Happy Thanksgiving.

thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Today, I am thankful for my friends, my family, good food, animals, nature, music, laughter, God’s grace, WordPress, and last but not least, Robert Mueller!

I’m also thankful I still live in a country where freedom of speech and a free and open Internet is allowed.   Who knows how much longer we will have them? If you’re as thankful for those things as I am, join the fight to save them!

Appreciate all the good things you have, no matter how small.

If you aren’t working today, relax, eat much, and enjoy your day!

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Angels among us.

earthangels

God sometimes comes through in small, unexpected ways when we appeal to him for help.  I think he appoints certain people to serve as angels right here on earth.    A dear friend of mine, active for a long time on this blog, empathized with my problems coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder, and offered to purchase me a light therapy lamp, knowing I could not afford one. (They aren’t cheap).   I burst into tears of gratitude when she told me she was buying me one.  She didn’t want me to pay her back either.

Yesterday I got my package from Amazon.  At first I couldn’t imagine why I was getting a package, since I haven’t ordered anything recently.  I had forgotten about the light therapy lamp.   But then I remembered, and excitedly opened the package.

It’s a handsome streamlined model, portable, perfect for propping up next to me while I write on my blog.  It also makes a terrific reading light.

There really are angels among us.   You just never know how God will come through.   I’m also taking Melatonin (which regulates the sleep cycle) and St. Johns Wart (a natural herbal antidepressant).  Two new front tires on my car so I don’t have to worry about sliding all over the roads when the ice and snow starts, and I’m good to go.

I’ll let you all know how this regimen works on my SAD.

Here are two photos of my new light (closed and open).

light_therapy1 light_therapy2

Going with the flow.

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I wanted to get up early and walk on the beach at sunrise, but I guess I was so exhausted from my long drive yesterday and busy evening (also stayed up late blogging about it and chatting with my son) that my body needed extra sleep, and I didn’t get up until about 1 PM!

No worries though.  My son has to work all night tonight so he was still asleep too.   I quietly ate some cereal and headed out. I decided to go back to Rees Park, where we witnessed the sun set last night.   I felt like it was calling me back.  This time I had the presence of mind to wear a swimsuit.

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The day was hot, very hot–95 degrees and very sunny.    I drove to Rees Park and immediately smelled the ocean smell and felt the soothing sea breeze, making it seem cooler.    I noticed that unlike last night when we were there, the tide was coming in.  There were no sandbars and there were very small waves (really, more like ripples), and a lot less of the beach was visible.   Banks of puffy white clouds dotted the horizon against the bright, almost electric blue of the sky.

I took off my sandals and stepped into the water.  It was as warm as bathwater!  So unlike the ocean water further north, even as far south as Myrtle Beach. Of course, this was the Gulf, a smaller body of water than the Atlantic Ocean, so that probably had a lot to do with the very warm temperature.

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I waded out into the water, and when I looked down, I saw small schools of tan colored fish swimming around my feet.  I squeezed my toes into the very fine, silt-like sand, an lowered myself into the water.   It was like sinking into a bathtub, only so much better.

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I closed my eyes and used the rest of my senses to feel nature around me.  I felt the ripples gently rocking me, and I just let my body respond to that, rolling over and floating and stretching every part of me that could be stretched.  I breathed in the salty air and listened to the seagulls on the shore.  I scooped up some of the silt-like sand into my hands, and squeezed the water out of it until the claylike substance squeezed out between my fingers and left a small ball in my hands.   I looked at it and could see many tiny shells and fragments of shells studded throughout the ball.    It felt so nice in my hands I decided to rub it all over my arms and then lifted my legs out of the water and rubbed some of it on those too.

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I looked around me and saw a few other people, also just relaxing and enjoying nature.    I had a short conversation with a woman lying in the water nearby, who was visiting her mother.   She said this was better than going to a spa, and I agreed.

I just sat there, not caring that the tide was now getting dangerously close to where I’d laid my things.  I looked down into the clear greenish water and then looked out where it seemed to stretch out into infinity, becoming dark blue as it receded into the distance.   I looked down again and there were those little fish swimming all around me, as if protecting me.    I looked back at the beach and gazed at the palm trees and listened to the hissing of their fronds in the gentle breeze.    For a rare moment, I was completely in the moment, not worrying about the future or fretting over something in the past.  I just was me, just a part of nature.  Not my ego or my achievements or my failures or my fear or my anger or my shame.   Just me.

