Reality of Lies

“Waking Up” from Abuse

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Awakening to the reality that your entire life has been a lie is about the harshest wake up call you can get. Click To Tweet

Awakening to the reality that your entire life has been a lie is about the harshest wake up call you can get. I speak from experience. I’ve actually done it twice now.

The first time I “woke up” was when I finally realized I was the survivor of childhood narcissistic abuse. It wasn’t until I had my own kids that I started to understand how troubled my childhood really was. I had to stumble upon the terms “narcissistic personality disorder” and “narcissistic abuse” myself, and learn about them on my own. Let me tell you, though, the pieces finally began falling into place and I’m grateful they did. No matter how agonizing this journey is, has been, or will get, it’s worth the discomfort — however extreme. The alternative is way worse.

What makes narcissistic abuse extraordinarily treacherous is that it’s not easily detected. Not by its victims, at least not at first (or at all in many cases), and certainly not by people who have never experienced or witnessed it firsthand. Additionally, it changes the way you think about everything: the way you perceive the narcissist, the world, YOURSELF… When the victim is the child of the narcissist, the effects of the abuse are insidious. Those of us unlucky enough to be born to one or more parent with this horrible affliction are indoctrinated into the narcissist’s sick and twisted vision of reality from birth, taught that it’s “normal” and that if we have a negative reaction to their abuse, we are somehow defective (i.e. too sensitive, overly dramatic, manipulative, etc.), and everyone else would agree with them.

What makes narcissistic abuse extraordinarily treacherous is that it's not easily detected. Click To Tweet

We are left to pick up the pieces of our broken senses of self, along with whatever self-esteem and self-confidence we can manage to scrape together and hoard from whatever sources (not always healthy or positive ones) we can find, if any. We carry the burden of waking up alone to the arduous reality that we now likely must spend the rest of our lives recovering from the damage of a childhood filled with lies, betrayal, and oftentimes sadistic abuse at the hands of severely broken people who happened to be the ones charged with “loving” and “protecting” us. They were far too damaged to do either of those things, so they took their pain out on helpless children who didn’t ask to be born into the dysfunction in the first place.

What’s worse? Some never wake up from it at all. They go on believing they deserve to be mistreated, so that’s the treatment they continue to receive, as it is what they will accept and allow. They spend their lives just trying to be good enough and never feeling like they measure up. Or, they go on to perpetrate the same kind of abuse. That’s the tragic legacy of toxic families.

(Then, if you’re like me, you awaken a second time to realize you married into the same kind of toxicity, and you now must make a second escape. Or if you didn’t get married as a “child” to flee the abuse you grew up in the way I did, you recognize you have gone from one abusive partner to the next. This is not a coincidence, but more on that in a later post.) 

The more proficient the narcissist, the better they are at hiding their true nature from people... Click To Tweet

The more proficient the narcissist, the better they are at hiding their true nature from people they don’t have to spend a significant amount of time with. Moreover, they can be exceedingly charming, so other people can never quite believe how cruel they can be in actuality, because they’re always so pleasant to be around. Narcissists even know how to make you feel special and important (for a time, anyway). In fact, that’s how they lure you in.

Combine that with their astonishing ability to turn any situation around, somehow become the victim, and make the actual victim look like the “crazy one” (or even the abuser) to the casual observer, and it isn’t difficult to understand how these situations become convoluted, leaving the victims disbelieved and defenseless. Because of their charm, which often borders on charisma, narcissists tend to inspire a flock of loyal protectors/enablers (or “flying monkeys”) who defend them tooth and nail, regardless of the heinousness of their actions. They are convinced the narcissist is the real victim; therefore, consequently, justified in what they perceive as retaliation, so they blindly do their bidding. It is time this societal epidemic was illuminated for what it is. Victims and survivors deserve a voice, and that is why I will continue to write about my experiences and call out abusive behavior when I see it.

Special Note: This is not the post I had planned next, but then again, this was not the day I had planned either. Due to computer issues and lack of expertise or skill level to fix them myself, I had to take to my phone & write, rather than work on d6 Collab bugs, and this is what came out. I promise my next post in “My Story” will actually explain what narcissistic abuse is for those who don’t know, as I believe it is an especially crucial topic given the current cultural and political climate in this country. I hope to have it posted by the end of this week, barring any other technical difficulties. Thanks for your patience.✌ 

Dealing / Not Dealing

Avoiding Problems Doesn’t Make Them Go Away

Suddenly, the realization hit me. I have been inordinately happy for the past week. Perhaps happier than I have any right to be at this particular moment in my life… And that’s when it really hit me. I stopped dealing with it. Pretty much all of it, for the most part, since last week.

I plunged headlong into work with laser-like focus, and rarely allowed myself to veer off course, which gave me the opportunity to accomplish a pretty kick-ass redesign/overhaul on d6Collab.com. But, it also gave me a false sense of “normalcy” and the perfect excuse not to deal with anything. It stopped me from thinking about all the stress in my life, and I’m now finding that was some pretty cold comfort.

I know. What’s so wrong with that, right? I should take a break when and where I can get one, shouldn’t I? Well…to an extent. My happiness during this last week has been kind of a lie, though. I have successfully avoided processing my emotions and, what’s even worse is, I caught myself actively pushing them aside (shoving them down), because I can’t bear to feel the way I did a couple of weeks ago. I just can’t go there again. Nothing good can come of it.

I have to figure out how to let some of it siphon in without opening the floodgates completely, because I have to handle my business; however, I know I also have to handle my negative emotions before they start handling me again. They’re not just going to go away on their own. So, that’s what I’ll be working on personally this week (and for however long necessary thereafter): Overcoming my emotions, and not allowing them to overtake me.

