow never learned. And that I wasn’t worthy of having him.”
YES!!!, so many things about THIS!! I have said this in a slightly different version to my therapist more times than I can even count. I frequently tell her that one of the most frustrating parts of my marriage is that I felt like I was constantly staring at a puzzle that I couldn’t put together and The Narcissist was constantly telling me that everyone could put this puzzle together… even a baby can put this puzzle together… and yet no matter what I tried I couldn’t do it. It literally made me feel over time like I was incompetent, like I was inferior, like I just couldn’t comprehend something so simple. It sounds minor, but the reality is that when this is how you feel in every single interaction with the person you are in love with, you walk away feeling so worthless, so stupid, so unworthy. Its brainwashing and it is freaking effective…. and it lingers!
I literally cried my eyes out in therapy just this week because I feel this way about my work situation right now… I feel like everyone else can figure out how to have a job without being sexually harassed or manipulated or retaliated against… what is wrong with me that I can’t figure it out?!? And that very last thing that I just said in my brain and then typed on this page is the important part. A person who is empathetic, compassionate, caring, self-aware, reflective, etc. etc. etc. will look at a problem that they continually face over and over and at some point (wether its the first time or the 61st time) will eventually say… what is wrong with me??? This is how I am different than The Narcissist… The Narcissist would never turn that around and reflect it back on himself. He would never even dream up that the problem could be him…. but I do, and The Narcissist used that against me.
The Narcissist used this against me early on and then he continually brain washed me with this tactic to the point where I would face a situation and default to “what is wrong with me” and then “this is my fault let me fix it.” It created a deep guilt and a feeling of worthlessness that allowed The Narcissist to continue to manipulate me.
It takes work to fix that brain washing and if you ignore it, it pops up in other areas. Say, something inappropriate happens in your workplace and you blame yourself for somehow making it happen or allowing it to happen instead of realizing that someone is trying to take advantage of you and stopping the problem. You internalize it and you feel guilty about it and you get stuck in it and it sucks.
Realizing the things that still need attention after narcissistic abuse is a huge part of the healing process. You will see those emotional things pop up in other relationships and in other areas and you need to work on them or they will continue to do so.
So next time you feel a zing of guilt… take a step back and think about where that is coming from, think about if it is rational, and what is really causing the problem… because I know one thing for sure; it is not ALWAYS your fault.
And to the reader who wrote in… I know that you said you needed me in that moment, but I just want to let you know that knowing that you needed me was something that I really needed in that moment too, so thank you so so much!!