In recovering from a traumatic abandonment or betrayal, waking up to destructive narcissism can heal and anchor you. Naming this brand of abuse opens the door out of denial into the facts of what has happened.
What a relief to realize that you are not losing your mind. Nor are you alone in this unhinging experience. It is not all your fault, after all. It grounds you to learn there are disordered personalities that learned to survive by undermining and shaming others.
They pull you in with charm and attention, then devalue and often discard you. While you are caught in their web, you hardly see it. The slow-drip pain of their emotional abuse breeds denial. The abuse, laced as it is with warmth and affection, keeps pulling you back in after they have hurt you.
Their hot and cold, unpredictable behavior keeps you in a constant state of unease, anxious and insecure, yet longing for crumbs of warmth and affection to soothe your jangled nerves. They embarrass, degrade and insult you. Then play innocent, as if nothing happened. You learn how an addictive, biochemical “trauma bond” forms, how notoriously difficult these bonds of pain mixed with pleasure are to break. You see why you will need help to recover.
This is why learning about narcissism is a necessary stage in recovery, vitally important to healing for many. Eventually, however, in the journey of coming back from the dark hole of lost trust, we need to move beyond focus on the abuse. Otherwise, remaining fixated on the abuse can become a barrier to the heart opening that truly heals. For, to recover from the soul loss, to restore trust in life and ourselves, we need the vast healing capacities of the heart.
Moving to the heart opens the door to compassion. But moving to the heart has a price: It means dropping into our pain. Recognizing what happened to us, gradually we come out of the protective haze of denial. Then, as we feel into the pain of the betrayal, something surprising happens.
We begin to sense in our bones the suffering of the one who hurt us. The bewildered, shamed, angry little one behind the deceptive, manipulative armor. We soften, compassion flows, and we are freed from the heaviness of their harm.
While this movement cannot be rushed, staying focused on their destructive defensiveness slows down the releasing gift of the compassionate heart. When the time is right, on the other hand, we can courageously move into our suffering. There, in the midst of our own brokenness, we find the spiritual depths essential to healing betrayal trauma.
That said, the booklet and most of the articles and posts in this section educate about narcissism. They are meant to help dispel the denial that builds up around emotional abuse, and to arm you to look out for red flags in new relationships.
It is all about me—deal with it!
The topic of narcissism has become endemic in our culture. Websites, Facebook groups, YouTube videos, blogs, books and articles abound on the subject. It is the individual and collective diagnosis of our times, a label that is easily misconstrued and often used to point a finger at anyone we do not like.
In the context of betrayal, deception and abandonment, however, the term deserves consideration. The psychological manipulation and mind games that characterize this defensive personality style contribute greatly to the trauma that abandonment and betrayal can bring….
To continue reading, register for posts below and download your free ebooklet Notes on Narcissism.