(118) Losing yourself

When you have finally reached the deepest point, you really cannot go any deeper, you are dependent on your own strength… and you slowly realize how powerful you really are and who you are. Only then does the restoration of your life, of your Being and especially the recovery of your Soul begins.

Losing yourself

Losing yourself is about the consequences someone has in a narcissistic relationship. Within narcissistic partner relationships it does not always have to be the man who is the narcissist… although it usually seems so… it can also be the woman… or even a parent in parent-child relationships.

A few months ago, two blogs about narcissism were published with many responses, questions, and conversations as a result. This blog tries to answer these.

The aim of the Foundation is to guide and support people in learning to deal with loss and grief in the broadest sense. Hence, we are not concerned with the narcissist and how you are diagnosed as a narcissist. What matters to us are the people who have fallen victim to the narcissist… who somehow got away from it and now have to deal independently with the traumatic consequences of the relationship… that these people are often only a faint reflection are what they used to be … the pain they experienced … maybe also mistreated … physically, emotionally and mentally … raped or worse. What we do is guiding these people and learning to deal with the traumatic consequences they have suffered within the relationship.

Can you recognize a narcissist?

How wonderful would it be that in advance you can recognize a narcissist? You could read books from psychology about that. But when you fall in love it just happens to you.

For example, I know the story of a woman who fell in love with a man who worked in the same department as she was. Her colleagues warned her that the man had a drinking problem. It did not help. The woman was head over heels in love with the man and her love was answered. After a year, the woman broke off the relationship. Curiously, her colleagues asked why the relationship was broken. Her answer was… yes, you guessed it… the man had a drinking problem. Love makes blind.

The beginning of a narcissistic relationship

In the beginning of a narcissistic relationship it is only roses and moonshine. Both you and the people around you think that you have the perfect partner… that you have found your dream partner. He does everything for you. He is sweet and caring. Want to know everything about you. Have long conversations to meet all your needs. Gives you beautiful roses. And let the whole world enjoy and see how good and caring he is for you.

But then it starts to itch, and the world declares you crazy

After a while, the relationship begins to change very imperceptibly. You are controlled… isolated… you may even be abused… physically, emotionally, and mentally… raped or worse. But in such a way that nothing can be seen on the outside … especially not for the people around you. Slowly, very slowly, you are beginning to realize that you are in a traumatic relationship. Then when you start to complain to the people around you, start to get emotional, they don’t understand anything about it… because the narcissist is still just as sweet, kind, caring and ready for you to the outside world. You get reactions like: “I don’t recognize it at all. He is so sweet and caring for you. Act normal, it’s up to you!” All they see is gosh… he is painting for you… a boyfriend standing at your door with red roses… he does everything for you… and then you are quickly considered as crazy. And eventually in your environment one after another starts to drop out and you are all alone… which makes it even more painful after everything you have been through. It is mainly the frustration and anger that you are left with because of the injustice … but also your self-confidence and uncertainty. The problem is getting bigger and bigger for you… because you are being broken down in such a way… that you only have the feeling that you are no longer worth anything at all… that you have lost yourself.

In the end, you manage to leave

Breaking a healthy relationship, for whatever reason, gives you grief and loss… you spend a shorter or longer time learning to deal with or perhaps even resolve your grief.

Breaking a narcissistic relationship is of a completely different order … more intense … more traumatic. You can hardly compare leaving a narcissist to be breaking off a healthy relationship. Leaving with a narcissist… where the relationship is ultimately one major trauma of everything you have experienced from one day to the next… there you come out with a broken heart, but this time also with a broken Soul.

And then it starts
Losing yourself is about the consequences you experience, mostly traumatic, in a narcissistic relationship. The narcissist can be either male or female.

The people around you still have little understanding for you and soon say: “Well be glad he’s gone!” You are too… it is not about that… but you are also concerned with the consequences… you have lost everything… and this time it is not just about the material, financial, or social part. However, after such a relationship there is nothing left of your confidence and self-esteem. You have lost your inner happiness, your Light and your Being. Those are not things you have after breaking up a normal relationship. That is why it feels so different. It is not only that your partner is gone… you have also lost yourself, that is much worse. Before you have found that again… your own Light… that is a vastly different, very intense loss process. Which in this case is a process that unfortunately will not be finished for a long time.

A rounding off

You come as a strong person in a narcissistic relationship, the narcissist does that for you. That is probably the challenge. Because if you are not a strong person, you are not interesting enough for the narcissist to feed the ego and they just walk past you. As if their life’s mission is to find a strong person who is full of life … and then eventually leave them with suicidal tendencies. And… then you also get the outside world over you. Instead of getting support … you do not get support … because your entire environment also attacks you … after all, it is all up to you.

When you have finally reached the deepest point in a narcissistic relationship, you really cannot go any deeper, you are dependent on your own strength… and you slowly realize how powerful you really are and who you are. Only then does the restoration of your life, of your Being and especially the recovery of your Soul begin.

If you are in this situation or want to get out, you can always contact us. For personal contact you can reach us at: info@mournandgrief.org

(111) Becoming aware of mourning

Becoming aware of mourning is important because in the literature it is described how grief represents a change in health status and well-being. Just as healing in the physiological area is necessary to restore the homeostatic balance in the body, the grieving needs time to restore the psychological balance.

Becoming aware of mourning

Becoming aware of mourning is important since it is described in the literature how sadness represents a change in health status and well-being. Just as healing in the physiological area is necessary to restore the homeostatic balance in the body, the griever needs time to restore the psychological balance.

In an earlier blog I wrote about an overwhelming loss immediately after a loved one or dear one had died. This blog is about the run-up to becoming aware of grief as a result of that overwhelming loss.

