The 5 stages of narcissistic abuse recovery.

freedom

I went No Contact with my sociopathic NPD/ASPD ex in February, 2014 — almost three years ago. Enough time has elapsed that I’ve seen that there are several stages one goes through on the way to recovery and healing. There does seem to be a clear pattern that I’ve seen in both myself and in others. The order of these stages never varies, though the circumstances may vary. Unfortunately, many people get “stuck” at a particular stage and can’t seem to move to the next one.

1.  Numbness/codependency.
A person at this stage is still living with or involved with their abuser(s). They are in a state not unlike a victim of brainwashing or an active cult member. They have been led to believe (through the manipulations of the abuser — gaslighting, projection, isolation, and all the rest) that they are worthless, crazy, stupid, and the one at fault for all that has gone wrong. They question their own sanity because they have been told by the abuser that everything they believe is not true. They may even identify with their abuser (codependency) or look to them as their only reason for living. At this stage, they will do anything for the abuser, and can’t figure out why they feel so depressed and why their lives (and possibly even their health) is falling apart and everyone seems to have turned against them, sometimes even their own families.  They blame themselves, and have no idea that this is something being done to them by their abuser. A person at this stage may have shut off their ability to feel any emotions, and tell themselves (and may even believe) that this is normal.  Suicide is a real possibility.

2. Righteous anger and No Contact.
If an abuse victim is lucky, they will reach a point where they realize they have been abused, and that they are not the one at fault. Usually, this leads to righteous anger, and the victim may begin to express this. Because you can’t reason with an abuser, and they will not tolerate your honing in on the truth, in most cases the victim will realize they need to break away from the abuser. The anger the victim feels overrides the fear, depression, and numbness they felt previously, and gives them the motivation to do what they need to do to get away. In some cases, such as when there are children, going No Contact may be more complicated and it may be only possible to go very low contact.

The rage the victim feels may remain for a time (some longer than others). This is the stage that many narcissistic abuse bloggers are at when they begin to write about what happened to them. While unremitting rage will eventually poison the soul if the danger has passed and it has nowhere left to go, it’s still a lot healthier than remaining stuck in an abusive relationship and slowly dying a soul-death.

Unfortunately, many survivors seem to remain stuck at this stage. It almost seems as if the anger becomes a sort of addiction.  But I won’t write about that here;  I have other posts about that.

3. Asking questions, seeking answers.
At some point (for most people), the rage (which served its purpose) burns itself out. Some survivors grow weary of the unremitting hatred toward the personality-disordered and seek to understand the behaviors of those who caused them so much pain instead, while still remaining No Contact with abusers. They may spend time reading about the disorders of their abusers, and otherwise educating themselves. In time, this gives them a more balanced perspective, while they still acknowledge how dangerous such people can be. During this time, the survivor also learns how to navigate the world and relationships with better boundaries, practice being mindful, and also is better able to detect red flags to avoid being abused again (this may have begun during Stage 2).

4.  Looking inward, self awareness.
It’s not until a survivor can forgive their abusers (while never forgetting the harm they caused) that the healing can truly begin. Survivors continue to practice having good (or at least better) boundaries, and practice being mindful.

At the same time they may begin to look inside themselves to see what their own role(s) might have been in the abuse they endured. They may realize they tend to be codependent, or didn’t set good boundaries (usually because they were never trained to have good boundaries by their own abusive parents) or in some cases, may even be personality-disordered themselves (this kind of self-awareness can come as a huge shock but isn’t possible as long as a person is stuck in anger and hatred).

Though the survivor might have played some role in the abuse they endured, this doesn’t mean what happened was their fault or that they could have stopped it. The self-defeating behaviors and/or codependency that led to a person becoming a victim are almost always unconscious and programmed into the person during early childhood by abusive parents.

It’s during this stage that a survivor will often decide to enter therapy or some other type of psychological or spiritual counseling (this can happen as early as Stage 3).

5.  Coming together.
This last stage is when an abuse survivor begins to put all the pieces together, begins to understand the complicated dynamics between abusers and victims, and in some cases, becomes able to to use their own experience to consciously help others heal, even seeing what happened to them as a kind of blessing.   It’s at this stage that real freedom and happiness can finally be achieved  because the person has developed a sufficiently strong sense of self that is no longer attracted to (or attractive to) abusers.

