Random Thoughts at the Five Year Mark

starting overwow.

This blog is five years old.

wow.

 

Things have changed a lot in five years.  We not only survive, but we thrive on a mostly daily basis.  The health of my kids (and myself!) is testament to the power of connection, the awesomeness of being heard, the cathartic healing found in knowledge and the magic of friendship.

Thank you for being here!

__________

Yesterday, Jenny had an appointment that included a NES Scan.  (Very cool.  Google it.)  The scan revealed a compromised adrenal gland.  When I asked the cause, the practitioner said it can be caused by stress, so I had to ask, “Would that stress come from having parents who divorced 8 years ago?”  She said, “It could.”

Since yesterday, I’ve been wondering what her symptoms would be had I stayed married.  Honestly, at this point in Jenny’s charmed life, when she experiences stress, it’s because she sees her brother getting a text from their dad inviting him to go fishing with no mention of, or invitation for Jenny.

__________

Speaking of texts, I misspoke yesterday.  I had tweeted that Will had been in a championship golf tournament, and his father hadn’t followed up to hear of Will’s performance.  Will clarified that his dad had texted – six hours after the finish – to find out how Will did.  I was wrong.  His dad did check in – even if only by text.  That’s better than nothing, or at least that’s what my kids have learned in all these years of dealing with a narcissistic father.

__________

I’ve been wanting to post about a random wink from the Universe, but I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it.

Zaira had suggested that I read Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald.  I got to page 100 and had to quit.  I couldn’t bare to read one more page.  Zelda’s slow steady demise was too depressing for me.  < Sorry, Z. :( >

Jenny and I were going to be downtown, so I brought the book to return to the library.  I was stopped at the book drop and turned to say something to Jenny, when I was surprised by a male voice saying, “So?  Did you like the book?”  Startled, I answered, “No!  It was too depressing.  Did you read it?  Do you know about the Fitzgeralds?”  He said, “Oh, sure.  She self-destructed.  Did it make you feel better about your own life?”  I said, “Well, it might have, but it was too painful to keep reading.  I couldn’t bring myself to read of her misery, in an effort to feel better about my life.”  (Remember, this guy is a complete stranger.)  He said, “Well you know the first couple lines of The Great Gatsby don’t you?”  I said, “No.  I haven’t read it.”

He said, “The novel begins with a quote from Gatsby’s dad:

‘Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,’ he told me, ‘just
remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages
that you’ve had.'”

I looked at Jenny and shrugged.  I turned back to the stranger and said, “Well, enjoy your day.”  He held out his fist for a bump and said, “You, too.”

 

 

As Jenny and I pulled away from the book drop she said, “Why do you think that was meant for you?”

I shook my head and said, “I have NO idea.”

 

That was four weeks ago, and I’m still trying to figure out what the Universe was trying to tell me through this apparently well-read stranger at the library.

Is the Universe telling me not to criticize the narcissistic ex because he had it harder than I did?

If so, at what point must we stop blaming our childhoods, begin to act like the grownups that we are, and take responsibility for our behavior?

Or is the Universe subtly suggesting that it’s a waste of my energy to criticize others – especially when it comes to a narcissist – because the Universe has also shown me that he will never change, and thriving happens only when I move away from him and all the negativity surrounding narcissism?

 

Okay.

Message received.

I get it.

Continually criticizing the narcissist is like continuing to bitch about the leopard’s spots.

 

I am a thriver.

Part of my thriving comes from helping other survivors – especially their children.  So while there will be less criticizing in my real life, here – on this blog – I will continue to post about the behaviors of narcissists.

I receive letters every month from those who have landed on this site and found comfort, understanding and encouragement.  I will continue to criticize narcissists to shed light on this insidious disorder.

 

Maybe Gatsby’s dad gave sound advice, but I’m betting he didn’t know much about surviving narcissism.

 

 

 

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18 comments

  1. Nick Carraway also says in relation to the stranger’s quote, “Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope.”

    Isn’t that how we manage to stay with the Narcissist? Isn’t it the grandest of coping mechanisms?

    Look here: http://lit.genius.com/F-scott-fitzgerald-the-great-gatsby-chapter-i-annotated#note-1048785

    And click on the phrase, “a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me and also made me the victim of not a few veteran bores. The abnormal mind is quick to detect and attach itself to this quality when it appears in a normal person.”

    Look at the comment to the right about this phrase if you already didn’t catch that sharp shiver down your spine.

    Gatsby loved Daisy regardless of how impractical, spoiled, and selfish she was. He loved her despite his intelligence and best interests. You see, Daisy is Zelda, who suffered from BPD, and so F. Scott knew a lot about loving someone with a Cluster B personality.

    Sometimes when the story triggers familiar emotions, it is too much to revisit those painful feelings. The parallels for me were astounding. I still empathize with the N being vulnerable and child-like, but when it bites my ass, I laugh at myself for stepping back from reality. I will forever be hopeful and vulnerable. It’s beautiful and frightening at the same time.

  2. Z,

    Maybe from the safety of a healthy relationship I could read the Zelda story without wincing. I’m still attracting (or perhaps I should say that I inadvertently realize I am still attracted to *gah*) the troubled, the lost souls, the ones who need saving.

    I hope my kids are forever hopeful and vulnerable, but that they are better judges of character.

  3. Perhaps that is the difference.
    Perhaps you see yourself in them.
    Perhaps I need to stop philosophizing today. ;)

  4. Hi ladies *waves* long time no see :-)

    So Jesse said:
    Or is the Universe subtly suggesting that it’s a waste of my energy to criticize others – especially when it comes to a narcissist – because the Universe has also shown me that he will never change, and thriving happens only when I move away from him and all the negativity surrounding narcissism?

