Releasing the past in order to find myself

Monday, January 28, 2013

Name that Feeling

What do you do when you don't know what the hell your feeling?

This past month (two months, year, 20 years) have been rough.  Since Thanksgiving, I've been treading water.  Not really knowing what the hell to do now.

Find NPD.  Check.
Read about, study, learn about NPD.  Check.
Share stories, blog, feel validated.  Check.

Start believing that, yes, shit was/is fucked up.  Check.

Put NSis on notice.  Check.

Feel angry, feel sad, feel hurt, mourn, grieve.  Feel a bit of happy.  But just a bit.  Feel relieved, feel sad, feel depressed, feel...what?

I've been sad again.  Sad accepting the reality of what my life is.  And that, no matter what, I can't unlearn that.  Sad watching a small Christmas.  Sad seeing my kids not surrounded by family.  Sad that, it won't be different.

Unless I suck it up and let it go.  Unless I just go back to the way things were.

Anger comes up as I remember how shitty it was then.  Whatever it is now, it's better than it was then.  I'm no longer seething, simmering, boiling just beneath the surface.

I have days when I blame myself.  I have days were I feel sorry for myself, because I'm surrounded by fucking narcs.  All the fucking way around.  It's hard not to somehow think you are the problem when you are surrounded by narcs.  Am I imagining it?  Am I wrong?  How can I just be this unlucky?

Some days I think that it wouldn't be so bad.  To just go along to get along.  Except somewhere, I know that would be selling my soul to the devil.  I have caught that glimpse of light outside the cave.  I'm terrified, I'm lonely, I'm scared of myself, but I can't go back to the cave.  I want, for the first time in my life, to be me and be OK with that.

Some days I wonder why I'm not happier?  Why going through all of this hasn't yet brought me peace?  Why am I still struggling and sad and depressed?

I'm not hopeless.  But sometimes, now, I wonder what the point of all this is.  Maybe I'm being too existential.  Maybe pondering the point of the universe is going to hurt.  But sometimes I wonder why I can't just immerse myself in the wonder that is my life.  I have two beautiful kids, a husband that loves me and is willing to grow with me (and put up with me.), a lovely home, a comfortable standard of living.  Why do I sometimes crave that "drama" high that my mother and sister need?

It's a lot of things.  Deciding to never have another baby.  Realizing the "milestones" from here on out (and I'm 35!) get spaced out dramatically.  Realizing that life is a lot of repetition.  And I need to enjoy that and find the beauty in that.  It's the weather, and the cold, and the many days spent alone doing laundry and vacuuming.

It's the friends who haven't called.  It's the sister playing mind games.  It's the friendships, new and untested, that I second guess and feel stupid in.  It's feeling like the new kid in school and really not knowing how to join the playground games.  It's wanting to feel relevant (not important) somewhere.  To matter.  To not know the rejection of four separate families.  FOUR.  How does someone just not fucking fit in anywhere?

It's the loneliness in knowing that few people really understand you.  That in a hard time, I stood alone.  That I'm only good in service to others.

It's wondering if the blogging does more damage than good, as I sit stewing in NPD land.

It's wondering what the hell do I do next?   How do I make friends?  How do I get a life?  How do I learn to appreciate a life that everyone else has taken for granted?  It's feeling this swirling of so many feelings, like the floodgate has been opened and I can't make heads or tails of what I'm feeling.  It's feeling useless but more peaceful than I've ever felt.  It's feeling small and big at the same time.  Resigned but not hopeless.  Disappointed but not unhappy.

It's wondering how to be a good parent.  How to overcome these god damn fleas.  How to allow others to love me.  How not to be afraid.

Letting go of the control, letting go of the anxiety.  Knowing the line between protecting my kids and being overprotective.

It's not having more than a five hour break from being a mom (no dinners out, no weekends away, no time alone) for five years because I have no one I can trust with my kids.  Feeling that my husband must be resentful of that.  Feeling that it's not good for my kids to only be with me.   But how do I leave them with narcs?

