Is Healing Within Reach?

journey to healingI have realized that after a narcissistic relationship is over and you think you’re fine, that sometimes the post traumatic stress doesn’t really surface until later. Especially when your entire way of life (friendships, work, ect) was destroyed by the narcissist. Especially when all your support systems are gone. When friends that you were able to keep  tell you to get over it already. Nobody quite understands what it’s like to have someone who you thought “loved” you turn around and try to destroy you. They don’t know what it’s like to be constantly watching over your shoulder because someone keeps stalking you long after the relationship is over. They don’t know what it’s like to have severe trust issues because you’re constantly watching for the “red flags” with new people and you’re even afraid to give anyone your phone number and massively afraid for anyone to know where you live. Because. What if they turn out to be another psycho? It’s sobering to realize that sometimes the worst times come long after the actual relationship has ended.

Hell, I’m not afraid of a broken heart, that’s the least of it. Life goes on after loss of love. But what makes survivors of narcissists/sociopaths afraid is of actual danger. Physical harm. Stalking. Encountering them or their violent friends out in public. Afraid of more narcissists, more psychopaths. Someone else who might put every ounce of their energy into trying to destroy you. That’s what I am afraid of.

You think you’re going along trying to regain your life and then you realize you’re being stalked and/or watched. As the months and months unfold, sometimes into years,  you still find accounts that have been hacked, you find photographs of you where they don’t belong, your belongings are tampered with…..to the point you have to call the police. You wonder if it will ever end. You finally see how you were set up from almost day one with the narcissist, how they actually planted the seeds (in other people’s minds) to paint you as the one who was sadistic and abusive and crazy. As the picture becomes clearer and clearer of what actually happened to you and you live daily with the repercussions of all of it……healing can seem far away…… especially when you think it’s finally over but every time you think that, something else surfaces.  It can feel like the never-ending nightmare.

It’s like a million times easier to get over a “normal” relationship that has gone bad.

It’s been several years for me. I never thought I would be at this point and still be so disabled by “what happened”. And “disabled” is not a term I use lightly or frivolously.   I am going back to therapy. I know that I have to reprogram my brain and I know that I need help doing it. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be “normal” again. I know for sure I will never be the same person I was before all of this.

Some methods that I have researched for releasing trauma include energy healing, Emotional Freedom technique and EDMR.  According to what I have read, those are the most effective techniques for releasing trauma. I would encourage you to research them for yourself. I also know I have to create a new “script” inside my head to actually form new neural pathways in my brain. Essentially, rewiring my own brain. Something tells me that I may need to write a script or a list of affirmations that are specific to what I have dealt with (and individual)  and that will counter-act the negative thoughts that I am so plagued with. I need to recite them all day long, over and over again, until the positive thoughts become second nature again. One thing is for sure, it’s going to take discipline. And I also know that discipline is hard to come by when you are filled with anxiety (and the physical issues that accompany it), fear and depression. But I’m also at a point where I know I have to reach deep inside and find that strength that I know is there and draw upon it. Nobody can do it for me. Only I can do it for myself. I have to seek out and find the good in humanity again. I have to cultivate loving relationships with new people in my life….and this can be very hard when every bit of your trust is gone.

It’s hard when that “one” person you thought loved you turned into a monster who wanted to annihilate you and with him he took the other 99% of the people who you thought cared about you. It can shatter your entire world-view. To this day, my brain still cannot process HOW this could happen. But it did.  And now I have to figure out how to get past it and go on and find a happy life again.

Even writing, such as this blog, is very therapeutic. I know it’s been 5 months since I wrote. That shows you the level of what I call my “paralyzation” (my seeming inability to do much of anything). And in the meantime, a few more people have fallen out of my life. Which definitely has felt like sticks being poked into open wounds. People who I thought cared about me. (Yeah, I misjudged again!!!)  But, you know what? It’s Ok. I have clear conscience knowing that I did my very best with everyone and I was the best friend I possibly could have been.

*****Their behavior is a reflection of who they are, not a reflection of who I am.*****  This is something we have to remember. I have come to realize that we do not need people who are users. It’s better to be alone and/or have very few friends……but REAL friends.

Hang in there, sisters. You’re not alone. This is a long road but I know it’s shaping me/us into women who are so extremely strong. And in the grand scheme of things, perhaps we are being prepared for something much greater than the mundane life that most people experience. Our experiences have shaped us to value what truly, truly matters and to count our blessings for the things that most people take for granted.

