Why Healing From Abuse Is Never About The Abuser

Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter

Excerpted from Evelyn Ryan’s book, Take Your Power Back: Healing Lessons, Tips and Tools for Abuse Survivors. Read a review of the book here.

th-8The only person you are here to serve is your authentic self. When you serve your authentic self, your decisions and actions fulfill your legitimate emotional needs. All of life’s pieces fall into place, since the core of your being is truth-based and authentically you. You know you can rely on yourself for your safety. You feel safe in your own body.

What happens to us when we are abused, betrayed by those we intimately trust? Betrayal is one of the most painful human experiences. The victim’s response is shame, internal pain, self-loathing, trauma, and fear. We translate that into the false belief that something is wrong with us. But there is nothing wrong with us! There never was. We did not do anything wrong. Being who we are is not wrong. Our love was real. Our trust was real. Theirs was not. We were innocent defenseless victims.

GET TIPS FOR DEALING WITH THE SHAME FROM BETRAYAL.

Our attackers are character-flawed, disordered. We were betrayed because we trusted and depended on unhealed abusers, manipulators, and untrustworthy broken people. They betrayed us. We were betrayed because that is what betrayers do. It was not personal in that sense. Our attackers targeted us because they are experts on homing in on people with our vulnerabilities.

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They need people with our vulnerabilities so that their manipulation tactics will be
successful, so that they will win the challenge and the ultimate prize: our energy, attention, and adulation. Before you and me, there were many, and after us, there will be many more. We were betrayed because we were vulnerable. We did not ask to be victimized, but we played a role in the abuse that we need to understand and accept.

imgresMany of us are empaths—highly sensitive natural healers, compassionate people with
high emotional intelligence. We did not learn to use our compassion and trust responsibly; we depended on untrustworthy people to define our self-worth. Our emotional vulnerabilities make us complicit in our own abuse by keeping us susceptible to abusers who preyed on us and kept us addicted to pain. This truth can be very painful, and yet it’s life-changing. It will change your life forever and for the better. When we know better and that we are worthy of the knowledge, we do better.

knowbetter do betterAnger, resentment, and revenge will not heal us. Self-avoidance will not heal us. Focusing on our abusers will not heal us. Taking responsibility and accepting without judgment will. In healing, we learn to become our authentic selves—and to stop seeking approval of our worth from others. Healing is a learning process. Through asking the right questions and seeking and finding truthful answers in a safe and trusting environment, we learn to turn our compassion and courage inward to support shifts in our thinking that lead to long-term emotional health and happiness.

We learn to befriend ourselves (who we long ago abandoned) by accepting our powerlessness, committing to our healing, challenging our thoughts, releasing our fear and shame, and incrementally taking our power back as we lift up our thinking and discover and honor our real selves and our personal divinity.

Do we need to understand our abusers to heal? Yes. But minimally and only in order to understand what they are missing and what they exploited in us and what faulty beliefs make us vulnerable to them. In fact, focusing too much on them will prevent you from healing.

Read more here on how much do we need to know about narcissism to heal.

Narcissistic abuse recovery expert, Melanie Tonia Evans, cautions us frequently that focusing too much on our abusers and our fear of them rather than on our healing and the role we play in our abuse can keep us trapped and prevent our recovery. I can relate.

One of the most difficult lessons I learned was that I was vulnerable to attacks by manipulators and bullies. I felt threatened by them and believed I was not safe. I became fearful and resentful. My fear drove me to overestimate the harm from them and underestimate my ability to deal with them. I felt defenseless. I became hyper-vigilant in my attempts to avoid shame and pain as I waited for their attacks. I became hyper-reactive to attacks that I was sure would come and did come. I became intolerant, which did not serve me.

In the process, I gave up my power to emotional vampires who continued to target me. Trying to avoid perceived threats kept me emotionally trapped to the people and events that triggered my fears and caused me continued pain. So, I remained a victim of the emotional vampires because I thought like a victim. I was held captive by my own fears. I became emotionally fatigued. Focusing on them rather than myself kept me from healing. I learned and accepted that my fear was giving my abusers the power to overcome me.th-14

So I put on my big-girl britches and, little by little, took on and challenged my fears and
my false sense of powerlessness, replacing them with courage and self-assurance. I took my power back as I came into my own truth and accepted what I could change as well as what I could not. I accepted what happened to me, took responsibility for the role I played, and shifted my thinking from that of a victim to one who wanted to take her power back, detach from and defuse the abusers, and thrive. I took action!

