I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their deeds.
– 2 Corinthians 11:3-15
These days, it seems like the truth is optional, even demonized. Truth is the most important thing for a society (or a family, or any group of individuals) to be able to function and remain psychologically and spiritually healthy. Valuing the truth is necessary for a society to remain civilized. Any society that has a casual relationship with the truth or attempts to silence those who speak the truth (or that discourages or forbids critical thinking, creativity, and education — because all these things get at the truth) is on a slippery slope to becoming a dictatorship.
I would have loved to attend the March for Truth here my city today, but due to injuring my right knee a few weeks ago, I can’t walk long distances, so I wasn’t able to go. Marches are being held in many cities throughout the United States and around the world today.
Since I couldn’t march, I wanted to do something to honor this day, so here are some quotes about truth we all need to remember and take to heart.
The only people who are mad at you for speaking the truth are those people who are living a lie. — Unknown
Morality is the basis of things, and truth is the substance of morality. — Mahatma Gandhi
Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters. — Albert Einstein
Truth is like surgery. It hurts but cures. Lies are like a pain killer. It gives instant relief but has side effects forever. — Unknown
I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against. — Malcolm X
Sometimes the truth hurts. And sometimes it feels real. — Henry Rollins
Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth. — Buddha
The goal of education is the advancement of knowledge and the dissemination of truth. — John F. Kennedy
Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth. — Albert Einstein
Tell the truth, or someone will tell it for you. — Stephanie Klein
The greatest advantage of telling the truth is you don’t have to remember what you said. — Mark Twain
You can’t change the truth, but the truth can change you. — Hebrews 5: 12-14
The worst thing about being lied to is knowing you’re not worth the truth — Anonymous
Truth is so obscured nowadays, and lies so well established, that unless we love the truth, we shall never recognize it. — Blaise Pascal
In seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story. — Walter Cronkite
The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off. — Gloria Steinem
A wise man confesses his wrong, a fool defends it. — Unknown
Truth sounds like hate to those who hate the truth. — Unknown
This afternoon I laid down and meditated for awhile on God’s purpose for my life, and where he is leading me.
God has a purpose for everyone. We’re at our happiest when we submit to his will and not to our own. I’ve learned this truth the hard way, after many years of insisting on having my own way and always failing miserably, or finding out that what I thought I wanted wasn’t what I wanted at all.
I’m still not living the life I want to live, because I’m still grappling with the bad choices I made (and the bad choices that were made for me). I also never took risks before. I lived inside my comfort zone, which wasn’t very comfortable, but it was all I knew.
Last week, I did a few things that were outside my comfort zone. I took a week off of work for something I really wanted and needed to do, in spite of not having any vacation time or money to pay for it. I asked for financial help online and got it. I submitted myself to an emotional and spiritual process that was painful for me at least once. I spend almost a week sharing a room with someone who I would normally regard as much too “good” for me and avoid that person out of envy or feelings of not being able to measure up (those are just the “tapes” that were installed in my mind by my judgmental, snobbish, “keeping up with the Joneses” narc parents). But as it turned out, once we got to know each other, I realized this woman wasn’t judging me on those terms and even seemed to genuinely like me, which I was sure she would not. So I could let down that particular guard. In fact, under normal circumstances, I would have felt inferior or “less than” everyone else on this retreat too. And yet I did not. Other than a little social discomfort and shyness at first, assuming I’d be negatively judged, soon I felt welcomed.
You can tell you’re not living as God meant for you to live if you’re unhappy with what you’re doing or your circumstances. I’m still not fulfilled or happy, but I’m getting closer, and God is showing me the way. He was always there though, always trying to show me something better, but I wasn’t ready. That wasn’t my fault; it just was. Now it’s changing.
The first step of this journey was that I had to leave my abuser(s). As long as I remained, I would stay stuck, and worse than that, eventually die both emotionally and spiritually. Possibly physically too.
