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.

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I’m just gonna say it, okay?

dying_happiness

I’d really love to be Freshly Pressed®. I wonder if it’s ever going to happen. I just think being Freshly Pressed would be incredibly cool and do wonders for my low self-esteem. If I ever get Freshly Pressed I think I would just die of happiness.

Kill me now!

 

please

Different.

Image

I-am-different

“Fun and easygoing” me.

damn_imgood

I’ve noticed something strange lately. People are treating me differently. People actually seem to like being around me. Someone at work told me everyone who sits at our table says they love working with me because I’m fun, easygoing, and know what I’m doing.

Of course I know what I’m doing but fun and easygoing? Me? I’ve also noticed people–even total strangers–smiling at me more. I always used to think everyone was scowling at me.

Has something in me changed that makes me nicer to be around, or is it just that my perception of how others view me has changed? I always used to worry that I was somehow unacceptable and probably acted the part. If you believe you’re worthless, people will treat you that way. Or is it just that when you hate yourself,  you just perceive people treating you badly when they really aren’t?

I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know I’m worrying a whole lot less about what people think of me, and that’s making me able to act a little more confident and genuinely interested in others.

“Saving face”

saving_face

“Saving face” is the concept of avoiding facing the consequences of having been shamed, sometimes by sacrificing something you value. A perfect example is what I almost did yesterday when my irresponsibility for posting a certain article was called out elsewhere. I almost took down this blog!

Throughout my life, “saving face,” has been my usual reaction to being held accountable for choosing wrong actions. It’s never made me happier, and more often than not, I wind up regretting it later. I later wonder why I didn’t just own up to it and take responsibility. But the fear of being shamed is great enough to make you do crazy things just to avoid it. In my case that usually meant some sort of disappearing act–you know, acting on that urge to “sink through the floor in shame.” But the thing is, all it does is make you look like a coward and that in itself makes you look worse than the thing that caused it all! Please note I am not talking about situations in which you are being unfairly treated or bullied. That does happen, and it happens to the sensitive the most of all. In those cases removing yourself might be the best and smartest course of action. No, I’m talking about situations in which you know you’ve acted badly and are called to the carpet about it.

“Saving face” is a staple of some cultures. In Japan, ancient samurais adhered to the tradition of seppoku, which meant stabbing oneself through the heart with a dagger when one had been shamed.* The intent was to avoid shame, even if your life was the price. Related to this (but different) is the practice of “honor killings” some fundamentalist Muslim countries still adhere to. This means killing a family member (usually a woman) when they are believed to have brought shame to the family. In these cases, love is weaker than narcissistic pride. How else could one voluntarily kill their own wife or daughter who they claim to love?

It’s interesting to me that even the term, “saving face,” is a reference to the False Self, a mask shown to the world. Saving face isn’t about honesty or authenticity; it’s about maintaining the mask, even if all it involves is escaping consequences.

Some people see “saving face” as somehow noble. But it isn’t–it’s cowardly and narcissistic. Unfortunately it’s human nature, especially for those of us who grew up in situations where we were constantly shamed just for being ourselves and developed low self esteem. We may not be suicidal, but we’ll sacrifice things we love if the consequences of behaving badly are too embarrassing.

But why should it be that way? People are still going to talk even if you remove yourself from the situation or disappear, the way I’ve always tended to do. Wouldn’t it be better to face the consequences? Even if people aren’t forgiving, ironically your humility shows them you have self respect and the courage to own up to your mistakes. What’s so shameful about a simple “I was wrong” or “I’m sorry.”

* I understand that non western cultures differ and to call traditional practices narcissistic or selfish is probably not accurate.

What really matters.

mex_nyman_dancing

Life isn’t about what you do or who you are.
Life is about those moments that just make you say “Wow. I did that.”

–“Mex Nyman”

The real reason highly sensitive people get bullied.

authenticity

I had an “Aha” moment today.

The reason highly sensitive people get bullied so often isn’t because of our sensitivity. It’s because of the dismally low self esteem that tends to go along with being that sensitive, especially if we were victimized by malignant narcissists and bullies when young.

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 empathic 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.

This blog is half a year old today!

6_months

On September 10th, 2014, after about 2 months of just reading blogs by other survivors of narcissists (and occasionally posting on Dr. George K. Simon’s wonderful blog, “Manipulative People”), my life was about to change. And it started with a small idea.

I had always like the idea of starting a blog, but didn’t for several reasons.

1. I thought it would be too hard.
2. I didn’t feel inspired enough to write articles every day or do the work to maintain a blog.
3. I had no idea what I wanted to write about.
4. I thought I forgot how to write. Seriously.

It just seemed like an overwhelming, daunting task and I just thought I wasn’t an interesting enough person with an interesting enough life to start a blog. For years while married to and living with my narc, my self esteem had been so decimated that any interests I once had were gone like the wind, and any talents I once had I was convinced were gone. I didn’t even think I was that intelligent anymore.

