A new way of looking at narcissism: understanding vs. hatred.

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Although I have a blog about narcissistic abuse (that also covers many other topics), Down The Rabbit Hole is not about that, even though many victims of narcissists do read my posts here and have found them helpful.  Of course that’s a good thing.     It always makes me happy when anyone tells me either of my blogs have helped them.

About a year after going No Contact with both my malignant narcissist mother (I became the family scapegoat after failing to live up to their ridiculous an unrealistic expectations) and sociopathic MN ex–and after doing a lot of soul searching–I realized I may have NPD myself (though not high spectrum, if it’s true) and that was the initial reason why I started this blog.

Like many other bloggers who write about narcissistic abuse, I hated “narcs” for awhile after going NC with mine. I was angry and I needed that anger to do what I needed to do and escape.  But over time the hateful, us-vs.-them mentality of some of those blogs began to bother me.   Not only because I felt personally insulted (believing at the time I had the disorder myself), but because I saw what can happen to people when they are unable to let go of their hatred and black and white thinking.    I saw malignant narcissism in some of these bloggers, who actually used every tool in the narcissist’s book of tricks to attack, bully, gaslight, and triangulate against me when I dared to suggest that maybe not all narcissists were demons or are hopeless and that some in fact might want to change.  That’s when I began to realize that rage, while healthy when you’re trying to escape because it overrides fear and gives you courage to do what you need to do, turns toxic when held onto like a trophy. With nowhere left to go, unmitigated, endless rage blackens the soul and turns these abuse victims into what they hate. It also turns them paranoid and they begin to see narcissism in every day human behavior.  Anger, like fear, is a survival emotion and isn’t intended to be permanent. But these bloggers can never see their own narcissism because to do so would require them to look in the mirror and see that they’ve become what they hate.  I know this is a controversial viewpoint, but it’s one of the things I’ve learned in this journey.

So I soured on the hatred and began to try to understand narcissists instead.  I started posting on an NPD forum and although I didn’t (and still don’t) have an NPD diagnosis, I posted as a self-identified covert narcissist.   I learned a lot there, both from Ns and from “nons” (non-narcissist victims) trying to understand people with this disorder.   I realized how little support there is anywhere on the web for people who have NPD and want to change or heal from it–and these people do exist.  There are more of them than you’d think.  I read about their pain and realized that they too are victims of abuse who developed their disorder as a defense mechanism to avoid ever being hurt again.

Ironically, thinking of Ns this way instead of hopeless, incurable monsters, helped me because when I finally let go of my rage, I could really begin to heal.  Narcissism isn’t a black and white issue; there are many shades of grey, and as someone with BPD, AvPD, C-PTSD–and possible low spectrum covert narcissism, I’m in that grey area.

Of course the anger is necessary when you’re trying to escape. But I don’t think it’s meant to be permanent because all that rage just eats at your soul and turns you narcissistic. I’ve seen it happen to other bloggers.

Some people don’t understand this way of thinking.  I admit it’s controversial. Many abuse victims think you must be either “us” or “them” but that’s really a form of black and white thinking (“splitting”) because NPDs (I am really trying to avoid the term “narc” anymore) are also victims of abuse.   I think of my mother, a pathetic shell of what she could have been.  I remember seeing a photo of her when she was two years old (I wrote a post about this), and how terribly sad she looked.  No child should look that sad.  I know she was terribly abused, and this included sexual abuse by her father.  She is a very malignant narcissist and I no longer have any contact with her, but I do still love her and I pray for her healing even though in her case, it’s extremely unlikely, given her advanced age and level of malignancy.

I read stories on the NPD board by narcissists talking about their own abuse and their self-hatred and guilt over having developed NPD.   It almost never was a choice, as some narc-abuse bloggers believe it was.  Unfortunately, most people with NPD are not self aware and will never become self aware or try to get help, and yes, they can be extremely dangerous.  Without self awareness, no, there is no hope for change.   That’s a given.    But for those who do want to change, they find almost no support or compassion anywhere, not even in the mental health community, who dismiss them as incurable or too difficult to bother working with.  This needs to change.

So now I try to understand, rather than hate.  I welcome NPDs on this blog as well as victims of abuse.    Understanding doesn’t mean not going No Contact or trying to make things “work” with a narcissist.  That just isn’t realistic. It doesn’t work.  You cannot “fix” a narcissist.   I believe in NC (I am NC with both my ex and my mother) but for those who are self aware and don’t want their disorder, they deserve to have a voice and I try to give them that voice because they too are victims.  I also think they have a lot to teach us.   All I ask is they remain respectful and civil (just as I’d expect that from anyone) and not play N games on this blog and so far, none have given me any problems.

I post on an NPD forum (I no longer self identify as one, but admit I’m on the fence as to whether I have the disorder or not–or maybe just some N traits).  I’ve actually met some lovely people who have a NPD diagnosis!😮 I know, that shocked me too. But these forum members are hurting and deeply damaged people and they DO suffer.   As long as there is willingness to change and self awareness, I think they can teach us things about themselves and from what I’ve seen, they are quite willing to.  And the “nons” are teaching the NPDs there about themselves.  Both sides are listening.   As for myself, I still don’t know if I’m N or not (and will probably never know) but if I am, I don’t want to be that way anymore. Healing is mostly what this blog is all about. Some people like this new attitude I have, while others are suspicious of it.   I can understand their suspicion.  It’s not a conventional or popular way of looking at the problem of narcissism.

This blog isn’t for everyone, but writing it is helping me and my primary aim (besides healing myself of whatever it is I have) is to try to bridge the gap between victims of narcissistic abuse and the narcissists themselves in a safe and healing space where both can feel encouraged and supported.

Let’s build bridges, not walls.

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11 ways blogging has changed my life.

I wrote this for my other blog, but I think it fits here too because it’s been a big part of my recovery.

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Next month will be Lucky Otter’s Haven‘s 2 year anniversary! It’s hard to believe I’ve been blogging that long. I started blogging only 6 months after going No Contact with my ex. It has become a real addiction, but much more than that–it was a game changer for me. My life is not the same as it was two years ago. Here are ten (plus one) ways blogging has changed my life.

