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When a relationship starts to go wrong. It's common for us to wonder if maybe we're the problem, especially if we've had a string of failed relationships. Hi, I'm Dr. Kerry K McEvoy, and this is breaking free from narcissistic abuse. In this episode of a replay of a TikTok live, we're gonna take a closer look at this issue as well as discuss how to resolve a trauma.
Jumpstart our healing after narcissistic abuse. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm a clinical mental health specialist. Who's also a narcissistic abuse survivor, and I'm thrilled that you're joining me here today. Be sure to subscribe so that you're notified of upcoming episodes and let us know what you think by leaving a review.
As a listener supported podcast, consider donating a cost of a cup of coffee. We sure appreciate it. And it helps us to keep the lights on yesterday was a big day. It was my birthday. And got me thinking about how holidays and celebrations go. With narcissistic abusive people. Have you noticed how often they make sure that something goes really wrong?
How it sabotages your Christmases, your Thanksgiving, birthdays, maybe it's even your children's holidays. How it just ends up. Something goes terribly wrong and sideways, and it's not what you envisioned. Why is that? Why do toxic people sabotage important, important days, important celebr? and it's interesting how this egocentric view of the world results in the inability to share that platform with anyone.
Because that they see themselves as needing to be the center of the world. In fact, to their perspective, they are the center of the, of the universe. As a result, they have a hard time in any way, sharing that floor with anyone else, including you. In fact, the fact that the focus is on you or even your children causes a problem, it causes the causes jealousy.
One of the DSM five criteria is prone to MV and jealousy. So. You're the person, that's a focus. As a result, they end up feeling the loss of focus, the loss of control, the loss of influence, and they get it back by causing drama. Now the weird part is, and, and they found this with, with psychology, which I found this so fascinating, which is, you'd think that bad attention would be not desirable.
Right? You would end up thinking. that you would want people to think positively of you. And so you would do things in order to have good perception, good optics. But what they found is that the loss of any attention is worse than bad attention. And this is especially true with toxic people that they find the loss of that spotlight.
So intolerable that they're willing to disrupt important things, even make a scene in order to get the attention. isn't that in crazy how that, how important that is to them. Someone already asked, how do you know if you're a narcissist? I find that fascinating that that people would wanna know that, that they would kind of be unsure whether or not they're narcissistic or not.
There is nine criteria that's fond of the DSM five, but I'm gonna talk about it in a different way. Cuz if that's easy to Google, you can go look at those and see all nine. You need to have a minimum of five of those in order to qualify. Generally narcissists have problems in two huge areas of their life.
They have problems in their love relationships, and they have problems with their work relationships. Narcissists tend to be relative successful because they're competitive and our work environment supports that, but they tend to have conflictual relationships or tense relationships with their coworkers, colleagues and their superiors.
the reason is because they view things competitively and they tend to be on the paranoid side of things. And they're not very self reflective, so they don't really notice when they step on other people's toes. So it's, it creates a lot of problems interpersonally. So how do you, how would you know, I'm trying to think on the inside, if you find yourself going.
Lots of relationships. You're having a lot of problems with creating stability. If you find yourself really struggling to be all in, you're very tempted to wanna cheat. You find it's okay to keep a part of yourself separate and be even deceptive. You just don't really feel that you can trust anyone.
You're finding it really hard to be intimate. I would end up thinking, yeah, you probably have some issues. Would it go so far as narcissism? I'm not for sure. That's diagnosable, but it certainly is causing you havoc in your. The nine criteria. And I know I can't list off nine of them, but I can list. I can try to list a bunch of them.
They include that you feel yourself entitled, like the rules don't really apply to you. Like you deserve things, you feel you're special and you deserve things. You tend to be, you think you're larger than life. You tend to think that you're really great at whatever you do. Now. There are those of us who are good at it.
And I know that when you do a survey of people, like how good are you? Your skill? Most of us overestimate most of the time, but they really overestimate themselves. my ex actually found out his identity was stolen by someone else who actually got an MBA. And he said, because that person used his social security number.
He felt he should be able to put that on his resume or his, his curriculum Vita, because somebody else earned it under his social security number. And I said, well, you can't pull off. You've got an MBA. You, you don't have an MBA. And he said, well, it belongs to me. It's my social security card number. So why shouldn't I get to.
