Rebuilding and Opening the Heart Again: Life After Narcissism
How I took a situation that questioned my value and transformed it into fuel to live my best life yet.
It was three years ago this week that he called me a piece of meat in an Eat ’n’ Park- as I was paying the bill for our dinner. That was the exact phrasing- piece of meat. It didn’t take the sting out that the words preceding it were “Did you really think I actually valued you?” and the next words out of his mouth were “delicious Prime A meat, but meat none the less”. I had fallen for him and he was here- dehumanizing me again.
This was not the first time he had undervalued me. He flirted with other girls right in front of me. Threatened to break things when we saw my favorite band. Made me pay for everything. Teased me that the next time I showed up to suprise him, he’d be with another girl.
So, I can’t say I wasn’t warned that he didn’t see me as girlfriend material. Which is fine except for the fact that he also led me on.
Texts the morning after the show stating that the previous night had been so much fun and he was glad I was with him. Liking everything and anything I put on social media. The small winks and kisses after buying him a Pepsi at the concert. Telling me all he needed was time.
When it ended, he blamed me for “throwing myself at him” and putting him in situations where he felt he couldn’t say no. The whole, “I did nothing wrong. Other people worship me and you failed to fall in line babe. This is all your fault”. He refused to take responsibility because it would damage his all too precious ego.
I was crushed when his final verdict came down. He told me that he wanted to save the friendship but didn’t want me to hold a flame.
I guess that by saving the friendship what he really meant was: “I want you to continue to pay for me to do things with you. Who doesn’t like a free dinner? I just don’t want you to expect anything in return”
Yeah, forget that.
I don’t remember a lot about the next weekend after he did it.
I felt like my heart had been through a shredder. Like the whole thing was being held together by electrical tape.
It would be three years, almost to the day, that I would decide that another guy was worth the time of day.
What I realized more than anything from the experience was that I didn’t love myself.
When we don’t love ourselves as human beings, how can we expect anyone else to love us? They see us mistreating ourselves and that we have no self-esteem. We practically show them how to mistreat us.
I didn’t really know myself, didn’t trust myself and didn’t know what I wanted for my own life. I had allowed the small things I wanted dictate who I was. I wanted that relationship to work more than I wanted to believe in myself and fight for what I actually deserved.
The best thing I did after that relationship ended was taking some time and space to figure myself out. I needed to remember that I was strong enough to make it on my own.
As one of my friends pointed out, I needed to remember that I didn’t need a guy to complete me. I needed to know I was complete and then find a guy who complimented me.
That process took three years and believe me, it’s worth every minute of the fight.
So, how did I rebuild myself?
The first thing I did was a self-assessment. Not about what had gone wrong in that particular relationship. I already had a pretty good idea about that. I had accepted less than what I had deserved in a date.
I did an assessment on how I felt, at that moment, about myself. Why I had allowed myself to be treated like that. Why I had prioritized someone like that over my own happiness.
I started with the questions:
Am I actually happy with my life?
What do I love about myself?
What are my strengths and weaknesses?
If true love never happens, will I be ok?
Am I strong enough to stand on my own?
What would happen if I spent the next year not seeking a partner but dating myself?
I didn’t love all of the answers. I didn’t like the value I put on another person to make me happy. I wasn’t happy that I didn’t know if I would be okay enough on my own.
So, I decided to take the year long challenge.
To get better acquainted with myself and to heal.
To know that I was okay on my own.
During that year, I:
Chose to journal daily
Challenged myself in the areas I felt weak in
Went after the things that I wanted- including submitting work to a dream publication
Took myself on a small date once a week
Learned to lean on myself- listening to myself and making myself a small promise a day to deliver on
Took a 3 month social media break so I could limit negativity
Prioritized time with people who built me up
Questioned things that I believed in and why
Read for hours in bed instead of going to concerts
The following year, I decided again that I wasn’t quite ready to be with someone. I still needed time to seek out what made me happy. In retrospect, I’m glad that I took that stand.
I suffered from depression for much of 2018. I knew that being in a relationship would have stressed me further. That I had to learn how to heal on my own. I learned to unplug and set challenges for myself. I especially learned what I needed to be and do to comfort myself in that darkness.
I also had the time of my life at a Diamondhead concert where I jameed out in front of the ex and interacted with one of the guitarists. In short, I had the time of my life.
Today I can honesly say that I’m still discovering the little things that make me happy. I’m actually undertaking a happiness year in 2020. That’s simply to work on being happy in every area of life.
I also met someone in the past two months that makes my heart skip. He mirrors a lot of the characteristics that I’ve been working on developing: resilient, outgoing, great conversationalist, and incredibly encouraging.Plus he owns a voice that I could listen to daily and never get tired of.
The plan to be happy regardless had worked so well that for once, dating him is not a focus. I knew I’d regret not asking. It was a challenge for me: in my own confidence and an attempt to let someone else in.
The other night I asked him out. His car broke down and I decided to stay with him. After sitting there for 45 minutes, enjoying each other’s company, I made that move. I told him that I knew I shouldn’t go the direction I was going to go, but I would regret it if I didn’t take the stab in the dark.
Long story short, we’re giving it a shot. He told me he couldn’t promise anything, and I know that right now, I can’t either. I enjoy the single life enough to remain in it if things don’t work out. It takes a lot to sway me from that.
However, this is the last step of healing for me. To get back on the horse and to try again.
Not staying single because of fear, because of pain, but because I know that I’m strong enough to enjoy it on my own.
Author’s Note: This is probably the most vulnerable piece I’ve ever written. I generally avoid writing pieces that split my heart open. That make me feel exposed and under a microscope. However, I hope that if you’ve been in this situation, you have the courage to get out and know that you deserve better. The mind games aren’t worth it. The pain isn’t worth it. You are beautiful and complete on your own. Give yourself a chance to realize your own awesomeness.