I finally opened up a book written by another person who survived a #narcissisticfamily.
Believing Me: Healing from Narcissistic Abuse and Complex Trauma, by Ingrid Clayton PhD
Gaslighting, breadcrumbing, golden child, invisible child, scapegoat. The erosion of someone's self worth as the professional soul sucker takes and takes and takes. And the confusing relationship with mom, who is deep in the narcissist's clutches with no intention of leaving.
Her memories of seeing her mother disassociate gives me chills. My heart shatters as the teenage girl desperately tries to connect and save the most important woman in her life. I want to reach back in time and tell her, "it's ok, it's not your fault." Guide her through the emptiness. The years of pain and confusion. I even shout at the book when the authoress ignores relationship red flags (because 'red flags don't look like red flags when they feel like home', GUT PUNCH).
But what hit home the most: the nervous system on high alert.
If I could heal one thing STRAIGHT AWAY--so my trauma didn't impact others so much--it's my malfunctioning nervous system. Daughter and I spoke once about how I constructed another person for the outside world. A girl who faced everything scary and dove in head first. A fun-loving woman who seeks adventure, who doesn't fear speaking with others or being hurt. She's a bull in a china shop, and she's what I always want to be. Fearless. Put together. Forgiving of her mistakes. Trauma behind her, world beckoning to become best friends.
Today, I cry reading about the times Ingrid's family didn't put her safety first. The times she reached for outside help and the system failed. Her hard journey toward self-actualisation and self-awareness. She took a clinical mental health path, and I went spiritual with shamanism. Both of us learning to reclaim the pieces our abusers stole and find wholeness.
Side note: I have been reintegrating a soul piece from my teenage years. But more on that in another post.
Understanding myself in my marriage is another huge step I struggle to take. I am so afraid to see I'm nothing but a monster. But then again, Husband is an intelligent and compassionate warrior. He'd have slayed me long ago if that's all I am.