I believe I’m somewhere between stages 4 and 5, though I have frequent relapses.  Remember: relapse is part of recovery!  Don’t beat yourself up.

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Dear Father…

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“Dear Father” by Taming the Tiger

I usually shy away from anything too spiritual or religious, because I do realize many of my readers are atheist, agnostic, or of differing faiths–and I respect their right to believe as they wish.   But today in church when the priest asked us to “add our own prayers,” I felt inspired to pray a particular prayer that has great meaning to me, for a myriad of reasons.   I would like to share it here, so maybe others can join me in prayer for these things that are so important to me.

*****

Dear Father,

You have created us all in your own image. I don’t believe you have left anyone out of your great bounty and the hope for eternal life, in spite of what some Christians and others believe.      I don’t believe that Christ’s death on the cross was a “limited atonement” meant only for a select few (as Calvinists believe).   I believe he died for us all, and offers all of us the chance for redemption and healing, no matter how hopeless things may seem.

PTSD, C-PTSD, and narcissistic abuse survivors.

God, please shower your grace and compassion on all victims of narcissistic abuse and all people suffering from PTSD and C-PTSD, that they may find comfort in your arms and be able to trust again, realize that there is still goodness in the world, and eventually, that they may find loving, healthy relationships and friendships that do not turn abusive.  Many survivors have turned to you when everyone else seemed to be turning away from them and rejecting them, and found that you were there and were listening.  But many, especially if they were rejected or scapegoated by their own families, are so damaged they have trouble trusting anyone at all, even You.   Please give them the courage to turn to you when things are at their darkest and it seems like they have no allies.  Please help them to trust you, and to heal from abuse, regain their sense of self worth and self-esteem,  and be whole and happy again. Please show them that what happened to them didn’t happen in vain, and that they are so much stronger than they realize because of the adversity they had to face.  Please let them feel the loving arms of Jesus Christ holding and protecting them from harm.  Guide them on the path to become whole again, and to use what they learned to help others heal, should that be your will for them.

Also, although anger is a necessary stage of healing (in order to leave an abusive situation or person), please allow victims who become trapped in their anger and hatred to be able to move on from it, because only then will healing be possible.   I’ve seen too many survivors who remain so mired in rage that they take on the traits of their abusers and acquire a victim mentality that does not allow them to move forward in their journey to healing.

As for myself, please don’t let me stray from the path you have set me on, which is beginning to be revealed to me. Please don’t allow me to become bogged down by envy, selfishness, or pride.   Don’t allow me to let my own will get in the way of what you have planned for me, for whenever I have forced my own will, it always turned out to be all wrong.

People with NPD, BPD and other Cluster B disorders.

God, please show these broken people who have made so many bad choices and act out toward others–usually because as children they were shamed for their own vulnerability by abusive caregivers or parents–that they do not need to rely on primitive defense mechanisms, abusive or aggressive behavior, or a “false self” in order to survive and be happy.   Please show them the beauty of their own inner vulnerability and that being sensitive can be a great strength and is never a weakness.   Please lift the scales from their eyes and show them that the things they have learned to believe about themselves and others are lies–and the truth is the opposite of what they have always believed.  Please remove the fear and shame  keeps them trapped inside cold, dark walls that separate them from their own vulnerability and the light of your grace.   If there’s a glimmer of their original soul left in them, please help that spark grow like a mustard seed within them and burn away the darkness that surrounds it.  Make them aware that their defense mechanisms are only allowing them to live the stunted, painful life of an emotional cripple, and that by jettisoning authentic feeling, they also jettison love, empathy and joy. With fewer people with narcissism and other “predatory” disorders in the world, there will be fewer abuse victims too.

In particular, please make my mother aware of what has happened to her (due to no fault of her own) and what she became, even at her very advanced age.   Even if it’s too late for her to be healed, at least remove the scales from her eyes and allow her the grace of redemption.

Our increasingly narcissistic society. 

