Dear Aunt Alex – 4/17/13

despair

Dear Aunt Alex,

In my head, I know that my narcissist ex will never love me. Why can I still not get him out of my head?  I just don’t know how to move on. Knowing he hurts me isn’t enough. any ideas please? I haven’t been out in two months and am suffering.

Signed,

Missy

despair signs

Dear Missy,

Oh, Sweetie.  ::hugs::  This is the whole reason The Army has a base camp on the Internet: The devaluation hurts so bad.  It’s confusing and devastating and dismissive, and feels like you’re being abandoned and thrown away.  There is nothing festive about that.

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The psychiatrists in cheesy movies say, “Tell me about your parents,” and it’s funny because it’s cliche’ and feels useless.  But it turns out the parents are a superb place to start.  The first cut is the deepest, and the kids of narcissists have a primal, very early punch to their boundaries that most other people don’t.  When a child is ignored and gaslighted by a screwed-up toad parent, it feels confusing and devastating and dismissive, and feels like abandonment.

anxious

The boundaries get distorted by the tiny, tender psyche so that the poor kid can survive, and the longing for healthy care and bonding is never forgotten.

Let’s be perfectly clear:  These adult children do not, do NOT, deliberately seek out narcissists so that they can replay the childhood abuse and “fix” it.  That victim-blaming, offensive theory can’t die soon enough for Aunt Alex.  The adult children are more vulnerable to these buttholes because the boundaries are pretzel-twistied.  The narcissist parent punched a hole in the boundaries and that hole remains, and the future toads in her life smell that vulnerability from a mile away.  And those future narcissists stomp, waddle and slither through that hole in her boundaries and munch away freely on her heart and soul.

Now Missy, before Auntie Alex gets quicksanded by her own metaphors, let’s talk about your moving on, and let’s start here: Either you had a narcissist for a parent, or you didn’t.  But the process of moving on and getting him out of your head is essentially the same.

It’s going to take time.  Your heart doesn’t have an on/off switch.  Your affection doesn’t have an “uninstall” feature.  Just like a broken ankle or a case of mono needs time to heal, so does the damage caused by the narcissist.  It runs deep, and it takes more than two months to heal because it’s not superficial and trivial, it’s about betrayal and love and being told you’re a loser and it’s all your fault.  This stuff is A Big Deal.  So, step one: Forgive yourself for being a normal, healthy human being who’s been through a trauma.

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Forgive yourself for being kind and vulnerable and emotionally generous and loving.  What happened isn’t your fault.  It’s his.

Step two: Get mad.  He killed your hope.  He lied.  He manipulated.  He tried to stomp down your self-worth so he could feel better about himself.  He did all of this on purpose, and he doesn’t care that you’re hurt.  He’s hurt others before you, and he’ll hurt others after you.  He’s like an opportunistic mosquito: If he’s shooed off of one host, he moves to another.  And then maybe goes back to suck off the first host again.  He doesn’t care who he’s sucking at the moment.  He just wants blood.  And he’ll suck off of hosts for as long as he lives.  Those damaged boundaries make you feel at least partially responsible for the failed bonding in the relationship, but you’re not.  He is.  He fucked the whole thing up.  He wasted your time and your effort, he devalued your love and your appeal, and he insulted and used you and continues to take up real estate in your head.  Ask yourself: Why aren’t you furious?  If someone treated your child or your sister like this, would you be sad, or murderous?  YOU GOTTA GET MAD BEFORE YOU CAN GET OVER IT.

mad baby

Step three: Clear your head (Man, those yoga mindfulness meditation people have got this down pat),  and replace the gross, useless thoughts of the narcissist with MUCH more pleasant things (which is pretty much anything).  No one can just “stop” thinking about something that’s been grinding at them for years.  It leaves a void in your head, and the old, familiar thoughts rush in to fill the space.  What do you love?

