If a Sea Slug Can Amputate All the Bad Parts, Why Can’t I?
Incredible new scientific discovery! Sea slugs are capable of decapitating themselves and regenerating their entire bodies. I need to do that!
The phenomenon is believed to be the most extreme example of self-amputation and regeneration ever witnessed!
Once detached, the heads freely move around feeding on algae. The self-inflicted wound heals within 24 hours, and they are able to subsist without vital organs by hijacking chloroplasts from the algae and performing photosynthesis internally. An almost exact copy of the original body returns within two to three weeks, and even weirder…their headless discarded body stays alive for months.
Exactly how and why the animals discard their bodies is unknown. The whole process may be triggered by the presence of internal parasites or some other destructive force. Regenerative medicine in humans is a reality now.
Okay, I think you know where I may be going with this.
After relationship abuse and trauma caused by a Cluster B disordered partner, you feel as if you have been violated by a black ink that is a poisonous and lethal toxin. You would do anything to remove these internal parasites that are eating you alive — even self-decapitation in hopes you could regenerate a new self that is healthy and without pain.
If they can convince themselves that they are in love or that they are good people who do good things in the world when all they do is play pretend then grab a flame thrower and burn everything to the ground with scorched-earth intentions, then I can be a sea slug or a pig with wings or any damn thing I choose. Magical thinking, baby. Living in a delusional world can be a blast!
What kind of emotions do you think a victim of torture and intermittent reinforcement carries around? Is it a grief that is utterly incapacitating? Is it an anger that compels you to plot their demise? Or is it more akin to a brand of hopelessness that shatters you from the inside out into a million shards of glass without any chance of restoration or reconstruction?
I think it is all of those things and more. The kind of ‘crap cocktail’ that makes you think death might be a welcome release yet something you could never ever actually do because you are capable of empathy, compassion, guilt, and all those things that make us human and force us to consider other people’s feelings before our own.
Make no mistake. I have failed to always be that good, selfless person. So many times through the years we were married, I chose unwisely and inadvertently harmed those I loved. I chose him time and again, and as a result, they all vanished slowly like smoke that rises, then disappears. They warned me. Begged me. Pleaded. But I was blinded by my unhealthy attachments and my chemical addiction to him. They could not bear to watch. And now, everyone is gone.
I am alone.
There is a cautionary tale in this. A lesson to learn if you are on the precipice of disaster. Step back! Do not forsake those who love you. Trust that they would not all be standing together, waving red flags, and screaming to slam on the brakes before you get to the cliff if there were not some very good reason why. Any fool would have understood that they must be onto something — that they must know something or see something that I could not.
But I just kept going.
All Thelma and Louise style right over the edge as I sailed into the sky and experienced a few fleeting moments of sheer jubilation before hitting the rocks, bursting into a thousand pieces. People just don’t walk away from something like that. You are dead on impact.
So, yes. I wish I could be a sea slug.
I want to cut off the infected parts and sever them, stop the way they spread like cancer and metastasize around my spine. I want to regenerate and grow back into a version of myself that is a blank slate, free of parasites and demons, ready to swim out to sea and live my life.
Prayer for a Sea Slug
“A sea slug shall not want — It shall lie down in green ponds
It shall slither beside still waters — It shall restoreth its flesh.
And yea, though it slimes through the Valley of the Shadow of Death — It shall fear no evil — For its regenerative properties are with it.”
So here is the key. I think instead of decapitating ourselves to achieve some kind of genesis or reconfiguration, we need to turn inward and work on what is at the seat of our souls. Nothing needs to be amputated or eviscerated. Just go to your interior. Ask your inner self how they are doing, what do they need, and how can you help them. If you are quiet and listen carefully, they will probably tell you. They have been trying to get your attention, but you were too busy with your narcopath to hear them or see them. This “mini-me” version of yourself is like the primitive version of yourself at your source of power and freedom and individuality. It is your “seed self” from which your values, ethics, identity, perception, attitudes, and view of the world first came to life. Perhaps it has not been nurtured for some time now. Never fed or watered or validated in any way. Of course, that is a problem, and the only way out of all this mess is through her (him) to the other side. You have to make friends and listen as they tell you what the problem is. Then make your best effort to fix it.
Recently, my therapist hypnotized me. Clearly, I have a deep understanding of what has happened and why and all that. What I don’t have is the ability to manage my C-PTSD symptoms that run rampant now and then, and I need to get them in check. When I went into myself into the silent dark place within, my inner self told me three things that I must conquer and make peace with.
Number one, powerlessness and helplessness are with you in profound ways that influence everything you do. Secondly, terror and horror rule you at all times and compel you to make decisions clouded by fear which is never a good thing. And finally, there is immense anger at the injustice of it all and how unfair it is that you must always feel so lonely when you deserve love and support and validation as much as anyone else.
