Kim from Let Me Reach had a very interesting point today, you can find the post here, FAQ Friday –What is a Narcissist Thinking When They Discard You?. It is almost a precursor to my post yesterday.
Kim talks about healing your inner child. I have been reading an Ekhart Tolle book, The Power Of Now recently which ties into the inner child theory.
I am sure most of you have heard of the theory that people have this inner child that carries hurts from their childhood even from the womb. Tolle, doesn’t refer to it as your inner child but it is the same concept.
Tolle talks about staying in the Now and that people cause much of their own pain because they live in the past or in anticipation of the future but fail to appreciate right now. Like he says, everything happens now, now is the most important part, it is the only thing you have any control over; now is all you have. The past is done, there is no point in worrying about the past except to learn from mistakes but to dwell on the past you miss today. Ex; the N caused you pain in the past, to dwell on him and his new woman is to cause yourself pain.
Eckert also talks about the dialogue constantly going on in our head; all these beliefs about ourselves that have been instilled in us since birth. Some people may not even be aware of the constant chatter of these voices in their head but everyone has them.
I have talked before about how your mind can be your worse enemy if you allow it to take control. You can retrain your brain and you can shut it off with practice and a person needs to learn how to do that, especially after breaking up with a narcissist. I have written several posts on retraining your brain to stop obsessing about the N and his new woman. Unfortunately I am doing this in my phone and it is just too much work to put the links in right now.
But basically, you can change what your mind thinks about, you may say, “but I don’t want to think about him, my mind just automatically goes there, all the time and I hate it.” Yes, your mind goes there but it is your choice to stay there. You control your mind not the other way around. When you find yourself consumed by the N change what you are thinking, it isn’t easy, it takes practise but it can be done. All the mind knows is the past and now, this immediate second right now is the moment you should bring your consciousness to. Your mind will keep going back to the past because we believe we are a product of our past. Doesn’t everyone always say that? Events in our past make us the person we are today. But that is a lie your mind tells you.
We have been told lies about ourselves our whole life and we allow these things to become us or we become them. For instance, if you were raised by a parent who always told you that you were ugly, you could be the most beautiful woman in the world; you will believe you are ugly. Someone could be commenting you, you could be on the cover of magazines and making money from your good looks but you will have this inner voice from the past screaming in your ear, “Don’t believe it, you are ugly, you will never be beautiful.”
Many parents don’t do it on purpose and would be shocked to find out that in your childhood they instilled negative thoughts about yourself. What they did was subconsciously transfer their feelings about themselves on to you. For example: my mother is a very negative; she would deny that adamantly I am sure and most people who know her would argue that she is one of the most positive people they know. But a prime example of her negativity would be while we are doing dishes when I was about 18. I was excitedly telling her about this very handsome man I had literally run into at the ice rink and that he had asked me out.
Without missing a beat she said, “I wonder why on earth he would ask you out.”
I was instantly deflated. Obviously it left a mark, an impression of who I was, that I was not attractive enough for a handsome man to want to date me. My mother had a weight issue, was always on some now diet, we joined a weight loss support group called TOPS, taking off pounds sensibly, together. That is when my anorexia started, long after I had reached my goal weight I was still starving myself. I was bulimic/anorexic until I was in my 30’s, weighing myself 20 times a day. To be up a pound could destroy my day and I would feel grossly obese until I got that lb off.
In reality I was never fat, I look at pictures of myself and I was never ever fat. To this day I feel fat. To me there was no such thing as too skinny. Skinny = beautiful, popular, desirable. The longer I was with JC the skinnier I got; the stress, the labour intensive job I did and poor eating habits all contributed.
I had no idea what I weigh now, I only know I have gone up a full size and had to throw away all my clothes lately. I know I am not fat, I know I was really skinny and needed to gain weight but I walk a tightrope as far as my weight goes.
When I decided to start going to the gym was when I got a grip on my weight obsession. Muscle weighs more than fat, so even though I went down in the size of my jeans, the scale said I had gained weight. I knew if I was to ever have a healthy self image I had to stop weighing myself so I opened the back door and chucked my scale out into the snow. It was a terrifying move for me, for almost 20 years I had stepped on that scale first thing in the morning and it told me who I was the day. Everything depended on what that scale told me, whether I wore my “fat” clothes that day, if I ate lunch, if I was in a good mood or miserable, if I felt confident or not. My whole world revolved around what that scale told me. It did not matter that I was 5′ 10″ and there was absolutely no way one pound would show, I felt fat, when I looked in the mirror I saw fat.
I managed over time to retrain my brain. I told myself to go by the way my clothes fit, and I worked out 4 times a week. I finally started to eat normally and healthy and you know what? I stayed the same size for years without dieting, taking water pills or laxatives. I had made my weight fluctuate by starving it and abusing it with duretics etc, once I stopped obsessing about it, my body took care of itself.
When I had my heart attacks they told me to weigh myself everyday, if my weight goes up a few pounds over the course of a day or two it could mean I am in heart failure. I bought myself a scale, the first one I have owned in 25 yrs; and I think I have weighed myself 3 times, I can not bring myself to step on the damn thing. I know I have gained weight and I am fine with it; I am afraid if I weigh myself I will feel fat and I never want to go through that again. Controlled by a scale.
The N could be described as your “scale”, how he treated you determined who you were that day. He told you to feel good about yourself, you were unworthy, stupid, paranoid etc.
Going no contact is like me throwing my scale out the back door. Its hard because now you have to determine who you are, he is not there to validate or dismiss you. It’s scary to rely totally on your self but it is so full filling and it is the one thing that will protect you from ever being abused by another N.
