WOW Love Light Inspire the podcast

Getting Over Past Trauma and Narcissism with Dr. Caroline French Alexander

June 09, 2023 Lorene Roberts | Root Cause Therapist | Life Reinvention | Women of Wisdom | Mature Women | Inspirational Women | Episode 38
WOW Love Light Inspire the podcast
Getting Over Past Trauma and Narcissism with Dr. Caroline French Alexander
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Are you ready to cut through your stuff and find the root cause of your past traumas?

In this week's episode of Wow  Love, Light, Inspire the Podcast, host Lorene Roberts speaks with Caroline Alexander about narcissism. Lorene shares her personal experience with narcissism after her ex left her, and how she now sees it everywhere, even in close relationships. Dr. Caroline provides insights into the characteristics and behaviors of narcissists and how to recognize and deal with them.

Learn about Getting Over Past Trauma and Narcissism with Dr. Caroline French Alexander.

You will learn in this episode!

00:03:57 Narcissistic abuse and self-worth.
00:07:22 Narcissistic abuse and recovery.
00:10:50 Narcissistic abuse and family.
00:14:06 Gaslighting and mental confusion.
00:17:44 Isolation as a weapon.
00:22:12 Narcissists and hypnosis.
00:24:23 Narcissistic abuse and relationships.
00:28:51 Measuring expression of concern.
00:31:12  Generational narcissism.
00:34:48 Building Self-Worth is Hard.
00:37:54 Self-worth and generational trauma.
00:42:28 Narcissistic parents and relationsh

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Hello, hello, welcome, welcome to Love, Light, Inspire the Podcast where we speak to amazing inspirational women on a variety of interesting topics which I hope you'll love just as much as I do. Now I'm Lorene Roberts, your host, and I help people cut through their stuff to heal past issues by finding the root cause that has caused trauma and upset in their lives. So we look at the lessons that you've received. You can find a direction in your life now by giving you strategies, ideas, methods, and ways of doing things to get you into action so you can live an amazing life in all areas of your life now. Now you can find me on Facebook in the group, Women of Love, Light, and Inspiration for You. Come join me there. We post all sorts of things daily so there's always something interesting to see. Connect with us so you can get in touch with me. That would be wonderful. And yeah, come and have a look and let me know. Now today we're going to be speaking to Caroline Alexander about narcissism. Now narcissism is something that's probably pretty close to my heart. It's what I learnt about after my ex left me and now I can see it all the time. I see it everywhere. I see it in people and I see it in relationships and I watch the relationships in close so it's really something that's very, very close to my heart. I hope you get a lot from this podcast today and if you do, please subscribe so you don't miss another episode because we talk to incredible women on incredible different subjects all the time. So come back, we release a new episode every week. Leave us a review. We'd really love that. And here's Caroline, just from the UK too so you'll notice her accent is very different to mine. Welcome Caroline. How are you? Nice and early in the UK. Yeah, yeah, it's got to be past 8 in the morning. Hi, hi Lauren. It's great to be here. Thank you for having me. Oh look, thank you for coming and thank you for talking to us. Look, narcissism, as I, in my introduction I said, is really close to my heart. I was married to a man who was a narcissist and then when I broke it down and really looked at it, his father was a narcissist, my mother was a narcissist. It was like systemic in both families. Tell me, what's your history on narcissism? Where do you come from? Yeah, so in a similar way, I sort of realised someone in my life, it was going on in my life and then it unfolded. Oh, there's lots of people in my life who seem to be narcissists or are in some way abusing me in this way. So in a nutshell, my story is about four years ago, I kind of hit rock bottom. Like on the surface, everything was fine. I've got, had a PhD scholarship in London. I was like, had a little boy, you know, nice middle-class life. Everything was supposed to be good, but I, like my self-worth was absolute rock bottom. I remember, I couldn't even look at myself in the mirror. I just was perfectionism off the scale, pushing myself really hard, awful inner critic, like very, very unasset. And I was like, what the hell is going on here? And kind of got a lot of, when I saw different counsellors and therapists and nothing was really helping, except all I knew was I was unhappy in my marriage and unhappy in life in general. And in a nutshell, eventually I stumbled across an article online about emotional abuse and kind of realised, oh, this is what's happening to me, like in my marriage. Very covert. It was, you know, and suddenly having all these like words like gaslighting and projection, I was like, oh, this is what's happening to me. So cut a very long story short, I went down a rabbit hole, like online of, you know, searching and coming across narcissism and all this, which was very difficult and confusing. And I basically got a lot of confusing messages from people I went to for help as well. But event kind of had this idea, perhaps my ex husband was a covert narcissist, kind of went with that. Anyway, I did leave him. That's a whole other story in itself. But fast forward a few months, I've been living with my parents and I was cut with my little boy and kind of taking him back and forth to his dad. And again, I was like still at complete rock bottom, kind of almost, well, kind of feeling better because I wasn't in my marriage anymore. But on the other hand, just like self-worth was just awful. And found a set and thought, okay, right, I need to really try and figure this out more. So I actually found a counselor therapist who specialized in narcissistic abuse, which was massively helpful. And I had a chat with her and she sort of said, well, yeah, I mean, your ex husband doesn't sound great. But she said, he doesn't sound like a real narcissist to me. It sounds like there's, you know, stuff going on there, etc. But I told her stuff about my family. And she said, but I think, you know, we should have a chat about your mother and your relationship with her, you know, and she kind of picked up on it straight away. And she kind of said, your mother is a narcissist from what everything you said. Yeah. And that was like when it all fell into place, really. And it was kind of this like, year long journey of realizing, oh, when my mom did that, that's what that meant. When my mom did that, that's what that meant. And it was covert. It was very covert as well as an adult. I kind of unpicked my childhood and realized what I'd normalized is, oh, why was just a naughty child? You know, actually, both my parents have been very abusive to me. But I was kind of basically given the message, oh, I deserved it. And they were such poor parents having to put up with such a, you know, difficult child like me. So yeah, it was like a very confusing, difficult journey of figuring out, oh, my childhood was actually really abusive. Oh, my mom's been emotionally abusing me my whole life. My ex husband's been abusing me. I'm like here, like I've moved, moved, you know, not got much support, haven't got much money, have got a two year old, I'm trying to single parent and like, what the hell am I doing now? And then also I had, I didn't understand it at the time, but now I see I had a lot of complex PTSD symptoms as