“I have a question for this community. So now that I’ve identified the narcissistic sociopath in my life (husband) and have even identified the relationship in my life that started this cycle of my choosing (mother), how do I identify myself in this scenario? What kind of person am I that has “lived” in this relationship for so long (30), what is my behaviors and how do I change them and discontinue making the same selection? How do I change this dependency to this kind of behavior that I have allowed to develop? I am taking full responsibility for the rest of my life.”
My response follows, but I would really like anyone out there who has some approaches to healing and words of wisdom to please share. Namaste!
You’re three steps ahead of most: 1) you’ve identified that you were in an abusive relationship; 2) you identified the perpetrator for what he is; and 3) you recognize you are accountable and must look within to change and transform your conditioned/habitual dependent thinking.
If you haven’t already done so, find a trusted counselor to help guide you through your self-discovery journey. This person, ideally, understands trauma as it relates to symptoms of women coming from domestic violence situations and who understands that “violence” means any type of control wielded over another in the form of physical, financial, emotional and/or spiritual abuse. You don’t want a counselor who will minimize your emotions because that will make your inner journey a journey of self-blame rather than self-discovery and acceptance. You blame yourself enough already, I suspect.
While in counseling, start doing something, anything, you have always been interested in doing. Learn to cook, bake, sew or kayak. Learning a new skill ignites our cognitive thinking side of our brain and allows us to get out of the emotional side long enough to start appreciating ourselves again. Set mini goals for yourself. Understand your triggers and ask your counselor how you can work through them to minimize the negative effects of those triggers. Some may be harder to work through than others but understanding the source empowers us to control them rather than having them control us.
Join a gym or dust off those workout DVDs you collected over the years. Or simply start walking. Anything to activate your endorphins, which will naturally make you feel good about yourself. Feeling your heart beating and reminding you that you are alive and that you matter. Physical activity isn’t just for losing weight and looking good on the outside. It provides invigorating benefits to our internal systems as well.
Think about stuff you consume that makes you feel miserable about yourself. Salty foods, too much caffeine, alcohol, sodas…you get the idea. Pay attention to the things you put inside your body and how they make you feel. Try eliminating those things that make you feel crappy and increase the consumption of those things that make you feel good. Keep a food journal.
Surround yourself with people who love you and believe in you and who won’t coddle you but who will call you out (in a gentle, caring and non-shaming way) and help you when you need help. You don’t want anyone’s pity but you deserve to be understood and for your feelings to be shared without judgment.
Most of all, be patient, hopeful and positive. Allow yourself to have setbacks. They happen. Don’t be rigid in your recovery journey. You may think something will work for you, later to discover it just doesn’t have the same helpful benefits the same activity had for someone else.
You’re not going to recognize yourself. It’s a frightening thing. Other people aren’t going to recognize you either. Some may even ask where the old you went, especially those who have leaned on you for support over the years while you ignored your own needs. Don’t feel guilty about that. Let them know you still care, empathize and have compassion for them but you are your first priority and your happiness is most important, because if you’re happy and satisfied with yourself and love yourself, there’s more love to share with others…real love, not the co-dependent care you felt obligated to give to everyone who reached out to you and left you drained and wondering when someone was going to help you.
Well, the time has come for you to help yourself. After all, you were always so good at helping others, right? You’re going to be a great personal coach for yourself.
I hope some of this was helpful.
(image source: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/305118943475896739/)