Category: healing from abuse

From 3 years ago: New friends healing wounds of ex-friend

Nearly three years ago now ( !!!!!!  :O  ) I posted the following here:

“Richard once called me his “dear, sweet Nyssa,” so I called him “my dear, sweet [his old Forum handle].”  Back then we were still dear, close friends, or at least, he made me think so.  (Whether any of it was ever real, or just him playing me for narcissistic supply, I now seriously doubt.)  But it was a special name, held dear in my heart.

“I have another Forum friend, made in 2011 when I needed support after the abusive friendship ended and I found out about Richard’s criminal case.  He came on the Forum during the couple of years I was away from it (2009?-2011).  Just now, in a comments thread on one of his many Facebook posts, he called me his “dear, sweet Nyssa.”

“It caught me off-guard.  Now somebody else has called me this.

“It was bittersweet: opening old wounds in one way, but healing in another…..”

I go through old posts nearly every day, checking links and making sure everything looks right.  Today it was time to review the above post.

In 2014, it had already been three and a half years since the breaking of the “friendship,” but it still hurt deep inside.  If it didn’t still hurt, I wonder if it could really have meant anything to begin with.  You don’t just get over things like that.  But I was recovering, much better able to go about my life without thinking constantly of the past.

But then the above happened, and pulled me back in to the pain for a moment.  But also showed me that I could begin again.  That’s why it was bittersweet.

Three years after the post, I don’t think the new Forum friend has called me that again, though we are still online friends.  He is an–interesting sort, the kind who pretends to be a troll but is actually good-hearted.

But that’s not the point: The point is that I have moved on to new friends, thanks to Writer’s Club and a dear friend I met at church.  My church friend shares my introversion, love of writing, AND obsession for all things German!  😀  And I periodically see old friends as well.

So this is a little vignette, not of much importance, but meant for my readers who still struggle to move on from abusive and/or narcissistic relationships.  It is to show you that yes, there is hope, because yes, it does get better.

“Finding out people you love have a dark side”: My post from March 2012

Finding out someone you loved (romantically, or friendship, or family member) is not what you thought they were, brings a unique pain…..

Then there was my former best friend Richard.  I just got an e-mail today from a forum we used to go on together to defend Orthodoxy.  I couldn’t stand getting these reminders anymore from a forum we haven’t been on for nearly three years, so I went to try to delete my account.  However, there is no way to do that.

It reminded me of how religious and righteous he always seemed to be, and how the truth was that he’s showing traits of narcissism, that he’s a violent man who did an evil, evil deed, nearly killing his 9-year-old daughter by choking her to unconsciousness.

Then there was finding out what my former boss did.  I thought he was a good person, despite his temper, and I liked him.  But no, he’s so violently abusive that he went to jail for 9 months, drove away the wife he loved, and lost custody of all his children….

I’m still mourning for him and for Richard, as if they had died, because the person I thought I knew, is dead–or never existed….

This is a repost of one of my old posts.  Read more of it here.

 

Are we being too harsh on lower-level narcissists?

A couple of posts by another blogger:

Sam Vaknin’s damaging “definition” of NPD

The demonization of narcissism

We can’t deny that abuse happens, that some people are evil, that malignant narcissism exists.  A simple glance at crime reports, ISIS, Nazis, politics, and the like, will confirm that.  Just reading about Lance Armstrong convinced me that he was a narcissist, and that his “repentance” was not for real.

The trouble is that lower-level narcissists and borderlines may get lumped into the “evil” category.  Not every narc is the same; not every borderline is the same.  Heck, it’s said that we are all on a narcissism continuum, that without any narcissism, we’d be doormats.

I suppose we writers must have some form of narcissism, to want to share our lives and stories with the world in our writing.  Yet I know I have no desire to hurt or use others like a narc.  I just want to write and be read.

While my own experience with BPD is an abusive woman described here, Tracy is not the only person with BPD whom I’ve ever known.  I’ve also known borderlines who do not wish to abuse anyone.

It’s because they’re all people.  I’m an introvert, for example, but on the extreme end of it.  Yet I still enjoy spending time with friends, and not just at home with a book.  Other introverts may be far less shy and not nearly as quiet.  Not all introverts are the same.  Not all NPDs or BPDs are the same, either.

As a Christian, I have a hard time seeing anyone as irredeemable.  However, I recognize some people are so far gone that they just don’t want to be redeemed.  But does that mean every NPD is on the road to perdition?  Not if they repent.  Can they repent?  Maybe a malignant narcissist won’t, but what about one who’s not malignant?  Are they all malignant?

