At A Loss For Words

I had a question posed to me yesterday that I thought I would answer in a post because it is not something I have talked about before but I bet many other people are experiencing the same problem.

The question:

 

Tongue-Tied-Baby

I have a question: Do you think is normal after an abusive relationship break is up to “8 months” that the victim doesn’t know how to deal with others? I feel I am foolish and don’t know how and what words I may use to speak; paranoia may be? very different from before. I miss my spontaneous way of being.. I am afraid to never be the same as before.

The answer:

OMG a resounding yes! I have always been shy when I first meet people but even so I had a quick wit and was able to talk to anyone about anything. I was never at a loss for words. (not surprising I know) But after the N I felt totally inept in social situations, I found I would have a thought and not be able to come up with the words to express it. I would start to speak and 1/2 way through what I was saying I would trail off unable to find the words. Whereas I used to be able to come up with a witty one liner at the drop of a hat any attempts at wit fell flat. I had a hard time even pronouncing words properly and stumbled and stammered, nothing felt natural. I started to avoid going anywhere I would be expected to make small talk because it was so much work and I always came away feeling totally inadequate socially. I couldn’t even decide what I wanted to eat in a restaurant, for that matter I had a hell of a time even deciding what to wear to any social event. I would end up changing 1/2 a dozen times and then change again just as I was about to go out the door and feel uncomfortable all night because I chose the wrong thing to wear. I would go home and review and critique every conversatio and chastise myself for saying something dumb.

I am not even sure when, but I assure you it passes. Actually, it wasn’t until you asked the question that I realized I no longer have that problem and am almost totally back to myself. I think it took me 2 or more years to get to the point where I felt relaxed in social situations.

The thing that bothered me the most was losing my quick wit, I had never been able to tell a joke but I was the queen of the one liners and had always been able to be flirty and light-hearted and I missed that part of me. I felt boring and serious all the time. After the N I would go to social functions and listen to the conversations going on around me in order to try to remember how to make simple small talk, I felt like an idiot, what was wrong with me?

I think there are many reasons this happens:

The narcissist twisted our words, corrected our grammar, ridiculed our thought processes, told us we didn’t know what we were talking about. Whereas we used to be able to discuss anything with him after the abuse started we could discuss nothing with him without it ending in a fight. Of course now we are very hesitant to say anything to anyone, even if we know the person isn’t our ex we have developed a fear of expressing ourselves.

While with the narcissist casual conversation became impossible, our fear of saying the wrong thing made us paranoid to say anything. It is going to take a while to get your spontaneity back. When I first met my ex he and I could banter back and forth with ease but after we had been together a while all that stopped, he was witty and funny but if I tried to be funny it fell flat, he wouldn’t “understand” what I meant or would totally not respond. I lost my confidence when it came to being quick-witted.

Lets’ face it, life with the narcissist was far from light-hearted and fun and left us with PTSD or at the very least depressed, it’s hard to make small talk when a person is depressed, when your thoughts are consumed with the pain you carry in your heart.

When a person is suffering from PTSD I think it is pretty common to have a hard time formulating your thoughts, I remember thinking of something I wanted to say, some event I had recently experienced or something and start to tell the story and half way through stumble over my words, not be able to find the words to express myself and end up trailing off and giving up. I felt like a total idiot. What was wrong with me? I knew what I wanted to say but my thoughts just didn’t come out my mouth. I could type out what I wanted to say but to speak the same thing was impossible.

– I wasn’t interested in small talk, it seemed dumb to me, I would listen to people talk at great length about really mundane things I couldn’t relate to. MY world was falling apart, I had nothing to add to conversations about a new outfit I had bought or trip I had gone on, or what colour to paint the kitchen. Nothing was normal or ordinary about my life and I knew they didn’t want to hear the reality of my existence and I could not relate to their very normal life.

– I don’t know if it is this way for everyone but after leaving the narcissist I became very concerned about all injustices in the world, the wars, the famine, the poverty and it weighed me down. I simply was not in a light-hearted frame of mind.

I avoided visiting with friends because I felt so inept at conversation and isolating myself did nothing to help the situation, it only served to silence me even more and gave me less to talk about.

