Friday, 28 November 2014

Reclaiming my Health - Beating Hashimotos Thyroiditis

I went to my Endocrinologist today for my annual checkup. I pushed it into the end of this year because I have been getting concerned about how much hair I'm losing on a daily basis. It's coming out in my hands in chunks every time I shower! Also, some unexplained weight gain creeping up on me again. And because the rest of this year has been such a cockup healthwise, I thought I may be experiencing a Hashimotos relapse.

The brilliant news is that I'm not! In fact, she says I have the best Thyroid stats ever since I was first diagnosed three years ago! Shew! That is such a brilliant thing to hear today!

So what, you may ask, is this disease you have with such a weird name. Here's a definition from the Mayo Clinic site:
Hashimoto's disease is a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid, a small gland at the base of your neck below your Adam's apple. The thyroid gland is part of your endocrine system, which produces hormones that coordinate many of your body's activities.
The resulting inflammation from Hashimoto's disease, also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, often leads to an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism).

So basically your body's autoimmune system attacks your thyroid. Until it's dead. And stops working. Then you need chronic meds to replenish the hormones the thyroid produces. Because it's like one of the gears in the engine of your body, and when its stops working, your body goes ballistic.

How did I know I had Hashimotos? Well I Google-diagnosed myself at first: I was tired. All the time. My brain was coming and going. My hair was falling out at an alarming rate. My moods were up and down. I got fatter and fatter whilst eating exactly the same food as my perpetually thin husband. His opinion was that I just lacked motivation and discipline, and that I should get out there and exercise more. Only I couldn't. Because I couldn't get off the fucking couch!

They symptoms for Hashimotos Thyroiditis, also according to the Mayo site, are as follows:

You might not notice signs or symptoms of Hashimoto's disease at first, or you may notice a swelling at the front of your throat (goiter). Hashimoto's disease typically progresses slowly over years and causes chronic thyroid damage, leading to a drop in thyroid hormone levels in your blood. The signs and symptoms are mainly those of an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism). 
Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism include: 
  • Fatigue and sluggishness
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation
  • Pale, dry skin
  • A puffy face
  • Hoarse voice
  • Unexplained weight gain — occurring infrequently and rarely exceeding 10 to 20 pounds, most of which is fluid
  • Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness, especially in your shoulders and hips
  • Pain and stiffness in your joints and swelling in your knees or the small joints in your hands and feet
  • Muscle weakness, especially in your lower extremities
  • Excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia)
  • Depression

When I went to my local GP to say I thought I had a thyroid problem she did some basic tests. And said that I didn't have a thyroid problem. Which confounded me because I was sure I did have a Thyroid problem. So I made my own appointment with the Endocrinologist. She was obviously a lot more thorough with her testing of me, and came back with the Hashimotos diagnosis. And whipped out her prescription pad to prescribe me some Altroxin to start.

I said No. I had done enough research to see that it seemed to be possible to manage Hashimotos with diet. I had done this successfully once before in 2003 when I had a horrible bout of Chronic Fatigue and I was resolved to try it again - use food to heal myself. She was very skeptical - as with all western medicine practitioners - she wanted to see the clinical trials before she was prepared to support such an action. I made a deal with her that I would try it for 6 months and we could retest. I would take her meds if I couldn't make a dent in my stats. She reluctantly agreed and I set to work.

I cut gluten out of my world immediately. And, for good measure, eliminated sugar and dairy completely for 6 months too. It's a tough way to live, but my husband and mom-in-law were very supportive and I managed to pull it off without a single lapse. The theory around eliminating gluten is that people are starting to think that gluten triggers autoimmune responses in intolerant people. Years of gluten onslaught in the gut system starts to create 'Leaky Gut Syndrome' (Google it!) where more than just good stuff permeates the gut and is released into the body. Gluten proteins approximate human proteins in some way and so the immune system is triggered and attacks the thyroid, slowly killing it. So eliminating gluten should reduce the autoimmune trigger and slow down the destruction of the Thyroid, giving it a much longer functional life.

I also joined an online Facebook support group for Hashimotos sufferers (search for Hashimoto's 411 on Facebook). That has been a godsend - people from all over the world, living with Hashi's, and sharing practices that help and hinder the progress of the disease. I have also seen that the more committed and disciplined people are to lifestyle management, the more likely they are to find wellness and vitality. Thousands of people on this site complain bitterly about not getting on top of the symptoms, but refuse to make the lifestyle choices that can actually bring relief. Because its' too hard, living with this disease. I get it. And it's easier for me because I'm in the earlier stages of disease progression. But I just feel like I owe it to myself and my family to do everything I can to retain ME, and not lose myself to the dark hole of fatigue, pain and depression that I see sets in when this disease really gets hold of you.

So I'm thrilled that after a few years of very committed lifestyle management, I am winning this particular battle to save my Thyroid. As I'm rereading this piece I see it sounds upbeat and easy. It wasn't. Dragging yourself through every day, fighting the fatigue, the brain fog, the weight gain is a very hard thing to do. And pulling off that AND raising a family, AND running a challenging business, AND dealing the abusive Narcissist onslaught at work every day - wow - I'm amazed I'm still standing!

It's not really a battle won. Actually it will continue to take focus and energy and discipline from me for the rest of my life. Vigilance in watching every ingredient that goes into every sauce that I eat; saying no to the most delicious and enticing treats, no to comfort food. Exercising regularly to keep my body strong and healthy. Managing the emotional and spiritual part of my life so I don't continue to carry negative and destructive energy around in my body. Choosing the people I surround myself to be more supportive and healing human beings, instead of the Narcs I've chosen through most of my life so far. And also tackle the other Autoimmune conditions I have - the Rheumatoid Disease, Asthma, and the chronic fatigue that is always hovering, looking for a weak moment to set in.

So. I'm gaining weight and my hair is still falling out in chunks. If not thyroid, then most likely culprit would be that chemo I take every week for my RA. Next stop, Rheumatologist - let's see whether we can solve those issues soon, before I end up bald!!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

What it's like - Living with a Narcissist?

I did quote this site in my last blog. But re-reading it today, I felt I need to quote this piece in it's entirety. It speaks so loudly into my experience and my truth, and will help me (and you) remind yourself how 'not crazy' we are. Please find the original (and more) at the Out of the Fog website.

What it feels like to live with someone with NPD
Contributed by Aames
Living with or being involved with a narcissist can be mentally and emotionally exhausting.
It can feel like you have to perform "mental gymnastics" from dealing with the lying (even when confronted with undeniable proof ), the gaslighting, the triangulation, the projection, the constant contradictions, the manipulation, blame-shifting, the charm they lay on, the inflated sense of self - even subtle forms of torture, such as sleep deprivation, these people inflict on their victims - appears to be conscious and calculated to push the target of their "affections" past their limits, into surrender - and ultimately into total compliance - as a source of Narcissistic Supply.

Children, spouses, friends, lovers - those closest to the Narcissist - are not considered individuals in their own right by the Narcissist - but rather extensions or, in the worst cases, the property of the Narcissist.

Even after finding out that you are dealing with a mental disorder, if you don't protect or remove yourself from the situation, you may find yourself entering into a state of mind where you instinctively try to fix or fight the narcissist's illogical attitudes and behaviors.

You may find yourself becoming hyper-vigilant, trying to second guess them, trip them up, lay down ultimatums, call them on their lies, or constantly trying to stay one-step ahead of their ever-changing rule-book. You may even find yourself trying to mirror their behaviors to some extent in order to manipulate them, as they have manipulated you. This can be both futile and attractive to the narcissist, as they often relish the challenge.

If you ever do manage to get "one-up" on a narcissist, it is likely to be a hollow "victory" at best. They may rage, play the victim, or disappear. None of these outcomes gives the victim any true satisfaction.

