I’m overwhelmed…

thank_you

But overwhelmed in a good way.

Coming out as a covert narcissist here a few days ago was incredibly scary. Even though I’d already written posts explaining why I felt like I was one, I was only self-diagnosed.  That’s not quite the same thing as actually getting a real diagnosis of NPD.  People can dismiss self-diagnoses pretty easily and find all kinds of reasons why they think you’re wrong.  Then you start to doubt it yourself and you’re back to where you started.

Having such a disorder (and BPD also), I’m terrified of rejection, disapproval, and negative judgment. Especially because NPD is an incredibly stigmatizing diagnosis to be saddled with.  Hell, having BPD was bad enough!

I imagined the worst: my friends high-tailing it off my blogs, and never speaking to me again. Other friends deciding they had to go No Contact with me now.  Trolls and narc-haters writing abusive and hurtful comments. Losing a bunch of my followers and readers.

Well, surprise! None of that’s happened. If a few people decided not to follow this blog anymore, I’m not aware of it (I can’t keep track of that). No one has been  the slightest bit negative or judgmental, and the people I consider to be my real friends have stuck by me and have been overwhelmingly supportive and encouraging.

I feel like having the diagnosis actually is helpful, in that now other people with this disorder (the self aware, low level ones who want to change) feel more encouraged to share their stories or even start their own blogs. Both self aware narcissists and non-narcissists have expressed their appreciation for what I’m doing and for having enough courage to “out” myself.

Is getting narcissistic supply the reason why I feel good about this, or is it just normal?  Maybe I shouldn’t analyze that so much.

One thing about becoming self aware is that you begin to question and suspect *everything* you do as being somehow narcissistic!  But we are still just people, broken people–and sometimes, as Freud famously said, “a cigar is just a cigar.”

I also feel more motivated to start writing again. As Sleeping Tiger expressed in her “coming out” post (which I reblogged here the other day), when we feel like we can no longer be completely honest on our blogs, out of fear of being judged or abandoned,  that’s when you run the danger of losing interest in blogging.  That was beginning to happen to me.  I couldn’t let that happen, because writing and blogging has been such an important part of my recovery.

I was finding I no longer wanted to just write about narcissistic abuse for victims only (so many other people are doing that anyway).  I was chomping at the bit to share this news even though I knew that doing so would be a huge risk.   I wanted to take a slightly different path, and now I feel free to do that, without unpleasant consequences.  I hope this gives courage to others to do the same.

Prior to posting my coming out article, I prayed a lot about it. Then spent several days waiting for an answer. And the answer came:

YOU MUST DO THIS.

There is no other way.

God (or Providence, or the Universe, or whatever term you prefer) is showing me that I *am* loved, and was never really forgotten. My NPD was finally revealed to me because I was ready.

But I have a job to do too — using my own experiences as someone with covert NPD — and this journey to healing I’m on — to help others who suffer from this disorder (as well as those suffering from related trauma and attachment disorders such as C-PTSD and BPD).

I’m overjoyed and moved at all the positive and supportive feedback I’ve received so far. Coming out was a game changer, I think.  I feel like I’m now I can move forward onto the the next leg of this amazing, frightening, mind-bending, often sad, often very weird, but also joyful adventure whose goal is to reclaim my true self and internalizing her needs and wants as my own.  As she begins to unfold and come out of hiding, my hope and dream is that I’ll be able to say buh-bye to my false one, as she will no longer be necessary.  She has served her purpose, but it’s time to down-size.  She’s got her pink slip.

I know I made the right choice.  This coming from someone who has a history of always making the worst possible choices.

So thank you, everyone, for being here for me and continuing to be so supportive. I appreciate you all so much.

Have a happy and safe holiday!

Need a therapist but think you can’t afford one?

couch

This was my situation.  I didn’t think there was any way I would be able to afford a good therapist (I did NOT want one of those “therapists” you find in free clinics who are always suspecting you of substance abuse, make you take drug assessments, treat you like a number, and only offer short term therapy such as CBT or group therapy, not individual psychodynamic therapy meant to actually get to the root of your problems and cure you).