When I went to counselling when I was in my late 20’s the counselor wanted to do work with my inner child by role playing; he would be my father and I was to talk to him as if I was 5 or 6. I felt terribly uncomfortable with it and refused. I went no contact with my dad in my 30’s and felt so much stronger and in control. I dated men who treated me with respect, I had my anorexia under control, I was feeling attractive and then I met JC. I felt that all that shit I had gone through, all those demons I had conquerred were leading up to meeting this wonderful man who loved me just the way I was. For the first time in my life I felt comfortable to be myself, because he loved me warts and all.
I will never forget going out to the shop and JC standing there with his back to me and me saying, ” When you talk to me that way you remind me of my father. And when you walk away from me I feel like when my dad withdrew his love if I misbehaved.” He turned to me and said, “If you think your dad was bad you haven’t seen anything yet. I am 10xs worse than your father”.
I was frozen, my blood turned to ice, my stomach knotted and I felt like running away. It was relatively early in the relationship and of course a few hours later he acted as if nothing ever happened and I was more than happy to forget about it. But it was far from forgotten, it was the start of a long and arduous journey of abuse and recovery.
So how can I be certain I won’t meet another N who zeros in on my tender spots and brings out that inner child again?
Without realizing it I have been doing intense work on my inner child or as Tolle refers to it; my inner voices, beliefs about myself that I have been fed over the years. Thoughts, statements about who I am made by people like my mother, father, JC, friends, most of them lies.
I remember times after I first left JC where I sat on the couch and did nothing. I didn’t even think. No TV, no tears, no anger, nothing. I just sat there for hours, still, breathing; reminding myself to breath. I probably should have been put in the hospital but I had no one to witness my total emotional and mental collapse and I was having trouble remembering to breath, I certainly was not capable of getting help for myself.
Everything that made me who I was laid on the floor like shattered glass fragments. Shards of pain, self hatred, shame, embarrassment, every thing I had been told about myself, I was too sensitive, paranoid, defective, as soon as someone got to know me they would find out what my mom knew (why would he want to date you), what JC told me; “I always knew you had a warped view of reality but I thought I could help you, but I am so normal I can’t handle your dysfunctional way of looking at things.” what my dad told me, “If you aren’t good I will take your little brother and leave.”
“You aren’t going to be like your mother, you are going to treat a man right.”
I started the slow painful task of putting myself back together and keeping the things that were true of me; I am creative, I enjoy writing, I want to help people and make a positive difference in the world, I am attractive, I am intelligent, loving, kind and rejecting the stuff that were lies. You over react, you can’t trust your instincts, you are demanding, you are flawed.
It has taken 3 years and very much inner dialogue, but I mo longer listen to those voices. I may hear them occasionally but I don’t listen , I don’t give them life.
My mom and I went for a walk on Easter Sunday and I told her about my “Ladies with truck” idea. She shot it, me down at every angle. “IF you can find work for the trucks” “You never made it when you had a truck”. When I replied that it was because JC kept tampering with my truck. She just a “look”. “And what’s going to stop the men from tampering with these trucks”. I explained that the trucks would be new and maintained by the dealership so the women would not need help maintaining an old truck. She said,” It sounds like a lot of work, and money. What dealership is going to give you a bunch of new trucks?”
I finally told her about the personality test I did and what the result was. When I said I was sensitive she nodded her head, and then I went on to day that people like me make up 1% of the population and I just figured out there is nothing wrong with me. She didn’t look convinced. I went on to say that Ladies with trucks was exactly the type of thing this test said I should be doing, the type of thing makes me passionate. Her response was, “well, its fine to be passionate about your job but you have to make money too.”
I was feeling “she’s right, its a stupid idea, I will fail.”
She said, “I worked 20 years at a job I hated because I needed the money.” and I said yeah and you were making over $20/hr 20 years ago. It’s a lot easier to work at a job you hate if you are making enough money that you are able to do other things that you enjoy but to do a job you hate for $10/hr and not even make enough to live on is not so easy. She agreed. Then I said, “Anyway, you have been telling me for two years I should go on disability and not work.”
When I left, those little voices were saying, “You should forget the idea, you will never make it guy, you will get shot down in flames.” and I didn’t listen to them, I know what makes me passionate, what makes me look forward to my day, what I feel my purpose is, I know my talents, I know who I am. I am not going to allow those voices to determine who I am any more.
The narcissist picks up on these interactions with family, he zones in on your false beliefs about yourself. And just like Lucy pulls the football away just as Charlie Brown goes to kick it the narcissist sets you up and just when you think you are going to kick it out of the park he kicks your feet out from under you. He reminds you that you are those awful things people told you about yourself. You don’t deserve to be loved and treated well. You might not even be aware it is happening it is so subtle.
I have noticed the last year I have a much greater appreciation of Now, I live much more in the moment and not in the future; wishing the days away in hopes of better things to come and not in the past obsessing about things I can not change. Tolle says that when you live in the now you all of a sudden see the world with different eyes, the sun is brighter, the grass greener, the birds song is sweeter. I understand what he is saying.
We, as victims of abuse are given a wonderful opportunity to explore the lies we have been told about who we are in the process of healing. Instead of looking to external things to “fix” you, like a man who will love you for you why not figure out who you really are and then find a man who compliments that person. You might even discover you don’t want a man or at the very least not a man who defines you.
There is life and light after the narcissist, I promise! Hugs Carrie