And I kept thinking you don't think somebody who has a marketing degree is gonna listen to you and not know that you don't have not only a bachelor's in it, but also not a master's in it. You don't think that's gonna show up. So they have that kind of overestimation of their own skillset, where it's very larger than life, very grandiose, they lack empathy.
So they have a hard time really having a sense of what life feels like from your perspective. and they really feel like whatever ever they need to do to get ahead it, they can do that. So there's this ruthless callousness to their behavior. You're also gonna find that they're very prone to envy because of the competitive view of the world.
They see that themselves, they see that there's winners and losers and they really don't wanna be a loser. So when you have something that's to an advantage, even when you're a spouse or a child or somebody that they really care, supposedly care. They still view that as you're ahead and they're not ahead.
And they feel diminished by that. And that's often why they are very critical and harsh to you is because it's their way of sort of putting their thumb on you for having an advantage, which they see as a leg up. So they kind of wanna squash you because of you being ahead on whatever this is. I'm trying to think of some other characteristics.
Those are the big ones that you'll see. I know that there's nine and I didn't identify all nine of 'em. , those are the things you're gonna commonly see when you're in a relationship with a narcissist. Now the fact that someone's worried about it. I find most people who worried about it often have what's called the white coat syndrome where they, because they hear about it, then they get scared.
It's sort of like the intern at medical school, they hear about a virus or new disease and they, oh, I'm dying of that disease. So it often is, can be a reflection of that is just us not wanting to be that. So we get nervous about it. But I have met some narcissists who are aware that something's going wrong.
And then they ask, so I don't know which category you fit in, but if you really see, like I said, a list of failures in your life, like you just can't seem to connect with other people. You find yourself making choices around intimacy and truthfulness. That is where you just can't really present and be yourself.
I would seek some help. I would get an outside opinion to see whether or not this is really actually you or. I agree with you D Raleigh, it is the first step is to acknowledge that you are the common denominator. Now victims often become the common denominator too. Once they end up in an abusive relationship and it's familiar to them and they're not healed from their trauma, it's pretty easy to get into another abusive relationship just because it's what they know.
And there's another problem that happens. You end up mistaking attraction. Attention and love as intimacy. I'm sorry. As intensity, because a narcissistic abusive relationship is high intensity creates a lot of angst and drama and you know, there's one minute you lay love you. And the minutes, minute you're fighting and you know, this back and forth, you end up thinking that intensity.
Equates love and it isn't. And so it ends up being very easy for victims to go from one nurse's music relationship to the next nurse, cystic abusive relationship. So I wanna warn you that just because there's a common denominator doesn't mean that you are the abuser. It might mean that you've been the victim too.
So again, that's something it takes self-reflection, it takes input from other people to help you see the difference between those two I've met people who. think that they're the victim. And when I got to know them, I realized they're actually the narcissist. And then I've met a lot of victims who know something was going wrong, who thinks they must be the problem that maybe they're the narcissist that they're clearly clearly the victim.
I think the key, the key difference between the two, if you wanna distinguish which you are, victims are being deceived. They're the ones who can't aren't for sure. What's real. People who are narcissistic or sociopathic are the ones doing the deception? They're the ones not revealing the truth. So if you're the one holding stuff back and not being forthcoming and sharing everything, because you don't wanna hurt his or her feelings or because you think whatever, they don't know doesn't they don't need to know.
Or you just don't see the point that's deceptiveness and it leads to manipul. Then I would say, yeah, you're the, you, you are the one probably doing the harm, but if you are the one who's not for sure who you're with or what's really going on, or is this person really good or bad, or is a relationship ship toxic or not, then you're the one who's being affected.
Then you would say, I'd say then you're the victim. That's how I would differentiate between those two. Is someone born narcissistic or does something happen to make 'em that way? That is such a common question. We really wanna make sense of what happened, partly because we don't want our kids sick, but partly because it's such a mysterious illness, we really would love to understand what's happened.
So here's my thought, you know, you can have the flu and flus are a whole variety of cause. There's different viruses that cause flu-like symptoms you could have COVID you could have a there's other types of viruses I'm blocking on their names, but you know what I mean? There's lots of viruses that cause these groups of symptoms, I think you're gonna find that with narcissism, there are multiple reasons that people end up with narcissistic disorders.
I think you're gonna find that there's some genetic predisposition for some. You're gonna find also that obviously dysfunctional families can rec havoc on a child and even on a developing brain causing brain differences, because that's the thing that they've, we've been finding is there's a biological neuro neurological implications, their brains, actually, they function differently than normal population there's activities.