Most of you know I have a therapist I am very happy with.   He specializes in trauma and attachment disorders, which means he treats people with PDs as well as c-PTSD and PTSD.  I found him through Open Path Collective, a service that matches you to a therapist in your geographic area.  You will be charged half rates or much less. (I only pay mine $40 a session and I found him thru Open Path). The prices vary by therapists though, but are significantly less than paying full rates.   Some therapists will charge on a sliding scale, even if they’re not part of Open Path.

Here is their link:
http://openpathcollective.org/

Me and my unpopular opinions.

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My therapist made me cry tonight.

Here is what happened. We were discussing some of my narcissistic traits, in particular my covert need to feel special or superior.   The way I do this isn’t direct or overt.   Until very recently, I was never even aware I did this.

I finally realized today that I have this pattern of always siding against popular opinions, no matter what the topic is.  I thought back over my life, about forums and online groups I’ve participated in, real life groups I’ve been part of, and realized that I actually sort of like to stir the pot, and take on whatever is the unpopular view.  Sometimes I’ll do this even when I don’t really care one way or the other.    For example, there was this entertainment forum I used to post on.  There was a celebrity everyone there hated, and I really had no opinion one way or the other, but still, I found myself righteously defending this celebrity against the haters (and siding against who everyone else liked).   At the time I thought it was because I was defending an underdog, because I  do have a strong sense of justice.   And that was true, but it wasn’t the main reason.  The primary reason I took a different stand than everyone else was because doing so made me feel special, not part of the “group think.”  Hey, I wasn’t a sheep who couldn’t think for myself!  I had original ideas and was smarter than everyone else! I knew more!   I was special!  Of course I would never state this directly.  I always wanted to be thought of as a nice person.  As long as you thought of me as nice and smart, everything was hunky dory.   If you challenged either my intelligence or my good intentions,  I’d get all butt-hurt and plead innocence.  Or disappear in humiliation.  I had a habit of disappearing or leaving groups when my “superior” opinions were challenged–or when I was called out for acting like an arrogant know it all.  I couldn’t back up my arguments because I lacked conviction.   I never took a real stand on anything because I didn’t have any real convictions.  I only cared about myself.   Feeling strongly about issues outside of myself is something very new for me.

The other reason I sided with whatever was unpopular was because I have always felt like an underdog, and was never a popular kid.   So I could relate to underdogs and anything unpopular, even if it was a concept or a thing rather than a person.

This same pattern reappears over and over and over, as far back as I can remember.  In any group situation, either online or offline, I *always* find myself having a different opinion than everyone else, whether it’s politics, entertainment, home decor, food, music, or anything else.     I can be very contrary, and this is annoying to some people.   I can understand why too.  It’s because of this underlying feeling that I am better or smarter or something.  But it isn’t really that at all.   In reality, I feel like I might be inferior to you, so this “proves” I’m not.    I’m not always sure when I am being sincere and when I’m not, or is it just this need to feel special or smarter than everyone else? I’m not sure sometimes.   I think it’s a bit of both.   I do feel like my views about things on this and my other blog are my real, sincere ones.  I’m getting a lot better.

Of course, my contrariness would bring me the attention I craved– usually the negative kind, but I enjoyed stirring the pot and then sitting back and acting all innocent and wondering why *I* was being persecuted!   Now I feel like I’m on the outside looking in and the view makes me want to cringe in horror.

My point here isn’t about what my opinions actually are.   Sometimes I really do feel strongly about the “unpopular opinion,” especially recently.   It’s about my narcissism and my quest for the emotional empathy I lost.  Or feel like I lost.

I told my therapist about all this, and he pointed out the fact that I sided with underdogs  meant I was showing a kind of empathy.   Then he told me that I developed the narcissism as a protective shield to keep my empathy safely hidden so it wouldn’t be harmed and that I had done a good job as its guardian. (It also buried my roiling and uncontrollable borderline emotions so I didn’t have to feel them).

