Complex Trauma and the Dynamics Between a Narcissist and a Pleaser
A resolved emotion is an emotion that has been able to run its full course without the interference of thought, regardless of the outcome of the circumstances.
In other words; it means that you can endure a potentially traumatic situation and go through it unscathed.
Those that do are often people who have sufficient resilience, containment, a healthy emotional foundation and a support system that has given them an advantage, and hence can rebound quicker.
Starting with a Disadvantage: Childhood Trauma
When life’s adversities begin when young, this can turn the tables on you drastically.
If your emotional foundation is shaky to start with because there never was any support or nurturing, it becomes tougher to face new challenges, and this often leads to retraumatization through recurring experiences.
What happens is that there will be emotional responses that are unfinished and that have become patterns.
It is with these emotional patterns that we deal with life, circumstances, and people, and thereby recreate some of our old situations that relate to our history.
Narcissism and Complex Trauma: When Things Don’t Go as Planned
Projection and Reenactment go hand in hand. It is a process that happens simultaneously, and there may be various layers of it at play.
Let us explore this through an example to clarify:
Anna grows up with a narcissistic mother who is more concerned about her ambitions than taking care of her children. Anna copes with her by “pleasing,” as a means of getting some form of approval and a sense of identity. Her mother, however, has turned this against her, through using guilt, and oversteps Anna’s boundaries on a regular basis.
Both identities, the ‘pleasing’ type, which is Anna, and the overbearing, narcissistic mother, who uses control to cover her wounds and insecurity, keep each other in their place.
Seeking any confrontation, for Anna, regarding setting healthy boundaries for having her needs met is overshadowed by crippling anxiety. Her mother plays on that by using guilt.
The Wound of Wanting to be Loved, and How that Relates to a Lack of Boundaries
Partly, that anxiety relates to her still wanting to be validated and the looming fear of rejection; not being good enough, and being a failure.
Anxiety, depression and an inability to move forward in life, are some of her symptomatic expressions.
From the above example, you can see that Anna has difficulty with setting boundaries, and that relates directly to wanting to avoid rejection and failure, which rests on her fundamental need of wanting to be loved, nourished and validated.
Reenactment and Addressing the Complexity of Trauma to Heal Post-Traumatic Stress
Besides a complicated relationship with her mother, Anna has difficulties in other areas of her life.
At work, or in her relationships, she often gives too much of herself because of a need to feel validated. In turn, people either abuse or shun her because there is that undercurrent of wanting emotional compensation.
Anna moves between giving too much of herself, followed by feeling hurt and frustrated as a result of being used, or through not feeling validated, isolating and withdrawing into herself.
Facing What Is and Acting on it Through Therapeutic Guidance
What Anna needs to address, is to learn to openly express her needs, boundaries, and possibly, even anger.
While learning to express her boundaries, anxiety, and guilt will present themselves, which relate directly to her more profound emotional hurt of wanting to be loved and validated, and the lack of which she has experienced.
Once she can allow herself to feel the hurt from childhood neglect, and total lack of love; to not descend further into her usual default position of pleasing, and steps up to assert her boundaries, and feeling empowered by it, she will start to move in the right direction and heal her childhood complex trauma.
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