We often hear “take back your life” after narcissistic abuse. This may be true for some people who have only ever encountered narcissistic abuse with a partner or spouse, but this is not the average case.
The terms narcissistic, sociopathic, or psychopathic are not being used as a diagnosis. These terms are being used as descriptors of patterns of behaviors that are exhibited by individuals. This blog is not intended to diagnose or treat anyone. This blog is strictly for awareness and educational purposes.
A lot of people who get into narcissistic relationships were also raised by narcissistic parents. That upbringing was the start of toxic relationships for their future but society says “parents love you” and “parents want the best for you.” This is true for healthy parents, but when the parent is narcissistic or toxic, the child is raised in confusion, enmeshment, is trauma-bonded, and sometimes is codependent or hyper-independent. When we are raised by narcissists, we don’t know what actual love is.
When all we have known is trauma, what else are we supposed to know? Don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t know for years. It’s not you, it’s the conditioning you were subject to as a child. Manipulators are charming, two-faced, and hard to spot when we are the target. We often wear rose-colored glasses and self-gaslight because we can’t handle the hard truth of how abusive our “loved” ones are.
Clients have come to me because they had a narcissistic ex, and then later they discovered with me that they have one or both narcissistic parents. Chemistry is familiarity and healthy relationships can seem boring due to us not knowing stability and respect. It can feel like the healthy partner isn’t interested in you, when they’re not excessively jealous or controlling and to a survivor of familial abuse, that green flag looks red. That means in their mind that their partner doesn't care. They might be with someone else.
It means that they are emotionally stable and care about you. There is trust. There is respect. You aren’t forced into situations that you are uncomfortable with. If we are raised by narcissistic parents, we are used to being uncomfortable. What is comfort? We often don’t know that when we are still in connection with narcissistic people. They always force their comfort zone onto their scapegoats. It doesn’t matter how the scapegoat feels, it’s about the narcissist and their needs.
What can we do?
What we have to do is reprogram, unlearn toxic behaviors, know what is healthy and what is not, we have to get out of survival mode, and learn to actually live by thriving. This process is different for each and every person. We might feel shame or guilt for working on ourselves or we may feel like we are betraying family but shame, guilt, and betrayal is what was done to you. But those feelings die when they are spoken about in a safe place where y someone is holding space for you.
Know that you are worthy and you matter. Reach out if you do need help. You are not alone.