Making your inner judge work for you.

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Credit: Me (click to enlarge image)

I’ve recently met my Inner Critic, who from now on I’m going to call my Judge, because it’s funnier and seeing the Critic as cartoon-like helps me be able to make him seem  (I think of the Critic as male for some reason) less intimidating and scary.

I mentioned that the Judge, while keeping me trapped on a very thin tightrope, making me afraid of a lot of things, really is trying to protect me. Unfortunately the Judge’s overbearing manner can be abrasive and downright abusive, attempting to keep me trapped in old shaming thinking patterns (which apparently it thinks are best because it’s a big clueless dummy).

You need your Inner Judge, because it keeps you moral and doing the right thing. It also gangs up on you when you’ve let others step on your boundaries or abuse you (“how could you be so stupid to let that person take advantage of you AGAIN?”) The problem is, the voice isn’t very nice and feeds into your already low self-esteem. It makes you feel like a bad person–or a pathetic loser. As a result, you can be afraid to take any action.

For me, although I’ve used all the Four F’s, my primary defense has been and still is Dissociation.  Pete Walker talks about the Four F’s of C-PTSD–Fight (narcissism), Flight (obsessive-compulsiveness and workaholism to escape), Freeze (dissociation; withdrawal from humanity, self-isolation), and Fawn (being codependent).

The trick is to make your Inner Judge work FOR you instead of against you. My therapist had me try to think of “him” as being afraid rather than mean and judgmental. By having compassion for your Judge, you can actually change the way the Judge talks to us.

Changing the Judge’s script.

My Judge used to (and often still does) tell me things like:

1. You are worthless. You never accomplished anything of any value.
2. Who would listen to you? You think you’re some kind of expert? What sort of credentials do you have?
3. You’re over the hill and it’s too late for you. You will die poor, miserable and alone.
4. All your friends and everyone in your age group are making more money than you, own their own homes, can go on vacations, have real careers, etc. What’s wrong with you?
5. All your friends are still married or re-married, but you don’t have anyone and will never find anyone else. You’re too old to find anyone now.
6. You’re so weak and such a pushover.
7. You are too crazy to have a good life. You have too many mental issues.
8. You made bad choices, that’s why your life is like it is.
9. You’re embarrassing to be around and are socially awkward so it’s best if you keep your mouth shut.
10. Your accomplishments aren’t real, they don’t really count, so bragging about them makes you look like a narcissist.

And finally…
11. What is wrong with you?

These are lies, the same lies my abusers used against me as long as I can remember. These lies became internalized and now that I’m NC with my abusers, my Inner Judge still does their dirty flying monkey work. But unlike my abusers, my Judge can be trained to change the unhelpful, judgmental statements to things that can be more helpful, like:

1. You are worthwhile. You have accomplished as much as you have been able to, and that’s enough for right now.
2. Many people enjoy your blog and tell you how much it’s helped them. You have friends who love talking to you and like your insight about things. Just because you don’t have a piece of paper deeming you as an “expert” doesn’t mean you don’t know what you’re talking about.  You have the expertise of life experience, which is more valuable than any degree.
3. You’re never over the hill. Age is just a number. We evolve with age and get wiser. Getting old isn’t bad, but society likes to tell you it is.  even if you remain “alone,” you can still have friends, happiness, and a full life.
4. You might feel envious, but many people are doing worse than you. You have many blessings, and you also shouldn’t compare yourself to others. You should only compare your accomplishments to previous accomplishments, not those of others. We are all different and have different reasons for being here.
5. Being alone doesn’t have to be lonely. What’s so bad about being single? You could still find someone anyway. In the meantime, cultivate your skills, talents, self esteem and friendships. Those count for just as much if not more than “being part of a twosome.”
6. You’re strong and are getting good at setting boundaries that work but are also permeable enough to let others in sometimes.
7. You are not crazy. You have PTSD, which isn’t a mental illness, but a normal reaction to a series of abnormal events. And you’re getting better every day.
8. Yes, you made some bad choices, but who doesn’t? You also made those bad choices because you didn’t have a choice but to make them (you were programmed to always make the choice that kept you from taking any real risks or chances–which usually meant not making a choice at all–and this is what kept you from growing emotionally). This was NOT YOUR FAULT.
9. You are smart and a lot of people like you. You have a right to express what you feel.
10. You should be proud of your accomplishments. Talking about them sometimes isn’t bragging, it’s showing healthy self esteem.
11. What happened to you to make you believe such outrageous lies?   There was something wrong with the people who told you these lies.

