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!
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 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…
After finally mustering up the courage to escape an abusive marriage I sought refuge from my family who was all but erased from my life by the narcissist. The first thing I did was call my mom and let her speak to the grandchildren she hardly knew. When the initial shock and relief wore off the blaming started, “You should have never married him,” they said. “Why did you let things go on for so long?” and “How could you treat your sister so badly?” were just some of the pointed questions thrown at me. I felt so guilty for what happened already, and I was conditioned over the years to accept any and all negative criticism as the truth. Let me start by saying my mom and dad have helped me through this life and I can never repay them for all they’ve given me. At the time these questions were posed to me, I was numb and unable to answer. Now I can address them. You’re right. I should have never married him, but he was a skilled actor, liar and con artist with a mask that fit seamlessly until it was far too late for me to escape without severe damage. I didn’t let things go on. These things were inflicted upon the children and me without any approval, and at least I found a way, on my own, to escape. Thank you very much. My sister refuses to speak to me because I did some unknown thing to hurt her. I’m sorry that while the kids and I were being abused and traumatized by the Raging Giant, I didn’t think about your feelings more. How insensitive of me not to make you a priority during this time. To my mom, dad, brother, and my children who still stand by me thank you for loving and accepting me, flaws, scars and all.
Just over two years ago I finally made an appointment for a physical after avoiding the doctor for almost five years. I was ready to seek help for my migraines again after numerous negative experiences with medication and neurologists who let my concerns fall on deaf ears. This time my doctor listened to me because I insisted on being heard and this time I considered my symptoms might be more than physical. I took myself to see a therapist who confirmed my theory that the migraines are related to past, unprocessed trauma. The old me would have never stepped foot into a therapists office. Instead, I would have downed more pills from the doctor so I could keep working and continuing my path to destruction. I once thought losing my job would destroy my life but instead it was the catalyst for a new phase in my life.
Chronic migraines brought me to my knees, and I have no desire to return to that position. Some days I feel good and energetic, ready to take on the world but my body has limits and forces me to adjust. Instead of pushing through it I must slow down and rest, or the consequence will be severe and painful. It is a dance I am still learning and a new way to face life, much different than the way I was raised. There is no use in me overexerting myself if it leaves me in bed with agonizing pain for days afterward. Conservation and the careful use of precious resources is a priority in this new phase of my life.