What Worked For Me

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VeryFoggy

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What Worked For Me
« on: November 20, 2015, 04:43:03 AM »
How Victims Without Boundaries Can Learn To Set Them

The first thing you need is Space. 

Time and space and peace lots of peace.  Safety. Security. Iíve seen so many books and articles that claim you can stay with a Narcissist and heal yourself at the same time.  Not me, itís not possible.  Clean house. I had to get rid of 4 in one year, plus one other who was similar except not abusive, but who had all of the other behaviors, grandiosity, verbose, selfish, emotionally unavailable. So I dumped my father, my boyfriend, my roommate, and my sister, and my youngest brother over the course of one year. I was able to actually keep one Narcissist in my life, and heís good for practicing my new behaviors on. Itís my son, heís one too.  But he doesnít trigger me, so he was allowed to stay. But itís not easy to lose almost every single person that you were closest to in your life, and to recognize that they have nothing but more pain to offer you as far into the future as you can see.  You have been betrayed. By everyone, not just one person, every single last one.  You need, time, space and peace to understand, accept, and grieve, and deeply understand what has been done to you.

Second.  A willingness to be honest.

Your life is toast. You are miserable. The harder you try the worse it gets, especially if you are improving. They feel it, they sense it, it scares them, and they escalate their controlling behavior as a last ditch effort to get you back and control you. You have to get away from them and just think. Because the more you improve?  The more they will torture and escalate their controlling behavior. You have to be honest about what has happened, and be willing to open your eyes and really absorb just how bad it is.  You have been fighting for so long all alone, believing you could fix it if you just tried harder.  You have to stop trying and fighting, and accept that you can never fix it.  And not only was it bad, it was so much worse than you ever allowed yourself to even see or consider.  And it was not you.  It was them, all along.

Third. You have to be willing to change.

 You have to commit to your own recovery. What you are doing is NOT working. And the harder you try the worse it gets.  So you need space, time, peace, honesty and self appraisal. When you look you arenít going to like it, what you see.  What you have been forced by the Narcissist to become in order to survive. You have forced yourself into a tiny box that is much too small to hold you, and you are in a corner, and it feels like there is no way out, and that life is hopeless. Everything you believed in has been destroyed. You have been told so many times that you are so much less than you really are that you actually started believing it.  Now you have forced yourself into this small tiny box that is much too small to hold you, and it is squeezing you, and cutting off your air, and your ability to breathe, and think, and do, and be.  You are going to have to decide the box is too small, decide it does not fit, and you are going to have get out. You canít change them.  But you can change yourself. You donít have to stay in the box.  You can get out. If you want to.

Fourth You need support.

And if you are like me, then you are in despair as every single person you were ever close to and cared about is gone, you had to get rid of them all, and your other friends?  Are also a part of that network too, and so they are either also Narcissistís themselves, or completely deceived by the Narcissists.  So often there is NOBODY left. So now you are out of the box.  And possibly alone, and friendless. But you still need support. There are on line support groups.  Who will take you in and embrace you and love you like the lost broken child that you are.  They will love you and care for you and understand you and your struggles. Outofthefog.net and CPTSD.org are the best I have found.  They are Wonderful people. You will also need one on one support.  No ifs ands or buts you need it. Get it anyway you can.  You need therapy with someone who is highly educated about Narcissism and the effect it has on other people. Itís not optional, you need it. Itís not a luxury, itís a necessity.  You need to work with someone who understands deeply the impact a Narcissist can have on people who are not Narcissists. Someone who can see you as you are.  Someone who can see that you are a good person who only wanted to help others, and who just got tangled up with the wrong people.  A person whose goodness and willingness to forgive and forget went too far, and so far that you forgot be loving and kind and forgiving to yourself.  You absorbed lies and started believing the lies, and they are not true.  You must relearn the truth and you must learn to love yourself.  One on one therapy can give you this, can help you get back or even learn for the first time about your healthy self love.

Fifth Education: 

You need to understand what happened to you. You have to learn everything you can about Narcissism.  This is important. This is your shield.  This is your new defense.  You MUST learn these behaviors, and be able to spot them.  They are difficult to learn.  It is foreign, bizarre, strange, inhuman, and awful.  But learn you must in order to protect yourself going forward. You will also need to learn everything you can about recovery and how to recover.  The most important thing you will have to learn is about boundary setting. You will also need to fully accept that there is nothing you can do for the Narcissist.  Their illness is incurable. You will have to accept this, and be able to walk away and know in your heart that staying is bad for you, and will destroy you, and that there is NOTHING you can do to help them.  Nothing. The only person you can help is yourself.

