Write It Down

journalsLast week I got a word salad in my inbox.  Whether in oral form or written form, I’ve taken to mentally and physically preparing myself before making my way through these salads.  If he’s delivering the word salad to me in person, I usually prop myself up against a door frame.

History has taught me to settle in, because these can take awhile.

If the word salad is in written form, I usually make myself a fresh cup of coffee and find a comfortable chair.

Last week’s sermon was about the difficulties he was experiencing trying to get the kids stuff for Easter.  Within the run-on sentences about, “I just don’t know what they like…” and “They are growing up so fast…” I found a sentence that made my blood boil.

“… I understand that they aren’t supposed to come over to my house.”

Either he’s being dramatic, he’s totally forgotten that the kids don’t want to go to his house, or he’s recently picked up a recreational drug habit.

I sent back a short, emotion-free response saying, “The kids will email you their Easter Wish Lists.  Visits to your house have never been forbidden, however, sleepovers are still on hold.”

Word salads make me dizzy.  Word salads make me question my memory or my ability to re-create conversations.  Word salads make me doubt my own grasp of reality.

Narcissists use word salads to cleverly manipulate their sources in an effort to swing reality back to their skewed view.

All this brings to mind something that I feel very strongly about.

I’ve said this before.

I’ll say it again.

Write Stuff Down

Write on post-it notes.

Write in the margins of your favorite novel.

Write in a flowery diary or a composition book.  Write in a college rule notebook or on a blank sheet of printer paper.

Don’t worry about anyone reading it.  If you don’t want your kids or partner to see what you are writing, find a hiding place.

Don’t worry about punctuation, typos or grammatical errors.

Write whatever comes into your head.  Don’t mess with composition.  This writing is for you.

You can’t open a magazine or watch a daytime TV talk show guru without being told to write in a journal.  This message is repeated time and again because it works.

The Power in Writing

  • Writing is an effective tool for collecting the jumble of feelings that keep me from being able to focus on what really matters.  Putting the angers, hurts and frustrations on paper allows me to feel as if those emotions are acknowledged, without letting them derail the rest of my day.
  • When the rest of the world thinks I’ve gone mad, tells me that Mark is the most interesting person they’ve ever met, and can’t figure out what must be wrong with me, I have my notes to refer to.  My notes back me up.  My notes remind me that I am a good person.  My words are filled with the nasty behaviors that Mark doesn’t let the rest of the world see.
  • When Mark dishes out another word salad that leaves me spinning and wondering just what was said or what we had decided, I can find the points in my notes that prove that we had agreed to specifics when it comes to the kids.
  • When I’m feeling particularly beat up, I can open my journal and find words of encouragement.  My journals are full of strength and vision and truth.  My journals contain the words that help me find my spine.
  • Writing in journals gives me a way to chart my progress.

My written words prove – to me – that I am good, and that I am not losing my mind.

Most days, that is enough.

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  1. hey jesse – love the phrase, word salad. how perfect it is for those crazy-making barrages!
    i found writing everything down extremely useful. not only do you reassure yourself that you had come to a decision, but you have it in writing for legal reasons if necessary. i often forwarded word salad emails to a trusted friend for the same reason.
    vicki :)

  2. Vicki,

    Nice to see you here.

    That’s a big thing for me – looking back on the writing for reassurance. That, and showing someone else a word-salad and watching their eyes glaze over the same way mine do.

  3. every salad needs a dressing of some sort – glaze will do for a word salad! lol. you just gotta laugh and carry on, eh? :)

  4. Vicki,

    So true! And some salads need to go down the garbage disposal!

    There will always be the laughing.

  5. My word salads from ex always end with…Thank you for your patience and understanding….really??? like he thinks i am buying all the crap he has just written…lol

  6. Cynthia,

    Yeah. That.

    I can tell when my kids are getting a word salad over the phone. The eye-rolling begins and they completely tune out.

    When they get off the phone, I ask how the conversation went, and they usually say something like, “I dunno. I quit listening.”

  7. Haha, Cynthia…mine end with similar, but also the inserted standard “Cheers, *^$%@” (yes, that is a bad word! lol)

    As you know, I too relate to the word salad. I find myself with my eyes rolled so far back that I am actually someplace sunny and warm, not in the cold wet veggies.

  8. You are very wise. The same sister who gave me the notebook for good things about me, told me to write the bad stuff down in my journal. She told me I was going to need it when he was “being super great” and when people could not figure out why I was divorcing such a “wonderful guy.” And she was right. I pull it out, not so that I don’t heal, but so that I am reminded of what I really lived with. I read it so that I remember how I was actually treated in my marriage. I read it so when he confuses me with a “word salad,” I can calm down and try to look at how he acts instead of what he says.

    I just found your blog tonight, and though it’s sad that others have been through this, it’s also good to know I’m not alone.

  9. Joy,

    I’m going to admit to having very petty thoughts. I have this fantasy that when I run into someone, in my little town, who is astounded that I would leave such an amazing, successful, well-respected local businessman, I show them my journals.

    But that’s all about me wanting to save face. What matters is that I know. My kids know. Those close to me, who care and love us, know. That’s what matters.

    I love your email address.

    All those who have dealt with narcissism are indeed brave!

    Welcome to our group. I know you will find this to be a safe place full of wisdom, compassion and understanding.

  10. I want to post my journals as notes on my facebook page and tag all our mutual friends….send them in emails to his family…but the best one of all? Scan in the discovery collected in the divorce where he describes how many women he slept with, even those without last names or known whereabouts throughout our marriage while he was on work or personal trips. (Was he bragging?) It’s not my words, explanation, or exaggeration as some may think. It is straight from the source. Now that you are gasping, hold on… The question after that one is what did you do to contribute to the failure of your marriage? He replied that he did not know. He only ever tried to make me happy and that wasn’t ever good enough.

    Believe me, whenever he infuriates me, the temptation is there. I do tell those close to me that ask, but the public affirmation is what I resist. My silence is my strength.

  11. Zaira,

    I read your comment this morning. I’ve been toiling in the yard, thinking about you and trying to think of an appropriate reply.

    Your comment, in a nutshell, substantiates everything I’ve ever read about narcissists – entitlement, lack of empathy, no accountability, self-serving…

    The list could go on.

    My brother once sent me a link to an article he’d happened upon about how narcissists believe they are entitled to have affairs. They deserve it. They are better than us mere mortals who seem to think we should be in monogamous relationships. Societal norms do not apply to the narcissist.

    When I think about going public with Mark’s behavior, I can’t bring myself to stoop to that level. Instead, I take all kinds of reassurances that karma will take care of everything.

    Is that vengeful? Is that petty?

    No. It’s real.

    I admire your strength, Zaira. You are an amazing woman.

  12. Thank you, but I am fortunate enough to have very strong independent women advising me. I do get some satisfaction when my attorney belly laughs at his answers and goes straight for the throat in court. She has also said he is the worst narcissist she has encountered and only practicing family law, she has seen many. Then go to my counselor who saw me long after I really was going for moral support and she always complimented how graceful and tactful I had handled everything. I hear her warm calm voice when I want to lash out. And now I have you, your real insight to what I have been dealing with, your view of the world after the storm, and your strength to share it with all of us. Thank you for giving me an outlet when I need one and for understanding where I am coming from.

  13. Zaira,

    Everyone here benefits from the sharing you do in the comments.

    I hope you find some peace in the knowledge that you help others.

    For me, the sharing is the best way I know of to turn this mess into something positive.

    Thanks for writing and sharing so candidly.

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