One of the first things everyone wants you to do after your release from the clutches of your narcissistic ex-husband is to move past it. If you talk about your experiences you are told things like:
- Forget it – it’s over.
- Leave it in the past.
- Forgive him and move on.
- But your life is so much better now!
While those are truly well-meaning statements from people who love you those sentences will keep you locked in your pain and locked out of healing much longer than if you give yourself permission to hurt, to wallow, to dissect your relationship, and to study your experiences.
People, for the most part, are seriously uncomfortable with other peoples’ emotions and pain. Most of the time they feel that it is their duty to sit and listen to you but very few of them will be comfortable about it. It’s much more comfortable for them if you just get over it and stop crying, being depressed, or having those pesky Complex PSTD symptoms. Their main concern isn’t your healing – it’s your getting back to “normal” so that your emotions don’t make them uncomfortable.
Time to Reprogram Your Brain
Most of us have had a computer crash so badly that the entire thing had to be rolled back to the stock settings and all of the information had to be reinstalled and reprogrammed. Your brain is a brilliantly created computer and living with a narcissist corrupts most, if not all, of your files. You are going to have to take the time to reinstall healthy thoughts and reprogram your brain to think in a positive way.
The first thing that you have to change is the idea that your relationship was average, healthy, or normal. It wasn’t.
Average, healthy, normal relationships are not built on a foundation of lies. As soon as you can grasp the idea that everything your ex said or did was shrouded with deception then you can begin to heal. You’ll realize that it isn’t, nor was it ever, your fault.
The door to healing starts to open when you realize that you are not a disgusting, completely flawed chunk of humanity that is unable to do the simplest activity without making a mistake. You are human, brilliantly and beautifully created, highly capable and accomplished in some areas and weak in others. You are not perfect by any means but, as my dad used to tell me, “You aren’t perfect but you’re close enough to it for me.”
You, my friend, are close enough to perfect just the way you are right now.
Spend Time with Your Memories
Has someone told you to stop obsessing over what happened?
It’s important that you look at every memory with the magnifying glass of your new knowledge that you were not in a normal relationship. You need to understand what really happened rather than maintain the corrupt perception of your life that you had. Depending on your spiritual beliefs you may want to read one of the numerous books on inner healing and breaking unholy ties. Meditation and prayer are both ways to remove the smudged glasses you’ve been wearing and see clearly.
My ex once paid well over 1,000.00 for a bike he wanted. We did not have much money, we were behind on bills, and our property taxes were due within a month of his purchase. Needless to say we didn’t have it, either.
I was scared we would lose the house over property taxes and I was angry that yet again he had put his wants in top position while needs went unmet. I remember standing on the stairs and looking down at him.
“Where’s the money for the tax?”
He glared at me. “I don’t have it.”
“You bought that damn bike. You can pay for the tax.”
“I don’t have it!”
I was cool, calm, and I wasn’t backing down. I didn’t care if he sold the bike or sold his body on the street. I wanted that tax paid. I kept asking and he kept getting angrier and angrier until at last his face was bright red, he was screaming at me and he was literally jumping up and down like Rumplestiltskin in a rage.
Then I felt guilty for days because I had pushed him over the edge.
Guess what, y’all? It wasn’t my fault! When I looked at it through my new, magic, reality glasses I saw that he flew into a rage because he was wrong, I was unemotionally demanding he do the right thing, and it caused me to back off. He wanted me to believe that it really wasn’t so bad he had bought a bike that he wanted and $1,000.00 wasn’t enough for a full payment on taxes anyway.
Is there anything logical about that line of thinking? Now that I see it for what it is my eyes have been opened to other times that I blamed myself for his actions. Once I can see those lies I can send them packing like the winged monkeys they are.
When You Lie Down with Dogs…
Have you heard the old saying that when you lie down with dogs you shouldn’t be surprised when you wake up with fleas? In other words, it was your choice and you need to deal with the consequences.
That may be true about dogs and fleas but in this case you were duped. You had no way of knowing that you were entering the twilight zone. You went to bed with a prince and woke up to a frog. It’s not your fault.
Here’s the thing. You weren’t any more in control of this relationship or the things that went on in it than you would be in a rowboat in the middle of a hurricane. You learned to react rather than pro-act because nothing that happened was logical, nor was it predictable.
So many websites about divorce, broken relationships, and especially infidelity have you look at yourself and fix a part of the blame on you. This doesn’t work in a relationship where narcissistic abuse is present because circumstances are extreme and abnormal. There is no one that can tell you how you should feel or how long your healing should take.
You sure as hell don’t have to “be friends” with the person. It’s not immature to protect yourself from further abuse! You have been shattered and it will take time and patience to heal.
A lot of that will be moving through the process of reprogramming your brain. It’s nearly five years post-divorce for me and I am still taking the blame for things that aren’t my fault. I still see myself as a screw-up, an inept problem to be dealt with, and someone who believes a twisted reality – which I do. The thing is that my being accused of believing a twisted reality (that the ex is a narcissist) makes me believe a twisted reality (that I am wrong).
If you can wrap your brain around that statement you’ve been there. Lots of women have been there. Join First Wives World today to get connected to a group of women who understand what you’ve been through.
Image Courtesy of Flickr's Creative Commons, User: Patty Maher