“You’re Gonna Make it After All!”

Do any of you know who Mary Richards is?  She was a character played by Mary Tyler Moore, on a show of the same name, and was the first never married, independent woman who lived the single life happily while focusing on her career first, and men second.  The show ran from 1970-1977 with a brilliant cast, and I absolutely loved, and still love, watching it.

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Mary’s single apartment was so funky with the shag carpet and plants all around and she reveled in making her own choices and directing her own life, without the ‘support’ or ‘addition’ of a man!

This is the first time I’ve ever truly lived alone..it’s only been a couple of months now but I’m loving it…which is a HUGE surprise to me!  After I graduated from high school, I lived with mom and step-father, until my junior year of college when I moved into an apartment on campus with 3 roommates.  I hated it!  Two of my roommates were rude and difficult to get along with, but worse, I missed my future hubby who was still in my hometown.  After junior year was completed, we got married and were together for 4 years.  Then, I was single and living alone for 5 months and I absolutely despised it!  I was 26 and very much wanting to start a family, and I felt a desperation in terms of finding someone to make that dream come true.  I was also scared to death!  Every sound was a burglar and I literally had to take my little mutt dog down the stairs with me to be brave enough to go into my basement to do laundry!  It was horrible!  But then hubby 2 and I started seeing each other, however, he lived in another state and the visits were only a couple of times a month.  I got pregnant (my sweet son was NOT an accident, but an awesome surprise!) during our Thanksgiving visit (go figure) and married hubby 2.  After we divorced 13 years later, my son and I lived together until hubby 3 and I married.  Whew!  I basically went from one home to another in quick succession and never really embraced the single life at all.

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To be honest with you, I was really scared to try it again.  Or, maybe even truly try it for the first time.  I had gotten to the point where I thought I was simply too co-dependent (yes, I hate that word too) to live on my own happily.  Because I always had one, I felt I wasn’t complete without a man.  I was dependent on men to show me my value and worth, and by having a man around the house all of the time allowed me to NOT face some of my issues since I was too busy ‘doing for’ them.  They were almost like a buffer between ‘housewifey’ me and the inner me that needed some work…badly.

The first couple of weeks after Sarge left, I cried and cried.  Buckets.  It got to where I wondered if I would ever stop.  I know I was crying for Sarge and for the abuse I had endured with him, but I believe I was also crying because I would be alone.  Completely alone (except for my fur babies and feathered friend!).  Forcing myself to get out of bed everyday was a chore…and I dreaded the hours ahead of me.  Besides school, I would plan on how to fill them up until I could get to bed and not have to face anything at all.

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Hmmmm.  Well, I have always been a voracious reader, but hadn’t had much of an opportunity to do so this past year, so I started reading again.  For hours.  Because there isn’t anyone I have to be accountable too.  I can eat when I want and what I want.  I can nap and not worry about waking up before a hubby gets home and needs dinner.  I can loom and sew to my hearts content.  I can go to bed anytime I want, and wake up on my schedule on the weekends.  If I don’t feel like vacuuming, I don’t.  There’s no hubby to keep a sparkling house for, and I’m finding that some dust and dog hair really don’t bother me much at all.  I only have to do laundry when MY clothes basket is full, and if I leave things out, I know where they will be the next day.

In fact, I’m getting a little selfish with my time!  Sometimes when friends or family want to come over, I’ll say ‘Not Today!’ because I’m enjoying my solitude so much.  That’s HUGE for me!!  To WANT to be alone!

And facing myself and my issues?  I’ve been able to do that.  I’ll think about things I believe or done or regret and work them out.  If I want to cry or yell or blog or draw or eat candy bars as I deal with things, I do it.  And I’m trying very hard to put closure on things I’ve ruminated too much over, and I’m focusing so much more of my energy on the future.  I think I’m the healthiest me I’ve been in a long time.

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Now…am I still healing from the narcissistic abuse?  Yes.  I said I was the healthiest I’ve been for a while, but no where near where I want to be.  I know I still feel the effects of his words, abuse, manipulation, and most of all, his infidelity which is so difficult to get over.  To him, it was just an aberration and ‘she’ started it.  To me, it was a crushing blow to my heart, my ego, and my self-image.  But the process has started!  I’m getting ‘better’ everyday, and going home to my dogs after school and spending my afternoons and evenings alone feel really great!  I’m learning things about myself I never really knew and instead of being co-dependent (dammit…there’s that word again!) on a man, I’m learning to be dependent on me!  That’s a great feeling!

This is what I know…being alone is scary.  Particularly when you are recovering from a toxic relationship which has you feeling as if you aren’t worthy or capable of anything.  But you are.  You are strong.  You are competent.  You are a precious, priceless, worthwhile soul and you can do anything.  It just takes one step.  Then another.  And then another.  And you know what?  I’ll be here for your journey as you are for mine.

Professor K

“Going in one more round when you don’t think you can – that’s what makes all the difference in your life.” ~ Rocky Balboa

Do any of you know the story of Roger Bannister?  Roger was a Doctor and medical student at Oxford and was a great runner.  He had a dream of breaking the 4 minute mile which seemed like foolishness because of this:  doctors and physiologists around the world were in agreement that not only was running a sub 4 minute mile impossible, but many believed that if it was tried, the heart would literally burst and the runner would be killed.  But, Roger didn’t believe this and wanted to prove that running a sub 4 minute mile was not only possible, but within his own reach.  After intense training, on May 6, 1954 he ran the mile in 3:59.4 and survived!  He’d broken a barrier that no one believed could be broken.  He proved something ‘impossible’ was now ‘possible’ and 46 days later, John Landy ran a 3:57.9 mile and times have continued to drop.  Currently, the world record for the mile is 3:43.14.  Now…why did Landy and others quickly start breaking the 4 minute barrier themselves?  Because now they knew it could be done.  Sadly, what was said by doctors and the fact no one had done it yet, runners’ minds just couldn’t allow themselves to think of doing this impossibility…it was something that just couldn’t be done.  In other words, it was a self-fulfilling prophecy.  But once they SAW the impossible become possible, their minds believed they could now do it, and many were able to break that barrier and excel.

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Wow.  An impossible barrier was broken time and time again just because minds started realizing it could be accomplished.  How many times do we think we CAN’T do something, so we may not even try.  If our minds won’t allow us to believe that the so-called impossible CAN be possible, we won’t try to achieve goals we might personally wish for, and instead, allow ourselves to be prisoners of these walls.