More than any other disorder on the PD spectrum, narcissists are like psychological vampires, attaching themselves to you in a way that drains you of your resources (emotional, mental and financial) and leaves you questioning your own worth and sanity.

Often, narcissists are able to imitate or approximate caring about others when it is convenient for them to do so. However, they typically do not perceive that anything outside of their own sphere of wants and needs matters. It simply doesn't occur to them to consider the needs of anyone else, or the long-term consequences of their own behaviors.

Narcissists can be highly intelligent, witty, talented, likable, and fun to be around. They can also elicit sympathy like nobody's business.

Narcissists are opportunistic. They can make a show of being "generous" but their generosity usually has strings attached.

They tend to isolate their victims, sucking up their time and energy, many times robbing their own families, spouses and partners of an external support system.

Narcissists are excellent liars and many prefer to lie even when telling the truth would be more beneficial to them; which suggests that lying is a hallmark of this pathology.

They are often highly competitive and argumentative. They lash out when presented with opinions that contradict their own or when confronted with their own lies or bad behaviors.

They can be calculating and extremely persuasive and susceptible to erratic thinking and impulsive decision making .

Narcissists can be self-destructive as often as they are destructive to others. They have a great deal of trouble accepting responsibility for their own actions, under any circumstance.

Narcissists are addictive personalities and narcissism is commonly co-morbid with addictions to drugs, alcohol, sex, food, spending and gambling. It has been suggested that Narcissists have a higher rate of ADHD than the general population.

Narcissists are rarely alone. They like to feed on the energy of others, and to have an audience to reflect back to them the person they want to see themselves as.

Narcissists are good at pretending, but typically do not feel compassion or empathy or consider the feelings or well-being of others. They tend to be singularly focused on getting their own needs met, at the expense of the needs of others.
While narcissists generally portray a lack of conscience, they typically have an intellectual awareness of what they are doing and how they hurt others. They simply do not care.

Being kind to a Narcissist in the face of their maltreatment is a common approach of family members and partners. However, this can result in further frustration as it is rarely reciprocated and tends to feed their sense of entitlement, opening the door for more abuse.
Here are some other feelings that you may experience when dealing with a narcissist in the home or at work:
  • You may feel like this person readily puts you down just to elevate themselves.
  • You may find yourself avoiding them because trying to communicate with them leaves you feeling confused, put-down, reduced to a lesser status and emptied of all that you know you really are.
  • You may feel overwhelmed, "out-gunned", tongue-tied or overpowered in the presence of this person. 
  • You may feel blown away by their powerful personality, self-assuredness, self-belief and self-confidence.
  • Your own legitimate needs may be taking a back seat to their own frivolous, self-serving ambitions.
  • When receiving a compliment or apology, you may be left feeling patronized, demeaned, brought down to size and even humiliated.
  • You may attempt to compromise with them only to realize later that you are the only one who gave any substantial ground.
  • You may feel like your hard work and contributions are only being used, abused and and distorted to meet the selfish ambitions of another.
Living with a person who has NPD can have a devastating effect on the self-esteem, confidence and quality of life for family members, friends and partners.
People who live with an individual with NPD sometimes feel as though the Narcissist is refusing to " grow up" or will revert back to childish ways whenever it suits them to do so. The Non-Narcissist often feels used, cheated and taken advantage of by the NPD in their life.

It's not a 'Normal' Breakup when there's a Narcissist in the room

I had a coffee moment with my precious mate, yesterday. She's still reeling from her double blow three weeks ago when her Ex-Narc first approached her about reconciling, and then announced he was in a committed relationship and was introducing his children to 'replacement' the next day, and, by the way, she's also joining them on their year-end family holiday. Since then they have been on a roller coaster of screaming matches, accusations, condemnation, abuse, ...just devastating craziness.

And she, like me, is berating herself that she's so undone. After all, its been 3 years since she first uncovered one of her ex's infidelities, the divorce happened earlier this year, so, by now, surely, she should be on her way to having her life renewed and sorted. But parting from a Narcissist just isn't a straight line. Normal people cheat and lie to cover up their infidelities. It's a self-preservation thing, of course. And many relationships break up when the cheating is exposed and it hurts like hell.

But parting from a Narc is devastating on a whole other level. And the abuse, bullying, frivolous litigation, degrading, gaslighting, discarding, love bombing, hoovering and all sorts of other delightful tactics Narcs use to destroy their victims just continue way past the sell-by date of the relationship itself (go read up about it on this site: And we partners of Narcs go through the most disorienting, crazy-making apocalyptic time trying to find our way back to normalcy - some of us have been in the crazy space for so long that we don't even recognise normal when it finally arrives.

So our grief and craziness isn't just about being heartbroken. Pathology inflicts much greater wounds than that. They lie and cheat and make us think we are going crazy. They construct Truman Show stories around us and change our sense of reality so much that we struggle to survive the cognitive dissonance we experience when we finally come out into the light. I recognise myself in my friend as she slowly begins to see and understand her relationship for what it was. That she was minimised and abused all the way through it and is only starting to feel the pain of that now. That it was never just about infidelity. That we start to understand how our ex-Narcs are so well-versed in our needs and emotional hard places, that they use it relentlessly in order to manipulate us into doing what they want.

Today I found another WhatsApp transcript I saved on my computer. This one is a couple of days after I had found out about Debbie. I will edit some of it, because it has actually the most debasing and horrific things I have ever heard anyone say about another person, and I don't want to subject Debbie to it again if she ever reads this, and nor can I bring myself to 'out' John-the-Narc even in this anonymous forum. It is John-the-Narc saying whatever he possibly can to try and win me back. He uses every single manipulation on the planet to try to trigger my compassion, my fear of abandonment, the terrible lostness that I was feeling on those days. He fucked up and got caught, and now needs to bring me, his supply, back into the fold. When I read it again now, almost 7 months later, I am amazed at how I managed to follow the rules of leaving a Narc during that time. I did what the literature said and went No Contact. But at the same time, I was so so SO desperate to run back into his arms and forgive him for everything, SO strong was (and is) my addiction to him:

19 May 6:40 AM - John Smith: Trudy ..... there are things I CANNOT say on the open forum
Sorry - but I will write some things here this morning. As soon as I have mustered the courage 
19 May 6:48 AM - Trudy North: John my world is now so full of lies and pain that I cannot believe anything you tell me. The Betrayal platform (the WhatsApp conversation I created between the three of us)  makes sure you're telling the truth because Debbie will verify. You will just spin and manipulate me here and take advantage of my pain and disorientation 
19 May 6:59 AM - John Smith: I have not read the forum today ..... or what you have written here
I don’t want to be restricted  in what I am starting to tell you now 
19 May 7:00 AM - John Smith: Here I am - in the very bottom crevice of the dark place I seek
19 May 7:00 AM - John Smith: Let me talk to you from here 
19 May 7:06 AM - Trudy North: I no longer believe a word you say. 
19 May 7:07 AM - John Smith: Pardon my arrogance but please treat what I say with dignity ...... my words come from the blackest hole in my tortured soul 
19 May 7:08 AM - Trudy North: You want me to face your pain but you're too much of a coward to face mine by reading the forum 
19 May 7:11 AM - John Smith: Unless you have told her in the last day or so, Debbie has NO IDEA WHATSOEVER that I use her for my own deprivation and super-humiliation. She thinks I am just a kinky old man 
19 May 7:12 AM - John Smith: She does not know that her body disgusts me
....... and that THAT is what she is for 
19 May 7:13 AM - John Smith: She thinks I am attracted to her, when I am actually craving the repulsion of it all
19 May 7:15 AM - John Smith: I realise what is happening to me me RIGHT NOW
......I am "enjoying" the utter humiliation of making myself tell you this
19 May 7:15 AM - John Smith: Fuck I am fucked up edited out to protect the GUILTY!!!..........

