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Hello everyone, I did something new this week and it brought

NowImNarcFree's picture
[23510]

Hello everyone, I did something new this week and it brought back some anxiety, so I just need to post somewhere where others might understand. I've been away from my abusive ex-narc monster and NC for almost 9 months now, after 10 years married to him. I am thriving, feeling better than I was even before I met him. When I first left, I did a lot of posting on here, a lot of reading and writing about abuse to better understand it and heal from it. But more recently, I decided that I had done enough and just wanted to focus on my present and my future. So I barely even think about it anymore, and generally prefer not to talk about it either. I feel like it gives him more continued control over my time, my emotions, and my mind. And he's already had enough of that.

Well, this week I was invited to speak to a group of med school students and share my story as they learn about the health effects of abuse. Although I don't enjoy thinking about it, I feel very strongly about raising awareness and doing whatever I can to help someone else get out or preventing abuse. I think the other women who spoke had more "traditional" abusers and suffered a lot physically, so I focused on the mind games and emotional impact of abuse. I wanted to challenge the stereotypes and show how abuse can really happen to anyone. I had a full hour with two groups of students each, and it's the first time I've shared that much of my story with strangers--only 9 months out.

I mostly felt good about it and that I could bring my perspective and share things I learned with the students. However, I have had this lingering anxiety since the second group. There were two young men in the back who did not participate much and looked guarded in their posture. Someone asked me to give an example of the types of "covert" physical abuse I experienced, and I really struggled to find an example that would not be too embarrassing to share. (I don't want to talk about how he would barge into my shower and pee on me right as I was clean and ready to get out, for example!) And I keep worrying... what if these students walk away thinking I was just describing "a bad relationship" and not abuse? That maybe I didn't go into enough detail to describe how damaging it was. And frustrated knowing that an hour is far too short to explain to anyone. I mentioned how I began having anxiety attacks and later a lingering anxiety/depression and began to take medication to control this... and I keep wondering, will this lower my "credibility" in their minds? Will they believe me or will part of them think I was being "overdramatic" or "too sensitive" just like my abuser would say??

One thing my counselor told me recently was that I need to focus on holding on to my own story, my own narrative, and my own reality. Maybe this comes with a high level of empathy, but I often focus on other's emotions and reactions before I get to my own. I wish I had been stronger during the presentation and presented such a forceful picture that no one could deny what I and other abuse victims go through. But I tend to be overly self-critical, and chances are what I said was exactly what was needed. And it was my first time, only 9 months out. I would definitely do it again, but I think next time I need to prepare more quotes and examples in advance to bring with me, rather than relying on my memory when this is not something I think about regularly any more. Anyway, since then I've just felt like spending some quiet time by myself without any pressure from anyone else, and to reconnect with my thoughts.

Well, thanks for reading! Any thoughts on how to keep hold of your reality in face of doubts from others would be appreciated.

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NowImNarcFree's picture
[23510]
Oct 11

@Blueberries1234 That is so on-point for me. I think I need to continue working on this. The patterns are so deeply ingrained, since I developed them in childhood with my parents. I was doing great and had gotten out of this habit, but I think triggers and ordinary pressures can make me slip back into it. I will keep doing some reading/writing/reflecting and focus on self-love. I've found that I am a little more approval-seeking in my other (mostly healthy) relationships lately, and I think that stems from having less self acceptance than I should. I'm being too hard on myself and looking for others to give me the satisfaction that can really only come from within. Thanks for your comment!

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NowImNarcFree's picture
[23510]
Oct 11

@kelly72 That definitely sounds like a good call. I didn't give my last name in the talk because until my divorce and name change, they may be able to trace it to my abuser. I doubt he knows these students but he works for the university and it would make me feel less safe if it somehow made it back to him.

I have also had anxiety about people waiting behind me and feeling like I'm taking too long, lol. I think the empathy or something related to it makes seeing things through someone else's eyes STRONGER than what we see through our own eyes. I love getting other perspectives and listening to people and learning from them, but I need to make sure that among all of that I don't lose my own sense of self. That has to come first.

The first group of the two actually went really well, though. From the body language, questions, and responses from the group I felt that my story really made an impact. I think it was just difficult to put the same level of emotional energy into the second story. Which is all normal, not something I should be hard on myself for. Thank you all for talking me through this!

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Blueberries1234's picture
[31355]
Oct 11

@NowImNarcFree same. I even do that at work. It's a lot of unnecessary anxiety.

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