What 2017 has taught me.

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I feel like a victim again.   I was doing pretty well emotionally until this year.  Since I left my ex in 2014 and started blogging, slowly I began to feel freer and lighter emotionally.   I felt like I was finally rid of most of my C-PTSD/BPD symptoms and the emotional work I was doing both in and out of therapy was reaping benefits.    I came to realize that I had been repeatedly victimized by others for most of my life because I acted like a victim and kept telling  myself I was one.  I became my own abuser.   Although I will never blame myself for what happened to me or the psychological problems I developed because of it (which in their own warped and unhealthy way protected me),  I realized, like Dorothy did in the Wizard of Oz, when Glinda The Good Witch told her she always had the power to go home but just didn’t realize it, that I always had the power to be a non-victim, to not live in mortal fear of everyone, but didn’t realize it because the abuse I endured had made me blind to the fact I was as worthy and powerful as anyone else and deserved to be treated well by others.  I was finally seeing what was possible for me without all that paralyzing fear, shame and self-hatred dragging me down.

But the political abuses of our monstrously narcissistic and sociopathic president and his equally malicious administration has retriggered a lot of the Bad Old Me, the scared-of-everything-and-everyone me.     I won’t go into the specifics of what those abuses are since this is not intended to be a political post and I know I’m not alone in feeling so terrified and depressed at the same time.   All of us, especially those of us who survived narcissistic abuse, and especially if it was sustained over a long period of time, all know why he triggers us.

2017 has been a horror show for me.    I feel like an unwilling participant in the Trump Reality Show, all the while knowing I’m on the losing team.    This doesn’t just mean obsessing over the latest upsetting news story and worrying about the effect its outcome might ultimately have on my freedom, financial status, health, and general well-being.     I’ve also been doubting myself again.  My feelings are hurt more easily, I ruminate and obsess for weeks over insults and rejections, even by people I don’t know well.   Often I feel like I can’t function at all.   I’ve returned to feeling like a victim, and even while I know that such a self-defeating, negative attitude tends to draw in even more negativity,  I can’t help it.   Almost a year after Trump’s inauguration,  I’m generally in one of three moods: fearful, depressed, and angry — sometimes all three at the same time.  Sometimes I feel dissociated, like nothing is real anymore.   Sometimes I slide into a kind of numbness where cynicism and fatalism take over.   I think about death a lot.

But something odd has happened too.  In the midst of the darkness, my faith in God has intensified.   I know he has a plan for me, which involves illuminating the truth and serving as a voice for the vulnerable.   Even while my emotional life is presently in turmoil, I feel like God is very near and no matter what happens, I should not be afraid or give into despair or hopelessness.   Even if I become one of the casualties of this president’s policies,  and even if I have to die,  it will have meant something and I would have fulfilled His purpose for me.

As my faith has grown, my heart has changed.   I used to consider myself self-centered and unconcerned about others, even to the point of not being able to feel much empathy to others.   But that was because I felt like I constantly had to protect myself from being hurt.   It’s strange to me that even though a lot of those old “poor me” emotions have come back, this newfound concern about the world at large has not faltered and always exceeds my concern for myself.  That is definitely something new.

I realized about two years ago that the narcissistic abuse I had to endure as a child wasn’t just some random thing that happened.    It was ultimately a teacher that gave me a doctoral level course in how narcissists operate.   It was schooling to prepare me for what we are facing now on the national level.  After my rage at my abusers (and people with NPD in general) burnt itself out, I began to wonder if I was a narcissist myself, or even had NPD.    I looked at those traits I possessed that resulted from not having been validated as a functioning, worthy human being by my parents — my self centeredness, my envy of others, my tendency in the past to not take responsibility and project fault onto others, my rage, my frozen empathy, my tendency to hate (or fall in love with)  people easily — and concluded that I was myself a narcissist.   I made it my mission to rid myself of my narcissism, but at the same time (or actually, slightly prior to it), I entered an odd phase where I began to sympathize with narcissists and sought to understand them rather than keep bashing them.   I wrote posts criticizing what I felt, at the time, was an unjust demonization of people with NPD by the narcissistic abuse community.    I even started a blog documenting my self-healing journey and later, my therapy.   (That blog has been inactive since April and I have no interest in ever posting in it again).