Interesting dilemma here: Is he thinking that by saying this to me about Debbie, that I will somehow understand and reconcile with him because he 'wasn't attracted to her'? He was with Debbie for more than 20 years - through fat and thin times. She's a lovely woman who is, herself, also devastated by this stuff. Did he mean it? Didn't he? He said so many of the same things to her and me (she and I compared notes). So. Is he using both of us to 'humiliate and debase' himself (I have been both plump and slimmer in our time together)? Or was he actually just in two normal relationships with us both (and others, of course - it was never just the two of us), and manipulating us both into believing we were the most amazing sex goddesses on the planet? Crazy making!! How much of his professed attraction to me was real? I have huge compassion for us both as we try to unravel this disgusting bullshit.
 ......ugh......more edited out here...sorry Debbie, if you’re reading this....... 
19 May 7:54 AM - Trudy North: Stop this. I am not going to witness you reraping that poor woman.  She is a good human being who does not deserve this. Call your shrink. 
19 May 8:07 AM - John Smith: Sorry ..... you are right. This is too much information
19 May 8:07 AM - John Smith: I have upset you even more, if that’s possible
19 May 8:08 AM - Trudy North: It's not the information
19 May 8:09 AM - Trudy North: It's my compassion for Debbie
19 May 8:09 AM - Trudy North: Call your shrink
19 May 8:10 AM - John Smith: I am Trudy
19 May 8:42 AM - John Smith: My shrink  is away till Tuesday evening ..... he will see me for a double session on Wednesday. Will you please come with me this last time
19 May 8:59 AM - John Smith: I am worried about you - the pain and soreness I have inflicted on you has sent you to your most hurtful and abandoned place ..... deeper and darker than anything ever before. (is there a little bit of pride in this sentence? That he has so much power to have been able to inflict this amount of pain on me?)
 I am truly sorry Trudy
I know you too well (BIG button for me – so compelling to feel so known) 
19 May 8:59 AM - John Smith: Even now you are not alone (Another great button – talking into my fear of abandonment) 
19 May 9:03 AM - Trudy North: No. I'm caring for myself. Thanks.  But no 
19 May 5:38 PM - John Smith: The dark and the cold is closing in for the night. I feel your pain and terror inside me. I am holding you ...... wishing there was another way
I love you 
19 May 6:16 PM - Trudy North: Debbie says you have made her feel like the sexiest woman on earth. Don't you dare ever break that for her,  you hear me. If she really is as large as you say,  nobody will ever be able to heal that if you break it. 
19 May 6:25 PM - John Smith: I wouldn't Trudy
19 May 6:26 PM - John Smith: How you doing ?
19 May 6:26 PM - John Smith: Tell me
19 May 6:36 PM - John Smith: Please talk to me
19 May 6:36 PM - John Smith: I am worried  about you
19 May 6:36 PM - John Smith: I love you 
19 May 7:04 PM - Trudy North: John you have been fucking another woman throughout our relationship. You have told her you love her. You have told her you're with me to protect your job. I remember your going to “Her Employer company” 'MEETINGS' even in our early days together. My memories of happy sexy loving times together have all been desecrated by the sick knowledge that you were fucking her through it all. I haven't just lost my lover. And my future. But my past as well. There is no love in that act of yours at all. Don't ever say those words to me again. 
19 May 7:16 PM - John Smith: Trudy ..... I am not ALL bad. You know me better than I know myself, so you understand the good man inside me (find Trudy’s compassion now).
And that man loves you to the ends of the earth.
I have an inglorious dark and terrifying monster inside me ....... but my true and real self adores you.
I am so very very sorry for all of this misery 
19 May 7:28 PM - Trudy North: It's not about good or bad. I am having to come to terms with the fact that the relationship I thought I was in DIDN'T EVEN EXIST! !! 
19 May 7:30 PM - John Smith: I am so sorry that that is how you see our past ..... but I don’t blame you at all 
19 May 8:24 PM - Trudy North: You saw how much pain I went through with painter girl (caught him sexting her – long story! Ugh!) . It was then that you had a chance to exit your choices and recommit to me wholeheartedly. But all you resolved to do was cover your tracks better. 
19 May 8:29 PM - John Smith: Trudy ..... I have completely fucked up
I made some ridiculously bad choices that have completely devastated you, and destroyed my life

My excuses are pathetic and unviable
I have so frequently failed to rebuild my life when the opportunity has been handed to me
And you are now paying the price for my stupidity
I am embarrassed and ashamed. (And yet he lies and steals and tries to take more money from me than he has already stolen – shame clearly is selective in this man. Or maybe this is just all more of that wonderful bullshit he is a master at generating whenever the opportunity arises
20 May 2:08 AM - John Smith: I adore you Trudy 
20 May 4:11 AM - Trudy North: You can stop this now: you no longer need to hide late night sexting sessions by declaring your love to me at the end so I won't know you were doing it! 
20 May 8:16 AM - John Smith: Or I can stay awake worrying and afraid ..... and then tell you what’s in my soul (Yeah, right!! I’m going with the late night sexting theory)
I adore you 
20 May 8:41 AM - Trudy North: I would never know the difference. And would never believe you again anyway. I've asked so many times and you've lied so many times. That part of me is dead now. 
20 May 8:45 AM - John Smith: I know that
But it is alive and embedded within every fibre of my being still
I am apologising for it
But sorry ..... I love and adore you 
20 May 1:00 PM - John Smith: Holding you
For your therapy and your doctors appointment
I am thinking of you 
20 May 2:28 PM - Trudy North: Interestingly I'm not popping past my secret lover for a quick shag on the way to therapy (like he used to do with Debbie) 
20 May 2:28 PM - Trudy North: I start my chemo on Friday. (Diagnosis confirmed by Rheumatologist) 
20 May 2:30 PM - John Smith: Oh my love
Sorry .......
I am holding you and loving you 
20 May 4:05 PM - John Smith: You will be shattered now

Sorry .... I am still thinking of you and holding you close
20 May 4:42 PM - John Smith: Are you safe ????
20 May 6:04 PM - John Smith: I hope with all my heart that you are alright 
20 May 6:07 PM - Trudy North: I'm fine (not!!!). But I'm going no contact with you. It's the only way I will survive this. This is the last personal message I will send. 
20 May 6:11 PM - John Smith: I will hold you from here Trudy
I love you very very much 
21 May 5:30 AM - Trudy North: 
21 May 8:59 AM - John Smith: That was hard to read ..... I don’t want to be this thing that I am, Trudy
I want to be stronger than a man who is so easily influenced by his past
I am holding you still ..... my truth lies in my genuine love of you 
21 May 9:02 AM - John Smith: I don’t demonize you in any way - I just feel genuine and honest and real about you (performance in court last week showed a very different story)
You are my normality

Well. Maybe that last line is the truth. I am normal. He is pathological. I created an anchor for him. He used that anchor, abused it, and now discarded it. And now I'm watching him unravel into the abusive horrific manipulative man that he is capable of being as he attacks the foundations of my life even now, 7 months after it was over.

I hope you can understand how disorienting it is - on the one hand to experience this loving adoring outpouring of feeling, and on the other, to have your life and money and friends slowly stolen from you under your nose. You believe it all. You believe none of it. People around you wonder why you are being so unreasonable to leave a man who loves you so much. And yet, only people like me know the Hell that it is to love a man such as this.

And why recovery feels like living through the Apocalypse.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

You Underestimate Narcissist Pathology, Trudy

Shrink session yesterday. I was talking through my thoughts from my blog "The Conversation in my head I wish I could have" from a few days ago. I so want to find a place where John-the-Narc and I can find a peaceful resolution that honours our history and soothes some of the pain.

But my shrink was unequivocal. She says I continue to underestimate the Narcissist pathology and that the only option for me is to stay away, and not engage. I have ignored her guidance in the past at horrific peril. Clearly my instincts are completely off on this still. I think it's time I shut up and did what I am told by her. She's been dead right about everything else that has transpired.