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I felt the healing energy of the sun, sand and water that cradled me, and realized that this was all God’s doing.   It wasn’t the water rocking and comforting me, it was God holding me gently and using the warm water to do that.  I never felt like I got that from my family or anyone else I loved, but God has always been there, always ready to hold and comfort me.  All I had to do was ask and be open to it.   I felt a lump of gratitude form in my throat and thanked him for bringing me to this place.   Through grace, I knew I would be healed, that one day my mental disorders would be a thing of the past.

When I got back to the apartment, I found out an answer to an earlier prayer was answered favorably.   I think that has everything to do with what I found out on the beach today.

Envy is my worst character trait.

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Envy, by Marta Dahlig, Deviantart

I’m about to write a painful, bitter post. It’s about something brings me a great deal of shame, so much shame I hesitated writing about it at all. It’s about what’s probably my very worst quality. But my need to be honest on this blog (because it may help both me and others), no matter how ugly or socially unacceptable my feelings may be, overrode any misgivings I had about what I’m about to write.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an envious person. Having been programmed by my FOO to be a perpetual victim, honed and chiseled by master artisans to become a dysfunctional, self-loathing adult unable to achieve even the normal comforts, supports, and pleasures non-abused people enjoy and take for granted; seemingly set up to always fail (and then get callously blamed for my failures by the very people who programmed me to fail), another unpleasant side effect of being programmed to be a “loser” is a nasty tendency to envy others for having those things that should have rightfully been mine too.

I’m not talking about winning the lottery or acquiring a new Ferrari (though those things might count too). I’m talking about envying those who achieve or acquire normal good things that most people who were raised in loving families take for granted–landing a great job, acceptance by a publisher, a place to go and be supported unconditionally when their luck is down, a wide circle of friends, an inheritance earned through simply being who they are and being a member of a family that cares about them unconditionally.

If such a good thing happens to a person I always knew had those things, someone who never seemed surrounded by darkness and always seemed to have things pretty easy, I envy them a lot less than if those things happen to someone I had met when they were still on “my level”–in other words, a fellow victim who suffered abuse and is still reeling from its fallout, struggling (and failing) to find their footing in a world that seems so cruel and cold, the way I continue to do and feel like I will be doing until the day I die. If such a person’s fortunes suddenly change, I fall into a slimy, nasty cesspool of envy. Instead of feeling inspired and encouraged that yes, the good thing that happened to them could happen to me too and I should just be patient, yada yada yada, I just feel consumed by that bitter, horrible emotion that does no one any good, least of all its bearer.

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Coveter-in-training: being a hybrid mini-me/scapegoat/golden child to someone I knew even then I could never aspire to set the stage for my tendency to envy others.

I think I know why it’s easier to envy people who suddenly came into a great opportunity to change their lives than those who already had things easy. It’s a “misery loves company” kind of feeling: when you feel victimized by life and all the people you ever had to answer to, it helps to know that others feel exactly the same way because it means you’re not alone. It’s not that you want the person who’s fortunes changed to feel as badly as you; it’s not even that you’re not happy for them. It’s more that there’s a sense of solidarity in being able to wallow in a communal pit of misery together, and suddenly that feeling of solidarity is broken. It’s that feeling of realizing, “it’s not just me after all! I’m not alone!” being thrown into doubt because that person is suddenly able to lift themselves out of a hellish existence and you are still not. In all honesty, it feels like a kind of…well, betrayal.

I know it’s not really that at all. All of us who were victimized by narcissists all strive to break out of the trap of a life of failure set up for us by our abusers early in our lives. During our wallow in communal unhappiness, we feel strong solidarity. We support each other, cry on each other’s shoulders, feel angry on behalf of each other, and wish each other the best with utmost sincerity, as we wish it for ourselves. But then one one is suddenly lifted up out of the mire, you can’t help but feel left behind. You’re completely unprepared to feel that way, because this person was an angel to you and came to you at a time when she was most needed. You looked to her for inspiration, advice and support. So you beat yourself up over your envious feelings because you know feeling this way is wrong and sinful. You feel like a hypocrite, since in theory, you wanted what was best for this person and still do. You know they deserve good things and there is a part of you that is happy for them, but it’s corrupted by the unwelcome thought, “why not me too?” like mold on a delicious chocolate cake.

