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Chronic Pain, Toxic Family Dynamics and Moving Forward with Adriana Bucci, Narcissistic Abuse Coach

Apr 5 2021

Big episode of Sober Yoga Girl is out! It is my first guest who is not on a sober journey. I recently started sharing about my experience in a manipulative relationship on Instagram and was really surprised to hear how many others had had similar experiences. The first time I went through it, I truly felt like no one out there understood. After sharing openly about it on IG, and seeing how many people were resonating with my story, I wondered if there were Narcissistic abuse professionals & support groups out there - and that’s how I found Adriana Bucci.

She is a Narcissistic Abuse recovery coach and sitting down with her and hearing her story from chronic pain, the mind body connection, toxic family dynamics and eventually becoming a Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coach was extremely inspiring. If you have experienced Narc abuse I highly recommend giving this episode a listen - but even if you haven’t, it might tip you off to the warning signs to prevent it in the future.

Listen here.

Thank you Adriana for taking time to be on the show. Follow @letsgetyourshifttogether for hilarious reels and amazing insights, and check out her coaching programs for more information.

If you do listen please don’t forget to rate, share & subscribe so the podcast can reach more people it would benefit!


Intro: Welcome to the “Sober Yoga Girl Podcast” with Alex McRobs, international yoga teacher and sober coach. I broke up with booze for good in 2019 and now I'm here to help others do the same. You're not alone and a sober life can be fun and fulfilling. Let me show you how.

Alex: All right. So, welcome back to another episode of Sober Yoga Girl. This episode in particular, I'm excited for because it is the first time I'm interviewing someone that is not on a sober journey with a different kind of special expertise. I guess I should say. So, I have Adriana Bucci with me today and she is a narcissistic abuse recovery coach.

Adriana: Hi. Thanks for having me. I'm so excited to be here.

Alex: Thanks for coming on. And Adriana is based in Toronto which is where I'm originally from, which is cool.

Adriana: Exactly. The Toronto connection.

Alex: So, let's get started and you can tell me a bit about kind of your history, your career and sort of what got you into narcissistic abuse recovery coaching in the first place.

Adriana: Sure. So, I never intended on it. It just kind of happened. So, my journey starts like, with just coaching in general, it starts with chronic pain and, you know, some people might be wondering what does that have anything to do with narcissistic abuse recovery. Well, apparently everything. So, yeah. I had this crazy chronic pain from 2015 to 2019 and it all happened after I got my wisdom teeth removed. So, I mean, that's kind of, getting my wisdom teeth removed was like, the catalyst of me becoming a life coach.

Alex: Wow.

Adriana: So, yeah. After that happened, I would go through this downward spiral of everything going wrong. So, I ended up with a TMJ Dysfunction after which is like, my jaw was just completely messed up. I did an MRI, it showed that my jaw was pressing on my ear canal and that's what was causing me to have all this pain, and migraines, and then, eventually, neck pain. Eventually, I got carpal tunnel syndrome. I had surgery on one hand. It was a complete utter disaster. And then, I ended up getting this treatment done for my jaw like, in 2018, which it was like, splints and braces, so I was just like, pissed that I had braces for the second time in my life. And then, I get shingles in my mouth with these braces.

Alex: Wow.

Adriana: Yes. With this whole treatment happening, and that was a nightmare. It was a complete nightmare. So, my jaw was already on fire because it was moving around, and then I get shingles like, of all things for a 30-year old to get, in their mouth, whilst it's getting treated for, you know, like, rearranged, essentially. Yeah. And then I ended up with Trigeminal Neuralgia after that which is, it's like the nerve on the side of the face that like, it's responsible for all the feeling on half your face. That, I ended up with Trigeminal Neuralgia, so that's nicknamed the suicide disease because of how painful it is.

Alex: Wow.

Adriana: And, you know how the wait times are in Canada for the healthcare here.

Alex: Yeah.

