November 24, 2011

Acceptance & Gratitude 2011

Last year, Dad was supposed to make his traditional fried turkey and now for the second year in a row, he won’t be showing up with his fryer contraption and propane fueled blowtorch. We’ll miss his garlic infused turkey and Mom’s southern sweet potatoes with her perfected marshmallow crust. We will miss them most of all. I started feeling sad yesterday and today I’m crying. Just a little bit. Not enough to ruin my mascara or muddy the pumpkin pie.

It has finally happened. Our traditional family get-together has been altered two years in a row. My parents are spending Thanksgiving by themselves again. We can’t schedule a day that includes all the siblings and all the grandkids, which is what happened to my parents when they stopped visiting their parents and the pattern continues. We’re little kids. We’re old people. We turn eighty and pass the blowtorch to the young until they get old and pass their electric fryers to the next generation who may be cooking turkey with appliances we can’t even imagine yet. Or, maybe they’ll decide the old ways were best and revive the new-and-improved blowtorch. One can only hope.

We will be eating at my sister’s house this year. She has four boys, two of which are married and one of which is expecting a baby this spring. My sister and her hubbie are fixing the basic meal and the only dishes we’re contributing from our household are sweet potatoes (I’ll be thinking of Mom while lavishing them with butter), cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. I am grateful for my sister’s willing heart knowing full well she’ll be exhausted by the end of the day and still, she’s doing her best to carry the tradition forward.

Thanksgiving isn’t just about heartburn, though. It’s a traditional time to express our gratitude which people have been doing long before we could buy Gratitude Journals, Gratitude books, Gratitude tapes and DVDs. Gratitude is a little bit too cool for comfort so I am grateful I grew up when gratitude came from the heart spontaneously--or it didn’t. I kinda liked it when old people expressed gratitude for their family, and the young people were grateful they never would be as old as their weepy relatives. Now kids are whipping out Gratitude Journals and the whole thing feels like a 1950’s Coronet film. O well, research says we're happier if we just go with the crowd, sooooooo:

Gratitude Journal Entry 
November 2011

For all of you who are facing an uncertain future and can’t fathom being grateful for anything today, maybe you can be grateful that you haven't broken. That you are willing to accept a nasty reality you don’t like, didn’t earn, and did not attract into your life. Maybe you can feel grateful for your resilience because you’re beginning to find ‘meaning’ in your experience but please, do not thank the narcissist for coming into your life to teach you lessons about human cruelty, indifference, and malice.

The only lesson a narcissist wants to teach you is that YOU aren't as great as you think you are, you aren't as worthy of love as you believe, that people are mercenary, self-absorbed and heartless and Thanksgiving is a commercial conspiracy fostered by Turkey Growers of America, Inc.

This day, I am grateful for my daughter, what a wonderful woman she is. I am grateful for my nephew and the joy he brings into our lives. I am not-so-grateful for my sister who lives with me, though maybe a little bit and even more if she'll help us do the dishes.

I am also deeply grateful to WoN members who lifted my spirit and validated my worth and supported me whole-heartedly during the most difficult time in my life. And I am grateful for each of you reading my blog today: that you didn't give up and you didn't believe the lies you were told (or taught) about yourself. That you didn't escape reality, too. That you chose to do the hard work of creating a new life for yourself.

I am grateful that even when confronted with the worst that humans can be, we still believe in human goodness---enough to read strangers' messages and care enough about them to reply.

I am grateful for continued faith in human kindness even with adequate evidence to the contrary. I am grateful we do not allow narcissists to dictate our beliefs about human nature. This is a miracle for which we can be grateful. I think about it a tempting it was to believe human beings were selfish animals, self-invested, self-serving and self-admiring. Some humans ARE like that but most are not. I am grateful to know this today.

Love to all,


  1. Oh! I am GRATEFUL for you posting this today, CZ...

    I am grateful that you have the courage to mention narcissists and what they have done in our the detriment of our developing souls.

