I used to be a dominionist without even knowing it.

angry-violent-god

I’ve written about dominionist Christianity extensively, so I won’t describe it at length here.  One of the most toxic and abusive doctrines of dominionism is that if you are vulnerable in any way — if you are poor, sick, disabled, mentally ill, or even a person of color (in dominionist doctrine, people of color are believed to be derived from the line of Ham, the son of Cain, who was Adam and Eve’s “bad” son — in the past this has been used as “biblical” justification of slavery) — these are all indications of God’s disfavor and people “afflicted” with these things deserve their lot.   In contrast, God’s favored people are always rewarded with great wealth, perfect health, and no disabilities.  They are also usually white and Republican.  This is why dominionist Christians feel no obligation to show compassion toward the sick, poor and disabled (as Christ would do) — because to help them would be to go against God’s will.   It’s also why they seem to think unlimited power and greed (and oppression of others) is perfectly moral.

But getting back to myself.  While I was never a dominionist Christian or even a conservative evangelical, my attitude in the past toward myself was a very negative, self punishing one.   I always had at least a nominal faith in God, but I truly believed he disliked me and my terrible luck, my bad relationships, my inability to form close relationships, my emotionally abusive family, and my poverty were all punishments God was inflicting on me because he hated me.    I looked at others and saw how fortunate they were (or at least seemed to be) and felt like God must like them much better.  Sometimes I thought God only put me on earth as an example to others of what not to be.

This made me feel completely worthless and made me want to hide in shame from the world.   It made me painfully shy, which only exacerbated my problems meeting people and socializing.    In my recovery from narcissistic abuse, I realized this negative, self defeating narrative was self inflicted due to internalizing abuse inflicted on me when I was young.   I began to realize that I had good qualities and never had the chance to develop them.

I like myself now.  No, I’m not living my “dream life” (that would involve traveling all over the world and writing bestselling books) and I will probably never have a high powered, high paying career at my age.  I probably won’t ever achieve all my dreams, but really, who does?   I’m still on the lower end of the income scale, but I wouldn’t say I’m impoverished anymore.   I have enough money to be comfortable and even buy a few luxuries (like occasional inexpensive vacations, beach trips, new books, the occasional dinner out, and nice clothing).

I’m still alone (not in a relationship), and even though sometimes that’s lonely and I even occasionally feel sorry for myself, I also know I prefer things that way for now.  I’m still working on myself, trying to find out more about me and what God wants for me (and what I want for myself).

I feel fortunate to have two wonderful adult children, both of whom I have a great relationship with, and three awesome cats.   I also live in a beautiful part of the country, with endless opportunities for photo taking and just enjoying the natural world.  Not everyone is so fortunate to have that.

Recovery from narcissistic abuse coupled with reframing God as a benevolent and loving Father who wants all his children to be happy and healthy rather than as a punishing and hateful bully who favors some of his children over others (and rewards them primarily with wealth and material abundance) has made all the difference.

I think this is why I find Christian dominionism so triggering and scary.  Not just because it’s become a real threat to our basic freedoms and rights, but because it’s a toxic, abusive, and hateful belief in an avenging, constantly angry, narcissistic God who likes to bully and punish the most vulnerable.  That sort of God, to me, is as bad as the devil.   I think that God was made in his narcissistic control freak human makers’ own image.

I’m so glad I don’t believe in that God anymore.

 

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Fragile.

Image

fragile

Family estrangement.

 

scapegoating

Psychology Today has an interesting article about why family members become estranged.  In most cases, it’s an adult child between the ages of 25 and 35 who initiates the severing of the parent-child relationship.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/domestic-intelligence/201512/the-persistent-pain-family-estrangement.

“A difficult parent is that which the daughter or son experiences as being at the cusp of rejecting the child, or casting them out as a result of disapproval, disgust, or disappointment. When a daughter or son made the difficult decision to sever the relationship, it was usually because they felt that maintaining it was too emotionally costly, that they had to distort their soul into shapes that did not feel right to them in order to please or pacify a parent.”

In other words, No Contact.   I think most cases of an adult child severing their relationship with their parent(s) are due to feeling as if they have already been rejected or emotionally abandoned by the parent, so there isn’t as much guilt over severing contact as there might otherwise be.   But there is still sadness and grief involved, especially during holidays and possibly on birthdays.  The grief isn’t over what was lost so much as what never was or what could have been.

