Sweet Creatures V

There is nothing notably heroic or even virtuous about this story. I say this not to minimize the experience or its value. However, it’s a painfully familiar experience. Millions of people before me, tons after me, and even some of my peers have experienced a similar relationship. While the experience is common, “toxic relationships” deal with massive tropes, making them so entangling. Unpacking why YOU CHOSE to engage, stay and endure is the work.

I have had the wisdom of those who have come before me at my fingertips and even out of the mouths of some. Yet, I made my choices, like the rest of you do too. Wisdom is easily doled out, and perhaps that is why we keep thinking we know better than those who have come before us; that this time will be the exception. I know from various walks and my own experience that we need to walk our path even if that path is difficult. Even if that path leads you to misery. Some, even ourselves, may shake our heads in dismay at the time seemingly wasted in moving towards an apparent defeat, but some plants grow in the dark. I can recall as a child, my dad always telling my brother and me that we “love[d] to learn the hard way.” By his definition, I have learned most everything I seemingly know the hard way; but for me, the hard way is made up of stuff that sticks. Sure, with hindsight, I would’ve preferred to spend my time on this planet more economically, but the growth cost what it costs. So is it a waste? Or is it merely how we cultivate and grow our own inner wisdom?

I have let go of my guilt concerning the choices I made. I feel no anger about my past anymore. I feel no hurt anymore. I have no attachment to my past. I hold peace with what I chose, and honestly, given a chance, I’d be likely to repeat it again. It’s an itch. That itch is what contains my contribution, my responsibility, my choice, and my work.

I’ve learned that I was delusional about our relationship. I still struggle with idealistic romanticism of what was, rather than the reality of what it was. For all these years, I have maintained this illusion because it is how I “survived” our relationship. It is how I coped. To stay with someone who repeatedly reduces you, you have to delude yourself with notions of hope and change. To add to that cocktail, there was someone promising hope and change. I took the bait again and again. To evolve past this, I have had to open my eyes to see the reality of what it was. I have had to face the pain. I have had to remove hope as a word attached to someone that I could not just accept as he was. As much as I wanted and tried to make this relationship the relationship I had envisioned, it could never be that. Everything about it was not meant to last forever. It was meant to teach me.

The saddest thing I ever did was beg him to love me the way I loved him. I wish I would have had the clarity to see he couldn’t. The clarity to know I was wrong to expect it. The clarity to see and realize I didn’t need his love. That love was within me always. I am proud I held out. I find safety in knowing I tried. Honestly, even with delusion, I know it’s a testament to my strength, my capacity to give love, to see the good, and to persevere. At the time, l couldn’t understand why our love was so difficult, so smothered with complications. I had been merely asking something of the wrong person. A person who needed to find true self-love and acceptance within them before they could dole it out. I was pleading as a person who needed love and acceptance from another instead of seeing it within myself.

I am grateful every day I survived that period of my life, as there were many dark self-harming times. I am thankful I chose to continue living, loving, and holding hope and faith instead of cynicism (although there have been bouts). I have love within myself and all around me. I have so many precious relationships which bring me so much joy, depth, and love every day. For a long time, I saw my cup as bottomless, and now it overflows. I got what I wanted. I got what I knew I deserved. I got what I give. My husband is everything I could’ve dreamed and so much more. All my “delusion” with another has become a reality with my husband. All the love I shortchanged myself for all those years is now fully alive within me and all around me.

My past relationships gave me the biggest box of darkness. And I am so grateful for that darkness. It has instilled in me some of the greatest lessons of my life, which I will carry forth and hopefully instill in my child. It has born self-awareness, compassion, empathy, love, self-respect, boundaries, self-forgiveness, personal value, acceptance, and so much more. It has dulled my expectations of others, others’ opinions, the belief that love is hard, that giving up on something which clearly doesn’t work is failing. That love conquers all (realist, not cynicism).

Take from each of your experiences a lesson. Learn what you need to learn however you need to learn. Don’t kill your heart and soul to get love or make someone value you. Or do. That’s just my bit of wisdom.

There is peace and love at the end of this. And if time is a circle, well, then, I’ll see you again.

BTS: Thank you!

This series was titled “Sweet Creatures” on behalf of everyone who has crossed my path; everyone.

This story wouldn’t have been possible without these people:

B – my husband. Thank you for allowing me space to still be an individual, thank you for being an ear, being endlessly supportive, and your faith in me. I LOVE YOU, duh.
Kare – my absolute biggest cheerleader and entire support system while all of this was actually transpiring. I love you forever.
Katie – my rock. Thanks for understanding and challenging me. Thank you for editing everything. I love you.

