What 2017 has taught me.

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I feel like a victim again.   I was doing pretty well emotionally until this year.  Since I left my ex in 2014 and started blogging, slowly I began to feel freer and lighter emotionally.   I felt like I was finally rid of most of my C-PTSD/BPD symptoms and the emotional work I was doing both in and out of therapy was reaping benefits.    I came to realize that I had been repeatedly victimized by others for most of my life because I acted like a victim and kept telling  myself I was one.  I became my own abuser.   Although I will never blame myself for what happened to me or the psychological problems I developed because of it (which in their own warped and unhealthy way protected me),  I realized, like Dorothy did in the Wizard of Oz, when Glinda The Good Witch told her she always had the power to go home but just didn’t realize it, that I always had the power to be a non-victim, to not live in mortal fear of everyone, but didn’t realize it because the abuse I endured had made me blind to the fact I was as worthy and powerful as anyone else and deserved to be treated well by others.  I was finally seeing what was possible for me without all that paralyzing fear, shame and self-hatred dragging me down.

But the political abuses of our monstrously narcissistic and sociopathic president and his equally malicious administration has retriggered a lot of the Bad Old Me, the scared-of-everything-and-everyone me.     I won’t go into the specifics of what those abuses are since this is not intended to be a political post and I know I’m not alone in feeling so terrified and depressed at the same time.   All of us, especially those of us who survived narcissistic abuse, and especially if it was sustained over a long period of time, all know why he triggers us.

2017 has been a horror show for me.    I feel like an unwilling participant in the Trump Reality Show, all the while knowing I’m on the losing team.    This doesn’t just mean obsessing over the latest upsetting news story and worrying about the effect its outcome might ultimately have on my freedom, financial status, health, and general well-being.     I’ve also been doubting myself again.  My feelings are hurt more easily, I ruminate and obsess for weeks over insults and rejections, even by people I don’t know well.   Often I feel like I can’t function at all.   I’ve returned to feeling like a victim, and even while I know that such a self-defeating, negative attitude tends to draw in even more negativity,  I can’t help it.   Almost a year after Trump’s inauguration,  I’m generally in one of three moods: fearful, depressed, and angry — sometimes all three at the same time.  Sometimes I feel dissociated, like nothing is real anymore.   Sometimes I slide into a kind of numbness where cynicism and fatalism take over.   I think about death a lot.

But something odd has happened too.  In the midst of the darkness, my faith in God has intensified.   I know he has a plan for me, which involves illuminating the truth and serving as a voice for the vulnerable.   Even while my emotional life is presently in turmoil, I feel like God is very near and no matter what happens, I should not be afraid or give into despair or hopelessness.   Even if I become one of the casualties of this president’s policies,  and even if I have to die,  it will have meant something and I would have fulfilled His purpose for me.

As my faith has grown, my heart has changed.   I used to consider myself self-centered and unconcerned about others, even to the point of not being able to feel much empathy to others.   But that was because I felt like I constantly had to protect myself from being hurt.   It’s strange to me that even though a lot of those old “poor me” emotions have come back, this newfound concern about the world at large has not faltered and always exceeds my concern for myself.  That is definitely something new.

I realized about two years ago that the narcissistic abuse I had to endure as a child wasn’t just some random thing that happened.    It was ultimately a teacher that gave me a doctoral level course in how narcissists operate.   It was schooling to prepare me for what we are facing now on the national level.  After my rage at my abusers (and people with NPD in general) burnt itself out, I began to wonder if I was a narcissist myself, or even had NPD.    I looked at those traits I possessed that resulted from not having been validated as a functioning, worthy human being by my parents — my self centeredness, my envy of others, my tendency in the past to not take responsibility and project fault onto others, my rage, my frozen empathy, my tendency to hate (or fall in love with)  people easily — and concluded that I was myself a narcissist.   I made it my mission to rid myself of my narcissism, but at the same time (or actually, slightly prior to it), I entered an odd phase where I began to sympathize with narcissists and sought to understand them rather than keep bashing them.   I wrote posts criticizing what I felt, at the time, was an unjust demonization of people with NPD by the narcissistic abuse community.    I even started a blog documenting my self-healing journey and later, my therapy.   (That blog has been inactive since April and I have no interest in ever posting in it again).

As it turned out, that weird phase was short lived.  I had insisted that my therapist give me an NPD diagnosis, since I was so certain I had it and couldn’t work on myself properly if I didn’t have the actual label.  My therapist didn’t think I even qualified for the BPD diagnosis I had been given in the ’90s.   Instead, when I kept pushing for a diagnosis, he said he thought I had PTSD (more accurately, C-PTSD), maybe with a few narcissistic traits (“fleas” in narc-abuse parlance), but certainly not fullblown NPD.     Gradually I stopped sympathizing with narcissists too, and developed indifference toward them.   The whole topic of narcissism, in fact, had begun to bore me.   Today I could care less about narcissists, although I don’t actively feel hatred toward them.   I just feel — nothing toward them.