Another runner who is so inspirational to me is the British runner Paula Radcliffe.  In the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, Paula was expected to be the gold medalist…after all, she was the world record holder for the marathon (26.2 miles) and there was hope that she would beat her own time and set a new record.  The world was waiting in expectation for that gold medal to be put around her neck, and people were glued to their television sets watching this marvel of a woman run a marathon in stifling heat.  And what they saw was this:  Paula sitting down on the curb of the road at mile 20 unable to go on any further.  She had been having stomach pains and later, it was found her spleen was swollen and her stomach was battered.   _39986144_paula_race270Despite these medical issues, many people said cruel things about her ‘quitting’ the race and letting so many people down.  Hmmm.  I’m wondering how many of these people can even run a mile, but I digress.  Where is she now?  Paula’s world record still stands today after 14 years and she’s still running wonderfully.  Did she let people down?  Nope.  Knowing she was sick, she still tried with all of her might to finish what she started and complete her goal.  But, it just wasn’t meant to be.  Months later though, she completed the NYC marathon admirably.  She wasn’t defeated by her set-back in Athens.  She knew what she could do, and tried again.  And she succeeded.

We all have barriers in our minds.  We all have the thoughts saying I can’t do this…it’s impossible for me to do that…and these thoughts become a self-fulfilling prophecy which makes it impossible to see past these fences.

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When hubby 2 and my son got back from Mexico one year, I was looking at our vacation pictures and didn’t like what I saw!  I had always been slim, but seeing myself in a swimming suit showed I hadn’t lost the baby weight I had gained, despite the fact my son was 8 years old.  So, I called my dad.  He empathized with my feelings and asked me to meet him at a track and start running with him again, after my 10 year hiatus.  I met him, thinking I’d run a couple of miles.  After all, in high school and college, I ran regularly and could easily run 10 miles.  Dad and I started running and I practically collapsed after an 8th of a mile.  I was stunned.  And frustrated.  And embarrassed.  I told dad I simply had to start running again and he asked me what my goal would be.  He understood that having a goal was the first step in making sure my desire was focused.  So, jokingly, I said, “Well, I’ll run the St. Louis marathon in October!”  (which was only 10 months away).  Before I had a chance to say, “Just kidding!” my dad said that was a great goal and we would start the next day.  I was convinced he was crazy, but nevertheless, I started running with him again.  When I got up to a mile, I was elated, and my next goal was a 5k.  I ran it, not well, but started realizing that if I set my mind to my ‘impossible’ goal, I just might succeed.  Dad always beat me on our runs.  Always.  We would see our finishing spot ahead, and both of us would break out in a sprint, trying to beat the other.  I never could.  And to be honest, part of me didn’t want too.  I kinda liked knowing that dad was stronger and faster than me, but my competitive spirit took over and the day I beat him, we both celebrated.  Because of a bad ankle, once I hit higher mile runs, dad would have to ride his bike along with me instead of run.  But I loved this.  As I ran, we would talk about anything and everything and that time spent with him was precious to me.  Finally, October came around and he and I went to St. Louis, along with mom and step-father.  The plan was for dad and the family to meet me at mile 20 so that he could run the last 6 miles with me.  I knew I would need that.  When I got to that spot, mom could see I was really struggling and she said,  “JUST QUIT if you’re hurting”!  I gave her a look which pretty much projected my thought of ARE YOU FREAKING CRAZY??  I’d come this far with 10 months of work behind me, and there was NO WAY in hell I was stopping.

As dad started to run with me, he asked how I was feeling. img_1995.jpg Now, I really don’t curse much, or at least didn’t then, and here’s what came out of my tired mouth:  “How the fuck do you think I feel, dad?  I’ve just run 20 fucking miles and I’m still not done!!”  He cracked up and he pushed me, encouraged me, and motivated me to keep going those last few miles and when I crossed the finish line, I feel as if we had crossed it together.

I had done it.  I had taken what I thought was an impossible challenge, and because of my father, turned it into a reality.  This taught me more than anything I’ve ever experienced.  I learned that ‘impossible’ may not really exist.  That if I start to believe in myself…ignore the can’ts that go through my mind…and put in the work and effort, I too can take a barrier and knock the damn thing down.  Yes!

We all have self-fulfilling prophecies.  Foretold predictions of what will happen.  But here’s the thing.  These prophecies can be wrong.  Just because we believe in something, doesn’t make it so.  I believed I couldn’t…dad believed I could…and with his support, I did.

What other self-fulfilling prophecies do I have?  That I can’t be strong?  That I’m not worthy of a loving relationship?  That the hurt I’ve experienced is penance for my sins?  That I can’t change my victim mindset?  That I can’t ever heal?  That I’ll never be where I was and even better?  Hmmmm.  These are big barriers.  Huge.  But I’m wondering if these can be conquered too.  Just because I’m thinking them…doesn’t make them true.  I’ve broken down fences before…and I am starting to believe that all fences have a weak spot.  And what can we do?  Take a sledgehammer and start beating down that fence until you come out the other side in victory.  One fence at a time.

This is what I know:  no matter where we are in our lives, we need to understand we are more than the hurt…more than our feeling of being a victim…more than what others might say.  But most often we can’t, or won’t, believe we can overcome these things.  But we can.  And the first step is opening your mind that it’s not just a possibility, but can be a certainty.  It can be done.  I promise.

Professor K

 

And then there was reality…

I’m sure that many of you who have been in narcissistic relationships have read the books or blog of H.G. Tudor, a self-proclaimed narcissistic sociopath who shares his own methods, thoughts, behavior, and reasons regarding his role in the narcissistic relationship.  I’ve been reading his books and his blog…some of the chapters and entries are difficult to get through since H.G. explains the narcs mind in a cold but honest way.  He doesn’t lessen the methods used by narcs in relationships, and to see a narcs thought processes written so openly is hard to take at times.

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In all of the materials I’ve read by him so far, there are 3 things that stand out for me the most:

  1. Narcs don’t love you.  Period.  They simply don’t have the capacity to love so don’t, and never will love you.  When they say they do, they are lying.
  2. Narcs have NO remorse.  None.  IF an apology is given for something, it’s not genuine, but just another move to keep you in the push-pull relationship you are in.
  3. Narcs have NO capability of feeling empathy.  Zero.  IF they ’empathize’ with you, which is quite rare, they are playing yet another part that’s necessary for their fuel supply to remain intact.

