THE ARMOR OF HEALING
If you have been in a love relationship with a narcissist, you will likely find that you will need a period of healing and trauma recovery. The following is an excerpt from my most recent book, Will I Ever Be Free of You? How to Navigate a High-Conflict Divorce from a Narcissist and Heal Your Family.
Frank Sinatra is commonly credited with saying, "The best revenge is massive success."1 I agree with that sentiment. When you have been harmed by a relationship with a narcissist, the best revenge is to reclaim your sense of self and life. It is time to take the healing inside.
How deep is your hurt? It depends on a lot of things that are unique to you, such as your family background, how strong you were when you entered the relationship, how long the relationship was, and how bad it was. You have likely suffered damaged self-esteem and a lack of belief in yourself. Many adults I have treated who have had intimate connections with narcissists have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder caused by extreme verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse. Some have experienced sexual and physical abuse as well.
Some people in your life will not understand the pain or damage that you have suffered. The narcissist presents well to the outside world. If someone doesn't understand your reality, don't look to him or her for sympathy or advice. Listen instead to your gut. Honor your feelings. Work a recovery program so that you are able to move forward in a successful manner for your life and that of your children.
Some people say things like "Get over it already!" or "The past is the past." I hear this a lot from clients whose friends and family want them to forget it and move on. You are not going to stay a victim forever. Your ultimate goal is to move on, but you can't do that without first working at recovery. You cannot leave your emotional baggage unattended. If you don't process your feelings, they will weigh you down and encumber your new life.
Anthony, a client with great insights, told me, "I just got out of a horrible marriage and divorce with a woman who dragged me through the mud for years in terms of self-esteem, court battles, finance wars, custody issues . . . It really took a bite out of me. It feels like I have to be refurbished like a wrecked car. But my sisters and parents keep saying to me that I am living in the past and need to be strong and just get over it. It's not that easy."
Anthony is right. You need to address the trauma and the feelings you've experienced or they will continue to come up and haunt you in years and relationships to come. In the book, I give you a road map to healing in a five-step recovery program. A quick low-down to the five steps is listed below and details are found in the book:
Step One: Acceptance and Grief
Step Two: Psychological Separation
Step Three: Becoming your Authentic Self
Step Four: Dealing with your Ex in Recovery
Step Five: Ending the Legacy of Distorted Love