I’ve been puzzling over why I developed that weird empathy toward narcissists (and my conviction that I was one), because I’m feeling none of that now, with this malignant narcissist president, or toward narcissists in general.  Yesterday I finally realized why that happened.   The darkness and evil we are facing is so dangerous and so powerful, that for me to have remained in a state of hatred (which is normal for people who have recently left narcissistic relationships) would have kept me from being able to reach out and give hope to others.  Hatred, no matter if it’s born of righteous anger, is just another form of darkness, and blocks any light from getting through.  Not only would it have hindered me from doing the work that God planned for me, it would have eventually destroyed me.  Hatred eats you alive and exacerbates any narcissistic traits one has.   In order for me to let go of my hatred I had to look inward at my own narcissism and rid myself of it.  I would not have been able to see what I was doing to myself with such clarity had I remained stuck in hatred.

I know I’m not explaining myself very well, but I know I’ve changed, and all these psychological stages I had to go through happened as part of my training.  Knowing that, none of this is easy.  In fact, it’s excruciatingly painful but in an existential, rather than personal, way.   It hurts to know there are so many horrible people in the world who have no conscience, no moral center, no respect for the truth or for justice, and do not care about anyone but themselves.   It hurts to know that greed and narcissism is decimating everything good in the world.   It hurts knowing that we have a bunch of men running the country who have made it clear they want most of us to perish and are actively trying to make that a reality and are gleefully going about their mission to destroy.   It hurts to know that, to them, I’m worthless, a useless parasite who deserves to die.   Their soullessness and cruelty makes me question my own worth and is making me doubt myself again and making me act in the old ways that bring about abuse.   I’m prey and they can smell that.    But this time, it’s not just about me.   It’s about all of us who have been targeted.   The evil we are in the midst of feels eternally powerful, oppressive, almost biblical in its malice, some dark force not of this world.  It’s overwhelming.   It’s overwhelmingly sad.  And scary.  And very, very hard not to give in to hate.

Nevertheless I must soldier on.    I can’t go back.   My past gave me tools to do the work I have been asked to do, whatever that work may be.   No matter what happens, God has my back.   But it’s so hard.

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Our Nation Suffers From C-PTSD

I found two articles that I think many of you will find helpful and informative.  I know I did!    I completely agree with the author that our nation’s most vulnerable — immigrants, the poor, women, the old, the disabled, people of color, gay and transgender people, etc. — are being gaslighted and smeared by this administration so that WE are the monsters, while the real monsters paint themselves as the victims.   This is a common manipulation tactic used by sociopaths called DARVO (Deny, Attack, Reverse the roles of Victim and Offender).

We have never had a president like Donald Trump before.   This is NOT politics as usual, nor is it normal.  You have every right to feel the way you do.  You are not crazy.

What other administration acted the way these people do?   What other president was hell-bent on destroying the truth? What other president waged a Twitter war against his predecessor and others who disagree with him?   What other president was so obsessed with the number of people who voted for him or who showed up at his inauguration?   What other president was so destructive,  hell-bent on tearing down any and all agencies and programs that benefit and protect the everyday people, our environment, and democracy itself?  What other president admired dictators and authoritarian regimes, and thumbed his nose at other western democracies as being “weak”? What other president used scare tactics and hatred to divide and conquer, the way Trump does at his rallies and on Twitter?  Most politicians have more than average levels of narcissism, or they wouldn’t survive long in their jobs (or even be attracted to politics as a profession).    But I think, in most cases, they had healthy narcissism, not the sort of malignant narcissism Donald Trump clearly suffers from.  Nor do they surround themselves with equally sociopathic, destructive personalities.

It hit me how truly monstrous these sociopaths were when I saw this picture of them laughing after their “healthcare bill” that would toss 23 million people off healthcare passed the House back in May.

<> on January 7, 2016 in Washington, DC.

Until, then, like anyone who’s being abused, I wanted to believe they somehow had our best interests at heart.

They don’t.   They have no conscience and no empathy.   They are entitled and think they are above the law.    They use toxic religion to manipulate and scare the religious into submission and to shame the vulnerable.  Their intention is to destroy us and all that we hold dear.   That is no exaggeration or crazy conspiracy theory (as they want us to think), and he is riling up his flying monkeys at his rallies.   Most Trump supporters have authoritarian personalities, and authoritarianism is highly correlated with narcissism and antisocial behavior.

Even Republicans are abandoning their own party because of what it’s become.  They aren’t a political party anymore.  They are a cult.  They show all the signs of being a cult, and Trump’s followers act like cult members.

Many people are being traumatized by Trump and his policies.  Even his own staff are being abused and manipulated.   Most of those who still have a conscience have already fled the White House or been fired (it’s my opinion that Sean Spicer was being traumatized and spiritually destroyed by his job).