According to H.G., victims have no choice but to accept these things as being true in EVERY case of narcissism, or they will NEVER have a chance to recover from their narcs abuse.

Here’s my problem:  When I met hubby 3, he was pretty wild.  He grew up in horrible circumstances:  his dad beat him regularly with a stick/switch that hubby had to get himself, and his mom was extremely neglectful.  Not only did she allow this abuse to happen, she also didn’t leave their trailer for years which made hubby have to be responsible, at a young age, to get his own food, get to school, etc.  In fact, when hubby was only 3, his dad hit him so hard he lost consciousness and his dad had to give him CPR, while his mom watched.  Aside from the horrors of this abuse, hubby says other things were done to him that he will never tell me about…it’s just too painful.  To make his circumstances even more disturbing was the fact hubby’s family was extremely poor.  “Dirt poor.”  When he first moved in with my son and I, he would take the cereal box every morning and hit it on the table a few times before he opened it to pour.  When I asked him why he did this, he explained it was to make sure any bugs or roaches were at the bottom of the box.  He often referred to himself as “white trash” and as a youth, as we all often do, he lived his label…incorporated it into who he imagined he was.  Consequently, he was in a lot of trouble through middle adulthood and even served a year in prison.

When I met hubby, I felt an instant spark.  And after spending some time together, that spark turned into a fire, and despite his previous 5 (!) marriages (I don’t know if my parents even know this…but 2 of the marriages were to the same person so I consider it 4) and background, I still chose to marry him.

Prior to me, his marriages had been full of drama, addictions (on the part of some of the wives), and often times, abuse.   And, because this was all he had known, our first 2 years were pretty bad.  Once, when we were first married, he threw a heavy wooden box at my face, and another time, he kept me in our basement for a few hours while he accused me of things and berated me.  When I tried to get back upstairs and away from this, he physically stopped me from doing so.  And I know what you are saying:  “Why the hell did you stay?!”

Because of this:  I saw good in hubby.  I truly did (hey, I’m an empath…that’s what we do).  And when hubby would lost control and do something, he would be genuinely remorseful and promise never to do it again.  And he didn’t.  What I described above happened only those 2 times…he NEVER threw anything else at me, and NEVER trapped me or physically prevented me from doing something.  He would still lose his temper, but it would be directed AWAY from me….once he threw a chair and broke it in our kitchen, but it was purposefully thrown at the wall and away from where I was standing (not that this makes it right, but the point is, he didn’t hurt me again).

OK.  So what’s the point?  Hubby realized that I was different…I didn’t have any addictions, I didn’t like to fight just for the sake of fighting, I wasn’t using him for anything, there was no agenda.  I simply loved him for who he was, and he started to accept that and reflect it back to me.  Despite his past, hubby changed.  He softened up…he learned to control his anger…he worked VERY hard at understanding the WHY behind his actions, and loved it when we would talk about the psychological aspects of his past situations.  He considers himself to be a bit of a psychologist too!

Hubby 3 is an intimidating man.  He used to be a weight lifter and his body is still very muscular.  He lived his life around motorcycles, and joined a nationally known bike club (which ultimately led to our marriages demise.  It took up so much of his time and when I asked him to leave the club for me, he couldn’t do it.  The biker life is just too much in his blood as opposed to family life and I’m starting to understand that now).  But despite his ‘scary’ presence, he became a really good, sweet, kind man and we had lots of great years together.

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He bought me a finger puppet one day, a mouse with purple ears, and we named her ‘Cookie’.  We took Cookie everywhere…we have pics of her in front of Picassos’ and in the St. Louis arch!  She’s a well traveled little puppet!  So, hubby went from this ‘monster’ of a man at first, to a caring, funny man who would put on finger puppet shows for my son and I.

 

I fixed him.  Well…I don’t want to selfishly take credit for his work, so let’s say I gave him the chance and the foundation to make changes and he embraced it.  Our divorce will be final in a couple of weeks, but we talk multiple times a day and say how much we still love each other.  He and I both say we’re the loves of each others lives, and we will never lose our bond.  Hubby can love so much…can empathize (when my nephew died who he had only met on a few occasions, he still cried with me and hurt along side me since he knew how devastated I was)…and can show remorse.  We still apologize to each other for things that were done during our marriage, and trust me, I know I was no angel!

How does this tie in to Sarge and what H.G. talked about?  I thought I could do the same for Sarge.  I didn’t realize at first he has Narcissistic Personality Disorder or even know about the seriousness of the abuse that occurs in such relationships.  I knew early on Sarge had a tough life, so once again, with love and support, he too could change.  He was so wonderful during the idealize stage…so I knew there was good in him.  After the first few incidents, I was positive things would change.  Because I had seen a metamorphosis in hubby, who actually suffered more than Sarge in his life.  I was certain Sarge’s love was genuine, and therefore he’d be able to show the remorse and empathy he had ‘repressed’ if only he had a chance.  And then I got so entwined in his narcissistic web, I couldn’t admit to myself that the changes weren’t going to happen.

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I still have trouble doing that.  To be used or hurt in a relationship is one thing.  And hubby and I did this to each other at times.  But I always knew he loved me.  Really loved me and accepted me on a level no one else ever has.  Knowing that Sarge never loved me while still using me and hurting me is almost impossible for me to comprehend.  To realize everything was a lie…an act…and that I was an object fulfilling his selfish ‘supply’ needs is devastating.  I had the foundation of love for him, but he had none for me.  H.G. says that victims of narcs are in love with an illusion.  A ghost.  The love is NEVER real no matter how unique you think your relationship is.

What a horrible thing to acknowledge.  All of my physical pain, psychological manipulation, emotional battering, and financial losses are from a person that cared nothing for me.  A person who saw me as an object.  A person who simply can’t do any different regardless of the relationship.  I’m to the point where I’m accepting these issues to be true, but the emotional pain of that acceptance is pretty bad.  Above anything, us empaths want love.  Because that’s what we give.  And when we have given our all to an empty shell, we feel the failure of our ability to make things better…different.  Like we’re used to doing.

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This is what I know:  people without NPD can make positive and dramatic changes in their behavior and lives if they choose too and do the work required.  But narcs?  They can’t.  No matter how much we love them, care for them, or do for them, they are always going to be what they are.  People who can’t love you.  Can’t feel for you.  Can’t be sorry for what they’ve put you through.  We need to understand the illusion of what they created, and somehow, let that illusion go free.