1. I’ve become a much better writer. I’m rather embarrassed by how badly written some of my early posts were. I think I’ve honed my writing skills and use a lot less “purple prose” and unnecessary adjectives than than I used to–that has always been a huge weakness of mine when it comes to writing.

2. I’ve become more self confident and less shy. Writing about your thoughts and feelings teaches you a lot about yourself. You become more introspective and in so doing, realize a lot of good things about yourself, and that gives you confidence. You also get validation from others, and that boosts your self esteem. You also find out that most people aren’t going to judge you for things you thought were shameful or embarrassing. It takes a while to work up the courage to write about such personal things, but once you do, you realize that your words may have helped or inspired someone else and they will appreciate you for your honesty. This has translated into my real life to some degree–while I’m still shy and awkward in social situations, I seem to be a bit more outgoing and less awkward now.

3. I’ve made some wonderful friends. Although I haven’t met any of my blogging friends, I feel like we’re a family, and for a few of you, I feel as if I’ve known you all my life. Before blogging, I felt so alone and isolated, but in the blogosphere, I’ve found so many people who have stories similar to my own, have gone through similar kinds of trauma, and we’ve grown to care abut and support each other. We’re like the surrogate family we never had!

4. I’ve become more creative. Writing almost every day forces me to consult my “muse” and the more ideas I think of to write about, it seems the more ideas just come to me, and some of them are pretty wild! I go ahead and write about those crazy ideas too, and sometimes those prove to be my best posts.

Hello world. This is my very first blog. I’m not sure what the hell I’m doing yet or how the heck this thing (WordPress) works. I’m learning so please be patient with me.

–The first sentence of my first blog post, Lucky Otter’s Haven, 9/10/14

 

5. I’m a better person than I was. Writing about your deepest thoughts and feelings, and exploring painful memories helps purge a lot of the pain that was keeping me from moving forward into real healing. Writing is powerful therapy and I find that today I’m less depressed, less angry, less fearful, have more moments of joy and serenity, and have even become more outgoing. I’ve also developed a lot more empathy, which was almost unavailable to me when I began blogging.

6. A blog is a great record of how you’ve changed over time. It’s always fascinating (and a little horrifying!) to go back and read over old posts and see how much you’ve changed. It gives you perspective and clarity. I can tell by the tone of my early posts that I’m not the same–my early posts were a lot more bitter, angry, whiny, and cynical, and a LOT less spiritual (I was agnostic when I started blogging). I realize a lot of that attitude was because I was only recently out of an abusive relationship and was still in shell shock, but blogging has definitely helped me overcome that.

7. My computer skills are better. Setting up and designing my blogs has given me more confidence in my computer skills. I can do a lot of things on a computer I didn’t used to be able to and thought would be difficult but are really not.

8. Blogging has given me a focus and a goal. All my life, I never had a real goal and never really knew what I wanted to do with my life. Narcissism and narcissistic abuse has always been my primary topic on my blogs, but lately my fascination with this subject is expanding into my wanting to help others heal, whether from abuse or from narcissism itself. I haven’t decided yet whether I will write a book or become a life coach or therapist. Maybe both!

9. My faith in God has grown. God gave me writing ability for a reason, and as I grew as a writer and shared my thoughts and feelings on an increasingly intimate level, I found myself actually listening to what God was trying to tell me, and realizing how much he really does care. I found other bloggers like myself whose faith was also strengthened through the gift of the written word.

10. It’s fun. Blogging is so addictive, and I’ve never had a hobby I’ve been more passionate about. In fact, I never really had any serious hobbies until I started to blog. I always look forward to coming home from work, opening my laptop, and starting to write, or reply to comments, or read other blogs (when I have time). I get so immersed in blogging sometimes I actually forget to eat!

11. I make a little bit of money from blogging. I can’t quit my day job, but I make about $50 a month from ads that run on this blog. It ain’t much, but it pays for my gas for a couple of weeks or a nice dinner out once a month! It’s always a great feeling to get paid to do what you love doing the most–even if you can’t live on it. But I’d blog even if I had to pay to do it. That’s how much I love doing this. (Note–I do not run ads on Down The Rabbit Hole and make no income from it).

On being an open book.

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Credit: https://www.colourbox.com

I was looking over the posts on this blog today and I seriously cannot believe I’ve allowed myself this level of vulnerability and openness on a public blog, one which complete strangers read. I suppose there’s some protection in anonymity (I do not use my real name on either of my blogs) but some of the things I’ve written about here are so deeply personal and painful they’re even hard for me to talk about with my therapist. I think this is progress.  My therapist thinks so too.

It gets easier all the time to be this candid, and I find that most people appreciate my willingness to be vulnerable on this blog, and evidently it’s helping them too. That makes it all worth it. There’s no shame in being open and honest about your emotions. Although I was terrified at first to “run naked in public,” and set many posts to private and sometimes deleted them altogether, eventually I gained more courage and now it’s actually easy for me to do this and I’ve not once regretted it.

Also, being this open and vulnerable here has been therapeutic for me, and everyone here has been a part of that and I appreciate all of you.

I’m slightly more careful what I talk about on Lucky Otter’s Haven, since it covers a number of topics unrelated to psychology, trauma, abuse, or personality disorders and has a much wider audience.

Mental Health Writer’s Guild

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I’m proud to announce that both this blog and my other blog, Lucky Otter’s Haven, have been accepted into the Mental Health Writer’s Guild, an organization for bloggers who focus on mental health issues including mental illness stigma.

From their About page:

The Mental Health Writers’ Guild exists to encourage: positive, informative, inspirational writing in respect of Mental Health.  Doing so in the hope of ..

a)  furthering a greater understanding of the issues and challenges relating to Mental Health and Mental Well-being.

b)  addressing and working towards the reduction and removal of the stigma often attached to poor mental health and/or mental illness.

c)  keeping people advised of any progress, research, developments or discoveries within the field of Mental Health and Mental Well-being.

