My Christmas present to myself

comfort

As ACONS or victims of narcissistic abuse at the hands of others, we can be nervous, hypervigilant, and constantly feel stressed out and overwhelmed. It’s so hard for us to relax and just feel happy and in the moment.

Sometimes it’s the simple things that work best and take us to a place where we feel more at peace and more sane. We need to seek out and savor these small things.

The other day I received a gift card for Cracker Barrel. I have to admit, I love their country stores that are always a treat after pigging out on their heavy country cooking.

This morning I had to go have two of my tires changed and get an oil change. I hate dealing with servicing my car, but it had to be done. I already felt better knowing at least my tires won’t skid off the road, even though my car is 13 years old and the transmission is starting to slip.

Blasting rock music and singing along to it on the way home, I remembered my Cracker Barrel gift card and decided to stop by and buy a few things with it.

I adore candles and always buy those big scented jar candles at the dollar store, K-Mart or Walmart because usually those are all I can afford. Those are fine, but today I decided I could afford to splurge and buy a $20 Yankee Candle. I had a tough time choosing an aroma, because they all smell so great, but I finally settled on a new scent called “Silver Birch,” which smells just like woodsmoke and reminded me of a crackling fire.

I also love bath products, so I bought myself a bottle of JR. Watkins apothecary bath salts in Menthol/Camphor with Eucalyptus oil. The bottle, charmingly printed in a late 19th/early 20th century style, says it’s great for soothing colds and flu, but I’ve tried it before and it’s great for everything. It makes your body feel energized but relaxes your mind at the same time.

So when I got home, I decided to take a long hot bath, and just let the scents and warmth of the water swirl around me and bring me into the moment, only the moment. I lit the candle and placed it on the sink, poured a handful of the scented bath salts into the water and mixed in a little vanilla/lavender scented bath gel (cheap from Dollar General) in there too to make the water softer for a little moisture. Then I slid into the tub and literally sighed as I settled in. I lay there with my eyes closed for about an hour, just letting my mind wander and focus on the moment. I also said a little prayer of thanks for small blessings like this.

I nearly drifted off to sleep, but finally, when the water began to get too cool, I dried myself off, put on some comfortable clothes and decided to write a blog post about the bath from heaven.

We need moments like this to validate ourselves. We need to give ourselves little gifts every day if we can. If we didn’t get the mothering and nurture we needed, or we’re still surrounded by narcissists who don’t give a shit about how we feel, we can still give ourselves comfort and nurture every day in small ways like this

It’s not even necessary to spend the kind of money I did today (and the only reason I had it was because of the gift card I received). You can get the same effect with cheaper products from lower end stores. I always find great stuff at the Dollar General a few blocks away Their candles are limited in variety but smell really good. You can also mix a little baby oil with a cheap scented bath gel. At some smoke shops and other stores, you can buy little bottles of scented oil, or even learn to make your own (I’m sure there’s plenty of how-to instructions online).

There’s nothing like a long, hot, leisurely, great smelling bath to soothe your nerves and make you feel normal again, at least for a little while. And make sure you light a candle while you soak.

I’m still feeling so relaxed I think I’m going to nap for about an hour.

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A pretty good day

goodday

Alright, so my day didn’t start out very good.

Yesterday I got my settlement check from the insurance company from the car accident Molly was in last month, and this morning had to go to the bank to open a savings account and deposit the rest in checking, so I was an hour late for work because the bank didn’t open until 9 AM and I didn’t want to be toting a huge check around all day.

At 8:30 I received a call from my boss. She screamed “WHERE ARE YOU?”
Rubbing my assaulted ear, I explained I’d left a message on voicemail at 6:30.
“BUT IT WASN’T ON VOICEMAIL! DON’T YOU REALIZE THIS IS OUR BUSIEST SEASON?” The implication that I was lying about leaving a message could not have been more obvious.
“I’m sorry, I did leave a message. I’ll get there as soon as I can. I won’t be more than an hour late.”
“WELL YOU BETTER MAKE IT QUICK!”
Click.

I opened up my laptop and Tweeted: “Today is going to be the day from hell.”
I quickly scanned my blog stats, and found them disappointing.
Mentally I felt my defensive armor going up and my cortisone levels rising. I braced myself for the attack I knew I’d be facing once I got to work.

Although I have nearly perfect attendance and am never late, sure enough, when I arrived at the office, my malignant narcissist boss screamed, “IT’S THE BUSIEST WEEK OF THE YEAR! DON’T YOU REALIZE THAT? YOU ARE RUINING THIS COMPANY!”
Facepalm.

I knew she wasn’t serious, because I do a good job, my attendance is good, and she’s like that with everyone (well, except for her flying monkeys and sycophants), but it still made me feel violated and angry. Narcissists have a way of doing that.

