How to Heal from Narcissistic Abuse Using Your Inner Knowing and The Middle Lane

I get a lot of questions via the inbox feature on my book page on FB related to healing from narcissistic abuse. Some are thinking of getting on the road to recovery and wonder where to start. Others were on the road but, out of fear, manipulation, or guilt, by the abuser, pulled to the side, and some even circled back for more of the same. Some are further down the road than others. And some have exited right and are going in another direction all together because they are done with the initial stages of learning.

Make no mistake about it— they are only out the other side of that layer of healing. We all come back to each issue time and again for further understanding and healing until that issue no longer repeats, no longer gives us an arousal jag, and we no longer have any response whatsoever to that event. You know what they call that? Wisdom. And it’s glorious!

After a lifetime of abuse and actively working on healing, and only having a name for what was happening to me in just the past seven years ‘narcissistic abuse;’ with therapy and copious amounts of reading, I can tell you, we will always be in the process of healing something—so the more you take your foot off the gas pedal, the more you stall your own progress. We need to shift gears; upshift (out of our head) as we heal up and out of one trauma, and downshift, as we need to slow down (into our bodies) and further investigate other traumas. It’s a mind/body connection healing.

You already know that narcissistic abuse is on a spectrum. On one end are victims and the other end are perpetrators. And what nobody who teaches about this will ever tell you, all of us have narcissistic traits from time to time. If you haven’t yet realized that you yourself have had some not-so healthy tendencies as you learn about this spectrum, you’re not far enough along yet. You’re still in the finger-pointing stage.

Healthy narcissism is how we get our needs met. It’s how we don’t die as children. But, no one who learns about this is completely innocent of not causing harm to another person. Reactionary abuse. It’s a thing. Learn about it. Forgive yourself. Make amends and move on.

It’s when bad behavior becomes a pattern and causes other people pain and trauma that we slide into the danger zone of unhealthy narcissism and the psychopathy that lies near the end. Two far either way is not healthy. If we’re not careful, this spectrum becomes a circle that like a two-headed snake can bite us in the ass. To avoid this, try to learn about yourself daily. Learn about your triggers and your limitations and stay in the middle lane called, “Survivors and Thrivers.” My favorite motto in life is: “Do No Harm, But Take No Shit.” Something I’ve lived my life by.

Processing our lives at the deepest level is not for wimps. I started my journey as a young runaway on a much more superficial level than where I am today. I learned early to tune into my inner knowing. To observe. To sit and listen and just know. As we get older, learn more, and have more time, we go deeper. If you’re in your twenties and thirties now, you’re busy working, some of you are creating your own families. You’ll come around to the choices you’re making now, much later in life. Try to make good decisions. Because if you don’t, they will be more in your mind in your fifties and sixties, than what you had for dinner yesterday. And please understand, if we’re using our life as a learning tool to learn better and do better, we are never done growing and learning as a person.

I’m always willing to stop and reach back to help and encourage those who are where I used be because I’ve had my own teachers that have helped me, BUT, (and here’s where it gets difficult) no one but YOU can do your work for you. This may sound harsh, but we can’t do it in learned helplessness and excuses that the world seems to be so in love with now. There is no excuse. You have to read, seek help, integrate the learning you do and incorporate it into your life. You’re on the internet already, do research. Read books. Be a seeker. Find your problem and then find the solution. Can’t afford books? Go to the library and check out books. Everything starts with a choice and a decision to end this crazy-making cycle of abuse we have called our life. I made the decision young, you may be making it now. It doesn’t matter as long as you make it.

It starts with accepting what is, like it or not. Don’t like that step? I don’t either. Like you, I know it should be at the end of something, not the beginning, right? Not in this case. We have to accept people where they are. And sometimes we need to leave them there.

So cry, vent, throw yourself a big pity party, rage on paper about how unfair this stupid fucking life is, take up kick boxing, take a nap, a bath, go to bed early, then get up and try again tomorrow. Wake up knowing you showed up for yourself. You did some deep work. You processed. Be proud about that. It’s not easy.

