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 I must get messaged so many times, about the fact that people just can’t break that trauma bond that addiction to the narcissist and they know that it isn’t the right thing to be doing to keep wanting to maybe stay or go back, that they keep on messaging or emailing or texting the narcissist in their life. And they know that they shouldn’t be doing that. And they feel even worse as they’re doing that. But there is something making them keep doing that. And we actually call this a trauma bond. Now you may have heard of something called the Stockholm Syndrome. Now Stockholm syndrome was founded, when it was really those hostages that were taken in various events that suddenly became a kin and felt like they started to affiliate with the actual hostage takers, they started to see maybe the reason why they were keeping you as hostage because they could see a bigger picture. And that’s what we would call Stockholm syndrome. And really, it’s a very similar scenario with a narcissist, but we tend to call it trauma bonding. Now we know narcissistic abuse is a trauma. And the majority of the clients that I see will all be suffering with something called complex post traumatic stress disorder. So you’ve probably heard of PTSD. And I’ve done other podcasts on these other episodes. And Complex PTSD is really that information processing disorder that has got really, really stuck. But it’s things that have happened over a long period of time now that trauma bond actually occurs because of a consistent and ongoing cycle of abuse, with intermittent reinforcement of reward. And again, just think about this, think about the relationship that you have had with a narcissist or maybe you’re still in one, you will have elements where you think Well, hey, maybe it’s me, maybe everything’s gonna be okay. And then bang, all of a sudden, something else happens. Now this treatment by the narcissist creates a really powerful emotional bond. And it’s really, really hard to shake. And this is why we call it very, very similar to things like Stockholm Syndrome. Now, again, Stockholm Syndrome. Just as I said, it’s about when a person is held hostage or a prisoner. And the people living under those circumstances of punishment and reward develop empathy and sympathy for those hostage takers are those holding you prisoner. Now, while children of narcissists or partners of narcissists, they’re not legally held as prisoners so to speak, they are incapable of actually escaping the circumstances under which they live. And we call this trauma bonding. Now, it’s because you can start to feel empathy for the narcissist and again, that might seem really strange. Maybe you’re out of that relationship now. But during that time, because remember, those that are in relationships with narcissists are usually codependent. They have a complete lack of self lack of self love, self esteem, all of this lack of self and knowing really with the Narcissus. You can see maybe from their childhood, there are wounds present. And you can see that as a codependent. And you want to help them, you want to fix them, you want to make them better. So when those times when they are aggressive, controlling and coercive, interspersed with those times of them being pleasant and loving, you start to think, oh, it’s their childhood, or maybe I can fix them. And this just reinforces that trauma bond. And that trauma bond is so strong, and there are very few people really that are able to break that without professional help. And I talk about this all of the time in my free group on Facebook, narcissistic abuse recovery for women, because at the end of the day, you have to be intentional with your healing. Sadly, time doesn’t just heal narcissistic abuse, you have to be aware that there’s an issue, and then you have to be intentional with your healing. Because again, when there’s complex PTSD present, there’s a part of our brain where everything is stuck. It’s not in that front part that is what we call the prefrontal cortex. That again, in my last episode, I talked to you about why talking therapy doesn’t actually really shift heal to a really deep nervous system level. Talking therapy doesn’t heal that because you’re only accessing really 10% of the brain and we need to access the other 90%. Now again, if you are having a trauma bond with the narcissist, there are things that start to happen within our brain. Now we have an area of our brain called the hypothalamus, and the hypothalamus. So it starts to secrete these neuropeptides. And we actually become addicted to these neuropeptides. And again, that might seem crazy thinking, How could I be addicted to feeling the way that I do? When really on a cognitive level. I know the narcissist is toxic in my life. But we get so used to feeling like that over that period of time. Hence, while we have complex PTSD, that our body becomes so used to feeling like that, it almost becomes our version of safety, it’s what we know. And the brain likes familiarity. So the hypothalamus is secreting these neuropeptides, we’re getting that fix. And we are feeling like this is what we want within that relationship. Now we know on a cognitive level, of course, that isn’t what we want, but our brain is telling us something different. It wants the fixed wants of those neuropeptides. And that intermittent reinforcement by the narcissist really hooks your brain into bonding with them, just like a gambler gets hooked to maybe that game of chance that drug addict gets addicted to heroin or cocaine. And actually, some research has said it’s 20 times harder to break the addiction to a narcissist than it is to break the addiction to heroin. So again, it just shows you how difficult it can be and why it is so hard to actually heal from the trauma of narcissistic abuse. So again, biochemically, the brain of a narcissistic victim releases these neuropeptides, these copious amounts of oxytocin, serotonin, dopamine, cortisol, adrenaline, all of these that are released during trauma. Now, dopamine is this powerful, feel good neurotransmitter, and it really affects the pleasure centre of our brains. Now this on and off again, love and attention given to us by narcissists flood our brains with dopamine. And this flooding then causes what is akin to that addiction to the narcissist and which is why it makes it so difficult to break that habit. Now, there’s a really great quote by Frank Herbert. Now he’s the author of the book, and this is a really good fit. And when we think about this narcissist, so he says, knowing that your trap exists is the first step in avoiding a gap. So again, when I talk about intention and awareness, that trauma bonds are traps, we form and hold us back from living the healthy life that I know that you deserve. And knowing now that this exists, that you are now aware of this, that as a victim of narcissistic abuse, it can really be that first step forward to start healing and overcoming narcissistic abuse. Because if you are finding you are continually walking on eggshells, you’re finding yourself trying to please your abuser, who really gives you very little in return, then you’re just gonna keep going round in circles, you’re gonna have those elements where they’re showing you love and affection one moment, and then they’re being controlling, coercive, aggressive and abusive, the next and your self esteem and self worth become dependent, then upon that