– When you think about it, when a person goes out with friends or even at work talking with workmates energizes a person. The narcissist hated that you derived any pleasure from anything that didn’t involve him, he hated you being happy period so he isolated you. Imagine being shipwrecked on a desert island with no one to talk to for years and then you are rescued, what would you talk about? What would you have to talk about? how you struggled everyday to find food and water, how you waited for a ship to rescue you? how you made clothes out of palm tree leaves? You would feel totally inept at making small talk. It is no different after leaving the narcissist. You have lived on an island created by the narcissist, deprived of human contact; it makes sense that you would have nothing to talk about.

– Use it or lose it. If you don’t use your ability to function socially you will lose it for a period of time. If you are constantly criticized for saying something stupid you stop talking and you lose your confidence to say anything intelligent.

In most abusive relationships the abuser talks about some undefined flaw of the victim. With my ex he used to always say things like; “I always knew your warped views of the world bothered me but I thought I could live with it.” but he could never tell me exactly what he meant by my “warped viewed”, in what way were my views warped? Or, he should have known better than to think he could “help” me but he was too healthy and couldn’t relate to me. It wasn’t my fault because I had such a dysfunctional upbringing but he had been raised in such a normal loving home he just could not deal with “it”. But he could never give me an example of what I was doing that was so weird or unacceptable. There is nothing worse than being criticized for some terrible flaw and not be told what that flaw is, how can you correct it? So you shut up and isolate yourself out of fear other people will discover how flawed you are.

– I found I could talk at great length about the narcissist with people who knew him. His sister and I could get together and laugh about the crazy things he did. We could discuss how angry he made us etc But that made sense, he had basically occupied my every thought for 10 years, he was all I knew, he told me what to feel, what to do, when to be happy and he could take it away. I am reminded of a dog who is well-trained, he will sit at your feet waiting for your next command.

How did I get over it?

It basically just happened. The longer I have been away from my ex the more I have to talk about in a social situation and the more comfortable I feel in social situations the easier it is to make small talk.

At first I was isolated, I was self-employed, I lived in a remote area and did nothing but work and in my off hours I spent my time with my dog. I worked 7 days a week, only taking a day off if I was sick simply because I had nothing else to do. I have never minded being alone but after the N I was more comfortable with my own company that anywhere else which can be a really bad thing. Isolation is NOT the way to get over being uncomfortable socially. The more you do it the better you get at it. Like anything, if we don’t use a talent we are going to lose the ability and have to practice to stay proficient at it.

Just like I used to be an excellent cook, I never had a flop when I cooked, I would entertain all the time and cook dinners for a dozen or more people any time and people always raved about my cooking. While with the N we often didn’t live in a place conducive to entertaining, didn’t even have a kitchen for a period of time. All my tried and true recipes were “stolen”  and over time I lost my ability to cook. I had forgotten how to season things, nothing ever tasted good, I lost my confidence and cooking was no longer a natural thing to do, I grew fearful of failing and consequently I would fail. I have found more and more I am able to cook a tasty meal but it always surprises me when I do whereas in the past I was shocked if something didn’t turn out. Use it or lose it.

I used to go to the gym 5 days a week, I had very low body fat. If you stop working out you lose muscle mass very quickly but once you have developed a muscle it has a memory and comes back amazingly fast, it is the same with any talent we develop over our lives. You just have to exercise that ability.

The longer I have been away from the N the more normal my life has become giving me more to talk about. I don’t have the N occupying my every thought which leaves room for other things to think about. Makes sense right?

The pain of the narcissist has faded into being just a part of my past. I can discuss him without feeling any pain or anger, he is no more important in my life than any of my exs. He is simply the past. He plays no part in my today or my tomorrows so my heart is lighter, life is brighter, it makes sense that my conversations are lighter and brighter and my sense of humor is coming back.

I used to be very aware of NOT talking about the N or our relationship because I felt people didn’t want to hear it, like they say about subjects to avoid when making small talk in social situations, avoid talking about religion, politics, and they should add, narcissists. But now when women I am with start talking about some stupid thing an ex did or even a nice thing an ex did I can join in the conversation and relate some story about JC without it being depressing, I can relate a story of some experience I had with him without it becoming some depressing diatribe about domestic violence.