That's overactive parts of it. That's overactive. And then there's parts of it. That's under. So why does that happen? Well, trauma at a young age can definitely make that happen, but there also of other reasons you can be born that way. Your brain is just functioning different from, from birth. So I think you're gonna find that it's a whole group of reasons.
There's not gonna be one single cause I. When in my practice, when I was counseling, I'd see people with depression, every person who had depression had a different reason why they're depressed. Some people, it was clearly just a biochemical error, you know, something went wrong and they just didn't have enough of C certain neurotransmitters, other people.
When you listen to what was going on in their life. Oh my goodness. The amount of stress they were under the amount of bad things that happened to. It made sense why they're experiencing depression. And then I saw a lot of people who are somewhere in the, in between. I think you're gonna find that similar for narcissism as well.
Can they recover? Can they get better? If this is a neurobiologic disorder? Can that can be, can that be healed that. I think the problem is, is that it's very hard to make a brain who's functioning in a certain way, function differently. How do you then grow empathy? How do you become more? Self-aware yes.
Mindfulness can go a long ways in helping that get better, but when you're literally blind to it and you're having a hard time, see it, how do you begin to see it? Yes. A counselor can help you point it out, but it makes it hard for you to monitor it yourself. The general consensus right now is. There's not a lot of change possible.
There's some, but not a lot, especially if you're low in empathy and self-reflection, you need those things in order to make adjustments, it'd be like having me tell you to drive down the road, but you can't see out the front window. How do you then know if you're on the lane or not? So when you can't have any introspection, if you can't observe yourself and realize that maybe what you did was harsh or hurtful or selfish.
It's hard to then be less hurtful, selfish egocentric. So that makes it tough. It makes it really, really tough.
Are you aware that I have other social media platforms? I have short form videos on TikTok and Instagram as well as posts on Instagram and then longer form on YouTube. Recently, I just posted a blind reaction video to TLC's hit show unexpected. Be sure to check it out and let me know what you think you can find me across most platforms at the handle of Carrie Mavoy PhD,
cognitive dissonance is a normal thing that happens to all of us. It's whenever we face a decision that's ambiguous, maybe that's loaded. Maybe we know that we suspect there's an answer we should or direction or decision or answer we should do, but we don't. That causes stress. And the stress is the dissonance.
So it's a decision. So that's the cognition it's in your head and it creates stress. The dissonance, there is a disagreement with yourself. What happens with narcissistic abusive relationship is when you meet somebody who's creating a mask, you're not actually meeting a real person. And as a result of that, there's a part of you that senses something off that is too good, be true.
And in that moment, it creates a duality within you. You also begin to split, you have a part of you who really wants to believe that you've met, who you've met, but there's another part of you that knows something's not quite right. And there's an uneasiness. So lemme give you an example, how it showed up for me.
I wrote about it in my book. Love you more, the herring tales of why sex addiction and double. so about four months into the relationship. I think I met the best guy ever. In fact, in therapy, I tell my, my therapist that I have never met somebody that makes me feel safer. I actually say that yet. I'm uneasy enough.
I hire a private investigator, not one of those online things that cost $25 a month. I go to a private investigator and ask him to do a background search into this person's history because somehow I don't quite believe everything he's told me. Why would I do those two very disparate things that doesn't add up that doesn't make sense.
So you can see how there's that split within me. There's a split that believes I mess. I've met the best person ever. And yet there's another part of me that knows something is wrong. That's cognitive dissonance. And what happens with these relationships? We never get the full story. We always live in this.
No man's land of not. Who we're really with what's real. What's not real because they're keeping us in the dark because they don't, can't let us in to really know them and who we met. Isn't a real person, it's a mask. We were love bombed. So as a result of this, we live in this no man's land of unknown. And we are caught with between both realities seeming to be true at the same time.
That's what you're seeing with your friend. You're seeing all this excessive confusion. Which is why it seems so nonsensical. Like why would someone believe that and stay? And this is the part that people who are in the narcissistic abusive relationship can't explain is it both seems true at the same time.
And we can't make up our minds. We're trapped between both places all the time. And we can't decide, which is real. And I'll tell you until I experienced it. I had no idea how agonizing that place was, how paralyzing I felt such conflict with myself. Like I was going crazy. It's really hard to describe that.
