SURVIVING NARCISSISTIC ABUSE
The Pandora Box Opens
Up until that moment, my life had been very normal. But in a split second, everything changed.
I fell unconscious at the door of a restaurant my best friend had invited us to, before driving us to the airport. My partner and had just spent 3 days holidaying in her country house in the South of France.
My best friend was beside me and managed to catch me before I fell to the floor. When I got back up, I just stood there dazed, still by the entrance. My partner was already about to seat himself down at a table. I was looking at him when suddenly I heard this voice ring in my ear, “He is your mother”. I knew that voice! It was my voice like I never heard it before. It was distinct, firm, and convincing. But those words did not make any sense! What could they possibly mean?
I joined them at the table. I sat next to him when suddenly, a pain in my lower belly kicked in. A pain I had never felt before. I don’t know what it was but it intensified by the minute. By the time we got back to Oxford later in the early hours, the pain as unbearable. I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t breathe. I just wanted to be home, alone and away from him! And as soon as I got home, my body settled, relaxed and the pain slowly dissipated.
When I finally fell asleep that night, I recalled through dream the memory of something I had long suppressed – the first time my mother physically abused me. I was 9 and that was when my childhood ended.
The pandora box opened that night. Thereafter, I started recalling countless episodes from my past. I spent a week in bed, unable to stop crying. I was entering the first stage of my spiritual awakening – the dark night of the soul.
Into The Deep
When I got back from France, I was asked by a friend to cat-sit on her narrowboat for a month. Yes! These would be the perfect conditions for me to recover – I did not have to work, I had all the time for myself, I was with nature in the summer and I had a cat for company. The boat was Kismet, which means fate or destiny in Turkish/ Arabic. For me, all these were divine synchronicity, telling me it’s time to put the pieces of my puzzle together.
Since childhood, I had been scapegoated, bullied – by family, at school and even at work. I had lived in 5 countries, with different settings and different people, but yet suffered the same situation. I was experiencing the same over and over again, repeating the same patterns of behavior. Each repetition got more dramatic, sinking me deeper and deeper into a very dark hole. The deception, humiliation, smear, drama, distrust and lies.
My relationships? Friends were mostly full of histrionics whilst my romantic relationships ranged from getting involved with paranoids to one full-blown psychopath. Although running away from my dysfunctional family, I was actually re-creating the same toxic dynamic wherever I went.
Too Much To Process
This was too much to process. I could neither sleep nor eat for days. I became a pale shadow of my former self. I heeded the call to meditate which helped me tremendously.
I started having mystical experiences, visions of which became anchors to rebuild my mental strength. I was discovering both the darkness and the beauty of human nature. A world beyond the tangible and the visible… my inner world, my Spirit.
My body was a wreck, riddled with chronic pain. I experienced panic attacks, dissociative episodes, gut issues, insomnia and all manner of physical body issues. I had no drive for anything.
My body was remembering, through what are called emotional flashbacks. I was reliving the abuse as if it were happening there and then, experiencing the emotions and feelings of the abuse all over again. My nervous system was completely hijacked. I would feel numb, lethargic, or the opposite, bursting out in anger for no apparent reason.
The Search For Relief & Discovering I Suffered From Narcissistic Abuse
I sought help for my condition in cognitive therapy, zen shiatsu, and craniosacral therapy. All of them offered some relief during their sessions, but the relief didn’t last. I got frustrated. None of them seemed to align with what I was going through.
Months later, I found out myself that my symptoms were a clear sign of what is called complex post-traumatic stress disorder or C-PTSD, a common consequence of narcissistic abuse. It is “complex” because the trauma cannot be traced back to any one specific event. The cause is repeated exposure to abuse causing:-
- neurological impairment (experienced as amnesia, brain fog, dissociation), and
- dysregulation of the nervous system (with swings between depression and anxiety).
What I Did To Recover From Narcissistic Abuse
Meditation and mindfulness exercises were important in my recovery. It was crucial that I knew how to come back to the present through meditation. Being in the present helped me master my expectations and experiences. Through the mindfulness process, I learned what it was to feel “safe” and “in control” or “in charge” all over again.
I had to keep my food intake in check. I became a vegetarian most unexpectedly. One day I was on my usual diet, and he next day my body could not tolerate any more animal protein. From that point on, my body guided me in every nutritional choice I made. I even had some issues eating certain types of vegetables. It was only when I started studying Ayurveda that things fell into place for my eventual healing. Please read my article Boost Your Immune System Naturally with Ayurveda in Volume 30 of this magazine.
It was time to get back to the world but I felt hesitant. If I could, I wanted to be alone on Kismet forever. I was afraid I would get entangled with narcissists again. Although awoken to certain realizations of how not to fall into the hole again, I felt not ready to return. To heal meant redefining my humanity, outside of my conditioning, outside of my people-pleasing tendencies. Who would I be without pleasing people, without my obsession with other peoples’ lives, without my excessive need for approval and validation from others? How can I do without my compulsive need to rescue others and usurp responsibility for their behaviors?
To break the cycle, I had to declutter my life. So I got rid of all the things, situations, and people that no longer served my best interests. A tabula rasa. I quit my soul-crushing job in an office, changed my phone number and moved to another place. I blocked family and friends from reaching me.
This was the biggest step in my healing journey. It was a step I had to take to help me evolve, transform my karma into my dharma and turn my pain into purpose.
Reiki & EFT
Codependents and people-pleasers are more vulnerable to narcissistic abuse than others so healing the people-pleaser in me came next. To do that, I learned to harness my energy through 2 techniques – Reiki and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). Reiki helped me with grounding and EFT with emotional awareness, the 2 things people-pleasers struggle with most. Both these energy healing techniques can be learned and used as self-care tools but I recommend having practitioners guide you first. To find out more, you can watch bodymindsoul LiveTalk 069: Group Healing With EFT.
It’s well documented that cases of domestic violence spiked during the pandemic. As I could not practice energy healing in-person anymore, I had to find a way to reach clients and sufferers online. And being online was how I discovered Nia or Neuromuscular Integrative Action.
Based on both Eastern and Western philosophy Nia is designed to be healing, conditioning yet playful. It does not require special abilities and anyone can learn Nia. You can watch a Nia demo that I did for bodymindsoul at bodymindsoul LiveTalk.
Everything begins with the body. The soul speaks to the mind through the body’s nervous system. The body tells us what is needed. Moving our body is opening a conversation with our spirit, our soul, and Nia is a fantastic platform to do that. Nia teaches us to “dance through life” no matter what the circumstances are.
Finally Living For Me
Since embracing my calling fully, my life has been falling into place with exceptional clarity. The perfect opportunities, people and support are showing up in divine synchronicity. There’s lots of work to do, but I do them without the drama. Instead of drama, I am now driven by purpose, creativity, and passion. The rewards are infinite. I know I’ve made my place in the world. I no longer try to fit in or prove myself to others, I no longer try to earn the right to be. I am living and contributing to both my own and others’ healing journeys, in a most humble and fulfilling way. I am blessed.
As for those of you who have gone through or are still going through the abuse, do start your awakening and healing. No matter what practice, strategy or tool you choose; commitment, consistency and a community are what you absolutely need in your journey from self-discovery to self-mastery.