I follow the MeToo movement closely because it addresses a reality that is central to my existence. Sexual abuse trauma dominates my emotional life. I was never sexually abused, however, my mother was. Her sexual abuse impacted her ability to be a mother to me. I recently became aware of the depth of this reality when I read a paragraph about what it is like to be in relationship with a narcissist.
A relationship with a narcissist is a desperate relationship where you
are always feeling vulnerable, worthless, hated, constantly explaining
yourself, silenced, punished, and traumatized. What is it that you are
actually doing wrong? Nothing!
This describes what it was like to be my mother’s daughter. Extreme abuse can engender a particular type of narcissism–one that is based on an absence of self. My mother, a victim of sexual abuse, needed to throw her own negative feelings about herself onto me in order to live with the unbearable wound of her experience. I experienced my relationship with my mother as always feeling a need to defend myself and the surety that there was no love or margin for error available to me.
The dominance of this felt sense in my life became clear to me one day while I was preparing for a medical test. I was extremely nervous about the procedure and, try as I might, I could not find grounded presence. Thoughts of random moments in the past in which I felt traumatized by interactions with others kept surfacing. There were so many from such a wide variety of different points in my life that I became completely overwhelmed. I paused with this sense of overwhelm. A new realization eventually emerged—it wasn’t about the fast shifting narratives floating through me.