This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of BetterHelp. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Happy Wednesday, lovelies!
I hope you all are enjoying your week so far 🙂 Today’s post is a bit different as I’m sharing a deeply personal experience and something that has been on my heart for quite some time. I’m finally ready to share with you how I freed myself from narcissistic abuse and how I got my life back.
A few months ago, I went through a situation that was both very eye-opening and heart-breaking. I actually wrote an entire post about it – what had happened and how I felt, but soon after hitting the publish button, I discarded the post because I just wasn’t ready to share as it was much too painful. I wasn’t ready to let you all see that little piece of my life because honestly, I didn’t believe the reality of it. Knowing what I know now and looking at the situation from the outside, I’ve finally moved on from it and with that, I’m ready to share because I know that my circumstances can help someone else find hope in their situation.
How It All Started
I’ll start with a little background. I won’t go into details about how I was treated but I will say that the script would be a perfect fit for a Lifetime movie…it really is that unbelievable and maybe one of these days, I’ll be able to share everything.
My immediate family and I have been treated differently from my extended “family” for the entirety of my life. While other family members were given everything they could ever want in life, we were mistreated and looked down on. We were called names, ostracized and not given any type of support whatsoever. While this has heavily affected my immediate family, it is something that has been weighing me down, personally, for years. All I wanted was a family to support my dreams, show me love and treat me in the same caring manner that I treated them. Instead I was met with hate, jealousy and resentment. Seeing how differently I was treated (even to my face!) brought about countless nights crying myself to sleep wondering what I had done to deserve a family that despised me so much. One person in particular did everything in their power to make my life a nightmare. Between the secrets, lies and constant mind games, I broke a little more each day and I found myself losing more and more of myself as time went on – the scary thing was that I did not even realize it. No one would believe me when I tried to talk about the abuse I was constantly receiving from this person and why would they? This person was well-known in the community and to everyone else, was a wonderful and exceptional human being with a heart of gold. But I saw the many facets of this person and the mask they wore and even though I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt, over time the layers started to peel back and I saw this person for what they really were – a controlling, possessive human with the worst intentions and an unhappy heart. This person was the ring leader of my entire family and whatever they said, went….even if that included the decision to shun someone from the rest of the family. They had connections and with one phone call, would have no issue in destroying your life, which was a very real possibility if anyone should cross them or even worse, tell the truth about them. Even with the abuse, I tried to be a good person and do the right thing. I gave so much and started to realize that I wasn’t receiving anything in return and with each experience, I would draw further away from this person only to be manipulated back into their life. It started to feel like a bad relationship that I just couldn’t get out of and I honestly felt like I was going insane. Each situation would get worse and worse as time went on and after 25 years of sheer torture, I decided to finally put an end to it.
Wake Up Call
The straw that broke the camel’s back was a series of events that stemmed from a trip I took out of state a year and a half ago. One event led to another and ended with my entire family split. Lies were spread and as a result, threats were received on my end. I tried to fix it, but there comes a point when you just can’t fix something that is completely shattered. I was told that things would be made right and instead, they got worse. The last event ended in heartbreak and deceit from a situation that could have possibly resulted in serious consequences for the rest of my life. I have never felt to hurt or betrayed and even though I thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse, it did. That’s when I cut myself off.
The Lightbulb Moment
I was involved in a very real cycle of abuse from family members that were supposed to love me. What I thought was normal family drama ended up being something completely different. I endured years of emotional, mental and financial abuse that only resulted in feeling lost, confused and heartbroken. I suffered high levels of stress which eventually led to low self esteem. Nothing I did was ever good enough and as a result, I felt like I wasn’t good enough. I was made to believe that I wasn’t pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough, etc. I can’t say for sure, but I do believe that years of this kind of abuse led to a mild form of body dysmorphia, anxiety and eventually, depression. I really am such a positive and happy person so imagine my frustration when I suddenly felt the effects of this destruction. I couldn’t understand why I was feeling this way and most importantly, I didn’t understand what I had done so wrong to deserve this treatment…..but that’s the thing, I didn’t do anything at all.
Road to Recovery
Following the last events, I went out of my comfort zone and reached out to a large group of peers and shared my story asking for advice on how to move on. I was met with so many loving, heartfelt comments and emails by others that had gone through something similar and many of those urged me to check out Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This is something I had never even thought would be a possibility and let me tell you… I did extensive research and every single box was checked off. I started listening to podcasts surrounding the disorder and things started to click. It all finally started to make sense…EVERYTHING. This was never about me, this was them and there is nothing I could have done or can do to change it. Knowing this information helped me move forward and start the healing process. I blocked and deleted ALL phone numbers and social media connections pertaining to these toxic family members. I made a promise to myself that I would never subject myself to their destructive behavior by visiting regularly, attending holidays and once again, immersing myself in their lives…even if that meant I had to give up the one person that I truly cared for in exchange for my sanity. It wasn’t worth giving up my life for anymore.
As soon as I did this, I felt a lightness that I hadn’t felt in so long. The weight had finally been lifted off my shoulders and I finally felt free. I was free to do what I wanted with my life without asking for permission and I was free to be myself without worry of being criticized. I danced, I sang, and I cried happy tears knowing that I was no longer a prisoner.
While completely cutting off contact and learning more about the disorder helped me heal, there was still something missing. I wasn’t completely sure how to restore the parts of myself that I had felt like I lost throughout the years and while talking to my husband and immediate family helped, I felt like I needed to bring in an outside source that wasn’t emotionally involved and that could look at the situation critically. This is when I decided to give BetterHelp a try.
BetterHelp is an online destination for counseling. When you sign up, they match you to a therapist that specializes in whatever you need help with. What I love the most is that you have the convenience of talking to someone at anytime and from anywhere. It’s also very affordable at $65 a week (whereas office visits can be up to $300 per session) and I loved that I could experience the session in the comfort of my own home during a time that fit my busy schedule.
I have never had counseling before this and honestly, wasn’t sure if I even needed something like this because I felt that I was making great progress on my own. I thought I’d give it a try anyway because really, what do I have to lose? I started out by writing a little bit about my situation and answering a few questions and within 24 hours, they had matched me to an ideal candidate and I was able to schedule my first appointment.
I was super nervous before my appointment but my therapist made me feel at ease. Within 30 minutes, I had touched on my situation and the issues I was facing as a result. She sent over a few worksheets to get to know me and my situation a little better so that she could come up with a proper treatment plan. The following appointment dove a little deeper into my relationships outside my family and from this, I realized that I have a boundary issue. I give more than I take and I tend to say yes to the point of exhaustion.
So far I am loving the sessions! I am learning so much about myself that I didn’t see before or that I didn’t know had occurred as a result from the long-term abuse I incurred. I feel like even with the small amount of sessions I’ve had, I am already feeling so much better about myself and the decisions I’ve made to completely distance myself from this negativity. I know that I have a long road of healing before me, but I am learning through this process to love myself and to continue to keep a positive mindset. 🙂
I know that this post is considerably different than most, but I do feel like it was important to share because I know so many of you have gone through or are going through difficult situations. Just know that there are options available for getting your life back and I’m always here for you guys if you need anything at all. If you’d like to try out BetterHelp for yourself (which I highly recommend), you can do so here. <3
Cheers to new beginnings! <3