“You could have grown cold, but you grew courageous instead. You could have given up, but you kept on going. You could have seen obstacles, but you called them adventures. You could have called them weeds, but instead you called them wildflower. You could have died a caterpillar, but you fought on to be a butterfly. You could have denied yourself goodness, but instead you chose to show yourself some self-love. You could have defined yourself by the dark days, but instead through them you realized your light.” ~S.C. Lourie
As the memories of my childhood flash within my mind, I am brought back to a place in which I did not know if I was going to ever be happy. Happiness, stability, and love seemed so far away and out of reach that I met each day with overwhelming sadness. I longed for peace, I longed for someone to understand, and I longed for someone to save me.
No one really knew what was going on behind closed doors with my mom. She was a tyrant who emotionally demolished anyone who got in her path. My siblings and I were her constant targets. Due to her nature, she isolated us from family and friends and only brought us around to make her look good and build up her ego. The classic case of a narcissist.
You see, it was not until many years later during my adult life that my mom was officially diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder.
If you are unfamiliar with this diagnosis, it is someone who lacks empathy and is unable to show love. They appear to have a superficial life and they are always concerned with how things look to others.
She was incapable of being loving and nurturing, things we look for mothers to provide. While I was a child, I was always grasping for answers to the constant emotional, verbal, and physical abuse that plagued my household.
I learned very early on that I was to be seen not heard, and that any challenge or inquiry of fun would be met with a tongue-lashing and/or strike to my body. When you are the daughter of a narcissistic mother you internalize every strike and every word laid upon you. You feel dismissed and discounted. You never feel good enough.
I remember moments in where I wished for the mother-daughter bond that my friends experienced. I would cry whenever I would read about it in books or see it on television.
When you are a victim of abuse, you always feel as if what you desire is out of reach because you believe don’t deserve it. How could someone who gave birth to me inflict so much pain? This question flooded my brain on a daily basis.
Motherhood is a sacred act of love that was not provided to me, and therefore, I suffered. I suffered with lack of confidence, limited beliefs, fear of failure, anxiety, perfectionism, and lack of emotional closeness with romantic relationships and friendships.
It was at the age of nineteen that I decided that I no longer wanted to be a part of this life. I made up my mind that this cloak of darkness would no longer plague me. I left.
I left with all my belongings in a laundry bag as well as what little light I had within me and moved in with my now-spouse’s family. I was grateful that that they welcomed me with open arms and that I was safe. Little did I know that the real healing began once I decided to step into it.
Trauma leaves not only emotional scars but also tiny imprints that influence your thoughts and decisions. I was an adult who knew nothing about adulting and lacked the guidance from a parental figure: I was terrified.
But I realized that sometimes you must mother yourself. In the chaos you learn how to give yourself the love and affection you longed for in your most powerless moments.
I needed to show up for myself and the little girl within me that didn’t have a chance to enjoy life. It was time for me to take my power back and ignite my inner being.
I started becoming increasingly curious and hopeful about this transition I was beginning to step into, so there were a few steps that I began to implement on this journey of transformation. I hope you may find them useful when you are ready.
Distance yourself from the toxic behavior.
Sometimes distance and time help heal and give clarity as well as peace.
I’ve had to take myself out of situations where I knew I had to protect myself. This allowed me to take time out to really focus on what I wanted and the direction I desired to go in.
At times this meant limited communication, geographic distance, or emotional distance. This is not always easy, but it will help keep you on track if you constantly remind yourself that it is for the development of your highest good and your healing.
Surround yourself with people who can lift you up and pour into you.
Coming from a household where love and warmth were not present can leave you feeling empty. Surround yourself with friends or other family that can lift you up while you are sorting things out. Being around people who were able to showcase this for me provided me with the motivation to continue creating it within myself.
Develop and nurture a spiritual practice.
Faith and hope were the two driving forces behind my motivation to leave. I just knew deep down that this was not the direction that I wanted my life to go in and there were better things out there for me.
Developing a spiritual practice helped me to gain inner peace when moments of fear, anxiety, and doubt heavily crept in. It comforted me when I had no idea if taking a leap would work out, but the valuable lesson that I learned was that when you take a leap, the net will appear. Meditation, prayer, and connecting to a higher power can create stillness within the chaos.
Start with unconditional love toward yourself.
Surviving verbal and physical abuse is no easy feat and can tarnish what little confidence you may have had, which is why beginning to develop that within yourself is super important.
I had to learn that if I loved myself I could feel more confident in my abilities and continue pushing forward.
Give yourself those motivational pep talks, read dozens of books, work with a professional, listen to uplifting music or podcasts. Pour into yourself and become your own best friend. No one can take that away from you.
Give yourself time.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to healing. It is a journey that loops and curves, but it all leads to a transformation.
It can take time to unravel all that you experienced, but be compassionate with yourself as you figure it all out. Set the intention of working toward a positive transformation and gather the tools necessary to facilitate the change.
It took me years of trial and error to get to the place that I am in right now, but my intention was always to become better than I was yesterday. Nurture your healing, there is breakthrough on the other side.
Continue to make that conscious choice every day to grow, heal, and reach transformation. Don’t shy away from the healing necessary to set yourself free and live the life you deserve to live. You have to shed the old in order to let in the new and no longer allow fear to have a strong hold on you.
There is beauty in discovering a life of inward and outward victory. Throughout my transformation my breakthrough consisted of this one powerful mantra:
I am not a victim of my circumstance, I am victorious.
You are too.