For most of your life, you have come second, third, fourth or even last. Now, in the aftermath of your marriage or partnership with a narcissist, you look around for the first time and realize that you are beginning to take over your own life.
It was controlled and manipulated by your narcissistic spouse for so long that it became “normal.”—Will, not at all. Some of you became physically ill as a result of your marriage to a narcissist. Your nervous system was continually in fight or flight mode–the Sympathetic rather than the relax, digest, calm mode–the Parasympathetic. You look back and remember the ugly scenes–one after the other–the constant screaming, the threats, the psychological wounding of your heart, the wrenching of your soul. You often felt like a person dispossessed and unknown, even to yourself.
You are re-starting your life and this is unfamiliar to you. You may have had a narcissistic mother or father or both parents–God help you and God bless you that you survived.
One of the most difficult aspects of this phase of re-booting your life is learning how to take very good care of yourself. You may have never had this life experience. Certainly this was not the case during your marriage or marriages to narcissists. They made constant demands, took up all of your attention and interrupted even one moment of peace.
Create a program for yourself that involves these elements: (If you think of others, add them)
1. Get the sleep that you need and deserve
2. Take quiet time with yourself that you enjoy–I call this downtime.
3. Find the kind of exercise that works best for you. Make it tolerable and do-able. You will become more energetic, stronger and calmer.
4. Learn to to quiet your thinking mind through guided meditation, tai chi or gentle yoga that calms the nervous system and slows thought chatter. You can do this for a couple of minutes or so. Consistency not length is the key and don’t make any judgments about your performance.
5. Listen to music that you love. Become lost in this deep beautiful world.
6. Listen to books or read ones that put you somewhere else—Escape and have adventures.
7. Allow yourself to cry when you feel sorrow welling up. This is part of your healing process and necessary. Release the tears that have bound you to the pain.
8. Spend time with individuals you trust and who are empathic.
9. Write spontaneously– thoughts, feelings, visions that fly through your mind. Do this without editing.
10. Let your imagination go where it wishes–Take a ride on it and feel the freedom of this process.
11. Use your intuition as a guide to tell you about the next steps you are going to take as you travel the path of your healing.
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.