He sent me an arrogant and pompous email yesterday, demanding all sorts of closure actions from me to be done 'Urgently'. Things like deleting him from our website and stationery and closing him out of the bank. Things he knew I would have mostly done already anyhow. Then a demand for a contract for a piece of work that we had planned to collaborate one. Shew. Seriously??!! Will the arrogance of this man know any bounds? He is taking me to court to claim money he is not owed. He lies and cheats and steals money from my company. And then he unashamedly demands a contract 'if the deal is still on the table'??! Like it's obvious that we will continue to do business together even though he is swindling me in court as we speak??

And then there's my pathology which is drawn in by that - I want to facilitate his success. I don't want to see him fail. And so I am drawn to find a solution. Enable him to get back on his feet. Supply him the services he needs to be able to do that. And my shrink says that's the very thing he's relying to keep me engaged and hooked to him. He knows my buttons, and will continue to push them until they are no longer available to him. She says 'just say No'. 'Don't explain. Don't Facilitate. Don't soften the blow or leave the door open. Just No.'

And 'No' is the hardest thing in the world for me. Blocking someone's opportunity because of my own selfish reasons is so counter-intuitive for me it actually hurts me to even think about it - so deep is my wounding about it. No matter what this man wants to wreak on me, I continue to give him the benefit of the doubt and believe the best of him. Somehow I think he will find his honourable self.

But as my shrink quite brutally pointed out to me yesterday: my belief in his honour is misplaced - while I was believing his seductive siren song, and being mesmerized by his Truman Show production, he was fucking other women, lying to me, stealing money from my business, damaging my reputation with my colleagues and not showing one bit of honour at all. She says to release that expectation. It will not come. Stay away from him and defend myself with every resource I have against his legal onslaught. He will give no quarter. But will look for any weakness in me he can exploit, and then milk me for more supply. More money. More power.

So this is the first time I'm going to do what I'm told. Even though it still feels wrong for me. I clearly continue to be unaware of how much danger I'm in, even though I nearly died just 3 months ago from his horrific emotional battery and abuse. So I will obey. And not engage. And not facilitate. And not support. And just calm that terrified and old little voice inside me that wants to save, no matter the consequence.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Open Marriage just grating a bit

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Hubby and me, staying married but being separate, and seeing other people at the same time. That way we get to keep all the benefits of a marriage partnership (stable home for kids, joint incomes and finances, great logistics partner, great business partners), but 'outsource' the parts that aren't working. In our case that's the intimacy, emotional support, and sex.

As you will recall from previous blogs, I went first, and landed up in this terrible trainwreck of a relationship with Jon-the-Narc which is still unravelling me and my company. Hubby was more cautious and took a bit longer to dip his toes into the pond. He is now in what seems like quite a happy and settled relationship with one of our mutual old friends. In principle I have absolutely no problem with this relationship. I'm glad he's found someone that can make him happy - we had a long period of sadness together and it's nice to see him full of energy again.

But the practical part of it grates me. This weekend he had her over at our house where he is busy renovating and getting it ready for us to move in. Which meant I couldn't really go over there to plan tiles and fittings etc because I didn't want to intrude on their space. In my house. Just felt irritating.

I obviously have unresolved feelings about it all. It came up again last night when my husband announced at dinner that he'll be off hiking in January. Obviously with her. I want to throw all sorts of arguments at him like 'we can't afford it'. I'm fantasizing about going through our bank statements to see how much he has spent this year on holidays (two overseas ones with her), and motorbike trips and cycling weekends, and new bicycles. Not to mention the time off which becomes non-billable and therefore reduces revenue into our household during this very very tough year.

All of those are relevant arguments but I don't think they're actually material to why  this bugs me so much. Maybe if I wasn't so sad and lonely and still nursing a very broken heart, I would be OK with it all. Is it as simple as me feeling jealous that he's happy and I'm not? Or is it a more fundamental thing? I watch him go off and do all sorts of action-based things with her - things I haven't been able to master because of all my autoimmune issues. And maybe it's because I spent so many years feeling alone and neglected and uncherished that it's hard to see him giving all of that to another woman now. And the downside of this open marriage is that its in my face all the time. Most people split up and live their new lives away from each other. We're still coming home to each other after each bit of time away, sharing photos with the family, and stories of how much fun we had. Well, mostly him right now. Which is tough for me.

If you were to ask me how I'm dealing in this open marriage, I would cheerfully give you all the benefits and talk about how we respect each other and how we're committed to making it work well for our family. I might not tell you how sad I still feel. And how lonely it can be inside a marriage where one of us is happy and connected, and one of us isn't. I don't want to be that sad person. I want to be out there and connected and joyful and fulfilled. I don't really want to be walking this road on my own, healing alone - my body and my soul. But I guess this is where life has brought me, and I have chosen many of the things that have brought me here, and I must do this thing to become the person I want to be for my next phase. More whole and self nourished and capable of choosing a lover who will feed me, not break me.

Monday, 24 November 2014

The Conversation in my Head I Wish I could Have

It's the conversation I want to have with John-the-Narc. It starts with "Why are you doing this?" And then it says "Please stop".

I spent hours and hours yesterday trying to work through this very complicated issue in my heart. I eventually ended up at gym on a Sunday night trying to walk off the energy and sadness and fury and pain and sadness and sense of betrayal and and and.... Today my feet are swollen and sore (Rheumatoid Arthritis flare) and my hair is falling out again (Hashimotos relapse or the Chemo?), and I'm obviously feeling the after effects of this stressful and painful time. So I thought I'd try to use today's blog to sort through the issues in my head so I can at least have words for them.

But First: Is John a Sociopath as well as a Narcissist?

I've been reading up a lot on Sociopaths over the past month, and particularly on I'm asking myself this question because it materially affects my understanding of John's intent around me, and because his shrink used that language in some of the work John was doing with him a few months ago. John was wondering whether he was one or not. Sociopaths lack empathy. Completely. They are unable and unwilling to enter the world of the other and live their lives manipulating the 'empaths' around them to set themselves up as comfortably as possible. Simpy put, they use people to get what they want. The ugly Sociopaths abuse people for amusement too, seeing how far they can push them and what they can get them to do. They discard them immediately when they are bored (the extreme ones murder them) or have no further use of them. And they replace them with absolutely no problem.

If John is a Sociopath then everything that he has done and is doing makes perfect sense. A Sociopath would have sought out a company to 'live off', and a woman like me that he could exploit. They often choose strong, capable, high powered women because the thrill of pursuit, seduction, and ultimate domination presents a challenge that they can really get off on. Manipulating a weak woman is easy, but not as rewarding. Dominating a tough chick like me, and bending me to his will - better thrill. I am empathetic, and enabling, and compassionate. I see potential in people and am inspired easily by their effort to grow. Deep in my heart I am needy and fragmented, lonely and abandoned. I run a company that earns well, with the potential to do much better - and so create wealth and a comfortable spot for him. I am perfect fodder. When John joined my company he made a lot out of the fact that one of our competitors called us a 'bunch of housewives' and I think John thought it would be a cushy job with lots of women to exploit and a piece of cake to turn around because clearly we women were not up to running a high performing company on our own.

If he is a Sociopath then all the things he has done which have been destructive, deceitful and manipulative in nature would all make sense. And if he is one, then there is really no conversation to have with him at all. Because then I would know that my entire time with him was a complete manipulation and a total lie. I would know that he chose me to exploit me. And did exploit me with finesse. He worked his way into my company, my heart, my body, my family, my network, my vagina and took from me everything he could. If that is the case then I have been raped and abused and robbed at a level that I am unable to even contemplate. Then every memory, every bit of love, every soul connection that I had is just garbage. It didn't exist. It wasn't real. It was just pure evil visited on me. There is no redemption for him. And the thought of this terrifies me beyond belief. If this is him then OH MY GOD - how do I ever recover from knowing that? How will I ever heal? It means that his attack on me in court is actually about finishing the job - making sure he does as much damage as he possibly can to me and make as much money out of me as he can before he moves on to his next victim. He wants to see me irretrievably broken. And won't stop until I am.

