Dammit.

I wasn’t going to even write this post.  I really don’t want to write this post.  I really don’t want to put down in words what I did, and I don’t want to see, in writing, my humiliation.  I REALLY don’t want y’all to know what I did.  I just want to go back 24 hours, and start again.  No…I want to go back a year, and start again.  Anyone have a magic wand?

magicwand

Like I previously said, I broke no contact the other day after 8 days of being good.  I don’t know why…my ‘addiction’ kicked in and I just couldn’t help myself.  We’ve been texting a bit back and forth, and I was feeling encouraged.  It was going pretty well, until last night.

Here’s the thing:  I still love Sarge.  I truly do.  I can’t get him out of my mind and I can’t get him out of my heart.  And the pain of not being with him is hurting me like hell.  So, I told him I wanted him back.  That I thought it could work.  I implored him to give us another chance…one in which we BOTH work towards a healthy dynamic.  I told him I would give my all to that.  I wrote a long text that I hoped would make him seriously reconsider our relationship.  And, I haven’t heard back from him.

I’m going to be honest here.  Sometimes I wonder if Sarge REALLY is a narcissist.  Sometimes I think that maybe he’s just a very troubled man who has seen too much abuse and death in his life.  Part of my reasoning for this is that narcissists don’t love…but he appears to love his family, because at the age of 30 something, he won’t leave his grandmother’s house, and says he really can’t be away from his family.

I can’t understand this at all.  When Sarge was overseas for his 3 deployments, he didn’t receive even 1 care package from them.  Not 1!  No cards.  No letters.  Nothing.  When he told me this (and I believe him after meeting his family), I was gobsmacked.  If my son were in that position, I would have sent cards, letters, goodie-boxes, supplies, etc. every single day!  It’s like he was forgotten once he was gone.  How horrible!

He also shared his childhood experiences with me.  When he was grounded, he would be put in his bed for days at a time, not allowed to move from it.  If he didn’t like something at dinnertime, he would be forced to sit at the table until he ate every bit of it.  He talked about how his mom and grandmother would slap him often.  When he came back from the service, and we first met, he was skinny in a very unhealthy way.  He was living with his grandma, and his mom lives next door, yet he was barely eating.  How can that be?  How can you let your son, who has seen atrocities committed overseas, basically ‘starve’?

Now…here’s what hurts me the most…and what’s the most confusing to me.  No matter how horribly he was treated.  No matter how neglectful his family still is, these are the people he’s listening to.  Sarge’s mom and grandmother don’t like me.  In fact, they basically act as if they ‘hate’ me.  It started when I didn’t want a piece of his grandma’s cheesecake one night.  I don’t like homemade cheesecake.  At all.  And, I’m lactose intolerant and homemade cheesecake has always made me queasy.  So, I said “no, thank you!”  Apparently, you don’t say ‘no’ to grandma!  Because after that, she treated me like I was dirt.  His mom and I got along well when we first met, but she sometimes says things in such a forthright manner that it’s hard not to take it personally.  Apparently, I’m too emotional (which is actually right!).  So…these 2 women in his life…who are responsible for the abuse and neglect he suffered, are the ones telling him how bad I am for him.  I’M the bad one.  Because I tried to love him unconditionally.  Because I gave him things.  Because I am a positive person.  Because…because…because.  Instead, they want him to get back with his ex…the one he cheated on me with.  The one who has burned his clothes…broke up his marriage…destroyed his property…screams at him…verbally accosts him…and uses his children as pawns.  (After they spent a weekend with her, they suddenly didn’t like me…by the way, that broke my heart.  His kids are awesome, and I wanted so much to be a part of their lives and see them grow up!).

You know something I can’t understand?  I can’t understand Sarge wanting a woman like that…a family wanting their son/grandson to be with a woman like that.  It doesn’t make sense to me.  But, I guess that’s just part of this whole ‘thing’.

And, it’s hurtful when someone chooses a moldy basement in a house where abuse occurred over a ‘good’ woman who tried to make his life better than it had ever been.  In other words, mold is better than me.  Great.

NOW…I know exactly what you’re saying…in fact, I can hear you screaming it at me!!  THIS IS ALL PART OF THE SYNDROME, PROFESSOR!!!  GET OFF YOUR ‘STUPID’ GOGGLES, AND PUT ON YOUR ‘RATIONAL’ ONES!  Every narcissist has a hard luck story.  Every narcissist will make excuses as to why they can’t be with you.  Every narcissist will triangulate you with their family (Sarge never stuck up for me…).  He’s fitting the pattern of what you are studying!  What the hell!!??