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Guest post #4: You Are Empowered (Just Plain Ol’ Vic)

I’m happy to introduce my 4th guest blogger, Just Plain Ol’ Vic.  Vic’s blog is one of my favorites.  I’ve been following it almost from the very beginning of my blogging journey and have found it always inspiring and thoughtful.    Vic has helped me through many of my own rough moments and is a regular commenter on this blog too. Be sure to stop by his blog!

This is from his About page:

Just Plain Ol’ Vic

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Bio: Thanks for taking a look at my blog. I am Just Plain Ol’ Vic, however Vic will do just fine. I originally started this blog as a form of writing therapy. I am happily married, with kids but my wife suffers from bi-polar disorder, clinical depression, has an eating disorder and is a recovering alcoholic. Needless to say it is quite a bit for one individual to handle, thus my blog. I started this blog to connect with others that suffer from mental health issues and/or have loved ones that have mental health challenges. This is a way for me to connect, discuss and educate myself about my wife’s condition and perhaps in turn, allow me to be a better spouse. Perhaps too, in hearing my story, others will know that they are not alone and there is help, empathy and resources out there. My blog has since developed beyond just talking about mental health (although that is still a priority). I pretty much discuss what is on my mind or happening in my life. I am not afraid to spout verbal diarrhea, give unsubstantiated opinions and generally exercise my 1st Amendment rights. Along the way I hope to provoke some thoughts, get you interactive with my blog…perhaps even make you crack a smile and belly-laugh every now and then. So if by now you are still interested and willingly join me on my journey, thanks for coming along and don’t forget to buckle up! http://justplainolvic.wordpress.com/2014/07/19/tempting-fate-taking-a-leap-of-faith/

Here is his guest post, not really about himself, but about all the wonderful things he’s learned from living with his wife, who suffers from Bipolar disorder.   Through their relationship, joys and struggles, Vic says he has developed a level of empathy and understanding for the mentally ill he might not have otherwise had.  I thought his story was very touching and inspirational and I even got a little misty-eyed reading it.

YOU ARE EMPOWERED

By Plain Ol’ Vic (http://justplainolvic.com/ )

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Introduction:

Hello there, my name is Vic and first of all I would like to thank Lauren for giving me this wonderful opportunity as a guest blogger.  I don’t think my story makes me any more special than the next person, thus my moniker of “just plain ‘ol” seems very appropriate.  I am just a guy, husband and father that is trying to make sense of his world and do right by my family. There are days that this is harder than it sounds; as my wife has bi-polar disorder, has attempted suicide, has had multiple hospitalizations, is a recovering alcoholic and recovering from an eating disorder.  Guess what?  She is and will always be a wonderful woman and I am lucky to be married to her.

 Instead of telling my story and the trials and tribulations we have faced as a couple and family, instead I would like to talk about some of the positive things I have learned as I have become more educated and empathetic to the challenges my wife faces on a daily basis. As tough as the challenges have been, as daunting and insurmountable as the obstacles seem to be – we are still here, engaged in the moment and are as strong (perhaps stronger) than we ever were.

***

It is so easy, when someone suffers from a mental illness, to have it consume their lives and allow it to define who they are, how their perceive themselves and become the cornerstone of their existence.  I am here to tell you that does not have to be the case!  You ARE empowered to be who you CHOOSE to be, should EXPECT people to treat you the way you DESERVE to be treated and you should NEVER SETTLE for anything less.

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL

I know it is hard to look in the mirror and not “see” your mental illness.  I challenge you to look beyond the physical and see your spirit within.  See the inner beauty, the inner resilience and the inner fighter that you have become.  “Normal” and “perfect” do not exist, they are made up abstractions.  Who you are, your uniqueness is what makes you beautiful.  If you can embrace that inner beauty, it is the first crucial step to learning to love yourself.