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Your familyfriends, hobbies, work?

friends on beach

Do you love animalsreadingmovieswriting?  Drawing on your fingers?

friends fingers

If you say, “I tried to go out, to do things, to pick up a paintbrush or write a card to someone, and I just can’t,” that’s your mild, understandable depression lying to you.  You can; the mild depression just doesn’t want to because it wants to be, well, depressed.  It wants you to be uncomfortable so that you’ll try harder to bond with the narcissist, because depression isn’t very smart.  It’s primal and only knows how to “feel”.  You most certainly can start folding real, sweet, enriching things into your day, and getting over that feeling of weakness, getting over that “failure barrier”, is going to take practice.  You have to force yourself to do it the first couple of times, and once you see how doable it is and how much better you feel, it’ll get easier and easier.  For those first couple of times, you have to force yourself to get up, clean up, get out, and DO.  GIVE your brain other things to think about.  Those fresh thoughts and feelings aren’t going to plant themselves in there all by themselves.

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You’re doing just fine, Sweetie.  This is how it’s done, with doubt and discomfort and reaching out; it feels futile, but you’re doing beautifully.  Keep up the good work, stay away from the toads, and you’ll have a bright, fulfilling future.

 

 

 

 

 

12 Comments

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12 Responses to Dear Aunt Alex – 4/17/13

  1. Pebbles Rubble

    Hi there,
    Excellent answer! Similar has happened to me and I’m actually not angry, which I’m only now realising has got to be a reflection of the confusion performed on my brain by Assclown Surgery Ltd. It’s NORMAL to be angry. I guess what’s also in there though is the feeling of rejection. How could anyone, especially such a lacking assclown dimwit not WANT such a fine, loving, intelligent Goddess such as all the ladies on this forum? How could anyone BEAR to even think about mistreating her, let alone plan ahead and savour the knowledge that he has caused her tears and pain? So we assume we must be less than perfect, unloveable, less than attractive, daft to fall for the trick. Why in tarnation would said assclown not want to be cared ABOUT? Where possibly can be the motivation to mess with someone’s mind, which must be an unimaginably exhausting effort with fleeting reward. Simple immaturity doesn’t explain it. Neither does the idea that they are simply evil. If someone can intelligently manipulate a loved one, wouldn’t it be more fruitful to manipulate a millionaire or politician? I for one, am more than happy to leave this unanswered question in their mentally-ill (retarded) responsible hands, for the one second they can hold it. Because they are now worthless to me.

    • K

      Sigh…this article is bang on. I am 2 1/2 years out of the horrendous “devaluation” stage of a totally dysfunctional relationship, so I absolutely understand not being able to leave the house after a few months. I am often embarrassed that such a ridiculous “relationship” has taken the toll on me that it has, that it feels as though it has been the most damaging thing to occur to me in my lifetime. I am STILL, at this stage, constantly going back and forth about whether he was an actual narcissist, or just the most selfish confused jerk on the planet. But I keep coming back to the fact that this doesn’t in fact matter. I have never, ever, in my 40 years been so completely destroyed by another…in fact I’ve managed quite healthy relationships and break-ups in my past, so that must be some indication of what I was contending with.
      In trying to work all of this out I have also revisited my childhood, which was less than ideal to say the least. Have tried to figure out if my early years somehow “set the tone” for me to give permission to another person to treat me with such disregard and disrespect, and in fact meet that disregard and disrespect with adoration and dependency. My parents were not narcissists as far as I can make out, but interestingly my dad was an alcoholic and my mother pretty unhinged. In my reading I came across an article which states that adult children of alcoholics are very similar to those raised in a narcissistic family. The similarity being that in both families, “the needs of the parents took precedence over the needs of the children”. This being in contrast with healthy families, where the needs of the children come first. Wow. That hit me like a tonne of bricks. I hadn’t even realized how far off base my own childhood was….intellectually I knew that the needs of the children in a family must come first, I like to think that this goes on in my own family now, but I’ve NEVER come to terms with the fact that this definitely was not the case in my house growing up.
      Anyway, I just wanted to put my own two cents in here. To say that I absolutely understand the pain that the writer is feeling in not being able to remove someone from your head..someone who has caused so much grief. I do believe we need to revisit our childhoods and assess how we can best try to heal our own selves from what happened when we were in a completely innocent, vulnerable, and dependent stage of our lives. We DESERVED better then, but could not get it. We DESERVE better now, and now that we are adults, can make some steps for change.

