Welcome to the narcissistic abuse recovery Podcast. I’m Caroline Strawson. And I’ll be sharing with you awareness, understanding and education about the devastating effects of narcissistic abuse to help you thrive. I want you to know that I’ve been exactly where you are now. And I believe you. And this show is all about taking you from trauma to transformation. So the question is, can you ever survive narcissistic abuse? Because I would have never guessed right now you might well be thinking, I don’t know how the hell I’m gonna get out of this, it feels like you are in this long dark tunnel. There’s no light at the end of it. And it can feel really dark and lonely. And you can often have lots of feelings of anger, guilt, shame, and feeling like you have no energy. And the reason I know this is because I have been exactly there. And I certainly know when I was healing from narcissistic abuse, I felt in a very dark and lonely and low place. In fact, I’ve always said if it wasn’t for my two children, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here doing this episode right now. Because I’ve felt that low. I felt like I didn’t know what to do or anything because I had literally had about 18 months of a huge amount of trauma or in close proximity. And my mom had passed away very suddenly and she was my rock. She was actually a codependent herself, which obviously really impacted my codependency factored in with my own emotional father. And then, for me, my marriage broke down. I knew I was in over 70,000 pounds worth of debt, I lost my family home, I was diagnosed with complex PTSD, I’ve got depression, anxiety, I was self harming, I was using the toothpastes that I had to literally gouge out the tops of my thighs to make them bleed. Because if I could focus on the pain of that it meant I could dial down the volume of pain that I was feeling because of the narcissistic abuse. So for me thinking about surviving all of this, it literally felt like survival. It wasn’t just moving on with your life, it really, really was survival. Because remember, narcissistic abuse is trauma, and trauma is overwhelmed by our system. And those of us that have been in narcissistic relationships are more than likely to be suffering with all the signs and symptoms of complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Certainly I know what I have had. And I certainly know the majority of my clients are suffering with this too. And I’ve done another episode on this if you want to go back and listen to that, but surviving narcissistic abuse, is it even possible? Can we actually go on and have a life beyond narcissistic abuse? Well, in short, absolutely. One of the things that I’m really passionate about is helping you find meaning in trauma, that might seem really odd, how can you find meaning in trauma because it shouldn’t be happening to you. And don’t get me wrong. That doesn’t mean I’m taking away from the pain and suffering that you have endured from narcissistic abuse. But that doesn’t serve you staying stuck in that story. Because at the end of the demo, if you keep staying stuck in that story, you’re not going to go on and live a life, you might exist, and you might function. But you’re not actually going to see all of the wonderful things that are out there for you. Because you do deserve to live an amazing life. But we also know that you find yourself in a relationship with a narcissist. There are many other parameters that were preceding that for you to even be in that position in the first place. And that could come pretty much always from your childhood, where you may have had a narcissistic parent, maybe you had a codependent parent, maybe there was neglect, maybe there is abuse, maybe you just had early motional parents, all of these things lead for you to be a magnet to a narcissist. So there are so many different factors at play here. But can you actually survive? Well, of course, the answer is yes. But I don’t just want you to survive, I actually want you to thrive. I want to help you find meaning in what you have been through, and maybe what you’re still going through right now. So the first thing to understand is, if you’re looking at where you think you should be healed and doing whatever it is only what you should be, maybe in another relationship, maybe whatever that is to you. It can seem so overwhelming and such an impossibility that your body just goes into shutdown because it’s just too much for you. So what I tend to do a lot with my clients when we’re looking at surviving, narcissistic abuse is really chunking that down, and I don’t even just mean chunking it down and taking it week by week or day by day. I mean you really chunking it down. I know for me at various stages. I was chunking it down to one hour So time, we know that when my nervous system goes into dysregulation. So remember, our nervous system tells the story of what we are feeling. It is our response to the outside world. And our responses come from all of our past experiences. And our brain