YOU ARE WORTHY OF LOVE AND AFFECTION

Having a mental illness does not make you “less deserving” than the next person. Despite the challenges you may face every day, you are deserving of a partner that will love you for who you are – not what they want you to be.  While a relationship can and will be challenging at times, you can find someone that will accept and love you the way you are.  The key to this is communication:  being open and honest from the first moment.  Making sure you have a partner that you can talk to, confide in and lean on is critical.  No relationship is ever perfect but it can work for you as long as you are willing to work for it.

YOU ARE POWERFUL, STRONG & CAPABLE

Having a mental illness does not make you less of a person, less capable than someone that is “healthy.”  Indeed you may actually be much stronger than a “healthy” individual because you have to endure so much more.  Never doubt your ability to lead a full and productive life.  You are capable of achieving whatever you set your mind to.  Now I am not going to deny that it may be tough, that there may be setbacks – however you are powerful, strong and capable – you can take back your life.  Your life and your contribution is just as important and relevant as anyone else, so shout your message from the rooftops and embrace all that makes you unique.

I would like to show you this video where I drew inspiration from for this post.  Now I have made it clear that while I am not religious I am a spiritual individual, however despite that I cannot deny the power of this message.  Please also understand that I think is message (and my message) is geared for both men and women.  Take the time to listen to some of the words that are said and understand that this IS you or CAN be you If you so choose.  There are so many things misunderstood when it comes to mental illness, so many stigmas out there.  However if you empower yourself, share and communicate your story then you too can help other see what makes you so wonderful, so unique and so human.

I wish everyone the best.  Be well.  Take care of yourself and each other.

Just Plain ‘Ol Vic.

 

Different.

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I-am-different

“Fun and easygoing” me.

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I’ve noticed something strange lately. People are treating me differently. People actually seem to like being around me. Someone at work told me everyone who sits at our table says they love working with me because I’m fun, easygoing, and know what I’m doing.

Of course I know what I’m doing but fun and easygoing? Me? I’ve also noticed people–even total strangers–smiling at me more. I always used to think everyone was scowling at me.

Has something in me changed that makes me nicer to be around, or is it just that my perception of how others view me has changed? I always used to worry that I was somehow unacceptable and probably acted the part. If you believe you’re worthless, people will treat you that way. Or is it just that when you hate yourself,  you just perceive people treating you badly when they really aren’t?

I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know I’m worrying a whole lot less about what people think of me, and that’s making me able to act a little more confident and genuinely interested in others.

The real reason highly sensitive people get bullied.

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I had an “Aha” moment today.

The reason highly sensitive people get bullied so often isn’t because of our sensitivity. It’s because of the dismally low self esteem that tends to go along with being that sensitive, especially if we were victimized by malignant narcissists and bullies when young.

Narcissists envy and fear high sensitivity.

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Narcissists hate high sensitivity in others for two reasons: 1. They envy it because it’s something they can’t have or may have lost as children and it’s a sign of an authentic person, which is something they aren’t but wish they were; and 2. they fear it, because they know this quality makes it possible for to zero in on the emptiness hiding under the narcissist’s guise.

Their hatred and fear is expressed through love bombing followed by bullying and other forms of abuse meant to weaken the HSP. An HSP’s fragile ego can be destroyed or greatly diminished after years of bullying and abuse.

Sharon: an HSP who carried a can of Narc Repellent.

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I was thinking about a woman I used to know named Sharon.  She was an empathic young woman who felt everything so deeply–but mostly joy and love.  She’s exquisitely sensitive but is also self confident (she was raised by very loving parents). She is comfortable enough with herself to show her vulnerability openly, allowing herself the liberty to feel all her emotions as well as share the emotions of her friends.

You might think Sharon is a magnet for bullies, but she’s not.  She makes friends easily because she has such a loving and positive presence and and people feel like she cares about them, and she likes herself too (without being at all narcissistic). They are right.

Narcissists avoid Sharon like the plague. Why? They would probably love to get their hooks into her if they could, but Sharon’s confidence in herself and easygoing comfort around all kinds of people scares them right off. While still being emotionally vulnerable, Sharon is invulnerable to narcissists because they sense her strength. She’s indestructible and they know it. As a result Sharon is never victimized and tends to attract other loving people as her friends, people who just want to be around her because she’s a lot of fun but can also cry with you if that’s what you need.

