My Most Read Articles of 2020
And how this tells me there are still a lot of people hurting out there
As an abuse survivor and successful narcissist recovery coach, I write what I know. Ever since I worked up the courage all those years ago to publish my first piece detailing my experience with abuse at the hands of a diagnosed narcissist (who was also my husband and father of my children), my voice has been the tool that has helped me heal.
Though I’d always been a writer since I was a young girl, I lost my ability to express myself through the written word during the time I spent with two husbands over nearly three decades who did everything in their power to silence me in order to keep me under their control.
Once escaping and taking that first step toward recovery and healing, I inherently knew that my success depended on finding my voice again.
And the only way to do that was on the blank page.
What I hadn’t planned for was how my own healing process and stories of survival would be instrumental in so many other lives who were still lost in the darkness of abuse. Though I knew how sharing my experience would help me, I was surprised to find out how cathartic it was when others reached out to me with their own stories that resembled my own.
Healing became a circle.
Then it became a road on which I was further along, putting me in a position to help those who were still in the dark, feeling alone and without hope.
Then healing became an ocean. Once I stood firmly on the shore in a life of emotional freedom from my past, I was better equipped to throw that life preserver out to those drowning in abusive relationships.
My mess transformed into my message.
And that message is one of not just survival, but of overcoming and thriving after years spent in pain. I am the poster girl for hope, for it never being too late to live a life you deserve and dream of, for turning those open wounds into scars, and for rising from the ashes of a life you thought you’d live forever burned to the ground.
This is what I know so this is what I write. And based on my increased readership and feedback here on Medium, where I pour my soul into the written word no matter the subject, I’ve learned that there are a whole lot of people out there who are still hurting, still lost and suffering as I was all those years ago.
And there are a helluva lot of people who are suffering because of a narcissist in their life.
This tells me, or I should say reaffirms my belief, that a) narcissistic abuse is far more prevalent than most people realize, b) the stigma that abuse is only physical still exists, and c) there is little help out there for victims/survivors of emotional abuse, but especially if the abuser is a narcissist.
This also explains the popularity of many of my articles regarding this subject, which is why I wanted to share the pieces that resonated the most with readers.
Because now that I’m good, I want you to be good. Now that I’m living a life of emotional freedom and have left the darkness of my past in the rearview mirror, I want that for you because it’s what you deserve despite what those voices in your head (many of which are from the narcissist in your life) are saying to the contrary.
Enlighten. Educate. Empower. Repeat.
Since as Maya Angelou is famous for saying: When you know better, then you’ll do better.
When you’re looking for clues but missing all the signs
One of the challenges any victim of emotional abuse faces is visibility. Because our pain is not visible to outsiders, because we lack bruises or broken bones that prove we are suffering, what often happens is we don’t even believe our own perception when trying to figure out why we’re hurting so badly.
And because of our love for and attachment to our abuser, there is a part of us that actually doesn’t want to know…
And what not to do
The road of healing after narcissistic abuse is not an easy one to take. In fact, I wouldn’t even call it a road. More like a rollercoaster in a washing machine set on spin. Mainly because narcissistic abuse can be likened to psychological warfare, a grand mind-fuck that leaves the mind, heart, and soul of a victim a mangled and unrecognizable mess to be sorted and picked through.
There are, however, ways to fast-track your healing journey and avoid the dead ends and roadblocks that throw you off the path, delaying your eventual arrival to emotional freedom from your pain…
And why it’s a red flag for future abuse
You might ask yourself, What’s so bad about being bombed with love? It sure sounds appealing, especially to someone who has never received that kind of attention and is in desperate need of it.
But the problem is in the intention. And the term love-bombing is somewhat of a misnomer because it’s not their love they’re showering you with, but the perception of love.
The aftereffects are, therefore, devastating…
Though it actually does take two to tango
As both a former dancer and a survivor of abuse, I’m here to tell you that while the tango does require the equal effort of two people to be successful, abuse operates on a basis of inequality, and essentially “works” only if there is an oppressor and an oppressed.
In short, abuse is not some fucking dance where two people are enjoying themselves. And there are not two sides to how this story is to be told.
There is only one side: The truth…
And what it means if you don’t
There are several obvious signs of abuse, such as physical harm inflicted by an intimate partner, to let us know the relationship is unhealthy. But most signs are not so obvious.
Thus, it becomes complicated from a victim’s standpoint. Especially since the absence of physical abuse perpetuates the complication of accurately assessing whether or not abuse is even taking place.
But there is one surefire way to tell if the relationship you’re in is unhealthy. One way to tell whether it’s toxic. One way to tell if you’re in a relationship that is built on real love or abuse disguised as love…
And yes, they do it on purpose
The collective response to someone being abusive is to first err on the side of innocence and make excuses for the abuser since to consider the alternative is at first unimaginable.
During my marriage to a clinically diagnosed narcissist, I became the Queen of Excuses for my king, which usually culminated in me filling in the blanks of a sentence that became well-worn as the years passed: He doesn’t mean to [insert abusive behavior here] so I just need to [insert change to be made here] and then he’ll snap out of it.
But they don’t snap out of it for the sole reason that an abuser purposely inflicts pain and suffering onto a victim in the attempt to maintain control and power over that victim — essentially setting the stage for the abuse to continue…
And how the process of healing is worth the result
It’s often been said that the healing process after narcissistic abuse is often worse than the relationship itself. This is due to the reprogramming we have to do, the reconditioning of our minds and bodies and hearts to function in an entirely different way, and the overwhelming task of learning to love ourselves again after being dehumanized to the point where we no longer recognize who the person is in the mirror.
But with all the pain we must endure, with all the self-reflection and honesty required when looking back on our experience, the moment when you do reach the top of that mountain, when you step into the light and feel the sun on your face for the first time, when the breath you take is no longer heavy and your lungs expand in size, that is the moment when everything you’ve been through will prove its worth.
That is the moment you will realize you’ve finally made it.
My hope is that by reading my words and sharing my story, you will find comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. This is why I’ll keep writing (not that I have a choice since it’s like breathing for me). And I encourage you to tell your own story when you’re ready and take back whatever power is still in someone else’s hands.
This is how we heal. We release ourselves from the pain by freeing it through our written or spoken words.
Because no one deserves to be silenced. So even if your voice shakes, start speaking up. The world is listening.
Want to get expert help, tips, and strategies on recovering and healing after narcissistic abuse? Then join the thousands who have signed up for what’s basically free coaching in your inbox and receive your Real Love Does Not Abuse poster to remind you of what you truly deserve in a relationship. Plus I’ll tell you how to snag a free copy of my bestselling book, “You’re Still That Girl: Get Over Your Abusive Ex for Good!” www.suzannaquintana.com