A Really Great Day

Today was a great day. For the first time in a really long time, I feel like I have myself together. I am moving forward a little at a time and today really showed that I am finally starting to gain some velocity toward my goals. If my life were a train, then I have been struggling up one big mountain and I think I have finally topped the crest of it.

I paid for my real estate exam and set an appointment for my fingerprints. My fiancé recently took a second job as a driver for Uber so I also signed up as a driver for Uber in my local area, which will hopefully give some additional income to get us out of this rut we have been stuck in for the last eight months. The nice thing is we will net $450 in referral bonuses because he referred me.

If you want to check out the program for yourself and earn an easy $250 (after your first 20 rides), just go here to learn more and sign up. My fiancé made $200 his first week for about 10 hours of work and he didn’t know what he was doing. It’s a great secondary income if you have a decent vehicle. We are even considering leasing a vehicle with them. We expect to bring in about $1,600 – $2,000 extra dollars a month, in addition to other revenue streams. It’s not for everyone but it’s going to get us on track with our financial goals.

I ran errands much of the day once my fiancé got home, including getting a Thanksgiving turkey and ham for next week as well as some other supplies we really needed. It felt good to be able to get what we needed for once. There weren’t any extras but after having so little for so long, it feels like abundance. Even scrimping and saving as much as I can, our grocery bill topped $600 this month (including food stamps which only covered 45%). Feeding a family of five is not easy. Feeding three people with metabolisms like horses is an incredible task.

Three of us are gluten sensitive or intolerant. I am allergic to a wide variety of spices (any kind of dried pepper essentially). Our nine year old son (P) has ADHD so we try to limit his sugar and he is growing like a weed! He eats the same amount of food as his father who is 6’2! Our oldest daughter (A) is 6 feet tall and only in the last month discovered she is severely gluten intolerant. It has put her in the hospital ER twice in the last six weeks.

Fortunately, thanks to a great digestive health specialist and the help of the internet, we have A finally on the mend. But trying to keep us stocked in vegetables and healthy proteins is a tall task. And expensive! I am sad to say I had to go to a couple food pantries for help this month because we just couldn’t keep up with the prices. Fortunately I was able to donate almost as much as we received in stuff we couldn’t eat.

One major issue we still have to deal with is getting P gluten free meals at school. I am not confident in my ability to pack him a healthy, filling lunch every day, especially with our financial pressures currently. I will soon be working as much as 50 hours a week as we try desperately to bring in enough money for Christmas. Fortunately, our oldest will be watching the kids for a while to make things work smoothly.

We didn’t eat badly per se but to make meals stretch further, I would buy cheaper meats in bulk and include a lot of pasta. I also learned that for ADHD children, protein is even more critically important. Now that we are feeding our son the right foods, and supplementing his meals with protein bars, his behavior has become completely compliant and we have our sweet boy back.

Last night I spent a few hours working on Married to a Narcissist and wrote over 2,000 words without stopping. It’s definitely hard to open up that way but at the same time it feels really good to analyze my life from a different point of view. I find myself including details and finding new insights as a result. I wore out at almost eleven, and fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. That’s the first time I have done that in years. I was up again at six a.m., bright eyed and ready to take on the day. My optimism, hope, and strength is surging back and I am honestly relieved. I am by no means miraculously recovered but I have definitely turned an important corner.

I find myself looking forward to the hard work ahead instead of being overwhelmed by it. My spirit has brightened and my soul feels lighter than it has in months, years even. The darkness is receding and being replaced with light.

Our oldest daughter A is just starting her recovery journey. She moved in with us when she turned 18 and graduated high school. Her bio mother is a narcissist and her step-father is abusive. She is starting to open up to our help and learning to trust and accept our love. It’s taken six months of hard work but she is taking the first shaky steps and I couldn’t be more proud.

I see so much of myself in her. The pain and uncertainty. The fear and the desire to be strong through it all. The need to be in control and not rely on anyone else yet yearning for love and acceptance. Her PTSD is starting to really manifest itself and we are working on getting her counseling at a local women’s center. Since we both need it I told her I would go with her so she wouldn’t be alone.

I don’t fully understand why but I love this young woman. I was drawn to her the very first time I spoke to her on the phone. We talked for almost two hours while I was in Costco. I must have walked that warehouse ten times as we talked! Meeting her was like meeting an old friend again.

