My experience as someone who as endured serious emotional, physical, verbal abuse, and more is something that is part of me. I don’t sit around crying and talking about it all day or every day, but it certainly doesn’t disappear from my memory. Sometimes, if I dwell on it, it still frustrates me that narcissists are able to get away with so much, but mostly it has shaped my life views and will affect my future choices. It was a traumatic experience. How could I live as if it never happened?
I sure didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t enjoy the aftermath. I don’t enjoy the days I still have to deal with the narcopath or his flying monkeys. I cannot get away from any of that, but I can go about my life as well as possible and minimize my contact with disordered people.
That’s actually a good thing! What if I’d been through all this, then decided to stuff it away in the back of my brain and continue on like nothing happened? I’d probably go through the process again and again until I actually acknowledged it and learned some lessons.
A couple years ago, I read about the theory of Post Traumatic Growth and how people who learn from their experiences end up better for it. When you are going through hell, it seems like this is entirely impossible because the situation is unfair and will NEVER be made right. Well, it is true, that you will never get justice from dealing with a narcissist; however, the lessons you learn WILL make you a wiser, stronger, and even happier person. You can get a “gift” out of this. I certainly understand people better than I did before–both good and bad.
Anyway, because these experiences and lessons have shaped my life, my boundaries and my inner strength, I often refer to them and how I learned from them. Some people get it. Some people do not. A number of times, I’ve had people accuse me of being “damaged goods” or “not over it.” Wrong. Being able to recall and learn from a terrible experience doesn’t mean you are stuck on it. It means you were wise enough to gain wisdom, and are empathetic enough to try to share it with others so they don’t go through the same torment. If you were to pretend it never happened, that would be the real loss.
**Going to post about some religious talks here**
Earlier today, during a break at church, I was flipping through inspirational talks on various topics. I sometimes scroll through them and read the ones that sound like they might speak to my needs. I found one called “God Shall Wipe Away All Tears.” Hey, that sounds good. I’ve certainly had my share of tearful experiences! This conference talk (from the LDS church,) talks about how unfair life can be sometimes, and how we can make the best of it. Even if it’s not your religion, there is some sense in it. So I was reading through it and getting some good ideas. Unfortunately, the nature of the world, humanity, and life means that some people are jerks and bad things happen. I liked this quote from the speaker, “God invites us to respond with faith to our own unique afflictions in order that we may reap blessings and gain knowledge that can be learned in no other way.” I like that, because it really is true. If I hadn’t met a narcopath, I’d have NO clue what one looks like, how to recognize one, how to avoid one…. I would have avoided a lot of misery, but I wouldn’t know what I know today. And I wouldn’t be able to join groups of others who have been through it, and I wouldn’t be able to write about it to validate or warn others.
Another quote I liked further into the talk was, “we all must learn that suffering in and of itself does not teach or grant to us anything of lasting value unless we deliberately become involved in the process of learning from our afflictions through the exercise of faith.” This one I like even more! Plus, it has a lot to do with the idea of Post Traumatic Growth. Just having something terrible happen to me didn’t teach me a lesson. (In fact, I dealt with a few narcs before I caught on.) It was when I decided to analyze and REALLY understand the situation, that I had the light bulb moment and started to understand the dynamics. I found an even bigger difference in my recover when I took the step from understanding to purposely recovering.
In no way am I “hung up,” “damaged,” “not over it”or any of those other degrading phrases. I am wiser and more refined. I have my eyes open, and I’m far stronger than I ever would have been without these experiences.