Liz, Natalie, Julie, Nadia & Sally – thank you for your sincere support and all of your love. I’ve gnawed your ears off, and you have supported, encouraged, and loved me through it all. I love you all.
Jeremy – thank you for being gracious, meeting with me, and I’m glad we’re still in touch. You helped me more than I could ever express. Sincerely. Forever grateful our paths crossed when they did. All love to you.
Eric – while I know it’s impossible you’ll ever see this, thank you for loving and accepting me as I was. I am sorry I wasn’t able to see what you saw. I promise I’ll get there. All love to you in the sky.

And lastly, 

Jerry* – I am thankful to you sincerely. Our time together forever changed me. Thank you for meeting up with me – I know what you risked. I know this is not what you expected from us meeting up – neither did I. Know I understand how much it sucks when things don’t turn out the way you wanted. I truly wish you all the love and joy this life has to offer you.

Narcissism: What’s Next?

Hey All!

Ending the Narcissism series, that was never intended to be a series. I went where I was led.

Examining and researching narcissism brought me back to an old reality of which I often peer back on with nostalgia. I romanticize the good times and forgive and forg- (chaos is a mode I understand and often mistake it for comfort, so the “bad” never really factors into my nostalgia).

In examining ME and my relationships through a scientific psychological lens – everything is less rosy because the relationships are examined without my heart or nostalgiac bias. There was nothing romantic or smooth about how I functioned in those relationships or how those people functioned with me. None of it could really be defined as love. Trauma bonds, for damn sure.

However, I am grateful that it has thrust upon me evolution. Reflection. Self-awareness. Forgiveness. Grace. Humanity.

These relationships were terrific lessons, and that is how I peer back on them now.

I often share that what I hope anyone can take away from my experience is to save yourself the time I gave up so easily; however, the most I can offer you is information to make the best decision for yourself.

The hope you have in a “toxic” relationship, the hope that gets you through each day, is a fucking noose that you are slowly but surely tightening around your neck. And the narcissist you are engaged with isn’t going to ask you why you’re tightening it. They aren’t going to cut you free – they don’t even notice the rope. Your “lucky” if they even notice you.

We are taught not to quit. Not to give up on others. To have empathy for others. To lift each other up. To give. To love. To forgive. However, there must be a balance. There must be keen awareness. There must be reciprocity. We must nourish ourselves, so we can aid in nourishing others.

Once the bell has been rung, there is nothing we can do to undo our trauma. We know that. We know that we are responsible for our choices and our actions. So make a choice for yourself. You can do it. And if it’s difficult for you to leave, try to unpack what part of you needs this, wants it, accepts it? Therapy is fantastic for this. Understanding what compels you to stay can help you understand what YOU bring to the relationship. If the relationship ends and is left unexamined, you’ll only recreate the same relationship again and again.

Being in a narcissitic “toxic” relationship is a solemn place to be. However, it can change. Things can be different for you. The life and the relationship which you envision can be a reality. While in these “toxic” relationships, I had the capacity and strength to do the work, but I instead fixated all my resources on the other instead of myself. We cannot do the work for anyone else. We can only do it for ourselves. You can move through all of this and create peace. I am an example of that. It came from a lot of internal work and therapy, and from that, I am happily married to a true partner. I hope the same for you when it’s your time.

All love.
Ashley

 

Narcissism: Should I Leave Part IV

Good Morning All!

This is the final post on Leaving a Narcissistic Relationship and it’s centered all around you and healing (which I will share more about next week).

Being honest with yourself and having awareness surrounding the relationship is crucial.

All the hope we’ve blinded ourselves with and the investment can make this very difficult. Focus on taking care of yourself and loving yourself the way that you did them. Offer yourself the forgiveness you consistently offered them.

If you have any healing tips, please feel free to share them in the comments below.

All love.

Ashley

Narcissism: Should I Leave Part III

Good Morning!

Digging a bit deeper today on the topic of Leaving a Narcissistic Relationship.

One thing I want to add to this post is that in no way should anyone feel pressured to leave a narcissistic relationship before you/they are ready. When it is ENOUGH you will know. When it becomes too painful to stay – it’ll be your time.

On Friday, I’ll be sharing the final part of leaving.

If you have any tips to add or anything that I left out, please feel free to leave it in the comments.

All love.

Ashley

Narcissism: Should I Leave? Part II

Today’s post is all about the ugliness that comes from leaving a narcissistic relationship.

Jerry was the first one I left. There was no “easy way” for me to do it. I was still in love. Yet, I was exhausted. My tank had been empty for a looooooong time. No reciprocity. I was lonely, depressed, not heard, not seen. It was awful. So, I martyred myself. I ripped the bandaid off by sleeping with an ex-boyfriend. Once I did (I also lied to Jerry about it), it was over. For as much as Jerry cheated on me, it took me doing it one time to crumble his fragile ego. He couldn’t believe I would do that to him – eyeroll. I killed myself for us. So, I became worthless to his ego.