But if he isn't a Sociopath, but 'just' a Narcissist (which is bad enough), then where does it leave me? When we split up he was wading courageously into therapy. He was clinging to the belief and scant evidence that Narcissists can heal if they work their asses off about it. I believed that he was doing his very best to get well, even if his battle was devastating for me, there is a part of me that would want to support him through that no matter what. He was so badly harmed as a child and I have such compassion for that. As a Narc he would be primed to exploit my compassion, and lie to me to cover his cheating with other women and hide his extreme sexual exploits from me. He would have wanted to keep up my delusion about him and hide the deviant part of him from me. Because he could feel. He could experience shame. And sadness. And loneliness. And a need to connect. And his attack on me in court now is more about desperation and rage than it is about needing to destroy even more of me. He is destroying me without realising that that is the consequence of what he is doing now. Here there is space for redemption. Here he could actually stop and reflect, through his healing and therapy, that it's time to stop attacking me. And find a way to work with me that would heal us both.

So he has done some dishonest and thieving things. He has taken advantage of my trust and love for him and used his position to benefit himself financially. I found out. I asked him to leave immediately. He is now attacking me in court and trying to get the maximum settlement he can out of the labour court. Money he is not due. Money he has already taken.

I stopped paying him when I realised that he had taken so much. I knew I would spend years trying to get him to pay back what he's taken. I never wanted to go to war with him in court, but once he started threatening and attacking me, and lying about me, I had no choice but to step up and defend myself and my company. But I hate this. I don't want to be at war with this man. I loved him with all my heart! I don;t want to take his car away because he can't sort it quickly. I don't want to attack him in court and bring out the big guns against him. I want to honour our relationship and our love. And find a way forward that is kind and gentle for both of us.

I just want to tell him to stop. I want to invite him to sit down with me, just as he did when I discovered his cheating. And I want him to tell me why he did all these things. Face his shame. Talk through his sorrow for stealing from me in this way. Ask for forgiveness for trying to lie and blackmail his way into taking what isn't his. And work to a place where he can make it right. Where he can heal himself and me from all the harm that has happened to us. I want to tell him that I feel like this is his very last chance at redemption. This is his moment to face his Narc demon and wrestle it to the ground. Make right his wrongs. If he goes through with this corrupt crusade he will never find his way back to himself. Never find a true and honest way to look his sons in the eye. 

If John is a Narcissist in recovery, he may want to hear this conversation with me. He would connect with the love he lost, and his sadness and shame, and find the loving man inside himself again that has the capacity for healing and care. The man that I saw and loved with all my heart, and still believe in. But if he is a Sociopath, then my words would be wasted. He would laugh at me if he were to read them, knowing that I was still somehow under his spell. And he would take me on with renewed vigour, feeling himself very close to his evil intended outcome - the total destruction of this woman.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

They Dance Alone

By last night the pain of Friday morning's court session had landed on me properly. I was at home with my dad and my two boys and my husband was off to spend the night at his girlfriend's place as he does on his weekends off from the boys.

I spent the morning out and about doing some errands and bonding with one of my girlfriends. I still felt really tired after my emotionally draining week and my Friday night 'sort of date'. So I was glad to collapse on the couch and flick through the movies on TV. Found some chick flicks to settle down to and managed to shed a few tears during the sad bits. Still not enough to assuage the grief that is still sitting deep inside me, but enough, I guess, to let off a bit of the pressure. By the evening time I was actually aching to get some of my thoughts off my chest, and so set myself up to blog. But then I couldn't get my bloody wifi to connect to my laptop and so had no internet access - my husband had taken his 3G dongle with him.

I was struggling so with the buildup of emotional energy. And now I couldn't write it out. And I just really couldn't drag myself to the gym to work it all off either.

And then I remembered that it was Saturday night and my favourite radio channel plays "Saturday Night Bandstand' which is a lovely programme of music from the 30's 40's and 50's in big bandstand style. So I decided to dance it out. While I'm in recovery, I have a fitness commitment to myself: I agreed to make sure that I take at least 5000 steps a day (approximately 4.5km) which I measure on my smartphone with a fitness app I have.  Also, using my app, I have noticed that I'm suddenly starting to gain weight at the alarming rate of about 400g per week, even though I haven't changed anything in my diet - so I do need to keep my exercise routine going. It may be my Hashimoto' thyroid issue coming back at me, and if that's the case, I'm going to have to work very hard to make sure I don't load on 10kg just by inactivity.

I closed myself into the front porch, turned up the radio and started to dance. I danced about 3km according to my app. But it was such a bittersweet dance. Those old bandstand pieces are all about love - happy love, sad love, yearning, breaking, leaving, falling in... every single one of them touched a different sore place in me. The memories were flooding in from every place. I danced and danced and danced. Fast and playful. Slower and sensuous. Waltzes and Rumba. Samba and Cha-cha. All steps I've learned in dancing classes over the years. John-the-Narc and I connected over music like this so much. Where was he last night? Was he sad and alone like me? Or seducing his next supply? With romantic music playing in the background? Sore sore heart. Sad sad girl. Dancing alone. Trying to dance away her heartbreak.

The pace of the music started slowing down and became introspective and melancholy and I just couldn't bear it any more. I turned it off and made my way up to bed.

Sad. Alone.

Dancing Alone.

A Sort of 'First Date'

So I met Berlin

I've been waiting a long time to do that. When I first met him online on the Ashley Madison dating site, and during the couple of weeks that followed I was sure we would meet up the moment he returned to South Africa. We had such an intense and connected engagement online while he was in Berlin and I was here in South Africa. When I couldn't get a Visa to go out and meet him in Berlin, we settled in to wait it out until he returned. But when he returned, he just cut me off. Completely. And I was in such a raw emotional and physical state at the time that I just felt completely bewildered, sideswiped and hurt by the cutoff.

We had fantasized together, online, about how our first meeting would be. With all the sexual and connection energy we (or maybe just I?) were feeling, I imagined us not even talking. I could just see him sweeping me into his arms and kissing me with all the pent up emotion and yearning that had been building for the few weeks online. But as I got sicker and sicker leading up to homecoming day, and I could feel him pulling away from me gently, I started reframing how the meetup would be. I really didn't want our first meeting to be with me in a hospital bed, particularly when I suddenly swelled up like the Michelin Man. I wanted to look and feel my best. He thought he would spend a few days settling down with his family before he connected with me, so I was quite pleased that I would have some days to 'get myself back' before he saw me. Of course, the rest is history - he never did connect, and I got much worse before I began this very long road to recovery.

So we met at a restaurant near to his home. Lovely place, but too loud for us to actually have an easy conversation. We were both a bit distracted - I was trying to stay in touch with my dad who had had surgery that morning, and he had a sick friend that he was also keeping tabs on. I did find his attention wandering a few time during the conversation, and he did 'leave' the conversation a couple of times to send messages on his phone, ostensibly about his very ill friend. Could have been that. Or something else. Both of us were exhausted after a hard week, and I was wilting a bit under the effects of the chemo I took in the morning, and the terrible emotional toll that Friday morning's legal proceedings had taken on me. So we both tried hard to make our first connection successful, but I do think it was that - hard work for both of us.

And of course there was no romantic sweeping off of feet. We are both quite wary of each other I think. I’m still feeling quite bruised by his sudden abandonment of me, and I think he still thinks that I may, in some way, have been involved with some scam that someone was trying to pull on him through the Ashley Madison site. It’s as if we’re both still checking each other out – bruised and suspicious – and trying to see if the other can be trusted or not.