If you’re a highly sensitive adult whose self esteem has been destroyed by narcissistic abuse or a sensitive kid who has become insecure and fearful because of bullying, your high sensitivity will be expressed very differently than someone like Sharon.

Sensitive children do get tested by school bullies, and it’s harder to not let that damage your self image when you’re so young, especially if your parents are also bullies and have already done a number on your self esteem. But for an adult, most people will admire emotional openness and vulnerability or at least respect it–as long as they also know you respect and love yourself. People can sense when you’re comfortable in your own skin and narcs will stay far away, because they’re only attracted to codependent types who are unsure of themselves or their place in the world.

Being highly sensitive: a curse or a blessing?

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A sensitive person who hates herself will tend to act in ways that attract mean people and bullies to them. They are unsure of themselves, fearful, easily depressed or discouraged, easily hurt, easily frustrated, paranoid, hypervigilant, and insecure. They are afraid of everything, and like ravenous wolves, narcissists can smell their fear. They see this–not the underlying sensitivity–as weakness, and they will horn in on such a person for narcissistic supply or bullying because they’re an easy mark who will be too afraid to call them out on their abuse.

Things are very different for a sensitive person with high self esteem. Such a person will be appreciative, insightful, observant, compassionate, forgiving (but not stupidly forgiving), affectionate, creative, a good listener, empathetic, and with a well developed (but never mean or sarcastic) sense of humor. They are not fearful and they know their place in the world. They have a clear sense of their own boundaries (and those of others) and know how to enforce them if they think they’re being violated. They attract people like themselves as friends and lovers and these relationships tend to be self-reinforcing for both parties.

Narcissists know a strong HSP is powerful and dangerous to them.

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Malignant narcissists stay away from self-confident HSPs, because they know they’re much stronger than they are. They know they’re dealing with an authentic person who is happy with themselves and with life, while they are anything but. They know a confident HSP (not the same thing as narcissism) has a laser-like ability to see through their mask without fear and won’t hesitate to call them out when it’s necessary. To a malignant narcissist, a self-confident HSP is a very dangerous and powerful person. That’s why they work so hard to destroy our self confidence and make us hate and doubt ourselves. If we’re crippled by abuse, they can still get what they need from us (supply), without running the risk of having any damage done to them.

As my confidence has grown over these past two years, I’m noticing a transformation of my lifelong high sensitivity from something that made me feel weak and helpless for most of my life into something that makes me feel strong and authentic. I know now that this “curse” and “weakness” I was born with is really a blessing and a strength. I just needed to develop enough confidence to be able to use it effectively.

Learning to love your high sensitivity.

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Here’ a few things I have learned.

1. If you have a talent or skill in one of the arts, use it to express what you’re really feeling. Painting, singing, dancing, writing, poetry–can all be ways we can release our deepest emotions in a “safe” way that’s socially acceptable. Don’t hold anything back when creating art, performing or writing. Allow yourself to be vulnerable even if it feels weird and awkward at first.

2. If you don’t have an artistic talent, take up a hobby that speaks to you or get involved in a sport such as running or take a martial arts class, which can build confidence. Activities that center you and build both inner and outer strength, such as yoga, can be helpful too.

3. Always be 100% honest about your emotions. If you’re very shy or fearful, write down your thoughts and feelings in a private journal. Don’t worry about the quality of writing–that’s all just gravy. The main point is to get your feelings down on paper. Seeing your thoughts on paper (or a computer screen) will give you clarity. If you choose to blog publicly instead, you will gain confidence from expressing your most private feelings to the whole world and from the feedback from others you will get. It can be very scary to publicly post something you wouldn’t tell your next door neighbor (as I have now twice this week!), but believe me, it’s worth it. You’ll be amazed at how much doing such a thing will increase your confidence and sense of inner strength. At first you’ll feel like you’re running around naked in public, but you’ll be amazed by the sense of freedom and liberation running around naked can give you! 🙂

4. Every day, try to do one nice thing for someone other than yourself. If you’re really ambitious, you can try volunteer work to help the poor, homeless, children, animals, or anyone more vulnerable or less fortunate than yourself. In doing so, you will feel like you have a purpose, and that you can help others. Knowing you have made someone happier will raise your self esteem.