Over the past 30 – 40 years, our western society–especially in America–has become increasingly cold, callous, lacking in empathy and compassion, materialistic, hubristic, and narcissistic.   Wealth and power are valued over compassion and love.   Individual achievement is valued over community involvement.   Greed and an “I got mine!” attitude is valued over altruism and compassion for the less fortunate.

Even families buy into this lie to the point of scapegoating family members who fail to “keep up” (or who are vulnerable or attempt to expose the family dysfunction).    Intolerance of those who are different, hatred, and racism abound.   Every day people die because they are the wrong color, wrong religion, or have a lifestyle that the Powers That Be believe is wrong.  Our society is like a huge dysfunctional family, complete with its narcissistic and abusive leaders, its golden children, and its scapegoats.  This should not be the case.  God,  please heal the hatred and fear that permeate our society and keeps people from being neighborly and charitable toward one another.  Please make dysfunctional families whole and healthy again, and give the scapegoats of both society and of dysfunctional families relief from their suffering and pain.  Make “the least of these” realize they are as worthwhile and valuable to you as the powerful ruling class who seems to have every earthly thing.

I ask these things in the name of your son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

“Will the real victim please stand up?”

Some narcissists (especially if they’e covert) pretend to be victims of narcissistic abuse. How do you know, when someone tells you they have been abused, if they are telling the truth, or if they are just trying to manipulate you and get your sympathy so they can use and abuse you themselves later?  It can be hard to tell. This article explains the telltale signs of an impostor and how their behavior differs from that of a real victim.

Comments have been disabled; please leave comments under the original post.

Will The Real Victim Please Stand Up?

Reblog from After Narcissistic Abuse

true-vs-false-victim

It’s NOT EASY using the V word.

Personally, I don’t LIKE it. It’s not a word I’ve used to describe myself through very many situations in my life, because I am the kind of person who takes responsibility for things that happen to me. While, I certainly had choices and consequences (thus responsibility) in my relationship with a narcissist as an adult – it is the only experience I think the V label accurately describes and depicts.

I was caught unaware. I was told things that weren’t true. By relying on those things, I made decisions that put me in harms way. I was sold a bill of goods and promises by a person who was well aware that they had no intention of ever delivering on those promises nor being capable of being a good person towards me, so that he could use me for things that benefited one person in the “relationship”: THE NARCISSIST.

This being said, I don’t throw this word “Victim” around LIGHTLY. I think that the topic of FALSE VICTIM claims by narcissists should be evaluated with a more discerning eye when considering the damage and injustice done by a narcissist to the lives that their false allegations destroy.

Let’s examine the traits of a well-trained pathological liar, a narcissist; with a history of duping others and manipulating to avoid responsibility vs a credible, honest, albeit “emotional” target of the narcissist.

False Victim vs. True Victim

1.  Flat Affect.

A FALSE VICTIM isn’t emotionally vibrant and attached to the events which they are sharing that were abusive. They appear as if they’ve just gotten back from a calming vacation. Very smooth. Cool. Detached.

Whereas, a TRUE VICTIM will appear FRAZZLED, RUFFLED and SPENT. They’ll cry hysterically, appear jumpy, nervous and afraid. They’ll space out then come back to the conversation with shocking emotion. They have an urgency with their speech and inflection and it will be PEPPERED with emotions that are all over the place. There are instances of true victims of narcissists who are completely detached and disengaged; hopelessly depressed with a flat affect from the abuse. There will still be evidence of victimization in that “spaced out” appearance not like the cold, cool demeanor of a lying narcissist.

TRUE VICTIMS experience the grieving process. Shock. Denial. Anger. moving all the way through acceptance. Whereas a FALSE VICTIM will appear to get over the emotions of the experience rather quickly. They don’t appear to dwell, (ruminate / obsess) over the “abusive” experiences.

Read the rest of the warning signs in the original post.

A time for peace: my last post

Don’t panic–this isn’t about my blog.

I just discovered Katie’s incredible blog a few short months ago, but I feel like we’re kindred spirits, and she has taught me so, so, SO much!

