Thanksgiving 2018: We were all immigrants once.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving.

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Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Today, I am thankful for my friends, my family, good food, animals, nature, music, laughter, God’s grace, WordPress, and last but not least, Robert Mueller!

I’m also thankful I still live in a country where freedom of speech and a free and open Internet is allowed.   Who knows how much longer we will have them? If you’re as thankful for those things as I am, join the fight to save them!

Appreciate all the good things you have, no matter how small.

If you aren’t working today, relax, eat much, and enjoy your day!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy-Thanksgiving-Photos

A beautiful dinner with friends

I haven’t been able to upload all the photos, but here are a few of the incredible dinner my daughter’s boyfriend Paul made at his home, and the first “selfie” I ever took. I ate so much I feel like I’m ready to explode!

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Appetizer: salad and toasted rolls with olive oil and cilantro dressing

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The dinner! Turkey, gravy, yams, stuffing, and lots of Merlot

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Cool spiral staircase at Paul and Molly’s house.

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The first selfies I ever took, and I’m ready to explode!

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My roommate Stacey

Happy Thanksgiving!

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A pretty good day

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Alright, so my day didn’t start out very good.

Yesterday I got my settlement check from the insurance company from the car accident Molly was in last month, and this morning had to go to the bank to open a savings account and deposit the rest in checking, so I was an hour late for work because the bank didn’t open until 9 AM and I didn’t want to be toting a huge check around all day.

At 8:30 I received a call from my boss. She screamed “WHERE ARE YOU?”
Rubbing my assaulted ear, I explained I’d left a message on voicemail at 6:30.
“BUT IT WASN’T ON VOICEMAIL! DON’T YOU REALIZE THIS IS OUR BUSIEST SEASON?” The implication that I was lying about leaving a message could not have been more obvious.
“I’m sorry, I did leave a message. I’ll get there as soon as I can. I won’t be more than an hour late.”
“WELL YOU BETTER MAKE IT QUICK!”
Click.

I opened up my laptop and Tweeted: “Today is going to be the day from hell.”
I quickly scanned my blog stats, and found them disappointing.
Mentally I felt my defensive armor going up and my cortisone levels rising. I braced myself for the attack I knew I’d be facing once I got to work.

Although I have nearly perfect attendance and am never late, sure enough, when I arrived at the office, my malignant narcissist boss screamed, “IT’S THE BUSIEST WEEK OF THE YEAR! DON’T YOU REALIZE THAT? YOU ARE RUINING THIS COMPANY!”
Facepalm.

I knew she wasn’t serious, because I do a good job, my attendance is good, and she’s like that with everyone (well, except for her flying monkeys and sycophants), but it still made me feel violated and angry. Narcissists have a way of doing that.

The other bad thing that happened this morning was my daughter Molly went to court and was sentenced to 30 days in jail. She will be out Christmas day (thank goodness for that!). The good thing is that when she gets out, she will owe no more fines (which are far more than she or I can afford) and will have no more probation. She’ll do her time and just has to stay out of trouble after that.

But the day got a lot better. While it wasn’t the day from heaven, it didn’t turn out to be the day from hell either. I made friends with Molly’s older boyfriend, Paul. We were texting each other back and forth about Molly’s day in court and what happened. When I got home from my long day at work, I called him, and we spent about two hours talking. He is very easy to talk to, even for an Aspie like myself–I always feel violated and threatened by the most simple telephone conversations. I always hated the sound of a ringing phone. But talking to Paul was different, and put me at ease.

Paul is not only comfortable to talk to, he genuinely and sincerely cares about Molly. He’s the first boyfriend she’s ever had who has really cared about her wellbeing and wants her to turn her life around instead of all the losers who did nothing but drag her down and use her. We talked mostly about Molly, and what we can do together to help her. He’s older than she is and she listens to him, where she hasn’t always listened to me (I’m her mom–that’s probably why!) He put money into her jail account so she can buy concessions and make phone calls.

The other day I wrote a long depressing post saying I thought Molly was a narcissist (and she may be), but once again I have doubts. Drug addiction and bipolar disorder can also cause a person to act in a narcissistic way. She also has a diagnosis of BPD and PTSD. People with BPD can act very much like narcissists, as can bipolar people in their “manic” phase.

The reason I’m once again doubting she’s a true narcissist is because when she was handcuffed today, Paul was there with her, and she looked at him and said, crying, “I’m so sorry for all the pain I’ve caused everyone. I really want to change. I’m a terrible person.”

