Shahida Arabi

I have mad love for Shahida Arabi.  She is wise beyond her years and beautiful on the inside and out.  Her knowledge of narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths is formidable. She writes a blog, Self Care Haven and has written two books, both of which I have read:

Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself

The Smart Girl’s Guide to Self Care

shadisss

I was reading one of her articles, The Secret Language of Narcissists, Socipaths and Psychopaths, on The Minds Journal and was struck by this quote:

“Their manipulation is psychological and emotionally devastating – and very dangerous, especially considering the brain circuitry for emotional and physical pain are one and the same. What a victim feels when they are punched in the stomach can be similar to the pain a victim feels when they are verbally and emotionally abused, and the effects of narcissistic abuse can be crippling and long-lasting, even resulting in symptoms of PTSD or Complex PTSD.”

I knew this but having it described in this way kind of stopped me in my tracks.  What she is saying is true.  Emotional and physical pain are one and the same.  Narcissists are clever by hurting us in ways that cannot be seen, giving them freedom to cut us deeper and deeper with no legal repercussions.  Had this pain been inflicted in a way you could see, they would unequivocably be culpable and subject to criminal charges.

I have diagnosed Complex PTSD.  Not ever in my life have I experienced something so scary and debilitating.  I have had many days where the only thing that has gotten me through is emergency care, being held tightly by those that love me the best, tender forehead kisses and the wisdom of authors like Arabi who empathize and advocate for those of us who are gasping for air.

How is James not held accountable for this devastation he knowingly inflicted?  In December of 2014, the world was mine to embrace.  I was happy, light and believed in the goodness of others.  I am none of those things right now.

When I think of all the times I said to James, “Are you okay?”  “Is everything okay?” “Are you mad at me?”  And the always present, “I’m so sorry.”  Guess what James? I do not care how you are anymore.  Not at all.  Nor am I sorry for anything other than meeting you that cold night in January of 2015.  I did nothing but try to love you and endure your crazymaking.

I am so grateful for having stumbled upon very smart people who are much further along in the healing process.  Arabi is one of them and I love her passion for educating others on all aspects of narcissistic abuse.  She is hope embodied and makes me feel less alone in this mess that James crafted and carried out with deliberation.  She also confirms what every professional in this field recognizes.  That this abuse is done with awareness and intent by the abuser.

In her own words:

“Narcissists and sociopaths are aware of their actions and the impact of their actions – we know this not only from the voices of narcissists and sociopaths themselves but also in the way that they smear their victims and the various methods they use to escape accountability such as gaslighting and projection.  You cannot plot to blame someone else for your actions if you are not aware of your own blame and are attempting to escape exposure.  You also cannot switch your mask rapidly from the true self to the false self when there is a witness if your behavior is not under your conscious control.”

A Lot Like Love

promote

I’ve seen the quote, “Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate” posted online quite a bit lately in reference to, of all things, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt getting divorced.  The idea being that we, as a country, are not being empathetic to a couple experiencing a divorce and should be tender to their plight.

Do you need me to hand you a tissue?  Are you okay with the news?  Getting through it as best you can?  Shall I hold your hand?  Make you a cup of soothing chamomile?  Will it be difficult for you to sleep tonight?  Shall I leave the light on?  Tuck you in bed?  Read you a story with a happy ending?

As someone who has been through the big “D” I can say without hesitation that divorce is not to be taken lightly and is devastating to all involved. I don’t think any of us go down the aisle thinking that we aren’t headed for something that will last a lifetime.  And I have a huge heart for children, mine included, who wanted that happily ever after and an intact family.  But please. Angelina and Brad?  I don’t fucking care.

I get the idea of choosing love over hate whenever possible.  I actually believe in that with my whole heart.  But I’m here to tell you that there are absolutely some things that we can hate. Sometimes, hate is the way.   With October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  And with my recent escape from the bottom of the rabbit hole of abuse, I’m pretty much overflowing with hate.  Here goes:

  • I hate domestic violence.
  • I hate that I met someone who abused, controlled and manipulated me to fill his empty bucket of a soul.
  • I hate that I am asked “Why didn’t you just leave.”
  • I hate that I am seen as weak or uneducated or both.
  • I hate that I had to spend thousands and thousands of dollars to keep a vile and abusive boyfriend away from me, my home, my small business and my children.
  • I hate that I am held to a standard in a courtroom that my abuser is not.
  • I hate that my abuser is able to continue to live his life free of any consequences.