But what of Berlin himself? Was my online infatuation all in my head? Or is there something in this man that I would be attracted to in real life? That was the real question I wanted to answer for myself. And I'm so relieved to say that, yes, he is most definitely a man that I would enjoy. I didn't imagine the connection from my side at all. I like his energy. He has a good brain. And I feel like he would be a very sensuous man if ever I would experience him in that way. So he got a big fat tick from me in that department! So in this particular case, my online attraction was not misplaced or projected. If I had made it to Berlin when we first played with the idea, I have no doubt we would have had a beautiful sensual and connected romantic fling.  

Is he a Narcissist? Not obviously so, although I do think I'd need more time to figure that out. Of course we know already that I seem to be attracted to only Narcs, so just the fact that I do like him could already be a step in the Narc direction, and I should watch out for that.

I didn't manage to unpack what actually happened when he disappeared on me. The restaurant really was too loud and I didn't want to get too deeply into what could be quite a painful conversation, for me anyway. He said that two girls had found him on AM, professing to be from Mexico and some other small country in Europe. But they didn't speak the language of the countries they came from. One was insisting on meeting up with him and he was becoming afraid that they were planning some attack on him, or some sort of scam. I still don't know what that has to do with me though. He once mentioned thinking I was setting some sort of trap for him. Did he think I was the author of those profiles on AM?

And I want to know if the connection we had was as real for him as it was for me? Or did I project too much into that space? I really believed that we were both quite committed to meeting up in South Africa and seeing if our relationship had any potential in real life. We discussed having STD screens so that we could have condom-free sex safely if that's where our relationship took us. Was he just messing with me then? Or did he really want to take this thing further than the online forum? Did he feel what I felt? Or was that just all part of the playful chatting thing people do in online relationships. Was I naive to believe that he meant what he was saying? Should I be 'manning up' more if I want to get back into the online dating space at some stage? Or should I be expecting the men I meet to be clear and truthful with me about where they're at?

OK - I'm even smiling a bit at myself with that specific naive question - I guess I am answering my own question there - enjoy the play but check the guy out very very thoroughly before you take things further with them - there are a lot of nasty people out there, and to play in the world you have to have defenses set up.

We ended the evening quite early - we were both just too tired to go on late into the evening. I drove home trying to suss how I was feeling. I could feel a muted butterfly or two in my tummy - good sign. But also still a lot of caution and mistrust in me - if ever something was to transpire with this boy, I would need a lot more explanation and understanding to open myself up to him in any way. I could feel the questions welling up inside me: "Did you really feel it too?", "Were you just playing me?", "did I just get lost in the myriad of women you were playing with online?", "If you felt it too, how could it have been that easy for you to walk away without a backward glance?". 

We said we'd meet up again. We may do a little bit of work together, so again, I'll have to manage my boundaries about that quite carefully. Maybe he'll meet me at Tasha's next Sunday morning, or we'll find another time. I'm not really sussing him out as future relationship potential at the moment - he mentioned something a while ago about reconciling with his wife and I really really don't want to mess with that, (although he also mentioned still chatting online with women and the fact that he's currently behaving like a 16-year-old, so maybe wife reconciliation was a passing phase?) I think I'm looking for insight and closure mostly. This thing landed on me in a very very vulnerable and raw time of my life and it has lodged itself in my heart quite stubbornly - I feel like I can't let it go until I actually understand it all.

So this part of the 'Online dating' story isn't quite complete yet, at least not for me. Who knows - maybe I'll never see him or hear from him again - I didn't really get a sense of whether he enjoyed me or not. So let's see. I'm not sorry I did this. I feel better, no matter what happens next.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Facing the Dragon

Just back from the Labour Court. I didn't cry - I was really afraid that I would, but I managed to hold back the deluge and see the whole process through. Now I feel completely exhausted. There was no finding - the Commissioner will give us her ruling in 2 week's time, so I'll only know the outcome then. Its a small piece, and I'll probably lose this round, but I needed to begin as I intend to complete - by having all my ducks in a row at all times. My Lawyer was just lovely - I do feel so very safe with him.

John-the-Narc was in full flight - he picked slivers of information and emails and constructed a story out of it which was just so far from the truth. I've said it before - he's an excellent liar, to the point where, I think, he eventually believes his own lies. I find it so very hard to go up against someone who lies because it's so hard to know where then next lie will come from. and it is so emotionally exhausting to even just sit through the process and watch the bullshit spew out of him.

Mostly it's hard because I haven't stopped loving him. And seeing him again just melts my heart. And I don't want to see him in any position of pain - I don't want him to suffer financially, and I don't want him to even feel any pain about it all. And in this point my head and my heart are at war. My head knows that I have no choice but to defend myself in the face of his attack, and if he chooses the courts as the place for the attack, then I need to meet and defeat him there, or suffer even more financial consequences than I already have.

But my heart still has huge compassion for this man, compassion that I know is part of my own wounding. I have blogged about this before, and I realise that I should be turning the compassion I have on myself to enable myself to heal. With the compassionate understanding that he cannot help who he is. Expecting him to behave in any way outside of what he is is crazy, really. But I do. I know that at some level I am expecting him to do this right. Be honourable. Respect our relationship and what we shared. Climb down off this block that he is on where he somehow thinks I have done him wrong.

Aaaaaghhh - the cognitive dissonance of it all is appalling: because while I'm thinking he should be honouring our relationship, I have to remember that all the way through the relationship he was both shagging other women, AND skimming money off our company. He was always betraying me both spiritually, emotionally and financially - and the only difference now is that now I know. Whereas then I was still living in The Truman Show of his construction. So the stuff I felt then, which still feeds what I feel now, is based on an illusion. Bullshit. Lies.

So I actually need a Trudy pep talk to remind me: Get a GRIP Trudy. He NEVER loved you. He ALWAYS LIED and CHEATED and STOLE from you. Trudy, girl, YOU are the one who deserves the compassion. YOU are the one who is suffering so much because of the terrible choices HE made. HE should be consoling, loving and having compassion for YOU!!!

Shew. So much pathology. SO much fuckedupness. Hard for me to see clearly through it all today.

So I have got one thing right for today: I knew this day would knock me over. And that being alone in my bed tonight without having spent some good time with a friendly face would just be too hard for me. So I've set up time to meet BERLIN for the first time. I have no idea how that will go - but I thought it would be the best way to take me out of this betrayal funk and give myself some happy time for a bit.

Ah, Trudy - long road ahead still.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Trying to Trust the Process

A mate and I had wine together last night. We're both needing the time to talk and vent and GET OUT all the stuff that our Narcs are inflicting on us with someone who understands, has compassion, and reminds us that we're good, sane and worthy human beings.

I'm wobbling like crazy because of the Labour Court hearing tomorrow. I have had to spend hours and hours sifting through old emails and spreadsheets to find evidence to support my case. Every minute of that time is bringing back old memories. Some are happy and rich - tarnished now - infused with the hindsight knowledge I now have of this man who continues to torture me. Others are reminding me of how he bullied me at work - strident, punitive words that are void of any empathy or compassion or kindness.

She was asking me how I'm feeling about John-the-Narc, and I was feeling wistful and sad.

Both of us have this residual disappointment that we were unable to heal our men of their childhood afflictions and bring them towards a more enlightened, insightful and honest way of being in the world. Both of us, great co-dependent and Narc Supply specialists are still, at some level, believing in the ideal that you can 'fix' another human being. Both of us aware that we sometimes get lost in the fantasy that he will 'change' and become the ideal men we both yearned for.

But its that very idealism that we both have that draws predators to us. Our belief in the innate goodness of human beings and our naivete around our willingness to be part of the healing process of the pathological men we love is the bait we are inadvertently waving in the wind for all predatory human beings to see. And part of this breaking down process we have both had to bear has been to get us to the point where we are more realistic, less vulnerable, and more astute in our dealings with people like this.

