By all accounts, I should have been having a great time.
The engagement party for my boyfriend’s brother was going full swing, everyone had a drink in hand, and there were even dances breaking out in some parts of the huge house we had rented. A year prior, I would have been the life of the party and tried to mingle with everyone without needing anyone to check on me or ensure that I was okay.
Yet the more that I tried to relax and have fun, the more it felt like the walls were closing in around me.
I found an empty room and sat on the ground with my back against the wall, which I can only describe as a panic attack. Eventually, I gathered up the strength to walk out the front door and call one of my childhood best friends through my tears.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I feel so panicked and as if my heart is going to break out of my chest.”
The truth is that it wasn’t the first time the horrible feeling happened. My emotions were all over the place, and I either felt extreme happiness in one moment or extreme despair in the next. I had begun blaming myself for someone else hurting me and inducing self-inflicted pain to try to find some relief.
Even though my relationship with the narcissist had ended several years prior, everything was hitting me all at once.
The fact that I was going through this now, even though I should have been happy, was even more frustrating. I didn’t realize at the time that PTSD can happen weeks, months, or years after abuse or a traumatic incident occurs.
Yet even though I had been displaying signs of PTSD, nothing clicked until the night of the party. After hanging up with my friend, who reassured me as best she could, I realized that something was terribly wrong. My now fiance came out of the engagement party to see if I was okay, and I broke down in heaving sobs. As he held me in his arms, he said the words that I truly needed to hear to take action finally.
“I love you so much, and I think it’s time that you talk to someone who can really help you.”
After that night, I began seeking out a therapist that specialized in PTSD and trauma.
I was fortunate to find an amazing female therapist who helped me heal in ways that I am forever grateful to her for.
That being said, I don’t want to negate the amount of work that went into processing and healing from what had happened.
I didn’t realize at the time that Narcissistic abuse is so detrimental and manipulative. Yes, there had been a moment when the abuse turned physical with my ex, but most of it was all psychological and emotional, which is harder to pinpoint/realize what is happening to you because it is not tangible.
I continually tell my story because it was the most terrifying feeling that I have ever experienced. There was no logical explanation for what was happening to me, and I don't believe there are enough conversations about the long-lasting physical and mental effects of psychological abuse and trauma.