What motivates me to keep going.

treasure

A few people have asked me how I remain so motivated to stay in therapy and so determined to become whole one day, in spite of the many setbacks I’ve faced and the inevitable triggers I’ve willingly confronted. Even my therapist has said I’m one of the most motivated clients he’s come across. People wonder if I’m just a sucker for punishment and even have masochistic tendencies.  Why on earth would I want to voluntarily embrace so much psychic pain instead of opting to remain emotionally numb the way I used to be?

I think the number one motivator for me is that I’ve learned to think of the road to wellness as an adventure of the mind and soul, not unlike climbing Mount Everest or exploring the ocean depths.    The only difference is that it doesn’t involve bodily risk. Staying as emotionally dead as I used to be seems as boring as staring at a wall all day.  Now that I’ve seen a glimpse of what I can attain, I never want to go back.  Knowing what I know now about myself, remaining in that particular hell would drive me insane.  So these days, I’d rather face the unpleasant challenges and do battle with them.   None are too big for me to conquer, even though at times they can seem to be.

By nature, I’m not a huge risk taker, but I’ve always been fascinated by the workings of the human mind.  My own mind is like a labyrinth right before my eyes, but within its dark tunnels and crevices I never know when I’ll find some treasure.

Being in therapy for anyone who suffered severe trauma and abuse can be extremely triggering and at times very painful.    I’ve left some sessions and fallen into vast yawning depressions afterward, feeling lost within the emptiness that I always knew was there even before I knew what was really wrong with me.

Faith that a higher power (or God, if you prefer) will show me the way to the treasure chest I know lies deep within is a huge motivator for me, but even now, without knowing exactly where it lies, occasionally I stumble across evidence that I’m getting closer.   A diamond here, an emerald over there, a small vein of gold embedded in the unforgiving granite.   It gives me hope and motivation to keep going.    I no longer doubt that it’s there….somewhere.   All I need is to keep going.   Therapy provides me with a compass to know which direction to go and the assurance that I won’t die trying to find it.   The journey may appear dangerous at times, but I know it never really is.   Staying mindful helps me conquer any fear that I’ve gone too far or too deep.

Discovering things about yourself that you never knew can be really sobering, even upsetting, but it’s also enlightening.   Awareness and insight about your own motivations is the key to healing from anything that plagues the mind and soul.   Self discovery is always fascinating and full of the unexpected.    It may seem like hard work, and it is, but I know the reward will be worth all the pain, and there are enough pleasant surprises along the way to keep me trudging along the rugged trail.   I can do this!    You can too, if you want it badly enough.

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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.

Guest Post: Recovering from NPD: My Journey to Self-Awareness

A very insightful and courageous post written by a woman who once identified only as a narcissistic abuse survivor with a case of “fleas” who later discovered she had NPD herself.  She started a blog and is working hard to change and find real happiness.

My ex might be dying.

redemption

My MN ex may have cancer.   He’s been coughing up blood a lot and has been a heavy smoker for years, and also smokes a lot of weed too.  He’s also been losing a lot of weight.  He tells my daughter he doesn’t think he has much time left.

He’s covered by Medicare (SSDI), but he’s terrified to go see a doctor.    I don’t blame him actually.  I’d be terrified too.

He told my daughter if he has cancer, he just wants to let nature take its course and doesn’t want treatment.  He’s a very high spectrum malignant narcissist, but he hates himself and his life.  What he lives is not a life, it’s an existence.   He’s just marking time until death, and he’s not even that old (he’s 55, but looks 70).

Although I can’t stand him anymore and refuse to have further contact with him, this development makes me feel very sad.   It makes me sad that he allowed his own narcissism to destroy him (as well as almost destroy the people who loved him, including our children).  It makes me sad that he’s isolated himself from his family by driving the people who loved him away, one by one–and will probably die all alone with no one to really care.  His parents are both dead and he has no other close relatives.