You know their reward was not undeserved. We are all at different parts in our healing journeys, and some are farther along than others. The person you so envy is farther along their spiritual and emotional journey than you are. You’re well aware of that fact and it never bothered you. You saw that person as a teacher and guide. You know that perhaps you’re just not ready yet to handle something that good happening to you yet and that’s why it hasn’t happened. First you must learn to better appreciate the things you already have, to see the glass as half full.

Of course you wish this person no harm; your envy is not the sort that wishes to take away anything or try to sabotage the person’s good fortune. But the bitterness and sense of unfairness is still there, eating away at your insides like an unwelcome and potentially lethal parasite. You know better but you can’t help it. Exhausted from your bitterness, you feel tired an depressed. You shout at God in frustration and exhausted rage: “When is MY ship ever going to come in?” You don’t want to take away anyone’s good fortune; you just want to have some for yourself too.

I think it’s hard for ACONs to learn to trust. The people in our lives have proved to be anything but trustworthy. We’ve been hurt, betrayed and disappointed by everyone we thought mattered. We learned to expect the worst from people. Many ACONs turn to God or religion as a respite. Desperate to trust someone, anyone, they fully embrace God and throw their worries blindly at the feet of the Almighty. Their faith seems perfect. Others, like me, have more trouble. How can we fully trust an entity we can’t actually see? How do we even know there’s anything there at all? We overthink everything and overthinking makes faith difficult to attain. I pray for faith constantly, because I know that’s the only thing that will take away my fear, self-loathing, suspicion of everyone, and my envy. The person I envy right now has faith that seems nearly perfect. How can I get to that point?

I pray that one day my envy can be transformed, that I can be genuinely happy for the good fortune of someone else, and even be inspired by it. I also pray that the person this post refers to doesn’t judge or condemn me for feeling envious, but something already tells me they will not. I will always be grateful they came into my life.

****
Further Reading:
My Envy

Changes.

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I never used to be able to relate to “positive thinking” statements.  They seemed trite and shallow, as if they were made up for other people–people with normal lives, normal families, normal incomes, good jobs, who didn’t suffer from mental illness, who hadn’t been abused by almost everyone they had known, and who had an actual future to look forward to.

Dying slowly.

When I was with my narcopath ex,  I really didn’t have a future.  Not if I’d stayed with him.  I was slowly dying a long, excruciating death–a death by annihilation of my spirit. His abuse was effecting my body, my mind, my emotions, and my soul.    Pictures of me taken when I was with him compared to pictures taken of me now show the toll the relationship was taking on me.   I looked older 3 years ago than I do now–and my depression showed on my face in every picture, even the smiling ones.  I was overweight and miserable. Even my hair looked depressed, dull and without shine. When I was told to “just think positive” I felt nothing but rage and frustration.  How could I even hope to have a better life, how could I even hope to ever be happy?   A smiley face meme, a “thought for the day,” or “inspirational” coffee mug just wasn’t going to do it for me.   And those things can be shallow and trite, but that doesn’t mean that a positive outlook is forever barred from me.  It doesn’t mean I can’t still find happiness.

 Cynicism and bitterness.

Even if I hadn’t been abused, by nature, I’m a depressive sort of person.   As an INFJ, I think deeply about things and feel them even more deeply.    I’m a worrywart who tends to see the glass as half empty.  I catastrophize and ruminate and obsess and worry about almost everything.  I get upset when I hear about wars, murders, shootings, racism, sexism, injustice, unkindness in general, and most of all, the abuse of animals and kids.  Or  the abuse of anyone for that matter.

I see all the trappings of success–big houses, late model cars, vacations, the latest this or that–and feel depressed because those things will never be mine.   I wasn’t invited to be in the Club.   I feel victimized and alone in the world.  I used to think God hated me.   I almost became an atheist–but not quite.   I always felt *some* kind of presence, but didn’t think that presence thought very highly of me.  I even thought that my purpose for existing was to be an example to others of what not to be.  I felt like I was held in contempt and condescending pity by everyone.  But what I didn’t know was I was projecting my own sense of self-hatred and hopelessness onto whatever Higher Intelligence was out there and everyone else too.    The internal voices instilled in me by my emotional abusive upbringing echoed down the years and contaminated any ability I had to find joy and meaning in life.   I became bitter and cynical, and turned up my nose at “happy people,” assuming they had no depth at all–but was it really just because I envied their ability to feel joy?

