We've all experienced shame in our lives. But toxic shame is overwhelmingly detrimental to our psyches and well-being. In general, shame triggers internal responses within each of us depending on our own experiences. Shame becomes toxic when it's internalized due to our past traumas and distorts our self-image.
Narcissists are masters at shaming. Experts, if you will. They exploit our tender experiences because they know what buttons to push. I was naive and confided in him that my parents divorced when I was 4 years old. He incorrectly assumed that meant my dad was never around. My NX would use this info to shame me that I never had a father figure growing up, thereby creating an irrational fear of abandonment in me.
In the beginning with my NX, he portrayed himself as the perfect mate. (See my post on Mirroring.) I confided that I had always had body image issues. Guess what? So did he! But he claims to have once been 300 pounds, yet I never saw photos of him as a child that way. Oh, they were conveniently thrown out when he miraculously lost that weight as a teen and became the svelte 200 pound, 6 foot 5 inch terror that I had begun to know.
So any time that my NX wanted to unleash his wrath, he'd use his "ace in the hole" about my body image issues and call me a barrage of names, like fat, ugly, fat b*tch, fat cow, lazy, etc. He used my easily triggered vulnerability and played it to the nines.
He would also take my actions towards him as a way to shame me. For example, in July 2007, an incident occurred where I ended up pulling a knife out on him. (This is the incident that I spoke of in my post, The Smear Campaign.) I was working on an article for the military newspaper I had just started working for. It was 9:30pm when he got off the phone, and proceeded to pick a fight with me about "always being on the computer." Screaming, throwing pillows, and more screaming. Somehow, he goaded me into using the knife saying, "Oh I bet you wouldn't know how to use one anyway." So I got one out of the kitchen and stabbed the edge of the bed. And that is what landed me in the mental health ward for those 6 days.
Why did I mention that incident? Because every now and then, he likes to remind me of it. He gets some sick thrill out of shaming me that I reacted that way. He keeps records of all my "wrongdoings" and tries to bring me down by shaming me. No matter what mistake or perceived slight that occurred, he makes a point to bring it up in hopes he'll succeed in shaming me to bring down my spirits.
I also felt shame after every incident where I gave him what he wanted - a reaction, attention (whether it was positive or negative), or any time I submitted to the abuse. Afterwards, I felt such shame that I continued to allow it to happen. But it's like that line from the movie Perks of a Wallflower that states "We accept the love we think we deserve." So often, I thought I deserved what I got! How sad is that??
And for several years after my NX discarded me, I continued to feel shame. It took a lot of therapy, support from my parents, and support from several close friends to help dig me out of that shame hole. I no longer feel shame or guilt for what occurred. I have been quite vocal about the narcissistic and emotional abuse (and two occasions of physical abuse) that I endured.
Have you felt shame in your relationship with your Narc? What steps have you taken or will you take to begin the healing process?
And as always, I appreciate you sharing your stories with me.
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Greetings, my warrior survivor friends! Welcome to my blog. I'm Julianna, the owner and creator of this site. Check out the My Story section to read about why I started this blog. Thanks for stopping in. And feel free to comment on any post, share your own thoughts and stories. I would love to hear from you!
The Top 10
Here you will find my most popular posts for easier discovery.
How Narcissists Make Sure You Never Solve Problems In A Relationship
The Fake Apology
How I Lost My Identity
Effects of Emotional Abuse
Emotionally Abusive Behaviors
Tightening Your Facebook Privacy Settings
Why You Should Never Defend Yourself Against The Narcissist's Smear Campaign
Going No Contact: A List Of What To Do And What Not To Do
An Open Letter To All Survivors Who Just Got Out Of An Abusive Situation
The Great Manipulator
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The content of this site is told from the blog author/owner's personal experience of dealing with a male Narcissist. Narcissists, psychopaths and sociopaths are both male and female, and come from all walks of life. Furthermore, the content contained herein is not intended to be a replacement for medical or legal counsel. This blog's sole purpose is to provide support to those who have endured Narcissistic and Emotional Abuse.