Day 61 Tick Tock… The Meter on Your Life is Running!!

Day 61

 

Anyone reading my blog, must realize by now that my ”90 Day Journey” or the journey to break free from my childhood narcissist revisited, has taken a long detour from the original 90 day estimate. What started out as a 90 day journey, literally morphed into almost a year of self-discovery, and recovery.  Why did it take so long?? I guess the real work of attempting any kind of healing, takes time.  There is no quick fix, at least not for me, when it comes to meaningful change.  Another theory, while just a theory, goes something like this; as I began to take control of my life, I consciously gained access to “real” time.  I spent years living on the fantasy- fringe of my own experience.  Time as I experienced it, was defined along with anxiety, insecurity, fear, consternation and the kind of drama we all know far too well. Finally after months of work comes hope brought about with therapy, insights, leading me towards glimmer of normal on the horizon.  As I move towards it, I merge out of fantasy time and into reality time. In the past, childish emotional responses and rhythms acted in harmony with my emotional immaturity.  Together these underdeveloped character set the tone for what seemed to be one failure after the next.  Perhaps one bad choice after the next!  Moving on is not an event, to quote Sam Vaknin rather a process.  It starts by admitting there is something wrong, getting help, grieving and properly recalibrating to bring closer, as well as setting new goals.  My life is now! I look around and notice others have created something different than I created, but that is their own way of managing and I need to realize that. What does that mean for me? It means if I can identify something better, I can also work towards that end.  While there elements of my life I would never trade, there are also areas of my life that need improvement. I have never been more aware of the running meter of life!  Each moment, hour, day, week, and year precious; all providing an opportunity for growth and healing!!

Day 61 Your Assignment

Make a declaration to yourself to do something a little different today. Patterns are difficult to identity and even harder to change.  Not all patterns are bad and need change.  However, if you start small; walk ten minutes after lunch, try a different coffee drink, park in a different place, you may begin to notice more of the patterns of your life and as a result of identifying them, the bad patterns may be easier to change.

Day 60 To Be Codependent or Suffer From Separation Anxiety That is the Question!

Day 60 

For the past few days, I have been thinking about the difference between codependency and separation anxiety. Is there a difference with a distinction?  Would there be a different model for treatment?? Are all co-dependence rattled by separation anxiety? Are people with separation anxiety co-dependent?   The answer is I am not sure…  As I always caution, these are untrained observation into my own behavior.  While I do not fully identify with the term codependent, I do feel a kind of better fitting truth in the term separation anxiety. I felt a kind of panic each time my narcissist would offhandedly threaten to leave. So much of my time with him, I spent twisted in that kind of “oh, he is going to end it” knot.   So I found that in this arena of full disclosure to myself, that I begin to keep myself accountable to what happens next.  So one of the things learned, like it or not, not everyone is going to like me.  In the same breath I will NOT accept “the threat” of separation as means of control.  The “if you do this, or don’t do that, I am leaving thing” that usually winds up to be just talk, is only meant to control.  There can be no building of trust given these kinds of parameters.  While insidiously subtle in the early stages of my relationship, in hindsight this threat was there! Moving forward is a process.

Day 60 Your Assignment

Try to identify your own motivations.  While labeling alone is not an answer self-awareness (for me anyways) has been a good start.

Day 59 Your Brain is Always Talking…Make Sure it is Saying the Right Thing!

Day 59

I began listening and watching a series of classroom videos from Stanford University https://youtu.be/NOAgplgTxfc

What I gleaned from the video is that there is a biology to our brain, it is the old “you are what you think” thing  in biological terms.  Over simplified to be sure but as I understand it; the higher functioning parts of our most beautiful human brain are capably of whispering to the other parts how to feel and react.  If the brain is caught in a depression loop or an obsessive compulsive loop then it continues with unyielding banter whispering to the rest of the group and thus feeding the frenzy!  Understanding our inability to stop the “madness” and feeling bad it would seem is a two-fold problem one part chemistry-biology and the other part expressed in emotions and behaviors while not less tangible, far more difficult to measure.  I say that only because it seems to me probable reactions to things are not always consists. I might not react negatively to something a friend says today, tomorrow I may not respond at all.  However, a few days from that given factors such as lack of sleep, hunger, other stressors impacting the moment, I might reply with an altogether different type of answer (explosive, unrelated, unwarranted response). So what does this have to do with me and the narcissistic relationship I am trying to get over?? It is the part about thoughts, and the importance of keeping them very clean during this time.  In other words, it is easy to continue to obsess about the narcissist, telling myself I miss him.  It is easy because it is a known thought and one that seems to echo loudly in my brain.  It is far more difficult to tell myself I do not miss the ill treatment.  Both are true! So what to do?? Make sure I am feeding my brain the right stuff! Keep my thoughts focused on the best of me. My future and growth as well as evolution of my maturity and adulthood is the only way out!

Day 59 Your Assignment

Create helpful mantras.  Keep thoughts as free of negativity as possible. If only it were that easy to stay free of negativity… lol I know this is an arduous task, but stay positive and keep trying. I also know grief is part of change. It is the habit of negative self-talk that at least once identified, the hope is bringing awareness to it.

