Research tells us the main reason for the stress of psychological trauma is that our memories of these horrible events are fragmented. Psychologically traumatic events are ones that have no good explanation. You have painful facts that make no sense, right? This is what mental health professionals call Cognitive Dissonance.
It is important to realize that when coming out of a relationship with a narcissist our minds are experiencing severe Cognitive Dissonance. Cognitive Dissonance is the difficulty of trying to hold two opposing thoughts or beliefs at the same time. Cigarette smokers are a perfect example of individuals who may experience Cognitive Dissonance. They enjoy their habit, but at the same time, loathe it because they know it’s bad for them, right?
Cognitive Dissonance leads to obsessive thought because we are trying to make sense of a situation that doesn’t make sense. How can I love something that I also hate? How can I be crazy in love with this man, but despise him at the same time?
We remember the wonderful times, the good times and the person we thought we fell in love with and we miss him. We wonder what happened to him. Where did he go? Why did he disappear? What did I do wrong?
We must remember that we did NOTHING wrong nor is there anything anyone can do to bring this person back. The person we fell in love with is not who we thought he was at all. In fact, he never existed. We fell in love with an illusion. The acting talent these personalities possess is astounding. They are master manipulators.
While we’re remembering this man who no longer seems to exist, we are grappling with a new man we no longer recognize and we don’t know how to feel about him. How can he be good and bad? How can I love him and hate him? Trying to resolve this in our minds will drive us to the edge of our sanity. Cognitive Dissonance leads to obsessive, intrusive thoughts that impede our ability to concentrate, work, sleep, eat or function.
Our natural tendency is to avoid thinking about painful memories or events. We suppress them and hope they will go away. But, they don't. If you don’t process them, deal with them and get them out, they will never go away. This is because the mind is most settled when there is coherence to our thoughts.
The only way to resolve conflicting thoughts is by remembering them, processing them and making sense of them. One way of doing this is by sharing our story with others. Sharing our story with others is extremely healing and cathartic. It allows you to link together your emotional memories, which makes the traumatic events more coherent. It makes memories of these events less likely to be repeatedly called to mind so they can be laid to rest.
We need to organize our thoughts about the relationship in some way that helps us feel as though we have made sense of it all. We have to feel and express our feelings about it before we can put it to rest. This stage is critical before you can move on.
Do not be afraid to cry as often as you need. It's cathartic and necessary in order for you to move on. Do not be afraid to get angry... that's your self-esteem returning and you can channel it into doing things for yourself to help you heal.
People tell us to just move on and expect us to get over it, but without processing our feelings and getting them out in a purposeful and healing way, they stay within us and become toxic. We have to get it out. It is the only way to heal. We must focus on ourselves, process our feelings, and express our thoughts and ideas in creative ways that give structure and form to the chaos we experienced. For me, writing or journaling helps me give form and structure to the chaos I experienced. We all have different outlets for expressing ourselves. The key is to find your outlet and get it out so you can finally move on and enjoy your life.
If you repress your feelings, you will remain stuck. We must feel our feelings to move on. Be gentle with yourself and proud that you have the courage to feel. When you feel, you know you're alive, right? I would rather feel pain and know I’m alive than feel nothing? The one thing narcissists can never take away from us is our ability to feel. A narcissist will never experience the range of emotions we do, which is precisely why they are so jealous, envious and covetous of those of us who can. Always remember, we can feel and should embrace this gift, not avoid it.