As it turned out, that weird phase was short lived.  I had insisted that my therapist give me an NPD diagnosis, since I was so certain I had it and couldn’t work on myself properly if I didn’t have the actual label.  My therapist didn’t think I even qualified for the BPD diagnosis I had been given in the ’90s.   Instead, when I kept pushing for a diagnosis, he said he thought I had PTSD (more accurately, C-PTSD), maybe with a few narcissistic traits (“fleas” in narc-abuse parlance), but certainly not fullblown NPD.     Gradually I stopped sympathizing with narcissists too, and developed indifference toward them.   The whole topic of narcissism, in fact, had begun to bore me.   Today I could care less about narcissists, although I don’t actively feel hatred toward them.   I just feel — nothing toward them.

I’ve been puzzling over why I developed that weird empathy toward narcissists (and my conviction that I was one), because I’m feeling none of that now, with this malignant narcissist president, or toward narcissists in general.  Yesterday I finally realized why that happened.   The darkness and evil we are facing is so dangerous and so powerful, that for me to have remained in a state of hatred (which is normal for people who have recently left narcissistic relationships) would have kept me from being able to reach out and give hope to others.  Hatred, no matter if it’s born of righteous anger, is just another form of darkness, and blocks any light from getting through.  Not only would it have hindered me from doing the work that God planned for me, it would have eventually destroyed me.  Hatred eats you alive and exacerbates any narcissistic traits one has.   In order for me to let go of my hatred I had to look inward at my own narcissism and rid myself of it.  I would not have been able to see what I was doing to myself with such clarity had I remained stuck in hatred.

I know I’m not explaining myself very well, but I know I’ve changed, and all these psychological stages I had to go through happened as part of my training.  Knowing that, none of this is easy.  In fact, it’s excruciatingly painful but in an existential, rather than personal, way.   It hurts to know there are so many horrible people in the world who have no conscience, no moral center, no respect for the truth or for justice, and do not care about anyone but themselves.   It hurts to know that greed and narcissism is decimating everything good in the world.   It hurts knowing that we have a bunch of men running the country who have made it clear they want most of us to perish and are actively trying to make that a reality and are gleefully going about their mission to destroy.   It hurts to know that, to them, I’m worthless, a useless parasite who deserves to die.   Their soullessness and cruelty makes me question my own worth and is making me doubt myself again and making me act in the old ways that bring about abuse.   I’m prey and they can smell that.    But this time, it’s not just about me.   It’s about all of us who have been targeted.   The evil we are in the midst of feels eternally powerful, oppressive, almost biblical in its malice, some dark force not of this world.  It’s overwhelming.   It’s overwhelmingly sad.  And scary.  And very, very hard not to give in to hate.

Nevertheless I must soldier on.    I can’t go back.   My past gave me tools to do the work I have been asked to do, whatever that work may be.   No matter what happens, God has my back.   But it’s so hard.

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Some days I feel like everything’s hopeless.

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Some days it seems like they are winning.    Now we even have State TV.    The reason we had regulations were to keep something like that from happening.    I feel like a character in Orwell’s 1984 and we are creeping closer to fascism every day.

Most days I feel hopeful.  I want to think that goodness will always trump evil.   I want to think most people have good hearts and can tell the difference between truth and lies.  I want to believe there is a way out of this darkness and justice will prevail.

Other days I’m not so sure.   They have so much power, so much money, and are taking over everything like a cancer.    Today is one of those days.   On days like this I feel like giving up.   I feel like nothing will change and will only grow worse.    I feel like I’ll never live to see my country as it used to be ever again.

I know that’s exactly what their intention is.  To wear us down, exhaust us, make us give up, make us buckle under and become sheep who never complain, and just do as we’re told because we know there is no better choice.

I know I have to fight this malaise and negativity, but on days like this it’s so hard. I just feel so depressed and tired.  I want to succumb to it, to let the darkness engulf me and take me down with it.

Maybe I should just ignore what’s going on, not read the news, but I can’t do that either. They want us to be ignorant.  To ignore what’s going on is to become ignorant.

We are being threatened from the outside, and also from our own government. There is no safe place to retreat to, nowhere to run.

Somehow I have to maintain my desire to resist and push back against this assault on the people — their assault on me and everything and everyone I know and love feels so personal.  But it’s getting so hard, and today I feel like nothing can be done and hope is gone.   My C-PTSD has been retriggered by this president.    It’s traumatizing to a lot of people, but especially those who have been through this kind of abuse on the personal  level.

It’s only been 7 months and I feel numb.   I feel like a prisoner on death row who is innocent of any crime but can’t get a fair trial, can’t get an appeal, so I just sit in my cell counting the days until they come to walk me down the green mile.

My dark thoughts.