Tragically and unfairly, there is stigma against adults who lack family support or relationships.  Most people don’t really sympathize with you if you are estranged from your family, because they don’t understand it.  Most people think family will always be there for you through thick and thin, and in an ideal world, that is how it should be.  We are tribal creatures, wired for attachment, even as adults.

So when things go wrong and your family has cast you out of their midst, either because you became the scapegoat, or your values or lifestyle are disapproved of by the rest of the family, people from normal, loving families think the problem must be with YOU.  They can’t imagine that any family would cast out or reject one of their own, so you must be the one at fault.    If you have gone No Contact, they think that is a cruel and unusual thing for any adult child to do to the people who gave them life.   But because they weren’t the children of narcissistic parents, and have no clue what being the family scapegoat is like, they cannot understand the pain of staying involved with people who cannot love you unconditionally and are rejecting and abusive toward you even if they haven’t outright cast you out.

Many estranged ACONs are financially vulnerable due to having dismally low self esteem that kept them from acquiring the confidence and drive to be successful in a career or the self esteem to build satisfying, healthy relationships.  Many ACONs are divorced (often from other cold and rejecting abusive or narcissistic types much like their parents), unmarried, impoverished, and lonely.  Many also find it difficult if not impossible to build a surrogate family of close friends, because of their difficulties making friends for the same reasons their other close relationships don’t last.  They simply don’t have the self esteem or social skills needed for that.   A rejecting family who then turns around and blames you for your “failures” (due to not having given you the tools that most children got from their families to do well in life)  is like salt rubbed in an already gaping and infected wound.   It’s beyond unfair.  Add to that the sad fact that scapegoated adult children are usually left out of any will, if there is one.

Social service agencies and charities don’t help much.  They are temporary measures at best, and have limited resources.  They don’t love you unconditionally like a family would; in fact, they don’t really care.   So scapegoated and marginalized adult children often have no resources to which they can turn when things are rough (and they usually are).  They are vulnerable in every way it is possible to be vulnerable, due to poor mental and often physical health and without the means or the tools or the friends and family to give them support when they most need it.   Then, much like their own families did, society blames them for their failures and poverty, telling them it’s their own fault they have so few resources and insults them by calling them worthless drains on society.  It wouldn’t surprise me if it turned out that most homeless people were the scapegoated children of narcissistic families.  Having been dealt such a lousy hand in life’s lottery, you’d think there’d be more suicides among estranged adult children.   But the survival instinct is strong with us.   It had to be, or we wouldn’t still be here.

The price of being the most emotionally honest member in a narcissistic family is a high one.

Forever an orphan.

orphan_begging

Those of us who were scapegoated and rejected by our own families often feel like orphans in life, forever being buffeted to and fro by the winds of a seemingly heartless world and hanging on to what seems like a brittle tree branch for our lives. We were trained and groomed by our families of origin to continue to be victimized throughout our lives, always treated as though we were less than everyone else, deficient in some way. We were not given the tools other children in our families, or the children of normal, loving families were given to do well in life. We were tossed out “with the wolves” so to speak, and told to “sink or swim.” Unfortunately, too many of us sink–into abject poverty, drug or alcohol addiction, eating disorders, abusive marriages, and mental and physical illness of all types. Everything that others seem to obtain with ease–a wide circle of friends, financial success, material goods like houses, cars or vacations; respect and closeness within their families, a relatively easy climb up the corporate ladder–seems to elude those of us who grew up programmed to believe we were defective.

We may not have literally been orphaned by our parents, but functionally we are no different than orphaned children. Children who lost their parents young to death or abandonment also grow up without any sense of belongingness and no loving, close attachments to anyone. How can you when you are treated like a number at some orphanage (more so in the past or in foreign countries like Romania) or are constantly being sent from one foster home to another, where the foster parents may mean well (but sometimes not) but have too many other charges to take care of to fulfill your need to belong and be loved. Orphans learn not to get too attached to anyone because any attachments they may form are impermanent. Getting close to others hurts too much, so they learn not to get close to anyone, not to trust anyone.