I don’t think she would have been faking those tears and those words; for what reason would she do so? Paul told me they have had some deep conversations about her behavior and run-ins with the law over the past decade and how much she doesn’t want to be part of that anymore. I think she was running around with some people who were very bad for her, because she thought she didn’t deserve or couldn’t do any better.

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Molly is intellectually brilliant and could do anything she wants in life. Once upon a time she was a straight-A student. But her self esteem is so low that she’s mostly associated with people far beneath her, people who do stupid things because they just aren’t very bright. Paul wants her to spend more time with her psychologically healthier friends who aren’t doing drugs, and meet some of his friends who are succeeding too.

Molly has never liked to read much (although she reads and writes very well), but in jail she will have a lot of time for reading (it beats playing cards and watching endless reruns of “Cops”). He told me about a book she had been talking about by the actress Kristen Johnson, called “Guts,” in which she describes her struggles with alcohol and drugs before she turned her life around. This book could be inspirational for her. Molly has always liked biographies and stories about people with substance abuse issues. I remember her favorite book in high school was one that had also been a favorite of mine when I was her age: “Go Ask Alice.”

I don’t have any family to speak of (or rather, none that I speak to), and certainly none in my area, but Paul invited me to his home for Thanksgiving. I invited my roommate to come along, but she declined, so it will just be the two of us. He’s new in this area and has no family here either. He’s cooking dinner and I’m bringing dessert and a bottle of red Merlot wine (my favorite).

Having been burned so many times by narcissists and psychopaths, I don’t trust people easily, so of course there’s a small nagging voice in my head warning me Paul may be a narcissist in the love-bombing phase, but I really, truly don’t think so.

Just the other day, Molly was talking about having kids someday. She’s never shown the slightest bit of interest in having children (she is a bit young still and certainly not emotionally ready), but she told me she would be interested if she was married, and she thinks Paul may be The One. I told her not to rush things and I would like her to attend school first. Paul and I think she just may do this once she is released. He wants to take her to the community college just to have a look around and maybe sign up for one class just to get her feet wet.

After putting most of the settlement in savings, I still have a little over $1,000 left, a nice sum of cash for someone as poor as I am. Some will be used for Christmas, but I decided to order a few books tonight. One was Kristen Johnson’s book “Guts” which I’ll bring to Molly; I also ordered a Wild Republic stuffed raccoon (a Christmas gift for my son (who already has “Alfonso” the river otter, who I wrote about)), and two more books about narcissism: Martha Stout’s “The Sociopath Next Door,” which I have heard great things about; and Sam Vaknin’s gigantic tome, “Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited.”
I love to get things in the mail, especially books.

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Any day, no matter how shitty it starts, where I can make a new friend, feel hopeful about my kid, have a little money to spend, realize I won’t be alone on a big holiday after all, and get some new books to read, is a good day. And if I can end that day with a new blog post telling you what a good day it was, then it’s officially a great day.

Three people who deserve my thanks

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Three vastly different people have turned out to be the best things to happen to this blog, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving, they deserve credit and thanks for their positive influence, so here goes.

1. Opinionated Man.

OM’s blog (Harsh Reality), as most of us know, is a godsend to new bloggers hoping to get more visibility and learn the ropes of blogging. He follows new blogs and offers encouragement, advice (that actually works!), and support to newbies and veteran bloggers alike. He also answers all questions posed to him on his blog, no small feat for someone who is so prolific and has so many followers. He also answers them quickly.

In my case (as I’m sure in many others), OM reblogged an early post of mine, which gave my blog a huge boost in visibility and gained me a smallish but loyal following. That in itself was encouraging and made me feel welcome. I also love the fact he regularly offers bloggers the opportunity to link to his blog and showcase their stuff. He has used his huge popularity to help others get more popular. I don’t know too many bloggers who do that, or would have the confidence to do that.

Personally I find it hard to believe he has a lot of haters (he insists he does), because of all the good stuff he does. I also like reading his non-blogging posts and his poetry is good too (even though I’m not much of a poetry fan). I have a feeling OM’s haters are just jealous because he is so popular and has tens of thousands of followers and a level of Internet fame that most other bloggers would give their eyeteeth for.

2. 500 Pound Peep.

