Are you living in someone’s shadow?
Let’s get something out of the way. Something serious, ok?
Here it is:
You are important. You are beautiful and kind. You are smart. I know you’ve been hurt. And that you tried to do the right thing. I know you are telling the truth. What happened was wrong. Most important, and no matter what they said, it was not ALL your fault.
And that’s the truth.
Before you read on, let the opening thoughts sit with you. Allow them in.
Now take a deep breath and we’ll continue.
This post will cover:
3 Destructive Patterns from Narcissistic Abuse
If you see yourself in any of these patterns you might choose to add them to your list for Letting Go.
First, a little review on the point of letting go.
We let go to clear away ego residue that denies us inner freedom. What is ego? A mind/body program designed to keep us safe.
“What could be wrong with that?” you ask.
Except it’s rarely necessary and get’s out of hand. The ego is much like, “Chicken Little,” overreacting to the slightest noise.
In human history, our inner chicken was handy when dangers were high. The problem is, most of us are not in immediate peril.
“The sky is falling!”
~ Chicken Little, having been hit on the head by a tiny acorn
Fear is the ego’s favourite tune.
Unmanaged fear (the residue I mentioned) is stored in the most precious place. Our body. Over time, all this negative garbage piles up inside. It hits critical mass and we get sick. Now we’ve got problems. Issues like depression, obesity, autoimmune disorders, career and financial failings, relationship disaster and chronic pain plague us.
Letting Go is the solution.
Learning how to let go clears away negative debris created by your ego. Letting go offers a pathway to inner and outer freedom.
Consider this powerful question.
What are you carrying (right now) that if you Let it Go would make life better?
I’ll go first…
I am the survivor of childhood narcissistic abuse by my Mother.
I said it.
And since speaking those words, my only intention is to let it go.
Now it’s not culturally acceptable to go where I’m going in this post. Mothers are sacred. Off limits. Never suggest a mother could be flawed or pay the price. But the truth is, we are all flawed. All running, to some extent, by destructive ego programs.
One more thing. I’m not blaming my Mother. She is a product of her upbringing. Her childhood was traumatic and violent. At least that’s what she said. For her, it might have been dangerous to feel. As a defense, she developed a hyper-protective ego with limited empathy. Then she built a life where she controlled as much as possible to survive.
So, what happens to one’s ego being raised by a narcissist? And what opportunities does this dynamic create for our Letting Go Practice?
Letting Go Opportunities from Narcissistic Abuse…
In my case,
- Chronic low self-esteem / poor self-worth
- Difficulty trusting the right people (especially women)
- Trusting the wrong people
- Being a pleaser (unchecked, turns into Do-Gooder – Yikes!)
- The absence of boundaries (Comedian, Amy Schumer takes her mother to a soccer game to show her what boundaries look like.)
- Being either wildly ambitious or brutally self-sabotaging (sometimes in the same day)
- Inability to protect myself from predators, shysters, and other narcissists (Did you know…? It’s always my fault)
- Weak access to childhood memories (No feelings, no memories)
- A tasty “meal” for energy vampires
Do I have my Letting Go work cut out for me or what?
Are you sad, mad, glad or scared?
When I first discovered this latest ego layer (narcissistic abuse),
I didn’t know how I felt.
Perhaps some relief.
I’m not crazy.
But I was doing myself harm. Considering this all began in early childhood, I was too young to understand or to resist. I developed destructive patterns. I’m going to share three of them.
Letting Go Tip: It’s helpful in your Letting Go Practice to have a plan. Your plan might include a simple list of issues or traumas for letting go.
Let’s dive into the first destructive pattern.
Destructive Ego Pattern #1 – Becoming a Packhorse for Negative Feelings
As a highly sensitive / empathic child, I agreed (unconsciously) to “carry” the negative feelings of others. When a parent, sibling or teacher was upset, I felt it. Deeply. I’m naturally drawn to putting myself in your shoes. Feeling what you feel, good or bad. Yet empathy is a double-edged sword.