Professor K

 

 

An “Aha” Moment!!

You know, I’m a bit of a hypocrite.  In my classes, I teach this:  to love anyone, you have to love yourself first, and that’s something I preach but have never really done.  Until now.

At times, I feel selfish in this blog…focusing on myself and the healing process of narc abuse.  But, then again, that’s the point of it.  To be open, share my story, and connect with others who are going through the same thing.  I want people to understand how defeating this type of abuse is, and how horrible it is to the victim’s sense of self.  I want people to understand this type of abuse exists and how common it really is.  I want people to take the journey with me, and heal their own spirits too.

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And I know I’ve been struggling with this for a while.  Not feeling good about myself, and as I’ve thought about it, I’m wondering if I ever really have.  I am a giver.  But am I giving to others for the sake of doing that…or for the sake of making me feel better about myself?  And, if it’s the latter, why do I need to do that?  Just like I don’t expect people to overly give to me and it wouldn’t make a difference in terms of my love for them, why do I think I have to do it?  I’m thinking I don’t…I want people to accept me and love me for who I am…not for what I can do for them.  Plus, I’m also realizing there’s one person I haven’t been giving to, and that’s myself.

Not things.  I got plenty of stuff (e.g. junk!) around my house.  But positive messages, compliments, giving myself a break, letting myself make mistakes without overly punishing myself for them…I’m really bad about that.  I forgive people very easily.  As you’ve seen with Sarge, too easily for what’s been done at times.  But myself?  I find it very hard to forgive my own sins.  And believe me, my list of sins is huge!  I’m a ruminator, and I tend to re-live a sin over and over again, until it becomes such a force in my life, it’s ruining the present.  That needs to stop.  In fact, I need to take a new direction in life.

Forward.  I need to look forward.  I am still a bit anxious and depressed (but I have fibromyalgia and those are always going to be with me…great…), yet beating myself up over these issues is useless.  First, it’s not going to help the depression and anxiety, instead it will most likely exacerbate it. And second, they aren’t my fault!  For me, these emotions tend to ride a roller coaster.  After the issues with Sarge, a change in my meds, and the loss of 2 important people in my life, it’s no wonder I’m on the down side of the coaster.  But I’m going up again.  I’m forcing that car up the next hill.  I’m ready for it…and I deserve it.  We all do.

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So,  what was my “Aha” moment?  This morning, I got up, let out the dogs, and was walking around the house turning on lights.  As I was doing that, I thought, “Wow…this is MY house.  My sanctuary.  My haven.  And I love it!”  It felt good, and right, to get up by myself and my fur babies and go through my routine.  I felt whole.  Not like I was missing a piece, and I realized that living alone is pretty damn awesome!  I can eat when I want…watch what I want…go to bed when I want…run when I want…and the list goes on.  I was always scared to live alone.  Not because of the boogey man or such fears, but because I didn’t know if I’d be able to find comfort and a home within myself.  And today I see that I have.  It’s a great feeling!  To wake up and feel content…with just myself.

Then, I looked in the bathroom mirror (and immediately said ICK…it was before my shower) and really looked at myself.  I thought how hard I’ve been on me.  How punitive I’ve been.  How I need to celebrate who I am with all of my many faults included.  And then it was like an epiphany…I realized I loved myself.  Me.  For the first time in my life, I loved myself.  Not because of what people say.  Not because of a relationship.  Not because I did something good.  But just because I’m me.  And you know what?  It feels wonderful!

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This is what I know:  we are all deserving people who have suffered in our lives and we all deserve the same breaks we tend to give others.  We need to forgive ourselves, be patient, be understanding and know that no matter what, we deserve our own love unconditionally.  Easy to say.  Hard to do.  But for all of us, it’s a goal we need to achieve. ❤

Professor K

“Ignore it and it will go away.”

When I started this blog, I wanted it to be about recovery and healing.  But instead, it’s starting to cause some riffs in my life.  And it’s breaking my heart.

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One of my family members read my blog and was very upset with things I have written.  I have never written anything that wasn’t true, but more importantly, I don’t want anyone in my life to think I’m blaming them for problems I have.  Yes, I do believe our past experiences influence our present.  But I also know I have free will and that it’s MY responsibility to guide my life into the direction I want it to go.  Mine.

No childhood is perfect.  If one is, then the parents names are Joseph and Mary and each and every friend is named Jesus. One of my own problems as a young parent was thinking I had to be the best parent ever.  I had the education, the teaching experience, and the books!  My boy was going to be raised in a utopian home and never have a gripe against me.   Surprisingly, that didn’t happen.  I was a crappy mother at times.  I lost my temper.  I yelled.  I said things I regret.  I did things I regret.  Things that bring me to tears today when I think about them.  But I did my best and I think my son knows that.

I know everyone in my life did their best.  Especially in my family.  But it wasn’t easy.  We didn’t know much about mental illness in the 1970’s when I was growing up, and talking about such things was still taboo.  There were people in my life struggling with depression for which there wasn’t the treatment there is today.  With Attention Deficit Disorder which was even more baffling.  When I developed anorexia, people were just beginning to understand such a mental illness existed, and no one in my family was comfortable enough to address it head on.  It was a different time.  Clinical depression does run in my family, and though I’m on anti-depressants, it’s still very hard for my son when I call him in tears and hope he’ll be the magical balm to make me feel all better again.  My issues are his issues too…we’re a system and what happens to one, happens to both.

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My mom was married to her second husband for 28 years.  And even before the marriage, he had been physical with her.  During those 28 years, there were good times (and we were talking about some of those today), but as the years went on, the incidents of violence escalated and my mom was brutalized, beaten, and almost killed by this monster.  Mom has been brave in talking about the violence she experienced, and has even spoken to my classes to educate the younger girls.  I know this is hard for her, but facing it and talking about it has been a great healing process and knowing she’s helping others makes her feel important.  But we never talked about it when it was happening.  We saw the bruises.  We saw the black eyes.  We saw the way he talked so terribly to her.  But we kept quiet.  Because if you don’t say anything, maybe it won’t be true.  And that’s still going on today.   Some of my family members can’t admit to what happened to my mom.  Or they minimize it, pretending it just couldn’t be as bad as we say it was.  When you have to take your mom to the doctor because you think she’s going to lose her eye, and another time, see her in the emergency room with bruises all over her back while she vomits blood, it was pretty damn serious.   My sister and I were greatly affected by this, and my mom understands why.  Being subjected to this kind of evil almost daily took a piece out of us.  There is nothing worse then seeing someone you love be hurt so badly, and my sister and I suffered along with her.  For 28 years. And sadly, some of my family are actually Facebook friends with this monster.  Me?  I want to torture the son-of-a-bitch.