When orphans become adults, they are sent out into the world ill-prepared for adulthood with no emotional or financial help to guide them in their journey. With no one to truly care for them, and no families to turn to in times of need or crisis, they must either sink or swim. Those that swim do so at a cost. They may become successful in life, obtaining the trappings like money or status, but they never really know what love or real self esteem is. They don’t even know who they are. They just know they must survive–at any cost. It’s my belief that orphaned kids who take the swim route become narcissistic–how could they not? Adopting a false self and a fighting mentality is the only way they know to survive in a harsh, uncaring world where they seem to have no place.

tiredandalone

Although narcissistic abuse survivors may have been raised in actual families, we were emotionally and spiritually orphaned due to rejection and emotional abuse. We were compared unfavorably with siblings, other family members, or just about anyone else. We were raised to believe we had no rights. We were punished for having opinions. Our boundaries were constantly being violated; we weren’t even allowed to have boundaries. We were called names, belittled, gaslighted, threatened, and stunted and stifled in every imaginable way. Our efforts to be approved of and small victories were belittled or sabotaged. We were refused financial or emotional help where other children or young adults from normal families (or even our own families) would have received it (my family refused to pay for my college education although they could have afforded it). We were trained to believe we were undeserving of success or love. We developed a strong Inner Critic who continued to live on inside us long after we left our families of origin, continuing the abusive message that we are less.

We become adults who are afraid to take any risks, afraid to speak our minds, afraid to stand up for ourselves, afraid to just be. We feel guilty if we do succeed in something and sabotage ourselves just like our own families sabotaged us. If we were bullied by our families of origin, we develop dismally low self-esteem and internalize the message that we deserve nothing and are nothing. We develop a victim mentality that makes sure the bullying and rejection continues throughout our lives. We develop C-PTSD and are handicapped on almost every level for finding our rightful place in the world. We were programmed by our narcissistic families to be targets for other abusers and narcissists, who smell our vulnerability and our lack of emotional defenses. I can’t tell you how many childhood victims of narcissistic abuse were also bullied in school or even as adults in the workplace, were always passed over for promotions or raises, or married narcissistic spouses who continued the abuse, sometimes taking it to new levels of cruelty. I know because I was one of them.

Even if we somehow managed to find some small place in the world, we still feel like we don’t belong. We still feel isolated from the rest of the world, different in a bad way. We feel like we don’t deserve to have anything good. In their desperation, some narc-abuse victims sell their souls and turn to narcissism as a way to cope. They escape the enemy by becoming the enemy. Their attitude is fake it ’til you make it (or just pretend you made it). Their self esteem isn’t real; inside their prison of narcissism they are screaming in agony, but God forbid anyone ever know. They’d destroy you first to avoid being exposed as vulnerable and defenseless as they really feel. They sacrifice their very souls to survive.

Pain_ends

For those of us fortunate enough to have escaped narcissism, there is more hope. Although we may appear to have much less than someone who turned to a narcissistic defense, spiritually we have so much more. We haven’t jettisoned our souls to survive. We may have lost everything else–we may have poor physical or mental health, live in poverty, feel isolated from everyone, have difficulty getting close to others, always seem to have less than others–but spiritually we remained intact. Our quest to reclaim our humanity is a hard journey, filled with pain, but the moments of self-discovery and emotional and spiritual growth are so worth it. In the process of healing from narcissistic abuse, I finally found the family I know will always accept me unconditionally: God’s family. There is always a place at His table, where you will never be judged and always accepted for the person you are, instead of the one you can never be. In God’s family you are never an orphan.

Sometimes something as simple as music helps you get there. Here is a song that helped me (and at least one other narcissistic abuse survivor I can think of) in the early days of starting this blog:

Further reading:
Why Family Scapegoats Become Lifelong Victims
We Were The Lucky Ones
(I wrote this over a year ago, and I’ve changed a lot since then, but I think it still fits)
Adult Poverty and Scapegoathood: A Connection? 
The Reason We Became Adult Victims: What Can Be Done?
It’s All About Image: The Skewed Values of Narcissistic Families

Truth teller.

truth_teller

I am the truth teller in my family. Because of that I have been scapegoated and disowned. I’m well aware of the possibility of my family seeing this, but due to the indifference I’ve been able to develop toward them (which I think is healthier than the hatred and rage I used to feel), I can now say this without guilt. It’s also the only way I can ever “communicate” with them about how I really feel, as if that would make any difference. It won’t, but at least they will know, and they should know. I’ve hesitated about ever writing a post like this, but I’ve kept this inside too long, and need to get it out there for all to see. That’s what this blog is for, after all.  It’s about MY life, not theirs.

