After spending this evening reading several posts from children of narcissists I’ve been really considering what self blame is about. As a child I learned to be very scared and to hide anything that went wrong from my parents, its taken me a long time to realise it just wasn’t safe to do so…
Much has been coming to light as my therapy is deepening about traumas that happened to my body.. at one point I was swung around so hard that my arm was torn out of its socket..on another I suffered third degree burns to my foot due to one of my mothers manic cleaning frenzies on a caravanning holiday…on another I ended up with a fishhook lodged through the webbing joining my big and second toe that Dad had left lying tangled in the sea grass matting at our coast house. All in all it was hard to relax and just be, as we were constantly on edge trying to live up to impossible standards of perfection.
For the past eight years following a major head trauma after very painful incidents with my emotionally neglectful family and following the end of a marriage where I committed the cardinal sin of seeking therapy to heal my trauma, I have suffered post traumatic stress which wakes me in the middle of the night. I experience this spinning vortex and a twisting where my left arm spins out, just as it would when being pulled out of its socket. In the past six months I have realised I have been re-experiencing on a deep level this trauma from so many years ago.
I believe the body bears the burdens of our unresolved traumas.. In our family we were not to admit that we had pain.. On three occasions my mother broke or tore ligaments in her ankle and on each occasion my father told her that nothing was wrong.. Not only that if you were in pain or suffered an injury you may even be laughed at.. Is it any wonder that from the age of 14 I began to use alcohol to increase my denial of pain and sought refuge in substances such as dope and other drugs since no one around me could hear my pain and so my loneliness (which was the sign of a terrible schism between me and my real self and deeply hidden feelings) just grew?….. In fact it seems that for so many years I have been on a journey to have the truth of my pain and feelings acknowledged.
I remember at age 31 when I finally admitted to my mother that I had joined AA to help deal with my alcohol addiction. She just looked at me and said “Well you know I do admire you, but you always were a late developer and of course you are the only one in this family with any problems”. WTF two of my sister’s have tried to take their lives……
What happens to us when all the mirrors around us are not only broken but instead invert out image to the wrong way up? Maybe that’s a good analogy for how it feels to be a child of parents who don’t see you or get you and cannot mirror your deep feelings. You do come to believe that you are just a little or a lot crazy and also that you are a strange person in an alien land. There was something I used to hear a lot in AA meetings. You know I just feel like an alien, like I don’t belong on this planet. Where is the recovery group for children who have never been seen or mirrored?… Oh but hang on its their fault.. I guess I was just born an alcoholic?
One of my mother’s favourite comments is “well everyone is different”, yes that is true on one level but what about our common humanity and our shared feelings? Where do they go when we can’t express them, or when we are told they are wrong or that no one else feels that way?
One thing I know for sure they don’t go away.. and the longing for them to be seen never ends…even if it has to be buried and masquerade as so called “mental illness”. Our history, or true feelings, our longings and deep desires and buried instincts, they continue to twist and turn within us, just as we had to twist each and every way looking for the light that has been denied to us over so many years.
Its a terribly long journey to find the light, its a massive undertaking to move from self blame and confusion, towards a true recognition of the nature of our suffering and the distortions we have been subjected to. We don’t get there without affirmation and sharing our stories and experiences certainly helps.
So I am very grateful to this medium because through it we find a venue to express what is in our heart and to read other people’s experiences.. in the long run we are not so different, we are human and partake of the human condition being born to parents who being limited themselves caused damage to us that it is our legacy to understand and heal. In the end what is missing may never be truly replaced or compensated for, but our suffering can bring awareness and with that awareness healing, a deepening capacity to be present to all of our feelings and growth in wisdom and self love which by extension we can share with others.