Many of those who have suffered psychological and emotional abuse at the hands of a narcissistic spouse report that even after the divorce they still feel the deleterious effects of their mistreatment. It lingers with them. Some even wish for the “good days” when life with the narcissist was exciting. They remember the highs not the horrendous lows of those times. In some cases the recipient of narcissistic abuse has endured a chronic pattern of trauma and deprivation in childhood. This individual expects to be demeaned, criticized and humiliated. This is familiar, the norm. It is not unusual for a person who has been abused to move from one abuser to the next in an unending cycle. When you divorce a narcissist you have an opportunity to redefine yourself as a person who deserves to be treated with deep respect. As you finish the formal process of divorce promise yourself that your healing has already begun. Going through a divorce from a narcissist is a great achievement in itself.
The growing self is always in a process of moving forward. You have suffered more than enough. You are entitled to feel differently about who you are and how you are treated.
You can begin by learning how to calm your body and mind. Taking yourself out of the day to day presence and toxic vibrations of the narcissist is an opening step. Learning how to quiet the mind with a form of meditation that works for you, performing simple yoga poses with emphasis on the breath, journaling your thoughts, feelings, inspirations, poems and insights allows you to let go and become uncensored to yourself. You have held yourself in check for so many years, turning yourself inside out to please the narcissist, you will be amazed at the power that you have to find a calmness and freedom that you have been waiting for. Taking time regularly to immerse yourself in nature whether through gardening, hiking, watching and listening to the birds near you, sketching outside—is an enormous source of healing the body, mind, emotions and psyche.
Develop a solid healing relationship with yourself. For so long you have been overshadowed by the narcissist. He has stolen your light and eclipsed your creative ideas, your sense of optimism and hope, your life dreams. Vow that no one will ever do this to you again. You are the author of your own life. Seize your sense of self entitlement and deep inner peace. The time to re-start your life is now.
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.
This is going to be your year for clearing out all remnants of narcissistic abuse from your life. Yes, you can do this. Narcissists eventually eclipse our lives in the most malicious ways. They take away our feelings of hope, creativity, spontaneity, sense of beauty, psychological strength and a grounded sense of self.
Make a determination that you know who the narcissist in your life is an was—a mother, father, sibling, current spouse, ex-spouse. This highly pathological person is never going to change so give up on that concept. You cannot get around these people. They are always overstepping our boundaries and insinuating themselves upon us. They are dictators who rule by intimidation and use a series of carrots and sticks to keep us in place. They know our emotional vulnerabilities, especially our fear of abandonment and lack of assertiveness to stand up for ourselves against their bullheadedness.
Don’t share your plan with the narcissist. Keep it quietly and safely protected in your own thoughts. There it will grow as you become stronger. Becoming physically stronger and healthier in whatever ways you can is very important. Eat the right foods and exercise in a way that makes sense for you. Take time to be by yourself whether that is reading a book, watching a special delightful video, going to a movie, writing a few sentences each day unedited. Feel yourself being transported by music as you enter a world of beauty that quiets the nervous system. If you like yoga do a few gentle poses each day to remain limber and strong. Doing poses breathing through the nose, you learn how to focus your attention in a quiet but powerful way. You also become familiar with living in your body and appreciating its design.
Conversations with friends either in person or on the phone can be very entertaining and informative. Texting is also a great source of playful distraction and respite.
Focus on studying what you love—regardless of the subject. I recently watched a lecture by the great physicist Richard Feynman and was blown away by his enthusiasm and love for learning. His joy was absolutely intoxicating. He had no limits to what he was seeking and wanting to learn. He is truly inspiring. After his death he lives on in the brightness of his eyes, his grin, his joy at being alive and his indomitable spirit and unlimited intellectual curiosity. Get in touch with these facets of yourself and appreciate what is inside of you–an endless source of creativity, fascination with learning and a thirst for experiencing beauty in every form. Pay attention to what speaks to you alone. You will get an answer from your intuition.
Be patient with yourself. After so many years with the narcissist(s) be kind and don’t make self judgments. Give yourself time and space. Self renewal takes place at your pace. If you find yourself slipping, know that you will come back and continue along your new pathway.
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.