I'm just really, really confused.  Where the hell do I go from here?  I feel like I'm treading water.  I feel stuck and lost and alone.


  1. I believe there are answers to all of the questions you ask here. I also believe that you will find them and you will find peace and happiness. You sound tired and weary and sad, but also hopeful and I know there is still plenty of fight left in you. You will find your way.

    1. I am tired and weary and sad. This shit is hard. And complicated.

  2. I hated the beginning process: You now know for sure something isn't right. Now, what? Keep being honest with yourself. Keep taking another step in the direction you want to go. Know that it will never be easy, but it is manageable. Allow yourself to learn and make mistakes and change. As you change, you'll find people with whom you fit in. The problem right now is you're making room for a healthier life. Just like cleaning out an overcrowded closet: It's messy and you have to move things around and give things away. Give yourself time to work through. You are not alone. However, you are the only one who is qualified to change you.

    1. Interestingly, I've had compulsions to clean the real closets in my house!
      Thanks for your thoughts Judy.

  3. I get like that too, feeling like I'm treading water and my energy is running out. I've got no answers for you except to say those times seem to run their course and things get better at least for a time.

    1. Well, as long as it gets better at some point. I'm just not very patient some times.

  4. I haven't ANY advice. I am younger than you (27), unmarried and childless. While people may think I have more freedom in that, I also lack the grounding.
    But, I get SO SO much of what you described. Such as relevant, and not inportant. And the issue of blogging making it worse (am I opening myself up for judgement and hurt? Am I opening old wounds? Etc), Feeling a urge for drama, so its at least something. It's bullshit! The whole lot. We're here for a reason, to feel out a direction from others experiences and advice, whether we take it or not. Which, I think is what we've been missing, shouldn't our parents given this?
    Anyhow, long story short (ish), my sister hasn't seen my father after his crap over Xmas, the kids didn't hear from him (HIS choice) nor received his gifts. They haven't noticed a thing. My brother has never met his maternal grandmother or our maternal family. He hasn't the inclination either, sure he's heard how we'be been treated (I am someone he looks up to, which saddens me. That makes his very faithful of me without question - even sadder), but in his words "they've never shown any interest in me, so I'm not going to think of them as my family. I know my family".
    But as I said, I'm behind you, so don't know if that's correct or any help.
    I hope you feel better really soon.

  5. I think what is so hard about this is that it's almost like we have to "learn" now the things we should have learned growing up, that in their efforts to hold us back so to not outshine them, our mothers kept us in a state of permanent "arrested development", they didn't let us join in life but kept us looking in as if from a glass cabinet. What is also hard is that only we can decide what the next step is, and since we were never allowed this kind of freedom before, it does feel a bit overwhelming to tell the truth. For me it also feels like having a garden and being stuck pulling weeds, the weeds need to be pulled and I need to learn about them so I can spot them early but if I'm going to have any joy out of the garden I need to start planting flowers. In a way pulling weeds is easier because you don't have to decide much: just pull whereas planting involves more thinking and taking risks. I think Judy's illustration of the overcrowded closet is very good, every project has this bit in the middle where you feel like "you're treading in water" but we must give ourselves time even though it feels so hard at the moment. Let's keep swimming and see where we end up, anything will be ten million times better than the "cave".

    1. Thanks Kara. I do think that sometimes I'm struggling to relearn things I should know by now.

      Your analogy of the garden is very good. I feel like I've cleared out a lot of the weeds, and I just have this big, bare plot of land.

  6. Jessie,
    I'm in the exact same spot - almost word for word...even down to spending time w/DH. We even talked about that this past weekend - Oh what I would give for even a 2 hour "date"... not even 2 hours - hell, just enough time to go out to dinner by ourselves...what's that, maybe 45 minutes? Ahh, a girl can dream :-) Our only time alone is during LO's naps and bedtime, and that's usually spent trying to clean up our disaster of a house. No babysitters, no family in sight around here.

