Emotional and verbal abuse leave us depleted, orphaned from who we really are. To move on, we need to care for ourselves physically, emotionally, creatively.
When we live a life determined by others, dancing around the needs and whims of a manipulator, our own talents, interests and gifts end up buried in the garbage the narcissist has thrown at us.
It’s messy, hard work, and totally worth it: here are three ways I cleaned up that grime and dirt and uncovered the person beneath it all.
Step 1 – Quarantine Yourself
For my own sanity, I had to stay away from the contagion of the toxic environment that my narcissist sibling reveled in.
Divorce whomever you need to in order to find peace of mind. Shared DNA is just an accident of birth, not a prison sentence.
Go No Contact (or very very minimal, the least amount possible) with the narcissist. I’ve posted about this before, but it’s paramount. Narcissists and manipulators are like an airborne disease that will contaminate everyone around them.
Give yourself time to mourn for the things you believed sincerely you would enjoy: reciprocity, love, a stable family. Grieve your hurts, disillusionment and the wasted time spent trying to mold a tangible relationship out of an illusion.
If you can’t go no contact right away, please know this: verbal abuse, in whatever form, is a lie. It has nothing to do with who you are as an individual; it’s all about the other person’s agenda and having others bend to their will. It’s not your fault – you’re not going crazy.
You must focus on your healing, and then do whatever you can to prepare yourself financially to be able to get away.
If you’re young and at home, don’t jump from the frying pan into the fire: someone who may seem to be the key to escape from your home probably won’t be. You’re still bruised and battered, emotionally and mentally. You have to get as healthy as possible before you can attract a healthy individual into your life.
Take time to get to know yourself and work on your recovery.
(After all, why did so many of our parents recreate the same scenarios of dysfunction when they left home and partnered with someone? Because they weren’t able to heal their inner wounds.)
To repeat the first point: if possible, go No Contact.
Step 2: Discover Your Inner Wounds
You’re searching for treasure. To get to it you have to excavate through layers of wounds and trauma to arrive at the authentic, joyful person you’re meant to be. Digging is hard work. It takes discipline; there is no other way around it. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Netflix – whatever it is, your favorite escape has to take 2nd or 14th place in your life as you heal.
You need privacy and time for yourself. If necessary, go to a library, park, church, shopping mall, even lock yourself in a bathroom stall if you have to.
Write a letter to yourself
Specifically, to your little child self. Perhaps you’ve already heard of this technique.
With your dominant hand write:
“Dear Little ____________ (your name): You were never allowed to have your own voice. I am here for you now. Is there anything you want to say?”
Then with your non-dominant hand, answer as Little You.
I wrote to Little Me with my right hand, then answered using my left hand, which was really difficult. It looks like a child’s writing, which seems to channel dormant memories that cause present-day triggers and deep-seated hurt.
The first time I tried it, it was like little five-year old me suddenly woke up after a lifetime of silence. When we’re little and no one is there for us, we bury ourselves down deep where it seems safe. Now as adults, we can uncover the hurt layer by layer and let ourselves speak for the first time.
I was taken aback at some of the things that bubbled to the surface. I don’t know how many tears I shed, but I made sure to write to my Little Me that I loved her and would always be there for her, and though I might not have all the answers, she could always come to me and tell me about her feelings with no judgment, only acceptance.
This is not for the faint of heart, but is absolutely worth it. Fast forward three years, and when I tried this again lately, “Little Me” was content, things were out in the open with nothing major to work through.
Before figuring out a remedy, you have to know what the cause is. This is one modality that helped me.
Step 3: Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT, or tapping)
Tapping techniques are easily found with a Google search. I followed a lot Brad Yates’ Youtube videos, as well as other online tapping scripts that helped calm my swirling, non-stop thoughts that could take over my mind as I tried to make sense of the senseless manipulations and tactics my ex-sibling used.
It may seem simplistic; meditation is also simplistic (though not easy), yet its physical and emotional benefits are well documented. In fact, EFT was recommended to me as an alternative/adjunct to meditation. It’s easier to focus while lightly touching meridian points (they correspond to acupressure points) as you:
- verbalize the problem
- describe your feelings about it, your hurt or helplessness
- repeat the second step until you uncover and validate all your emotions about the issue
- use affirmations and positive mantras to reset your emotional balance points.
Try these exercises. Give yourself little rewards as you walk your healing path. Take a bubble bath, play a game of squash, spend some time in nature, go for a bike ride, read an inspiring book, eat your favorite berries with cream. Do something just for you.
And don’t feel guilty about it!
That’s enough for now. I’ve used other techniques that I’ll explore in a future post.
What are some of the things you’ve done during your healing process?