narcissist recovery

An Open Letter From those of us with Borderline Personality Disorder:

Dear Friends, Family Members, Lovers, Ex-lovers, Coworkers, Children, and others of those of us with Borderline Personality Disorder,

You may be frustrated, feeling helpless, and ready to give up. It’s not your fault. You are not the cause of our suffering. You may find that difficult to believe, since we may lash out at you, switch from being loving and kind to non-trusting and cruel on a dime, and we may even straight up blame you. But it’s not your fault. You deserve to understand more about this condition and what we wish we could say but may not be ready.

It is possible that something that you said or did “triggered” us. A trigger is something that sets off in our minds a past traumatic event or causes us to have distressing thoughts. While you can attempt to be sensitive with the things you say and do, that’s not always possible, and it’s not always clear why something sets off a trigger.

The mind is very complex. A certain song, sound, smell, or words can quickly fire off neurological connections that bring us back to a place where we didn’t feel safe, and we might respond in the now with a similar reaction (think of military persons who fight in combat — a simple backfiring of a car can send them into flashbacks. This is known as PTSD, and it happens to a lot of us, too.)

But please know that at the very same time that we are pushing you away with our words or behavior, we also desperately hope that you will not leave us or abandon us in our time of despair and desperation.

This extreme, black or white thinking and experience of totally opposite desires is known as a dialectic. Early on in our diagnosis and before really digging in deep with DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy), we don’t have the proper tools to tell you this or ask for your support in healthy ways.

We may do very dramatic things, such as harming ourselves in some way (or threatening to do so), going to the hospital, or something similar. While these cries for help should be taken seriously, we understand that you may experience “burn out” from worrying about us and the repeated behavior.

Please trust that, with professional help, and despite what you may have heard or come to believe, we CAN and DO get better.

These episodes can get farther and fewer between, and we can experience long periods of stability and regulation of our emotions. Sometimes the best thing to do, if you can muster up the strength in all of your frustration and hurt, is to grab us, hug us, and tell us that you love us, care, and are not leaving.

One of the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder is an intense fear of being abandoned, and we therefore (often unconsciously) sometimes behave in extreme, frantic ways to avoid this from happening. Even our perception that abandonment is imminent can cause us to become frantic.

Another thing that you may find confusing is our apparent inability to maintain relationships. We may jump from one friend to another, going from loving and idolizing them to despising them - deleting them from our cell phones and unfriending them on Facebook. We may avoid you, not answer calls, and decline invitations to be around you — and other times, all we want to do is be around you.
This is called splitting, and it’s part of the disorder. Sometimes we take a preemptive strike by disowning people before they can reject or abandon us. We’re not saying it’s “right.” We can work through this destructive pattern and learn how to be healthier in the context of relationships. It just doesn’t come naturally to us. It will take time and a lot of effort.

It’s difficult, after all, to relate to others properly when you don’t have a solid understanding of yourself and who you are, apart from everyone else around you.

In Borderline Personality Disorder, many of us experience identity disturbance issues. We may take on the attributes of those around us, never really knowing who WE are. You remember in high school those kids who went from liking rock music to pop to goth, all to fit in with a group - dressing like them, styling their hair like them, using the same mannerisms? It’s as if we haven’t outgrown that.
Sometimes we even take on the mannerisms of other people (we are one way at work, another at home, another at church), which is part of how we’ve gotten our nickname of “chameleons.” Sure, people act differently at home and at work, but you might not recognize us by the way we behave at work versus at home. It’s that extreme.

For some of us, we had childhoods during which, unfortunately, we had parents or caregivers who could quickly switch from loving and normal to abusive. We had to behave in ways that would please the caregiver at any given moment in order to stay safe and survive. We haven’t outgrown this.
Because of all of this pain, we often experience feelings of emptiness. We can’t imagine how helpless you must feel to witness this. Perhaps you have tried so many things to ease the pain, but nothing has worked. Again - this is NOT your fault.

The best thing we can do during these times is remind ourselves that “this too shall pass” and practice DBT skills - especially self-soothing - things that helps us to feel a little better despite the numbness. Boredom is often dangerous for us, as it can lead to the feelings of emptiness. It’s smart for us to stay busy and distract ourselves when boredom starts to come on.

On the other side of the coin, we may have outburst of anger that can be scary. It’s important that we stay safe and not hurt you or ourselves. This is just another manifestation of BPD.