Slouching toward heaven. 

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When I finally went No Contact with my ex, things began to change.  Not a lot at first, but for the first time ever, I felt some hope and even fleeting glimpses of joy.   I started to blog. Writing down my feelings about what happened to me helped me make sense of them.  Through blogging, I found a community of others in a similar situation.  I no longer felt so alone.  Blogging was the best sort of self-therapy I could have hoped for.    A talent for writing was the one tool I had that began to help me be able to lift myself out of the mire.

Eventually, this got me to the point of wanting something more–an actual relationship with God.  A lifelong agnostic, I began going to church and decided to become Catholic.   I started to pray a lot more (I call it “talking to God,” which sounds friendlier).   My faith was shaky and fragile (and still is), but I kept plugging away, asking God to give me the ability to trust him and to give me faith.   If I couldn’t trust other people, it was especially hard to trust an entity I couldn’t even see.    Sometimes I felt like God wasn’t listening and had doubts that he existed at all.   But God was always someone I could turn to when no one else seemed to care.   I had no choice!   Over time, I felt myself beginning to change from within.  I began to appreciate the things I had more, instead of feeling resentful and envious of others for having more than I did.   I’ve even had a few of those rare transformative moments of  gratitude and happiness so profound it brought me to tears.

I am grateful.

I may not have a lot, but I have what I need, and that’s a lot more than many.   I don’t live in the best house in the world, but it’s a nice place to live and I like its cuteness and coziness.   I don’t drive a late model car, but I have one that’s reliable and gets me where I need to go.   I don’t come from a big loving supportive family, but I have two wonderful children who I have a good relationship with.   I can’t afford to take real vacations, but I have a car to go on short day trips.  I live in a beautiful part of the country, even if I’m jaded and don’t appreciate it as much as I used to.  I can sit on my porch and see mountains and trees and flowers and see the night sky.  I can hear birds singing outside my window.  I don’t have to look outside my window and see a back alley full of broken glass and hear sirens and people fighting all night.  I don’t love my job, but it pays for what I need and there are a lot worse things I could be doing.   I have two wonderful cats.  I have writing ability.  My blog is doing well and is not only helping me, but it’s helping others too.  I have a wonderful, empathic therapist who almost seemed to drop out of the sky at just the right time.  Lately, I’ve been finding myself thinking that my glass is half full instead of half empty.  That’s God changing my attitude in a really big way.

It’s not a smooth road.  I still get triggered and go back to my old thinking patterns.  I stil have days where I feel hopeless and unloved.  These attitudes are so ingrained in me that removing them sometimes feels like performing a skeleton transplant.  But all I have to do is lean on God and tell him I can’t handle it myself–and things do begin to look better. God is working on me, changing my attitudes, and people have said they’ve noticed a difference in me.

Big changes, bright future.

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I have a very strong feeling that God is planning a major change for me in the near future–a change that would give me a whole fresh start and more choices than I’ve had.   It looks very likely that in the very near future, probably before winter (my least favorite season–I hate it!) sets in, I will be moving to Florida to join my son.   I won’t be living with my son; I will have my own place.   He thinks he can get me a job where he works too.   I will be living near the beach.  I can watch the sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico every night if I want.   While I love the North Carolina mountains, they don’t speak to my soul the way the ocean does, not even after 23 years of living here.   I grew up in coastal New Jersey and New York and used to hit the beach every weekend in the summer since it was no more than an hour away from where I lived.   The ocean is in my blood. Here where I live now, getting to the beach requires planning a vacation or at least a weekend getaway since the closest beach is a five hour drive away.   I never have enough funds to do that though.  I haven’t seen the ocean since 2008.   That’s far too long.

I have no ties to North Carolina. There’s nothing left for me here–no friends, no family, no pressing commitments–so I won’t have any misgivings about packing up and leaving when the time is imminent.   I’m trying to get my daughter to come with me, because I think she needs a change too.  There’s nothing left for her here either except her dad, but he is a toxic person and her relationship with him is a codependent one.  She may not want to leave him though. She feels responsible for him.    But when and if she decides enough is enough (and I’m praying she does), the invitation to join me and her brother is always open.