    Today, my husband Fred and I spend it for the first time with friends and family, because our family is corrupted by the chief-Narcissist-Mother: who, as long as she has someone to abuse around, is happy. Really.

    This summer we made the choice to go No Contact: she's 91 and her narcissism isn't going to give pause. She also has, over the decades, corrupted the remaining family around her. So, we have lost our brothers and sisterinlaws to her influence. Narcissim, in any amount, from any base, is a demeaning and life-confusing time bomb. It goes deep into the soul and makes one stumble.

    I am very grateful for the kindness of strangers, some who have become friends, some who continue to rain their healthy influence down into our lives. I am grateful that after 63 years of confusion and dismay, I have come (with!) to realize that these things were not of my doing, but of an influence that I as a child, had nothing to do with.
    I am also grateful that even in the worse of times, I see the resilience of the people of this nation dig deep and show what they are made of: regardless whether they were early immigrants or of a newer generation, people are reconsidering these things that are important for life: hope, compassion, sacrifice and charity where it counts.

    And, NOT "shopping til you drop". Perhaps under duress and the present times, we are reclaiming those values that have substance and duration.

    Further, I am grateful to be alive: there are no guarentees here: last week, my dearest friend of 20 plus years dropped dead. Was talking to her the night before, and then she was gone. Same age as I am.

    I am grateful for people like you, CZ, who write this wonderful blog that helps so many come out of the fog of narcissism and begin to live clear and compassionate lives: We may be stunted by what we experienced, but with examples of the flowing and constant compassion that you exhibit in a heart-felt and sincere way, we are better for your existance.

    We are made stronger.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Love and Hugs to all,

    Lady Nyo

  2. I am pretty sure the insurance company that underwrites your house will give a sigh of relief knowing they dodged a potential claim from your dad's fried turkey.

  3. Dear LadyNyo,

    I had a similar thing happen in my life this summer although I had not spoken to my elementary friend since graduating high school. She passed away suddenly without warning. It was a wake-up call to stop taking life for granted. To make each day count. To stop waiting for the future, procrastinating the things I planed on doing when I was 'old'.

    Old is such a funny thing. You never are.

    I don't mean to be a downer or anything but I really do hate it when people say they are grateful for the narcissist' because they finally realized X, Y, and Z.

    You know, there are much kinder ways to learn X,Y,and Z than through abuse. I think we need to watch ourselves from repeating this rote nonsense for it only justifies behavior for which there is none. Justification I mean.

    I did learn many things from my N-experience and the lessons are still coming at random moments. However, I believe I'd have learned x,y, and Z anyway. The narcissist only 'delayed' my natural process.

    I am however, grateful to find meaning in even the most miserable of experiences--that I can find light in the darkest of moments. It's part of my personality, a familial trait.

    I am as guilty as anyone for saying I'm thankful for lessons learned and insights realized because of the narcissistic relationship...but I try to be more conscious of my words and stop validating behavior that has the potential of 'breaking' people's hearts and souls.

    I am thankful for my resiliency for which I must give credit to my ancestors. Some people are not so lucky. Society oughtn't minimize the damage narcissists do nor pathologize people who are broken by the experience.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!


  4. "I am pretty sure the insurance company that underwrites your house will give a sigh of relief knowing they dodged a potential claim from your dad's fried turkey."

    You made me Laugh Out Loud!!!! I've seen a few of the YouTube clips when intoxicated homeowners light their roofs on fire.

    The strongest beverage my Dad drinks is liquid Spirulina. ha!


  5. I have been milling about here for a bit. Who is the N in your life? You seem to like your dad. You don't seem to speak ill of anyone.
    Just wondering.

  6. I found this blog from a link on Lissette's House of Mirrors. Your blog is great. So is hers. I am finding a universal constant with the people living in the collaterally damaged world of the personality disordered.
    I find it populated with articulate and extremely compassionate people. I would like to think that it is something generated from within and not prompted from a back lash to be what they are not.
    I don't think so. But having a sociopath for a mother has made be strive to be everything she is not.

