The most difficult part of healing from narcissistic abuse is recognizing my own narcissistic fleas.
I spend so much time watching TikToks and YouTube videos about surviving narcissistic abuse; I fall easily into the jargon. Narcissistic traits are not inherently bad, and those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are not inherently bad people. I don’t demonize those with cluster-B disorders simply because people in my life have hurt me.
A neglected or abused child has no control. They never get the opportunity to relax. As this child grows into a survivor, they cling to control however they can. To end the cycle of abuse, I have to acknowledge the toxic manifestations of my need for control and actively dismantle them.
There are many advantages to studying how growing up alongside unfiltered and untreated narcissism can affect the way your brain functions. I’ve been learning what parts of my personality are really my own, and which were conditioned traits. I learned which anxieties were based on a trauma response.
Am I really afraid of having a schedule, or do I fear being controlled? Do I really feel guilty for taking a nap, or am I so used to being woken up with anger or annoyance that I avoid rest at all costs?
One of my favorite TikTok creators is TheSituationalTherapist. Many of his videos focus on generational trauma and the effects of child abuse. The way that he confronts parents who “discipline” their children with spankings makes me feel very seen. He is speaking out for the unheard child that exists in so many of us.
I watch self-improvement and trauma recovery content every day on YouTube. These channels have become a part of my daily routine, and they have helped me unpack the most complicated of emotions and trauma memories.
Dr. Ramani, psychologist, author, and YouTuber, puts out new videos every single day on her channel. I am watching and re-watching her constantly. In a recent video, she discussed how we are taught to “babysit a narcissist’s shame.” The fear of rage, manipulation, and gaslighting causes us to walk on eggshells around our abusers. We’re not allowed to make our needs known, share anything about ourselves, give constructive criticism, or create healthy boundaries.
What is the danger, though? What is it about criticism and boundaries that are so threatening and disregulating, not just to a narcissist, but to anyone?
Things we don’t want to hear can be triggering. Being asked to do things we don’t want to do can trigger that sense of inadequacy that tells us we aren’t doing enough. My lizard-brain tells me that not only am I not enough, but I will never be enough. I cannot do enough. There is no way to make up for lost time. I will never be able to catch up to my own wasted potential.
Every time I am asked to do something, this voice comes to me. Being told I’ve done something wrong or that I haven’t done enough is confusing. I feel as though I am doing my best, and the insinuation that I’m not is threatening to my sense of self. I know that this trait is rooted in my abuse. I have to sit with it, learn from it, and not lash out.
My entire childhood, I nursed my parents’ egos. My dad once said something that I will never forget:
“Everything you do, you either do it because that’s what your parents did, or because it’s not. But everything about you is tainted by their influence.”
This ideology is a little morbid and narcissistic in itself, but I agree somewhat. Picking up habits from your parents is unavoidable. I spent a lifetime adjusting my behavior to babysit their fragility. That realization does not make me lose hope. I can intentionally pick up on my own insecurities and call myself out for taking them out on others.
Another of my favorite YouTube therapists, Dr. Lisa Romano, said in a video:
“If you have an ego, and you have a brain that has been traumatized, you’re not always going to make the best decisions and act in the healthiest ways, and that’s not your fault.Dr. Lisa Romano
The greatest part of healing from narcissistic abuse and growing into adulthood is learning how to witness my own inadequacies, give myself compassion, and learn to change them. As hard as it is to relive and heal trauma, I am glad that I have the freedom and the courage to do so.