Preparing for Court tomorrow is hard also because I find it so hard to put myself into the shoes of someone who means evil and destructive intent. Trying to anticipate how he will lie and manipulate the Court is so hard - I recognise it when I watch it happening now, but I still cannot anticipate what he'll do next. It makes me feel vulnerable and unprepared - even though I am normally a master at facts and figures in my normal line of work.

Both my friend and I have an expectation of ourselves that we could be following a straight line in our healing process - follow the 6 step recovery plan step by step and all will be well. But it's not so simple - it's much more like a haphazard waltz, where a lot of the stepping is bloody backwards, and then a deep breath, and then forward again. We were both agreeing that we need to forgive ourselves for not getting it right all the time, and not follow the 'perfect' recovery process. But to go gently. We have both suffered horrible emotional trauma, still ongoing in our lives. We must forgive ourselves for the slow steps and just walk with care.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Interpreting Dreams

I was at Therapy yesterday afternoon. And my shrink and I were working through that very vivid dream I had last Wednesday. She sees it all as part of me trying to process the loss and attack that I'm dealing with John-the-Narc.

The lover in my bed represents John. The beautiful side of John that he showed me - loving, holding, precious skintime that fed my soul. The transient, but powerful safety that I felt being held in his arms. My child is suddenly in my bed and I use my body to shield the child from John, my lover. That is so significant in itself - my naked body has been the scene of so much history for me - abuse, wretchedness, health, growth, passion and love. And yet this is what I use to shield my child. My real child. My own inner child. Both need protection from my lover, even though he is being gentle and loving with me in our bed.

When he has to leave because I have to look after my child, he leaves a beautiful message for me on my sheet - an intimate place, a message lovingly crafted. Beautiful words that John used to use when he talked to me, or sent me messages. Notes that would warm my heart and feed my soul.

But the messages and words and intent are completely transient. When I try to read and access them, I find them gone - dissolved in the cleansing - lost forever and just not permanent or reliable in any way.

They are replaced by John-the-Narc madman who is attacking my house. It's full of strangers. In his legal attack he's threatening to expose our relationship and his actions are already bringing strangers into what was our own, quite secret and sacred world. He defiles it all by dragging lawyers and colleagues into our personal place, and tell lies about it and just breaks everything that felt good and wholesome and precious about it.

All of this threatens my family - what if my children get to hear about this sordid stuff? How will it damage their sense of safety and even morality in this world? How would I cope financially if he manages to lie enough to convince a judge to rule against me?

I run from this place that used to be my home to seek help - which is a good thing - I'm usually fighting to solve and control these things on my own. But my subconscious doesn't give me the satisfactory peace that would come from finding the help and saving the children from this very broken and destructive house. Instead I awaken with all the questions to ponder, the feelings to feel, and a battle ahead of me to fight.

This dream just spells out the heaven and hell that exists in loving a Narcissist. They are capable of exhibiting the most loving, connected, focused and deep love (who knows how much of it is real though), and also of the most destructive and despicable evil acts. And because they seduce us with their 'siren song', we are so deeply hooked and in love by the time the destructive one arrives, that it leaves us naked and vulnerable, unable to even defend ourselves. Unable to intuit the next evil blow and where it will come from. The beautiful relationship, like the message of love and farewell on the sheet, is just so transient, it's gone before you even get a chance to understand it.

My shrink asked me whether I am still in that place where I am tempted to call him, in my saddest hours, and ask him for some time. I'm lonely and sad. He's lonely and sad. But no. I no longer am tempted to reach out to him. Where before his abuse and cruelty were tempered with love and soul connection and skintime, now there is just duplicity, lies, attack and destructive behaviour. I love him still. I miss him deep in my soul. But I will never reach out to him again. I'm done with him forever.

We go to court on Friday for the first round. I will prepare for it today. The child inside me is feeling lost and bewildered and attacked. I only hope that my inner adults will be with me on Friday to stand up to this Narcissist bastard who wants to steal my life from me.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Slow down, Soldier...

Yesterday I worked my first 12-hour day since I got sick in May this year.

I don't get tired when I'm working. I get into a flow - meeting people, creating concepts and strategies, selling ideas to clients, motivating my own team... when I'm working in this positive and creative frame of mind, I'm at my best, and stopping seems silly.

So my last meeting with a new potential client in the Environmental Sector felt so right that I just let it run on and on...and suddenly I was realizing it was past my children's bedtime and way past the time when I should have been recovering at home!

But I need to be so careful - this kind of behaviour that comes so naturally to me can be counter productive, putting my body under severe stress and then not allowing it recovery time before I demand that it gets up again in the morning to do it all again!

I've been a great fan over the years of Marcus Buckingham and Gallup's Strengthfinder as a tool to understand one's strengths better and learn how to play to them. One of my top strengths is that of 'Achiever'. The Clifton Strengthsfinder defines it as follows:

Your Achiever theme helps explain your drive. Achiever describes a constant need for achievement. You feel as if every day starts at zero. By the end of the day you must achieve something tangible in order to feel good about yourself. And by "every day" you mean every single day -- workdays, weekends, vacations. No matter how much you may feel you deserve a day of rest, if the day passes without some form of achievement, no matter how small, you will feel dissatisfied. You have an internal fire burning inside you. It pushes you to do more, to achieve more. After each accomplishment is reached, the fire dwindles for a moment, but very soon it rekindles itself, forcing you toward the next accomplishment. Your relentless need for achievement might not be logical. It might not even be focused. But it will always be with you. As an Achiever you must learn to live with this whisper of discontent. It does have its benefits. It brings you the energy you need to work long hours without burning out. It is the jolt you can always count on to get you started on new tasks, new challenges. It is the power supply that causes you to set the pace and define the levels of productivity for your work group. It is the theme that keeps you moving.

So I have this fire that burns my backside every time I find myself sitting still. It's a little voice whispering 'You haven't done enough yet" and it is the thing that has caused me the most discomfort since I got really sick. Because in order to heal from being sick, I've had to try to ignore that voice. I've had to lie down when the voice wanted me to get up. I've had to sit and calm down when the voice has wanted me to get up and fight. I've had to continue to choose low impact, low stress activities for a while so my body and soul can recover fully from the devastating physical and emotional trauma I have walked through over the past 6 months.

I have been trying to convince myself that just this act of slow recovery is, in itself, an achievement. This is my 60th blog already! I have been relentlessly doing the emotional work to try to walk myself gently into healthier ways of being. A more sustainable way of being in the world for this, the second half of my life. I'm realising it's not about 'doing less'. It's actually about being different.

I remember a conversation I had with a coach I was working with a few years ago. I had already been diagnosed with my Autoimmune issues, and was paying lip service to the fact that I needed to change some things in my life in order to stress less. I was bragging to my coach that I was working much less and had reduced my working hours significantly. He asked me what time I started work. 7am. He asked when I finished work. 6pm. "Oh" he says cynically, "So I see that, now you've cut down your working hours, you're working only 11 hours a day." Well, there wasn't much I could say to that.

So although this Achiever strength of mine is definitely the petrol I use to compel me forward, I do need to possibly change how I see my own achievement. I like that I'm committed to completing these blogs every day, and I do get a little thrill as I see my reader numbers steadily increasing (I AM a numbers girl - thankyou, readers for coming back - it helps!). I think I need to be celebrating other achievements too. I need to enjoy the fact that, even though it has broken my heart and taken every ounce of will power in me, I have NOT contacted John-the-Narc even once since he began his legal crusade against me. That is minimising the amount of stress and abuse I could have been suffering at his hands. I'm proud that I'm keeping up with my exercise programme to build the strength I need and the movement I need to keep my joints protected. I'm proud that I'm eating so well and avoiding all foods that interfere with my Autoimmune system. And I continue with my process of dealing all the emotional and relationship things that have been so destructive to me over the years.

