The childhood origins of narcissism.

This is a very informative video explaining how narcissism develops during childhood.

Deciding on an appropriate blog description.

question

I’ve been having a little trouble deciding on an appropriate blog description (the subheader that appears under the blog’s title).

I have tried various descriptions (especially over the past week) and I haven’t been really happy with any of them.

“Recovery from childhood trauma” stayed the longest, and it covered all the bases. I was very confused about what I “had,” and for the longest time my therapist wouldn’t give me a proper diagnosis (due to both hating labels and not being sure what my real problem was). I knew I had C-PTSD and BPD (or at least BPD remnants) and suspected narcissism too but had never received any kind of diagnosis for that. Since all three are caused by childhood trauma and because I was so confused about myself, it just seemed prudent to leave out the psychiatric labels altogether. This worked because anyone suffering any kind of childhood trauma wouldn’t feel intimidated by posting here, but it also made this blog sound too much like another narc-abuse blog, which it isn’t, even though I am a victim of narcissistic abuse.

A few weeks ago, my therapist finally tentatively diagnosed me with low spectrum NPD (used as a protection from the emotional ravages of BPD and C-PTSD). He saw that I had just enough traits to get the stigmatizing diagnosis (yikes) but he also assured me I wasn’t in the hopeless category and am no way malignant. I’m not proud of the label, but it also came as a relief because it validated what I already knew and resolved a lot of cognitive dissonance and confusion I’d been experiencing.

I felt like as far as this blog was concerned, I would be dishonest by not admitting it, so I wrote a post about it. I also decided I should change the description to include that. But I couldn’t bring myself to use “NPD” because it’s so off-putting to so many people and might run off my readers who are “only” C-PTSD but not Cluster B at all. I decided “covert narcissism” would be a bit easier to swallow, but after a few days I felt uncomfortable with that too.

I also began to notice that while no one seemed to run off and abandon me after my shocking admission, my regular commenters seemed more careful about what they said, adding little disclaimers to their comments. I assumed this meant they were now a little wary around me — maybe they thought that if they weren’t careful about how they said things, I might go off on them, devalue them, or otherwise start abusing or gaslighting them or something. I left in the “…caused by childhood trauma” in the description to encourage my non-cluster B readers to stick around and not decide I was now one of those “evil people” just because I had not just one (BPD), but two, stigmatizing diagnoses now. Besides, childhood trauma is also something I write a lot about on this blog.

Since “covert narcissism” is almost the same thing (or really is the same thing) as “vulnerable narcissism” or “fragile narcissism,” I changed the “covert” to “vulnerable.” It SOUNDS less intimidating. But that made the description too long and aesthetically unappealing, since I still wanted to leave in the “…caused by childhood trauma.”

But every time I opened up this blog and saw the term “narcissism” in the description (referring to ME and not my abusers) I inwardly cringed. It made me feel sick to see that. So last night, I changed the description AGAIN, this time to “recovery from cluster B hell caused by childhood trauma.” After all, “cluster B” was pretty general and could refer to BOTH BPD and NPD, without specifying which one. (It could also refer to ASPD!)

But no, “recovery from cluster B hell…” wouldn’t work either. It hit me how much that description sounded like this blog would be about narcissistic abuse and might attract narc-haters thinking this was just another ACON blog that would demonize people with NPD and other cluster B disorders, and I didn’t want to do that. Don’t get me wrong — those blogs are necessary and good (for the most part, except those that are clearly run by un-self-aware Cluster B people who think in a black and white, us-vs.-them way), but I’ve moved away from writing about myself as a victim only. Seeing that cluster B disorders arise FROM abuse and are primitive defense mechanisms against further abuse, I’m now trying to write for BOTH sufferers of C-PTSD and for Cluster B people (both NPD and BPD) who want help, since we are ALL victims of trauma.

I thought about going back to my original “recovery from childhood trauma,” but again, it’s TOO general and leaves out an important bit of information about me that I think my readers have the right to know. I also wanted other people with self-aware NPD who wanted to change to feel welcome posting here without running off my non-cluster B readers. I also felt it was important to include “BPD” in the description, since that was my first diagnosis and much of this blog is about that.

