My apologies to anyone who came to this post and found something about the raffle. I don’t know what happened last night, I typed up a post about healing and was quite proud of the end product, hit POST and pooof!! the whole thing disappeared leaving two lines about selling more raffle tickets. I will now retype the post I intended, about healing.
Most people who email me privately have the same quest; to find out how to heal, as if I have some secret that I do not share publicly or because they are too embarrassed to speak about their pain publicly. For one thing, your pain is nothing to be ashamed of. Society has a warped view of people in pain. It makes most people very uncomfortable, they want to you stop hurting, get over it, move on; they make you feel defective for feeling grief.
The email will start with, “When will the pain stop? I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, I can’t stop thinking about him, why does it hurt so much? its been two weeks and I can’t take it any more”.
I hate to break it to you and the rest of society; there would be something wrong with you if you WERE healed in two weeks………….now if it had been 2 YEARS I might be concerned. If you were able to move on after 2 weeks I would suspect you were a narcissist. I may seem to have found the secret to healing; but most readers have not been following my blog for the 3 years it took me to get here. If you go back to my posts from 2011- 2012 my pain is palatable. There is no magic cure for the pain a narcissist causes, there is only time, lots of time and self discovery. Even the narcissist did not move on in 2 weeks, he was planning his exit almost from day one, he was never invested in the relationship, he never invests in anything, everything is disposable to a narcissist.
While he was out lining up your replacement he was telling you that if only you would do this…………. not do that……… or if you stopped doing………..this, THEN he would be happy and the relationship would flourish and go back to the way it was. He was demanding more investment from you, demanding you invest all your time, your trust, values, morals, finances and all you hold dear for the promise of his undying love and faithfulness ……….and he just got out of another woman’s bed to come home to you.
He was calling you paranoid for suspecting him of cheating all the while he was hooking his new conquest. He didn’t move on quickly…………he was never in the relationship for keeps. You can not feel the loss of love if you never felt love or invested in the relationship. THEN when he does finally “come clean” and break it to you that he’s “done”, he blames you for him not loving you. You are to blame for everything from his infidelity to the spending of all the money and he expects you to pay the price for his inability to commit or feel love. You are to wear sack cloth and ashes, suffer in poverty, bare the shame of “not being good enough” and quietly crawl into a corner and suffer in silence. Which is easy to do when all around you people are telling you to “just move on” , “get over it” or in other words, “stop making me feel uncomfortable with your pain.”
And those are your friends! the ones that say they care.
The ones he didn’t get to.
Unbeknownst to you he has been paving the way for his departure for months. If that doesn’t prove that he is the scum of the earth I don’t know what will. While he was telling you to try harder and he really did love you and want it to work, you just had to try harder; he was telling everyone who would listen how horrible life with you was. He was working people’s sympathy for months before he finally left so they were not the least bit surprised when he finally left or that he had someone else, after all they were even telling him to leave, the poor guy was trying so hard to save a hopeless relationship, they are happy he is happy. What no one realizes is, he is a professional manipulator, he has done it his whole life, it is his existence; it is what provides his creature comforts, his whole life is dependent on his ability to manipulate people. It is the only thing he is invested in.
People choose which “truth” they will believe. It’s strange how they will believe the narcissist’s far-fetched accounts of the atrocities you committed against him because, “Why would anyone lie about stuff like that?” Yet when you defend yourself and say it was him doing those things they will ask, “But why would he lie?” They don’t say, “Why would she lie?” Because he has already warned them that you are a lying, paranoid, psycho bitch. He can fake honesty better than anyone and make himself look more honest than the person telling the truth. They can pass lie detector tests for crumb sake !! He has mastered the body language, eye contact and voice tones of someone who is being honest, a trained eye might notice that his speech is scripted but to the novice, unsuspecting target he is very believable and look……..he’s so happy with the new woman.
All this leaves you in a pit of pain quicksand and you think you are going to be over it in two weeks? Sorry, I hate to tell you this but it is just not going to happen.
The first couple of weeks most victims will tell you that you are barely able to function. He occupies your mind every waking moment and then haunts your dreams at night. You can sit for hours thinking of nothing, the pain is so overwhelming it is debilitating. Going to the bathroom and breathing is about all you can muster for self-care. You can’t believe a person can cry that much, surely a person runs out of tears eventually. I used to think, “I will just let it go, just cry until I have no tears left and then I will feel better”, but you know what? there are no end to tears, your body has an amazing ability to produce tears.I realized that I would go for what seemed like minutes without breathing so I thought I could just not breath and die. I actually tried. FYI it is not possible to kill yourself by forgetting to breath.
