After reading Christine Canonville’s book Shame Begets Shame, my eyes are now wide open to the harm of co-dependency literature for people who are healing from narcissistic abuse (which could have happened through parents, a sibling, or even bullying at school).
The co-dependency literature isn’t just outdated, it’s misplaced and dangerous, like being given the wrong anti-venom medicine for a particular type of snake bite.
In my life, a deliberately-conditioned DENIAL of my own radiance and power continued to fog up my reality, slowing me down. Although I could summon HD clarity in seeing other people’s action steps for joyful success, I was blinded to seeing my own. This incongruency dominated my desire for healing. It baffled my therapists. It made no sense. And no one seemed to have the answers.
My healing journey started out with co-dependency literature which opened new doors for me, but it neglected three important things:
- It doesn’t acknowledge or accentuate the brilliance and savvy that is developed while surviving narcissistic abuse. People who are targeted, especially in childhood, verge on “magical” in their abilities when someone needs their help (Think: Mary Poppins). However – at the same time – they seem almost incapable of aiming their greatest strengths toward their own thriving. That’s because:
- It doesn’t discuss the juxtaposed, deliberately conditioned “learned helplessness” which exists in this same person who is also super smart, strong, savvy and capable. A co-narcissist is conditioned to be a co-pilot; to live in the shadows. With super-strength. Super resilience. Super empathy. All designed to serve the narcissist’s neverending needs. Any sort of self-empowerment is not only shunned, but possibly dangerous to the targeted person (imagine someone in a hostage situation).
- The invisible and “atmospheric” nature of narcissistic abusemakes it very difficult for others (even in the IMMEDIATE family) to see or believe. Especially when it isn’t mixed with physical or sexual abuse. The narcissist usually puts up a very plausible “good person” act for the outer world. This “invisibility” is a stark contrast to co-dependency research, which began in response to living with an addict (alcoholic or drugs).
Gaslighting, projections and blame-shifting are 3 key abuses which are perpetuated by both co-dependency literature as well as kind (but clueless) therapists. Most therapists are not yet educated about the “core shame” or “toxic shame” which need to be seen, validated and released for healing to be complete.
The true strengths of anyone who has been narcissistically attacked over many years, especially if it happened since childhood, are usually well hidden deep inside their being.
In reading Christine’s book and with the help my allies, I feel like this huge fog has been lifted from my psyche. I am now integrating my “gold mine” with great joy.
2 phrases from her book stuck with me:
- AMBIENT ABUSE
- COERCIVE CONTROL
Thankfully, these phrases are now being used in the UK to legally persecute people who have harmed others using these forms of abuse.
Interestingly, one of the clear intentions in our Joy-Based Living community continues to be: to create an ATMOSPHERE that allows our truest most brilliant selves to emerge. This ambience has been successfully created and sustained by our educated and supportive members for 2 years, since 2016.
The 12 practices and habits for creating such a community is available in our JBL E-book, which stands on its own. Purchasing the e-book is a requirement for entering our community.
If you find yourself dealing with chronic procrastination, or living below the radar, or not fully experiencing the joy you know is possible for you, read Part 2 of this Toxic Fumes post here.
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Just for fun!
A long time ago, one of my favorite arcade games was The Addams Family pinball machine. When the ball hits certain bumpers, the machine lights up, and along with whacky sounds, the Addams characters speak phrases from the tv show, in their true voices.
One of my favorite phrases is Gomez exclaiming: “Toxic fumes, they’re all ours!” I always thought it was so funny!
It’s how I am feeling about toxic shame right now! Like, dude, if I have to live with it… might as well LOVE it!!! SHEESH!
So… to lighten the mood, I found an hour-long youtube of someone playing the pinball game (REALLY??!!) and I listened to it while doing stuff around the house. There it was … the “toxic fumes” phrase, just after 31 min. So satisfying! Enjoy!
Part 2 of this Toxic Fumes post is here.