For a couple of months after FINALLY kicking my narc to the curb, I floundered around trying to find my bearings and get used to living without him. I was ecstatic he was gone, but I was like a ship without a rudder for awhile. I was still codependent and felt anchorless. I wasn’t used to being alone.

In about May or June of 2014 (I kicked him out in February), I started to entertain the idea of blogging and thought it might be something I might do in the future, but not anytime soon. I still had no idea what to write about. But I thought my story might be interesting. I worried it might be too depressing to write about though–why would anyone with an ounce of sanity want to read about my problems, for heaven’s sake? Maybe I’d just write about my experiences in in Wordpad and leave it at that.

I’m not sure why I started to read so much about NPD, PTSD and Aspergers in around July 2014, but I knew my ex had NPD and wanted to find out more. I also wanted to find out what made me tick and what made he and I tick and why I was always so codependent and scared of everything. I read voraciously, both blogs and too many articles and books to count.

Then in August 2014 I discovered a blog written by a woman I could relate to better than any other blogger about narcissism I’d yet come across. Like me, she’s an Aspie, and like me, she struggles with poverty, being bullied as a child, and having narcissistic parents. Like me, she likes to keep her topics varied and writes about unrelated topics sometimes. Her politics are also very much like mine. We believe the same things about the increasingly narcissistic society we live in today. We both love art, reading, talking about deep things, hate political correctness and small talk, and we both love Roz Chast and Peanuts cartoons.

But we have our differences too: Unlike me, Peep struggles with Lipedemia, morbid obesity, and numerous chronic physical conditions that make mobility difficult for her. Also, unlike me, Peep has a much more Biblical and fundamentalist view of Christianity than I do (yet we are both Christians who have asked Jesus to be our personal savior). The abuse Peep endured was much more severe than mine (and mine was pretty bad!). Unlike me too, she has no children, and is married to a non-narcissistic man and they enjoy a very loving relationship. Peep doesn’t believe any narcissists can ever be cured, while I still think the jury might be out on that, at least for a few.

Peep is also a very good writer and sometimes very funny. Her posts are always a joy to read and even when they’re depressing, they’re so helpful and well written. I devoured her blog like a dog devours steak.

Peep was the blogger who inspired me to start this one. I was reading an article on her blog one day (I can’t remember which one now) and suddenly looked up and said to myself, “That’s it. I’m starting my own blog.”

It was a clear decision, a “eureka” moment really–no more wishy washy indecisiveness and self doubt for me. The idea came so suddenly it almost seemed like it was someone else telling me to do it. Now I think it was God (I was also agnostic at the time I started the blog, but began to shed my doubts about his existence, among other things, just by WRITING.) See, I think creativity is actually very close to a spiritual experience and when we allow our God given gifts to flow, that’s when see truth and beauty and come the closest to being with God. All of us have gifts. Your job is to ask God to help you find it. It may not happen immediately, but keep asking and I promise you it will come to you. Maybe not in a “eureka” moment–it may happen more slowly–but you have a gift God wants you to share with the world.

I’m veering off topic. Sorry about that.

…So that night, I pulled up WordPress on my browser, opened it up for the first time. and that night put up my “Hello World” post

On a gut level I felt that making this blog public was incredibly important–because doing that would help me, as an Aspie who is also avoidant–connect with others. Making it public would also help me get over a lot of my social anxiety. It seemed like a crazy thing to do at first–share my personal story I wouldn’t even share with my neighbor or coworker–with God knows how many hundreds or thousands of complete strangers all over the world. But it turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made, and it’s working!

Everything since that day has changed. My whole life is changing. Maybe not my external circumstances so much (yet), but I’m changing on the inside. I’ve noticed my overall tone has changed from a much more negative, pessimistic, cynical and poor-me attitude to one that’s more positive and fun.

That being said, I do have my less pleasant and more pessimistic moments and I make sure to write about those too, because it’s important to allow myself to feel and then purge my painful emotions. People who feel down can sometimes relate better to “misery loves company” than too much upbeat positive thinking. I know I can–only lately am I responding more to “positive thinking” articles.

Being too upbeat all the time isn’t the way real humans operate, and the ones who do operate that way are more annoying than a bad case of fleas. They’re probably narcissists too.

Back to the point, at this late age, I’m finally finding out what Lucky Otter is all about, and she’s pretty cool!

journaling

This journey has been an incredible ride into the inside of my mind and soul. There have been difficult and frustrating parts of this journey–but those were actually the best parts, because it was those hard times I had in the blogosphere that taught me the most about myself and my relationship to God and to this world.

I was surprised to find I still had the gift of words that God in his grace and mercy had given me, and had never taken it away! He gave me another chance.

The growth of this blog has been incredible in the six months it has existed. I won’t get into the details about that here because I have written about that so much before, but it’s more than I ever dreamed was possible. It’s surreal.

So I’m celebrating today by congratulating this blog for turning 6 months old today and for bringing me and so many other people hope, insight, tears, and laughter. And forging some great friendships along the way.
If it weren’t for you guys, my followers–and all your support (special thanks to OM–he knows why!), this blog wouldn’t be what it is right now.

