20 January 2010

Damage and Recovery

I know now why I'm having so much trouble writing of late. Previously, I'd ascribed my angst to my divorce and the ensuing yearlong trauma that process produced. Now I'm not so sure that's the case.

One of the gifts I got for my recent birthday was the book Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcisisstic Mothers, by Karyl McBride. As part of the recovery process, the author recommends journaling to purge oneself of the anger, betrayal, and sense of loss that comes from being raised by a narcissistic parent. I started my journal yesterday, and made a horrifying discovery.

In addition to repeatedly calling me a difficult child, criticizing my hairstyle at every opportunity (she likes my hair very short, which makes my face look even rounder and fatter), denigrating my taste in clothes and jewelry, and giving away my cherished possessions, I realized while journaling that my mother has never supported my writing aspirations.

After I sold my first book, a feat of which I was enormously proud, my mother said something along these lines: "That's nice, but I always thought you had something literary in you."

In other words, since my book wasn't literary fiction, what I'd accomplished wasn't nearly good enough. To this day, I'm not even sure she's read anything I've written.

Wow. (cue gazillion-watt lightbulb overhead)

For years, I've swum upstream first against my mother's narcissism and my father's catering to her, then against the narcissism of my ex-husband. I've been drowning in it - messages that I don't matter, that I'm not good enough and never will be. No wonder my Inner Critic is so hateful; she's been parroting back messages learned at the hands of these bastards.

Well, I've had it. This is where I stand up and say, "No more!" I'm a worthy person, a good writer, and I cannot, will not allow anyone to tell me I'm not. I realize this will not happen overnight; it will take a while for me to deprogram myself from years of narcissistic abuse. But I am determined, and I will prevail.

15 January 2010


I have the day off from work today. Given that my last "vacation" was anything but relaxing, and that my current company assignment is working me to a frazzle, I thought I'd give myself a break and take time to stop and smell the roses. (At least, I would if it wasn't the dead of winter.)

Sure, I have a gazillion things to do today in preparation for my day of writing tomorrow - errands, cleaning house, laundry, all kinds of not-fun stuff - but I realize I'm happy. Happy to not have to get up at 4 AM to work out, happy to be able to spend extra time at the computer with the cat on my lap, and just...happy.

It's a wonderful feeling.

14 January 2010

Persistance of Ideas

Have you ever had an idea that just won't leave you alone? I have...only this idea is a character I created many years ago.

After my divorce, I did manage to complete an entire manuscript - a rambling, hopelessly flawed thing - but gave it up after a couple of years of trying to rewrite it, with little success.

But my love for the lead character persists to this day; in fact, she won't leave me alone. I read back over my first, failed manuscript and my revamp attempts, and realized that the problem wasn't my heroine, it was what I'd done with her.

I've been taking a break from writing these past few weeks, trying to decide if it's time for me to give it up entirely. But this character fascinates me, prods my imagination so much that I have to admit I am *not* ready to give up yet!

My birthday is this Saturday, and I've decided that my gift to myself will be a full day of leisurely, uninterrupted writing. I want to find out what this character has to tell me.

I can't wait!!

05 January 2010

"Don't Go Away Mad...."

Smiling and laughing, my narcissistic mother uttered those words to me and DH as the two of us decamped (prematurely and in haste) from my parents' home last September, after having had our fill of insults and humiliation.

She stopped smiling when I finished that infamous phrase for her: "Just go away - right, Mom?"

Now, of course, she and my father are trying to act like that debacle never happened, down to sending me gifts for appropriate occasions. But the thing is, now the gifts are mere tokens, articles that manage to convey their disapproval, yet show the world they're making an effort. The token gesture this Christmas was a one-pound tin of stale, chocolate covered nuts, addressed just to me.

Can you feel the love?

I received another such item last night, in a telltale Amazon box. (My birthday is approaching, you see.) With the care of a bomb squad agent, I gingerly opened the gift receipt before even looking at the wrapped item within: it was a cookie cookbook, with the gift message "Now you can continue to be a hit where you work!" Gee, thanks. As if my two promotions last year hinged exclusively on my culinary skills. The title might as well have been Baking for Bootlicks. Nice.

I would have been happier had they sent nothing at all, but appearances are everything to my parents. And of course, if I don't send a proper thank you, they'll whinge to everyone and sundry about what an ungrateful child I am. I'm sure they've already sung that song, but what's one more refrain?

Aarrrggghhh! I'm furious and despondent by turns. The rational part of me knows they'll never change, never admit wrongdoing. The irrational part of me, the part that still holds a shred of hope, is dying a slow death.

But I will not bow down to tyrants, bullies, and narcissists - been there, done that, and my self-esteem is still paying the price. I'm returning this "gift" to get something I really want, and moving forward with my life.