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Celebrate the Stillness

Thriving after Narcissistic Abuse

There is a certain kind of stillness after the end of a relationship with a narcissist. At first it feels like a heavy void. You find yourself writhing to shake it off. Why is that? Why do we still crave the noise, that anxious feeling consuming our entire being, relieved only by the intermittent “love” and attention of the abuser?

When you stay long enough with a disordered individual who keeps you hooked with conflicted messages — one day he or she proclaims that you are the best thing that has ever happened to them, while the next you are the cause of every problem in their lives and the source of their unhappiness — you inevitably learn to live with confusion (i.e. cognitive dissonance). You also begin to internalize the abuser’s projected shame and adopt it as your own. You retreat from the world, from all of your previous interests and ultimately from your own self. You may come to find that your entire world view and core beliefs have changed as a result of trauma bonding while you were in the toxic relationship.

Assuming you have now cut off all contact with the abuser, you find yourself in the midst of a deafening silence and excruciatingly uncomfortable stillness. Like a heroine addict craves their next fix, you crave the abuser or anything related to him or her. Perhaps you spend hours looking at his or her social media for anything that will upset and trigger you. Yes, you cannot sit in the stillness at first. It seems foreign and oddly disorienting.

Let me reassure you that this will pass if you can be patient and forgive yourself for being in this place. I went through the very same feelings. To be perfectly honest with you, after two whole months of No Contact, I still have moments when I feel as if one of my limbs is missing. It takes time, and the only way out is through. One hour at a time at first. Then one day at a time, and so on.

You will find that with the passage of time, you come to enjoy this stillness. Oh, the irony of it all. Yes, that is the very stillness that one day shakes you to the core where you say to yourself “I want to live. I will do what is necessary to survive.” And so you do just that. You accept a friend’s invite. You sign up for a class. You pick up a book again from your local bookshop. You cook a meal for one. You splurge on that massage or dress you saw hanging in the store calling out your name.

The stillness has spurred you into action. This time the action is directed back at you — back at the self that you neglected whilst serving the bottomless needs of your former abuser. You finally start realizing that you no longer crave his or her validation. You are feeling better about yourself and you do NOT need anyone else to tell you how to feel, be or what to believe in. You feel confident again in your own skin and in your choices. You look forward to the quiet moments alone. Your soul is renewed from the serenity you have brought back into your life. You feel soothed and safe again. You are no longer anxious wondering what is going to come next and always anticipating the worst.

There is no doubt that if you embrace this stillness, your entire life from that moment on will be transformed. When that happens, you will know that you have arrived back home, this time to your beautiful self. 

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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