I had to realize also that I may be an advocate of raising awareness about domestic abuse but not everyone is going to be passionate about it like I am and I don’t want it to be my whole life. I have other interests, other things to talk about, and I have developed those other interests in order to have something else to talk about.

I most importantly I gave myself a break. We all have expectations of ourselves and those in our lives. We get to know a person to be a certain way. I was known for being the life of the party, rather loud, funny, excited, outgoing and the first one to say, “The party’s at my place!” or “You’re all invited for breakfast tomorrow morning.” I will never be that person again and I had to get comfortable with the new me and so did everyone who knew me.

I used to drink a lot, it is much easier to be the life of the party when you are half snapped, without booze I am much more sedate. I like myself sober, I cringe at the thought of over drinking and having a hangover. I have to accept that without a bottle of wine in my system I am not as funny (and I don’t find drunks as funny as I used to) that has nothing to do with the narcissist.

I am more interested in what other people have to say and have become a better listener. I don’t have to be the life of the party, it is not my responsibility to keep the conversation flowing. It took awhile for other people to accept the new me and learn how to interact with the new me. People in general don’t like change, they want a person to stay the same, they are uncomfortable with change, especially with something like drinking. If a person stops drinking the people they used to party with feel uncomfortable with you as a nondrinker, so you may lose some friends.

sometimes

Life happens, events change people, divorce, the death of a child, bankruptcy, having children, many things can affect how a person relates to the world around them. Victims of a narcissist had a life altering experience, it is unreasonable to think it is not going to have an effect on a person’s personality, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing and everyone eventually levels out and gets comfortable with their new personality and the people who love them accept this new person; or they don’t. Sometimes friends leave our lives and new ones take their place, it is part of life.

I found that over time I stopped trying to be everything to all people and found my happy place, a place where I am totally myself and although I want people to like me I accept that not all people will, and that is ok.

 

Victims of narcissists tend to be perfectionists and to have very high standards for themselves and we have to learn to be kind to ourselves and not hold ourselves to higher standards than we hold the people around us to.

best day of your life

Try to relax and know this is just another step in your recovery, there will come a day when the narcissist is not part of your daily life, the scars have healed, you are comfortable in your own skin again and you once again have friends who love you for who you are.

 

 

 

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8 thoughts on “At A Loss For Words

  1. Vickie

    Thank you Carrie! I was in a 16 year N relationship. He bugged the phones, put spy cameras all over our home and even on the computer so he had access to all of my logins etc. He messed around on me constantly and while he didn’t ever admit it, he was able to tell me inadvertently about his girls. (Of course he had too because he is the best of the best) They were younger than me, smaller than me, prettier than me and they all had jobs. ( I was waiting for major surgery for three years and couldn’t work)

    I swear Carrie you have already written out my life on your blog even the sexual parts. Gees I was wondering where you lived..haha really I thought I was the only one until I fell upon your blog.

    I left him Jan 12/14 and have had no contact. He is telling everyone that I left him to be an online porn star! He was the one that was into porn and I even contacted the police about it. You see he got up in the middle of the nite when I was sleeping and made these dirty movies. He took dirty pics of his girls on his phone (I actually found a couple once) and then transferred them to the computer and on and on. I discovered this by checking internet files during the day when he was at work. I always tried to stay awake at nite to catch him but I believe he drugged me as well so that I wouldn’t wake up.

    The reason for the surgery I needed was more than likely worsened by his abuse to me sexually for so many years. I don’t know if I’ll ever be the same with that. Two days after my surgery on Jan 10th I left him.

    Anyways I suffer from severe PTSD. I am very reclusive, suffer from anxiety attacks and don’t go too far from home. I am very afraid of talking to people and was wondering the same thing in your article “At A Loss For Words” haha Thanks for responding to it.

    You know the abuse I went thru was extensive and the sad part is….I am trying to build a small online business and even though I love what I am doing there is a big possibility of him ruining it. I hope not though.

    Thank you so much for being here. I don’t have friends because he made sure of that. Now of course even though I am free I am “At A Loss For Words”.