The second one, far more fantastic. Cameron was much more a textbook narcissist. He was prone to alcoholic rages and would get angry and combative often. The final straw – he drunkenly punched me in the face. Eventually, the cops got involved (they did nothing). I became even more depressed + self-harm, went to therapy, and never looked back. Ironically, Jerry was very physically supportive during this time. Emotionally not so much.

Leaving is never easy, even in a healthy relationship. We’ve made investments. Commitments. We have hopes & dreams.

The thought that aided me the most during these times: knowing I am going to die. Knowing this is my one time on this planet. Knowing that I control my life. If I am suffering in a relationship, I must choose differently. Notice all the I’s.

Per usu, please like, share, comment. This is the shit part and the most helpful for anyone who finds themselves in these circumstances.

All love.

Ashley

Narcissism: Should I Leave?

Happy Friday, y’all!
 
Today starts the final push into the end of talking about narcissism in relationships, and what better way to do that than to talk about leaving the narcissistic relationship?!?!
 
I am breaking this down into a few posts because there is a lot that goes into leaving this type of relationship. It’s complicated for sure.
 
If there is anything within this series of being in a relationship with a narcissist that I missed that you would like more information about, please drop it in the comments or shoot me a DM. I am not an expert on narcissism, but I can do the research.
 
The labor on this topic originated from healing from my own personal experiences with narcissistic relationships, and I found the information to be illuminating and healing, so that’s why I am sharing it!
 
Per usu, feel free to share, comment, and like!
 
Have a great weekend!
 
All love.
Ashley

Narcissism: If You Stay With A Narcissist Part II

This is the final post for this subtopic. If this topic resonates with you, I strongly encourage you to pick up Dr. Ramani’s book. She goes into waaaaaay more detail than I can possibly sum up on such a nuanced and personal topic.

I have found myself staying with a narcissist before and it’s exhausting. Plus your self-esteem is shot sooooo yeah, good times. It all feels bad because it is bad.

If this resonates with you and you haven’t read, “Sweet Creatures” (link in bio), read it over. It’s a personal essay about me seeking the apology, recognition, and redemption I had always sought out when it came to my narcissistic relationship with Jerry.

Looking back, the most valuable lesson I can share, take care of yourself, the way you take care of them. Love yourself, the way you love them endlessly. They sure sure as fuck won’t do it for you.

Please feel free to share, like, and comment! I know it’s heavy, but it can be helpful to someone.

Next week, I’ll be sharing: Narcissism: If You Leave A Relationship With A Narcissist

All love.

Ashley

Narcissism: If You Stay With A Narcissist

If you stay. WOW!

Good luck?

It’s literally the worst.

What I can say is to choose or have to stay in a relationship (children, financial reasons, religion, etc.) like this takes a lot of fucking balls. A lot. It’s not a “relationship” for the faint of heart. Quite frankly, it isn’t a real relationship. It’s a relationship of one, and you just get to participate.

On top of all of this shit mountain, some people choose to have children with a narcissist. And we know that having a narcissistic parent lends to a child becoming narcissistic. We know that the non-narcissistic parent usually has to do all the parenting ALONE. Among the many other everyday worries you have as a parent, the parent in the narcissistic relationship may have concerns about finances (money disappearing), drug & alcohol abuse, infidelity. Add to that the stress, anxiety, self-doubt, etc. that comes from the massive amounts of gaslighting. It’s a fucking roller coaster, and it’s zero fun.

For some, it’s not a choice to stay. For some, it is. Either way, no judgment. Next week will be Part II, and we’ll discuss tools to help you if you stay.

Narcissism – What It Feels Like To Be In A Relationship

 

I have vacillated back and forth on what to share about what it’s like to be in a relationship with a narcissist. I have shared a lot on my relational experiences (on my website) that encompass what it was like for me to be in such a relationship. It down right blows to be in this type of relationship. It’s dark, lonely, anxiety ridden, unsafe, confusing, painful and sometimes physically painful. It’s difficult to confide in friends or family because just like you, they may not possess the tools to hold space and bear witness to what you are going through. It isn’t easy to “just leave.” It’s quite complicated and that’s without adding in financial components, housing, children or other enmeshments. 

If any of what I have been sharing, resonates, I highly recommend finding a therapist or psychotherapist, who specializes or understands NPD, to speak with. I wish I would’ve had these tools and knowledge to have a better direction to go then just through it, over and over again. 

All love. 

Ashley