Mod 5: Knowledge

When you wake up to the reality of your narcissistic abuse, it can be a terrible, dark day. As you address your situation after that, in the ways we’ve covered in Mods 1-4, the darkness starts to lift. This puts you in a good position to be able to commence having a life that is healthier and happier, which is the point at which I hope you see yourself now.

In My Story – Dad for this mod, I made a big deal out of the importance of recognizing you have been a victim. Well, now I want to look at things not contrarily, but differently. Yes, you have been a victim in the past. But you are no longer a victim now, nor will you be in the future. And the meaning of your life now is not victimhood.

It can be hard to shake the belief that you remain a victim and your life is still victimhood, but believe me, you do have the ability to see and believe the truth that you and your life are different now. There are several clear, simple ways you can work on altering your views about yourself and your life, and we will discuss these in this Knowledge section.

You are not a broken person – you are whole

One conviction many narc victims have, and understandably so, is that they are broken. Some feel they will indeed be fixable over time, and others are convinced the damage is permanent—but all fear that the abuse they’ve suffered has left them shattered, just like a car accident shatters the body.

Well, the mind works differently from the body, and healing of the mind doesn’t work the same way as healing of the body. I’ll explain it to you this way: you’ve heard the expression “I have baggage.” “Baggage” means these sorts of things:

  • Faulty and hurtful beliefs
  • Dysfunctional patterns of thinking
  • Emotional habits that are unhealthy

Now, imagine you are a car. In the process of your abuse, your narcissist packed up several suitcases full of this hurtful, detrimental stuff and put those bags in your back seat and your trunk. You are loaded up with the weight of them, so much so that the car is slowed down and drives erratically.

Is this a broken car? No. The motor runs fine, the transmission is doing its job, the heater and the stereo are working properly. The enjoyment of the drive is most certainly hindered by the load of toxic, stinky baggage, but there’s nothing wrong with the vehicle hauling the stuff.

This car doesn’t need to be put in the junkyard or even sent to the repair shop. What needs to happen is to get the baggage out of the car and into the dump…then everything will be fine.

Just so, your mind, heart, and soul are still just as functional as the day you came into this world. You are completely whole, a fully functioning person with all the faculties you need. You can reason, dream, hope, plan. You can feel the full gamut of emotions. You have the ability to make choices as to how you view your world, and to place your focus wherever you want it to be.

You have the ability to dump the baggage, and over time, you will eradicate it all.

Start today viewing yourself not as a victim and a broken person, a shattered version of your pre-narc self. Instead, recognize that you are whole, and the healing process is not a matter of fixing someone broken, but jettisoning the toxic stuff that has been inserted into your life.

Don’t let your experience of abuse define you

Remember my motto from when I first recognized my dad was a bully: “I have a father who emotionally abuses me.” Note how in this statement I am describing my circumstance at the time. I’m stating a fact, without judgment or any interpretation as to what this says about me personally. You can do this with yourself too, acknowledging your situation factually.

But don’t let it define you. Deep-six thoughts like these:

  • What kind of person lets herself be treated this way?
  • He’s ruined me—I’ll never trust anyone again.
  • My life will never be the same…my heart is going to stay broken.
  • Some of this has to have been my fault.
  • I’ll never get better until I can find some kind of closure.

You have all the power over your personality, character, and beliefs—don’t abdicate that power and hand it off to your abuser or your past circumstances. That was then, this is now, and now YOU decide who you are and what you’re going to do with your life. You can embrace thoughts like these instead:

  • I was an innocent victim but I’m wiser and stronger now.
  • I believe there are good people in the world and now I’ll be more careful to seek them out.
  • My heart is good and whole right now.
  • My mistakes were honest ones—I did the best I could in bad circumstances.
  • I’m letting go of the past because I can’t change it and I don’t need to.