well. I hear you. When my ex first walked down on me, I went and saw a counselor and she got me to read the book, Men Who Love, no, Women Who Love Men Who Hate Women was the only book that I'd ever been able to find on narcissism. But one of the stories that really got me was this lady was the CEO of a major company. Her husband got her to resign and stay at home and be a home, a stay at home mom. And she lost her self worth so much that she got to the stage where she couldn't get dressed up. She couldn't leave the house. She couldn't go out and she just lost all confidence in herself. And I went, so here's a highly intelligent woman who could do anything she wanted, suddenly couldn't, didn't have the self worth to be able to do anything related to. And I went, I get this because I knew that I was highly intelligent. I knew that I was capable of so much, but I didn't have the self worth to think that I was worth anything. Yeah, absolutely. That's so powerful. And I really resonate with that as well. And I found that like, I was doing a PhD, I was a qualified nurse, you know, I had the intellectual stuff there, but I was convinced I was worth, you know, in my case, I was still doing it, but I was pushing myself harder and harder and harder, you know, kind of almost prove something to people. Yeah, that I kind of burnt out in the process. And then, but absolutely, I think like, this is where like being able to read other people's stories, I think, you know, is so powerful. And that for me was a big part of what helped me put the pieces together. So my therapist helped me a lot to put the pieces together. And she had her own, I think, narcissistic mother story. So she got it, got it. Yeah. And yeah, like, I think I achieved more in an hour session with her than I had in like, years and thousands of pounds worth of counselling with other people who just couldn't see what was happening and kind of framed it as there was something wrong with me. So yeah, I think like that. And similar to you, I found a book about narcissistic mothers by Danny Morrigan, which is amazing, which kind of became my go to for my whole journey, where she like thrived. I was like, this is, it was such a relief on one level, it was like, oh, it makes sense now why I'm like this, it's not something wrong with me. It's that the way my parents and my mother have treated me has led to me behaving and being in this way that I'm now being told by people is weird and everything. Whereas actually, it gave me this. Yeah. That's exactly why I wrote my story. Because when I read that, there was nothing else out there. So I wrote my story in about 2013. Couldn't find anything out there that I could sort of, other people's stories that I could read. So that's why I'm writing it, I'm putting it out there. And at the time, you know, there was lots of, I got lots of emails from people saying, thank you, thank you, thank you. I read it now and I think, oh, God, I don't want to go there anymore. That's so brilliant that you did. And you were able to do that. And it's so yeah, and I've read a bit and it really resonated with me. And I'm, I am going to finish your book, apologies. We arranged this quite recently. But yeah, it's so powerful. And absolutely. Like, it really is, I think you have with narcissistic abuse and narcissism, it's so if you've never experienced it, or you're not highly empathetic and experienced, I think it's impossible to really get it. And yes, get it. And I think, unfortunately, some people can be extremely well meaning, but quite invalidating if they don't understand because when you take an incident in isolation, it can look like very innocent and like you're being the problem. So if you've experienced it, I think it's so hard to really see and help people. So a big part of my journey has been getting validation from other people who've experienced it themselves, whether they've been a therapist or in a Facebook, or an author of a book that's just been so valuable. I think one of the things that really hit me was when I realized that mum had always put me down so much, when I found a man that was nice, well, that wasn't real, because I'm really, I didn't think I was worth anything. So I had to find someone who would put me down the same way that mum had put me down. Yeah, absolutely. If my ex had been a lovely man, I would have run a mile because it's not right. Yeah, you're so right. It's so this is what I think is so I find so tragic. And I'm so passionate about really trying to help people and raise awareness of this is often when people have this realization about their partner, actually, that's the tip of the iceberg, you start to unpick and then realize, oh, it's my family. And for me, it's like, oh, friends who are doing this to me, you know, it like, and when we're just raised from by a narcissist from the beginning, it's like, we're taught input, like my mother explicitly told me I had to stay in a kind of abusive relationship. She actually said to me when I was leaving my husband, Oh, is this a good idea? I think you're just going to end up in a council flat. And I'm like doing a PhD, you know, she actually sat me down and told me that and told me, you know, pretty much, oh, you just have to put up with what men do to you. And it's like, you have to lie in it. That's what my mother told me. Yeah. And it's kind of unbelievable sometimes when you tell people this, they're like, your mother wouldn't say that to you, which obviously then is even worse. But it kind of I think that's the thing with narcissistic abuse, it is so out there and unbelievable that like, again, unless you've experienced it's almost hard, so hard to believe it's real that people unfortunately will kind of deny it or it's too uncomfortable to understand or it's too like hard to really grasp it because it's so kind of on the one hand blatant and on the other hand hidden. It's a bleep. Yeah. I know when I went to my mother and told her that I was pregnant and told her that I was really upset about it, it was not what I was planning on doing. I was 20, I was married and 20. And then she said to me, Oh, I know exactly how you feel, darling. I'd always planned on jumping off Princess Street Bridge if I'd got pregnant. I went, what am I meant to do with that information? You know, I don't want to kill myself because I'm pregnant. Yeah. It's like, thanks for the support, mum. Yeah. It's that what you're describing, I think is that perfect example of that. It's such an odd thing to suddenly say that it almost captures you off guard. And I found with sometimes my mother would come out with stuff like that. And it would almost be like, I would almost deny it to myself that she'd said it because it was so weird. It was like, Oh, it's sort of out there and bizarre that it almost catches you off guard. And my own brain almost dismissed it for quite a while, I think. Yeah. Is she telling me to go kill myself or does that mean that I never talked to her about anything again, because I don't know what she's going to say to me. She's certainly not supporting me and not giving me any ideas on how I was to cope with being pregnant. You know, like, don't worry, darling, you'll be a good mother. Would have been really nice, but no, no, no, I would have killed myself if I was in your position. Yeah, no, absolutely. It's kind of like rubbing salt in the wound. It always has to be like, I think that's what I found with, well, with narcissists in general, but I'm talking about my mother particularly here is like you go with a problem and like, they either want to make the problem worse or they want to have a go at you because you've got a problem and how dare you come to them with your problem. It's like, it feels like someone who's there constantly trying to make things worse for you when it's the person who should be trying to support you and help you. Yes. And the lying. I also found out mum had a photographic memory. So the lying that went on. So I always thought that I was going nuts because I couldn't remember things. And, you know, I don't know, no later, you know, all of a sudden I would call my ex out on things where before when I was in the marriage, it was like, Oh, well, he must be right. No, I must be wrong. I must be really dumb and stupid. I must be, you know, I mustn't remember because he was told me I couldn't remember. So therefore I couldn't remember. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. You're taught you're this is where I think it's so dangerous. And so it really does create mental confusion. And like the lying, the gaslighting is a type of abuse that's designed to completely destabilize you and stop you trusting yourself, stop you believing in yourself so that you basically you're trained to abuse yourself and tolerate abuse and then bring yourself in this awful downward spiral. But yeah, you're right. It's sort of like you're and it happens so insidiously like, yeah, like you're trained that you're unreliable. You're trained that you're, yeah, you don't remember things, for example, you know, it's like, yeah, and you're told that explicitly or it's given all these subtle messages to you. Yeah. So then it is like, well, yeah, well, you do doubt yourself. It's like, oh, yeah, well, perhaps they're right. They you know, you didn't. And I think with like with me, like where sometimes the line was so blatant that I actually it kind of made it easier. It made me like, no, actually, I know that it's a blatant lie. Like my mother completely denied something happened, like in my childhood, but I know, because I thought about it so much. And, you know, I know it happened, but she just outright denies it. And like, it was the same sometimes, like with my ex-husband, like it would just be like a blatant lie. And it was so blatant, but it was like, but again, it almost throws you off guard when it's that blatant. It's like, yeah, I believed everything that they said, because they were always, you know, they always had better memories than me. I honestly believed that I was just such an airhead. It wasn't funny. And I was always told I was an airhead, you know, actually, that's funny. I use that word because that's exactly what I was told. Yeah. But you're just an airhead. Yeah. This is where you're told that, and then you just begin to act into that role that they've created for you. And it's so weird. I don't know if you had this experience, but something I figured out was a part of me got some reward from behaving in the way I was expected to, because then I got some kind of approval. So it was like there was this kind of story created about me in my family that, you know, I was, there was, you know, I'm trying to think of an example. It was like, on the one hand, I was like doing his PhD, a health professional, a research published researcher, I'm working with top professors who had, you know, given me amazing feedback. And then in my family, I'm always being portrayed as this slightly stupid, underachieving, you know, gal. And like, it was this whole story that had been created about me. But I realized when I up then I was actually playing into it and acting and behaving in a way that reinforced it. And then I realized, well, I'm getting some kind of, it's like, my brain wants to do that, because then at least I'm getting some kind of validation and acceptance. And it's keeping me safe to be in this role that I've been given. But it was so confusing realizing I've always got these two identities and which one's really me. And yeah, yeah, but it was like, I realized like I'm being psychologically like being driven to please my mother by being this acting in this way she wants me to, because the drive to get your mother's approval is so strong, even when you kind of know what she's really all of this. It's like, I was still driven by, I need to sort of mess myself up so that I please my mother. Amazing, isn't it? Yeah. And isolation is another one, which is really interesting too. We moved a couple of times, basically to isolate me away from the family, away from people. And isolation was a really interesting one. You know, I've had a girlfriend who's just gone through this and they suddenly upped and moved to Queensland. It was just, and it was isolation. Yeah, absolutely. Isolation is a very powerful weapon. The more you're isolated, obviously, the less, well, the more your self-worth goes down, the more depressed you feel. We know loneliness is a massive, whatever's called loneliness, it's a massive health risk and, you know, depression, cause of depression, et cetera. But yeah, it's like that tactic of isolating you. So you're kind of just in this echo chamber of like, you know, you've not got any external people to almost sense check it. It's like, yeah, the more you're isolated, the more you believe their stories and the more your self-worth goes down and et cetera. Yeah. It's horrible. Like, it's so horrible really. I've watched someone else too, and he has tried to turn her against her family. And by doing that, you're isolating the person away from their family, you know, your family do this, your family do that, blah, blah, blah. And it's to turn her against your family. Yeah, no, absolutely. I realized that like in my marriage, like it was much more subtle than I think what some people's experience is. And it was like, I kind of isolated myself almost willingly. And it was like, what I've realized is with narcissists, abusers in general, there's a set point where they know that there was a set point where if someone had done something to me, I would have not taken it. And it was like my, I'm trying to describe this. I kept getting all this subtle disapproval from my ex-husband about friends, et cetera. And over time it just built up and he sort of turned me against them a bit. So I isolated myself. It wasn't really forced in any way, it was like I just was trained to isolate myself. And then like, you know, it became like, I didn't want to admit to anyone what it was like. Yeah. But it's also like I found that if I talked to friends that he didn't approve of, it wasn't worth the fight because I'd talked to that person because he didn't like them. No, exactly. I had the same. It was like, and again, it was so subtle. It was like a kind of like underlying disapproval. And this is where I was like, well, is this abuse or is it just, you know, and it was helpful when I spoke to a domestic abuse charity, because she said, well, yeah, if you're changing your behavior to avoid something, it doesn't matter what that punishment or consequence is, how mild or subtle that might seem, you're still changing your behavior because you're scared of a consequence. It's control. That's what abuse is, which is really helpful to see that. But I think like this is what I realize now though, is it was so confusing because actually some of the people that my ex was going on about, you know, actually there was truth in what he was saying. And I then realized these people aren't that healthy either. And he would complain about my family. And obviously I then realized my family aren't that great. So it's like, yeah, I think where I feel like very fortunate was my ex and my mother weren't in league with each other. My ex didn't really like my mother. Whereas I've met sadly some people where like the ex and the mother kind