New Project – Married to a Narcissist

If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. ~Toni Morrison

Ok, so here’s where I share some really great news that happened as a result of today’s blogging. I’ve decided to write a new book, a memoir of sorts and have titled it “Married to a Narcissist: My Struggles with Abuse, Homelessness and PTSD”. I’ve finally decided it’s time to share my story, it’s time to embrace my empowerment and share my struggles so others might find hope and answers. It will also be a cathartic work for me to let go of so much of my past, a chance for me to tear down the house I’ve built, and create a solid foundation to move forward.

I invite you, dear reader, to join me on this journey as I open myself up and share what I’ve learned and what I’m still learning. I’m writing this for all the innocent victims out there in the world. I am going to share my truth and stand up for the other victims in the world. This is a book that’s been hidden within me for over twenty years and I finally feel ready to write it.

The best part is that the book is not intended to be for profit. I will donate the book to local domestic violence programs, counselors and whoever else will use it to help other victims. I will share it on my blog through previews and short excerpts. My hope is the story will serve to help other victims feel less alone and find their power within themselves. To reach deeper and find the well of strength within each of us.

I will create a website that will accept donations and book purchases to be used to offset the costs of producing the book. Any profits will be donated to programs to help victims of abuse. This is a book for women to share with their sisters, friends, mothers, and women regardless of their life circumstances. It’s a book about hope, perseverance, and overcoming the shackles of abuse.

It is only when you open your veins and bleed onto the page a little that you establish contact with your reader. ~ Paul Gallico, Confessions of a Story Writer

It will undoubtedly be the most difficult thing I will ever write. It will likely take me years to write but the best ideas start from a simple thought. The best plants can grow from a single seed. It will be me opening my veins and bleeding for my reader. Because that truth will set me free.

I have the most amazing support network – better than I ever could have imagined. I have a man who loves me in ways I never imagined, who is helping me to see my true capacity and is encouraging me to embrace it, to realize it and fulfill who I’m meant to be. I’m primed to finally do this. My hope is to send tiny ripples out into the world, to help others to find the way to find themselves. Together, we can overcome and be better, not just as individuals, but as a species. Together, we can overcome anything.

I almost lost everything about me. I almost gave up my will to live. Standing at the brink of that abyss was the most terrifying experience of my life. If I can save even one person from stepping off that brink, then my life’s work will be complete. If I can save more than one, then I am blessed beyond measure.

Yours,

The Rambler

Blogging is Hard Work and Defining Narcissism

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.

Dear Robin Williams

Two days ago I heard that you committed suicide and a piece of my soul is forever wounded. There is a hole that can never be filled. Do you have any idea how incredible you are? Do you know how amazing and special your little spark of madness truly is?

I am not mad at you. Some people are. They say suicide is selfish and cowardly. They don’t know what they are talking about. You and I both know that suicide is when you feel there is no more strength left. It’s when you need others to step forward and share their strength for a while. Breathing hurts. Thinking hurts. Dear heavens, feeling hurts. And all you want is the pain to stop. For the despair, like a toxic black cloud inside and out, to go away. The darkness is suffocating and yet it promises relief from the pain. I understand the allure, all too well. I have fought the same battle for 20 years myself.

I was fortunate. An amazing man, a cop, stepped into my life for a brief moment and gave me his strength. He made me promise him that no matter how bad things got, that I would never end my own life. For 20 years I have kept my promise.

That’s not to say it wasn’t close once or twice. That’s not to say there weren’t moments when I forgot my promise. At one point I held a 9mm gun in my hand, loaded and ready, and just shook from head to toe for over an hour. I wanted to end it all so desperately. I had been drugged and raped for the second time in my life. I had lived 21 years of misery and tragedy that seemed like it would never end. And yet, in that darkest of dark hours, I heard his words.

“You are strong enough to get through anything. You have gotten through dark times. Promise me you will never end your own life.” I wept and stared at that gun, longing for the end. I cursed him for that vow. I tried to tell myself it didn’t matter. But that one person was the only one that did matter. He saved my life time and time again.

I wish I could have been part of your life. I would have held your hand. I would have hugged you. I would have tried to make sure you weren’t alone when you were hurting. I would have made you promise me not to end your own life. I would have told you how strong you are. I would have been strong for you when you needed it most. I would have made you feel loved.