Here’s my response:  I DON’T WANT IT TO BE TRUE!!!!!!  I’m a serious empath who has also gone through 2 deaths and a divorce in the last 9 months.  I simply can’t face that EVERYTHING with Sarge was a lie!!!  I can’t let myself believe it!!  Because, I feel that if one more thing happens in my life, I’m going to collapse.  For the last few weeks, I’ve been walking around with a lump in my stomach…on the verge of tears every minute of the day.  And to be honest, when I do cry, I don’t know who I’m crying for.  Is it my mentor and friend who passed away after knowing him for 23 years?  Is it the divorce from hubby 3 who is a good man, and who I still love? Is it the death of my precious nephew in the Navy which was completely unexpected and tragic?  Is it the culmination of things I experienced with Sarge?  Is it a broken heart?  Is it wondering if I’ll ever be happy again?  Is it knowing I was ‘duped’, even with my years of education and knowledge?  Is it feeling like I’m nothing?  That I can just be discarded…without a look back…as if I don’t matter at all?  Is it all of the above?

Sarge himself admits he’s a narcissist.  And, I think…no, I know…that he is.  But I don’t want to admit it.  I don’t want to face it.  I don’t want to think there are people out there like him that I might run into.

I hate to say it.  But it’s true.  I don’t want to think about not having him in my life.  Because the love I have for him is real.  And I’m afraid it’s going to take quite a while for this heart…and this spirit…to heal.  Again.  You know, it’s tough when you know what you want the situation to be, because it keeps you from seeing the actual reality of what is.

This is what I know:  Being made to look like a fool is one of the worse feelings ever.  And being so entwined with a narcissist that you will humiliate yourself for them is even worse.  I think the lump in my stomach is going to be around for a while.  A long while.

Professor K

 

Professor-Ella!

Once upon a time, not THAT long ago, a professor was born.  Her mom was awesome…always there for her, always took care of her, and always made her feel a lot of love.  Professor K’s dad was a good man too.  But he was raised by a somewhat cold, aloof mother and his father left him at an early age.  Subsequently, her dad wasn’t comfortable showing affection or his emotions, and little Professor K felt a neediness in her that just wouldn’t go away.  No matter how much she tried to be what she felt her dad wanted her to be, she never got the reward of attention and affection she was so much in need of.  Her dad liked an extremely clean house, so little Professor K kept her room tidy and neat.  Her dad liked to run, so she ran and ran until she would get so tired she could barely stay awake through dinner.  Her dad made it clear that he didn’t like over-weight people, so little Professor K dieted and exercised until she developed an eating disorder that he still has never recognized.  In later life, she learned to ride a motorcycle, bought her own bike, and showed her dad just how cool she was.  But, none of this mattered.  She still didn’t get the attention, affection, and praise she desired.

So…she sought it out with others.  Her high school boyfriend broke up with her after 2 years, and she was devastated.  But, she was seeing a psychologist who she knew would help her.  Unfortunately, he was a predator, and he sexually abused her for years.  Professor K’s first husband was a nice man, but weak and unable to give her the amount of attention she required.  He was also at a loss as to how to deal with the sexual abuse she endured.

Hubby 2 was a friend…someone she had gone to school with since the 3rd grade.  She wanted to remain friends, but a ‘fun’ night together resulted in a pregnancy, so marriage was the solution.  It was great though!  She had a little family that she loved taking care of.  Although hubby 2 was emotionally withdrawn, she got the attention and affection from her precious son.  He was (and continues to be) everything to her.  And being a mom was the best thing she had ever experienced in her life.  But, hubby 2 wasn’t happy witht aging Professor K, so divorce followed after 13 years.

Hubby 3 was a ‘bad boy’…rode motorcycles, had HUGE muscles, long hair, liked leather, and was someone completely different than anyone else she had ever been with.  Maybe he would be the one to fill the gaping hole she had in her life.  The first couple of years were tough…hubby 3 had been a VERY abused and neglected child and had never been in a mutually loving relationship.  But, Professor K is a fixer!  So, she withstood some pretty bad times, and after a couple of years, hubby 3 was a good hubby who she was crazy about!  But, as we’ve seen with 1 and 2, it just wasn’t meant to be.  The 11 years together were more good than bad, and it was hard to let him go.  Happily, they have remained the very best of friends…talk daily…and even go on ‘dates’ together.  He will always be in her life.

After 3 hubby’s, Professor K started to think her happily ever after would never happen.  But Sarge came into her life.  And he was freaking awesome!  He adored her!  He idolized her! He loved her in a way she had never been loved before!  And despite their age difference, she believed, with all her heart, she had found her last love.  The one that was going to endure.  Because, after all, it was perfect, and Sarge was filling the ‘gaps’ she needed filled in her life!  Until…his hidden narcissism began to rear it’s ugly head.  It was little things at first…and then big things…and then even bigger things.  But because Professor K had seen how great it could be, she vowed to do whatever she had to in order to save the relationship.  She endured verbal abuse, physical abuse, psychological abuse, and any and everything he dished out because she knew, like she did with hubby 3, that she could fix this man and return him to who he had been.  And that’s all she wanted.  To get the ‘real’ Sarge back and live her fairy tale dream.  She knew he was in there somewhere.  Buried under the abuse was the man she knew he could be.  The man who could complete her.  And, it was her job to make that happen.