1. I was trained by my family to be a victim (scapegoated child). I was never given the emotional tools to do well in life, or much financial help either after I turned 18. My family had money, but would not pay for my college education. I had to pay for it myself and take out loans. (My father did pay for my son’s college education. I’m not bitter about this but grateful at least he got help).

2. I live in poverty because I lacked those emotional and survival tools to do well on my own. I have had extremely low self esteem my entire life and felt incompetent in most things because of the way I was treated. In addition to having no confidence and being painfully shy (which is a handicap out in the world today), I also can’t connect in any meaningful way with people, so I am all alone in my 50s as well as poor.

3. My family, who still has money, refuses to help me. Not that they should have to at my age, and not that I would ask, but they never have (except during the few times they were shamed into it by people in authority, but I won’t get into that here because it’s irrelevant). In loving families, when a child, no matter how old, is struggling, everyone pitches in to help. That doesn’t mean support them forever, just help them get back on their feet so they can make a fresh start. But my family isn’t normal. My mistakes are not tolerated. I failed to meet their unrealistic standards of perfection, so I don’t deserve a second chance. But this shouldn’t surprise me. They are a family of narcissists, both covert and overt, with my mother at the helm. Others in the family live well and get help when they need it. But not me.

4. I have been disowned, even though I was a “good kid” who never got in serious trouble, didn’t do drugs, get in trouble with the law, etc. No, I wasn’t “easy” (I had lots of BPD and complex PTSD episodes and severe mood swings), but overall, I wasn’t a bad kid, just really fucked up in the head. They hold it against me that I “went back” to my sociopathic malignant NPD ex, even though I was so victimized at the time I felt like I had no other choice. I felt like I had nowhere else to go. But I think I would have been disowned anyway, because I was the scapegoat of the family and singled out for this treatment when it became clear I was the one who saw through all the lies and bullshit.  Even though I’m no longer with my sociopathic ex, as far as I know, I’m still written out of the will.  No one ever tells me anything.

4. My mother has triangulated against me and turned the entire family against me so everyone thinks I’m crazy and evil and wants nothing to do with me. She has actually told her relatives I deserve nothing and “brought this on myself.” No one in the family (except my children and my father) talks to me.  (My mother and I do exchange cards, but they are very generic and impersonal).   I’m never invited to any family functions. I’m grateful at least my kids  know I’m not this horrible person the rest of the family thinks I am. Actually, they told me they think I was a good mother who did the best I could with what I had to work with.  That means a lot.

4. They throw their disdain and contempt toward “the poor” in my face all the time, quoting Tea Party screeds about how all poor people are lazy and leeches on society and deserve to be poor. This is done to shame me and make me feel like an outsider, which of course I am.

scapegoat_child

I try not to be bitter about all this, but it’s so hard sometimes. To survive, I had to become indifferent toward them and think of them as pathetic little victims themselves, otherwise the rage would have destroyed me. Actually, I do have love for my father, who I do believe loves me. But he’s under the thrall of the rest of the narcs, who keep telling him how useless, crazy, and undeserving I am.

That’s what I get for being the truth teller in my family. The one who can see through all the bullshit.

Until I found the narcissistic abuse community, I felt all alone. I’d never known anyone who was treated this way by their family of origin. But my experience seems to be a common one among so many victims of narcissistic parents. So many of us have “failed at life” because we were never given the tools to do well, or allowed to develop any self confidence. We were always told we’d fail at anything we ever did and not allowed to try things when we were young. But then later we were blamed for not achieving great things in life. I’ve never seen so many people living in poverty in their 40s and 50s except among other children of narcissistic parents.  Why is it that so many of us don’t discover what we’ve been up against until so late in life?

It’s incredibly painful to realize our own family doesn’t love you and probably never really did.  I used to envy others for their loving families and still do, but it’s time to move on.  Indifference is the only way I can cope with having been rejected by the people who were supposed to love me unconditionally.

I’m getting enraged now so I need to stop writing this and go back to being indifferent.