Likewise, The Mental Health Writers’ Guild seeks to encourage support and unity between all those writing about Mental Health and especially within Guild members.

Any blogger who writes about mental illness is welcome to join.  You may request membership on this page, or recommend another blogger for membership.

“Crazy” blogs help reduce mental illness stigma.

Through our “self indulgence” and “shameless” willingness to publicly talk about personal struggles and issues most people wouldn’t even tell their second best friend,  we forge communities where we can offer strength and comfort to others–and receive it in return.

 

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Do you, like me, administer a “crazy” blog?

I was thinking about how in the past few years, “crazy” blogs like mine (highly confessional blogs that document an individual’s mental illness and their journey to wellness and emotional freedom, or their therapy experiences) have proliferated like mushrooms after a rain storm.

Is this a blessing or is it the Internet version of the most sensationalized TV reality shows?

Those who don’t understand, many of them older people who aren’t used to such public candor on or off the web,  like to pass judgment and accuse us “crazy” bloggers pf being self-indulgent, narcissistic, exhibitionistic, shameless, or just plain, well, batshit crazy.    They can’t understand why people with such delicate and personal…issues…would want to blab about them all over the web to strangers all over the world.   They think that by us doing so,  we just prove we’re as insane as whatever mental illness we are struggling with. They think that such confessions belong behind closed doors in a therapist’ office and the only public place where they should be discussed is in the courts or maybe group therapy.

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Highly subjective, confessional stories of mental illness and the early trauma that led there didn’t start on the web, though the web makes it possible for the average non-celebrity type of person to make their story known through blogging and forum posts, and in the process, enlighten, warn, or provide hope and support to others in the same boat.   Through our “self indulgence” and “shameless” willingness to publicly talk about personal struggles and issues most people wouldn’t even tell their second best friend,  we forge communities where we can offer strength and comfort to others–and receive it in return. Back in the days before the Internet, we so often had to struggle alone without any support–or never be able to use what we learned to lift up someone else.

I think “crazy” blogs in particular help reduce stigma against mental illness by describing what it’s like to actually live with one, rather than just listing a bunch of criteria in a psychiatric textbook, which tends to increase stigma.  Instead of being reduced to “Exhibit A-104.3G, our stories and struggles show our humanity.

Further reading:  Why Crazy People Make Better Bloggers. 

Spiritual crisis.

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I’ve always hesitated about getting too religious on either of my blogs, since people of many different faiths (or none at all) read them and I don’t want to alienate non-Christians or atheists. But there’s no possible way to write what I’m about to write without at least acknowledging the presence of God (good) and Satan (evil). I will be referencing God because He plays such an important part in what happened to me this morning, but prefer to use the term “evil” or “forces of darkness” rather than Satan or the Devil. It’s all the same thing.

This morning I had a wake up call from God. Like so many other times when God knocks me upside the head with the truth, it hurt–a lot! But ultimately, it proved to me He hasn’t given up on me yet and has shown me the way to get out of the spiritual mess I’ve gotten myself into. But when He’s not pleased, He definitely lets you know. It’s my own choice what I do with this information.

As many of you know, I’ve been struggling with depression, lack of motivation, and strange dissociative episodes, where I often feel as if I’m out of my body. My “muse” seemed to have gone AWOL without any warning. I couldn’t figure it out, and thought I was having some kind of mental breakdown or a relapse into the numb depression I was in before I started to blog.

I didn’t realize until this morning that what was happening had little to do with my mind but a lot to do with my soul. Now when I look back at everything, I can’t understand how I didn’t see it, but Evil has a way of sneaking around and convincing you it’s Good when it’s the worst thing imaginable. Evil wants your soul and will do anything it can to get it, even convince you that bad is good and good is bad, and have you questioning your faith, if you have one.

I felt like God was very far away. I prayed, but half-heartedly, and no answers were coming. It was frustrating. Had God played a trick on me, or maybe didn’t even exist? Or maybe God just didn’t like me very much.

For weeks, maybe several months, my efforts at writing new blog posts felt forced. I felt that I was losing interest in narcissism and would have to take this blog in another direction. At the same time (and this is VERY insidious!) I found myself reading a lot about dark subjects, just because I felt drawn to them somehow. Yes, I admit it: while I want to be a good person and walk on the side of what’s good and right, there’s always been a part of me that’s attracted to darkness, even though at the same time I feel repelled by it. In fact, it’s much the same kind of “attraction” I’ve always had to narcissistic men–both attracted and repelled at the same time. I know it’s bad, and know it’s bad for ME, but rationalize to myself why it isn’t that dark or why it’s okay for me to be drawn closer to it. I thought I could delve into dark subjects as a sort of “spectator,” without getting really involved. I rationalized to myself that I wasn’t offending God because I wasn’t actually engaging in these activities. The power of the demonic is in its insidiousness. The way it sneaks up on you.

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Evil can masquerade as “good.” Be careful.

Last week I posted an article (which I removed this morning due to its content) about the use of psychedelic drugs as therapy for Cluster B disorders and PTSD. The article was at best irresponsible and misleading, and at worst potentially destructive, even…evil. But at the time I wrote it, I had somehow convinced myself it was okay as long as I prefaced it with a “disclaimer.” It never occurred to me that although I never would take such drugs myself, even as therapy (for the record, I don’t do any drugs and rarely even drink), that someone else might be convinced to do so, and find themselves in the midst of something they would not be able to handle or even in the ER! They could also find their souls in jeopardy.

That might sound dramatic but let me explain. In spite of my unhealthy obsession with dark things, I’ve shied away from anything involving the occult ever since my bad experience using a Ouija board at age 17. The occult scares me because I believe it’s possible to attract dark forces or spirits when engaged in it. Psychedelic drugs scare me too, but I find their effects (including their effects on me in the past, which were always negative) strangely fascinating. But when you take a psychedelic drug, you’re altering your consciousness and this often involves something called “ego death.” When ego death happens, people tend to dissociate quite badly. At high doses–or on strong psychoactive drugs–you lose your sense of yourself and forget who you are, where you are, or even that you’re human. At the same time your cognition remains intact. It’s at this point that many people either freak out and have a bad experience–or enjoy the experience and begin to think of themselves as “like gods” since they feel like disembodied pure consciousness and “see” things that are unbelievable in the context of the material world.

