My amazing partner recently reminded me that I need to be blogging, that I hadn’t blogged in far too long. Concerned for my mental health, he called me on the fact that blogging is like pushing a stone up the hill and “you’re avoiding the stone and the hard work that goes along with it.” He’s right, I’ve been avoiding doing the hard work that I know needs to be done, while expecting to just get better.
The reality is, that as an abuse and incest survivor, recovery is hard work and it’s an ongoing, daily process. It never ends. Just when you think you’ve reached a good place and the work is over, another demon you never even knew was there rears its ugly, wart-covered head and scares the shit out of you in the middle of the night. Sometimes knowing that is overwhelming and makes me just want to pull the covers up over my head.
Fortunately, I have a man who loves me more than life and knows me better than anyone else alive, sometimes even myself. It’s scary how well he knows me sometimes. He doesn’t let me slack if he sees me doing it and he sees both who I am and who I can be. So here I am, once again trying to do the hard, heart-breaking work that needs to be done. Trying to accept the fact that I will always have to do this work. That’s the burden of abuse – you never really get beyond it. It’s with you and within you forever. The scars are deep and while they might heal in time, they never disappear. They become part of who we are, changing us forever. Life can be better and even feel normal but it will always be lurking beneath the surface.
One of the battles I’m fighting is trying to be more open – not just with others but with myself. I’m trying to acknowledge the soul crushing pain I battle every day, without pity or shame but with pride. I’m a gladiator waging a war every day of my life – to be better, to overcome, to thrive despite all the barriers of life, my shortcomings and of abuse. I hope to be able to do so with clear eyes, a clear conscience, integrity and without sounding like I’m whining (too much). I’m not a person who generally thinks, “Woe is me, I’m such a victim, someone help me/save me/rescue me from this”. I look at life and a problem and say, “How do I get over/around/through/between/under this to overcome it? Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” I’ve got plenty of will, what I’ve been lacking lately is strength.
I have recently come to understand what was at the root of my marriage. I knew, if I looked hard and long enough, I would find an answer and I was right. I have always been someone who looks at a mistake and says, “How do I never do that again? What caused it in the first place? What can I change? What can I do better?” That same mentality was what was preventing me from moving forward. Like a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces, I kept working on it until I found what I needed. And it was the reason behind my loss of strength.
My ex is a narcissist. The clinical definition is for Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Narcissistic personality disorder is a condition in which people have an excessive sense of self-importance, an extreme preoccupation with themselves, and lack of empathy for others.
I fell in love with a man who was the complete opposite of me. I’ve spent my life trying to understand and help others. I’m compelled to help children, the abused, and the disadvantaged. The rich and accomplished don’t need our help, they’ve either already had it and used it to succeed or didn’t need it in the first place. It’s their job now to help others. The disadvantaged among us need the most help.
Unfortunately, narcissists (narcs for short) are a class all unto themselves and without the will to change, will not recover from the disorder. They will continually be disillusioned in their life, always wondering why the world hates them and is out to get them and feeling like everyone else is wrong but them.
My mother is a classic example of a narcissist victim. And toxic! Oh I haven’t spoken with her in over 15 years and when I confronted her (via letter) about what happened to me as a child and young adult, she literally acted like it never even happened. In her mind, she was a great mother, I was an out of control child. It’s not her fault, it’s mine. Forget about the fact that I was molested, physically abused and sexually molested by the man she married and got impregnated by. Forget about the fact that she abandoned her youngest daughter at 10 years old because it was easier to just leave and turn her back on the child she never wanted in the first place.
For my ex husband, the problems in our relationship were all in my head, I’m crazy and need therapy. The only reason I was crazy was because he was driving me there with his grand delusions that our relationship was fine and I would never leave him. He did absolutely NOTHING to try and fix our relationship or to admit there was a problem in the first place. Doing so would have shattered his own self image, something his ego couldn’t stand.
Realizing that I’m not crazy, that it was the relationship, has given me empowerment again. I’ve always believed knowledge is power and this is another example of it. It was like someone gave me the key to unlock the box with all the answers. A few weeks later, I filed officially for divorce, something I was afraid to do because of the fear of having to face him in a court room.
There is an enormous amount of anger, rage and hate inside of me for him, now that I see him for who he really is. It’s like someone took the magic spell off and I can see clearly for the first time, the demon underneath. Many of my friends and family don’t understand this sudden reversal (thanks to Facebook). It honestly scares me that I let such a demon into my life and didn’t recognize it for four years. The only thing that gives me comfort is that there were circumstances at work, which I didn’t understand.