I don’t even know Katie’s last name (or even if this is her real first name) or where she lives.  I don’t know what she looks like.  I do not have her email address. Yet I feel like we could be sisters–or lifelong friends.

The other day in another post, I quoted a Zen proverb: “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Katie was a teacher who came into my life at exactly the right time, and helped me resolve my issues with forgiveness and my guilt feelings over having “forgiven” the narcissists who abused me. Others have told me I shouldn’t. I was at a crossroads. But Katie’s beautifully written posts did something few other bloggers have been able to do–they brought me to tears: healing tears.  Because what she writes about is always exactly what I need at the time I read it, and her words are like poetry. Her blog let me know that forgiveness is not only okay, it’s what God wants. It’s the only way to emotional freedom.

Katie, if you read this, I do hope you’ll come back sometime and write again. In the meantime, PLEASE leave your blog posts up. Someone who needs them (as I did) may stumble across them in a month, a year, 3 years, even 10–and find comfort and answers through your blog.  There are many narcissist abuse blogs out there in cyberspace, but there’s only one  Dreams of a Better World.   I’d like to stay in touch with you. You can find my email in the “contact me” information.

The awkwardness of being a Borderline ACON.

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I won’t lie.  It’s incredibly awkward being a blogger who blogs about two things that seem diametrically opposed to many people in the narcissistic abuse community:  being a victim of narcissists, and having a Cluster B disorder (BPD).   To those of you who aren’t familiar with the ACON (adult children of narcissists) blogosphere,  there are a few ACON bloggers (not too many on WordPress, fortunately) who seem to think if you have BPD then you can’t also be an abuse victim and certainly shouldn’t be blogging about it.  Because, you see, if you have BPD then you are one of the soulless abusers.  If you are any kind of “cluster B person” blogging about abuse, then of it follows that you must have an “agenda.”  What that agenda is is never specified though.

I have been accused of many things, none of which are pretty, and few of which are true. Most are crass generalizations made out of ignorance and a refusal to think outside the box or consider that not everything is all black or all white or that all people can be shoved into a box. .   Here are just a few of the things I’ve been accused of.

  1. I have an “agenda” and dishonest motives.
  2. I am not really an abuse victim.
  3. I am being paid off or otherwise compensated  other people (like Sam Vaknin) or psychiatric organizations (like the APA) to promote my “evil” views and blur the lines between Cluster B disorders and complex PTSD caused by abuse.
  4. I’m “evil.”
  5. I’m crazy.
  6. I’m confused.
  7. I only care about being “popular”
  8. As a Borderline, I have “no right” to be writing posts about narcissistic abuse.

To these accusations,  here are my responses:

  1. Um, no.  I’m not clear what “agenda” it is I’d be trying to promote. My only “agenda” is healing for myself, fun (because I love to write), and hopefully, helping a few others along the way.
  2. I guess some people never really read this blog because it’s filled with personal accounts of narcissistic abuse by both my family of origin and my ex-husband.   Oh, that’s right.  I’m just making it all up. 🙄   I couldn’t make up these accounts if I tried.  I try not to dwell too much on the abuse though, because doing that doesn’t help me and only makes me miserable.  That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, though.
  3. This really makes me scratch my head.   It almost makes me laugh how far a few people are reaching by saying this.  The only monetary compensation I get is about $30 – $40 a month from running ads on this blog.   I still live in poverty and I don’t have any kind of shady business dealings with any organization or person.  I write this blog because I want to.
  4. That’s quite a value judgment there.   You don’t even know me.   I don’t point fingers and call anyone evil unless I have real good reason to, and even then I’m hesitant because I don’t want to be a judgmental person (I can’t stand judgmental people).   I think it’s always better to use the term “evil” for actions, not people.   I guess this idea that I’m evil is because I’m zOMG “Cluster B.”  I’m not a narcissist (even if I do have a few of the traits) and I’m not antisocial and I do have empathy and an almost excessively strong conscience.   But some people have the idea that even if you’re a self-aware borderline who practices mindfulness, you’re still as bad as one of the narcs.  “Sociopath” is another thing I’ve been called but it means pretty much the same thing.
  5. Maybe there’s a bit of truth to this.  After all, I do have four mental disorders–BPD, complex PTSD,  Avoidant PD, and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  I can act pretty crazy sometimes too.   But at least I’m self-aware crazy and can see myself pretty objectively and control my urges to act crazy when they get out of hand. But just because you don’t agree with me doesn’t mean I’m crazy.  I just have a different opinion than you do.  Deal with it.
  6. There’s also some truth to this.    It is VERY confusing being both an abuse victim and having a Cluster B disorder, even though the Cluster B disorder was caused by abuse!   And like it or not, I DO think BPD and complex PTSD are almost the same disorder.   Of course, this is just my opinion and no one’s paying me off or brainwashing me to “blur the lines.”
  7. No.  My primary motive in blogging is healing myself and helping people.   A secondary motive is fun.    Yes, of course I look at my stats and always get a small thrill when they’re growing, but I don’t write to be popular or famous.  Yes, I’d like to write a book someday and be able to make a living from my writing, but who wouldn’t?   Even if I never make a penny from my writings and even if no one read my blog, I’d still be doing it because it’s something I really like to do.
  8. As a Borderline, I *AM*  victim of narcissitic abuse.  (see reply #6).  ANYONE who was an abuse victim and wants to heal from the damage they endured has EVERY right to blog about it, and yes, that even includes people with self aware NPD!