of gang up on them, which is really awful. So I count myself lucky that that happened, that that didn't happen with me. And it was like a different dynamic, but yeah, it's just how twisted it is. Yeah, it is really twisted. It's funny, the girlfriend who went to Queensland left, suddenly rang me up one day and said, I don't think, I think there's something funny about going on here. And I was like, oh really, really? I think he might be narcissistic. Oh really? I thought that from the beginning. Have you? She sort of said. And then when she left him and she actually came and lived with me and she said to me, she came in one day and she said, you haven't changed at all. And I said, why would I have changed? Oh, he'd convinced me that you'd changed and you weren't the same person anymore. And I was like, that's interesting. I haven't changed. I'd given you your space because I knew that she needed her space. I had changed, but he'd convinced her that I was not the same person because I could see through him. Yeah. Yeah. He'll try and discredit you because he sees that you see through. I think this is like the core of how it works. Like recently I've started thinking about it. It's like a hypnosis. So a narcissist will hypnotize other people into believing that they're victims. They will hypnotize people into believing things about them and about other people that are all better than lies. So yeah, I remember like having people meet me who were like friends of a friend who I realized was a narcissist. And they almost seemed surprised when they met me as if they'd been told a different story about me. And then when they met me, it didn't quite meet the story they'd been told. And again, it was quite subtle. And at the time I didn't think much of it, but now I look back and put all the pieces together, I can see, you know, it's like I've had an image of me created by somebody to serve their own life. This same man, we went out for lunch one day and he wanted to know all the dirty gossipy bad bits about his girlfriend. And I sat there and I said, but what's happened between us is our story. We don't want to share the bad bits with you. And all I could, I can hear ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. He's going to go home and take this out against her. And that's exactly what he was doing. You know, we've had a few funny stories. And then she said they constantly played on him. He played on them for ages, but I'd picked up on that. And that's because I'd picked up on it and said, no, no more. That's it. Yeah. Like me. Yeah. No, absolutely. Yeah. They don't like it when you start setting a boundary. Well, it's interesting. Sometimes I've noticed people, they were like, try and discredit you or they'll suddenly be very nice to you when they see that you're onto them. Yeah. Cause I've worked, I've realized, you know, I've worked in the national health service in the UK for years as a nurse and realized a lot of people who work there are narcissists. I've worked with a lot, unfortunately. And yeah, I've sort of looked back on that and realized like they would try and like undermine me. And then they kind of figured out I was quite good and quite intelligent and then would suddenly turn around and be very nice and very, you know, it was like, they saw something that they couldn't quite get away with me or something. And yeah, their behavior would change. All really like lovely and nice. Yeah. So yeah, just going to your, what you were saying about your friend, like that's one thing that I found and still find extremely difficult is now that I understand so much about this, I see it, I can see it immediately. You kind of know the signs and you can get the red flags and you see it immediately. Yeah. But it's like a lot of the time people who are in it, they're not ready to see it. And it's like, when do you say something, when do you or do you watch and let it unfold into destruction? And that's something I find extremely difficult. And particularly with the mother relationship, I see a lot of like people I know now who've got, I believe, some kind of narcissism in their mothers and they're being quite mistreated or emotionally abused by their mothers, but they don't want to see it. And it's sort of very painful to watch that and watch them kind of defend the right of their mother to abuse them basically. But I kind of went through a phase in my earlier days when I had a lot more trauma symptoms and I would really try and rescue people and it just didn't really work, obviously. And I realized people don't want to be rescued. And if you kind of start blurting out about all of this stuff, people will tend to often shut down and run and kind of- That's the end of that friendship because they're not really- Yeah, exactly. So that's something I find extremely difficult. And I think, yeah, I've realized trying to give this information to people who aren't ready for it is quite counterproductive. But I think this is why the more we can have conversations, public conversations in all over the place, it helps people- Maybe people will see, yes.... to suddenly maybe connect dots in a different way. Oh, look, I hear you very much so there. Look, if my daughter came to me the year before my ex-husband left and she said to me, Mum, you're being abused. What Dad does to you is not acceptable and you need to leave. Now, if anybody else had come to me and said that to me, I would have whitewashed them and thrown them out. Because it was my own daughter and she'd moved home because she wanted to go back to study. And I loved her and I trusted everything she said, I had to stop and listen and I had to think about it. Now, it didn't matter, I didn't do anything about it and I never was going to do anything about it. He ended up running off with someone else because I actually put some boundaries in because it got so bad that I actually put a boundary in and I think that's what ended at that boundary. But anybody else apart from her, and I would never, ever, ever have listened. But even then I still wasn't prepared to leave. I figured that that was my lot in life and that's what I was going to live with and that's, I just had to put up with abuse for the rest of my life. But it's interesting, my girlfriend who was with this guy, I could see it from the beginning and so could my other friend and we were both sitting there going, oh well, oh well, we'll just have to wait for her to see it for her. And even in those last months before she left, I'd say to her, so when are you going to leave Jules? Because you can always come here. When are you going to actually drive out? And she was saying, oh, maybe at the end of the year, oh, maybe next year, oh, maybe. And I had to wait until there was suddenly a crunch. He actually caught her on the phone talking to me and she lied about being mad because he hated my guts, which was really good money. Yeah. And then he was started yelling because he'd been listening outside the window to our conversation. And that was the straw that broke the camel's back. And he went out that night and she just disappeared. She left and left him that night where she was never intending on doing it. And then the other one I can see, it's very, very close to me. You know, you watch the wedding, you watch everything and you go, okay, we'll just support it until we pick up the pieces and let's see how long it's going to take. And I thought it would have taken 10 years, but she was out in two. So it was like, oh, thank God. Yeah, it's so difficult, isn't it? And like, part of me does really, I was reading a lot about learned helplessness the other day and about, because you kind of see