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Do you feel like you're always being put down, or that your partner never really sees you? You might be in a narcissistic relationship.
Different kinds of narcissistic relationships can be tough to spot, but there are some common red flags. If you're wondering whether your relationship is healthy or not, this episode can help!
Brenda Stephens joins Barn Egan this week on Therapy Talks to teach us about narcissism and abusive relationships.
Key Moments In This Episode:
Brenda Stephens is a registered clinical counselor who works with those battling depression, anxiety, mood disorders, impulse control disorders, personality disorders, and supporting survivors of Narcissistic Abuse.
If you're struggling in your relationship, this episode can help you understand what's going on and how to get out of it.
Learn More About Switch Research:
Disclaimer: Therapy Talks does NOT provide medical services or professional counseling, and it is NOT a substitute for professional medical care.
[00:00:00] Hey everyone. It's Barb Egan with therapy talks and on today's show, we have Brenda Stevens from California.
[00:00:05] Brenda welcome. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Certainly. Um, so I am a licensed professional clinical counselor in California. I also am licensed in a couple of other states. Um, the biggest part of my practice is narcissistic abuse. Mm-hmm . I work, uh, pretty much solely with folks. Who've been relationships with narcissists and are in some, some point in the transition out of the relationship or discovering what this is.
[00:00:37] Um, and that is, that is the majority of the work I do. We do some groups around that. I do workshops from time to time. I'm just trying to kind of explain what narcissistic abuse is and, um, what people can do to get out of those relationships and how they can heal. Cuz it's a very complicated, uh, situation.
[00:00:58] It's definitely a form of abuse, but it's one that isn't well understood. I don't. Right. Wow. So a lot of, um, a big focus on trauma specific to EMDR therapy, mm-hmm and narcissistic abuse relationships. And it sounds like what an amazing clinic. I mean that many clinicians, 30, uh, employees and opening up elsewhere.
[00:01:20] That's incredible like to serve that many people too. That's really encouraging. So for our listeners hearing, there's a lot of people that benefit from this. When oftentimes when we're going through something, whatever that is, especially abuse, though, we feel alone or something's wrong with us. And that just right there tells me how encouraging it is that we're not alone.
[00:01:43] There's sadly other people going through. But on the flip side of that coin, there's a lot of hope. Like you said, EMDR, these group, all these different things that you're gonna share about today, that there's a lot of hope in this. Definitely. Yeah. I like to think. Yeah. Yeah. So for our folks listening, what is narcissism?
[00:02:03] What is narcissistic abuse and relationships? What does that look like? Certainly. Um, so I , I am, uh, acutely aware that narcissism is being used. Um, Pretty much in everyday language, um, everywhere we look and, um, you know, it, it gets misinterpreted and it's one of those words that I think we just kind of throw out, throw around to mean something.
[00:02:25] Um, but clinically it means something entirely different or, or much more than a, a casual, um, comment. So for narcissism, um, I think most of us, when we think of somebody who's narcissistic, we think of somebody who's really, um, gregarious and outgoing and, you know, center of retention, that kind of person.
[00:02:44] And. That's partially true. I mean, some narcissists, some narcissists do present that way. Um, but I think the tricky thing is, and it's really tricky for a therapist as well. Um, when we see somebody who's in a relationship and there's some odd behavior going on, there are different types of narcissists and.
[00:03:03] The therapists themselves. I, I, myself at one point didn't recognize what was going on. And I think this is the biggest damage that happens to clients because when they're sorry, I'm kind of going all over the place, but when they're in a relationship with a narcissist, they get gas lit and they get told that, you know, they're the problem that there's something wrong with them.
[00:03:22] They're, they're the one that's always. Creating the issues. Um, yeah. And when, when they seek therapy and, um, they go to a therapist that doesn't understand. And again, I was one of them at one point that doesn't really understand what that kind of abuse is or what the client is describing. They can feel gaslit all over again and feel like that they are the problem.
[00:03:44] And even on my, um, websites for, for the narcissistic. Part, we have a little button that says, I feel like I'm going crazy. And the reason we intentionally have that on there, because every single client who's come to me. Not really understanding or kind of at the beginning of understanding the kind of relationship that they're in says that, that, that I feel like I'm going crazy.
[00:04:06] There's so much gas lighting again. Um, and, and nobody in their inner circle will really understand typically either because the narcissist puts on. A show he puts on, I say he or she . Yeah. um, they, they put on a show, um, to, to look good in public and behind doors or in, in sneaky little ways. They'll be, you know, throwing these little jabs here and there, um, that people just don't typically see.