This happened toward the end of our session (it annoys me that if tears come, it’s usually in the last 5 minutes).  I just buried my face in my hands and cried.   I’m not even sure why I was crying but I just felt warm inside because he understood.   I also knew what he said was the truth and it really hit home.  He asked me what made me so emotional so I told him I never felt like anyone empathized with me and that  whenever anyone does, I’m almost overwhelmed with relief and gratitude, like someone who is starving and finally gets a hot meal.

I know this post is a little disjointed and probably doesn’t make a lot of sense.  Everything is just so confusing to me right now.    I have a lot to process.

“Out of the Closet: As a Borderline and a Narcissist.” (reblogged article)

Another ACON blogger who believed she was “just” a narcissistic abuse victim with C-PTSD and “fleas” has been doing some serious soul-searching.  This is what she is discovering about herself, and it’s like finding the world flipped around on its head–or walking into a house of mirrors.

I’m reblogging this because it comes just days after my own “coming out.”   I can relate to everything she writes here.

Please follow Sleeping Tiger’s blog:
https://asleepingtiger.wordpress.com/

Out of the Closet: As a Borderline and a Narcissist

By Aura Gael, Sleeping Tiger blog.

houseofmirrors

Even now, just as I begin to write I can feel myself wanting to detach, even slightly dissociate into a day-dream type state.

I’m tired though and depressed. What I take some days for my depression and anxiety, makes me tired the next day, which in turns feeds the depression and my boredom.

So, to the point of this post: I have borderline personality disorder. I was diagnosed some time ago, but even if I hadn’t been, I could, quite confidently still say this and know it’s true.

In fact, I sought the diagnosis. Although I would’ve preferred to be proven wrong, the truth is truth no matter how much you don’t want it to be. Sure, I could also be labeled as having Complex Post Traumatic Disorder too and in fact I do think I suffer from that as well. After all, I have borderline because of ongoing emotional neglect and abuse via both parents, which also caused the post traumatic stress.

The traumatic stress was exacerbated during the stretch of weeks that my family and I cared for my father after he was diagnosed with a terminal illness. There abuse exhausted me. I found myself wondering during the editing of this post, if their treatment of me didn’t play a part in removing the mask that I wear. That being said, the mask is and has been off in my living situation for a long time. It has come off in periodic fits of rage or berating of others.

According to the DSM (any version that lists it) I fit quite well into each symptom of BPD. I have mentioned the personality disorder here and there on this blog, but not a whole lot, pertaining to myself, preferring to go along with the (C)PTSD part of the diagnosis, given the way I acquired it. Note: I was not diagnoses with Complex PTSD. The therapist who diagnosed me with borderline also diagnosed me with PTSD.

My thinking on that is because the complex form is not recognized in the DSM and it’s likely for insurance purposes as well. This therapist , in fact all the therapists I’ve seen covered by public assistance have seemed to be more concerned with making sure they get paid than making sure they can help me.

Digressing…sorry.

Feeling afraid and shameful, because of the stigma, I have preferred to mention as little as possible in reference to myself. Besides, don’t people with C-PTSD have trouble with impulse control and containing emotions as well?  (Rhetorical question.)

Some of what I’ve written of my behavior though, certainly speaks for itself and someone knowledgeable of the disorders would likely figure it out.  In fact someone knowledgeable may even guess I have some level of narcissism as well.

Read the rest of this post here.

New resources page!

Here’s the link to my new resources page.  I’ll be adding more over time.  I know it’s far from a complete list.

You can access the page by clicking on the “Widgets” icon in the top right hand corner.

https://downtherabbitholeblog.org/resources-healing-mindfulness-self-awareness/

Keep going.

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Do narcissists ever cry? (article from The Narcissistic Life)

I believe I wrote an article a while back with the same title (my conclusion — yes, they do)  but this article is better and I like the way it doesn’t stigmatize narcissistic tears or the reasons why they cry as always insincere (it’s not always crocodile tears meant to get supply).   Sometimes they just cry because they hurt.

My  own article about this, written when I was still  enraged at my own narcissists, took a much more negative and cynical view of the reasons why narcissists may cry.

Do Narcissists Ever Cry?

By Alexander Burgemeester, for The Narcissistic Life.