Maybe because the child within me recognizes a kindred spirit and wants to help heal her wounds. I see so much potential in her if she can overcome the pain. She is a beautiful woman who doesn’t realize it yet but I see it clearly. It gives me tremendous joy to watch her start her journey toward self-love and acceptance. I am witnessing the healing between her and her father as they come together and it is beautiful. Seeing these two people who I love grow in trust and friendship is incredible.

I am so very grateful for these gifts. I have a loving amazing family and our future is so bright together. I am so excited for the future. Considering where I was eight months ago, that’s a huge step forward. I would tell any victims who are struggling to just keep moving forward. Sometimes it’s two steps forward then one and a half steps back, but with time and perseverance, you CAN get there. I am living proof. Don’t give up and have hope!

Til next time,

The Rambler

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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.

Time for a Fresh Start

Well, it would seem I’ve finally hit rock bottom. My vehicle is gone, repossessed last Sunday. I turned in the keys on Wednesday. If not for my roommates, my daughter and I’d be homeless. I’m letting my marketing business go for anything other than marketing my own businesses. I’m slowly finishing projects and letting clients know. I still can’t believe I’m yet again starting over. When will it stop? I’m sick of rebuilding my life over and over again. But I’m going to let all that shit go and focus on the future starting today.

Time to focus on my real estate business and a brand new future. Time to rebuild with a solid foundation. Time to work toward a brighter future.

New Dawn: A Daily Adventure

New Dawn

How often do you get to (or have to) be awake for sunrise? Tell us about what happened the last time you were up so early (or late…).

 

Stitched PanoramaThere was a time in my life, when I was younger, that getting me out of bed before dawn was akin to Mission Impossible (queue the dramatic techno music now please). That being said, now that I’m older, with more responsibilities and two elementary age children, getting out of bed before dawn is a daily adventure.

In my college days, I frequently would choose classes that didn’t start before 9 a.m. Who would ever want to get up THAT early, on purpose, for school? Yuck! Now I find myself up before the dawn frequently in order to get some extra writing time or just a little peace and quite before I start my day. Waking up seems to take me longer now too. I used to be able to bounce right out of bed. Now it’s a lot more like a stumble.

I greet the morning dawn with bleary eyes and yawns most days but I do greet it at least five days a week. Ironically, I don’t find myself missing sleeping in too much. Sure, there’s the occasional nostalgia for the “good old days” when I was younger (and dumber) but for the most part, I like my life as it is.

Of course, nowadays, college students have it SO much easier. While I didn’t have to walk to school (uphill, in the snow, both ways!), technology these days is giving college students such incredible advantages. Like Amazon’s newest program, have you heard about this? They now have a program just for college students to offer them free unlimited two day shipping (HOORAY for the college student budget) with no minimum order.

I mean, seriously, you can get your textbooks ordered online and shipped to you in two days?! No pawing through empty college bookstore shelves at the last minute? No borrowing a dog-eared version from the college library? That’s fantastic! I wish they’d had that when I was a student! The horror stories I could tell you! And I was organized and prepared!

I look forward to helping our oldest daughter get into this program when she’s ready to start college (hopefully next year). They’re offering a free trial so if you’re a college student, you should definitely sign up. It’s free for the first six months and then they give you 50% off of a prime membership (another fantastic program and one I AM part of).

If you’re not a college student but still want to enjoy Amazon Prime, you can enjoy a free trial on me here. We recently ordered a fabulous Hamilton Beach food processor, and a Black & Decker Juicer so I could make the family’s favorite pico de gallo. Instead of taking 3 hours, it only took me 45 minutes. Awesome products and the shipping savings from the prime membership paid for itself in less than six months.

Anyway, how I got there through a daily post prompt is beyond me but whatever. I guess it’s just the way my mind works. Yes, those are affiliate links and I get a small commission (miniscule really but every little bit helps for this starving dedicated wordsmith) so if you’re looking for those items anyway, why not get them and support someone you know? I doesn’t cost you anything more.

Anyway, time for me to go get some REAL writing work done and stop messing around with this time-sucking whole blogging thing. One of these days I’m going to write a blog post that includes all my self-edits and then you’ll see how truly warped my mind is hard I work on each post. Even the prompt based ones.

Til next time,

-The Rambler

August Blues: Not in this House

August Blues

As a kid, were you happy or anxious about going back to school? Now that you’re older, how has your attitude toward the end of the summer evolved?

As a kid, I relished going back to school. School was my safe haven and even at a young age, I think I intuitively knew that it would lead me out of the situation in my life. I grew up in an abusive, neglectful dysfunctional home where I was molested and tortured until I was 15. So school was a refuge. In school, teachers liked me and I desperately sought their approval in everything I did. What I was starved for at home: love, attention, guidance and nurturing, my teachers provided me. Not in abundance per se, but enough to keep my starving soul alive.