[00:04:32] So it's hard and the, the different types of narcissists present in a diff in a different way. So you, you see that gregarious person center of attention. Um, really needs that attention to thrive. Um, but what we don't typically see is what we call a covert narcissist. That's somebody that kind of flies under the radar.
[00:04:50] Um, they're not so obvious about their narcissism and there's, you can Google, there's a ton of different types of narcissists. But what I typically see in my practice, um, people who are partnered with either malignant, which is the grandiose type covert or what we call communal narciss. Um, and those are folks who tend to be in jobs that, um, bring adoration like, uh, um, Like EMTs or firemen or police, church leaders, things like that.
[00:05:22] And by no means saying they're all narcissists. So that's not the message I'm trying to get across here, but narcissists can be attracted to jobs like that, that come, um, with builtin praise, uh, attached, it's kind of being put on that pedestal. Exactly. Yeah, exactly. Yes. What, what would be some examples that you see?
[00:05:43] Like what would those kind of real life examples of people who, that you help? What, what do those look like? So, like I said earlier, um, a lot of it is people coming in feeling like their world's upside down, they feel like they're the ones that are the problem. Right. There's something wrong with them.
[00:06:00] They've been told there's something wrong with them over and over again. And they're starting to believe it. They know something's off. They just don't know what it is typically. Um, sometimes people will. Uh, seek treatment, um, around specifically around narcissistic abuse, because they've heard the term somewhere, or they've had a friend say, oh, your husband sounds like a narcissist or your girlfriend sounds like a narcissist and they'll, um, they'll look it up and they'll get some information.
[00:06:28] Um, but typically, especially when I first started working with this population, it really was folks coming in and just really not understanding what was going on in their relat. Right. And really having their worlds turned upside down and, um, the low self-esteem and these are usually people who are pretty successful.
[00:06:46] Right. Pretty intelligent. Um, which, you know, also affects the self-esteem because they, they, they then start to feel like frauds. Right. Um, which has really, it's sad. It's a, it's a real, you know, it's a snowball effect. Yeah. Um, once they get in these relationships, it's really sad. But typically it's basically somebody coming in, pretty confused about what's going on in their relationship, knowing that it's terrible, but not being able to pinpoint why.
[00:07:14] Right. And how do you uncover that? Like my, my guess, isn't that the first session you say here's some red flags of narcissism. You paint, you put that in their mind, you know? Um, that could be really tricky. So how does that process look like? Well, that's a good question, especially because. At this point in my career, this is the only work I do.
[00:07:34] But as I was transitioning from doing other things, I do really be careful about, you know, not when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. right. yes. So to be really careful, um, you know, to not see narcissism in, in all of the relationships that people were coming to me, uh, about, um, I, I think there just are these subtle differences though.
[00:07:57] And I, I will be completely honest with you and a little vulner vulnerable here. Um, the whole way this came about to me too, was that I had these and, and I'm sorry, again, it's mostly women that come to therapy and it's, um, That's why I keep saying these women, but yeah. Um, I, I have these women coming into therapy and telling me about these relationships they were in.
[00:08:19] And I, I swear, I kept thinking, are they all dating my ex, like . Wow, wow. Yeah. So, I mean, it was personally familiar with the type of relationship and then it just kind of blossomed from there. But then I started to see signs and sometimes not, you know, sometimes people come in and they just have. You know, I guess regular mm-hmm , um, relationship issues that had nothing to do with narcissism, but it does have a, a different flavor, I will say.
[00:08:46] Um, one of the biggest things is the cheating. Yeah. Um, that, I mean, they almost all cheat, so, wow. That's a big red flag of somebody comes in and tells me that. Um, they're with someone who's been cheating on them throughout the whole relationship. Wow. Okay. So that's a big red flag. Mm-hmm uh, what are some other ones?
[00:09:06] Um, lying. Honestly, another one is, um, I, I don't know how much research there is on this. I'm speaking personally. Um, what I see in my practice, a lot of pornography used by the partner. Yeah. Yeah. Um, there, those. The lying in the pornography are, are big, um, big red flags for me when someone's talking to me about what's going on in their relationship.
[00:09:30] Um, also isolating the victim. The, I mean, this is common in all types of abuse, it happens in narcissistic abuse too. The difference I think is, um, that. In other types of abuse, I think the abuser tends to just be really upfront and blatant about, um, you know, keeping the, their, their partners, friends away, their partners, families away, the narcissist is much more insidious about it.
[00:09:55] They will, um, literally call their, their husband's, um, mother and say, you know what he did to me and try to make him look like the bad guy when she's really the narcissist and has done something to create some sort of tension or. Um, discord in the relationship. Mm. So there's a lot of that, um, that alienation of anyone who is in the family or in the friend group of the, the abuse victim.
