Jun 11, 2024

Spot a narcissist in one minute!

by Lisa A. Romano

adult children of alcoholics childhood trauma healing codependency recovery codependent traits emotional validation narcissistic relationships

For anyone out there who's codependent, who came from a dysfunctional home, whose parents were alcoholics, we have to understand that our brains have been scrambled. 

So let's say there’s a place called home A where the kids were treated with respect. They were raised understanding that their feelings mattered. They were encouraged to speak about how they felt. There was a round table where each person in the family got to express how they felt and everybody was validated. They were encouraged to be their own individual person. They weren't made fun of. They weren't criticized. So that's kid A. 

Then there's us. We're from house B. Those of us who grew up in homes where we were minimized, we were made fun of, we were criticized, we were ignored, we were treated with indifference. We were constantly being told what we think and what we feel. We were interrogated. We were good kids. Most of us were good kids, but our parents made us feel like we were specimens in a Petri dish and that we were evil and that we weren't any good. They always looked at us from the corner of their eye, projected their sick stuff onto us, but we didn't know that. We were kids. We were babies. We didn't know that. 

So what we're going to talk about today is how when you're raised by people who F with your head, who minimize you, who criticize you, who treat you like you're nothing… then when you're an adult, you attract people who treat you that way. Because on an energetic level, we're trying to heal something. So, I married my mother's emotional twin. I didn't know that then but most codependents attract narcissistic people. 

As a little girl, all I wanted was my mother's validation. So I bought her a pair of sneakers because her feet were so cracked from cleaning the house with bleach and water. And she never took care of herself. So I thought, okay, I'll save this money. I'll buy my mom a pair of sneakers and she'll know how much I love her. And so when I presented her with these sneakers, she said, “What do you think you can buy my love, Lisa?”

Here she was insinuating that my agenda wasn't pure and nothing could have been further from the truth. But because I was so worried about what she thought about me, I got swept up in feeling ashamed. Like, oh my God, did I, is that why I bought my mom sneakers? Am I trying to buy her love? But I was only trying to bond with her.

Then I remember when I was married to my first husband – a narcissistic, covert narcissist, OJ Simpson, Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, passive-aggressive mofo. When I was married to him, I remember I bought him a very meaningful birthday present and he actually said to me, I know why you bought this… you bought this for me because you want me to feel bad about the gifts that I bought you.

Accusation, paranoia, it was everywhere. And because I was codependent and I was raised by two unrecovered adult children of alcoholics who unfortunately scrambled with my brain.

I didn't know that I was trying to finally get the attention and validation and approval of an energy being that was so similar to my mom. I married a man who made me chase his approval. I married a man who deliberately withheld from me. I married a man who would ignore me for days. I married a man who would come home and slam the kitchen cabinets. I'd say, “What's wrong?” He'd say, “Nothing. What's wrong with you? Why do you think there's something wrong with me?” And it was so similar to how I felt when I was a little girl.

Up until about the age of 34, I was living off of this programming that I received as a child. And I was unaware that I was unaware. So about that age, I started to figure out that something's really wrong. My body was failing – asthma, migraines, headaches, stomach issues, rashes, acne, weight gain, weight loss, nervousness, anxiety, panic disorder. 

Doctors wanted to medicate me, which was not going to help me because I needed to dig deeper first. I needed to know how to express my feelings. And so if you suppress my ability to get in touch with my feelings, that's not going to help me. That's going to keep me stuck. And unfortunately, the psychiatric community is filled with people who just don't want you to feel anything. You know, don't feel it and you'll be fine but that's crazy!!

I encourage you dear ones… If you're in therapy, and you have a psychiatrist or you have a psychologist or a licensed therapist, and you get the feeling that they do not hear you, find another one!

Remember, they work for you. You are their boss. You don't need them. They need you. And you have the right to walk into a doctor's office and say, excuse me, exactly what do you know about codependency? And if you do know about codependency, exactly what strategies are you going to teach me to help me get out of this way?

It wasn’t until I started doing the inner work to heal myself, to heal from my childhood trauma and to recover from codependency that my physical symptoms started to go away. It’s all connected, Dear One. Your physical ailments may be a sign that there is inner work to be done.


Lisa A. Romano was voted the #1 Most Influential Person of 2020 by Digital Journal and one of the top 10 Most Inspirational Women of 2021. She is a Life Coach and Bestselling Author who specializes in Codependency and Narcissistic Abuse Recovery. Her YouTube Channel has over 670K subscribers, and her 12-week Breakthrough Coaching Program has helped thousands, including psychologists and even neuroscientists, release painful emotions from the past. Romano’s approach is seen as groundbreaking and highly effective for creating the inner transformations all humans are capable of. To learn more about Lisa and her online programs, books, speaking events, and support groups, visit https://www.lisaaromano.com/12-wbcp