I adapted by turning the irrational fear and hypervigilance into compassion and tolerance. I turned that wasted fear-driven energy to the source of that fear within myself and not only challenged and released it but replaced it with self-compassion, self-knowledge, self-power, self-respect, and self-love. I honed my ability to identify and cope with evil people. Instead of focusing my energy on them, I shifted my attention to me and my self-worth and abilities. I protected my personal boundaries because I know and believe I am worth it.

In the process of healing and witnessing my own healing, my fear of aggressors became pity for the powerless annoyances they are. In the process, my self-esteem and self-respect and self-assuredness soared, and I took my power back. I chose not to give my power to powerless emotional vampires and to protect my personal boundaries and honor my personal rights and authority because I know I deserve respect. I taught my daughter the same. In the process, my daughter healed through me and thrived. It is never about the other person, folks. My dear friend Jim Upshaw told me that years ago, and I never forgot the message. Now I know the true meaning. Now I never forget the lesson: When you serve your authentic self, your decisions and actions fulfill your legitimate emotional needs. You know you can rely on yourself for your safety. All of life’s pieces fall into place, since the core of your being is truth-based and authentically you.

In the healing process, we regain our self-trust, self-power, self-respect, and self-esteem. We learn what our true value is to ourselves. We learn to rely on and trust internal emotional cues that have been recalibrated with our personal truth and core beliefs. Oh, of course, we must get cues from our environment and from others who have our best interests at heart. We also become better able to recognize those who do not. But we now can readily use those cues to gauge where we are and to tweak our internal truth-seeking filters based on our choices and their outcomes.

th-29In healing, we learn who we really are and to love ourselves. We become fully integrated people of integrity whose thoughts, actions, and beliefs align. Our healing allows us to be the best version of ourselves. It is the best demonstration of self-love we could give ourselves. And in that newfound truth, we thrive.

Why Self-Forgiveness is Fundamental to Healing and Achieving Justice from Narcissistic Abuse

Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter

th-2“Forgiveness is part of healing. It is not a prerequisite to healing. It is a point we reach when we understand and accept the truth about what happened to us from a position of emotional neutrality without the pain, blame and shame that our abusers shadowed on us.” 


I’d like to share some information on forgiveness, justice and victimization that may not be so obvious to survivors of narcissistic abuse but is critical to their healing.

Survivors of narcissistic or for that matter any abuse were victims, no different than a victim of a crime, a brutal illegal attack or violation of our boundaries, rights, authorities, or freedoms. What is the difference between a brutal attack of one’s body or possessions and one’s psyche and one’s heart and betrayal of intimate trust? Not many. But there are a few fundamental ones.

brokenheart-wallpaperOne attack, you may think, takes place in the conscious physical world – the other, in the metaphysical, the metacognitive world where we feel and think. However, the pain and shame and anger and fear and trauma we experience from a brutal physical or emotional brutal attack are the same. They inflict the same wounds and frequently open old ones. In addition, there are major differences to how we heal from the wounds. This is why.

We can achieve justice and emotional relief when our attackers are found, charged, found guilty, and punished for their evil deeds. Our victimization is then validated, our egos are soothed, and we can achieve some sense of safety, security, and closure. But what happens when a criminal “gets away with murder” and is free to roam and victimize whomever he or she chooses to target?

Isn’t this what serial thieves do?

Isn’t this what serial murderers and rapists do?8cc14d8f-48d2-4d8c-97d9-3e66d991850e-medium

Isn’t this what serial narcissists do?

The answers are an unequivocal YES and pose huge healing challenges to their victims. Let’s explore these challenges closer.

Healing and Achieving Justice

Healing and justice are not acquired through resentment and revenge that serve no other purpose than feeding our egos, keeping us bonded to our abusers, and continuing to give up our power to them. These are reactive defenses that cause us unjustifiably to take on additional pain and blame and continue to suppress our pain and also keep us trapped and hunkered down in shame and inaction that will do nothing more than hamper our healing and recovery.

Equally, healing and justice are not acquired through excusing the evil or pain or betrayal that was inflicted on us by our attackers or by showing compassion for them. Our need to forgive can also be guilt-driven by our moral, ethical or religious 1935078_1109367059096008_7406065166067850262_nbeliefs and convictions. I agree with renowned author and therapist Dr. Alice Miller and others that we do not have to forgive and that forgiving our abusers is a personal choice. We can add a huge amount of emotional burden to an already painful situation by being told if we do not forgive, we punish ourselves twice..blah blah blah. This can leave us conflicted and feeling added guilt and even shame when we really do not want to forgive.