Adriana: Yup. So, it was like a solid 18 month wait to see the neurologist but I was doing research and thinking, Hey, I will do the surgery like, let's sever the nerve. It's basically a brain surgery like, that's how much pain I was in because I was completely losing my mind.

Alex: Wow.

Adriana: And, yeah. Then I stumbled upon something called The Mind-Body Connection. I was just sort of mindlessly scrolling on Facebook in January 2019. I found this app called Curable. I would highly recommend it to anybody who has chronic pain. And that was where I learned about this whole Mind-Body Connection thing where it's all about any chronic pain that you have that's lasted for more than six months. You've gone to the doctor. There's nothing life-threatening going on. There's no like, new fracture. There's no like, cancer or tumor or like, life-threatening sort of disease happening. It's because of repressed emotions from childhood trauma. So, I was like, What the hell? And sure enough, it worked because I had no other options for pain relief at that point. So, as offended as I was by this concept, I figured, let me just do the work, see what happens, and whatever. Because I couldn't take painkillers anymore. I was getting ulcers. I was getting nerve block injections in my face to just like, numb it because of the Trigeminal Neuralgia and Botox to paralyze my face, so it just wouldn't move and hopefully not have any pain, but of course, it didn't really work or it would work for a bit, and then it would absolutely stop working. So, it was just very, very frustrating. I was just chasing pain relief constantly. So, I did this inner work reluctantly, it was all about like, releasing your repressed emotions, and sure enough I felt better. And within four months, I was completely pain-free.

Alex: Wow.

Adriana: Yeah. So, that's when I decided, Yep. I'm gonna be a chronic pain coach and coach other people who, you know, might be struggling to do this inner work if, you know, whether it's through Curable or any of the other people who deal with this Mind-Body Connection stuff like, it's great to have a coach because I totally went way too fast. I like, re-traumatized myself and all that fun stuff, so I figured, you know what, let me guide people to do it like, not that quickly and, you know, they won't re-traumatize themselves, they'll have that accountability and all that, and then, sure enough, I started talking more and more about narcissistic abuse and my experience with my narcissistic mother and all that on Instagram. And so many people were resonating with that, and then, I realized like, Wow. So many people have narcissistic parents, or narcissistic significant others, and this was something that I was able to heal from while I was healing from my chronic pain because it's all of those repressed emotions, it's all connected. And so, that's kind of when I decided to shift my focus to narc abuse recovery, and here we are.

Alex: Wow. That is such an amazing story, and it's so relevant for yoga teachers because that is kind of so much of what I do is like, you know, our emotional experiences live in our body physically, and so much of the yoga practice is like, releasing that. And so, that's a really amazing story of like, how you ended up with what you're doing now.

Adriana: Thank you. Yeah, I never thought this would happen.

Alex: Yeah.

Adriana: Like, it's wild. And for sure like, the yoga community needs to know about the Mind-Body Connection because it's really everything.

Alex: It is. And I, for a long time, so I suffered from mental illness as like, a young person and I did therapy for ages, and I just had no comprehension like, I thought the physical body and the mental body were like, two different things like, there were literally two offices at queen's university like, one for mental health one for physical health and like, that is how I saw it.

Adriana: Yeah.

Alex: And it took me years to understand that it's like, literally all one thing, and our emotions can manifest in us physically.

Adriana: Exactly. And like, the separation that society has made with the mind and the body, it's causing more issues for more and more people. And the more people that learn that, no, the mind and the body are literally the same thing. The body is a reflection of the mind, the mind is a reflection of the body. And it's, you know, it sounds so woo-woo, and so, like, what are these people talking about, because we're so ingrained that your mind is completely separate from your body, you see a therapist or a psychiatrist for your mind, and you see your doctor for your body and that's it.

Alex: Yeah.

Adriana: And yeah. It's, the separation's just, it's harming more people than anything.