We are highly emotionally sensitive and have extreme difficulty regulating/modulating our emotions. Dr. Marsha Linehan, founder of DBT, likens us to 3rd degree emotional burn victims.

Through Dialectical Behavior Therapy, we can learn how to regulate our emotions so that we do not become out of control. We can learn how to stop sabotaging our lives and circumstances…and we can learn to behave in ways that are less hurtful and frightening to you.

Another thing you may have noticed is that spaced out look on our faces. This is called dissociation. Our brains literally disconnect, and our thoughts go somewhere else, as our brains are trying to protect us from additional emotional trauma. We can learn grounding exercises and apply our skills to help during these episodes, and they may become less frequent as we get better.
But, what about you?

If you have decided to tap into your strength and stand by your loved one with BPD, you probably need support too. Here are some ideas:
Remind yourself that the person’s behavior isn’t your fault
Tap into your compassion for the person’s suffering while understanding that their behavior is probably an intense reaction to that suffering
Do things to take care of YOU. On the resources page of this blog, there is a wealth of information on books, workbooks, CDs, movies, etc. for you to understand this disorder and take care of yourself. Be sure to check it out!
In addition to learning more about BPD and how to self-care around it, be sure to do things that you enjoy and that soothe you, such as getting out for a walk, seeing a funny movie, eating a good meal, taking a warm bath — whatever you like to do to care for yourself and feel comforted.
Ask questions. There is a lot of misconception out there about BPD.
Remember that your words, love, and support go a long way in helping your loved one to heal, even if the results are not immediately evident

Not all of the situations I described apply to all people with Borderline Personality Disorder. One must only have 5 symptoms out of 9 to qualify for a diagnosis, and the combinations of those 5-9 are seemingly endless. This post is just to give you an idea of the typical suffering and thoughts those of us with BPD have.

This is my second year in DBT. A year ago, I could not have written this letter, but it represents much of what was in my heart but could not yet be realized or expressed.

My hope is that you will gain new insight into your loved one’s condition and grow in compassion and understand for both your loved one AND yourself, as this is not an easy road.

I can tell you, from personal experience, that working on this illness through DBT is worth the fight. Hope can be returned. A normal life can be had. You can see glimpses and more and more of who that person really is over time, if you don’t give up. I wish you peace.

Thank you for reading.

—  The author of this letter has since RECOVERED from Borderline Personality Disorder and no longer meets the criteria for a BPD diagnosis. She now teaches the DBT skills that helped change her life over at DBT Path where you can take online Dialectical Behavior Therapy Classes from anywhere in the world. Co-facilitated with a licensed therapist. You can read Debbie’s books at healingfrombpd

These are 12 qualities of an enlightened person:

1. Happiness
The enlightened person is happy and joyful. He has a cheerful disposition most of the time, and is willing to share that joy with others. He is always optimistic that all challenges have a resolution. Even though the resolution may not be the most desirable, he is confident that he is capable of being at peace with it.

2. Peaceful and Serene
The enlightened person is peaceful and serene because she is free of fear and other unwholesome emotions. She can see that the human condition reaches beyond this physical existence, so she no long has a fear of the unknown. She is free of worry because she understands that freedom from suffering comes from within, and not from material possessions.

3. Loving, Kind, and Compassionate
The enlightened person is loving, kind, and compassionate for 2 main reasons: 1) He genuinely cares about other people, regardless of whether they care about him, and 2) He knows that other people provide him with the spiritual nourishment he needs to grow, therefore, he remains spiritually open to everyone.

4. Not Self-Centred
The enlightened person is not self-centred, because she has lost the sense of a separate self. She can see the interconnected nature of our existence. To her, this is a reality, and not just a concept. She realizes that all physical manifestations (humans, animals, plants, etc.) depend on each other for their survival.

5. Emotionally Stable
The enlightened person is emotionally stable because he no longer has an ego that needs validation for its existence. He is not hurt because there is no ego to hurt. He does not get angry because he is understanding and compassionate toward those who are not as far along the spiritual path.

6. Patient and Understanding
The enlightened person is patient and understanding because she appreciates how our ignorance creates our own suffering. She understands the challenge of becoming enlightened, so she doesn’t condemn people for their missteps.

7. Humble
The enlightened person is humble. Since he knows his place in the universe, he doesn’t need validation from others. Therefore, he has nothing to prove to anyone, including himself. His humble nature allows him to be kind and gentle, and be open to everyone he encounters.

