From frustration to empowerment

Today I want to talk about one of the many frustrating aspects related to narcissistic abuse. And one that goes beyond our personal experience. I’ve seen it over and over again in survivors who have seen the light and decided to put themselves out there to help others. And although I can’t speak for those who don’t publicly discuss the narcissistic abuse they’ve been subjected to, I suspect most, if not all, deep down feel the same type of frustration.

I started this blog with two main objectives in mind. The first one was as part of my own healing toolkit. The second directly derived from this very particular frustration: realizing that our experience isn’t unique and that there are many, many out there, still going through unspeakable abuse, while being (like we once were) oblivious to its nature. I wanted to be a voice in the cause of educating people about the specifics of narcissistic abuse, through examples of my own personal experience and through the knowledge I acquire as I go.

It’s frustrating and heartbreaking enough to realize we were targeted as victims and knowing there isn’t much, short of not engaging in the relationship in the first place, that we could have done to accomplish a different overall outcome. That makes us feel very powerless. But it’s a whole new level of powerlessness to think about all the current, ongoing abuse happening everywhere behind closed doors, rendering victims captive of tormenting, soul-crushing living nightmares, including (but not limited to) children in different ages.

It is only natural for empaths to deeply feel for such victims and it is no different for me. But what can be actually done?

The sad reality is that narcissists (and other Cluster B individuals) have been around all throughout history and will continue to be around in the future. There really isn’t much that can be done about the fact that they are camouflaged among us. So the only shot we’ve got at minimizing their abuse lies in educating potential victims. Since identifying potential victims is an equally impossible task, there needs to be more education taking place towards the general public at large, so that potential victims may identify themselves and also identify abusers and aggressors when they surface in their experience.

But what can be done for victims that are right now immersed in the abusive situation? Sadly, it boils down to having the information out there and within reach for when these people become ready to receive it. Each person has a different level of awareness and style of functioning. Some people will never see the light, while others will be driven to the very end of their rope and severe levels of destruction and disruption before it happens. But when it does, the information needs to be within their reach.

For me, I did recognize red flags from the beginning of my relationship. Then I recognized dysfunctional behavior. Then I was struck with unspeakable abuse that, in turn, created what I now know to have been trauma bond. And from that point forward, it was nothing but downhill and I found myself incapable of leaving. When I reached the point of being able to see clear abusive behavior for what it was, I was already held hostage – and I mean that almost quite literally.

However, despite recognizing abuse, narcissism was nowhere near my radar. Sure, I had heard the term as widely used to describe someone who is very full of themselves, but that was just about what my scope of understanding was limited to.

Being in therapy for 3 years at this point, after getting out of that relationship, has really shed bright light into the many aspects of the abuse in my particular situation and it’s also helped me identify what, in my own functioning, made me not only an ideal victim but also an excellent source of supply, as I now recognize it. But it also took me this long to empower myself enough to go looking for answers beyond the therapeutic setting and to, finally, find the big missing piece of the puzzle. Three whole years. And that’s on top of the 7 years spent wasted with the narcissist.

Mind you, I am no stranger to psychology and psychiatry. Though I’m not a psychologist myself, my own therapist jokingly says all I lack is a formal degree. That is due to my level of interest and research in the subject. I took 3 years of psychology in college, I’m constantly discussing the subject with my sister who actually does hold degrees and specializations in the area and I’ve done more than my fair share of informal reading and studying throughout the span of around 20 years on mental illnesses, out of simple personal interest. That was particularly true for borderline personality disorder, something I had previously been exposed to. And yet, I still lacked not only the knowledge but also the awareness about narcissism. Shocking stuff, but true story.

Regardless, when the red pill was presented to me, I dug deep into the exploration of my newly found puzzle piece and made it a point to educate and work on myself based on this very specific paradigm of narcissistic abuse. It’s been quite a journey so far and it feels like breathing fresh air. There’s something to be said about the empowerment that comes with understanding. And yet, I know I’ve barely scratched the surface. I feel like this is why many survivors end up making a career or a side job out of educating and helping others. It’s because it’s really that big and we’ve personally been there. It’s excruciating to be aware of the fact that there are others out there in this awful position we’ve been before. The best teachers are the ones who have lived the lessons. There’s no substitute for relatability.