Alex: Yeah, absolutely. So, you kind of mentioned sort of sharing on Instagram and social media about your narcissistic mother, and that was how I came across your Instagram. So, we were kind of chatting before the episode and I said, you know, so I've recently been through a manipulative relationship, and I actually experienced it as a younger person as well, and it occurred to me like I have this really rich sober community, that I've connected with online and I thought, you know, this must exist for people who have recovered from narc abuse as well, you know? Especially once I started posting about it on Instagram, so many people commented, so many people message me saying, they've been through it as well, which just blew my mind because I thought I was like, the only person in the world.

Adriana: Right.

Alex: But, so many people have been through it.

Adriana: Yeah.

Alex: And so, I came across your Instagram, literally just by either googling or searching. And then, I just really connected with your content, and here we are.

Adriana: Amazing.

Alex: Yeah. So, tell me a bit more about, like, so I've been sharing about my experience in this type of relationship, and I'm finding that people who haven't been through it just like, don't really understand it. So, I was wondering if you could kind of give an explanation of like, what's, you know, abuse from someone with narcissistic personality disorder would be like, and, you know, what's that experience like?

Adriana: Yeah, a lot of people don't get it. And that's either because they're still going through the abuse and they're not seeing it as abuse, or they just literally have never experienced it ever. That's when you get people who like, leave very invalidating comments or troll comments and things like that, and it's just super annoying.

Alex: Yeah.

Adriana: But they can go be little rain clouds in their own little corner for all I care because the people that are being helped by, you know, people sharing their stories like this is so much more important than whatever these people have to say. So, anyone who is going through narcissistic abuse, you might not even know that it's happening because it's just so, you know, it can be so insidious sometimes. There's overt narcissism where, you know, it's obvious. It's like, Okay, this person, they're showing like, they are an [ __ ], they aren't shameless about it, they don't care who knows about it, and, you know, I give those ones a little bit of credit because at least you're showing your true self and people can, you know, not associate with you based on that, or they know how to approach you because they already know like, who you are, right? But when you're dealing with covert narcissists it's they, you know, if it's like in a relationship, if they came on way too strong at the beginning and, you know, they start love bombing you. It's, you know, it's very much like, they show up as like, the knight in shining armor. They want to be the hero of the day and like, save you from like, whatever, and they want to make you all these promises like, you know, the future, this, that and the other. And then, they tell you crap like, I've never met anybody like you before. All my exes are crazy. That's a huge red flag. Those are all red flags right there. And that's love bombing and that's really designed to hook you into the relationship, so that, you know, you kind of feel like, Wow. This person sees me. This person really values me. This person has so many great things to say about me and that's amazing. And especially if you've grown up with a narcissistic parent or had other previous relationships that ended really badly, you're just so used to this love bombing and that is what you think is true love, but it's actually manipulation. And then eventually, that goes into the devalue stage so they start, you know, making little digs. So, at first, it might not be so like, hurtful it'll be like, little things like, Oh, are you sure you're gonna wear that shirt like, you know, we're going to this place, maybe you shouldn't be wearing that, maybe it's a little too to this, or too that, or whatever. And then eventually, it'll just turn into attacks on your character and all of the stuff that you had in common when you first met, you don't have it in common anymore because they were just humoring you and, you know, they don't have the same favorite movie as you anymore, and it just starts to not make any sense. And the first sign of narcissistic abuse is confusion on your end, because it's really done purposely to confuse you, so that they can keep controlling you, because they get a little kick out of getting supply from their targets. So, what they're really looking for is a reaction from you. That's narcissistic supply. So, when you give them your energy, your reaction, your time, your attention, your resources, praise, attention, all that stuff. They're feeding off of it and like, they're getting a little kick out of it. And yeah, it's really messed up. But the problem is that most people don't think that way, so you're assuming that they're going to behave like a normal person so that just keeps you stuck in that loop over and over and over, because they'll make you these promises, then they'll break them, then they'll apologize, and then you just go through this whole cycle of abuse over and over and over again, and it's just this whole repetition. So, it's not about, you kno ah. There's so many layers to it.