[00:10:24] Right. Wow. That's just incredible, Brenda, that you experience, I'm sorry that you experienced that personally, but what an impact professionally then you've had in so many people's lives because you get it. Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, I think a lot of us get it without knowing we get it too, you know, because I think many of us as therapists have come across in narcissist here or there in our lives, you know, so we, we probably all have experienced, some of us have been in relationships with them and that's not fun.
[00:11:00] Yeah. But it, it certainly, um, I think it's, I, I think really what a, a victim of narciss. Abuse needs most is validation mm-hmm . Um, so any of us as therapists, coaches, um, friends, family, if we can provide validation. Um, I think that is the biggest gift we can give to someone who's been in a relationship like this, because again, everything.
[00:11:25] They, they speak up about, or try to get support around they're they look like the ones that are the problem. Right. They don't get much validation. It's really sad. What could that validation look like for our listeners? If they know someone or they themselves can practice on themselves too. Oh, for sure.
[00:11:45] Practicing on yourself is incredibly important. Um, but also the support given to somebody else. I mean, and that's just listening. That's not doubting their story. It's, it's taking their story for face value and, and being supportive. You don't have to. You don't necessarily have to believe, believe it. I mean, I, I would prefer if you're in a support group, uh, you know, in a support network of a friend or a family member that you would believe what they have to say.
[00:12:13] Um, but even if you don't, even if it sounds far fetched, um, maybe just give them the benefit of the doubt. , you know, this is their experience and it, when you're in this kind of relationship, it truly is maddening. Um, it just, it it's so diabolical and I feel like any time that we can just give that hug or be that shoulder to cry on, um, for someone who's been in any sort of abusive relationship.
[00:12:39] Um, but this one obviously is the one that I work with and these, these folks just need to be heard. Yeah. And believed. yeah. How long does it usually take someone or it, do you often just see an individual or a couple who's walking through this? What, what does that look like every now and then a couple will come in and I will tell you the, the narciss system, the couple.
[00:13:04] It doesn't typically stay very long. Okay. Yeah. Um, I think, uh, my experience, I think, um, and, and it's common of a narcissist. They think that they're gonna come, come into any situation and sort of run the show and, um, kind of win people over that kind of thing. Yeah. And when. Somebody sees through that.
[00:13:23] They don't like that. Yeah. So they don't stick around very long. Yeah. Um, as far as, uh, individual usually is individuals, um, and this is the part that people struggle with. It it's a long process to heal from this. Um, and that doesn't sound good. And I've, I've worked with plenty of folks. Who've thought it might be easier just to go back to the narcissist because it's so painful.
[00:13:48] Um, and I think one of, a couple of the biggest things I think that are the hardest to get through is first of all, realizing that that narcissist was not who. Who you thought they were, right. They always put on a show for you. The, the nasty mean stuff. That's who they really are. And no one wants to believe that.
[00:14:07] Yeah, I wouldn't wanna, I didn't wanna believe that. Yeah. I wanted to believe that the, the nastiness was a bad mood and something in passing and the real person was that one that swept me off my feet in the beginning of the relationship. Yeah. It's just really hard. I call that cognitive dissonance. I don't think it's like the true meaning of the term.
[00:14:25] Yeah. But, um, that's cognitive dissonance in narcissistic relationships to me. And then the grief. Yeah. Um, the grief is probably the hardest part. Um, realizing again, everything that you thought was your relationship was a lie, right. And then having to come to terms with the time that was wasted, the emotion, the love, the dreams for the future, all of that, that was wasted.
[00:14:51] Um, and that is so hard, so hard to wrap your head around. It's so hard to get through. Wow. Yeah. There's a lot of layers to that grief. Oh yeah. And then even as you were sharing, I, I could imagine just how that person's isolated, um, in that abusive relationship, the low self-esteem questioning everything naturally as humans, we wonder how didn't I see.
[00:15:17] How did I leave that, let that happen? And it's all that blame that's being put on yourself. How do you help someone through that? Cuz it's not their fault. And they, and like you said, the, the narcissist in the relationship doesn't show you all this guards or, oh yeah. His or her cards first. I mean, it's very deceitful.
[00:15:36] Um, how do you help someone through that? Baby steps. right. Like most of therapy, but really, um, I'm a big believer in positive self-talk and I know that this is super trendy and, um, but in self-care, it, it it's, it is essential, absolutely essential. And someone who's been in an abusive relationship is typically using all of their time to fly under the radar, keep the abuser happy.
[00:16:03] I see. Um, and they. They don't have the time or the energy to do any self care. Um, so that is the kind of, one of the first things we start talking about. And, and even starting very small with self talk. Yeah. You know, not allowing yourself to say, oh, I'm so stupid. I can't believe I did that. You know?