Sixth You Must Heal Your Past. 

If you have been involved with a Narcissist, there is something about you that attracted them and made you susceptible to their preying ways.  You will have to explore your childhood and heal your inner child and vow to protect her from now on.  She must become your reason for living, growing, learning, changing.  Because you must protect her.  No one else is going to do it. Get to know her. Listen to her, she will guide you to know where you need to focus and work to be most helpful to her moving forward. To help her feel safe. To help her feel hopeful about life and living.

Seventh Boundaries.

Most of us as victims of Narcissists have no boundaries.  And normally that works because normal people have boundaries, and we are nice people, and we want others to be happy.  We are pleasers.  So if a normal person tells us that when we act a certain way it makes them unhappy, then we are more than happy to change that behavior.  And normal people do not cross otherís boundaries. So we have no problems there either.  Normal people do not try to take advantage of us and use us for their own amusement and cruel entertainment.  The problem arises when we meet someone who has no boundaries who feels entitled to everything they have as well as everything we have.  We have no defense system.  None.  And they are able to rape and pillage as they please inside of our souls. Learning to set boundaries will be hardest part of this journey towards healing.  Because we have no experience.  Often we were raised to believe we did not have the right to boundaries. That we were not allowed to resist or defend, or protect ourselves.  And that we had no right to our own feelings, thoughts, and beliefs. Nothing was ours, everything was theirs. It is very difficult to convince oneself that one has the right to something that one has never had.   The best map for this I have found in my searches is Pete Walkerís Intentions For Recovery and his Bill Of Human Rights.  I read them every day.  I must believe those lists and I must absorb them as my new way of life. This must become my new religion. But even more than having a map is having a belief, developing, supporting, sustaining, reinforcing, building, growing, learning to BELIEVE.  Believe that we have equal rights to respect and decent fair treatment, and no one is better than we are, or entitled to more than we are. This belief must be hatched. While incubating it must be wrapped warmly in the feathers of our newly growing boundaries while they mature and grow, and eventually our belief will hatch, and take on a new life that will bring happiness, peace and order to our lives.

Eighth Accept and Trust Your Feelings. 

All of my life I have been hesitant to judge others. But I let them judge me.  I let every single word they said to me inside of me, and then I would mull it over and decide if it had value or not to me.  The problem with living this way is when somebody attacks you?  And if you have already let it inside of you?  What chance do you have if they are wrong?  They are against you, but you have already let their accusation inside of you to confuse you. You have no time to mull things over. You must make a decision NOW of what you will do. And as your heart thaws out, and you learn to love yourself, you are going to start having lots and lots of feelings. Anger being a huge piece of it. You will have to learn how to trust YOURSELF to tell you who you are and what you are feeling.  NOT other people.  You have allowed too many people way too much access to your insides, and way too much influence on how you felt about yourself. And you will need to learn to trust that if you feel angry?  Something bad is being done to you.  And you donít have to think about it or mull it over or decide if you are judging or not. Somebody said something, you are angry, so something bad happened, something not fair or wrong. And I have spent months and months wrestling with this concept.  I wanted to stop them, I wanted to control them, I wanted to be heard and seen and understood. So I would argue with them, which never solved the problem. Or try to control them which also did not work.  Or try to love them back to the relationship which only angered them more. Forgiving and loving someone who has not repented, and who has not asked for forgiveness is folly, and makes them hate you more and not less.  The answer is simple and not complex at all. Here is the answer.  Say it everyday, and get used to saying.  I donít deserve to be treated that way. When you can treat me the way I deserve to be treated, then let me know and we will resume this conversation. And walk away. When your anger sparks it is message to you from your soul. And your heart.  It is a signal that someone is doing something unfair that you did not deserve.  Listen!  Do not argue, control, fight, or defend.  Just say, ďWhat you are doing, or saying is not fair, and I will talk to you later when you calm down.Ē   Also people have taken things from me that I did not want to share.  I have always argued with them too. And told them what to do if they wanted what I had, and how to get it for themselves. I became the teacher hoping they would learn something, but they didnít.  They just took what they wanted anyway, and just pretended to listen to me.   For the first time yesterday I said. I donít want to share with you, these are my things and I donít want to share them with you and I donít have to if I donít want to.  Boom!  Problem solved. All along I was just not being selfish enough!  It was a foreign and strange concept. But when I said it, it worked.  I said what I felt, instead of just trying to tell them what they should do. It worked much better.