    Take care and thank you so much.
    Vickie

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  2. Liselotte

    Is this true? God, is it ever.
    Just like you, Carrie, I used to be the queen of oneliners. I wrote short, witty skits that were performed at the small theatre I used to work for. When I was still at school I was known for my quirky ideas, my imaginative stories. People in my field have already told me I should write.
    In came the N. And all of a sudden, the person that should have been closest to me did NOT laugh when I was the one who used to have whole rooms full of people in stitches. Instead he looked at me with a blank stare. No laughter. Maybe a polite twitching of the mouth. Maybe.

    But here is the kicker – if some well known comedian (on TV) pulled the same joke or made a similar remark he rolled on the floor. I wasn’t worth it. People on TV are famous and therefore worthy of respect in his twisted mind. If I do or say exactly the same thing – it’s ONLY ME.

    I have to admit that at times he could not help himself and did snicker around me. But it was almost as if he fought giving in to be amused by me. Laughing about my jokes, valuing my ideas etc. would mean respect, validation and acknowledgement of my existence. And as you know, we (the N that is) cannot have THAT!!!

    Eventually, so much of it died. What was the use anyway?

    What gets me most is people who dare to say that it is all up
    to you to give yourself validation. It is not. Part of it is but not all of it. We are social beings. We do need recognition especially from those whom we value. We need to have our abilities acknowledged otherwise we wither away and die inside. Nobody can call him/herself happy if whatever he/she says is belittled, smirked at, criticized and negated. There is only so much rejection we can take.

    I am still scared to let it all out again for fear it may be invalidated again by somebody. There always seems to be that somebody who thinks it humorous to put others down. I have a long way to go but I don’t feel so alone anymore.

    It took my a long time to accept that I cannot be everything to all people as you said above.

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  3. Bobbie

    Carrie, although I find all of your posts invaluable, this one is my favorite. Talk about hitting the nail on the head! Even now, there are no words to describe how much this one (along with the others’ comments) mean to me.

    Thank you!

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  4. threekidsandi

    It took me six months to talk at all, and two years to be able to talk to strangers and make small talk. I am somewhat more myself, but I cannot imagine I would ever be the same. That’s okay. Because that was then, and this is now. I am not going to chase my pre-abuse life. I want to focus on my life and myself as I am now.

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  5. Liselotte

    What I also experienced after my N attack was an almost total lack of trust in my own perceptions. PTSD of gaslighting.

    Whenever I interpreted my N’s behaviour a certain way he would invariably say that I was mistaken. No matter how blatantly it was staring me in the face – the comment was “you are wrong, it’s not true. That’s not what it is. You are making things up, you are totally misunderstanding me”. He would have insisted that I am just a darker blonde although I am a natural brunette. And a pretty dark one at that. Anything in order not to be wrong or found out. Stretch the truth until it snaps.

    In the end I started feeling crazy. I could not trust my senses any more. Was I really being objective or were my fears and projections getting the best of me?
    The problem is – there often IS a fine line between the two. At times perceptions ARE blown out of proportion because of fear. And yes, at times my perceptions WERE wrong.

    But before him I was was praised for my sense of intuition, of being able to sense other people’s feeling and emotional states without them even saying a word. Only with Mr. N I was almost always wrong. Gradually the ground underneath me was starting to shake. Should I trust him or myself? Is my sense of dread really just a projection of my own fears? If so, why did I never feel that way with other men? Was it because the N triggered very old fears?

    These days I think that he was able to zero in on my deepest insecurities and oldest wounds. If he did that deliberately, I don’t know for sure. I think he just automatically did that without thinking twice about it. He was so geared towards winning, being on top and defeating the enemy even if there was none present. He told me once “I am good at that” when I asked him why he attacked my deepest inner self without provocation.

    I think they attack in order to destroy before being attacked and destroyed themselves. There almost always seems to be a sense of me again you in some way. Even if there is no sign of malice in the other person.

    Ns don’t know how to live in harmony. That word does not exist in their world. Harmony and equality are terms they have never learned. They cannot recognize or valiue them when they are offered as the most precious gift.

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  6. malia

    Thank you dear Carrie for this post.
    As always the posts are very helpful, and I can say this websit is very rich of information and I hope many victims come through it once they start searching…

    You are good on describing the details and the processs of the N relationships.

    I was thinking if you could create an association “in real” helping those who are suffering and you as president and after several years becomes an international association and everybody will know what a N looks like.

    This is one of my dreams for 2015 “smile”

    God bless you
    Malia

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