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?

Abandon Logic: Save Yourself the Overwhelming Grief of Trying To Fix the Narcissistic Abuse Cycle

If you don’t know what to do, because you don’t know what you did wrong…

and you’re always tired and confused…

and going crazy with the mental anguish of wondering what more you could do to fix the situation…

and you feel that there is nothing more you could have changed about yourself to be accepted and loved…

and the grief of this is consuming you…

you’re either currently being narcissistically abused, gaslit, and manipulated…

or you’re just waking up to the fact that you are or have been.

Please know this:

You don’t know what you did wrong because you did nothing wrong. You can’t fix things because you didn’t break them. And you won’t ever change yourself enough to be accepted and loved by those who can’t accept and love themselves.

The grief will consume you if you continue to approach this situation with logical thinking and continue to deny patterns. Narcissists and those with any Cluster B personality disorder are the most illogical, irrational people you will ever have to deal with and their patterns repeat again and again and again…

The mental anguish you’re feeling is understandable. You’ve been through a hell that no one understands unless they’ve been through it. But no amount of making excuses for them, allowing yourself to be taken in by the love-bombing and future-faking will ever make them change. You will never get an apology. And you will never get changed behavior.

When we are being abused in any way, all we can do is: 1) accept it, or 2) make plans to stop the situation by leaving and, 3) put up boundaries and going No Contact.

It’s simple, yet oh so difficult, I know…

~Robin xoxo

Mask Madness: Some Perspective from the Middle

This sign was in an elevator that was only 5’11”, but if it makes you feel secure, great.

In 1995 I had just graduated nursing school and was hired at a nursing home as a charge nurse. The resident doctor who did my pre-hire physical that August warned me that although I would be protecting myself with Universal Precautions and PPE, I would probably get sick on and off for months, or get one really big flu that lingered that fall/winter. (Flu shots weren’t discussed, because they weren’t pushed yet, nor would I have taken one.)

In November that year, the nursing home was hit with the Asian flu— (that’s where it originated, so that’s what it was called) — and twelve of my elderly residents died as a result.

By December I ended up getting it, and got sicker than I’ve ever been in my life, missed two weeks of work as a single mom, and got three months behind on bills as a result. Not one person cared. No one called me a hero for doing my job. No one shut the country down. And no one helped me pay my bills.

I love that the world is trying to become more compassionate, considerate and caring, but the blame game and the extremes that go on in society in order to feel superior about absolutely everything is so old and exasperating, I can barely stand it anymore. If you view everything we’re seeing on the line that is narcissism like I do, you see just how quickly both the left and right side of that line can become toxic.

If your mask makes you feel safe, by all means wear it. I’m not going to ever try to talk someone out of their fear and I can’t know what underlying issues they may have that puts them at risk. I’m not going to demand they do anything different than what they’re already doing. And, if someone else chooses not to wear a mask, I’m doing more harm to my immune system by getting angry, irate and superior about it than if I just minded my own business and stayed away from them.

We can never, ever, ever, control what someone else does or doesn’t do. If we embrace that concept and understand that what others do or don’t do has nothing to do with us personally, our immune systems won’t be as run down, our adrenals won’t be jacked up with cortisol, and we’ll be healthier as a result.

Balancing Act: Healing a Lifetime of Abuse While Still Living Life

Somedays we need to tell our burdens to “GO FLY A KITE!”

We can feel as if we’ve been walking a tightrope in life when trying to heal from a lifetime of narcissistic abuse all while living our lives…

One book, course, or therapist will tell you to:
Feel It To Heal it, that’s the only way through.

Another book, course, or therapist will tell you to:
Let it go, Rise Above, and Transcend.

The REAL truth about healing from ANY of this is:
We have to do BOTH at the same time.
(The Key to this is: While listening to your body to guide you.)

This is how I’ve done this death-defying, tightrope walk my whole life:

Keep Moving. >>> Feel it to Heal It = Go in deep, Feel it all — No matter how messy. (For my strong days when excavating is easier.)

Be Still. >>> Transcend Above It = Stay Present in the Moment, Self-Care, and just do today. (For my not so strong days, when digging is too tiring. *Just holding the balancing pole is enough weight to carry today.)

Feel it to Heal it
Rise Above…

Keep Doing That.

On days you look like you’re floating around doing nothing… YOU’RE NOT DOING NOTHING!

You’re integrating and soaring to NEW HEIGHTS! 

P.S. — *Don’t forget to give yourself credit for the weight of the balancing pole! 🙂

#dontlookdown #balanceiskey

Hemingway, Trauma-Bonding and Letting Go to Love Yourself.

Hey there! It’s been a while since my last post… five months to be exact, and four months since posting to my recipe blog. I posted a lentil chili recipe yesterday and awoke to 95 more followers to that blog this morning. Cool beans! (If any of you out there know how to merge two blogs into one, let me know!)

