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

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 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.

Dream big or go home, baby!

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.

This photo reminds me that I’ve approached my big, convoluted, noisy, messy, busy life with a huge sense of humor, a forgiving heart, the love of life-long learning, the strength to follow through on my commitments, the dedication and audacity to show up for my roles and responsibilities all while continuing to dream big!

Dream big or go home, baby!

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

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.

Learn to Discern What You’re Listening to about Narcissistic Abuse on YouTube.

I wish videos on narcissistic abuse didn’t go straight to NPD when discussing narcissism. Because there are healthy levels of narcissism with a little “n” that we all have in order to forge ahead and make our own paths in life. Healthy narcissism is how we get our needs met. It’s how we get out of bed and try again. It’s how we rise above. It’s how we speak up and out against injustices and stand up to be counted. It’s how we are able to put ourselves in others shoes and put our own needs on hold for another.

This kind of narcissism is full of compassion for others, takes ownership of self, takes responsibility for one’s own actions, self-partners, fulfills self from within, is authentic and genuine, isn’t afraid to look imperfect, and has empathy for self and others.

As someone who has two narcissistic parents, and is married to a man with a narcissistic mother, narcissism that comes in the form of capital “N” Narcissism, as in the personality disorder NPD—we can tell you it is completely unhealthy and void of anything that resembles empathy. They present with an inability to ever be wrong about anything, can never have faults, be responsible for their actions, don’t take ownership of self, don’t even try to understand others feelings, can’t ever look imperfect, can’t show any vulnerability whatsoever, apologize, or have remorse and empathy for others.

The video I watched today went on to talk about how “sad” it is for victims. And while it is, I also wish videos that discussed NPD didn’t pigeonhole victims of it as somehow doomed to never prosper or succeed in life. Nothing could be further from the truth! I’ve been living this life, all my life — and I’ve never thought for a second I was sad or doomed.

Telling people this or even hinting to it, is just another type of conditioning and grooming going on in the narcissistic “expert” community that wants to educate people about it, yet have us heavily relying on their products, classes, books and more to heal from it.

It’s like dumbing us down while building us up to need them. It feels opportunistic and it feels wrong to me. I don’t begrudge anyone from making a living, but I do take offense to showing pity and pandering to a group of people looking for healing, while simultaneously keeping them stuck and sick and reliant upon their content to heal by using degrading words that push people back into the pigeonholes they are trying to escape.

Don’t believe anything that pushes you back in life! And don’t listen to people who use negative language to describe your life. Only grow forward and make your own path in life with your small “n” narcissism in tow.

We are not victims, nor are we sad. We are victorious and more powerful than they want us to believe.

#nowyouknow #notsad #notavictim #justsayin

The Gifts of Invalidation

I’m revisiting old poems, letters, notes, and various other writings that I’ll be including in memoir number two.

Yesterday, I sat and read them aloud to my husband. He sat shaking his head with tears in his eyes.

In one of them, I was 32 years old and my dad was fifty-two. I am now fifty-two. That letter was twenty years ago. I was asking him to please validate my pain—explaining that I needed it for my health to live my life fully. I explained all the work I was doing on myself in therapy, and sharing the books I had been reading. I asked him if he could he please help me by explaining some of the things I remembered.

In the letter, I said it wasn’t to blame or hurt him, just to help me since I was having health issues such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks and back pain to the point of barely being able to walk. At age 32!

There is no return response to that letter.

There are other letters to him and my mother where I fully tear into them and let them know in no uncertain terms just how awful it is for them to have such “selective memories” and how hurtful their dismissive, flippant attitudes hurt me. I tell them both how tired I am of the poking and prodding of me they do to get a response, yet, when I do respond, they insist I “live in the past and need to let things go.”

Then, there are soft and tender poems I started writing about my mother in the late 90’s. I wrote how sorry I was that I may not have always appreciated her, and how awful her life must have been. I assure her she was always loved. I was writing to her about understanding how difficult motherhood was since I was doing it alone. Then, I realized as I read,
I was searching for a common thread between us and trying to rectify in my mind that my suffering and hers were the same. I was actually begging to belong to my own damn family; giving to her what I wished she could give to me.

I know we’re supposed to be soft and gentle with our younger selves, but reading these letters and poems made me wish I could go back and actually ring my own neck! Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I was angry at first. How desperate to beg for love and belonging. But, I thought doing so meant I cared about the other person and was sending the message they were worth it. I didn’t realize I didn’t love myself. If I had, I would have never, ever, begged to be seen, heard and validated from people who proved again and again that they weren’t going to change.

Reading those letters proved I’ve been a lifelong seeker of the truth, and have spent my life thinking it was me who needed to change while those around me never did.

I read those letters now without any spark of emotion toward my parents, except for maybe some sadness. What a waste of a life to be the same at every age and stage of life. Nothing else in nature stays the same and unchanged except for a narcissist. — And, it’s all because their ego can’t take that they are not perfect and superior at every turn. How awfully sad.

Except for some residual twinges of anger about being desperate to connect with such dysfunctional people regardless of how self-sufficient I was, I’m proud of myself and who I’ve become. Because those around me refused to grow up, I’ve outgrown them by leaps and bounds from being in a constant state of change as a seeker of truth and self-healer. I had to go on to validate myself, learn to hear what it was I was really trying to say, and as a result, have always enjoyed my own company and can happily and healthily look at my imperfect self in the mirror and smile. I love me.

