My friend, my sister, I shared my experience of manipulation, violence and abuse in my book to prove to you that it is possible to escape the claws of narcissistic and dangerous perpetrators. Step by step we will free ourselves. Please find my 11 practical tips to rebuild our lives after trauma.
- May we organize our lives
To regain a sense of self, the first thing to do is to organize our own life. May we sort every document around the house. If we have procedures and steps to take, may we do them now. May we make sure that the mail gets open and sorted out as soon as it is received. May we act upon it immediately. May we use a calendar to regain control of our daily agenda. Each step, as small as it seems, will get us there. Let’s start by the first tiny baby step we can take. Do we have to go to a meeting and feel overwhelmed? Let’s start by checking out the itinerary first. Then, let’s calculate the time needed to get there. The next step will be to go there. The final step will be to congratulate ourselves for doing all that.
When we have been dependent upon another person for many years, it can seem daunting at first to trust oneself. After having been put down and humiliated for years, we have to learn to live again. May we count on ourselves of course, but also on all the beautiful persons around us which are willing to help. My friend, my sister, I often repeat to my children: allowing one person to help us means allowing such person to realize a good deed, through us. Everybody wins.
2. May we take care of ourselves
Rediscovering who we are means re-centering ourselves on us. It is a very difficult thing to do when, for many years, we lived our lives entirely centred on the demands of a narcissistic person. It is possible that we do not even remember what we really like. However, integrity will be the direct result of realigning our lives on ourselves. May we, at last, live for ourselves. This is such a new thing that patience is required.
My best advice is to start by taking care of our body, our precious body which was nevertheless forgotten and denied during all these years. The body we hurt in order to please a narcissist. Massage, yoga and meditation are the pillars which will enable us to discover someone far more amazing that we thought: ourselves.
3. May we check our basic health
We have been entirely devoted to the wishes and whims of another human being for many years, so it is very possible that we neglected our own basic health. After I escaped, I gradually regained awareness of basic health care. May we at least go and see an OB-GYN and a dentist. Too often, years went by without us seeing anybody to check our basic health, because each minute of our time was devoted to a narcissist.
The first time I went to see my OB-GYN after I got free, she was in shock. She cried “Claire, what happened to you? Even your toes are contracted!” Then, at the dentist, I was told I would never be able to eat any fruits again because grinding my teeth severely damaged the enamel of my teeth.
4. May we consider holistic health
Our body is one piece. May we consider that our body is doing its very best. May we use our intelligence to heal it by tackling the roots of the symptoms. Thus, I was grinding my teeth day and night because I could not express anger and was under very high stress. I also had uterine fibroids; it was a natural consequence of the rape.
These symptoms can of course be healed in a traditional manner. Moreover, we can assist the healing by realigning with a healthy version of ourselves, on a subtle level. For instance, cranial osteopathy can be beneficial. It certainly was to realign my jaw, in a gentle and efficient way.
Self care if my secret. I did some research about the fascinating subject of the influence of the body over the mind. I also decided to be an observer of my thoughts. After years of using my mind better, I am now able to enjoy all the fruits and vegetables that nature created and to have a normal cycle without any fibroids in my belly.
5. May we sleep like angels
Sleeping is a primary need of the human being. However it is not compatible with manipulation by a narcissist. You have been forced to get sleep deprived for years, either to answer his demands or because he was deliberately preventing you from sleeping to keep you in a confused haze, rendering an escape impossible.
Once I got back freedom of movement and freedom of how I would organize my schedule, I was finally able to get some sleep. However it took years to be able to properly sleep. For a while I was unable to fall asleep because I was terrified. Then I got severe insomnia, waking up at 3 am each night. Sleeping properly is a new thing for me. My friend, my sister, sleeping is crucial to get a healthy brain.
6. May we let go of others’ opinions
My friend, my sister, I know we are the best at molding ourselves in order to conform to others’ demands. From now on, we need to learn to let go of others’ judgements. What someone is thinking is a direct result of their personal story and their way of thinking the world. In reality, it has nothing to do with us.
What others do and say is a reflection of themselves. May we focus on rebuilding our lives.
7. May we choose magical food
I underestimated the power of healthy eating. It makes me want to spread this message all the more. Our mind will function so much better if we fill our precious body with pure food, full of life and vitamins. Having a clear, sharp and quick mind allows us to rebuild our lives more easily and rapidly.
8. May we let go of what harms us
Taking care of ourselves also means letting go of what harms us: alcohol, cigarettes, gossip, toxic people, drama… Moreover, it is not because someone belongs to our family that they are entitled to treat us badly. I understood I had to choose to distance myself from certain family members to protect myself. Making sure we are safe is a way of affirming one’s value. Only then will we be able to really protect the beautiful souls which depend upon us, like our children.
9. Work as a path towards freedom
I devoted all my time and energy to go back to university at 33 years old. For four years, my mind was focused on one goal: to get my lawyer degree. To immerse ourselves in work and strive to do our best is a way of forgetting about our pain. Working means we are acting not only thinking. It allows us to climb the steps towards freedom. By working, we get our confidence back and become financially autonomous.
10. May we enjoy the support of like-minded people
My friend, my sister, the pain of being faced with people who say we are lying is tremendous. One of my motivations to write a book is to say to women who have been abused: “I am here with you. I understand. I feel you. I know how hard it is to speak about what happened. Therefore, I know that being accused of lying is harsh“.
My mission is to help women. I am using YouTube videos and the words of my book to provide support to them, especially if they feel lonely or misunderstood. I want to give them hope, particularly when they are told: “You must stay for the children. It cannot be that bad. You have kids. You cannot leave. Stay for them.”
My friend, my sister, what is detrimental to a child is being the witness of his or her mother dying, slowly, in front of his or her eyes. A happy and safe mother can provide a far better education and care to her children.
11. Daily gratitude
Each night with the children, after our busy day finally settles, we spend a little time listing “our three beautiful things“. In turn, we say to the others what was good about our day. We need to say three things. I love it when one of my children asks: “Mum, is it alright if I say more than three things?“.