Now that d6 Collab has relaunched, my development time has gone down pretty drastically (read: back to “normal”), so I can start to focus on other things again, including writing. I’m working on a few articles right now, all at various stages in the writing process, including one for “My Story” about narcissistic abuse, what it is, how to recognize it, and the effects it has on its victims. I hope to publish it on Tuesday or Wednesday, so stay tuned for that.

Thanks for hanging out with me while I try to figure out life, the universe, and everything. I know the answer is “42” but I’m still searching for the question. Until next time…

Much love, Fam.

Warning: This Blog is About to Get Really Real

Recovering from Abuse

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Since I first learned to write, I have been a writer. It has always been an incredibly cathartic and therapeutic passion of mine. Writing became a part of my job when I had to learn to write search engine optimized web copy more than 15 years ago. And about 10 years ago, I started writing how-to articles to help fledgling developers who were trying to teach themselves the ins and outs of web design and development, like I had done. (I swear this is leading someplace. Hang in there.) Then, just six months ago, I began branching out into other areas.

Now I’m ready to try my hand at the most terrifying (for me) form of writing there is… Autobiographical. I’m going to share my story with you. All of it. (Some of it as it happens.) Not all at once, of course, but buckle up because this ride will get twisty, turn-y, and mad wild at times. Promise. I’ve had the kinds of experiences you usually only see in bad Lifetime movies…you know, if that’s what you’re into.

I suppose I’m embarking on this endeavor, at this particular time, for many reasons. There is a surplus of pain in my personal life right now. Writing helps me make sense of it all and put it in perspective. In the interest of raw honesty, I’m very recently (we’re talking a week ago today) separated from my husband of 21 years (22 together in all), I’m trying to help our three children deal with their feelings while attempting to sort out my own, and my nephew is battling terminal cancer. (Due to these circumstances, I’m not about handling it well when other things go wrong at the moment.)

The other main reason I’m sharing this out loud, so to speak, is the same reason I started writing web related articles: to help others. That has always been the prevailing theme in my life. I just want to help others avoid some of the pain I’ve had to endure (in every aspect). But to do that this time, I finally have to stop protecting my abusers. All of them. Not only did they not protect me, but they inflicted actual harm upon me — on purpose. Why would I continue to keep their terrible secrets when I’m the one left to recover from the damage? I’m done being silenced by bullies who can’t handle the reality of their actions. It’s time I legitimately stood up for myself, so I can finally help others. You are witnessing my ascent from fearful survivor to fearless advocate. I’m ready.

If you are the survivor of any kind of abuse or in an abusive situation right now, I’m here to tell you it was/is not your fault. Please believe me. I spent my whole life thinking I was to blame. I tried to modify my behavior to change other people’s actions. It doesn’t work that way. It left me believing I couldn’t do anything right, regardless of what I did, because abusive people are always going to abuse others, no matter what. Nevertheless, it made me think I must be a worthless, burdensome pain in the ass. (Truth be told, I am still combating this feeling and probably will be for a long time.)

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I was never the problem, though. They were. The truth is, it never mattered what I did. Sometimes I got accused of things I wouldn’t ever think of doing, so I really was damned if I didn’t. From the day I was born, I was brainwashed to believe I was essentially the opposite of everything I really was and am. I was scapegoated as the constant problem, even though I was probably the best behaved child you would ever want to meet out of sheer self preservation. I was told who I was on a constant basis, and it was forever in direct conflict with whom I knew I really was deep down. I now know they were projecting personality traits and behavior patterns onto me that were not mine, most likely because they are incapable of seeing other people as dynamic and multidimensional, since they are barely two dimensional themselves. (If you can’t even fathom something, how are you going to recognize it when you see it?)

I’ve been fighting through the cognitive dissonance this insidious brand of abuse (more on that in a later post) creates in its victims for a few years now. I literally have to change the way my brain was wired to work from day one, as well as how I relate to myself and the world around me. It has been a profoundly lonely, exhausting, and often excruciating journey, but the most rewarding growth I’ve experienced so far. And I’m nowhere near done. (I never will be, as long as I’m alive.)

I recently fully accepted that my husband is also suffering, but in a different way, and he has no control over it whatsoever. He was raised in the same type of toxic household, but he went the other way with it. As I mentioned above, I internalized the abuse because I really thought I deserved it, and I tried to change my behavior to make it stop as a result. He externalized it, identified with his abusers, and learned to use the same tactics as a weapon against anyone who hurts him, no matter their true intentions.

I had to stop denying that he is also emotionally and psychologically abusive. Not only that, but he has been actively trying to hold me back, because he’s threatened by me, and jealous of some of the hard-fought successes that I’ve had to build my self-esteem and confidence up from ground zero to achieve in the first place. (He actually copped to that the other day.) I’ve been telling him I’d have to leave if he didn’t change the way he treated me for years, and I finally had to follow through, as much as I didn’t want to. He was the last lie that I had to let go of, because I can’t heal from the abuse when it is still happening at the hands of yet another person who is supposed to love me. I literally have a lifetime (so far) of abuse to recover from, and I won’t put it off any longer. I can’t.

He is also aware that he is abusive…I think. He has admitted it on numerous occasions, but when “the bastard” comes out and takes over, he’s “only defending himself” against my vicious truths. He can’t stop doing it on his own. He says he wants to change, and I want so badly to believe him, but I know he needs help. I love him with all my heart, and I want to help him, but I’m not qualified. I have to love my kids and myself more right now. I have a responsibility to teach them how to treat others, how to expect to be treated by others, how to set healthy boundaries, and how to stand up for themselves when someone crosses their boundaries or mistreats them. (I have a lot of lost time to make up for in this regard.) I have an obligation to set and keep those boundaries in place for my own health and well-being. I can’t save him, so I have to save myself.

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Much more to come…