After a week or two you realize that you can not not breath and die, you won’t starve to death and lack of sleep isn’t going to kill you and you are going to have to function at some level; take the dog for a pee, feed the children, shower.
So you take a shower and put clean clothes on, it feels better, you comb your hair and put some makeup on. Big mistake!! no sooner do you put makeup on and your eyes start leaking again. Sometimes you are unaware that you are crying they just come. So you stop wearing makeup and if you wear contact lens you stop wearing them also because tears leave protein deposits on them and you can’t get them off.
You fight with the phone for hours, start to dial his number and hang up, you have a hundred reasons why you need to call him; the car is making a funny noise, the dog misses him, a letter arrived in the mail (so what if it is to Occupant, you are sure it is important) you have had a revelation and think you have the answer to your problems, you want to apologize for every nasty thing you ever said or did, you think if he would just tell you why, you could go on, or if he would just admit to SOME fault, if you could explain how you feel he would understand, if you could just hear his voice you could maybe sleep, to hear him call you Babe would ease the pain. If you give in and call you might get some relief for a few minutes or he could say something totally cruel and make it worse, either way it is never a good idea but some of us are slow learners and keep trying before it sinks in that any contact causes you more pain and never ever helps you heal.
You tell yourself that you always get back together, you have done this before and he always begs you to come back. JC even said to me “I don’t know why you get so upset, we always end up back together.” You and he have been doing a dance, there are certain steps you each take, he does this, you respond like that, then he does this and you do that and eventually you end up back together. But this time it is different, he isn’t dancing with you, he isn’t playing the role he always has. Eventually at some point it becomes clear that it really is over and staying no contact is the best thing for YOU. It could take you a year or more to come to this conclusion and true healing will not start until it happens. IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO HAVE CONTACT WITH THE NARCISSIST AND HEAL. Even with children when you have no choice, very limited contact is your only option but it will prolong healing.
Why do you have to talk about it constantly? No wonder people are sick of hearing about it, rehashing the relationship over and over again, but it is all you can think about.
You were in a relationship for however long believing it was a certain way and the man you loved was someone he wasn’t. Everything you thought to be true of him and the relationship has turned out to be a lie. You discovered he is a narcissist and unable to love, have empathy, or guilt. It is a relief in many ways because now you have answers to so many questions BUT now the relationship was a lie, how is that possible? how could you have not known, how could he put on an act that convincing? So you have to relive the whole relationship with this new knowledge, look at everything through realistic eyes, events where he insisted you were paranoid now you see clearly you were right. You have to process the relationship over and over again because your mind can not accept the truth, to heal you must understand what happened, rehashing it is your mind trying to comprehend what happened. It is a normal part of healing, a necessary part of healing. They say that any catastrophic event will trigger the same process, a tsunami, tornado, a horrendous car accident, your mind will relive the event over and over trying to comprehend what happened, could you have seen it coming, done something differently? Friends who tell you to get over it, go out and have fun to take your mind off him, find another man, force yourself to bury your pain are doing you a huge disservice! they may think they are helping you because your pain won’t be visible so you must be healed but ignoring pain does not make it go away, it lays there, festering, just under the surface waiting for an opportunity to rear its ugly head, it is very patience, it can be buried a long time before it comes out and why on earth would you want to deal with it years from now? might as well get it over with now before it sabotages your future happiness because it will. I get many emails from women who are remarried and still dealing with the pain from the narcissist, I can’t help but wonder how someone can get married while still dealing with the pain from another relationship. How do you even know you are in love if you haven’t dealt with past pain? I tend to believe they got married hoping it would heal the gaping hole they have in their heart, he was a nice guy who loved them and they thought his love would heal them but they are being unfair to him and to themselves. You can not possibly love someone to the best of your ability if you are still packing the pain from the narcissist. Do you not want to be the best you possible when you love again? Don’t you want to know you are a wonderful person without having to have some man make you feel that way? To never again doubt yourself? To never judge your worth by the whims and moods of a man?
