8 Clues That You're In Desperate Need Of Self-Care
It’s so important during the healing process to take care of YOU. Most of us, if not all of us, lost our identities due to the narcissistic abuse we endured. Your entire being—physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically and even spiritually—has been obliterated. We look nothing like our happy, healthy selves that we were before the Narc Abuse. We’re a ghostly shell of the person we once were and totally unrecognizable to those who know us well and to the person in the mirror.
Once we finally get our “freedom” we need to relearn how to take care of ourselves, love ourselves and put ourselves first again.
Do you know what it looks like to actually “NEED” Self-Care? Let me help you out…
1. The Fake Smile – You are going around through life with a big fake smile plastered on your face. In fact, it’s plastered so hard you’re even smiling when you’re all alone. You’ve had to “perfect” that fake smile during the days of living with the narcissist. You had to smile out in public to “pretend” everything was good. You had to go around your own home smiling and pretending to “keep the peace” at home, keep the Narc calm, and assure them that all was well so that you wouldn’t “set them off” and get lectured or yelled at.
2. Workaholic Syndrome – You bury yourself in work…work…work to keep you busy and keep your mind off of the reality of your life. Work becomes your “happy place” and your “peace” for the sole fact that you are away from the Narc. “Home” becomes so toxic that there is no peace of mind.
3. Nothing Is Fun/No Enjoyment From Things You Used to Enjoy – You withdraw or completely stop doing all the things you once did. Whatever you did for fun, you stop doing. You don’t feel like going out or being social or hanging out with your friends.
4. Making Fun/Mocking “Being Happy” – I did so with gritted teeth, under my breath mocking the dysfunctional “happy face” and attitude I had to constantly keep up for pretenses. God forbid I ever show my true emotions or how miserable I really was in front of him. I’d “had it up to HERE” or knowing you’re “fed up” is a good indication it’s time to take care of you.
5. Two-Faced – If there’s one thing I hate is a two-faced, fake person. Yet, during my 8 years of hell, I’d become just that. I had to be all lovey dovey with him, but as soon as my NarcX couldn’t see me or hear me, I would talk to myself and have conversations about how I REALLY felt or all the things I REALLY wanted to say to him. I had become "fake" with him and around my family and friends "pretending" to be happy or like things at home were blissful.
6. OCD Cleaning – I don’t think I ever did this, but for some it’s a definite clue that it’s time to get out and take care of YOU. If you are furiously cleaning an already pristine house to take your angst and vexation out, then maybe you want to put some of that energy into putting you first.
7. Self-Shaming – Oh how often I would call myself stupid and dumb. I’d berate and shame myself mentally over and over again. In some of my poems, I use the line “Oh, how much did I truly HATE myself…?!?!” That’s another clue that all is not well in your world.
8. Explosive Anger – Pretty self-explanatory…it’s been brewing up for quite a while like a volcano that erupts suddenly. I know I'd bite my tongue and suppress my anger, until finally I couldn't take anymore and the next thing the Narc would do to me set me off.
All these things are what we DO when we need self-care. But, how does it FEEL? I think you’d agree that by the time we get to this point we’ve become so numb that we feel absolutely NOTHING! I know I didn’t. I had built such a fortress around my heart that I felt nothing. It was a very hollow, empty feeling if nothing else. My heart had hardened and what I did feel towards the Narc was anger, hatred, resentment, and total disgust. At this point, I’d become an unrecognizable shell of the old Laura. Any goals, aspirations or dreams for my life were gone. Any joy or happiness I used to feel for life was a distant, vague memory.
I’d disassociated from my old life and former self to do everything I had to in order to survive the hell my life had become. I had to think like he did. I had to (pretend to) feel the same way he did about everything. I had to like what he liked. I had to eat what he wanted to eat. I had to go where he went—except work, the gym (most of the time)…and golfing when he finally got a hobby.
Through it all, I’d developed several coping mechanisms that I’m sure were very harmful and unhealthy for me in the long run. Walking on eggshells and being in constant “fight or flight mode” for 8 years straight sure did its share of damage to me. I'd begun to say that he was literally killing me slowly...from the inside out. On the outside, I looked and appeared fine to others. There were no visible scars. But on the inside and behind closed doors my life was an emotional, psychological and mental hell. My body eventually began to fall apart and shut down on me from all the stressful abuse.
Being the Narc’s wife felt like a lifetime prison sentence for which I’d never be pardoned from. The only thing I clung to which wasn't so much about bringing me enjoyment or pleasure, but more for acts of survival were journaling and yoga. To this day, I say both saved my life!
If any of these are spot on in your life, then let this be a wake up call! Your life and the quality of your life depend on it.
Stay tuned for our next post in this #Self-Care #Self-Love series that will explain why Self-Care after a narcissistic relationship isn't an option...it's a matter of life or death.