I finally settled on “recovering from BPD and narcissism caused by childhood trauma.” I know it’s a little lengthy and cumbersome, but I don’t think it’s too off-putting for non-cluster B people and victims of abuse, but it also is honest and encouraging to cluster B people who also want to comment.

This is so hard to reconcile because of the negative, us-versus-them mentality that’s so pervasive when it comes to narcissism and victims of narcissistic abuse. That, of course, needs to change. We all have C-PTSD.

Please share in the comments what you think. Was this a good choice, or do you think I should change it to something else? If you have any suggestions for a better (or catchier!) subtitle, please put it in the comments.

One more thing: please don’t feel afraid to state your honest feelings and opinions on this blog. I might have a stigmatizing diagnosis, but I think I’m basically a good person, just a broken one. I want to help others who have suffered too, and that’s a big reason why this blog exists. I’m not without empathy either (lack of empathy isn’t a requirement for NPD anyway — it’s just really common). I promise I won’t bite! I’m pretty mindful about the way I treat people these days and feel like I’ve made some progress anyway.

The adventure of self-discovery.

treasure

A few people have asked me how I remain so motivated to stay in therapy and so determined to become whole one day, in spite of the many setbacks I’ve faced and the inevitable triggers I’ve willingly confronted (as well having a stigmatizing cluster B diagnosis that many therapists don’t want to deal with). Even my therapist has said I’m one of the most motivated clients he’s come across. People wonder if I’m just a sucker for punishment and even have masochistic tendencies.  Why on earth would I want to voluntarily embrace so much psychic pain instead of opting to remain emotionally numb the way I used to be?

I think the number one motivator for me is that I’ve learned to think of the road to wellness as an adventure of the mind and soul, not unlike climbing Mount Everest or exploring the ocean depths.    The only difference is that it doesn’t involve bodily risk. Staying as emotionally dead as I used to be seems as boring as staring at a wall all day.  Now that I’ve seen a glimpse of what I can attain, I never want to go back.  Knowing what I know now about myself, remaining in that particular hell would drive me insane.  So these days, I’d rather face the unpleasant challenges and do battle with them.   None are too big for me to conquer, even though at times they can seem to be.

By nature, I’m not a huge risk taker, but I’ve always been fascinated by the workings of the human mind.  My own mind is like a labyrinth right before my eyes, but within its dark tunnels and crevices I never know when I’ll find some treasure.

Being in therapy for anyone who suffered severe trauma and abuse can be extremely triggering and at times very painful.    I’ve left some sessions and fallen into vast yawning depressions afterward, feeling lost within the emptiness that I always knew was there even before I knew what was really wrong with me.

Faith that a higher power (or God, if you prefer) will show me the way to the treasure chest I know lies deep within is a huge motivator for me, but even now, without knowing exactly where it lies, occasionally I stumble across evidence that I’m getting closer.   A diamond here, an emerald over there, a small vein of gold embedded in the unforgiving granite.   It gives me hope and motivation to keep going.    I no longer doubt that it’s there….somewhere.   All I need is to keep going.   Therapy provides me with a compass to know which direction to go and the assurance that I won’t die trying to find it.   The journey may appear dangerous at times, but I know it never really is.   Staying mindful helps me conquer any fear that I’ve gone too far or too deep.

Discovering things about yourself that you never knew can be really sobering, even upsetting, but it’s also enlightening.   Awareness and insight about your own motivations is the key to healing from anything that plagues the mind and soul.   Self discovery is always fascinating and full of the unexpected.    It may seem like hard work, and it is, but I know the reward will be worth all the pain, and there are enough pleasant surprises along the way to keep me trudging along the rugged trail.   I can do this!    You can too, if you want it badly enough.

I really need my therapist right now.

My therapist is out of town until January 12th.

It’s hard to go two whole weeks without seeing him.  Of course, I can call him (he has given me permission to do that) but I always feel like I’m overstepping his boundaries so I try to avoid it unless it’s a real emergency.