Our body holds limited space from which to carry emotions and experiences. Lugging around the emotions of others takes up valuable real estate in your body.
It’s not long before you become overwhelmed with negative emotion. Pack too much and you risk a breakdown.
Have you ever felt like a work horse strapped to a wagon filled with negative feelings?
Highly sensitive children tend to be intuitive. This wonderful ability can make life more vibrant. It can also attract those lacking in intuition.
Destructive Pattern #2 – Developing Intuition for Others but not Yourself
Are you intuitive? So intuitive, you could throw up a shingle and do readings for the general public?
In some cases, intuition is a dead giveaway to being raised by a narcissist. Makes sense really. You’re told over and over (in so many ways) that your feelings don’t matter. This programming causes you to become hyper-aware of others. Thanks to your narc parent, you can literally walk into a room filled with people and pick up on the feeling (sometimes thinking) state of anyone you chose. It’s a superhero power!
Highly intuitive people are also known as empaths, intuitives, clairvoyants, psychics, and healers.
When I shared this charm, people would marvel, “That’s amazing! You read me like a cheap novel. How’d you do that?!”
For years my response was, “Oh, I grew up with an angry mother. I had to know the mood she was in before she came around the corner. Ha ha!” I made light of it.
The Trade-off to Being Highly Intuitive
So here’s the rub.
The empath, (maybe you) is a gifted read on others, yet often oblivious to their own feelings.
Lose your feelings, lose yourself.
What do I want?
I’m not sure.
Is this relationship right for me?
Maybe. I can’t really tell.
Do I take this job?
I wish I knew.
Can I trust this person?
Who the heck am I?
I don’t know!
Do you always need to know what you’re feeling?!
No. You don’t need to know what you’re feeling. But you need to know that you ARE feeling. Numbness may be an asset in the dentist chair but it is not helpful for letting go.
The last pattern I’ll share is a doozie. Until I uncovered this dynamic, my ego felt justified playing small. You’ll see why this awareness is a game changer.
Destructive Pattern #3 – Playing the Envy Game
Besides lacking empathy and intuition, narcissists tend to have low self-worth. Yet, they never want the world to know. Instead, they brood with envy at the accomplishments of others. A narcissist mother envies her child.
Imagine each time the child achieves her parent’s response is negative. A subtle eye roll, a huff, some comment about how the parent was equal (or superior) at the same age. It might just be a non-reaction (meh.) Whatever the parent’s response, an empathic child cannot escape it.
Take winning for example. If your winning makes Mommy look good then, you win (a little). But if your winning makes Mommy envious, you lose. She may attack for no reason or ignore you completely. It’s crazy making at its finest, folks. And, it never ends.
My mother would find ways to make everything about her.
Here’s a recent example…
Me: Hey Mom, guess what?
Me: I graduated with my Master’s Degree. I earned my MA!
Mom: Oh. <yawn> Hey, did I tell you about the get-together we had at the clubhouse last Monday? <suddenly energized> I made chili and it was soooo good! Everybody raved about it. Of course I didn’t follow a recipe. But when I made it this time, I just had to add…blah, blah, chili, blah…Oh and before I forget, do you have time to give me a pedicure next week?
Me: That’s great Mom. Sounds like your chili was a hit. Uh, Tuesday morning I could paint your toenails.
When this happened, I went numb. I let my Mother’s lack-luster response define how I felt about my achievement. Her envy held an expectation, maybe even a threat, “Play small, or else!”
Now it’s your turn (if you like) to consider:
Do I carry the negative feelings of others?
Does my intuition serve the needs of others more than myself?
Am I in relationships with those who don’t want the BEST for me?
We covered three destructive patterns emerging from narcissistic abuse. Getting clear on the issues you need to let go of starts the ball in motion. I like to uncover, write it down and get to work letting go!
No matter what happened, you only need ONE THING to effectively let go.
A willingness to Let Go.
If you are willing, you will find a way.
How is your Letting Go Practice?
Doree offers lifestyle coaching and spiritual direction.
To book a session, Visit EmpathFit.com
Spiritual Directors International