But it didn’t.  Professor K was discarded once again, and she began to think her ‘happily ever after’ would never happen.  Until, an epiphany occurred.  And finally, for the first time in her life, Professor K realized that her happily ever after had to come from within herself.  SHE had to be the one to fill the gaps.  SHE had to be the one to come to peace with what she had endured.  SHE had to be the one to love herself unconditionally and be kind to herself, and stop beating herself up for 3 failed marriages, and the shame of humiliating herself in front of a man who really never loved her at all.

She gets really down at times, angry at times, and anxious at times.  But, she also gets excited at times when she stops the negative thoughts and realizes just what she has.

Professor K’s son rocks!  He is the smartest, funniest, sweetest, kindest, savvy-ist, cutest person she knows and even if she wasn’t his mama, she would want to know him…he’s just that awesome.  She also has a kick-ass mom.  A woman who has endured years of abuse herself, but came out the other side and built a thriving, happy life on her own.  She’s the role model Professor K looks up too…and she’s the anchor that can be counted on.  No matter what.  Professor K’s best friend is the sweetest, calmest, most unpretentious man she’s ever known, and she’d be lost without him.  She also has the most terrific students EVER!  She truly loves each and every one of them, and they are her kids too.  Seeing her students in her classroom everyday is unparalleled…they fill her with joy.

So…maybe the happily ever after is beginning.  Maybe it’s something that isn’t in a fairy tale where a prince rescues the damsel in distress.  Maybe the damsel needs to save herself.  Maybe every relationship that Professor K has gone through, has given her lessons on how to please herself.  And, maybe, just maybe, she’ll find the happiness and fulfillment she desires from within.  Just like Dorothy, she’s always had the power.  She just had to realize it for herself.

This is what I know:  Fairy tales are fun to read.  But they aren’t real.  Life is real…life is hard…and it comes down to loving and pleasing yourself.  It’s not easy.  I’m not there yet.  But I’ve started the climb, have some awesome people waiting to catch me if I fall, and I know I’m ready to soar.

Professor K

Addiction…

I know a little bit about addiction.  My grandma and grandpa were both alcoholics…not the fall down drunk variety, but they drank throughout the day, and although my grandma was able to eventually quit, my grandpa died of cirrhosis of the liver.  My mom is a recovering alcoholic, and says it’s still hard some days to smell or see alcohol and not partake herself.

The reason why I’m mentioning this is that people who suffer from Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome are literally addicted to their abuser!  Studies show that the trauma bond to our abuser causes our ‘oxytocin‘ (the ‘love drug’ that makes us feel passion and excitement); ‘dopamine‘ (which is actually the same drug involved in cocaine addiction!) and ‘cortisol‘ (which is the fight or flight stress hormone that might not get released appropriately…we rarely fight our abuser or flee, so this stress hormone is trapped in our body, causing us feelings of upheaval at all times) to go crazy!!  Our brains literally use these chemicals to traumatically bond us to our abuser, and we become addicted to the highs that occur, and to our abuser who is the one giving us this drug.

Knowing this is helping me somewhat understand my own reactions to being away from Sarge.  Today was day 8 of no contact…and I was proud to reach the week milestone.  But, I had a terrible afternoon (it involved a lot of dog poop in the house and hours shampooing carpets, washing dogs, wiping down walls, and hosing out crates!) and I craved, like an addict, the fix of talking to Sarge.  So…as much as I fought it, I texted him. And he texted back.  And I texted him again.  And he didn’t text back.  But it was almost like a fix.  Like I just HAD to have some contact or I’d go mad!  It was literally a ‘pull’ that I couldn’t resist…no matter how much I tried to distract myself and fight it.  To be honest, it’s scary to me to think there’s a person out there making me feel this horrible need.  And, it’s scary to think that narcissists are everywhere, and that anyone can be bamboozled by them (I’ve always wanted to use that word!).

My neighbor and I were talking over the fence, and I’ve shared this blog with her because she is a nurse and a social worker and I knew she’d be interested.  I told her I broke no contact, and I mumbled something about addiction.  Some people think it’s crazy that you can be ‘addicted’ to a person!  But she got it!  She said that she’s been battling eating issues in her life and will sometimes binge.  Even though as a nurse, she knows the binge is unhealthy, she simply can’t resist the call of that food.  The food is what has power over her.  And in the case of narcissistic abuse, the abuser is the drug.  They have the power over us.  You know, since that’s the case, we are powerless when we’re under their spell.  That’s scary.

How does this addiction start? The love-bombing phase of narc abuse is a complete HIGH!!  I’ve never been showered with such perfect attention, words, sex, etc.  The initial phase of our relationship truly gave me what I needed in my life and I was euphoric.  But, as we know, the manipulation begins to set in.  The pulling back.  The meting out of attention.  The criticisms.  The lies.  The cheating.  The physical abuse.  But during all of this, there are still those HIGHS.  There are still times where we feel like we did in the beginning, and everything is right.  But, just like a drug addict knows they will crash and feel horrible at times…it’s worth it to get another high and feel that rush of pleasure again.  And that’s what I’m feeling.  I know that Sarge is NOT right for me.  I understand, intellectually, that I was abused and am going through the healing of a traumatic relationship.  BUT, my emotions are saying this to me:  “I want just one more high!!”  I want the compliments again. The feeling that I’m the ONLY person important in his life.  The constant attention.  Him making me feel as if I’m the perfect partner for him, because I’m just so wonderful.