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When I feel like this, the only way I can cope is to write.
I had one of my “black mornings.” I don’t get them every day, but when I do get them, they are overwhelming.
I’m getting less of them than I used to, but even one is too much.

I wake up into whiteness. My white blinds reflect the blue white snow that fell three days ago but the shadowless brightness hurts my eyes and mocks the darkness that rises like a miasma and permeates every cell in my body. I lie on my bed and pull the covers up over my head to keep out the daylight. I close my eyes tight. I will myself to fall back to sleep.

I can’t sleep. Thoughts that are blacker than black filter through my consciousness. They seem to arise from a bottomless pit located somewhere in my upper abdomen. They swirl like a cesspool or a black hole or a slow-moving tornado in my soul: thoughts of death, sickness, poverty, loss, and emptiness suck any lesser, lighter thoughts in with them and consume them like food.

Two words reverberate in my atrophied soul: No Future.

I try to will tears to empty myself of this horrible dread and hopelessness, but the backs of my retinas only burn and my eyes remain dry as tinder. I move my consciousness on the pit at the center of my stomach but all I can feel is my heart slamming into my throat. I swallow hard and kick the covers angrily away.

I need to get up. Even if I could sleep I would only wake feeling worse later. Like I wasted a day, and the guilt would consume me.

I look in the mirror on my door. I look like hell. My skin looks grainy. My hair hangs in oily strings. I really need to do something with it. But I know I won’t.

I turn away and go to the kitchen and make some coffee. Strong coffee, milk, no sugar please.
I take it back to my room, drink it. I know I shouldn’t drink coffee given my mental state, but it always calms me for the short term.

The pain is always worse in the morning. Most of the time I can pretend it isn’t there, but it’s always there, waiting in the shadows, ready to sink its tentacles into any mask of sanity I can muster like the flimsy paper covering it really is.

As I write, the darkness retreats. I find some temporary relief. For now, I can fill the void with frivolity and fake cheer.
But the darkness will be back. It always comes back.

The honeymoon is over.

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I’ve been feeling quite strange the past week. It’s the worst I’ve felt in about a year. It started with feelings of anxiety and panic, racing and morbid thoughts and a feeling of unnamed dread. I’d try to nap and my heart would start racing so I’d give up. DBT skills didn’t work and some of my BPD (or PTSD) behaviors returned–negativistic behavior, feeling offended easily, sulking, fits of anger (not directed at anyone but expressed in imaginary conversations with myself in the car or at home), low frustration tolerance, paranoia. I’ve been less motivated to write. I’ve been neglecting housekeeping and eating right. Getting up in the morning is excruciating.

It was all I could do to make it through work. I was feeling sorry for myself all day and at the same time felt guilty for feeling that way. The anxiety has lessened but it’s been replaced by despair and some kind of deep sadness.

I don’t cry easily, but I started crying a few hours ago and couldn’t stop. It feels good to cry, but the feelings are so painful. I feel unworthy. I feel impotent. I feel angry at my parents for training me to be such a good little victim. I hate my ex. I hate myself. I suck at everything. I can’t relate to people. I hate people. I want to connect but I just can’t. I think people will hate me if I let them get too close. My world is so small and constrained and unsatisfying because of my fear of relating to others and reaching out, and because I never have enough money to do anything or go anywhere anyway. The summer’s slipping away and it reminds me of all the lost opportunities and all the doors that have slammed shut, never to reopen. That’s where my head is at. It’s a bad place to be. I feel like I’m losing control. It’s like a war inside my head. I hate all this wallowing in self pity but maybe it’s an opportunity to nurture myself.

I need to find a therapist. This blog is a wonderful tool for healing and it’s something I won’t let go of. It’s brought me a lot of joy. A lot of frustration too, but mostly joy. So I’ll keep blogging. I’d still rather do this than anything else.

But something, I don’t know what, has been triggered–by what I don’t know–and I’ve reached a point where just writing isn’t enough. I need someone to talk to who can help me sort out whatever’s going on in my head right now. I think journaling every day may have brought me to this point.

I’m not giving up. The good thing is that my emotions, while not really under my control at the moment, are there for me to feel. I’m not depressed in the apathetic, almost zombie-like way I used to get depressed when I was living with my narcissist ex. This is an active depression where my emotions are accessible to me and I can sort of name them and I just have to let myself feel them. I’m grateful for that at least. This is what I wanted. But what do I do with them? Can they make me a better, kinder, happier, more empathetic person? That’s what I really want. I need to find someone who can show me what to do with all these emotions.

I guess this means the honeymoon is over, and now the real work begins.