Day 58 Devaluation Attempts to Re-write History and Absolve the Narcissist of Wrongdoing!!

Day 58

Writers, write, Singer sing, and painters paint… the gamut of their experience, appeals to the like-minded.  As the world becomes a very chaotic and dangerous neighborhood, there are those that blame the “stupid.”  However basic an intellect presents, there was a time when the brilliant minds of the time asserted the world was flat, that witches walked among us, and that noteworthy art could only exist within a narrow line of expression to be “good.” (You get the idea)  Thank God, for all the “dummies” that came along to challenge the “great” minds of their times!  How does this relate to devaluation and the rewriting of history?  My narcissist was incapable of accepting his role in the demise of anything and so he chooses (time and again) the narrative that gives him the greatest value and the least amount of blame.  As my narcissist was a grand manipulators, intellectual, presented well and very strong in his convictions, it was easy to lose sight of my own truth, allowing HIM the status of the “great” mind. Why? Because clinging to some unfinished piece of emotional immaturity, I was not ready to grow up and really think for myself.  Of course, this was not new to me. I first experienced this in my family of origin. When I did not “go along” with either of my parents assertions of “truth,” the smear was ON!  The smear is an attempt to rewrite collective history so that the “narcissistic truth” replaces truth.  It is very difficult to separate fact from fiction in your familial home.  As a result, I took this underdeveloped skill set (side-stepping my own truth to keep the peace) into my later love relationships.  So that when my narcissist said, “You’re too needy! You’re too demanding! You’re too jealous!” it felt familiar and ok to fold into his version of true.  But was it true…? Perhaps, however, NOT the entire truth!  I am after all to some degree all of those things; I need certain level of trust and intimacy. I demand to understand why there are so many inconsistencies in our conversations. I am jealous when you use other woman to make me feel that I am not THE important woman in you life. So as I began to question His assertions, (and with the help of therapy) I was also able to revisit some of the same rhetoric I remember from my parents. Growing up, it was a natural response for me to accept the “I am the problem role.”  However, that is just not always true. A relationship of any kind, does not exist in a vacuum. It is a partnership. It is a collective good as well as a collective not so good. So it is important to question. It is important to think. It is important to grow. It is important to remember that the great minds of today are often history’s biggest “dumb-bells”!

Day 58 Your Assignment

However farfetched it may seem map out your truth, and then test it.  Are you acting “crazy”? Or is acting “crazy” in this case the desire to commit to weekend plans?? Can you identify situations in your family of origin where the “odd man out” is treated as if they were crazy? Again, these are all soft reflections and are NEVER intended to take the place of REAL therapy.

Day 57 Practice Makes Better…

Day 57

The idea of practice makes perfect is not always the end result.  Perhaps the greater truth is that practice makes better.  No one is going to make my life better. It is my job to make it better. Like anything that takes practice. So where to begin? It is the ability to live a life governed by my own terms that begs the question…what are those terms?  What are the rules? How can I discern between abusive treatment and non-abusive treatment when my life has been so mired with abuse as something normal? It is a challenge that now shifts from fact finding and trying to understand my draw towards abuse, and my declaration against it!  It does not come easy. It is not my nature.  I have to be mindful and manage my behaviors.  Anything less and I am working in collusion with my abusers!  So every day is an opportunity to move away from abuse. Every day is an opportunity to reboot into a better place. Every day is an opportunity to grow into an emotionally mature adult.  This is what I need to think about and make a practice every day until “normal” becomes my new normal.

Day 57 Your Assignment

Define your terms! What are you looking for and what do you want?  What are you willing to accept and what are you willing to give? This is a process that may take time to mature as you move farther away from the narcissistic space.

Day 56 Abandonment and Rejection Does Not Always a Narcissist Make!

Day 56

I recently began dating someone. Things did not progress into a lasting relationship. There are no stones to throw or mud to sling… sometimes things just did not work.  He sent me an article about narcissism. I do not believe this was to contribute to my work, rather an attempt to say I am a narcissistic pot calling the narcissistic kettle black! Look, I understand feeling hurt when people do not respond in ways that we wanted or hoped.  However not everyone is “DISORDERED”.  In the same mind-set, a friend of mine talking about another failed relationship of a mutual friend of ours had made the comment “another narcissist!”  Not everyone is a narcissist, the disorder represents a very small minority of mental health disorders. (in 2009 U.S. News published “a nationally representative sample of 35,000 Americans found that 6 percent of Americans, or 1 out of 16  had experienced [clinical narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)] at some point in their lives” {{1}}).  You need to realize that these numbers are from seven years ago, but while the understanding of what makes a narcissist has been better defined, it is still difficult to diagnose and the number can be severely understated.   It is short-sighted and not productive to throw every bad relationship into the narcissistic basket. Sometimes people just don’t get along. Sometimes people are just reacting to other things in their lives. Sometimes people feel bad about themselves (situational- illness, job loss, and more) as a result fail to really bond because of the timing. This does not a narcissist make!  Narcissist are cruel, selfish (intentional or not) sadomasochistic-cold empathy (conscious or not) the collateral damage in their wake is profound.  There is a huge difference and distinction between a garden variety break up and the narcissistic break up!  The post trauma that occurs for people in a narcissistically driven relationship can be debilitating. The wounds are deep.

