//Flame

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 stay 
He’ll stay 

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

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 – 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

What Attracts Us To Narcissists?

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.

All love.

Ashley

Narcissism II

Here’s the rub; this whole narcissism bit was born out of my personal research, which I was doing to identify patterns I had been exposed to and cultivated in the past. I went through codependency and empathy because that shoe fit. I had nailed down my “deficiencies.” However, I wanted to understand all the confusion I felt about my past relationships. Why it has been so difficult for me to unplug myself from it because I get it, “it’s crazy.” I stumbled upon gaslighting, and that broke me into the chewy center of the tootsie pop.

In my past relationships, I literally have felt as though I was going crazy. I was continually stating my boundaries, needs, pains, and the lack and hurt I was feeling caused by their behavior, caused by a person who claimed to love me. (I often speak of Jerry because he is a massive component (8 years). My most significant and most prolonged cluster fuck to date, but believe it or not, he wasn’t the only one; hence “their.”) So gaslighting. I started researching gaslighting. Which led me to Dr. Ramani, a licensed psychologist with a Ph. D. She specializes in personality disorders. She has an insane amount of FREE content on Youtube about, you guessed it, narcissism. I went faaaaaar down that rabbit hole, and it shed so much light and provided me, for the first time ever in my life, clarity about these relationships and my participation in them. She also has a book (foreshadow???) titled, “Should I Stay or Should I Go? Surviving A Relationship With A Narcissist” and it magnified my clarity – it focused it.

I have said, and maybe it’s shitty of me because fill in the blank I want this information to be accessible so that it can help someone. Maybe in a fucked up way, I am trying to save my old self, (like you can do that?), but I wish I could’ve saved myself time, anguish. Learning that unplugging yourself from a narcissistic relationship is not the same as just breaking up with someone was validating. The entanglement. The giant knot. Unpacking all the “abuse” and downright fuckedness of the whole situation was not as simple and as pragmatic as you may judge it. Anyone thinking, beyond myself, “enough time has gone by” “you’ve moved on and your married” or “why” clearly has the benefit of never experiencing a narcissistic relationship. 

I fully accept responsibility for my participation in all of it. Still, I had no awareness of what was happening. I was trying to love someone incapable of showing up the same way for me. I was dumb. Blind. Living in a fantasy, that I created. I wanted what I wanted because I had invested. Because every time I had enough and was going to leave (in some cases, I did leave), I was PROMISED time and again that “things would be different” and “I will change, please don’t go – I love you so much.” And that’s all I wanted. Change in behavior and to be loved by the person I loved so very much. I didn’t want the cheating, the lying the chronic “sorry’s” that only served to manipulate and bide time. I whole heartily misunderstood and I didn’t learn after repeated failures to deliver on their behalf. I was comforted by the devil I knew, the predictability of chaos, and the hopes that he would change. I was wrong. I had unreasonable expectations given the nature of the person I was involved with.

So, heavy, right? We also have an election coming up. In my opinion, it is fundamentally important to educate yourself on the issues that are in front of us, and part of that is behavior. Being able to spot and identify grandiosity, lack of empathy, gaslighting, carelessness, manipulation, etc. may provide more clarity (as if the state of affairs isn’t clear enough), but hey, The Social Dilemma, right?

And perhaps you don’t have an intimate relationship with a narcissist, or you never have. However, maybe you have someone in your family, or a boss, a friend, who leaves you feeling a bit like shit? Perhaps through research and identification, you’ll possess clarity, and thus the ability to move through it; however, best suits you.

Make no mistake, narcissism is prevalent; “Narcissism is an epidemic, and no one is free from its effects. Much like any epidemic, whether or not you get the illness, you are affected. If you aren’t a narcissist, then you may be under the spell of someone who is a pathological narcissist, and it is taking a toll on your life. Increasingly, we are emptying the connection, respect, and empathy out of one of the most important and healthy of human experiences and turning it into branding, showmanship, and posturing.” Of course, this is a quote from Dr. Ramani (duh!).

As usual, please share and feel free to reach out!

All love. 

Ashley