I took my twinges of anger toward my younger self (or probably more of a residual irritation than it was anger) to the yoga mat for mediation last night before bed. My god. I slept like a dead person last night with glorious, undisturbed, peaceful sleep and a calm mind. I awoke to such vivacious energy to continue on with writing and clarity about what comes next.

What a gift this has truly turned out to be. I am forever thankful.

My multitasking room where I write, make art, sew, do yoga, and meditate.

Happy New You! Reflecting to Heal Narcissistic Abuse and Resolving C/PTSD

Org Chaos
Sounded about right with all that’s on the agenda…

I went out to lunch with a friend today and I saw two couples sitting with their 2019 wall calendars and spiral bound planners mapping out their New Year together. I love a new planner too and the hope I feel when I can see 365 days all strung out in front of me to do with what I want. 365 opportunities. 365 gifts. What are we going to do with them all?

Planning has been one of the ways I’ve kept my anxiety at bay in the past, and the type of planning and tracking I do in my planner, has changed as I’ve changed. This year, I achieved what felt like an impossible feat; finishing my first novel. It took five years to write and each year for five years straight I put it in the slot of my #1 goal, and continued to move it to the next year, and the next… and the next before it was done.

But, 2019 will be the first year that I’m adding reminders to my planner that will continue to help me protect myself as well as keep me on the road to healing the destruction left in the wake of enduring and learning of narcissistic abuse.

My 2019 resolutions related to ending abuse, disrespectful familial patterns and recovering from trauma are:

  1. I’m going to stay angry about it. That doesn’t make me a bad person. It’s actually necessary when you are too empathetic and at risk for of being abused.
  2. I am hanging up my Wonder Woman outfit. People will have to fight their own battles like I have. I will no longer feel it my duty to rescue others. I’m busy rescuing myself.
  3. I will continue to take my anti-depressant and anti-anxiety meds and not allow people to shame me about it.
  4. I will no longer word paint for the blind. I understand now that narcissists purposely frustrate our efforts to communicate and our desire to feel validated and are not concerned with the truth.
  5. I will no longer be dismissed, demeaned, and devalued in my own family.
  6. I will remain No Contact with abusers, their triangulated flying monkeys and not feel bad about protecting myself from any of them. This is not a discard. These are boundaries for my health.
  7. People that can’t or won’t defend me against abuse are what my therapist call perpetrators of abuse. If someone is fine with me getting pummeled as long as they don’t have to get involved. Those are not my people.
  8. I will require an apology and changed behavior from here on out. (Hint: If you’re the type of person that hates apologizing, stop doing hurtful shit to other people you have to apologize for. Simple.)
  9. I’ll no longer be the heavy lifter in relationships and won’t accept lop-sided, sloppy seconds from people I call friends and family.
  10.  If things in my life are trying to fall apart, I will let them. I have no more strength to fight.
  11.  I will trust patterns and not words. 
  12.  I will listen to my intuition when it sends me warning signals and I will proceed no further — no matter what anyone says.
  13.  I will no longer allow negative, mean bullies to take their anger out on me with unfounded accusations, criticisms, and insults. If they don’t show up with facts and examples in a respectful manner, they can keep their generalizations and projections of themselves — to themselves. 
  14.  Others opinions of me are none of my business. I’ve studied myself for 51 years… I know who I am, and how I am, and I love myself. 
  15.  I’m worthy of the same love, consideration and respect that I’ve given to others. Asking for those things isn’t expecting too much.
  16.  I will rest when I need to without feeling guilty for what I’m not doing.
  17.  I will no longer apologize when I’m sick or when I need something. I’m human. And my needs matter.
  18.  I will focus more on the love I’m getting than the love I’m not.
  19.  I will have self-compassion and not beat myself up for having feelings, not accuse myself of being overly-sensitive for crying or having a difficult day. Those are mental loops that play out in my head from abuse and I’m undoing them, defiantly.
  20.  I will say no without further explanation.
  21.  I won’t harm myself with hope. Hoping for reconciliation of any past relationship or wishing it was different will only leave me open for more harm.
  22.  I now know that no response — is a response. I don’t need to attend to every argument I’m invited to. I have to conserve my energy for more pressing matters like healing and living my life.
  23.  I will nourish myself with copious amounts of self-love; massages, facials, plan mini-getaways, take girl’s weekends, I will eat dinner in bed and lounge extravagantly. And I will know that I deserve everything good.
  24.  I’m only going where I feel happy, loved and accepted for who I am. I’ll surround myself with with people who are happy to celebrate me and my  own successes, who are encouraging to me, love me for who and how I am, and not those who merely tolerate me. (Tolerate traffic. Love people.)
  25.  There will be more talking about the elephant in the room and less sweeping things under the rug in my family. They will grow, or go. Their choice.
  26.  This is my blog, and my outlet for healing, and I will discuss on it what I wish. I will be transparent about my life. The good, the bad, the ugly. I will be brave with my life and not be bullied or threatened regarding what I write about. I’m a memoirist. That’s what we do. 

If you’re being mentally and emotionally abused, I hope my boundaries serve as reminders to you that we don’t have to take this shit anymore and we are worthy of all things lovely.

If you are in physical danger, please make a plan to leave quietly, or call 911.

If you’re here reading and we have parted on good, bad, or indifferent terms, I still wish you the very best in 2019 and always. I hope you find what you are looking for.

Happy New Year!