Understand that no matter what anybody has done or said to you, that you have value and worth as you are. We do not have to be perfect to have value. Then learn boundaries even if the only one you know is: a hard line in the sand. Then, you have to get out of your head, stop making excuses, and get into your body and listen to it. Trusting your intuition is of the utmost importance here.

When you feel physically sick around someone because they treat you like shit, I don’t care who it is— your aging parent, your own adult child, your boss, neighbor, etc… you need to limit contact, go no contact, quit your job, move, etc. Just be willing to prepare for and do the next right step for you. AND know that sometimes we also have to feel things deeply and not make a move right now. We can’t always make big changes just because we feel hurt and offended. Don’t get into the lane of extreme everything and immediate gratification too easily. Don’t quit your job because your boss is a douche canoe if you’re a single parent. Be smart about things. Learn to be an AND person.

Know that respect is a two-way street and forgiveness is not necessary to move on, have a good life, or be a good person. Although forgiveness is the one F-word I don’t use, I tend to do enough work surrounding the hurtful issue that forgiveness no longer feels necessary because there’s nothing to forgive.

Forget your diagnoses. Let go of their labels. And categories (and subcategories) that humans do with absolutely everything. Toxic is toxic. Focus on you, and your healing. And yes, you can do that even if you can’t make a bold move right now.

Don’t hope they call, or apologize, don’t fantasize about telling your boss to go screw himself, it will keep your wheels stuck in the mud. Change you. Taking all the blame creates a victim. Not taking any blame creates a narcissist. Stay in your lane. Take whatever blame is yours and shove the rest back into your perpetrators lap and be done with it. They don’t have to know what you’re doing. Get out of your head and stop ruminating. Stop believing your feelings as facts. They are not. Stop with all-or-nothing thinking and catastrophizing. Just stop.

When we say that we can’t stop this abuse because this person is so significant in our lives, or we don’t know where to start, we are saying that we are not significant enough to fight for, or smart enough to figure it out. Not true. You’re stronger and smarter than you know. Acquire some strong, healthy coping skills, and use them even when you find it to feel foreign and uncomfortable. Follow your heart, but take your head with you. Instead of drinking away your problems Friday after work, take a bath, and go to bed early. Sure, it may feel weird at first, until you fall in love with loving yourself and realize you’re the one you’ve waited for all this time!

And get into therapy. Seriously. There’s no excuse not to. I’ve been in therapy throughout my lifetime; from a teen at a runaway shelter, to a single-mother on welfare and food stamps, to a single-mother working as a nurse, to now; a menopausal woman in her mid fifties. Therapy is more assessable now, than ever before. There’s no excuse that should keep you from getting help. There is no shame in needing guidance on what to do next, getting some feedback, or needing a sounding board. Therapists will arm you with the language, coping skills, and validation you need to continue on your journey of healing. And, if you’re still going to say you can’t do therapy because of whatever reason, get a notebook and a pen. The best therapy you can do is to talk it out in the page. I have tons of filled up notebooks! Your intuition knows the answers you need. We are our own best counselor if we just stop with excuses.

When we’re focused on what people think or we’re worried if they judge us for leaving, staying, standing up, or getting therapy, we’re taking our eyes off the road and distracting ourselves with shit that does not matter. People don’t know your life. Let them think what they think. Not everybody needs a response and we don’t have to have an opinion about everything. You will get your energy back when you’re no longer in fight or flight mode and responding to every barking dog along the road.

Focus on yourself. Not what they did. It’s okay to tell your story, it’s okay to out the abuser, but then decide to get over it and use that situation to make yourself better. Flip the script. Learn from it. Why do you think this specific thing is happening? Your intuition knows the answer!

Know this: People who abuse are making a choice to do so. Just like we make the choice not to abuse. Contrary to popular belief, this is not something caused in childhood, and to continue to perpetuate that falsehood is to keep many survivors in danger and in projected empathy that can get them killed, create dis-ease, or cause them to harm themselves. This is a choice.