[00:16:22] Giving stopping. When you find yourself saying something like that, something negative about yourself and saying, no, I'm human. I forget. It's no big will, you know, and really catching those little things in the moment. Um, I've, I've encouraged folks to write positive messages on their mirrors. So they see it when they get up, um, and really fake it till you make it because a lot of them don't believe, um, the positive affirmations that they're telling the.
[00:16:47] But eventually it starts to sink in. So I'm pretty persistent with my clients about doing that. yeah. Encouraging them. Yeah. Well, that's wonderful. And then these relationships that you see they're often between, you know, two partners mm-hmm is kind of what you're saying. Do you ever see. An adult relationship like an adult child saying, I think I had a narcissistic mother or father.
[00:17:13] And what does that look like? Um, this happens all the time. Um, and really, I, I have, I, again, I don't know about the research and there isn't a whole lot of research about narcissistic abuse. I wish there was. Yeah. Um, And really all of it, or the majority of it is coming out of New Zealand and Australia. So they seem to get it and I hope we'll catch up at some point.
[00:17:34] But, um, what I'm seeing that, all that to say, what I see is folks who come in with relationship problems with narcissist typically have had a narcissistic parent. Yes. You know, it's, it's that just the way we see it, that transgenerational abuse. Yeah. They fall for a narcissist because that's, what's familiar to them.
[00:17:56] Narcissist can be very charming, um, and they can seem, seem very opposite of their narcissistic parent at first. But when they get to know the narcissist, the behavior is all very, very much the same. The tactics are the same. I always like to say that it seems like every narcissist uses the same playbook.
[00:18:14] You know, you can really predict their behavior. From one relationship to another. Uh, but yes, lots of, uh, folks coming in with narcissistic parents. And the first book I wrote is actually about the relationship between, um, narcissistic mothers and their daughters. Wow. Yeah. But I think it applies, it applies for sons and fathers as well, fathers and daughters.
[00:18:37] Wow. And what does that look like in that parent child? Even if that child say, as an adult, I have people come into my office all the time and that's a big one and you're right. It's that transgenerational, we're humans. We like patterns and habits. And we repeat those even if we don't want to. But like you said, there's something familiar about it.
[00:18:55] Um, what does that look like in that kind of parent child relationship? So it, it really depends on what role was assigned to the child. Mm-hmm so typically in a narcissistic family, you have scapegoat, a forgotten child, um, uh, a golden child, uh, and, and the children can shift roles like, um, for a couple years, the oldest might be the golden child, and then they may do something that goes against the narcissistic parent.
[00:19:22] So they get, you know, sort. Shunned and then assigned a role of the scapegoat. So everything's their fault. So that can change around. Um, all of the roles are damaging. Um, the forgotten child is alone. They're sort of left to fend for themselves and that's tragic. Uh, it, but they're all tragic. A child who's blamed for everything.
[00:19:45] Um, what kind of life is that? And imagine as an adult, when they've taken on blame, they're probably going to be very much, um, Codependent. Yeah. Um, people pleasing trying to look for affirmation, um, by doing things right. Probably very, uh, achievement oriented. Um, not that that's a bad thing, but when it takes over, um, right.
[00:20:06] That's a little much, um, and the golden child, they are the, the one who is getting, um, the best treatment I wanna say in quotes, um, because it's really not. The expectation is that they, they mirror the narcissistic parent. And when they don't, the punishment is severe because the only time they get that nurturing and love that children need is when they're performing.
[00:20:29] And how exhausting can you imagine, um, performing for your parent constantly? Um, so each one, even though the golden child might seem like, oh, that's the one, um, that probably has the least trouble. Absolutely not. They are all very much, um, neglected, really. Yeah and abused. Oh, wow. And so how does someone come to terms with that?
[00:20:54] I mean, like you said, there's probably inklings of their growing up here, so something's not right here. Or I don't like this. I don't like how this makes me feel. Cuz oftentimes it doesn't just make. You as the child dislike the narcissistic parent, it makes you dislike yourself. Yes. And that is so painful.
[00:21:15] I mean, I have three little kids and just as you're describing that, I'm like, my heart is breaking. Um, how do you help someone maybe uncover, maybe they don't re recognize that when they come to see you, um, how do you help them recognize that? Or maybe they have what helps them recognize. Well, again, I, I think, I mean, there, it's a sort of double edged sword that narcissism is so talked about, like in social media now, I think not on TikTok, but I hear that, um, TikTok talks about it a lot and there are a lot of, um, on Reddit there's, um, Reddit boards that talk about it.