The other blogger writes,

Sam [Vaknin] is not a nice person. I have personally experienced Sam’s toxic behavior (I’ll go into more detail about this later) and came away wounded but much wiser. He is everything he says he is, and his book “Malignant Self Love” makes his self hatred all too evident. It’s a dark and depressing read, and his overall attitude is very negative.

Sam has generalized his deep hatred toward himself to ALL people with NPD. He is the person who is most likely responsible for all the hatred and stigmatization flung at ALL people with NPD on so many of the narc-abuse sites and that attitude has spread like wildfire across the web in recent years.

Before Sam came along and started posting about narcissism back in 1995, NPD was just a psychiatric diagnosis. Now, it’s equated with something more akin to demonic possession.

Yes, of course malignant and high spectrum NPDs can be quite evil, but lower spectrum narcissists are really no more evil than anyone else with a severe mental disorder who act out because of defense mechanisms instilled in them during childhood.

I do still have hope for the narcs who haven’t yet lost their souls.  I actually know a couple of borderlines who do not seem abusive at all, and have been in therapy.  I have also read about different kinds of borderlines: ones who are full of angst and may try to kill themselves, but mean no harm to others; also ones who are high-functioning and narcissistic.  Obviously the second type would be more malignant, but not the first.

I especially hope this, because of the possibility that Tracy and her husband will eventually come to my church.  I can hope that the teachings of Christ will finally get through to their hearts and influence them to repent for how they’ve treated people.  I can see behavior in their visits to my blog which makes me suspect–is that a trace of compassion?

In the early days after their abuse, all I could see was an evil couple.  Nowadays, I still see their behavior as evil, but them–Evil?  I don’t know about evil.  Despicable behavior, but not irredeemable people.  I have seen behavior in Richard that I don’t think was fake emotion.

I was abused so badly by my ex Phil, and in so many different mind-screwing ways (as you can see here), that I’m convinced he’s a narcissist.  And yet nine years ago, I got an apology from him.  We’re actually civil online, the few times we’ve interacted since then.  Lower-level and not malignant, perhaps?

The other blogger writes:

I’m certainly not saying that the victim sites aren’t helpful, because they definitely are (I have one myself–although I cover a lot of other topics too).  I’m also not suggesting that narcissistic abuse victims should enable or stay with a narcissist or not go No Contact, or that narcissists aren’t dangerous (they are), but this wholesale vilification of all people with this particular disorder has gotten way out of hand, and Brown thinks it was Sam Vaknin who got the ball rolling on that. I think he is right.

She also writes that Vaknin’s definitions of narcissism combine traits from various different disorders which he suffers from, not just narcissism.  (She also posted a follow-up after seeing my reblog, here.)

Some of the narc blogs and abuse blogs do go to an extreme, lumping all narcs into the “evil” category, then spurring you on to hate them and never let go of the hate.  The trouble with that is you get so focused on the hate that you forget there are good things in life, too.  Do you really want to spend all your days stuck in anger over what happened?  Or do you want to let the anger separate you from the narcissist, then let it go from a distance?

Evil does exist, malignant narcissism does exist, and denying this will only make you vulnerable.  The experiences of the narc-abuse victim need to not be dismissed.  Just like you shouldn’t tell a rape victim to “get over it” or pity the rapist.  The victims of narc-abuse should not be scolded for being “bitter” or “not forgiving” when they see in the eyes of the narcissist that he’s not sorry.  I also spent a little time (all I could stomach) reading the blog of a guy who claims to be a narcissist–and loves it.  He seems to have no conscience or human feeling.

But the danger comes in believing that all narcissists are like this and will never change.  Or that all borderlines are the same.  I have seen for myself, on one of the more extremist blogs, how this attitude has turned the blogger and his/her commenters into a group of bullies.  I see them demonstrating the same narcissistic behavior they condemn.

I also noted that after several years of writing about and finally beginning to move past my own experiences of narc abuse into a place of healing, of letting go of the anger and moving on–

returning to this person’s blog felt like stepping back into anger and a desire for vengeance.

This horrified me because I had been a huge fan of this blog for some time, and thought it was correct about narcissists and how to deal with them.  I adopted many of its attitudes and considered it helpful.  It affected the very language I used in writing or thinking about narcissists: words like deranged and insane.

Then I had a huge wake-up call about this blogger, after the events I describe here.  Another person got bullied by the same blogger and friends for daring to say that not all narcissists are malignant and incurable.