I think those of us who endured narcissistic abuse have a special advantage because we recognize exactly what we are now faced with.  We can and should call them out on their BS.    I think we have a responsibility to fight against this darkness and our own abuse prepared us for this.  And I believe that in the end, justice and truth will win.   It always does.

It would be nice if we could go No Contact with our country, but for most of us, that isn’t a possibility.   It’s not all hopeless though.   We can fight back and resist, but we also need to take care of ourselves. The author of the C-PTSD article also wrote a post about how to survive what’s been dubbed Trump Trauma.  Even therapists regard it as a real malady and are seeing a spike in their patient rolls since January.

Our Nation Suffers From C-PTSD

A Practical Guide to Surviving Trump

From Psycho-Linguistics to the Politics of Psychopathy. Part 1: Propaganda.

We are living in an Orwellian society. Here’s a long but important article about the way language has been used to promote psychopathy in society and politics, and target the most vulnerable members of society. It’s a form of societal scapegoating, not much different than the way dysfunctional families target their most sensitive member (the “truthteller”) for abuse and ostracization.

Although this post is told from the perspective of modern British society, it definitely applies to America too (probably even more so), and most of the western world. Psychopathy–and its attendant lack of empathy and ruthlessness–is glorified, even though it’s not called by that name. The real victims of this compassionless agenda–the poor, disabled, minority races, immigrants, and people who otherwise don’t fit the stereotypical “ideal”–are blamed for all the ills of society even though they have never had any power. Think about how similar this is to what goes on in dysfunctional families headed by narcissists. It’s society-wide gaslighting and blame-shifting.

Language is a powerful weapon, and is being successfully used to promote this evil agenda of selfishness and callous disregard. It’s the real world Newspeak.

Politics and Insights

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1. Propaganda Techniques

Metacognition: We need to be mindful of how we think as well as what we think.

While the term propaganda has acquired a strongly negative connotation by association with its most manipulative and jingoistic examples (e.g. Nazi propaganda used to justify the Holocaust), propaganda in its original sense was neutral, and could refer to uses that were generally benign or innocuous, such as public health recommendations, signs encouraging citizens to participate in a census or election, or messages encouraging people to report crimes to law agencies, amongst others.

So the exact definition of propaganda is constantly debated, and no specific definition is completely agreed. Some argue that any persuasive communication is propaganda, whilst others hold that propaganda specifically alters political opinions. However, it is doubtless that propaganda is material which is meant to manipulate or change public opinion, and though it may vary in form and technique, it always…

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Adult poverty and scapegoat-hood: a connection?

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I’m copying and pasting this from the comment section under another post, because I think it’s an important issue that needs a lot more awareness and research than it currently has.

I always felt like an outsider in the world because I’m one of those rare people who came from an upper middle class family but fell into a lower class financial lifestyle. I thought I must be horribly defective for that to have happened. From everything I’d ever read until recently, it was believed the only people who would fall so far down the social ladder into poverty (who weren’t born into it) were those who were mentally challenged, drug-addicted, or insane (and even then, their wealthy families would continue to help them financially, if not support them). As a person with a high IQ, I found the theory that “people who become poor are dumb and lazy” incredibly insulting.  I’ve worked hard my entire adult life and I’m far from stupid.  I don’t do drugs, I don’t drink, and I don’t have the type of mental illness that keeps a person from being able to take care of themselves. I knew my poverty had everything to do with my dismally low self esteem and wondered why this wasn’t ever considered a cause of poverty in adulthood.

It wasn’t until I found the ACON community that I realized I wasn’t alone: this seems to be a phenomenon almost exclusively limited to adults who became the designated scapegoats of narcissistic families. It’s as if we were not only isolated from the rest of the family by our narcissists; we were also kept from being able to take our rightful places in the functioning world. Whether we’re male or female, we were castrated and crippled, then we were blamed for it. We were told we were “losers” or “stupid” or “lazy.” But we never had a chance.  To make matters even worse, once poverty befalls us, we are further isolated and rejected because we “embarrass” the family.

So many of us became poor but didn’t grow up that way. Obviously something’s significant is going on here. I think studies need to be done on family scapegoats/black sheep and poverty and find what the correlations and causes are. I would suspect the lack of normal familial support systems, isolation from others, and emotional coping tools due to horrible self esteem are the culprits. Awareness needs to be increased.

Right now, a number of ACON bloggers are writing about their own experiences with it, so it’s starting there, at the grass roots level. Hopefully, in time this very real social issue becomes more noticed and addressed in the general realm. I hope in the future there’s more empathy and tolerance toward the poor in general, who don’t all fit in the same box. We aren’t all lazy slackers and we weren’t all born poor. In fact, many of us are intelligent and college educated. We just don’t know how to navigate the practical side of life as well as others, and we lack the social support networks others have, because of what was done to our self esteem by our narcissistic families.

