Narcissistic Abuse Recovery: Find the Light at the End of the Tunnel and Be Brave

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery: Find the Light at the End of the Tunnel and Be Brave

“No matter what you’re going through, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and it may seem hard to get to it but you can do it and just keep working towards it and you’ll find the positive side of things.” ~Demi Lovato

Find the light at the end of your tunnelIf you ask me, being in a relationships with a narcissist feels a lot like running your head into the same brick wall, over and over. And despite the fact that it gets bloody and beaten, you don’t stop. You just keep running your head into the wall, hoping to get through it (and make it happy) – and while you logically realize, eventually, that there’s no breaking that wall down, and that the wall is not capable of change, something in you makes you keep hitting the wall, bloodying your head and hoping for different results. 

When you look at it that way, it seems literally insane, right? After all, the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same things but to expect different results.

But in the case of a narcissist, it’s not as simple as a brick wall. It’s a convoluted mess! If you want to learn more about narcissistic abuse, you can do so here – check out these articles or this resource page

Today, we’re here to talk recovery.

So let’s talk about the light at the end of the tunnel.

I’m about to wax philosophical on your ass, so get ready. If you’ve ever been in a relationship with a narcissist, you can probably agree that eventually, you stop living for yourself and start living to avoid the next blow-up, drama or manipulation. 

When you’re dealing with gaslighting and the other ways a narcissist will abuse you, you’re almost always just “existing,” and while you might not admit this to many people, you sort of forget who you really are. 

So many people have come to me as they were beginning the process of recovering from an abusive narcissist asking me how I was able to redefine and rediscover myself after escaping my own narcissistic abuse situation. And this is what I tell them. 

Living with a narcissist means living without real passion – not the kind that drives you to do great things, anyway. 

As I see it, living without that kind of passion is sort of like living in the dark.

Food doesn’t taste as good, the air doesn’t smell as nice, the colors don’t seem as bright.

Without passion in our lives, it’s as though there’s a barrier between our senses and the world around us, one which doesn’t allow us to fully experience our lives.

This barrier could present itself in the way of depression, anger, fear, or any number of debilitating emotions. Or maybe there’s a certain situation in our lives of which we’ve lost control. Maybe it’s simply that we’re bored, and that we’ve begun to take our blessings for granted.

This is an almost toxic state for our souls and even our bodies. But we can change our minds, and this can change our lives. But how? Try this Bliss Mission.

Bliss Mission: Discover What Inspires You

Begin with figuring out what inspires you. Then, find a way to make it happen. This can help you to start living with passion, and living with passion is one of the first steps to becoming whole, to becoming truly happy.

Whatever your passion or inspiration, take some small step toward it today, and let the rest flow. If you’re not sure where to start, consider taking a walk to clear your head, or writing in a journal to work it out. You could draw or paint a picture, or cook your favorite meal. Take a bath or do a little yoga. Whatever works for you.

Tell yourself that today is the day that you begin living with passion and purpose. And then, my friends, do it. Your life will be richer and your heart will be happier.

Feel good! You ready? Let’s do this. 

Not ready yet? Then keep reading. 

Be brave! Discover Your Courage

Have you ever thought of yourself as brave? You may find it challenging to imagine how courage would be a part of things like your social life, going to work, or communicating with your spouse. However, courage is important to all types of situations and relationships. Remembering your natural bravery will also boost your confidence and self-esteem.

Here are some super-simple daily actions you can take to strengthen your own bravery.

Embrace yourself and:

1. Look people in the eye. If you’re shy or feel awkward, looking people in the eye or chatting with someone you just met takes a certain amount of inner strength and fearlessness. But each time you muster up the courage, you gain more self-confidence for the next social situation.

2. Speak up. Standing up for the project you want to do at work illustrates a lot about you. Although co-workers may be vying for the work and your boss might have his own idea about the person he wants to do a particular job, stepping forward to claim what you hope to do exhibits fearlessness.

Tip: You’ll be more likely to receive the type of work projects you want to do when you step up and ask for them. These courageous behaviors pay off.