I’m not stupid.  Well, so to speak.  But I know that I’m going to have set-backs in this process.  Just like drug addicts relapse, so will I.  And I’m going to fight this with all my might, but will also be a bit more understanding of myself when I try for one more hit of my drug.   After 3 failed marriages, I know what it’s like to end a relationship.  Two of my marriages ended because my husbands wanted out, and I ended one myself.  Regardless of who decided to end the marriage, I felt a LOT of pain and sadness, but never felt an addictive need to reach out to them.  Or this constant need to have them back in my life.  Ending a relationship with a narc is very much different than ending a relationship ‘normally’.  You just can’t compare the two.  The best metaphor I can think of is the difference between an alcoholic and a person who drinks a glass of wine every so often, but doesn’t need, crave, or desire it all the time.  Sarge is never out of my mind.  I try to deflect the thoughts.  I try to get involved in other activities.  I try to submerse myself in my work.  But he’s always there.  In the back of my mind.  Making me want him everyday.

This is what I know:  living this addiction and feeling powerless is terrible.  I hate having my mind controlled by someone I’m not even with.  But like other addicts, I want to be free…clear…and totally in control of the addiction.  I want to beat it.  And I’m confident I will.  Some day.

Professor K

The Barrette

Crazy title…right??  But, let me explain.

When Sarge and I met, he said how beautiful I was (and I know he was love bombing me at the time so I doubt he was sincere at all), but he didn’t like women who had bangs.  Instead, he preferred long hair all over that could be tucked behind the ears.  Sarge is also 20 years younger than me and I always felt ‘ugly’ next to him anyway because I saw myself as looking so much older.  Knowing he didn’t like my hair was the start of my insecurity with him.

Since I wanted so badly to please him, I started growing my bangs, and as they got longer, I swooped them to the side with a barrette.  Just a simple barrette so they wouldn’t be in my eyes.  Sarge seemed to like the style, and I continued it so he’d be happy.

I also got a face-lift this summer…I mentioned it in a previous post.  I NEVER would have done this had I not been with Sarge.  He didn’t ask me to do this, but one afternoon while we were eating lunch at McDonalds. he said how his mom thought my neck looked old!  I truly had never paid any attention to my neck, but immediately, I was struck with how absolutely HORRIBLE and DISGUSTING it looked and I became extremely self-conscious about it.  So, I went to a consultation at a plastic surgeons, and he said I might as well get a small lift which would make both my face and my neck look younger.  So…while I was growing out my bangs and trying to please Sarge in that way, I also went under the knife…which by the way, put me back $7,000.  The recovery was so much more painful that I had anticipated;  having 22 staples and 22 stitches in your face isn’t fun!!

Sarge ‘left’ me a month after my face lift for an ex who he went on to cheat with.  When she left town, he was back with me, and then he left again a week later for good since she returned.  I was so upset.  I got this facelift…major surgery…and was STILL recovering, and he left me.  Just like that.  I cried for days thinking I spent the money and went through the pain for nothing.

But here’s what happened last night with my barrette.  EVERY night I think Sarge is going to knock on my door, profess his love, say (and really have it be true) that he’s miraculously changed, and that he simply can’t live without me.  Last night, as I was ‘waiting’ for that knock, I went into the bathroom and took a long look at myself.  I realized that my face does look ‘fresher’ now, and that I’M happy with it, despite the original reason for getting it.  I also decided that my long bangs were a pain.  I didn’t like them.  I didn’t want them.

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And having to wear a barrette all the time wasn’t me.  So, I took the barrette out and cut them.  And I realized that I need to do what I want now.

Never again will I do such things to look a certain way for someone.  Especially someone who doesn’t support me…appreciate me…or compliment me.  Last night I did what I wanted.  And I’m happy to say that I’m satisfied with the result.  Today, here at school, I’m barrette-free and feel confident about my face.  It’s a good feeling knowing that I’m the one that’s pleased.

This is what I know:  narcissists will say things in a way that make you feel so much ‘less-than’ you’ve ever felt before.  This is purposeful, because it’s just another way to manipulate you into thinking you need to do anything to please them.  But, they are never happy.  Never thankful.  Never supportive.  Period.

Professor K

 

Teacher!

As I was contemplating what to write today, I decided I wanted to NOT write about narcissistic abuse because I want to remember that I am so much more than that.  Yes, I’m experiencing Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome, but I’m still doing things in my life I’m proud of…like teaching!