Further reading:

Why Family Scapegoats Become Lifelong Victims

Outcasts, Scapegoats and Black Sheep of the Dysfunctional Family

Scapegoating in Families: What We Need to Know

Paper tigers: why I choose understanding over rage.

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I know I don’t need to (or should) forgive what the narcissists in my life have done to me. I will never again enable them or give them the benefit of the doubt.  I certainly won’t attempt to fix one (an action about as futile as trying to empty the ocean using a teaspoon). I can’t fix a narcissist and neither can you. The only viable way to deal with a narcissist is not at all. Go No Contact. Release them from your life.

Going No Contact  isn’t an act of hatred or revenge, and it doesn’t break any commandments either (if they are your mother or father) because they haven’t lived up to their end of the bargain as a parent.  If you have narcissistic parents (and that includes having one who isn’t technically a narcissist, but was codependent to the narcissistic parent and never took your side and colluded with the abuse), then you are an orphan.  You were mercilessly abandoned.  So it’s not a sin to go no contact with a narcissistic parent.  It’s an act of self-preservation. The same goes for a narcissistic spouse, sibling, or friend.  You owe them nothing, no matter what they tell you.

That being said, I still do try to understand the narcissists in my life. I see them as broken people who, whether by choice or design, have adopted a way of relating to others that poisons their own minds as much as it poisons the life-force of their victims. Yes, I feel badly for them. I don’t like them or what they do, but I feel badly for them. They cannot help themselves.

Some of you won’t understand my attitude. I understand the lack of understanding. Narcissists have made our lives hellish and compromised our ability to become everything we could have been.

Anger, rage and hatred is a perfectly normal and desirable initial reaction when you find out you’ve been had by one or more narcissists, especially if they were your parents, who were supposed to love you unconditionally. But it shouldn’t be permanent. I’ve been criticized for my attitude before, but I think it was taken out of context, because I’ve never suggested, not even once, that anyone needs to put up with a narcissist or keep him or her in your life. But for me, feeling pity for them (NOT forgiving them!)–from a safe distance–helps me to feel like less of a victim myself.  You might be surprised how well it works, too.

I don’t choose to be an eternal victim because that sucks. I don’t choose to hold onto my rage and anger (been there, done that!) because, well, it’s toxic to me. Seething anger eats away at my soul and turns me into someone I don’t like at all. I start obsessing on my rage and hatred and that turns me bitter, resentful and depressed. It drives home my victimhood and makes me wallow in self pity (“Oh, poor, poor me, WHY did *I* get stuck with such evil monsters as parents/spouse/friends, etc.”)

By seeing narcissists as broken people who can’t help themselves and will probably never change without some kind of earth-shattering shift in their consciousness (which must come from inside them and only them), their power over me seems diminished. They become paper tigers instead of terrifying beasts who rip me to shreds and eat me alive. And by seeing a narcissist, especially one who has “raised” you, as a toothless paper tiger, by contrast I feel more powerful and less afraid.

I used to have as much rage and hatred toward narcissists as any other victim of narc abuse does. That attitude served me well, too, because it motivated me to make the final break. But I found that after a few months, I couldn’t hold onto that anger anymore because all it did was make me feel bitter and depressed, and it also held me into an identity as an eternal victim, which is an identity I don’t want. I’m tired of always feeling like a victim, but to do that I had to change myself and my attitudes.

For me, releasing my hatred and rage allowed me to stop stewing in negativity and self pity, and once I did that I could begin to work on the things in myself that needed working on. Since I moved on from all that rage, my overall attitude toward life has improved immensely. I’m beginning to feel like a real live person who can overcome just about anything my narcs have done to me, because all you can do is laugh at a paper tiger.

And, if you’re still wanting to get back at your narcs,  think about this:  Narcissists WANT you to continue to feel victimized.  They WANT you to be afraid.   They even revel in your hatred because your hatred (which is based in fear) makes them feel powerful.  The best revenge is to see them as ridiculous paper puppets, which is really all they are.  By seeing them as pathetic paper tigers with no teeth or claws, you are giving them the opposite of what they want and they will HATE you for that!

I think the Serenity Prayer is something that can be as helpful to us as it has been to countless people in 12-step programs:

God grant me the Serenity

To Accept the Things I Cannot Change

The Courage to Change the Things I Can

and the Wisdom to Know the Difference…

***

The honeymoon is over.

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I’ve been feeling quite strange the past week. It’s the worst I’ve felt in about a year. It started with feelings of anxiety and panic, racing and morbid thoughts and a feeling of unnamed dread. I’d try to nap and my heart would start racing so I’d give up. DBT skills didn’t work and some of my BPD (or PTSD) behaviors returned–negativistic behavior, feeling offended easily, sulking, fits of anger (not directed at anyone but expressed in imaginary conversations with myself in the car or at home), low frustration tolerance, paranoia. I’ve been less motivated to write. I’ve been neglecting housekeeping and eating right. Getting up in the morning is excruciating.

