The wake-up call. The jarring bolt that jostles us momentarily from the fog, the thick fog that is keeping us asleep in a haze of denial and delusion.
These wake-up calls come in all shapes and sizes. A traumatic divorce, death of a parent, illness, job loss, financial ruin, the dull boredom, the endless procrastination, the listlessness of going through the motions that has started to permeate every corner of our lives.
Many times we deny and push down the wake- up call, the still voice inside.
The wake-up call that spoke to me came in the form of a comment from a close family member. With that comment, came the rushing realization that my life had completely unraveled and I didn’t know who I was anymore. What happened to me?
After 18 years of attempting to hide a completely dysfunctional abusive marriage something inside me wanted to survive and have a life. The journey involving some tough inner work began. It is possible to finally wake up.
The manipulations, lies, control, and emotional crazy-making of a narcissistic abuser create such confusion and blame-shifting of responsibility that the haze and fog of denial is a perpetual state for the victim.
We lose touch with Who We Really Are. There is so much layering over with so much confusion, despair, and betrayal that the inner compass which defines our individual needs, wants, and responsibilities is completely off. We can learn to reset our compass. After ignoring our voice, we can become conscious and awake again.
It is reconciling this in ourselves. The brainwashing and the toxic thick fog has blinded us from protecting ourselves. When we gain some distance from the narcissistic abuser, we realize that we have taken part in something that is very difficult to describe.
The reality is if our daughter, son, or best friend was detailing our situations to us as their own- we would have been telling them to get out, to run, and to protect themselves. Yet, we did not bring this care and compassion to ourselves.
When the fog begins to lift, the hysteria fades, and folks stop checking in on us on a daily basis, the hard work continues. The hard work of lifting the fog requires change. Difficult, honest conversations that are focused on growth and transformation. Not on excuses. Not on defensiveness. Not on avoidance, hiding and/or denying what is true. Not on an unending pity party (I have been there – I know). There is another way to live. It is up to us to slowly make our way down a different path. It can be done. It is never too late.
How do we begin to notice and become aware when we are being pulled back into this trance-like state of being? How do we work to raise our awareness above that line of unconscious sabotage?
Consider the body, the mind, and the impact of our daily choices.
Here are some clear and more obvious red flags:
- Reaching for that candy bar, that donut, or that third glass of wine to numb our uncomfortable feelings.
- Our bodies are tense or numb.
- Grasping for sensory overload. Think constant gaming, social media usage, spending, constant talking, distractions without clear focus or intention.
- Feeling stuck.
- Body feels dull, listless, lacking energy and vitality.
- Wishing, hoping, wanting, fantasy without planful action.
- Excessive worry, overwhelming anxiety, constant state of regret and rumination.
- Stalling life.
- planning and non-stop doing that is not aligned with our clear intention or goal.
- Reactivity without pausing to frame a thoughtful response.
- If only I had_______ fill in the blank: waiting for an imagined point in time: this job, that job, child, partner, “desired” weight, possessions, this home, furniture, someone to protect me, someone to keep me safe, etc.
- Looking for the approval of others at the expense of our integrity. Going along to get along.
- Fear that controls us and keeps us stuck. What will others think? What is wrong with me? What did I do to deserve this? I will be alone forever. I can’t believe this is my life. I always thought my life would be like _______. I don’t belong.
Can we bring a quality of kindness and compassion towards ourselves? Can we bring the slightest bit of awareness to our thought patterns and habits?
Can we accept without apathetic resignation but with a conscious awareness all the heartache, trauma, and diminished expectations AND take skillful action to move ourselves forward into our new lives?
Can we bring the slightest bit of kindness and heartfulness towards ourselves?
All of this is available to us. One small step at a time. It takes courage to step out of the fog. It takes strength to drop our old patterns and resolve to heal and continue the hard work of transformation.