And from the outside, it seems easy. We seem like, well, they're not great people. They did this to you. Or did that to you. Why are you staying? You can't explain that. Both feel real, that you are literally living with Dr. J. Mr. Hyde at the same time and you can't decide which person is the real person. And then the other problem is you end up think.
if I leave and maybe he really is Dr. Jackle the good guy. Then I'm gonna miss out on the goodness and it might turn around tomorrow and I've like lost all of that. Do I really wanna lose all of that and start over? Cuz remember we've built lives together. We have often have homes and we've combined our finances and maybe we have kids it's so it's, it's very, very difficult.
And we also know because of how toxic they are, that if we leave, it's gonna be mutual mass destruction. They're gonna make sure. They tear everything down for us, for everybody. So it it's this horrible bind. Yeah. So when we've been in a narcissistic abusive relationship, how do we not end up being in another one?
How do we, how do we recognize that this is. We've met toxicity again. So we don't repeat it. I think the thing is to really look at your own story. I mean, I can give you advice of what narcissists look like on first dates, things to be careful of, but it comes down to recognizing your vulnerability.
That's gonna be different from my vulnerability. I'm I can tell you what mine is. I have a hard time when someone, this is what I really don't like. If you're doing something that's awkward, I don't like putting you in the position of calling you out on a, I just. Well think of that with a toxic person to them.
That's like, that's an invitation to take advantage of me, right? They're not gonna set. They're gonna say Woohoo. She never sets. She doesn't set limits. She doesn't call me out. She lets me get away with shit. I have to find the boldness in myself to when someone steps on my toe to say, get off my toe. In the same way.
I need to have the boldness. When someone asks me awkward question, say, Hm, I'm not comfortable answering that. Or if they wanna do something, I just like, even something innocent. Like I'd like to help you take all, this is what happened on my first day. He carried all of the beach bags till he was loaded down.
And I should have said, you know, I'm just not comfortable with that. I wanna take a few things. This is a little ridiculous. When I get to the place where I can have my voice in intimate relationships like that, then I'm ready. But you need to look at your story and find out where your vulnerability. Is it that you really wanted them to think highly?
Is it that maybe they made you look good? Maybe you really needed to be loved like that you were looking for someone that was really made you feel super special. I don't know what it is, but finding that out, what that is, what your vulnerability is, will help you a long ways and recognizing what you see.
And again, so that you don't get attracted again. So stay at home. Mom wants to know how do I deal with a narcissistic adult daughter who uses grandchildren to abuse the family. And ex-husband yes, that is really super tough. It is. And they will do this. This is the other really hard part. Most of us seem most of us have societal boundaries that we know we just don't breach.
We don't use kids. Others people are they, you know, you don't use against the other parent. We don't use grandkids against grandparents. We don't put people in compromising uncomfortable positions. The problem is with narcissistic people and toxic people is they lack a, a conscience. So they don't really have the same.
boundaries. They don't have the same moral compass, as you would think. Normal that comes normally with most interactions. So everything is fair to use. And if they feel that you're hurting them and they're at a disadvantage, they feel totally empowered to do whatever is in their arsenal, including using grandchildren against us to hurt us back.
It's crazy making. you and what we end up thinking, those of us who are around these people, we think that we can somehow apply appeal to the rules of civility, to get them to become more reasonable. Like think of the kids it's gonna hurt them to do that. We'll say things like that. That seem to be sense.
But it doesn't work. Have you ever noticed it to work? They may even agree with you momentarily, but then when the opportunity comes up to use that advantage, they'll do it again. Then that's back because they just don't have the same societal norms, the same moral compass as the rest of us do. So what do you do then when you're in that position?
Well, knowing that all things are on the table, in other words, there's no holds BARR really goes a long way of helping you anticipate what's. there is no bottom. They, there is, they can't go low enough. There's always more places to go that are lower. If you begin to accept that as a reality, that helps you to begin to become prepared for what might happen.
There's nothing they wo wouldn't say to their kids in as a way to hurt you. There's nothing. They're not gonna be willing to take away even from their own children in order to get back at you. Unfortunately, the best way to win at the situation is to have that ceased to be a leverage. . I know what I just said.
That means you let go of you having a really great, the kind of relationship you want with your grandchildren. You let go of it. And that kills. That's a huge loss. What I've found with most of these toxic relationships is that it creates tremendous grief for all of us. They're they're in their own way, hurting themselves, but they, they Don.