how when people are in denial about it, it's not the real them that's talking. It's this like conditioned version of them. Yeah. This real moral ethical issue with, you know, should I just stand by and let this happen? But I think where I'm at now is more like, actually, I probably will express some kind of concern, like in a tangible way. Say that I saw that this happened, and I'm concerned this means that, but in a kind of, but not keep on like, when I was more like coming from a traumatized rescue in place, I would just be constantly like, you have to do this, you have to do this, you have to do this, whereas I think now it's much more measured, like, I feel like I would say something, but much more measured, much more like, you know, calmly and kind of unfold. Yeah. But it's also interesting, actually, what you just said about the straw that break the camel's back, because that's another pattern. I mean, I went through this myself, actually, with my parents, because I don't have any contact with them now. And I've sort of see this in a lot of either friends or clients I work with now. It's like, we're always even when we figured it out, and we see it, it like, it's very difficult to then take that next step of severing contact or putting the boundary in place. And it's like everyone's always waiting for something bad enough that they think it justifies. Yes. And it's like this point. And it's kind of like, and I think this is obviously a psychological, the way we're wired to is kind of normal that happens. But it's like, sometimes it almost takes that incident of something bad enough to make wake us up and make us realize. Because I think before that, like sometimes it's really good, and then it goes bad, and it's good, and it's bad. So you think, I can, I can cope with this. It's okay. And maybe it'll get better because it does get better at times. And you're waiting for the good times to come. Absolutely. That's that trauma bonding, isn't it? The addiction, you actually get addicted to these type of people because our brains like unpredictable reward cycle. Yeah, yeah, like, we're kind of, I mean, there are different types of narcissists with this. And I think this is more of the overt narcissist type that we're talking about here, where it's all at the beginning, it starts with lots of love bombing and telling you how amazing you are, and etc. But it's like our brains latched onto, you know, but it feels so good when they're so nice. And you know, when it's like this amazing high, which is all of these chemical adrenaline and chemicals and dopamine and everything that are, is it literally a physical addiction, our body brave and want that again. So even through the bad times, it's like, but this might come again. So I'm going to stay because it's a cycle of addiction, trauma bonding. Yeah, yeah. It's hard to get out of it's part of getting out of it is having to go through that withdrawal. I don't know if that's the right word. But you know, kind of like if you're coming off a drug, it's like that chemical high that can be created by. Yeah, absolutely. And then there's also, I find the generational thing. You know, like my ex's father was a narcissist. And I realized that he married me, who was his mother. And my behavior was the same as his mother. Yeah, he repeated his father, I believe his father's mother was also narcissistic. So there's definitely at least three generations there, if not more narcissistic people in the family. Yeah, no, absolutely. I think it, I don't know my many of my grandparents that well, but I kind of look back and there's a lot of dysfunction there in my family. And yeah, it makes sense that it's generational really, because it's like if you these behavior, whether it, you know, whether there's genetics in it or not as well, I don't really understand that side of it. But just from a behavior point of view, if you behaving in that way, it makes sense that you're going to create children who either repeat that or who adapt to survive. And then yeah, we just, yeah, as she's and it's like, I think I've heard this a lot. It's like for me, it's like, oh, I married my mother in one way or another. And it seems to happen quite a lot. Yeah, you're right. It's like it feels even if intellectually, we know we don't want it, it like feels very familiar to our bodies and our nervous system. And like you say, like, we often I realized I didn't even understand the alternative what a healthy relationship really was, because I've never seen it role modeled, I've never experienced it. And you're right, it's like, then I realized if with someone who's actually treating me with love and respect, it feels very uncomfortable, because I'm so conditioned that I don't deserve that. Yes, that, you know, I've been in a really great relationship for a couple of years, but that it didn't like that it's been a massive healing process. And I, you know, I've been was trying to, you know, sabotage this relationship subconsciously and everything, because it didn't feel safe to like have the love and respect that my partner gives me now, because my body wasn't used to it. And it was like, hey, this is too dangerous, too dangerous. So subconsciously, I was constantly sabotaging it. And that's such a long journey, massive learning journey to come to terms with it's safe, and I deserve to be in a loving relationship. Yes. So I think that's where it's important to like understand that just because you've had you've realized you were the narcissist, you've left, that's not the end of the journey, like your whole system is going to react as if you're still in that relationship. So then it's all about healing that trauma and learning how to be in a completely different way of being to what maybe you've ever known. Yeah, so still a journey after that. And I think that's where like, for me, like, no one ever really told me that, you know, like domestic abuse never told me about PTSD. And it like it was kind of almost like you're left to get on with it and then realize, oh, yeah, well, I'm sabotaging everything in my life now, even though my circumstances have changed, I'm still like going around. Yeah, I've had to learn to love me. And there's still times I think, oh, am I still loving myself enough? No, probably not. Yeah, no, definitely that self worth piece, like as we talked about at the beginning, that and that for me, it was like low self worth was the real crux of it. I've had, you know, and I'm still on this journey myself, but I've had to really put a lot of, you know, effort into growing my self worth and figuring out how to do that. Like I didn't, again, this is where like some of the therapy I had didn't really help that much. It was like, didn't really get to the core of it and helped me grow my self worth in a way that really worked. But yeah, like we basically re creating a whole new relationship with ourselves and giving ourselves this message that we are worthy and growing this real inner self worth is the kind of healing journey. But it's hard when you've been told your whole life that you know that like, you're not worthy and given that message your whole life. It's not like a just a sudden easy process to suddenly, you know, and actually I realized if you go too quickly with that journey, like my body rebels against it. If I almost like treat myself in a way that's too out of sync with my level of worthiness I feel inside, then my I find a way to sabotage it and mess things up so that I feel comfortable and safe again, because I'm, you know, messing things up. So it's, yeah, it's absolutely like it's, you know, it's absolutely possible and brilliant, you know, you can build