Think big thoughts but relish small pleasures. H. Jackson Brown Jr
While in the midst and the immediate aftermath of Narcissistic Abuse, my body and mind had become so numb that I was unable to take pleasure in anything. All my senses had shut down. Nothing I saw gave me pleasure. Nothing I touched. Nothing I tasted. Nothing I heard. Nothing I smelt. My heart was closed to positive emotions and sensations. Now and then there would be a short relief. A momentary pause. But the rest of the time I was walking through life affectlessly like a robot (or a narcissist).
I had never experienced anything like this in my life. I was restless. Unable to relax. My muscles were always tense. I was a bundle of nerves. I found it extremely difficult to sleep too. The only method I had discovered to induce sleep, was to lower my body temperature by having a cold shower in summer or, in winter, by standing in the garden in my underwear in the middle of the night. Then as I climbed back into bed the difference in temperature would make me sleepy as my body was warming up.
As I was still with him, he would often complain that I was too cold, and I was waking him up and he needed to sleep because he had to get up early and I was selfish…. So, sometimes I slept in my son’s room and now and then, I slept on the floor…
I did not understand why he would not help me. If he held me in his arms, I would calm down, relax and fall asleep. It was not much to ask. I thought. I would have done this for him, if he had needed me to. But for him, it was obviously too much to ask and I felt guilty for even asking.
My inability to experience feelings or sensations such as joy, comfort or tiredness led me to have suicidal thoughts. The constant tension in my body was unbearable. I could run or cycle miles but still my body would not feel weary.
One day, I went to Accident and Emergency out of desperation. I wanted to relax. To feel tired. To sleep. Both my body and my mind needed a rest. But sleep was elusive.
I was kept under observation for about four hours and had a few blood tests done to check if I had a hormonal imbalance. Then I spoke to the psychiatrist on duty. She diagnosed Generalised Anxiety Disorder – Not many psychiatrists are aware of Narcissistic Abuse Victim Syndrome, gave me a prescription for Sertraline and released me to go home with him. They refused to give me sleeping tablets though as “they are very addictive”. I found that hard to understand, that they could not offer me relief for just one night. That night however, he gave me a cuddle to help me go to sleep as he must have thought that he had pushed the boat to far.
Sorry, I think I digressed for a bit there. I started this post with the aim of writing about being able to enjoy life’s little pleasures and I ended up reminiscing about the painful past. Well, I do not want to dwell on this part of my life any longer as it makes my blood boil, knowing that the person I loved was causing me this pain on purpose because that made him feel better about himself.
So, back to my original plan. Now that I am free of him, that I am reclaiming my life and rebuilding my hopes, I am able to relax, rest and experience small pleasures again. And that feels wonderful.
Here are my top ten little pleasures:
- The smell of coffee in the morning
- Reading a good book
- Taking a warm bath with lavender essential oil (and a good book)
- Curling up in bed and watching series on my laptop (or reading a good book)
- Buying myself a bunch of flowers (carnations are my favourite)
- Turning my face to the sun and feeling the heat
- Stroking my dog
- Watching animals on the river or in the park
- Pampering myself
- Eating good food in a restaurant
These are just a few examples of my life’s little pleasures.
They might seem like small steps to you, but to me they are giant leaps!