5. Listen to music whenever you can.  It’s second only to writing and blogging in my healing journey.

6. Surround yourself with positive people (not the same thing as positive-thinking nazis, who are often narcissists themselves) but authentic, happy people who accept you for who you are and don’t judge you.

7. Get narcissists away from you. No Contact is best, but is not always possible. If you can’t separate from your narcissist, read as much about their disorder as you can, and read about PTSD and complex PTSD and the devastating effects these character disordered people can have on the rest of us. Read books about highly sensitive people. Elaine Aron’s The Highly Sensitive Person is probably the best known (and an excellent book) but there are other books about HSPs too. Write down your feelings in a journal your narcissist cannot access.

8. Try prayer. It does work.

This blog is half a year old today!

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On September 10th, 2014, after about 2 months of just reading blogs by other survivors of narcissists (and occasionally posting on Dr. George K. Simon’s wonderful blog, “Manipulative People”), my life was about to change. And it started with a small idea.

I had always like the idea of starting a blog, but didn’t for several reasons.

1. I thought it would be too hard.
2. I didn’t feel inspired enough to write articles every day or do the work to maintain a blog.
3. I had no idea what I wanted to write about.
4. I thought I forgot how to write. Seriously.

It just seemed like an overwhelming, daunting task and I just thought I wasn’t an interesting enough person with an interesting enough life to start a blog. For years while married to and living with my narc, my self esteem had been so decimated that any interests I once had were gone like the wind, and any talents I once had I was convinced were gone. I didn’t even think I was that intelligent anymore.

For a couple of months after FINALLY kicking my narc to the curb, I floundered around trying to find my bearings and get used to living without him. I was ecstatic he was gone, but I was like a ship without a rudder for awhile. I was still codependent and felt anchorless. I wasn’t used to being alone.

In about May or June of 2014 (I kicked him out in February), I started to entertain the idea of blogging and thought it might be something I might do in the future, but not anytime soon. I still had no idea what to write about. But I thought my story might be interesting. I worried it might be too depressing to write about though–why would anyone with an ounce of sanity want to read about my problems, for heaven’s sake? Maybe I’d just write about my experiences in in Wordpad and leave it at that.

I’m not sure why I started to read so much about NPD, PTSD and Aspergers in around July 2014, but I knew my ex had NPD and wanted to find out more. I also wanted to find out what made me tick and what made he and I tick and why I was always so codependent and scared of everything. I read voraciously, both blogs and too many articles and books to count.

Then in August 2014 I discovered a blog written by a woman I could relate to better than any other blogger about narcissism I’d yet come across. Like me, she’s an Aspie, and like me, she struggles with poverty, being bullied as a child, and having narcissistic parents. Like me, she likes to keep her topics varied and writes about unrelated topics sometimes. Her politics are also very much like mine. We believe the same things about the increasingly narcissistic society we live in today. We both love art, reading, talking about deep things, hate political correctness and small talk, and we both love Roz Chast and Peanuts cartoons.

But we have our differences too: Unlike me, Peep struggles with Lipedemia, morbid obesity, and numerous chronic physical conditions that make mobility difficult for her. Also, unlike me, Peep has a much more Biblical and fundamentalist view of Christianity than I do (yet we are both Christians who have asked Jesus to be our personal savior). The abuse Peep endured was much more severe than mine (and mine was pretty bad!). Unlike me too, she has no children, and is married to a non-narcissistic man and they enjoy a very loving relationship. Peep doesn’t believe any narcissists can ever be cured, while I still think the jury might be out on that, at least for a few.

Peep is also a very good writer and sometimes very funny. Her posts are always a joy to read and even when they’re depressing, they’re so helpful and well written. I devoured her blog like a dog devours steak.

Peep was the blogger who inspired me to start this one. I was reading an article on her blog one day (I can’t remember which one now) and suddenly looked up and said to myself, “That’s it. I’m starting my own blog.”

