Many of those who are close to me have come to learn more about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) than they probably ever wanted to know. As a mental health professional, who has specialized in women and relationships, I naively believed I that I was immune to the perils of the sociopath. I would certainly be able to spot one coming a million miles away. I would straighten my professional jacket, point him out with my pen in hand and clearly declare a safe and solid boundary.
Some of you, who do not know me as well, may have missed the fact that I spent nearly four soul-splitting years in a relationship with a narcissist. If you, like me, have ever hung out in the “I survived Narcissistic Abuse and all I got was this lousy t-shirt” club, you can attest to the fact that it is certainly a life changing experience.
There is no shortage of literature available online discussing this topic. It is like Googling, “how to fix a busted water pipe” - you don’t know you need it until you really, really need it.
In hindsight, it is so clear. What I was experiencing ticked ALL of the boxes on the hundreds of lists circulating the web on How to tell if you are in a relationship with a narcissist. Unfortunately, the nature of this creepy and clandestine mistreatment is more like a very, very slow leak than a sudden and obvious POP. It is wrapped in an overly decorated package and deliberately designed to make you question your sanity, lose your cool and feed your own self-esteem to someone else’s birds without even knowing what has occurred.
And just when you have mustered up and spent every last ounce of your sacred energy trying to fix the horrible scene unfolding, you are quickly discarded without a second thought. Without remorse. Without explanation. Without reason. Like it never happened. Talk about a serious WTF experience? Welcome to the world of Narcissism.
But wait...there is an upside. Actually, there is an incredible, amazing, unimaginable upside. Life changing experiences like these can open up doors for us to connect to ourselves on a very deep level. In this space, we can access unexplored parts of ourselves, make new healthy connections, and realize things we had never known (or had forgotten) were possible. So now, the name of the club has changed to the, “I have survived everything that life has thrown my way and I am rocking this f*ing t-shirt” club. You feeling me?
I have deliberated for months about when and how to share my experiences. How much should I share? What should I say? Who will read it? Why? I am a therapist, a counselor, and an advocate for personal development, wellness and self-actualization. I always have been. This is my gift and therefore my responsibility. I have experienced an incredible chapter of my own journey and I recognize the value of paying this forward. If something I say or write along the journey touches even one woman or provides insight to a friend or family member of someone experiencing narcissistic abuse, it’s totally worth it.
More and more attention is being given to understanding Narcissist Personality Disorder (NPD) and how it affects those whose lives have have been impacted by involvement with a narcissist. What seems like a devastating blow can actually be a great gift on our own journey of self-discovery. There are definite things we can do to support resilience, overcome loss and benefit greatly from thriving in the face of challenge. There is a growing community of men and women who have overcome narcissistic abuse and are all here to help others make sense of the rubble and re-build an even stronger fortress of self-love.
Today is the first World Narcissistic Abuse Awareness Day and I felt inclined to support and promote this initiative. I intend to be open about my own experience and to incorporate the treasures of insight and understanding that I have gained, into my work with others. So…you may be hearing more from me on the subject of resilience.
My therapy practice, Global Wellness Center, specializes in working with folks navigating the journey of life. From grief and loss to relationships to vocational stress, self-care and creative goal setting. Global Wellness Center was created to offer support and clarity on the bumpy (but also amazing) road of life.
If Narcissistic Personality Disorder has affected you, or someone you know, please share, and get in touch. Let’s talk about it. There is hope. I promise. Looking forward to hearing from you.