These revelations were not really new, but they were framed in a way that enabled me to have more clarity. I understand the things I need to work on now if I want to recover and salvage any of the life ahead or time that I have left.
A friend and I were sitting at her house earlier this afternoon, eating veggie power bowls and poking around in the junkyard of our lives with a stick, hoping to find a little bit of hope buried here or there. I met her in a recovery group for people with broken hearts, and we soon discovered we had both been discarded by men with personality disorders. They abandoned their marriages within a week of each other back in June 2019. Accepting the reality of something that is so utterly unacceptable has been a challenge for us both, and we are both resigned to spend the rest of our days poking around with our sticks in hopes of finding hope.
She said, “You realize that at our age, we have maybe five years left to do whatever we need to do before it will be time to settle in by the fire in preparation for the long cold winter season of our lives.”
We are both the same age, past 60, and we feel our age deep in our bones in ways we never did before our husbands cast us aside and threw us away without any trace of emotion, remorse, or apology.
“I wanted to travel the world, live in another country for a bit, be silly and laugh a lot, enjoy wild romps in the hay, witness vivid sunsets at the beach, and have adventures like skydiving and jungle trekking through Thailand. How am I going to do any of those things without my partner? Men can always find women, especially charming narcissists with huge egos. Nobody wants ‘busted up’ old women with baggage like this. The only ones interested are crusty old dudes who want either a nurse or a purse.”
We laughed quietly and nodded our heads in agreement. She shifted in her chair and gazed out of her beautiful tall windows and out at the tiered pool in her multi-million dollar home. I thought to myself, “Look at us. We have comfort and security, yet there is no doubt that we would both give every penny away and go live under a bridge if our husbands would reach for us, take us by the hand, confess they made a terrible mistake, say they don’t want to live without us, and surround us with their love, wrap us in their arms. Every. Single. Penny.Without hesitation.”
But that’s never going to happen.
Her aging white poodle lays beside her on the sofa as she rests her hand on his back. “Do you think there’s any chance they will get healthy, wake up and realize what they have done, feel bad about it, make amends? Someday? If we wait and just keep the faith?”
I watch her and realize that she already knows the answer. “No. I don’t think so. They don’t think there is anything wrong with them. They think they are the good guys, the victims, and they have shifted all the blame on us.” I watch the anguish in her eyes as she contemplates a future without him. I can’t imagine how I will navigate by myself, either.
So we find solace where we can.
Suddenly, I think of the sea slug, imagining how nice it would be just to slice off the part of yourself that is damaged or injured, and quickly replicate and grow a new one. If it were only that easy.
We sit in silence sipping our flavored water, trying not to reflect on a past that crushes us and hesitant to imagine a future alone.
She finally says, “ I don’t plan things anymore. I am very spontaneous. Just one hour, one day at a time. That’s all I can do. If I can get through it without the sadness that steals the day, then it is a good day.” I imagine that her faraway look is hearing her children running upstairs once again, all those years ago, all those memories ago. She imagines his voice calling her from a distance. She even looks up to see if he comes around the corner. The grandfather clock is all we hear. The house seems so large and empty now that everyone is gone.
My children are gone, too — all grown up and in faraway places. I want to retrieve a happy memory when our rooms were filled with laughter, but I can’t hear their childish laughter, even in my dreams. They are silent now.
“It’s starting to get dark. If I don’t go now, I won’t be able to see to get home safely,” I say as I stand up and take one last look at the small woman in the enormous room, shadows sweeping away the streams of light.
‘Home,’ I think. I don’t have a home anymore. It was sold in the divorce. I have a house that I am staying in while I figure things out.
We exchange understanding smiles of gratitude for our time together. I guess misery loves company. In any event, we will rise tomorrow and do it again. Poking around in the ashes with that stick in the mountains of debris from the lives that were burned beyond recognition and hoping that we will find peace in the days to come.
I step out onto her veranda and head to my car. A recent shower has made her gardens wet and fragrant. And then I see it. A big, fat, brown snail, cousin to the sea slug, gliding in a trail of mucus in my path. There is nothing worse than accidentally stepping on one and hearing the crunch beneath your shoe. I dance around it and think to myself, “Damn you, slimy beast. You can decapitate your own head, and I’m stuck with my pain. Lucky bastard.”
Life is not fair.
And then I disappear into the pink and purple Austin dusk, the Rollingwood hills swallowing up my car. Austin was our home for so many years, but now I am a stranger here — constantly plotting my escape, imagining a destination that doesn’t feel like a graveyard of ghosts. I dream of a place by the sea, a place without any slugs or snails.
P. Pesqueda is an educator, writer, and healing coach. She hopes to educate and support people who have experienced relationship trauma and PTSD following relationships with Cluster B disordered partners.
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N.A.R.C. Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Collaborators
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