your self worth again, but I think sometimes it's important to remember and understand that it's not really always an easy straightforward journey to do that. Self worth is like that layers on the onion. I am always getting rid of layers of self worth. It's like, I thought I'd cleared that back we go again. And it's like, it's constantly just popping up, popping up, popping up. Yeah, no, absolutely. That's, that's like what I found. And on my healing journey now, and like, particularly since I discovered somatic work and nervous system based work, which has just been incredible, I've come to actually embrace that this is how it is, we will keep getting layers, you know, something I thought I'd resolved will pop up again. And I'm kind of okay with that now, because I've also now got the tools to understand it. And each time it pops up, it's another layer. And I'm kind of okay with that. I'm okay with it that that happens. Yeah. But yeah, it is like, and also then the more we kind of evolve, you know, I've wanted to like, do something different with my life and, you know, create a business and all that. And then every time we start doing these new things, more stuff will pop up because it's like, challenged again, and we think layers of an onion is very true. Oh, yeah. Bloody onion. I just never seems to get these layers off. And honestly, and I thought I've got the outside layers off, but I'm still working through the inside layers. No, no, absolutely. And I think, and this is where like, it really bothers me and the whole self-worth, even self-worth, like self development industry and all that is so often like we're marketed and I was paid for so much money for this art, and I was told, this is all your need, you know, we'll just do this quick session and then it'll all be fixed. And it's so much like marketed, you know, like you'll have self-worth forever, once and for all, just do this program. And it's just, I don't believe it's ever true, you know, and it keeps setting us up these false promises that all you have to do is do this and then it'll all be fixed forever. Like, actually, it's so much more complicated and building self-worth is a journey and we're going to have ebbs and flows in our lives when we have times when we feel great and times we feel rubbish and kind of normalizing that, that that is kind of how life is, I think is so important. Yeah. So rather than kind of trying to have like a quick fix that we can just fix our self-worth and it'll all be done forever, just being much more honest that actually, no, it's a long journey. It's brilliant. You can bring a lot of joy to that journey, but yeah, it's not a quick fix, not a kind of thing that we can just, you know, get figured out and then that's it. Absolutely agree. And look, every time I go into, you know, the inner child bits and pieces, the different stuff that comes up and then there's also the generational stuff that comes up as well and past lives as well. I know that's a bit woo woo, but it's like, it's there, it's for real. Yeah, no, absolutely. And I think that's where like, remembering that the narcissistic abuse element, which has often happened in these very interpersonal relationships is just one of the puzzle. Like we live in the, you know, patriarchal systems in which, you know, women have been oppressed and killed years for speaking their mind, et cetera. You know, we've got all of this like much wider society trauma and societal messages and cultures and all of that, that's part of this picture as well, really powerful and plays into it all. So yeah, absolutely. It's not like this narcissistic abuse is the only problem. It kind of is often a very, the very big problem and the core problem. But for me on my journey, like figuring out that was like almost the starting point. And now I've like gradually woken up to, oh, like, you know, I'm being oppressed by this system and working in this academic system is actually quite toxic. And, you know, and realizing, oh, you know, I've been conditioned by the patriarchy and understanding these different layers, I've gradually woken up to and see. I hear you. And then the whole lot also affects our children who then have got our stuff to deal with, plus the parents, our parents stuff to deal with. Yeah, absolutely. And I think that's so important. Like I feel so, I've got one son, he's six and I had him like when I was 36. So I was, and I feel grateful actually, I had him when I was older, like in a sense. For me, he's been my greatest gift because it was like, I was so from the start, so overwhelmed with love for him, like on the inside, this feeling that it was like, it really helped me figure out what had gone on with my parents, because I was like, well, I would never do that to him. So why on earth was it okay to do that to me? And that was like a real eye opener. And I sort of, you know, always for my son, my whole thing has just been I don't want him to be bullied. I don't want, I want him to have self-worth. I want him to be confident. So I was like figuring out, so okay, so how do I raise him to be confident and happy and fulfilled and feel worthy, et cetera, and discovered all these kinds of gentle parenting, child-centered parenting approaches that I love and that are really brilliant. But a big realization for me was like, oh yeah, so I need to treat myself like this. You know, it's not just a case of doing this for me. So yeah, I think like, and I meet so many people now who really are these cycle breakers, it's this, we're at this pivot point where we've woken up to this is what's going on and there is an alternative. And we're now, you know, breaking these cycles of generational abuse that have probably gone back hundreds, thousands of years, who knows, pivot point where we can do things, you know, differently. And so you've just raised something else, which is that I've made me think, so if your mother was narcissistic, how did your father deal with it? Or did he just live with it forever and just? Well, he was, I think he had elements of it as well, to be honest, he was quite very dysfunctional, you know, I figured out, I mean, they had a very odd relationship, I would say, they were kind of controlling each other. There was a lot of weird dynamics going on there. I think she felt very controlled by him, even though she was more narcissistic. I think on one level, he was, he was very dependent on her because he almost didn't have many real life skills to look after himself. Yeah, I would say they had an incredibly dysfunctional relationship. And like, looking through now what I understand, I think like he had probably Asperger's or something, he had a lot of stuff going on that wasn't what you'd really call healthy either. So I think they were just sort of stuck in their own weird dynamic, and kind of like found a way to tolerate each other and muddle through life. What I kind of realized often, if you've got one narcissistic parent, you don't tend to have a nice, sorry, nice isn't the right word, you don't tend to have a healthy other parent because healthy people don't tend to tolerate narcissists like that. So either you've got another parent, similarly toxic, or perhaps they're very under control as well, or yeah, got loads of them as well. If you know what I mean, it's often an unhealthy dynamic, I would say most of the time, an unhealthy dynamic itself. Well, my dad was absolutely beautiful, and he was my saving grace in lots of ways. But at the same time, he also died of prostate cancer. Now, if you look up prostate cancer in the spiritual books, it's basically he was controlled. Mum had him by the ball, and that was it. I think, you