We also while dealing with forgiveness have to deal with other daunting and unique challenges faced while grieving our losses. Effectively grieving after narcissistic abuse requires a reconciliation and a recalibration of our conflicting beliefs as they not only relate to forgiveness but also to loss, unrequited love, our lovability, and our pain and suffering.

Read more here on how to grieve and mourn the loss of a narcissist.

How, then, do innocent victims “get justice” when their attackers get off free of charge? How then do they achieve emotional relief and a sense of security? Victims of emotional abuse do not even have the option of becoming vigilantes because the narcissists like the mutants on X-men and space creatures on Men in Black look normal on the outside, do their dirty deeds, and remain unscathed. In essence, not only are we the victim, but we also become the police, judge and jury.

Healing is All about the Victims, Not the Abusers

th-1Healing, folks, has nothing to do with our abusers. Healing is, however, all about the victims. We are left to heal invisible wounds that were caused by our active but unaware participation in a very harming situation. Abuse survivors must work to turn their compassion and care inward and release the pain, trauma, shame, anger and fear that were projected onto them and inflicted on them by the emotional and conscienceless criminals, vampires, and thieves who also stole their identities. We, to heal, must not only release the pain and anger from the attack but also the shame from betrayal and of our unconscious complicity in the crime and our perceived foolery. This is why self-forgiveness and self-compassion are so important in healing. As Emily R., a community member at Yourlifelifter so eloquently stated, “forgiving a conscienceless person has absolutely zero meaning, thus, the real issue is learning to forgive oneself for not trusting oneself over their manipulative ploys of false promises and fake emoting.”

Forgiveness is part of healing. It is not a prerequisite to healing.

10453112_10150486967674990_1990359670124377576_nIt is a point we reach when we understand and accept the truth about what happened
to us from a position of emotional neutrality without the pain, blame and shame that our abusers shadowed on us. Releasing the pain and anger will allow us to heal emotionally. Accepting our powerlessness to the pain “permits” us to direct our energy to healing. But to fully heal we must forgive ourselves for the part we played. This is why understanding why we were targeted is critical to healing. We are then emotionally free to see things truthfully and accept what happened to us, accept our powerlessness to the pain, incrementally take back our personal power and redirect it to change our faulty thinking, rescue our own selves, and stop being vulnerable to emotional criminals.

Healing is a process of self-discovery, self-analysis into the root causes of why we were victimized, addressing how our beliefs contributed to that, correcting our skewed beliefs, mourning our losses, building our self-worth as well as healing our trauma wounds. I personally believe, it is close to impossible to fully accept what happened to us and forgive ourselves for the part we played unless we first heal and recover from the trauma and then stop our faulty victim thinking. This requires fully understanding why we love people who inflict pain on us and why we are attracted to power imbalanced relationships.

 “Forgiving a conscienceless person has absolutely zero meaning, thus, the real issue is learning to forgive oneself for not trusting oneself over their manipulative ploys of false promises and fake emoting.”  ~ Emily R., a community member at Yourlifelifter

As a survivor, I can say that I do not excuse the despicable acts of the abusers in my life or absolve them of their “sins” (e.g. outside my pay grade) but I can say that I am clear on what happened and why it happened in my childhood, why I was targeted and why I let it happen into my adulthood. I am also very clear that the abuse no longer continues because I do not think like a victim so I am no longer victimized. I am not powerless to pain and I do not deserve to suffer. I choose not to participate in the dysfunction so they are defused and go away. They continue to target me because that is just what abusers do and but I am not emotionally vested. I no longer fear them. I no longer believe I have to suffer or self-sacrifice to be good or lovable. I do, however, accept them and readily identify them as the abusers and broken people they are.

Healing Henry CloudWe cannot expect things from people who are not capable of giving them. I accept that life is not fair and I was born into a herd of narcissists that I had no choice over. But I do have choices now based on my new found personal truth and not others’ lies. I choose a life I know I deserve, a life of peace, harmony, happiness, emotionally healthy love and mutual respect! I also accept that they cannot. I also accept that truly evil people do exist and that I do not possess the divine power, right, and authority to absolve them of their depravity.

I do, however, have the divinely provided right and authority first and foremost to forgive myself, heal, and to live a joy-filled life I am deserving and worthy of. The best revenge is healing, happiness, and success!

And in the process we achieve the justice we seek.