But even after freeing myself, I still wasn’t able to start looking inside myself and realize that I not only needed God but also needed to submit my will to his, until after I was able to forgive my abusers.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean condoning the awful things they did to us, nor does it mean apologizing or submitting to them. Not even one little bit! They were wrong in what they did, horribly wrong…but that shouldn’t become a life sentence for us. We need to move on with ourselves in order to find peace and happiness. But moving on isn’t possible until we can forgive the people who tried to trip us up at every turn. It’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s necessary.
I reached a point where I was tired of hating them. The hatred had served its purpose–I got away! What now? All that hatred was just turning me bitter and angry, and making me feel helpless and living in fear that abuse would just keep happening again…and again….and again.
Forgiving them wasn’t for their benefit; it was for mine! After letting go of my hatred and rage, I was finally able to look inside myself and see what I could do differently to avoid being a victim again in the future. In doing so, I found that I had quite a few unpleasant, even narcissistic, traits of my own. Not that I’d ever asked for the abuse, or been horrible enough to deserve it, no way! It just meant I’d probably picked up quite a few negative traits and defense mechanisms from my abusers, in order to survive.
I no longer needed those traits now that I was free. In fact, I had no choice but to send them packing if I wanted to move forward.
Letting that anger go and forgiving the people who abused me made me able to look at their brokenness. By seeing them as victims too (albeit victims so broken they had lost any ability to have insight into themselves or be able to change on their own), that gave them a whole lot less power over me. If I had never been able to forgive them, I would never have been able to let go of feeling like a powerless victim instead of a survivor with the hope of an actual future.
That doesn’t mean the victimization wasn’t real. It was. But at some point you will want to say, “I overcame this! I’m a survivor!” A victim is someone who is still in danger, who is unable to get past that danger.
God doesn’t let bad things happen to us (such as having narcissistic parents) to “teach us things” or because he wants us to suffer. The bad things that happen to us are never his will for us. He allows them to happen because he has given us all free will.
However, what God can do is take those bad things and turn them into something beautiful and good, IF we keep our hearts and minds open to what his true purpose for us is. God can use these things as tools that bring us closer to him and at the same time bring us closer to fulfilling what his purpose for our lives is (and that purpose always coincides with what will make us the happiest too). We should never fight his plan for us, but we can ask for guidance.
God can and will find the beauty in our brokenness.
While I was lying on my back meditating, I kept my mind and heart open, just listening. Since returning from my retreat last week, I feel like my heart is much more open to God and his plans for my life and however he wants to use me.
I asked him to show me a picture of who I could have been if I hadn’t been so broken…and who I still can be when I’m less broken.
At first nothing came to me, but after awhile I realized my mind kept circling back to 3 words:
God wasn’t showing me a picture of the Me he intended for me to be; he was showing me through the modality I understand and resonate with best: words.
Words are the tools God gave me to write about what happened to me. Words made it possible for me to start this blog and share my story.
Words are the tool by which I’ll fulfill my destiny.
My destiny is to disseminate beauty and truth.
I was the truth teller in my family.
I can’t stand fakeness, phoniness, insincerity. I’m allergic to those things. (Not that I’ve always been honest myself or have never told a lie–that would be far from the truth!).
I’ve always sought the truth — whether through a hunger for knowledge, reading science or psychology articles and books, spirituality, religion, nature, art, music, or literature — all right-brained things by which the truth can be discovered.
Truth, as John Keats famously stated, is beauty.
And beauty is truth.
My purpose in this life–God’s purpose for me–is to disseminate truth and beauty, which are the same.
Through truth and beauty may come healing. Healing for me, and healing for others.
No one who makes an effort to listen to their heart cannot be healed, because it’s through our heart that God speaks to us and can rewire our broken connections.
Giving up is conceding that things will never get better, and that is just not true. Ups and downs are a constant in life, and I’ve been belted into that roller coaster a thousand times.
–Aimee Mullins via http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/
To ride or not to ride.
Roll back down the track about 11 months. September 2014. That was the day something in my brain finally connected right and I got the idea to start a blog about narcissistic personality disorder.
I had no idea what I was in for. Not even close.