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Whilst narcissism is often characterised by bombast and a seemingly unwavering self-belief, there are times when even a narcissist may cry. Do Narcissists cry? It seems impossible but it is true. So how can someone who is so tied up with their own success, self-image and the presentation of themselves in their everyday lives suffer the kind of emotion or tearful outburst that is more characteristic of us other mere mortals?

Read the rest of this post here.

My name is Lauren, and I’m a recovering covert narcissist.

Hand of a child opening a cupboard door

This is the hardest blog post I’ve ever had to write.   But it’s time to out myself.   What other choice is there?

I have NPD (the covert, vulnerable form).

I also have BPD, C-PTSD, Avoidant PD, SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and GAD (generalized anxiety disorder).  I’m an extremely introverted INFJ and prone to periodic black depressions, occasional dissociative episodes, panic attacks, and debilitating feelings of emptiness.

I’m a mess.

Before you hit the backspace key, please let me explain.

My therapist, who hates labels and took a long time to come to this conclusion (and even laughed at me when I first told him what I suspected over a year ago) finally agrees with me about the diagnosis. However, he also believes I’m not high on the spectrum  (I only *just* qualify).  He has also told me he believes I am at heart an empath.  We are working hard together to re-claim those abilities (as a child I was definitely an empath), and it’s beginning to bear some small fruit.  I still have a long way to go, but being self aware and practicing mindfulness helps me immensely.   I do not want to be this way anymore; have not wanted to be this way since I began this blog (started because I self diagnosed as a covert narcissist).  Well, I was right.

I wrote a guest post “outing myself” two weeks ago, on Healing From NPD’s blog (which I wrote about in earlier posts).   I’ve been terrified of sharing it here though, because of how stigmatized this disorder is, but mostly because I’m afraid of being abandoned or negatively judged (something borderlines and narcissists are both terrified of) or even mobbed.  But why should I be so afraid?   People who would judge me negatively, stop reading my blog, and not give me a chance aren’t the sort of people I’d want to stick around anyway.   I don’t think my real friends will abandon me.

So far, I have shared the post I’m about to link to with two other people in private emails, and both were very supportive and did not judge me for it.   Since one of my passions is the de-stigmatization of Cluster B disorders and a more nuanced, realistic view of them, I think “coming out” actually helps my case.

Also, I started this blog because I believed I had NPD, but at that time it was only self-diagnosed.  Over time, I began to deny I had it at all (especially because of my therapist’s doubts and reluctance to give me such a label) but deep down, I still knew I did.   There’s no denying or sugar-coating it anymore.

I developed the narcissism as a self-protective overlay over the overwhelming  and turbulent emotions of BPD.   I was never aware I was doing this so it was never a choice, as some believe.    It was easy enough to admit I have BPD, but NPD is a whole ‘nother ball of wax and much more vilified.   Admitting you are one is scary as hell.

But I feel like not admitting the truth would be dishonest. This is probably the hardest blog post I’ve ever had to write, but I know I’ll feel better when it’s over and done with.

So, here it is:  the article I wrote two weeks ago, describing my entire journey, from a newly No Contact narcissistic abuse victim (which I am!) to a self aware covert narcissist who desperately wants to heal.    It was narcissistic abuse that made me this way.  It’s only by the grace of God I didn’t become malignant or incapable of seeing myself the way I am (or believing it’s a good thing to be – it’s definitely not).

http://healingfromnpd.com/content/guest-post-falling-down-rabbit-hole

I hope you read the whole thing with an open mind and try not to judge.

I’m relieved but also scared. Once I hit the publish button, there’s no going back.

Some of you who are empaths or just good at putting two and two together might have guessed I was working up to something like this.

Deep breaths.

But I feel like this is the wisest choice and in the long run, the one that will be of the most help to others as well as myself.

Finally, for those of you who opt to continue reading this blog and following my journey to wellness (I won’t ever give up), thank you! Your support means everything to me and encourages me to keep going, no matter what.

My elusive inner child.

