Inhale. Exhale. Just focus on your breath. In. Out. Observe your thoughts. This is the practice of meditation, and it’s much easier said than done — especially when you’re married to a narcissist. After all, it’s hard to relax and attain inner peace when you’re walking on eggshells 24/7. And, when you feel you’re to blame for your partner’s negative actions, you don’t exactly want to be alone with your thoughts. Instead, you go numb in an effort to block it all out. At least, that’s what I did.
For four years I endured the rollercoaster that was our marriage. I guess I thought that my then-husband would eventually kick his narcissistic tendencies and put someone else first for a change. Time after time, I showed him grace, and time again he let me down. Eventually, the verbal abuse began to take its toll as I experienced low self-worth, loneliness, anxiety, and depression. Maybe there was something wrong with me. Maybe if I wasn’t so hard to love, he wouldn’t be so angry or manipulative towards me.
When we finally divorced last year, I was still holding onto the belief that I was the problem. I’d made too many mistakes and didn’t deserve to be with someone like him. But I had it all turned around. It wasn’t me. It was him, and meditation helped me realize that.
5 Ways Meditation Helped Me to Heal From My Narcissistic Ex
In the weeks and months following our divorce, I committed to a consistent meditation practice in the name of self-care. I thought that it would give me some time alone to process this huge life change, but it gave me so much more. In fact, it’s helped me heal from my narcissistic ex in ways I couldn’t have ever imagined.
Awareness is often the first step towards healing for those who’ve suffered narcissistic abuse. Because narcissists cause their victims to question their worth, I was completely unaware that my ex was manipulating and mistreating me.
I didn’t realize that his behavior was to blame until after we’d divorced and I’d begun meditating. By using the breath as a tool, I was able to observe my thoughts, feelings, and reactions and awaken to the truth — he was the problem.
Of course, awareness alone isn’t powerful enough to heal such deep wounds. I also had to accept that I had been abused. I was a victim and I needed time to heal, not just from the divorce, but from the years of mistreatment leading up to it.
Admitting that my ex had hurt me and that our marriage had fallen apart because of his selfishness might have been the most difficult part. However, meditation taught me to accept my pain and see it for what it truly is so I could finally move on.
Of course, you can’t have acceptance without self-compassion. Once I realized that I’d basically let my ex walk all over me, I immediately blamed myself, thereby reinforcing exactly what my ex had told me — it was all my fault. It wasn’t until I forgave myself and practiced self-compassion that I could accept these experiences.
In the same way, meditation teaches us to observe without judgment. What is simply is. You can’t change the past, but you do have the power over the now. So grant yourself a second chance and choose a different path — one that’s more enlightened than before.
4. Emotional Regulation
Narcissistic abuse can have long-term effects on emotional health. Thus, it comes as no surprise that I suffered symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Luckily, meditation can calm the sympathetic nervous system to ease anxiety and depression and improve overall sense of wellbeing. So I made it a consistent part of my routine to reap the benefits.
What I didn’t expect was for the practice to improve my emotional regulation, and the effects were almost immediate. After the first few sessions, I noticed I could more easily reign in my emotions when something triggered my trauma response. Instead of immediately reacting, I could take a few breaths and think before responding. This aspect alone has played a huge role in reversing unhealthy behavioral patterns and undoing old thought processes so I don’t have to relive old traumas.
5. Reclaiming My Identity
My ex said my hair looked ugly so I cut it. He told me I was overweight so I starved myself skinny. In an endless effort to meet his standards and win his affection, I completely changed who I was. The saddest part is my internal dialogue changed, too and I repeated those same insults to myself even after we divorced.
Since then, I’ve been using meditation to reclaim my identity. As I observe my thoughts and self-talk patterns, I learn to quiet the inner critic and give a mic to the inner cheerleader. She speaks kind words over me through positive mantras and deep knowledge of my own value and worth. Of course, the discouraging voices still whisper in my ear, but they’re much less frequent and quieter than before, so I’ll take what I can get.
Taking the First Step
Mediation doesn’t require any special equipment or training. All you need is yourself and a quiet place to lie or sit. This accessibility may be the biggest benefit of all. No matter where I am or what I’m doing, I can stop, take a few deep breaths, look within and observe. I have the tools and power to invest in my own health and healing, and so do you. You simply have to take that first tiny step in the right direction. It just so happens that meditation is a great place to start.