    My blog's been quiet for quite some time b/c I've been in survival mode. I can't find the words for whatever the hell I'm feeling either. Just feeling pulled in every direction. Mommy do this. Snuggle. Bath. Laundry. Dishes. WORK (blah) Not just no time for a date...No furniture shopping/painting walls/decorating our new house/having fun go on that list too. Cool concert coming through town? Can't go. Tickets to a football game? Still nope. All my awesome craft ideas? On hold. No time. Add some winter-cabin fever to the mix. I'm going stir-crazy. I finally realized yesterday that all I can do for now is tread water. It's not what I want to be doing but maybe it's what I need to do, for now. But I'm not gonna like it!

    DH got me a Mumford & Son's CD for Christmas. I love, love, love it, except sometimes listening to it makes me burst into tears....but anyways. Your post makes me think of some of their lyrics:
    "Plant yourself with good seeds, don't cover yourself with thistle and weeds" -Thistle & Weeds
    "So come out of your cave walking on your hands and see the world hanging upside down" -The Cave

    Here's to walking on our hands. It's scary as hell out here, but we can't go back into the cave now. Dave Matthews says it best: "Make the best of what's around." Although I think sometimes that's easier said than done

    1. Sounds like you and I have similar musical taste ;). I love the lyrics you've shared. I need to get that CD.
      I think I have a good case of the winter blues too. Just stir crazy, locked in the house 24-7 with two energetic kids (it's been so damn cold that I can't even take them outside).
      I'm sorry that you can't get a moment to yourself; but selfishly, it's nice to know someone else is out there going through the same thing.
      The think is, I could have my FOO and in-laws watch my kids. But it comes at such a cost. My in-laws would stay all weekend (which is difficult itself, without all the extra work of clean sheets, meals, etc.) And I worry about the effects of the narcs on my kids. And it's hard to explain to all those "by-standers" who rag on me for not dumping the kids with the grandparents. The just don't get the overwhelming anxiety I feel every time I think about leaving my kids with them.
      And babysitter? Damn. When did they start charging an arm and a leg to watch kids? Yikes!

  7. I feel the same way. Not that I'd wish this frustration on anyone, but it's nice to know I'm not alone over here!

  8. I don't have advice since I am still struggling to keep my head above water. I will share what has come my way. A quote that I keep on my desktop shows a climber just on the edge of coming over the top of an ice formation. The message, too often people quit when they don't realize the end is so close. I spent 7 years of no dates with DH because we couldn't find a trusted babysitter. We moved far from parents and didn't have much luck with babysitters we hired. Counseling for me for 10 years. About 6 years into it my counselor described what a teenager was. I nodded my head and agreed with everything he said. I watched all 6 of my kids go through their teenager years. Then he blew me out of the water, "Did you ever do this?" O shit damnit all to hell. Do you mean to tell me I am going to be a 50 year old teenager? He didn't say a word but his smug look spoke volumes. Being an old teenager really sucks. I am taking classes at our school district on what to expect of teenagers. Learning a lot about what I should have learned. Over and over again they emphasize that trauma, abuse, and illness can arrest development. I am a 57 year old teenager. I am learning. I am getting friends that know me, not the front I was expected to live but the real me. I am experiencing things I never dreamed would be possible for me. I hope you give yourself enough time to come up over the edge of the iceberg. Hugs.

