When you are in it, you question your sanity daily. After you leave, you torture yourself with lingering self-blame and shame. The negative spiraling and ruminative thoughts with endless self-doubt become a habitual way of thinking. After a toxic relationship with an abusive narcissist, we can learn to reframe and hold space for a new way of regarding ourselves.
You may begin forgetting the details of the abuse and papering over the truth to minimize. You may begin to distort your memories. “It really was pretty good. He/she has good qualities. We had some great family times together. We have a lot of memories and common interests”.
This is why there is great difficulty untangling all the pieces and parts of the trauma. It becomes physically painful to face the full truth and integrate what we have justified and denied for so long.
Emotional toxins build up and bloat us and get reinforced; the same as physical toxins. This leads to distortion and a foggy way of seeing with a narrowed perception.
When we lack trust and confidence in ourselves and our decisions, and do not see and know who we are at our core anymore, we may begin to hold ourselves in our own dark prison. This can continue even after we are no longer entangled with the narcissistic abuser.
Actively using the tools of healing and recovery, can bring us back into right balance. We can bring clear seeing and discernment and discover the difference between our essential nature and the sabotaging limiting voices.
We can strengthen ourselves from the inside and stop the rumination, worry, and the perpetual state of anxiety and chronic stress in the body and in the mind.
The voice of the harsh self-critic and endless judgment we bring to ourselves can be recognized for what it is; a story that is not true.
When we find ourselves obsessively ruminating and thinking about the ex and distorting the truth, we can choose to take decisive action and begin a counter-argument with ourselves.
This is my example with a chart I use with individuals adapted from cognitive behavior therapy, therapeutic yoga, and mindfulness practices. Try it and let me know what, if any, insights you gain:
- The Event: I see a happy couple walking down the street.
- Deceptive Thinking/Limiting Beliefs: My mind begins to spin and layering on a story with deceptive thinking and limiting beliefs “I will always be alone. Why did I leave him/her. We had such good times together.”
- Habitual reactivity/consequences: feelings of sadness, anger, anxiety. I reach for my phone for a distraction and look up the ex’s social media feed further perpetuating the negative consequences. The cycle continues.
- Physical Sensations: tightening in the chest, rapid breathing (further reinforcing the cycle between the body and the mind)
- Reframe/Hold On A Second/My Pact to myself: This is the tool you can use to interrupt this unhealthy spinning. I am not alone. I have my friend____. I need to remind myself of the time that _______ locked me out of my own house and threw my clothes out a window. Now is a time to bring kindness and compassion to myself. (you can place a hand on your heart bringing some peace and calm to yourself in the moment as you breath more deeply)
- It is best to write all this down in a journal.
We can return to who we are at our core. We can re-envision. With determination and discernment, we can clear our own murky water.