As of yesterday, it’s been one month since I got sick with carbon monoxide poisoning & a concussion. It’s been quite an interesting month, too.
My recovery is a slow one, but at least it is giving me a much needed break from life. It’s also given me more time to think & pray.
Shortly after returning home from the hospital, God showed me that I had a big problem with toxic shame, which stems from emotional neglect & criticisms in childhood. (it’s why I felt I didn’t deserve any help from the ER staff, even though that is their job, & my husband shouldn’t help me recover- I should do it all on my own. That’s pretty bad, especially considering the severity of my illnesses!) I believe this is a very common problem for adult children of narcissistic parents, so I thought I would share a bit about this past month’s journey with you.
When God first revealed this to me, I was happy & sad. Happy because I finally understood what was wrong, why I felt I deserved nothing. Also sad because, well, let’s face it- this is pretty depressing realizing I was made to feel so poorly about myself. I also had no idea how to cope with this problem, & had to ask God to show me. He gave me some really good ideas, which I shared in the post I originally wrote on this topic. Please read that post at this link. I’ve been trying to do the things I mentioned in that post. I also have been doing other things, such as paying more attention to my dreams, which have been revealing a great deal to me about how much I need to take care of myself. (Almost nightly, I’m having dreams that show me that, so obviously God thinks it’s important!)
I also told God I want to change this problem- I want to be rid of this toxic shame once & for all, & I want to learn to take care of myself too instead of only everyone else. Was that a powerful prayer! He has been helping me tremendously!!
About a week after I got sick, I got an email from a jewelry company. They had a lovely ring on sale that reminded me of one my paternal grandmother had when I was a kid. This wasn’t a real diamond like hers, but it was still beautiful. I felt that instead of thinking it’s pretty & ignoring it, I should ask hubby if we could get it. That took a lot of guts for me- I hate asking him for anything, let alone something frivolous. He said sure, go ahead & get it. When I got on the website to order it, I saw they had an identical ring with a much larger stone that I liked even more. I ordered it, even though it cost a bit more. For once, probably the first time in my life, I realized I deserved something special & felt no guilt about it. Getting myself that prize was a big step towards shedding the “I don’t deserve…” mindset of toxic shame. Now the company has failed to fulfill my order, but I’m not giving up- I will just get that ring from another company . 🙂
Also, I’ve had trouble with my recovery. I need to relax, avoid any strenuous physical activity & stress until I am healthy again. This means hubby gets to do the bulk of housework. It’s been hard just laying around while he works, then comes home & does laundry & cleans. Every time the guilt comes up, God reminds me to relax. I need to recover- I’ve been poisoned by carbon monoxide & have a nasty head injury. Anyone in that situation would need to relax & recover so stop beating myself up! Besides, hubby has never really had to take care of anyone before, so this is good for him, having to prioritize another person’s needs.
Although I haven’t told my parents about my illnesses, I’ve spoken with them a few times during my recovery. Instead of the usual feelings of guilt, hurt or anger when they play their head games, God has reminded that they have problems. For example, my father recently said I should call if I need anything or just want to talk. I felt guilty for not calling more often, like a bad daughter, but only for a second. Almost immediately, I realized he only wants more contact with me to receive his narcissistic supply, not to spend time with me. The guilt was alleviated immediately. I realized I’m not a bad daughter, but instead am someone who doesn’t wish to be used. Life is too short to be someone’s narcissistic supply!
Something else interesting just happened that made me realize what progress I’m making. I just had a good, long cry. You see, when some of my pets have died, God has comforted me by telling me shortly after their death that a certain song reminds my recently departed of me- the song then becomes our song. Aerosmith’s 1988 hit “Angel” just came on. That’s my lovely snowshoe Siamese cat Jasmine’s & my song. When I heard the song, I started to cry. I miss Jasmine so badly, & maybe because I’m very sensitive due to my illnesses, the magnitude of missing her hit me very hard. As the tears finally came to a stop, I realized something- I felt no shame for them! As much as I love my animals, because my grief at losing them has been so severely invalidated repeatedly, I’ve often felt shame for crying because of them & did my best to ignore my pain. Especially years later, when I “should be over it”, according to many people. Today was different. It was the first time I can say I honestly felt no shame, & was able to cry without holding back. It was actually a very good feeling. Jasmine was a very brave, amazing & special cat. She survived 4 strokes before she passed away in 2011 & fought hard to come back from each one. She deserved the love & respect of being grieved properly, yanno?
I’m sharing these things with you today in the hopes of encouraging you. If you too suffer with toxic shame, God can help you to heal as He is helping me. He is breaking the hold of toxic shame in my life & will do the same thing for you! Living with toxic shame is no way to live! You deserve so much better than that, as do I. God wants us to be happy & healthy- two things no one living with toxic shame can be.