My mom says that I played teacher from a very young age.  I would sit on the edge of the bathtub and read my sister books while she was ‘going’ and then she’d do the same with me!  I loved lining my stuffed animals up in front of my closet doors, and ‘teaching’ them all I was learning in class.  I loved school throughout all my years, and although being bullied during those years was a bit difficult to endure,  I never lost my love of being in a classroom and learning something new.

As early as the 4th grade, I knew I would teach!  My teacher, Mrs. Whitlock (we called her Mrs. Witchclock even though she was a fantastic teacher!) put me in the hallway with another student so I could help them with their multiplication tables.  I started helping her and showed her some short-cuts I knew, and at one point, she looked up at me and said “I get it!”  I was euphoric!!  To know I taught something to someone felt like such an accomplishment that I ran home to mom and screamed “I’m going to be a teacher!!”

My first teaching gig was at a YWCA preschool, and I was assigned to the 2 year old room.  Having absolutely NO experience whatsoever, and only being a junior in college, I was completely overwhelmed by these little monsters.  After just a day, I knew why these moms had signed their little darlings up for ‘class’ 3 days a week.  To get them out of their hair, and to put them in mine!  I really didn’t know what I was doing, but I did have fun with the kids and pretty much vowed at that time, I would only have 1 or 2 of my own!!

When I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree, I started teaching elementary and had a 5th/6th split class.  I was offered a Kindergarten or 2nd grade room, but I chose these pre-adolescents that no other applicant wanted (really!).  I was so scared standing in front of my class our first day of school.  Before that, I was always supervised or taught in a ‘lab’ on campus.  This was the real thing and I was petrified of doing something wrong.  I had remembered an education prof telling me to come in hard, and then lighten up so the kids would know I was serious from the start.  So, that’s what I did.  However, I must have been ‘meaner’ than I wanted, because my classroom was silent!  I finally told the kids that they could talk a bit and move around, and one young man raised his hand.  I asked him what he needed and he said this: “We’re all a little scared of you!”  I laughed on the inside, but said “Oh?” and proceeded to lighten up a bit!  After that, those were my kids and we had a ball!  I taught for 2 years, and we ice skated, and went to museums, and had pizza parties, and played games for lessons, etc.  Everyday was exciting to me, and watching my students learn and grow was amazing!

I quit teaching when my son was born, but when he turned 6 months, I decided to see if I could teach at the local community college.  Even though I didn’t have my Masters yet, they said I could!  So…at the age of 27, I walked into my first college class as an instructor…not a student.  This time, I was so shaky, I couldn’t read the attendance sheet I was holding!  Finally, I got in the groove, and really loved teaching at the college level.  I missed my kids, but liked the repartee and subject matter immensely.  I teach both Psychology and Sociology so the topics to present are almost endless!

While I was teaching a class or 2 a semester, I started night school for my Masters degree.  My son was 1 when I started and 3 when I graduated, and I did everything while he was asleep, so I could still be a stay-at-home mom…at least during the day!!

When my hubby and I moved back to our hometown, I applied at where I teach now, and was given another adjunct position.  After 4 years, a full-time position opened, and I got it!  I was ecstatic!  I climbed up the ladder and was granted tenure and then a professorship.  I’ve been at the college for 20 years now!!

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I’ve had super great students…and I’ve had very challenging students.  But what’s awesome about my job is that it’s different everyday and I form lasting relationships with my students!

Through the years, some funny things have happened.  Once, I had a student who barely came to class and pretty much slept through it when he was there.  I handed back tests one day, and he looked at his and said: “I can’t believe I got a fucking F on this test!!”  Now, I RARELY curse in front of my students, and I never say that word, but my reply was this:  “I can’t believe you didn’t fucking study!”  The class roared!!  And the student did much better from that moment on!

There was another student I had who had been in special ed throughout his pre-college years because of reading disabilities.  He was SO excited to be in university (I taught at our local university part-time for 5 years while still at the community college) and after my first lecture, he literally broke out in applause.  At first, I thought he was mocking me, but he was being sincere!!  A pattern was formed…after a lecture, he would always clap for me!  One day, I finished my lecture and he was silent.  In fact, he didn’t meet my eyes.  I said: “J…why didn’t you clap for me??”  And he said: “Professor K, that was NOT your best!!”  And he was right!!

Being an educator is my passion.  I’d never tell my dean, but I’d teach for free just out of the love for it.  (Of course, I’d have to win the lottery so I could survive!)!  There hasn’t been a day that’s gone by in my teaching career that I haven’t wanted to be at school.  It’s my safe place.  My haven.

I met Sarge at school, and he spent a lot of time in my office and classroom.  I’ve done some re-arranging and am really trying to actively fight any image of him there, because that’s my space.  Period.  He’s taken too much from me…and I won’t allow my teaching to be any part of that!!

This is what I know:  We all are so much more than any abuse we’ve suffered.  Yes, we are victims of somebody else’s mental health issues/disorders, but obviously, we’re survivors too!  Besides being a victim, I’m a mom, daughter, professor, friend, etc.  And I need to remember these parts of me and how I still have so much in my life to be thankful for.  I still miss Sarge.  I still want him.  I still love him.  But I know that a relationship with him is not possible.  But my relationships with my family, friends, and students is something to nurture, appreciate, and thank God for everyday.

