“Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.” ~ Pema Chödrön
My marriage had become toxic. My son, unborn baby and I had to go. My options were to become homeless or move in with my family. My spiritual healer suggested that moving back in with the narcissist in my life would be the most healing. I resented that advice for months. Re-experiencing the same abuse I lived through as a child and seeing my own child being exposed to the same was infinitely more painful than my marriage at its worst.
Going no-contact with the energy vampires in our lives is the most-often prescribed professional advice to victims of such abuse. This isn’t always possible. It’s impractical to quit your job each time you encounter an abusive boss or co-worker. In my case, I literally had nowhere else to go.
For those who can leave their abuser, the positive effects will be temporary unless the victim does some serious self-development. Without proper healing, victims repeat the same painful pattern for the rest of their lives. We all know people who marry one alcoholic after another and individuals with financial issues that persist for decades and even generations. My spiritual coach always reminded me that if I don’t change myself, my “movie plot will change but the characters will always stay the same.”
There is a reason why my marriage played out the way it did. Being raised by a narcissist, I was chronically codependent. The conditional love I experienced growing up led me to believe that all the meaning and value attached to my existence is derived from catering to the needs of others. Without consciously knowing it, I craved and ended up in a relationship where I did a heavily disproportionate amount of care taking and giving while subconsciously suppressing my own emotions, needs and desires. I didn’t let him take care of me. It couldn’t have ended up any other way.
Upon closer inspection, I realized that the majority of my relationships involved a disproportionate exchange of value. Deep down inside I always believed that I was here to take care of others and wasn’t worthy of getting the same in return. When I did have opportunities to form more balanced relationships, I pushed those people away dismissing them as “boring.” Looking back, I realize that few of them were truly boring. I was just not used to being in low drama relationships where the other party didn’t require anything outside of genuine friendship.
Therapy and spiritual healing exposed my upbringing as the root of my misery which created a strong temptation to disown my parents and never look back. The truth is that running away would have been a temporary solution. I realized that I would keep attracting troubled relationships, romantic and otherwise, if I didn’t change myself. I needed to learn what had happened to me and how it shapes my perceived reality in order to change from the inside and begin attracting healthier relationships.
Today I am well on my way down the healing journey. My quality of life and the relationships around me have transformed tremendously because I chose the path of self-discovery over the path of no contact. I started by getting intimate with myself and my inner child. I wanted to reverse engineer how I got to my lowest low. I learned that many of the things I believed about myself simply weren’t true:
>> Turns out I’m not difficult to get along with. I was labeled as a nasty tempered devil child because I rebelled against abusive behavior in my childhood.
>> I am also not an introvert, and human existence doesn’t revolve around people using each other. These beliefs were a result of experiencing conditional love and the subconscious fear of being slapped in the face or enduring verbal abuse for simply having opinions.
>> I learned that my value and the amount of love and respect I deserve aren’t tied to how much I do for others.
>> I learned that a lot of the behavior I tolerated from those closest to me was not normal or healthy.
I also learned why my parents raised us the way they did. Their issues are products of their own traumatic upbringings. While there is no acceptable excuse for abusive behavior, this helped me understand that the conditional love I experienced was not meant to be malicious.
As a result of these discoveries, I began seeing the real me which automatically improved my self-esteem and resulted in increased levels of self-appreciation and self-love. Improvements in self-esteem and dedication to self-care gave me the courage to leave toxic relationships and establish firm boundaries with those I couldn’t go no-contact with.
As a result, I have experienced miraculous improvements in my physical and mental health. I lost a significant amount of weight without even trying. My once acne riddled complexion cleared up mysteriously. The germaphobia and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) that have plagued me for years and dictated my daily routines are gone. All of these developments are pleasantly surprising in such a way that I frequently don’t recognize myself.
I am so grateful that I chose the path of self-discovery over no-contact. I got to meet and fall in love with the real me!
Author: Lyuba Ellingson
Image: Thor, movie still
Editor: Travis May