 

{{1}} http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/brain-and-behavior/articles/2009/04/21/narcissism-epidemic-why-there-are-so-many-narcissists-now

 

Day 56 Your Assignment

If you are drawn to narcissist, you might have had more than one relationship with one.  However, draw the distinction between the garden variety bad break up and a narcissistic break up in your own life.

Day 55 Narcissist “Love” Feed on Adult Separation Anxiety!

Day 55

I have always thought of separation anxiety as younger person affliction. Children-infants experience separation anxiety when they lose sight of their primary caregivers (mother-father). I had never really thought of it as an adult affliction.  Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder according to http://anxietypanichealth.com/reference/separation-anxiety-disorder-adult  An article written by Mike:

”Separation Anxiety Disorder is well recognized as a juvenile psychiatric disorder, but it appears to be rarely diagnosed in adulthood.{{1}} It has traditionally been characterized and assessed as a disorder that is unique to childhood. Yet the core symptoms of Separation Anxiety — excessive and often disabling distress when faced with actual or perceived separation from major attachment figures — may persist or even arise during adulthood.{{2}}

Fifteen years ago Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder (ASAD) did not exist, at least as far as the psychiatric community was concerned. ASAD has only been recognized as a specific mental disorder since the late 90’s, with the pioneering work of Vijaya Manicavasagar of the Psychiatry Research and Teaching Unit, Liverpool Hospital, New South Wales, Australia. He said in 1997 that:{{3}}

[A]dults may experience: wide-ranging separation anxiety symptoms, such as extreme anxiety and fear, when separated from major attachment figures; avoidance of being alone; and fears that harm will befall those close to them. … Separation anxiety disorder may be a neglected diagnosis in adulthood.

Katherine Shear, M.D. is a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University and the lead investigator of an important new study. She finds recent research setting ASAD apart from childhood Separation Anxiety Disorder unsurprising. She says:{{4}}

Our group in Pittsburgh, as well as colleagues in Australia and in Italy, has observed adult separation anxiety disorder in clinical populations for a number of years now. It is clear that this is an identifiable syndrome.

Just what is Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder?

Separation Anxiety Disorder is a psychological condition in which an individual has excessive Anxiety regarding separation from places or from people to whom the individual has a strong emotional attachment. In children, the strong emotional attachment is likely to a parent; in Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder, the attachment might be to a spouse or friend.”

So is separation anxiety part of the root narcissistic problem? Are narcissist able to identify this characteristic and worsen it by rejecting, disappearing?  If some of this rings true, as it did for me what can I do? As we spoke about in other blogs, self-parenting! Identify the fear. Once identified, allow the more mature part of myself to usher me out of the place where the panic of separation begins!

Day 55 Your Assignment

Adult separation anxiety is worth investigating and see if any of what you have read her rings true for you.

Day 54 What Happens When the Worst Thing You can Imagine Comes True!!

Day 54

Ok so abandonment, rejection from a narcissist, is not like cancer, war, total bankruptcy or the annihilation of an entire family. Still it is painful.  Fears exploited to manipulate and control, the use of language tactics that contradict action, in other word says one thing and does another, or diminish, hurt, insult, ignore, or debase is abuse. This kind of treatment causes emotional injury. In a formal definition; Psychological abuse, also referred to as psychological violence, emotional abuse or mental abuse, is a form of abuse characterized by a person subjecting or exposing another to behavior that may result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological abuse)

For some, rejection and or abandonment is a painful yet familiar vulnerability. For me, it takes me to a place deep inside my head where metaphorical voices remind me I am not ok. As a result of that fear, I spent much of my young life crafting myself into the kind of “pleasure” I am today. (The good news; better today! However, while more self-aware today than ever before, and trying to really be true to myself it is still a challenging transition)!  Because my history was more like this…  I folded into HIS (his in this case is most of my adult relationships) interests, likes and preferences. In the gaping abyss of what came next, I began to reconcile myself that so much of my life had been standing on the edge of someone else’s life!!  It really hit home when I realized my son was going away to college. “The empty nester” experience loomed heavy for a single mother with abandonment anxiety.  So what to do? Allowing the more mature part of myself to parent the immature part of myself, I started understanding the underpinning of these insecurities. The internal dialogue is what I would have said as an adult to a child that is feeling frightened about being alone. It is finally turning the light on, looking under the bed, checking all the closets and realizing there is no monster!  Staying in a bad place for fear of being alone, is really the monster’s playground!

Day 54 Your Assignment

Imagine your worst fear and parent you way out of it. Allow the more seasoned you to guide the younger you out of the mess, and listen to the advice of the older you!! Think about the advice you might give you son or daughter if they were in a place where there was always so much consternation and anxiety.  Listen to the more evolved part of yourself and allow that part to take some control.