The beginning of my healing journey started with removing myself from an abusive situation and cutting off contact with the person creating it. The one time I sought help while still in a controlling, abusive relationship I faced fierce retaliation leading me to fear ever seeking help again. Towards the end of that relationship couples therapy was recommended by the family physician, but as some of you may know, a narcissist does not seek therapy except to prove themselves right and attempt to prove the instability of their partner. Fortunately, our therapist was very intuitive and experienced with narcissistic behaviors which threw my ex into a furious rage and a near assault on the aging therapist. This experience crystallized my resolve to escape and pursue a new life.
The realization and acceptance of my role in past experiences is a driving force for the fear I struggle with daily. The belief that pure chance had brought unhappiness and strife to me was blissfully ignorant. After all, the odds were in my favor that all the bad hands had already been dealt to me and the future held good luck. There may be a small nugget of truth to chance or luck but the bulls-eye painted on my back is made highly visible to those seeking to harm by my tolerance and lack of self-confidence. The fear of repeating the past is exacerbated by the knowledge that I am not entirely healed, so I reinforce my walls to rest in the safety of solitude, for now.
The damage from abuse is like a slow acting poison requiring a painful antidote. Sometimes I find it hard to remember what it felt like to be trapped in an abusive relationship and then a trigger brings a flashback encompassing every sensory detail. Numbing the pain and emotions allowed me to stumble through life for a few years, but eventually, my deteriorating condition forced me to confront the trauma. Chronic, debilitating migraines were the primary physical manifestation of my unprocessed trauma. These migraines significantly interfered with my ability to work and care for my children, but if it was not for this physical ailment, I might have delayed my search for help even longer. In working towards reducing the migraines, I met several wonderful and caring doctors, physical therapists, counselors and everyday people who helped me get back on my feet. There are so many things I would do to keep from ever having another migraine, but I acknowledge they are the proverbial straw that broke the camels back and started my healing journey. The process has been excruciatingly slow at times, but I am much stronger now and have a great deal more patience. The poison is still leaving me, and the antidote is unpleasant, but in the end I will be free.
There is no co-parenting with a narcissist – only hurt and despair. The health and welfare of our children were never his priorities, and during the divorce, my children were manipulated to obtain information about me. They were all under age ten and missed their daddy even though he was abusive towards them. Just wanting to spend time with their dad they instead were met with demands to secretly remove items from their childhood home for him and met with rage and fury if they did not comply. They were grilled relentlessly about my activities and screamed at when he heard something he did not like. He screamed at our young children because he was mad at me. I’m an adult, and his screaming and tantrums mean something different to me. This behavior towards the children was incredibly destructive and painful for them Eventually, the children told me they no longer wished to visit their dad, and he finally moved hundreds of miles away, slowly cutting off contact until this past Christmas there was no contact at all. There is no co-parenting with a narcissist-only damage control.
I have repeated many things I was too ignorant to repair. At one point I merely thought I just had bad luck with relationships. Many times I was told relationship failures were solely my responsibility. In truth, healthy boundaries were nonexistent in my life, and it took lots of pain and loss for me to see that. Now I understand that because I did not respect myself, I allowed others to disrespect me. So, there is some validity to the statement that my failed relationships were my fault. I failed to repair my broken pieces and that invited manipulative, abusive people into my life. The process of repairing is well underway but still incomplete making me fear any new relationship. I am hopeful that someday I will be well enough to have a healthy relationship. Until then being single and focusing on raising my children is more than enough to fill my days while the repairs continue.
I am a divorced single mom who struggles to provide for her children, and that is obvious to anyone who knows me. My divorce was painful, but it was the only way to break free from an abusive family environment. Providing for my children was something I was always able to do, and during most of my marriage, I supported the entire family. Ultimately, the chronic abuse left me emotionally and physically ill, and I lost my job. Now I spend most of my time helping myself and my children heal so that someday we can lead healthy and happy lives. It may not look like we are doing well, but compared to where we came from we are thriving. Criticism and judgment from those who have no idea how hard we have fought to survive is nothing more than an uneducated opinion and has no place in our lives.
The road to healing is full of bumps, potholes, and detours. Some days it feels as if I will never make it to my destination and the effort is futile. I find myself exhausted by devastating setbacks and crushed by the weight of the baggage I carry. As I continue to move forward despite the obstacles in my path, I find that no matter how small of a step I take it adds to the overall distance covered. Every inch is progress and it all adds up in the end. Not every mile marker will come easily and I’m sure I will lose hope again, but only momentarily. I understand now, that the road to healing is not linear and the ups and downs are to be expected along the way.