A few terms

The following terms are used in this blog:

Grief indicates the experience of someone whose loved one or dear one has died. Grief consists of a collection of thoughts, feelings, behaviour and physiological changes that can vary in combination and intensity over time.

Bereavement defines the loss to which the person is trying to adjust and the experience of having lost a loved one or dear one.

Mourning is the term that is applied to the process that people go through to adapt to the death of their loved one or dear one. The finality and consequences of the loss are understood and integrated into the life of the griever.

As you would expect, notions such as grief, bereavement and mourning are not limited solely to aspects related to the death of the loved one or a dear one. It can be drawn much wider. For example, in relation to a terminal illness, a divorce, the loss of work, the loss of physical functions, etc.

Why should grief be dealt with after a big loss?

Research has shown that within normal mourning, also referred to as uncomplicated mourning, much of the behaviour can resemble that of depression. However, the cause is different and so does the approach to address its behaviour. The current understanding is that while most of the depressions during mourning are transient and do not require special attention, the idea is nevertheless emerging that a persistent depression during the first year of mourning does indeed require professional or clinical attention. Seen from this perspective, it is believed mourning after the loss of a loved one or a dear one is important.

But whatever you think about it …

The choice of whether to handle your grief after a major loss is entirely up to you. You are free to process your grief or not. You may not even consider it because sadness is part of life and many in your area die. You could choose to repress your sorrow (after a short time) into the background simply by continuing with your daily life “as usual.” You could even choose to replace it with someone else shortly after your partner’s death.

“Mourning? Do I mourn? No, not at all! Should I? Why would I want to do that?” These are questions and reactions from a young man from Nigeria whose family member had died. He explained that mourning does not matter to him because death is part of daily life. After all, many people are dying around us. A reformulation of the question could also be: if it is normal for (many) acquaintances to die or disappear in your environment every day … how do you look at your loss or mourning?

How do I become aware of my grief from that great loss?

Personally, I became aware of my grief after many years. After the death of my wife, Mary Anne, I returned to work quickly, maybe too quickly. My work was intense, the teams worked all over the world and as a result my working hours were quite bizarre. However, it was a fantastic job from which I could get a lot of energy. Until that moment when I retired a few years later. I got several of those indefinable ailments, felt gloomy, could not sleep, was tired, and reading a page of a book took me days and still I had no hunch what it was about. Ailments no physician could put a finger on. Occasionally there were days when all went fantastic … at least that added a bit of hope to the little that was left of it. It all simmered a bit until during a vacation with my son, Mervyn, we suddenly had to rush to the hospital, I could barely breathe anymore. They saw it happen in the hospital, but they couldn’t find the cause. Eventually everything returned to normal and we went on with our vacation. Once at home they could not find a cause in our hospital either. However, once I started writing my blogs about grief and mourning, those “ailments” started to disappear slowly. Gradually I became aware that I had finally started processing my grief.

But could you also become aware of your mourning … instead of by chance?

In general, mourning involves a collection of thoughts, feelings, behaviour, and physiological changes that can vary over time in combination and intensity. To name just a few:

Bereavement and emotions

Sadness, anger, blame, guilt and self-blame, fear, loneliness, fatigue, helplessness, shock, yearning for the deceased, emancipation or relief, numbness, hollowness in the stomach, chest tightness, tightness in the throat, hypersensitivity to noise, a feeling like you are no longer yourself, breathlessness, shortness of breath, weakness in the muscles, lack of energy, dry mouth, disbelief, confusion, preoccupation, sense of presence, hallucinations, sleep disorders, eating disorders, distracted and absent behaviour, withdrawn into oneself, dreams about the deceased, avoiding memories of the deceased, searching or calling for the deceased, sighing, restless, hyperactive, crying, visit places that remind of the deceased, collect or carry objects that belonged to the deceased.

Yes, there are quite a few and on top of that you must be able to be consciously involved with this matter for a while after that overwhelming loss. Maybe you suffer from absent behaviour or you have no energy to do anything. Maybe family members or friends can assist you when you are not able to do so yourself.

How to proceed

Personally, I was able to conclude that I had started processing my mourning much later. In retrospect, I would much rather have had direct help with the processing of my grief. It would have given me more peace and I could have enjoyed life more. Maybe even … it is what it is…

Anyway, you can become aware of mourning, after the death of your loved one or dear one, when you keep track of your thoughts, feelings, behaviour and physiological changes from the above collection on say a monthly basis by indicating how these vary over time in combination and/or its intensity. You could draw the conclusion when:

• The combination and/or intensity diminishes: that you are processing your mourning and that you can handle the loss of your loved one or your dear one.

• The combination and/or intensity kind of persists: then it is wise to seek help for your mourning at a practice for grieving and loss guidance.

• The combination and/or intensity increases: then it is wise to seek help from your doctor as soon as possible for guiding you with your mourning. In the latter case, based on your feelings, you may have already considered the idea of ​​seeking help in an earlier stage.

Summary

This blog may be a bit on the boring side, but it is my intention to help you in becoming aware of your grief after the loss of a loved one or a dear one. From own experience, experience of others and from the literature it appears that processing of grief is important. In a nutshell, body and mind must be healed, must be brought back into balance. However, realize that that balance will no longer be the same as before. Mourning also means that you are “marked” by the loss … like in my previous blog with Kathy who rarely shows the brilliant light that she really is and with Tanja where you can see the necessary setbacks she has had when you look deep into her eyes.

It is my wish that this blog can help you with becoming aware of your grief. It is my experience that only then your mourning begins.

A final comment

There is a lot of literature available in the field of grief and mourning. The Dutch version of the Foundation’s website contains a literature overview that is regularly updated. The book that I find most rewarding to read and understand is “Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy”, 5th edition, by J. William Worden (ISBN 9780826134745) published by Springer Publishing Company, LLC.