I started this blog around narcissistic abuse and domestic violence because journaling about it was hurting my hand. I have way too many thoughts that I’m processing that I can’t possibly write them all down. The trauma us survivors experience and the post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is real. When I used to hear PTSD I’d think of war veterans. I didn’t realize it applied to victims of other types of trauma.
I also didn’t realize I was suffering from PTSD until my therapist explained to me that the way I’m processing the trauma and handling it is just that – PTSD. While we’re in a relationship with a narcissist, we’re slowly conditioned to put the narc first and forget about ourselves. For me, I never realized I was being traumatized through his manipulation and control tactics because I was always worried about keeping him happy and avoiding his narcissistic rage. Now that I’m so far removed from the cycle of domestic violence, I’ve slowly started to process what I’ve gone through. And it’s painful. But to be honest, I know I can’t truly heal from this until I process it all and learn to accept it. I continue to bounce back from the sad to angry stages of healing, but eventually I’ll become less sad and move back and forth from the angry to acceptance stages, until I completely accept it (at least that’s what my therapist told me). That’s why, as I mentioned in an earlier post, it’s critical to not listen to people who tell you to “move on” or “just forget it.” How can you move on from something if you haven’t given yourself the proper time to heal? The time it takes to heal is no one else’s call but your own.
What is PTSD?
According to the blog post, PTSD in the Aftermath of Narcissistic Abuse, “PTSD results from experiencing a devastatingly stressful event or series of events. Complex post traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) is similar, resulting from persistent psychological trauma within an environment in which the victim believes there’s no possibility of escape. There is a perceived sense of helplessness and one’s sense of self is annihilated.”
As a victim (now a survivor) of narcissistic abuse, I’m experiencing both PTSD and C-PTSD. Narcissists essentially rewire your brain to make you believe terrible things about yourself: That you’re stupid, dumb, crazy, delusional, unloveable, etc. The narcissist slowly breaks you down until you actually believe you’re worthless. By manipulating you and making you feel worthless, they gain the upper hand in the relationship and have full control over you. This treatment leads victims of narcissistic abuse to self learn helplessness and that no one else will ever want you, which is why it feels impossible to escape.
How Does PTSD Impact Victims/Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse?
I replay the entire relationship in my head over and over again, sometimes remembering horrific events for the first time since they happened. I often have nightmares that my ex is standing over me while I’m sleeping with a gun ready to kill me. I re-read abusive texts (I have to keep these due to legal/court reasons, however, re-reading them helps me continue to process the trauma) and re-play incidents of physical and emotional abuse in my head over and over. My mind is trying to comprehend what happened to ensure it never happens again. The problem is, my mind isn’t there yet. The trauma from the abuse was so bad, that my mind doesn’t get it. And it’s frustrating.
As I continue to process the trauma and abuse, my mind is becoming emotionally numb. It’s overwhelming and intolerable. Sometimes I feel like I’m just physically here, going through the motions every day, but I’m not mentally present. I don’t know how else to explain it other than I feel numb. Unraveling the wounds, piece by piece, incident by incident, is the most painful thing I’ve ever had to do.
I hope that as I continue to heal from the trauma, I come out on the other side of things as my old self, post-narcissistic and domestic abuse, but stronger. I hope to relearn how to love myself throughout this journey of healing and realize that I’m worthy of love. And for anyone in the same situation, I hope the same for you.