A happy ending to my DMV ordeal.

sunshine

I need an antidote for last night’s list 23 Things I Hate About My Life, so I think this might do the job.

Today was a good day. The first thing that happened was I didn’t have to walk the 5 1/2 miles back to the car repair shop. I actually got picked up by someone from there this morning and brought in to pick the car up and pay for the repairs. That’s another little blessing I might have taken for granted in the past. They’re almost always there if you are paying attention.

Anyway, in order to put enough miles on my car to see if the check engine light would come back on (it did after 60 miles–which means I failed the second inspection but was able to get a waiver at the DMV almost right away, which means I can go get registered tomorrow–FINALLY!), I decided to drive to the Light Center in Black Mountain. I described my experience there last year. I’m not a New Age sort of person at all, but I found this place special and instinctively knew it was a good space when I first went last year. Rather than working against my Christian faith, I felt like it actually enhanced it. So since I had to drive a long distance today, I decided to go again.

The light therapy room wasn’t open yet, so I spent a little time in the prayer room upstairs, which is held in a geodesic dome. The acoustics are odd–everything echos but not in an unpleasant way. I sat down and spent some time talking to God and I felt He was there with me and that everything was going to work out today. I felt a sense of relaxation come over me and I didn’t even notice the pain in my upper back anymore (I suffer from back muscle strain from my day job). I took this photo of the inside of the prayer room:

prayer_room

In the light therapy room (which is free–everything is free of charge here), I sat down in one of the soft partially reclined chairs, grabbed a small blanket, and focused on the lights. The room is lit in order by seven colors ranging from red to purple. Each one represents the seven chakras (which as a Christian I don’t have a problem with–I believe the chakras exist). Soft music played. I started to feel a bit sleepy but then it was over. I got up, stretched, and felt very peaceful and centered.

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2 views of the labyrinth.

I wandered around the grounds until I came to the labyrinth. I’m not sure what spiritual purpose a labyrinth is supposed to have, but I walked through its maze and looked around at the trees until I came to the center, where visitors leave “offerings.” I pulled out two small items from my purse and set them there, then walked back through the labyrinth to the parking lot.

offerings2 offerings1
Can you tell from the pictures which two items I put there? The first is the Before picture. Click to enlarge.

I drove back through the mountains and into town and as the traffic began to build up, I felt the stress return and my back and shoulders began to hurt again. Back to real life.

The check engine light also came back on almost the same moment I felt the stress return. Was this a coincidence or not? My stress level rose. I prayed for the feeling I had earlier today.

I took the car to the inspection station and got a second Failed inspection, which I knew I would get. I drove to the DMV and to my shock, was seen right away by a very nice man who looked at all my paperwork and issued me the waiver. So tomorrow I take that last step–going to the DMV’s registration office first thing in the morning and finally getting my car legal. Call me crazy, but I’m actually excited about that!

Life is so wonderful and weird sometimes.

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I write so my head won’t explode.

exploding_head

Alaina, a frequent commenter on this blog, said she almost named her blog “I Write So My Head Won’t Explode” but decided it was too stupid to be a blog name.

I think it’s great. So great I decided to write an article with that name. It’s great because it’s the truth. If I didn’t have this blog and wasn’t able to write every day about the good, the bad, and the ugly, I think I would have gone insane by now.

Writers are by nature people with issues. We have mental problems. That’s why we write. If we didn’t write, we’d be drinking, drugging, sleeping all day or stuffing our faces with junk food, or engaging in any number of other unhealthy and self-destructive activities. I know I did until I started writing.

franz_kafka

If you can write, you are blessed. If you enjoy and are good at any creative endeavor (writing, art, acting, singing, dancing, etc.) that can add something useful, entertaining, educational or beautiful to the world and at the same time provide an outlet for your deepest, most painful or confusing emotions, for the love of God, use your God-given gift.

Writing is my safety valve. It’s something I love doing that isn’t going to destroy my mind or my body. But it’s a discipline too. Sometimes I have to force myself to write, even when I don’t want to. I’m always glad I did.

As ACONs and survivors of narcissistic abuse, we also have a calling and a responsibility to educate others about what we have experienced. Nothing happens for no reason. We were given the lives we were given as an education so we could help others. Part of our responsibility as narcissism bloggers is exposing the N’s of the world who have nothing but ill will for other human beings–and we do that through writing.

calvin_headexplode

Since my daughter moved out Tuesday night, I’ve been more depressed than usual. In fact, I haven’t been this depressed in over a year. It’s not so much because she’s not here(though I do miss her), but that she lied to me when she was leaving. I confronted her about the lie yesterday–she told me her grandfather had sent her birthday money in a card, when he actually did not because I called him and asked–and she explained it was a bluff because she thought maybe I had stolen it and was possibly trying to get money out of me (playing on my “guilt” for having “stolen” it).

I felt betrayed and hurt by her lack of trust in me as well as her lying to me in such a mean spirited way. It’s been bothering me since it happened. It made me worry that she may really be a narcissist and not a borderline at all. I started thinking maybe she was diagnosed with BPD so her insurance would pay for her treatment (I don’t think NPD is covered by most insurance companies). I really don’t want my daughter to have NPD. It’s a painful and horrible thing to face–that your own kid who you love more than anything in the universe, may be a narc. I’d rather believe she has BPD. Maybe that’s all it is. I hope.

