“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.” – Nido Qubein
A victim of narcissistic abuse often does not fully realize the extent and depth of the trauma she (or he) has endured until several weeks, or even months after the relationship is over. Initially, there is a period of shock, a state of feeling emotionally frozen, rooted in pain, confused, anxious, betrayed, and grief-stricken.
Anxious rumination sets in, and it is common to rummage through your devastated memory bank, trying to make sense of what happened, trying to put the shattered pieces of yourself back together, and analyzing the relationship from every angle, the what-ifs, and the what-could-have-beens. This can go on for weeks, even months, and can be very distressing, and exhausting.
And, it always leads to the inevitable conclusion that you can’t make sense of the relationship, and the trauma you have endured. This is because narcissists subject their partners to sociopathic behaviors, and a mind-bending toxic dynamic that healthy functioning people are just not equipped to comprehend and integrate. In order to heal, it is very important to let go of the need to understand the narcissist, and accept that he is a toxic, disordered, manipulative, abusive individual – full stop.
This is a difficult truth to accept. This is made even more difficult from the pain of finally comprehending the full impact of the present circumstances and the tragedy you have experienced: the trauma the narcissist inflicted, the loss of your dreams, the betrayal, damage to your self-esteem, adverse impact on your friendships, finances, and health (many ex-partners develop C-PTSD). Healing, and ever feeling normal again, seems impossible.
But, healing IS possible. It is more than possible. Despite the overwhelming circumstances, you can emerge stronger, wiser, and be freer and more successful than you ever imagined. This sounds great, but, how to get there? Patiently. Healing does not happen overnight. Healing is the product of time and intentional effort. It is not a linear process. It is a forward, backward, sideways process.
Healing also involves proactively changing the negative, self-critical, self-invalidating thought patterns that the narcissist created in the toxic, abusive dynamic. It sounds trite, but find, and focus on something positive. Rebuke negative thoughts. Instead, “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.” (Phil: 4-8)
When you feel exhausted, beat-down, tired, overwhelmed, hopeless and empty, remind yourself it’s temporary, and it will pass, and your life is unfolding in a wonderful, new way. We become our thoughts and beliefs.
Healing is not easy. None of this is easy. It requires strength, determination, and perseverance. The reward is, it makes you stronger, wiser, and positions you to be a source of empathy, strength, and inspiration to others who are suffering.
So, stand firm. Keep standing. Keep looking forward. Do this from a perspective of hope, and growth. You can turn your trauma into a wellspring of creativity, hope, and strength. You can use what you have endured, and learned, to forge a new path that opens up your life in ways you never could have imagined.
It’s not the end of your story. It’s the beginning. It is your starting point; a beautiful, open book. You hold the pen, the brush, and the paints, in your hand. You can create a masterpiece. Truly, you can.
What have you learned on your healing journey? What ways are you creating your masterpiece? Please share your inspiration below!