[00:21:51] So people are becoming a lot more aware of it. And I will tell you, um, I'm noticing that. People that come for help that are the children of narcissists tend to have a better idea of what's going on. Right. Which is really fascinating to me. Yeah. Um, because if you really think about it, when you're, when you grow up in that environment, you don't know anything differently.
[00:22:10] Right. Right. It's so normal to you probably until you get about to your teen years and you start to go to other friends' houses and, and really have the ability to sort of sort out what's going on. Um, But I, I will tell you too, that, uh, most folks who come to me that have been raised by a narcissist are really scared that they're a narcissist themselves.
[00:22:32] Because as with every family, you are going to see some of your parent in your own behavior. And I think, um, There's so much worry that they're going to be narcissistic like their parent. Um, and that's a big concern. Uh, I think I see that a bit more with the golden child. Okay. Um, of course, because they got rewarded for behaving like the parent or behaving in a way that the parent approved of.
[00:22:56] So I, I think the burden is a little heavier for them, but heavy for all children of narcissist of course. Right. Yeah, I hope I answered your question. What do you, how do you help someone cuz obviously in the, the partner relationship that looks a little bit different of helping, you know, separate and find independence, self care.
[00:23:18] Um, really that self-worth again is getting reinstated, which I imagine those things are very central to healing in a, a child or an adult child of a narcissistic parent. Um, what else do you do? What else does that help helping that person. You know, integrate their story, but not be defined by it and actually utilize it to work for them, not define them.
[00:23:41] What does that look like? So what, what it really looks like is, um, encouraging them to trust in their instinct. You know, I mean, all of us have that little voice or that feeling in our gut that tells us something, um, people who have been in relations, whether it's children of narcissists or partners of narcissists, um, Tend to ignore that because every time they, they have that gut reaction to something they're told that they're wrong.
[00:24:06] Right. So really, especially with the children, I mean, having them really listen to their bodies, what is, what is your reaction? You say, you go into a grocery store and, um, you see somebody behaving in a certain way and you know, that there's something off about it. Um, but you just ignore it. And, and not that we need to engage with everybody at the grocery store, but.
[00:24:27] You know, even just noticing those little things that happen. Um, I always tell folks in our support groups to this story, um, this has happened to me twice. Uh, I'm very, very in tune now with what my, my gut reaction is. Yeah. Um, because of all of this, right. And I remember getting on an elevator, um, at an office that I used to have where we used to be office and, um, someone got in and stood next to me and it was like the whole side of my body.
[00:24:54] Was lit on fire. I mean, just like very activated. Um, there was just something there. Um, and I don't think he even maybe said hello when he got on and there was. Communication, but I trusted it and I've really learned to trust it. So I got off the elevator at the next floor. Um, but that's the kind of thing I'm trying to teach victims of narcissistic abuse that they need to pay attention to these signals.
[00:25:18] Their body is giving them because the body's gonna react more quickly than the brain. Especially early on in this recovery process, right? Yeah. The body does hold the score. I mean, it keeps the score, it holds onto trauma in a very visceral way. Oh yeah. And then is released, that's a, what? An exam. That's so powerful.
[00:25:39] And it is so powerful for the clients, um, that are for the folks who are recovering from this. Yeah. You know, to, because they've been ignoring themselves, like I said, with selfcare too, they don't do it. And this is another way of self care, really listening to what their body is telling them and trusting that to be their guide as they learn this skills.
[00:25:57] And, and, and as they recover from this abuse, And I know this is such a tricky question. There's no right answer, but how long, how long does that take as they recover? um, you know, honestly it takes a very long time, you know? Yeah. Cause the process is it's grueling. It's not fun. Uh, you it's. There are fun parts I shouldn't make it sound all terrible.
[00:26:24] Um, so I also wrote a book, uh, a workbook and, um, I have like all of these, uh, ways, you know, as some self care, some reflection, um, and kind of the things that I'm talking to you about now, but it does take a while and it, it determined, it's determined by how much someone can handle. You know, um, one person might be able to kind of barrel through and say like, I'm done no contact.
[00:26:49] I'm not ever talking to that person again. And this happens with their own parents as well. A lot of them go no contact. Um, and other folks, especially with parents, you know, have we have this idea in our society about how we're supposed to Revere and respect our parents. Right. Um, That part can take longer depending on your belief system.
[00:27:09] Right. Um, and, and when it's a marriage too, it could take longer depending on your belief system. You know, if you don't believe in divorce, um, or if you have children, I mean, it's sort of all depends. Best of circumstances. It's still gonna take a while. Because we have to heal and a client describe it once that she could still, she was married to her narcissist for, I think about 28 years.