500 Pound Peep has an incredible blog over at Blogger (Aspie in a Narcissist Jungle). Like me, she is a survivor of narcissistic abuse and an ACON (adult child of narcissists). Her story is eerily reminiscent of mine. And also like me, she suffers from Aspergers syndrome. Her blog is honest, heartfelt, funny, sometimes irreverent, and always fascinating to read. There are many wonderful blogs written by survivors of narcissists, but hers is one of my favorites and one of the first ones I ever started to read. 500 Pound Peep deserves special thanks because it was she and her blog that inspired me to start my own back in September. For several months prior to starting this blog, I had been reading blogs by others, but hers was the one that made me say to myself, “That’s it. I am doing this.” And that decision is changing my life.

I have trouble posting on her site because since Blogger is connected to Google, it keeps wanting to put my real name under any comments, so I have to choose the “Anonymous” option if I comment. No matter. About a month ago, she found my own blog, and added mine to her blogroll. Since hers is a popular blog, every day my stats show more viewers have been referred to my blog from hers. She has also been supportive and made comments on many of my posts here. I’m very grateful to 500PoundPeep for her support and encouragement, and for her blog which I always find inspirational and eye-opening, even when I don’t comment.

3. Sam Vaknin.

This is a weird one. In what upside down world would I, a victim of narcissists, ever be in a position to thank a malignant narcissist and one who may even be psychopathic? And yet, Sam Vaknin has probably helped the visibility and popularity of this blog more than anyone else. Of course, I undoubtedly helped him too, by writing two articles about him that increased hits to his own site, and most likely got more people to order his books. Of course there’s something in it for him, but that’s alright. It’s even understandable. All bloggers want more hits and visibility and just because he’s a narcissist, doesn’t mean he shouldn’t want more validation too.

I’m utterly gobsmacked by the number of views and hits I got yesterday due to these two articles (541 hits on November 21, becoming my Best Day Ever). Both articles have been shared multiple times on social media, especially Twitter and Facebook, as well as on other sites that saw my article and reposted or linked to it. My stats show 63 Twitter shares (and still rising), and even more Facebook shares over the past three days between both articles. Reddit has recommended my article, it’s appeared on Tumblr, Pinterest,and LinkedIn, it’s now on a few ACON blogrolls. Mr. Vaknin himself commented a couple of times on my posts and even approved of them (for the most part). His presence undoubtedly increased views to my blog because people were curious to see what he had to say. Vaknin has many fans in the narcissistic abuse community, a topic which is pretty huge these days, and evidently a lot of his fans and followers have come to my blog or linked to it. Here is his website.

So, Sam, I do appreciate your input here and attracting your followers along with you to this blog. Sure, maybe I’m just narcissistic supply to you, but you have inadvertently also done me a huge favor, probably a bigger favor than I have done for you. I offer you my sincere thanks for that.

And to the rest of you.

Just because I’ve called out three individuals for special thanks, doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the support and encouragement the rest of you have offered me and my blog. I value all my followers and readers, and welcome and appreciate all your comments. I also appreciate all the reblogs by several of you.

All these things help this blog get more visibility and will help it make its mark in the blogging world and the community of survivors of narcissistic abuse. And to all my fellow ACONs and survivors, I am as helped by your comments and your blogs as you may be by mine. We are all a community and are here to support and help one another in any way we can.

Namaste!

Surviving the holidays

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I relate to Charlie Brown. As a kid, “Peanuts” was my favorite comic strip (I owned all the Peanuts books too), and Charlie Brown was a lot like me–fearful of what others thought of him, frequently bullied and taken advantage of, and often pessimistic. But he also had a good heart, and his faithful dog Snoopy brought joy to his life when he was ready to give up. So I have used some photos from the classic “A Charlie Brown Christmas” in my post.

The holidays are a rough time for many people, but they are especially hard on those of us who have been victims of narcissistic abuse and been cut off (or have gone No Contact) with our families. It sure doesn’t help either that I have SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and become very depressed during the shortest and coldest days of the year.

I have described the way my MN mother has systemically, through triangulation, scapegoating and gaslighting of me as well as making good use of the flying monkeys in her own extended family, has cut me off from all my relatives who I never knew very well anyway. She has even recruited some of the relatives on my father’s side into her evil campaign against me. I am the family embarrassment and black sheep.

Even though I have gone No Contact with my mother and several other family members, I feel I would have been eventually cut off completely from them anyway. I’ve almost certainly been written out of both her and my father’s wills. My mother’s extended family and friends don’t know me; they only believe the vicious lies what she tells them about me–what an ungrateful and selfish daughter I am (and how narcissistic I am too), what a pathetic loser I am (because I’m poor and haven’t achieved a high status career the way they all have), what stupid choices I make, and how emotionally unstable and crazy I am. It’s obvious she’s projecting some of her own character defects onto me (a red flag for narcissism if there ever was one), but knowing this doesn’t make her hateful comments and lies hurt any less–and some of them have a grain of truth–especially the picture she’s painted of me as an impoverished “loser” and that I was always destined to fail (because I was programmed and trained to fail).

