Identifying Emotional Abuse and PTSD
There is a lot of discussion about narcissism, gas lighting and emotional abuse in recent times which is fantastic as these topics really need more airtime while also saddening in that they are so common.
Check out the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) studies for the damaging effects and how to prevent them as well as other aspects.
They have also been hidden a lot, which means people have been suffering in their own bubble not necessarily related to Covid), perhaps thinking they are unique in their experience, a highly isolating and difficult place to be. I want to add a layer to the discussion as below, regarding an area that receives very little attention, if any.
If you grew up in a household dominated by narcissist parents, siblings, relatives or friends, there’s a very cruel trick that has been played on you. Not just during the time you endured it but also after you leave the home. I use home very loosely as it rarely feels like a place of safety in those circumstances.
So what is this extra cruelty?
Surely there cannot be more? There is. And it manifests in the most obvious example: of being unable to say no. Personal boundaries can be decimated by narcissists to the point your identity is not even easily defined.
When your personality has been put through the crusher you have been deindividuated. You are no longer a distinct person but an object with value, a currency only, in what you can do for the narcissist(s). Your feelings and needs are not important like they would be in a healthy reciprocal relationship.
As far as the narcissist is concerned, you don’t have emotions, in fact you’re not even human.
Chances are you have been so used to fulfilling the needs of others it is expected of you and it has become a behavioural response.
Finding difficulty in refusing a request whether from friends or in a work environment is very common to anyone who has experienced emotional abuse. You have been indoctrinated – brainwashed into accepting a role in life – and that is important to distinguish – it is has become a role in life, not just within the presence of narcissists who created the role initially.
Don’t Be a Narcissists ‘Waiter’
To be servantile is not in your nature. To be servantile is not in my nature. Say it to your self.
Serving others is not something anyone should feel compelled to do. To feel obliged to help people is not a good thing, nor is it healthy. Healthy relationships have reciprocity at their core and there is a genuine willingness by both parties to care about the interests of the other, and definitely not in a favour-for-a-favour way.
In narcissistic egosystems your only purpose is to do as you are asked without questioning why. Because questions, logic, reason and signs of challenging the established order threatens the very fragile egosystem they have created to protect themselves from having to face reality, the reality of themselves.
They are terrified of the extinction event. Of you being able to survive and thrive without them. The do as you’re told style of ruleis devoid of any real world logic.
Escaping them is key.
Narcissists create people who will do things without the ability to reject their commands.
Now isn’t that a cruel trick? Don’t intellectualise it too much however. They are rarely doing it as part of a cunning masterplan. It is a natural result of their fragile and severely damaged egos to try to control their environments as much as possible. Think infantile dictator, not super intelligence agent.
Regain Your Powers
The key to overcoming the role of a servant is to re-establish self-esteem. Every one has it. We’re all born with it. It can be added to and it can be taken away.
And subsequently it can be taken back!
You will rediscover it. It is there within you (that may sound a bit woo woo but it’s true).
This is not a quick process but a progression to be made over time. Think of your self-esteem as a wild cat. Only through patience, time, trust and repeated attempts to familiarise yourself with it will it return fully.
The need for personal boundaries is crucial to every one.
Especially so for any one who has had the walls hammered and damaged for years. Therefore, the need for repairs is pressing and takes longer. Discovering your value as a person, as a unique entity, is not difficult to do in essence.
It doesn’t rest on your bank balance, job role, education, friends, or any other extrinsic factor.
Seriously. This is going to sound even more woo-woo and new-agey sugary fake nonsense, and I would have reacted the same at one point in my life but here it is: how you feel about your self is directly within your control, of your perception, of how you feel about your self.
However, even when key realisations are made, the victim of narcissism will often have PTSD symptoms, which makes an exit strategy something not to be rushed.
But there is a reality check at this point: and this is absolutely crucial.
There is a communication style of narcissists that is truly destructive and controlling, something to be aware of even if you have not been raised in a narcissist abusive relationship is that they use ‘word salad’.
What does that mean?
They will deliberately misunderstand what you say frequently, and offer choices that aren’t even available, like this example dialogue:
‘Would you like a drink?’
‘What do you want?’
‘You’ll get what you’re given. Water if you’re lucky.’
The narcissist is easy to spot to the outsider in this case, I hope you can tell which is the victim and which one the narcissist.
But to any one, the responses from the narcissist are unintelligible. But someone raised in that environment may not know any different.
Why ask what they want if they have no choice?
That’s sick. Notice the ridiculous exaggeration of the need for a please before even being asked what the please is for. There’s manners and then there’s craziness like that.
It’s like me visiting your table at a restaurant and asking if you want the soup of the day, you say yes, and then I say, actually there is no soup.
A further example: you tell a story to a neighbour. The neighbour tells the story to someone you know. And next thing you know the narcissist who has been told the story will relate it to you in a different way.
A narcissist in this instance, will then tell you, that they heard a story from the neighbour and might totally change what they were told by the neighbour and relay some nonsense back to you or twist the story to suit a perverse outcome.
If done between three people that’s triangulation.
I tell A, who tells B, who tells C, and any of those people can change the original story and change which party receives what information.
Narcissists do that commonly.
They might not even be deliberate in what they do, which adds another layer of complexity. Sometimes they’re so desperate and stressed from an overwhelming impulsive desire to control all situations and outcomes (which is not possible – although they’ll make the victim think otherwise) that they won’t make much sense sometimes and their emotions are so volatile that they literally cannot speak in coherent sentences.
Narcissism is ultimately, a mechanism due to lack of self regulation, they cannot control themselves which is why they are desperate to control other people or animals if possible and situations. CPTSD is complex, and narcissists are actually very simple once you can understand their game.
And it is a game. But a deadly one sometimes.
If you have suffered from CPTSD that results from narcissistic abuse, what should scare you into action if nothing else is the prospect of feeling limited in your power for the rest of your life.
Imagine 5, 10, 20 years ahead. Are you still at the mercy of other people’s perceptions, influenced by their projections, their ideas, words, actions?
A narcissist is very happy to imagine you doing as you’re told not just by them but by others, in a way that is inoffensive and pleasing to the narcissist. Being overly politeness is a hallmark – and demanded, not expected, from those they are able to manipulate.
They are terrified of embarrassment, utterly utterly terrified that someone they know or know of has gone against what was expected of them. They want you on a rope. Cut that rope. Please do. You owe it to your self.
Narcicyst’s are parasitic. They are tumorous. They want easy prey.
They’re not particularly clever but they’ll make any victim feel as if the narcissist predator has the capability of a god like figure, a cult type figure.
They’re also very quick to move on to the next victim.
That is potentially very dangerous to vulnerable people such as youngsters or any one without confidence and power over their own autonomy.