I wouldn’t say this is an emergency but I just feel so sad and alone right now.    I’m crying while I write this.  I don’t even know why.   I think all these dreams I’ve been having mean some dark stuff is emerging into consciousness that must be dealt with.  But I have to wait.

What I feel isn’t exactly depression.   It isn’t really anxiety either, but it contains elements of depression and anxiety.    It’s hard to explain, really.  I feel as if I’m on the edge of a meltdown.  The void seems way too close for comfort.  All my usual defenses are gone and I just want to crawl in bed and shut the whole world out.    I might just do that.   Just go to bed early and forget the howling wind outside and the howling wilderness that lives inside me.

Why does my therapist always have to go somewhere whenever I’m in crisis?   I don’t expect anyone to answer that.  It is what it is, but it’s not fair.

Brain in the blender.

brain_blender

I’ve fallen even deeper into the rabbit hole and my mind feels like someone tossed it in a blender and pushed the “puree” button.  That’s how confused and conflicted I feel at this moment.  So much to process and sort out.  I don’t know if I ever can.  But I must, because failing in this would be worse than death.

I’ve been having some recurring dreams involving my NPD ex.  Each of these dreams involves him being in a new relationship and becoming wildly successful financially.   The first dream I had of its kind I blew off, thinking it couldn’t be that important.   After all, in the dream,  I felt inexplicably jealous.    Since I want nothing to do with him in real life (and have been NC or at least VLC with him for three years)  and could care less if he meets someone new, I dismissed this dream as a fluke. The second dream had me puzzled and a little bothered, but again, I dismissed it.  I can’t stand this guy — where would these jealous feelings be coming from?

But last night I had the third dream.  This one was much more vivid and seemed to be screaming at me to pay attention because it had something very important to tell me.

In the dream, I was sitting in my ex’s brand new corner office.  It was huge, with a floor to ceiling window that overlooked some city-scape far below.   The furniture was expensive  and dark and manly, lots of leather and brass.   And everywhere — on his huge empty mohagany desk, on the bookshelves, on a high credenza — were dozens of priceless glass and crystal sculptures.

He was telling me (arrogantly) his new fiancee whose father owned the company had given him this job — which paid in seven figures.   The photo on his desk showed a beautiful young brunette, smiling hugely with perfect teeth and her perfect hair flying in the wind, the ocean behind her.  Sailing?  Had he been with her on that sailboat?    Had he taken that photo?

How stereotypical: the sailboat, the model-gorgeous girl, the corner office, the perfectly manicured nails, the casual but expensive businesswear.   He looked like an advertisement in GQ.  I almost laughed.  But I didn’t.  I couldn’t.

I was too consumed by envy and rage. I wanted to take a sledgehammer and break that picture, break all of those glittering pieces of glass that were mocking my failure of a life — and break his head while I was at it.  I wanted to go on a rampage and destroy all these things that had come so easily to him, while I still had to struggle at a dead end job to pay for the necessities and would probably remain alone until the day I died.

Hell, I felt like Betty Broderick.

I woke up upset by the dream, because of a truth I’d been avoiding that I could no longer avoid.   Even though there are no chances of this man ever becoming that successful in reality (my ex is a pathetic sociopathic bum living on disability obtained at least in part fraudulently, on my dime, but that’s another story), my intense envy indicated that I was as much of an abuser in my marriage to him as he was to me.   In some ways, perhaps I was even worse.

How could I make such a connection from a dream like that?  After all, he was the one with all the creature comforts and the world laid at his feet, while I had nothing and no one.

But that’s actually the whole point.  It’s my envy and feelings of worthlessness compared to others that fuel my narcissism.  Even during my marriage, even when things were going well for us and he actually worked, it created huge problems.  I was never my husband’s friend and partner; I was always in competition with him.   I couldn’t stand it if he was somehow “more” or got more recognition than I did.   It’s not that I wanted him to be miserable, but I only wanted him happy if I had something to do with it or if that happiness were shared with me.  I couldn’t stand it if he had outside friends, outside interests, recognition from others besides myself, money he’d earned that might not benefit me directly.  And deep down, more than anything else, I feared the possibility that he might leave, and with the means to do so….well, he could.  And why wouldn’t he? What did I have to offer?  No, I’d rather have him hobbled and dependent.