I will always promote educating others on the ugliness and trickiness that is domestic violence.  I will promote it with honesty and love and, when necessary, hate.  If that’s offensive to you, I don’t really know how to help you feel better about it.   If you are offended by my hate, you were probably a lot like me, quite frankly, before I was abused and ignorant to what abuse and an abuser look like.  It’s okay.  I don’t hate you for it.  I appreciate that you are taking the time to educate yourself or at least see things differently because of my experience.  And that, my friend, is a lot like love.

Muck

When I write about what happened with James, the muddy muck of abuse that’s been lying on the bottom of the pond in my head gets stirred up.   My new mantra is “fight the muck.”  Or, if I’m in a particularly difficult or feisty kind of place, it’s “fuck the muck.” To fight it?   I must stir it up and trudge right through it, there is no other way.  When I stir and trudge, I can figure out how I got stuck in the muck, why I stayed in the muck and how I can get out.

muckky

I think figuring out the muck is a long process.  Today?  I feel warm and fuzzy and loved. Not in an artificial way.  Just genuinely content in this moment.  Wednesday night?  I got two hours of sleep.  I really do have to face each day deliberately.  By that I mean, have a plan for practicing self-care throughout the day.  It helps me to stay focused.  But in some ways, I think it makes me avoid the trauma.  So when I encounter a trigger?  I’m stuck all over again.  That is the nature of PTSD and that is the nature of recovering from abuse.

Right now I am comfortable leaving what happened at the bottom of the pond.  I don’t want to stir it up.  I don’t want to talk to my therapists or friends or random people at the Jewel (just kidding, I am so not that person) about James or specific things that occured that were twisted and vile.  If I leave them in the muck, I can float on the top. Unfortunately, the ick of the muck gets stirred up in ways that are unpredictable and I sink.  I need to figure out a way to talk through some of this.  Today?  I can’t do that. Tomorrow?  Pretty unlikely.   Yes, I write about it here but I don’t say the hard things that need to be said.

This weekend, my son turns 17.  Knowing that I am raising a child who loves me, loves his sister, thinks of women as his equal and would never intentionally hurt anyone?  That helps me.  It helps because he is a genuinely good person and full of love.  And he will pass that along to those he encounters throughout his life.  He will never intentionally confuse, control, maniuplate or pathologically lie to the people he loves.  He is nothing at all like James.  For me, that is healing because Charlie is part of me, too.  And his love is part of my love.  Love that we actually feel and not manufacture through a false self.  I have to hold onto things like this.  Because these are the things that matter.  And these are the things that help me get out of the muck.

 

 

 

Dear James, Part 8

Dear James,

I would like you to look at this picture.  This is little me.

littlejenny

It’s hard for me to imagine that the little blonde pig-tailed me would ever bear witness to, let alone experience, domestic violence by someone who initially showered her with so much love and kindness.

I sometimes think that what you saw in me was this little girl.  Someone sweet and kind and vulnerable.  Someone who could bend to your insatiable need to fill your empty bucket.  That’s pretty fucking cruel, don’t you think?

That little girl?   She was enough even as that five year-old.  As the 43 year-old that you met?  She was still enough.  I am enough.  I didn’t need to change who I was, however hard I tried, when we were together.  And I don’t need to change who I am now.  I’m a good person.  The fact that you chose not to see that is not my problem.  It was never my problem.  It is your problem,  James.  All you.

You once said that a friend of mine didn’t understand what was happening between us because she was not hearing your side of the story, only mine.  Guess what?  She didn’t need to hear your side of the story.  It was full of deceit and control and sociopathy.  You don’t get the courtesy of “your side of the story” when it comes to what you did to me unless it’s in the courtroom.  Because I was there.  I was not disordered and I know what you did to me.  All of it.

Have you ever listened to the John Butler Trio?  “How You Sleep at Night” is pretty great. Here are the lyrics I love the best.  They remind me of you.