I didn’t have the foggiest idea what sort of roller coaster ride starting a blog about narcissism would become.
It would become the most life-changing ride of my life.
I had no real plan to start a blog. Occasionally I’d have the fleeting thought like “oh, maybe I should start a blog sometime…” but these thoughts were passing and vague, like puffs of cigarette smoke passing over my head. And they went nowhere. Instead, they dissolved in the sea of my uncertainty and inability to make any sort of decision: “Oh, but no one would read my blog,” I’d remind myself. “I’m so boring and have no interests and so what would I blog about anyway? How boring my life is?” So these passing ideas were just sort of pipe dreams. They had no spine or any substance at all. They dissolved away like smoke and vapor and dreams. So I wasn’t seriously considering blogging until the day I finally did.
In February 2014 I’d kicked out my narcissist ex who was living on my couch and making my life a living hell. For about two months I walked around kind of numb and rudderless. I had no idea what I was doing or where I was going and I was scared but sort of excited too. Mostly I was just trying to find my bearings and stay grounded. It could be frustrating. I just wasn’t used to making decisions or doing things on my own, without the narc’s “help.”
In about April or May I started reading a lot about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I first reread “People of the Lie,” the only book about malignant narcissism I owned at the time (now I have a whole library of such books). I began to read George K. Simon’s “Manipulative People” blog. That was the very first blog about character-disordered people I ever read. I posted a few times, tentatively, but never got too involved, because soon I found other blogs and started reading and sometimes posting on those too.
One day in September 2014 (the 10th to be exact) I was poking around online and on a whim decided I wanted to start a blog. The idea came out of nowhere. In retrospect I think it was God giving me a nudge because I was ready. But ready for what? I had no idea where such a thing would take me–all I knew was I needed to tell my story and in doing so try to sort through all my confused and bewildering feelings. I attempted to start my blog on Blogger, but it kept wanting me to use my real name because it’s run by Google and connected to it, and using my real name on the type of blog I was going to do was out of the question. I had heard WordPress was hard, but decided to give it a shot.
Ascending the track, eyes ahead, heart in mouth.
WordPress wasn’t hard. The learning curve was about three days, and after that I felt like I knew what I was doing. At first writing was a bit of a chore, and I didn’t write every day. As time went on, and I started to explore narcissism more deeply and do more reading (by this time I had ordered two of Dr. Simon’s books–“In Sheeps Clothing” and “Character Disturbance”), I found my fascination increasing. I was also beginning to change and my confidence was starting to rise out of the toilet. People told me I seemed somehow “different.” For the first time in my life, I felt like I was doing something that made me feel passionate and that could possibly be of use to others too.
Since then, many things have happened in my blogging journey. I’ve learned more about myself and my narcissists than I ever dreamed possible, and I also found faith in God during the process. I believe with all my heart that God gave me the life He did to lead me to where I am now, writing about my experiences as a victim of narcissistic abuse and learning as much as I can, so I can pass along what I know to others who are in similar situations.
On top of the world–but don’t look down.
There have been incredibly heady, exciting times–sudden spikes in popularity, an article going viral for the first time, certain well-known people in the field of narcissism who found and helped promote my blog and its articles, suddenly having so many new friends, getting comments and emails from people who told me my words gave them hope or the courage to leave their narcissist, or even in one case, saved their life. It was surreal the first time I found one of my articles at the top of page 1 of Google, or got reblogged by someone whose blog gets many more hits than my own. As an added bonus, I found out my traffic was sufficient to run some ads, and from that I’ve been able to make some pocket money. Making money never has been and never will be my purpose for doing this, but I’m not going to lie and tell you it isn’t sort of nice to have an additional $20-$30 dollars a month for doing something I love to do. Maybe someday I can parlay this into a career, especially if I write a book (which I plan to start doing fairly soon, when I have some time and think of a topic for a book I’d want to write). It might even be fiction, only using what I know now about myself and the scourge of narcissism as a sort of matrix that holds the skin of the story together.
Hurtling back to earth.