what the narcissist says to you and how they behave towards you. And you end up changing your behaviour to give the abuser what they want. And again, when we talk about trauma responses, this is when we start dipping into the fourth trauma response, which we don’t talk about too much. And that is the fourth or the trauma response. So most of you listening will know we have to fight flight or freeze. But actually we have a fourth trauma response when we’re talking to narcissistic abuse and that is foreign. Because foreigners, if I behave really, really nicely to the narcissist in my life, then maybe they’re going to hold back on the abuse, the coercion, the control that they are behaving like, and maybe they will be nicer. So I’ll just do what they say, or I’ll try and do this. And I’ll try and do that. You know, I was always trying to do that with my ex husband. I might try and cook a really nice meal or I might try and dress really nicely. So that ultimately then he might notice and he’d be really nice to me. And I feel like he was present with me rather than thinking like he was off doing something else with somebody else. So I would be in that foreign trauma response and I really found myself flipping when I I was in that relationship with him between phone and freeze so far. And when I thought no, you know, I know he’s damaged from his childhood, there are wounds there, and he’s projecting all of that, I can help him, I can help fix all of this because I feel sorry for him. And his behaviour was just because he is trying to really, you know, heal from the abuse and everything else. So for me, it was really about trying to fix him. So I would go into that phone trauma response, and try to get him to change his behaviour. And then of course, when it didn’t, I would then tap into freeze, I’d go into that survival mode as well. So when we know that we’ve got this trauma bond, this addiction to the narcissist, it can make it really, really difficult for our healing journey. And one of the number one things I work on with my clients about helping you heal from the trauma of narcissistic abuse, is actually creating that safe space for you to actually start to heal. And this can be really tough. I remember when I split up from my ex husband, and I’d be waiting for text messages or emails to come through. And it was almost like when that text message or email came through, it was like I was getting my fix, and I’d be responding back. And then he would be replying back. And we’d have this ping pong of messages back and forth. And whilst cognitively, I knew this was really, really damaging for me, my body, it was almost like it was taking over, it needed that fix, it needed to feed that addiction, and the longer it went on. And this is why you can find people when they come out of the relationship with a narcissist, they can end up feeling even worse, because just like a drug addict will need say a certain amount of drugs initially to get a fix. As time progresses, you need more drugs to get the same fix. And it’s exactly the same with a narcissist. And I always remember, as I would be replying, maybe on a text message, I’d be really pressing those buttons on my phone. And it would be harder and harder and faster and faster. Because I was in that state of trauma, I was in that state of needing to respond, because he was actually activating a really deep wound within myself. So I would be really, really wanting to reply back and to justify and validate which of course, I was never going to get from him. So really, it was like me drinking rat poison and expecting the rat to die. So my first step in healing, really, from narcissistic abuse was to create a safe space for my nervous system to really start to calm down. And this is when we talk about no contact or extreme modified contact, and no contact is great if you don’t have any children together, because you are able to literally block them on everything. It is more challenging. If you have children, I grant you that. But it doesn’t mean that we can’t create a really, really extreme modified contact space for you. So I always advise my clients to literally block everything. And I mean everything, create a brand new email address purely for the narcissist in your life, and have that completely separate from all of your other emails, it is only for them blocked on text unless obviously they have the children. But I always advise my clients to go and get one of those old Nokia brick phones that cost maybe, you know, five or $10 or 10 pounds, you can pick them up really, really easily on eBay. And that’s literally like your emergency phone with the narcissist. So it would be impossible to try and text tricks, it takes about 10 years just to send two lines. But you can actually use that if there was an emergency with the children, but that would be the phone that he or she would call you with. And you would know that there was an emergency, that means your personal phone, you know, you’re not waiting for a text or a message on Facebook or Instagram or any other way to come through. Now that also means block them on social media. Now, let me say this clearly everybody that does not mean to go and create your own fake profile, so you can still kind of spy on them. You can’t do that. When you do that. It’s like you’re walking around with a drip just injecting yourself all of the time with the narcissistic drug. And we want to break that trauma bond. Remember, it’s really difficult to do. So we’ve got to create that safe space. And it will be really, really difficult to initially do that. Because every cell of your body will want that fixed it will want to see what they’re doing. You will want to message them, you will want to know what they are up to. But you have to resist that urge. You need to step into your true self into self leadership here and know that in the long run, this is the best for you. So we’ve got to create that safe space to break that addiction too. Write that trauma bond, because it is trauma. Remember, narcissistic abuse is trauma. And, you know, make no meal of that. It really is. So those of you listening right now, I’ve been where you are. This, for me, was one of the hardest parts of my healing journey. But it was absolutely the most necessary one to put into place, the moment I created an environment that was conducive for me to calm my nervous system and start to heal. That’s really when my healing journey actually started. Because if you haven’t set this trauma bond and addiction to the narcissist, it’s going to be very, very difficult for you to break. I guess, if it’s maybe your mom or your dad and then a narcissist in your life, you don’t necessarily want to cut off all contact with them. But again, you can make it very, very controlled and boundaries. And this is so vital to your healing. Otherwise, you’re going to make it very difficult to break that addiction. So, in conclusion, remember where you are right now with secreting those neuropeptides. That’s what we are addicted to feeling in our body, that is our body striving to achieve all of that all of the time. So to break that trauma bond to break the addiction to the narcissist we’ve got to create that safe space to start off with to really really try and calm that nervous system so that we can create a space for you to start to heal the trauma of 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

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