Several things can happen, and none of them are good. You can have a psychotic break and never “return,” you can “come back” believing the lies you’ve been told (that you’re “like a God” and can do anything God can do), or an outside entity (most likely, a bad one) can enter your body when you’re in this vulnerable state. I do realize some people claim to have had enlightening and even humbling experiences, and that may be the case for a few, but I think it’s the exception rather than the rule, and even then, you may have been deceived by dark forces. Some say that because psychoactive plants grown in nature and God created these plants, that they must have been put there by God for humans to use to achieve enlightenment. That may be the case but I doubt God wants us all tripping to know Him. They may have been given to us as medicine, meant to be dispensed by a doctor. We can’t know why they exist, but I have no business encouraging anyone to use them recreationally or as a method of self-therapy. There are too many risks and too many negative outcomes. It’s opening a Pandora’s box to the unknown. Just because you’re curious about what’s in that box doesn’t mean it should be opened. Personally I think psychedelic drugs are a form of sorcery (and I even said so in the article this post is about), and sorcery isn’t anything I want to get involved with.

I can’t help but think of Adam and Eve and the Tree of Knowledge, which may have been a psychoactive plant of some sort. Look what happened to them (and all humanity) after they ate from it! God specifically told them not to eat the fruit but they did anyway. We can’t know why it was put there if they were not to partake, but He must have had his reasons. They listened to the serpent instead who told them it was perfectly okay and not to listen to God. They fell for it and their disobedience led to the Fall. No, I do not believe this was a literal account of creation (I think it’s allegorical) but the message there is still very clear: there are some things God does NOT want us to do, and it’s not for us to question His reasoning. It could be that the answer would be too overwhelming for us to handle.

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It fills me with shame now to think that in posting that article last week, I was doing the same thing the serpent was doing in the Garden. Even with all the disclaimers and admission that I’d be too afraid to undertake any psychotherapy using psychedelic drugs, that article was still incredibly irresponsible to say the least. I can’t believe I even wrote such a thing, never mind actually posting it! But the dark forces can be very convincing and even hypnotic (much like a drug–or the serpent) and while engaged in activities that are more pleasing to those forces than to goodness (or godliness), you literally can’t see what you’re doing or why it’s a bad thing. Evil literally becomes “good” and that’s the lie the dark forces wants us to believe.

I now know why I’ve been feeling so depressed and dissociated. My soul was being pulled between good and evil. Being pulled in two opposite directions, I couldn’t “move,” hence the lack of motivation and dearth of new ideas. It also explains the strange out of body experiences and inexplicable sense of foreboding and panic attacks. These are all symptoms of soul sickness. Someone on another blog has said I seem very confused, and it’s true. I am very confused and have been for some time. The dark forces use confusion to disorient us and make us more vulnerable to their attempts to win our souls to their side.

I want to do what’s right; I want to please God, but at the same time I do find dark things alluring and seductive. All my life I’ve been surrounded by evil, and stayed with a very evil man far longer than I should have. I finally escaped, and found God, but the dark forces still want to get their hooks in me and this was their attempt to do so. I’m not strong enough to resist those forces without God, especially taking my background into consideration. If I deliberately dabble in things (and this includes even reading excessively about them) I’m leaving myself wide open to go down a very negative spiritual path.

This morning I saw a comment about this blog on someone else’s blog. The comments were not positive. The drug article was called out as being “evil.” I never thought of it that way, because the last thing I want to be is evil, but I immediately realized this person was right. I don’t want to post things that could be seen that way or could harm someone’s body, mind or soul. But that article WAS very dangerous and suddenly it was like my eyes were opened. I almost felt as if I’d just woken up and seen things as they really were. I saw myself in the mirror and the reflection wasn’t pretty.

My first reaction was extreme. I felt such overpowering shame (similar to what Adam and Eve must have felt in the Garden when they covered their bodies) that for a moment I was VERY tempted to just take down this whole blog and disappear. But suddenly I felt God’s presence and another thought entered my mind–Repent. Retract the article (as well as others that have been seen or may be seen as irresponsible or damaging to ACONs or disordered people, or ANYONE for that matter) and publicly apologize. I knew that God was giving me another solution because He knows that blogging has brought me to Him and didn’t want me to destroy the gift He’d given me to heal myself. To take down this blog and disappear would be the coward’s way out. It’s the way I have handled so many other things in my life when I handled things badly or hurt someone unintentionally. But God doesn’t want us to be cowards. He wants us to take responsibility for our mistakes, to own up to them, even when it’s embarrassing.
I was wrong. There’s no other way to justify what I did.

Many people might think doing such a thing a public retraction and apology would bring more shame than just disappearing. But ironically, I felt relief and gratitude. Gratitude that God had NOT turned his back on me (as I’d feared) and still has a plan for me. A year ago he was working on my mind; now He’s working on my soul, and the lessons you learn are so much harder. God is endlessly patient with us. He knows we’re human and will mess up sometimes. I messed up big time. I asked for forgiveness but I knew that the feeling of relief and gratitude meant He’d already forgiven me, as long as I never do such a thing ever again.

And God does perform miracles too. Several small (or not so small) miracles happened following my eyes being opened this morning. I could have felt hurt by the negative comments on that other blog, but somehow I didn’t–because I knew that person was right. I didn’t feel depressed today, and I felt inspired to write this article. I realized how much I WANTED to write it. I couldn’t wait to get home to write it. I haven’t felt this excited to write any blog post in months! I just knew that it was what God wanted me to do, and God always knows what we need even when we don’t.

When I got home earlier, there was one other little miracle waiting for me. This:

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A single bright pink flower on a succulent plant in my kitchen that has NEVER bloomed in the three years I’ve had it. I never noticed it until I got home, and suddenly there it was! I felt God’s presence and knew this was Him letting me know I’d made the right choice and was pleased. So I uttered two words: “Thank you.”