Now I had to backtrack and ponder how much the blog was just encouraging me to become a narcissist myself.

Yet that blog is HUGELY popular.

In this post is embedded a video in which Vaknin discusses the modern phenomenon of narc blogs and the narc abuse victim community, and how it’s turned into a groupthink: Dare to suggest that not all narcs are demons, and you’re turned on, the old mob violence.  Vaknin even says it’s because Americans got involved, that our culture/religion is very fundamentalist and puritanical, God vs. the Devil.

He said his purpose was NOT to inspire a mob, but to bring closure to victims of narcissists.  Meanwhile, the groupthink online refuses to let the narrative turn away from Good vs. Evil, even though the latest research says otherwise.  You do so, and you’re accused of being a “narc lover” making excuses for and pitying the narc.

As I wrote in the comments here,

The trouble is when you get abused by someone who exhibits these traits, you don’t want to empathize with them, because those traits caused the abuse. In the early days, I also found sources that said these people choose to be this way. Well, if they choose to abuse you, you don’t want anything to do with them. Victims also fear that the focus will be taken off the harm that was done, while everyone pities the abuser instead.

But at the same time, as a Christian, the idea of irredeemable evil is abhorrent to me. I believe that anyone could potentially be redeemed. In fact, my conversion to Orthodoxy started when I discovered some of the Orthodox saints believed in some form of universalism. It wasn’t “official” church doctrine, but I identified with their heart. There are even beliefs of Christ preaching to the already-dead….I don’t want to get into all that here, but basically, I don’t want to give up hope for anyone.

But evil does exist, and some people do fit the description. And many of them end up in positions of power. We can be empathetic to a degree, but too far leaves us vulnerable.

The takeaway I get from all this can be summed up this way: Of course what happened to us was wrong.  Of course there is evil in the world.

But the purpose of learning about narcissism is NOT to make yourself some kind of crusader against all the narcs in the world, but to help you learn, understand–and then heal and move on.

It’s to help you learn about reasons why people might end up behaving a certain way, not to excuse the abuse, but to recognize that you didn’t deserve it.

It’s also to help you figure out ways to avoid becoming a victim again, to help you not just to recognize narcissistic behavior in others, but to recognize your own vulnerabilities and attraction to such people.

Just as I realized that gullibility and loneliness keeps making me susceptible to such people and their lies, so I need to be more careful.  It doesn’t mean I deserved what happened.

Calling yourself a narcissist “magnet” is not helpful if that means you have no responsibility whatsoever in figuring out why you’re susceptible.  Do you really want to keep being a victim over and over, or do you want to enjoy life?

 

Healing from abuse by friend: “Our movie” no longer stings

Yet another milestone reached in healing my heart from the betrayal by my former best friend:

A few months ago, I DVR’d The Trial, a 1962 movie with Anthony Perkins and Orson Welles, based on Franz Kafka’s unfinished work of the same name.  I wanted to see it again, but I wondered how I’d take watching it again: My former best friend and I watched it–dang, nearly 9 years ago now–back when he lived with us.  We loved it, and it sort of felt like “our movie.”

You see, I don’t know how it is for neurotypicals, but I attach sentimental value to movies I see with close friends.  That movie now connects to them, no matter how many years have passed, especially if I saw it for the first time with them.  Such as Addams Family Values, which I saw in the theater with my best friend from high school.  Or Wayne’s World 2, which I saw with my college roommies, or Lord of the Rings, which I saw with several old college friends along with the Hubby.

I watched many movies with my former best friend while he lived with us and after he moved out.  I don’t remember them all, but the ones I do remember, have attached to him.  So I have avoided those movies ever since.

Last year, I watched The Apostle for the first time since 2008, when I saw it with Richard, my former best friend.  Then, too, I feared that it would twinge my heart to watch it, but no, it didn’t.  Same with many songs which attached to him back then; I hear them now and then on my favorite Goth webstream or in my MP3s, but they no longer twinge my heart.  They used to be so painful to hear that I didn’t listen to them for years after Richard–who turned out to be a narcissist–betrayed me.

I feared The Trial would hurt to watch, while at the same time looking forward to watching it.

(First I wanted to re-read the book, which I first read in 2010.  I then lent it to Richard, but the betrayal happened, so I got it back from him, and it was covered in spaghetti sauce.  I thought I cleaned it, but found yet another stain before reading it a few weeks ago.  Yet more evidence that he wasn’t the friend I thought he was: He didn’t even have consideration for my books.  😛  )

I feared it would hurt to read, but it didn’t at all.  I barely thought about Richard while reading it.  Then tonight I watched it and–no, no pain at all.  Well, other than the typical purist reaction to a favorite book being adapted into a movie and things getting changed.  I barely thought about Richard while watching, except to think, “Hey, it’s not painful after all.”