It hasn’t all been a joyride either. There have been painful and disappointing times too–my first hater and troll comments, people accusing me of having dishonest motives or being a narcissist myself (or at least a narc-enabler), the loss of several people I thought were friends along the way (for various reasons), finding unflattering comments about this blog on other blogs, finding out I’d unintentionally hurt a few people I cared about; other friends disappearing into the black hole of cyberspace, writing highly personal articles that scared me to post so much I felt sick before finally taking that deep breath and posting them anyway (and I’ve never regretted doing so), being emotionally triggered by someone else’s sad story or just from digging so deep into my own psyche or past; chronic worrying that maybe I’m too narcissistic; and having periods of self-doubt and depression when I wonder if I’m good enough to be doing this at all or if it even really means anything.
Exhilaration and sadness.
But on the whole, the ride–like a rollercoaster–has been incredibly fun. The downs just mean you’re going up again, and the overall feeling of blogging about narcissism (and related mental health subjects) has been exhilarating, empowering, and the most enjoyable and creative activity I’ve ever undertaken–and best of all, I’ve actually stuck with it. In the past, I would get interested in things, but never stick with them for very long, especially once the going got rough or I realized how much blood, sweat and tears it would require.
But blogging about narcissism, as emotionally triggering and difficult as it can be at times, is a labor of love and the more I do it, the more I want to keep doing it. Unlike every other interest and hobby I’ve had, I haven’t lost interest in it.
Writing about narcissism (and my own disorders) is incredibly emotional, sometimes painful, and a LOT of hard work. There have been times I found myself in tears after writing a particularly emotional article, especially if it involved a painful experience from my own past, and for me being able to release emotion is a great thing because for so long most of my emotions were bottled up.
The Healing Power of Creativity.
Blogging is also very creative. One of the only things I rarely ever doubted about myself was that I had the ability to write. Creative writing was always something I was good at and did for fun. As a 7 and 8 year old, my father brought home these tiny little leatherette-covered notebooks with the covers in bright primary colors. The tiny pages had miniature lines for writing which was good because at that age, I still couldn’t write in a straight line (the slope was always downward: was that foreshadowing what was still to come?) On the cover they had a single word like “Memorandum” in embossed golden letters. They were given to me in stacks of rubber bands. There must have been 50 of them. In those little books I wrote lots of little illustrated stories. I always used colored markers and pencils, never crayons because they left too big a mark on the tiny pages. I don’t know what happened to those little books but I wish I still had them.
Even my parents–who rarely had anything both good and true to say about me (I was both scapegoat and golden child in their marriage)–both admitted I could write really well. I worked in medical journalism when I got out of college and wrote some freelance book reviews and did some proofreading and freelance editing, but after having children and moving to another state, I gave all that up. And when I did write, it was always for someone else or for money, never for the love of doing it.
Also by then I was in my disastrous marriage to a psychopathic malignant narcissist, and all the good and healthy things about myself (which didn’t seem to be many) began to gradually and insidiously slip away. I became a near zombie. I thought I forgot how to write. In 2003 I wrote a novel (a very bad one, it turned out) and I had my mother read it (she was probably the worst person for me to have read it) and she told me it sucked, which it did. I was trying to write like Pat Conroy, an author I was very much into at the time.
I reread it two years ago and cringed while reading it. It was full of florid, purple prose, cliched phrases and cliched, one dimensional (is that a cliche?) characters. The one sex scene was embarrassingly bad (I will not go into detail about that here!) I felt sick after reading this amateurish piece of badly written sentimental trash and it was everything I could do to reread even a page of it. That’s how embarrassed by it I was. It was so bad that a Harlequin romance would seem like Tolstoy in comparison.
In what universe had I ever thought that piece of Pat Conroy wannabe-garbage was good enough to send out to publishers and agents (who all rejected it)–or have my constantly-critical mother read it? The novel is still sitting in a cardboard box in the back of my closet, its pages becoming brittle and yellow with time, but for some reason I can’t bring myself to throw it away. It’s a reminder of a time where I couldn’t write because I was too divorced from my own emotions. A person who is dead can’t write–and I was like a walking dead person, trying to write about emotions I couldn’t access.