I know there will be many more spiritual crises ahead of me. I’m far from perfect and never will be. But I know if I stay close to God and stray less than I have over to the allure of darkness, I may have fewer of them and find I’m a whole lot happier in general.

ETA: Due to some interest expressed in reading the controversial article discussed in this post, I decided to make the article available, but password protected to avoid it being widely disseminated. If you wish to read it, please send me an email explaining your reasons and I will provide the password.

On having seasonal affective disorder (SAD), dishonesty, and a few other things.

This is going to be a long post, because I have so much to say.
I haven’t been completely honest about why I haven’t been posting as much (being overworked and tired is only part of it) but I was very confused about all these emotions I’m having and wasn’t sure where to begin, even though I wanted to talk about it. I just felt so overwhelmed and confused I was sure anything I wrote would overwhelm and confuse the hell out of anyone reading it and make no sense. Even now, I’m having trouble knowing where to start and am not sure this is going to make any sense, but I’m going to try, since I have the time.

1. Seasonal Affective Disorder.

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Let me start with the most obvious and simplest to explain. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it, but I suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Last fall, I was so new to blogging and so excited by the novelty of it that my excitement over my new “toy” overrode my usual feelings of depression I get when the days become shorter, colder, and gloomier. I even thought I’d been spontaneously “cured” but it’s back this year. It always starts around late August, when the days are becoming noticeably shorter (and this year, the trees begin to change early too). The fact that it’s still as hot as a pizza oven makes no difference. SAD is triggered by lack of daylight. It really starts to kick in after the autumnal equinox (September 23 this year) when the days begin to become gloomier and grayer and the nights are longer than the days. In this part of the country, there’s always a lot of rain in the fall and overcast days. I know we need the rain, but my brain doesn’t care and the darkness always triggers depression, which causes me to feel sad (SAD is a good acronym for this disorder!) and as gloomy as the gray days, and any motivation I have or energy goes out the window.

The string of upcoming holidays, which seem to mitigate the gloom for normal people (and even make them feel happy), don’t help me one bit. In fact, they make things worse. Halloween isn’t too bad (it doesn’t cost much and isn’t a “family” holiday), but Thanksgiving and Christmas are a different story. As a person with no money and who is not in contact or close to most of my family, the holidays, especially Christmas, are very difficult for me. Besides my children, I have no one to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with. Christmas is so overcommercialized and you are made to feel somehow defective or different (in a bad way) if you can’t afford to buy a ton of gifts (and don’t get many either), don’t love Christmas music, or can’t get into the “holiday spirit.” I know Christmas is really about the birth of Jesus, not crass commercialism, but unfortunately our society has made it that way, and if you’re a poor person with hardly any family and few close friends, it’s really hard to not get depressed.

I always begin to feel better sometime after Christmas, and usually by early February my mood is improving, despite the cold weather. Again, this has to do with the lengthening days. In fact, every year I look forward to the winter solstice, because it’s then that the days begin to grow longer again. It doesn’t take too long for my body to notice it. And once Christmas is over and done with, I feel relief. Then it’s just a matter with putting up with 2 more months of cold and gloomy, overcast days. And because I live in the South, the winters here are not long. It’s usually warming up by early March or even the end of February, and the first signs of spring can be seen then too. I always notice my energy level and motivation increasing, and my mood becomes more upbeat and positive.

So the lack of motivation caused by my SAD (and blogging no longer being the novelty it was last year at this time) is partly responsible for my not writing every day the way I used to. But that’s only part of it.

2. Coming to terms with being a covert narcissist.

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(unedited from my original post on Lucky Otter’s Haven)

The other part is a lot harder for me to talk about, even though I’ve talked about it before, and nothing bad happened when I did and people didn’t unfollow this blog in droves, the way I had feared. About two months ago, I began to self identify as a covert narcissist (in addition to my having BPD and Avoidant PD). It explained the “Aspergers” I was sure I had up to that point. I don’t want to belabor again how I made this discovery or why (if you’re interested in reading more about that, I wrote several articles about it in early-mid August and started another blog, intended to help people with self-aware covert narcissism and BPD who do not want their disorders), but for some reason, I began to feel a lot of shame associated with the “NPD” label, based on the general attitude toward narcissists, especially those who have been abused by them (and the attitude is understandable).

Although I didn’t want to be dishonest because this blog has always been a place where I can be completely honest and would not have discovered this truth about myself had it not been for writing honestly about my feelings every day, I clammed up just the same. I began to fear people’s judgment of me for being “one of them” (even though I’m mindful and think I do pretty well not acting in narcissistic ways) and feeling like maybe I should downplay the “narc” label. After all, it’s just a label, right? And not even a label given to me by a therapist or mental health professional, but a self-diagnosis which might be wrong anyway. I can’t even bring myself to add “covert narcissism” to my list of disorders. BPD’s bad enough.

But in spite of all that, in my gut I know my self assessment is correct. I’ve become very hesitant to call too much attention to it however, because of my fear of negative judgment (which in itself is a part of both BPD and covert NPD). I know it’s silly, because it was abuse itself that made me this way. In the past few months I’ve hesitated to write articles about abuse, because knowing I have covert narcissism made me feel like a fraud. But I’m not a fraud because I am myself an abuse victim–one so badly damaged I was infected with narcissism myself. That’s why once I got over my rage and hatred toward narcissists (which I worked out through my earlier blog posts) brought on by their abuse, I found myself attempting to understand why they did the things they do. It took several more months of completely honest writing (running naked in public) that pulled the scales from my eyes and made me realize that I myself had the disorder and was trying to understand myself!

It took an email I got this morning from an ACON (who I had confessed about my narcissism to) that said she could understand how I could have been infected and that as long as I was aware and trying to change (which I am doing) that there was nothing wrong with my writing for ACONs and in fact, she had been helped by my articles and would continue to read them. Most people, in fact, have been very supportive and understanding. I was actually shocked by this, given how demonized NPD is.

