What does this mean and why is this person a threat?
Perhaps this threat is connected to toxic shame.
We must get to a place of empowerment.
From here we begin to see that what seems to be a present threat, is, in fact, one from the past. It is the shadow of helplessness and fear.
Yet it feels like it’s right here, right now.
It taunts, it weakens; it makes living day to day difficult.
But we are not weak.
So who was the original Narcissist?
Unfortunately it was a primary caregiver. This is just the way it goes. If anyone reading this had a spectacular childhood where they were validated every day of their lives, well, good for you, you are one of the very few, a rarity indeed.
When Alice Miller identified the invalidation of the child’s true self as an issue relating to society as a whole, I knew she was on to something. It just made sense.
For anyone experiencing C-PTSD and emotional dysregulation, these are symptoms of the condition Miller devoted her life to understanding.
What if we’re not bad, what if the narcissist isn’t all bad (and this can feel painful to acknowledge).
However, the things they have done are terrible. Often, their actions are unforgivable.
We survived; we have a right to decide on contact or no contact. This must be respected. However, when I think of my fellow Irish who looked back on their time in the Industrial Schools (gulags), I hope to learn from their perspective as adults.
Christine Buckley was told by the nun who raised her that she was a third class citizen, a ‘whore’ just like her mother (these words are difficult to write).
Lioness that she was, she refused to believe it. She became a nurse, she found love, she had a family (and how she adored her children). Christine brought her indomitable spirit to advocacy and protected her fellow industrial school survivors against Irish society's resistance to their pain. In the beginning she was a lone voice, but not for long. Conservative Irish society did not want to believe the truth, that children had been abused on an overwhelming scale. Yet Christine's work eventually led to the Ryan Report and the truth could no longer be denied.
What sustained her?
She must have loved that nun, as all children love their parental figures, their primary caregivers. Christine was bi-cultural; her father was a medical student from Africa. He visited her as a child. Perhaps, in having contact with her father, even sporadically, she was able to hold onto a sense of her true self.
If we didn’t have this as children, if we didn't have what Miller describes as a 'supporting witness' in childhood, then we must be here for the child now.
Even if we have to start from scratch and choose our own values, faith and sense of identity, it is possible.
I believe that coming to terms with the love and despair she felt for the nuns who raised her was central to Christine’s life’s work. She knew that to heal, she had to voice her pain and bring validation to the most vulnerable in society (herself included). She broke the rules of her indoctrination; she raised her voice and was fearsome in her advocacy.
In valuing and validating the child she had been, she freed herself from toxic shame.
She was not to blame, she deserved love, attention and cherishing, not cruelty.
Within this very action, this courageous gesture, she reclaimed herself and the nuns were no longer all powerful or infallible.
Christine was an extraordinary person.
Her strength came from a place beyond piety. She had come to terms with those feelings of needing to be a saint in order to transcend shame. She let it go and in doing so, she became more than all the labels life had thrown at her.
Christine Buckley became herself and she offered hope to others.
If Christine could do it, then so can we :)