Also, contrary to popular belief, narcissists do not love themselves. Sounds sad, and this sounds uncaring and crass, but it’s not your problem. No self-respecting person would treat another person the way they do. They have their own work to do and are trying to offload pain and using you as a whipping post. They also need to find other ways to cope. Untie yourself from that post and walk away. What they do and how they act has nothing to do with you. Wish them well and go about living your life.

I know it looks like some are better at healing from this than others. Not true. Some are just further along in learning about this cycle and have integrated what they’ve learned and we are reporting back what’s up ahead. My education in this has been super expensive, not just financially, but it’s taken a toll on my health, my marriage, my looks, my weight, my family, my connection to spirit and community, and my sense of inner peace.

I beg you to stand up when it’s safe to do so and when it won’t cause you further distress or harm. This cycle of abuse that is so prevalent in families and society can kill us unless and until we learn to advocate for ourselves say, “NO MORE!”

If you are reading this, and you’re struggling; wondering how in the world you get off this twisting, winding, bumpy dirt road, with no overhead lighting, know that if you just keep going, a little at a time, you’ll snatch your power back. You just have to make the choice to do so. I know you can do it.

Sit with your notebook and pen, and ask, “What’s the next best step I can take?” Our inner guidance system knows the answer.

Pull off the road
Take a deep breath
Compose yourself
Put your blinker on
Press the gas pedal down
And steer your car back into the middle lane.
Keep your eyes on the road, two hands on the wheel, and keep going. You’ve got this. 💪🏻💥🥊🚀

If you’d like to connect on my book page for Steel Town Girl, go here.

If you’d like to read my first memoir Steel Town Girl about my childhood with two narcissistic parents, you can buy it here

I’m currently writing my second memoir, which for now, still remains unnamed.

Art for Healing

Art helps us talk to ourselves, encourage ourselves, and channel messages for ourselves and others that I believe come from a source outside ourselves. Art is my time to not think. And it’s amazing what comes through when the mind is not trying to control the outcome. It’s time to experiment, make mistakes, and see what works and what doesn’t.

Even when you’re telling yourself to focus, the mind gets to play with what distraction looks like on a page.

Instead of gears turning in the head on the image I was working on, my inner child wanted mandalas. Because in the art world, it’s whatever I want. Yay!

Later, one of the mandalas became a flower. An idea growing, maybe? I take it to mean what I’ve always known, without knowing I knew… and that is we can change our minds from robotic to blooming. From mundane to colorful. From traumatized to healed. Something I’ve consistently worked on.

In an art journal, you can allow spinning chaos, and confusion to slowly turn into a pretty yellow flower with a green stem. When we step back and look at the bigger picture we realize that underneath all the people we’ve been (and are becoming,) all things we’ve had happen to us, we are not reduced in size, just changed over time.

The quote that came to me:
“I can be changed by what happened to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it.” – Maya Angelou.

The easiest and cheapest kind of therapy you can do is play in an art journal.

What healthy outlet do you have that helps you stay sane?

Coming up for Air: When Self-Help Becomes Self-Abuse

Reading self-help and attending counseling for a lifetime can start to feel like abuse-of-self after awhile. With each new book I crack, my body asks, “When are we going to be okay the way we are? Why are we never enough? Why is it that we have to change?”

I thank god for the privilege I’ve had to self-help books and counseling throughout my lifetime, even when I was poor and on welfare.

But, excessive reading and searching for something outside our own inner knowing only reinforces our less-than opinions that others have liberally applied to us, and not always in childhood.

So, I chose to read for pleasure. On a pool day.

Self-help and growth as a human is wonderful, but it should also involve play and coming up for air from time to time. Constantly rolling in the deep, and diving deeper and deeper with little rest doesn’t make us stronger, faster. It can weaken us and take us under, drowning us.

Some myths about a water drowning:

*Drowning people yell for help.
*Drowning people wave and thrash about wildly like in the movies.
*A drowning person is capable to assist in their rescue.
*Drowning takes a while.

These are also fitting signs for other types of drowning.