It was a clear decision, a “eureka” moment really–no more wishy washy indecisiveness and self doubt for me. The idea came so suddenly it almost seemed like it was someone else telling me to do it. Now I think it was God (I was also agnostic at the time I started the blog, but began to shed my doubts about his existence, among other things, just by WRITING.) See, I think creativity is actually very close to a spiritual experience and when we allow our God given gifts to flow, that’s when see truth and beauty and come the closest to being with God. All of us have gifts. Your job is to ask God to help you find it. It may not happen immediately, but keep asking and I promise you it will come to you. Maybe not in a “eureka” moment–it may happen more slowly–but you have a gift God wants you to share with the world.

I’m veering off topic. Sorry about that.

…So that night, I pulled up WordPress on my browser, opened it up for the first time. and that night put up my “Hello World” post

On a gut level I felt that making this blog public was incredibly important–because doing that would help me, as an Aspie who is also avoidant–connect with others. Making it public would also help me get over a lot of my social anxiety. It seemed like a crazy thing to do at first–share my personal story I wouldn’t even share with my neighbor or coworker–with God knows how many hundreds or thousands of complete strangers all over the world. But it turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made, and it’s working!

Everything since that day has changed. My whole life is changing. Maybe not my external circumstances so much (yet), but I’m changing on the inside. I’ve noticed my overall tone has changed from a much more negative, pessimistic, cynical and poor-me attitude to one that’s more positive and fun.

That being said, I do have my less pleasant and more pessimistic moments and I make sure to write about those too, because it’s important to allow myself to feel and then purge my painful emotions. People who feel down can sometimes relate better to “misery loves company” than too much upbeat positive thinking. I know I can–only lately am I responding more to “positive thinking” articles.

Being too upbeat all the time isn’t the way real humans operate, and the ones who do operate that way are more annoying than a bad case of fleas. They’re probably narcissists too.

Back to the point, at this late age, I’m finally finding out what Lucky Otter is all about, and she’s pretty cool!

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This journey has been an incredible ride into the inside of my mind and soul. There have been difficult and frustrating parts of this journey–but those were actually the best parts, because it was those hard times I had in the blogosphere that taught me the most about myself and my relationship to God and to this world.

I was surprised to find I still had the gift of words that God in his grace and mercy had given me, and had never taken it away! He gave me another chance.

The growth of this blog has been incredible in the six months it has existed. I won’t get into the details about that here because I have written about that so much before, but it’s more than I ever dreamed was possible. It’s surreal.

So I’m celebrating today by congratulating this blog for turning 6 months old today and for bringing me and so many other people hope, insight, tears, and laughter. And forging some great friendships along the way.
If it weren’t for you guys, my followers–and all your support (special thanks to OM–he knows why!), this blog wouldn’t be what it is right now.

This blog is my pride and joy, my getting-big-and-unwieldy-but-much-more-interesting new child, and just like a loving mother of a big and active toddler (that’s the stage of “life” I think this blog is at right now), I want it to grow up to be the best blog it can be and to be able to help more people who feel like their hope is gone.

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Thank you all so much! ❤

My own little kingdom.

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Creating and running your own blog is just like having your own little kingdom.

I’m sorry if that makes me sound like a narc, but it’s the truth.

I bet most bloggers feel the same way. If you’ve lived a life without much control over anything, as many of us ACONs have, it’s so nice to know that with your blog, you have a whole place that’s yours alone, where you can write about whatever you want, post whatever pictures you want, have an unpopular opinion and not be afraid to say so, and you don’t have to put up with mean people and bullies like we have to in the physical world. The bullies and trolls can be silenced with a just a click of a button and their hateful spewage sent to the Trash.

It’s also great finding a community of like-minded people who share their thoughts with you. I don’t see myself as the King or Queen holding court though. I’m just another person, trying to find my way in a world that hasn’t been very kind to me.

In my Kingdom, I am free to be myself. Totally and completely in a way I never could out there in the physical world.

I want to change my name

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I want to change my name.

I never cared much for my first name. It’s a name that was immensely popular in the ’50s through the early ’70s (not so much anymore), so it’s one of those dated, middle-aged sounding names that will become another “Ethel” in decades to come. Its commonality and genericness made me feel like an uncreative blob of genericness myself. It’s one of those names parents slapped on their kids because they weren’t visionary enough to think of something more unusual or exotic, or because they just didn’t care enough so they picked whatever was popular at the time.