3. Disagree appropriately. Being willing to stand up for yourself with your spouse shows personal strength and courage. 

Tip: Maybe there have been situations when you’ve strongly disagreed with something your partner did or said. Maybe you ignored your own feelings at those times. But if your spouse keeps repeating these behaviors or comments, step forward bravely and discuss your feelings with your spouse. Doing so can actually strengthen your relationship.

4. Change how you look. Color your hair or cut it short. Or just put on make up for once! Any kind of change in your appearance reveals a certain amount of bravery. Even trying out a trendy new style or a color you don’t normally wear is a great demonstration of your firm decision to change something about yourself.

Tip: Have you ever wanted to change your image or renew your style? This can be challenging and even a little scary. Such decisions require great deliberation and resolve to follow through. But when you do it, you feel great. These simple acts of courage associated with changing your looks facilitate the renewal of your confidence.

5. Stand up for what you believe. Regardless of the venue, stepping forward to make a point is a pretty brave thing to do. Have you ever decided you weren’t going to take it anymore? Standing up for yourself can garner the respect of others, as well as improve your situation.

Tip: Whether you were the only one in the parent teacher organization who thought something wasn’t a great idea or you joined the local anti-vandalism group in your neighborhood, standing up for what you believe takes some measure of fearlessness. Stepping forward for a cause that you feel emotionally invested in requires passion and bravery.

Recognize that it takes a certain amount of bravery to live in this world of ours, and if you’re just starting out in trying to take back your life after being abused by a narcissist, this is all the more important.

Taking part in social events, speaking up at work, voicing a disagreement with your spouse and doing something to change your style or looks all reflect a sense of courage. And standing up for what you believe in your everyday life shows you aren’t afraid to express yourself.

Discover your fearlessness by acknowledging those simple acts of bravery you do every day.

You’ll be deeply rewarded emotionally and will go forward into your everyday tasks with greater confidence. Essentially, by reinforcing courage, you lay the groundwork to get what you want and deserve from life!

You’ve got this! What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

Bikini Emergency? 5 Tips to Instantly Relieve Bloating

Bikini Emergency? 5 Tips to Instantly Relieve Bloating

bellybloat2So here I was, sitting in a condo on the beach on the fourth day of vacation, feeling like I might be able to compete with the whales in the ocean. You see, thanks to a couple of changes in my routines, here I was, so bloated my usually comfortable jeans were cutting into my stomach–and the kids were begging me to join them and head out to the beach.

Needless to say, I was not looking forward to donning anything resembling a swimsuit with that vacay bloat poofing out my tummy and making me look and feel 10 pounds heavier!

So what could I do? How could I instantly relieve bloating and get my stomach back on track? My jeans were feeling so tight they were cutting into my tummy. Admittedly, I had eaten a little differently than usual and I had consumed a few more alcoholic beverages–it was vacation, after all. But I wanted to reduce that bloat RIGHT NOW in order to feel more comfortable, both physically and mentally (who wants a bloated tummy in a bikini?).

Here are the best tips I’ve learned over the years to quickly and even instantly relieve bloating in your stomach.

Try these DIY remedies to instantly relieve bloating in your tummy and abdominal area!