  9. You seem to be in a place I am all too familiar with. "No Woman's Land". (BTW, my Christmas was the same.."sigh"
    Don't concern yourself too much that you might be craving "Drama". You might just be yearning for healthy "engagement" in life. Oftentimes, just to feel the vital force of life moving through us we push the waters. Just so we can experience the feeling of being fully alive, engaged or involved. Winter of course, is the worst time for this...especially post-holidays. I love the garden metaphors...think of spring and renewal. This will pass.
    My children are in the 30's range.....and now it's my 91 year old NMIL that lives with us. There was no break between responsible courses for us. But I am hopeful for still yet another garden to plant...and hopefully time with my DH, as we too can't seem to manage a dinner out together once a month. We have begun healthy open dialogue about this touchy topic, as my prognosis is questionable, and what we have what we get. That is true for us all. Life holds no guarantees. So make every moment you have, your own. Don't let their unhealthiness take away your moments.
    As for us, we are going to look into an affordable service to provide care once a week for my DH and I can remember who we are to one another. "Time is of the essence" All my good wishes.
    My NMIL might live to 100...who knows....if we don't make time together won't happen. It's similar to having a toddler....setting things on fire...flooding the bathrooms..laundry room..opening the door to strangers etc. and of course she still knows how to manipulate! No one in either family is healthy enough or trustworthy enough to help.
    To top matters off my grown sons (from first marriage) are exhibiting NARC behavior and sudden hostility toward me (mostly because I don't allow my NARC daughters in law to run my life)I understand it's an underlying need to be accepted by the father who abandoned them in their teens, but it doesn't make it any less abusive. I feel as though I'm reliving the insanity of my first marriage "my way or the highway" mentality with them.
    Clean your closets..that's what I's a left gives the right brain a chance to be creative while completing a left brain agenda. Put some music on and DANCE while you clean. Find your Joy. You deserve it, even in the midst of the mundane...

  10. Sometimes I think it's the empty spaces left after you remove the narcs. After you remove ALL of them, when you find out just how many there really are - there are SO MANY holes of emptiness left. We never learned how to fill those spots with good, positive productive things - we only knew to be the servants of the narcs. How to fill our lives and our time with panic and disorder and self doubt.

    Now what? indeed.

    There isn't any easy answer. The only way is to be still. To wait until the emptiness eventually fills up with your regular, wonderful, mundane life. Those spots will fill up with new GOOD people, with soccer practice or gardens or bike rides in the sun. They fill slowly, but the DO FILL UP.

    The impulse to go back, to have drama because it's all we've ever known, that is such a STRONG impulse, isn't it? To sit with peace is odd. It's an unfamiliar shape. It's a new pair of jeans instead of sweat pants. We have to get used to the SHAPE and FEEL of peace. The lack of noise, the lack of EMERGENCY! URGENT! RUSH! that was always there.

    Be still. Pet yourself. Explore that weird empty shape, like you would do with your tongue when you would lose a tooth - remember? Remember the weird feeling, the wonder, the not being able to leave it alone? And then, one day, meh. What hole?

    It will happen. It WILL happen. I promise.

    1. Gladys, I'm re-reading this post and some comments after a new comment. You really gave me some great advice here, and I hope that others who stumble upon this page read what you (and many of the people above you) have written and take it to heart.

  11. Thanks to you all. This has really helped me.
    Gladys thank you for saying: sit with the peace. I believe your promise. I started to fill those empty places a year ago in earnest. I had to unhook from people, things, addiction, shoulds, - I had to unhook from everything and start with nothing as a quivering wreck. Today I can say I have respect and compassion for my self which were always missing for 64 years. I came to be able to take good care of my self as the addiction fog cleared away. I didn't journey entirely alone - support from my Narcotics Anonymous fellowship was my backbone at first. Funny but until I wrote that last sentence, I hadn't realised the word similarity of Narcs (bad toxic people who always smash me) to Narcotics Anonymous (supportive healing people with whom I can be safe without fear). I will sit with the peace - a whole new country for me to journey into.

  12. What is going on? Jesse I felt like you are me on the other side if the world! Your problems are mine! Love Prue

  13. I could not have worded this any better. It's been almost 3 years this June that I discovered this narc world we live in. I guess what I would add to this post is how do other that were not raised in a world like ours recognize narcs? How do they deal with them? Are they always on the cautious out look like I am? I am leary of people now that I meet for the first time. It's like I get my narc decoder on and see what traits they hit right off the bat. I hate living like this now. How do people live life in a narc world if they were not raised by one? Do they just know how to set boundaries and get on with their life? Love your blog.....It really helps people like us.