I was conditioned for two years by him, most expertly, to become a victim for him. He learned it from his narcissistic mother. It took two years to get me there – that’s a long time to hold out against a psychological barrage that has cause prisoners of war to curl up in a corner and will themselves to die. It took another two years to get me to the brink of that abyss where I wanted to die. It was sheer force of will that refused to allow me to take that plunge but it was definitely a close thing. I reached out the only lifeline I had – my best friend and now the man I hope to marry. If it hadn’t been for my best friend, now boyfriend, I might have eventually been beyond the point of no return.
My strength was gone and for the first few months, my boyfriend carried me entirely. It’s starting to come back and slowly we’re starting to be able to walk together side by side. If I falter, he’s more than willing to help me along if I need it.
A tremendous resource I want to share with you is from the amazing Kim Saeed, with Let Me Reach. This site was the key that opened the door to providing me with answers. I’ve mentally devoured almost all of the material on her site, and it has set me free to recognize that not only am I on the right path, but to appreciate the amount of courage it takes to do this. Recovery will likely be long but I’m determined to get there. I have plans, I have a future, and I have way too much to live for, least of all is my children. Going no contact with my ex was quite simply the best choice I ever made and she helped me see that.
Part of what makes Kim’s information unique is the way she breaks down these challenging psychological concepts and puts them into everyday situations which bring about deep understanding. I find myself often nodding my head, agreeing with what she’s saying and thinking, “Wow, she just described my ex perfectly. or , “Yep, that’s my mom for sure.” She’s helped me understand important behavioral terms like gas lighting, love bombing, and emotional manipulation.
After feeling for four years like I’d fallen down a rabbit hole with no end, Kim’s information has given me a lifeline to cling to and the answers I was so desperately seeking. Everything happens for a reason, and if we can come to understand those reasons, that understanding and knowledge can set us free. I’m living proof. Once I began to understand my abuse, I was given the tools to free myself from its clutches a little more every day.
Most importantly, she has lead me to other resources that also helped me recognize that I’m not a bad or weak person, but an innocent victim. What attracted the narcissist to me? Am I magnet for narcissists and abuse? In a way, I am the perfect magnet but that doesn’t make their behaviors my fault. All the amazing, wonderful things that make me who I am: my kind, caring nature, my empathy for others, are what made me the perfect victim BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN I NEED TO CHANGE WHO I AM. Who I was before the abuse is still wonderful. I worked for years to build that person up and now that I’m free of the abuse, she’s starting to re-emerge and flourish again. That’s the irony of narcissism – their goal (unconsciously or consciously is unclear) is to destroy the things within us that make us beautiful, to eradicate hope and bring you to their level. I refuse. Not going to happen. Ever.
Does that mean I’ll be abused that way again? I certainly hope not. I feel confident I’ve learned my lesson. I’m much more wary of people now. I study them for a while first to make sure they are who I think they are. I recognize that understanding people is a weakness for me so I consult others for their opinion of a person and then act as I see fit. I’m not so quick to accept people at face value because I am incapable of truly seeing them.
Does that mean I’ll never be abused? Does that mean I’ll never make a mistake? Probably not. In the midst of this, I had to end a three year friendship that I realized was bad for me and I didn’t know it. I was in the friendship for all the wrong reasons – out of a sense of obligation, not for any true commonality. There was a forty year age gap. We are both writers and kind of fell together as a result but it wasn’t really a relationship. Was it a toxic relationship? Not to me. But what tipped it over the edge was when this person verbally abused the man I love right in front of me. I attempted to make him see his errors, to which he got defensive and angry so I cut ties with him. It was a side I’d never seen in him, he’d always been kind to me. I’ve never been so shocked in my life as I was to hear him call my love a psycho and essentially call him a pig because of his size. He was bullying him and that’s not something I will ever tolerate or forgive, especially not from someone who had created this persona of kindness.
Is that harsh? Maybe so. But I don’t have the time or energy to deal with that kind of bullshit. He was in the relationship to make himself feel better, to be a good Christian, not to be a true friend to me. He took pity on me because of my background and was incapable of seeing that. I don’t need pity. Understanding and friendship, yes, but not pity. I’m a strong, capable woman who offers a lot to others and my struggles have only served to make me stronger. I’m glad to finally see the relationship for what it was and to free myself of it.
Whew – I guess that’s been pent up for a while. Over 2,100 words in a post. That might be a new record for me. I do want to share some upcoming plans but I think I better do that in a separate post to give people a chance to breathe.
Until next time,
The Rambling Mind
P.S. This song came on my Pandora station when I first started the post and gave me hope. I hope it lifts you up too – the words are exactly what I feel for people in general.