Remember Lucy’s big breakthrough and think about what it was. She recognized a crucial fact about vampires: they can’t get at you unless you invite them in. That’s a huge amount of power. You can do a lot to keep your old life at bay by maintaining no contact. And even if circumstances force you to engage with your narc, you can also ignore his attempts to hurt and influence you. It’s not easy at first, but with each day you will get better at it.

One thing that will really help you get better at this is to reclaim your power to determine who you are. You belong to yourself now…the narc has no right to you anymore and no right to dictate anything about how you think, live, or view yourself.

Your experience of abuse as an asset

Some narc victims really struggle with feeling like the narc has robbed them, taken things from them they can never get back. It’s undeniable that narcissistic abuse robs you of time, money, friends or family members, self-esteem, self-confidence, and all kinds of other assets. Some of these things you can get back over time, some maybe not.

But none of these things are you. The most important thing in life is your soul, your life essence, whatever it is that you want to call your unique self. That’s the thing you own that nothing and no one can take from you. Financial hardships come and go, time marches on, friends and even family can pass in and out of your life, whether you are abused by a narcissist or not. In fact, these changes are just part of life for everyone.

The narc has not taken your soul. In fact, in the process of your being put through these trials, surviving them, and recovering from them, you have gained precious understanding and strength that can serve you now and in the future in countless ways. That saying “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” could not be more true.

An example of growing back better than ever

While writing the Lucy Rising program, I have been watching the 20th season of the show “Dancing with the Stars.” One of the celebrity dancers has been Noah Galloway, who in 2005 was severely injured in the Iraq war. He lost an arm above the elbow and a leg above the knee. This event also took from him his beloved career as a soldier. Disfigured, handicapped, and without a mission in life, Noah became severely depressed…as I’m sure would any one of us in his place.

But Noah chose to fight to regain a personal identity and a meaningful existence. He learned to manage daily life with one arm and a prosthetic leg. Always a fitness fanatic, he resumed training and made his body the best it could be. He even became a personal trainer. Noah also found fulfillment in being a motivational speaker, helping others to emulate his “no excuses” outlook on life. He even became a model—so much for being “disfigured”!

Noah also chose to compete in a challenging competition in one of the last fields one would expect: ballroom dancing. His achievements at movement, expression, and grace despite his handicaps absolutely amazed the judges and audience of “Dancing with the Stars,” and he even ended up finishing in third place out of a field of 12 competitors.

Noah Galloway’s body was a “broken car,” and he also found his soul sharing that smashed vehicle with a lot of toxic baggage. But he threw the baggage out of the car and proceeded to make his life about doing the maximum amount of wonderful things possible with only two wheels.

Most certainly Noah still experiences many challenges and setbacks in life. But how do you think he views these challenges, considering what he has overcome in the past?

That’s why you can actually look at it as a kind of gift or privilege to have suffered hardship. In conquering that hardship, you become a better person than you were before. It’s that simple.

Your membership card in the human race

Everyone given a life here on Planet Earth is going to suffer to one extent or another. That’s the universal condition. In a way, we are all brothers and sisters in our common experience of suffering. Some problems go away or can be fixed—we all want that to happen in our lives. Some problems can only be endured. Noah will not get his arm and leg back, or wake up one day with a successful, ongoing military career. He has suffered loss that simply must be endured every day. That’s the story, to one extent or other, for all of us.

The presence of suffering in your life does not define you as broken or weakened. It simply means you are a member of the human race. Do you look down on people you know who have problems to deal with, who have lost their job, had their house burn down, gotten a diagnosis of terminal cancer? Of course not. They remain whole, normal human beings. We all do the best we can. And I urge you to always remember this excellent fact I learned from Jon Kabat-Zinn, creator of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction:

As long as you’re alive, there is more right with you than wrong with you.

So, all these things are facts about your current situation. Are you okay? Yes. Are you going to be okay? Yes. Hopefully you can embrace these truths and this alone will help you feel better.

We can also talk about some Concepts for healing, aka “ways to dump the toxic suitcases.” In fact, let’s get on that right now!

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