— Drowning in trauma we rarely talk about.
— Drowning in self-doubt, we’re embarrassed to bring attention to.
— Drowning in grief that society expects us to “get over already.”
— Drowning in fatigue from a lifetime of trying.

Trying is good. But, excessive trying can make us weaker, sicker, and can take us down faster. ILL health is the result.

So, on days your body is asking you, “When are we going to be enough?”

Say, “Today, sweetheart, today.”

Float. Find pleasure. Play.

It’s all part of the process of becoming.

Maybe even do a handstand?

Looking at Old Photos: An Exercise to Help You Reconnect To Yourself When You’ve Forgotten Who You Are

My 2001 interview with Oprah, Lol!

I’m going through old photos while working on my second memoir and found this memory today.

This one is from a trip to Las Vegas in 2001 where I visited Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. I am a huge fan of Oprah, so when I ran into her that day, of course I let her interview me for my upcoming best-selling book. Lol! 😂

I was writing my memories out by hand back then for the book I wanted to write someday and was filing them away in my 3-ring binder.

I used to sit and watch The Oprah Show every chance I had at 4pm and still have the notes I took on the episode where she interviewed authors of memoir on how they approached their writing process.

This exercise of looking back at old photos is helpful for reconnecting to our old selves to see how far we’ve come, and to see how much further we have yet to go. It’s also helpful for abuse survivors who have endured decades of psychological abuse to help us reclaim who we’ve always been at our core, before toxic people projected who they are onto us.

This photo reminds me what I’ve known all along. I’ve lived authentically and genuinely from my heart. I’ve approached my big, convoluted, noisy, messy, busy life with a huge sense of humor, a love of life-long learning, the strength and dedication to keep my word to myself and follow through on my commitments, while showing up for my roles and responsibilities and continued to dream big!

And here I am. Still smiling and laughing. Still learning and growing. Still strong and doing. Still keeping my word. Still showing up. And still dreaming big!

I’m also still very realistic about what a long way I have yet to go, to get to where I dream of being. But, the most important thing about this is I kept my word to MYSELF to write that first book! How is that for learning self-trust, self-love and self-acceptance on your own?

Don’t allow the community that teaches about narcissistic abuse tell that you don’t know how to teach yourself or can’t. If what you see is good and you’re happy with that, keep doing that. If it’s not, have the guts to change it.

And, don’t let narcissistic family project onto YOU who they think you are, or should be, in order to make them comfortable and to keep you in learned helplessness. Be defiant! Be a force to be reckoned with! They’ll get over it. Or they won’t. It’s their choice to make.

Dream big or go home, baby!

projection #protection #dream #do #create #laugh #learn #grow #loveyourself

Growth from Toxic Relationships Is Not About Building Walls

We can learn everything there is about toxic people of every kind and know something about every kind of personality disorder — and still get duped.

We can prepare in every way possible to never allow ourselves to be used, abused, or manipulated again, but that’s not real life. When we’re keeping our hearts open, living our lives and not isolating ourselves for protection behind impenetrable walls, those things can and will happen.

Believing that everyone who hurts us is purposefully toxic or disordered, and that healing from them is a one and done, is both naive and harmful. Harmful to us to think we should never be duped again if we just learn these simple rules. And harmful to others for pigeonholing everyone as “toxic” or “narcissistic” who may hurt us.

The world has gone crazy with all this narcissistic 101 crap. Everything I see is about it is from one extreme to the other: all good, or all bad; with no in between. That’s called borderline personality disorder. So, whatever you do, learn to see shades of gray.

I’ve tried all my life to walk the midline of life and have still hurt others inadvertently, or been harmed by others. I’m not going to stop living my life and trying again with new people. Making everyone we meet pay for the sins of another is not growth. It’s just another form of superiority.

Yes, we need to learn our boundaries, yes, we need to learn the signs of toxicity in others — and then— we need to liberally apply some common sense to the whole situation and realize that each time we engage with others there is a possibility that we could get hurt. Anything other than staying open is not living.