Another family member spoke to a class of mine as well years ago on ADHD.  The talk was awesome…and the students loved it.  I did as well, because I heard my family member saying how different they were prior to understanding ADHD and getting help for it.  In fact, they even said they treated their dogs better than their own family.  That was hard to hear.  But honest.  And I appreciated that honesty and acknowledgement.

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That doesn’t happen much in my family.  The modus operandi, for the most part, is simply cutting off a person when things get tough.  Just throwing them away.  Because I guess it’s easier to ignore something than to bring it out into the open, face it, talk about it, and work it out than just saying, “I don’t want you in my life.”  This is a pattern that has happened for generations so I know where it comes from.  At any given time in my family, you don’t know who is talking to who…who loves who…who is mad at who…and the list goes on.  I thought family was different.  Men in my life have thrown me away.  OK.  I accept that.  But I can’t accept a family member, who I love and very much need, doing the same.  Aren’t families supposed to stick together through the good and the bad?  Isn’t that what sets families apart from other relationships?  That ‘forever’ tie?  When I received the message about this ‘cut-off’, I begged the person a half of dozen times to meet me today, take a walk, and talk everything through.  I truly believe things have been interpreted in a way I certainly didn’t mean.  But, the person refuses too.  I’m not a cancer to be cut out.  I’m an imperfect woman who deserves a chance to make things right if I’ve made a mistake.

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My son is my heart.  He’s my soul.  He’s so much a part of me that at times, I don’t know how I lived without him the first 27 years of my life.  There is absolutely nothing he could do that would EVER make me cut him out of my life.  EVER.  And if he tried to do that to me.  It wouldn’t work.  I’m his mom…I have an obligation to make things right with him.  When I had him, and I became his parent, I took on the responsibility of being that parent forever.  Not until he upset me.  Not until he turned 18.  Not until we fight for the 100th time.  Forever.  And we will never be apart.

I’ve had too many losses this year.  I lost my friend and mentor, hubby 3, Sarge, my nephew, and now my family member.  It’s too much.  I feel thrown away again, but this time, by my own flesh and blood.  When is this going to end?

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I want to be the one to change some patterns in my family.  My mom thinks it’s a battle I probably won’t win, but I’m going to try anyway.  We are living in a scary, dangerous, tumultuous world right now, and I want my family to be a safe, loving haven.  For all of us.  Ignoring issues…refusing to see problems…pretending things aren’t so bad are excuses for not making the effort to work through these things and make them better.  And I’m done ignoring and pretending.  Telling the truth is not a sin.  Still, it’s a different thing to do in my family and I know I’ve upset people.  For that, I’m very very sorry.  But working these issues out and creating and nurturing authentic relationships would make the bonds stronger.  Neglecting or ignoring problems weakens things.  Everything worth while in our lives takes work.  And I’d like to believe I’m worth that.  But with the response I’m getting, I’m afraid that may not be so.

This is what I know:  sometimes you only want to hear what you want to be true…not what necessarily is.  Hearing the truth can be a damn hard thing…I know that first hand.  But I also know that every family relationship is important to me, and I’ll do my best to fight to make things work.  Because that’s what love really is.

Professor K

 

 

“One Wrong Move and it All Came Crashing Down”.

I don’t want to write this post.  In fact, I’m sick at the thought of putting it down into words.  But, when I started this blog I promised myself I would be completely honest…with myself and you.  I feel an obligation to do that, because if I don’t, I won’t face the truth and I’ve a tendency to do that when things get tough.  I don’t want to put on a happy face anymore…say how great things are…pretend.
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Pretending comes easy to me.  I’ve been doing it all my life.  My sister and I had to be a certain way around our dad, and that changed as his moods changed.  We were totally dependent on his moods controlling our lives.  So, whatever ‘face’ we needed, we used.  When you start doing this at such a young age, it’s hard to let go of.  I’ve been pretending my way through my life and I’m feeling that all of the hurt, pain, crying, depression, anxiousness, and confusion is stemming from NOT pretending anymore, so that I finally have to be ‘me’ and face the demons that haunt me.

Yesterday, my dad and step-mom took me out to lunch…something that is rare.  After our meal, I gave them a packet of information on narcissistic abuse and the associated syndrome, and then a print out of a handful of my posts.  I asked that they read this info in order to better understand what I was going through all summer and what I’m still struggling with today.  You see, when things get tough, they check out.  They have no idea of the hell I was put through this summer and I wanted them to know it’s just not ‘me’, but that it’s real.  I haven’t heard back from them.  Nothing.  And I think I know why.  The last couple of times I have seen them, I haven’t pretended.  I’ve cried, I’ve talked openly about what Sarge has done to me…I’ve been authentic; something they have never seen before, and obviously it’s something they can’t handle.  So, I have to live with the choice of being what my dad wants and expects me to be, or being my true self.  I’m choosing the latter…for every situation.

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Faking happiness is a hard thing to do.  In fact, it’s down right exhausting.  And, I believe that faking is just another form of lying.  So, I’ve been lying to myself and others for so long I’m not really sure how to stop and be the authentic me.  I tried to be perfect for hubby 1 so his upper class parents would finally accept me (they never did).  I put on a happy face for hubby 2 to show I was as perfect as his mom whose work standards and stamina are almost impossible to match.  With hubby 3, our marriage started off pretty bad.  He was abusive for the first couple of years because that was all he knew.  But, I was in love and he showed me he was truly willing to change which he did.  After a few incidents, he never hurt me again.  However, those incidents were impossible to get out of my mind, so I walked on eggs and made sure I matched my behavior to his somewhat unpredictable moods simply because that was the status quo at first and I didn’t want to do anything that would put us back in that situation.