Further reading:

Why Family Scapegoats Become Lifelong Victims

It’s All About Image: The Skewed Values of Narcissistic Families

 

Are HSPs really targets for bullies?

authenticity

(Edited from the original 3/25/15 post)

People who are highly sensitive are often targets for bullies, but it’s not high sensitivity itself that leads to the bullying. It’s because of the dismally low self esteem that tends to go along with being an HSP, especially if we were raised by narcissists. Sadly, for such victimized children, they often find more of the same at school and this only exacerbates their already low self esteem, leaving them open to further abuse.

Narcissists envy and fear high sensitivity.

narcissist_face

Narcissists hate high sensitivity in others for two reasons: 1. They envy it because it’s something they can’t have or may have lost as children and it’s a sign of an authentic person, which is something they aren’t but wish they were; and 2. they fear it, because they know this quality makes it possible for to zero in on the emptiness hiding under the narcissist’s guise.

Their hatred and fear is expressed through love bombing followed by bullying and other forms of abuse meant to weaken the HSP. An HSP’s fragile ego can be destroyed or greatly diminished after years of bullying and abuse.

Sharon: an HSP who carried a can of Narc Repellent.

narc_repellent

I was thinking about a woman I used to know named Sharon.  She was an empathetic young woman who felt everything so deeply–but mostly joy and love.  She’s exquisitely sensitive but is also self confident (she was raised by very loving parents). She is comfortable enough with herself to show her vulnerability openly, allowing herself the liberty to feel all her emotions as well as share the emotions of her friends.

You might think Sharon is a magnet for bullies, but she’s not.  She makes friends easily because she has such a loving and positive presence and and people feel like she cares about them, and she likes herself too (without being at all narcissistic). They are right.

Narcissists avoid Sharon like the plague. Why? They would probably love to get their hooks into her if they could, but Sharon’s confidence in herself and easygoing comfort around all kinds of people scares them right off. While still being emotionally vulnerable, Sharon is invulnerable to narcissists because they sense her strength. She’s indestructible and they know it. As a result Sharon is never victimized and tends to attract other loving people as her friends, people who just want to be around her because she’s a lot of fun but can also cry with you if that’s what you need.

If you’re a highly sensitive adult whose self esteem has been destroyed by narcissistic abuse or a sensitive kid who has become insecure and fearful because of bullying, your high sensitivity will be expressed very differently than someone like Sharon.

Sensitive children do get tested by school bullies, and it’s harder to not let that damage your self image when you’re so young, especially if your parents are also bullies and have already done a number on your self esteem. But for an adult, most people will admire emotional openness and vulnerability or at least respect it–as long as they also know you respect and love yourself. People can sense when you’re comfortable in your own skin and narcs will stay far away, because they’re only attracted to codependent types who are unsure of themselves or their place in the world.

Being highly sensitive: a curse or a blessing?

blessing

A sensitive person who hates herself will tend to act in ways that attract mean people and bullies to them. They are unsure of themselves, fearful, easily depressed or discouraged, easily hurt, easily frustrated, paranoid, hypervigilant, and insecure. They are afraid of everything, and like ravenous wolves, narcissists can smell their fear. They see this–not the underlying sensitivity–as weakness, and they will horn in on such a person for narcissistic supply or bullying because they’re an easy mark who will be too afraid to call them out on their abuse.

Things are very different for a sensitive person with high self esteem. Such a person will be appreciative, insightful, observant, compassionate, forgiving (but not stupidly forgiving), affectionate, creative, a good listener, empathetic, and with a well developed (but never mean or sarcastic) sense of humor. They are not fearful and they know their place in the world. They have a clear sense of their own boundaries (and those of others) and know how to enforce them if they think they’re being violated. They attract people like themselves as friends and lovers and these relationships tend to be self-reinforcing for both parties.

Narcissists know a strong HSP is powerful and dangerous to them.

scare_narcs

Malignant narcissists stay away from self-confident HSPs, because they know they’re much stronger than they are. They know they’re dealing with an authentic person who is happy with themselves and with life, while they are anything but. They know a confident HSP (not the same thing as narcissism) has a laser-like ability to see through their mask without fear and won’t hesitate to call them out when it’s necessary. To a malignant narcissist, a self-confident HSP is a very dangerous and powerful person. That’s why they work so hard to destroy our self confidence and make us hate and doubt ourselves. If we’re crippled by abuse, they can still get what they need from us (supply), without running the risk of having any damage done to them.

