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I feel like I’m about to snap.

I’m not handing all the bad news well today, especially now that I have to worry about a major hurricane possibly hitting where my son lives next weekend.   All my C-PTSD and BPD symptom are triggered — dissociation, hypervigilance, obsessive monitoring of the weather/news in general, physical symptoms (fatigue, headache), snappishness, mood swings, isolation, feeling helpless, and intense anxiety are all symptoms that have returned and threaten to overwhelm me.

I recently quit therapy because I felt guilty about not wanting to talk about anything but the political situation, but dammit, it’s so triggering and I take it very personally, given my background of abuse.   So I might have to go back soon.

I’ve been busy on Twitter (I’m meeting a lot of fellow #resisters there and it’s how I get the most up to date news).  Today I just had to sound off.    It was just stream of conscienceness venting.   It feels good to get all this off my chest, even if no one was really paying attention.  (Read bottom to top).  

I chose my new Twitter user name because it makes me laugh and I need all the laughs I can get.   Gallows humor does help.

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Survivor hypervigilance and the danger of false labeling

An old article, but important because so many of us are over-eager to label anyone we dislike a narcissist. Don’t be too quick to throw the N label around!

Further reading:

Maybe We Throw Around the N Label Too Freely

Lucky Otters Haven

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Earlier today I wrote that I thought my daughter may have NPD because she had taken my phone when she lost hers, and seemed uncaring that I had no way of contacting her or anyone else. About an hour ago, she returned with my phone, and seemed very apologetic and remorseful.

Granted, my daughter does have some narcissistic traits, but she is also Borderline, and most Borderlines do have some narcissistic behaviors–after all, they’re still in the Cluster B group of personality disorders (Cluster B disorders are those characterized by excessive dramatic behavior and/or lack empathy). But she’s not a Narcissist. She does have a conscience and can show empathy, and she’s also self-critical, something true Narcs are not.

My point here is this. I think we survivors have a problem with lack of trust. Having been hurt too often by those with malevolent character, sometimes even by our own…

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Always waiting for the other shoe to drop…

An older post that I’d forgotten I wrote, but I think people will be able to relate to the traumatic experience I describe here.

Lucky Otters Haven

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I think I made a kind of breakthrough in my therapy session tonight. For years one of my problems has been this overwhelming fear that something bad will happen to one of my kids. (I don’t like to even say the D word because I irrationally believe if I say it, I’ll somehow make it happen, by putting it out into the universe or something).

Of course all parents worry about their adult kids, especially when they know they’re out there somewhere in cars, which we all know are dangerous hunks of metal capable of the most ghastly and gory deaths you can imagine and operated by countless idiots and drunks on the road who can’t drive. I think my apprehension about something bad happening to my adult children edges into OCD-type territory though, because of how overpowering and pervasive these thoughts are, intruding where and when they are not…

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Unexpected angels.

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During the past few months — since Trump got elected — I’ve become more judgmental and less trusting.   Now it’s true that due to being a victim of narcissistic abuse and suffering from several disorders and C-PTSD due to the abuse I endured, I’ve always been suspicious and hypervigilant of others’ intentions, always assuming the worst, or that they have some hidden agenda.    My motto has always been, “if you think the worst will happen, you will never be disappointed and your heart will never be broken.  If the worst does happen, you won’t be devastated because you will have expected it.”   It seemed foolhardy, even stupid, to be an optimist or expect the best from others.    Emotionally,  I couldn’t do it anyway.

But that’s a rotten way to live and certainly not a recipe for happiness or even contentment.  You walk through life being paranoid and suspicious of everyone all the time, always wondering what others are planning to do to hurt you.  You can never attain any semblance of happiness with a mindset like that.

