Memoirs Of A Toxic Relationship – Lesson 1

Self reflection is awesome. Awareness is even better. Once you get it. Most of us know, at least those of us with half a brain or who have experienced it first hand, that being in an unhealthy relationship is emotionally,
psychologically, physiologically and even physically draining. So when chaos breaks out and we go thru it with our significant other, the one we care about, that person that knows how to push the right button or buttons and then walks out, why do we instantly wish that they would come back? Well, there’s obviously many answers to that question depending on a lot of factors, but what I’ve come to realize was that it wasn’t the actual person I was wanting back – after all, why would I want someone whom I just argued and fought with, who just shifted blame in my direction and took no responsibility for their behavior, deflected, lied and attempted to manipulate me and the entire situation to his advantage, to come back into my presence? Shouldn’t I feel relieved that he just left? Shouldn’t I see that as an opportunity to gather my thoughts and regroup? Yes. Well, let me add a disclaimer right after that answer: if you’re even remotely emotionally stable you SHOULD see it from that perspective, but obviously, when dealing with a malignant Narcissist or any other person with some element of a or actual severe personality disorder, it doesn’t work that way. If indeed you ARE dealing with someone like this, then chances are you yourself have some unhealed emotional wounds that need to be addressed. So with that said, seeing it from that perspective will probably be the furthest from your reality in that moment, for hours or even days to come and a lot of times until that other person comes back. Back to ultimately end up going thru it again and again with you. So what is it really that we feel if we’re at least smart enough to know in the moment of that conflict we wish this person gone, the fight to be over and things to calm down and then when they leave, want them to come back?

In my own personal experience, it took me a while to realize that it really wasn’t the person that I wished would stay and not walk out the door, but rather it was me trying to avoid the feelings and mental scenarios that I knew would automatically come as a result of them not being there. Feelings I didn’t want to deal with because they were too overwhelming and draining. Scenarios that I would create, whether real or speculated, that were too painful, such as WHERE he was going, WHO he was going TO and WHAT he was doing. All of those things were the driving force behind why I thought I wanted him to come back – or not leave in the first place. Once I connected the dots about this, I was able to stop beating myself up about having such a stupid desire and finally address the real issue. I was able to take another step  forward on my journey to heal my issues and dysfunctions.


They Didnt Wake Up One Day And Decide To Be This Way

We hear a lot about the negative aspects of Narcissists and the devastating effects their actions have on the people that get involved with them. I myself am no stranger to it all. I was involved with a Narcissist for 27 years and a few years ago is when I went through the peak of his narcisstic abuse and saw what he was really made of for a concentrated 10 months. Of course, for the couple years following the 10 months, it was the after shocks of the abuse that lead me to start on a journey of healing childhood trauma and old wounds. Given all that, although I didn’t  like all the pain and hurt I suffered those months, nor did I like having to acknowledge the reality of what was going on with me, with him and with us as a unit, I must say that I AM grateful that it happened because of what it forced me to face about my own self.

Narcissists do a lot of damage. Narcissists are very damaged people themselves. Their seems to be a common theme among the information that’s out on these type of people: they’re rotten to the core, there’s no hope for change and we need to just flee at first red flag. The majority of things that you read about these people  are how they operate, signs to look for and the life altering negative impact they have on someone who is involved with them. I get all that and yes, we need to know these things but I also would like to propose that another aspect of narcissism be taken into consideration and placed wherever it may be the most helpful in your life. I propose that we somewhere remember that no matter how devious, calculating, manipulative, uncaring, selfish and devaluing they are or can be, among other things, a Narcissist didn’t just wake up one day and decide to become just that!

A Narcissist becomes a Narcissist because of trauma or negative influences in their own life at an early stage. True, their may be some biological factors involved but even on that level, can we not say that the individual with this personality disorder is just like the other people who suffer different kinds of personality disorders who have it come full circle given the right stressors and environment, possibly because of  predisposure? I guess in summmary, all I’m saying is that we focus mainly on how bad these people are, and rightly so in order to help victims of narcisstic abuse heal but I also have come to believe that understanding that most of these people have suffered their own kind of abuse at an early stage that has caused them to feel the need to create this false persona and uphold it at any cost. I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this that you, like myself, know that the core being of a Narcissist is filled with shame, low self esteem and a few other negative feelings and the fact that they can’t bring themselves to accept responsibility for their actions let alone   see the cause and effect of them, just makes them look even worse in society’s eyes.

