Going through divorce can leave you feeling hopeless and trapped. Guest contributor, Tanya-Marie Dubé, addresses How To Heal From Narcissistic Abuse – in her personal story as shared below.
When I first became free of my latest narcissist, the one thing that I couldn’t do was focus. I couldn’t eat, I lost 20 pounds almost overnight, I couldn’t sleep and I was consumed with thoughts, memories and conversations. I was worried about my financial future and felt like my head was spinning out of control.
It’s you’re also trying to heal from narcissistic abuse, it’s possible you don’t know what to do first, or where to start. I am going to share some thoughts that I brought into my own life and into my practice with clients. The goal is to make this chapter of your life easier for you to deal with, and to get you into the mind of a narcissist so you can understand how break free of the cycle you’re stuck in.
HOW TO HEAL FROM NARCISSISTIC ABUSE
When I was in my narcissistic relationships, the only alternative to working on myself from the inside out was relegating myself to a life of being by myself forever. I couldn’t trust myself and my choices. But I didn’t want to do that, I didn’t want to be alone forever. I needed to break the cycle so I could form healthier relationships going forward.
Going through major breakups with narcissists forced me to look at how I was showing up for myself, learning lessons I was meant to learn, helping myself grow, pushing myself beyond my self-imposed limits and not putting blame on others. The work I did as I tried to heal from narcissistic abuse led me on a spiritual path. I started to see that I was drowning in the grief from the events of my life, that I was making poor choices.
I had to grow and change or be alone. It may be easy to say that we’re good with being by ourselves. Some of us are. I know I am. But forever? Do any of us truly want to be alone? For the rest of our life? That seems unfair.
My narcissistic relationships triggered a message from early childhood pain in my life. I didn’t know how to fix it, so I went on through life hurting myself emotionally. This is not something that my heart…the same heart I carried around with me as a child with amazing dreams and full of love, would have ever wanted.
I knew I was strong, but I didn’t know my self worth. This creates fertile ground for the narcissist to prey. I could see the little girl that I was, looking up at me saying “What’s the matter with you? Deal with it. Move on.” So that’s what I did. I dealt with it and I sat in the pain and then I created a plan for my life and I moved on. Eventually, I recognized that I had to get in really deep within myself. I prayed and meditated. I worked on being positive and seeing the silver lining. My soul was craving things I hadn’t even thought of yet.
Consider what you’re dealing with with your narcissist from a birds’ eye view, try to remove the emotion out of it and simply look at the facts. Do you really know your narcissist? It’s likely that you don’t. They only ever showed you what you wanted to see so that they could keep you around. Is this love, being treated this way? Absolutely not. Learn everything you need to learn about the toxic relationship you’re no longer a part of, so that you can set yourself free.
Remember something: the reason your narcissist is coming for you is because they’re having a low moment and need someone to “act” like they care. Next time you get that text, email, or phone call that will be designed to set you off so that you get angry or hurt or crazy, stop, think and react as calmly (without emotion is the goal) as you can. Your ex will use your emotions as the measure that they’re better than you because they’ll stay calm while they make you nuts and then they’ll sit back and call you crazy. This is called the Gray Rock Technique. No emotion. You’re training your narcissist to start looking elsewhere for their emotional fix.
This is what I did. When I was calm, I took a piece of paper (you could also use your computer) and made three columns: the first one says “What triggers me”. The second one said “How I normally react” and the third one said “How I want to react”. I created a fall back plan so that when my ex was making me insane, all I had to do was remember to take a few breaths before responding.
Try this exercise. Then, the next time you are upset, use this document and find the trigger, read how you want to react and then you’re going to respond the way you said you wanted to. Remember too, that narcissists will do everything to distract you, so stay on the subject matter. Don’t let them tell what a crappy parent you are, drag you into your responses to their behaviour, tell you how nothing is their fault or how awful you are to deal with. By focusing on staying calm and not giving into their emotional antics, you’ll be able to distance yourself and heal from narcissistic abuse.
Let’s touch on people pleasing and building confidence. When we are children living with a toxic parent, we tend to learn to do whatever it takes to survive the crazy in our homes. This survival technique that we most commonly develop is people pleasing. It keeps the peace. It makes others calmer in a chaotic environment. As an adult, I had a track record of putting myself last and doing everything and anything to make people like me. I had to decide that I was just as important as everyone else. I needed a fail safe fall back plan because I didn’t like confrontation.
I decided that whenever anyone asked me to do anything, I would simply say “okay, let me check my calendar and I’ll text/email/call you later. If they were persistent, I would say “I can’t right now, but I’ll check and let you know.” If they didn’t drop it, I would be forced to say “I have to run. I’ll talk to you later.” I decided that no matter how awful it felt, if I just practiced it, I would break through and it would become easy. Whatever your words are you are going to use to create boundaries, decide in advance so you know what to say. Make a pact with yourself that you are not going to cave. It’s okay to hide behind text and email but that won’t sustain you, so start there and be brave enough to follow through.
You can do this. It’s going to feel scary and feel horrible, and you’re going to be worried about people hating you, not liking you, calling you out…it’s okay. A real friend won’t do any of those things and they’ll respect you for standing up for yourself. Someone who is using you will try to make you feel less than, they won’t stop throwing it in your face, they’ll try to make you feel like you owe them something, or they will walk away from you.
Sit with this thought: if they walk away from you, this is a good thing. Say thank you, and goodbye. The goal here is to live in our integrity. It’s not to make everything about you as though if you don’t step in, the world will fall apart. It won’t. If your life is being compromised because you’re always putting others ahead of you and you’re losing out, then that’s not good either. It is your responsibility to learn the skills you need and to follow through with them.
Building confidence comes with dreaming, taking action (even baby steps), sometimes falling flat on your face, and getting back up again. We don’t want to be where we are now in six months. We want to be a newer, improved edition in six months because we learned something, we tried something, we failed at something, and we pushed ourselves. Every six months. Remember that. Sometimes our self limiting beliefs are so strong that our actions become paralyzed. Consider this: whoever planted those thoughts in your head wasn’t talking to you. Whoever the person was that put the idea that you’re not important or unique, was talking about themselves. You were just standing in the way, you were standing in front of them so you bore the brunt of their own inner frustrations. The things they said to you were their own self limiting beliefs and fears and instead of working on them, they put them on you. It was cruel, I know, but these limiting beliefs and fears are not yours, so please stop holding onto them. Remember that you are a pure soul having a human experience. And for what it’s worth, this messy, lovely, beautifully imperfect person staring back at you in the mirror is going through exactly what you’re meant to go through, so embrace it, feel it, make a plan for what you want and then go for it.
The good news is that you have more control than you think here. You have to learn how to not let the narcissist in your life get to you. Once you understand what you’re dealing with, I promise you that you won’t be struggling to handle them. It won’t feel hard. Eventually they will stop harassing you. Just like any school yard bully, the more you stand up for yourself by learning everything you can and then putting those lessons to practice, the faster you will heal from narcissistic abuse. Don’t let them drag you down that rabbit hole of all the reasons you stink.
P.S. Want more tools and resources to stay positive during a divorce? Download my Free Divorce Survive & Thrive Kit below!
With support and strength,