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Yesterday I didn’t even go to work, I was so depressed about all this. I lay in bed sleeping most of the day instead, which is what I do when I’m depressed. Of course that just made me feel even worse. I didn’t want to write, I just wanted to sleep and feel sorry for myself.

But I also felt like pressure was building up in my head and that if I didn’t write, my brain might explode. So I forced myself to write, and I did feel a lot better–I no longer feel stressed to the point that I think I have to wear a head truss to to keep it in one piece.

Self pity and stress.

goodgrief

Today wasn’t a good day, except for it being Friday.

1. I woke up with a pounding headache.
2. Traffic jam made me late again.
3. I wasn’t in a good mood and was being hypersensitive to everything. I felt like my coworker was picking on me today even though she probably wasn’t. Some days I just take everything the wrong way.
4. I felt depressed and negative all day, and I’ve noticed after some time of feeling more positive that a negative outlook tends to attract negative things.
5. I was unfavorably comparing myself to others who have things better. That’s a bad character defect (envy) I’m trying to work on.
6. I had another argument with my roommate. I’m convinced she is doing things to annoy me on purpose. I won’t even get into what the argument was about because it was stupid.
6. It was cold and windy and they are predicting snow tonight. I hate cold weather.
7. I was trying to renew my antivirus software and couldn’t open the browser to renew it. I Googled a customer service number for Norton and called the first one that came up, which was a shady company (iYogi–do NOT talk to them!) that supposedly represents Norton. I got a very nasty guy who barely spoke English who I allowed to remote access my computer, and he told me my hard drive was corrupted and then started hard-selling me some bullshit program to clean up my hard drive “that only cost $149.99 and you get all this!” He was almost impossible to get off the phone and started yelling at me and telling me I was being uncooperative because I wasn’t buying his hard sell.

I finally got him off the phone (he kept asking when he could call me) and scrolled on Google until I found a real customer service number and they were able to help me. Of course there wasn’t anything wrong with my hard drive, only a browser hijacker (Astromenda–be careful, it’s very hard to get rid of and it slows your system down and makes pages hard to open) that was blocking my access to certain pages. He told me people have complained to him before about iYogi. If you have Norton and have to call customer service, be sure it’s the actual Norton (Symantec) website’s number.

work-stress

I don’t know why everything has to be so hard.

That’s it for the negativity for today. Tomorrow’s another day.

Sometimes you have to remind yourself you are still moving forward even if you take a step back sometimes. I don’t have as many bad days as I used to. But I was beating myself up for having a bad day, being negative, oversensitive, hypervigilant, impatient, and envious. I need to stop beating myself up all the time. I’m too hard on myself. I was trained too well.

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.

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.

yesterdaysfeelings

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.

dancingsnoopy

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.

My day in Aspie hell

workweek

Aspies sometimes have problems getting ahead in life. We may be intelligent and creative, but because we don’t really play well with others and are easily stressed and overwhelmed by social situations on the job and most of us aren’t good at schmoozing with higher-ups and playing the political games that are required to move up in an organization, many of us overlooked for promotions or just treated badly, as if we are mentally deficient. Many Aspies are underemployed, especially those of us who have an exceedingly low self image due to having been badly damaged by our psychopaths. If we were cursed with psychopathic parents, we were never given the tools other children were blessed with to succeed in life. Someone with Aspergers entering the workforce without life skills and survival tools is severely handicapped. It seems like some sort of cosmic joke that Aspies and malignant narcissists seem to be thrown together so often. It happens often enough that there has to be something more there than sheer coincidence, but I’ll save that thought for another time.

I read a study recently (I will find the link later) that found that people who are quiet and don’t talk very much are seen as less intelligent than gregarious, outgoing people. Many people with Aspergers are painfully shy and don’t make small talk easily. When forced to socialize, our attempts can be awkward and sound stilted or just weird. Unfortunately that probably makes us seem kind of slow. Socializing and engaging in small talk are extremely draining for someone with Aspergers, because it’s hard work. It just doesn’t come naturally.

In a way Aspies are like narcissists in that we have to “rehearse” how to act. The difference is a matter of conscience and emotion. The narcissist has no problem assessing a social situation and the appropriate way to behave, but for them it’s all cognitive. They are chameleons. When it comes to empathy and emotion, however, they are at a total loss. Since they can’t feel anything, they have to first decide which emotion is appropriate and then “act” like they feel that emotion. Aspies have the opposite problem. We can feel empathy and compassion, but have trouble expressing it. We are not good at putting on masks. We might seem cold and aloof but we are not. That’s why so many of us prefer solitude, where we don’t have to be “on” all the time.