Professor K

My ‘Cans’ and ‘Can’ts’

On days where you feel as if you can’t do anything right, I think it’s healthy to remind yourself of all the things you are able to do well, just so you can remember you are more than how you might be currently seeing yourself.  Here’s my list of what I know I can do a good job of…

  • I understand that I’m a child of God and trust that his plan for me is right.  I thank him for everyday and know I’ve been blessed beyond what I deserve.
  • I’m a good mama and raised an awesome son who I’m so freaking proud of I can’t stand it.  (Really…he’s that great!)
  • I’m a good daughter and I do the very best I can for all my family.
  • I’m a good friend.
  • I am, according to my students, a good professor (or teacher) – throughout my career, I’ve taught pre-school, elementary school, High School, and now college for 23 years…it’s what I feel I was put on this earth to do in my professional life and it’s truly my passion.
  • I am a loving doggie mommy…and Eddie and Dottie would agree to that if they could actually speak.
  • I can draw, paint, crochet, needlepoint, decoupage, knit, bead, loom, quilt, sew, and do just about any other craft out there (hence, my love of Pinterest).
  • I can decorate a house on a very limited budget and am a pro at finding great buys at antique shops and flea markets.
  • I can re-purpose furniture.
  • I read voraciously and learn something new everyday…I’m an excellent student.
  • I’m a people person…outgoing and friendly, and people say I’m fun to be around.
  • I can run a marathon and have completed 5.
  • I can hike all day without tiring.
  • I can ride any motorcycle out there.
  • I can take care of my own yard and have it look super.
  • I can ride a century (100 miles on a road bike)
  • I can make a mean meal of french toast and sausage.
  • I can make terrific chicken and noodles.
  • I can organize just about anything.
  • I’m a great cleaner…vacuuming, dusting, mopping, laundry, etc.
  • I’m a good writer…have published a book on marriage (oh, the irony) and have several children’s books written that I would like to publish one day.
  • I am a great public speaker…I’ve spoken in front of crowds of thousands, and LOVE it.

Now, here are the things I’m not good at:

  • Not having clear and appropriate boundaries which would help me in keeping out toxic people and not being so clingy with those I want for friends.
  • Not being able to say “NO” to anyone…especially people I care about.
  • Not being able to see people as bad…but only as good people who’ve been dealt a bad hand in life.
  • Not being able to step away from my emotions and look at things with more rationality.
  • Not being able to stop hurting myself just because I’m trying so hard to help another.
  • Not being able to understand when it’s time to let go.

Now, I can see my can list is longer than my can’t list, but the items on the can’t list are the critical ones I need to work on in order to get to a happy, healthy, loving place with myself.  Learning to build fences…saying NO…seeing people in the way they are and not how I WANT them to be…and putting myself first at times are going to be difficult things to turn around.  But I want too.  And I’m working on it everyday.

This is what I know:  Beyond what I wrote above, I also can’t make my narcissist healthy…I can’t make him love me with his true heart…I can’t make him treat me the way he did in the idealize stage…I can’t make him want to work on issues that could lead to changes for both of us…I can’t make him want me for me.  Not for supply.  But for me.  And to know that these ‘can’ts’ can never be fixed are horrible for me to contemplate.  Because on my list of can’s, I should have added this:  I can always have hope in any situation.

Professor K

 

Empaths…

When I saw this posted on https://afternarcissisticabuse.wordpress.com/, I started to cry and really wasn’t sure why this particular post hit me so hard.  It’s been a horrible journey but most things I can read without such an emotional reaction.

9-21_2017

After thinking about it, and reading it a few times over, I started realizing that the first sentence says it all.

For all of my life…ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been told I just ‘feel too hard.’  I take things too personally.  I try too hard.  I give too much.  That I’m simply just TOO SENSITIVE.  And for all of my life, I’ve tried to understand why it is these are considered such bad things in our society.

You see, I think empathy, caring, and unconditional love are GOOD things.  Those are the qualities I want in a person, and those are what I reflect back to others.

When I first started seeing Sarge socially, he had been in the Middle East for 3 deployments, couldn’t find a job, was struggling with PTSD, and began sharing things about his childhood that made me shudder.  I was starting to fall in love with him and feel great empathy for all he’d been through.  I felt so sad for what he’d been through in his childhood, and was awed by how he’d put his life on the line for months at a time to serve our country.  I could also understand why he developed PTSD based on the terrible things he saw during his deployments.  I pitied that fact that a vet couldn’t find a civilian job easily, and worried about him because he was thin and had no money to eat with.  In other words, I empathized with him.  I truly ‘felt’ his pain on so many levels, and believed if he had a woman who showed true caring and who loved him unconditionally (something he apparently hadn’t had as a child), things would turn around for him.  He’d get ‘happy’…start feeling secure…and be able to live a life that was fun, fulfilling, and less financially stressful.  At first, I felt I owed him some of this simply because he was a vet, and my respect for any vets’ service is immense.  After I fell in love with him, I WANTED to do these things for him because of that love.  And I was hoping, and based on our first few months together, assuming, he’d do the same for me.