Nine I Thought I Needed To Know Everything.

I would never judge another because I was trying so hard to be fair.  I thought I had to know everything first. Every circumstance, every possible reason, every possible influence, like what happened to them an hour ago, today, yesterday, last week, or 40 years ago? But that is not true.  But, they would like you to believe that. Because if you believe that then that means you are willing to take responsibility for their behavior. It means you have decided to try to make it up to them for every bad thing that ever happened to them. That you are willing to take their anger and their criticism, and the put downs and the abusive behavior and all of the bad things that ever happened to them and you are willing to try to compensate for it.  You take away their power by doing this. And you bring their wrath on your head.  But you do not need to know everything.  You are incapable of knowing everything.  It is impossible to know everything another person is feeling, thinking, or has experienced.  There is only one person in the whole world that you can know everything about. Feelings, thoughts, beliefs.  An hour ago, today, yesterday, or the last 40 years.  And that is you. And you must act and live according to what you feel, think, and believe. If you act, feel, think, and believe based on what you THINK another person has experienced?  Then you are playing God. And you are stealing their life and their responsibility to act for themselves. And that is not fair to you or to them.  Each person must assume responsibility for their own thoughts, feelings and beliefs and ACTIONS. Really the most honest, fair, true friend-like behavior you can ever exhibit?  Is to understand YOURSELF and to share that person with the world to the best of your ability.

Ten. Be Willing To Fail And To Be Patient. 

You are trying to do something you have never done before.  You have no experience, no knowledge, not even any gut instinct of what is right to draw on.  You are learning to walk and you have no idea how to do it, as you have only crawled all of your life. You will stumble.  You will fall.  You will make mistakes. But you will learn.  And you will get better.  You will get better simply because you want to.  Because you will slowly absorb the idea that you will never be happy until you learn that boundaries are good for us and good for others. The Boundary books that are out there all assume you already have a well somewhere inside of you from which to draw strength and knowledge.  You may not.  I didnít.  But trial and error, and learning to nurture your Inner Child and making a commitment to protect her, as she is only a child, and needs someone to stick up for her, this will help you.  If you are a good person that Narcissistic vampires have tried to suck the goodness and the life from, then you will still have goodness and caring inside of you for that child, and your instinct to protect the helpless will kick in, and it will help you learn at last how to finally protect yourself. This will take a long time.  You will not learn it overnight or even in a month or two. It takes time, and space and peace, and patience, and practice, and a daily commitment to care for and protect that child going forward to the best of your ability.  And also we need to teach her how to have fun if she doesnít know how, and slowly eventually to find her friends that she can trust and rely on.  Donít rush it, slow down, and take your time. And learn to love her, as she is you.  Friends will be last.  Because you have to learn to trust yourself to make good choices going forward, and you wonít have the knowledge or the skills you need until you finish your education on Narcissism and complete the construction of your boundaries and heal your child and prove to her that you will protect her going forward.

Eleven.  Be Prepared For Character Assassination From The Narcissist. 

Itís going to happen. It is not a question of if?  Itís when.  It WILL happen. Some of you may be ďluckyĒ in that the narcissist will simply walk away when you shut them out.  They will be too busy looking for a new place to get the supply they used to receive from you. They will leave you alone, and be happy to dump you like a hot potato. But they will badmouth you to every Tom, *, and Harry that you ever knew. Every bad thing they have ever done to you?  You will be accused of. So we must accept that this will happen, and can only pray it will pass quickly. And if you hold your head up high, and let your light shine, then some will see you and some will not.  The weak people will be blinded by the grandiosity of the Narcissist, and will take their stories at face value.  If you are not lucky, and if you are involved with a Narcissist who is angry that they have lost their main source of supply? They will try every trick in the book to get you back. After they finish smearing you, then they may start trying to woo you back, trying to convince you and yet again that they are so wonderful.   Donít buy the milk.  Itís poisoned.  But this is why the education piece is so important.  You must learn what these tricks are, and how to recognize them, and how to walk away anyway. And again you will still experience the character assassination. Itís inevitable. Itís a weapon intended to destroy you with falsehoods, and if they do get you back?  Then it will be used to illustrate to you what a wonderful person they are for taking you back despite all of your horrific flaws.  That are in truth their flaws and always have been their flaws.  They needed you to project those flaws onto, and without you they are lost. Donít buy the milk.  It is poison.