I even pretended with Sarge.  He’s 31 and I’m 50.  Yes.  I know.  I’m old enough to be his mother and people thought it was ‘icky’.  (Of course, if the ages were reversed, there wouldn’t be such a to-do over it…hello gender differences).  So, I wanted to show I was ‘young’ enough to keep up with him.  I found myself trying to go back into time from when I was in my 30’s…and at times, I almost believed I had.  Getting a face-lift was to further prove my ‘youth’ and my looks are a bit different now.  My ‘mask’ became real.

What am I leading up to with all of this?  Why did I not want to write this?  Because I let Sarge into my house last night.  We’ve been texting, he asked to come over and I acquiesced.  I know it was wrong.  I know it.  I shouldn’t even have been texting him.  I’d been no contact for a while and was doing better.  Or at least I was trying to pretend to be doing better.  But guess what?  I’m obviously not.  I’m not Wonder Woman.  I’m not healed.  I’m not always strong.  I’m me and I messed up.

I was hoping he would come in, hug me, apologize authentically to me for all the pain he had caused, and then offer to help me with the financial burden I’m now in.  That didn’t happen.  We did talk, and he did say he was sorry a couple of times, but of course, it didn’t sound real.  And I know it wasn’t.  He said he loved me and had missed me…and I know he really doesn’t.  After he left, I felt a sort of relief. I hadn’t seen him for such a while and he was like a stranger and I wondered what the heck had made him so attractive to me.  Then I remembered.  It was the love bombing and I thought if it happened again it might be genuine.

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I feel horrible today.  I’m ashamed I was weak, but I’m tired of beating myself up.  I’m going to make mistakes.  I’m going to take steps backwards.  I’m not going to be able to do all of this in the time and way others want me too.  Because for the first time in my life, I’m trying my damnedest to be me.  Not a mask of me.  Not a fake version of me.  Not a me who plasters a smile on her face and says “Everything is great!”  Because it’s not.  I want to make decisions for ME.  Not do what others tell me to do, as I’ve always done.  I wanted to see him and I did.  Was it wrong?  Yes.  In terms of recovery from narc abuse, of course it was.  But I’m not going to apologize to anyone but myself.  My true self.  Am I going to see him again?  I could say I doubt it…but if I’m going to be honest, I don’t know.  Is that going to piss people in my life off?  Of course.  Because they love me and don’t want to see me hurt.  Do I feel terrible in letting down my supporters?  Oh my gosh, yes.  But I’m starting to feel terrible in letting down myself too, and I think that’s an authentic step in this process.  I NEED to be the one ready to say NO MORE!  ENOUGH!  And I need to do it for ME.  Me.  Not everyone else. But me.  Or it won’t ever work.  It can take years for people to recognize their abuse and work at letting go.  I’ve only had a few weeks.  I’m trying my hardest, but I’m going to relapse.  You know why?  Because I’m not that perfect mask that’s been on my face for decades.  I’m a real person who needs to be herself…learn for herself…make mistakes for herself…and get to the point where she wants to get out for HERSELF.  And that process is starting now.

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This is what I know:  learning from your mistakes is important.  Crucial, in fact.  But sometimes it takes more than once for that lesson to be learned.  To be fully understood.  To be enough for you to see the lesson from a rational point of view and not an emotional one.  And dammit…putting the head above the heart is remarkably difficult thing to do.

Professor K

 

 

“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe

Being a psychology and sociology professor, I understand the importance of both nature and nurture.  Nature is our biological inheritance and how our genes are affecting our behavior.  Nurture is environmental and says we are more influenced in our behavior by things that happen to us in our environment.  When this concept was first introduced in in the mid 1800’s, there was a debate as to which one of these is the basis for our behavior and was coined nature VS. nurture.  Now of course, we know that both our genes and our environment affect us with the only question being which is more influential in our lives. I believe (and this is just my personal theory) nurture is much more influential than nature.  I believe we’re born with a temperament but that we are ‘socialized’ into our personalities which in, of course, our behaviors reside.  I believe experiences are extremely significant and can leave lasting outcomes.

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So, why am I lecturing you today?  My friend and I were talking at school this morning, and we were talking about the hold Sarge has on me and how I’m struggling with being able to go no contact again.  As we were pondering this, she said this to me:  “Professor K, when are you going to stop using the REASONS for your co-dependency with Sarge as EXCUSES for your behavior?”  Wow.  This really intrigued me and I have been thinking about it all day.

First, I know that my being an empath is probably biological…like my eye color.  It’s just the way I’ve always been…as if it were bred into me.  But, when I start looking at why I can’t let go of Sarge…why I cling to men who are toxic…why I can’t accept what is in front of me, I have to go back to my past, and when I do, I see a pattern evolving:

  • Boyfriend #1 – dumped me
  • Prom Date #1 – dumped me (the day after the prom…hmmmmmm)
  • Psychologist – sexually abused me then simply acted like I didn’t exist when I began to question his behavior
  • Hubby #1 – dumped me
  • Hubby #2 – dumped me
  • Hubby #3 – dumped me

Hmmmmm…see the pattern?  I have NEVER ended a relationship on my terms and all of these dumpings, I believe, have made me want SSSOOOO bad to have a truly successful relationship.  The commitment.  Lasting love.  Security knowing that I don’t have to ‘be’ a certain way to be accepted by my partner.  I want to be needed back.  Wanted back.  And when things get tough, I want to be able to come together, not pull apart.

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When Sarge and I met, the love bombing was intense.  He was everything I had wanted and needed in my life.  We had so much fun doing things together, talking, laughing, cuddling, etc. and I was put on a pedestal which made me believe I was his dream as well.  He made me feel as if there were no other woman in the world for him.  Just me.  With all my foibles and all my faults.  He was perfect for me and accepted me for who I was.  It was an awesome feeling!  And I genuinely believed the relationship was going to be my happily ever after.

Of course, you know what happened next.  The criticisms.  The contemptuousness.  The manipulation.  The triangulation.  The infidelity.  The emotional abuse.  The physical abuse.  It was all there.  Yet I welcomed him back after every discard and never lost my emotional connection to him.  I’m struggling with that right now.  Every text I read from him, (and YES…I AM going to block him…I promise), brings that emotional connection back.  Just like that.

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So the question is WHY?  Why is that connection so powerful for me…for all of us who have been in such relationships?  For me, I see my past ‘patterns’ and to be brutally honest, being ‘dumped’ that many times by men I truly loved, makes me feel as if they just threw me away.  And what do you throw away?  Trash.  OK.  There it is.  I feel like trash.  Like I’m not ‘good enough’ to be in a relationship.  That I can just be tossed aside while these men move on in their lives.