We focus on the damage they do, the lives they ruin, how void of genuiness and true self they are but as I eluded to earlier, if we remember that something bad happened to THEM at some early point in time that had a profound impact on molding he or she into the sociopath they are today, maybe that can open up some kind of compassion in us that can make healing just slightly more bearable.

Compassion. Not for the Narcissist,  but for you.   

Starting Over

I heard something recently that really struck a chord within me: your identity is not in WHAT you do, but in WHO you are. For the last 5 years I’ve been somewhat at a crossroads. When I left Stanford Athletics as a fitness trainer back in 2009, I was fortunate enough financially to be able to take a couple years off and really think about the direction I wanted to go. Having been a fitness trainer since 1997 and during that time made my way up to a fitness supervisor, a fitness manager and then eventually branch out on my own with private clients and working at different clubs in different states, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue in the field or not. I realized that although I have a passion for fitness, I don’t think it’s my calling. In 2011 I branched out into a whole new field in the Social Services field as a Community Partner/Stakeholders, helping trainers re train Social Workers as well as being a part of inventing the 23 model behaviors Social Workers are suppose to start implementing when engaging families. I got so much out of working with the Social Workers and seeing a first hand look at all they go through and how overworked they are but mainly, I got joy from knowing that we (the Community Partners and Trainers) were teaching them a new way to interact with their families that could lead to kids being kept out of thet system as well as giving the skills, tools and power to the parents to help make that happen. It was a nice change from the pressures of FEELING like I have to maintain a certain superficial look when working in the health and fitness field and having my eating disorder kick into overdrive!

My dilemma however is this: their isn’t a lot – if any – of positions I can branch off into from being a Community Partner as this was a 5 year grant given to specific counties to see why Native American and African American kids STAY in the system so long and how we could correct that. Although I’ve had this experience that’s been outside of fitness, I still feel like my identity, who I am, is tied to me being ‘Trainerchick’. The fitness trainer for 12 years who has worked for clubs, a top notch college in the Athletics Dept. and who was able to have enough private clientele by referral from current club clients to be able to pay the bills strictly from that. Lots of pluses there, but do the negatives outweigh all those things? The eating disorder being kicked into hyper drive? Putting pressure on MYSELF to look a certain way and even when I reach that look, STILL not being satisfied? Yes, all these things are conundrums I’ve been pondering for going on 6 years now and I wish I could just find ME, start fresh and finally be happy. 

Unbalanced Relationships

In the last few months I’ve been forced to acknowledge something that has apparently always been a factor in my relationships: I have a lot of relationships in my life that are not give  and take, but seem to be more one sided. In addition to having to acknowledge this, it also led me to look deeper as to WHY this is and I then came up with the fact that it can be traced back to my own issues and dysfunctions.

Let me give you an example of what kicked this whole thing off. A few months ago I made plans with my besty  to come over his house and just geek out like we used to do. Before I go on, let me preface this by saying that he’s in a very dysfunctional relationship where his girlfriend is so insecure that she accuses him of being involved with everything from the bathroom mirror to other men behind her back and he’s never given her a reason to think such outrageous things, hence her own issues and dysfunctions come into play here, and at the same time, so does my besty’s for putting up with it and not drawing boundaries. Anyway, having not seen him for a while, having dragged a ton of my devices with me for and looking forward to us hanging out, I got about 60 seconds from his gate, text to let him know this and what was his response? That his girlfriend was there! Apparently she had just dropped by only a few minutes prior to me texting him my ETA (which in my opinion, is ample time to send a short text informing me of this) and at the end of the day, what this meant was that it was a no go on the geeking out, let alone me even stopping by for a hot minute to say hi! Remember she has unfounded “suspicions” and “jealousy” issues.

