I am astounded by the number of women who come to me thinking that what happened to them when they were little/young is not traumatic and cannot be considered traumatic, and so they have brushed it under the carpet and kept it ‘safe’ under there for years, or even decades.
Lovely women, please know this: it doesn’t have to be dramatic to be traumatic. You don’t have to have lived through daily physical beating or a natural disaster or losing both parents at the same time or anything else I can’t even think of right now to ‘deserve’ the label ‘trauma’, ‘traumatic’ or ‘traumatised’.
Case in point: me. My father was a covert narcissist. He abused me psychologically for decades, right up until he was on his deathbed, still criticising me and my work (and yes, he was fully conscious and only 70 years old). One would have hoped for perhaps one word of love or sorry at this point in his life. But nope. Right until the end, the criticism (more overt that day, actually) lived strong.
On many levels, verbal and psychological abuse from a covert passive-aggressive narcissist can actually be deemed the worst kind of abuse and trauma because NO ONE notices and, as the victim, you constantly battle with ‘Am I too sensitive? Too dramatic? Too x, not y enough?’ It is draining, and even more so because everyone around you says, ‘You’re exaggerating, you’re overdramatising, you should just let it slide’, and no one can therefore help you (or even wants to). You live alone in your own head, with your beliefs about the abuser and about yourself – all true and real but not validated. Which sends you right back to whether you are perhaps making it up and so you feel weaker and weaker and the narcissist LOVES that.
But you know what I have very recently realised? That after 42 years, and still 5 years after his death, I unconsciously thought and believed it was MY fault! That I really WAS too sensitive. That if I hadn’t been this sensitive, we would have had an idyllic dad-daughter relationship and I would have had an idyllic life.
I spent more than 30 years of my life trying to fix ME, to improve ME, to change ME, BECAUSE I BELIEVED THERE WAS SOMETHING THAT NEEDED TO BE FIXED IN ME, BECAUSE HE MADE ME BELIEVE THIS ABOUT ME.
Over time, this kind of belief is what kills us, victims of covert narcissists. It’s what dims our light. It’s what changes us to beyond recognition, and we don’t know who we are any more. And then it takes several years (or more) to build ourselves back up again.
And that IS trauma.
Very deep trauma because it affects us to the very core of our being.
A few months ago, I asked myself, ‘Who would I be without this father, without this story of mine? Who am I deep deep down? Who am I at soul level?’ This is when I fully comprehended the depth of the trauma. Without him, I would be ‘me’, not ‘him + me’ or ‘me + him’.
At some point, I stopped trying to please him and change me. But what I realised just a few days ago is that at an unconscious level, I STILL believed it was MY fault that we didn’t have a great relationship. I should have been less sensitive and forgiven him sooner and understood him better and been a better daughter and laughed things off more. Yet deep down I know that I DID try all of this TOO and it never made one blind bit of difference – I was still his victim and he still won the covert war. He won ALL the battles. We cannot ever win against these people.
Wise Women, it is time to understand that you DID live through a type of trauma, whether covert or not. That sexual abuse from someone in your family, whether daily or sporadic, IS trauma. That psychological abuse, even covert, IS trauma. That moving house every 2 or 3 years IS trauma. That not fitting in anywhere IS trauma.
We all need stability, safety, security and unconditional love. If you didn’t have all of that, you WERE traumatised, in the highest, biggest, WILDEST meaning of the word.
It is time to realise it, understand it and process it just like a victim of a tsunami needs to.
And now it is also time to release all the blocks and beliefs that were built around those traumas. You do NOT have to carry them around with you any more, you are NOT a victim any more, you can TAKE CHARGE now and you can write your book, achieve your dream, be YOU finally, and change your life and your business for the better NOOOWWWW!