Narcissist Recovery: Boldness and the Return of Confidence

I’m used to thinking of myself as lazy and not smart. Recently, I have encountered a mountain of evidence to the contrary.

I am so glad I went back on ADHD medication. It’s been six weeks since I picked up the prescription. The effect has been life-changing.

My boss (who is more business partner than boss) returned to work on Monday. He had been gone for six weeks. His health crisis meant I was suddenly alone with a mountain of new-to-me tasks to manage. This played a large role in my decision to restart medication 8 years after discontinuing it.

Our team’s primary goal during his leave was to ensure his return would be as stress-free as possible. We wanted him to be able to jump into projects as they were underway, not feel he had a lot to catch up on.

Our team’s efforts in this regard were a resounding success. He is very grateful.

My contribution to this effort was not small. It is hard for me to believe or internalize this, but the alternative is to not believe the people who tell me it is so. The alternative is to think negative thoughts of others’ powers of observation. These are people I respect and like. I think them intelligent. Thus, I should consider that they might speak the truth. Perhaps I have performed well and am worthy of recognition.

The truth is, I can’t believe all I am currently able to do on any given day, or how lovely it feels to do it.

When it came to tasks that my boss would have managed, I didn’t wait for instructions and I only worried slightly about being in over my head.

I did not feel stressed or overwhelmed by my daily to-do lists. I knew what tasks the team had to accomplish, and I dove in and led the charge.

I took on more tasks, new to me tasks, and responsibility. As a consequence, I saw evidence of who I am and what I’m capable of.

The resulting confidence boost has been intense and much needed.

My trip to London is coming up soon. I haven’t explored a new city on my own before, despite all my years of business travel. Usually, I hide in hotel rooms. And yet, I am not afraid. I know I will find my way around and be able to take care of myself.

That’s a lie. I am afraid. I don’t know that everything will be fine. I am nervous. I might get lost. I might have anxiety issues. It might be hard.

“Courage is the commitment to begin without any guarantee of success.” ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

And yet I realize some nervousness and anxiety is likely the worst that might happen.

I will go to London and I will be courageous, and prove to myself that I can explore a new city on my own. I will prove to myself that I am not afraid.

I will be bold. Yes… Bold. That’s the right word. That’s what I’ve been lately.

I’ve been taking more risks. Calculated risks, true. Still, many of my recent actions have required courage and boldness.

I took on more at work, despite knowing failure would be very visible.

I booked a flight to London. Even while in the depths of a deep depression I had the courage and boldness to fake determined optimism about feeling better and coming out of the dark place someday.

And I will be bold during my trip. I will go explore London alone regardless of my trepidation.

And, of course, I will be courageous and bold when I see the Galway Guy, too.

I will be bold with the Galway Guy. I will continue to set healthy, reasonable expectations while remaining open to there still being chemistry between us (which, let’s face it, would be highly desirable).

I have and will continue being bold in spite of my fears, in spite of my doubts about my abilities and likability.

“The phrase ‘do not be afraid’ is written in the Bible 365 times. That’s a daily reminder from God to live every day being fearless.”

I am living now, in a way I haven’t since before meeting the Narcissist and falling under his spell.

The Narcissist told me I was nothing. He led me to believe I was unintelligent, lacked motivation, wasn’t attractive or sexy, wasn’t pleasant to be around.

He wanted me to see myself as less than, and to see him as “more” and “better” in every possible sense.

He succeeded, for a long time. Until I started questioning. Until I started wondering why he needed to battle me so. Until I started recognizing how he shut me down instead of allowing or appreciating me.

Until I started missing myself and my relationship to the world so much that I couldn’t take it anymore.

Medication alone would not have helped me start feeling better right after the breakup.

Time was required, too.

Now, though, it’s been almost two years since the breakup and over a year since I was able to go No Contact.

I can look back on knowing him from my current reality, from a place of distance. He is my past, not my present.

Until recently it felt like he was still part of my world. His admonishing and constant disparaging were still constant in my head.

Now, it’s starting to clear out. No, people as a whole do not hate me. They do not think me cold or lacking empathy. They do not judge me and find me offensive for how many hours I worked that day, how I dress, my tone of voice, how I chew my food or cross a room or sit on a couch, or many other things.

Soon, hopefully, I will also re-learn that I am not a terrible kisser.

I do not make my partner feel suffocated or like I am going to eat him. I am not creepy when I am bold with a lover. I am courageous and commanding and articulate, and these are good things, not flaws in my character.

I am able to see patterns and organize work. I am able to follow through on a task. I am able to manage my life and maintain quality friendships.

I am not less than. The Narcissist lied and manipulated. I was psychologically abused. And I am well on my way to recovery.

“Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.” ~Goethe


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