I am the first-born daughter of an alcoholic, narcissistic, obsessive-compulsive mother and an enabling, co-dependent father. My younger sister arrived a little over a year later. I “learned” very early that my role in the family was to fix unhappy situations, smile when I’m not happy, stay out of trouble, keep my feelings to myself, and remain subservient to my mother. I discovered very early that my father would not protect me or my sister from our mother. He had his own pathology to protect. Everything revolved around Mother’s moods, her needs, and her dramas. The religious beliefs I grew up with also confirmed my role as a second-class citizen. My worth was being of service to Mother.
I survived by disappearing to my room or to my safe place in the yard, denying my feelings, blaming myself, and acquiring negative, unhealthy beliefs about myself. I was emotionally, spiritually, physically and sexually abused. Somehow the word “abused” doesn’t fit anymore. “Assaulted” does. I may not have experienced the kind of assaults I’ve heard of from the wonderful women in my life, but I cannot minimize the harm that was done to me anymore.
God gently woke me in my late 30s. I began hearing Her voice, through others and myself, that things were not right, that I needed help. I grabbed a lifeline in the form of a treatment center program and began to wake up. I found out during treatment that a Higher Power has always been with me, helping me survive and find my path.
I am 57 years old now, and I realize how often in my recovery I’ve had to surrender and turn my problems over to the God of my understanding. This has been key to my recovery. Counseling has brought me increased understanding, along with the support from 12-Step meetings and great sponsors. All of these tools have helped me with changes I’ve needed to make. Willing to grow and work hard on my problems, I continued to meet people I needed to meet, learned lessons, and attended workshops to learn how to communicate better with others, with myself and with God.
I married a lovely man also in recovery, and we began to see a marriage counselor for conflicts and trust issues we were having. The counselor recommended individual counseling for us, and I decided to try EMDR, a therapy I’d read about and wanted to try. I went to around 17 EMDR sessions over a summer. In reducing the traumatic effects of growing up in an alcoholic home, EMDR therapy helped me to cope so much better. Posttraumatic stress and transference didn’t affect me as much anymore in my interactions with people. My husband and I moved, and eventually a conflict really shook us. We saw a marriage counselor as well as went to our individual meetings. But the conflict remained a chasm between us.
We moved again and I worked on self-esteem issues. We found another marriage counselor who spoke privately with each of us. She asked if I had grown up with a narcissistic mother and whether I had worked on the effects of growing up in this kind of family. A few counselors had identified this issue in the past, but I had never worked on it.
So another adventure began this last year to recover from growing up with a narcissistic mother, and I’ve gone to 20 or so EMDR sessions. My husband and I also continue our marriage counseling. I call my EMDR therapist when an issue arises. It’s just like they say: recovery’s like peeling an onion; more is revealed when we’re ready. I feel so grateful to my husband who has worked on his issues which trigger mine, which trigger his, etc., etc. We are both so fortunate to be on this recover road together, hand in hand. It’s worth it! You’re worth it! Hang in there