Say his name
Then fan his flame
The one that burned you before
You seek from him
What you possess within
Blindness reserved only for yourself
What he murders in you
Is dead in him
The pain of loss will smother you yet again
He’ll ask you to forgive and forget
You’ll think that you can forgive
But you both know that you’ll never forget
For the seen cannot be unseen
You’ll remain in the dance
You’ll once again share a path
Until there is no flame left
No sign of light
Just two heartbroken souls
Meandering through the night
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.
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
I could talk at length about every slide here because I have borne witness to each of these facets and have fallen for almost all of them. However, I have written at length about my relational experience. So if you are interested in seeing that more fleshed out, you can read pretty much anything I have on my website.
However, concerning this post, I want to talk about ME! C ‘MON it’s narcissism!
For a massive amount of time, I felt “ashamed” regarding how long it took me to realize the role I played in my narcissistic relationships. I was so chronically focused on “rescuing and repairing” them that I did not see:
A) how unrealistic and magical thinking I was
B) the damage it was doing to me
C) that I was a contributor
I didn’t EVER think about what I was contributing to the narcissistic relationships I participated in. Not for anything, other than simply being unconscious. Some examples of what I contributed: The enabling (drug and alcohol abuse), the assertion of control (I could see what was best for them and wanted to fix/rescue/save them), the unending forgiveness (I forgave and expected change, when change inevitably didn’t happen I stayed and forgave again and again – multiple infidelities), my fear of “failure” (I couldn’t “give up” on them – everyone else seemingly had – I couldn’t fail), lack of boundaries (tons of degrading disrespect and all of the above).
These relationships were so high maintenance, and I was so focused on keeping them “alive” that I didn’t/couldn’t focus much on anything else, even my own unhappiness. When you get so caught up in someone else, like this, you forgo paying attention to recognizing your own needs, wants & desires. I began dating Jerry December of 2003. According to my journals, by April 2004, I was “looking for a therapist,” wondering “why I was with him because he lies all the time,” and felt “I cared way too much about every detail of “our life” more than my life.” Yet, I stayed. I should’ve gone to college right out of high school. I had been accepted and claimed my spot, but when it came down to school or Jerry. I chose Jerry. We spent eight years together, which didn’t spawn from full honest love from Jerry. It came out of how great of a supply I was to Jerry, my giving and trying, my blind and futile tenacity, and Jerry’s refusal to give up a great supplier.
Luckily, by the time the next one came around (right after Jerry), Cameron, the climax came quicker and had the punch ending I needed.
Every page of these journals depicts the epic highs and lows of these relationships – the cycle of abuse, the love-bombing, the gaslighting, the devaluation & of course, rejection.
Even, after all we went through and all the time that has passed, NINE YEARS, in my “Sweet Creatures” series, I still try to redeem him – to the reader and myself. I want to find that one speck of redemption, for myself, I guess, because he sure as fuck doesn’t care what I think of him. And that redemption that I am seeking, honestly, is probably just my need for validation. Validation that the relationship wasn’t a waste. But as it goes, what you desire from others, you must find within.
In no way does my participation in these relationships justify the treatment that I received. And the same goes for anyone with which this resonates. We are meant to learn and evolve, not be abused.
Today the book I am sharing is Anne Lamott’s “Almost Everything: Notes on Hope”
I randomly picked this book while at the library with my kid; it seems the library is the extent of our fun outgoings these days.
I read it in a day. Humblebrag and it’s an “easy read.”
I found her writing inspiring as a writer because I understood her voice. Not to toot my horn AT ALL, but I saw my writing in hers. Her style. What she was expressing and what she had been through. I wrote down some quotes from the book that I found inspiring, but this book is so much different from all the spiritual books and psychological books because this is someone’s story – which, Hi, Hello – I love. There is so much we can learn from one another because nothing is unique.
My favorite bits, “Life damages people. There is no way around it.”