So frustration gives birth to action. Action makes room for healing and empowerment – our own and other people’s. There are no shortcuts in any of this. There is only the possibility of creating critical mass for spreading awareness and potentially enough critical mass with internalized knowledge. And, even then, narcissistic abuse will still happen.

So, what do we make of this? I’ll go back to one of our gratest teachers in history and say “we need to become the change we want to see in the world”. I understand, it feels like such an insignificant contribution in light of the overwhelming force that acts as the trigger for action, but hear me out. Through each individual action of sharing a story, of learning to then educate, of seeking empowerment to then help empower, of speaking our truths so others can set themselves free, I don’t care if we, individually, touch one life, or twenty or a million… When we recognize we have the power to potentially set one mind, one life free, isn’t that reason enough?

Also, there are others out there doing the same. Even as it is today, there is already significant critical mass to start bringing this issue to mainstream light, all we have to do is go on YouTube and search for “narcissistic abuse” to see how many people are invested in this work. Each channel is effectively helping people set themselves free, both from the actual bondage of the relationship and its ramifications, and the psychological bond created by these monsters. What if… what if each of these people behind blogs and YouTube channels felt like they were just one powerless voice in the crowd?

I actually believe it to be bigger than that. Many people who are set free will embrace a sense of contribution and want to pay it forward. I am living example of this and far from being an isolated case. And, you see, this behaves in an exponential manner. One helps many, many among those who’ve been helped help others and this multilayered dynamic spreads on its own.

So, what’s my point in all this? We can choose to live in frustration or we can choose to live in empowerment. What empowerment looks like to you is up to you to decide. We don’t all come to the world with the same exact set of gifts, skills and abilities, the same type of disposition or personality. Therefore, empowerment comes in many different shapes and forms, and the same can be said about if and how we choose to extend knowledge and experience with others.

Maybe speaking your truth isn’t what will personally empower you, though I will take my chances in saying that keeping yourself in silence isn’t the path either. And the reason I know this to be true is that I’ve tried this route myself.

It took me many years to find my right way to turn crippling frustration into empowering action. What you’re reading right now is my current catalyst: this blog. To be honest, I currently find myself capable of doing even more, but I’m consciously choosing this particular avenue due to circumstantial reasons, as well as because this format and the skill of writing are things I’m fairly proficient at.

But putting your knowledge and your story out there may not be your cup of tea. And that’s perfectly ok. However, if all I’ve said so far resonates with you, just keep in mind that your experience with narcissistic or cluster B related abuse is valuable and you do have the option to empower yourself and others by sharing it if you so choose.

If you find that this would be a good option for you, I encourage you to find a way to share your truth. However this may look like to you.

If you don’t even know where to start, I understand. I’ve been there myself. So, may I suggest you start by leaving a comment here? You don’t have to use your real name if you aren’t comfortable with that. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be here: find online communities for victims and survivors, comment on videos, start your own blog like I did. Find support groups in your area, talk one on one with people who may be in an abusive relationship, create artwork to express yourself. The possibilities are many, you have to find what resonates with you, but what I can tell you is this: speaking your truth is potentially as empowering for you as it is for others. When you let your frustration morph from a way of life into a state of empowerment, you will be in the process of creating change, inner and outer change.

All it takes for evil to win is for those who know better to stand by and do nothing. Whether you become a fully blown activist or leave anonymous notes inside books in libraries is a decision only you can make for yourself. But I hope this blog post has inspired you out of frustration and into a sense of value and empowerment. This blog wouldn’t exist without the knowledge, stories, and encouragement I found in YouTube videos and articles online. And a nudge from people who care about my healing.

I’m paying this nudge forward. And hoping that whatever shape empowerment takes for you, you embrace it. Because unaddressed frustration, much like worrying, is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but doesn’t take you anywhere.

Credits: Featured Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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