Posts Tagged: survive

Aug 13

Only If You Dare

Invite the narcissist in your life to go to the movie you’ve been waiting all summer to see, but only if you dare. If it isn’t his idea, he won’t like the movie, and he won’t spare your feelings by pretending to like the movie. He’ll exit the theater, after sleeping through most of the film, and say something like, “Yeah, this was one of those movies.”  Those movies aren’t on his list – his master list of all things approved by him.


Tell the narcissist in your life that you’ve grown two inches this summer and that you are running out of jeans, but only if you dare.  He may agree to take you shopping, but not to the places you like.  He won’t mince words when telling you which jeans he likes, and which jeans he hates.  He never likes the jeans you like.  He will look at your little sister and say,”Where’d you get that top?”  When your sister tells him the name of the shop, he’ll shrug his shoulders as if to say, “No wonder.”

You will come home with new jeans that you don’t want.

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Jul 13

You’ll Get There

 One day you’ll be sitting at your computer and you’ll open your inbox.

You’ll see your ex-husband’s name and you’ll think, “Crap!”

You’ll take a sip of coffee and think to yourself, “Geez, this day started out so well.  It’s not too hot out this morning.  The coffee’s excellent.  The kids are still sleeping and I have a bit of time to gather myself for the day.  And then this – an email from him.”


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Jul 13

A Survivor’s Cheat Sheet

The green index card in my purse is my backbone fortifier. The card contains notes on how to handle verbal attacks. A friend on Twitter sent me a link to Martha Beck’s post on the subject. I had to create a short-hand version of Martha’s approach so as to fit it on one side of the card.  I wanted a quick cheat sheet to refer to when necessary.

(No, I haven’t actually pulled the card out in front of an attacker.  Not yet.)

I refer to this card when I’m standing in line at the grocery store.  I re-read this card when I’m in the parking lot waiting for Will to finish 18 holes.  Looking in my purse to find chapstick, I see the green of the card and I’m reminded of the key points.

Here’s the version that has helped me.

1.  Fighting Stance. Continue reading →

Jun 13

“Hey, Lady! Back Away From That Black Box!”

It might have helped if I’d known more before finding myself teetering on the railing of a bridge, clutching a Black Box of cabernet.

Had I known, I wouldn’t have felt the need to write about how worthless I feel.

If I’d been told, I wouldn’t have frantically searched the yellow pages looking for a therapist to tell me that I wasn’t having a nervous breakdown.

It would have helped to know before I found myself wrangling with either wanting to jump my manfriend’s bones or figure out why he was trying to ruin my life with his very existence.

If I had known, I’d have understood why none of the usual words weren’t helping. Continue reading →

May 13

Beware of Nice Narcissists

Nice feels good.  Nice looks good.

Nice smooths rough edges, makes conversations less awkward, and hides ugliness.

There’s a plaque above my cupboard that says, Because Nice Matters.  Another sign at the front door reads, Be nice or go away.

For a long time, I firmly believed that the world would be better off if we would all be a little nicer.  What if we always made casseroles and brought them to those recuperating from surgery?  What if we remembered birthdays and sent cards?  What if we gave up our seat on the bus and held the door and remembered to shut our mouths when we couldn’t think of anything nice to say.

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May 13

In Good Company

Over chocolate milk, Rice Krispies and coffee we had a venting session about yesterday’s dad visit.  It used to be that our rants were punctuated with tears and “How long do we have to do these visits?”  Now the rants are filled with laughs, OMGs, “Can you believe hims?” and “How long do we have to do these visits?”


“Why does everything have to be about him?”

“You know the answer, Bud.  It’s like the ground shifts under him when things stop being about him.  He needs everything to be about him to have some sense of control.  It doesn’t make sense.  It’s frustrating.  Imagine what it’s like to live like that.”

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Mar 13

On Resiliency

Last night, no amount of bathroom humor would tease her out of her funk.  She plotted a daughter’s revenge – cryptic drawings on paper that would then be tossed in the wood stove.

I asked if she wanted to have a slumber party in my bed.  “I’ll tickle your back.  You can tell me anything or nothing at all.”

She brushed her teeth.  I braided her hair.   She pushed the cat aside and crawled in my bed and said, “I’m sick of all of this.”




Today she discovered how to make different sizes of paper frogs.  She colored them brightly and called them Baby and Mommy and one of them was even Dad.  Right now she’s beating her brother at a dice game, and when a favorite song comes on Pandora, she dances by me twirling and whirling and smiling and not thinking about anything but good stuff.


That is the resiliency of kids.


That is the roller coaster of life.

Mar 13

On Leaving the High Road

I did it.  I left the high road yesterday.  I didn’t just step a toe onto the shoulder of the road.  No, I hit the gas, cranked the wheel and jumped the borough pit.  I raced down the hill away from that high road as fast as I could go.

I was saying that word the whole way down, too.  No, I was screaming that word – repeatedly.

At first I felt guilty.

I try to be as evolved/enlightened/mindful as the next person, and some days I fake it pretty well. Yesterday, I didn’t want to fake it.  Hell, I wasn’t even going to try.

But I wasn’t going to give in to guilt, either, and be bullied back onto that high road.  I was going to take that ride for all it was worth. Continue reading →

Feb 13

When Narcissism Runs in the Family

Guest Post by Jenn

I never knew anything about narcissism until I married into a family with three narcissists.  It was years before I made this discovery, and in those early years, I felt like I was losing my mind.  The particular family I had married into managed to turn narcissism into a generational art, and so every single member of this family (including the one I married) thought that type of behavior was normal. (Quick note: my husband is not a narcissist.  He has his own issues, but narcissism isn’t one of them.)  And because I didn’t agree with it, fought against it, and generally rattled the glass on their pristine cage… well, let’s just say it didn’t really end well.