This blog is my pride and joy, my getting-big-and-unwieldy-but-much-more-interesting new child, and just like a loving mother of a big and active toddler (that’s the stage of “life” I think this blog is at right now), I want it to grow up to be the best blog it can be and to be able to help more people who feel like their hope is gone.

keep_calm_anniversary

Thank you all so much! ❤

My own little kingdom.

kingdom

Creating and running your own blog is just like having your own little kingdom.

I’m sorry if that makes me sound like a narc, but it’s the truth.

I bet most bloggers feel the same way. If you’ve lived a life without much control over anything, as many of us ACONs have, it’s so nice to know that with your blog, you have a whole place that’s yours alone, where you can write about whatever you want, post whatever pictures you want, have an unpopular opinion and not be afraid to say so, and you don’t have to put up with mean people and bullies like we have to in the physical world. The bullies and trolls can be silenced with a just a click of a button and their hateful spewage sent to the Trash.

It’s also great finding a community of like-minded people who share their thoughts with you. I don’t see myself as the King or Queen holding court though. I’m just another person, trying to find my way in a world that hasn’t been very kind to me.

In my Kingdom, I am free to be myself. Totally and completely in a way I never could out there in the physical world.

I want to change my name

changeyourname

I want to change my name.

I never cared much for my first name. It’s a name that was immensely popular in the ’50s through the early ’70s (not so much anymore), so it’s one of those dated, middle-aged sounding names that will become another “Ethel” in decades to come. Its commonality and genericness made me feel like an uncreative blob of genericness myself. It’s one of those names parents slapped on their kids because they weren’t visionary enough to think of something more unusual or exotic, or because they just didn’t care enough so they picked whatever was popular at the time.

It also sounded ridiculous with my maiden name, very singsongy. I used to get teased about it constantly as a child. Bullies actually used the ease of which my name could be turned into a little melody and used it to taunt me. I haven’t forgotten that.

I still use my MN-ex’s last name, only because I hate my maiden name even more and because it actually sounds better with my first name. It makes my boring first name seem a tad more exotic at least.

So I don’t like my name too much. And that’s an issue, because your name becomes associated with you as a person, how you are perceived by others, and how you perceive yourself.

I never perceived myself as my true self with my name. It’s a person I never was, a person who was forever trapped in a greenhouse of narcissism, a person with no confidence, no joy, a person who felt like a victim, like an incompetent member of the human race, a person who lived in a state of high vigilance, terror and depressions as deep as the Mariana Trench.

That person is still there, but there’s another person taking her place.

A person who has moments of joy and pride, a person who has emotions besides fear, despair and anger, a person who is becoming interested in life and living, can care for others again, is cobbling together a goal, has faith that God doesn’t hate me after all, a person who is starting to think life ain’t so bad after all.

The other day, I started a LinkedIn account. I never started one before because the whole idea of a “networking site” for “professionals” and its association in my mind with greedy, snobbish, narcissistic Yuppies and their later incarnations made me want to stick two fingers down my throat. And yes, part of that resentment had to do with my poverty and lack of professional success (once I married my psychopath). I have a low paying job but even though I still work there, I feel like that’s temporary and there are bigger things on the horizon, things that involve what I love most: writing. Especially writing about narcissism because it’s such a pervasive problem today and so much suffering could be alleviated just with being educated about it.

But I digress. So I started the LinkedIn account under my future self, as a sort of promise to myself that I’m still getting better. I described myself as “blog owner and writer,” which is really what I am. At first I used my real name, but then something happened that put the fear of God in me.

Both my parents have LinkedIn accounts. Other family members do too. I don’t want my family to find my blog, and they easily could if they saw my LinkedIn account.

What happened was I got an automated suggestion to add my father as a “contact.”

HOW DID IT KNOW???

THEN I got two views by “members who choose to remain anonymous.” Huh? Mommy? Daddy?

I was super creeped out. I am NOT ready for them to see my blog. I write about them a lot and most of what I have to say is not complimentary. Not that any of that matters, you see, because it’s not like they don’t already see me as a batshit insane, unmotivated LOSER who turned Bad Choices into a career, but I’m just…not …ready.

holdingmeback

Immediately the solution came to me. I needed to use a fake name; if the damage wasn’t already done maybe I could avoid it being done. I chose “Lauren Bennett” because I like the name Lauren–it sounds like the name of a woman with emotional strength and confidence. It sounds young. It sounds like the name of a successful, happy person.

I chose Bennett because it’s a family name. Gotta give a shoutout to the family there somewhere, at least to those members who don’t bother you too much.

I notice the name makes me actually feel different. When I’m using it, I FEEL like Lauren Bennett, a confident, happy, successful, loving woman, a woman who doesn’t walk through life like the Cowardly Lion being waterboarded. My real name is not that woman. My real name feels like a me that isn’t me anymore, a me I no longer want to be or even NEED to be.

Changing my name would also make it a lot less likely to be found on the Internet by people from my past I don’t want to associate with.

So here’s my request. I need advice on legally changing your name. Also any advice on how much this would put me back. I’m living on an extremely tight budget.