I grew up in a dysfunctional family which is considered to be common among various family systems. John Bradshaw, a family dynamics expert, suggests that approximately 96% of families are dysfunctional to some degree. Later in life, I initiated much independent study and research to understand what happened in my life. In addition, I earned both an undergraduate degree in criminal justice with an emphasis in psychology and, also, a graduate degree in social work. I gained understanding about narcissistic family trees: https://narcissistfamilyfiles.com/2017/01/26/the-narcissist-family-its-cast-of-characters-and-glossary-of-terms/.
Our relationships, as adults, are based on what we learned in childhood. We develop various relationship attachment styles as children: 1) anxious; 2) avoidant; 3) disorganized; or 4) secure (https://www.attachmentproject.com/blog/four-attachment-styles/). Earnie Larsen, who earned a degree in Counseling and accreditation in Chemical Dependency and Family Counseling, states: “What we live with, we learn. What we learn, we practice. What we practice, we become”. What we lived with, as a family, was not talked about. Family image was maintained and family members pretended to be happy.
The result of pretending, for children, is we think it is normal to live the way we grew up. It sets us up for similar dysfunctional relationships as adults. Tragically, I repeated the pattern and unknowingly married a sociopath. Though I was studious, got good grades, and excelled in music, I had no idea what I was choosing. In fact, I stated that I would not have a relationship like I witnessed with my parents. Reflecting, I now believe it is wise to review childhood experience before committing to marriage. We must know the behavioral patterns we learned as children, heal traumas, and make a conscious healthy choice about the relationships we want in the future.
I was married for sixteen years to Steve B. and reared three beautiful children. I was a stay-at-home mother and my husband was a grocery store manager. We looked like a nice family, on the outside, with camping, a lake home and water activities, regular church attendance, volunteering at school, etc. But, on the inside, I was being drained of life energy by the energy vampire sociopath. I had learned what I lived, as a child, so I could not even name the problem = verbal abuse and domestic violence. I asked that we try couple’s counseling which quickly failed. In the first session, the therapist identified the anger of the sociopath. The sociopath stood up, angrily accused me of telling the counselor to say that, walked out, and slammed the door.
I became physically ill as a result of narcissistic abuse from my husband and from excessive prescriptions for antibiotics. The sociopath was alcoholic, violent, verbally abusive, philandering and a master at using silent treatment. He lacked empathy and had no conscience. To maintain an image, he was Jekyll-Hyde. He wore a public persona both at church and in public. At home, he changed into a unrestrained, unstable, and alcoholic batterer.
When I became ill, all hell broke loose in both my family and my family of origin.. Both my sociopath husband and my narcissistic family tree exploded with dysfunction. Though I needed support and healing, most of the time I got scapegoating and rage. Insane behaviors erupted that I had not seen before. When someone is ill, typically, there is compassion and support. That does not happen among narcissists because their need for narcissistic supply cannot be met by the the empath when she is ill.
I had much to learn. I eventually learned that I am an empath, “too nice” and I had to learn tough love. Melanie Tonia Evans teaches survivors about how to dodge narcissists and sociopath and, therefore, suffering and illness. She says:
“In Quantum Law – so within, so without – the absolute truth is the outer universe responds to us in the exact way that we create our inner universe. It also means that the choices we make in our outer universe will correspond directly with our inner universe.
In short, the only way to honour The Field (everyone and everything) in honourable ways is to align with and be true to our own emotional resonance and inner knowing for ‘Self’. Giving and staying attached to people who are not healthily respecting us hurts. And if we continue this, we get more hurt.
People do not treat us as we treat them, they treat us as we treat ourselves. We, in effect, train people how to treat us with our own self-love, respect and healthy boundaries.
If we pull away from abusive people, heal our inner emotional state, which can only be performed by us, then these people will either rise to meet us at a healthy level of relationship or they leave our experience.’ (https://blog.melanietoniaevans.com/how-narcissists-keep-you-sick-traumatised-and-helpless/)