What’s my problem?

confused

After over a month of being convinced I’m a covert narcissist, now I’m starting to wonder if my assessment of myself could be incorrect. Most people are having trouble believing me (even good friends) and there are so many disorders that appear similar to it. I no longer think my symptoms are due to Aspergers the way I used to, but BPD + Avoidant PD in the same person can look exactly like covert NPD. So can complex PTSD in some cases.

I’ve been told again and again that real narcissists are unlikely to ever admit they are narcissists, and if they do, they won’t be beating themselves up that much over it. I don’t know if that’s always true (I’ve met a few low spectrum covert narcissists on Psychforums who actually have a diagnosis and feel terrible about things they’ve done and want to change, but maybe the diagnosis they got is wrong and they just have more than the normal amount of N traits). Victims of narcissistic abuse are often quick to diagnose narcissism in themselves and others. We’re hypervigilant and tend to see narcissism everywhere, and we don’t even exempt ourselves. The real narcissists are probably more likely to keep insisting that they are not. Abuse victims think too damn much. It’s all very confusing.

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I guess there was a reason why I never added “Covert NPD” to “My Disorders” in the header. Without an official diagnosis for that, I really can’t say that’s what my problem is. It could be, but if so I think it’s at a low level. I know I have a number of narcissistic traits, but most abuse victims do. That doesn’t necessarily mean I have NPD, covert or otherwise. I could just have a really bad case of “fleas,” or just BPD + AvPD, or even complex PTSD.

I’m still glad I started Down The Rabbit Hole because it’s also intended for people with BPD, which I have an actual diagnosis for. I still think my “trip down the rabbit hole” early in August was real but that doesn’t necessarily mean I have NPD. It was still a trip to the walled off parts of my mind, and most abuse victims are at least partly walled off from themselves. We may be partially narcissistic but not enough to qualify for the label.

I care about people with low spectrum NPD and BPD who want to heal or improve, so that’s another reason I’m going to keep DTRH going. It’s getting a good reception. Another one of my missions is to help reduce the negative stigma against people with BPD. I don’t ever expect DTRH to gain the amount of activity this blog has received, but if only one or two people can be helped by my posts, and I can help myself by continuing to do exactly what I’ve been doing, then it’s worth it to keep it going, isn’t it?

Really, at the end of the day, all these labels are just labels and don’t really mean anything at all.

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To everything there is a season…

seasons

There seem to be three different kinds of people in the world. Those who are fake-positive, always wearing a plastered on smile and never admitting to failure or to their true emotions; those who walk around wearing their misery like a badge of honor; and everyone else.

Before I became active in the narcissistic abuse community, I really only met the first type of person and the third. I’m all too well acquainted with “positive thinking nazis” — you know, fake and shallow people who don’t want to acknowledge your pain and tell you to “get over it” or “you bring your misery on yourself with your negativity.” These people are often–but not always–narcissists (but even when they aren’t, they are all neurotypicals.) They are good at social skills and making a good impression at all times, and that means they are always smiling. They cannot and will not understand how introverted Aspies like me work–or really, how anyone who has deep emotions and isn’t always happy works. Positive-thinking nazis drive me insane. They lack compassion and understanding. They don’t think or feel deeply–about anything. It seems epidemic these days–people who don’t want to hear your problems because they don’t want to acknowledge that you may be in pain. For them, I don’t think it’s really about “positive thinking” at all. I think it’s about not wanting to be accountable or have to give time to anyone but themselves. They would rather brush your pain under the rug and act as if it’s not there, rather than let it ruin their day.

However, recently I’ve been seeing the opposite too, especially within the narcissistic abuse community. These are the people–usually raised by extremely abusive parents–who seem to wear their victimhood like a badge that proves how deep, emotional or even holy they are. The problem I see with this way of thinking is that they cannot move forward or ever find happiness or peace with themselves. Their Debbie Downer attitudes keep them stuck where they are and they can’t really heal from the abuse that was inflicted on them because they’re trapped in the quicksands of their own misery. A few have even implied that to be a happy person means you aren’t a godly person. They say that being optimistic or believing that God allows suffering or toxic people to come into our lives to strengthen us is a demonic way of thinking, and in fact, that the whole positive thinking movement is a “gift of Satan” in order to fool us.