It was all I could do to make it through work. I was feeling sorry for myself all day and at the same time felt guilty for feeling that way. The anxiety has lessened but it’s been replaced by despair and some kind of deep sadness.

I don’t cry easily, but I started crying a few hours ago and couldn’t stop. It feels good to cry, but the feelings are so painful. I feel unworthy. I feel impotent. I feel angry at my parents for training me to be such a good little victim. I hate my ex. I hate myself. I suck at everything. I can’t relate to people. I hate people. I want to connect but I just can’t. I think people will hate me if I let them get too close. My world is so small and constrained and unsatisfying because of my fear of relating to others and reaching out, and because I never have enough money to do anything or go anywhere anyway. The summer’s slipping away and it reminds me of all the lost opportunities and all the doors that have slammed shut, never to reopen. That’s where my head is at. It’s a bad place to be. I feel like I’m losing control. It’s like a war inside my head. I hate all this wallowing in self pity but maybe it’s an opportunity to nurture myself.

I need to find a therapist. This blog is a wonderful tool for healing and it’s something I won’t let go of. It’s brought me a lot of joy. A lot of frustration too, but mostly joy. So I’ll keep blogging. I’d still rather do this than anything else.

But something, I don’t know what, has been triggered–by what I don’t know–and I’ve reached a point where just writing isn’t enough. I need someone to talk to who can help me sort out whatever’s going on in my head right now. I think journaling every day may have brought me to this point.

I’m not giving up. The good thing is that my emotions, while not really under my control at the moment, are there for me to feel. I’m not depressed in the apathetic, almost zombie-like way I used to get depressed when I was living with my narcissist ex. This is an active depression where my emotions are accessible to me and I can sort of name them and I just have to let myself feel them. I’m grateful for that at least. This is what I wanted. But what do I do with them? Can they make me a better, kinder, happier, more empathetic person? That’s what I really want. I need to find someone who can show me what to do with all these emotions.

I guess this means the honeymoon is over, and now the real work begins.

Crybaby.

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WARNING: THIS ARTICLE MAY BE TRIGGERING.
I spent the first 13 years of my life almost constantly crying. I was a perpetually squalling cranky baby, a screaming tantrum-throwing toddler, a tearful preschooler, and a school child prone to attacks of uncontrolled crying in public places and embarrassing situations. During my teen years, my crying was downgraded to near-constant sulking and negativity. Tears came mostly when I was angry or frustrated by the time puberty hit. Rage frequently accompanied the tears, or maybe it worked the other way around.

I had the curse of the blonde and fair skinned, so my emotions showed on my face in neon reds and pinks against the white background of my skin. I blushed easily and that was embarrassing enough. I could feel the blood rising up my neck like a sudden wave of heat and my ears would start to burn. My bullies picked on my tendency to blush and would deliberately embarrass or humiliate me to see my ghostly pale face turn as red as a fire engine. If it went on long enough, my lips would start to quiver and there would be tears, and that’s what they were really waiting for–to see me cry.

The crying was awful. I wasn’t a pretty crier; in fact I was ugly when I cried. My skin would turn into a mottled red and pink that looked like a bad case of rosacea, my nose ran like a faucet and turned so red it was nearly purple, and my eyelids turned bright red too and swelled up as if they were bee-stung. It would take hours for these facial giveaways of my pathetic vulnerability to finally disappear.

I had a great deal of difficulty controlling all the intense and confusing emotions that seemed to crash over me like tidal waves when I least expected it. These feelings were just too big for me to handle, and I was so easily overwhelmed by them and had trouble soothing myself (this is an early indicator of BPD and other disorders like PTSD). Whenever I cried I thought I would never stop. No one could calm me down. My emotions were a force of nature too powerful to be tamed. When I wasn’t crying, I felt a constant dull ache in my chest (heart area) and congestion in my throat. Even that early, I knew crying would relieve the tightness and pain, but the crying was like vomiting and sometimes as painful because the intense waves of emotion plowed through me like an out of control bulldozer.

Raised by a narcissistic mother and enabling (possibly low spectrum or covert narcissist) dad, I became the the family scapegoat (made even more crazymaking by the fact that as an “only” in their marriage, I also sometimes served as Golden Child). I was either held on a pedestal that far exceeded my actual abilities/beauty/intelligence/whatever, but most of the time I WAS NEVER GOOD ENOUGH FOR THEM. I questioned myself and everything I did; it seemed I could do nothing right. I wasn’t allowed to do things for myself or speak my mind. I felt awkward and defective in my family and everywhere else too.