  • Drink plenty of water–I know it might seem counter-intuitive, but when you feel bloated, drinking extra water can actually help reduce the bloat. You see, bloating is sometimes caused by dehydration. Your body thinks you won’t give it the water it needs, so it holds on to the water it’s got. Give it enough, and it’ll release the salt and toxins that are causing you to bloat.
  • Eat (or drink) your greens–In my case, since I was on vacation, I didn’t have all of my usual supplies to quickly reduce the bloat. But I did remember to bring along my It Works ‘The Greens,” a powdered drink that is 10 calories and contains  a full serving of a bunch of different superfoods. For whatever reason, it instantly (and I mean, within an hour) reduced my bloating so much that I actually lost about 2 inches around the waist, making my jeans comfortable around my tummy once again. (I love almost everything from It Works, to be fair–but I’m not kidding–it literally worked just like this).
  • Wrap it up–If you’ve got the time, a 45-minute body wrap can also do the trick. I tend to wear these under my clothes with a pair of Spanx if I’m just bumming around the house. You can lose inches in hours, and you see a bigger effect by the third day. I don’t know how much permanent change these things can make, but I know they definitely tighten my skin and make it appear more toned. I especially appreciate this in regard to the lower section of my tummy (thanks to three c-sections, it’s not beautiful, but these things help!) and on my breasts (they look 10 years younger when I wrap them–and that’s after nursing three babies!). On a sort of unrelated note, I also LOOOOVE the facials and skincare stuff!! They make my face look literally 10 years younger! No joke.
  • Take simethicone capsules–Gas X, Phazyme, Mylicon or literally any store brand will work. This is the same stuff that they give to newborns who have gas, so you know it’s fairly safe. I have had a ton of success with reducing bloat pretty quickly with these low-cost OTC gel capsules. They usually work within an hour or so, but you might need to take another dose within a few hours. I have bought the store brand for as cheap as $3 for 20 capsules–and it works just as well as any other brand for me.
  • Try a cleanse–I’m not going to advocate cleanses for everyone, because this can be dangerous for people with certain health concerns–so as with all other tips and advice on this site, you should always, always consult a medical professional before trying this at home. With that being said, I’m really loving the new My BFF formula from MTM Body (I was given a preview of the product as a networking partner). Stay tuned for a full review, but trust me when I tell you you’ll love this stuff! In the meantime, or to save some money, there’s always the very effective and reasonably priced Walgreens Colon Cleanse. It’s the generic form of a name brand I can’t remember right now, but it’s half the price and it’s totally worth it. Just be prepared to poop a lot! 🙂
  • Doctor’s advice for your body— Everyone’s body is different, and Depending on who you are and who you ask, there are hundreds of home remedies to instantly relieve bloating in your stomach. But whether you try one of Dr. Oz‘s many suggestions (among them, dandelion tea, water and magnesium) or you decide to go to your personal doctor to find the solution that is right for you, try asking your doctor or other healthcare practitioner if nothing else is working for you.

What are your best tips to instantly relieve bloating in your tummy and midsection? Share your experiences with your fellow bliss-seekers in the comments section, below!

Keep on keepin’ on – or not?

Keep on keepin’ on – or not?

Where do you go when you don’t feel like you’re going anywhere in your trip to being a healthier, smaller version of yourself? What happens to you at that moment in time where you’ve tried (what seems like) everything and nothing is working? Where does your mind and body take you when you’re stuck?

This is always a risky area for me. I would say for a solid eighty percent of my time I am on autopilot. To quote my pal Carolyn, “It’s just what we do now”, meaning going to the gym, eating properly, not binging, not freaking out about every little inconsistency or speed bump in the path, is our new “norm”. lather rinse repeatIt’s just what we do. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The other twenty percent of my time is split between the extremes.

Fifteen percent of that time is spent ‘dorphined up, feeling like I’m taking on the world and conquering it bit by bit. Nothing bothers me. Nothing could stand in my way. I have a great attitude and hold my head up high.

In steps that pesky last five percent of my time, which is where I’ve been feeling for the past week. That last five percent is the part that says “you cannot win this game no matter what you do”. I’m living on “screw it” street in my little village and it’s such a dodgy area.  There’s bums on the corners… big bums who haven’t seen a Stairmaster in years.  There are seedy people in the shadows just lurking about waiting for you to trip up so they can dart out and rummage through your bag, stealing your hidden snack. The street pharmacists are on the corners handing out your drug of choice, be it cheesecake, chips or chocolate. Or worse yet, a cocktail of all three.

So where do you go? What do you do? Who do you turn to?

My first line of defense, and I didn’t even realize it until I started writing today, is my husband, Marco. Today, these words actually left my face and entered his ears.

“I’ve been doing horrible with my food. I just feel like saying screw it all”.

Those words were actually audible. To another human besides myself. I really said that to him. That’s when I realized he’s always my first stop on the self-destruction train. I like to run my ideas of giving up past him first.

It’s actually laughable as I write it because of course I’m never going to stop but maybe I just need a break. A break from what?