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“Me and My Evil Crazy Me” (Minecraft image by Sonatathesiren)

I know my opinions are sometimes controversial and won’t sit well with everyone, but unless I’m presented with a convincing argument to discard my personal beliefs and opinions, they aren’t going to change.   I ‘m a critical thinker who likes to explore all angles of an issue and then form my own opinions when I’ve gathered enough information.  I’ve always walked to the beat of my own drummer, rather than mindlessly following what other people tell me I “should” do or believe.   Being a “lone wolf” who walks to the beat of my own drummer and refuses to conform to the “popular” view is one of the biggest reasons why I was ostracized by so many people all my life–including my own family.  But you know what?  I don’t care.  This is who I am and I’m going to keep running with it.     I seriously don’t understand why people who dislike my opinions and views so much keep reading my posts anyway if it’s only going to make them angry.  No one is forcing my opinions on those people. Just hit the backspace button!  It’s easy.

I’m aware some people have a problem with this because it doesn’t fit into the almost cult-like mentality I’ve seen among certain (fortunately only a few) ACON bloggers. If you piss them off, be prepared to be mobbed. Maybe they’ll leave you alone on your own blog but make no mistake–they will be trashing you and your character on their own blogs. At the same time, there are so many more people (and bloggers) who appreciate my reluctance to put people into boxes and think in only black and white terms.  There are many beautiful shades of grey in between the extremes.  That’s one of the best takeaways of moving away from BPD black and white thinking and replacing that with critical thinking and mindfulness.  If that’s evil and crazy, then evil and crazy I guess I will be.   But I really don’t think it is.

balance

Many people have told me my more open-minded approach has been refreshing and has helped them come to terms with the abuse they had to endure and move past the rage and anger they felt coming out of their abusive relationships, or when they went No Contact. At the same time, one of my aims has become reducing the awful stigma against people suffering from BPD. It’s a delicate balance, but I don’t think it’s undoable.

Being a borderline and a trauma victim who writes about narcissistic abuse issues as well as my own (and other) cluster B disorders,  it’s sometimes a delicate balance.   But they are not mutually exclusive.   I  feel driven to write  about my disorders as they relate to my abuse and attempt to reconcile them because I need to for my own sanity and healing.

What’s my problem?

confused

After over a month of being convinced I’m a covert narcissist, now I’m starting to wonder if my assessment of myself could be incorrect. Most people are having trouble believing me (even good friends) and there are so many disorders that appear similar to it. I no longer think my symptoms are due to Aspergers the way I used to, but BPD + Avoidant PD in the same person can look exactly like covert NPD. So can complex PTSD in some cases.

