I am Strong

This is a letter for those like me suffering from emotional abuse at the hands of a narcissist. I’m here for you and I want you to know you mean something, you are strong, and whatever they are manipulating you to think, it’s not true. Let’s break down a letter I recently received from a toxic person who I had to cut out of my life.

“It’s your Dad.” – a reminder of his authority over me. Capitalized. It seems as though I’ve forgotten this “fact” and I need to be reminded of it. This is not a soft, “let’s make amends” approach. This person means business and is reiterated in the next line.

“I think this has gone on long enough don’t you think?” Here we see the authoritative tone more clearly and aggressively. After years of silence, HE has had enough, HE is intolerant, and HE thinks my silence is getting to be ridiculous. There is a shaming tone to it; one that attempts to force the addressee into submission as if she is a tantruming child. In my body I feel the wild and crazy-making whirlwind of a life-time of injustices that THAT child has fought so hard against. She will have to take a seat for a moment because we’ll be flying to higher altitudes for the benefit of others who might be hearing similar words. These words are meant to bind and control. If you are feeling old, unhealthy patterns come up in your body, this is a red flag for toxicity. Simple words that set you off and have you scrambling. You are fighting against the image they have for you and you get clouded in their vision. Close your eyes. Remember who you are. You are not that child anymore. You are strong. You are powerful. They only have power if you give it to them. Sit with that child in your lap and remind them that they are not ridiculous. They have felt so much pain. They are not unworthy of love as these words imply. They ARE love.

“I would like to meet with you.” He states his needs. A person in authority has no requirement to communicate in an empathetic way to those they see as beneath them. He has not had some major epiphany that has opened his eyes to the fact that you’re a self-sustaining, strong, amazing human being. It doesn’t matter why HE wants this. It doesn’t matter why YOU don’t. He just wants to meet. Period. End of story and that should be good enough. No. This is not good enough for someone who has stood strong, went ZERO contact, and who has found an amazing life beyond the slug of the old ways.

Let’s look at the structure of these 3 lines together: “It’s your Dad. I think this has gone on long enough don’t you think? I would like to meet with you.” This is pure manipulation. I’m the authority figure. You’re being ridiculous. You need to give in to my needs because I said so and you do not matter as a person. If he were to say this without the thin veil of power dynamics, we’d all think he was a horrible person. With the veil, though, this narcissist is able to play the authority figure while also playing the victim. I’ll say that again.

This narcissist is able to play the authority figure while also playing the victim.

This is what they do especially when you stand up for yourself. They try to cast themselves in the best light possible while at the same time illustrating you as the crazy out of control person. You are not crazy and you are only out of THIER control. Would this look different if they were in a jail cell or completely devoid of power over you? Do you, a person who has never met my paternal DNA source, feel under his thumb? To the outside perspective, this looks normal and that’s the point. There is a whole other world just beyond the charming smile and surface persona. A world that doesn’t exist to anyone who has never had the pleasure of dealing with a narcissist. Let’s move on.

“Your home, a neutral location or a restaurant. Or your office at the Child Academy.” This statement works to create a facade of safety. If the pattern holds true, his first choice is my home. He always puts his needs first. Absolutely not. Not my sanctuary. “A neutral location or a restaurant.” Safe and possibly nurturing at the same time! He is either oblivious to the situation or in denial. My money is on denial, since that is the MO of a narc. Here’s where we get to the facade part. “Or your office at the Child Academy.” This person is bitter. He truly believes I’ve been manipulated into “running away from home” because of the organization I once belonged to. He refuses to believe that I cut him out against the wishes of my therapist. He wrote the checks for my therapy to make amends for my childhood trauma. When he wanted to buy my little girl underwear, it made me feel uncomfortable (we’re talking visceral, coming out of my skin, I think my dad molested me level of uncomfortable). When I asked him to get her something else, the checks stopped coming and the guilt-tripping and manipulating started up again. I went zero contact and told him why. He showed up at my house. He showed up at my office (not named the Child Academy) and made a scene in front of my class. Does he know the name of this organization? You bet he does, but flippantly disregards the details. I’ll accept this as a bit of a stretch, but stick with me. A person who is humble and self-reflective would take the time to know a person, where that person spent 5 years working, where they went to therapy together trying to make it work, and who they signed the checks to for almost a year. Not petty, just telling. It’s a tiny detail that colors the whole message.

“Please Valarie no one holds anything against you.” The projection here is that the addressee is a scared little girl who is running from shame and rejection. That is the only conceivable reason one could possibly have for not communicating with their family. Projections are powerful things, especially when you’re in the thick of it and don’t realize how manipulated you are. I’ve been zero contact for many years now. That time away has been like a detox for my system. I see my shadows pop up and I see so clearly that I can recognize them and do the healing work immediately. This entire letter, holding the slug and piecing it apart, is cathartic for me. I can find what’s real and what isn’t. I am not a scared little girl. I am a strong woman who doesn’t have time for this manipulative nonsense.

“We just want a life line for the healing process to begin.” On the surface this is benign and almost had me. Until I realized I’ve already done an immense amount of healing and my life and relationships are like nothing I could have ever dreamed. I don’t say that to gloat, but what can you possibly offer me? After an aggressively authoritative letter that puts your needs first, how can your toxicity possibly enrich my life? This is the crowning glory to the tone of the entire message. This narcissist wants to play the authority figure while also playing the victim. He wants to heal on his terms and nothing short of his terms. If he can’t have the healing process his way, he can’t have it at all. I have become the excuse for him to not do any healing work.

Let’s play it out for a moment for my fellow narc survivors. You give in because you want healing for this person you once loved or you feel an obligation to love. They’re the wonderful person you remembered and everything is sunshine and roses. That is until the world revolves around everything THEY want and you’re being selfish for wanting anything. So you suck it up and you play along hoping for the best and you tell yourself they’re working on themselves. First it’s one excuse to not go to rehab or therapy or make a single choice that supports your mental health. But you don’t want to upset them because you want this to work. You don’t want to make them angry because they are insanely volatile when provoked. You end up back under their control with no way out. They threaten you, they hold things over your head including, but not limited to, every time they’ve helped you in any way whether it’s finding a lost earring or a down payment on a car. EVERYTHING will be fair game. In their book, you OWE them, they OWN you, and you are BENEATH them. Every attempt to mirror and stand up for yourself ends with you in tears fighting so hard for change and healing. Wait a sec, aren’t THEY the ones suppose to be working on change and healing?

To my paternal source of DNA: I’ll tell you what, you do the healing over there. When you’ve got some pudding you want proofed, we’ll talk. I don’t have time for your narcissistic, manipulative, one-sided, drama infused, half-assed attempts at a meaningful relationship and I sure as hell will not get my family involved in your walking disaster. Any response you have short of a soul-shaking self-reflection is manipulative garbage.

To my readers who are also narc survivors: You are strong. You are not crazy. You are not wrong. You might be hurting and/or suffering. I can’t promise that walking away is a one-size-fits-all. What I can tell you is that you’re not alone. This person that I cut out loved to throw in my face that blood is thicker than water, implying that family is everything. What he obviously didn’t know is that the full quote is “the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.” This means that the relationships you make by choice, with intention, and with passion are more powerful than the relationships you’re born with. Once I learned who I am, I began attracting my tribe. We are strong and powerful people. My chosen family is full of beautiful human beings striving for healing and change in the world. Not a single one of us is perfect, but we found joy and acceptance through thick and thin. Find who you are. Know who you are. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Published by Val Smith

Artist, writer, dreamer.

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