Raised in a narcissistic household, I became very familiar with looks (and words) of disgust and contempt flung mercilessly at anyone and everyone. As a child, I couldn’t distinguish the fact that those messages were unwarranted and that they were not about me (or the others who received their blasts of contempt). And so, I learned to turn toward myself in the same way. And then (O JOY!) to find others who would gladly do the same (narcissistic abusers).
There’s a mouse in my house. I live in the country and it’s springtime, so that’s just part of life here. I caught one in a humane trap a couple of days ago and released it a few miles away. I was completely and utterly disgusted by the entire experience. And one thing I know for sure is that when I’m that strongly triggered by a person / feeling / situation – there’s something deeper going on. So I stay open to new perspectives that can offer wisdom. I pay attention. I know there’s something to learn and I work to turn the triggering “thing-a-ma-jig” into deeper understanding, meaning and strength.
Disgust is meant to keep us safe. It’s designed to steer us clear of things that could harm us. In and of itself, it’s a great survival mechanism. HOWEVER, it can also be used by bullies to manipulate and control others.
Narcissism is a shame-based defect of character. This means that what the narcissist is constantly running from are feelings of shame that he or she refuses to feel. Well, any emotion that’s stuffed will pop out elsewhere. In the case of a nark, they project their shame onto others, onto the world at large. They need others to regulate their emotions for them (by seeing “them” as small, the nark gets to feel big). They are completely dependent on others in this way, and emotionally lazy. They’re also smart, cunning and savvy, which they would read as a huge compliment (disregarding the rest of the messages on this page, of course).
It’s not a compliment. When someone uses a knife to harm rather than to heal, that’s not smart. It’s cruel.
Back to disgust. In a previous post, I talked about envy vs. indignation. I think it’s entirely appropriate to be disgusted by narcissistic behavior. In our culture, we tend to laud it, praise it, reward it and celebrate it. I find that disgusting, inappropriate and hurtful. A big part of healing from narcissistic abuse is putting shame where it belongs.
Repulsion toward self is not normal, natural or healthy. It’s toxic shame acting as a horribly virused software program. Denial just keeps it alive and eventually leads to breakdown. The healthy way to deal with it – to break through it – is to face it, feel it and to accept the embodied experience. This is the gateway to set it free and to set ourselves free to make a better choice. If we don’t feel it, we can’t heal it.
So, back to the mouse… I just accidentally typed “muse”… okay, I’ll go with that… the mouse as a muse… encouraging me to put disgust, contempt and repulsion in its place. I’m still not happy about having a mouse in my house, but my disgust level has definitely decreased. This is self-coaching. A healing process in action. A breakthrough.
The feeling of disgust is just trying to get my attention, as though it’s asking me, “Do you still need me here?” Hmmm… well, let’s break that down.
- As children, we are wired to seek connection and avoid rejection.
- Disgust and repulsion toward self certainly kept me safer as a child. This way of “being” significantly decreased the chances of narcissistic rage being aimed at me or someone I cared about. It was a healthy choice back then. Good kid. Smart kid!
- I’m no longer in narcissistic relationships, so I don’t need to believe the narcissistic coersions, ambient abuses, manipulations and lies which were intended to keep the nark in control. By attacking my core identity, the savvy nark wouldn’t have to work so hard to keep me small (“Oh, no, dear, let me handle that for you… I got it. I’ll handle the self-shrinking machine so you don’t have to do it.”). Can anyone spell c-o-d-e-p-e-n-d-e-n-c-y? Can anyone say Stockholm syndrome?
- I’m an adult now and I can make better, healthier choices.
- I have powers of discernment, support and more options than I did when I was a child.
- I can be a safe container for my feelings. I don’t need to let them drive me.
- Disgust can be put in its proper place. No longer aimed at myself. Or even at the narcissist. Or the mouse. It’s simply a sensation that can activate itself as needed for times when I need to be protected from something or someone.
- Indignation is a much more appropriate response to the narcissist. But I don’t have to hang out there either. Just when needed.
- Compassion for myself and for the narcissist (and for the mouse)… that offers an immediate shift in my body and in my breathing. A deep breath of life. Yes. This is a place I want to live. Good choice! Great job!
You just witnessed Joy-Based Living. In action. This is what we DO at JBL. This style of internal processing, of emotional literacy in ACTION is what fortifies us to be more authentic, contribute our best and connect with others who appreciate us for who we are. Our true tribe.
Sharing this breakthrough with you strengthens me by giving me meaning. Knowing I’m making a difference in your life brings me joy. Unburdening your load, even just a little. Offering light to your path. Giving you validation which you may be so hungry for. Thank you for allowing me to serve you.
Much love and gratitude,
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“A Course in Miracles says enlightenment is a shift in self-perception from body-identification to spirit-identification.” – Marianne Williamson