No matter how much I study human behavior (as a professor), it’s still outside of my realm of comprehension HOW people just can’t love like I do.  Yes, I know much about nature and nurture…about early attachment experiences…about biological tendencies, etc. but to not feel this very basic emotion as deeply and completely as I do, is something I just can’t comprehend based on my own emotional capacity.

I feel like all my life I’ve looked for this elusive love.   As a little girl, I sought out the love of my dad, and often felt there were so many conditions tied to that love.  I felt I had to be a certain way and even then, it felt to me as if the love was meted out in a way I could never catch on to.  And because I didn’t understand the dynamic, I never knew what would make my dad pay loving attention to me and what wouldn’t.  I’m still struggling with that now.  Wanting more attention…more interaction…more recognition from him, but yet not getting it.  And then getting angry at myself for needing it still at the age of 50. I see him doing things with so many other people that I would love for him to do with me.  But, for some reason, I feel like there’s just not a ‘liking’ there on his side.  That spending time with me is more of an obligation, than an actual ‘want.’  And I’ve questioned for all these years what it is that I did wrong that made my own father not love me or seek out a relationship with me.

So, I tried to find it elsewhere.  And not just with men, but with friends as well.  Maybe because I am so hyper-sensitive (more on that in just a bit), I tend to cling!  I start to get a new friend, and I push and push.  I want so bad to be wanted by another, even just a peer, that my eagerness to ‘seal’ the friendship can be off-putting.  I know that.  But I can’t help it.

I’ve always done the same thing with the men in my life.  From the time of my first high school boyfriend to my latest ex-husband (!), I give too much.  My ex-hubby and I are still the best of friends, and he told me once that it was just too much for him.  That he couldn’t match my willingness to give.  That I made him feel as if he couldn’t catch up to where I was in terms of our marriage.  That at times, it was hard to accept everything I was giving and doing.  But to be honest, I just don’t know any other way.  And I’m getting a little tired of apologizing for it.

At first, I thought Sarge was going to be different.  I really did.  We clicked right away and everything he said and everything he did made me believe I had finally found the person who could accept me and my emotional offerings, and return them to me.  He made me feel loved.  Accepted.  And as if there were nothing wrong with the way I was.  Then, as is the story with all narcissists, what he loved and admired in me in the beginning, became the basis for his contempt, criticism, and at times, what felt like hatred as our relationship progressed.  And suddenly, everything wrong with the relationship was what was right for it in the beginning.  Yep…that’s not confusing.

You know, I realize I am hypersensitive.  So many people in my life have told me I need to let things roll of my back better.  I need to ‘calm down.’  I need to quit being so emotional.  Okey dokey.  I’ll just do that.  And at the same time, I’ll change my eye-color and breast size.  Because as much as those are a part of me, so is my emotional disposition. Also, people don’t realize how hard it is to be such an empath…to have such a high emotional sensitivity.  If I could change it, I would in a heartbeat.  It’s rough feeling so much everyday…being so ‘sensitive’ that one sentence or behavior can render you an emotional mess.  And then to be targeted by a narcissist, who is the polar opposite of myself, it’s really a form of hell.

How can one person feel so deeply, and another not feel anything at all?  Yes, I know these people have a personality disorder, which are a combination of genetic predispositions and environment, but don’t we all have a soul that is made in the image of God who is love?  Accepting the idea that someone CAN’T love, is as foreign to me as suggesting that God isn’t real. I simply can’t fathom the idea.  And to be brutally honest with you, I don’t want too.  I don’t want to live in a world where people can’t or don’t care…where people use you and discard you and never look back without any feeling of guilt or remorse.   Where people will look you in the eye, swear they are being truthful, and then tell you the most damaging lies you’ll ever hear.  Where people can make a fool of you and destroy a part of you and never know how it felt to be you for even just a second.  Where people can take the best of you…and make you feel as if it’s the worse.  Where you feel guilty for having been good.  And you wonder if you should ever risk doing that for another again.

Intellectually, I understand mental disorders.  Emotionally, I’m at a loss.

This is what I know: Narcissists don’t love you.  They won’t ever love you.  They won’t change, because they don’t see a need to be any different than what they are.  And knowing you’ve been lied too about the very thing that empaths desire most, which is love, hurts more than anything else I can think of.

Professor K

Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome

Yep.  Believe it or not, there is an affliction affecting people who are in narcissistic relationships and it’s eerie to realize how much you’ve been damaged by the narcissist without consciously knowing truly what was going on.  For me, when I began to read about this, I kept looking at the symptoms and saying “YES…YES…!”, that’s me!!  And then when I shared these with another friend who had been in such a relationship, he too was able to relate to each and every one of these characteristics.  (This is also referred to as Narcissistic Victim Syndrome…although the term ‘victim’ makes me feel as if I’m going to always be powerless against my narcissist…where as saying ‘Abuse Syndrome’ puts the blame on the narc because they are the ones inflicting the abuse on us.)

