Articles About Narcissistic Abuse
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I Wrote A Book As Part Of My Therapy

Last January my mother finally admitted that I was the real problem in her life. She made this declaration passionately as she extended her arm and pointed dramatically at me. She told me that I had turned the family and even her doctors against her by telling things that were not true. She went on to say that she had never been able to make me love her.  

I decided that was the last time I would accept her attempt to blame and punish me for the problems she had created in her life. I also decided that I would stop trying to earn the love that I had always sought from her, the love of a mother for a daughter.  

For a long time I had felt that she was a narcissist, but her behavior didn’t quite fit the normal description of a narcissist. She had some of the characteristics such as needing extreme amounts of attention, only being able to see a situation as it affected her and believing that she was always right. But a lot of what she did was more behind the scenes than what you typically see in the common description of a narcissist.  

So, I began to read and watch videos about narcissistic parents. From the blogs and books and videos I learned that there are two types of narcissists. The grandiose, or overt, is the one that most people know about. But then there is the covert, or, as some say, the vulnerable, narcissist. As I began to learn about covert narcissists it was as if my world had always been slightly tilted and suddenly it was upright.  

From all the reading and listening I did, I learned that writing helped with recovery. That seemed like the perfect prescription for me because I am a writer. The therapists and coaches advised that victims of narcissistic abuse should tell, in writing or verbally, the narcissist about the abuse and how it had impacted them. However, the advice was not to mail the letter or confront the abuser. The suggested method was to tell an empty chair or keep a journal or write and then burn a letter. Another suggestion from some of the therapists and coaches was to describe what the abuse victim would have liked to receive from a parent. So, I began to write a fictional story. As a writer this was natural for me and provided the best way to express the pain, frustration and longing. I used some of my experiences and some I had observed. Soon I realized that what I was writing might help other victims of parental narcissistic abuse acknowledge their torture. And so, what began as therapeutic writing morphed into a book -Torture or Nurture, A Tale of Growing Up. It is a comparison of the torture of having a narcissistic mother and enabler father and the validation and support that comes from nurturing parents.  

You can certainly buy my book, and of course I would like for you to, but in order to recover, you will have to do your own work. I strongly recommend you write. It does not matter what you write – a letter, a story, a stream of consciousness, a prayer, whatever works for you. You see there is a unique connection between your brain and your hand. If you write about your experiences it helps you acknowledge the torture you have experienced. The hand brain connection forces the monsters out of the darkness into the light where they can be dealt with. I am not a therapist or coach, I am a story teller. I will not counsel anyone, except to encourage the use of writing as part of recovery.  

Stand Down & End of Watch 

I am a big fan of police procedural dramas. They are comforting and reassuring because they normally include what, why and a solution. Granted there is drama throughout the story and the resolution is not always satisfying, but lies and excuses are always exposed. As a victim of narcissistic lies and gaslighting, I find it reassuring that the cops in the shows/movies always get to the truth, even if it is ugly.

As I have worked on my recovery from narcissistic abuse, I have found another encouraging aspect of cop shows. There are two phrases commonly used in police dramas that tell a character he/she has reached the end. Those phrases are: Stand Down and End of Watch. The reason I find them encouraging is because when applied to dealings with a narcissist, they are permissions to walk away from the abuse.

Stand Down
In a police drama this expression means to stop a confrontation or end a state of alert. In real life, this phrase is authorization that a victim does not have to engage in a demeaning argument with a narcissist. It is assurance that a victim can end the state of alert they have maintained throughout the relationship with a narcissist that is intent on torture. It is also a directive to stop “poking the bear” in an effort to prove that you are not stupid or too emotional or inferior; the bear will never acknowledge that you are right.

End of Watch
In cop shows this phrase is used when referring to the end of a work shift. It is also used as a tribute to law enforcement officers or other public safety officials when they retire or have died. For a victim of narcissistic abuse it can signify that the need to watch her back, guard his sanity or protect her spirit is over. Just as it may signal the retirement of a cop, it can represent the departure of a victim from a relationship with a narcissist.

Victims of narcissists are rarely in relationships with narcissists because they want to be. The victim may have been born to a narcissist. He/she may have married a facade and now share children with the person behind that facade. The victim’s career may be in the hands of narcissistic boss. Because there are circumstances that have made it necessary or important to be in the relationship with the narcissist, the victim has conditioned themselves to “live with it”. Permission to Stand Down or implement an End of Watch is a difficult thing for narcissistic abuse victims to give themselves, no matter how much they want to do so. It may be difficult for a cop to stand down when confronted with an obviously guilty person and it may be terrifying to a police officer to retire. Similar emotions are behind the abuse victim’s hesitance to deal with a narcissist or terminate a relationship.

If I had a megaphone that could be heard around the world I would broadcast this: 
Attention all victims of narcissistic abuse! You are hereby granted permission to Stand Down and End Your Watch. You are allowed to ignore the gaslighting, stop pretending to believe the lies and even to walk away from the relationship.

It’s Not Recovery That Hurts, It’s Your History

 If you are the victim of narcissistic abuse by a parent, spouse or someone who was in a position of authority or control, you have probably experienced the paralysis of pain when you try to recover. That pain is not caused by your recovery, it is caused by the historic wounds on your soul.  