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Scream it From the Rooftops: I am WORTHY

you are worthy

We’re taught to be “good girls”, “do as your told”……..if you grew up in a dysfunctional home, then the message is deep……your not good enough, not worthy, not pretty, not smart……..nothing is ever enough.  Never, never enough. So you grow up striving to please everyone. You meet a man who echos back to you what you heard in your youth. You don’t ever even realize that you’re intelligent, capable or attractive. And you just continue to strive to keep everyone happy, to please everyone until some massive life event makes you wake up.

My first wake up was ending my many year marriage. I made the decision while pinned to the wall with a butcher knife over my head. I was terrified, beyond terrified, to be on my own. Even though I had run a successful business, that I hated, I was still terrified. I had never heard anyone say, “You can do it”. I struggled with an anxiety disorder and PTSD even then. And THEN, I got away from him. I realized, much to my total amazement, that I was capable. I was intelligent. I was even attractive. I never knew these things before in my life.

I escaped the marriage but deep inside my self worth hadn’t changed. The messages from my youth and also my (ex) husband stayed with me. I still believed I was not good enough. Not good enough to find a man who would treat me with respect. It’s not something we realize on the surface, it’s buried deep inside of us. If we were fully aware of and could fix it, I know we would.

So, the years passed and I had various relationships with men who cheated, lied, took my money, wouldn’t commit, and left me high and dry with two children to take care of. One guy even cleaned out the house. He took the TV, stereo, and (game) Play Station. I had paid for all of it on my credit cards. I later filed for bankruptcy, $50,000 dollars in debt and a single mom. (My kids were about 8 and 15 at the time.)  Fortunately, none of these men were verbally or physically abusive to me. Even though I  their actions were extremely abusive. (“I’m sorry, I really do love you” as they were taking all my stuff. What the fuck.)

Then I met a man who seemed to be really awesome. He was good to me. Until a family tragedy struck and his mother decided to hate me and wanted me out of her son’s life. Even though, again, I was doing pretty well, paying most of the bills and the dude couldn’t AFFORD to live on his own. He turned from a sweet, kind soul into a monster. I was excluded at all family functions, including holidays. It didn’t bother him that I was home alone on holidays as long as his mother was happy. I was told point blank that I would never be allowed to be around his family and that he would NEVER “stand up for me” to his mother. I sat at home on countless Sundays while his family attended church and then had “family and friend brunches”.  I left that relationship 50 pounds thinner, sick  and an emotional wreck. Was it abusive? Yes. Emotionally very much so.

What was I thinking through all of this?

THEN, I met the icing on the cake of life. (And that’s absolute sarcasm.) He was/is a narcissist/sociopath. Again, it started great, as all relationships do. But soon, very soon, I started to notice big things that were highly inappropriate. I let them go. Why? Well, because that program was still running in my head that said I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t smart enough. I couldn’t tell “normal” from “inappropriate”. Maybe I was just too stupid to know how “real people” act in the “real world”. Within 18 months, I was left with nothing that I started with. In the many years since my divorce, I lost everything that I had built over those years, thanks to this man. I lost all my friends, my professional standing/reputation in the community and  my spiritual standing within the community. I was ostracized.  Why? (And it took me several years and some therapy to understand this.) Because he was a sociopath/narcissist and when I started to tell folks that he was abusive, he went  on an all out campaign to discredit me and make me look insane and abusive (to protect his OWN reputation). And he succeeded.

I was/am  financially ruined. My career was/is extremely damaged to the point that I’m not sure it can bounce back in this same city. I have very bad PTSD. I cannot afford any more therapy and I do not do well on the medicines that they normally prescribe for it. When you combine all these factors, it makes a dismal picture. I’m not sure what is next, thanks to this monster who came into my life and made it his job to ruin it. Literally.