Did I cause him to sink into codependency on me and eventually become entitled and expect me to support him?  Did I make his NPD even worse than it was?   There were always red flags; I saw them in the beginning but I ignored them.  But he wasn’t that bad, not at first.  Did I send him even farther up the N spectrum, into malignancy, because of my own insecurities, my need to peck away at his self esteem so that I could feel more “equal” and less diminished?

“I remember how bitter and painful the envy I felt was.  I couldn’t contain it; even if I tried to hide it, it oozed out of the seams and smeared everything it touched.”

 

I used to hate it whenever he’d have a success of any kind that didn’t have something to do with me or something I had done.    I remember raging and then sulking for days in self pity when he got promoted.  Most wives would have been thrilled.  But not me.  I couldn’t stand it when he got recognition at work and I hadn’t.     I couldn’t stand it when he’d be invited places by friends (even if I was invited along) because I had so few friends.  I knew this wasn’t normal behavior of a wife toward her husband, but I remember how bitter and painful the envy I felt was.  I couldn’t contain it; even if I tried to hide it, it oozed out of the seams and smeared everything it touched.  I didn’t know where this monster came from and had no idea what to do about it.  I knew it was wrong, so wrong, but I couldn’t change the way I felt.  I had no mindfulness tools and would just take out my frustration and envy in passive aggressive and covert ways, such as making snide or cruel remarks, giving the silent treatment, making left-handed “compliments,”  or grousing about how *I* never got any recognition.

He could have left me.  He probably should have left me.   Of course, we were both abusers, abusing each other like partners in some hellish dance.   His abuse of me has been covered extensively in other blog posts, but I never acknowledged (or even realized) how much I abused him.  The abuse I inflicted though, was far more passive aggressive and covert than his was.  I used codependency and helplessness as a way to make myself look more virtuous and more like a victim than I really was.   That doesn’t mean I wasn’t codependent  and didn’t feel helpless; I did, very much so.  But I absolutely believed I was not at fault.     I told myself so many lies I believed they were the truth. I painted this man I had married out to be a monster while I was a helpless victim.  But I was doing my own share of picking away at what little self esteem he might have had.  Neither of us had much, if any at all.

He didn’t leave me because some part of him needed my codependency and helplessness, even though I was never very supportive or empathetic, toggling wildly between borderline rages and sulking, narcissistic depressions.    He knew I was “weaker” and could be forced to do his bidding due to his strength of will and more glib way of communicating.   He was codependent himself, and I think the difficulties I created for him were a convenient excuse for him to self-sabotage, since he never seemed all that interested in being successful anyway.   In many ways, we were mirror images of each other, abuse and codependency intermingling and feeding off each other and reflecting back ever-uglier images.

Subconsciously, I was re-enacting my relationship with my mother, who would never have allowed me to outshine her on any level.    During my childhood, she constantly reminded me how much better she was at everything than everyone else, including me.  “Don’t even try to compare yourself with me,” she would gloat.  “We’re not in the same league.”  I always knew which “league” she had placed me in.   I wasn’t allowed to succeed in anything, was never given any opportunities or encouragement.  My small successes didn’t count.  Yet my failures were punished.  I couldn’t win.  I was a sitting duck.  The only skill I learned to be good at was learned helplessness.

With him, I had become my mother.  I diminished him for any successes the way she diminished me for mine.  But I thought of myself as a nicer person just because I lacked her arrogance, grandiosity, and over the top demands.

