ASK ABDI: NARCISSISTIC ABUSE?

 

QUESTION: Your video on codependency was right to the point, as always. I think most of what you're talking about I would name trauma. And, in my opinion, trauma work goes hand in hand with awakening.

But I have one question: if only one person "feeds" the other, in my case tolerating abuse, aggression, commanding, and so on, this isn't codependency, is it? Isn't this narcissistic abuse? Especially if the abusing person isn't willing and/or able to look at their own trauma?

ANSWER: Happy that you found the video helpful. You are correct in asserting that trauma is the root cause of the wounding. Codependency is the emotional response to the original trauma: it is the behavior that we embody until, when and if, we deal with the root cause of the trauma. Be it a narcissistic parent, an absent care provider, or what have you, we go into the caretaking as a form of self-protection.

As for "trauma work goes hand in hand with awakening,” one would think so. But in my clinical as well as personal experience, many times we can come to spiritual practice as another form of defense mechanism to ward off the effects of the original trauma. Hence my always emphasizing that we need to do both psychological as well as spiritual work, if we have emotional wounding in our past. To your point, trauma has to be addressed as we delve deeper into awakening. Otherwise it becomes a mess, as an aspect of us starts awakening and another is stuck deeply in the past.

"Tolerating abuse, aggression, commanding, and so on" as you say, can in fact be the hallmarks of being in a codependent relationship. The other person could very well have deep narcissistic wounding that leads them to be abusive, and they might not be willing to deal with their own trauma. That is not your concern. We can never get someone else to heal their wounding unless they want to. The question is, why are you tolerating being on the receiving end of the abuse? What unconscious patterns are active in you that makes it okay for you to tolerate such actions towards you? What does this abuse remind you of, what pattern is being activated from your past?

We can not bring another to the table of healing, only ourselves. Examine your own role in this unhealthy dynamic. If it can be healed, wonderful, if not, then tend to your own wounding. Examine this pattern fully, so you do not repeat this in other relationships in your life.