It makes me sad that he, like my mother, will most likely die without ever being free of his narcissistic prison.    I am praying for him because although I don’t like him, I know he’s living in a self imposed hell of his own making and his life is without any joy or lightness or love or hope.  He’s the most negative person I’ve ever met.

I would love to see him at least become self aware enough to make amends to both his children, and realize that what’s happened to him is his own doing, not the fault of those who were close to him.    Not because I want to see him suffer the pain of self-discovery (I’m not a spiteful person seeking revenge), but because I feel like that could possibly redeem him in God’s eyes, even if it’s at the 11th hour.

No, he doesn’t have enough time to be cured of NPD (or ASPD, or whatever he actually has), because that can take years that I don’t think he has, but at least some kind of redemption may be possible and he can have a moment to reconcile with his family before he finally shucks off this mortal coil.

I would also love to see him accept the love of Christ and allow himself to be comforted in His arms during his last moments.   He needs that so badly.  I’ve felt the love of Christ very keenly lately, and when I feel overwhelmed or discouraged or depressed, I ask Him to take me in his arms, and I can feel that he really does and that brings me great comfort.   I felt his presence strongly during my spiritual awakening (of sorts) in the Gulf of Mexico a couple of weeks ago.   I feel it whenever I fall onto my bed and weep after therapy, and he just rocks me and holds me like the parent I always wanted and tells me everything will be alright.  He was always there but I refused to see.

My daughter does still speak to her father sometimes, but after stealing all her money last month, there’s definitely a rift between them now, and she’s starting to realize what sort of person he really is and that he’s utterly incapable of loving anyone.   He told her he wants her to have a baby before he dies so he can have a grandchild for a short time, but she’s smart enough to not do that until she’s actually married (she’s with a very good man now who I think might be “the one”–and there are no red flags that I can see).

Maybe this man, being so physically ill (even though there’s no proof it’s cancer it probably is), will begin to look at himself in a different light and begin to develop some self-awareness.  I’m praying, and I know God listens.  So I’m not without hope that at least that could happen.

Why DBT and mindfulness is helping me get more out of therapy.

mindfulness_poster_UK

For anyone suffering from BPD who wants to undergo psychodynamic or trauma therapy, I definitely recommend taking some DBT (or CBT) classes first. This also applies to people with complex PTSD, as the symptoms of C-PTSD and BPD can be almost the same (and for Borderlines, usually co-exist together).

I’ve been in therapy many times throughout my life, but I never stuck with it before. I usually would quit, because I either gave up in frustration or things got too intense. My first instinct whenever things in life would get too uncomfortable was to run. I had zero insight into myself or why I reacted (or overreacted) to things the way I did. I always thought everything was someone else’s fault. Yet I was constantly apologizing for things that weren’t my fault. I know that’s confusing, but I was confused. I was ignorant about boundaries and then wondered why others got offended when I unwittingly invaded theirs. Either that or I put up too many boundaries, not letting anyone in or rejecting people who tried to get too close.  I had a martyr complex, always felt picked on and ganged up on, was constantly paranoid and hypervigilant, always feeling like everyone hated me and was out to get me. I was ready to go off on someone or act out at the slightest provocation, believing I was being attacked unfairly. I was much more likely to attack things than people (I was constantly breaking things; self harm was never really my thing) but my violence toward objects and verbal tirades still upset those around me and upset me too after the fact. People always told me I overreacted to everything, but I always felt like it was somehow justified. I couldn’t see the part I might have been playing in all that.

