Hi again everyone!
I hope you’re doing ok as you come to my latest blog! Today I want to talk about the importance of connectedness for us as we navigate our way through recovery or just as importantly if we are still in a relationship with a narcissist .I should emphasize here that its not only partners, husbands or wives I’m referring to in my blogs about narcissists . Obviously you can be in a “relationship” with a narcissist whether its a friend , a sibling , a work colleague or a child .
This post was actually inspired by the way I was feeling today which was …guess what …disconnected! I was at home on a grey drizzly day , nothing much planned (nothing at all in reality !) nothing I desperately needed to do and no coffee dates lined up !
Yesterday I was thinking “oh great , Ive got nothing to do tomorrow , how good is that ?” …but when today came I started to feel really lonely , a bit on edge and couldn’t settle into anything. Have you had these days too ? I eventually realized that I needed to go out and get connected! I wasn’t sure how or with whom but it was no good for me to stay at home . My anxiety was building by the minute so I grabbed one of my favourite little de-stressing books called Living With It (“IT” being anxiety!) and headed out! If I didn’t connect with anyone I could always sit and read about strategies to deal with “IT”!!
The author, Bev Aisbett says the three things you need to remember are (i) that you will beat it (ii) you will recover and (iii) you are not alone! Although the book is not specifically about domestic violence its relevant in that we all suffer hugely from anxiety when dealing with narcissists and we need strategies to cope with the mental health fall out .
The phrase “you are not alone” got me to thinking about the value of connections and how important it is to keep up our social contact.
What are the benefits of staying connected?
Lots as it turns out!
Physical and mental health for starters. Studies (and there have been countless ) have shown that a lack of social connection is potentially worse for us than obesity , smoking or high blood pressure . That’s pretty amazing to think that something as intangible as not being connected can be as detrimental to our well-being as being overweight or having high blood pressure . In fact its been said that loneliness is the underlying reason that many people seek counseling. As we know alienation from family or friends for one reason or another is a major risk factor for suicide.
In a sociological study undertaken in 1985 in the USA it was found that the individuals surveyed said they had only 3 friends with whom they would be prepared share a personal problem. By 2004 that number had decreased to one person! Only person to share your deepest feeling with? I think that’s a very sad indictment on our society in terms of the importance we place on caring for one another.
Part of the trouble is that we’re all so busy turning ourselves inside out trying to keep up with the Jones’ that it seems we’re forgetting that we’re primarily social beings who have a basic need to belong, to be accepted and to be loved . We all need much more of these three things than we need material possessions.
Of course this feeling of loneliness is intensified when we are dealing with a narcissist who doesn’t want us to socialize, who wants to keep under his control and who makes us feel like a social reject by abusing and belittling us. Social rejection is thought to affect the same parts of the brain as physical pain so you can see that the effects of being isolated or feeling alienated can be quite profound .
All of this doesn’t mean however, that we need to have truckloads of friends . Is not a case of the more the better ! As we know its not uncommon to feel lonely in a crowd , even when we know many of the people . Conversely we can feel totally at home among a small group people we hardly know!
Its also an individual thing , one person might need 20 “close ” friends and lots and lots of acquaintances whereas another person may only require one close confidante and a couple of other good mates.
In the end its not so much about how we feel in a crowd or how we feel in a small group but its more about how we feel INSIDE and as we know when you have a narcissist we usually feel quite empty and worthless . Being ALONE is quite different to feeling lonely . Its quite fine and absolutely necessary to want to be alone at times. However, the LONELINESS felt in a relationship with a narcissist is something that , unless you have experienced it, you cannot begin to comprehend. Its exhausting trying to pick the mood of any given day and more often than not we have no energy left for going out and “faking” it among friends . Hence the importance of getting out and meeting up with friends or as in my case , making a new friend!
There are also other benefits of having social connections . Research has shown that being connected may help us recover from disease more quickly , strengthen our immune systems and lower anxiety as well . It also raises our self esteem which engenders feelings of trust and empathy in us . All in all it may even contribute to a longer life …and who doesn’t want that……… we’ve got living to do!
So…. now lets go back to my day and see how getting connected worked for me !
As it turns out it worked out perfectly! I went to my favorite coffee shop which was closed but that turned out to be a blessing. I then went to my second favourite place , got my coffee and was just about to hop into my car and drive to a nice spot by the beach when I realised it was nearly lunch time. There happened to be a really good little fish ‘n chip shop next to the coffee shop so I grabbed a serve of calamari and then decided that I’d stay there and eat it on their deck which also overlooked the water .
I was by myself but I was feeling better already being out and about in the fresh air having my coffee and my snack . Then out of the blue an older lady (in her 80’s ) asked if she could sit next to me at the bench . I said of course and we started to chat …and chat …and chat !! It was just what the doctor ordered as they say!
Daphne , my new found friend was a real character and it soon felt like we’d known each other for much longer than a few minutes. She had a really interesting story to tell, a real Aussie battler who had made the best of her circumstances . Her husband left her for another woman after which her only sister disowned her , siding with the ex husband rather than her own sister . I wonder if either of them were narcissists ? LOL!
I could tell that Daph (as she likes to be called ) had been through a lot of “stuff” in her lifetime but she was obviously very resilient , working 2 jobs at times to support her kids as a single mum. She was proud of the job she had done and is still supporting them now through thick and thin .
When I asked her what had got her through the tough times she said without thinking about it “the fact that I can chat to anyone anytime so I’m never feel lonely ” What a perfect response for me to use in my blog about the importance of connectedness! It’s all true and I even have a photo of Daph to prove it !
For that hour or so I totally forgot about my feelings of loneliness but not only that, the feeling of being connected stayed with me for the rest of the day as I recollected on some bits of our conversation. I came home feeling inspired to write this blog because the experience was so fresh in my mind….and reinforced the value of making connections! Of course when we are in the grips of a narcissist it’s easier said than done to get out sometimes but even connecting with a friend or family member by phone can help alleviate the feelings of being all alone.Its vital to keep talking to someone you trust and its especially important if or when you feel completely overwhelmed and as though you cant go on.
As my own situation deteriorated I had a group of friends who would either text or ring me everyday without fail, one in the morning and one at night . I came to rely on their contact , it was so reassuring and it gave me something to look forward to twice a day. Sometimes we laughed and joked , sometimes we chatted about what kind of day we’d had and sometimes we said nothing much and yet it meant so much to me to know that they were there if I needed them . I hope you have time when you’re able to get out and catch up with friends or extended family . If not you may be able to ask a couple of friends to give you a call at a certain time of the day when you know you wont be being monitored by your narcissist. It really is so important and can make the world of difference !
It’s getting late now and time for me to get some sleep now …after all I’ve expended a lot of energy with all that talking I did today ! Take care and remember…