  2. recovered

    So worthless that they take up the air that I could be breathing!!! They are utterly pathetic and live without one single good cause – oh sorry I forgot all their good causes are for themselves, then they twist it all around and try to convince us its a good cause!! Their motives for what they do are BORING, when you stop and think what amuses them and feeds them I cant help but wonder what a simple boring little brain they must have – totally lacking in anything imaginative, worthwhile or even interesting…..Toads that sit around and calculate and plot how we can hurt and destroy others – WOW what a contribution – – strange how we kissed the prince and it turned into a toad, isnt it supposed to be the other way around? lol — need I say more –

  3. Toadfree

    I think it helps to realize that Toads ARE drawn to those with excellent qualities. The sort of partner who is brimming with resources upon which to feed is also the sort of person who can provide the Toad with convincing cover. How many times has the Toad promised something to someone and then delegated that chore to you? They take the credit and receive the thanks, and appear to the untrained eye to be a thoughtful and selfless person, when nothing could be farther from the truth. A Toad will bask in the sympathy of friends when the relationship ends, appearing to grieve while he scouts for a new host. He will not waste his time thinking about you unless he cannot readily find or keep a suitable replacement. Instead of thinking about him, spend your time doing things your way, with people who appreciate and admire your qualities rather than calculating their usefulness. It’s much more satisfying.

  4. Shannon

    Ladies, methinks Miss Pebbles is onto something phenominal here…. They are worthless, permanently damaged, radioactive waste, and they don’t want us??!?! THEY are the defects and catalysts to all this damage, but WE are the ones left paying the tab?? WTH??? …. I know I’m new but I think I can pass around some high powered, Brand new, fully charged, L E D torches to lighten the place up, maybe so we can see what we’re all stepping in…..

    First things first, the hurt and rejection: Some of you know I’m still living with the vampire, and it’s only been a short time since I stumbled onto the truth about him…. I’m at that: eh, I’m used to it phase, but with a twist…. I’ve come to realize that IT is the problem, not me. I’m just the one WITH the problem. But that can change! I can be healed! I can be salvaged from this disaster!!! The power to change is in me, and it’s been there all along! That goes for all of us!!!! There is a core in us that he can never touch, he can never break, and he can never take away from us! And oh, how he wants it! But This time, I REFUSE to give it to him! Why? Because he is unworthy!! He always has been, and he always will be!

    So, with that being said, lets turn this rejection thing on its ear… Lets take 2 sheets of paper, and summarize a few things: 1) write down all the negative things he says about us… We’re clingy, crazy, moody, fat, skinny, ugly, all of it… Then 2) lets write down all the things HE is… selfish, asanine, abusive, a liar, a cheat, cheap, conniving…. You get the idea…. Then lets compare notes. I don’t think it will take us long to see where he’s trying to play on our insecurities, and where he’s transposing his dementia onto us…. Then, with all that being discovered, lets take another look at that monster we’ve described, and ask ourselves: why the hell do we want that in our lives?? How could we possibly love something that horrible? And finally, WHY should WE feel hurt and rejected because that piece of garbage says he doesn’t want us?? He doesn’t want us because he can’t get to the CORE of us! Because we are the fight he cannot win and King Assclown KNOWS IT!!!!! So stop crying over him. Smile. Right now!…. Take a breath, a time out from the pain, and smile! He is not worth your broken heart. He is not worth your tears! But YOU are! You always were.