Not long after I started elementary school the bullying started. I was the class crybaby and kids always target the kid who cries the most or seems the most vulnerable. I had no defenses at all; I had never been taught any and lacked the confidence to stand up for myself. Things got especially bad in 3rd – 5th grades. During 4th grade, I was followed home every day by a group of kids who laughed and jeered at the way I walked and imitated my walk, as my tears welled and threatened to overflow (no wonder I hate mimes). The bullies would call out to me and sometimes even throw things to get my attention, but I wouldn’t turn around. I just kept on walking. I knew I couldn’t let them see the tears streaming down my face because that would make everything so much worse.

My third grade teacher, Mrs. Morse, was a psychopath with arms like Jello who always wore sleeveless dresses, so whenever she wrote on the board, all that quivering, pale freckled flab hanging from her bare arm made me want to throw up, but I still couldn’t take my eyes off it. It was mesmerizing in a horrible way, like a car accident.

Mrs. Morse knew how sensitive and scared of everything I was. She knew I was bullied by most of the other kids. But she had no empathy for my plight. She was a sadistic bitch straight from the pit of hell. She deliberately called on me whenever I was daydreaming, which was often (no kids got diagnosed with Aspergers back in those days and the idea of “attachment disorders” that lead to later personality disorders was an afterthought in those days), then she would make me stand in the front of the room and answer a question or solve a math problem while she glowered at me like wolf about to pounce and kill their prey. She never did this to the other kids, who were allowed to answer questions from their seat. She deliberately tried to humiliate me, because she knew she would get a reaction.

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One time I couldn’t solve the math problem on the board (which was my worst subject), and she berated and belittled me in front of the class.
“You never pay attention. You’re always daydreaming. Do you have a mental problem?”
The class laughed.
My tongue was in knots and I felt the blood drain from my face. I felt tears burning the backs of my eyelids like acid.
I swallowed hard and tried with all my might not to let a tear loose but they started to flow anyway. I hung my head in shame and rubbed away the tears with my grubby fists as I turned away toward the wall. My narrow back and bony shoulders heaved with silent sobs.
That was exactly the moment this sadistic malignant narcissist who passed for a teacher was waiting for.
“Look everyone! Lauren is crying! Look at the tears! Cry, cry, cry, baby.”
The class burst into screams and hoots of laughter.
“Cry, baby, cry!”
I stood there in front of the class, staring at the floor, snot mingling with my tears, and longed to melt into those scuffed green-gray linoleum tiles, and never return.
In today’s anti-bullying environment, this “teacher” would have been fired for that shit. She might have even lost her teaching license. That kind of thing isn’t put up with anymore.

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Later that year, there was a similar blackboard incident. This time, I was stood in front of the room and told I looked like an albino rabbit when I cried. (I actually did, due to my fairness and my slight overbite.) I was mortified as this unbelievable cruel bitch encouraged the entire class to laugh at my pain and humiliation. I ran out of the room and fled to the library sobbing. The librarian was a sweet and very young woman (probably just out of college) who actually liked me and knew about my love for books. That library was my refuse and the librarian was my friend who understood me. This time, she saw me rushing in like that and held her arms out to me as I crashed into her and sobbed into her warm fragrant neck. We stayed like that for a long time, until Mrs. Morse (accompanied by one of her 9 year old flunkies) came marching in looking for me. Mrs. Morse grabbed me roughly by the arm and marched me back to the pits of hell she called a classroom. Sadly, I looked back at my librarian angel and saw the wetness on her face and her sad little wave.
She knew, and I knew she knew. I’ve never forgotten her. Sometimes in my fantasies I still see her waving at me with that sad tearful smile, and that image gives me comfort and strength.

I think my years of uncontrollable emotional displays came to an end when I was 15. They had already been abating somewhat, replaced with rage and anger, but I had trouble controlling my anger and constant dark moods, even though I wasn’t crying as much. I started to drink and do self-destructive things. I started “talking tough” but inside I still felt anything but.

The year before, when I was 14, my parents divorced and I was taken to live with my mother in the city. She loved it; I hated it back then. We fought all the time, mostly because of her self involvement. My grades slipped and I never did my homework. I was depressed all the time and cared about nothing. When I cried (which was still often) I usually did it alone. The other kids at school didn’t like me. I was never invited to parties, always last picked for softball. I felt intimidated and shy all the time, but I still tried hard to make friends–a little too hard. I fit into no clique (I have never fit into any clique) but there was a group of girls low in the high school pecking order consisting of the geeks and quiet, studious girls. They seemed welcoming enough at first. I saw their small (or more likely, polite) displays of acceptance and wanted so badly to believe they actually LIKED me that I guess I started following them around like a needy puppy.

charlie_brown_linus

I noticed after awhile they avoided me too, and my “birthday corsage” box was proof of my unpopularity, because it was not signed by all the girls and when it was signed, it was just a name. No long flowery messages, no in-jokes, no high-school risque comments, no “you are such a great friend” or “Love ya, Lauren. XXXXOOOOOO” Just…signatures and an occasional terse “Happy Birthday.”

