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.
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 “was 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 with regardless of how he 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.
In March of 2015, shortly after we moved to Florida, my mother called saying she was going to visit in April. That was some surprise considering she rarely visited me even when I lived 30 minutes away. Now, she was traveling all the way to Florida. For me. — I felt special. I felt loved.
Always hopeful, yet knowing our relationship, I prepared for her visit. I doted on her and bought all her favorite foods, (stuff I can’t even eat), made all her favorite dishes, bought a new sitting area to serve her food on the lanai, put fresh flowers in her room and made her a smoking area outside with a sand bucket ashtray, table, chair and pretty lit palm tree.
Before her visit, I was walking through Barnes and Noble bookstore and the title of this book leaped out and caught me by the throat. I turned it over, read the synopsis, and knew in my heart I was about to embark on the journey of a lifetime.
When I got home, I took an online test designed by Dr. Karyl McBride to see how high on the spectrum of narcissism my mother actually was. If I remember correctly, there were 36 questions. My mom scored 35.
The bonus for me in reading this book, was that I learned I wasn’t blessed with just one narcissistic parent, but two. Both very high on the spectrum, with two very different diagnoses according to my therapist.
Although I said before this blog is more about my healing from narcissistic abuse and C/PTSD than it is a place for answers, I did say I’d share the books and things I did, or do now to help myself during this journey of learning, healing, and finding my strength again.
This is the book that started it all:
The answer to that question is no. You’ll never be good enough for a narcissist.
What are the basic characteristics of a narcissistic mother?
“The cornerstone of maternal narcissism is a lack of empathy and the inability to tune into the emotional needs of others, particularly her children. The other traits listed in the diagnostic manual are: grandiose sense of self-importance, preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, brilliance, beauty, and ideal love, believes she is special and unique, requires excessive admiration, has a sense of entitlement, exploits others for her own ends, is envious of others, and shows arrogant and haughty behaviors and attitudes.” (American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)
Dr. Karyl McBride said, “I would add a lack of accountability, blames others, projects her feelings onto others, and is basically all about herself.”
– Enter my childhood.
Needless to say, the visit with my mother did not go well. She walked out of my home four days early after telling me to “go to hell,” and “to go fuck myself” while pointing her finger an inch away from my face and repeatedly calling me “girl.”
She would not, no matter how my husband or I pleaded for her to tell us, what we did to cause her to act this way or treat me this way in my home.
She and my stepfather summoned a cab to take them to the airport a few days earlier than they planned to leave. They just walked down the sidewalk pulling their suitcases behind them, got in a white and yellow airport taxi van and off they went, not even looking back to see me crying in the doorway. Nothing. It’s a scene I have etched on my brain. I was discarded like a piece of trash and she has not spoken to me since.
That was over three years ago.
When I cried to my therapist about this, asking her what I did, she said the reason my mother couldn’t articulate what precipitated her leaving, was because nothing happened. She explained that people high on the narcissistic spectrum believe their feelings to be facts and do not operate on thinking. If the feelings floating around inside their minds are telling them they were offended, then they react to that as if it’s an actual occurrence, whether it happened or not. – Pretty messed up, huh?
Contrary to popular belief, she explained to me that narcissistic people are not in fact in love with themselves. Actually, they hate themselves deep down and overcompensate with a lot of the characteristics listed above. They think terrible things about who they are as a person, have no self- esteem and are constantly trying to offload those feelings onto someone else. They, in turn, blame you for those feelings and say they are offended by something you did or said, even if you did or said nothing. – It’s called projecting.
I know accepting this sucks, but no matter who they are, how much we loved them or how much we wanted them in our lives, we are better off without them. Being discarded by an abuser you’ve spent a lot of time trying to please, raise, love, give to, help… is an insult to the original injury they cause and feels like being gutted. But, there is an upside. I didn’t see it at first either, but I do now. They did us a favor by discarding us. Now, we can get down to business and work on healing and living free from abuse.
When you learn about narcissistic personality disorders you will be able to identify the signs faster and stop your interaction with it quicker. I used to have this crazy notion that most people were meant to be in my life forever, no matter what. Friends till the end. Family forever. — Nope. I used to make excuses for people and their bad behavior over and over. “That’s just how he is.” “Maybe she didn’t mean it like that?” “He’s just tired.” “He said he was just joking.” — Now, I have boundaries and cut people off faster than new tags on a tube top. (Just kidding, I don’t wear tube tops… 😆)
And now, I no longer explain myself either, they don’t know what, why, when… I’m just gone.
I’m no longer in the baggage handling business and make others carry their own emotional baggage, and pathology.
And you should too.