    Wanna read something funny? I tell that vampire he is a narcissist every day. Flat out, no subterfuge. Multiple times a day… Even when all he’s doing is breathing, I tell him to his FACE that its a symptom of his mental disorder. Lmao, his BREATHING is a symptom of his disorder!!! He demands scrambled eggs?? I over cook them, then serve them to him with a toothy smile and remark how they must closely resemble his brain as he eats them… I listen to his tantrums and his onslaughts, and I laugh in his face, because his nosehairs actually seem to try to escape him too when he starts screaming!! Then I yawn, ask if we’re STILL talking about the same thing cos Im really bored…. n usually let him ramble while i count to 10, then walk away while hes mid sentance, saying he’s boring me to death and my survival instincts kicked in!!!Lol, and it feels GOOD!! No matter what I say or do, he will whine and berate, so why not??? And the best part is that now, when he’s off on his tangent against me, it rolls right off, because I know that no matter how messed up I supposedly am, I will ALWAYS be head and shoulders above him!! I can and will fix what’s wrong with me… I can change and grow and learn and love… Know serenity and true happiness…. And he never will. He will always be a walking toxic plume preening in front of a funhouse mirror. So why should I let him or anything he does or says get to me? He just isn’t worth it! Now smile again!!!! Cos the look on his face when he realizes his tactics dont work on me anymore is priceless!! And if I can do it right under his nose, I know each one of you can!!! Oh, and ps?? My real name is Reign. It means: To rule. And you know what?? I do!! :)

  5. Cinnamon Girl

    I have read and reread this article so many times – so, so, so helpful – thank you !! The anger really helps – something I have swallowed for way too long and it feels so good to get it out !! Assclowns (love that term) create a feeling that I’m somehow smaller, faded, quiet. Anger helps me to break the bond of lies that has kept me down.

    Then the fabulous advice on how to focus on me. Not just “now you need to pay attention to yourself” – but actually *how* to do that. Love it !! I am feeling brighter and louder and alive. I own that green is my favorite color – not blue like the Assclowns I have known (nothing wrong with blue – it’s just not my favorite). I painted a whole room a gorgeous sage green and I love it !! Wish I knew how to explain myself better – but my green room says it all – it’s gorgeous – and I am too.

    Thank you Aunt Alex – – keep on marching. :-)

  6. tv3

    “Let’s be perfectly clear: These adult children do not, do NOT, deliberately seek out narcissists so that they can replay the childhood abuse and “fix” it. That victim-blaming, offensive theory can’t die soon enough for Aunt Alex. The adult children are more vulnerable to these buttholes because the boundaries are pretzel-twisted.”

    Amen to this! I couldn’t agree more. I know damn well I don’t seek out these types of relationships but I’ve been more susceptible to them due to the narcissistic family system I grew up in. I was groomed to tolerate more than I should and that’s why I’ve tended to find myself with narcissists. My upbringing has caused me to be passive in relationships which has made me vulnerable to aggressive women who are very complementary initially and stroke my need for external validation. Fortunately I now recognize these issues and am determined to conquer them. Besides I was anything but passive before my assertiveness was beaten out of me by negligent parenting.

    • Abigail

      Exactly.

      Except I had inappropriately high tolerance for the bad behavior of men….actually, of female friends too. The world is filled with jerks. Sigh.

  7. recovered

    “Let’s be perfectly clear: These adult children do not, do NOT, deliberately seek out narcissists so that they can replay the childhood abuse and “fix” it. That victim-blaming, offensive theory can’t die soon enough for Aunt Alex. The adult children are more vulnerable to these buttholes because the boundaries are pretzel-twisted.”

    Now this caught my attention; I do not believe I went seeking an individual who repeated my past childhood abuse, but once this toad entered my life despite the pain, I found it to be an acceptable place to be thinking it was all I deserved. Still, however there was an inner voice telling me “I REALLY DONT DESERVE THIS” I have done nothing to deserve this type of treatment”!! and really when you think about it what would you have done to deserve such treatment? I also pondered that question; why is a good person such as myself being treated like this by someone that is a tucked up toad? Why am I crying over it? Why does it hurt me so deeply to be rejected, abused and discarded by the likes of him? — Well, I cant answer for him – hell he cant even answer for himself, but I can answer for myself – I allowed it, and by staying what did I think I was going to get from such a person that had a disorder like this? I didnt get what I deserved, but I got the only treatment they are capable of giving others and I was no exception.

