Have you ever had that experience when a few unexpected events come together and lead you to a shift in perspective? That is what happened to me this morning.
It started with someone on Instagram who, I feel, has a very dark energy. She posts to the effect that Narcissists are the innocent victims of evil empaths. Yesterday, I discovered that she had taken my posts and reposted in a way that suggested that I share her worldview – which I absolutely do NOT. She had changed the headline from Narcissists to Empaths, but kept my name on the posts.
I took the necessary steps re: Instagram even as I noticed my old narrative kicking in about the power of a malevolent person to harm me.
Since, this story is valuable purely as an illustration, it is enough to cut to the outcome – which is that I acknowledged the old pattern re-emerging, took appropriate action and, as a result, Instagram swiftly dealt with the theft of my intellectual property.
The second thing is that I am working through Mornings with Marianne, Marianne Williamson’s daily journey through A Course in Miracles. Today’s lesson is, “I have invented the world I see.”
Inevitably, the two ideas ran together in my mind.
Did I invent this malevolent person? Absolutely not.
Is she as malevolent as I believe her to be on the strength of my experience? My perception (and that of other experts in the field) is that she likely is.
However – and this is the point – I do not have to see her in my world.
Clearly, she and all the other malevolent people more or less like her are in the world. They are there and they are a fact of this life.
But do they have to be in my life?
One way or another, they really don’t.
Sure, she is just a random, malevolent stranger. It is not hard to exclude her from my world. (Plus, as I sometimes need to remind myself, I have more personal power than I sometimes believe that I have – when I lapse into old patterns of thinking).
Then the realization
Of course, it is harder with abusive, narcissistic loved ones. They hold a far more central place in our lives.
But then the question becomes:
Do I really need them to hold that central place in my life?
Abusive, narcissistic loved ones have caused significant damage in my adult life – as they do in every life that they have the power to affect.
They were able to cause so much damage for so long because I continued to see them in my life.
I continued to want them in my live – just in a different way. (Like I got to pick and choose!!!)
I wanted to see them in the loving form that I felt that they should adopt. Since I could only envision my life with them in it, my ambition was to get them to metamorphose into my version of who they should be.
And then the seemingly random conversation
The third thing was a – seemingly random – conversation, this morning, with a dear friend that I have had little contact with during the pandemic. Like me, she is a survivor of narcissistic abuse and has worked for years with other survivors.
Via the topic of her partner’s current preoccupation with table tennis, I told her a – seemingly random – story of my childhood that I hadn’t thought about for decades.
My family had a table tennis table. Throughout my childhood, my father, mother and two brothers played together. I was never encouraged to play. Actually, I was actively encouraged not to play. My “job” was just to sit there and watch.
My friend commented that this was “ghosting”.
I had always taken it as just the family norm. I had accepted that I was too young and too stupid and clumsy to be included in the game.
The reality, of course, is that you can fit four but not five people around a table tennis table (at least, as far as I understand it) and the least important person was simply, routinely excluded.
As a child, I didn’t have much of a say in what happened in the family.
As adults we have choice
As children we have precious little choice about our lives and who we see in our lives. As adults, of course, that changes.
That was where the conversation with my friend went next: it went to our abusive parents, all of whom have died. We agreed that we appreciate the fact that they are no longer in our world – or this world.
But we didn’t wait for their physical departure to stop seeing them as central figures in our world. We both, in our own way, worked on not seeing them in our world.
We worked on dismantling their beliefs, values and judgements inside ourselves.
We worked on creating a different way of living, loving and seeing the world. We worked on seeing a different world.
While we accepted the awful truth of how those people had chosen to show up in the world, we chose not to keep seeing them in our world.
Toxic people teach us how to see our world
Toxic people teach us to see our world through their eyes.
So, you end up allowing a world that was invented by others to continue to exist in your mind. You continue to see it until such time as you actively work on breaking those old patterns of beliefs and perceptions.
Absolutely no blame attaches to you if you do continue to see that old world – because toxic people taught you that it was the world. However, in the interests of your happiness and quality of life, it would be really helpful if you could stop seeing your world their way, with them centre stage.
How do you want the world that you see to look?
If you want to see your world, your relationship and yourself differently but are still stuck in old patterns of thinking, feeling and reacting, then my Breaking Old Patterns Toolkit could be just what you need. It offers all the information, tools and templates you need to guide you through to a different way of seeing your experience and showing up in the world. Breaking your old patterns will allow you to show up in the world authentically without fear of attack or judgement.
Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.
The 5 Simple Steps to Healing from Narcissistic Abuse
Over the next 5 days, I'll send you some lessons and tips that I've found have really helped women to heal from narcissistic abuse. Starting with the basics.