I have been struggling with how much actual 'Work' that I'm doing, trying to turn the company around again - I am just not currently capable of the drive that is actually needed to do this. But somehow the Universe seems to be looking after me in that regard. I'm meeting people that seem to be just the right folk for my growth strategy going forward, and my sales team seems to be resurrecting itself of it's own accord to get moving for selling to next year's targets. Maybe it's because I cannot create as much energy that I used to be able to do, that people around me are being forced to rise to the occasion and take up their own slack.

And maybe that is part of my new way of being. Continually reminding myself that I'm not responsible for the lives and success of the people around me - I need to keep myself open to the success they can bring, and focus my own energy on the very clever things that will make the most impact.

A different way of being.

The Hardness of Happy Families

There they are, walking along the beach together. Mom and Dad strolling happily and watching the little ones frolic in the waves. Dad breaks away to go and chase one of the kids into the water, the others stop what they're doing to laugh at the action. Mom claps her hands and laughs delightedly at the game. Dad and son run up the beach and grab mom's hands and drag her into the water. The others join in the fun and make sure Mom gets a hearty dumping in the waves. Dad and Mom embrace happily and carry on with the walk as the kids bounce playfully around them.

Bring the magnifying glass closer though, and you see they are not actually Mom and Dad. This is actually Dad and his new girlfriend, on their first holiday away with the kids. Mom is not there. She has been replaced by girlfriend in that happy picture and is probably somewhere, alone, sobbing into her pillow with the grief and loss of that happy family picture that she so cherished and now no longer has. She wants this happy time for her children, and yet is devastated that it's all working so easily. She wants them to be able to feel safe and happy with girlfriend and Dad, because they're her children. But she can't escape the dagger in her heart that it was so easy for everyone to cut her out of the picture and paste new woman in. It looks like the story just carries on without her. Regardless.

Of course it isn't as it looks. The children are still reeling from the split in their family. Secretly they hope that one day Mommy and Daddy will find each other again. But for now, because they're good kids, and because Mom is a good Mom, they're so happy to be on holiday with Dad. And Mom hasn't let them know that this is breaking her heart, so they have no 'loyalty' issues about enjoying Dad's happiness, and new girlfriend's attention. And new girlfriend is doing her best to fit in with kids because she loves their father with all her heart and wants him to feel like she's the perfect Stepmom for his kids.

So for now we all believe the picture.

This is the reality that my friend Nikki is facing for Christmas this year. I know she needs to make it work for her children, so she'll manage their going with grace and maturity. But watching them go and play happy families with her Ex is just heartbreaking. I wish I could make it easier for her.

I'm not having to face that painful moment yet. I'm in an Open Marriage with my husband, and he is in a serious relationship with an old friend of mine, and has, on a couple of occasions, asked me if I would be OK with him taking her with him and our boys on weekend jaunts. Well, strictly speaking he only asked the second time. The first time he just set it up and I only found out by chance that it was planned. That was only a week or two after I came out of hospital and the minute I heard about it my heart just broke. I was nowhere NEAR ready to cope emotionally with my husband and girlfriend taking the boys away like happy families. I so seldom put my own emotional needs ahead of others, but I knew in that moment that I needed to stand my ground. I just said "no." He was completely surprised, thinking all would be hunky dory. I told him I just wasn't ready. So he cancelled.

But 2 weeks later he was asking me again if he could arrange a trip with girlfriend and boys. I said "no" again. He wanted to know if this was a permanent "no" or just until I was a bit healthier. I said of course it's not permanent. It's just a 'Not Yet'. I don't really even have a good reason for not being able to do this yet. I just feel like I've been dealing too much emotionally, and having girlfriend with my kids is a bridge too far for now. I want to say it's because their relationship is too fledgling still and that I don't want to upset and confuse the kids with it - I didn't tell them at all about my relationship with John-the-Narc - but that's not the truth. I'm saying no for now because I can't handle it yet. Luckily for me, being in this open marriage means we're having to negotiate the rules as we go along. I don't have to be forced into accepting girlfriend's presence until I'm ready. My precious friend, Nikki, is not so lucky - she has to simply suck it up because it's here, in her face, whether she's ready or not!

Our Christmas beach holiday will be with the REAL parents. Probably not walking together on the beach at all - either I'll be there, or he will, but family fun together like that may not actually happen at all. I'm sad about that. But it is what it is. Maybe by next Christmas I'll be ready to have girlfriend along with us. Maybe by then I'll even have my own special person to bring along. Would that kind of weird holiday family situation even be possible for our tribe?

I wonder.

Friday, 14 November 2014

The Narc's Guide to Rehooking Supply

Ugh! My local NBF, Nikki was in pieces last night. With good bloody reason. Her Narc Ex Husband pulled the mother of all stunts on her over the past few days. The kind of stunt that leaves one breathless as to the arrogance, audacity and incredulity that ordinary people experience when confronted with the truth of the levels to which our Narcs would stoop.

Here's how it went down. She left him over two years ago when she uncovered his cheating and nefarious behaviour that she could no longer tolerate as his loving and supportive wife. The Divorce went through quite recently. He has been a miserable bastard from hell in the way he has squeezed her in the settlement, particularly as she has been a stay at home mom for a long time, and hasn't yet got her own income streams sorted. He forces her to beg and justify every single cent she needs to spend on medical issues, and often just refuses to take her word that certain expenses are needed, deferring instead to the 'expertise' of specialists he verifies himself, or demands she does. Agh, it's just humiliating, abusive and horrible for her, and I'm hoping she will soon find a job that will reduce her economic reliance on that asshole!

So after about two years of her getting over this man and dealing with the grief and ongoing abusive control he wreaks on her, he suddenly asks for a conversation with her. She reluctantly lets him into her home and sends the little ones off to play, and reluctantly settles in to hear him talk. He sits her down and makes an appeal to her for a reconciliation. Says he misses his family and how they used to be. Admits he doesn't really love her currently, but thinks that they could recreate their relationship if she would give him a chance.

Understand that this man has done absolutely NOTHING to earn the right to have this conversation. He has made her transition to single motherhood ABSOLUTE HELL! She grovels and justifies every cent he pays her, all the time. He is cruel and abusive to her in ways that I can see even SHE doesn't recogonise as abusive yet. And then. After 2 years of torture, he comes in and breaks her heart all over again with an attempted reconciliation.

She said no. Under absolutely no circumstances. She cannot. Her heart is too broken, and she will never trust him again. And then collapsed into that horrible broken place full of tears for days that so many of us know so well. The wounds are reopened and the blood and pus begins to gush from us, and we feel like we are back to square one.

Less than 1 WEEK LATER he communicates with her that he is in a relationship (many months already) and now feel like it's time to introduce the girlfriend to the kids during their next visit. Which means that he attempted a reconciliation WHILE IN A RELATIONSHIP with another woman, and DIDN'T imagine that was worth disclosing to Nikki. He said that the reconciliation was his 'plan A', and that his relationship was his 'plan B'. As if that's normal. And he couldn't understand the rage and grief that started pouring out of Nikki when he presented this as the reason for not disclosing before.

This is such a typical Narc response. They cultivate layers of 'Supply', and play them simultaneously to ensure that they are always being fed in the deep dark centers of themselves. Plan 'A'. Plan 'B' life plans just spec'ed out as if they were business strategies. They lie, cheat, and cover up, and sometimes, like now, the mask slips because they didn't think everything through, and their partners are exposed to the devastating reality of how little they were loved in exchange for their wholehearted love. How they live lives of crazy Truman Show proportions while the Narc plays the lie to cover up their dysfunctional and sometime sick, abusive behaviour.

So the double blow Nikki had to deal last night was all this bullshit from him, AND the fact that her kids were off meeting the girlfriend in a 'happy families' evening that she has had to support and sanction for their sakes. He didn't even think of giving her fair warning about that so she could get her own head and heart around it. It's a fucking big step, and he just slammed her with it.

Narcs are real pigs!

She sent me this pic I used for this blog this morning. I think I'll join her!!