    Today, three years of NC and my life is back to normal – he ripped through my life like a tornado and he was gone . It’s calm now after the storm; no more pain, anger, no more ptsd, Cog dis, its ALL GONE!!! For a good year I had dreams of him but he never appeared in my dreams I was always waiting for him to arrive and he never did – I read that this type of dream is very very common -it’s your subconscience telling you this person never existed – if he would have appeared in my dreams I often wonder what he would have appeared as? He probably would have appeared as a toad right Aunt Alex? Still though, I consider myself extremely lucky that I had the strength and insight to get out, understand it and recover; those still with him are not so lucky. It takes a long time to remove the last bit of slime these toads leave on you – the more you realize your worth and value the more you realize how sick they are. Total recovery is a great place to be – it’s the ultimate reward you have earned, you never fell from the pedestal you have always been there –

  8. leanne

    I love this blog. You are an amazing woman for giving us hope and inspiration. I want to offer that maybe it’s not your parents who were the Narcs in your childhood, maybe it was a sibling or another person you were close to. I have been in recovery for almost 3 years now and just recently realized my sister is the Narc who twisted my reality into a pretzel. She is my younger sister, but nonetheless the Narc who set my boundary to be contorted and confused. I do my best to stay away from her and am mostly successful, however there are times when we must interact with our family and when we do, I just treat her as if she is a mere acquaintance. Now that I have identified the root of the evil, I am making even greater strides in my recovery. So, Missy, darlin’, hang in there. You have taken the hardest step of all, getting out. It DOES get better. It WILL be hard. I am not gonna lie, but you have been to the depths of hell already, so, don’t go there again, keep climbing and reach the top of that summit. You can do it. Hugs Y’all.

  9. Julie

    I am only at 3 weeks NC with my narcissist, who also has borderline personality disorder (not diagnosed, but he is spot on). It has been so hard. We were together on and off for 9 years and married for 5 of those years. I divorced him then took him back into my life 2 years later only to be treated the same, well worse actually. Every time he betrayed me it was worse, then he would turn on the charm and act like he cared. He even went so far as to tell me it was MY fault we could not make it work because I could not “get over” his “mistakes”. Of course, he never too responsibility for any of those “mistakes”. I have gone back and forth between love and hate for years. I have felt so hurt, confused and utterly dismissed. Why would I beg for the love and attention of someone who could be so cruel? I do see now how my childhood does play into the equation. My dad was an alcoholic and worked out of town a lot and sent constant mixed messages. I was the greatest thing in the world and could do anything I wanted with my life one day, then the next I was worthless and would never amount to anything. Interestingly, though, my dad was not a narcissist. He had genuine feelings. My mom, on the other hand, was emotionally unavailable and I am pretty sure she is a narcissist. To this day, I cannot talk to her about anything. She does not listen to my feelings and turns everything back on herself. She has “been there done that” and it was SO much worse for HER. Therefore, I was used to never having my feelings validated growing up. My dad was also very abusive to my mom (not physically) and she just tolerated it for the most part, however she did have a nervous breakdown when I was 10 and was in the hospital for 3 months. Nothing was ever talked about or discussed in my family and we were made to believe that all of the verbal abuse, temper tantrums, neglect, etc. were normal. It is no wonder that I was an easy target for the narcissist. I still struggle every day wanting to contact him. I cry and feel so alone, but I am trying to stay strong. I often fear that I will never again know love and companionship. I am 48. I have been married 3 times. All 3 were abusive in some way. I pray that someday I find someone who truly loves and respects me. Meanwhile, I am trying to enjoy my life with friends and family and pursue the things that make me happy.

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