    1. Hello Anon. Thanks for commenting here. It gave me a chance to go back and re-read how I felt almost a year ago. (I usually avoid reading my old posts, as I have found them too overwhelming.) And man, oh, man do I see how much I've progressed.
      I can understand your feelings about recognizing narcs, and I remember it being a much bigger deal for me when I wrote this post than it is now. I'll try to answer your questions as best I can (but I'm no expert, remember).
      Do other's recognize narcs? Yes. Many people just see them as "assholes" or "jerks" (maybe not at first, but eventually). And then they walk away. Some people get sucked in a bit more, maybe due to their own issues, and they may get burned by a narc. BUT, they generally have healthy ways of healing and hopefully have some other non-narc support, and I believe generally learn to walk away. It may not always be easy for these people, but the figure it out. I think a lot of people, who are not conditioned by narcs spot the "early warning" signals a lot faster and so don't get sucked in so much. They have healthy boundaries and know how to keep a narc from getting too deep.
      I don't believe everyone is always on the "look out" for narcs like "we" may be. I don't believe everyone is as cautious. And I don't believe you will always be either. I remember being like that for a while, seeing narcissism everywhere, always on guard, feeling like Ns were coming out of the wood work. But things got better. As I healed and changed and "grew up", I became less afraid, less cautious. I learned to trust myself to deal with them (or get the hell away if necessary). And I think if you keep working on this, you'll feel stronger too. Good luck!
      And thank you for your kind comment. It's nice to know that my struggles have helped someone else out of the N cave of hell.

  14. I have no idea if you are going to read this thread I am commenting on. So....I'll write anyway. You wrote this more than a year ago and I think it's a good self check post to see where you are at now in this new reality. I'm almost 3 years into it and I can honestly say I have inner peace now. I almost feel like why did it take me so long but you and I and many others have dealt with a lifetime of emotional abuse so giving ourselves time to learn, process and heal should take some time and we should not beat ourselves up over it. I'm finding myself feeling more and more free. I'm quick to realize who to steer clear of now. I'm also at peace (for the moment) with my family. It will never be the same because I am not that "insignificant" little girl anymore. I have a voice and I can stand up for myself now. I'm also seeing how I'm not as sad anymore about certain friendships that either are shifting away to something else or going away all together. I used to get really upset about a friendship ending like "what am I going to do without this person anymore?", "why are they leaving me?". Recently, one of my oldest friends told me that she is moving to another state. It's a good 3-hour plane ride if we want to see each other. However, I realize now it will be more on my part because she has made no effort towards me in an extremely long time. My DH stated that we will just turn into Christmas card friends. The odd thing that I"m trying to process is that I'm not sad that she is moving. We have always had to make the effort to see her. She has lived in another part of the state that we do but it requires either a long drive or a plane ride to visit. When I look back on it, we've made the trek to see she and her now ex husband more than they have ever come to see us and she grew up near me. When I really look back on it, she has not been that great a friend to me. I guess what I'm trying to say is a self check is good because it shows growth. Me letting go of an old friend from childhood and really looking at our relationship deeply and knowing it was just so so is good too. Both are growth. Anyway, I'll say it again...your blog helps more than you know. It makes me realize more and more that I am not alone in this journey. Last week, we traveled to the East coast and I met a gal face to face that I had been chatting with from a closed narc facebook site. Even though we had only chatted on line, it felt like we were old friends. Kinda weird but I think God puts people in our path for a reason. Your blog is like that too.

    1. Anon, I do read all comments that come through my blog. I appreciate your thoughts and your sharing.
      I'm glad you feel more at peace. I'm getting there too. It's nice to feel progress.
      I'm sorry your friend is moving, but glad you are OK with it.
      Take care! Jessie