Those were the last words my attorney said to me last week after we walked out from the court. I am so glad that I have found an attorney who truly understands what emotional abuse is. Now that is easier said than done. I’ve been for months trying to find time for myself, unsuccessfully.
But over the last week or so, somehow, I have managed to squeeze sometimes even more than just 10 minutes. I have been able to take care of much-needed things at my mother’s place. I have been able to cross out some long-overdue tasks on my to-do list. But most importantly, I finally joined a gym today. While I cannot really afford it due to the heavy legal expenses I’m currently incurring, I just had to do something for myself once and for all, especially considering my own physical (and mental) health.
I was very active around the time when I met my husband. The list of things and activities I was doing on a regular basis was very long. From kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, backpacking in the summer to skiing, skating, hiking in the winter and rock climbing and working out all year round. The latter, on a daily basis when I wasn’t doing one of the other activities. Someone would say ‘let’s go for a swim’ and I was in. Another person would put up a volleyball net and I was game. You mention it, anything active meant happiness and fun to me and I was all for it. At 5’5″, I was solid 135 lbs of pure muscle and happiness. Almost 9 years later, a bad back injury, a pregnancy, and all the years of emotional abuse during my marriage have left me 7 lbs shy of 200 lbs. I can barely keep up with our own little Energizer Bunny at home. I have trouble getting up from the floor when I’m playing with her. I have trouble going up and down the stairs.
I don’t know what actually feels heavier: My actual weight, or the emotional weight of knowing how healthy I used to be and how I’m not now. So today I swallowed my pride and joined a gym. I had been researching for gyms for months now. I finally did it. I went during my lunch break, paid cash so it can’t be traced back on the credit cards, and headed straight for the weight-lifting machines.
It took me a good 2 hours to find my way around the machines, trying to find the ones I wanted to use, as well as trying to remember my weight-lifting routine. At first, I was also feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable in my t-shirt and my old maternity workout pants. But I do not fit in my most preferred workout outfits, at least not yet. I hope I will eventually. So once again I swallowed my pride and kept pushing for it.
I took it slow today. I had to. I haven’t worked out in a very long time. I felt I was following a grandma workout routine. I could hardly lift 10 lbs at some of the machines and of course, I had to complete smaller sets. I know I’ll be sore tomorrow. But I had to start somewhere. I’ll decided to start twice a week and go for long walks the days in between and slowly increase my workout routine, eventually reaching, I hope, the point where I was before. I may never be able to go back to some of the activities that I used to perform due to the back injury. But that’s fine. I know my limitations and I am not going to push them until fully cleared by doctors, chiropractors, and myself.
Even though the routine was not where I would have liked it to be, I am happy now. It felt so good to have gotten this first workout out of the way. The first one is always the most difficult of all. I think it’s more of a mental thing than any other thing.
The beauty about going back to working out is that exercise releases serotonin and dopamine, something Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) survivors need to do at all cost. I am no doctor, but after reading and learning about NPD, I found out that experts encourage us to workout and exercise regularly as part of our healing process.
Serotonin and dopamine are both neurotransmitter chemicals produced in the brain that improve mood and protect against mental health disorders. Serotonin, which is produced by long-term cardio exercise, decreases depression and hostility, while improving agreeable social behaviour. It also affects mood, sexual desire, appetite, sleep, memory, and temperature regulation. Low serotonin levels are connected with depression. Dopamine improves mood and long-term memory. It also stimulates pleasurable feelings in the brain. Moreover, it affects movement, emotional response, and the ability to feel pleasure.
What I’m trying to say is that, while being with our narcissistic partners, we got our highs from sex and other pleasurable activities. Even by being with them, our neurotransmitter levels would go up when they would treat us nicely. During devaluation phase, when we don’t receive stimulation, we long for those high moments. This is in a crude way an explanation for what happens when you are being discarded by the narc, or when you go No Contact. And this is the very reason why so many NPD victims fail miserably with staying No Contact.
Working out helps you get those much-needed “highs,” especially when you need them the most, which is soon after being discarded, going No Contact, or both. I have heard other survivors time and time again saying how they got through their darkest times and finally over their narcs by pouring themselves into working out and other physical activities. Either way, as I walked out from the gym, I did feel so much lighter and happier. I need to keep doing it. It can also help me release the rage that I feel once in a while when I remember what my husband is doing to me, but most especially to our daughter. As I may have mentioned before, narcs do not care about anybody and they will use their own children to get at their spouses. I know this to be true since he is doing things that no parent in their right state of mind would dare even think about doing to his or her child, only to get at me and make me look bad in court.
Either way, I am happy I took the first step. I just hope it won’t be the last.