The wonderful thing about having to put yourself back together after having a narcissist all but destroy you, is getting to create who you are meant to be without the pressure to be something you’re not. As I continue to put the pieces together and strive to be the best most authentic version of me, I look at how other people operate in life. I continually make note of the characteristics I admire in others and traits that I recognize in myself and don’t like.
As children, we rely on others to teach us who we are. In those first 5 – 6 years our brains absorb information that forms how we view ourselves for the rest of our lives, good and bad. If we are told lies we will repeat those lies to ourselves, over and over until they become truth. Alot of people are oblivious to the fact that they aren’t living an authentic life.
I consider it a gift to be given a second chance to be all that I can be, to be comfortable in my skin, and live a life I am proud of. I believe in life long learning and people should never stop striving to be better. Few people can sit back and say, “I am the best I can be.” The past 10 + years I have come to the realization I have spent most of my life trying to be like my mother; a person I consider to be shallow and self-serving. I have been made to feel something is wrong with me because I cared, loved deeply, and considered how my actions and words affected others. I struggled with knowing what was and wasn’t mine to pack.
I continually listen and read information from experts, Oprah Soul Sunday, Brene Brown, Eckhart, Deepak, and the like; taking in information in my quest to continue to grow. I watch how the people I admire handle their lives.
One of the people I admire the most is my son, it amazes me that a child I raised has such a healthy approach to life. He has the wonderful ability to be a caring, giving individual who still lives life on his terms and remains true to his core self. Throughout his childhood I was criticized for giving him to much of a voice to express his feelings, loved him too much, wasn’t strict enough, and encouraged him too much. I guess somehow deep inside I wanted better for him and even though I didn’t realize it at the time, I didn’t want him living a lie and coming up short like I had.
I never had a preconceived notion of who he should be. Never expected him to choose a certain profession, make alot of money, or attain a certain level of success. The only things I insisted on while he was growing up was honesty, not judge others, be hard working, and generous to those less fortunate. I remember telling him the only expectations I had of him was for him to be a productive member of society. I can’t take credit for the man he has become because he has met other people in his life who have influenced him, good and bad.
His motto in life is, “It is what it is”. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t care, or avoiding responsibility.
“It is what it is”, is accepting life, not trying to control things you can not control, not trying to manipulate things to happen the way and in the time frame, you want them to, and not worrying about things that may never happen. It is not getting angry about things someone does that don’t concern you.
It is owning YOUR actions and reactions. It is accepting life and people at face value, not how you wish they were. It is owning your happiness, it is the source of inner peace.
I wasn’t raised this way and didn’t raise my son this way. I was raised by a mother who pretended to be caring, who controlled her little world, who believes that; how things look is more important than how things are. Who buried her head in the sand and put her fingers in her ears and loudly sang “Lalalala”; because what she couldn’t see, couldn’t hurt her. And she loved me when I played by her rules and presented an image her friends would approve of. My father tried to mold me into the woman my mother wasn’t and said as much through my whole childhood, “you are going to be a better wife than your mother, YOU are going to know how to keep your husband happy.” “If you don’t behave I will take your brother and leave your mother”.
What a weight to put on a small child, no wonder I went most of my life thinking I was responsible for everyone’s happiness or anger and that if I wasn’t “good”, people I love will leave.
It is no surprise to me that I felt totally broken after I left the narcissist. I am thankful for the experience now because I believe it was the only way I was ever going to break free of the expectations of others and my fear of losing the people I love, and live true to my core self and be who I was meant to be.
If I am not aware I can still fall into old patterns, especially when I am with my mother. She always finds someone she can critique and deem, “wrong”. They don’t just live life differently from how she lives her life, they are living their life wrong. They don’t keep their house clean enough, they are fat because they don’t eat right, they don’t dress properly, they don’t parent right (which is the biggest “what the fuck?” because her parenting style was based on how things looked). Forever the expert on every fucking thing and now it makes me angry when she starts “tisk, tisk, tisking”. First of all, who made her the judge of how people should live? People can have a dirty house and still be a good person. I may not want to eat at that person’s house if the cats walk all over the counters, but they are still a good person and it is none of my business how their house looks. Yes, I suppose her friend is over weight because she eats too much, but her friend is 70+ years old and it is none of my business and it doesn’t change who the person is. My mother could choose to not go out for dinner with her friend, instead of going for dinner and later talk behind her back to me by comparing what she ate compared to what her friend ate. She could ask her friend to take walks with her. Her friend was involved with an abusive controling man, my mother would never allow a man to treat her like that. But when her friend broke up with the man my mother invited him over to play cards.
