Imagine if we could see the emotional pain and scars represented on the skin of those around us. Festering, oozing, open sores on the skin of those still trapped in their pain and black and blue bruises covering the bodies of those beginning to heal. What about those with scars? Some may hide the scars, embarrassed by their pain and past struggle even though they had to be so very strong just to survive. Those with scars that show, uncovered in the sun, for all to see may be the strongest of all. These are the scars of people who were strong enough to survive, heal, and continue living despite their past. How different would we relate to people if we could see their internal pain? How different would we present ourselves if our past was visible on our skin?
Realizing the narcissists in my life knew very well what they were doing was a revelation for me. They purposefully and knowingly hurt others without regret, empathy or taking responsibility. They are in control of their actions at all time because they must impress those who have yet to see behind the mask. Narcissists do it on purpose!
There are undoubtedly many stages and layers of healing but I find most interesting about these six stages is the last one, Maintenance. It involves returning to the earlier stages to continue healings. As I look at these six stages, I see myself in each one, and part of me wonders why I’m not entirely healed. I realize now that I’ve returned to the earlier stages, several times, and my healing is ongoing. It is deeper now than ever before.
In front of others, he’d let the kids do whatever they wanted. They could climb the walls, and he would just sit there with a smile on his face. Once we were alone, he’d rage at them, screaming about how they embarrassed him and made threats to thwart future bad behavior. Some people were wise enough to sense something wasn’t quite right, but they couldn’t know how terrible it actually was when we were alone. I once thought he was unable to control himself, but this behavior made it clear. He knew what he was doing all along. He controlled it when it suited him and hid it to preserve his public image which was always more important than his children. Even now, he presents himself as “an excellent father” of three, but we know it’s only for show.
I know for a fact that if I had a traditional “physical disease” people in my life would be more understanding. For some reason crippling depression, complex PTSD, and migraines that not only offer blinding pain but impaired cognitive function are “all in my head” and I should be able to “get over it.” My family would not be embarrassed or disappointed in me because of my illnesses. My boss and co-workers may not have accused me of “faking it to get out of work,” and maybe I’d still have my job. But I don’t have a traditional “physical disease,” so I must work harder to heal and overcome the stigma others, with no concept of my ailments, place upon me.
I remember struggling to think of something I enjoyed doing or even something I’d like to do. I didn’t do anything for fun, and I felt embarrassed. So much of my life was filled with the task of making others happy that I lost myself. Fun is still something a bit foreign to me, but I’m learning to enjoy parts of my life again. I’ll get back there, in time…