The work I do is Counseling others through the tragedies of narcissistic abuse. The stories I hear are all equally as horrible and unfortunately I am never surprised by anything a client tells me anymore.
It is sad to get to the point where nothing surprises you anymore but this is where I find myself. My heart goes out to each and every one of you. Some of you have lost everything you’ve ever worked for, including your sense of self. Some are fortunate that you haven’t lost everything but know you could have, had you not learned about narcissism when you did.
Learning about narcissistic personality disorder can bring us the knowledge we need to say “O.K. I know he, or she, is narcissistic or has something like this and there is nothing I can do to change it.” The next step is to decide what you are going to do about it.
For most, who know you must get away from the insanity created by the narcissism, the only choice is to cut off all contact and find a way to get on with your life. For those with family ties such as children, it is impossible to completely cut off contact but will have to limit the contact and develop enough inner strength to draw your boundaries, keeping any and all communication to a bare minimum having to do with the subject at hand, i.e., when to pick up the kids, when to return them, etc. More on that later.
No matter what your situation, one thing is most certain. The narcissistic abuse you have suffered has put you in a place where a spiritual journey is almost required for your survival. This is a journey that requires going deep within and assessing your strengths, your weaknesses, and finding out who you really are.
As victims of abuse we want to not only survive but to thrive. There is a need somewhere deep within to make sense out of what has transpired and use our experiences to launch us to the next level in our lives.
I use the word victim very carefully because I believe; on a spiritual level, I know there are no true victims. We draw our experiences to us, on some level, no matter how horrible they are. Because these are the experiences that shake us up at our very core and require no less than a complete transformation in order to get beyond it.
When I was a teenager I had a very destructive eating disorder. I nearly died at age seventeen from starvation. I had, through this illusion of a false self, managed to starve myself down to a fragile eighty nine pounds. I survived and switched from anorexia to bulimia which carried me another few years until I finally ended up in therapy at age nineteen.
My eating disorder stemmed from my self image, from unresolved family issues and a period of time where I endured a lot of abuse as a result of being a chubby little girl. In therapy, although it was a long and difficult journey, I dealt with the issues that caused the disorder and was completely cured. Unlike alcoholism and drug addiction I never had a desire to abuse food again. I was completely past that. In fact I went on to counsel others with obesity and eating disorders as well as depression and illness. This is where my holistic counseling path began.
The dark night of the soul I underwent as a result of my eating disorder gave me the knowledge, the experience and the tools to help others on their journey who were dealing with the same type of issues. Had I not experienced such a journey I would never have been able to help the people I could help. So there was a purpose to the insanity I lived with. It had a positive outcome.
Years later I found the same type of experience with the narcissistic abuse. As a result of my long and painful journey I have been able to help others.
Part of helping others is to help them see that there is a purpose to their suffering. It makes the suffering much more bearable when we know that there can be a positive outcome.
Let me use the weight loss journey as an example. For years I taught my clients to change their diet and lifestyle in order to have the results they desired. There were a lot of emotions surfacing as my clients battled with their addictions and the pain at the root of them. Yet what kept them going was the knowledge that they were going somewhere better. If they embraced the journey, which included embracing the pain, they would eventually see a whole new being in the mirror.
It is the same for those of you on the journey of recovery from narcissistic abuse. You may be walking in a dark tunnel right now but have to trust that there is something better waiting for you when you return to the light.
Those who give up and subscribe to a life of victimhood, will always stay in the tunnel which results in chronic depression, lethargy, financial issues, physical issues and a lonely, loveless life. There is nobody on this earth who has the power to assign you to this kind of life, except for YOU.
What the narcissist did was horrible and there is no excuse for the pain you have suffered as a result. But there is also no going back and changing the past. All you have is now and the future and this is where your energy needs to be focused.
I watched a documentary the other day called “The Shadow of the Moon” about the first astronauts who landed on the moon. It was interesting how astronauts were chosen for their ability to stay cool, calm and collected in a crisis. It was a matter of life and death to them. There was a point where there was an explosion in the capsule that was supposed to take the astronauts back home. I was listening to them talking, reflecting back so many years ago and one of the astronauts said. “Our oxygen was leaking and we thought it was all over for us but we asked ourselves, what do we have to work with to get us home?”
I was so impressed with this attitude. “What do we have to work with to get us home?”
I think we can all ask ourselves this same question when we are in a spiritual crisis. What do we have to work with? We may have lost what feels like the most important things in our lives but what do we still have left?
If those astronauts spent their energy focusing on what was lost they would have never made it home. They would have used up the remainder of their oxygen having an emotional meltdown instead of focusing on how to save their lives and the mission.
We are all on a mission. We just don’t always know what it is. Perhaps if we had a better image of what our mission or purpose in life is, we could change our focus from what we have lost and instead look at what we can work with now to get us to where we want to go.
Now is an excellent time to take your inventory and make a list of who you believe you are and what you would like to do, be or have in this life. If you want a loving relationship than you must believe you can have that. There is no reason you can’t.
I was so clear after leaving a narcissistic relationship not only that I wanted a loving relationship, but that I deserved one. I had been focusing on having a loving relationship for quite some time, even during the narcissistic ones. I used to say a little prayer to either change the relationship I am in to a loving, harmonious relationship or move me on to something better. My prayer was answered but let me tell you I was unprepared for how quickly things would be shaken up in my life in order to bring me what I wanted.
I didn’t give my ex the opportunity to take from me my joy and even though I was still hurting from the awful fall-out created by somebody I had believed was my friend, I knew I had to get on with my life.
Looking forward is where the real healing happens. Let the wounds of the past heal, and give them the time they need to do this, but don’t focus on the pain of the healing. Focus instead on what you still have and what you can do with it. Then, take a deep breath, look forward and begin walking.