Within that first year you have realized life goes on and you have forced yourself to go to work everyday or function at some level of normalcy. You have adapted your schedule to accommodate the tears. I would get up every morning, realize my life was not just a bad dream and cry. I would allow myself a good cry and then put my makeup on and go out there and fake it. I usually felt better during the day, faking it worked and I could even smile or laugh with customers but then the day would end and I would face going home. I would tell myself to make it through the day and I could cry once the day was done but there were many a time I would be parked on the side of the road somewhere blowing my nose on a sock. (I would have run out of tissue) Many a stop light I sat with tears and mascara running down my face. A song would play on the radio that would bring back a flood of memories and tears so I stopped listening to the radio, but not having anything to distract my mind allowed too much time for thinking so I listened to CBC radio, it was pretty safe. Except JC and I always listened to Vinyl Cafe and I still can not bring myself to listen to it. Certain songs will still trigger a reaction.
After 6 months or so you will start to feel like you are healing, you have stop battling with the phone and know talking to him is a bad idea, you might have started to do some of the things you used to do. And just when you think you are over the worst of it something happens to trigger what I call a “healing crisis”, out of the blue you are thrown into the pits of despair again and you don’t know what is happening. Will you never heal? you feel as bad as you did in the beginning, like you have made no progress whatsoever. You are devastated by your reaction, why are you again fighting with the phone wanting to call him? why are you dreaming about him again? why are you doubting yourself again and reliving the relationship again? Well, while you were in the relationship there was so much drama, trauma, conflict and pain your mind blocked some of it; you could not handle it all at once, so in self-preservation your mind only let you deal with as much as you could handle. Once you healed enough to handle more pain your mind allows you to deal with those buried emotions. Something happens to trigger a memory, maybe you run into him and the new woman, or you have a dream or run into a mutual friend or see a movie that reminds you and BAM! you are in the throes of pain again. Do not despair, this is a good thing, really; it is a sign you are healing and not packing a bunch of baggage into the future. You have buried much of the pain while in survival mode, if you don’t deal with that pain it WILL surface at a later date, probably at the most inappropriate time, or it will cause problems in your next relationship. It may seem you have made no progress but these healing crisis episodes never last as long and once they are done you feel lighter and know that you have done a lot of healing because of it. Once you have been through one the next one does not scare you, you know it will end and you will feel better for it.
The first year or so you may find that everything upsets you. People are purposely rude, God has it in for you, the earth is working to make your life harder than it has to be. The smallest frustration can bring you to tears. Breaking the yolk on my over easy fried egg could bring me to tears. I had a habit of losing my car keys and would end up tearing the house apart cursing the powers that be, tears streaming down my face, looking for them only to discover them still in the door or in the car ignition. I remember trying to load something heavy on my truck and talking to myself (out loud) about how unfair life is and cursing God for making it so difficult. Why does everything have to be so damn hard all the time!!!???? I would lose my temper with the dogs and feel guilty later, it wasn’t their fault they needed to go pee and I had left late and didn’t have time. I still feel twinges of guilt over Kato who never deserved my frustrations. You have been on emotional overload for far too long, you can not cope with the least little disruption or stress. it passes, it truly does, you have not turned into a bitch, you are not a narcissist, you will be able to handle stress again without having total melt down. I would do stupid things like buy myself something to try to make myself feel better only to have terrible buyers remorse because I couldn’t afford it. Give yourself a break, you are going to do things out of character, you are doing the best you can, as long as you don’t give up on yourself, you will be ok.
The longer you are away from the narcissist the more positive things start to happen. At first it is hard to believe anything good could happen in your life, you are afraid to acknowledge good things because the N made sure anything good that came your way didn’t stay good for long. You got accustomed to not expecting anything for yourself and anything good that happened to you the N destroyed somehow so now you feel like the other shoe is about to drop all the time. If something good happens you wait for something bad to happen to ruin it, you trust nothing because that way you can’t be caught off guard and hurt again. Slowly you notice that more good things are happening and nothing happens to destroy it. Positive breeds positive just like negativity breeds negativity. It is hard to get off the negativity merry-go-round but once you do it leaves room for the good stuff to get in.
For the first year that feeling of impending doom seems to always be there, something is wrong, you feel uneasy, everyone is going to realize you are not a good person, they are going to find out what the N knew, whatever it is that made him leave you. It is a trained response from years of not being good enough, walking on egg shells and second guessing yourself.