[00:27:32] Wow. She describes having this little silver nugget within her, that she could still see who she was. And as she did the work that nugget just kept growing and growing. And that's the exciting part. Um, really finding out what you like and who you are and re reclaiming your identity is the exciting part of this healing process.
[00:27:54] so it's not all terrible. right. Yes. And so what, what types of modalities I know that you utilize EMDR therapy in your, in your practice, but what does that look like? Working with someone who comes to you and says, you know, I'm in a narcissistic abusive relationship. Uh, I want out, or I, I want healing from this wherever they're at in their stage.
[00:28:15] What do the types of modalities look like? Um, for specific traumas that they've experienced, I do use EMDR. Um, I, I use internal family systems for pretty much everything. Yeah. Um, it, it is a modality that I'm madly in love with. Yes. And I think it works incredibly well with, uh, survivors of narcissistic abuse.
[00:28:33] Yeah. Cause again, they typically do come having had, um, narcissistic parents or some something in their life that. Being in a relationship with the narcissist feel familiar. Yeah. Um, and, and we can look at parts and, and what part of them was attracted to this narcissist and what part is reacting and yeah, it affected by the relationship.
[00:28:53] So ifs works beautifully, um, with
[00:29:00] this population. So I use that pretty regularly. . And I love ifs. That's one of my favorite favorites, um, for our listeners. Could you describe what that is? So internal family systems, um, it is parts work. Basically. We all have parts in us and I'm going to talk about this in, um, really late terms because that's how I understand it.
[00:29:20] Best . But I, um, I often think, like, I'll say part of me wants to do this, but part of me doesn't right. So if we take that a little deeper and, and we look at what, what part is it like? Is this a part that had this similar experience at age 15? Yeah. And, and now is saying, oh, no, we're not going over there because.
[00:29:43] You know, I re there's memory. There's held memory in the body. There's held memory in the limbic system. So we want to be paying attention to what those parts need and on a deeper dive into that, you know, we really can look, there are a lot of parts we are made up of this system of parts, um, internal family system.
[00:30:02] So it's. It's I think the name can be a little confusing sometimes. Um, but it's basically Richard Schwartz was the, um, creator of this type of therapy and he was a family therapist and he started to realize the same systems that work in families are working within ourselves. Um, and that's where, that's where the parts work comes in.
[00:30:23] Yeah. Oh, that's so beautiful. Yeah, I, I, I just, I can't think of a better, um, merge, uh, to use with, uh, narcissistic abuse than ifs. And I love the, the part, like, just how you describe that. It was so I think we can all relate. Part of me, wants to do this, but part of me says, This, and it can be, you know, saying conflicting things.
[00:30:47] Mm-hmm and not one overriding all the time and listening to both and, and helping have voice or seeing where one comes from that. Maybe it did have a protector role as a child, but doesn't serve me in the same way right now and things like that. Exactly. Yeah. Wow. Um, these are, I mean, Such fascinating topics and you're right.
[00:31:10] There are things that are being more trendy or talked about often in places like social media. Are there any places let's say Instagram or these places that you follow that maybe misconstrue the information or put out some false information to make it seem like every everyone's a narcissist or, or anything like that?
[00:31:29] Are you finding that there it's pretty spot. Honestly, I find it's pretty spot on. Um, I, I haven't really come across anything that makes me say, Ooh. Yeah. That's yeah, I don't, I don't buy that. Um, what I do see though, um, is a lot of folks talking about what it is. And not talking about how to heal and that's the message I wanna get.
[00:31:52] Yeah. That healing is possible. I mean, you can get out of these relationships. You can heal, you can fall in love eventually with someone who's really healthy that doesn't treat you poorly and call you a liar and make you doubt your own sanity. Right. You know? And, and working with people towards healing is really my goal.
[00:32:11] My goal is to treat or sorry to, um, train other therapists so that there are more of us out there yeah. To help clients who are in these relationships. Um, it's so damaging and honestly, , I don't know what it is again, not enough research. Um, I will tell you, so I'm 56 years old. Uh, most of the folks that come see me are in their mid thirties, early to mid thirties, which means.
[00:32:35] As a narcissistic parent, um, of those clients, they would have to be around my age. So I'm wondering if my generation did something , you know, right. Yes. Was there something we did? I mean, I'm in generation X and, um, we're kind of known as the lost children. I don't know if that, I, I just, I don't know. I would love to see some research about that too, but, um, and maybe it's, maybe it has nothing to do with it.
[00:33:02] Maybe it's. A coincidence of timing, social media, what have you. Um, but I, I, I'm very interested to see why this is so prevalent now. Yeah. Um, I'm glad it is. I mean, I'm glad people are taking notice and, and getting help for it because it, it is a transgenerational issue. Yeah. If people just keep repeating the pattern obviously.