8. Insightful and Open-Minded
The enlightened person is insightful and open-minded. She is able to see the world with great clarity, without attachment to preconceived ideas about people, places, and things. This enables her to observe the world without jumping to conclusions. Belief and intuition are replaced with clarity of vision and understanding.

9. Inner Strength
The enlightened person has great inner strength. He has learned healthy ways of connecting with the sources of mindfulness energy—through healthy interactions with people, and within. He no longer has a need for the power struggles that most of us engage in.

10. Leadership
The enlightened person is a leader. Having awakened to the point of understanding the nature of suffering, she realizes her duty to help other people find freedom from suffering. She leads by example, rather than control. People follow her because of who she is and what she stands for. They want to be more like her.

11. Mindful of His Health
The enlightened person is mindful of his health—physical, mental, and emotional. He knows that the mind, body and spirit must be in harmony in order to maintain his spiritual condition. He has developed an understanding of physical and mental health, and doesn’t blindly depend on others for his health. And he certainly doesn’t impair his mind with alcohol or illicit drugs.

12. Committed to their Spiritual Practice
The enlightened person never forgets how he achieved enlightenment. She is also aware that it takes continual effort to remain that way. It takes a great deal of mindfulness energy to help others along their path, so she’s aware that she needs to replenish her spiritual strength on a daily basis. Otherwise, she’ll lose her effectiveness as a spiritual messenger.

Overall, the enlightened person is mindful of himself and the world around him. Furthermore, he is curious and willing to continue learning. He is aware that even though he can see with great clarity, developing an understanding of the true nature of our existence takes time to observe and investigate.

A Narcissist’s Love Letter

When I say I’m in love with you, I mean I love the way I feel when I’m with you. I love myself through you. I love seeing myself through your eyes. I love seeing myself through my eyes imagining how I look through your eyes. I love having someone new to tell my stories to, to express my opinions, and to share my profound theories and beliefs about the important things in life. I love hearing myself say these things as I imagine how they sound to you, and how enthralled with me I imagine you are.

When I say I’m in love with you, I love having someone beautiful to wear, like a new outfit. I love the way you feel on me. I love the way I feel about me when you are with me.

When I say I’m in love with you, I love not being alone. I love not being that tree falling in the forest. I love having a full-time, personal audience.

When I say I’m in love with you I mean I love being your mystery, your riddle, being what keeps you up at night, your obsession. I love being your altar, your sacrament, your icon, your miracle. I love being your answer. I love being the object of your sacrifice. I love being your pain.

When I say I’m in love with you, I mean I’m in love with being your sun, monopolizing your orbit, being your gravity, keeping you drawn back to me no matter how hard you try to jump or fly, keeping you down. Keeping you mine.

When I say I’m in love with you, I mean I’m in love with breathing your air, sucking your blood, eating your dreams. I’m in love with being your drug, your dagger, your suicide note.

When I say I’m in love with you, I mean I love the story I can tell to my next lover, about my ex-lover, about how beautiful things were, how intense, how storybook, what a couple we were, and how you gradually, inexplicably, painfully, bit by bit, disappeared.


Leaving The Past In The Past

So often, you hear people say the past needs to stay in the past.  In  other words, the past has no bearing on who you are today, so just pretend it never happened.  This bothers me- I don’t think that is true at all!

While I’m not saying we need to live in the past, the past whether it is good or bad, has a lot to do with who we are today.  Why not accept that fact?  Embrace the good parts of…

View On WordPress


Chapter 6-b Honor Your Abusive Narcissist Mother? The Scapegoats of a Narcissistic Mother, book by Gail Meyers

This video discusses the commandment to honor your father and mother in light of having an abusive narcissist mother.  It covers:

A brief recap of this chapter (previous two videos)
The Fifth Commandment in Context
Balancing Instructions to Parents
Honor is Not Worshipping Thy Mother
Little Children Obey Your Parents
The Biblical Order of Relationships
Honoring a Narcissistic Mother

What is Emotional Abuse?

Abuse is any behavior that is designed to control and subjugate another human being through the use of fear, humiliation, and verbal or physical assaults.

Emotional abuse is any kind of abuse that is emotional rather than physical in nature. It can include anything from verbal abuse and constant criticism to more subtle tactics, such as intimidation, manipulation, and refusal to ever be pleased.

