Giving up is conceding that things will never get better, and that is just not true. Ups and downs are a constant in life, and I’ve been belted into that roller coaster a thousand times.
–Aimee Mullins via http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/
To ride or not to ride.
Roll back down the track about 11 months. September 2014. That was the day something in my brain finally connected right and I got the idea to start a blog about narcissistic personality disorder.
I had no idea what I was in for. Not even close.
I didn’t have the foggiest idea what sort of roller coaster ride starting a blog about narcissism would become.
It would become the most life-changing ride of my life.
I had no real plan to start a blog. Occasionally I’d have the fleeting thought like “oh, maybe I should start a blog sometime…” but these thoughts were passing and vague, like puffs of cigarette smoke passing over my head. And they went nowhere. Instead, they dissolved in the sea of my uncertainty and inability to make any sort of decision: “Oh, but no one would read my blog,” I’d remind myself. “I’m so boring and have no interests and so what would I blog about anyway? How boring my life is?” So these passing ideas were just sort of pipe dreams. They had no spine or any substance at all. They dissolved away like smoke and vapor and dreams. So I wasn’t seriously considering blogging until the day I finally did.
In February 2014 I’d kicked out my narcissist ex who was living on my couch and making my life a living hell. For about two months I walked around kind of numb and rudderless. I had no idea what I was doing or where I was going and I was scared but sort of excited too. Mostly I was just trying to find my bearings and stay grounded. It could be frustrating. I just wasn’t used to making decisions or doing things on my own, without the narc’s “help.”
In about April or May I started reading a lot about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I first reread “People of the Lie,” the only book about malignant narcissism I owned at the time (now I have a whole library of such books). I began to read George K. Simon’s “Manipulative People” blog. That was the very first blog about character-disordered people I ever read. I posted a few times, tentatively, but never got too involved, because soon I found other blogs and started reading and sometimes posting on those too.
One day in September 2014 (the 10th to be exact) I was poking around online and on a whim decided I wanted to start a blog. The idea came out of nowhere. In retrospect I think it was God giving me a nudge because I was ready. But ready for what? I had no idea where such a thing would take me–all I knew was I needed to tell my story and in doing so try to sort through all my confused and bewildering feelings. I attempted to start my blog on Blogger, but it kept wanting me to use my real name because it’s run by Google and connected to it, and using my real name on the type of blog I was going to do was out of the question. I had heard WordPress was hard, but decided to give it a shot.
Ascending the track, eyes ahead, heart in mouth.
WordPress wasn’t hard. The learning curve was about three days, and after that I felt like I knew what I was doing. At first writing was a bit of a chore, and I didn’t write every day. As time went on, and I started to explore narcissism more deeply and do more reading (by this time I had ordered two of Dr. Simon’s books–“In Sheeps Clothing” and “Character Disturbance”), I found my fascination increasing. I was also beginning to change and my confidence was starting to rise out of the toilet. People told me I seemed somehow “different.” For the first time in my life, I felt like I was doing something that made me feel passionate and that could possibly be of use to others too.
Since then, many things have happened in my blogging journey. I’ve learned more about myself and my narcissists than I ever dreamed possible, and I also found faith in God during the process. I believe with all my heart that God gave me the life He did to lead me to where I am now, writing about my experiences as a victim of narcissistic abuse and learning as much as I can, so I can pass along what I know to others who are in similar situations.
On top of the world–but don’t look down.
There have been incredibly heady, exciting times–sudden spikes in popularity, an article going viral for the first time, certain well-known people in the field of narcissism who found and helped promote my blog and its articles, suddenly having so many new friends, getting comments and emails from people who told me my words gave them hope or the courage to leave their narcissist, or even in one case, saved their life. It was surreal the first time I found one of my articles at the top of page 1 of Google, or got reblogged by someone whose blog gets many more hits than my own. As an added bonus, I found out my traffic was sufficient to run some ads, and from that I’ve been able to make some pocket money. Making money never has been and never will be my purpose for doing this, but I’m not going to lie and tell you it isn’t sort of nice to have an additional $20-$30 dollars a month for doing something I love to do. Maybe someday I can parlay this into a career, especially if I write a book (which I plan to start doing fairly soon, when I have some time and think of a topic for a book I’d want to write). It might even be fiction, only using what I know now about myself and the scourge of narcissism as a sort of matrix that holds the skin of the story together.
Hurtling back to earth.
It hasn’t all been a joyride either. There have been painful and disappointing times too–my first hater and troll comments, people accusing me of having dishonest motives or being a narcissist myself (or at least a narc-enabler), the loss of several people I thought were friends along the way (for various reasons), finding unflattering comments about this blog on other blogs, finding out I’d unintentionally hurt a few people I cared about; other friends disappearing into the black hole of cyberspace, writing highly personal articles that scared me to post so much I felt sick before finally taking that deep breath and posting them anyway (and I’ve never regretted doing so), being emotionally triggered by someone else’s sad story or just from digging so deep into my own psyche or past; chronic worrying that maybe I’m too narcissistic; and having periods of self-doubt and depression when I wonder if I’m good enough to be doing this at all or if it even really means anything.