    Which made my brain go to the topic of radical acceptance in this dandy book I’ve been reading called The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Workbook. http://www.amazon.com/Dialectical-Behavior-Therapy-Skills-Workbook/dp/1572245131/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407531108&sr=8-1&keywords=the+dialectical+behavior+therapy+workbook
    Anyway….Jesse’s comment pretty much summarizes radical acceptance. There are things you can’t change. If those things are abusing you in any way get the hell away from them. Accept yourself for who you are.

    If you still want me to do a short blog on the won’t versus can’t way of thinking, just let me know ;-)

    Love you guys,
    Jenn

  5. Z,

    Geez. I’m sure I do see myself in them.

    Don’t you DARE stop philosophizing. I count on you. :)

  6. Jenn,

    I still have a tab open on Dialectical Behavior. Thanks for that.

    Will work on accepting myself for who I am, since that’s what I preach to the kids. I’m sure a sip of wine would help. :)

    Yes!!! on the blog post. Whenever you have the time.

    Love you! Hugs to kitty.

  7. Hey Jenn! (big waves) You have me intrigued…

    Jesse, it’s awful heavy for a Friday, don’tcha think?
    Maybe we just need a glass of wine before we continue…

    Have a great weekend, everyone!

  8. Re: “Is the Universe telling me not to criticize the narcissistic ex because he had it harder than I did”

    What I try to remember is not just that he “had” it harder, but that he “has” it harder. If I try to imagine the world he lives in, I picture one where no one (including family and friends) can be trusted. Where everyone has veiled criticisms or threats. And where nothing joyful or sustaining ever happens.

    Because even if my N experiences joy, he easily forgets it, as he quickly reverts back to his “everyone is against me, I never win” narrative. And if all you can remember are the times you felt cheated or lost, then it’s really not that different from inhabiting a world where people truly are out to get you every single day.

    That’s pretty much as close to a definition of hell that I can think of. I escaped that hell by getting a divorce. But my N is unlikely to ever escape his mental anguish.

    I still get ticked off by what he does (especially when it involves our child). Moral outrage is like a potent drug, and it’s always tempting to give in to those feelings. But if I can remember the hell he lives in, it helps me reign in my own reactions, and feel compassion and forgiveness. He’s living in his dystopian fantasy. I don’t have to live there with him.

  9. M,

    Thank you so much.

    Your articulate comment clearly illustrates the plight of the narcissist, but also that of the source. If we stay, we go down with that beautiful but troubled sinking ship. We can not fix it or keep it afloat.

    And I so know the potent drug you refer to. Too many days, it’s the high horse I can be seen riding.

    Thanks for chiming in.

  10. Heard a relevant quote on a tv show the other night: “It’s not that narcissists love themselves so much. It’s that they hate themselves so much.”

  11. Pat,

    Thank you.

    I saw that in my Ex. I saw how he hated himself. I thought I could love him enough. That is the trap that the source may end up in – trying to love them enough to compensate for their own lack. That was narcissistic of me to think I could make up that difference.

    In the end, it’s so sad that their disorder prevents them from getting the help they need to learn to love themselves.

  12. Jesse,

    Your voice here has and is such a source of comfort, humor, and hope. Thank you for being here. You are thriving, and that is a tribute to your strength and amazing spirit!!

    From my experience, while I try to spend less and less time thinking about my ex, I do find that I am able to talk with others about my experience and find healing in that very act of talking/sharing. I think it helps so much to know I am not alone and though I wish no one else had these kinds of struggles, it helps to talk with someone who really gets it.

    So . . .thank you, thank you, thank you for being here!

  13. Lynn,

    Thank YOU for being here.

    I tweeted this quote the other day, and I think of it often:

    We’re all just walking each other home. – Ram Dass

    Thanks for walking with me. ;)

  14. Jesse,

    The pleasure is all mine. ; )

    P.S. I love that quote!

  15. Congrats! You SO deserve any and all accolades that come to you.

    Im so proud of you.

  16. Heeeyyyyy!!!

    Thanks, dear!

    Great to see you. :)

  17. I’m now at the 20 month mark, since leaving. Things have settled down a lot now, since the turmoil of separation and divorce. I find myself wondering, what would I have done differently (post separation), if I’d known what I know now?

    I think what I regret now was that I acted a lot out of fear. Particularly fear for my child. It really was terrifying for me to leave my child unattended with my ex. I had a lot of “what if” nightmares, mostly along the lines of what if my N abuses our child as he did with me. How will I ever protect our child? Meanwhile, my ex was terrified I was going to take his child and his money. Our fears and reactions fed on each other, leading to spiralling legal costs, and massive deterioration in our ability to speak to each other, which continues to this day.

    Meanwhile, our child is fine. I do occasionally get hints of odd things my ex says or does. But on the whole it’s nothing remotely like what I had feared. Particularly, the explosive rage seems to be in check. This is now what I try to remind myself with each skirmish. Save my energy and money for the true crisis (which may never come), and keep the “what ifs” out of my head.

    And yourself, Jesse? Anything you would have told your 5- year ago self?

  18. M,

    Thanks for asking.

    Yes, I would agree with you… those fears can be paralyzing. It’s so easy to let them get blown out of proportion and imagine the worst.

    Well, I/we moved out eight years ago. Can’t believe it’s been that long. Here’s what I’d tell myself:

    Swallow your pride and ask for help.
    Take it one day at a time and quit worrying about what might or might not happen.
    You don’t have to answer every one of his ranting emails.
    You will be so much better than fine and, most days, it’s quite nice being single.
    Your kids will thrive like you can’t imagine.
    Find a mechanic you can trust, and the rest you can pretty much do yourself, with a little help from family and friends. (see #1)
    Your divorce might be different from other divorces and that’s okay.

    To my blog writing self I’d say:

    This blog will be your salvation.

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