This morning I was reflecting on my past. Because I’m trying to figure out what to do for my future. I’m not sure how the bills are even going to get paid this month. It starts with the ex husband. He never paid child support in the amount that the judge ordered because I was too “people pleasing” and I let it slide. He never paid any child support at all during my eldest’s last year in high school and none at all during my youngest’s high school years and now his college years. Yet, I see that he and his new wife live in a high end house, they send their child to private school and they take frequent vacations to other countries. Why? Because I didn’t have enough self worth to stand up for myself and my children. I look at the man who took all my stuff and left me $50,000 in debt. I am sure that there was some kind of criminal charge I could have filed against him too. He had no right to remove items from my home that I had paid for. But, again, I didn’t pursue it. . I look at the emotionally abusive man that came after all that and I realize I should have walked away as soon as he chose to exile me from his life. Instead I stayed and “tried to make it work” and almost became very ill myself from the stress. And THEN of course, came the narcissist/sociopath. I realize that this man was so smart and so clever that there was nothing I could have done except for ONE THING and that would have been to walk away INSTANTLY as soon as I saw my boundaries were being violated. He may have still went on a campaign to destroy me, I guess we will never know. But I’m quite sure that a lot of the damage would have been avoided if I had left him during month one or two rather than month 18.

Finally, I know who I am. I know what I deserve. I know that I am worthy of the best. I know that I deserve respect. I know that I am beautiful. I know that I deserve to be treated with kindness. I know that I deserve people who are honest and have integrity. I finally know now what I do not want. I know what I will not stand for. I know what the red flags are and I’m healthy enough to see them and RUN away when they present themselves. I no longer care if I do not “please” other people by continuing to be their doormat.Frankly, I don’t care who “likes” me or not.  This lesson was learned with much expense and sacrifice. I sit here, several years after the fact of the last Prince Harming and I STILL have not been able to rebuild my life. It’s been a very very high price to have to pay.

Many women who are in abusive relationships have the same issues that I did. They do not feel “good enough” or worthy. They grew up without affirmation that they were enough in every way: smart enough, strong enough, capable enough, pretty enough, good enough. Then when they met men who echoed the same things, they were used to it. They thought, that’s just the way it is. I must be “nice”. I mustn’t  rock the boat. I have to settle for anything I can get, since I’m not good enough to attract someone better.  I must keep all people happy. At the expense of my own soul and life with damage that extended even to the quality of life that my children lived. (They are adults now, but we’re still struggling with college expenses. With no help from “daddy”.)

No. No more. I am still alive to be able to tell you this: YOU ARE ENOUGH. YOU ARE ENOUGH IN EVERY POSSIBLE WAY. PLEASE DO NOT LET A MAN OR ANYONE ELSE TELL YOU OTHERWISE. YOU DO NOT OWE THE WORLD SACRIFICES. YOU DESERVE TO BE TREATED WITH RESPECT. YOU (AND YOUR CHILDREN) DESERVE TO HAVE WHAT IS RIGHTFULLY YOURS. RUN, don’t walk, AWAY FROM ANYONE WHO DOES NOT TREAT YOU WITH THE DIGNITY AND RESPECT THAT IS RIGHTFULLY YOURS.

I wish that I could teach this lesson to every young girl and young woman before they get to the place where they will allow a man to do it to them. I wish I could be the nurturing mother to these girls who never will hear these messages in their homes. I wish I knew at age 13 what I know now. But here’s the good news, the one ray of light, I will never, ever again repeat the same mistakes in choosing romantic partners and I hope you won’t either, no matter how much you think you “love” them. “Love” does not diminish or dismiss or disrespect you in any way at all.

Please share widely, especially if you know someone who may need to hear this message.

I love you~

Olivia Rose  https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Journey-of-Olivia-Rose/1632375906981319?ref=hl

If you find that my work is helpful and you would like to make a donation, you can send one via Pay Pal to: Olivia.Rose2015@yahoo.com.  Thank you. You can also contact me at this email or connect with me on Facebook.

Even the Clouds Cry

cyring clouds

This is for all of you who wonder how long it takes to recover after a relationship with a sociopath/narcissist. I suppose it varies depending on the extent of the damage. Not only was I played, manipulated, set up, pitted against other people but also ostracized from the entire community I belonged to. It’s been a couple years and nothing has changed. I will never go back again after people have shown their true colors and made me  the target.

I struggled at first with the whole “I thought he loved me” thing and “how could he do this?” . I didn’t really struggle so much with the “I miss him” thing because while I guess I did miss some of the good times I definitely did not miss the bad times. (I accidentally just typed “mad” times That would fit too.) I think I had fallen out of love with him before the relationship actually officially ended and I was relieved not to have to be around him anymore and listen to him scream and curse at me.