Is that why I stay?  Because I simply can’t stand the thought of being thrown away again?  Are my past experiences of being discarded (nurture) paired up with my natural tendency to be an empath?  Who can blame me for hanging on?  Who can blame me for being co-dependent on this man?  Look at what I’ve been through…of course I’ll have hope for ANY relationship I might be in to be successful.  Because, in all my 50 years, I haven’t had that.  Period.

What’s that you’re saying?  That Sarge is toxic?  I know!  BUT…and there’s always a ‘but’…it was PERFECT in the beginning.  EXACTLY what I wanted!  I ache for that man who made me feel so accepted and loved and cherished and listened too.  He’s in there.  Somewhere.

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But he’s not.  He’s a narcissist.  He will never love me as a woman, but only as an object fulfilling his supply needs.  The love bombing was fake, but he did it so damn well.  So well in fact, that I can’t let go of the dream of getting it back in a sincere way.

But narcissists don’t change, do they?  I HAVE to accept this.  After I whined to my friend at school (and bless her heart for listening), we began to e-mail.  And this is what she reminded me of (word for word):

  • He’s already put you $21,000 in debt.
  • He falsified a title and basically STOLE another motorcycle from you.
  • He gave you HPV, DAMMIT!!!!!
  • He CHOKED you and didn’t stop until his son walked in!

“Come on, Profess K! GET MAD!!!!!  Say ENOUGH!!!!!”

And I know I need too.  I have to come to peace with my past ‘dumpings’ and not let those dictate my behavior in future relationships.  I have to STOP using the excuse of my past experiences and look at this situation rationally and for what it is.  I have to STOP saying:  “Well…I feel bad about myself because these guys dumped me so I can’t help but cling to Sarge.”  Bullshit.  I CAN help it.  I can use the past and learn from it…not hide behind it.  So what those men dumped me.  It was their loss.  It doesn’t make me trash.  It makes me 1 of millions who have been dumped in their lives.  It’s gonna happen.  I married my first hubby way too young…we were doomed from the start.  Hubby 2 and I just got too complacent in our marriage and by the time we sought help, it was simply too late.  Hubby 3 walked out, but he’s still in my life.  We talk everyday and I’ll always love him dearly.  High school relationships?  OMG!  I can’t believe those ended!!  And that psychologist.  He was a predator…another sociopath and his abuse was HIS problem…I was the victim.  I was innocent.  Him ‘dumping’ me was the best thing that ever could have happened.  The abuse needed to end.

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Wow!  I’m reading back through this and can’t believe what just came out.  I AM NOT TRASH.  I DON’T NEED A MAN TO MAKE ME HAPPY.  I DON’T DESERVE WHAT SARGE DID, AND I WOULD BE A FOOL TO EVEN THINK ABOUT IT AGAIN.  NO MORE EXCUSES.  I’m going to be in charge of my future…not sinking in the past.  And you know what?  Not always feeling as if I’m drowning is going to feel good.  Damn good.

This is what I know:  you can’t let your past dictate your future.  There comes a time where you have to take responsibility for YOUR actions and force yourself to forge a new path.  If not, those people that hurt you are going to continue doing so forever.  And no one deserves that.

Professor K

 

 

 

And Confusion Sets In.

In my post yesterday, I talked about how Sarge was going to be taking classes at my college and how upset I was that he will be so close to me…in my safe place!  He’s been texting me regularly since yesterday morning, and told me last night he is also joining the YMCA which is a block from my house.  So now, he’s going to be in my neighborhood regularly too.

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As we are texting, I am yelling at myself and saying, “What are you doing?!  What the hell happened to NO contact?!”  And, I thought I could handle it.  Because I told you how strong I was getting.  How much healthier I am.  And guess what?  I feel the negative thoughts starting to invade my mind again and confusion is setting in.  I feel like I’ve been sober for a couple of months, and someone is offering my drug of choice.  My rehab isn’t over, and that drug, for some reason, is looking mighty good.  I know it’s bad for me.  I know it hurts me.  I know it’s wrong to reach for it.  But just one more hit would feel so good.

Why do I think MY situation is different from everyone else’s?  That I can handle things? That I can be strong and keep boundaries in place when I interact with him?  I’ve been thinking about that all night (I barely slept), and my feelings are all over the place.

I’m feeling that maybe Sarge really is different.  Maybe his PTSD from deployments and child abuse issues are the problem.  Not narcissism.  And I feel such a shame that I let Sarge into my life…and if I can ‘prove’ we can be friendly and have contact, would that shame lessen?  I also know I’m a sucker for false hope…I always think there’s a possibility for so many things to get better. Letting go of hope is so damn hard.  Further, I’m the type of person who tries to love unconditionally.  I know I love my son in that way…there is absolutely nothing he could say or do that would change the love I have for him.  I try to do that in relationships as well.  So, I tend to forgive way too easily, and give in to things to please partners and show them that my unconditional love is real.  And, I’ve been betrayed before, by a psychologist who sexually abused me for years.  Sometimes I feel I have a ‘victim’ mentality and draw toxic men to myself.  It’s almost like a pattern or loop I’m in, albeit a dangerous one.   Sarge is giving me mixed messages…he’s acting as if nothing happened, while also saying he knows what a bastard he’s been.  YES, I know this is a very manipulative tactic he’s using, but being an empath, I wonder if for once, he’s sincere.

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Finally, there’s the denial.  I know it’s true that narcissists can’t love.  I know it.  But, I can’t accept it.  I can’t get to the place in my muddled thinking that Sarge never loved me.  That is was only one sided.  I believe if I actually say those words and admit there were no feelings on his side, I’ll break down.  All of the abuse, manipulation, triangulation, push and pull…would have been for naught.  I can’t face the fact I was just an object.  Just used.  One more time.  By another person who created a situation in which he had power over me.

That psychologist that abused me?  I thought he loved me. I knew what he was doing was wrong and I absolutely HATED what he forced me to do, but in my teen mind, I believed that him ‘wanting’ me was love.  And now I’m in that situation again.  Having to face the fact that I was nothing.  And you know what?  After being treated like nothing a few times, you begin to believe it’s true.