[00:33:25] And where does it come from? I mean, I think there's gotta be some sort of. Correlation, not just a coincidence there of just the type of parenting styles or how, if their parents were present or not, um, physically or emotionally, and that generation that trickled down effect is something really, really real.
[00:33:45] Yeah. What else besides maybe growing up in a narcissistic family? Causes it. Do you think it causes narcissism? You mean mm-hmm yeah, so, oh, I think about this all the time. um, it, I, it, a lot of it is neglect. Um, you know, there is a lot of research around this abuse and neglect. Um, typical of people who turn out to be narcissist.
[00:34:09] Or have narcissistic traits. I really do see it on a spectrum. Yeah. You know, some people are just fully diagnosable as a narcissist and some people are just sort of on that spectrum somewhere. Um, but the abuse and neglect, the two big ones. Um, another one is, um, the child who is. This is probably gonna seem obvious, but the child who's been told they're the greatest thing ever.
[00:34:30] They never do anything wrong. They never have any consequences. Um, those type of children, um, to that extreme will also tend to have some narcissistic traits if not be fully, um, Like diagnosable as a narcissist. Um, and the lack of empathy is the big key, right? So people can be selfish and ugly and, um, uncaring, um, and still have empathy.
[00:34:53] Narcissists, true narcissists typically have very low empathy. Mm-hmm so that's something, um, that that's a key difference. I think. Yeah. Uh, and you just think of growing up in a home like that, lacking empathy with the person that's supposed to be the caregiver for you, your security, your stability, your safe place, or in a relationship, and not being able to be whether it's a child, parent, or a partner and partner.
[00:35:21] Not being able to be fully seen for who you are loved for who you are and just the egg shells, like, uh, like my nervous system gets activated. Just thinking about that, like tensing up. And I could imagine that just growing up or, or living in that environment for a long period of time, physically, your, your body feels it too and holds onto it and maybe even suffers because of it.
[00:35:42] Oh, no doubt. Um, many of my clients have chronic, uh, issues. IBS typically is very common, um, and other autoimmune disorders. Wow. It's really sad. Wow. You just said something though. That made me think. Um, and this is an ifs thing too, that, um, Oh, a lot of the healing comes just from the client being seen.
[00:36:03] Yeah. You know, just having their story be heard and kind of what I was saying before with the support network, but just being seen and, and having somebody say, I see your pain, I understand what you've been through. Um, it is incredibly powerful. Wow. One of the most healing things I think we can offer as a therapist that we can offer our clients.
[00:36:24] Wow. So beautiful and some resources. So if someone listening to this, something resonates with them or they know of someone even that could benefit, um, what are some recommended resources that, and your books and workbooks and things like that too. Please include those. Well, so my books are on Amazon. You can just Google my name, if you, or type my name and it's friend of Steven's S T E P a G N S.
[00:36:50] Um, there are a lot of books out there that are fantastic. Um, so really, if you type in narcissistic abuse in Amazon, you're gonna find a plethora yeah. Of really great books. Um, Dr. Ram Roney is pretty well known. Um, She, I think she does YouTube videos still. Um, she has a really great understanding and some really great books out there.
[00:37:12] My favorite one of hers is called don't, you know, who I am. Um, and she really talks about who the narcissist is, what kind of, um, behavior they exhibit, what the different types of narcissists are. It's, it's a. Fantastic book on this topic. Um, there a lot of YouTube videos, a lot of, um, Instagram pages, I mean, social media, TikTok, Reddit.
[00:37:33] I mean, I think I I'm actually not on Reddit either, but I, people send me things yeah. Um, there's a lot of really great discussion on Reddit about these types of relationships too. So whatever support someone wants, they can start kind of, um, you know, dipping their toe into these different areas. Um, we offer, uh, a group.
[00:37:53] We do it every other Thursday. Um, everyone is welcome. It's an open group. Um, I do the workshops occasionally, and I know that there are other therapists too. I can't think of anybody's name. I think, um, Tracy Malone comes to mind. I think she does groups and workshops too. Um, so again, just kind of Googling around, um, and finding support that works for you, works for your schedule, works for your lifestyle, whatever is essential.
[00:38:22] Yeah. And having the groups. I I'm so glad we started doing them. I I'm, I try to stay as quiet as possible in the groups because the bonding between group members or even just the sharing of stories is so validating. And that was the whole idea of the group and the groups. And it's working. Wow. So I, I strongly encourage people form form your own groups.
