April 29, 2008

Sunday's Birthday Bash Revisited

The No Talk Rule"...is simple and brilliant. Whatever most needs to be discussed, whatever problem is most urgent, pressing and real, is placed under conversational interdict. We Will Not Speak Of This." ~Stormchild

A couple of days ago, I wrote about Sunday's Birthday Bash and today, I'd like to expand on the Recovery Process: exposing wounds to the light of day, grieving losses and eventually restoring our equilibrium. I believe connecting with one another breaks the isolation of 'personal shame'. We might feel powerless on our own, which is why it’s imperative to join other people working for healthy change in our society. Realizing we are not alone in our suffering is motivation for social and political action.

First of all, had I not restored healthy relationship with family members, no one would have dared joke about whether or not I'd ever ‘get over it’. Family members knew Aunt Tatie was a tough ol’ gal or they’d have tiptoed around the topic and never said a word. Reinventing healthy relationship with family members has been based on my openness and fearless expression of pain, misery, loss, emotional trauma, agonizing fury, periods of vengeance and unsightly anger.

It’s been a long journey.

Unfortunately for my family, they’ve been subjected to after-dinner slideshow presentations of my backpacking trip to Hell and back.

My surprise on Sunday was listening to an Inner Dialogue precipitated by emotions of embarrassment, shame and guilt. The good news is: these powerful emotions no longer dictated my reactions. The bad news is: the emotions were still there. *sigh* People tell me healing is not a linear process which gives hope that even a third, fourth or hundredth time back to where we started, is progress.

Giving my Inner Critic ‘voice’ and listening to her has been fundamental to ending denial about self-destructive conversations. Breaking the No Talk Rule can also be applied to listening to the internal dialogue. We need to be willing to open our ears to hearing what we don’t want to know we’re telling ourselves. If we are not aware the Inner Critic has a powerful voice, we silence the Inner Lover. This makes it far too easy for a narcissist to capitalize on our lack of awareness.

Partnering with a narcissist is like giving the Inner critic a microphone.

Awareness of my emotions and inner debate is a huge improvement from only a few years ago when criticism & judgment automatically increased defensiveness, argumentative rebuttals and a weepy defeat to self-devaluation.

Willingness to listen to the grueling voice of the Inner Critic liberates the still small voice of the persistent Inner Lover.




  1. "This makes it far too easy for a narcissist to capitalize on our lack of awareness.

    Partnering with a narcissist is like giving the Inner critic a microphone."

    Absolutely and well said.

    I get a smile on my face when I reflect on this Microphone business.

    I mean, once I started council and i was right there CBT and all... listening and correcting/re- establishing a more accurate assessment of self as well as pulling plugs on various citiques that were placed in there by other people etc...I would then venture back to the ears and jaw of the N to listen to him play on my inner critique...but he started to lose his source. I was changing. I would watch him dart to another area (resource) of dis empowerment , and yet another area of frailty and while he looked to find places (watering holes) to drink from they were becoming non existent or slowly vanishing, drying up. HA HA HA!

    I had a big fat sturdy ROOT called "defective" where veins and branches grew from. While it might seem that pruning was in order really what i had to do is get to the root, dig it up and turn the knarly source to the sun and the wind and plant a new seed.

    The soul is always fertile and back then I was watering others peoples seeds. Not all those that farmed me
    were aware that their seeds were not producing succulent fruits and brilliant flowers. Why, parts of this garden were aggressive blackberry , just the right spot for rats to live and evasive enough to take over my palm trees and salvias.

    Cheers to checking out the inner critique & its LARGER source.:o)

    Anonymous eyes

  2. "I would then venture back to the ears and jaw of the N to listen to him play on my inner critique. But he started to lose his source." ~Eyes

    Your message is so great, I could copy the whole thing and hang it on my wall.

    "parts of this garden were aggressive blackberry , just the right spot for rats to live and evasive enough to take over my palm trees and salvias." ~eyes

    ROFL!! I have a few blackberry patches myself. Best get 'em cleaned up, eh?

    Thank you for writing!


  3. After reading your post, I am wondering whether my husband imposed the 'no talk rule' and I didn't recognize it.

    He doesn't say that explicitly of course. He just takes "time outs" and never comes back or says "I'm too busy to discuss this with you now" (Maybe when he is done surfing the net, watching TV and hell freezes over, he'll talk with me about what happened if he wants something from me. Ugh.)

  4. Hi Jennie!

    Seems to me most people are uncomfortable with direct confrontation. We tend to avoid conversations that are emotionally painful. We aren’t skilled at engaging in fierce conversations that might end up saving the relationship. No one likes having their warts pointed out by other people, especially not intimate partners. So discomfort with the topic might make someone avoid a conversation. Even in normal relationships.

    In the case of a narcissistic relationship however, a narcissist withdraws from our inquiry but when he or she does, it’s a punitive maneuver speaking more of rejecting us than rejecting (hiding) themselves. I think it’s easy to misinterpret the narcissist’s behavior by making the assumption they feel really bad about what they did and need a little time-out to reground themselves. NO. The narcissist uses withdrawal to control other people by triggering their fears of rejection and/or shame.

    Pay attention to your reactions after he rejects your invitation to ‘talk things through’. You may find that rather than being angry with him for his behavior, you feel sorry for him instead. Your empathy and sympathy means you want to help him feel more comfortable. You want to appease him and restore communication and intimacy. When you can’t stand his silence any longer, you might give in and when you do, he wins. Though you probably weren’t viewing his Silence as a battle plan to maintain dominance.

    Most of us instinctively assume we can cajole the narcissist into trusting us to ‘be there for him’. We do the same thing with pouting children: reassure them that no matter what they did, we still love them. So I think it’s very normal to reach out to people who are distancing themselves. Never dishonor naturally empathic instincts by pathologizing yourself for caring.

    Examine your reactions when he starts communicating again. Are you grateful he’s talking and thus, prone to dismissing his behavior? We might even assume he was feeling ‘bad’ during his withdrawal (which is what normal folks do) and learned something about himself. Our assumptions are often our undoing though…he might only be talking because he figures you’ve learned YOUR lesson. Ha!


  5. Thanks for your thorough response CZ. In the beginning I thought he just didn't know how to resolve things because nothing was worked through in his family of origin. I think there is some truth to that. Eventually he did learn to do it, so I went ahead and married him.

    Because he has demonstrated that he *can* do it, I now tend to think it is a control/punishment technique for him at least some of the time.

    But whatever it is, it's not working for me.

    Thanks for reminding me not to pathologize my caring instincts.I do have a tendency to do that.

  6. I clicked on your name and found your blog, jennie! Very nice!

    Maybe I over-explained in my reply to you since it seems you're already aware of verbal abuse. I never know how much a woman has learned about 'abuse' so sometimes I kinda go overboard!!

    And about your caring instincts?? Treasure them. What a great world it would be if everyone had a caring and forgiving heart.



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