  7. q1605 wrote: "Who is the N in your life? You seem to like your dad. You don't seem to speak ill of anyone.
    Just wondering."

    That's a fair question!

    I started writing about narcissism in 2002 when my three-decade marriage fell apart because my husband found his soulmate (which is a narcissistic idea appealing to narcissists-all-sorts. Some more pathological than others.)

    I grew up in a narcissistic family and consider myself to be an ACoN though our family dynamics have changed for the better. I've learned to accept my parents for who they are and vice versa which is, as my therapist told me, highly unusual. It happens and I attribute this growth to their religious adherence over the years which seems to have whittled their narcissism to a tolerable magnitude.

    I live with a sister who has bi-polar disorder and exhibits narcissistic traits in varying degrees (depends on the cycle). We manage to get along because I work on my reactions and break unhealthy patterns as soon as they become conscious. I am a caretaker by nature, a reformed enabler. ha!

    My siblings each have narcissistic traits which means of course, that I do, too. Why would i escape the family dynamics? Well the answer is: I didn't.

    So I take a broad approach to the topic of narcissism from the unhealthy narcissism to the extreme of pathological narcissists (what we might do well to consider being psychopathic).

    I can relate to narcissists from my own unhealthy narcissistic behaviors though I am careful to distinguish the difference between non-clinical narcissism and pathological narcissism.


    p.s. I'm glad you enjoy my blog. I'll spend some time reading through your entries, too.

    More people are beginning to speak up about narcissistic/sociopathic mothers. People don't wanna hear it, though. They don't want to believe it so people like yourself can make a huge difference in our social denial and ignorance.

  8. My step daughter is bi-polar and OCD and has quirks that are all over the place. I find it easier to deal with something that is organic in nature.
    She can't help it. Medication only go's so far. It hasn't been easy, but it is easier than handling my mother who so obviously chooses to be the way she is.
    If there is a high road you will NEVER see her take it.
    And yes a lot of her holier than thou-ness rubbed off on me. Growing older it became easier to see that the math behind her narcissism, and by extension my narcissism, just didn't add up. There was simply no foundation for either of us to think we were better than any one else.
    So I whittled things down day by day, year by year, to hopefully become a better person for others to be around.
    But I can tell you unequivocally and with a straight face. I was never, and could never be, the monster she is. She is, and was always, a true sociopath.

  9. And I, my dear friend, am grateful to have known you 'back then' and in the here and now. I am grateful we survived the 'Nwars' and that we continue to connect.

    You are a blessing in my life.

    Thank you!

  10. CZ.I agree. I have heard people say that the narcissist in their life made them a better person. That threw me because it took 5 years of therapy and 6 decades of misery to come to the conclusion that I was wounded by the maternal narcissism. That your parents have come to a place where you can relate to them in a different fashion is really amazing: this is unusual, and it has to be that 'refining fire' that you speak of...religion.

    My maternal narcissist is either an atheist or agnostic, and abides no words of any spiritual offering. She is a bundle of hate. I think this is the difference between our situations. There is no balm of compassion from her breast.

    Now I am wondering something: At a specific time in our development, narcissism is normal, even 'healthy' in a sense of developing personality, but I think there is this issue: as we grow and attain adulthood and those responsibilities, many of us hold on to some of these childhood narcissistic traits: we haven't been able to get that nourishment from the parents to see ourselves as independent individuals, in some ways were are very thwarted and missing something: I think we all know individually, later on, what that 'something' is: self-confidence, self-worth, etc. So, we are miserable, knowing that we are not like the parental narcissist but we also know we are stymied in some very important way.

    30 years ago, even longer, I started therapy about my mother's inability to be 'normal'...loving, compassionate, supportive. I was met with blank stares by all sorts of therapists: they just couldn't get their little heads around this issue of narcissism within the family. I see it's really changed over the years. That is the good news.

    The bad news is that I spent too many years trying to 'figure out' my mother: I should have been applying my energies and money to myself and my family, but once again, she was primary in my life. Even though her behavior showed no reason to make her primary.