Twelve.  They canít kill your soul. 

They can defame and smear and rage and freeze you, and in worst cases they can kill you.  But they canít kill your soul. Unless you let them. Donít let these people who are not worth it destroy you.  You are worth so much more than that. Fight for yourself. You are worth fighting for and saving.  They are not, and they cannot even be saved.  May God have mercy on their souls.

Thirteen.  Forgiveness and compassion.

The first person you will have to forgive is yourself.  As you remember, and things over time become clearer to you, then you may become angry with yourself for all of the things you have allowed these people to do to you.  They have done plenty and most of it was concealed, or was supposedly ďdone for your own good.Ē  Or, as in my case they were throwing sticks and stones at me as hard they could, and simultaneously screaming ďcanít you see how much I love you?Ē  I think that is what woke me up.  One day I figured out that all of the sticks and stones that were being cast at me, number one were not deserved, and two did not look anything at all like love to me.  I had experienced enough real love in my life to see the difference.  I had children, I had grandchildren, and this hurling of verbal sticks and stones, while screaming I love you in no way resembled love. So you have to forgive yourself first.  And eventually with time, and enough study, and enough knowledge, you will probably be able to experience some compassion and sorrow for all of the Narcissists that have used you and abused you in your life. They are sick.  They do not know what they are doing. If you tell them what they are doing, then they only use the information to convince themselves of how very sick you are.  And that is sick.  So you must walk away but also someday let it go, and feel some compassion for them, and some balm of relief as there is hope for you.  But there is NONE for them. None.

Fourteen. They are smarter than you and they will always outwit you.

They say good overcomes evil, and maybe thatís why you try.  Maybe you were taught that, maybe you believed that. But what I say is that you do have to give people a chance, maybe even a couple, or even three. But eventually if you are a really good person?  You will be damaged. If you are too good to someone who does not deserve it?  You are injuring them. You are hurting them. Being kind and loving and caring to someone who refuses to do the same to you? Hurts them. Makes them sicker. And it makes you sick too, as the longer your love and caring is rebuffed, the more pain and unhappiness you will experience.  In this case good is not going to win, or triumph over evil. Because they cannot change. But you can, so save yourself. You have goodness inside of yourself. Do not cast your pearls before swine. Love the tiger from afar, and save your pearls for those who can see their true value. Who can appreciate what you have to offer.  You know you have a lot to offer.  You know these people cannot see it or hear you.  They live in their own made up world, and they cannot even see you or hear you. They see something else entirely that they made up in their own minds. Itís not your fault. Itís not even their fault. Itís the just the way it is. And you canít change it. So save yourself. Accept you cannot win.  And walk away. Resolve to no longer live a life filled with anger, sorrow, frustration, misunderstandings, lies, putdowns, hurts, wounds and insults.  Instead resolve to start a beautiful new clean life full of love, happiness, joy and peace. But stop fighting them and accept they will always win.  Why?  Because they will stoop to levels and do things your conscience would never even dream of or allow you to do.  They have no conscience and they will do and say ANYTHING to win.  Just. Walk. Away.


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C.

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Re: What Worked For Me
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2015, 05:09:05 AM »
Thank you VF.  I always learn something new from your writing.  I plan to go through this bit by bit over the next few days...I liked what you said about not killing your soul and about compassion.  I started to feel some compassion for my ex today.  Realizing that the NPD is an illness that covers up who he is inside.  At least, that's what I think at the moment.   And on the spectrum of NPD he is not the most extreme case...everyone is diffent I think.

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Dutch Uncle

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Re: What Worked For Me
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2015, 08:06:51 AM »
Thanks for posting this. I could only read through the first third of it, as I recognize so much of what I am experiencing now, of my current process, it's a bit triggering. In a good, sort of pleasant, validating sense. But I feel myself numbing a little, information overload.
That's fine.
It's here, i'll come back to it. In my own time.