Emotional abuse is like brain washing in that it systematically wears away at the victim’s self-confidence, sense of self-worth, trust in their own perceptions, and self-concept. Whether it is done by constant berating and belittling, by intimidation, or under the guise of “guidance,” “teaching,” or “advice,” the results are similar. Eventually, the recipient of the abuse loses all sense of self and remnants of personal value. Emotional abuse cuts to the very core of a person, creating scars that may be far deeper and more lasting than physical ones (Engel, 1992, p. 10).

~ Types of Emotional Abuse:

Emotional abuse can take many forms. Three general patterns of abusive behavior include aggressing, denying, and minimizing.

• Aggressing

Aggressive forms of abuse include name-calling, accusing, blaming, threatening, and ordering. Aggressing behaviors are generally direct and obvious. The one-up position the abuser assumes by attempting to judge or invalidate the recipient undermines the equality and autonomy that are essential to healthy adult relationships. This parent-to-child pattern of communication (which is common to all forms of verbal abuse) is most obvious when the abuser takes an aggressive stance.
Aggressive abuse can also take a more indirect form and may even be disguised as “helping.” Criticizing, advising, offering solutions, analyzing, probing, and questioning another person may be a sincere attempt to help. In some instances, however, these behaviours may be an attempt to belittle, control, or demean rather than help. The underlying judgmental “I know best” tone the abuser takes in these situations is inappropriate and creates unequal footing in peer relationships.

• Denying

Invalidating seeks to distort or undermine the recipient’s perceptions of their world. Invalidating occurs when the abuser refuses or fails to acknowledge reality. For example, if the recipient confronts the abuser about an incident of name calling, the abuser may insist, “I never said that,” “I don’t know what you’re talking about, “ etc.
Withholding is another form of denying. Withholding includes refusing to listen, refusing to communicate, and emotionally withdrawing as punishment. This is sometimes called the “silent treatment.”
Countering occurs when the abuser views the recipient as an extension of themselves and denies any viewpoints or feelings which differ from their own.

• Minimizing

Minimizing is a less extreme form of denial. When minimizing, the abuser may not deny that a particular event occurred, but they question the recipient’s emotional experience or reaction to an event. Statements such as “You’re too sensitive,” “You’re exaggerating,” or “You’re blowing this out of proportion” all suggest that the recipient’s emotions and perceptions are faulty and not to be trusted.
Trivializing, which occurs when the abuser suggests that what you have done or communicated is inconsequential or unimportant, is a more subtle form of minimizing.
Denying and minimizing can be particularly damaging. In addition to lowering self-esteem and creating conflict, the invalidation of reality, feelings, and experiences can eventually lead you to question and mistrust your own perceptions and emotional experience.

~ Understanding Abusive Relationships:

No one intends to be in an abusive relationship, but individuals who were verbally abused by a parent or other significant person often find themselves in similar situations as an adult. If a parent tended to define your experiences and emotions, and judge your behaviors, you may not have learned how to set your own standards, develop your own viewpoints, and validate your own feelings and perceptions. Consequently, the controlling and defining stance taken by an emotional abuser may feel familiar or even comfortable to you, although it is destructive.

Recipients of abuse often struggle with feelings of powerlessness, hurt, fear, and anger. Ironically, abusers tend to struggle with these same feelings. Abusers are also likely to have been raised in emotionally abusive environments and they learn to be abusive as a way to cope with their own feelings of powerlessness, hurt, fear and anger. Consequently, abusers may be attracted to people who see themselves as helpless or who have not learned to value their own feelings, perceptions, or viewpoints. This allows the abuser to feel more secure and in control, and avoid dealing with their own feelings and self-perceptions.

Understanding the pattern of your relationships, especially those with family members and other significant people, is a first step toward change. A lack of clarity about who you are in relationship to significant others may manifest itself in different ways. For example, you may act as an “abuser” in some instances and as a “recipient” in others. You may find that you tend to be abused in your romantic relationships, allowing your partners to define and control you. In friendships, however, you may play the role of abuser by withholding, manipulating, trying to “help” others, etc. Knowing yourself and understanding your past can prevent abuse from being recreated in your life.

~ Are You Abusive to Yourself?

Often we allow people into our lives who treat us as we expect to be treated. If we feel contempt for ourselves or think very little of ourselves, we may pick partners or significant others who reflect this image back to us. If we are willing to tolerate negative treatment from others, or treat others in negative ways, it is possible that we also treat ourselves similarly. If you are an abuser or a recipient, you may want to consider how you treat yourself. What sorts of things do you say to yourself? Do thoughts such as “I’m stupid” or “I never do anything right” dominate your thinking? Learning to love and care for ourselves increases self-esteem and makes it more likely that we will have healthy, intimate relationships.