Here are a few specific ways that your history causes you to hurt when you are in recovery.  
A wound may appear to be healed, but there is still emotional scar tissue. A bad scrape to you shin will heal. It will form a scab that eventually falls off leaving a scar. That scar may make the spot tender for years. If you press on or hit the scarred area you will feel some pain or at least discomfort. Emotional wounds work the same way. In recovery when you start poking around in your psyche, you will likely find some tender spots. The poking may cause discomfort or it may cause a sharp pain. The poking would not hurt if there were not any tender spots.
The tactics you used to shield an injury may have widened the area of pain. Years of hearing that you are the family problem, are not good enough, are unlovable or some other humiliating condemnation will likely inflict a wound. However, the injury does not end with the wound. Humiliation about something that is part of your core being will cause you to protect that something. If you have a physical injury you will change the way you move or sit or lay in order to protect the injury. That change in your movement or posture will likely make some other part of your body hurt or become sore. Just like a game of whack-a-mole, the cure may cause as much pain as the injury. Several years ago I broke a tiny bone in my elbow and had to wear a metal brace internally for a year. The bone healed nicely, but because of wearing the brace for so long my arm is weaker than before the injury and it will not straighten out completely. Both things can cause my arm to ache. When I had the metal brace in and hit it against something, I experienced a pain unlike any I had or have ever experienced. I was once trying to open a sliding door that was stuck; when the door released suddenly, I hit the door facing with the part of my arm that contained the metal brace. It hurt so bad, I had to sit down. I swear that metal brace vibrated. So, if you have had an emotional injury, whatever you have done to protect that injured area may also cause you pain. This is especially likely when you start peeling away the layers of abuse as you work through recovery.
Abuse can cause you to stop using an aspect of your personality. Then when you work to recover, using that aspect can feel clumsy, abnormal or even dangerous; it can be uncomfortable or painful. In this situation recovery is a lot like physical therapy. When your knee has been replaced or a limb has been broken or even after you have had a heart attack, recovery involves rehabilitation. Rehabilitation can be very painful. I again use my broken elbow as an example. Once the brace was in my arm and the incision had healed adequately, I began physical therapy. It was definitely a case of “no pain, no gain”. For six weeks my arm had been in a sling and pretty much immobile. So, stretching it out and building back the strength and flexibility felt a lot like torture. The pain of physical therapy causes many people to find excuses not to do it and even causes some to give up. Recovery from abuse, particularly narcissistic abuse, involves reactivating and strengthening personality aspects that have been inactive, usually for a very long time. The history of not using the aspect (often multiple aspects) triggers fear and pain.  

Both living in narcissistic abuse and recovery from it involve tradeoffs. While living in it, you put up with the abuse and shield yourself or you feel the sting of the narcissist’s venom. While in recovery, you endure the pain of history brought to the surface by your therapy and self-work or you live with the dejection and insulated emptiness you built during the abuse. The biggest difference, to me, is that the pain during abuse is followed by depression and sorrow; whereas, the pain felt during recovery is followed by victory and peace.

As always, I encourage all who have experienced narcissistic abuse to write. Writing is the mind’s natural way of dealing with an emotional problem. It does not matter what you write. I write fictional tales of narcissistic abuse and articles like this. You can write poetry, letters, lists, stories, journals, etc. You can share your writings with people that are safe and respectful or you can hide them under your mattress. (All the experts say not to share them with the abusing narcissist because you will never convince him/her that they are at fault for anything and you will likely incite them to new heights of abuse.) Writing will enhance and hasten your recovery because the action of writing pulls the pain out of your soul and puts it into a solid form, instead of the murky mess that clouds your brain. Some people even burn, shred or tear up their writings as a symbolic destruction of the pain caused by the abuse. 

Everyone Needs A Stabilizer

A stabilizer is something that holds another thing steady, keeps it in place. Stabilizers are an important part of many machines and devices. Here are a few examples of physical things that are called stabilizers:
Sway Bar in an automobile 
Flexible holder for a camera or smartphone to avoid jumpy videos
An agent in explosives that keeps the chemicals from decomposing or exploding early 
Chemical additive to plastics to avoid degradation
Fins on a boat to reduce ship roll
Embroidery tool that supports the fabric and eliminates puckering

There are also practices and processes used in many social and business areas to make things even and fair and avoid volatility. Stabilization is used in finance, law enforcement crowd control, economic cycles, business operation and societal systems.  

Stabilization is also important in people’s lives. It is necessary in careers, families, social interaction, team sports – actually it is essential in every aspect of a person’s life. Unfortunately stability can be very illusive, especially for someone raised in a toxic family or working/living in a toxic environment.  

Having a human stabilizer can make all the difference in how functional a person is and in the quality of a person’s life. Everyone can benefit from having a stabilizer.

My sister, Crysti, is my stabilizer. As a matter of fact, I think she is the stabilizer for a lot of people – her husband, son, friends, employer, and church co-volunteers. In the past she has volunteered and worked for non-profits; her stabilizing talent provided innumerable benefits to them.

In case you want to find a stabilizer for your life, here are some of the qualities of Crysti that make her an excellent stabilizer:
First of all, she grew up in the same household as me so she knows my history and therefore my triggers.
She listens, truly listens. This means she does not just stay quiet until someone else stops talking so she can talk.
At the core of any advice she gives is her genuine interest in the people and circumstances involved.
She is guided by her empathy.
An understanding that words and wording are powerful steers her comments and helps her help others formulate what they say.
She understands that there are multiple points of view and potential outcomes in any situation.
She makes herself available physically, emotionally, timely, whatever is needed.

Thanks to all of these characteristics, Crysti has helped me stabilize my reactions, plans, approaches and emotions in business and personal situations. I cannot count the number of times that she has kept me from getting myself in trouble or at least helped me have a better outcome.  

In a world where stability seems to be constantly challenged, everyone needs their own stabilizer. Everyone needs a Crysti.