Alex: No, absolutely. Yeah. And I know like, when I was in my most recent relationship, I wasn't aware of it until literally a year later. Even when other people told me like, other people told me what was going on, and I was in disbelief, and it was not until I like, physically saw it and I know like, I've seen this on Instagram like, one of the reasons why narcissists and sociopaths are so good at what they do is because healthy minded people just cannot wrap their head around the fact that these people actually exist. It's so hard to believe.

Adriana: Yeah. It's so hard to believe because, you know, most people have good intentions.

Alex: Yeah.

Adriana: And you just can't imagine other people not having those intentions and, you know, that's part of projection too in a way, because it's like, you're projecting your normalcy onto narcissistic people at the same time, so it doesn't, there's never this connection when you realize that I worded that weirdly. You don't make the connection until later that they were not on the same page as you like, in their mindset because their intentions are completely different. Their goals are completely warped.

Alex: Right.

Adriana: Yeah.

Alex: So, tell me a bit about, you kind of got into like, what it looks like, with the narcissistic parent. Can you tell me more about like, how that plays out and what people can, I guess, when they're in it, what could they do?

Adriana: Yeah. So, it could play out in so many different ways. I'll share how it played out for me. So, for me, it was like, a lot of financial abuse and a lot of, I'm-the-only-person-that-you-will-you'll-ever-have-in-your-life type thing. So, I really grew up believing that I only had my mother and, you know, she did a lot. She did a lot of manipulation. So, she actually alienated me against my father, so she brainwashed me completely into thinking he was a complete monster and horrible person, and tried to make us be homeless, and he never paid for child support. And I didn't realize that, you know, what would happen to a father in the province of Ontario if they don't pay child support, they will end up in jail or lose their passport and, you know, he was between Canada, Italy, and The States, so that wouldn't have happened if he didn't pay child support, but I never thought to Google it as a kid because you just believe your parents.

Alex: Right.

Adriana: So, of course, I found documents later after the fact that showed that like, Oh my gosh, he actually did try, and, you know, he had custody, he had visitation rights, but my mom made me believe that he was so horrible that I did not want to see him. So, if he did want to see me, he would have had to come with the police. So, she just created this whole web of insanity.

Alex: Wow.

Adriana: And yeah, I just couldn't move out of the house until I was like, 26 or something 26, 27, because she just kept taking all of my paychecks and, you know, she made me feel like I had this obligation to support her financially. So, she completely sabotaged me financially throughout my entire life, and I had to like, secretly save money and eventually like, I moved out, which that was, I had reached this huge breaking point and I didn't realize that I had a narcissistic mother until I was going through a breakup with a narcissist. So, it was just wild. And that's when I went down this whole Google rabbit hole, and then I found stuff about narcissistic mothers, because I was already like, so confused by the last narcissist I had ever dated, because that was a quick relationship. It was like a five month or but I was so like, disturbed by how confusing it was, and that's what got me to start Googling. And then, I realized my mom's a narcissist too, but I had to be in denial for another year and a half. And then, eventually, started to accept that my mom was a narcissist. So, it can definitely play out in ways like, how it played out for me, it can play out very similarly for other people. It's like, they have the same tricks but, you know, it's different because everybody's situation is different, but a lot of guilt trips, a lot of, I made so many sacrifices for you and you don't appreciate anything, and then you realize, Oh, wait a minute, being a parent is a choice. So, you know, she just kind of made me feel like I was a burden just for simply existing and I just put this whole burden on to her, but really, it was her just manipulating me into getting supply, because parents, narcissistic parents think that their children are a lifetime source of supply for them. So, the more circular conversations you have with them, the more they feed off of it and all that kind of stuff, and it's kind of disgusting to think that a parent could do that