A Life-Saving Epiphany in the Midst of Narcissistic Abuse
An epiphany is a light bulb moment. It is a sudden intuitive grasp of reality, an illuminating discovery, realization, disclosure, or insight, or a revealing moment in time. My favorite definition that I ran across is "a moment of sudden or great revelation that usually changes you in some way."
I have one particular epiphany that has floated in and out of my awareness over the last year. It was a realization that hit me one day right between the eyes. It has become more valuable to me than anything else in the midst of this narcissistic nightmare that I am living. I am going to try to describe this epiphany to you. It is rather elusive at times, so bare with me.
The epiphany is that I am allowed to walk this Earth in peace just like everyone else, that the gift of a peaceful life is every bit as present for me as it is for anyone and everyone else. I am not obligated to live under stress and abuse. I CAN choose to spend each individual moment of my life doing things that are peaceful and that make me happy. I CAN choose to spend my time and energy on things that make me feel positive, productive, compassionate, and connected to others.
If I get to choose how to spend my time and energy (and I do get to), how would I spend it?
I would spend it on things that are:
Full of Connection and love
Helpful to others
Genuine and real
Pure and true
Full of life
This epiphany creates the most amazing feeling inside me when I truly connect with it. It is an overwhelming feeling of peacefulness. Each time I find it, it releases a little bit more tension and stress that has been in my body for years and years. It frees me from the effects of the narcissistic abuse. It feels so wonderful that I want to cling to it forever.
Keeping it Requires Effort
This epiphany, as wonderful as it is, is impossible to keep within my grasp. It behaves like a flickering light bulb, one that isn’t tight enough in its socket. It flickers in and out. Sometimes it is shining so brightly and clearly, while at other times it goes completely dark, providing no light at all. It is extremely fleeting, getting away from me so quickly, and I find myself wrapped up once again in the stress of life.
So I consciously and purposefully keep bringing myself back to this epiphany. It takes conscious effort, and I assure you that it is well worth that effort. Every time it comes back, the peace it brings is stronger and clearer. It is amazing and enticing. When I truly connect with it, I feel like life all of a sudden makes sense. It is like seeing the sky for the first time through a break in the fog.
This epiphany motivates me to keep pushing forward towards it. I want to create a life where I can spend my time on these positive things I have listed. That is the way of life that I desire. This very desire drives my every step towards freedom, no matter how difficult, one step at a time.
Each time I return to this epiphany, it seems as though I am seeing life clearly for the first time ever. I have said many times that I feel like I have been living in a fog. Narcissistic abuse keeps your head spinning so fast that life is not clear and nothing seems to make any sense. It is exactly like living in a fog.
I recently heard FOG defined as living in Fear, Obligation and Guilt. This comes from the book titled Out of the Fog by Dana Morningstar. I have not yet read this book, but am eager to do so soon. In fact, we will be reading it soon in my brand new Covert Narcissist Book Club. Feel free to join us in our closed Facebook group.
This concept of living in a fog completely resonated with me. It is absolutely where I have been living for the last 21 years. Here is how I would describe it.
Living in Fear
Fear drives your thoughts and behaviors when it is strong and dominant in your life. When you are shown repeatedly that you cannot trust your partner to react to you in a kind and loving way, it instills fear in you. What is it that I feared?
His silence, wickedly evil silence!
His disapproval and disappointment
His reactions to anything and everything
His anger and harshness
His withheld love and condescending attitude
His accusations and blame
His lectures and verbal assaults
His guilt trips
His circular conversations
To say that these things drove my actions and controlled my thoughts is a huge understatement. I did everything I could to dodge these things and hated it when I got caught by any of them. Absolutely hated it! I will never forget the pit in my stomach that was my constant companion. This is not a way to live.
Living in Obligation
Obligation hits you hard when you think that it is your job and duty to help them. I was his wife, after all. Wasn’t it my job to keep him happy? Wasn’t it my job to make sure he connected with his kids? Wasn’t it my job to keep the bear in the house peaceful? I tried so hard to keep him from being angry because I thought it was my job. As crazy as it sounds now, I felt obligated to help a full-grown man with the basics of human interactions, simply because he clearly wasn’t capable of it himself.
For years, I thought it was my job to help him to have a relationship with his two boys. I would work so hard to come up with things they could do together and then encourage him/them to do it. This always backfired though because he brought so much anger and manipulation into every activity with them. It ended in disaster again and again. So I decided I had not done a good enough job coming up with the “right” activity for them to all do, and I started the process over. This went on for years. Again, this is no way to live.
Living in Guilt
Guilt goes deep inside us. It digs to our very core. It is very internal and very personal. It is when you allow yourself to carry all the blame and all the fault. Maybe most or all of this is actually my fault, we ask ourselves. Maybe I don’t deserve better because something is wrong with me. This is a tough one to get rid of and clear out of your system.
One sign that you are living in guilt is when you tell yourself, “If I could just be a better ________________, then he/she would love me and our relationship would be strong.”
Fill in that blank however you choose.
Another such statement is, “If I was _____________, then he/she would treat me better.”
Prettier, better looking
Better able to express myself.
What naturally follows is, “I just have to try harder.” How many of us have worn ourselves out trying to be “perfect?” We have tried to be the best we could possibly be, and yet we still aren’t good enough.You do everything you can and work so hard at it, but nothing ever changes. So you decide that you have ruined everything and feel completely worthless, overwhelmed with guilt. This is absolutely no way to live.
Time to come out of the FOG
You have been conditioned to live in thick fog. You have been made to believe that he/she is better at everything than you and knows more about everything than you. You have been conditioned to care for all of his/her needs and feelings and to accept a complete disregard for your own needs and feelings. You have been taught to fear his/her anger and silence. You have been taught that it is your job to care for his/her every whim. You have been made to feel guilty and responsible for any and every bad thing that has ever happened or ever will happen.
I have news for you. None of this is true!! They are not better at everything than you. They do not know more about everything than you. It is not your job to care for their every need. You should never accept the total disregard for your own needs and feelings. You do not need to fear their anger. You do not need to care for their every whim. And you are not responsible for everything! You are allowed to walk this Earth in peace and happiness.
Get your eyes out of the FOG!
When you feel this fog, remind yourself these things.
Fear - You are stronger than you think you are. You are allowed to live without fear.
Obligation - It is not your job or duty to “build” or “fix” him/her. They are an adult, and the responsibility lies with them. You are responsible only for you.
Guilt - You are allowed to just be you. No one made the rule that you had to be a superhero. It is okay to not be the best at everything or to not have all the answers. Take the guilt you feel and throw it away again and again.
Keep returning to that epiphany of walking the Earth in peace. That gift of a peaceful life is every bit as present for you as it is for anyone and everyone else. You do deserve it. You are worthy of it. And you CAN have it. Hang onto this epiphany as if to your very own lifeline.
For more on healing from narcissistic abuse, read my post From Victim to Survivor to Victor.
Other posts to check out