As my confidence has grown over these past two years, I’m noticing a transformation of my lifelong high sensitivity from something that made me feel weak and helpless for most of my life into something that makes me feel strong and authentic. I know now that this “curse” and “weakness” I was born with is really a blessing and a strength. I just needed to develop enough confidence to be able to use it effectively.

Learning to love your high sensitivity.

dancing

Here’ a few things I have learned.

1. If you have a talent or skill in one of the arts, use it to express what you’re really feeling. Painting, singing, dancing, writing, poetry–can all be ways we can release our deepest emotions in a “safe” way that’s socially acceptable. Don’t hold anything back when creating art, performing or writing. Allow yourself to be vulnerable even if it feels weird and awkward at first.

2. If you don’t have an artistic talent, take up a hobby that speaks to you or get involved in a sport such as running or take a martial arts class, which can build confidence. Activities that center you and build both inner and outer strength, such as yoga, can be helpful too.

3. Always be 100% honest about your emotions. If you’re very shy or fearful, write down your thoughts and feelings in a private journal. Don’t worry about the quality of writing–that’s all just gravy. The main point is to get your feelings down on paper. Seeing your thoughts on paper (or a computer screen) will give you clarity. If you choose to blog publicly instead, you will gain confidence from expressing your most private feelings to the whole world and from the feedback from others you will get. It can be very scary to publicly post something you wouldn’t tell your next door neighbor (as I have now twice this week!), but believe me, it’s worth it. You’ll be amazed at how much doing such a thing will increase your confidence and sense of inner strength. At first you’ll feel like you’re running around naked in public, but you’ll be amazed by the sense of freedom and liberation running around naked can give you! 🙂

4. Every day, try to do one nice thing for someone other than yourself. If you’re really ambitious, you can try volunteer work to help the poor, homeless, children, animals, or anyone more vulnerable or less fortunate than yourself. In doing so, you will feel like you have a purpose, and that you can help others. Knowing you have made someone happier will raise your self esteem.

5. Listen to music whenever you can.  It’s second only to writing and blogging in my healing journey.

6. Surround yourself with positive people (not the same thing as positive-thinking nazis, who are often narcissists themselves) but authentic, happy people who accept you for who you are and don’t judge you.

7. Get narcissists away from you. No Contact is best, but is not always possible. If you can’t separate from your narcissist, read as much about their disorder as you can, and read about PTSD and complex PTSD and the devastating effects these character disordered people can have on the rest of us. Read books about highly sensitive people. Elaine Aron’s The Highly Sensitive Person is probably the best known (and an excellent book) but there are other books about HSPs too. Write down your feelings in a journal your narcissist cannot access.

8. Try prayer. It does work.

Self-sabotage.

self_sabotage1
I think I had an interesting therapy session last night. I was talking to my therapist about the way my father stole the little illustrated stories I wrote when I was about 7 (which I wrote about in this article). This long ago incident seems to have set the tone for my entire life, because after I’d realized my intensely personal little creations (that were intended for no eyes but my own) were stolen, I felt overcome with shame and I felt as violated as if I’d been raped (and I have been raped so I can vouch for the similar feeling of violation). I remember what I did with those little books after I stole them back: I destroyed them.

This has been a refrain throughout my entire life.  It’s like that song you hate that keeps playing in your head until you’re ready to shoot yourself in the head to make it go away.  During my session last night, I made this connection: whenever I felt there was a threat of something that came from my true self (usually related to my creativity which meant being vulnerable) being violated or taken away, I sought to destroy it. Sometimes this “destruction” simply meant losing interest in whatever it was or giving it up. When I was 19, I had some expensive camera equipment and loved to take pictures as a hobby. When my 35mm camera (which I’d saved for months for) got stolen one day, I gave up photography. Only recently, have I been taking pictures again (on a crappy Smartphone).

self-sabotage2

But there are other examples where something wasn’t literally stolen from me as my camera was or my illustrated books were, but where my boundaries were violated (or I perceived them to be violated, or believed they were about to be violated). I’ve never stuck with anything I loved doing for too long, because sooner or later it wasn’t just “mine” anymore and it was either held up for judgment, or criticized (to me, these feel like boundary violations and make me feel too vulnerable). For several months I’ve been struggling with trying to figure out why I’ve been losing interest in blogging, which has been so life-changing for me and has brought me so much happiness. I realized it was because “running naked in public,” while incredibly liberating and having many rewards, also means you’re vulnerable to judgment and criticism. I don’t know how to handle judgment and criticism. I take everything too personally; any sort of criticism is a personal assault–again, like being raped. Even worse is having to deal with trolls and bullies, which feels like gang rape (and reminds me of my childhood at the hands of bullies both at school and at home).