It also sounded ridiculous with my maiden name, very singsongy. I used to get teased about it constantly as a child. Bullies actually used the ease of which my name could be turned into a little melody and used it to taunt me. I haven’t forgotten that.

I still use my MN-ex’s last name, only because I hate my maiden name even more and because it actually sounds better with my first name. It makes my boring first name seem a tad more exotic at least.

So I don’t like my name too much. And that’s an issue, because your name becomes associated with you as a person, how you are perceived by others, and how you perceive yourself.

I never perceived myself as my true self with my name. It’s a person I never was, a person who was forever trapped in a greenhouse of narcissism, a person with no confidence, no joy, a person who felt like a victim, like an incompetent member of the human race, a person who lived in a state of high vigilance, terror and depressions as deep as the Mariana Trench.

That person is still there, but there’s another person taking her place.

A person who has moments of joy and pride, a person who has emotions besides fear, despair and anger, a person who is becoming interested in life and living, can care for others again, is cobbling together a goal, has faith that God doesn’t hate me after all, a person who is starting to think life ain’t so bad after all.

The other day, I started a LinkedIn account. I never started one before because the whole idea of a “networking site” for “professionals” and its association in my mind with greedy, snobbish, narcissistic Yuppies and their later incarnations made me want to stick two fingers down my throat. And yes, part of that resentment had to do with my poverty and lack of professional success (once I married my psychopath). I have a low paying job but even though I still work there, I feel like that’s temporary and there are bigger things on the horizon, things that involve what I love most: writing. Especially writing about narcissism because it’s such a pervasive problem today and so much suffering could be alleviated just with being educated about it.

But I digress. So I started the LinkedIn account under my future self, as a sort of promise to myself that I’m still getting better. I described myself as “blog owner and writer,” which is really what I am. At first I used my real name, but then something happened that put the fear of God in me.

Both my parents have LinkedIn accounts. Other family members do too. I don’t want my family to find my blog, and they easily could if they saw my LinkedIn account.

What happened was I got an automated suggestion to add my father as a “contact.”

HOW DID IT KNOW???

THEN I got two views by “members who choose to remain anonymous.” Huh? Mommy? Daddy?

I was super creeped out. I am NOT ready for them to see my blog. I write about them a lot and most of what I have to say is not complimentary. Not that any of that matters, you see, because it’s not like they don’t already see me as a batshit insane, unmotivated LOSER who turned Bad Choices into a career, but I’m just…not …ready.

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Immediately the solution came to me. I needed to use a fake name; if the damage wasn’t already done maybe I could avoid it being done. I chose “Lauren Bennett” because I like the name Lauren–it sounds like the name of a woman with emotional strength and confidence. It sounds young. It sounds like the name of a successful, happy person.

I chose Bennett because it’s a family name. Gotta give a shoutout to the family there somewhere, at least to those members who don’t bother you too much.

I notice the name makes me actually feel different. When I’m using it, I FEEL like Lauren Bennett, a confident, happy, successful, loving woman, a woman who doesn’t walk through life like the Cowardly Lion being waterboarded. My real name is not that woman. My real name feels like a me that isn’t me anymore, a me I no longer want to be or even NEED to be.

Changing my name would also make it a lot less likely to be found on the Internet by people from my past I don’t want to associate with.

So here’s my request. I need advice on legally changing your name. Also any advice on how much this would put me back. I’m living on an extremely tight budget.

I still won’t blog about my secret, but…

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I did tell one person, a very good friend of mine–another blogger in the psychopathic/narcissistic abuse community, the exact nature of my secret. My confession was satisfactory enough to ease the itch I had to blog about it. She advised me not to, for basically the same reasons I had for not doing so.

We Aspies sometimes don’t say things even when we should. We know how awkward we seem to others and feel like it’s better to stay silent than sound like idiots, especially in the real, flesh and blood world of face to face communication.

Other times we say too much, especially on the Internet, a place where Aspies and INFJs and INTJs like myself abound (I’m either one of those depending which Myers-Briggs test I take), because we feel more comfortable socializing behind the anonymity of a computer and like the fact we can edit what we say before we say it. But there are times we Aspies still can get carried away with our candor and our filter goes on a Caribbean vacation. We just don’t know when to STFU. And we can find ourselves in a world of trouble because of that failure to censor our real feelings.

