Boundaries, Rebuilding, Recovery, Starting Over, Survivor

KNOW YOUR TRIGGERS

UNDERSTANDING OUR RESPONSE TO STRESSES
Any weakness in defending or standing up for yourself can be used as weapon to manipulate, control and hurt you at the hands of toxic person or narcissist. Learning to stay steadfast in your decisions and setting healthy boundaries requires us unpacking why we are such pushovers.”

Journaling is one of the best ways to identify what triggers us and brings us to fight or flight mode. Sign up for a cloud-based journal app and start documenting situations where you felt you were feeling panicked, afraid, frustrated or bulldozed.

Capture four things in each journal entry:

The Situation
Really capture what the situation or circumstance was about, the topic, who was involved, where you were, and what you were discussing.

  • How did the environment make you feel?
  • Was the conversation heated or calm?
  • Do you already have a conflict relationship with the person(s) involved?
  • Were you discussing a heated or high-conflict topic? Why?
  • What were the circumstances that lead you to this precipice moment?

How You Felt
Understand how the situation makes you feel emotionally is a great layer to unpack. As you continue to journal, you will notice consistencies in your emotional response.

  • Do you feel safe or threatened?
  • Do you feel victimized in this situation? Why?
  • Do you feel angry or afraid?

Your Physical Response
Our bodies tell us a lot about how we feel about a situation. Look specifically for physical responses to the situation and log each symptom you experience.

  • Can you feel your heart race?
  • Are you sweating?
  • Do you lose feeling in your limbs?
  • Do you have a headache or migraine?
  • Do you feel chilly?
  • Are your ears ringing?
  • Are your fingers cold?
  • Is it hard to catch your breath or breathe normally?

Identify the Trigger
A trigger is the tipping point that sets off our flight/fight response. In identifying triggers, we can start to apply counter balance techniques to keep you calm, manage the situation logically, and maintain your stand,

  • What was said in the situation?
  • Was it the person’s voice?
  • Was it the topic?
  • Were you pressured to respond immediately?
  • Were you threatened physically or verbally?
  • Did you perceive a threat (real or imagined)?
Hoovering, Leaving, Lovebombing, Survivor

MY SURVIVOR STORY

I’VE WALKED 20 YEARS IN YOUR SHOES
I spent the majority of my young adult life married to grand elite narcissist. He was very charming and seemed to know everything about me. We met when I was 18 and I married him when I was barely 20, because I believed I met my prince charming. Soon the fairytale became my nightmare. For nearly two decades, photos of us together looked forced. A fake smile to hide the evil Jekyll and Hyde person I felt chained to.

The emotional, financial, physical, and other forms of abuse was intense and unrelenting. Giving up a successful career to care for a child with Autism, he had me where he wanted me. Stuck in a circa-1950’s completely submissive marriage, in deep isolation from friends and family, he controlled and manipulated me till I felt I was being suffocated. Being with a narc for so many years nearly destroyed everything I was as a person. It was a constant stripping of my values, my boundaries, my thoughts, my emotions, and I felt completely alone and consumed. In my constant pursuit to change myself to make my narc happy (which is impossible)–I lost sight of who I was. The day decided to leave with my two children, was the turning point I started to get my life back.”

He Charmed My Family and Friends
Early in the relationship he presented his best self to my friends and family. He kept up the charade long enough everyone fell for the fake persona he’d created. It was intentional and part of the entrapment he planned for me. When I tried to tell people what he was doing to me, they thought I was crazy and wouldn’t believe me.

He “Smear Campaigned” Me Even When We Were Married
My ex narc told my friends and family I was emotional, had anger issues, was the whore, and mentally insane. He was actually projecting on to me what HE WAS DOING TO ME. This was an intentional tactic to erode my credibility, so when I did try to speak out about the abuse, nobody would believe me. I was isolated and stuck.

Leaving Was Hard
I left without a job, but I had cashed several 401K’s to support myself and my two children. He refused to leave our suburban home and forced us out. I had no job, our son was taking expensive medications and therapies for his Autism, and he refused to help support our kids during our separation. . .but I stayed strong. His plan was to financially destroy me so I would beg to come back. He wanted to squeeze me financially so I would crawl on my hands and knees asking him to forgive me (narcs are never in the wrong or responsible for failure). He wanted the balance of power restored after I left. It didn’t work.

He “Hoovered” Me
Six months into our separation (after months of harassing texts, emails and stalking my apartment) and the day our daughter was having surgery–he asked me to come back. Not with flowers begging for forgiveness, but through a cell phone call that was insincere and disingenuous at best. He hoped to catch me at a time my guard was down or I was at a weak point. He was raging mad when I left, you see, he had not quite selected my replacement and he didn’t get to lap up the fuel in abusing and discarding me before I walked out. I beat him to the punchline and left him hanging without a primary source of narcissistic fuel! When I left, I went “No Contact” and I was unrelenting with it. Asking me back was about him winning back his position of power again, but his former charm had lost it’s shine. No longer captive and exercising my free will, I told him to take a hike!

I am Free
I left that relationship 7 years ago with two small children. Now in my 40s, I’m able to share my life with others and am in a healthy relationship with a kind man I deeply care about. My narc is squarely in my past (where he belongs), but we share custody of our children. If you have children with a narc, there is rarely a full escape, but using NO CONTACT strategies is incredibly helpful in coparenting. I often write about our interactions with the narc.

**NOTE** I am not a licensed therapist, nor do I claim to be one. Advice or information shared here is meant to educate and inform. If you choose to take action to change your circumstances, that is purely your decision. I can only share with you my experiences in hopes it will give you courage and help you feel supported in your journey. By providing you a forum here, I also hope you will find other men and women going through your same challenges. You are not alone and this community is here to build you up.