I’ve been told again and again that real narcissists are unlikely to ever admit they are narcissists, and if they do, they won’t be beating themselves up that much over it. I don’t know if that’s always true (I’ve met a few low spectrum covert narcissists on Psychforums who actually have a diagnosis and feel terrible about things they’ve done and want to change, but maybe the diagnosis they got is wrong and they just have more than the normal amount of N traits). Victims of narcissistic abuse are often quick to diagnose narcissism in themselves and others. We’re hypervigilant and tend to see narcissism everywhere, and we don’t even exempt ourselves. The real narcissists are probably more likely to keep insisting that they are not. Abuse victims think too damn much. It’s all very confusing.

narcissism_selfies

I guess there was a reason why I never added “Covert NPD” to “My Disorders” in the header. Without an official diagnosis for that, I really can’t say that’s what my problem is. It could be, but if so I think it’s at a low level. I know I have a number of narcissistic traits, but most abuse victims do. That doesn’t necessarily mean I have NPD, covert or otherwise. I could just have a really bad case of “fleas,” or just BPD + AvPD, or even complex PTSD.

I’m still glad I started Down The Rabbit Hole because it’s also intended for people with BPD, which I have an actual diagnosis for. I still think my “trip down the rabbit hole” early in August was real but that doesn’t necessarily mean I have NPD. It was still a trip to the walled off parts of my mind, and most abuse victims are at least partly walled off from themselves. We may be partially narcissistic but not enough to qualify for the label.

I care about people with low spectrum NPD and BPD who want to heal or improve, so that’s another reason I’m going to keep DTRH going. It’s getting a good reception. Another one of my missions is to help reduce the negative stigma against people with BPD. I don’t ever expect DTRH to gain the amount of activity this blog has received, but if only one or two people can be helped by my posts, and I can help myself by continuing to do exactly what I’ve been doing, then it’s worth it to keep it going, isn’t it?

Really, at the end of the day, all these labels are just labels and don’t really mean anything at all.

To everything there is a season…

seasons

There seem to be three different kinds of people in the world. Those who are fake-positive, always wearing a plastered on smile and never admitting to failure or to their true emotions; those who walk around wearing their misery like a badge of honor; and everyone else.

Before I became active in the narcissistic abuse community, I really only met the first type of person and the third. I’m all too well acquainted with “positive thinking nazis” — you know, fake and shallow people who don’t want to acknowledge your pain and tell you to “get over it” or “you bring your misery on yourself with your negativity.” These people are often–but not always–narcissists (but even when they aren’t, they are all neurotypicals.) They are good at social skills and making a good impression at all times, and that means they are always smiling. They cannot and will not understand how introverted Aspies like me work–or really, how anyone who has deep emotions and isn’t always happy works. Positive-thinking nazis drive me insane. They lack compassion and understanding. They don’t think or feel deeply–about anything. It seems epidemic these days–people who don’t want to hear your problems because they don’t want to acknowledge that you may be in pain. For them, I don’t think it’s really about “positive thinking” at all. I think it’s about not wanting to be accountable or have to give time to anyone but themselves. They would rather brush your pain under the rug and act as if it’s not there, rather than let it ruin their day.

However, recently I’ve been seeing the opposite too, especially within the narcissistic abuse community. These are the people–usually raised by extremely abusive parents–who seem to wear their victimhood like a badge that proves how deep, emotional or even holy they are. The problem I see with this way of thinking is that they cannot move forward or ever find happiness or peace with themselves. Their Debbie Downer attitudes keep them stuck where they are and they can’t really heal from the abuse that was inflicted on them because they’re trapped in the quicksands of their own misery. A few have even implied that to be a happy person means you aren’t a godly person. They say that being optimistic or believing that God allows suffering or toxic people to come into our lives to strengthen us is a demonic way of thinking, and in fact, that the whole positive thinking movement is a “gift of Satan” in order to fool us.

When I first joined the narcissistic abuse community, I felt like I had finally found like-minded people. I felt like a victim most of the time and my early posts were mostly rants against my narcissists and how much life sucked in general. I couldn’t believe my luck in finding people who thought exactly the way I did–other people whose lives seemed ruined beyond repair due to the damage done to them at the hands of abusive or narcissistic people (usually parents), and that, well…life really sucks. Wow, I thought. There really are others like me! I could relate, and I felt like I was no longer all alone in thinking this way. And at the time, it was exactly the sort of validation I needed. But it wasn’t meant to be permanent!