Anyway, I’d love to be able to report here on my book/writing/healing blog that I have been back to writing my second memoir, but I have not. I spent this time moving and settling into our new home, making and sending art for the art groups I’m in, and have enjoyed some down time in Key West with my youngest son, husband, and mother-in-law. After a tour at The Hemingway House, I’m just now feeling the writing juices percolating again.

Hemingway House
Hemingway’s writing room
Do you see the sleeping cat?

Polydactyl kitty cat waiting for treats

My first memoir Steel Town Girl was published last September and is doing surprisingly well. My editor loved it and she’s written 31 books, so I’m not sure why I’m so surprised, but of course I am. Also, I got a shout-out from Darcie Chan on FB and Twitter the other day. She’s the uber-talented writer of the Mill River series. If you haven’t read her, I highly recommend them. Start here.

I was published for about five minutes and was still recovering from that, when I was pelted yet again. I’m doing better now, but in all honesty, much of my time away from this blog came after this post and this one back in November, when afterward I received a scathing email from my son. Apparently, my outing him on my blog; my place for healing and reflection, (and something encouraged by my therapist), pushed him to the edge and he lashed out in a lengthy email about just what a ridiculous, embarrassing mess of a person he thinks I’ve become.

He poked fun at me for taking a new medicine (an antidepressant) saying I am “always sick”, shamed me for deleting him and all his flying monkey friends, and I was blamed for things as far back as 2004, while his father got a free pass for absolutely everything.

He scolded me saying that he doesn’t like the negativity I put out into the Universe (which means he doesn’t like having other people know…) and told me that this may be “unrecoverable” and “unrepairable.”

He accuses me of creating this blog because I love being a victim. He ended by saying that he doesn’t like the mom I am now, he likes the fun-loving, high-energy mom he grew up with, and that if I think I’ll be invited to his wedding I have another thing coming.

In other words, I should be fun, and easy to be with regardless of how he, or anyone treats me. How dare I have a normal reaction to abnormal behavior.

It took me these few months to get my bearings again after that email. I was already reeling when I got it, so it was like getting kicked in the stomach while you’re already on the ground. And, breaking this pattern of trauma bonding is not for the faint at heart. It’s something we’ve been conditioned in childhood to cling to. To go right back, again and again, looking for comfort in the very person who kicked us while we’re down.

Letting go of the arousal jag of continually trying to fix shit I didn’t break was difficult and exhausting because it was ingrained in who I was. The Fixer. Of everything. To everyone. Well, no more!

Now, I’m walking taller and straighter than I have in a long time. I’m doing it without meds (my choice) and life feels better than it has in a long time.

The pain that used to linger throughout my chest is no longer there. The manic, “What did I do wrong? and it’s ugly sister, “What Can I Do To Make You Love Me”, has given way to, “Not My Fucking Problem.”

It’s taken this time away to realize that the balm that soothes trauma bonding most is called, “No Contact.” (With them, and anyone associated with them.) You apply it liberally, as many times per day as needed until it becomes second nature and becomes easier to breathe. But you can’t use “No Contact” until you use the pre-treatments: “Not Your Fault,” and “You Can’t Change Them.” When you put the cart before that horse, it just won’t work. You’ll feel guilty. But, when you feel those two things deep within your bones, then, feel free to use the third step: “No Contact.”

Detoxing feels awful at first, but when the toxic sludge of this conditioning stops coursing through your veins, it actually feels like you’ve been given a gift! And you realize — this was a gift you had to give to yourself!

Please don’t continue this pattern in any relationship and call it love. Once you’ve identified it, stop it!

When we go back to our partner or spouse after abuse, people either say we’re hopelessly in love or call us nuts. It’s nuts. (More on that later.) When we go back to our children after abuse by sweeping it under the rug, people tell us what good parents we are. That’s not being a good parent! It’s being a doormat, and it’s not normal!

So, I did a lot of thinking, reflecting and soul-searching in my time away from this blog. I still continue to learn the difference between narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and I came to the conclusion that it really doesn’t matter the diagnosis. It’s his issue, it’s not mine to fix, worry about, or deal with anymore, so I choose to live for me for once. My son is a thirty-three-year-old man who will have to figure out why he acts like he does, what his issues are, who created those issues, and how he can change them on his own like everybody else. But, regardless of why, what, who, or how… his behavior is his choice. And it’s my choice not to deal with it anymore.

If and when he wants to talk to me; to us, with dignity and respect, apologize for his behavior and not talk over me, we can have an adult discussion. I’ll own my role, he can own his, and we can move on in life. But, I won’t hold my breath. Until then, No Contact it is.

I am letting him go. Because I am choosing me.