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

 

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

Low key flexing my killer PowerPoint skills. 

This week and next, I’ll be diving into narcissism! Ironic, eh?
I feel pulled to discuss this right now for multiple reasons, both personal and otherwise.

I won’t be sharing a book on Thursday; instead, I’ll be doing another post continuing the examination of narcissism. In this particular post, I have pulled information directly from the DSM-5. I intentionally did this because I am not a psychologist and because science overrides my general knowledge on the topic. It’s essential to believe and pull from science. Am I right?

Y’all know I am a big fan of trying to understand human behavior. I believe that understanding and being able to identify these characteristics is massively important. It helps us navigate our social relationships and has the potential to decrease our suffering.

I have suffered because I did not understand this personality disorder. I had STRONG beliefs that I could influence this personality type to, in my personal experience, be more empathetic and loving. Of course, that belief stems from my own issues, which I will dive into – shit, that’s all I ever dive into.

For those who can identify these traits within their intimate relationship partner, I will be posting resources on October 1st (you can also DM me, and I can get them for you). The most significant misunderstanding about being in a narcissistic relationship is, if the abuse of narcissism were physically visible, it would be one of the most devastating depictions of a physical assault.

So here we go, narcissism. 

All love.
Ashley

Cocktails and Garth Brooks: A Brief on Resiliency

Resiliency is learning and making meaning from what happened

While in my earlier relationships, my therapists, friends, parents; shit, most everyone, but my earlier partners would always tell me how “resilient” I was.

It was a little hit of dopamine because it was internalized validation that I was doing something right.   

My resiliency, combined with endless well-shots of hope, was a blessing and a curse. If you’ve seen the Garth Brooks documentary (mockumentary??), you’ll know what I am talking about, if not, grab a drink and go watch it!

My well cocktail of resiliency and hope carried me through A LOT of traumas.  Buuuuuut, to a degree it also kept me in those situations. My hope that one day, his words and actions would line up. My hope that he would follow through on promises made. My hope that one day love would reign supreme and there would be no more lying, cheating, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, verbal abuse, mental abuse, and of course the punch heard ‘round the world abuse. My hope that one day I would be worthy of the love I felt I gave. Man, was I resilient.  

It was during my relationship with Jerry when I began writing seriously. I was trying to make meaning out of what happened between Jerry and me in our relationship and trying to learn from it  (hey-o still do). I needed to pour my heart out, even if it was into a void, it was better than either Jerry or Cameron because they were more incapable than a void. I needed to understand the role I played in those relationships so I didn’t continue to recreate the same shit sandwich.

Later (after massive depression and hella therapy) this same hope and resiliency, lead me to my husband. 

Resiliency isn’t something which merely applies to relationships which reek; although it’s the experience I am talking about. We see resiliency shine through massive amounts of trauma. Fill in the blank: war, abuse, neglect, injustice, all of the shit happening in our world right now, etc. Things of which I am privileged and fortunate enough not to endure personally. 

I recently read an article from the NY Times, “What Makes Some People More Resilient Than Others,” by Eilene Zimmerman. She interviewed Dr. Southwick who co-wrote a book on resilience and he stated, “Many resilient people learn to carefully accept what they can’t change about a situation and then ask themselves what they can change.”

I write because I have to. Whether or not it’s absorbed. I write because it is my way of trying to make sense of my past and often failing (Sweet Creatures plug – Link in Bio) but I am learning A LOT! I’ve learned while in a relationship I co-create a reality with another person. Meaning if they suck, well, I have to accept that because I cannot change it (Lord knows I have tried. I have tried) and I must instead draw my attention inward to change what I can control and that’s me. 

Each person is unique. We all need to find our way and at our time. Resiliency allows us to challenge ourselves to go within and learn about ourselves. To question. Which leads to more questions. We then use community and resources to advance our knowledge and then we share it because at the end of it, were all transmitters of what we possess within.

As per usu – I hope you find a nugget in this. If you do or know someone who will share it. I ain’t making shit off of it. We’re human. Life is tough. Whatever we can do to help each other out – fuck it, let’s do it!

All love.

Ashley