One of the things that I have really enjoyed about my healing process after narcissistic abuse is that there is so much healing that takes place without your awareness. I love reflecting back on a situation or something I’ve done and realizing that this is new territory for me, that something has shifted, that things are different!
This week I realized that I have crossed a milestone.in being able to openly talk about the abuse I endured with The Narcissist. I got engaged in a really intelligent and healthy conversation around an NPR article: House OKs Bill Making It Tougher To Keep ‘Mentally Incompetent’ Vets From Buying Guns. Those of you who have read my blog will likely understand that I was concerned with reading this news. I was instantly worried about how this change could impact two forms of violence that are prevalent in combat veterans and veterans with PTSD… suicide and domestic violence. So I very naturally shared my concerns through my personal Facebook page which resulted in a conversation thread with a pro-gun-rights member of my martial arts gym and several of his veteran connections. Within this conversation I very matter-of-factly relayed my experience with a veteran with PTSD, domestic violence, and how glad I was that he never owned a gun during that time period. We all shared our opinions in a healthy and respectful manner and I think the conversation resulted in some new perspectives for all involved (myself included) so.. win-win!
What was really interesting was the realization that hit me completely after the fact. You see, earlier in my healing journey I would have NEVER engaged in this type of conversation in any way that was not anonymous. Early on in my healing journey I was EXTREMELY embarrassed and ashamed about the abuse that I endured… and the idea of having anyone find out about it was horrifying to me. I worried that people would judge me for what I had been through… I thought that they would think less of me or treat me like some sad and pathetic victim.
This mindset slowly started to shift when I started this blog. While the blog is anonymous in nature primarily because I didn’t want The Narcissist to ever be able to claim that I was slandering him or impacting his reputation legally… I also stayed anonymous on a subconscious level because that was the only way that I felt comfortable sharing my story. As I started healing I realized that my blog could also be a healing tool for friends and family members who did not understand what had happened in my relationship with The Narcissist. Sharing the blog with them was an easy way for me to share all of the details without having to relive the emotions of it all within a conversation with them. So I started to share the blog with my sister, my girlfriends, my cousins and it opened up the conversation for all of us to be able to talk about this topic.
From there I started doing more to share my blog on Twitter and engage with content that is relevant to domestic violence and emotional and narcissistic abuse. People within my network started to recommended my blog to others they knew who were dealing with narcissists or abusive relationships… and people started reaching out to me for advice. I was now openly talking with people about the abuse I endured and the things that I did to be able to get out of that relationship and heal from all that I lived through.
Somewhere through that journey I stopped being ashamed of my own story and it became really easy to talk about this topic because I am passionate about it. I went from thinking that I was damaged and broken and being afraid that the fact that I had been abused was some sort of reflection on my own mental health and stability…. to realizing that I freaking survived that shit!!! I am stronger and happier and healthier than I have ever been. I am in no way broken or damaged as a result of anything The Narcissist has done to me… and in so many ways the reflection, the therapy, the work I have been doing has helped me heal things within myself that I likely would have never addressed without these experiences.
My therapist tells me that this process is called Normalization – where you take something that has a stigma or negative response and talk about it so much that the stigma goes away and it becomes ‘normal.’ It’s like you desensitize yourself to it… you work through those emotional triggers and reactions… and somewhere along the way its just your story and its just a normal conversation and it no longer feels scary.
More and more I am finding myself pulled towards educating others about domestic violence and narcissistic abuse, helping others who are still in those situations, and advocating for awareness of these important issues. Who knows where all of this will take me but I have to say that it feels really empowering to realize that I am no longer ashamed of my story.