I know as a blogger who writes primarily as a form of self therapy, that I cannot get any better if I stop being honest. I worry far too much about what others are going to think, or that I will be disliked, or people will judge me harshly. I suppose this is natural, having been judged harshly by my narcissists all my life, so I always assume the worst will happen. It rarely does, but just the same, it makes me clam up and leave things out.

These labels can be so damaging, and make those of us who want to change ourselves afraid to admit the truth. It was bad enough admitting I was BPD, because of the negative stigma associated with that. But admitting you’re “N” is even more scary. Some people think you’re the devil himself. But why should it be that way? It’s just a label. If I’m not acting out or hurting anyone, then it makes no difference to anyone but myself. It’s something I need to deal with. I can’t get any better if I don’t come to terms with that reality and on some level, accept it.
I could be wrong anyway (but I don’t think I am).

I felt so much better when I left nothing out, when I was so candid and brutally honest about the most personal and embarrassing and shameful things imaginable. It was scary but I never once regretted it, and found myself growing and changing, becoming happier and more confident (in a real, not a narcissistic way). I was feeling more empathy for others and becoming less shy. I was finding myself connecting with people in a way I was never able to, and was beginning to feel like I mattered. So why would I stop?

I judge myself and don’t want to “own” this label, but realistically, how could someone have been raised the way I was and NOT develop a Cluster B disorder like BPD or NPD? I was both scapegoat AND golden child, and constantly receiving contradictory, mixed messages (I was perceived as either “better” than others, superior, and expected to live up to some ideal image of a child my parents had for me, or I was told I was worthless and bad because I was unable to live up to that unrealistic ideal). This isn’t something I chose; it was something done to me. Narcissism is contagious.

And that brings me to the third issue behind my depression and lack of motivation…

3. Fear of parental disapproval.

angry-parents

There’s another reason why I’ve been less motivated to write. The way I was raised has everything to do with all my emotional problems and my mood swings, inability to connect with anyone emotionally, or feel like I’m leading a fulfilling, successful life. It even explains why I married a malignant narcissist and spent 27 years with him as a codependent, abused wife (covert narcissists–and BPDs–often pair up with higher spectrum or overt, grandiose narcissists and are almost always codependent).

But lately I’ve been afraid to write about my parents and their emotional abuse of me, even though they were my first (and because my personality was still forming, my most toxic), abusers). I can’t blog honestly if I leave my experiences with them out. But I’ve been afraid to write about them just the same, and that’s because about 6 months ago, I found out my parents had found my blog and were reading it. That might make anyone clam up, but no real names were being used, so I wasn’t guilty of slander or libel. It might even do them good to read about the way they made me feel, even if they didn’t care or tried to project everything back onto me (because I wasn’t lovable enough as a child, or am a “loser” who makes “bad choices” today or whatever it is they’re saying about me). It would certainly do ME good to be honest about what happened. After all, this blog is my self-therapy and with any therapist, you would talk about your childhood and the bad parenting you got, so why wouldn’t I write about it? It’s not as if I’m losing anything by doing so, since (as far as I know) I’ve been disowned anyway. I’ve been the black sheep for years and am NC with my mother anyway.

But I still fear their judgment, for God knows what reason. Why do I write openly about my ex’s abuse and not fear his negative judgement? What makes it so different? What makes that “okay” and writing about my parents “not okay”?

I worry way too much about the negative opinions of others, and that in itself is part of my narcissism. I was bullied as a child and that didn’t help either. I put far too much importance on what other people think. I don’t think I lie excessively, but leaving things out is a kind of lie too. I lie by glossing over things, not talking about important things that affected me and caused my problems, not admitting the way I really feel about something, downplaying both my abuse (due to fear of my parents judging me even though they already do) and my own disorders. When I lie by omission, it’s still a lie, and I’m not doing myself any favors either. In fact, the fear of negative judgment feeds on itself, and I imagine the worst outcomes and that tends to feed my fears even more, making me even less motivated to write.

So what I need to do is not worry about what everyone will think, and go ahead and write what I feel and let the chips falls where they may. If I’m harshly judged by some, so be it. Those are probably not people I would want to have anything to do with anyway.

A small part of my depression is because my car needs major repairs and my job only pays enough to pay the bills so I’m living pretty much from one paycheck to the next (and working a lot more). I’m going to go ahead and ask for donations via Paypal but I’ll do a separate post for that and I hope it doesn’t offend anyone. (that post will be on my other blog, Lucky Otter’s Haven).

So that’s where I’m at. I need to start writing about everything I’m feeling again, starting from today and stop worrying about what a few people think and censoring myself because of them. They don’t matter, but my growth as a person does, as well as those who get something from reading this blog. Censoring myself for fear of negative judgment is one of the things I need to work on getting over. It helps no one, least of all me. Haters are always going to exist, no matter what you blog about. I can’t lose my original focus and why I started blogging in the first place, and lately I’ve been slipping. That needs to stop now.

You may find this article inspiring too, if you blog and are afraid to be completely honest.

100 posts!

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My 6-point self-healing programme.

girl with raised hands and broken chains

Obviously, I’d prefer to have a psychodynamic therapist who specializes in reparenting people with NPD/BPD, but without insurance or easy access to such a therapist (volunteering as a “guinea pig” in a university psychology department would require me to travel outside my area, but if you live in a large city this may be an option), I decided to take on the work of healing myself of my disorders.

It is possible, no matter what anyone tells you. After the wonderful thing that happened to me this morning (I felt warm, emotional empathy for someone), I really think I can heal myself, and I don’t think I’m being grandiose when I say that either.

A sort of programme for healing my NPD and BPD has gelled together. Your own self-healing programme may differ, but for me, these 6 things seem to be working so far. It’s my hope that this article can help someone else too.