My fears were confirmed later that day. After weeks of avoiding me, the group of nerdy girls approached me and told me they wanted to take me out to a restaurant for my birthday after school. Wanting so much for them to like me I remember grinning like a fool and nodding like the needy puppy I was. Inside I was a little suspicious, but dammit, I wanted to believe them! Maybe their ignoring me had just been my overactive, “oversensitive” imagination after all, and they really did care. Why else would they want to spend time with me on my birthday?

At the restaurant I was picking up a certain tension. The girls kept looking at each other worriedly and wouldn’t look me in the eye. As I ate, I watched their anxious faces. Something was up, and it wasn’t good. I felt like I was going to throw up. I spoke to no one.

Finally, Harriet, the leader of that clique told me she needed to talk to me–privately. I felt like I was on my way to the principal’s office for some transgression. My heart pounded in my throat and I felt tears burn the backs of my eyelids, but I didn’t cry. I bit my lip until it bled and tried to just breathe through my terror.

Outside, she smiled at me sympathetically. Then went on to tell me the real reason they had planned to take me to lunch was because they didn’t want me to hang around with them anymore and didn’t have the opportunity to tell me at school. She actually got tears in her eyes when she said this, and then told me she hoped my feelings hadn’t been hurt. Um…hello? But all I could do was stand there staring at her as if I was cognitively challenged. For the first time ever, I felt emotionally numb. I didn’t realize at the time that would soon become my new way of coping with my pain.

nobody_loves_you

I was traumatized by that rejection. I spent the next two days in bed. I felt sick and couldn’t go to school. I told no one what happened because the shame was too great. I didn’t cry; I couldn’t anymore. I just wanted to sleep forever and maybe die.

After that I couldn’t cry anymore. At least not in most situations that call for it. I had and still have trouble accessing my emotions. It was too scary to let them out, because when I did, bad things happened. It scares me to realize I might have easily become a narcissist, splitting off from all soft emotions, even empathy and guilt. Many narcissists started life this way too, without natural defenses.

I know now whenever I feel that painful tightness in my chest and throat, that means I need to cry. I’m not afraid of it anymore. I want to retrieve my long-ago ability to feel intensely connected to my emotions, because used properly, being an HSP is a gift and a blessing. The big difference will be that I’ll be able to let emotions pass through me freely and be able to express them without shame and without allowing them to overwhelm me or control me.

Addicted to being a Victim

I can relate to this article by OM so much right now. There are people who wear their victimhood as if it’s a trophy and for that reason can never move on from their past and heal from abuse. I feel sorry for them because they don’t realize they are letting their abusers win. The best revenge is to reject your victimhood, because that’s exactly what your abusers DO NOT want to see. They want you to remain a victim all your life because they know their toxic message to you became internalized and is eating your soul to shreds. You being happy and well will drive them insane.

For the record, I am not anti-victim, having been one myself for most of my life, but it shouldn’t become a way of life either. There’s a time to put it to rest and focus on becoming happy in spite of your past. Tragedy and abuse should never define who you are. The past can be used as common ground to connect with others who have suffered but then we should move on from it by learning from it and helping each other, but you are not your past. You weren’t born to suffer in spite of what your abusers have told you.

If you want to hang onto your victimhood forever, that’s your right of course, but it’s wrong to judge those who reject such a depressing and unhealthy philosophy.

To everything there is a season…

seasons

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

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

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

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

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

happiness_quote

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

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

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

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

Psalm 16 v 11 path of life bible verses on happiness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I need to set the record straight, for all the good it’s going to do.

reality_check

Several ACON bloggers over at Blogger are VERY upset with me right now. It all started with the article I posted last week about not bashing all narcissists. I won’t bother to link it here. Most of you who follow this blog have seen the article and have been following the ensuing drama.

Somehow now I’ve become a “narc sympathizer,” but not only that, they say I’m hurting victims of abuse and dismissing their experiences. That is simply not true at all. I feel that the person that initially read the article and posted about it on their blog didn’t read it carefully. Heck, even the title was missing the word “all” which does change the entire context of what I was saying! (she finally made that correction but it’s too late — the damage is done).

I’m so sick and tired of this whole stupid drama and just want to move on from it and forget it ever happened. I am sure others would like that too. Maybe I shouldn’t have posted that article at all, but at the time I saw no reason not to. I had no idea it would be as triggering and upsetting to some as it proved to be. If I knew it would be that triggering, I probably would not have posted it, or at least mulled it over a few days before making a decision to post it. But heck, it’s my blog. Why should I not be allowed to post an opinion on my blog, even if it’s not a popular one????

All because of that article, I’ve read the following things written about me on several other blogs: I’m a narc sympathizer; I’m trying to be “popular,” I’m trying to be cool, I’m a narcissist, I’m flirting with evil, I don’t care about or have empathy for victims of abuse, I am trying to SILENCE abuse victims (?!?), I’m trying to get people to forgive their abusers, I only care about the narcs.

