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 in today’s episode, I want to talk to you about a phrase or a term that you may have seen associated with narcissistic abuse, and maybe you wondered what it is, maybe you’re trying to do it, or maybe you’re doing it really successfully. And you’ll totally understand why I want to talk about this. And this is gray rocking. So being a grey rock around the narcissist. So one of the key factors to recognize when we’re trying to heal from the trauma of narcissistic abuse is really creating an environment conducive to our healing. Because at the end of the day, we know from other episodes that I’ve spoken about, we can have an addiction to the narcissist, there are lots of issues from our childhood that can come into play. And what that means is we tend to live our life in a constant state of activation. So we’re in the sympathetic trauma response, perhaps feeling anxious and angry in the fight or flight. Or we’re even further down that emotional regulatory ladder into what we call in polyvagal theory, the dorsal vagal aspects of that trauma response in the freeze, then that’s normally when depression can show up where we have dissociation. So that means when we feel almost like we’re numb, we’re not allowing ourselves to feel anything very, very common with complex PTSD symptoms, which are very much associated with coming out of relationships with a narcissist, and being involved with that insidious psychological abuse. And so what we want to create as much as possible is an environment conducive where we’re not causing that activation in our nervous system in our body. Because when we have that activation, as many of you will know, as you’re listening to this, it is not pleasant living your life like that. For me, I used to wake up every morning, and I remember it. So clearly, I’d wake up and immediately really, the first thing that I noticed was this tingling sensation in my fingers. It felt like they were on fire, they were just really tingly. I felt my heart racing, literally the moment that I woke up. And normally at that time, the kids hadn’t woken up yet for school, I’d go into my bathroom, I’d sit on the floor in my bathroom, and I would try and be talking to myself. And I’d be desperately trying to stop myself from having a panic attack or literally, sometimes I’d win, sometimes I’d lose, then I’d get my toothpaste. And because I used to bite my nails, I had no nails, as many of you I’m sure can attest when you’re going through narcissistic abuse, I had no nails, I used to eat and pick my skin. So I use the toothpaste to literally score the tops of my thigh. So I was a self harmer at that stage because self harm was a part of me really to try and move me away from feeling the pain of not feeling good enough in that moment, to coming out of my marriage to a narcissist. So for me, the first step in healing was really to create an environment where I was able to try and calm my nervous system. Because at the start, if I get any messages or emails, I will literally be banging my mobile phone, sending a message straight back, and then I’d get another one back. And it was like this ping pong all of the time, this ping pong back and forth, me trying to justify something, then I’d get a message back. And I just felt awful, I felt activated. I felt like I was in this constant battle. So what I needed to do was really create an environment that was conducive to my healing that was going to allow me to calm my nervous system as much as possible. But like many of you, how do you do that? When do you have children? How do you do that? If you’ve got to sort out maybe finances or, or you’ve got things that you know that you need to work on? How do you do that? So one of the things I needed to do was to create that environment. So one of those is what we call no contact or extreme modified contact. Now if you’re doing extreme modified contact, how does that work? Well, it works by creating an environment for you that minimises any contact with the narcissist in your life so that you know that you still have to have that Communication. But it needs to be in a very, very controlled way. Now normally when we talk about extreme modified contact, that can be when you’ve got children with a narcissist, but equally you can bring this in, if you have a maybe a parent or a family member, that’s a narcissist, that perhaps would be very, very difficult for you to suddenly cut off having communication with them. But we’ve got to protect your mental health with this, we’ve got to allow your nervous system to heal, we’ve got to create this environment for you. So it feels like you’re not constantly in danger. And in those sympathetic or dorsal vagal trauma responses in the fight, flight or freeze. So part of creating all of that is if we have to have communication, then we need to grey rock them. And this is a psychological term that we use for how we can behave when we are having to communicate with the narcissist. So how are we going to do that? How are we actually going to grey rock? What does this mean? But I want you to imagine in your mind now a boring, grey rock? Okay, how boring is a grey box really boring? Yeah, it’s just that it’s grey. There’s no colour, it’s just a boring, old way. And being a boring old grey rock, it doesn’t show emotion. It doesn’t show feelings. It doesn’t show any information. It’s just a boring old gradebook. And really, that’s what we want to be like with the narcissist because that moment we show a chink, a tiny little chink of emotion, or something we’re doing, then they’re going to begin, they’re going to be in like a little shot. And you might only say one teeny tiny thing sometimes. And I’m sure many of you might be laughing at me as I’m saying this, because I can really relate to it. And I’d be the start of trying to grow rock, I find it really, really difficult, because I’ve worked to justify and validate and argue with what they were saying. Because I was coming from a place of a protector part showing that getting really angry, or wanting to justify or prove my worth. So if I had a message that came to me that was regarding the children, and it was a bit of an accusation to be Oh, it wasn’t very nice. My initial natural response at that stage was to justify because I was coming from a place of not feeling worthy or good enough. Because remember, being in that narcissistic relationship, the way you feel is not because of the narcissist. And again, I know you might be saying Caroline, Karen, hold on a second. Of course, it’s because of the narcissist, but actually, it’s the narcissist behaviour, and then what you say to yourself on a deeply subconscious level, so you can have the narcissist say something to