A person with a healthy sense of self and normal self esteem might feel somewhat offended by a hurtful comment, but would be able to move on from that and wouldn’t give up or find themselves losing interest in something they’re passionate about. They might even fight back or take a stand. But when I’m attacked, or even criticized, I get triggered and become the defenseless and helpless child I used to be (and that I rejected a long time ago). I can’t handle reality, which means confronting both the good and the bad. And so to avoid being “raped” again, I’ve turned off my ability to be interested by much of anything at all (and then resent the hell out of whoever I feel violated me). That way, I don’t put myself at risk of being judged, which in my mind always leads to being rejected. Tied in with this is the fear of failure: I was raised to believe I was incompetent, so if I don’t attempt anything, I can’t really fail at it. Right? But the bottom line is, hiding behind my fear of failure is a absolute terror of being found defective, and hence rejected.

I don’t know whether this unfortunate tendency of mine is indicative of BPD, C-PTSD, or Covert NPD or something else (I do not know what my therapist has diagnosed me with and I’m afraid to ask), but I think writing about this is a step in the right direction. I want to explore this further when I see my therapist again and am going to show him this post (he knows I have a blog and write about psychology and NPD, but I haven’t shared the link with him yet).

On people pleasing.

people_pleasing

I think most of us who were exposed to narcissistic abuse for any length of time learn to become people pleasers, always deferring to our “betters” (the narcissists) and becoming human doormats. People pleasing is known by many terms, but “codependent” in particular comes to mind. It’s an extremely unhealthy way to live.

All my life I’ve been a people pleaser. ‘ve always been terrified of saying “no.” I’ve always gone along with things I didn’t like just to keep the peace. The problem with being a people pleaser is that it tends to attract further abuse (they know we’re pushovers so they’ll up the ante); and potential abusers can “smell us out.” People pleasing also never really pleases anyone. Someone is always going to be displeased, even if it’s only ourselves. Chances are, the person you’re trying so hard to win the approval of is going to find something wrong with what you’re doing for them anyway, especially if they’re narcissists.

People who try too hard to please everyone–like politicians who can’t commit fully to either liberal or conservative stances because they’re too afraid of the disapproval of either side, wind up alienating everyone. It comes off as insincere–and it is. You just know they’re hiding something.

people-pleaser

I remember the first time I realized how fake I was being while engaged in people-pleasing. I was about 9 or 10. We were visiting some relatives in another state and my uncle had a collection of decoy ducks he was very proud of. I could have cared less, but because I’d been raised to always be polite, I faked intense interest in his hobby. In fact, my “act” was so extreme he really thought I was interested and kept talking to me about his ducks even though I wanted to scream at him to shut up already. It’s fine to be polite and civil, but I was so afraid he would “discover” my boredom with his hobby that I went above and beyond-and felt absolutely disgusted with myself later. Of course that didn’t stop the people pleasing. No one living in constant terror and shame the way I did would be able to stop.

Freedom from the “people pleasing” game where you always wind up losing doesn’t mean not helping others or being cold and selfish. People pleasing is very disordered and even narcissistic in itself–because you’re trying to please others to get approval or love, not because you really care about their feelings or well-being. You don’t need empathy to be a people-pleaser, just a weak and beaten down ego that makes you grovel like a dog for a treat. People pleasing is actually a central feature of several personality disorders–BPD, Avoidant PD, Dependent PD, and Covert Narcissism.

Unlike people pleasing, true caring and altruistic feelings for others are not about pleasing people–they’re random acts of kindness that come from an authentic and confident person’s heart, and nothing about it is fake. I’m working toward this too. Right now I’m still caught up in the fear of displeasing anyone and the ramifications that has for me. It’s very self-centered.

In summary, people pleasing is about lies–it’s all about trying to boost a shaky self esteem and it’s about as fake and inauthentic as you can get.