Healing is wobbly. People sometimes envision the healing process as a set of stairs, but they may leave out the fact that sometimes those stairs can be made of crumbly stone, or earth that shifts unexpectedly. There are random pits of quicksand, too. Lots to navigate.
During the healing process, you level up in a psychological and/or spiritual way. As you do this, rifts and even chasms can form between you and others. It can feel like a separation, a soul distancing. It can feel confusing and uncomfortable. This is the result of two people who have been relating to each other on a similar plane, and one taking an elevator slowly up, while the other person stays at the original level. You are now aware of things like patterns and beliefs and habits that the other person is not. You are becoming conscious, and they are still sleeping.
It’s easy to judge the other person, but it’s important not to. You started out on the same level, after all. The only difference is that you’re you, doing work on yourself in this area, and for whatever reason, they aren’t–probably for the same reasons you hadn’t up until now. At first, we don’t know what we don’t know.
This is definitely happening to me, manifesting in a surprising way: my relationship with my mother. Resentment toward my father is a given; it’s always been there. But my mother is entirely different. She’d always been my ally. She is a beautiful, sweet soul.
She is also codependent to the hilt, and I realize now that she had not been assertive enough in defending me when I was little and helpless. She may not have stepped in often enough, allowing a situation to become too severe already before intervening. I realize now that she had been serving my father’s interests, by remaining passive and avoiding angering him further, and in so doing, had also served her own interests, which was to placate him, in order to preserve herself.
I also realized that she had also softly manipulated my behavior and suppressed my own self-expression in the same interests. That sent me the message that my own self-expression wasn’t valid, and that my parents’ interests were more important than mine. Keeping Dad happy was the name of the game, and it was worth more than a child being allowed to be themselves.
She still is codependent, and maybe she is comfortable that way, because it’s what she knows. That’s natural. She’s also older, and may lack the self-esteem or the ability to make the effort to change. She might believe that she is where she is and that it works for her. That’s valid.
What’s also valid, however, is that I am changing. I now recognize her subtle dismissive reactions, and her not-so-subtle gaslighting. It’s well-intentioned, and I had believed that her intention was to make me feel better, but now I realize that it’s even more so to make her feel better. That’s okay, too.
However, it’s triggering to me, at least right now, and thus, while I don’t seek to control her (I couldn’t anyway), I can control what I do and how I respond. I’ve learned to accept the distance that is forming between us, and to love her just as much anyway. I’ve chosen not to be as open with her about the events transpiring in my life. I’ve learned that I cannot, and should not, rely on her for reassurance or validation. That has to come from within. I need to know for myself that what I’m doing is right, and that I’m right about what it is I’m right about, and that’s that.
Triggers don’t always remain triggers; what triggers me now might not trigger me in five years, or even next week. For now, it’s important to identify what my triggers are and avoid them, at least until I can write in some “new code”, new responses and strategies for handling them, and perhaps take away some of the triggers’ Trigger Power.
In the meantime, things are a little uncomfortable. That’s okay, too. It’s a natural part of the process, especially early on. That’s my main task right now: becoming comfortable with the discomfort.
Meanwhile, I also continue plodding toward my own independence. My husband has picked up on this in some way. Maybe he’s just that intuitive. Or maybe he’s been sitting down at my computers and clicking on my open browsers and reading what I have to say in my journal or this blog. I haven’t told him anything, yet he zeroes right in. Of course, it could just be a natural connection of knowing someone that well after 21+ years together. Or, maybe I’ve accidentally said too much, in parts that he has pieced together. I’ve given him too many clues in sort of a pre-emptive self-defense; that’s a hard habit to break.
But never underestimate the narcissists – they do snoop! My husband even bragged about having the second largest law enforcement intel(ligence) network in his county at one point.
Our wedding anniversary came and went recently. There is something weird and sad about the dominant thought in your head being how to leave, and according to what timetable, when it’s your wedding anniversary–that of course neither of you have made any plans for.
I did have a talk with my husband on that day, though. I simply spilled some thoughts and feelings to him, hoping to share some perspective. I’m really glad I learned an important strategic tidbit right before this conversation, which was to “not attach to outcomes”, because I would’ve been in a world of hurt if I hadn’t.
Not attaching to outcomes means that when you have a conversation about something, you’re not concerned with getting the other person to see things your way or do a certain thing or stop doing a certain thing. I simply told him how I felt and what I thought and how I saw the situation, and I let it hang in the air. It didn’t matter to me what he did with that information; my conscience was clear; I had aired what I had to say in the interest of openness and transparency.
It all sounds very businesslike, doesn’t it? Openness, transparency. Almost political. Gorgeous ones, that’s kind of how narcissistic relationships are, aren’t they?
And, much like business and politics, nothing in narcissistic relationships ever changes, either. I know this. My decision now is to take/accept it, or leave it. And I’m plotting my points on the Cartesian graph that represents the ocean that is my life.
I do expect the waters to be choppy for a while. I’m trying to brace for the storm.
I had three days of depression and weakness, where I actually grieved my ex, and I ruminated a lot, daydreaming and wishing and almost trying to transport myself to a parallel universe where everything worked out and he was actually that perfect match for me that he’d presented himself to be in the beginning.
What I should have done is to ask myself what I can do for *me* right now, what else I can focus on, what else I can think about, what activity can I engage in. These moments of weakness strike most when everyone else in my life is busy or otherwise unavailable and I find myself alone in the late afternoon with nothing to do.
I’ve discovered guided meditations, about healing the inner child and integrating with the higher self, and I’ve just started watching those. I’ve discovered some excellent yoga routines on (repeat after me) YouTube. I’m looking into chakra meditation. Perhaps I’ll opt for those instead during my moments of weakness, because it happened late last week, and I’m sure they’ll happen again.
Here’s to next steps, dear ones! ❤