If they can trigger you, they can control you, find your center

There is a real sense of peace when you are finally ready to begin the process of letting go. When things that used to affect you, no longer have the power to upset and disrupt your life. You feel comfortable in your own skin, able to take time to observe rather than react. I am finally on my way to indifference. Not just from him, but that entire toxic system that surrounded him.

I will admit, I have always been very reactive, when something would happen I needed to take care of it, right now. I could not accept a sense of injustice. While others who lived in a healthier space could shrug their shoulders and move on, easily triggered, I would have to respond.

This never helped. My nervous system was raw, I was edgy. Getting a reaction is often the goal of an abuser. Triggering is a method of control. Although I had been advised often not to react, I could not help myself. I had a deep need to feel seen and understood. To prove I was not all the horrible things that were said about me. I felt if only I could explain, it could all be worked out. Of course that was impossible. You cannot work this type of thing out. Sometimes there are people who just have no interest, or are committed to misunderstanding you. And I finally realize, that is not my problem.

This was because I did not have a strong sense of myself. I had been defined by others since childhood. My parents particularly my mother would tell me what a horrible child I was, and then my husband confirmed this view. I remember not understanding why he would even want to be with me when he would say these terrible things about me. My nervous system was hyper-aroused and I was hyper-sensitive.

There was a purpose to this triggering, it was meant to destabilize and disrupt my emotional stage. He wanted me to get worked up and agitated, so he could sit back seem like he was the rational calm reasonable one. By triggering me, he would then be able to gaslight me, defining what I was thinking, or feeling and I would not have the self presence to recognize what was happening. My engaging pulled me into the drama, causing me to seem like the cause, I was really just reacting, but my reaction would be all outsiders saw. It made me appear unhinged. These reactions would serve as further evidence of just what a horrible person I was, and how I needed him to manage me. ( According to him)

What they want is for you to try and defend yourself, but the fact is they are not listening, nor are they interested in what it is you are trying to say. Your vain attempts are just giving them a smug sense of control. Its a complete waste of time and energy. You will forever be defending against false charges with no hope of ever finding an honest resolution. They will just take everything you say and twist it. You just cannot win.

There is only one way to deal with this, it is put forward by Dr. Ramani who has an acronym that explains. (DEEP) Don't Defend. Don't Explain. Don't Engage. Don't Personalize. It is easy to say this, but if my experience is any guide, you will need to take time away to calm yourself as well as therapy and the support of good friends who can validate your experience before you will truly be able to implement this technique.

With a narcissist, during the lovebombing phase one of the first things they are going to do is listen with rapt attention to your life story. They want to know every detail, how it made you feel, what affected you the most. They will empathize with you, and support you during those early days. You feel like you finally have found someone that understands. You will spill your guts. Years later, I would realize his insults and comments tended to be exactly the same things my parents said about me. I had handed him the playbook of all my vulnerabilities and trigger points. I could be played like a fiddle, and he knew the tune.

I am ashamed to say it took me far to long to finally learn my lesson. In reacting you cannot see what is happening, you have deep emotions that are being triggered, but you tend to react at the surface level, you never really get down to what is at the core of those emotions. It wasn't until I was finally able to get some space where I could sit with the emotions, and spent time with supportive friends who helped me unravel what was really happening. After so much gaslighting and confusion, I had lost the sense of what was real. Gaslighting is a grooming technique, with the same messages repeated over and over. "You are imagining things, you are crazy, that didn't happen and you are over reacting".

I realize now, he used to tell me certain things and I would get worked up and go fight his battles. He was the poor misunderstood victim, victimized by that evil woman (the woman before me). He would complain about his family, and how they ignored and mistreated him, and I would be angry on his behalf. It would stir up a sense of protectiveness in me and I would fly out ready to avenge the wrongs inflicted upon him. Meanwhile, he sat back being the good guy. Cool, calm, unaffected.

I never stopped and observed what was really going on, I never stopped to asked myself if it was really my battle. I just was ready to fight. It cost me. It cost my peace, and the opportunity to live my own life.

It has taken a lot of healing and self reflection to realize, you don't need to fight every battle, you do not need anyone else to understand. What you need is to know in your own heart who you are and what you stand for. Focusing outward, distracts from yourself. There are far better more productive ways to focus your energy. You will never find life satisfaction when you focus is on the outside. I am not sure why I did this, perhaps to avoid feeling the pain of abandonment from my childhood. Focusing on the outside meant I didn't have to look in, I didn't have to face how deeply unhappy I really was. I did not have to face my own reality. It also offered an excuse for the horrible things he did, it wasn't his fault. He had been poorly treated he just needs to be treated right, eventually all those kinks will work out and we will have a happy calm home. I ignored all the red flags of who he really was, and excused them with these external excuses. It was all deflection.

It has taking me years to begin to make peace with myself and to feel comfortable in my own skin. To begin to trust my own instincts. To finally realize that my worth is not dependent on whether someone recognizes it. It was always there, I just didn't realize it.

I have spent a lot of time making sense of my life up until this point. Learning I was not imagining things. It did happen and it was bad. I was not overreacting. There were rational explanations for my tornado of emotions. Most important, I did not deserve to be treated that way. I can not hold on to bitterness and grief that I lost so many years of happiness on that hamster wheel. Now it is time to release and let it go. It's time to focus on the future that I want to build for myself. I never lost anything through this divorce, I have gained. I have gained to opportunity to live the life I always wanted. Gained the understanding that I deserve to have an opinion, my feelings are valid and I am entitled to have them. I am ok.

There are people that will judge, and finally I understand, they really don't matter. They are on their own journey and they will find their place in their own time. I am finally in a place where I can accept that, and sit in my own space, quietly living and loving my own life.

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