“I think I should be better by now, that’s the problem.” I looked up at my therapist, the one I reluctantly finally made an appointment to see and shrugged…”I mean it’s been nearly two years.”
She jotted something down in her notebook and then asked me the one question I hate being asked “Do you still love him?”
“Love has nothing to do with what I feel now. No I do not still love him.” I tapped my fingers on the leather chair as I tried to verbalize the emotions. “I loved him, yes, once upon a time I loved a man I believed to be the person I would spend the rest of my life with. But that man was a myth. That’s the problem, how do I sort out the fact that he was not real, that he lied, that he abused me? Then…” I paused, hating to say the words out loud…”How do I understand that some of my greatest memories and moments came from that very person, real or not?”
“He fooled you, you bought into it, of course you are confused.” She nodded at me as she jotted more notes down in her notebook.
“The good was good but the bad was worse, I know that. He was spontaneous, fun, we went on so many trips, I rode some of the best roads you can on a motorcycle and we laughed, so much… but he hurt me and my kids so greatly, it’s almost as if he were two people and in the long run I cried more than I laughed.”
“You will heal from this Erin, he was just a very bad con man. It happens to people all the time. And he was in actuality two people, the person you needed at the time and the same person who wanted nothing more than to use and abuse you.”
I left the session feeling just as confused as I was when it began, therapy is great, I recommend it but I feel as if no one, not even someone who specializes in such matters, truly understands unless they have lived it.
The aftershocks of a relationship with a Narcissist or Sociopath are sometimes harder to deal with than the relationship when it was going on.
When you are in the relationship you are so distracted by the abuse, the mind games and the constant drama, you barely have time to comprehend what is happening on a daily basis. When you are away from the relationship it sends ripples into every action you take, every relationship you try to be in, every moment you try to move forward. I have likened it in past posts to coming out of a coma.
This is nothing like healing from a normal relationship, you are healing from trauma and in some ways addiction. Sometimes it is hard to understand that. The flashbacks, the sleepless nights, the fear, the mistrust you offer every new individual you come across, nothing is believable anymore.
When I started my relationship with E I believed everything he told me, blindly, I followed his lead. He was in charge at all times and for some reason I was okay with that… until that became the control that hurt me and my children. He believed he owned me and I am willing to bet still to this day believes he owns me in some way.
When I left the relationship it was hard for me to understand that I am in charge of my own life. It took me a long time to not feel like I had to ask permission to just do simple things, for me to understand that if I was late I would not get yelled at, if I had a tiny mishap it would not be an argument and a way to make me apologize for days. That I did not have to fear having stuff thrown at me, being spit on… being raped or physically abused. I also had to begin to slowly trust people around my children again. To this day they have not met a man I have dated since E but I have begun to allow my friends to be in their lives.
Things I had buried below the surface of our relationship just to cope with them haunt me now, this is the aftershock effect. It will hit me randomly how many times he cheated on me, how many times he lied to me and just how much he used me for. It’s almost as if you are having a normal day and suddenly you lose your balance and your environment changes. You try to talk yourself out of the panic attacks but it is not as easy as it seems. You try to do the things you are supposed to do but some days you just want to hide away.
In my case it does not help that some of the people from his “camp” as we will call it still harass me. Yet it’s not them I fear, it’s him, the cold expressions, the constant drama, the way he so easily had me hooked. I fear meeting his match, I fear my choices, I fear my ability to see the Sociopath or Narcissist inside someone when I meet them.
I have become a very outspoken voice against this type of abuse but that does not mean I have healed entirely.
The aftershocks are inevitable. I tell anyone who writes or calls me that, when they ask what to expect after the relationship is over I tell them to expect to have to face a lot of what they did not understand while the relationship happened.
I tell them that they are almost going to have to relive each memory in order to heal from it. They will have to see the relationship for what it really was for the first time and it will bring them anger, depression and yet somehow in the long run strength.
E does not own me now, he has no say in my choices, yet he still ripples through my life. You can not forget the abuse, you just have to learn to balance your past with your future. By that I mean you have to open your eyes and mind and see the reality of who you are now and who you were then.
You have to learn to trust yourself again, this is something I am working on each day. I need to trust myself to make the right choices for my children and myself.
The aftershocks are going to come, steady yourself and hold tight to the beauty you bring to your life when you leave these monsters. And be patient with yourself, you are after all the victim of a disaster.