I think that this move will change my life in so many positive ways.   No, of course it won’t be perfect, but I will be living near my son again, I will near my beloved ocean again, and I can make a fresh start in a new place, free of all the ghosts of my abusive past I still associate with where I live now, and which continue to haunt me at times.   I imagine myself in my little house or apartment, or sitting in front of the ocean, listening to the waves and the gulls, finally writing the book I keep saying I’m going to write.   And I’ll thank my Heavenly Father every day for presenting me with such a positive life changing choice.   I never felt like I had choices before.  Now I think I do.

Why God has waited until now, I don’t really know,  but it’s probably because I wasn’t ready.   I wouldn’t have appreciated it.  Maybe he wanted me to appreciate the things I already have first, before blessing me with new opportunities.    Now, when I see positive thinking memes or inspirational quotes, I actually pay attention.   Yes, they are trite and can be shallow and annoying when nothing else of substance is being given, but they do seem to have more meaning now.  Is that because I feel like God is finally smiling down on me so I can relate to them better, or is it because I’ve changed enough to pay attention?

Little gifts.

God shows up at the strangest times.  Earlier today I was at the Laundromat, and as I waited for my wash, I found a small devotional book called “Fear Not Tomorrow, God is Already There,” by Ruth Graham.  It was sitting right there on the table, on top of a bunch of advertising circulars.   A few years ago I would have left the book there.  Today I took it home with me and said a small prayer of thanks.  I know God left it there for me on purpose.  I’ve realized he is always trying to show you in small ways how much he loves you, but if you’re not paying attention you won’t notice.    If you open your heart to God and just talk to him, like you’d talk to your best friend or a loving parent, your heart will begin to change and your faith will grow stronger in tandem with that–and then it’s possible your whole life might take a turn for the better too.  It’s so simple–how did it take me so long to see this beautiful truth?  I feel in my bones that the last half of my life is going to be when the harvest comes in–a harvest rooted in the pain of my past.

Is there a reason why we suffered so much?

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One last thought.   There’s an old Buddhist proverb: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”   Everyone who ever touched my life has been a teacher to me. Yes, even the narcissists.   Maybe especially them.  If it weren’t for them, I would not be who I am today.  I don’t think I would be as deep or as spiritual or value empathy and kindness as much as I do.   I don’t think I would have the same sort of relationship with God.  Many of the most spiritual (not necessarily religious–that’s a different animal!) people I know came from abusive backgrounds.   They suffered terribly and carried that heavy spiritual load all their lives, then finally turned to God because there was no one else.  In pain there comes much wisdom.     Maybe God allows some of us to experience more adversity so we learn to lean on him instead of other people–and then when we learn to trust him, he finally blesses us with people who can help us and love us unconditionally.   No, we should never have been abused by our narcissists.  It definitely wasn’t fair.  But out of that kind of adversity we can learn so much about ourselves, about human nature, and even learn to help others who suffer like we did.   And that is my greatest wish now–to help others heal.

My online friends.

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While I wouldn’t wish narcissistic abuse from either families of origin or ex-lovers or spouses on anyone,  I’m grateful there are others besides me who have experienced it and that we have found each other.   If it weren’t for the Internet, that never would have been possible, and I’d still be reeling from the abuse all alone and wondering why no one else in the world could relate to my pain.   Honestly, I don’t know what I’d do without my little community of ACON bloggers and readers who have suffered this type of trauma.  Very few people you meet in daily life get it.   It’s also not something you can just tell people about.  The anonymity of the Internet helps give us the courage to speak up.

It makes me sad to hear your stories, but at the same time, it’s great to be part of a found online family that is so supportive of one another and give each other virtual hugs and hope.

I’m very grateful to each and every one of you.  Thank you for being my friend and a friend to one other.

 

A close call.

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My son took this photo while waiting for the tow truck. Look at the wheel.

Earlier today, my son called me. He told me that while crawling along in slow moving traffic, his car suddenly wouldn’t steer properly. He heard some metallic sounds like something breaking, and suddenly his steering wheel stopped working at all! Fortunately, he reacted quickly, and slammed the car into Park and put the hazards on.

He got out of the car to look under the hood, but he saw someone in another car pointing to his front driver’s side wheel. It was bent sideways. He called a towing service and at the shop they told him his wheel was about to fall off!