To be fair, I was horrifically abused both as a child and as an adult, so my paranoia and distrust of others wasn’t completely unfounded. I was trained to be a victim and tended to act in ways that ensured I would remain a victim, without knowing I was doing so. I still struggle with this. I still tend toward codependency.  I still find it hard to connect with people in any meaningful way.   I’m a long way from being the person I want to be or that I could have become, and I may never get there completely. But there’s a big difference between the way I am now and the way I used to be. Mindfulness.

mindfulness

What is mindfulness? It’s the ability to think before you act, be aware of your own actions and reactions, and have insight into your own motives and why you do the things you do. It’s staying in the present, instead of fretting about the past or worrying about the future. It’s being able to step back mentally and see yourself the way others see you. Being mindful keeps you from acting out in ways you might regret later on. You’re not constantly apologizing because you acted out without knowing, because you can stop yourself before you do. Being mindful is like receiving a pair of magic glasses that allows you a view of yourself you never had before. You might think that having this “inner critic” would make you self-conscious, fearful and awkward, but ironically, it does the opposite. Because you have the ability to know how to act before you act, you have more control over yourself, and therefore more control over how others react to you. Slowly, you begin to find that people are reacting more positively to you, and you have fewer reasons to lash out at others or overreact to things. You begin to trust others more, because you trust yourself more.

Mindfulness is a wonderful tool in therapy, and is helping me get so much more out of it than I ever did before. I took DBT classes in 1996, when I was first diagnosed with BPD, and at the time I sort of blew them off. Because I was still in my abusive marriage, I was still very sick and not really ready to do the work. As long as I stayed with my narcissist, I was not going to get any better, but I didn’t know that. My ex had me convinced that I was the problem, not him. Because of his triangulation and gaslighting, he had everyone else convinced I was the crazy one too and he was just the put-upon victim. He’d systematically goad me into a BPD rage, knowing he could, and then with a smirk of satisfaction, tell everyone how insane I was. His personality and manner came off as more cool and collected than mine did, so I probably really did look crazier and more out of control than he did. But he was pulling all the strings.

Anyway, back to mindfulness. It wasn’t until early in 2014, when I finally went VLC (very low contact) with him (and kicked him out of the house), that I started to change. First I started to write and that’s why I started this blog. Writing every day helped me gain insight into myself and my narcissists. After a few more months, I began to realize I needed to make a few changes to myself. I pulled out my DBT workbook (Marsha Linehan’s Skills Training Manual for Borderline Personality Disorder) and began to do some of the exercises. I had already been doing a few of the things, but this time I took it more seriously and tried some of the things I hadn’t before. One of those things was paying attention to my internal, bodily state whenever I felt an unpleasant emotion. By doing this, I was able to begin to name what I was feeling. Emotions are very physical things. By naming an emotion, you can allow yourself to feel it, realize it’s just an emotion and not “you,” and learn to have more control over it.

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In therapy, I find I’m constantly focusing in on my bodily state, whether there’s any tightness, pain or strange sensations. There always seems to be pressure or tightness in my stomach, chest and throat that goes away when I can name the feeling and begin to express it. Being mindful this way of my internal state and naming my feelings, I’m much less likely to act out against other people or break things. I’m working now on breaking down the protective emotional wall I’ve developed that overlies softer feelings of sadness, grief, empathy, and connection with others. For many years it seemed the only emotions I ever could access were fear (sometimes straight up terror), shame, guilt, anger, and rage–and mind-numbing, zombielike depressions where all I wanted to do was sleep.

There are many ways to be mindful. Some of them are very simple, like counting to ten before acting. Others require more concentration. We need to learn how to self-soothe, something we never learned how to do as babies or young children. Being mindful allows you room to learn self soothing techniques. The insight you gain into yourself by being mindful also allows you the ability and courage to dig deep when you decide to undergo psychodynamic therapy. You’re going to experience powerful emotions when you’re searching for the root causes of your illness, and being mindful allows you to experience them without overreacting, acting out…or quitting therapy.

On having seasonal affective disorder (SAD), dishonesty, and a few other things.

This is going to be a long post, because I have so much to say.
I haven’t been completely honest about why I haven’t been posting as much (being overworked and tired is only part of it) but I was very confused about all these emotions I’m having and wasn’t sure where to begin, even though I wanted to talk about it. I just felt so overwhelmed and confused I was sure anything I wrote would overwhelm and confuse the hell out of anyone reading it and make no sense. Even now, I’m having trouble knowing where to start and am not sure this is going to make any sense, but I’m going to try, since I have the time.

