If I could go back in time and change history, I wouldn’t wish myself to have never met my narc. I would go back to before I met him, before even the previous relationship maybe, and take the time to get to know myself like I’ve been doing for the past 11 months.
I would have mustered up the courage to ride out difficult waves of feelings instead of seeking immediate shelter from them, so I might have learned sooner that, no matter what, I can soothe myself and be ok; I don’t need someone else to fix me.
I would have dared to ask other people for favors or help, like watching my pets for me while I’m away, so I could have realized sooner that I’m not a burden on others; as much as I’m willing to do helpful things for them, they’re willing to do them for me too. It’s ok to ask for and accept help.
I would have allowed myself to reject offers of friendship if they felt like they were draining more than they were replenishing in my life, so that I could actually live what I fundamentally believed to be true – that what matters is quality, not quantity.
I would have given myself the gift of being alone, and seen it as a gift instead of as shameful evidence of being unlovable. In spending time with myself, I would have learned how fun and joyful I am, and I would have fallen in love with myself instead of with people who mistreated me.
I think I spent the first few decades of my life just trying to survive in a world where I didn’t feel loved, and trying to manufacture the love as if it was something I could create if I just worked hard enough at making other people believe I was lovable even when I didn’t believe it myself.
I have come to learn there is truth in cliches. It’s true that you have to love yourself before you can love another, and love does have to come from within. I can see that now. And it’s also true that you have to trust your gut, whether you like what it’s telling you or not.
I am not glad about my time spent with narc; I would never wish that kind of pain and unhappiness on anyone. However, the lessons I have learned through this process are lessons I wouldn’t want to live the rest of my life without having learned. My life is so much richer as a result of them.
I think when bad things happen to us, we need to mine or create our own good to take from the bad, for the sake of our own well-being. For some of you who have survived abuse, it’s your children. You can look at their faces and feel their love and know that their existence in the world is something precious and wonderful you wouldn’t want to be without.
For me, the good that’s come of it is me, just plain old awesome me. I’m finally finding myself, and as much as I wish I could have done that in a way other than this abusive relationship, I don’t believe it would have happened any other way for me. I had always avoided pain before, but I think I had to live through the pain to get to this point. And I think this growth will help me be stronger and smarter next time I cross paths with someone manipulative or abusive.
So I’m grateful for the good I have been able to mine from this experience. I wish for every other survivor that you will find your good too, and that maybe you will fall in love with yourself, even just a little.