It has been one year since I was diagnosed with complex PTSD and anxiety disorder.
I am still learning to manage my triggers. I am still finding out new things about myself I never knew. and I'm still learning to manage the anxiety. But it is a process. And I'm getting better... Slowly.
(I have been blessed with a tremendous support system. And for that I will be eternally grateful.)
This isn't uncommon for DV survivors. Statistically speaking, it is my understanding that it is nearly impossible for anyone who crosses paths with a person with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) to escape unscathed. Especially when that person is their abuser and they're involved for a lengthy period of time -- not counting the numerous times they attempt to leave.
In my case, the damage was severe.
For the longest time I didn't understand what was wrong with me. The nightmares. The flashbacks. The anxiety. The general dis-ease. Something was NOT RIGHT. And when I finally left it got 10x worse. Until he found new supply.
While in the midst of the storm, Pavlov's Dogs had nothing on me.
A single txt or call and I was right there to answer for fear of what the repercussions would be if I didn't. I lived in fear. Fear of what he would say. Fear of what he would do. Fear of what he would tell others. He WAS my boogeyman.
Balance that with the tidbits of approval I would get for behaving. The simple kiss. The 'thank you' for the kind things I still found myself doing for a person who clearly didn't care whether I was there or not. I thought I could change him. I thought I could make it all better. After all, he "loved" me.
Unfortunately, I was a pawn in a demented game. I was his recreation. But those little acts of kindness were all I needed to feel validated... that what I was doing mattered.
Come to find out, he had many people convinced I was the problem. And they believed him for a while, That's the Narc's game. But it wouldn't last long. Things fall apart quite easily when they're held together with lies.
How It All Began...
In the beginning, he was all I thought I wanted. In actuality, he mimicked all he thought I wanted. He played the part well and certainly deserves an Oscar for that performance. It won me over.
Then the wheels began to fall off... lug nut by lug nut... screw by screw... wheel by wheel...
It was not unusual to receive 50+ txt messages and MULTIPLE phone calls throughout the day to check to see what I was doing -- and that was on a GOOD day. Sadly, that became my norm. Bad days, Lord help me. At one point, I received 60+ phone calls and hundreds of txt messages in a single day... Calling me every name in the unholy Book of Profanity... Would be nothing to get a "Fuck You" followed a few hours later by "I'm sorry, Baby I'm just having a bad day. I didn't mean to take it out on you, please forgive me." Then a few hours later when I didn't respond to a txt quickly enough it was another "Fuck You... Answer your goddamn phone!"... I'd scramble to call and beg forgiveness only to get a barrage of how I didn't care, I was a worthless piece of shit. And this tirade was all my fault. If I would just do what I was supposed to he wouldn't have to act like this. Blah Blah Blah....
That was when I was attempting to leave the first time. I tried to act as though life was OK. Once again, I would adamantly say, "I've got this." Clearly, I didn't.
Then the Honeymoon phase would hit and the cycle would start again.
For whatever reason, I still desperately wanted to believe he did love me and if I could just do what was expected he wouldn't lash out. Oh, how silly I was. Actually, the term Dumbass comes to mind.
He successfully isolated me from friends and family. Working was a chore -- juggling working with being on-call to answer any txt or call that came through. He had me convinced that was how it was when you were in a relationship. He was to be the center of my world, and I likewise his. What he failed to mention were all the other relationships he had on the side. The dealings under the table. The illicit activities that he knew I wouldn't approve of, but was none the wiser b/c he was a Master manipulator that kept all interested parties in separate circles. Little did he realize, I had caught on to his game. I was just unsure how to handle it b/c I knew what would happen if I dared to question.
What he didn't count on was my growing strong enough to blow all those separate circles to bits.
It was then the mask began to slip. And once I glimpsed the void beneath I grabbed hold and tore it from his mocking face. I knew it was all an illusion. It was all lies. Talk about pissed. Talk about feeling foolish.
When I would question him about all the "rumors" I was hearing, everyone was LYING. Everyone was out to get him. I should give him the "benefit of the doubt." After all, I should trust him. Period. The worst thing you can do to a man who is trying to better himself is remind him of his past, he would say. That is all fine and good if he is making honest attempts to become a better person, but when those mistakes keep repeating they become a Choices. To hear him tell it, Everyone was out to get him. Including me, for believing them.
One thing those who are unfamiliar with DV need to understand is DV does NOT happen overnight.
It is methodical. It starts with jabs to make you question the little things... your looks, your abilities, your talents, your relationships. And it escalates from there. But when you are in the midst, you don't see it as such. You think, well this person cares. He's just trying to help me better myself. He is pointing out what I should fix to become the best version of me. WRONG. It is designed to make you the best version of you that the abuser can CONTROL.
By the time I realized what a world of shit I was in, my self-confidence and self-love were nearly nonexistent. Looking back, I still want to kick my own ass for ever believing.
It wasn't until the physical assaults began that I knew I had clearly dropped This. I needed help.
As I clutched the rope extended to me by a beloved friend, the ensuing months were a roller coaster of self-doubt tempered with glimpses of normalcy and realizations about what I needed to do to get out to survive. I needed to distance myself. I needed to risk the danger that may be inevitable. But anywhere was better than where I was.