I played the learned helplessness skill well.   I learned to play the “victim” and of course I attracted bullies.  My father told me I was bullied because others were jealous of me.  I knew this was bullshit.  But I still internalized that message, and although my self esteem was non-existent, there was a part of me that felt contempt and rage toward those who refused to recognize how special and superior I really was.    I didn’t dare express this though; I hid it behind a mask of meekness and weakness.   Anger wasn’t something I dared show, but I was like a pressure cooker, and every so often I’d blow up and scare the daylights out of everyone around me, including myself.   I think the unexpectedness and intensity of my sudden rages was made them so scary.

I never developed any real skills.  I never finished college. I didn’t stick with anything for long enough to become good at it.  I never had a real career that I didn’t happen to “fall into.”   I’d give up whenever anything became too difficult or proved too much work. I know now that this wasn’t laziness; it was a real fear I had that I might fail.    My motto wasn’t “if at first you don’t succeed…,” it was, ” if you never try, you never fail.”

Even harder to admit is this.  All my life, I’ve surrounded myself with people I regarded as being “less” than myself.   I resented the hell out of anyone who was doing better and would usually avoid them to avoid feelings of envy and shame.   But at the same time, I was filled with contempt for those “underlings” for being the only people I could be around to avoid those feelings of envy and shame.  I felt like I had nothing in common with them and would pretend to be interested to get them to like me and give me the admiration I never seemed to get from anywhere else.   But they were never friends because I didn’t really care about them at all.   I know I must sound like a horrible person.   I feel like a horrible person for admitting this.   Fortunately, I don’t regard people this way anymore, but it’s still difficult for me to be around people who I know are successful in life, even if I don’t actively dislike them the way I used to.    I no longer feel contempt for those who are not successful, but I do feel more comfortable around them than with more successful people.

Narcissism–both my own and that of those closest to me–has ruined my life.   It was my narcissism that kept me from applying myself and succeeding in anything.   It was my narcissism that kept me constantly comparing myself with others, even my own husband, and feeling diminished if they outshone me in something.  Which meant they weren’t allowed to shine at all, because I didn’t shine.   It was my narcissism that kept me locked in a toxic cycle of mutual abuse and codependency.  It was my narcissism that kept me so closed off from anyone else and emotionally stunted.

“I wanted them to be happy there, down at the bottom of the barrel, with me.    Anything else would mean I’d lose them…”

 

I also realized something else.  Since I’ve mostly identified myself as a victim and not as a narcissist myself, I always thought the reason I avoided relationships was to avoid the possibility of falling in with another abuser.  And while that’s true,  it’s not the whole story. I also avoid relationships because I don’t want to hurt anyone and I’m afraid I still could.

I never wanted to hurt anyone.  I never thought I was an abuser.  I was horrified at the idea I could ever be one.   Even when I knew I was hurting those I loved (and often I didn’t know), it wasn’t because I wanted to see them in pain.   It was a compulsion to relieve my own pain of “not belonging” or being “less than” by bringing them down to “my level.”  I wanted them to be happy there, down at the bottom of the barrel, with me.    Anything else would mean I’d lose them, and losing anyone was the same as death to me.

Narcissism is the gift that keeps on giving.  It’s going to stop with me.  But, as much as I want to hate that part of me that brought others down to make myself feel better, I know hatred–especially toward myself–won’t work. It was self-hatred that got me here.   The only way out of this mess is fostering compassion (NOT the same as self pity!) for the wounded child within.    I’m working on it, but it’s going to take awhile.  Right now, I just feel like my brain’s been through the blender.

2 childhood dreams and a spot-on interpretation.

steel_wool

Once in a while, it takes someone who doesn’t know you well or at all to be able to see things the way they really are.

Last night, on my other blog, Lucky Otters Haven, I posted an essay about two weird dreams I had as a young child. All these years, I never thought of them as much more than those random, humorous dreams that all kids have (and maybe, in part, that is all they are).

But a commenter on that other blog who is familiar with my background (from reading my background story and other posts there) offered an interpretation that just sort of hit me upside the head with its accuracy. It just felt right.