I feel like I don’t really matter much anymore.  That I’m just living my life by getting through my days.  Yesterday, I wanted to be Wonder Woman, and today, I’m feeling like I did weeks ago.  Just because of some texts.  It’s incomprehensible how narcissists ‘glue’ themselves to you, and then just play with you for their pleasure.

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OK.  I’m going to admit something that I believe is true.  I’ve done some bad things in my life.  I’ve hurt people.  I’ve lied.  I’ve stolen.  And I am convinced that Sarge might have been placed in my life as a punishment for my sins.  I know that sounds crazy, but unfortunately, with everything going on, my mind does feel off.  So, maybe because of the hurt I’ve inflicted on others, I deserve this hurt as atonement.  After all, we reap what we sow.

This is what I know:  narcissists know how to hoover…they know how to pull you back in, and I realize that NO contact is what I need.  I know that.  I really do.  But, I just can’t do it again quite yet.  And, I don’t know why the hell I can’t.

Professor K

A Roadblock.

Today I was at school and had 3 classes to teach.  After my 2nd class, a prof, whose office is across from mine, asked if I had gotten back together with ‘that guy’ from last spring.  I said an emphatic NO and asked why he inquired.  He said that the ‘guy’ had been in our office hallway and looking at my teaching schedule on my office door.  Immediately, I get a text from Sarge (I deleted him from my phone…if I only blocked him, I would still have his number which was tempting a couple of weeks ago) saying that he was registering for spring classes.  At my college.  My campus.  My turf.  My safe place.  And I was extremely upset.

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I posted this info in a private Facebook support group I started, and immediately, my AWESOME friend ran down to my office and talked to me.  She could see that I was starting to cry and told me to stop!  “Don’t cry and get upset…get mad!”  And so that’s what I did.  I realized that crying wasn’t going to stop this from happening and I began to really get angry that he would dare invade my professional space!  I’ve been a tenured professor there for 20 years, so obviously, I’m not going anywhere.  And he could go to another college easily.  I talked to my friends in security and they know now if I call them, it’s going to be for a reason and I’ll need them ASAP.  They are my friends too, so I feel comfortable with that.

Now, this actually ties into something my friend and I were talking about last night.  He said he remembered seeing the movie “Evan Almighty” and a quote that Morgan Freeman (‘God’) said to Evan (Steve Carell) resonated with him:

“Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?”

I thought a lot about that last night in terms of strength, happiness, and contentment…the things I’ve been praying to God for.  And I realized this…when we ask God for a specific ‘thing’, why should he just automatically grant it to us.  Wouldn’t we, as his children, learn so much more if he gave us the opportunity to have it?  To ‘earn’ it?  To work for it?  Isn’t that what parents often do anyway?  “You want a car, son?  You need to get a job and work for it!”  And guess what?  The kid who worked for his car is going to appreciate it and care for it much better than the teen who received the car without any effort on his part.

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When I ask God for strength, is putting Sarge in my environment an opportunity to harness my own inner strength and summon the courage to use it?  What about happiness?  Should God just ‘give’ it to me…or should he give me the opportunity to recognize the blessings I have in my life, and find my own happiness with myself and all of my friends and family.

Now, I know this quote came from a movie and I know Morgan Freeman isn’t God, but I also think this is what God does.  When I have just asked for things and haven’t gotten them, I’ve gotten angry with God in the past.  “Hey God!!  You said ‘ask for it and you shall receive’!  Well…I asked, but I sure didn’t get it!”  I wonder if God is shaking his head and saying, “Professor K, it’s right there!!!  Go get it yourself!!!”  And I think I’m learning to do that.

I feel REALLY strong today!!  We texted for a period of time (very brief on my part), and I didn’t get anxious, weepy, or upset.  Because I kept telling myself “YOU ARE STRONG!  IT’S IN YOU!  HARNESS IT!  USE IT!”  And I’m trying my best to do so.  I’ve been saying more and more positive things to myself, as if I’m taping over the negative reel in my mind.

OK…some of you are probably thinking that you felt the same way when your narc re-entered your life.  And maybe tomorrow, I’ll be anxious and upset.  But I know that strength is within me because I got a glimpse of it today.  Maybe it will be buried at times, but hopefully I’ll be able to find the tools I need to dig it out, brush it off, and use it well.

Now, I’m going to be very honest with you…and those of you who are my personal friends (all of you, sweet readers, are my blog friends!) might get distressed by this.  But, I can’t guarantee I won’t see him again before he begins school.  It’s tempting.  I want him to see that I’m stronger now.  More confident.  Feel better about myself.  And I know if I do this, the possibility of getting sucked back in is huge.  Enormous.  And I know that just seeing him once could set me back, and bring all of those negative, terrible feelings up to the surface again.  I don’t think I could go through that another time.  And I know my mom and son agree.  What I put them through this summer was horrible and they went through hell because of me.  I can’t do that to them again.

My best friend and I were talking on the phone today (while he was at work…naughty boy!), and he reminded me of all the things Sarge has done to me.  “Professor K…he used you and humiliated you and abused you and financially broke you and emotionally abused you and psychologically manipulated you and physically hurt you!!!  Remember this!  You are looking at/thinking about what you WANT something to be.  You’re chasing a ghost.  You’ve got to look at what WAS and understand that’s all there is.”

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Wow.  He’s absolutely right.  I keep telling myself that narcissists don’t change.  They don’t miraculously learn to love.  Learn to have empathy.  Learn to feel remorse.  They are who they are.  Period.

But, I have changed.  I have you all reading my words and giving me encouragement and making me feel as if people around the world care about what I say.  That’s amazing!  I have my support group and everyday, we post motivational things to each other and talk to each other when things aren’t going well.  I have my family who are trying so hard to understand the uniqueness of narcissistic abuse and help me through my bad days.  I have friends at school who have my back, and a best friend who would lasso the sun for me.  All of this is making me more confident in knowing I have a foundation of love and support from people who will be watching me like hawks!

I feel sorry for Sarge.  NO…not because he’s a poor narcissist with a disorder.  But because he’ll never know the joy that comes from having TRUE friends, knowing true LOVE, and experiencing growth and change.

But you know what?  We do.

This is what I know:  I was strong before I was pulled into the snare of narcissistic abuse, and I think I’m strong now.  Yes, I’m more wise about what Sarge is, but narcissists are experts at trapping their prey.  He did it once, didn’t he?  So, I know I have to be viligant and work extremely hard at not stepping into his snare another time.

Professor K