1. Seasonal Affective Disorder.

tigger_SAD

Let me start with the most obvious and simplest to explain. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it, but I suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Last fall, I was so new to blogging and so excited by the novelty of it that my excitement over my new “toy” overrode my usual feelings of depression I get when the days become shorter, colder, and gloomier. I even thought I’d been spontaneously “cured” but it’s back this year. It always starts around late August, when the days are becoming noticeably shorter (and this year, the trees begin to change early too). The fact that it’s still as hot as a pizza oven makes no difference. SAD is triggered by lack of daylight. It really starts to kick in after the autumnal equinox (September 23 this year) when the days begin to become gloomier and grayer and the nights are longer than the days. In this part of the country, there’s always a lot of rain in the fall and overcast days. I know we need the rain, but my brain doesn’t care and the darkness always triggers depression, which causes me to feel sad (SAD is a good acronym for this disorder!) and as gloomy as the gray days, and any motivation I have or energy goes out the window.

The string of upcoming holidays, which seem to mitigate the gloom for normal people (and even make them feel happy), don’t help me one bit. In fact, they make things worse. Halloween isn’t too bad (it doesn’t cost much and isn’t a “family” holiday), but Thanksgiving and Christmas are a different story. As a person with no money and who is not in contact or close to most of my family, the holidays, especially Christmas, are very difficult for me. Besides my children, I have no one to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with. Christmas is so overcommercialized and you are made to feel somehow defective or different (in a bad way) if you can’t afford to buy a ton of gifts (and don’t get many either), don’t love Christmas music, or can’t get into the “holiday spirit.” I know Christmas is really about the birth of Jesus, not crass commercialism, but unfortunately our society has made it that way, and if you’re a poor person with hardly any family and few close friends, it’s really hard to not get depressed.

I always begin to feel better sometime after Christmas, and usually by early February my mood is improving, despite the cold weather. Again, this has to do with the lengthening days. In fact, every year I look forward to the winter solstice, because it’s then that the days begin to grow longer again. It doesn’t take too long for my body to notice it. And once Christmas is over and done with, I feel relief. Then it’s just a matter with putting up with 2 more months of cold and gloomy, overcast days. And because I live in the South, the winters here are not long. It’s usually warming up by early March or even the end of February, and the first signs of spring can be seen then too. I always notice my energy level and motivation increasing, and my mood becomes more upbeat and positive.

So the lack of motivation caused by my SAD (and blogging no longer being the novelty it was last year at this time) is partly responsible for my not writing every day the way I used to. But that’s only part of it.

2. Coming to terms with being a covert narcissist.

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The other part is a lot harder for me to talk about, even though I’ve talked about it before, and nothing bad happened when I did and people didn’t unfollow this blog in droves, the way I had feared. About two months ago, I began to self identify as a covert narcissist (in addition to my having BPD and Avoidant PD). It explained the “Aspergers” I was sure I had up to that point. I don’t want to belabor again how I made this discovery or why (if you’re interested in reading more about that, I wrote several articles about it in early-mid August and started another blog, intended to help people with self-aware covert narcissism and BPD who do not want their disorders), but for some reason, I began to feel a lot of shame associated with the “NPD” label, based on the general attitude toward narcissists, especially those who have been abused by them (and the attitude is understandable).

Although I didn’t want to be dishonest because this blog has always been a place where I can be completely honest and would not have discovered this truth about myself had it not been for writing honestly about my feelings every day, I clammed up just the same. I began to fear people’s judgment of me for being “one of them” (even though I’m mindful and think I do pretty well not acting in narcissistic ways) and feeling like maybe I should downplay the “narc” label. After all, it’s just a label, right? And not even a label given to me by a therapist or mental health professional, but a self-diagnosis which might be wrong anyway. I can’t even bring myself to add “covert narcissism” to my list of disorders. BPD’s bad enough.

