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How Yoga Saved Me From Narcissism

Experiencing a life surrounded by narcissists, I was heading down the path of becoming one myself. Due to societal influences, I was beginning to adopt similar behaviors for survival.

I won't delve into the complexities of my childhood, but it was incredibly inconsistent. I bounced between different homes and schools, living a life devoid of stability.

As I grew older, I wrongly placed blame on myself for everything—my attitude, emotional insecurities, craving for attention, my upsets, and my inability to maintain relationships. I believed I was messed up, and this self-perception led me to despise who I had become. It overshadowed all the positive qualities I possessed. I questioned what was inherently wrong with me 24-7.

However, I had it all wrong. I simply was just a product of my environment. I didn't know any better. My upbringing, characterized by multiple caregivers, homes, and towns, offered me no stability, or structure, and left me profoundly unstable.

No instilled values, belief systems, or foundational support. Just a little brain observing life as I know it.

One weekend, I would be with my grandmother, dolled up for a pageant, striving to be the prettiest so that I could win. The next, I would be with my mom, eating patronizing remarks from my abusive stepfather and witnessing my brother's relentless beatings. Then, I would be at my grandad's hunting club, surrounded by alcoholics, listening to Jeff Foxworthy by a fire. I lived so many little lives.

As an adult, I suffered and loathed myself for an extended period without understanding why. Some aspects of myself still present challenges, ones I wish were easier to overcome, I am still finding things I didn't know needed to be healed.

Throughout my life I have placed myself in countless situations where I allowed narcissistic individuals to control me simply because I didn't understand myself, much less like myself. Self-loathing and self-doubt were intertwined. I became a people pleaser, constantly searching for someone to connect with. I changed my identity, values, and preferences so often to fit in that I lost sight of who I truly was. These struggles persist at times. Who is Brooke?

Do you know who you are?

Narcissists have an uncanny ability to identify those who are unaware, stemming from their own traumatic backgrounds.

My stepfather's history of abuse, my biological father's sexual assaults, and my childhood instabilities were all woven to form a single thread to create the insecurities in my future abusive relationships. It was my normal. This pattern extended to my professional relationships and ultimately colored my perspective as an adult in several capacities.

For years I have been so easily manipulated. If you told me I was intelligent, attractive, or funny, you had my attention. Over time, despite witnessing events with my own eyes, I'd be told I was delusional or fabricating things and believe it. I would internalize these doubts, thinking something was fundamentally wrong with me disregarding the actions in favor of words.

I sought refuge in yoga as a form of fitness and escape. It was during the COVID-19 pandemic that I discovered its profound impact. However, I was initially "doing yoga" rather than truly living it. I had yet to grasp its full scope.

It wasn't until March 2023 that my perspective shifted dramatically. I enrolled in yoga teacher training, expecting to learn how to teach yoga poses and guide group fitness. However, this comprised only a small fraction of the training. I quickly realized that yoga transcended mere exercise; it offered a new perspective on life.

Yoga rekindled my sense of self, reaffirmed my purpose amidst life's chaos, and reminded me of my potential. After years of feeling like therapy had been a wasted effort, I finally understood that I didn't need to fix myself; I needed to get to know and love myself. It was that straightforward. Despite living within myself for 36 years, I had never truly taken the time to get to know myself.

Tapping into one's identity, knowing one's desires and boundaries, distinguishing reality from illusion, and nurturing self-awareness can shield us from abusive situations that do not serve us. I am now awake and aware.

Yoga goes far beyond the mat and into your soul. Inquiry work and community promote the healing of wounds unknown. It is a process and a path.

I eagerly anticipate sharing the details of my yoga journey in a dedicated post to come—it truly deserves its own spotlight.

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