Exhilaration and sadness.
But on the whole, the ride–like a rollercoaster–has been incredibly fun. The downs just mean you’re going up again, and the overall feeling of blogging about narcissism (and related mental health subjects) has been exhilarating, empowering, and the most enjoyable and creative activity I’ve ever undertaken–and best of all, I’ve actually stuck with it. In the past, I would get interested in things, but never stick with them for very long, especially once the going got rough or I realized how much blood, sweat and tears it would require.
But blogging about narcissism, as emotionally triggering and difficult as it can be at times, is a labor of love and the more I do it, the more I want to keep doing it. Unlike every other interest and hobby I’ve had, I haven’t lost interest in it.
Writing about narcissism (and my own disorders) is incredibly emotional, sometimes painful, and a LOT of hard work. There have been times I found myself in tears after writing a particularly emotional article, especially if it involved a painful experience from my own past, and for me being able to release emotion is a great thing because for so long most of my emotions were bottled up.
The Healing Power of Creativity.
Blogging is also very creative. One of the only things I rarely ever doubted about myself was that I had the ability to write. Creative writing was always something I was good at and did for fun. As a 7 and 8 year old, my father brought home these tiny little leatherette-covered notebooks with the covers in bright primary colors. The tiny pages had miniature lines for writing which was good because at that age, I still couldn’t write in a straight line (the slope was always downward: was that foreshadowing what was still to come?) On the cover they had a single word like “Memorandum” in embossed golden letters. They were given to me in stacks of rubber bands. There must have been 50 of them. In those little books I wrote lots of little illustrated stories. I always used colored markers and pencils, never crayons because they left too big a mark on the tiny pages. I don’t know what happened to those little books but I wish I still had them.
Even my parents–who rarely had anything both good and true to say about me (I was both scapegoat and golden child in their marriage)–both admitted I could write really well. I worked in medical journalism when I got out of college and wrote some freelance book reviews and did some proofreading and freelance editing, but after having children and moving to another state, I gave all that up. And when I did write, it was always for someone else or for money, never for the love of doing it.
Also by then I was in my disastrous marriage to a psychopathic malignant narcissist, and all the good and healthy things about myself (which didn’t seem to be many) began to gradually and insidiously slip away. I became a near zombie. I thought I forgot how to write. In 2003 I wrote a novel (a very bad one, it turned out) and I had my mother read it (she was probably the worst person for me to have read it) and she told me it sucked, which it did. I was trying to write like Pat Conroy, an author I was very much into at the time.
I reread it two years ago and cringed while reading it. It was full of florid, purple prose, cliched phrases and cliched, one dimensional (is that a cliche?) characters. The one sex scene was embarrassingly bad (I will not go into detail about that here!) I felt sick after reading this amateurish piece of badly written sentimental trash and it was everything I could do to reread even a page of it. That’s how embarrassed by it I was. It was so bad that a Harlequin romance would seem like Tolstoy in comparison.
In what universe had I ever thought that piece of Pat Conroy wannabe-garbage was good enough to send out to publishers and agents (who all rejected it)–or have my constantly-critical mother read it? The novel is still sitting in a cardboard box in the back of my closet, its pages becoming brittle and yellow with time, but for some reason I can’t bring myself to throw it away. It’s a reminder of a time where I couldn’t write because I was too divorced from my own emotions. A person who is dead can’t write–and I was like a walking dead person, trying to write about emotions I couldn’t access.
So after that I imagined I was a terrible writer after all, and never really had that much ability. Writing this blog has reassured me that my ability to write never went away and in fact it’s improved over the months I’ve been writing this blog. So blogging is increasing my self esteem that way too. I think the abilities God gave us are one of his greatest gifts, and those of us who have a talent in one or more of the arts (performing, literary or visual) are especially blessed, because we have the means to communicate feelings to the world, not just ideas, facts, or thoughts (not that those aren’t valuable too).
I call blogging my self-therapy because that’s what it is. It’s also my creative outlet right now. I can’t get over all the positive changes I see in myself (and that others have noticed too), including an increased ability to be in touch with my true emotions, having a relationship with God after having been agnostic most of my life, a much more positive attitude than I used to have, better health, and retrieved memories and revelations about what my painful and difficult life has really meant (news flash to myself: I was not born to be an example to others of what a “loser” looks like).
I don’t want to get off this ride.
Queen’s University engineering student David Chesney rides the 28- metre-long rollercoaster he made.
All these discoveries are so unbelievably exciting and validating they far surpass the pain I’ve sometimes experienced on this sometimes terrifying ride into the unknown. Sometimes I feel like I’m exploring a new galaxy, and finding wonders every day, both great and small–and horrors too, but the horrors are usually cast by my own shadow and prove in the end to be harmless.
I would never have believed the most amazing journey of my life would take place without my ever having to leave my house.
There’s something about a roller coaster that triggers strong feelings, maybe because most of us associate them with childhood. They’re inherently cinematic; the very shape of a coaster, all hills and valleys and sickening helices, evokes a human emotional response.