But that’s not all! Now it seems I’m a thief too. Okay, I need to explain how THAT got started. About a month or two ago, I linked to an article written by another ACON blogger–because I liked the article. Yes, it is true that I linked to it on the day it was posted (I understand that was part of the objection). That was probably bad manners but I didn’t know that at the time I linked to it. I stand corrected. I did NOT copy the article here, nor did I take credit for it. I credited the author and I wrote a nice intro. To read the article, you must click on the link and will be taken to that blogger’s page. How is that stealing? If anything, it should have brought the blogger more hits. Why is it such an issue?

Here at WordPress, we reblog each other’s posts all the time. I guess reblogging a Blogger post is bad etiquette. (sorry, I didn’t know!) If that blogger wants me to remove the link to her blog, she can simply ask and I will happily do so. Really, I didn’t think it was hurting anyone and if it were me, I would have been flattered. But no, I’m being accused of STEALING the article, because I can’t think of original ideas of my own (“riding on other people’s coattails” was how someone put it).

Let me set the record straight on THAT too: I have original ideas and plenty of them, but there are some days I’m simply too tired or time-pressed to write an original article so I’ll reblog someone else’s. I ALWAYS give credit. Word Press bloggers don’t mind this; we do it all the time. Other bloggers here have reblogged my articles. They don’t ask for permission first. It’s pretty standard form. Whenever I get reblogged I get a notification (pingback/trackback) if it’s a WP blogger. I guess from now on I must only reblog WP bloggers’ articles because at Blogger, this appears to be bad form.

I just saw a comment from another blogger accusing me of favoritism because I didn’t provide a link to her blog in my blog roll. She said that I probably think I’m “too cool” to provide a link to her blog. No, that’s not it at all. I do not think I’m too cool. I didn’t provide a link to it for the simple reason there are far too many ACON blogs for me to include every last one. It was an oversight, that is all. It was not a personal slight in any way, shape or form. I apologize to this person if she took that as a slight, but I’m sure she doesn’t want me to link to her blog now anyway, since now I’m one of the “narc sympathizers” or even a narcissist myself.

I feel like I’ve been unfairly maligned, demonized, accused, and attacked. Words I never said are being put in my mouth, my original message was twisted into something completely different than what I was actually saying, things are being assumed about me that simply aren’t true, and now there’s a hate campaign against me, at least at Blogspot. People I thought were friends have turned against me and have apparently joined this hate campaign. Maybe they want me to take this blog down. Sorry, but I won’t do that.

I just don’t understand why if some people don’t like a blog or its author, just don’t follow that blog? Why pile on and bully the blogger? Isn’t abuse something we are all trying to get away from? Am I attacking other bloggers here? Have I started a hate campaign against anyone? NO I HAVE NOT.

All this coming from people who are abuse victims themselves, people who KNOW what it’s like to be shunned, ignored, mistreated and bullied. People who are supposed to have empathy. Why the need to scapegoat me and this blog, just because they disagree with something I wrote-and didn’t read the article right in the first place? I’m a victim just like they are, have been through the hell of growing up with narcissist parents and being married to a psychopath. I am not a “friend of narcs.” What I have experienced this past week is very hurtful and very damaging. In fact, I’m afraid it’s setting me back in my recovery. Do they feel any empathy at all for the way all this makes me feel? Do they CARE? I wonder about that.

Sorry, but I’m not taking this blog down. No one is going to silence me. I am so tired of some people making wrong assumptions and putting words in my mouth and attributing ill intentions to me and this blog just because they disagreed with something I wrote a week ago. This ABUSE and GASLIGHTING has gotten way, WAY out of hand and just. will. not. stop.
Do these people care how I feel at all?

I just want to move on and post about other things. I’m so sick of the drama. I’m sick of having to rehash the fallout of that article over and over and over. I am sick of constantly feeling like I’m on the defensive.

This blog was the one place I felt safe. It was the one thing that made me happy in my otherwise unhappy life. Now I don’t feel safe blogging anymore. I have no where else to turn. Somehow I must have the courage to keep pressing on and not let haters terrorize me back into my small joyless life where I have no voice at all.

Please, to those of you who keep pressing this issue, can we please just let it drop now? If you can’t feel compassion for the way your treatment of me is making me feel, can you please just ignore me and not visit this blog anymore? I won’t post on your blogs or say anything else about the matter. I just want this to be OVER already.

ETA: It’s gotten worse.
One of the flying monkeys wrote this to mock this rant.
http://rumblestripq.blogspot.com/2015/05/spring-time-for-hitler-and-germany.html
It was followed by this comment from the author:
“If any litigious individuals want to fuck with me, get familiar with the term summary judgment.”

This is beyond cruel and unusual. I had no idea the hatred was this severe or the individuals involved this malignant.
I also read a comment saying my writing makes no sense. It just doesn’t stop.