Repetition Compulsion

One of the key philosophies of Feeling is Healing is that fact that the natural state of our bodies is one of health and wholeness. Our bodies are always trying to give us opportunities to lead us back to that state.

When we experience some kind of traumatic event, it leaves an imprint in our nervous systems if it is not processed properly. Our bodies are always trying to find ways to resolve this. In terms of relational trauma, we will subconsciously seek out people who are similar to the person who originally caused the trauma. Subsciously, we want to replay the same scenario, but with a different result.  No matter how much cognitive awareness we have, the subconscious pull will magnetise us towards certain individuals and certain circumstances. This is known as repetition compulsion.

For example, if I grew up in a home in which I was blamed for everything that went wrong, I am likely to be subconsciously drawn to relationships where I am blamed for everything. This won’t be an obvious or a conscious choice.  During recovery I have been able to see how these experiences, painful as they are, can be very useful in making us aware of wounds that we still need to heal.abusive relationships

For example, a few years ago I felt attracted to a man whose hurtful behaviour towards me caused me pain.jealousy narcissist This brought up a very strong urge in me to want to fix him so that he could then love me. It also showed me that I have a strong inner conviction that I need to believe that I have the ability to change someone in order to feel safe, even though I know cognitively that this is not possible. This is very common for people who have grown up in homes that were unsafe. Believing that one can change one’s own parents to make them love them is a very strong coping mechanism to survive an unsafe and inescapable environment. 

Once we are able to see and acknowledge the patterns in our relationships, we can process the underlying feelings and release them from our bodies. We are then free to attract healthier relationships into our lives.

Obstacles in Recovery

When we start to recover after narcissistic abuse, there are some potential pitfalls that we need to protect ourselves from:

talking therapy

  1. Not all therapists understand narcissistic abuse. It may not be covered in their training in very much detail. When searching for a therapist, it is essential to ask them what their knowledge of narcissistic abuse and domestic abuse is. If you are invalidated by a therapist, this can causes secondary gaslighting, which can re-traumatise you (know as sanctuary trauma).
  2. Needing to get others to understand and to validate us: It is typical for narcissistic abuse survivors to be invalidated by those who do not understand narcissistic abuse. Although extremely painful at the time, this can force us to learn the essential lesson of how to validate ourselves.
  3. Putting others above us and believing others before our own truth.
  4. Trying to get validation from those who have an agenda not to see us, such as other narcissistic abusers, or from those who would rather remain in denial due to being afraid of the abuser themselves.
  5. Allowing others to be the judge of us.  Not feeling entitled to ask for what we need.
  6. Dealing with symptoms, rather than the cause, and believing that recovery is possible without processing and releasing past traumas.
  7. Being told to forgive and forget, particularly when we have not yet understood how we got trapped in an abusive dynamic in the first place.
  8. Being told it is wrong to judge.

Have you managed to break through barriers during recovery? I would love to hear from you in the comments.