The other bad thing that happened this morning was my daughter Molly went to court and was sentenced to 30 days in jail. She will be out Christmas day (thank goodness for that!). The good thing is that when she gets out, she will owe no more fines (which are far more than she or I can afford) and will have no more probation. She’ll do her time and just has to stay out of trouble after that.

But the day got a lot better. While it wasn’t the day from heaven, it didn’t turn out to be the day from hell either. I made friends with Molly’s older boyfriend, Paul. We were texting each other back and forth about Molly’s day in court and what happened. When I got home from my long day at work, I called him, and we spent about two hours talking. He is very easy to talk to, even for an Aspie like myself–I always feel violated and threatened by the most simple telephone conversations. I always hated the sound of a ringing phone. But talking to Paul was different, and put me at ease.

Paul is not only comfortable to talk to, he genuinely and sincerely cares about Molly. He’s the first boyfriend she’s ever had who has really cared about her wellbeing and wants her to turn her life around instead of all the losers who did nothing but drag her down and use her. We talked mostly about Molly, and what we can do together to help her. He’s older than she is and she listens to him, where she hasn’t always listened to me (I’m her mom–that’s probably why!) He put money into her jail account so she can buy concessions and make phone calls.

The other day I wrote a long depressing post saying I thought Molly was a narcissist (and she may be), but once again I have doubts. Drug addiction and bipolar disorder can also cause a person to act in a narcissistic way. She also has a diagnosis of BPD and PTSD. People with BPD can act very much like narcissists, as can bipolar people in their “manic” phase.

The reason I’m once again doubting she’s a true narcissist is because when she was handcuffed today, Paul was there with her, and she looked at him and said, crying, “I’m so sorry for all the pain I’ve caused everyone. I really want to change. I’m a terrible person.”

I don’t think she would have been faking those tears and those words; for what reason would she do so? Paul told me they have had some deep conversations about her behavior and run-ins with the law over the past decade and how much she doesn’t want to be part of that anymore. I think she was running around with some people who were very bad for her, because she thought she didn’t deserve or couldn’t do any better.

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Molly is intellectually brilliant and could do anything she wants in life. Once upon a time she was a straight-A student. But her self esteem is so low that she’s mostly associated with people far beneath her, people who do stupid things because they just aren’t very bright. Paul wants her to spend more time with her psychologically healthier friends who aren’t doing drugs, and meet some of his friends who are succeeding too.

Molly has never liked to read much (although she reads and writes very well), but in jail she will have a lot of time for reading (it beats playing cards and watching endless reruns of “Cops”). He told me about a book she had been talking about by the actress Kristen Johnson, called “Guts,” in which she describes her struggles with alcohol and drugs before she turned her life around. This book could be inspirational for her. Molly has always liked biographies and stories about people with substance abuse issues. I remember her favorite book in high school was one that had also been a favorite of mine when I was her age: “Go Ask Alice.”

I don’t have any family to speak of (or rather, none that I speak to), and certainly none in my area, but Paul invited me to his home for Thanksgiving. I invited my roommate to come along, but she declined, so it will just be the two of us. He’s new in this area and has no family here either. He’s cooking dinner and I’m bringing dessert and a bottle of red Merlot wine (my favorite).

Having been burned so many times by narcissists and psychopaths, I don’t trust people easily, so of course there’s a small nagging voice in my head warning me Paul may be a narcissist in the love-bombing phase, but I really, truly don’t think so.

Just the other day, Molly was talking about having kids someday. She’s never shown the slightest bit of interest in having children (she is a bit young still and certainly not emotionally ready), but she told me she would be interested if she was married, and she thinks Paul may be The One. I told her not to rush things and I would like her to attend school first. Paul and I think she just may do this once she is released. He wants to take her to the community college just to have a look around and maybe sign up for one class just to get her feet wet.

After putting most of the settlement in savings, I still have a little over $1,000 left, a nice sum of cash for someone as poor as I am. Some will be used for Christmas, but I decided to order a few books tonight. One was Kristen Johnson’s book “Guts” which I’ll bring to Molly; I also ordered a Wild Republic stuffed raccoon (a Christmas gift for my son (who already has “Alfonso” the river otter, who I wrote about)), and two more books about narcissism: Martha Stout’s “The Sociopath Next Door,” which I have heard great things about; and Sam Vaknin’s gigantic tome, “Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited.”
I love to get things in the mail, especially books.

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Any day, no matter how shitty it starts, where I can make a new friend, feel hopeful about my kid, have a little money to spend, realize I won’t be alone on a big holiday after all, and get some new books to read, is a good day. And if I can end that day with a new blog post telling you what a good day it was, then it’s officially a great day.