He’d been on his way to work, and because he was unable to come in, lost a day’s pay as well as having to shell out some bills for the repairs (AAA is covering the tow). Working as a shift manager in a convenience store, he’s not exactly wealthy.

He could have been really angered by the inconvenience and expense. He could have groused about the lost pay and the fact he has to pass on meeting up with some of his friends tonight. It’s certainly understandable he would be at least a little irritated by all that! I know I would be.

But he was looking at this a different way. He said he felt blessed. I asked him what he meant, and he said, “It could have been so much worse! I could have been driving at 65mph on the Interstate!” My son is an atheist, but he said he felt like some sort of presence, if not actually God, must have been protecting him and made sure he was driving at only 6mph when his wheel began to go.

Thinking about what could have happened to my son was sobering, but how right he is! Something that seems like a huge pain in the butt can actually be God’s way of keeping us safe from something much worse. You just never know.

Sometimes I think my son is wise beyond his years.

Start the New Year with a (genuine) smile.

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I’ve always railed against the fake kind of happiness whose intent is to diminish, belittle, and avoid responsibility or compassion, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with a little authentic positivity. When you really think about it, there are always things to be grateful for, no matter how seemingly insignificant they are.
So let’s start the new year thinking of things to be grateful for.

(via Tessa over at Tessa Can Do It.)

My list of 10 things that make me happy:

1. My relationship with God
2. My church
3. My empathetic therapist
4. My incredible son and daughter
5. My 2 cats
6. my small but cozy home
7. my 2 blogs, one which has grown enough I make a little money from it (about $40 a month from ads)
8. my ability to write what I feel and write it well (most of the time)
9. music — almost all kinds
10. my insight into myself (even my therapist is impressed)

Music always lifts my soul, so here’s a few of my favorite mood-lifting songs (this is by no means all of them!)

This ’90s rock hit, meant ironically or not, always makes me feel better even when I’m at my lowest.

I think James Taylor was talking about God here:

This emotional ballad helped me get through some really rough times.

I never grow tired of this huge dance hit from about 2 years ago because it’s just such a great song with a positive vibe and it makes me want to turn somersaults all over my house (which I can’t do but I still want to!)

Thanksgiving 2015 (with pictures!)

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Mr. Biggles and his Thanksgiving greeting.

I look back on last Thanksgiving and realize now how weird and sad it was. My daughter was in jail for 30 days for DUI (she has improved IMMENSELY since that experience)–I don’t recommend jail time for anyone, but it actually was a wake up call for her and she’s been making lots of positive changes this year. Now she’s engaged to a great guy, has a house, and is working full time and looking into going to college (finally!), possibly working with troubled kids or in the substance abuse field.

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I made myself sick eating these while making them. 😛

Last Thanksgiving was very strange. I had dinner with her then-boyfriend, a charmer named Paul who seemed too good to be true (and was!) He was financially stable, seemingly successful, very polite and seemed to really love my daughter, but he was actually a sociopath who in short order showed his true, evil colors, but I won’t repeat that story again (I already wrote about him early this year). My daughter, who was in jail last Thanksgiving, couldn’t join us and so it was a lonely Thanksgiving dinner with just me, Paul and my roommate Stacey who tagged along because she had nowhere else to go. The food was excellent (Paul is a very good cook and of course he was love bombing us and trying to brainwash us all with how perfect he was before the demon inside him began to come out and wreak havoc on our lives).  He had us all fooled, but that story (which I’ve told already) doesn’t belong in this post.

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Dexter all ready for the holidays in his “Ho Ho Ho” collar.

This Thanksgiving was much better–much more of a normal-family Thanksgiving.   The food was great (I brought 2 pies–which no one ate–and deviled eggs I had made this morning. While I was making them, I probably ate about 8, and the only downside to my Thanksgiving was I spent most of the time at my daughter and her fiance Ryan’s house in the bathroom, LOL! So I wasn’t very hungry, although I did pick at the delicious turkey and stuffing my ex had made.

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It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas!

Speaking of my ex, he was there, mostly staying in the kitchen cooking and washing dishes (he was probably trying to avoid me, LOL). We actually got along very well and he was on his best behavior. We even had a pleasant conversation with each other. I’m still very low contact with him (and intend to remain so) but today there was no antagonism, fighting, or drama of any kind. He even showed concern over how sick I was feeling (probably fake, but was still nice).