1. Self-reparenting.

This requires time alone, with no interruptions. Usually I play soft music that stirs my emotions, which work as an icebreaker for maximum vulnerability. For me, nakedness doesn’t just mean emotional nakedness, but actual physical nakedness, because somehow the freedom from the restrictions imposed by clothing seems to make me more emotionally open as well. This can mean either taking a long warm bath with fragrant essences, or in my room with a cotton sheet covering me and soft music playing and a scented candle burning. I spend a few minutes meditating and trying to clear my mind of worries, then begin a dialogue with my inner child (true self). I tell her she is loved and didn’t deserve to be treated the way she was and there was never a need to go into hiding. I tell her I was sorry for rejecting her too. I imagine myself as her parent and hold myself the way I would have wanted to be held. I imagine her talking back to me, telling me about the hurts she has suffered and I find I can empathize with her (because she is me). This exercise is VERY emotional and usually results in tears. That’s perfectly fine; in fact it’s desireable. I can feel something hard and cold melting away and I feel my TS becoming more courageous and she’s coming out more and more frequently than she ever did before.

Before undertaking any kind of self-reparenting, I recommend reading James F. Masterson’s books on treating people with borderline and narcissistic disorders. There are quite a few; they can be ordered through Amazon.
If possible, talk to a mental health professional before undertaking this sort of self-therapy, because it can be very emotionally intense.

2. Blogging and writing.

Healing requires me to write about my emotional experiences and important things I have found out about my disorders every day. Just as I did with my first blog, which helped me to cope with the aftermath of narcissistic abuse, once the dust settled from my shattering discovery of myself as cNPD, ultimately I was inspired to start this blog, which is meant as a platform for my own self-healing and therapy and hopefully, a place where other people like myself–self aware borderlines and narcissists–can come to get support and find some inspiration or ideas. That’s my hope anyway.

3. Mindfulness.

I learned mindfulness skills from my DBT training for BPD when I was hospitalized in 1996. About 6 months ago I pulled out my Marsha Linehan’s DBT skills training manual and have been practicing the exercises. It’s not hard for me anymore to practice mindfulness to avoid jumping to wrong conclusions, acting out, “going off” on someone, and creating unnecessary drama. I find that handling small tangible objects, especially when I feel stressed, are very soothing and help me center myself. I have a collection of such objects I really like and that help remind me to stay mindful at all times. DBT skills, while developed for people with BPD, seem to be working on my narcissistic traits as well. We can choose not to act out in ways that hurt others by being conscious of our own actions. For more information, see my article, Simple Mindfulness Tools That Really Help.

Since I became self-aware, it’s gotten easier for me to be mindful because self-awareness gives you the ability to see yourself as others see you, so it’s almost second nature to monitor myself. I don’t have to think about it too much.

mindfulness

4. Chakra balancing.

I wrote about this about a week ago, so I won’t go into too much detail in this article. Basically, I meditate to a CD called “Light Music” which focuses on each of the seven chakras, in order from lowest to highest. I focus on my breathing, and imagine each intake of air pulling in unconditional love, and each exhale expelling envy, hate, and other toxic emotions that have always held me back. I pay particularly close attention to the third (solar plexus) chakra (power and competence), because that’s the weakest chakra for people with narcissism (overt narcissists overcompensate for its weakness by acting grandiose and arrogant). The heart (4th) chakra gets a good workout too, since we’re so disconnected from our true feelings. As you might expect, I have the most intense emotional reaction to the solar plexus chakra segment, and always feel wonderful when my sessions are over.

5. Prayer.

I believe narcissism is at least in part a spiritual disorder, so whenever I have a chance I spend some time talking to God, asking him to remove my BPD and cNPD, and help me to be the person he meant for me to be. I’ve found two things are important when in prayer: always ask how to be of service to God (you are not trying to be a God yourself–that’s part of our problem!); and always thank him for the insights you’ve already received. Whatever God has planned for you, is the best thing for you. Trust him. All my life I wondered what my purpose was (I seriously thought it was to be an example to everyone else of how NOT to be!) and now a picture is forming of what my purpose in this world is. It’s not at ALL what I expected, but is more wonderful than I could have imagined. I’m not ready to talk about it yet though, but in time I will.

If you don’t believe in God, that’s okay. Pray (or talk to) a Higher Power, or the Universe if you wish. This isn’t a religious exercise; it’s simply an acknowledgement that there is something more powerful than ourselves in the universe who can guide us to be everything we were meant to be.

6. Embracing vulnerability.

This will be the hardest part and at first you may not be able to do it. But after awhile of doing the first five things (you don’t have to do them exactly the way I do–or you may find your own techniques for healing) it gets easier. I’ve discussed vulnerability a lot, so I won’t talk about it too much here. But for a narcissist, vulnerability is what we rejected when we rejected the True Self. The irony is it’s also the key to unlocking the prison of our narcissism. To get started, I recommend watching Brene Brown’s “Power of Vulnerability” (and all her other videos about shame and vulnerability). I linked to it in my last article.

I’m having trouble wrapping my head around the fact this stuff is actually working! But why question it?

“Some days I just want to crawl into a hole and make myself very small.”

This article I wrote for my other blog just two months ago (!) embarrasses me now, but I think it’s a great example of how narcissistic I can be sometimes, even online. I just thought I ought to call myself out about this whiney, self-pitying, falsely-humble, yet grandiose post that’s like wearing a neon sign flashing the words “I can’t take criticism! Waaaaahhh!” This is covert narcissism and BPD in a nutshell. Narcissistic injury. We’re always so butthurt over everything.

It’s interesting. At the time I wrote it, someone called me on this post being very narcissistic, and that upset and angered me (of course!) I actually couldn’t see anything wrong with this self-indulgent post and thought the person was being a bully. They were, but that doesn’t mean the article wasn’t narcissistic.

Seeing myself this way is like having glasses after years of being almost blind.
But I’m being careful not to beat myself up either. The past can’t be undone, but you can make your own future.

Some Days I Just Want to Crawl Into a Hole and Make Myself Very Small
Posted on June 22, 2015 on Lucky Otter’s Haven.