Since I’ve been blogging and been in therapy, and since I’ve become a Christian, this had been improving.  I was feeling happier, trusting others a little more, and not always assuming everyone had a knife hidden behind their back.     I was beginning to find what I think God’s purpose for me is.    I noticed that people were actually treating me better, fewer negative things were happening, and best of all, more positive things were happening.  Changing my mindset to a more positive, hopeful one did indeed seem to attract even more positive things in my life. I realized that while it’s perfectly normal and even desirable to acknowledge and express “negative” emotions, that walking around with a perpetual black thunderhead hanging over my head wasn’t helping me or anyone else.  It was a defense mechanism that worked in its way, but was never going to allow me to be happy.

Trump got elected just as my SAD was kicking in, and the combination of the two sent me into a depression that seemed as bad as those I had when I was still married to my abusive husband.    It got even worse since his inauguration, and the ensuing (and immediate) shitstorm of chaos and fear-mongering that seems to have been unleashed since January 20.    It was so triggering for me that I began to distrust almost everyone again, no matter if they were on the right or the left.  It seemed as if there were no good people left in the world, and the world itself was going insane.   After all, how could a good person vote for such a leader, and yet, here he was.   Somehow, evil appeared to have won.     I’ve been scanning the news every day like a meerkat scanning the horizon for predators.

But even worse, I’ve become judgmental.   I never used to judge others for their political or religious beliefs, even if I disagreed with them.  I always believed that people have a right to believe what they believe, for whatever reason, and just because I disagreed with them doesn’t mean they are inherently bad people.   But lately, I’ve been adopting a hateful belief that all Trump supporters must be horrible people.    This is unlike me, and I knew judging others this way was wrong, but I couldn’t help it.    If someone was an asshole to me, even if they were just a driver acting like an asshole on the road, I’d say to myself dismissively, “they must be a Trump supporter.”   To my way of thinking, anyone who voted for Trump had to be a “bad person.”   Even though I knew several Trump supporters who are actually very kind people, I couldn’t seem to shake the judgmental thinking and stereotyping of Trump supporters as being a bunch of “deplorables.”

Today I was working in the home of an older retired couple who I knew had voted for Trump.   They listen to Rush Limbaugh and have a “Make America Great Again” bumper sticker on their SUV.   I also knew these were very nice people. The wife, Doris, always has homemade baked goodies, and they always tip.   Both are extremely friendly and just seem like good, salt of the earth people.  Okay, so I knew intellectually that Trump supporters weren’t all asshats, but I couldn’t accept this on an emotional level.   I also haven’t been able to accept on an emotional level that there are ANY really good people left in this country.

Today they proved me wrong on both.    The husband, Alan, started asking me questions about my car and then went out to look at it.  I thought it was a little odd, but maybe he was just a car buff and curious about my car.

He came back inside and said, “Your tires look like shit.”  He knew I was driving to Florida in a few weeks.  Somehow I felt on the defensive.   I started to explain I intended to get new tires before my road trip, but he interrupted me.   “I want to buy you a new set of tires.   There’s a tire shop down the road.”   Whoa, what?   I stood there, my mouth hanging open like a dimwit.

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“Oh, no!”  I said.  “I can’t let you do that.”

“I want to and I will,” Alan said.   That was final.  He wasn’t giving me a choice.    “Wait here a few minutes, it’s just down the road.”

I gave Alan my car keys.  I was in shock.    I felt like I should offer to pay him back or something, but he wasn’t having it.

When he got back from dropping off the car, Doris and Alan invited me into the kitchen where we sat down and had some cake she had baked and some Cokes.   Alan started talking about God.  It turned out he’s actually agnostic.  He said, “I don’t know if God exists or not, but if He does,  then He works through people helping others.   I want you to understand why I did this today.  Doris and I never had children, and we are retired and comfortable.   We’re not going to take all this with us when we die, so we like to help our friends and neighbors when we can.”

Driving home on my four brand new tires, I realized in my heart and not just in my mind, that angels can be found in the most unexpected places.   There are genuinely good and even altruistic people left in the world after all, and yes, some of them are even Trump supporters!

