Reclaim/reacccess one’s will and agency after narcissistic scapegoating

  • November 7, 2021 at 1:40 am #9216

    Jay, thank you for this course. I’ve found it and the videos you do to be the most healing thing I’ve done in my recovery and it is helping me a huge degree. I wanted to ask you, how scapegoated children, as adults, learn to reclaim their agency in the world. One of the most crippling aftereffects I experience myself is completely crippling difficulties with agency and my own will. Its hard to describe it, but it feels like my nervous system goes into freeze or crisis when I really need to have some agency. Some of this stops me protecting myself, some of it makes me inert and circular in my thinking, other times I feel so much fear about making a decision I just get stuck in a traumatic kind of panic, and at other times I hear my abusers just telling me I’m being ‘too willful’ etc. Whichever of this, they all lead to a shame kind of darkness in my mind, and a frozen sense in my body.

    One place this effects me is if I try to speak or write, I feel crippling amounts of inertia coming over me, like I’m walking through treacle. It is just so hard, like I’m pushing against a powerful force and its just too exhausting. I then often become frustrated, scared or just despairing.

    Another place this effects me is activity. As a child I used to absolutely love feeding the calves and sheep on the farm next door. The farmer would give me big buckets of milk and hay bales to lift and take on foot up the lane to some barns with animals in. I’d feed them myself and the pleasure I got from this was just immense. I loved feeding animals, and I loved the physical strength I felt carrying the fodder up to them. It filled me with a sense of power and purpose and pride. But then if anyone was around I’d become crippled with shame. I’d feel physically like maybe I coukd not even lift these heavy things, it was like inertia was just filling me up. My brother would tell me I was hideous or looked like a hag or manly or something that implied I was physically disgusting (I identify as female) and my mother would say or imply I was just showing off. The farmers nephew would say I was doing it all wrong even though I wasn’t. This just crippled up my sense of agency and put me 8nto this sickening kind of inert state of complete powerlessness.

    I wanted to write this in case it helps anyone else, but also in case you might consider making a video on this at any point. I hope I explained it well enough, it is a hard feeling to describe but it really feels like a physical and mental crippling, so much so that I’m frozen by it and it completely stops me from doing many (most) things.

    One final thing, if I imagine the idea of ‘taking my power back’ I actually feel this sensation coming over me, I feel physically sick and as if I’m recoiling from a really noxious, evil thing. The idea of my power actually puts terror into me, like the terror of doing something really terrible and vicious that breaks the law and harms someone.

    Thank you again for all your work.

    November 10, 2021 at 8:02 am #9276
    Kristin Choate

    I suffer from a similar situation. I call it being stuck. One of the main areas it shows up in my life is in my inability to maintain a clean and organized home. A lot of the abuse from my narcissistic mother stemmed from doing housework. No matter how hard I tried to please her and perform my chores perfectly, she would find fault in it and would mercilessly attack me. Now, as a 45 year old woman, I find that I physically cannot do housework a lot of the time. I have such a sense of panic and anxiety that I’m just stuck in my chair. I’ve shamed myself for this “laziness” for my entire life.

    Here are some ways I’ve been tackling this problem:

    I determine that I’m going to work for a short fixed amount of time in one room of my house. Yesterday I worked in the kitchen and cleared of part of my counter and deep cleaned it and the backsplash behind it. I felt joy at the sight of this really clean area.

    Later on, I will go look at what I did. I was immediately ashamed that the rest of the kitchen was still cluttered and needed to be clean. I had to tell myself out loud that I was hearing my mother’s voice. I saw extremely minor imperfections right away in the work I’d done. My instinct was to fix this immediately and I had a sense of panic come over me. I determined to leave those imperfections and not fix them. I do not have to hold myself to this unattainable standard.

    I suffered a lot from this work yesterday. I had a lot of anxiety last night and couldn’t sleep well. I can’t tell you the price I pay for fighting against these feelings. But I’m also convinced that this is the way out. Some day, these actions will be habits and will be easy. Some day, my mother’s voice will be silenced in my head and my own true voice will be there instead. That’s what I have to believe to keep going.

    I really feel for you and your situation. I know that pain you feel. I really hope that we are both able to escape from this quicksand and find footing on solid ground. I hope that one day we will be able to take pride in our good work and to have a sense of joy about what we can accomplish.

    November 10, 2021 at 11:40 am #9277

    Kristin, I really feel what you wrote, I relate to this a lot, the sense of being ‘lazy’ especially when in fact you actually cannot, are too inert/stuck and frozen. The panic attacks from this I find just awful. I seem to need so much time to just unfreeze myself in order to do anything at all. Then my mother’s voice is loudest, yelling at me to move. I know we will heal from this. Jay’s videos and therapy are helping me so much. My very best wishes to you Kristin.

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