It’s quite remarkable really. I have a ton of admiration for teachers. Their job is hard. They have to shape the minds of children who, for the most part, would rather be playing. For me, a steady parade of teachers over the years literally saved my life. And they didn’t even know it.

I loved the work. I loved the experience of stretching my mind to new limits, absorbing new information. It felt a lot like being fed, like sustenance for my soul. And there’s so much in the world that’s fascinating, that I find myself insatiable, even now. 

And ultimately, education has been the driving force to lead me out of a life of poverty and ignorance. Rather than continuing the legacy of my family, I broke the pattern and am teaching my children how to avoid that pattern. It’s not easy but learning has been a key to my self-sufficiency, independence, financial well being and a brighter future. Of course, you have to want to be educated for that to work and it’s not easy, but through the years I’ve continually bettered myself. 

For me, it started many years ago with a retired teacher who tutored me in reading and math after school. I developed a love of language (although not much love for math) and reading that saw me through countless tumultuous times. Look at times throughout history at how a lack of education has affected countries and civilizations and it’s easy to see that education is a cornerstone for success.

So naturally, I create excitement for my children throughout the summer. My kids are the only ones I know who were excited for and enjoyed summer school. All summer I talked about how I was looking forward to them returning to school and compared it to being at home to the point they love being at school. I hope to continue to encourage them into a lifelong love of learning. So if anything, my appreciation for schooling has increased. It’s never a reminder of the end of summer, but an exciting time of learning. Now, as we get closer to the holidays and the end of the year, that will be a different story. Not to mention, I have to file for divorce soon, a prospect I’m strangely dreading.

 

Am I the World’s Worst Mother or What?

I’ve been counting down to this day since school let out on May 30th. I’ve been anticipating it with the excitement and joy of a child at Christmas time. It has loomed, getting closer every day, until I thought I might burst from the anticipation. And now that it’s here, I’m euphoric. Giddy even!

It’s the first day of school and I have the next six hours to myself. Other mothers are snapping pictures of their kids on the first day of school. Not me. It’s just hugs and kisses and, “Have a great day, learn lots, I love you!” No pictures – I’m practically skipping out of the school, nary a feeling of guilt or sadness, just pure relief. Does that make me the world’s worst mother or what? 

I mean, truly, what mother relishes this day? For most, from what I’ve observed, it’s a bittersweet day but for me it has always been one of relief and excitement. Not just for myself, mind you. It’s a chance for them to learn things I cannot teach them. I would have no idea how to teach my child the alphabet or how to count to 1oo. My patience is about the size of a gnat – teaching isn’t my forte. I could no more homeschool my child than I could teach myself how to breath under water without scuba gear. Add to that the fact that I pick up on everything with seemingly impossible ease and I just can’t help people who don’t understand things as intuitively as I do. The only area I really struggle in is math. 

But there must be something wrong with me that I feel like a prisoner who has been set free. I can read. I can sleep. No arguing or whining. No bored children. Their minds will be stimulated, they will have the chance to play and exercise, get a couple healthy(ish) meals, and come home (hopefully) worn out and compliant. Their little minds and bodies, so full of boundless energy, will be sufficiently tired and content even. 

Next year, we’re investing in summer camp to save my sanity. I’m not a nurturing person by nature – children quite literally baffle me. Don’t get me wrong, I love my children. I would lay down my life for them and never hesitate. But I never really had a chance to be a child – I was old by the time I was 10. I had already seen a lifetime of tragedy. By my 30’s I had lived through more tragedy and trials than most people see in a lifetime. So identifying with children isn’t just hard for me, it’s damn near impossible.

This summer was brutal. I’m trying to study for my real estate license with a 7 year old and an 8 year old at home full time. I made it to chapter 17 but I have no idea how much of it I retained. Some of it, I’m sure I simply added to my general knowledge, some of it I already knew. But considering I still have six more books to go through, that’s not great progress in 3 months. Now I can buckle down and focus. Today, I will definitely be luxuriating in this incredible feeling of freedom. Next week, when my sleep deprived mind protests getting up at 6 a.m. every day and going to bed around midnight, I might not be quite so elated. But for now, I’m thrilled! First day of school! Yay!

Anyone else feel the same? Or, do you think I’m just crazy as batshit? I’d love to hear your thoughts about summer and motherhood.