But in spite of all that, in my gut I know my self assessment is correct. I’ve become very hesitant to call too much attention to it however, because of my fear of negative judgment (which in itself is a part of both BPD and covert NPD). I know it’s silly, because it was abuse itself that made me this way. In the past few months I’ve hesitated to write articles about abuse, because knowing I have covert narcissism made me feel like a fraud. But I’m not a fraud because I am myself an abuse victim–one so badly damaged I was infected with narcissism myself. That’s why once I got over my rage and hatred toward narcissists (which I worked out through my earlier blog posts) brought on by their abuse, I found myself attempting to understand why they did the things they do. It took several more months of completely honest writing (running naked in public) that pulled the scales from my eyes and made me realize that I myself had the disorder and was trying to understand myself!

It took an email I got this morning from an ACON (who I had confessed about my narcissism to) that said she could understand how I could have been infected and that as long as I was aware and trying to change (which I am doing) that there was nothing wrong with my writing for ACONs and in fact, she had been helped by my articles and would continue to read them. Most people, in fact, have been very supportive and understanding. I was actually shocked by this, given how demonized NPD is.

I know as a blogger who writes primarily as a form of self therapy, that I cannot get any better if I stop being honest. I worry far too much about what others are going to think, or that I will be disliked, or people will judge me harshly. I suppose this is natural, having been judged harshly by my narcissists all my life, so I always assume the worst will happen. It rarely does, but just the same, it makes me clam up and leave things out.

These labels can be so damaging, and make those of us who want to change ourselves afraid to admit the truth. It was bad enough admitting I was BPD, because of the negative stigma associated with that. But admitting you’re “N” is even more scary. Some people think you’re the devil himself. But why should it be that way? It’s just a label. If I’m not acting out or hurting anyone, then it makes no difference to anyone but myself. It’s something I need to deal with. I can’t get any better if I don’t come to terms with that reality and on some level, accept it.
I could be wrong anyway (but I don’t think I am).

I felt so much better when I left nothing out, when I was so candid and brutally honest about the most personal and embarrassing and shameful things imaginable. It was scary but I never once regretted it, and found myself growing and changing, becoming happier and more confident (in a real, not a narcissistic way). I was feeling more empathy for others and becoming less shy. I was finding myself connecting with people in a way I was never able to, and was beginning to feel like I mattered. So why would I stop?

I judge myself and don’t want to “own” this label, but realistically, how could someone have been raised the way I was and NOT develop a Cluster B disorder like BPD or NPD? I was both scapegoat AND golden child, and constantly receiving contradictory, mixed messages (I was perceived as either “better” than others, superior, and expected to live up to some ideal image of a child my parents had for me, or I was told I was worthless and bad because I was unable to live up to that unrealistic ideal). This isn’t something I chose; it was something done to me. Narcissism is contagious.

And that brings me to the third issue behind my depression and lack of motivation…

3. Fear of parental disapproval.

angry-parents

There’s another reason why I’ve been less motivated to write. The way I was raised has everything to do with all my emotional problems and my mood swings, inability to connect with anyone emotionally, or feel like I’m leading a fulfilling, successful life. It even explains why I married a malignant narcissist and spent 27 years with him as a codependent, abused wife (covert narcissists–and BPDs–often pair up with higher spectrum or overt, grandiose narcissists and are almost always codependent).

But lately I’ve been afraid to write about my parents and their emotional abuse of me, even though they were my first (and because my personality was still forming, my most toxic), abusers). I can’t blog honestly if I leave my experiences with them out. But I’ve been afraid to write about them just the same, and that’s because about 6 months ago, I found out my parents had found my blog and were reading it. That might make anyone clam up, but no real names were being used, so I wasn’t guilty of slander or libel. It might even do them good to read about the way they made me feel, even if they didn’t care or tried to project everything back onto me (because I wasn’t lovable enough as a child, or am a “loser” who makes “bad choices” today or whatever it is they’re saying about me). It would certainly do ME good to be honest about what happened. After all, this blog is my self-therapy and with any therapist, you would talk about your childhood and the bad parenting you got, so why wouldn’t I write about it? It’s not as if I’m losing anything by doing so, since (as far as I know) I’ve been disowned anyway. I’ve been the black sheep for years and am NC with my mother anyway.

