Why we search for validation.
Narcissistic, psychological, and emotional abuse leave us stuck no longer trusting our own perception or story. This concept is called cognitive dissonance (or gaslighting) and it is designed to keep us doubting ourselves so that they can control the narrative that they are the victims.
This is an extremely challenging relationship to recover from, and there is no just moving on. Instead, we end up caught in a state of unreality and confusion, desperate for answers - we want to know if we truly were the 'bad guy' or if we had just done xyz, we could have made things better.
They will never tell us the ways in which they manipulated the story to maintain control.
In the early stages of healing, I really just wanted to feel seen and heard. I wanted my side of the story to be believed so I could finally feel like I had both feet on the ground and could move forward. I was replaying the story over and over, reliving it with anyone who would listen so they could confirm my side of the story was true. I was craving external validation from someone, anyone, but no matter how much I got, It was never enough for me to feel satisfied.
This is common for anyone on the other side of toxic relationships; there is nothing wrong with that. The problem is that it was holding me back from healing.
How many months, years, or even decades was I going to waste trying to figure out if their version of the story is the 'right one' or why they treated me the way they did? Eventually, I had to shift my focus from external validation to accepting that my personal happiness was based solely on me. It no longer had anything to do with them. I would never find validation there.
The truth is, the 'why' doesn't matter as much as we think. What matters is how we were treated.
You do not need anyone to tell you that you were mistreated, you know how it felt.
At a certain point, we need to give ourselves the validation we are seeking so we can start moving forward.
Yes, it's hard, and yes, you might still miss them. I really do understand how confusing this all is.
And you have a chance, right now, to create a life that is so much more beautiful, connected and real without wasting years trying to find answers that you may never get.
Validate Yourself - A Quick Healing Tool:
We all go through times when we feel a bit more confident and self-assured, as well as times when we feel like we need more validation and support. Healing is not linear.
The next time you are feeling good, maybe you just spent time with friends or did something you love, write yourself a letter. Write down how it feels to be here, write down what you want from your next relationship, and write down all the things you know you deserve moving forward. Remind yourself that you can never have these things if that person is in your life in any form.
Keep this letter close to you. It can be there for you in those moments when you need that extra support.
And if you still need a bit of external validation, I believe your story. I truly do!