I’d like to call my second line of defense to the stand – Carolyn. You’ll remember her from this post.

She’s who I turn to next. She’s going to read this, as I run most of my posts past her before publishing and she’ll have some brilliant encouraging words to say. Or a punch in the arm, you know, whatever she feels will work at the time. Never fail though, she’s walking the walk and talking the talk with me.

Keeping in mind that this is still only a mere five percent of my time, sometimes I realize my funk is a bit funkier than I like it to be and I pull out the big guns.

When I left Novarum, the center where I got help for my food issues, they had me write a list of things that just worked for me, mentally and physically. It seemed so silly at the time to write it all down, they were so fresh in my mind, but I did it. I tucked it away in a book and just keep it there.

That’s my “big guns”, a piece of paper with words of wisdom that I wrote myself.

“Following this routine makes me more calm about food choices.”

I no longer hide my eating or have that shame that was associated with hiding and eating.”

“If one of my goals ends up backfiring, that’s okay. This is all just a huge experiment to find that best fit for my life, which will change and evolve as I do.” 

That’s just a few of the items on that yellowing piece of paper that I use, third line of defense, to keep me centered.

It is so much more than words on paper though. It takes me back to the basics. Back to where I started winning this thing. Back to the really simple ideas of changing the way I thought about food, myself, myself with food, food with myself and all things related, which in the end, was everything.

I get back to the beginning of this chapter in my life and re-read it like a favorite book.

Then I keep on keeping on because that five percent, that little flash of time, has had its moment of glory and I know how to move on.

postit when u feel like quitting

 

My Spin on “It Takes a Village”

My Spin on “It Takes a Village”

It takes a village to raise a child.

It wasn’t until I became a parent that I fully understood, and came to love that saying. Just knowing “it takes a village” made me feel like there was somebody, and possibly even several somebodies, out there on my side, rooting for me. It made me feel not so alone and not quite so worried that I was screwing up my own little human.

As a parent you need to select your village wisely. Take one wrong piece of advice from the village idiot and you’ll be getting the parental stink-eye from a lot of other folks out there.

I don’t feel “it takes a village” is relative to just parent’s though. It’s important to have a village of support when you’re trying to live a healthier lifestyle and lose weight. I take my tribe selection seriously!

I carefully choose the people that I take advice from and who I let into my weight loss bubble. Funny my saying that since I blog about most of it publically, but that’s not what I really mean. When you talk openly about trying to lose weight or change your habits you get input, asked for or not, valued or not. People like to give advice and help. Mostly it’s with a pure heart and good intentions.

I will listen to a lot, from a variety of people, but I only actually take a few people’s advice to heart, adding them to my village. You know what I mean. We all have well intended friends and family who still think the cabbage soup diet is the way to go. Those people would be on the “smile and nod” list and only shown property on the outskirts of town. Whereas hearing what works from a friend who really understands the craziness that is my head, that advice gets filed in the “good stuff, remember that!” and lives nearby in the village of my mind.

Weeding out the village idiots from the village people () can be a tricky and sometimes uncomfortable job. It’s not like they walk around with “I give bad advice intentionally” on their foreheads and sometimes they’re people who you are close with, be it emotionally or in proximity.

I have had office mates who I’ve had to uncomfortably tell “I really appreciate your trying to help but I have a team of people I am working with and it really overwhelms me to receive so much advice. If you wouldn’t mind I’d like to just follow what I’m doing and not get any further input.”

Man, that conversation is a hard one to have. It’s not nice. It has potential to make them feel bad and then you feel bad and nobody wants to feel bad.

Putting yourself first is hard, but important. You and your village are truly vital to your success.

My mental neighborhood starts with the people at Novarum, a health center in the Netherlands. Although I graduated from their bi-weekly sessions over two years ago, I still consider them an integral part of my success thus far. I also know they are there, just a phone call away, should I feel myself sliding down a slippery slope into old habits.

boxing moms

Me and Carolyn prepared to spar

 

Down the road from Novarum lives my pal Carolyn. She just simply gets me. I have interaction with her almost daily and she understands my kind of crazy. And believe me, it’s a special kind of crazy. We all need that one friends that just gets it. On top of being my mental collaborator she’s my sparring partner and workout buddy.