Ironically, when I am at my lowest I turn to movies to make me laugh. More often than not I turn to children’s movies. Aladdin has been my favorite for many years because of its happy songs and the crazy antics of Genie. But life doesn’t always have a happy ending, does it? You knew that all too well.

If there is an after life, I hope you are filled with peace and the love of a world that owes you more than it can ever repay. If there is reincarnation, I hope you return as something beautiful and happy that won’t be destroyed by the world. In either case, I hope you can feel the outpouring of love and shared grief throughout the world. I hope the emptiness and pain is gone.

This is my third post since your death, the third day of helpless tears, and I still haven’t been able to find the right words. We loved you so much but as the saying goes, you never know how much you love something until it’s gone. I never told you – the distance between us seemed too big. It seemed like we were worlds apart. I had no idea how close our worlds really were. I am sorry for not reaching out sooner, for not telling you how much you impacted me.

Your body might be gone but your spirit will live forever. I may never find the words to say thank you for all the gifts you gave.

We love you and oh God, how we miss you.

Truth Versus Reality

Today I woke up and the first thing to hit me was Robin Williams is dead. How could a man I never actually met, be such a loss that I feel like I’ve actually lost one of my best friends? I want to cry but can’t because I’m angry. I’m angry that he’s gone and no one could help him. This man who gave so much of his talent, of himself, to others and no one could save him. Why? It seems to senseless. And as I start to write, this song by B.O.B. came on my iPod and seems strangely, ironically, perfect.

I want so much for it not to be true. This can’t be the truth. It can’t be reality. I want the Genie to grant my wish. I don’t need three, I just need one. I want Robin Williams to pop up with a silly red nose and say it’s just a joke, that he would never kill himself. That he truly believed all the times he said suicide was the wrong solution. I want him to show up, dressed up as Mrs. Doubtfire and make everything better. He was larger than life on the screen, why couldn’t he slay those demons? I want this to be a really bad movie script that needs to be rewritten.

You are already so missed, less than 24 hours after the news broke. I wish you could have known in life how loved you are, by people around the world, by people you’ve never even met. My fiance and I are both shaken to our cores by this loss. He was a hero, an ideal to live up to. And now he’s gone. He should have died an old man, happy and content in his bed, feeling the love of friends and family all of his days. Why is it we kill off the best among us? What is it about fame that kills?

I can’t concentrate. I should be working but my mind is in this loop of sorrow and disbelief. I don’t want to believe it. It can’t be true but yet news story after news story shouts it from the headlines. He should have had another 20-30 years with us. Another 20-30 years to make an impact and change lives, even his own.

There have been a lot of deaths in the last couple years that have been truly tragic – Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Walker, James Gandolfini, Heath Ledger, Cory Monteith, Whitney Houston. Accidental deaths most of them, and all of them much too soon. But of them all, this one somehow hurts the most. No one made the world laugh like Robin Williams, with a sweet mixture of realism and genuine humor. He could make you laugh just with one line, a word, or a look. It was so effortless, he made it look easy.

I remember him in Flubber with that silly green blob. The only man I know who could make me laugh until I wanted to pee myself over a bouncing bit of silly jelly. And his heartbreaking portrayal in Patch – I tear up just thinking about it.

How do you grieve for a man you never truly knew? But yet it seems like we did know him, that every movie contained a small piece of his soul. And maybe that was it – he left so much of himself in his work, there was nothing left and he just couldn’t take the emptiness anymore.

Good God, this is a wound that won’t heal for a very long time. I keep thinking if I watch enough of him, he’ll somehow come back to life. The only thing we can do is try to keep alive the little sparks of madness he left behind. We will always love you Robin, even if we never had a chance to truly know you.

A Temporary Solution

Today, Robin Williams committed suicide. It is a complete shock to me. After so many of his movies, some of them with messages against suicide, I still can’t believe he would do that.

I decided to watch World’s Greatest Dad, which is about a father’s son who commits suicide. In the movie, more than once he says suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Why Robin? With all the joy you gave to others, was there not enough left for you? What was the final straw? Why did you throw away your life when you had so much of it left?