"No one is trying to hurt your feelings."
"Did I actually say that?"
"That's not how it happened."
"You know your memory is bad."
"You're being dramatic."
"You're always so sensitive."
"Why do you keep bringing this up? Aren't you over it yet?"
"You hurt/offended me many times, but I was able to look past it."
"I don't know what you're talking about. Can you give me an example?"
I'm completely over it.
I have a zero tolerance policy.
My whole life, the closest people to me had the habit of consistently gaslighting me. This has resulted in me, at my big age of 33, just learning to acknowledge ALL my feelings as valid. I've been growing over the last few years to validate my emotions, but I recently realized that my validation was still conditional.
Even though I was working to let myself feel sad or disappointed or *gasp* angry, I never gave myself room to have BIG feelings or to act on those feelings. It still had to be quite controlled.
But, through reflection, finding friends who see me for me and value all of me, learning about the impact of narcissistic abuse, and taking steps to empower myself, I've decided to wage war.
- I've decided to stop letting people cut me off and talk over me. What I have to say has as much value as what anyone else wants to say, and I will no longer be strong-armed into submission, even in the most mundane of conversations. I've realized that even these "tiny" interactions play a big role in how I view myself and how I carry myself. We teach people how to treat us, and I'm tired of letting people believe that it's ok to just interrupt me. It makes me feel small, and I will no longer allow it.
- I've decided that I don't need approval. Growing up with a narcissistic mother, devoting my life to a narcissistic organization for 13+ years ( a story for another time), and then finding myself in a close relationship with another narcissist, I had been completely groomed and programmed to seek validation and approval from those around me. Not only did I need their approval to function, I completely doubted my own intuition, ideas, talents, abilities, and judgement. NO MORE. I can make my own decisions. And if I make a mistake, I am grown-up enough to be able to navigate it. So many people's success stories are full of all the mistakes they made along the way. (I am NOT saying that I will not seek ANY advice any more. What I AM saying is that I will be very selective about who I seek help from, and I will not give weight to unsolicited advice. Also, I will not be taking advice that doesn't make sense or feel good to me. I am deciding to live my own life. I've spent my entire life doing things because others have told me what to do or what not to do, and I refuse to do so any longer.)
- I'm putting boundaries in place, and I'm deciding not to feel bad about it (that's hard though, I will admit). I will not be going places I do not want to go. I will not be entertaining interactions with people I don't enjoy or feel safe around (besides work, obviously.....but I'm even working on changing that). I will not be answering emails or talking on the phone when I don't want. I will be putting guidelines in place to protect the life of peace and love I'm building. I'm also not having conversations I don't want to have, and no one is safe from these decisions.
- I've decided I'm going to stop gaslighting MYSELF!!! "How can you gaslight yourself?" Good question! I notice that I do it, especially when I'm feeling upset or sad about something. When I'm talking through it with someone I trust, I can say things like, "Maybe I'm being dramatic" or "It's probably not even that big of a deal" or "I'll probably be totally fine tomorrow once I calm down". OMG! The self doubt is so ingrained. BUT! I'm making it more of a habit now, when I catch myself saying these things to actually say, "No....I'm not exaggerating! I'm not gaslighting myself". Or something like that. I'm not going to discredit my own feelings any longer. I've been emotionally manipulated and belittled so long, that those gaslighting catchphrases have become my inner voice, but I'm kicking them out!
(Picture of me waiting to get my nose pierced @ 33 years old because I'm an adult who can do what I want.)
"I am woman, hear me roar." Helen Reddy
So basically, I'm devoted to turning everything upside down in my life at this point. And it's crazy because these things are seemingly so simple.
- Don't let people interrupt you.
- Don't like people infringe upon your personal rights and boundaries.
- Don't let people tell you that you have no right to feel the way you feel.
- Don't tell yourself you shouldn't feel the way you feel.
- Make decisions for yourself without feeling like you need 10 seals of approval.
BUT when you had a narcissist for a parent, you were NEVER gifted confidence and assurance. AND if you've endured spiritual abuse, you were even further robbed of autonomy. (That's a story for another day. Let me know if you'd even like to hear it or if you can relate in any way.)
This is a BIG DEAL for me because my very own mother raised me to believe that my perception and emotions were not to be trusted. So every time I take one of these stands, I have to silence the voices in my mind telling me that I'm crazy and unjustified.
I know that's not true.
And now I'm starting to live like it.