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I just thought this looked pretty.

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Dinner is served!

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Enjoying the food.

My daughter’s best friend was there (they seem more like sisters than friends and they look alike too) with her 1 1/2 year old son Weston. Also there was the friend’s sister and her 6 year old son Clayton. My daughter is great with the kids, especially Weston (who she babysits a lot for); I definitely think she’ll make a good mom someday.

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Ryan teasing Weston with his “glowstick” gloves.

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Soon to be newlyweds.

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Weston again.

When I arrived my daughter and her friend were putting up the Christmas decoration, my ex had started a fire, and they finally have some furniture in their lovely 3 bedroom, 2 bath house, so it looks like home now.

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They look so much in love.

After we ate (no one actually sat down to eat, as most of us just nibbled from the plates laid out on every flat surface), we went out in the backyard because it was pretty warm (60’s) and took more pictures. When it stared to get dark, I headed back to my house because I have trouble seeing on the road after dark.

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Weston and Clayton.

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Are you listening to me???

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Going for a ride!

Random thoughts on family.
I was also thinking about how my immediate family is splintered into at least 4 or 5 discrete groups located in various parts of the country. There’s my enclave of our splintered family (me, my daughter and her husband-to-be here in North Carolina, and all our pets); then there’s my son in Florida with his “adopted” family of close friends and his partner’s immediate family who almost think of him as a second son, and their 2 dogs; then there’s my 80-something mother and her extended family in the upper-middle class Chicago suburbs; and finally my aging father and his caretaker-wife in Texas, who in recent years have been celebrating the holidays by themselves or sometimes with their neighbors (since he hasn’t been well and Parkinson’s has compromised his ability to walk or speak normally).

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My son (the family empath) has this dream of organizing a huge family reunion one day when he can afford it; of anyone in the family, it means the most to him to bring everyone together at some point. He’s even made friends with distant cousins, second cousins, and other relatives I’ve never even met through Facebook and other social media and is closer to all of them than either me or his sister is, because he has reached out to them and we have not.  I think that’s beautiful but I don’t know if the family reunion idea will ever work. There’s just too much baggage, drama, and too many of us not speaking to other family members. It sucks and is very sad but that’s how it is. I think it’s commendable though that he’s the only one who actually cares about wanting to heal this family and bring us ALL together, even if his ideas are too idealistic and unrealistic and unlikely to come to fruition (half of our relatives probably wouldn’t attend anyway).

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Resting after stuffing ourselves. That’s my ex back there in the kitchen.  

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Yours truly.

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I’m not sure what she was doing here but I don’t appear to like it! 😀

I feel very thankful our little corner of the family appears to be finally healing, and for once we enjoyed a holiday with NO drama, NO stress (other than my poor stomach), good food, fun, and lots of hugs and love to go around. And I’m thankful my ex opted to stay out of the way in the kitchen most of the time. :mrgreen:

Can a malignant narcissist ever become self aware?

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Frankly, I don’t think so, and that’s what makes them malignant. I think there’s a point at which a narcissist can’t ever turn back and that’s the point at which they can’t see their own narcissism or what they do to others. And they don’t care. Malignant narcissists are happy being just the way they are, or they think they’re happy being that way. You can call out their behaviors until you’re blue in the face, and they still won’t see the obvious; instead they will attack and rage. They don’t CARE.

I have no idea how close I might have come to becoming malignant but I just thank the Lord I didn’t. I think I’m low spectrum but still on the spectrum.

If you spent your entire life surrounded by and under the thrall of malignant narcissists, you can’t escape unscathed. If all you get is a case of “fleas,” consider yourself very lucky. These toxic people infect others with their disease. I was with mine far too long.

I couldn’t understand before why it was so important for me to understand people with this disorder. Now everything’s so clear as to why. Even before I knew, I was trying to understand myself and now I’ve been brought to a place where it’s possible to change. I feel like God pulled the scales from my eyes, and I’m so grateful He did.

I’m also glad I chose the truth over saying nothing or taking this blog down (I had considered both). In fact, being in this new state of awareness feels like the beginning of a new journey–harder, but ultimately more rewarding than the last.

Thanks so much to all of you who have remained supportive during this ordeal. I had imagined the worst, but I imagined wrong. 🙂 The worst that’s happened is a few troll comments. No biggie.