According to Athena Staik (https://blogs.psychcentral.com/relationships/2017/03/narcissistic-abuse-and-the-symptoms-of-narcissist-victim-syndrome/),  the abuse sufferers will do the following because of the narcs language and behavior:

  • Question their sanity – yep…there were many times this summer where I truly thought I was going crazy.  I still have those moments, particularly since I broke the no contact rule and am pretty much starting over from square one.  (By the way, he never responded to my heartfelt e-mail…why am I not surprised…and why am I so upset because of that?) 😦
  • Mistrust those who support them, i.e., family, parents – my mom and son tried to tell me about Sarge and their own observations of our relationship, but I didn’t listen.  I truly believed, and admittedly sometimes still do, that Sarge is misunderstood and my family just can’t see how great he can be.  Yikes.
  • Feel abandoned, as if only the narcissist cares – because our families get frustrated with us, they often pull away.  I know this happened to an extent with me, but I also pulled away because I didn’t want to hear what they had to say.  At times, I felt totally reliant on JUST Sarge…and no one else.
  • Feel worthless – oh yeah.  I’m overwhelmed by how quickly I went from confident Professor to feeling so worthless I was willing to put up with hurtful behavior that I truly don’t feel I would have tolerated from anyone else in a ‘normal’ relationship.  That’s scary to me.  How FAST my self-esteem plummeted.
  • Give themselves no credit for their hard work – check
  • Doubt their ability to think or make decisions – double check.  For some reason, I am second guessing everything!  I feel like since I was so blind to what was happening, I can’t trust my own judgement anymore.  And I’m worried that means it could happen again with someone else.
  • Disconnect from their own wants and needs – what are those?  I have needs and wants?  Really?  I’ll never forget this:  Sarge and I were in bed sleeping, and I awoke from a terrible dream.  I nudged him and asked for a hug.  He said this, “I gave you one yesterday…you don’t need one again.”  And you know what?  I never asked for another.
  • Give in to whatever the narcissist wants – I did NOT want to sign for Sarge’s motorcycle.  He had literally left me the night before.  I was at my schools graduation and we were texting funny messages throughout.  But when I got home, he and his stuff were gone!  Not a trace left.  He was moving out while texting me as if we were OK.  I was blindsided.  But, he came back the next day, and we looked at motorcycles.  I signed because I thought it would ‘bring him back’ and solidify OUR commitment to one another.  Didn’t work.  Lesson learned.
  • Devalue their contributions – check
  • Obsess on their faults or mistakes – I go back in my mind all the time, trying to figure out what I did wrong.  I’m JUST now starting to force myself to realize that no matter what I would or wouldn’t have done, he is and will always be a narcissist who will abuse his partner(s).  I have to remember…it’s not my fault.  That’s becoming my mantra.
  • Ignore or make excuses for narcissist’s actions – I’m still doing this!!  Just read my last post!  I STILL wonder if his PTSD and childhood are the reason for his behavior.  I still defend him to an extent.
  • Spin their wheels trying to gain narcissist’s favor – I can’t tell you (but if you’re reading this, you are probably relating because of your own experiences), but I did anything and everything I could to show Sarge I was in this for the long run.  In fact, I did things I can’t even write about.  That I’m ashamed of.  That I would never do again.  That make me feel humiliated when I look back on them.
  • Obsess on how to make the narcissist happy – I tried money, ‘things’, love, affection, trips, activities, food…and the list goes on.  ANYTHING I thought would work, I tried just because I wanted Sarge happy.  It didn’t matter if I wanted any of this…it mattered to me if he did.
  • Idealize the narcissist – yep.  And I still do.  I still think he’s a smart, funny, ‘good’ (DEEEEEEEEEEEP inside) man.  And I don’t know when, if ever, that will change.

Whew.  One person, who YOU love, can cause all this pain, confusion, and self-doubt.  And it doesn’t take long for it to happen.  Unfortunately, many people believe that some of these symptoms will be life-long.  I’m hoping that’s not the case.  But, as I think about where I am in terms of my self-worth, my perception of my own faults/mistakes, my conditioned (brainwashed?) behavior to focus only on the partner and not on myself, these things may be very difficult for me to reverse.  I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating:  I’ve had my heart broken a few times.  But narcissists break your spirit…they take a piece of your soul…they destroy you in a way that is different from any other relationship out there.

This is what I know:  narcs are predators and their prey suffer the consequences in so many ways.  Unfortunately, these ways aren’t recognized until they are so much a part of the relationship, they are virtually impossible to change at that point.  It’s as if a compulsion takes over…and we can’t help continuing our interaction which only serves to worsen our condition and a toxic cycle is then in place.  I want that cycle to stop.  Now.