We should never judge the hearts of individuals, regardless of their beliefs.   We are all brothers and sisters under God.

Mystery package!

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It drives me crazy when I get one of those orange slips from the Post Office saying I got a package or certified letter but am not there to sign for it. Being the worrywart and catastrophizer I am, I always imagine the worst. Is the IRS auditing me? Did someone die? Is it an eviction notice?   What kind of bad news is it anyway?  I mean, it HAS to be bad news.  Right? What else could it be?

Well, to be fair, I’ve also received certified letters for JUNK MAIL.  Those just get thrown out when I finally go to the trouble of driving to the post office and turn in my slip.  And then I get really mad.  Why are they wasting my time (and theirs)?  Why would anyone send junk mail that way anyway?  So, it could be that.  It could be junk mail. Please God, let it be junk mail.   I’d rather be annoyed than get bad news.

I was actually sleeping when the notice came. I think I remember hearing a vague knock on the door, but I wasn’t awake enough to register it in my head as something real at the door.

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Of COURSE, when I woke up, it was 10 minutes past twelve, ten minutes too late for me to go to the post office to fetch whatever catastrophic news I was about to receive. And of COURSE, the Sender was left blank.  Grrrrr. So I went online to the USPS website and typed in the long number on the back of the slip.  I HAD TO KNOW.

Well.  It turned out the sender is from the city where my dad lived and his wife still lives. You may recall my dad passed away June 6th of last year. I still have no idea what I received, but I’m thinking it might be some of the old pictures of me and other things I’d requested from his wife months ago. Maybe it’s even that pastel portrait of me at age six! I’ve wanted that for a long time but I was sure it was thrown out with the trash. It still may have been. I still have no idea what  I’m getting, but at least now I know where it’s coming from so it most likely has something to do with my dad.

I really hope I’m getting some of those old pictures or my portrait. Fingers crossed!

My stupid ego stands in the way of empathy.

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There’s been something on my mind that’s been bothering me a lot, but I’ve hesitated posting about it because it makes me sound like a terrible person.  But I’ve always aimed to be honest on this blog, so I’m not going to make an exception this time.

A few weeks ago, I made a new online friend.  She’s in a severe depression right now due to receiving some bad news. She was so grief-stricken she had to go into the hospital and get treated for her depression.   Since then she’s been confiding in me by email, because she’s too shy to publicly comment about her situation.   For about a week or two, we corresponded almost daily.   Our emails to each other were long and deeply personal, and they proved therapeutic for me as well as for her.

I’m no therapist, but I’m always willing to correspond via email and try to direct people to the proper resources or actually help them directly if I can.   I felt like I could relate to this woman; I identified with a lot of her issues. She said she felt the same way about me.  I began to think of her as a friend, someone I cared deeply about, even though we never met and we’d only been corresponding for such a short time.   I felt a great deal of empathy for her situation.  These empathic feelings are  something rather new for me, because only recently I was too busy working on my own issues and trying to recover from my own trauma that I didn’t have the time or inclination or even the ability to really be able to empathize with anyone else.   Lately though, I’ve been rediscovering the empathy I possessed so much of as a child, and it’s a beautiful and wonderful thing.  I want it to keep growing because it makes it easier for me to connect with people and makes it possible for me to be authentic and help someone else in need, which is what I’ve been aiming to do more of.

My new friend told me that writing to me helped her a lot, and I was extremely touched by this.  I told her she was helping me too, which is true.   I began to look forward to her emails, because, well, the things she told me made me feel good.   I felt my ego puffing up with pride like a loaf of baking bread.   I began checking my inbox several times a day to see if there were any new emails.  I was getting a little obsessed, to be honest.  I was jonesing for that feeling of being needed, of feeling like I was important to someone, of knowing that someone I liked and cared for valued me that much.