    I am not a better person because I had a narcissistic mother: I am delayed, confused, and trying to climb out of this well with the last of my energies. I am a person who has realized that her contributions to my development were not positive: what I am I struggled to become in spite of her influence and behavior.

    Finally, growing up with narcissism in the birth family means we all get fleas: We adopt behaviors because they are the only ones we know. Only by seeing something else do we understand different ways to act and develop.

    Narcissism takes a terrible toll on the psyche of a person faced with such people in their lives. There are no "good lessons" here from them. They are not positive examples, in fact, they stand as people to avoid like the plague. Unfortunately, many the most struck by the wounds of narcissism can't avoid them: they are our parents, etc.

    Those who are not plowed under, who are able to rise above all this in their background are the true miracles of life.

    You are one of those guiding miracles to me.

    Lady Nyo

  11. I am grateful for your blog, as I am grateful for those who stand up and speak clearly about what NPD is and how to survive one's encounter with people so afflicted.

    I'm also reminded of my 1st Thanksgiving with my NPD husband. My children and I had a longstanding tradition of going around the table, taking turns stating what we were grateful for since the past Thanksgiving. Like most year-in-reviews we'd start out with the big stuff and end up with, usually the youngest, being grateful for not having to change the litter box that day. When we got down to the silly stuff, we'd eat. Catbox comments qualified.

    That 1st year with my new husband... well, he didn't like it this was a (pre-him) family tradition and nixed it right then and there. He said we needed to make our own family traditions, but all that happened was it got eliminated. I was too in love to object too vociferously, but every year I felt the lack of our round robin gratitude. This year he's moved on, and it got (thankfully) reinstated.

  12. CZ - what ended up happening to your N-ex-husband and his then newly found soul mate. I feel certain that went to hell in a hand basket (and am desperately hoping so). This has just happened to me as well, and I am hoping that the bottom will fall out on this "idealistic match" he seems to think was made in heaven. Stupidly enough, right now it is a CRUSHING BLOW to my heart and my mind, and I am praying it will come spiraling down soon for this new relationship. Any thoughts??

  13. It was a CRUSHING BLOW to my heart and mind too, when my X discovered his soulmate in an office cubicle. How dare he! I believed his soulmate was in the kitchen peeling potatoes and baking cinnamon rolls but I guess he didn't see it that way.

    My X is still with his soulmate and I have come to the conclusion that they are. Soulmates, I mean.

    As souls, he and I really didn't have much in common---him being such a rat bazturd and all.

    He was a gameplayer not a teamplayer. He backed me in a corner with no room to wriggle and smirked, "Checkmate! Take that you do-gooder, you!"

    So no, we were not soulmates at all and I'm relieved to find that out before having to part ways when we died 'cuz Saint Peter sent him downstairs to fetch the coal.

    My X is still with his soulmate. I am, in a bizarre way, pleased to know they found one another. Nothing could be more perfect justice than two narcissists insisting on proving they were right, even if it means holding one another in check for the rest of their natural lives.

    You may not believe this right now BUT one day, you will be grateful you were liberated from a man who would rather hide behind (or under) another woman's skirts, than face his own weaknesses and failings.

    You've inspired me though...I'll post about Checkmates and Soulmates this week. Ha, it's kinda funny in a seriously tragic way.


  14. Hi rarafelines! Sounds like you've moved through the worst of the 'ambush'. I consider it an ambush when someone married a man or woman who appears to be the 'real deal' and is suddenly confronted with an imposter who has, by that point, set things up to get a head start.

    Sounds like your second husband was a controlling man who didn't like sharing 'his' holiday with anyone. Even if it made the children happy(or especially because it made them happy!)

    Narcissists can be so arrogant to assume HE should be the center of your family's traditions and just erase the past as insignificant. No humility in that rat bazturd was there?