Thanks a LOT for posting this.  :thumbup:

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woodsgnome

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Re: What Worked For Me
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2015, 08:34:34 PM »
Thank you so much for posting this, VeryFoggy. This is one of the best summaries I've ever read of the steps that are needed to truly recover one's full humanness, and to thrive, not just survive. While I've read a lot of this sort of material, yours carries more weight as it's from someone who's really had to "walk the talk".

What you speak to so well hits on what I tend to think of as the two keys to the journey with CPTSD--there's lots of learning, but as much if not more un-learning that must happen. While neither step is easy, persevering in our "self-university" process enables the fog to lift from what once seemed so hopeless.

Thanks again. 
« Last Edit: November 21, 2015, 10:05:26 PM by woodsgnome »

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arpy1

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Re: What Worked For Me
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2015, 09:07:48 PM »
i keep reading this through and am shocked again at how much it describes my life.  it is a bit triggering, as D/U said, but it is perfect to keep coming back to and seeing more in. 

why am i shocked? it always surprises me that even after everything that has happened, everything i have learnt over the last few years, that i still get this gut-shock when i realise just how bad it was, just what was done to me. how people could do this stuff. how i ever didn't see it.  do you ever get over that gut-shock, i wonder?

thank you so much for posting it, VeryFoggy. it is such a valuable resource. 

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woodsgnome

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Re: What Worked For Me
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2015, 10:33:27 PM »
Arpy1--yes, that shock factor seems to go with the territory; but maybe we can at least lessen its impact over time. At least that's been my experience. Often when one rock is overturned, put aside, and the road seems clear, more obstacles (memories, false turns, etc) seem to take their place.

It is a brutal shock to the system. Does it ever disappear? Well, it's just a part of the story so far; or "how bad it was", as you have aptly observed. The realization, and the work, seems to involve accepting the "was" factor. It's unpleasant, and we can move beyond, change even, but "was" is not who we are "now", either. It seems to pull us on, even when hope seems so forlorn, so distant.

The "was" is still there, but packed in the baggage, so to speak. We know it's there, we were shocked it survived, hurt knowing about it, but as VeryFoggy showed, we get the last crack at whether we ever see it again. Maybe even the last laugh. :yes:
« Last Edit: November 21, 2015, 10:35:12 PM by woodsgnome »

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VeryFoggy

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Re: What Worked For Me
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2015, 05:46:53 AM »
Thanks for reading it and I am glad it had some meaning for you. I started working on this earlier this year as nothing I found in the books I read really covered in a broad way what I felt I was going through. I needed a step by step path, and I read tons of books, and all of them helped.  But I still had to glue and cobble together my own pathway. Sort of patch it together from all that I learned from different authors and their areas of expertise and focus.

I was hesitant to post it, as it was something really written to myself for myself, so it's kind of "bossy" sounding, as that's how I talk to myself.  But everyone who has commented has graciously seemed to understand I wasn't telling you that you need to do this and you need to do that.  It really was just me talking to me about what worked for me.

I have to tell you all that every day of peace that I get under my belt of complete freedom from anxiety that is a direct result of cutting myself off  from Disordered people just amazes me a little bit. I can't even believe I lived like that for so very long.  Because it was normal.

And I can see I was addicted to it. That buzz. And I can also see that if someone had told me I was addicted to being abused 2 years ago I would not have known what they were talking about.  It was all I knew.  I lived with this buzz that could escalate into terror because it was all I had ever known.  So I looked for it in close relationships, because if I did not feel the buzz, it did not feel right or normal.

Losing the buzz is the best thing I have ever done for myself. Will it still happen?  Probably. When I meet new people who are Disordered.  And that is why I call CPTSD a gift.  I regard CPTSD as a special warning system that tells me this is not good for me. I just did not KNOW before that my own body was screaming at me to get out. It was all I knew and it was normal.

But having experienced the peace and learning to feel is why I now trust my feelings. If I feel the buzz?  I now know there is a REASON for it. Of course I will still use my brain and try to work through it reasonably and make sure I am certain before making a final decision. But I trust myself more by the day. And it feels good!


« Last Edit: November 23, 2015, 05:53:30 AM by VeryFoggy »

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Dyess

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Re: What Worked For Me
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2015, 02:37:14 AM »
Thanks for posting this.