When you have known pain : personal reflections on the wound of narcissism

When you have known great pain and trauma and loss there is no way you can unknow that knowing.  This is the thought that came to me this morning after writing a poem about where the so called negative thinking inside my head can take me at times and then reading another blog about how happiness is not necessarily a realistic goal for those of us who have undergone a lot of trauma.   What happened to us is real, it was painful and it hurt.  In bed last night when I was struggling with post traumatic pain the thought came to me that I needed to open my heart to the pain and let it in, instead of trying to block it, resist it, repress it or deny it. I am becoming aware that this is what I do not only with my own pain but with the pain of realities I see about other people who have damaged me in certain ways.

Yesterday after watching a video on the causes of narcissism in childhood I became aware of the wounding in my own relationships with my parents, certain expressions or emotions were not allowed or they were denied.  Often pain was denied.  If you had an injury it was often denied and you were told that it didn’t hurt or hadn’t happened.  Later in life when there was real sadness I needed to express I was not allowed to do so around certain people, especially my mother due to the fact it caused them or her discomfort.  In the video I watched yesterday and reblogged this kind of treatment was discussed and hearing about it yesterday really triggered me into a spiral of anger and sadness : anger that I was not allowed to be and express my true self and sadness not only that I was not allowed but that I then turned against myself and my own feelings and tried to turn the sadness off to be and become a person who would then be loved and accepted, but the price was that I was not loved and accepted as I really was.

In the video what was discussed by the therapist was how as children if we suffer these kind of narcissistic wounds and injuries we learn to disconnect from our true being, feelings, thoughts and self on some level.  The truth lives on in us but we turn away, disconnect and deny, often because we were either actively shamed, humiliated, dismissed or ignored when feeling that feeling.  What then came into my head was the concept of Inner Bonding which is discussed into books my Margaret Paul, the first called Healing Your Aloneness, the second Inner Bonding.   In both books a method of reconnecting to your disconnected feelings and thoughts is taught so that you no longer split off from or deny the truth.

The feeling I have most problem with connecting to or feeling and expressing is anger.  Getting angry with my Mum has landed me deep in hot water so many times.  Feeling my sadness with her is not really possible either and it wasn’t really until I listened to the video yesterday that I connected the anxiety my mother feels when I try to express anger or sadness with the kind of narcissistic injury he speaks of.  Prior to this I had some kind of idea but it was not fully formed.  I then had some deeper insights how over the past 5 years I have turned myself around to find ways to find my mother’s love, approval and attention.

As a young child I was left alone all the time.  My parents never played with me.  The family drill was that we did all our chores and then we may be allowed to play outside alone.  As I grew into an older child my mother always worked.  I remember waiting and waiting for both her and my father to come home.  When they did my father would ignore me and go into the garden.  When my mother came home I would orient myself around her to get her attention by following her around in the kitchen trying to help as much as possible. I made a contest of being able to do all the dishes before the meal was put on the table to be served.  In this way I hoped to win my mother’s love and attention. It’s only writing this now that I am connecting the anxiety and panic attacks I have had for several years now around this time of day when I prepare my dinner and do the washing up to this pattern of becoming a little satellite to my Mum at this time of day.  Last night I could not wash up for over 2 hours due to being stuck in a panic attack.   These kind of light bulb moments are essential for my recovery.

Last night I had a fitful night.  I woke up after a painful dream in which I was being attacked by a girl with a severe Asian hairstyle and in trying to protect myself I stabbed her in the shoulder with nail scissors very deeply and drew blood.  As a result I was then put before an intervention committee and told that I was being sent out into the wilderness by the committee for being so destructive.  I then knew the cost of my anger had been too much, but without it I would have been powerless so I can now see the dilemma I have been put in for all of my life.  Expressing anger means exile from connection, suppressing it means disconnection from and wounding to my true self.

I need my anger and my sadness to show me what is real for me, where my frustrations lie and how upset I am to know that a lot of the pain I suffered was due to the narcissism and self involvement of both my parents because I spend whole days sometimes being actively shamed and blamed inwardly by a remorseless inner critic.  I seem to keep moving into and out of denial around this issue for years.  Now I believe my psyche is trying to show me a painful truth and I need to open up to it and let it in rather than block or deny it as my parents would.  My body showed me last night I was on the right track for when I opened to the truth of the pain my body finally began to relax and the sharp hard thing I feel lodged inside me most nights then began to lose some of its intensity.  My own Mars vital force turned within and against myself, internalised rather than externalised causes me deep pain.  I need to liberate myself from this pain by feeling it, understanding it and releasing it.

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