I can say that I was pretty much sent into an internal rage! I personalized it as I do most things that involve other people. The first thing that came to my mind was that he didn’t value our friendship enough to at least defend it to her if I came over for just 90 seconds. Then I thought about how he didn’t value ME as a person to initiate a text or call to let me know not to come – even if I had one foot in the gate, so to speak. After I calmed down, or is it more accurate to say that WHAT calmed me down came next and that was realizing that my feelings about how the situation was handled and how I personalized it was a direct result of my OWN issues. Issues that I’m in the process of addressing and trying to heal from that originate in childhood. Issues of feeling disregarded. Never being chosen because I never felt good enough. Issues of not feeling not important to anyone when it comes down to it because EVERY ONE else was better or more valued than me.

Once I saw the situation from this perspective, I realized a few things that can be applied to a lot more interactions that I have in my life: 1. I place way more value on my  relationships than the other person and as a result I’ve had to reevaluate if each relationship is worth continuing to be that unbalanced or is it time to withdraw a little bit 2. Although I have a ways to go, the fact that I made that connection so quickly and was able to pretty much take my anger level down twenty notches proves that I had made progress on my journey to heal and 3. I won’t take ownership for my besty’s unhealthy choices. He chooses to be in a relationship like this where he has to sacrifice others in order to appease her and keep the drama down. Although I strongly disagree with that method but oh well, sometimes we just have to go through things before wet get to certain points.

At the end of the day, even though I was able to take ownership of MY emotions and MY reaction to the situation,  process it in a healthy way so that I didn’t get stuck in that old familiar ‘what’s wrong with ME’ mental broken record and not take on the choices he made personally, he still needed to know that the WAY he went about it was NOT ok! So, instinctively I didn’t communicate with him for weeks, even though I really wasn’t mad at him, I guess that was my way of coming to the conclusion that after weighing out our 14 year friendship, it was clear that I either valued the friendship just a little more than he did or probably what was closer to the truth was that I just have a better sense of self awareness and ability to confront things head on than he does. Either way, I considered that situation  one of the many revelations I’ve had about myself over the last few years that have contributed to my healing journey.

And yes, me and my besty are still friends, although I place as much emphasis on trying to hang out with him anymore and it’s still all good.

The Narcissist Losing Control….

It has been sad that when a narcissist is exposed with his games, lies, manipulations and slander – that in their mind it becomes war. It’s literally like they feel as if they need to fight for their life! Meaning, although the narcissist may be fooling, manipulating and playing games with multiple people at the same time, it’s a totally different story when they are found out by multiple people in the same time frame! I was privy to seeing my narcissist, what was in my opinion, him losing control. It seemed like his maliciousness, lies and uncaring attitude had recently reached an all time high because not only were these actions directed towards the usual ‘victims’, but now i saw people who had always been on the ‘off limits’ list now become targets in his line of fire. Even my dog fell victim to his out of control dysfunctions but that’s another story that I DO NOT want to talk about right now.

Without going into too much detail, their was a situation that occurred a few months ago where relationships went sour, tons of accusations made and just an overall mess involving many people. Oh yes, my narcissist played the role well, having us all convinced he had nothing to do with it – even me, who has known him the longest, knowing how he is and knowing what he is capable of, never thought that he would cross this line with the people involved. In the end though he told on himself during one of his fits and rages. Revealing that ultimately he was the culprit who did the deed that caused relationships to crumble while sitting back and watching trust be broken between people, secrets told (I believe mainly, if not ONLY, by him) and family members throwing other family members under the bus. I also found out, after the fact, that he told some of MY secrets and added a few things to them, slandered my name yet again, and told some of the most RIDICULOUS lies that even the people he was telling them to knew better! No, none of this is foreign territory to the narcissist but when it happens over a short time and to people who he has always held some kind of boundaries with in certain areas, then it’s my belief – at least with MY narcissist – that they were at a point of desperation because they were losing control. I’m also a Christian, a firm believer in God and yes, I do subscribe to the “you reap what you sow” belief which is why I truly believe that where he is now (jail) is just the beginning of God dealing with him and his bad behavior. In Christianity there is a believe by many Christians that when God begins to deal with a person, they often get worse before they get better. I believe this is the beginning of the storm for my narcissist and I’m believing that one day in the future I’ll be able to blog about his miraculous turn around. In the meantime, I continue to make great strides on my journey to heal from childhood trauma and narcissistic abuse.