Or “…nothing has given me so many gifts of growth, expansion, and knowing myself, which is not always lovely, but it’s why I am here.”
And my ABSOLUTE favorite, “And everything that happens to you belongs to you. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.” I swear I have said this before in one of my own essays. Lord knows – I have received so much shit for how I have written about people who were shitty to me (insert Sweet Creatures plug – link in bio).
As a writer myself, I don’t have it all figured out. Shit, I still fall for shit that I think I’ve dealt with or healed from. But I believe in the power, the importance, of sharing my/our experiences. Not because I am fucking unique or want to be popular or liked or make money, quite the contrary.
Sharing my story has helped me heal. It’s given me the clarity to see the situation for what it is, not what I want it to be. I know if someone who reads what I write can find a pearl of wisdom or even just identify with something I say, it may be enough to help them move through what they are going through, which is also why I share these books. Their stories have helped provide clarity, a pearl of wisdom, in my healing journey.
Solidarity is another, awesome, aspect of reading other people’s stories, like this book. You see that we aren’t so different. That we have commonality with someone we don’t even know. Commonality that bridges a gap of gender, skin color, religion etc. Through solidarity and commonality we expand our empathy and hey, that’s kinda the best thing, right?
So share! Whether it’s through creating or talking or serving. Share to connect. Read other people’s stories. And maybe you’ll just find that pearl of wisdom.
Comment, like and share and all that good stuff.
I am interjecting my own story to provide a bit of an interlude after talking to my editor:
I am fervently working on revising Part IV. My feedback, from my editor was the piece “was too on the fence.” I was trying to make sense and justify Jerry’s behavior instead of calling it as it was. That’s how you stay in a boo boo relationship for eight years. I revised half of it last night. Annnnnd its taken quite a turn. So, I’m inserting this so my intentions are clear – because I know he’s going to read it; not comprehend it *cough*
This story above all is an illustration of my self love.
It highlights the humanness of my existence. Highlights the karmic work I have to do.
I have compassion and love for Jerry and his humanness. So much so, that using his cover name “Jerry” makes writing this feel a tad insincere.
I am aware ego is the strongest voice in this story. My reasoning, balance. I have spent years in my head and heart sorting out all of this out. Growing from it. Learning from it. Sharing it with Jerry. Trying to understand why I care so deeply about someone who has never taken the time to understand me, to see me.
I know there are plenty of people who can not see me or hold space for me, and that’s perfectly fine. Compartmentalize me how you will. Know I am here if you need space.
I need a space to laugh about this. Space to laugh at the absurdity. The absurdity which makes this story so human. I need a space to see that regardless of my active compassion and love for Jerry that hurt happened in our relationship and that hurt was never mended. Most of my stories have been about the ugly side of Jerry and the reason for that is writing is my cope for my undressed wounds. Ironically, what Jerry hates about what I say, is really about Jerry hating what he has done. With these stories I carve a simple space which allows me to provide the compassion and love I yearned for from him and never got, to give it to myself. A space to heal.
To Jerry, I am in the wrong either way. If I love sincerely, I am wrong. If I use my voice and don’t advert my eyes, I am wrong. Instead of staying true to Jerry, I am being true to myself.
I do not want to be together with Jerry. I simply want the pain to go away. That’s why I talk about it. Write about it.
He could not say sorry and I did not leave.
I am grateful to Jerry everyday. He taught me how to love endlessly. He has taught me that although I can give my love easily, I must be thoughtful where I place it. He has shown me the duality of love and fear. He has shown me how critical it is to grow and where I need to grow. He has taught me how to let go. How to hold on. He has shown me my strength. He has given strength to my voice and my personal value. He has taught me compassion. He has shown me that we cannot heal anyone but ourselves and more importantly at our own time. Behind my words on this page, there is a well so deep that is rooted in nothing but love and gratitude of which Jerry has been on the receiving end since the day I met him and remains firmly in place today.