See it that way. They see themselves as coming out ahead and they're willing to do that. But for us to understand that in order to maintain a contact that we're gonna have these kinds of losses help us to be prepared for what possibly could happen. I'm so sorry. This is what's happening in your life. I agree with you bringing Brittany that the best ways to really protect ourselves is to know your own boundaries know what's okay.
And not okay. And when it's okay. And when it's not okay, and be very careful, here's the other thing that we underestimate that I just wanna kind of point out because it's so important. They use mind control tactics on us. There is a hypnotic quality to what they say and how they do. So you can have really good boundaries, but they're very good at convincing you to make the exception this time claiming it's just this time, please be aware that even the most ed person in the world is possibly can be duped by someone who's very good at this.
And every time they go through a relationship, they burn through a relationship. They're practic. They've now leveled up and they're gonna do it differently the next time. So yes, it helps to have good boundaries, but please be careful because we can become overconfident on this and then underestimate the toxicity.
The degree that the mind control can manipulate us and throw us off of our game. So just be aware of that. And I'm telling you from actually from research sources, this is researched information. This is not just my opinion or what I observed. This is coming outta Sandra Brown's. I. As well as Don Hennessy's work with law enforcement in Ireland with people who have been in toxic behavior relat or toxic relationships.
So be very aware. In fact, Don Hennessy calls this behavior instead of a pedophile. He calls them psycho files because of their ability to get in our heads and get us to be swayed and do things that we normally do. Wouldn't do think of the people who got caught up in big cult schemes and big cult scam.
Or even in C Ponzi SP games, people you'd think that would know better people who were even in the financial districts who should have recognized that there was something wrong. Again, it's it's mind control. Hypnotic mind control was able to somehow create enough of a. Confusion enough of a need to be involved, that they would overlook their normal cues and things that they'd use for guidance in order to convince them this is possible.
I love in Don Hennessy's book, he said, don't ever get arrogant and think that you are, you can spot these people that you've gotten that good. He said, the reason you haven't gotten in one of these toxic relationships is you've been lucky not to have met a skilled enough offender. How's that for really harsh words for very subdued warning.
I mean, that to me is like, wow. So yeah, we need to be careful about that. Yeah, Courtney, you said you've been trying to escape a narcissist and it feels impossible. I understand that. I was just finishing a seminar with Sandra Brown's group. Her Institute's group was amazing. I was listening to Claudia paradise.
I'm trying to remember the man's name. Last name is Brennan, and then Sandra Brown was speaking herself. They said, I thought this was a fascinating comment. I need to make it AAC because it's such a, such a great statement in order to dissolve the trauma bond, you need to resolve cognitive dissonance.
It's when you unify that duality that I was speaking of earlier, where we see we become two different people. Who've learned to cope with the Dr. Jell and the Mr. Ms. Hyde. When we resolve that duality and come to the truth. And here's the truth. I will tell you the truth. You're just not ready to hear it.
And that's okay if you're in a relationship and you can't leave, you, you haven't settled on this as the truth. The truth is the person you met is not able to enter into this relationship in a safe, loving way. They use people. They don't love people you're being used. It's never been exactly what you thought it's been off and deceptive and manipul.
But you're not quite ready to hear that. So you're living in both camps, you're living in the reality that that's happening, but you're also in the reality of hoping that it's not true it's until you unify that and accept that that is true and it's not changeable, then you'll begin to become ready to leave.
And you'll dissolve the trauma bond gets in the middle of that. This is how I did it. I wrote the book I had to review over and over and. I edited that book nine times every time I went through it and had to see the truth of what happened and made more sense of his behavior and saw the degree, he never loved me.
It helped settle it for me. And I ceased to be invested in somebody who did this to me. I, how, why would I care about somebody who truly never put my needs above his own? I. It's not safe to do that. That helped me break my trauma bond. It went a really long ways. Help me settle it, but it took me a long time to get there because I continued to waffle and think both, both things were true at the same time.
Thank you so much for joining me on this episode of breaking free from narcissistic abuse. I would love to hear from you. Are there topics that you would like to hear more about? Maybe there's something about narcissistic abuse. That's confusing message me on Instagram and let me know. And I would love to be able to add these topics to future episodes.
And until next Thursday, I'll see you then. Bye bye.