I guess time really does heal, even when you think the hurt is too deep.  Think of how it would feel to Sam if Frodo finally threw him over for good: That’s how deep the wound was for me.  Only to discover later that Richard apparently didn’t feel at all the same.

Of course, I don’t know if actually physically seeing him again would hurt like it did back in 2010 and 2011, when he came to my church.  Maybe, maybe not.  Probably not nearly as bad.

When I saw him back then, after a year of healing and recovering, I came home and bent over crying, then was plunged back into a deep depression.  So you see, this is why I haven’t wanted to see him at church again.  (I haven’t wanted to see his wife, either, but that’s because she’s probably the meanest person I’ve ever known.)

I have worried about this for years, especially when the hypothetical merger of my church with his, became reality earlier this year.  But I still haven’t seen him there, so I doubt he wants anything to do with my church.  So I don’t think I should worry and wonder about that possibility anymore.  Which would be good, because that worry has been gnawing at my stomach for years now.

There are several movies which I haven’t seen in about 9 years, since I saw them with him, even though they’re old favorites.  I have avoided them on purpose.  Maybe it’s time to pull them out again.

 

Life is good now: Looking back at 6 years ago

Around noon today, I reviewed an old post describing my depression nearly 6 years ago, caused by breaking off relations with my narcissist abusers, Richard and Tracy.  I hadn’t forgotten how bad it got, but I did note a huge contrast to how my life is now.  For example, I was deep in a funk, probably suffering from a type of PTSD caused by emotional abuse, and having trouble connecting to people in my town.

Another thing is, the older I get, especially as another birthday looms, the more my mind keeps balking at how many years have passed and my aging body.  I’m not old, though my age says I’m going firmly into middle age–but I could swear I don’t feel a day over 25.

The calendar says it’s been nearly a decade since Richard first came to my town, while I could swear it was only a couple of years ago at most.  I see the cool young rock stars of my youth–Prince, Henry Rollins, etc. etc.–with gray hair or, occasionally, dying.

Instead of Gen-Xers, everybody now focuses on Millennials.  We’re not the cool youth fighting tradition anymore, even though I could swear my musical taste gets harder and crunchier the older I get.  (Love that German Industrial.  😉  )

But then this morning I thought, “Hey, wait a minute, when I was 6 years younger, still in my 30s, I was going through this nasty depression.  When I was even younger, the depression was still in my future.  Now I’m over it.”

Another thing I thought: When I was 6 years younger, I wasn’t in the Writer’s Club.  I didn’t join it back then because it was more of a class, and I didn’t want another class or assignments after getting a college degree in Writing.  I already knew how to write, and just wanted to get better and get feedback.

Anyway, it has a different president, and now I’m in it, meeting people and making friends.  One young friend nearly quit, but changed his mind, and that made me happy.  He’s always arguing with the club president, who doesn’t “get” his youthful spirit and writing, but he makes me laugh.  Another friend, in his 80s I believe, writes short memoirs for the local newspaper; when I walked into the meeting on Monday, he said I always look pretty and have this big smile on my face.

And I have friends at church as well.  I’m making friends through Greek School, along with coffee hour.  Then there’s the one I consider my best friend here, a fellow introvert, writer and German-speaker, and also a goofball.

Then this evening, I got a new thing to add to the list of what didn’t happen when I was 6 years younger and still in my 30s: I never rode in a 1929 Model A before.  But now, on the edge of my 43rd year, I have ridden in one.  After Greek School, I walked outside the church and there it sat in the parking lot.  It belongs to a member of the church and her husband, who took out a few of us.  He took us through Lakeside Park and honked the horn (yes, Ooga Ooga) at anyone who stopped and looked.  😀

And we have a family of skunks living nearby, one big one and three little ones.  They’re cool to watch, though don’t get too close!  Tonight they chased a rabbit.  I guess rabbits don’t want to get sprayed, either.

I also didn’t have the formation of a new novel filling my head 6 years ago.

Another thing is glancing through the obits and seeing somebody my age, or younger, and realizing it’s not so bad to be just about to turn 43.

So yes, those of you going through the aftermath of abuse of some kind, it does get better.  I saw in my old post that I wanted to die.  But I didn’t, and now look how things are.