“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
The Brick Wall in Narcissistic Abuse and Toxic Relationships
If you ask me, being in a relationship 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. Or, start your narcissistic abuse recovery right now.
For now, let’s talk about recovery from narcissistic abuse.
How do you find hope when you’re dealing with narcissistic abuse?
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.
Narcissistic abuse makes you forget who you are.
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.
Life with a narcissist is life in the dark.
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 can lead to a very toxic state for our souls and even our bodies. But we can change our minds, and this can change our lives. Start now by trying 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.
Resources to Help with Gaslighting in Narcissistic Abuse
If you feel you need additional help and support in your narcissistic abuse recovery, look for a trauma-informed professional who is trained in helping people who are dealing with overcoming narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships. Depending on your particular situation, you might benefit from Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching, or you might do better with a therapist. You have to decide what to do from here – if you’re not sure, start with my free Narcissistic Abuse Recovery quiz. With your results will come recommended resources for your situation. It’s totally free.
More Help for Dealing with Gaslighting in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
Yesterday, we discussed the eternal internal struggle so many of us deal with every day–do we make our own choices and create our own happiness, or do we let the judgments and opinions of other people (and even society) dictate our major life decisions?
So often, we’re so afraid of what might happen if we don’t bend to the will of others that we never feel safe in making our own choices. What will they think of us? What will they say? Will they think we’ve all turned into huge jerks?!?
Thirty-seven year old Kate, for example, says that her father has always dictated her life choices. He pressured her to attend his alma mater and to follow in his footsteps in her choice of career. He bought her a home next door to his own for her college graduation gift, got her a job at his firm, and steered her toward a specific man when he thought it was time for her to get married. He has essentially made (or manipulated her into making) every major life decision for her–and she is angry.
Let’s put this in perspective, shall we?
Kate, a 37 year old woman who is capable of taking care of herself financially and physically, feels that if she doesn’t do what her father thinks she should, she will be abandoned by him, physically and emotionally. Kate admits that she fears that he father won’t love her any more if she doesn’t do what he says is right–and that deep down, she believes that she is obligated to play by his rules because she would be Alone In the World without his support.
Do you recognize Kate?
Kate seems to have a problem that many people have–she’s a people pleaser. She has learned to base her own self-acceptance on the acceptance of other people in her life. Jay Earley, Phd says that being a people pleaser is a learned behavior, usually starting early in childhood.
“Often, parents will simply tell kids what to do and never encourage them to assert themselves,” Earley says. “When the kids obey, the parents give them conditional love.”
Time to Make a Choice
Here’s the bottom line–if you want to be happy, you must look inside of yourself to find out what you truly desire. And then, you must go after it–regardless of who it’s going to piss off.
Easier said than done, I know…but what’s the alternative? Living a life that’s been designed and approved by someone other than you. Pick your poison, folks.
Be happy and follow your heart, or do whatever someone else says you should do–and deal with the consequences. If you choose to be happy and to make your own choices, I applaud you (not that you need my approval or anyone else’s)–and here are a few tips to help you get started.
Get Some Perspective
Honestly, what is the worst thing that will happen if you make a choice that someone else disagrees with? In most cases, there may be a brief period of discomfort in the relationship with that person before he or she accepts your decision. Of course, there are some people who would actually cut you out of their lives for such an infraction–but those are the people who love or like you only conditionally. (“If you do what I think you should, then I’ll love you” kind of people.)
Do you really want people like that having so much control in your life? Evaluate the relationship. Is it toxic?
Believe What You’re Saying (and Doing)
One of the biggest reasons people feel comfortable in telling you what to do with your life is that you accept (and expect) that they will. That causes you to doubt your own inner voice–you know, the one that tells you what you need to be happy.
Next time you make an unpopular choice in your life, do so with confidence, and when or if you choose to share your decision with someone who criticizes it, be prepared to smile and say something like, “I understand and appreciate your concern, but I’ve thought this through and have chosen ____________ carefully.” And then leave it at that.
When you acknowledge and are grateful for the fact that the person cares enough to tell you his or her opinion, he or she might feel validated and accept your choice a little more gracefully. Remember: you’re not asking for permission or approval. You’re stating a fact–this is a choice that you have made. End of discussion.
Take a Cue from Earl
If you’ve ever seen the TV show, My Name is Earl, then you’ll know what I mean. At first glance, Earl looks like a former convict who lives in a cheap motel and shares a bed with his brother. But if you take a second look, you’ll notice something special about him. He observes the people and situations around him, but he never judges or belittles them. He doesn’t react negatively–he just observes.
Remember that like attracts like–so if you focus on judging or disapproving of people and situations in your own life, you’re likely to find that people judge or disapprove of you and your situation. Focus instead on accepting other people around you, and you’ll find yourself more accepted by others.
Speaking of accepting people, how about extending the same courtesy to yourself? If you’re secretly judging and disapproving of your own choices, you need to figure out why. Is it because you’re doing something that you believe is wrong? If so, you need to reevaluate your motivations and figure out why.
Is it because someone else thinks what you’re doing is wrong, even though you’re happy doing that? If so, it’s time to stand up and be who you are–and to be happy about it. People who love you will be happy that you’re happy.
What do you think?