I have struggled horrendously with the isolation, the ostracization. I have been so lonely at times.  I have struggled with the PTSD and depression and anxiety. I have struggled with the lack of work that was the direct result of being slandered and ostracized. (I was/am in a profession where your character REALLY matters.)

I have lost the ability to handle things that “normal” people can handle. I tend to go into a post traumatic stress or panic attack over the smallest things. In trying to figure out another “career” I’ve pondered if I could even work in a fast food joint. I don’t think I could. I can no longer adjust to any kind of pressure at all. Joe Shmoe would  order and then trying to fill his order for a Big Mac in a timely fashion probably would set off a panic. Yes, it’s that bad.

I’m sharing so other women who are going through this or have been through it will know they’re not alone.

I’m afraid to stay living here. I’m afraid to move away. I’m afraid I will be alone forever. I’m afraid of trying a new relationship (Really? What the hell?) . Most days, I am paralyzed by lethargy and the only things I can do are see clients (because it’s barely keeping the roof over my head) and take care of my cats (because they can’t feed themselves or change the litter box). Other than that, doing the dishes is a daunting task. Clearing the clutter is nearly impossible. It’s gotten to a sorry state. I’m sure I should be in therapy, but frankly, I cannot afford it. Some might say I should be on an antidepressant but I know they don’t work with my body and I get sick from them. So I rely on anti anxiety medication, blood pressure meds (for when the panic hits) and alcohol. Listening to myself as I write, I know I should get into a support group or look into what the local battered woman’s shelter can offer in the way of therapy. (That’s where I went initially) I sound like a mess. But I’m talking about bad days. Some days are good. And lately, the good days are more than the really bad days.

I’ve written on the good days and I’ve written on the bad days. Today is a bad day. I recently got a tattoo in honor of my new found strength but I’m not feeling it at all today. One of the reasons being that my kitty is getting ready to pass over. I adopted her 3 1/2 months ago, knowing she was elderly, severely neglected and sick. (And people who did this to her are assholes, which is why I seem to prefer felines to people these days.) I told myself it would be OK, that I would give her a good quality of life for her last days. And I did. But now that she’s getting ready to cross over……….there is immense pain coming out of me (thankfully she is not in pain). .It has me wondering if all the pain of the past several years is coming out as well. The fear comes along with it. All the fears. The ones I mentioned already. The fears of how I will pay rent this month. The fear of more loss and abandonment. The fear that maybe I’m just losing my mind and may never be happy again. The fear of remaining paralyzed forever in this mental state.

I tell myself it will be OK. And I know eventually that it will. Happiness will find me once again. And as this sweet little soul returns to the Creator/God/Goddess/Kitty Heaven, I know she will be just fine. I know this is just a bad day. I know that better days will come. I try not to cry too much as it swells up my face and closes down my sinuses and I lose all control. Like a damn that finally breaks.

This is the damage that having been with a narcissist/sociopath does. It’s real. It takes time to heal. Our scars make the bad days even harder to handle, no matter how capable we may seem on the outside. I want to believe that one day life will be “normal” again. That simple things won’t set off bouts of panic and post traumatic stress. Losing a beloved pet is painful for everyone but for someone who has already been traumatized, has very little support systems it can be a major challenge.

Sometimes I ask myself if it really does all have to do with being in a sociopathic relationship. (Because they’ve so conditioned us to think that WE are the ones at fault and WE are the ones who are crazy.)  And the answer is a resounding YES. I did not emerge the same person I was when I went in. Granted, in many ways, I am stronger but on the other hand there is an array of things about me that weren’t there before I met Mr. Douche Bag. I was in a very long term marriage that was abusive and I emerged with a little post traumatic stress but not nearly the level I have now after being with a narcissist sociopath. I would never, ever minimize domestic violence, it is horrendous but there is a difference between abuse and abuse PLUS having your entire way of life destroyed. It’s a double whammy for sure.

So, sometimes it’s one day at a time. One hour at a time. One minute at a time. And sometimes one second at a time. Stay in the moment. As a friend said to me, sometimes all you can do is hang on and tell yourself you’ll worry about it tomorrow. And remember that sometimes even the clouds cry but eventually the sun comes out again.