~ Basic Rights in a Relationship

If you have been involved in emotionally abusive relationships, you may not have a clear idea of what a healthy relationship is like. Evans (1992) suggests the following as basic rights in a relationship for you and your partner:

• The right to good will from the other.
• The right to emotional support.
• The right to be heard by the other and to be responded to with courtesy.
• The right to have your own view, even if your partner has a different view.
• The right to have your feelings and experience acknowledged as real.
• The right to receive a sincere apology for any jokes you may find offensive.
• The right to clear and informative answers to questions that concern what is legitimately your business.
• The right to live free from accusation and blame.
• The right to live free from criticism and judgment.
• The right to have your work and your interests spoken of with respect.
• The right to encouragement.
• The right to live free from emotional and physical threat.
• The right to live free from angry outbursts and rage.
• The right to be called by no name that devalues you.
• The right to be respectfully asked rather than ordered.

Permanent Scars

The worst part about looking at the future and trying to imagine it full of hope, light and emotional health is knowing that you’ll always have the scars. Emotional abusers aren’t supposed to leave scars but mine managed to. And in my mother’s usual style it can even be passed off as unintentional. In my case it was actually supposed to a kind act which ended badly in the way that only events in my life can seem to end. So every time I try to style and comb my hair and realize that hair’s missing from the sides and back from when my mother completely burnt it off, I go to the usual method of thinking that someone has it worse than me. Somebody out there had acid thrown on them by a psychotic boyfriend or even their own mother and is permanently disfigured forever. Thinking about that helps me not delve into the disgusting, vast depths of self pity. I think about the fact that if I spend enough time primping and obsessing I can make it seem almost normal. I don’t let the intrusive, judgmental looks I get from others get to me because they don’t know why I don’t have much hair on the sides of my head. Maybe if they did they’d be less eager to jump on any imperfections I try so hard to smooth over with learned self confidence. I have to play my own little twisted version of Pollyanna’s glad game every time I think about my permanent scars.

Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, live perfectly, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment and blame.
—  Brené Brown, researcher and author of the Gifts of Imperfection
Do you have Fleas??!?

The scary truth is that nearly all of us are walking around covered in fleas!

Not the insect type but something a lot more insidious.

We all carry with us coping methods and behaviors that we have ‘learned’ from our experiences of growing up. But what do we do when the behaviors that we have learned are also the very same traits that we disliked in those that raised us?

'If you lie down with dogs you'll get up with fleas'.

If we are raised in an unhealthy environment we run the risk of growing up with some ‘fleas’, remnants of the traits of those who may have hurt us growing up. There is no shame in identifying behaviors in yourself that remind you of how your parents were when you grew up. On the contrary, by identifying these traits and patterns you empower yourself to choose whether you will retain that trait or release it from your own identity.

Here’s my personal example:

I was a sensitive, bright and happy-go-lucky kid raised in a family with a very dominant mother who displayed narcissistic traits. My father enabled her and stood by in instances of emotional and physical abuse. Physical affection was extremely rare and stopped once I reached 10yrs of age. Outward expression of my emotions was never encouraged and I was actively praised for my ability to never complain/cry and to keep smiling.

One of the traits I find hardest to cope with in my Mother is her ability to find the negative in ANY situation she is in. Her life revolves around her own perceived unjust life and her own physical aches/pains and she will match anybody else’s story of hardship with a totally inappropriate account of her own. I was told I was ‘stubborn’ and ‘selfish’ a lot when I was probably quite the opposite. I actually moved out of the family house when I realized it was very hard to remain mentally healthy when I lived with her. My biggest fear was turning into my narcissistic mother.

..but I’m not too ashamed to say I walked away with a case of the fleas.

It has taken me years to see that, under stress, I display behavior similar to my Mother. I have learned to identify the negative in every situation and, although I can hide this from 99% of people around me, the people I choose to allow close to me are affected. I highly doubt it is a natural part of my personality and it is such a frustrating coping mechanism to have when I can clearly see it burdens those around me.

So I’m in the process of metaphorically treating my case of fleas!

Feel free to join  me in the process. It’s surprisingly empowering.

Remember, as long as you are concerned about how your actions affect others, you need have no concern about being a narcissist yourself as narcissists are only concerned with how the actions of others affect them!