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DISCLAIMER:
I feel like a disclaimer is needed, though the above photo should be enough of a disclaimer, because it says it all. Someone made a sarcastic remark about how I think I’m a celebrity because of this post, so I let their comment make me set this post to private, because I don’t have a thick skin and am too chicken to come out with a snappy or snarky comeback. I always think other people can get away with doing that, but I won’t be allowed to. It’s because of my past. I was never allowed to speak my mind or have a voice. Now I’ve internalized that and don’t allow myself a voice sometimes. I’m getting better but I’m not out of the woods yet.

In no way do I put myself in the same category as celebrities (who are just people who get wrinkles, have morning breath, and have to use the toilet sometimes like everyone else). I thought I made the distinction pretty clear. For someone who has felt like a nothing my entire life, and always been told I am nothing, and treated with disdain and disrespect, even by the people who were supposed to love me, a little thing like having 1,000 followers or having articles that get popular can seem like a huge deal. To a normal person with healthy self esteem and who felt loved and had a normal sense of belonging, such an achievement might seem like nothing, but to me, it’s a huge accomplishment. If people have an issue with this, and want to judge me for this, or think I’m saying I’m a celebrity, maybe they need to look in the mirror at themselves and stop being so judgmental. Nothing makes me more angry than being judged, especially by people who know next to nothing about me or what motivates me.

I’m tired of always feeling like I have to apologize just for existing. I’ve felt that way all my life.
So, here is that “offensive” article.

I think it would be hard to be famous. Imagine millions of people you never met and never will meet knowing everything about you, obsessing over every detail of your personal life, staring at your pictures, talking about you amongst themselves, worshipping you, hating you, carrying lunchboxes with your photo on them or wearing clothes or perfume with your name on them. Imagine going into a grocery store to buy some butter and finding your own mug plastered on every tabloid. Imagine total strangers walking up to you and addressing you by name and trying to touch you. No wonder celebrities hate the paparazzi. Sure, getting cameras shoved in your face comes with the territory of being famous/getting paid as if you’re a small nation (and should be accepted with grace under normal circumstances), but when a celebrity just has enough of the lack of privacy and punches a photographer in the face, I totally get it. Celebrities are only human, after all. They’re not “special” or somehow above the rest of humanity; they were just lucky or worked very hard or have a special gift to get where they are. Or they have a famous dad. *cough*The Kardashians*cough*

I’m far from famous, but lately this blog has gained enough visibility that I have “haters” and “fans.” I don’t want to be hated or worshipped; frankly I don’t think I deserve either. I’m just a regular and rather boring person who knows about a lot about something and knows how to write about it. I’m glad my blog is doing well. It feels good. It validates what I’m doing. It feels good to know that someone somewhere may find some help or hope through my words. It feels good when someone reblogs an article of mine or tells me something I said changed their life, or even just made their day a little better. It makes me feel like I have some purpose in this world, after years of believing I had no purpose other than to be an example to other people of how NOT to be. Someday I may achieve some level of notoriety if I write the book I want to write (and as of now, I have no earthly idea what sort of book I would write), or something incredible happens like The Huffington Post decides to pick up an article I wrote, or even if I ever get Freshly Pressed. More likely than not, I won’t be famous even then. I don’t really care either, because fame has never been something I strove for.

But there are still days when as a somewhat successful blogger (and by that I just mean this blog has grown steadily due to some fortuitous circumstances and a LOT of hard work on my part, not that I’m the new Opinionated Man or anything) I feel too naked and exposed. At these times I say to myself, “I’m not ready! Wait! This is too scary!” I feel that way right now.

When your blog starts becoming visible and coming up on page 1 or 2 in the search engines, sometimes certain articles you wrote suddenly get shared a lot or even go viral. If the article is one you’re proud of and worked hard on, it’s a great feeling. But sometimes an article you kind of wanted to get buried quickly and forgotten gets found anyway and starts gaining momentum. This isn’t really a bad thing. After all, if I really didn’t want an article to be read, I would have set it to “Private.” So sure, I suppose I wanted it to be read, but I didn’t want it to go viral either. So at this moment, I’m feeling a tad too exposed and naked for comfort. It’s silly to feel like this, but sometimes I just do. I’ve always been a reserved, shy kind of person (I’m textbook INFJ) and while I like a moderate amount of attention occasionally — just to make sure I still exist (how narcissistic of me) — I don’t want negative attention or an excessive amount of attention, whether negative or positive. I’ve always been uncomfortable being the focal point in any situation that involves more than two people. I’m easily embarrassed. I blush and stammer. I act weird and awkward. When I turned three, I cried when they sang Happy Birthday. This natural reticence is actually good, because it reassures me I’m not the raving narcissist I sometimes think I am (or God forbid, could be turning into).

So I have mixed feelings about having so much visibility right now. I know “Internet fame” is kind of a huge joke (visualize rolling eyes and knowing snickers), but I won’t lie–there are days I really do enjoy the attention. But not every day. Sometimes I just want to crawl into a hole and make myself very small. Sometimes I feel like I’m in one of those dreams where you’re walking down a street or into a classroom or something and suddenly realize you don’t have any clothes on. It’s a weird and surreal experience, knowing so many strangers, some in exotic places like Mongolia or Kenya, are reading words that once lived only within the shadowy recesses of my brain, and are having their own thoughts and reactions I will never be privy to. It’s like a tiny taste of what it might feel like to be famous, and while it has its moments, I don’t think I could ever really get used to it. It just ain’t in my nature.

My attitude really just depends on which article of mine is getting so many views, and what sort of mood I’m in. I’m not at all sure I would handle fame well if I ever write a book that becomes a bestseller (not that it’s likely to happen). I might want to show up at book signings wearing a paper bag over my head with eyeholes in it-or at least a pair of dark sunglasses. Or become a recluse like J. D. Salinger. Or contemptuous of fame like Kurt Cobain. Especially because most of the things I write about make me feel so vulnerable. From Day One, I made a commitment to be 100% candid at all times and to hold back nothing. I’ve probably only achieved about 95% Total Emotional Honesty (if you knew the other 5% you’d be hitting the “Escape Button” faster than I can type “Wait! Please let me explain!”), but I guess that’s close enough.

Writers are a weird and tortured lot, I can assure you of that. You wouldn’t want to be inside my head most of the time.