I haven’t heard back from her in a few days.  Now I’m becoming insecure and hypervigilant and wondering if I said something wrong or overstepped her boundaries or if she just got tired of writing to me.    I kept reading over our emails trying to find anything, any hint at all, that I might have said something offputting that ran her off or made her want to stop emailing me.   I found nothing but obsessively, I kept looking.

After 3 days of no correspondence, I finally emailed her again.  I was extra careful not to sound too needy, and because she’s so fragile right now and came to me for help (and not the other way around), I tried extra hard to not to project my own “stuff” into my email to her.  I read it over several times and it sounded alright to me, but I still worry she may be able to pick up on my neediness.

I realized with horror that my worry about her possibly abandoning me was more powerful than my concern that she might have had to go back into the hospital (or just couldn’t get online, or was busy, or whatever).    My insecurity made my email sound more stilted and less natural than usual.  I no longer feel like I can be as open and honest, because of my own stupid fears of being offensive or overbearing and making her think badly of me.  It isn’t her fault I feel like this–it’s my own ego getting in the way of the real empathy I have for this person.

This happens to me all the time, and is one of the reasons I’ve sometimes thought I’m actually a narcissist.  Everything is always about me, my ego, what other people are thinking about me, am I being validated, am I still valued by them, are they going to leave me, do they secretly hate me?  Even when all the evidence is to the contrary, I still look for the microscopic speck of dirt in my bowl of ice cream–and always find it even though it isn’t really there.

Yes, I do have empathy–and a lot more of it has been freed to me lately–but when there’s any uncertainty or insecurity and I begin to feel hypervigilant and paranoid.  I start fretting that maybe I’m being deliberately ignored or God forbid, abandoned, and all that wonderful, healing empathy I’m learning how to use goes flying out the window and everything becomes all about me and my stupid ego again.

I still care about this individual and want to help her, but I want my empathy to flow naturally and my ego to stay out of it, because all that does is fuck everything up.  I’ve been praying for this to change, because how can I ever really be of help to anyone else if I’m always worried about what other people are thinking about me?   This isn’t about me; it’s about her and trying to help her heal, not getting some sort of ego boost for myself.

I’m not going to email her again.   I’ll just wait now, and if I never hear from her again, I can live with that.   Maybe she got what she needed from me–the encouragement she needed–and that should be enough.   I hope she is okay.

If nothing else, then I have learned a hard lesson about pride and ego: pride comes before the fall.  True empathy requires humility and the ability to set your own ego outside the door.

A new day.

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It’s the first day of Summer (or is it the second?), and things look much brighter today than they did last night. In the midst of a severe BPD/C-PTSD “episode,” (I’ll explain more in a minute), I published a post, “Why I’m a Wreck,” which I just set to private and will probably delete eventually. I thank all of you for your prayers and good wishes. I feel like I have a family here. ❤

I’m very symptomatic right now and overreacting to everything. I’m paranoid and hypervigilant. I see evil everywhere and demons in every corner (but the demons are only in my own mind).  I’m having trouble being mindful and trying to stay in the present.  I’m thinking in a more black and white way (splitting) than I have in a long time. I’m catastrophizing and imagining the worst possible outcomes about everything.  I’m “going off” on people and getting angry at them for no reason.    Example: I don’t agree with my roommate’s religious views, and I became very judgmental and actually yelled at her, telling her what she believed was “stupid.”  I immediately felt terrible about it and apologized; being so judgmental is not like me (but it is like me when my BPD is in full bore).   When a lot of things happen at the same time, it can really overwhelm anyone’s system (even if you’re free of BPD or C-PTSD) and it’s hard to keep your grip and stay mindful.

An example of my “catastrophizing” was believing my son has NPD. I talked to him again today, and he certainly does not. He may have a few of the traits of narcissism, but he does have empathy and he isn’t manipulative and he doesn’t play evil mindgames. He was in a bad mood last night and it was late. We talked today and he was much more sympathetic.

