In Part I of the Healing from Narcissistic Abuse series, I talked about the “Invisibility cloak” and the looks of “contempt and disdain” that the narky-nark flings at his or her target to keep them “in their place” and to keep the narky-nark feeling superior.
Now, I’d like to name what happens inside the person in the aftermath of an episode of narcissistic abuse:
At its essence, the person experiences a concoction of anger mixed with fear. Powerlessness and shame are usually along for the ride.
Basically, you feel like crap. If the abuse has been going on for a long time, you may feel like an empty shell, the walking dead.
If you’re no longer in the narky-nark relationship but you’re still carrying some of the “old software” conditioning, this article can help you validate your experience and excuse yourself from the toxic repetition. Permanently.
Here’s the deal:
Anger is a very appropriate response to rejection of a person’s reality or identity or values.
A healthy expression of anger says: STOP. NO. NOT HERE NOT NOW. I DON’T THINK SO!
But most people who’ve experienced coercive control over time don’t speak up. They suppress their anger.
Fear of narcissistic rage.
Especially if the narky nark is in a position of power (which they usually are when they target someone), SAFETY can feel threatened:
- SAFETY for oneself
- SAFETY of others in the nark’s web
FEAR for one’s safety (or someone else’s) can “override” a healthy expression anger, speaking one’s truth and setting boundaries.
On the inside, the override can take many forms (this compilation of SURVIVAL TACTICS is condensed and not meant to be a complete list):
- Denial (disconnecting from one’s reality)
- Dissociation (disconnecting from one’s feelings, experience or identity)
- Blaming oneself (very typical especially if the target is a child)
- Cognitive dissonance (when the body and the mind tell different stories about an experience… “oh, he would never do such a thing… he must not have realized…” even though it just happened for the 50th time)
- Hypervigilance to what the narky nark is feeling, thinking and doing
- Shame shame shame (this shrinks you and can serve to keep you safe)
- Confusion (well, after all of the above, what the heck did you expect?)
On the outside, what the target’s behavior looks like is:
- Fawning over the narky nark (stroke their ego – TO STAY SAFE)
- People pleasing (shut up, say nothing – TO STAY SAFE)
- Argue/fuss/bicker about “other” matters, not the matter that really matters (another version of people pleasing)
Over time, if there’s no place to safely release the anger, well, it has to go somewhere. The anger is likely to:
- Get stuffed in the body which can become psychosomatic ailments including fatigue, headaches, digestion issues and more
- Turn into resentment which can become bitterness and cynicism
- Turn into rage which can manifest as fuzziness around desires; lack of clarity; lack of consistent follow through
- Mask as depression, as the energy aims against the self
The best way I know to release the outdated anger is to find someone to help you transmute the memories that were stuffed in your body. It’s a sense of emptiness or incompletion that makes someone a magnet for narcissistic abuse. So this person is someone who will:
- Validate your experience.
- Help you get out of the situation if necessary.
- Hold space for you to safely vent your anger, rage.
- Honor your strengths, your resilience, your brilliance (all those tactics above helped you survive!!)
- Hold you accountable to your part in the dance so you attract healthier people into your life, and stop attracting narcissists.
- Affirm and delight in the possibilities that are emerging from within you, now with way more clarity.
- Acknowledge your wholeness.
As a WHOLE person, you will validate your experience, your identity. You will treasure your values. You will own your body sensations. You will stay open to your feelings and be sensitive to your boundaries. You will express them when necessary. You will protect your most important values with everything you’ve got. You will do this imperfectly (especially at first) but with sincerity and conviction (and ferocity if necessary). You will trust yourself. You will let JOY flow through. You will be unashamed of your anger or your fear. You will go for your most heartfelt dreams and be enlivened by the possibilities you sense are wanting to emerge through you. You will find your true tribe. You will rarely look back. And when you do, it will be to see how far you’ve come. You will stand tall. You will win and you will enjoy winning. You will celebrate your existence and your life more than most people because you will have fought to gain it back. You know where to find the treasure now. You are the treasure.
This awesome book, I Don’t Think So!, is my lighthearted way of attempting to bring some humor to the table (and sell some books!).
Kids laugh along with it the all-too-familiar storyline because… it tells the truth…
And when grown-ups and kids can laugh at their reality together…
This generates an ideal atmosphere for joy and love to grow.
Great big hugs to you,