My abuser made me own everything I "DID." I will be the first to admit I quickly came to his defense. Had I not spoken up, he wouldn't have hurt me. Had I held up for him, he wouldn't have hurt me. Had I done my JOB, he wouldn't have cheated on me. Had I upheld his lies and had his back he wouldn't have lashed out so violently.
How I found my Path...
I was baptized Methodist when I was young. It was at the request of my Dad who passed away shortly after my baptism. It was the one thing he wanted to see before he passed. But I always stumbled with the excuses and dismissive attitudes that, "The devil made me do it..." or "We are imperfect creatures who were born into a world of sin..." I was looking for personal accountability. And I simply didn't find it there. That doesn't mean I don't respect that faith, I do. But it simply isn't a fit for me. I don't feel comfortable there.
As I clawed my way from the depths of this hell I'd called home for so long, I knew there had to be something more.
It was at this point that I found Buddhism.
When I entered therapy and began to delve into the depths of my situation -- my therapist clearly called it abuse, I felt like I'd been hit by a VERY fast-moving heavy thing that didn't bother to stop and even had the gall to back up and run over me a second and third time before speeding off. So if any of you happen to get the license plate of that son-of-a-bitch lemme know, k? I want to buy him a beer.
My therapist made me see the Truth. I realized that it wasn't me. I didn't deserve to be demeaned. I didn't deserve to be humiliated in public. I didn't deserve to be called names. I didn't deserve to be struck. I didn't deserve to be raped. I didn't deserve to be throttled.
I have a choice. I have a voice. And I have a right to be treated as a human being. And above All, I have the power to change my situation.
I'm not ready for the monastic life, but I am open about my faith now... to a degree.
If there is one thing that my studies have taught me thus far is that we are ALL responsible for our actions. There is no, "Oh, the devil made me do it..." or "Oh, I was born imperfect..." Yes, you were. HOWEVER, that does NOT give you the right to demean, abuse or harm another living creature. PERIOD. And saying one Hail Mary or Father Forgive Me and then going back to being an abusive asshole doesn't cut it. Sorry.
For those who are in the midst of the storm or trying to escape the abyss PLEASE HEAR ME. This is NOT your fault!!! You did NOTHING to deserve to be ABUSED.
It has taken many a late night... Many a long afternoon of meditating and pondering my situation. And, yes, though I am out, there is not a day that goes by that he doesn't cross my mind. And that is not pining over what was lost. It is praying and sending good vibes his way that he may one day find peace. That he may not harm another living soul... EVER.
I am still learning, but I firmly believe Happiness comes from within. And meditation has worked wonders for me to find that calm grounding that is essential to really get to know the inner self we all try so desperately to avoid. It can be downright painful when you take a good look and spend some quality time with those parts of you that are anything but pixie dust, sunshine and lollipops. It fucking hurts sometimes. But we have to learn to sit with that pain. Get to know it. And in doing so we learn way more about ourselves than we ever imagined. Believe me. It's true. But on the flipside, you will be better for it in the end.
And learning to ground and stay calm and in the moment has helped me beyond words when it comes to managing my anxiety. It calms the 'what ifs' and worry about the future should I ever cross paths with my abuser again. Can't say I have my shit together, but I am fairly confident I am a helluva lot stronger than he remembers or could ever give me credit to be. And for that I am blessed and thankful.
For the first time in many years, I can say, "I've got This" and it's not uttered in arrogance, but from a place of calm abiding and faith that I've nothing to fear.
I do hold him completely accountable for what he did to me. But I also firmly believe that the actions, words and thoughts we put out come back to us in one form or another. I know that wherever he is, he has plenty of time to think and reflect over what happened. I know that somewhere deep down he MIGHT be sorry for the hell he put me through. But I also realize it is on him to make amends with himself and do differently in his actions and words to counteract the bad shit he put out in the Universe.
For my part, I have to forgive. I have to be able to move forward without the albatross of his abuse hanging about my neck. And I am content with that.
Thankfully, my friends and family are aware of where I am right now in my recovery. Yeah, I have quirks. Yeah, I have to sit facing the door when I'm in public. I have to know where all exits are at all times. Yeah, I have an exaggerated startle response. Yeah, I still have nightmares. Yeah, I still space out every now and again and may have a panic attack or two or three or four...
But you know what? I am HEALING. I am MOVING FORWARD. And whatever I can do to help others I will do my damnedest to do so. Sporting my cracked Disney Glasses and all.
If I can help another to find the light and love I've been blessed to find I will.
Just b/c someone is toxic to you does NOT mean you must hate them or wish them ill. In fact, the absolute BEST thing you can do, that I've found, is to forgive them, show them compassion (from a distance) and send them love and positive vibes.
They have their own battles cut out for them. Being negative only detracts from your peace of mind.
Just please reach out for help if you need it. Be safe. Have a plan. And have a support system.
Take care of yourself. Healing starts from within.
I am still relearning so many things... From the basics of how healthy relationships are supposed to work to knowing it is OK to put myself first when it comes to healing, healthy boundaries, and self-care.
I've said it before and I will continue to say it for eternity. You ARE Beautiful! You are worthy of Love, Respect and Happiness. And if anyone tries to tell you differently, they're full of shit. Sorry, but it's true.
Take care of YOU.
In Peace and Love,