Recently I’ve been changing and I’m finding myself getting irritated and depressed around people who cling to victimhood like a trophy and refuse to–or can’t–heal from abuse. Don’t get me wrong–I’m not “blaming the victim”–at all–but I have noticed with a great deal of sadness how people who cling to such views don’t seem to be able to heal. Sometimes I think they believe if they let go of their victimhood and allow themselves to pursue and embrace joy, that they are “letting the narcs win.” But in fact, they are letting the narcs win by embracing victimhood because their being happy wasn’t in their abusers’ plans. By stubbornly clinging to their no-hope thinking patterns, they can’t heal and and their abusers get what they want. Because our being happy wasn’t part of the narc’s agenda.

happiness_quote

I have heard some say that happy people who are doing well in life aren’t authentic or “real.” I don’t think this is true, at least not all the time. Yes, I think there is far too much emphasis put on always APPEARING happy and yes, showing human emotions such as sadness, fear or depression seems to have become taboo in our narcissistic society. I don’t agree with that. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sharing our true feelings, even when they’re not positive. But there is a huge difference between an authentically happy person and one who is faking it. A person who has true joy and feels it in their heart is a person other people want to be around, even people like me who get easily annoyed by “goody goodies” who smile too much.

A genuinely happy person is positive about life, but they don’t force their positivity on others, or make others feel guilty for showing real feelings. They don’t victim-blame or tell you it’s your fault you feel the way you do or have the circumstances you are faced with. They know how to listen–without judgment. The few people I have known who are like this are among the most empathetic people I ever met, and it’s because they’re not so caught up in their own issues that they have nothing left to give to others. I knew a girl like this a few years ago. Even though she laughed and smiled a lot, she was never annoying or obnoxious. I used to see her cry a lot too–often for others, because she was so compassionate and she CARED about other people. You could tell she was a person who was able to love deeply. People went to her with their problems because they knew she cared and wanted to help, and would never judge you for feeling down.

I don’t believe this world is our final destination. I believe our fallen nature and sin makes suffering inevitable. But on the other hand, I don’t think God wants us to be miserable either. I don’t buy the phony Joel Osteen brand of fake happiness or the ugly philosophy of the “Prosperity Gospel.” I can’t stand so-called “Christians” who don’t believe in helping the less fortunate because they believe that “poverty is the result of moral failure” or some such BS and is therefore deserved.

But I do think God does want us to be happy while we’re in this world. This planet, as imperfect as it is, is filled with small and not-so-small gifts and they are there for us to enjoy every day–but we won’t be able to appreciate these gifts if we’re too caught up in feeling like we were born only for suffering. It’s okay to smile when you feel like smiling, to be successful at something, to even be prosperous. I certainly am not what anyone would call “successful,” but I won’t condemn anyone else if they’ve found success and happiness–as long as the happiness is authentic and the success was earned honestly. I don’t think anyone needs to consign themselves to always being impoverished or depressed. No one was born to be a victim. I used to believe I was, but now I know I wasn’t–I just needed to open my eyes. Adversity can even be a teacher if you frame it differently. I have learned from my narcs. No, they aren’t good people, but perhaps God placed them in my life to teach me some hard lessons and to lead me to where I am right now as a writer about narcissism and mental health.

Psalm 16 v 11 path of life bible verses on happiness

The obstacles and obstacle-creating people we meet in life aren’t put there by the devil. They may not have been put there by God, but God allows us to find our own way through the obstacles and become stronger through our pain, perhaps so we can “pay it forward” and help someone else in pain.

The idea of there being a purpose for everything in life–the bad along with the good–is Biblical. One of my favorite Bible passages is Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 (KJV):

1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?

10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.

13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.

15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.

16 And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.

17 I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.

18 I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.

19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.

20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

21 Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?

22 Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?

I can’t tell you how many times I have read this and been inspired and comforted by it.
If you feel happy, don’t feel guilty about it! If you don’t, that’s okay too. There’s a time and reason for everything.