Surviving Narcissistic Abuse

How I learned to forgive myself

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Photo courtesy of Julie Forbes

I recently left my husband after 12 years of marriage. It was the second union for both of us. I can still remember our excitement as we made our plans to blend our families and imagined our bright future working together toward our mutually desired goals and dreams. Unfortunately things did not go as planned. He promised me the moon and instead delivered a nightmare. It didn’t take long before I realized I had married a pathological narcissist.

The crazy-making mind-numbing verbal abuse started gradually at first, like tiny grains of sand floating in the air until eventually I found myself buried in quick sand, feeling hopeless, panicked and trapped. His authoritarian tirades were at times so eviscerating they left me stunned and confused, wondering how in the hell I had gotten to such a place. When his abuse became physical, I knew in an instant that I had to leave.

In the weeks following my departure, when I was safely alone and had time to think clearly and assess my feelings, I was surprised to discover that my overwhelming emotions were not just anger or sadness, but also regret. I flogged myself for overlooking all of the red flags I had ignored when we were dating. That’s when I realized that in order for me to let go of my resentment toward him, I would first have to forgive myself.

Through the help of counseling and my voracious reading of numerous “how to survive narcissistic abuse” self-help books, I learned to stop blaming myself for being so naïve because, while my husband projected his negative traits onto me, I, as an empathic and kind, loving person in turn imposed my positive attributes onto him. In short, I gave him much more leeway than he deserved. That realization and understanding allowed me to make peace with myself so that I could finally heal and move on.

I now have gratitude for the experience because of the insight, clarity and compassion it has given me. As a result, instead of resiliently returning to my same old, happy, self, I am confident I will be even better. I read somewhere that the universe lets your heart grow back and expand even bigger. It’s true. 

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