Here was the post I wrote about the two dreams:

I was a weird, sketchy kid who had weird dreams. When I was about 5 I had a dream about something called a “clout” that looked like an oversized steel wool pad. It was sitting on the small rug in front of my bed and I was too scared to put my feet on the floor because that clout thing was evil. It just sat there on the rug, in all its black malevolence, not moving, but I knew it was alive and meant to kill me.   I knew if I put my feet on the floor the clout would suck me down into the Hell-portal it must have come from.

When I was around  the same age, one morning I woke up doubled over with laughter.   My dad asked me why I was laughing, and I remember saying, “someone was throwing mud at my door.”   I pointed to the door of my room and globs of gooey mud were sliding down its painted surface. I couldn’t stop shrieking with mirth.   I kept pointing but he couldn’t see the mud and told me to stop making things up.  “Look!  Look! There! There!” I screamed in frustration, but I was still laughing.   Then I woke up for real and was almost afraid if I looked at the door, mud would be on it. I was really awake this time, so there wasn’t. Relieved, I went downstairs for my Cap’n Crunch and orange juice.

mudsplat

Here is the interpretation the commenter (Little Shepherd Girl) wrote in the replies (the comment has been edited):

If I was to venture a guess Clout was the mental disorders, the sharp tangles that afflicted your family. The mud was how the dark side was going to smear you with it and smear you, but you were laughing because you knew it wouldn’t work. It would slide right off.

GOD held you safe in the palm of His hand all along. In childhood we fear evil but also know trust. I think Heaven is blissful trust and a ground ecstatic True Reality free of all anxiety.

I think she nailed what both of these dreams were really about.  The tangled steel wool pad-thing definitely represents the toxicity of my family and probably also represents the state my mind was in — already hopelessly knotted and tangled and full of sharp edges.      Ages four and five were around the time I began to dissociate (something my mother hated and caused her to call me “spooky” and angrily order me to snap out of it) and become symptomatic in other ways suggestive of a child developing an attachment disorder.

It was evident to most people that something wasn’t right with me.   I remember sitting in the family room in our split level house banging my head against the wall and telling my mother who was screaming at me to stop that I was doing it because it felt good (she probably cared more about damage to the wall than to my head).   I think doing this was actually a way of distracting myself from the evil that was beginning to infect my mind from the toxic family atmosphere.  Maybe I was trying to drive out the “demons,” who knows?  All I know is it was a compulsion and I couldn’t NOT do it.   I was also beginning to show signs of being unable to regulate my emotions appropriate for my age level and not adjusting well in peer situations.

But even that far back,  some thing inside me knew I was going to be okay in the end.   I never lost my sense of humor or sense of hope.

Maybe those are the things that kept me from crossing the line into malignancy or sociopathy.

Martial arts for uncontrollable anger.

taekwondo

Many people with Cluster B disorders and C-PTSD suffer from periodic, uncontrollable rages.  My son isn’t Cluster B, but when he was a young teenager, he had anger issues due to his father’s and my divorce (among other things) and successfully channeled that anger through his involvement in Kung Fu classes.    Not only did the classes help him channel his anger, they also taught him how to be mindful and greatly boosted his self-confidence.    As his confidence grew, he was less prone to sudden rages.

Many kids these days take Taekwondo classes.   Kids who have been bullied really benefit because learning these skills makes them feel less defenseless and more confident.  But they aren’t just for kids.  Adults with anger problems can benefit from such classes too.

Contrary to what many people think, the martial arts don’t teach violence.   These disciplines aren’t just for self-defense.   The philosophy behind them is that mindfulness is a must to defend yourself successfully–and that fighting back without justifiable cause will always make things worse.   They also teach their students respect for others and demand deference to the instructor.

So, for Cluster B people in particular, the martial arts provide four things that people with these disorders need so badly:

–learning to be more mindful
–learning to respect others
–channeling anger appropriately
–boosting real self confidence

Here’s a good article I found about how martial arts can be used to help people control angry outbursts and learn to be more mindful.

http://english.astroawani.com/lifestyle/do-you-suffer-anger-disorders-learn-martial-arts-42022

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.

unpopular_opinions

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.