Back in 2008 and 2009, I was an active member of a certain entertainment related forum. At first I was a respected and popular member and then my virtual mouth developed a bad case of diarrhea. I had developed a crush on a person on the forum and was way too honest about it. Inevitably, a group of bullies and trolls on the forum smelled blood. They decided to use me for target practice, and soon even regular members started to join in. I was openly mocked and even started having problems with the forum administrator. I was nearly banned but wound up leaving of my own accord because posting there was no longer fun. My username became a pejorative, and to my horror, when I Googled my username, I discovered I was being quoted and mocked on two different but related sites, and their members were having a field day making fun of everything I said. I was mortified. It was as bad as being the school pariah all the bullies went after. It didn’t matter that I was essentially still an anonymous person on the Internet and no one knew my real name–I hadn’t felt that shamed or embarrassed since my days as the school dartboard.

The secret I have is actually not what it appeared to be at first. Now I understand the real reasons for it, and to my relief they are normal, healthy ones. It was really a springboard to something else. Strange things happen when you begin to journal publicly about something so personal as narcissistic abuse. One important side effect of blogging was I developed a closer relationship with God, who I rely on now to guide me in all my decisions, including what I blog about. I have prayed about this thing, this secret–and God is providing me with answers–including one I never expected.

An idea is beginning to form in my mind, an huge idea that could totally change my life and maybe the lives of others as well if I play things smart. Or it could lead to nothing other than an interesting venture into unknown territory. Doing this thing requires self-discipline, hard work, passion, and dedication. I’ve never stuck with anything before. I’d become intensely interested in something, and then drop it when it became too hard or frustrating, or when my interest in it burned itself out. That’s one of the reasons I’m still floundering through life like a teenager even though I’m over 50.

That’s all changing. I’ve stuck with blogging now for three months and show no signs of stopping. I’m passionate about blogging. It’s my new drug of choice. Because it’s become so much more than just a way to journal publicly about my experiences with narcissism. Watching my blog do so well and watching it grow and knowing it’s helping others besides just me is raising my self esteem so I no longer hear my N mother’s accusation of “loser” or “you can’t succeed” bouncing like a poisoned ping pong ball inside my brain anytime I tried something new. My entire viewpoint on life is different. I feel like I can do things, accomplish something important, and even help others while I make myself happy. Hey, I might not even have to remain poor and underemployed the rest of my life, something I had actually become resigned to. For years I’ve taken it for granted that I would die in great pain, alone and destitute, and no one would care.

There’s a certain topic related to narcissism I desperately want to write a book about. After I wrote my “Secrets” post, after a few days this book idea began to form. I tossed the idea around in my head for a few days and am waiting for some further information before I start, but even if I don’t get the information I’ve requested, I still want to write the book. It will make it harder but I can still do it. I feel like it’s something I must do, but not only that, I’m convinced it’s also what God wants me to do. I have no idea what his reasons would be for my writing this book, but then again, God doesn’t usually explain his reasons. It isn’t until later on that we find ourselves surprised to be in places we never dreamed we’d be in our wildest fantasies.

I have a good feeling about this. Not an unrealistic, grandiose fantasy that never sees the light of day because you either don’t have a real passion for it or have no practical plan to carry it out–this time it’s a real plan that I know I can fairly easily turn into reality. I think I can stick with it this time too, because it’s where God has been trying to lead me my entire life–but I couldn’t hear him because of all the noise inside my head.

The last time I wrote a book–a novel–I made the mistake of letting my MN mother read it. She hated it, so it went in a box in the back of my closet and I didn’t write another thing (except forum posts) until I started this blog. Recently I pulled the manuscript out of its box and read parts of it. It really was cringe-worthy, but in 2003 I was coming from a very unhealthy mental space and besides, fiction writing isn’t really my thing, so.

I know this post doesn’t make much sense, because I’m trying to write about something obliquely and it’s hard to be clear when you’re being oblique.

But the important thing is I have decided to use the writing ability God gave me and use it to write a book about something I’m deeply interested in. I still have self doubt, a lot of it, but I won’t let anyone or anything let me give this up.

PS: my laptop was acting weird while I wrote this, and I just realized I typed the whole thing in airplane mode. 😀