You left your mark on me
I’ll leave my mark on you
This war we fight you’ll see
Scorches all but the truth
Suffer now will the fool
and I’ve been wonderin’
How long you think this lasts

Do I dare to believe in something more
Yes, do I dare to believe in something more
Than what you’re telling me
‘Cause all I hear is lies
Dressed up in fantasies
Travelling in disguise
So Mr. won’t you please
Look me in the eyes
Tell me how you sleep at night

You Were a Kindness

I watched a movie with one of my besties last night.  It made me laugh.  It made me cry.  And it had a really good soundtrack.  She likes to say my taste in music is Sad Pop.  I don’t know that I agree with her on that one, but I suppose she may be onto something.

After the movie, I went straight to Spotify to find a few songs from the movie.  And as I listened to one song, Spotify suggested others and I just got sucked in as I always do.  A few hours later, my mind was walking through a forest of songs that left me feeling lonely, less lonely, understood, confused and all the other wonderful things that music does for me.

One song, “You Were a Kindness” by The National stopped me in my tracks.  It’s painful and it’s beautiful. The song asks the question that I’ve been asking myself since long before I ever walked away.  “Why would you shatter someone like me?”

shatter2

I am able to answer that question in a sterile kind of fashion, breaking down the pathology of someone who is wired like James.  But that is not the answer I am looking for in all of this.  Not at all.  That’s super that James’ personality creates a need to idealize, devalue and discard me.  And yes, a codpedenent, vulnerable, genuinely kind girl like me is perfect supply. I get all that of that crap.  I understand it too much and in ways that I don’t think I’ll ever properly convey.

I wonder if the question I really want answered is “Why can’t you just make this right?” James is so smart.  Can’t he fix what he’s done?  Even if he can’t fix himself, can’t he make something right in all of this mess.  I believe that I would sleep a little better if he could just tell me that he’s sorry.

I know I’ve said that I have to give up on hoping for an apology that I will never get. But it’s really hard.  You have no idea.  If I can begin to feel tenderness and forgiveness for him?  Why can’t he be sorry?  Because let’s look at this correctly.  I shouldn’t feel tender or forgiving.  I really shouldn’t.  And I don’t want to if I’m being really honest here. I want to stay angry.  But I cannot.

James?  I was a kindness.  I was careful around you, trying to navigate my way through your maze of abuse.  Can’t you make this right?

You Were a Kindess

I was in a fog, I didn’t notice everything 
Was coming all apart inside of me
There wasn’t anyway for anyone to settle in
You made a slow disaster out of me

There’s a radiant darkness upon us
But I don’t want you to worry
I was careful but nothing is harmless
Baby you better hurry

You were a kindness when I was a stranger
But I wouldn’t ask for what I didn’t need
Everything’s weird and we’re always in danger
Why would you shatter somebody like me

It doesn’t work that way
Wanting not to want you won’t make it so
It doesn’t work that way
Don’t leave me here alone

I’ll do what I can to be a confident wreck
Can’t feel this way forever I mean
There wasn’t anyway for anyone to settle in
You made a slow disaster out of me

Q & A with Jenny

Have you ever been in other abusive relationships?

No.  Never.

Did you date other people before you met James?

I went on many dates but didn’t exclusively date anyone before meeting James.

How can you love someone who has hurt you?

I’ve struggled with this question so much and talked a bit about it in my last entry.  I haven’t yet determined whether I loved any part of the real James or if I only loved his false self. I’m really not sure.  This part still has me very confused.

Why are you writing this blog?

I am writing this blog for two reasons.  The first is to heal.  The second is for anyone who may google phrases like coercive control, emotional abuse, sexual abuse or narcissistic abuse to know that they are not alone.  I want them to understand that there is a reason they found my blog.  And that reason is because they are in the grips of someone who is at the very least controlling and at the very most is a psychopath. I want them to know that there is hope.  I want them to get the help they need to safely extract themself from their abuser.

Has James gotten help?

I think it’s possible that he has sought general therapy.  Unfortunately, abusers are experts in duping their therapists by presenting their false self and presenting themselves as victims.  In order for James to really get help, he would need to enroll in therapy geared specifically to someone who is abusive.