know, being born in the 1920s, it was a very male dominated time. So mum sort of succumbed to being the dutiful wife. Yeah. And he adored her. But I think I wonder whether he liked her, even though he adored her, if that makes sense. Yeah, no, absolutely. It does. Actually, you raise a really important point, because I tend to sit a bit through the lens of, you know, I think because my dad was so dysfunctional that everybody's must be, whereas actually, I've had quite a few people with stories like yours that their dad was very loving and healthy. So I don't know if healthy is the right word to use, but very loving towards them. But there's this concept of the enabling father that comes along quite a lot, though, whereas, like, and I think for some people, it's that like, realization that the dad might have been very loving, but they've also, in some way enabled this behavior from the mother or allowed it to happen. If you see what I mean. Yes. In a way, I think dad couldn't stand up to her. Yeah. And say, enough's enough. Yeah, that's what I mean, actually. And I think I've seen that dynamic in some parents, other people actually, with the parents, it's like one parent is very loving and attentive, but they're also not able to stand up to the abusive parent and make it stop. So in a sense, it's kind of enabling. Mum did that behind his back. Dad didn't have any clue of what she was actually saying to me. Yeah. The things that she said to me, he had no idea she was saying to me, you know, I think he would have pulled her up if he had a known what she was saying, but she didn't say them in front of him. Yeah. No, that makes perfect sense. Yeah. It's like, it's so much deception, isn't it? Around. Yeah. Yeah. Different image to different people. Yes. Yeah. That's such an important point. I think it's like, this conversation is really showing me there's no such thing as a typical, you know, it can play very differently in different situations with different people. Yeah. And look, the same with my ex, you know, when I know our war group of friends couldn't believe the things that I was saying. It was like, you know, once he left, they sort of went, Oh, you know, everything was so perfect. Well, no, it wasn't. And it wasn't like that. And they, they couldn't believe it and couldn't see it. And yeah, things happened that they sort of said, Oh, okay. Because he was always the image perfect to them. But if I had friends home that I wanted to be friends with, he was the rudest, arrogantest man that, you know, and it was embarrassing. So I never bought friends home. Yeah. I didn't make friends, would not make friends because I didn't know what I was going to get from him. Yeah, exactly. That's another kind of good isolation tactic, isn't it? Like making it, if you do bring people, that sounds very familiar. Yeah, very interesting sort of dynamics. And what different people saw were very different. You know, what his work colleagues saw was very different. Yeah, exactly. That's, that's a real classic thing, isn't it? What different people see is so different that the people got the very positive image often will react very negatively to the idea that that's not true and discount it. Like such a carefully cultivated powerful image of how good they are that people and rush to defend them and assume that you're the person, you know, the troublemaker or something. Yeah. It can't be not true that this image kind of has to be true. It's like the brain can't compete. But that image is really kind of how they get away with so much and how it does so much damage a lot of the time that it's people aren't able to see it. Mum did a very interesting thing. She had two children, very big age gap between me and my sister. And she basically never allowed us to be together. So we were never a united force. She absolutely kept us apart. And the family that saw my sister got one story in the family that saw me got another story. So each so she would, if you walked in, she would weigh up who you would see and talk to and then tell you that side of the story. Yeah, it was so calculating. It was absolutely scary when I actually looked at it. No, absolutely. I think that's such an important point, like often ends up with a kind of siblings played off against each other. Like I see that completely with me and my sister. Like I don't talk to her anymore either, but I can see it's not her fault. She's the way she is. But my mum would like, you know, take in turns to scapegoat one of us and have the other one is the golden child and we'd sort of swap roles, you know, but she kind of set us up to hate each other, you know, and like when I kind of said to my sister, I'm not speaking to them because of this, she, my sister told me I was making it all up. I was lying, you know, I'm an awful person. I'm just blaming our poor parents for all my dysfunction, you know. So sadly, I've seen that happen quite a lot that, you know, things are pitted against each other. Not always. The siblings kind of see through it together and work through it together. But quite often that is unfortunately another dynamic that comes up. It's really bizarre to me. My sister has two girls, big gap between them and she's got them against each other instead of being behind it. And I just think it's so sad. She's just absolutely repeated history the same way as what mum did with us. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. But it's family repeating the same cycle over and over generation after generation. It is incredibly sad and I sort of have a hope that eventually like as understanding in society as a whole develops around this, there'll be some way of, I don't know, like how you can intervene, but like I'm just kind of, I don't know what it would look like, but just kind of hoping that as awareness might grow around, you know, education, social services, healthcare, you know, there's more awareness in all these systems that gradually this behavior will be more seen and called out and over time will kind of enough people will break the cycle that. Oh, that would be wonderful. I don't know how it would work though. I know it's, that sounds really funny, but I don't know how it would work because unless you're ready to see it, you won't see it. No, exactly. And at the moment, like it's sort of repeated, we role modeled it a lot in like, you know, society and like, you know, the media, politics, how people behave to each other. Yeah. And you can often get it kind of glorified, don't you? That it wasn't until my ex left and I was watching, I think it was a game of thrones. No, that, that really magnified it was something else, something like that. And they had a sex scene on there and I went, that's not acceptable. And then I went, that's what was done to me. So maybe that wasn't acceptable either, but that definitely wasn't acceptable. Well, what was done to me? That didn't matter because it was only me. Hold on. Yeah, absolutely. So hold on. I'm worth more than that. Yeah. We see it all the time in pornography and all sorts of bits and pieces. The way they portray women in all of that is not acceptable. There is no, you know, permission given. It's like, you know, this is how we're going to do it. Yeah, no, absolutely. We get role modeled an awful lot of messages. I think, yeah, when I was figuring out about my ex, it was like, I suddenly heard in all these songs, you know, that are just played on the radio. Suddenly I saw it. I was like, oh my God, there's all these power dynamics going on here. You know, and I would suddenly hear songs in a whole new light that was basically all about, you know, women being in some way controlled or it