Two things have brought on this sh*tstorm of triggers and symptoms.

1. I’m getting deeper into therapy, into the really “difficult stuff.” It isn’t fun anymore. It’s hard, painful work now. I found this hard to believe when I started, that I’d get to a point where I’d be in so much pain as buried traumatic memories begin to emerge to consciousness. I have to keep reminding myself that this is all good; the pain and “regression” back into earlier ways of dealing with stress means I’m healing.

2. My father’s death. I’m grieving in my own way, but more than sadness is a lot of anger, and a lot of old, painful memories are being triggered by this too. I’m actually remembering events I thought I’d long forgotten.

God works in mysterious ways. It was my father’s time to die, but it also happened at a time where I felt “stuck” in therapy–not moving any faster and not able to access buried emotions brought on by trauma. My father’s death has made it possible for me to do this work, and it is work.

As for my daughter, her moving back in with me, as one of my commenters (Susan?) said in the post I just deleted, may be the best thing for both of us. I just need to set some firm boundaries but I think she will respect them. I never thought her living with her dad was a very good idea.

And, I’m not sure yet, but there may be a out of state move in our not very distant future–one that would bring the three of us (me, and both my kids) together as a family again and have a fresh start.  I don’t want to get my hopes too high about this though.  But it could happen.

No, you’re NOT being judged and watched constantly.

Lenora Thompson, who writes a blog for Psychcentral, wrote this post that I’d like to share.    I think most of us who were narcissistic abuse victims are hypervigilant and even paranoid–always looking over our shoulder for the next attack.  We assume everyone is watching and judging us all the time, but they’re not.  We’ve just been programmed to think they are because we were surrounded by narcissists during our formative years who did.

 

No, You’re *Not* Being Watched and Judged Constantly

3550755709_d8be7ba08b_zWhen you’ve been surrounded by narcissists all your life, naturally you assume everyone thinks like them. Judges you like them. Hey! It’s self-protection. But they don’t, you know.

Holocaust survivor, neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl is renowned for saying, “An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.”

Being constantly watched is abnormal. Being chronically judged for anything and everything is abnormal. Hell, narcissism is abnormal, hence the name of this blog: Narcissism Meets Normalcy.

Unfortunately, abnormalcy breeds abnormalcy. It’s abnormal to be hyper-vigilant, but we developed it for self-preservation. Thus it’s normal…for us.

It’s abnormal to constantly self-criticize. But we learned to self-criticize, to anticipate every possible criticism that might be hurled our way. We learned to practice clairvoyance (thinking with the narcissist’s brain.) It was simply less painful than being blind-sided. Thus it’s normal…for us.

Read the rest of this article here.

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I can relate to the “exaggerated startle response” and always being told by everyone to “relax” and “chill out” that this blogger describes. People suffering from PTSD and C-PTSD have to deal with the impatience of other people who don’t understand what it’s like to walk through life feeling like you might get ambushed any second.  You feel constantly in danger and become hypervigilant about everything. It’s not like we want to be like this, you know!

It isn’t all about me.

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What I’m learning is that everything isn’t always about me.

I used to always assume people were obsessing in a negative way about me and would interpret, say, a neutral expression or a lukewarm greeting as “that person must be upset with me/hate me/is mad at me/disapproves of me” etc. Sometimes I have to make a conscious effort not to let my mind go in this direction if someone acts in a way other than thrilled to see me. Sometimes they’re just having a bad day, are angry at someone else, or angry in general, or are generally just an asshole to everyone. Sometimes it’s nothing at all other than my choosing to perceive a neutral expression or body language as something negative. It takes a lot of practice to get out of that habit of paranoia and hypervigilance and I always have to remind myself to stop taking every little thing personally and think outside myself instead. I think this is a prerequisite to being able to empathize–being mindful that someone else might have a problem that has nothing to do with me.

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