For many people, January is a time of renewed hope and a fresh start. Marking a new year often means closing one chapter and viewing the next with new purpose and expectation. But this is not the case for those stuck in emotionally abusive relationships. Their vision is obscured by the trauma of their experience, which feeds two big lies to them: 1) Everything is a threat, and nothing is to be trusted and 2) I have no power to effect the change needed to free or protect myself.
It may be that you’re not feeling hopeful or confident that this new year will be any different from the last, especially when the last was compounded by the uncertainty between the pandemic and political unrest. You’re tired of hoping for change and connection. Your life has been reduced to a series of survival attempts from one day to the next. There comes a day when the reality of that either destroys you or awakens a fierce anger in you or maybe both.
A New You for the New Year
Listen to your heart.
What do you do when this is your story? How do you find life again? How do you grasp hope? Where do you even begin to attempt to write a different story? It begins with imagination and vision. Imagine an awakening that gives birth to determination to break free of the imprisonment in which you’ve been living. Now imagine that you have the capacity to carry out that feat. It is possible!
I’ve found that it helps many people to be able to name their experience. If narcissistic abuse is part of your story, the name for your experience is Narcissistic Victim Syndrome. This label captures everything you’re feeling as the result of the trauma of living under intense stress and oppression from a narcissist. The label doesn’t define you, but it is meant to serve as a launching point for how to find healing. The path often begins with learning to listen to your heart again and believing that what it says is valuable.
Depending on how deeply you’ve been wounded, it may take a long time to hear and trust yourself. Maybe a good place to start is simply to name how you’ve been harmed and give yourself permission to feel the hurts that you’ve been told were ridiculous or blown out of proportion. Grieve the losses of what can never be repaid and break your agreements with the false assumptions and lies you’ve come to believe along the way. Sort out what is truth. This is a process; it will take time.
At the same time, begin to define your sense of self based upon truth. What are the character qualities that make up who you are? Pay attention to your thinking and be intentional about walking out those character qualities you want to be. Set a new path and take one small step each day in the direction you want to go, without letting yourself get overwhelmed with what-ifs and what you can’t control. Let yourself believe in you again, even if it’s just a little at a time. Eventually, over time, you will be at a different place than you are right now, simply because you put one foot in front of the other and headed down a new path.
I am not saying it is easy. But this is just the beginning of a life-long process of guarding your heart and paying attention to your path. One of the greatest investments you can make in that process is finding someone who can coach you through the hard stuff.
Take a Step Towards Healing.
Here at the Marriage Recovery Center, we specialize in helping to untangle the chaos that emotional or narcissistic abuse wreaks on your heart and your marriage. While our goal is restoration for marriages, we recognize that reconciliation requires both partners to commit to change. If you are left alone to deal with the heartache in your marriage, or are separated or divorced, hope and healing are possible for you as well. Let us help you chart a new course as you head into the new year! Call our office at (206) 219-0145 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help you get started on a new path!