Does James know that you are writing this blog?

Yes.

What are you going to do about that?

That’s a good question and one that I don’t know that I’ll address in this forum.

Do you ever think you may be wrong about him?  

In the beginning, yes.  Beginning meaning the first maybe four or five months of our relationship.  But as I saw a pattern develop along with escalating behavior, I knew it was much more than that.  As many nights as I cried myself to sleep wishing I was wrong, I know that I am not.  There are also specific reasons why I know I am not wrong that I can’t talk about.

Is he abusing other women now?

I don’t know who he has or is dating.  My best guess is that he dated someone shortly after we broke up and that whatever relationship that was has ended by now.  I’m basing that on my gut and what I know about sociopathic men.  I  believe he has hurt every woman he’s dated and will continue to abuse.   I believe that as he gets older, the mask is harder to maintain.  But I suppose it’s possible that for a relationship that provides him with a high level of supply that he can maintain the facade of normalcy for longer.  So maybe 3.5 weeks?  Ha.

How long will you keep writing this blog?

For as long as it takes.  I don’t see domestic violence becoming any less of an issue for women.  I have a voice and I am going to use it.

Missing

One of the most often asked questions on forums about sociopathic/narcissistic abuse (and one that I thought about myself so often) is, “Does he miss me?”

missmeeee

Before I answer, I want to explain why we ask this question.  It seems very off to someone who has never experienced abuse.  I know a well-meaning friend asked me, “Why do you even care if he misses you?  He treated you like shit.”  She was right, I shouldn’t have cared and he did treat me like shit.  But here’s the rub: someone who is abusive gives their victim (in the midst, I do believe we are victims and before we are victims we are targets, but that’s a discussion for another day) just enough kindness, affection, attention or love to sustain them through the next cycle of abuse that is it come.

We as the victims get stuck in that cycle.  We are not dumb.  We don’t enjoy the abuse.  We aren’t weak.  We aren’t damaged.  We aren’t crazy.  What we are is a mix of slightly hopeful and abundantly confused by what is happening to us.  As I’ve mentioned in the past this is intentional on the part of the abuser.

When we are confused, we don’t know what to expect from moment to moment.  And when we are hopeful, we don’t know what to make of the contempt. After all, didn’t he just tell us he’s never loved anyone like this before? That we are his soulmate?  That he feels like he’s known us forever?  That his life began the moment we met?  That he can’t wait to get married/plan an expensive trip/move in together?

By keeping us confused and hopeful, our abuser succeeds in controlling, manipulating and devaluing us.  All of these things are his goal in abusing us but not his greatest goal.  What is his greatest goal?  Discarding us.  Because that’s such a huge topic, I want to talk about it another day.  But you get the idea and can see where I’m going as far as the original question is concerned.

“Does he miss me?”  No sweet girl.  He does not.  He cannot miss someone he never respected, valued or loved.  As hard as this is to hear, it is the truth. A relationship with a narcissist is built upon lies.  Lies that we were told and the lie that is our abuser.

We want to hear that he thinks about us, that he looks for us online,  that he wants to contact us but is too afraid we won’t accept him back and the list goes on and on.  This isn’t at all what he’s thinking or doing.  What he’s thinking, well, I have absolutely no idea.  But what he’s doing is searching frantically (likely via online dating sites) for new supply because that is always his goal.

This is so hard for us to believe, but it’s true.  He is no different than an alcoholic needing a drink.  His life is about collecting the parts of us he admires the most to feed upon in order to regulate his self-worth and his self-esteem.  Without feeding on us, he feels a panic and void greater than the ocean itself.

What we fell in love with?  It was his false self and it wasn’t real. But we are real.  Our love, however misguided, was real as is the pain we endure when we accept the truth of what wasn’t.

We cannot get stuck here.  It’s okay that it was a lie.  How could we have known that monsters aren’t just in our imaginations or under the bed at night?  Monsters have advanced degrees, hold good jobs, have children and give the illusion to others that they are warm and kind and full of hope and love.  But those traits?  They belong to us and are not his for the taking any longer.