  15. Hi CZBZ,

    "His holiday" indeed! It so happens his birthday comes right after Christmas, and I spent years trying to make his birthday special, just so, perfect (and required to somehow outdo whatever I'd done in previous years) all to make up for him feeling gypped as a kid. Talk about exhausting. And the moodiness if I fell short. Meanwhile, he forgot mine. Oh goodness, don't get me started! I could go on and on and...

    Sadly we are only in the beginning stages of divorce and he's going all out to put me on the street. How does one work out a settlement with a man wants it all for himself and is doing everything he can to get out of paying spousal support? Due to my age and health (disabled) I'm unemployable and uninsurable. The things he's filing with the court... scary. Any advice?

  16. Divorcing a narcissist is complicated. There isn't a single approach to the situation. Narcissists have personality differences and depending on the degree of pathology, they can be extremely vindictive. One reason why the WoN forum exists, is to help people like yourself, find alternatives. To help you think through a plan that works best for your particular relationship.

    My best suggestion would be to join our forum and get to know the members. We work together to help each other find the best way to end the narcissistic relationship with the least amount of damage to ourselves and others.

    Our link:

    I am so sorry to hear that you are disabled and yet your soon-to-be-x is wriggling his way out of spousal support. Judges won't look kindly on that if he has the means to support you financially. Be sure you have good legal representation! It is absolutely unconscionable what narcissists are willing to do to a former partner (or anyone for that matter!). I think their atrocious behavior during divorce is a sign of their pathology.

    It can get rough, rarafelines. The anxiety can be overwhelming. Hang on...find a support group to help you get through this. That is my very best advice.


  17. Dear Lady Nyo,

    I've started about ten replies to your message and then stopped when they turned into novels. One thing I do want to say however is that like yourself, I spent way too much time 'taking care of' or 'dealing with' my parents.

    My individuation is ongoing and I'll be sixty this year. That is the delay that has impacted my life negatively---becoming my true self without fear of parental rejection or punishment. They still wrinkle a worried brow when I don't follow the family plan.

    Imagine that. I'm almost sixty yet fear my parent's condemnation for not living up to their expectations.

    What I have done with this load of horseshit is to make sure I don't pass on the family insanity to my own kids. (And my own children have been excellent about challenging any expectations I might have had for them!)I would not be the person I am today without the 'refining fire' of parenthood.

    Like you, I started my work way back in 1989 and even today, I find a 'flea' here and there. I think (maybe this is weird) we should be more concerned about NOT finding fleas. Just living in the 21st (Me)dia Century gives people 'fleas' so nobody has a bug-free life.

    Those who think they didn't pick up a flea or two, are probably infested with 'em.

    As always, I enjoyed reading your comments! Thank you!


  18. Dear CZ
    I have valued your web site so much I have been with my husband for 32years and it seemed that most people had been dumped or let go after only a few years .I couldn't understand why I had put up with so much for so long .Then when I found your site it started to fall into place and I have found so much courage and comfort and humour from your words over the last 8months of being on my own .As most of your blogs have been posted some time ago I was delighted to see this most recent one ,it will be my first narc free Christmas and I am now looking forward to it and know that I am not alone .thankyou for being you

    love Deborah (from United Kingdom )

  19. Dear Deborah,

    I am so happy to know that my blog is comforting and reassuring for you. Anyone who has enough tolerance and faith to stick by a narcissist's side for 32 years, deserves to be applauded--not criticized. If you know what i mean! Because it's people like yourself that we need more of in this world.

    I am very sorry to hear that you went through an agonizing experience like mine. It's awful being dumped after so many years of marriage. Pretty hard on the self-esteem, especially when you don't why your marriage ended the way it did and blame yourself.

    You know my husbaNd walked out on Christmas Day to be with his soulmate. And even so, my children and I are having a lovely Christmas this year! It's been a long haul though---we've had to make a conscious effort.

    Thank you so much for letting me know that my blogging has helped you understand what happened. Hearing from lovely readers like yourself inspires me to keep writing! (((hugs)))

    Love to you, too,


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