comes to a judgement call of how it feels we need to react in our body. Is it five? Is it five? Is it freezing? It is four, and it will do that by sending those messages to our nervous system. And we have two aspects to our nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is what our responses are, we have the sympathetic nervous system, which is our fight or flight, and we have the parasympathetic nervous system, and the parasympathetic is actually split into two. And it’s part of what is called our vagus nerve, which runs the way down our brainstem. And our vagus nerve then splits into two, we have the front part, which is what we call our ventral vagal. And the back part, which we call a dorsal vagal. Now, the dorsal vagal is our freeze trauma response. And the ventral vagal is where we feel safe. It’s what we call our social engagement network. Now, when we come into the world, our sympathetic and our dorsal vagal, so the fight, flight and freeze aspect of our system is already there. Now the front part of that vagus nerve, the ventral vagal, that safety and social engagement factor has to be taught by our parents. Now, if we have parents that are abusive, if we have parents that are neglectful, and I want to add in here, even parents that maybe are emotional, not because they’re choosing to be but because they’re actually incapable of showing that love and connection and emotion. So this doesn’t just mean for you to be where you are, you have to have had this neglectful abusive childhood. It’s about being overwhelmed by your system. I know certainly, for me, I always thought I had a great childhood. I still do. I still think I had a good childhood. But I also know from my own deep healing that my mom was codependent. So she really garnered her self worth from being a mum, that came from her childhood, okay. And my dad was very unemotional. So even to this day, I’ve never really heard my dad say, I’m proud of you, or I love you. Never. So you imagined as a child, having a father like that. And I was a very good child, I was pretty much a straight A student, I played a lot of 20 sports, I was kept into the school sports teams. But I still never heard I’m proud of you, I love you from my dad. Now, of course, as an adult, when I look back, I can see things when I zoom out from that I can see his childhood was very emotional. But as a child being in that I need a reason for that. So the reason isn’t, hey, my dad is I know, he loves me. And I know he’s proud of me. But He’s incapable of that. Because you didn’t get that in his childhood. I didn’t know that as a child. So my interpretation of that, when I was that child was, hey, it must be me, maybe I’m not good enough. Maybe I’m not worthy. That’s why my dad is withholding those words. And I didn’t see that. Of course, as an adult, I can do no differently, but it was already wired into me by that stage. And this is why emotion overrides logic every time. So no matter what cognitively, you keep saying to yourself, I’m worthy. I know I’m good enough. I know I’m safe. If subconsciously, that trauma hasn’t been processed. Every time you get those triggers, that emotion will override all of that as well. This is why talking therapy absolutely has a place, don’t get me wrong, because it will validate you. And it might give you some exercises for you to start working on yourself. But we’re only accessing 10% parts of the brain, we really need to get to that part of the brain where trauma is processed. And that’s where I use a lot of brain body based therapies like brain spotting, and EMDR. Because it really helps shift and unstick that trauma that hasn’t been time stamped by the hippocampus or memory centre in our brain. So we know then where we are today, with what you are feeling that that perception of danger for you to still keep reacting in your nervous system comes from those negative beliefs that you are saying to yourself, it’s not actually the narcissist in your life. It’s not over people that are making you feel the way that you do. What it is, is your perception, your interpretation, your negative cognition that you say to yourself, that elicits that response in your nervous system, the trauma response, because it’s your perception of danger. And remember, it’s not that you’re being attacked. It’s what you feel about yourself with the behaviours of others, that becomes your version of danger. And remember your brain’s number one job is to keep you safe, and to move you away from the biggest perceived pain. So you might be feeling in pain right now. But your brain thinks if you were elsewhere or did something else that would be even more painful. Because there could be a likelihood that someone else might make you feel not good enough. So when you go into the freeze trauma response, and again, see if you can relate to this where, I don’t know, I certainly could. Whereas some mornings, I just literally didn’t want to get out of bed, I didn’t want to see anyone, I didn’t want to speak to anybody, because I was at