Currently I work part time in a company where we are sent out in teams (or sometimes alone) to clean houses. It is a low level, grueling job, but I chose this over other service jobs because it seemed to require less social interaction than most of the others. I could just go to a house, clean it, and leave. I wouldn’t have to deal with customers in my face all day, or with office politics. It’s a good set up if I’m working alone (which I prefer) but most of the time I’m sent as part of a two person “team.” My regular partner is great, and respects my odd personality and knows I do a good job. I still get to work independently and she never has to check up on me.

Today I had the worst day an Aspie can have. My regular partner was off, and I was assigned a “special” (first time cleaning) that requires a lot more than a regular spiffing up. These specials can take all day. I don’t mind the extra work (and they do pay quite a bit more), but I was partnered with someone I knew I was going to have a problem with. She’s a very loud, extremely outgoing, rather aggressive personality and she is only 19 so she isn’t very mature either. Just being in her presence was triggering and causing mental overload. She just kept talking, and talking, and talking. I really didn’t know what to say, so I made polite noises and felt very triggered and overwhelmed. My stress levels were reaching dangerous levels–when I become sufficiently stressed, not only do I get pounding headaches, but sometimes my natural passivity and agreeableness breaks down and I snap and say something I regret. I wanted to jump out of the car and run away. By the time we got to our assignment, I was almost ready to quit my job. It didn’t help that I hadn’t been able to smoke in her car, and was having a major nicotine fit.

stress

When we got inside the house, I started with the master bathroom, attempting to stay out of her way while she did the dusting. I let my mind wander to other things as I cleaned, such as what I might blog about tonight, and what I could cook for dinner. But my partner kept coming in and asking questions, or worse, telling me I was doing my job wrong. She is not my boss, but I’ve noticed some of these young girls act like they know everything even when they don’t, and try to tell people what to do when they have no business doing so.

Like most Aspies, I dislike confrontations, so I let this pass the first few times. But by the 3rd or 4th time, I had enough and snarkily told her I knew how to do my job and she wasn’t my boss. She didn’t seem to like that, and whined that she was “just trying to help.” That made me wonder if she is a narc.

She kept talking and talking and talking. I wasn’t even listening to what she was saying. I had a pounding migraine and I felt like a raw nerve. The car ride back to the office was painful. She seemed like someone with ADHD, with all the fast talking and jarring topic changes in mid-sentence. But even worse was that she was constantly checking her phone WHILE SHE WAS DRIVING. She kept asking if her driving scared me. When I told her no (which was a lie), she started talking about how she likes to deliberately scare this other girl when she drives because she acts so afraid. Yep, I think this girl is definitely a narc.

I was so stressed and keyed up on the ride home that all the muscles in my face and back of my neck hurt and I thought I was going to throw up. For an Aspie, having to deal with a person like that all day feels like a day on the battlefield. It’s very debilitating.

High anxiety

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I’m having one of those days again.  You know, those days where you feel like all your nerves are beeping and buzzing  and flashing the red DANGER sign.    I deliberately stayed home from work today because I felt like sleeping in (and honestly, I wasn’t feeling well–I think I’m coming down with a cold, the flu, or maybe Ebola).  But once I got over the anxiety-inducing hurdle of actually calling work,  I curled back into my nice warm bed, expecting to drift into pleasant dreams, but instead  I couldn’t go back to sleep!   This happens A LOT when I try to relax:  my mind starts racing and my heart begins to palpitate, while all my morbid, negative thoughts of unnamed disaster start to overtake my brain.   This always happens, especially  when I’m trying to relax.

When I was young I never had this problem.  The 20-something version of myself could languish in bed until 2 PM or even later, with nary a sense of guilt or anxiety.  I would drift into the most incredible, lucid-like dreams like someone on a mushroom high.  I woke up ready to take on the world.  But things have changed.  As I’ve grown older, my attempts to sleep in just make me feel like I deserve to be punished and my body responds in kind.   What’s up with that?

sleep

So I finally gave up trying to get back to sleep.  I untangled my legs from under the covers, stood on the cold floor and walked to the kitchen where I made a strong pot of my favorite hazelnut coffee (I’m weird–coffee sometimes makes me sleepy) with cream and no sugar, put on some socks and opened my laptop.   I read some blogs and blogged a little myself, but the nervousness was still there.

Around 11:30, I could no longer stand laying around in the clothes I sleep in (last night it was a tee shirt with threadbare drawstring pajama pants with Lucky Charms logos and leprechauns all over them) and got dressed in real clothes.    But I still feel that unnamed sense of dread.    My palms feel sweaty and my heart is in my throat.    Should I go for a drive?  Mow the grass (which is still overgrown and weedy looking even though it’s been cold)?   Read a good novel?  Cook something scrumptious that involves plenty of chocolate and butter?  Arrange all my books in order by color to make my bookshelves look like a rainbow?   I just don’t know.    Now I wish I went to work today.   I don’t know why I take these “mental health days” when I always wind up feeling guilty for doing so and crazier than if I’d just gone to my crummy job.

pajamas
The crazy outfit I slept in last night.  Maybe going to dreamland with kittens and leprechauns is the stuff of nightmares. 

Am I the only one?  Do any of you suffer anxiety and guilt when you take a day off from work when you’re not really sick?  What do you do to combat your nerves?