But I still fear their judgment, for God knows what reason. Why do I write openly about my ex’s abuse and not fear his negative judgement? What makes it so different? What makes that “okay” and writing about my parents “not okay”?

I worry way too much about the negative opinions of others, and that in itself is part of my narcissism. I was bullied as a child and that didn’t help either. I put far too much importance on what other people think. I don’t think I lie excessively, but leaving things out is a kind of lie too. I lie by glossing over things, not talking about important things that affected me and caused my problems, not admitting the way I really feel about something, downplaying both my abuse (due to fear of my parents judging me even though they already do) and my own disorders. When I lie by omission, it’s still a lie, and I’m not doing myself any favors either. In fact, the fear of negative judgment feeds on itself, and I imagine the worst outcomes and that tends to feed my fears even more, making me even less motivated to write.

So what I need to do is not worry about what everyone will think, and go ahead and write what I feel and let the chips falls where they may. If I’m harshly judged by some, so be it. Those are probably not people I would want to have anything to do with anyway.

A small part of my depression is because my car needs major repairs and my job only pays enough to pay the bills so I’m living pretty much from one paycheck to the next (and working a lot more). I’m going to go ahead and ask for donations via Paypal but I’ll do a separate post for that and I hope it doesn’t offend anyone.

So that’s where I’m at. I need to start writing about everything I’m feeling again, starting from today and stop worrying about what a few people think and censoring myself because of them. They don’t matter, but my growth as a person does, as well as those who get something from reading this blog. Censoring myself for fear of negative judgment is one of the things I need to work on getting over. It helps no one, least of all me. Haters are always going to exist, no matter what you blog about. I can’t lose my original focus and why I started blogging in the first place, and lately I’ve been slipping. That needs to stop now.

You may find this article inspiring too, if you blog and are afraid to be completely honest.

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.

Can a malignant narcissist ever become self aware?

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

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

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

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

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

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

False self vs. true self.

wolf

UPDATE: I wrote this post during a four-month period of time when I thought I had covert narcissism.   I don’t (BPD + Avoidant PD in the same person can look a LOT like C-NPD and even confuses some professionals), but I think this still applies because Borderlines do indeed have a “false self” (and to some extent, everyone does) which is just less developed than someone who has NPD.  

Like the wolf graphic above shows, all human beings have a good self and a bad self. But in a narcissist, the good (true) self is dissociated and split off from the bad (false) one, where in normal people all these feelings are integrated into One Self.

I’m beginning to see the woman I can become. The woman I would have been had I not been so abused and allowed myself to fall under the thrall of a malignant narcissist/ASPD man for 27 years.
That woman is taking shape in my mind and all I need to do is find a way to reconcile this new vision with my reality.
She’s someone I like very much–the adult version of the sensitive little girl that brought me so much shame and humiliation because no one mirrored her positively.

My True Self…

Enjoying the sun

Enjoying the sun

–Is in touch with her feelings but doesn’t fly into BPD rages or seethe with envy, bitterness and resentment. She’s in control but can feel appropriate emotions at appropriate times, and isn’t ashamed to show them.

–Is naturally introverted (INFJ) but not shy. People don’t intimidate her but as an inward-looking person, she often prefers solitude to pursue activities and interests she loves. (I’m already halfway there).

–Is creative–she uses her ability to write to purge her past and her emotions (I’m already doing this) and sometimes just for fun (my other blog has a lot of silly or humorous posts). She also loves photography, art, music and wants to learn to play the guitar to accompany herself singing. She’s not a talented singer, but sings for the joy of it. Music feeds her soul.

–Is quietly confident and not afraid to let someone know when her boundaries or rights are being violated.