[00:38:43] Yeah. You know, whatever, whatever support you can get. Um, I, I think it's going to take so much weight off the shoulders. Yeah. Oh, that's wonderful. Yes. Oh good. And if someone wanted to they're listening, they resonate and they say, okay, I think it's time for therapy. Where do they start like to, to work with a trained therapist in these issues?
[00:39:08] so that's the million dollar question. um, unfortunately I just don't think there are enough of us out there that are doing it. And I really, I would love to have a, um, a resource network again, I think trace Tim Malone might have one. If, if people want, I, I don't know the name of her website. It's probably just Tracy malone.com, but I think she might have a.
[00:39:31] A resource list for other therapists. I've tried to come up with one, but, um, honestly the therapists in my practice are all trained. They have to be trained in this as they come on board. Um, we do coaching too, and I know that there are probably other coaches out there too, so that what all that means is that we're offering the service anywhere in the world.
[00:39:51] Okay. Um, So if people, I mean, for us it's, um, narc trauma.com. Okay. Um, so if anybody wanted to reach out to us, they could, but, okay, great. Please. Google you'll find, there are folks out there that really understand this type of abuse. So what, what would be the difference between, you know, counseling or coaching just that you could work with anybody regardless of where they are.
[00:40:15] Like I'm in Canada. I know you're in California. If they could work with you from. Toronto or wherever they're at. Mm-hmm so I do coaching, um, and I do have, um, some coaching clients that are in other countries. Um, and this is, it's a little different because, um, obviously we want, I'm also a licensed therapist, so I wanna make sure that these things look distinctly different so that my license is in good standing
[00:40:43] Yeah. Um, but with coaching it's a little more, um, encouragement. It's a little more. Guidance, um, than you would do in therapy therapy. We really want the client to kind of come to conclusions on their own and, um, have discoveries on their own with coaching. I feel like I can be a little more, um, Uh, pers no, not persuasive, a little guiding, I guess, guiding is the word, like, you know, kind of notice having folks notice, like, what does that feel like in your body?
[00:41:13] Um, you know, and talking about that and telling them go out into the world and, and pay attention that at the grocery store, like I said earlier. Yeah.
[00:41:23] Yeah. There's subtle differences. Um, uh, But a coach, especially a coach, that's had some mental health training is going to be a really good option. Yeah. If that's what folks can find amazing. Yeah. Wow. And I think a lot of therapists are going into coaching too, to kind of be able to reach more people.
[00:41:39] It's just totally. Such a need. Yeah. Yeah. I know I do, because it is, you are really kind of boxed in depending on your licensure and which state or province and which ones you hold. So, yeah, I, oh, I'm so encouraged by that, that you can offer that help because you're right. There's not a lot of very specialist trained people who get it and can help PE and have that heart to help.
[00:42:04] Yeah. And that's so beautiful. It's so valuable. And I'm so encouraged by that, that people can greet you from wherever then. Yes, because of that. Yes. Oh, that's we wanna be worldwide. We wanna get this message out to everybody. And really one of my bigger, I think I mentioned this already, but my big, my biggest goal probably is to get other therapists trained.
[00:42:24] Yeah. Cause it just aren't enough people to provide the help. Wow. And Brenda, where can our listeners find you? Well, so at my web, the, the narc trauma.com, um, uh, hello at narc trauma is one of our, uh, one of my email addresses. Um, and then our therapy group is Steven's therapy. So at, um, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com either either way, we'll get to me eventually or directly
[00:42:58] Oh, good. Is there any kind of closing thoughts that you wanna leave with us for today of encouragement or, um, self-care or those kind of pillars that you said to that are so central to healing and hope? Oh, for sure. we're how do I narrow it down? first of all, I want to say everybody deserves self care.
[00:43:19] You know, you may feel like you don't have time for it, that, that you can't let your guard down for a second to go take a bath, take the bath. Mm-hmm you know, the world is not gonna fall apart. Do what you have to do. Go walk outside and it's springtime here anyway. So go, um, smell the flowers, appreciate the beauty, just those little things.
[00:43:39] Those are self care. And the other thing I wanna say is that there's hope, um, Getting on the other side of this of, of a narcissistic relationship is worth the journey, you know, to not have this pain and not carry this. I used to call it a backpack of pain. Yeah. You know, just even being away from him, you know, we had been separated for a long time, but we share children together.
[00:44:02] Yeah. Um, so it was always having him in my life and it felt like carrying around a backpack of pain. Wow. Cause all of the. The dreams were dead. There was no truth in it, so, right. There's hope you get, you can move past that you can reclaim yourself. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, that's so beautiful. Well, Brenda, thank you so much for coming on today for your time and just sharing your expertise and your kind heart.
[00:44:27] Um, you're just amazing. Thank you. Thank you so much, so much. I appreciate you having me. Thank you.