Did I mention this woman is supposedly a “friend”. Instead of just listening to my mother and agreeing, like I used to, I now will confront her on her actions by saying, “why would you invite him over when you think he is so bad for your friend?” Her reply, “Well he’s not like that with me”. “But she is supposedly your friend, if you want her to dump him, why would you still be his friend?”
Or, “Yeah I guess so and so’s house is dirty, it’s always been dirty, I don’t know why, I suppose they don’t have a hang up about having a perfect home like you. I don’t really care. They aren’t going to change. It’s not my problem.”
The other thing I have struggled with most of my life that I learned from her. Catastrophing (I don’t think that’s a real word) everything. It’s the ability to turn any positive moment into a negative by projecting everything that could go wrong. It’s the “what ifs”. It’s the false concern, “I hope this doesn’t happen”.
I can think of so many times I was excited about something and my mother was able to burst my bubble in seconds. She doesn’t mean to. She engages her mouth before her mind. For example, I was asked out by a really handsome, popular guy. Her response, “I wonder why he asked you out”. Or I’d have an idea for a business, her first thought was, “If someone could make money doing that, someone would be doing it already”. My art was junk until her friends saw value in it. When my son was in his teens he was getting into trouble, had quit school and she thought I should “wash my hands of him” and when I refused, she sold my house out from under me and gave me 2 weeks to be out.
She did it twice to me, she held my mortgage in order to “help” me and ended up selling it out from under me both times. For a long time I held alot of resentment towards her because of it. I am sure I never would have gone back to my ex if she hadn’t made me homeless, both times. But I have had to let the resentment go. I have told her the consequences of her actions. I don’t let her believe her delusions but I also understand she has her own history, her own warped view of who she is and her own survival mechanisms. We all do. The best any of us can do is to strive to be better and not allow our screwed up past affect our kids.
I still worry about my son but I also trust that he is quite capable of dealing with whatever happens. He is the most capable man I know. He’s an adult and if he want my opinion or advice, he has no problem asking for it. He knows I will always have his back.
So many times in life, the things that cause us the most strife and sleepless night, are the things we have absolutely no control over. When we try to “make” things happen the way we want them to. When we let what we wish would happen influence the choices we make.
My ex hurt me, yes; but the most painful experience of my life was my mother selling my house which forced me into the position of not being there for him. It broke my heart and it made me more reliant on my ex because he encouraged me to not give up on my son.
In all honesty, I can’t say how things would have turned out if my mother hadn’t sold my house. I didn’t know what to do with my son, I was drinking too much, he wasn’t listening to me, my self esteem was wrapped up in whether I had a man or not, my life, I had 3 marriages under my belt. Who knows where my life would have gone. I can’t dwell on the “what if’s”, and the “if only’s”; all I have is “what is”.
All I can do is live life honestly and remain true to my core self. I can hold myself accountable for my actions and what I allow into my life, from this day forward. I can not change the past, wishing things would have been different, is a huge waste of mental and emotional energy. Feeling sorry for myself and remaining a victim does nothing for my self esteem, or to improve my future.
The interesting thing about living true to my core values is; I am more confident and I never feel like a failure. When you live your life trying to please others you can’t help but feel like at any moment people are going to discover you are a fake and not like you any more. When you live true to your core self, you know people like you for you. There is no fear, no self doubt, no second guessing if you are doing the right thing, and no one else to blame.
Live life on your terms, don’t let anyone influence your decisions and you will live a life without regret.
So many times the victim of a narcissist wants the “quick fix” to healing. They think healing will come if they meet a new guy who loves them. I have heard people say it time and time again, “I want to meet a man who loves me for me.” Or someone will say to the victim, “You just need to meet a nice guy”. “Some man will love you for you”. Your self worth should never be reliant on who loves you. Your happiness and confidence needs to come from knowing you are living your best life regardless of whether you have a man or not. The minute you make your happiness dependent on a man, you are giving that person control of your happiness and self worth. Whether you are loved or not should never be determined by whether another person approves of you.