being the women's job to say yes, or it was okay to just pursue someone, even though they weren't interested and make them like you. And if they didn't like you, they were bad or something. All of these weird messages, I suddenly saw that this is so messed up. Yeah. And that's what we're teaching our kids. It's okay. It worries me what we put into our movies and what we put into our songs and all of that. That's social. Exactly. It's kind of what gets normalized. Yes. Like for me, my biggest thing is whatever anything else is like teaching my son what a healthy relationship is. And that's partly why, you know, I want him to have so much self-worth that he doesn't ever feel like he's got to put up with anything less than a loving, healthy relationship. But so easy, you know, I know a lot of men who've been abused by female narcissistic partners, you know, that's a massive problem as well. So it's sort of like educating him that, you know, to not ever get, hopefully he won't ever get really caught up in this kind of relationship and entangled in a situation with someone like, and I obviously want that for everybody, but my son is up at the moment front of my mind, but to help right from the outset, recognize what it is, recognize red flags, know they're worth more than that and not get entangled with narcissists. Cause once you've, you know, as you know, like got children with them, et cetera, it adds a whole new layer of stuff there. So yeah, it's genetic and it's what you modeled them. So it's, it's both. Yeah. It has been so good talking to you. So wonderful talking to you. I've enjoyed it. Thank you. Yeah. No, it's been really great to talk to you too. And I think there's so much more on this topic to say, I feel like we've kind of just touched the iceberg tip of the iceberg really. We have. But I think like, as we said earlier, like just having these conversations out loud and sharing these experiences, like this is what I went through. This is the impact it had on me. This is what really happens. It's so important to kind of raise understanding of narcissistic abuse. And like, if it's, you know, you're not alone in it, it's a real thing and it has a real effect. And yeah, I'm so glad to be able to have this conversation. And it's great that you're in a place that you're doing all this great work in the world and healing and everything and able to help people on this journey. Yeah. Maybe we need to do another one. Maybe we need to expand it again. Yeah, absolutely. We'll talk about that. Thank you very much, Carolyn. How does, if anybody wants to work with you, how do they find you? That's a great question. I am currently setting up my online presence. So I will probably be giving you that up to date information. So when this goes out, we can put it in your show notes or however it works. Yeah. But currently what I'm doing, my project at the moment is I am aiming to create like a dream, my dream, what I see in a dream program for people who want to grow their self-worth, who've experienced, to be honest, and it's not specifically to narcissistic abuse. It could be anybody who's, you know, basically knows they've had some traumatic experiences that have led them to having low self-worth and really wants to grow their self-worth and heal their trauma. So I do a mixture of somatic therapy and coaching and bits and pieces I've picked up along the way. And at the moment, yeah, I'm super excited to be trying to, well, to putting them together into a program to then. Yes. So that, at the moment, that is my work in progress. But hopefully by the time this goes out, I will have more details and somewhere where people can actually have a look at that, that I can. Can they find you on Facebook under Dr. Caroline French? Is that the best, is that one way of finding you? At the moment I am on Facebook. My name is Caroline Alexander on Facebook. I have a Facebook pseudonym. Probably the best way to contact me is if you email me hello Spark deep inside. Yeah. Yeah. All one, all no spaces in between. Spark deep Hello at That's my email address. That's a good way to contact me for now. And beautiful more ways will be coming. Thank you so much for talking to us today. Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. It's been a pleasure. My pleasure. So thank you for listening today. Thank you for listening to this episode of Wow! Love might inspire the podcast and special thank you to Caroline for just being open and honest and sharing all her knowledge about narcissism with us today. And wow, what an incredible energy is. So we release episodes every week. So you never know who we're going to speak to. Some of our women are just not all, some of them, all of our women are absolutely incredible and they have such knowledge. So I hope you enjoyed this podcast. I know you enjoyed this podcast. So please subscribe, share it with your friends, press the subscribe button so you never miss another episode. The more you share with your friends, the more people we get this out to. So the better it is for everybody. And if you can give me a review, I would love that. I would love to hear from you anyway. So let me know what you think about podcast. Let me know if you've got takeaways from the episode and what else you've heard and thought about since listening to the episode. So thank you. My name is Lorene Roberts. And if you need some help understanding your past, if you don't know how it's affected you and if you're struggling with issues that seem to be repeating again and again and again in this life and you want to reinvent your life, you want to get into action so you live an amazing life, then I am the person who you need. You're having someone in your team who works with people to go through the issues, find the root cause and that root cause, it's really caused us some trauma within ourselves. So we carry that trauma all the way through our life. We then go in, we look for the lessons that you've received, but you may not even realise that these are lessons. These are gifts that were given to us. So I give you the strategies, ideas and methods and ways of dealing with all of this. So you can go on and live the most incredible exciting life by dealing with stuff from the past. So I could be exactly who you need. So you make changes to get the best results in your life. So get in touch with me. Get a free strategy session for me so you can work out if you want to work with me. And what have you got to lose basically. So thank you for listening today. Thank you for everybody who helps in this. Thank you for Nissa. He puts this together for you. She is the person who makes it sound the way it sounds. He gets rid of all the mistakes I make, because I do make some. And she puts the music on and everything together for us. So please remember that everything that was spoken about today wasn't about you. It was just general information. And if you need help, please go and find some help. Find yourself someone who can absolutely help you. Go to Lifeline if that's what you need. Talk to somebody and get yourself some help. So this is Lorene Roberts. Thank you for listening and have a wonderful day everybody.

Narcissistic abuse and self-worth.
Narcissistic abuse and recovery.
Narcissistic abuse and family.
Gaslighting and mental confusion.
Isolation as a weapon.
Narcissists and hypnosis.
Narcissistic abuse and relationships.
Measuring expression of concern.
Generational narcissism.
Building Self-Worth is Hard.
Self-worth and generational trauma.
Narcissistic parents and relationships.
Different perspectives on relationships.
Breaking the cycle of abuse.
Narcissistic Abuse Awareness.
Reinventing your life.