Life can pitch us some very raw deals. When we have been hurt or are hurting it can seem to be a cruel suggestion that we need to accept something we don’t like or that hurts us. And yet accepting something does not mean that we say something that happened is okay. Most of the time it is not okay. But the main point I have found is that until I can accept something I cannot find freedom from it nor fully extract the necessary lessons.
I have just been reading a comment on a reply I left on the blog of Let Me Reach, devoted to the healing of people coming out of a relationship with a Narcissist. I was sharing how difficult a journey it was to find freedom from all the nasty things my ex narcissistic partner would say to me. Mostly what riled him was my ability to be and express my vulnerability. I was just doing a google search on the relationship between narcissisism and bi polar disorder. The distinction made was that the narcissistic personalities very early in life had to erect a powerful psychological defence against any feelings of vulnerability. In order to survive they had to deny that vulnerability and pretend to be a person who was strong and impermeable to vulnerability which they came to equate with weakness. They then use a process of projective identification to locate that vulnerability out there in another person who they, in putting down shame and discard in just the same way they shame and discard their true (hidden) selves for being vulnerable and human. I don’t think narcissistic personalities are alone in this, for our modern society tends to have many narcissistic tendencies, teaching us to deny our vulnerability and equate it with weakness, while at the same time shaming people who fall short of certain ideal images. But the truth is that our vulnerability is a very powerful asset which teaches us that we are human, imperfect and that we have limits.
It took me many years of struggle to understand this of my ex partner. Even one year out of the relationship I was still trying to convince him I was worthwhile. The sad thing was that he was not the person I needed to convince, it was, instead myself who needed to believe positive things about myself while learning to develop self compassion for any mistakes, which were, in fact, learning experiences.
In the 12 step group of which I am a part we have a saying : we work on achieving progress rather than perfection. I was not aware for so many years that I was often a very subtle perfectionist. I was raised in a home where I was conditioned to have high standards, to hide when I felt inadequate. I never learned how to say, I don’t know, or can you please help me, I actually don’t understand how to do that. Such attitudes were in my case a breeding ground for addiction, subtle escapism and hiding. I now realise that making mistakes is actually all a part of learning. The way to heal my difficulties is not to deny that they exist, but to front up and face them. In the words of my 12 step group we practice to heal in this way via. Awareness, Acceptance and Action. Awareness means I shine a spot light on the dark places. That in the place of hiding and silence I learn to speak about and open up to what is happening.
I just came across the following quote on the Psyche Central Website
In the end we are all hurt by silence, as you cannot heal what you cannot acknowledge.
Awareness and acceptance are related to acknowledging what it is that exists, even if it is a painful harsh truth. In my case I may have had to revert back to denial or disbelief many times on the journey of healing in that last relationship, in order to learn to face the truth and let go. It took a lot of pain and heartache and tears but in time I reached that place. I learned in that process to come home to me. Getting my puppy Jasper also helped for me to transfer my affections to a being that knew a lot more about unconditional love. My ex partner would scoff at the ideal of unconditional love, equating it was an impossible concept. I guess he had no experience of it.
In the end I would wish for anyone coming out such a co-dependent relationship to find that freedom for searching for an impossible dream, that of love from someone who was not, in the end, capable of it. But in the end it takes what it takes for us to finally find freedom and no one else can take that journey but us. And until we finally accept the painful reality we cannot truly let go of what is hurting us.