Have People Called You Toxic, Narcissistic, or Borderline?
You aren’t toxic. You just have Trauma.
Being called toxic, narcissistic, or borderline can feel devastating. Our initial reactions may include getting angry, lashing out, or denying we are toxic. But chances are, it is more than 1 person who has uttered those words in our direction.
It’s not time to mope in self-loathing or denial. It’s time to do some inner work and figure out what the hell is going on. Usually, the root of being called these names is our own early relationships and trauma. Let’s talk about trauma.
How is being called toxic, narcissistic, or borderline related to trauma?
A researcher named Mary Ainsworth conducted an experiment called the Strange Situation. The children went into a room with their parents and another person who was a stranger. The child spent varying amounts of time with the mother and stranger, mother, and stranger. Moreover, the research found the following attachment styles: Secure Attachment, Anxious-Ambivalent Attachment, Anxious-Avoidant Attachment, and Disorganized Attachment.
Now, the more research we reviewed the more we find the non-secure attachments being related to trauma. Also, our attachment style affects how we behave in relationships. If you want to learn more about attachment, check out my blog at this link: CLICK HERE FOR ATTACHMENT BLOG.
So, let’s set up a scenario. We have a mother who we instinctively know takes care of us. But what if our mother has some issues. What if she yells at us? Calls us names? And ridicules us? Well, the woman who was supposed to take care of us is now hurting us. We become anxious, worried, or unsure of how to interact with her. We enter into a protective mode. From there, we tend to protect ourselves from people who are close to us. We fear that if we trust them too much, they will hurt us.
This is when people start getting told they are toxic, narcissistic, or borderline. It isn’t that there is something wrong with you, it’s that something has happened to you. Often times the awareness of trauma isn’t there. Sometimes attachment trauma takes place pre-memory. Even having a parent who was depressed can interrupt the attachment process and result in life long relational problems.
You may not think you have trauma, but in reality- you don’t know.
What Can You Do To Figure Out Your Trauma?
There are a few things that can be done. The best option is therapy. I really can’t say enough the power of therapy in self-exploration, self-awareness, and the healing process.
But there are some things you can do if you aren’t ready to make the leap into therapy.
1. A Family Tree
Yes, a family tree can give you insight into the common experiences in your family. Create a family tree that includes names, relationships, and information you know or can find about that family member. For example, I like to include major events, divorces, separations, and trauma you know about. Include what the family feels and thinks about this person, and your own thoughts and feelings about them. This process can help you begin to piece together the family culture, and an understanding of the world you came into.
2. Name the Trauma
Ever heard of the concept, “Name it to tame it”? Well, it is often used in the therapist community as a beginning intervention to process trauma. When we give language to our experience, our experience begins to lose its power over us. So. Start naming your experiences! However small you perceive them to be, name them. It’s time to get them out. Examples such as bullying, dad left me, I was alone, no one played with me, my mom name called, etc. Get it all into words.
The power of journaling is underestimated. Many use it as a cathartic exercise; however, I believe the best use of journaling is to find themes and patterns that show up over time. I.e. Do you frequently journal about loving someone, then fearing they don’t like you, then getting angry, and then breaking up? That could be a fear of abandonment that is playing out via self-fulfilling prophecies. Journaling is best done with a therapist who looks through them and sees the emerging themes. Moreover, a therapist can help process difficult themes that surface. It takes someone who knows the psychological concepts that show up in your journaling.
Did I mention this? Usually, by the time people are calling us toxic, narcissistic, or borderline- we need professional help. It’s not a judgment. It’s a reality check. If someone notices a cancerous wart on your arm, do you go to the doctor? Heal the freaking wart. Go to therapy.
Being called toxic, borderline, or narcissistic is a wake-up call to start facing the trauma you experienced as a child. It is an opportunity to look at family dynamics and the secrets of the past. There’s good news! You have an opportunity to do the inner work and transform your relationships. #paxcanhelp. You can reach out to us on the form at the bottom of the page or on our contact page here: CONTACT