you. That’s not what activates you, what activates you is what the narcissist says. And then what you say to yourself about what they have said. So they could say something. And then on a deep level, you’re going see, you’re not good enough, you’re not worthy, you’re not lovable. That’s what causes the activation, because that’s what the brain then thinks is dangerous to feel. And that’s when we start to go into fight, flight or freeze, because it’s taking us back to a time, whatever age that was where we felt that in that moment, and that’s why it shows up because our brain believes that we’re going to start to feel even more pain if we didn’t have certain protected parts showing that phrase like anxiety or depression or dissociation, or indeed many other parts like addictions, eating disorders, things like that as well. Procrastination self sabotage. So really what we want with grey rock is to help you create that environment where you are not showing the narcissist anything, you’re not giving them any fuel or ammunition to be able to respond back. Now will they like this? No, they won’t. Because they will be wondering what is going on to start with when you start to grow rock the narcissist because of course they’re used to us sending a million messages or saying lots and lots of things to try and justify for them whatever it is that they’ve said so that they can get their narcissistic supply. So when you first start to grow up the narcissist be prepared potentially, for their behaviour to escalate. Because if you’re not giving them the supply that they need, their behaviour will escalate. It might be calm or abusive, coercive, controlling, manipulative, whatever that is because they need to get the supply and you’ve normally been surprised by that. But this is where it stops. This is where we want to start to create that environment. So if you’re lucky enough not to need to have any contact with the narcissist great we go no contact we go cold turkey. And that can be tough to like in one of the other episodes when I talk about the addiction to the narcissist, so that can be tough. But again, if we’re creating that extreme modified contact, and again, my recommendation to you with that extreme modified contact is to create a brand new email addressed for the narcissist in your life totally different from the normal ones that you have coming in. So that you have to actively go and check to see if they sent you an email, as opposed to every time you’re checking your regular emails, it’s just popping up like that. Now I understand as well, that if obviously the children are with the narcissist, you may want to have a mine of telephone communication in case there was an emergency. And I completely understand that. So again, my recommendation is go and buy a really old cheap crappy phone like those old Nokia brick ones. Gosh, I remember getting one mobile phone call. It must have been over 20 years ago now. When I think about it, I’m looking at my iPhone now, which is so thin and light. And I remember my old Akash. I’m showing my age now. But it was a really old Mercury one to one phone. And I loved it. I thought I was the bee’s knees, I was like 21, I’ve got this mobile phone. And it was really only when mobile phones were just starting to come in. I probably wasn’t as early as the great big, big, big brick phones. But I wasn’t far off it. You know, and I thought I was the bee’s knees. So you can go and buy a really old phone, whether that be an old Nokia phone or whatever it is, you know, the ones where if you have to text, you’ve got to kind of press the buttons because you know number one is like ABC. And you know, number two is def. So for you to write what you would normally potentially want to text back to a narcissist, it’ll take you like five hours to do that. So which is a good thing, because we don’t want to be having communication. So my recommendation is create a new email address via an old phone that is almost purely for telephone calls if there was an emergency, or you can also have a third party application, something like our family wizard, that’s normally what I recommend to my clients with that too. And then any communication that you have is very grey rock. So any emails that you have to have it’s minimal, minimal communication very often with my clients, sometimes I will help them at the start create emails if obviously, they need to discuss something. And often I’ll say to them, when you write the email, send it to me, I’ll have a look through it. And we’ll see what bits we can maybe get a bit further down to grey walk even further. And it’s really interesting. Sometimes let’s say if I get 50 lines, for instance, I can normally get that down to about 15 minimal minimal lines, we don’t want emotion. We don’t want any giveaways as to what you are up to. We don’t want you to be fishing for anything else, then that’s going to start a conversation back. It’s meant to be factual evidence wise. And that doesn’t mean that if you found yourself in a court situation that you are being an obstructive parent, you’re not you’ve still got communication, but your grey walking, you’re keeping it very businesslike, so to speak. almost imagine that your children are like the business that you own with your ex partner. Because again, if you were hopeful in running a business with somebody, you wouldn’t necessarily bring in the emotion that you would normally bring in perhaps as you have in the past with a narcissist. So really grey rocking this psychological term of being a grey rock is you being as boring as you possibly can. Gray, boring, lifeless, no feelings, absolutely zero information so that the narcissist hasn’t got any chink where they can start to open that door and come in, and then try and suck you right back in again and get their narcissistic supply. Is it easy? No, it isn’t at the start. But once you get the hang of this, it becomes a way of life. So I’m 10 years old and when I get emails from him now, to be honest, I very rarely even answer them. But if I do, normally it’s one line two lines are even known to be one word. Because it’s great work. I don’t need to justify, validate, or explain anything. It’s all about fact, no emotion. So I want you to give a go now be that grey rock to the narcissists. It gives you a sense of control, a sense of power. And being like that doesn’t mean you’re giving in doesn’t mean you’re being weak. What it means is you’re Taking your power back and this is what it’s all about you taking your power back so that you can recognize that you understand you deserve to heal. You deserve to survive, and you deserve 100% to thrive after 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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