–Is able to make and keep close friends, not just acquaintances she keeps at arm’s length.

–Is an HSP with possible empathic abilities. (I’m not there yet).

–Is authentic and nurturing, and truly wants to help others discover who they are (I actually do want this now, but I’m mainly doing it for myself. If I help others along the way though, it makes me feel good).

–She feels attractive and even sexy, but appreciates the beauty in others and in the world around her too. She feels beautiful by knowingly and mindfully being a part of beauty (and almost everything has a certain beauty).

–Is able to parlay her love for writing into a career as a published author. No feelings of, “but I’d fail at it.” She isn’t afraid to take smart risks to turn her desire to express her insights and emotions into her life’s work.

My False Self…

false_self

–Is selfish and demanding, always complaining about how badly she’s treated or disrespected.

–Always thinks everything’s about her. If someone looks at her the wrong way, she lets that ruin her entire day and thinks everyone hates her. If she walks into a room and everyone smiles, she focuses and ruminates about the one person who is scowling.

–Overreacts to slights and occasionally flies into rages (this may be more due to BPD; my DBT skills have mostly got this under control though the rage is still present).

–Is envious; can’t be genuinely happy for someone else’s good fortune (except for my kids).

–Sometimes secretly gets a thrill on hearing someone else’s bad news (I’m really ashamed of this and it’s really hard to admit this). I don’t feel that way all the time though. I don’t try to cause pain to others. I hate being the perpetrator and have a lot of guilt and shame when I know I’ve caused someone pain. I’m a passive sadist, I guess. Isn’t schadenfreude the term for this? I’ve read that everyone experiences it, but I think I have it more than most people.

–Feels secretly superior under a self-loathing exterior. Of course I loathed myself to the core (not so much now), but to correct the cognitive dissonance between what I was and what I wanted to be, I’d denigrate others and put my own actions on a pedestal. For example, when I thought I had Aspergers, I felt “superior” for not being a neurotypical and used to feel contempt for people who had a lot of friends or an active social life, or the ability to feel comfortable in a group setting. I actually envied their ability to connect with and not fear the judgment of others , but I convinced myself I was somehow “better” because I didn’t have to engage in stupid small talk and my mind was probably superior to their anyway.

–No matter what the situation, I always think about how it’s going to affect *me* first.

–Fearful of getting involved in a romantic relationship, yet at the same time I long for one. (This is probably more due to my BPD).

I’m happy to say a lot of these FS behaviors are diminishing, just through the self-discovery I’ve achieved through blogging for the past year. A couple of my FS traits have nearly disappeared. I seem nice now, and I am nice (I don’t think I present my false self on this blog), but I wasn’t always so.

I just noticed I wrote most of this list in the third person–isn’t that something narcissists are known to do? :/

What does covert narcissism feel like?

itsmytime

This was a comment in another post but I wanted it to be a blog post because I think it’s a good nutshell explanation of what covert NPD actually FEELS like, filtered through self-awareness:

I feel like…”everyone’s better than me and has more and I deserve to die because I’m a worthless POS”…but underneath THAT is this “how DARE they have more, I’m more SPECIAL and that’s why I don’t feel like bothering with you and people are stupid for rewarding you for not being all that,” (but this defensiveness stems from my fear of them getting too close and seeing nothing but a black void under that).

And under all THAT–inside the VOID I can’t let anyone see–is the true self I’m seeing more and more of, as she shows herself more. She’s creative and sensitive and cares about people–a LOT. That void isn’t empty at all, but I have to go in there and face the darkness…

Does that make sense?
We have TWO masks, not just one.

So it can’t be Aspergers. Aspies don’t have all that RAGE..and self hatred…and fake hidden grandiosity and bitterness…

I still have a long way to go but I’m feeling pretty good about it all. I hope that’s not being grandiose. I’m actually happier than I’ve ever been right now because I lost something really toxic during that bizarre journey of a week ago…I still get emotional (in a good way) thinking about it…