 

 

Me and Hilary, my village grocer

 

My village grocer is Hilary. She’s studied food, is passionate about food and is vocal about food. She’s the delicate balance of information, as I need it and can handle it, and advice. What I love best about her though is that she is always respectful of my boundaries.

 

Cindy, one of my trainers & me – at the gun show

 

Living in their own quiet cul-de-sac are the trainers from my gym. They shout encouragement to me as I tear through my workout. We laugh together when they say “burpees” and I reply with “I hate you”. They intimidated the hell out of me when they first moved into the ‘hood but after giving them a chance I know they want me to succeed just as much as I want to be successful.

 

 

And the best part about my village is my own home. I have the biggest cheerleader kissing me hello and goodbye every day. My husband, Marco, is one of the most understanding, supportive people I’ve encountered throughout my life. He’s seen me struggle with every aspect of the health game, so he knows it’s difficult. He encourages me in a non-pushy way, which can be a delicate dance. He eats what I want to eat because he knows I’m trying to be healthier. He’s gotten on the exercise bandwagon with me when I didn’t have anybody to work out with and we enjoyed it together. He believes in me even when I don’t believe in myself. There is no better villager than that. Get one of those in your town as soon as you can.

Christmas party

Marco and me

 

What kind of neighbors make up your own mental village?

Magical, Mental, Endorphins

Magical, Mental, Endorphins

I distinctly remember what I felt like prior to getting help for some food issues and previous to working out regularly. For a while, as I mentioned in this post, I avoided being with people, even people I liked. It was a dark, dreary, terrible way to feel every single day.

Now post-workout I also try to avoid people but for a whole other reason.

My name is Sarah and I am an endorphin-aholic.

Let me preface this by letting you know I work out at my office. I am fortunate enough to have a gorgeous, fully equipped gym, complete with enthusiastic trainers and classes, in the lower level of my building. This has its perks. My fortune continues in having a boss that lets me workout during actual “on the clock” hours so I can avoid the gym’s busy periods. Did I mention I love my job and my boss?

I knew exercise was supposed to make you feel better, “they” said. But we all know how “they” can be. “They” have a lot of fickle opinions that change with the wind and the wind seems to whip in a new direction every two weeks.

They were right about endorphins though and I am here to be a witness!

If you’ve never been on an endorphin high let me tell you what you’re missing out on. Imagine taking the tingle of a first kiss and gently mixing it with the excitement of that big drop on a roller coaster and then add a twist – a generous twist – of that adrenaline rush that comes along with your ultimate song being played in a club and you know you’re about to cut a rug. Mix all of that up, add a shot of espresso and voila, that’s how good my post workout endorphins make me feel.

Oh, and they make me chatty (okay, chattier).  How unfortunate for the poor souls who innocently step into the elevator with me post exercise- all ‘dorphined up.

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Sarah and Carolyn enjoying their well deserved endorphins

In the elevator heading back to our desks, my workout buddy, Carolyn, and I have been known to high five one another for pushing so hard stating, “man you killed it today, you ran!”… and then we just continuing to high five every other passenger in the elevator, celebrating our victories. They had no choice. They must high five.

This is endorphins.

Wide eyed and unsure of what just happened, the innocents would step out on their floors and continue with their day. We smiled widely and waved farewell to them (only to later resolve to stop doing that to people, lest we lose our jobs).

Even on days when I didn’t feel like working out but made myself go, I would be awarded with my endorphins. When I can’t be my own cheerleader, it’s like they’re telling me “way to go Sarah, you did it and we’re proud of you.” They rush over me and they simply just make me feel good. They make me feel proud. They make me feel happy. They make me feel alive and strong.

If you’re on the verge of starting an exercise routine or are just entertaining the thought for somewhere down the road please, please just do it. If you can’t because you just aren’t there, mentally, trust in the endorphins to take care of some of your mental health. Take that one little step and get your endorphins running.  You will be so glad you did.

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