Blessings great and small,

Olivia Rose

The Fear and Courage of Moving Forward

courage

Healing from a relationship with a narcissist/sociopath takes a very long time. If anyone had ever suggested that I would still be having repercussions from after this long, I would have never believed them. The PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) is still very much there, even after having therapy. It’s something that I am not sure I will ever be able to “turn off”. Perhaps it serves as a useful tool now to protect me, I don’t know, but I do know I’d feel happier without the nearly constant low grade anxiety (and sometimes full blown panic attacks). It can make it very hard to things that other people find ordinary. Being around new people, attending new places can be especially difficult until you learn to trust them. I don’t know about anyone else, but I find that trusting anyone new is difficult and takes a long time…….because as most of us have seen, you can know someone for years and still have them turn against you. Or believe that someone loves you and then have them try to destroy you.

Building a new life can also seem next to impossible. I don’t say these things to discourage you, but to show you that you are not alone in what you are feeling. People will tell you to go out and “make new friends” after you’ve lost all the existing ones. It takes courage and persistence. Depending on what stage of life you’re in, it can be difficult since many people are busy with being partnered and raising children. Also, dating is a huge obstacle to overcome as you learn to trust again and also deal with the triggers. Someone that I could trust told me yesterday that I probably have Complex PTSD, which is a PTSD that has originated from multiple sources of trauma. I have to read more about it, but it sounds likely. Especially if you’ve had multiple relationships with disordered individuals and the trauma in each relationship was slightly (or majorly) different. And when you add to this the “normal” stresses of every day living, it can be overwhelming.

Just last night, someone was texting me long into the night, someone I’ve never met with but felt comfortable enough to share my phone number with. I repeatedly told him I needed to sleep, but he kept texting. I could have turned off the phone but then children or family members wouldn’t have been able to reach me. This morning I blocked the number, since, if you can’t respect that I need sleep and you need to stop texting me, then you’re not going to respect much else. I don’t know if the blocking stops texts or just calls. Then the PTSD kicks in and I start to worry about what kind of “retaliation” he might have because I’ve blocked him. But, I rationalize, he has no idea where I live. So today I feel tired and irritable on a day when I have so much work to do. This is the thought process that you acquire after a relationship with a narcissist/sociopath. It gets easier just to be alone and stay alone (or so it seems). Going out on any kind of a limb, even giving your phone number out, can totally freak you out, especially when you find that there are so many people out there who are just plain inconsiderate and rude (they don’t even have to be a narcissist or sociopath!).

It is such a process and I know we have to keep moving forward. We have to keep focusing on the people and pets and things that bring us joy. We have to be willing to try to trust again and breathe through the angst. We have to be willing to let people get close to us. Little by little maybe we can be able to share bits of our soul again. I know that just feeling like I’ve said “too much” is enough to trigger huge anxiety. I have found lots of prayer to be helpful. Working with your Higher Power (by whatever name you call it) can be immensely calming. Your Higher Power always has your back and if you ask your angels to be with you, they will be, protecting you and helping you to move forward. Call upon your faith, whatever that may mean to you.

I have a big project coming up that is stretching me to the limits of my comfort zone. It’s something an ordinary person wouldn’t have an issue with. I know that the potential is there to open new doors for my career as well as forming new friendships. I have to “feel the fear and do it anyway”. I have to trust. I have to trust my own intuition that this is a good thing for me and I have to trust the other people involved. I have to dive in. To let this opportunity pass me by because of fear would not be a good thing. And, yet, it is so very hard.

While obviously, right now, I don’t have any great words of wisdom about moving forward. And the jerks still show up, like the one last night, who refused to stop texting me when I asked him to. But I write so that others may know they’re not alone in what they’re feeling and experiencing. People do not understand what it’s like to be in (or in the aftermath) of a relationship with a narcissist/sociopath. They don’t want to hear about it anymore and want us to get over it already and move on. What they don’t get is that we desperately want the same thing, but it just isn’t that easy for us. I have found that just the simple every day things become overwhelming to me, living in the manner that I used to live just isn’t possible right now. Everything and everyone becomes a possible threat. It really sucks. The anxiety and PTSD can be super intense.

So, one day at a time. Sometimes one breath at a time. Just one foot in front of the other at a time. Inch by inch, ever so slowly, moving forward. Reach deep inside and find the courage to try some new things that stretch your boundaries. Little by little you’ll find you’re making progress. It’s very hard but I understand. And you’re never alone with this. Never, ever alone. There are countless other survivors of narcissists and sociopaths out there. Feel the fear, breathe and do it anyway. Trust your Higher Power that really amazing good things are on the way.

With endless love and courage,

Olivia

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