It hurts like hell to know how hated I am by my own family. Even as a child I sensed my mother hated me, because I was an exceedingly sensitive child and she could never understand that. She also knew I could see right through her, even when I was a toddler. Knowing that my family hates me has done enormous damage to my self image and crippled me in succeeding in life. I was programmed by her to fail. My being a success would have been a huge danger to her.

Because of my C-PTSD and suspiciousness and lack of trust of others (and due to being naturally introverted), I  find it very hard to socialize and make friends because I have so much trouble reading social cues and knowing the right thing to say at the right time (for years, I thought I had Aspergers). It seems that my only social life is on the Internet. I’m afraid to get close to people because I’m afraid they might hate me if they knew me too well. So I spent most of my time alone, reading, blogging, and interacting with my sweet and loyal pets, who never judge me and accept me for who I am. I actually prefer it that way. I relish my time alone, without the stress of having to be “on” in social situations. I’m never really lonely, and I’m free to be myself without fear of judgment.

CHARLIE BROWN TRIES TO PERK UP THE FORLORN LITTLE CHRISTMAS TREE

But the holidays are hard because I am so alone in the world. Thanksgiving is coming up this week, and I’ve made absolutely no plans, because there is no one to make plans with. My only immediate family that has anything to do with me (or are still alive) are my son and daughter. But my son lives several states away and there is no way either he or I can afford to travel to be together, and my daughter has moved in with her boyfriend, and although she says she will be around on Thanksgiving, her word is about as reliable as a Nigerian email scam. She will probably find some excuse to not show up.

It’s very difficult for me to listen to people all around me talk about their big holiday plans–plans that involve boatloads of relatives, extravagant gifts, preparing huge meals for the extended family and their large circles of friends, planning plane or road trips to see beloved family and friends. I admit I envy these people, and really have a hard time dealing with their holiday chatter. It makes me feel so cheated and drives home how unfair life can be. Holiday commercials are even worse, and their images of the idealized, big extended, functional families sitting around a huge table groaning with food while the kids happily open gifts under a 12 foot tree feels like a kick in the teeth. It feels like the universe, or God or whatever, is taunting me:
“This is what everyone else has and you do not. You don’t deserve what they have. Nyah, nyah! Suck it up, loser.”
That’s really what it feels like. And it’s so, so hard. It makes me want to crawl into a large cardboard box and die.

I have a roommate, but she will be with her own family on Thanksgiving, and frankly, she isn’t someone I want to spend much time with. So it looks very likely I will be alone on Thanksgiving. Should I cook a small turkey just for me? I might–just to go through the motions of doing something special, and because I enjoy cooking and baking. I thought of going to the Catholic church I’ve been attending lately for their free Thanksgiving dinner–but that just seems so desperate and pathetic. I can’t help but associate people who go alone to such events as being the rejects of society, those without families or friends to be with. Well, that’s exactly what I am though, isn’t it? What makes me think I’m better than those people? Still, I don’t know if I can bring myself to go.

Christmas will be even worse. I think I’ll just skip Christmas this year. I’ve said that every year though since my kids became adults, and I haven’t skipped it yet. I may put up a small pre-lit tabletop tree from the dollar store. I have an antique mirror I can put behind it to make it appear brighter and bigger. But I don’t know. For me, giving gifts is far more fun than receiving, and Christmas is no fun if you’re too poor to give anything. I can make some of my glass and mirror suncatchers and give those (they were well received last year) or bake cookies and wrap them in attractive packages and inexpensive colorful tins.

Or maybe this can be the year I decide to stop feeling sorry for myself and give someone who is even worse off than me a few hours of joy. I could volunteer at the church, or the soup pantry, or even invite a homeless person or someone with no one to be with out to dinner for Christmas. Even a total stranger! At least I have a home, and a little bit of money; many people don’t even have that. In a week or so I’ll be receiving a several thousand dollar settlement from my daughter’s car accident back in October; I think I should use a little of that money to try to bring some joy into someone’s life who doesn’t have any at all. But will I do it?

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The holidays sure are a challenge, and every year I dread them and wish I could just hibernate until spring, but maybe this will be the year I can give to someone else what I don’t have much of myself.