Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible. Francis of Assisi
Eighteen months ago, straight after narcissistic abuse ended, I was at the lowest point in my life and a trip to the local shop felt like climbing mount Everest. I was drinking and smoking too much and spent most of my time in bed ruminating and crying.
My health deteriorated to the point that I thought I was dying, so I decided that I had to do something. I picked myself up and set myself some small goals. Cycling on the indoor bike for 5 minutes or going for a 10-minute walk every morning. My goals may seem small now but to me they were huge, and I often failed to reach them.
Prior to Narcissistic Abuse, I had been quite active. I was doing kickboxing (I am a brown belt), I went to the gym regularly and cycled everywhere. I enjoyed being social and active. Unfortunately, Narcissistic Abuse drains all the energy of the body and mind as this energy is diverted into helping the narcissist achieve his own goals. So, I gave up everything to cater for his needs.
Trying to get back into exercise was extremely difficult. Going to the gym brought back memories that I wanted buried, kickboxing was the same and cycling made me anxious as it reminded me of the days that I tried to kill myself by not stopping at junctions.
I had read in many books and blogs that outdoor exercise was more beneficial than indoor exercise as exposure to sunlight enhances vitamin D production, which is responsible for mood-enhancing effects. Hence, I started looking for outdoor sports or activities and one day, on my way to work, I picked up a leaflet about dragon boating.
It was local to me and training on Saturday mornings suited me perfectly. I mentioned it to one of my friends and we gave it a try. We loved it and we were instantly hooked. Everyone was friendly and approachable, and we enjoyed the tea and cake after training.
It is already a year, since I started, and I have made a lot of new friends. Recently, our coach decided to create a racing team by selecting the fastest paddlers. So, I think this is the ideal opportunity for me to improve my diet and implement a regular training regime. I still have the odd bad days when I drink and smoke more than I should so now I have the perfect incentive to stop.
I am keeping a diet and training diary to create accountability and encourage myself to not stray from my goals. I hope that I will succeed and that it will give me more energy and that in time it will help me to sleep as I am still suffering from insomnia.
Dragon boating is an excellent sport for people who are trying to heal from physical or psychological injury and trauma. There are many clubs who use dragon boating to help recovery and rehabilitation such as Purple Warriors, which cater for injured ex-military personnel, or Pink Champagne in the UK and Pink Ladies in the USA, which help women cancer survivors.
Sport and exercise have played a huge role in my healing and I am very grateful that I serendipitously picked up a leaflet about dragon boating. Let’s hope that I can make it to the racing team next season!