So after that I imagined I was a terrible writer after all, and never really had that much ability. Writing this blog has reassured me that my ability to write never went away and in fact it’s improved over the months I’ve been writing this blog. So blogging is increasing my self esteem that way too. I think the abilities God gave us are one of his greatest gifts, and those of us who have a talent in one or more of the arts (performing, literary or visual) are especially blessed, because we have the means to communicate feelings to the world, not just ideas, facts, or thoughts (not that those aren’t valuable too).
I call blogging my self-therapy because that’s what it is. It’s also my creative outlet right now. I can’t get over all the positive changes I see in myself (and that others have noticed too), including an increased ability to be in touch with my true emotions, having a relationship with God after having been agnostic most of my life, a much more positive attitude than I used to have, better health, and retrieved memories and revelations about what my painful and difficult life has really meant (news flash to myself: I was not born to be an example to others of what a “loser” looks like).
I don’t want to get off this ride.
All these discoveries are so unbelievably exciting and validating they far surpass the pain I’ve sometimes experienced on this sometimes terrifying ride into the unknown. Sometimes I feel like I’m exploring a new galaxy, and finding wonders every day, both great and small–and horrors too, but the horrors are usually cast by my own shadow and prove in the end to be harmless.
I would never have believed the most amazing journey of my life would take place without my ever having to leave my house.
There’s something about a roller coaster that triggers strong feelings, maybe because most of us associate them with childhood. They’re inherently cinematic; the very shape of a coaster, all hills and valleys and sickening helices, evokes a human emotional response.
In my dealings with narcissists, it’s sometimes been tempting to tell them to their face that they’re narcissists, thinking maybe it could be the wake up call they need. It’s a nice fantasy to think they might take a look at their obnoxious, abusive, insufferable selves and try to make some changes, but unfortunately that’s just a fantasy. It won’t work, because narcissists cannot feel remorse for their actions or empathy for hurting you. In fact, they may take pleasure from it.
The following reactions are far more likely if you “out” a narcissist to their face:
1. They might rage. Or give you the silent treatment. Or laugh at you. Or deny it. Or abuse you. Or call you names. Or tell you you’re crazy or deluded. Narcissists hate the truth, and if they know you have their number, they feel threatened and will attack like a cornered rattlesnake. It’s in their nature.
2. It might give them twisted narcissistic supply. Some narcissists may actually take a perverse pride in being called narcissistic. Rather than making them feel shame and remorse, telling a narcissist they’re a narcissist may flatter them and inflate their ego even more, which could lead to them becoming even more narcissistic and abusive than they already are.
3. They might project it back onto you. This is surprisingly common. Projection (attributing their own bad behaviors to their victims) is one of the more common red flags of a narcissist, so if you call a narc a narc, don’t be too surprised if they start telling everyone YOU are the narcissist.
4. They might learn more to hone their weapon. Taking #2 a step further, some bright narcissists may actually decide to learn more about their disorder–but not to learn how to control it or improve the way they treat people, but rather to educate themselves about abusive narcissistic mindgames they haven’t already tried in order to use them against you. I actually know someone this happened to when she called her ex a narcissist. He started reading every book he could get his hands on about NPD and narcissistic abuse, and systematically started using the information to “prove” his girlfriend had NPD and that he was the real victim (see #3).
5. They might not be a narcissist. There is always a possibility (even if small) that the person you think is a narcissist really isn’t. If you’re not a mental health professional qualified to make a diagnosis based on standardized testing and interviews, your own bias, lack of knowledge, or just plain dislike of a person could be influencing your judgment of them. Perhaps they are having a bad day (or a bad life), or suffer from some other disorder that can mimic narcissism. Even non-disordered people can act like narcissists at times. All of us can. So if you’re certain someone is a narcissist, you may be right, but it’s still best to keep that information to yourself–or only tell your close friends.