When I first joined the narcissistic abuse community, I felt like I had finally found like-minded people. I felt like a victim most of the time and my early posts were mostly rants against my narcissists and how much life sucked in general. I couldn’t believe my luck in finding people who thought exactly the way I did–other people whose lives seemed ruined beyond repair due to the damage done to them at the hands of abusive or narcissistic people (usually parents), and that, well…life really sucks. Wow, I thought. There really are others like me! I could relate, and I felt like I was no longer all alone in thinking this way. And at the time, it was exactly the sort of validation I needed. But it wasn’t meant to be permanent!

Recently I’ve been changing and I’m finding myself getting irritated and depressed around people who cling to victimhood like a trophy and refuse to–or can’t–heal from abuse. Don’t get me wrong–I’m not “blaming the victim”–at all–but I have noticed with a great deal of sadness how people who cling to such views don’t seem to be able to heal. Sometimes I think they believe if they let go of their victimhood and allow themselves to pursue and embrace joy, that they are “letting the narcs win.” But in fact, they are letting the narcs win by embracing victimhood because their being happy wasn’t in their abusers’ plans. By stubbornly clinging to their no-hope thinking patterns, they can’t heal and and their abusers get what they want. Because our being happy wasn’t part of the narc’s agenda.

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I have heard some say that happy people who are doing well in life aren’t authentic or “real.” I don’t think this is true, at least not all the time. Yes, I think there is far too much emphasis put on always APPEARING happy and yes, showing human emotions such as sadness, fear or depression seems to have become taboo in our narcissistic society. I don’t agree with that. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sharing our true feelings, even when they’re not positive. But there is a huge difference between an authentically happy person and one who is faking it. A person who has true joy and feels it in their heart is a person other people want to be around, even people like me who get easily annoyed by “goody goodies” who smile too much.

A genuinely happy person is positive about life, but they don’t force their positivity on others, or make others feel guilty for showing real feelings. They don’t victim-blame or tell you it’s your fault you feel the way you do or have the circumstances you are faced with. They know how to listen–without judgment. The few people I have known who are like this are among the most empathetic people I ever met, and it’s because they’re not so caught up in their own issues that they have nothing left to give to others. I knew a girl like this a few years ago. Even though she laughed and smiled a lot, she was never annoying or obnoxious. I used to see her cry a lot too–often for others, because she was so compassionate and she CARED about other people. You could tell she was a person who was able to love deeply. People went to her with their problems because they knew she cared and wanted to help, and would never judge you for feeling down.

I don’t believe this world is our final destination. I believe our fallen nature and sin makes suffering inevitable. But on the other hand, I don’t think God wants us to be miserable either. I don’t buy the phony Joel Osteen brand of fake happiness or the ugly philosophy of the “Prosperity Gospel.” I can’t stand so-called “Christians” who don’t believe in helping the less fortunate because they believe that “poverty is the result of moral failure” or some such BS and is therefore deserved.

But I do think God does want us to be happy while we’re in this world. This planet, as imperfect as it is, is filled with small and not-so-small gifts and they are there for us to enjoy every day–but we won’t be able to appreciate these gifts if we’re too caught up in feeling like we were born only for suffering. It’s okay to smile when you feel like smiling, to be successful at something, to even be prosperous. I certainly am not what anyone would call “successful,” but I won’t condemn anyone else if they’ve found success and happiness–as long as the happiness is authentic and the success was earned honestly. I don’t think anyone needs to consign themselves to always being impoverished or depressed. No one was born to be a victim. I used to believe I was, but now I know I wasn’t–I just needed to open my eyes. Adversity can even be a teacher if you frame it differently. I have learned from my narcs. No, they aren’t good people, but perhaps God placed them in my life to teach me some hard lessons and to lead me to where I am right now as a writer about narcissism and mental health.

Psalm 16 v 11 path of life bible verses on happiness

The obstacles and obstacle-creating people we meet in life aren’t put there by the devil. They may not have been put there by God, but God allows us to find our own way through the obstacles and become stronger through our pain, perhaps so we can “pay it forward” and help someone else in pain.

The idea of there being a purpose for everything in life–the bad along with the good–is Biblical. One of my favorite Bible passages is Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 (KJV):

1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?

10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.

13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.

15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.

16 And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.

17 I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.

18 I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.

19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.

20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

21 Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?

22 Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?

I can’t tell you how many times I have read this and been inspired and comforted by it.
If you feel happy, don’t feel guilty about it! If you don’t, that’s okay too. There’s a time and reason for everything.

The 4 types of narcissistic abuse victims.

abuse_boy

It’s become clear to me that not all ACONs and abuse survivors are on the same page when it comes to their attitudes toward narcissists.
Because we all are abuse survivors you would think there’d be more solidarity among us, but this is not necessarily the case.