the bottom of my regulatory ladder, because I was literally stuck in freeze trauma response. Because being around people, my perception was if I was around other people that could be dangerous, they might act or do or say or be something that might trigger the feeling not worthy or good enough. And that was a bigger pain than me staying stuck in bed and not seeing anybody. So again, your brain and your body are working in unison together to keep you safe. You might not want to be where you are right now. But actually your brain thinks I’m not bothered if you don’t think we want to be here right now. Because you know what, I know better. And I want to keep you safe, I’m not bothered, if you’re not happy, I’m not bothered. If you’re not successful or wealthy, my role, keep you safe, keep you away from danger, and keep you away from pain. And again, your brain thinks the pain that you feel as a child not feeling worthy, or good enough isn’t the biggest pain. So everything then for you and your life becomes about not feeling that pain, not feeling that wound or not feeling good enough. So we start to have all of these parts that show up for us like procrastination and self sabotage, addictions, dissociation, these are all protected parts for us, trying to protect that wound of not feeling good enough. So surviving, narcissistic abuse is really about processing that stuck trauma that is being held in our body. So I certainly do that from using the brain body based therapies like EMDR, and brainspotting. So we’re really accessing that part of the brain to allow that own process memory, that fragmented memory to go into the past. So you can start to realise, yes, I was in a narcissistic relationship. But I’m now in the present moment, and I am now safe, I don’t need to keep reacting. So surviving, narcissistic abuse is very much about you living your life in the present moment. So that’s when I say chunking those times down, to chunk them down to even if it’s 10 minutes at a time to start off with, because the more we can stay in the present moment, the more we can calm our nervous system, the moment we start going into the past or worrying about the future, then that will bring up those trauma responses because of the perception of danger. And that’s when we start to react in our body. So this is when we started to think about doing some mindfulness and meditation, just to keep in the present moment. So that might mean like I did, when I was chunking, that time went down 10 minutes or one hour at a time, then what I used to do was wake up and just get to breakfast, and then get to lunch, and then get to tea time, and then get to bedtime. And then I found that as I was doing that, and my nervous system was starting to calm and realising I could cope, I was safe. I could function. I might have a weekend now when I don’t cry and celebrate those wins. Celebrate the teeny tiny wins, because so often again, we’re focusing on where we think we should be. And actually we should be celebrating how far we’ve come even if it’s a tiny, tiny step because it is progress. But staying in the present moment is really key in helping you on that starting point of healing the trauma of narcissistic abuse. So really, the word for you for today’s episode is present, present present, the moment you start to feel that dysregulation brings in an awareness of it, my body is reacting to something right now because somebody or something is triggering me to think something about myself. And that might be I’m not good enough. I’m not worthy. I’m not lovable, I mean significant. Any of those. And again, when I work with people we really hone in on what exactly wound is the starting point is what we’re going to work on. And that is why your perception is dangerous. Because it’s taking you back to when you felt like that child the most pain and your brains like yep, we’re not going there. So you can heal and survive narcissistic abuse. It is possible, but it doesn’t just having time does not heal narcissistic abuse, talking therapy doesn’t heal narcissistic abuse. We have to have a deep healing, a deep processing, you have to be intentional with your healing. And when you are, you can find meaning in everything you have been through. You can go on and live an even better life and we call this positive psychology post traumatic growth and even better life because of the trauma that you have been through. Because you now realise what is important, who is important and you can go on and live and more deeply can Active, joyful and loving life. You really cared so you could survive. I don’t just want you to survive, I want you to run late after narcissistic abuse. Thank you for listening to the narcissistic abuse recovery podcast. Come and find my warm, welcoming free and private Facebook group called narcissistic abuse recovery for women only to help you heal the trauma and thrive

Come and Join My Free Private and Secure Facebook community with over 30,000 women

Narcissistic Abuse & Trauma Recovery For Women