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Chair Girl (the name I call the vulnerable and scared little girl who lives inside me) is an elusive, skittish little kid. I named her Chair Girl because when I’m in therapy I usually have her “sit” in the extra arm chair to my left, and talk to her there. I picture her as being about 6 – 8 years old, which is around the time life became too painful for her to bear. She began to go into hiding around that time (or more accurately, I sent her there).

But she never went away. She’s always been a part of me, but a part of me I found shameful and embarrassing. I began to dissociate from her over the next few years, trying to deny her existence.

Sometimes she’s a bit older, around 10 years old; on occasion she is of preschool age — about 4 or 5.  When she “sits” in the big black chair, she looks so tiny there, as if the chair is going to swallow her up.  She does little kid things, like swing her legs and wiggle, twirl her hair around her small finger and fidget.   She’s very cute but has a scared and wary look like a feral animal — or a deer caught in the headlights.  Her eyes seem way too big for her pale little face.

Sometimes she’s willing to come out of hiding and talk about the way she feels. I have noticed lately when I’m “her,” I speak in a 6 – 8 year old’s voice. My therapist speaks to her in what I can only describe as a “dad” voice. Sometimes he even calls her sweetie. She likes that and knows it’s sincere. My therapist told me he really likes Chair Girl and wants to get to know her better, but she’s still very shy and not always willing to come out. Sometimes I feel like I have to coax her out, but it doesn’t always work.

It’s harder to penetrate the emptiness and painful emotions inside me when I can’t bring Chair Girl out. It’s like trying to speak or feel through a thick filter. Even when I can describe the feelings I don’t actually feel them. When I’m in my normal adult-mode, I intellectualize these feelings and talk about them matter of factly, as if I’m discussing someone else. I can’t release the trauma or work with the emotions unless I can actually feel them.

That’s why Chair Girl is so important to me. I used to hate and be ashamed of her, but I’ve developed some empathy and even love for her, and am beginning to see her wonderful and positive qualities, and the ways she can help me heal and grow as a person. She has gifts, but was never shown how to use them. Instead, she was shamed for them. I became ashamed of her and sent her into hiding until she rarely came out anymore.

I’ve apologized to her for sending her into exile, and for devaluing her. I told her I love her and want us to have a healthy and loving relationship but asked her to be patient with me.

When she does come out in my sessions, I usually get emotional. Sometimes I even cry because of how sorry I am and how much I regret treating her the same way my parents and others during my childhood did. I cry over the lost years, a life blighted and stunted because of my refusal to accept her as she is. But sometimes I shed tears of happiness too, that we’ve found each other again, even if it’s only sometimes.

Last week’s session was frustrating because Chair Girl didn’t come out of hiding until the last five minutes. There’s not much work we can do in those few short minutes. Afterwards, I told her that she shouldn’t be afraid, that she is in a safe place and will not be hurt during our sessions. She will only be validated and loved.

Even though she’s so elusive, Chair Girl is learning things and gaining confidence. All she wants is to love and be loved for herself, without condition. She wants to play and have fun and have friends and learn about the world and people. She wants to help other people who suffered the same kind of trauma she did.  She loves animals and nature and books.

She wants to be able to use the high sensitivity she was born with, and through me beginning to show her the empathy she never received (this felt awkward and fake at first but it’s getting a lot easier and more natural now), she’s slowly learning how to use her gifts instead of being so ashamed of them. She’s finding out what a powerful and beautiful little person she is and that she has the ability to heal us both by bringing us together for good.

I will be adding a resources page.

I’ve been meaning to do this for awhile but never got around to it. The new resources page will list blogs, Youtube channels, websites, forums, and other useful online resources that focus not so much on narcissistic abuse (I have those listed on my other blog — they need updating too) and more on the Cluster B disorders themselves, especially if they provide help and support for people who have these disorders (or suspect they may have them).

There is precious little support on the web FOR people with these disorders who are interested in changing or learning more, so I want to help with that in some small way.

I will NOT be including sites that glorify having these disorders, as if being a narcissist or a psychopath is a great thing to be. I’ll only link to those sites meant for people who want to recover from them or at least learn to be more mindful, or that provide legitimate education about these disorders (not bashing or demonizing them), both from people who have the disorders and from professionals who specialize in them.