It seems there are four distinct types. In spite of things I may have alluded to in the past, I don’t think any one group is worse or better than any other. They are different, and each has their reasons for having the attitudes they do. I’ll explain why I think the attitudes are different among the four groups. There is definitely a pattern I’ve noticed.

1. The Narc-Hating Group.

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These ACONs usually underwent the worst abuse as children, or had two narcissistic parents instead of just one. Having abusive parents seems to instill the greatest anger in victims–more so than having been with an abusive spouse–and this anger isn’t easily let go of. This group has a warrior mentality: to them, ALL narcissists are evil, bad seeds, or demonic, and have no hope whatsoever of recovery or healing. They may acknowledge a continuum or spectrum among narcissists, but it’s not important to them. A narc is a narc is a narc, and they are all considered impervious to change and anything they do is suspect. Some ACONs of this type are ultra-religious and believe all narcissists are seared souls destined for hell.

2. All Cluster Bs are the Same Group.

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This group goes a step beyond the first one, in that they believe anyone with a Cluster B disorder–Borderline, Histrionic, Narcissistic, or Antisocial–is character disordered and manipulative, and therefore all pretty much the same and to be avoided like the plague. They do not make exceptions even for Borderlines–the least “malignant” of the four disorders. People who subscribe to this view were as damaged by their malignant narcissistic parents as the first group. One of their parents may have been Borderline or Histrionic, rather than narcissistic– but people with those disorders don’t always make very good parents either. It’s unfortunately all too common for narcissists to collude with Borderlines in the abuse of the child, with the Borderline in the more codependent, subservient role.

3. Not all Narcs are Hopeless Group.

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This group may be in the minority among ACONs (at least among bloggers), but it’s the group I’m evidently in–which has raised the ire of some of the Narc-Hating ACONs. People in this group aren’t going around singing the praises of narcissists and in fact the vast majority strongly encourage No Contact (just as the other two groups do). They do not tolerate or enable narcissistic manipulations and abuse, but they hold that because narcissism may be a spectrum disorder, that those at the lower end of the spectrum (non-malignants) may be redeemable under the proper circumstances and with the proper treatment. They may show more sympathy or empathy for people with narcissism than the first two groups, but they aren’t enablers either. Most do not believe malignant narcissists and psychopaths/sociopaths are redeemable, however.

Many people in this group were part of the Narc-Hating group when they were trying to disengage or go No Contact with their abusers. They used their anger to give them the courage and motivation to disconnect and stay disconnected. But because their hatred and anger toward narcissists isn’t as deeply ingrained as in the first two groups (I’ll explain why in the next paragraph), people in this group eventually can no longer hold onto their anger and prefer to try to understand the motives of those who abused them, while at the same time remaining disconnected from their abusers and not enabling narcissistic behavior. Their desire to let go of anger is very difficult for ACONs of the first two groups to understand, and people of the third group may be seen as betraying the ACON cause, even though this isn’t really the case at all. They’re just handling things differently.

Another reason a person may hold that some narcissists are redeemable is they may have a narcissistic child, and it’s an extremely difficult thing for a parent to accept that their own child may be beyond hope.

It’s been my observation that people in this group may have suffered less severe abuse as children, or had only one narcissistic parent instead of two. One of the parents (usually a codependent spouse) may have actually loved their child, and this love tempered the abuse inflicted on them by the narcissistic parent even if they were forced to collude with the abuse at times. Some people in this group may have even had normal childhoods with non-narcissistic parents, but got involved in relationships or marriages to narcissists (which technically means they are not ACONs at all). It’s been my observation that people who suffered most of their abuse at the hands of a narcissistic spouse or lover rather than a parent never developed the deep hatred toward all narcissists that the first two groups tend to do.

4. Codependents.

Fashion model stylized as marionette doll sitting on violet studio background

Codependents are often (but not always) personality disordered in some way, and many of them are Borderlines or covert narcissists. They are usually victimized by their narcissists, but also identify with and collude with their abusers. Most codependents were abused by narcissistic parents, and are drawn to narcissistic relationships where they are compelled to re-enact their abusive childhoods. This is the group that may never acknowledge they are being abused or reach out for help. They continue to defend and enable their abusers and may believe they are the ones at fault for anything that goes wrong. If a Codependent leaves their narcissist and realizes they were actually being abused, then they are no longer Codependent and join one of the first three categories.