For many reasons, at least one of these narcissists is still involved in my personal life.  Because of this, survival skills are a must.  Something I have learned from spending 12.5 years with a dysfunctional family full of narcissists is they will eat you alive and spit you out with a smile on their collective faces if you let them.  Am I angry?  Yes.  Yes, I am.  But most of the time, I’m able to move past that to the aforementioned survival skills which (along with about a year of counseling from a wonderful therapist) have helped me to keep my sense of self when the world felt like it was falling apart all around me.

Listen to your body.  This sounds silly, but when I sat down and thought about how North American society teaches us to take medication and ignore our body’s reaction to something, it made much more sense to me.  If being in a certain situation or around a certain person (or people), habitually makes you fell ill, uncomfortable, or like you need to be on Xanax, chances are your body is screaming at you to get away from whatever it is.

Educate yourself.  Once you’ve made the discovery that something is really, REALLY bothering you, it might be a good idea to see what you can find out about it.  I found that reading about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) was very helpful in that it gave me an explanation for the behaviors I was seeing.

Get yourself some resources.  Jesse’s blog was like a warming balm on a spasming muscle when I found it.  There are other resources online, as well as books you can check out (or purchase, if you love highlighting as much as I do) that will give tons of information on NPD.  Another recent blog post that is very helpful can be found on Continue reading →

Feb 13

When to Stay Away

The thing is, most of the time I know when to stay away.

When she says, “Ewwww!  Mom, remember that experiment where we made the smoothie for Twilite?  You know the blueberries, grass and banana drink?  It’s still in the fridge!  Come smell it!”



I know to stay away. Continue reading →

Jan 13

Survivor Support

In Survivor Support, I will call your attention to a new commenter who reaches out to us for encouragement or guidance or a compassionate ear.

We have created a most healthy group of wise individuals who send positive ripples out whenever needed.

It’s time to send more ripples.

Survivors and Thrivers, please see Kristin’s comment on this post.



Jan 13

Letter of Resignation

Dear Narcissist,

We resign as caretakers.

We will no longer protect you, make excuses for your behavior or come to your defense.  We will not sweep your abuses under the rug.  We will not pretend like your treatment is acceptable.

We will not allow you to manipulate us or control us.

You will not hurt us again.

We will not feel sorry for you.

I will not coach your children on what to say to you in order to keep the peace.  I will point out your behaviors to make sure that the children understand that they are not to be blamed for your mistreatment.

We will not cater to you, tiptoe around you or deal with your mood swings.

We will not allow you to make us feel inferior.


We are good enough.


We will no longer see ourselves through your eyes.


We will no longer see ourselves through your eyes.


We will no longer see ourselves through your eyes.



Jesse, Will and Jenny




You may be thinking that by now we would have successfully moved on.  Just yesterday I heard myself coaching Will on what not to say to his father over the phone.  After almost seven years, I still fall into the trap of protecting the narcissist.

Jan 13

On Broken Hearts

“Well,” the Goddess said,
“your heart didn’t heal straight the last time it broke.
So we’ll break it again and reset it so it heals straight this time.”
– Jane Yolen

*Maybe if we looked at it this way,
a broken heart wouldn’t seem insurmountable.

Jan 13

The Jigsaw Puzzle

She was too exhausted to untie the bundle.  He stood next to her and excitedly pulled at the bow that was wrapped tightly around the four corners of the blanket.  His hands were shaking.  He fumbled a bit, but the blanket fell open to reveal the most precious gift.  He gently placed the baby in her arms.  They didn’t notice the green organza bag that fell out of the blanket to the floor.

They cooed at the baby while the nurse placed the green bag inside an overnight bag.


A couple days later a tired, happy, new mom unpacked the overnight bag.  Inside she found the shiny green bag.  Was it a gift from the hospital?  In her exhaustion, had she forgotten who’d brought her this unusual gift?  She opened the bag to find seven brightly colored pieces from a jigsaw puzzle.  Surely there was a puzzle somewhere that was missing important pieces.  Who could this belong to?

She was too tired to sort out the mystery, so she placed the green bag on the shelf above the changing table. Continue reading →

Dec 12

A Good Kind of Christmas

She had hoped he’d walk into the kitchen, smell the Spritz Cookies baking in the oven, warmly greet the kids, and come up behind to wrap her in his arms and whisper, “Merry Christmas, honey.”  Instead, he walked in, grabbed the vacuum and started bumping into their toes as he cleaned up flour dust and cookie sprinkles.  “Daddy, aren’t the cookies pretty?”  He took a few more swipes with the vacuum and said, “Yes, honey, now let’s start cleaning up this mess.”

She’d planned to stroll arm-in-arm, watching the snow fall, seeing the Christmas lights twinkle, and enter shops to jointly select Santa’s gifts for the kids.  Instead, he told her that he was too busy and shopping was a wife’s job.

She decorated the tree with ornaments the kids had made, hung the stockings she’d sewn for each of them, and hand-colored the Christmas cards she’d planned to mail to their friends and family.  He told her he’d already sent cards to his friends and family, and that she didn’t need to bother combining his list with her list.

She put lots of thought into the gift she would make for him – maybe a collage of photos from his childhood, or a shadow box full of keepsakes from his outdoor adventures.  He let out a sigh of frustration when he asked, “So, what should I be getting you this year?”

He’d sit on the couch and watch TV while she read The Tub People’s Christmas. When the kids giggled over the arrival of Santa in the story, he asked if they’d keep it down so he could hear his show. Continue reading →