Narcissistic Abuse Survivor Jennifer Arnspiger

Reconnecting to Self After Darkness

I have been receiving messages about how different I am in quiet and veiled forms all my life. I’ve also been deeply sensitive to the emotions of those around me . . . with absolutely no idea how uncommon or exceptional that ability was. I find the word ability in describing that sensitivity a little questionable. After all, I didn’t curate it; I didn’t even know I was doing it. I didn’t know people around me had no idea how to validate or relate to it.

There is something about starting this blog, which originated out of a promise to myself that this year I will speak up, that is cracking me open. I vowed to use my voice even without knowing whether anyone would care what I said. I’m not writing (firstly) for others, but for myself. One week in and it’s amazing how just bringing my mind and body here each day is unraveling things about my life and sense of self that really throw me off course.

I feel completely at sea reconnecting to myself.

What a thing to say that is. All the same, it certainly feels, as each post begins in my head, like the truest statement in the world. Ever.

I feel inundated by beginning. Inundated by the things I realize about my past, inundated by the messages I receive from the Universe that bring about the next (massive) realization about this, about that, and oh my god look how everything comes together, now go ahead and write that in 1200 words. And it occurs to me that perhaps the beginning is what stops most people. I’m so proud when a post goes up; it feels almost like coming alive again with proof, right there on my computer screen.

I read somewhere that certain people keep mirrors all over their surroundings not out of narcissism or really anything physical, but for the reassurance every time they passed one that they were alive. You know when a tiny piece of something, a word uttered, a sentence read, brings literally everything together for you in a moment? One collection of words presented just right and your entire experience suddenly makes sense? That’s how this was for me when I found it. And that happened a year into a divorce that felt like riding through a meat grinder. A divorce that changed everything about me then dropped me back into a world that hadn’t changed a bit. I didn’t know I was an empath then; I didn’t know how common some roads are for us. I had just completely no idea what kind of darkness to expect from the years that followed.

But I did recall that during my marriage, especially the latter half of it, I was fairly obsessed with mirrors. Not only did they make small spaces feel airier (a foundational design trick in California), but . . . well, I didn’t consciously know this at the time but I had lost myself in him utterly. I’d grown so accustomed to a seeping, no-one-else-saw-it kind of pretty-coated despair that as soon as I read about the mirrors, an aspect of my last decade came into wildly sharp focus.

This is a glimpse into what it’s like to re-embody and step onto the healing road after a trauma. Especially when you are an incredibly deep-thinking, in-your-head, committed-to-self-evolution, introverted soul who has absorbed deep interpersonal pain before you know what those terms mean. It’s scary and wonderful and lonely and intense.

But you’re not the only one going through it.

And if sharing my story helps you to know that, I’m so glad. That’s the kind of medicine I deal in. The dark curve of this road is not easy. But it’s not the entire trip. Not even close. I never really thought, when I was in it, that I would survive to find myself on the other side. But here I am. (The New Year really feels new, you know what I mean?) I don’t look the same outside or feel the same inside, and therefor find it extremely disconcerting to reconnect with myself. But it’s never harder than when we first begin.

1 thought on “Reconnecting to Self After Darkness”

  1. I still remember the nights in the kitchen with the awful pain you were dealing with, the absolute devastation of self and hoping and praying this day would come. I am so absolutely proud of you for your strength of mind and tenacity. This beginning is brilliant and earned. I am so excited to see where and how far your journey takes you.

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