Somewhere between one and 2 years you realize you may have a chance at happiness, more and more you feel your old self coming back. At the 2 year mark I no longer wanted to die and was looking forward to the future but I was still not myself totally. I thought I had changed, whereas in the beginning I had turned into a slob, dishes piled up on the coffee table until I could fit no more and the sink lay full of dirty dishes until I had no clean ones and then they sat in the drying rack until they were all dirty again. My dirty clothes littered the floor and my dresser drawers sat empty. I had been a clean freak! a lint picker, (someone who can’t sit still if they see a piece of lint on the carpet they have to pick it up, a speck of dust will drive them crazy) I thought my years of living with JC, the ultimate slob had left me a slob and I didn’t care, I didn’t even care that my mother was coming over. In the last 3 months I have found a happy middle ground, I am no longer a lint picker but my house is neat and clean and the dishes are done and in the cupboards.
Between the second and third year something I can only describe as a rebirth happens. I have heard other survivors talk about it, it’s spiritual, an enlightenment. One day you will realize you like yourself, I mean REALLY like yourself and you don’t need the approval of anyone. You feel so blessed and appreciate all the world has given you. Material things don’t matter, you get joy from the simplest of things. The smell of fresh-cut grass, the pungent odor in the air after a summer rain, the intoxicating aroma of lilacs in spring, birds singing, the colours of the autumn leaves. You can sit and watch children play for an hour and not think of anything but how wonderful it is to be a child. I can sit for an hour watching Stella be a puppy, genuinely laugh at her antics, touched by the way she protects her ball, gently putting it some place safe while she plays in the water. I am so thankful for my life, things I took for granted before I cherish now and I have so much more patience with people, I am more accepting and understanding, instead of being suspicious and withdrawn I reach out to people more, I am not as shy, I don’t care if people like me or not, I am me and I am proud of me. I am not encumbered by self-doubt or fear of not being liked. Of course I still have moments of self-reflection and doubt but they are not debilitating, they are healthy. I check myself, check my feelings, where my heart is, why I feel the way I do, how will my actions affect someone else, that sort of thing but I trust my instincts and that I am coming from a good place.
Something happens when you are blamed for everything, criticized for everything you are and everything you aren’t; you have to look within, you have to face demons from your whole life, you have to take those lies you have been told about yourself and own them or toss them aside. You HAVE to have self-reflection, because you have been stripped naked and it is the only way to put yourself back together. It is painful, really painful, you have to face demons you didn’t know you had, pain you buried and forgot about. But the result is a peace few people get to experience and it is the reward for all your hard work. Not every one gets an opportunity like this, take it and make it work for you.
The survivors that I know all have a spirituality about them, a deep self of themselves a centeredness, a deep peace and confidence and I am sure you all sense it in them also. They have found the secret or are finding it. It doesn’t do the work for you, it is what you find while doing the work. I may be not describing it properly and I can’t speak for these other people but if you have ever been to Kim’s site “Let Me Reach” you know she is totally into Zen, incense, oils, meditation, Paula of Paula’s Pontifications is all into yoga and its healing properties. I don’t know if these women were always into these things or they developed the appreciation while healing but I would be interested to hear what brought them to the point of this enlightenment.
I have found that what started as a painful journey that seemed insurmountable turned into a growth experience that has been more rewarding than I could have ever anticipated and the best experience of my life. I don’t see it ending any time soon either, I want to keep learning and growing and sharing because I think it is remarkable.
I hate to give credit to JC for anything but when I was broken and sobbing he said something to me that I found very insulting and condescending; he said, “In my life some of the worst experiences, the most painful ones turned out to be the best experience of my life.” I have wondered if he knew something I didn’t but I find it hard to imagine he would be that enlightened or that he would actually care. I think he probably heard it in a movie at some time. And truth be told, he may have started the process but it was I who took the journey and did the hard work of putting myself back together.
How long it takes to heal is dependent on so many things, there is no answer, no one can say it will take 6 months, a year, 2 years. It depends on how long you were in the relationship, if there are children, how severe the smear campaign is, if you are left destitute and living in poverty, if you had a job, if you lived in the same town and see him all the time, if you have supportive friends and family and how hard you are willing to work.
All I can say is…………..that if you are willing to do the work, to look deep within and face your demons there is a reward for your efforts and it is well worth the journey once you get to the other side. When you do, make sure you look back at the ones coming behind you and shine a beacon of hope for them to follow.