January 07, 2013

Mutual Admiration Heals Shame: I've met good people in cyberspace

“Liberty finally exists when the recognition I give you does not subtract something from myself.”  ~Richard Sennett

Shame: If you don't believe your opinion has merit or your appreciation has value, it may not occur to you to praise someone. You may think giving praise and recognition to another person is an admission of your inferiority. You may feel disrespected if another person disagrees with you.

By the time we meet in cyberspace, "survivors" have been mocked, ignored, dismissed, criticized, even ridiculed. Our confidence and self-worth might not be flagging---it might be non-existent. We've been dehumanized. "Survivors" feel like grease spots, worms, speed bumps, a total nobody who doesn't matter with nothing to give others that anyone would want. We could fall supine in the street and people would step over us, annoyed at having to raise their feet. That's how irrelevant we feel. Narcissists drain people's souls to fill their egos which means the narcissistic relationship reduces our confidence, our self-efficacy, our sense of value and worth. We learn helplessness after repeatedly attempting to make things better and nothing we do changes anything; nothing we say matters. Why bother telling someone they wrote a great post, or told a fantastic story, or lifted your spirits, or inspired you, if your opinion has no merit, your appreciation no value? Why acknowledge their accomplishments if admiration makes you feel smaller?

If you were unfortunate enough to be raised in a narcissistic family, the shame of being too much or too little, inadequate, incompetent, and having straight hair when only curly hair would do, eats the generous heart out of a child's life. As adults, generosity will not be our first inclination if we lack spiritual reserves for ourselves. I understand this space, bereft of sufficient nourishment  sustaining my sense of worth. Shame thwarts our capacity to give or to receive.

Have you ever been complimented by someone and felt your face flush with embarrassment because you know what you did was flawed only they hadn't noticed yet and one day they would and they'd see your mistakes that didn't measure up and say, "Nope. Not good enough." Or how about this reaction to someone's praise:  "What do they want?  How dare anyone try to snooker me!" And so they stop praising you 'cuz nobody likes their eyes scratched out just because they liked your poem.

Mutual Admiration: That was Wonderful!

Recognizing one another's contributions is frequently neglected in cyberspace. Bloggers copy text from where they can't remember, not to steal someone else's work (sometimes yes!) but because they don't know any better. I've discovered my work published elsewhere without crediting me as the author. It happens. Since bloggers contribute insights for the general good of everyone, most of us shrug it off. We admit we aren't writing dissertations or literary masterpieces. So let me say how pleasurable it is receiving validation that what I've written was close to brilliant. That my words sparked insight for someone else and made their life better! It's not manipulation when they tell me so; in fact, professional integrity demands rigorous honesty crediting other people's ideas. I try, 4-H honor, to always give credit where credit is due and if I really LOVE something somebody's written at this point in my life, I tell them so. It makes me happy when she feels seen and heard and realizes she isn't a worm or a speed bump. She's a WoNderful Woman of Worth.

When I experience someone else's generosity of spirit recognizing my contributions, it literally fills my soul with joy. Especially knowing they broke through their trance of scarcity and risked giving away praise in the uncertainty that they might lose what little was left of themselves by doing so.

Merchant's Wife Drinking Tea by Boris Kustodiev 

Generosity of Spirit begets Generosity of Spirit
"You respect others when you recognize and sincerely acknowledge their humanity, worth, and significance. Each of us deserve respect simply because of our humanity."
If shame is the fear of disconnection (Dr. Brene Brown), then healing means confronting our fear and making connections in spite of it.  My first terrifying deed was joining a midlife crisis forum in 2002. Would anyone respond? Would they care? They did and they did. Shortly thereafter, I joined the Narcissistic Personality Disorder forum. I can't say how many generous people have blessed my life since their first "LOL replies" to my messages, but it's definitely more than those who hated my guts and sent death threats.

During the past ten years, I've conversed intimately with more people than I could ever have known well enough to talk the nitty-gritty. That's because there's a chit-chat period to get through while sipping tea at Starbucks face-to-face, before sharing the nitty-gritty. Yet nitty-gritty connections is where we need to get in order to confront the LIE that our lives make no difference, that we have no value, that we have nothing to offer others, and that what reserves we do have, must be guarded tooth and nail. We were treated stingily and our resultant shame means we act stingily.

Working through shame requires opening our hearts to authentic connections with other people. Generosity of spirit is sure to follow. There's a generosity of spirit in message board replies supporting someone who's anxious. Generosity of spirit is in keeping up with BrokenAndBruised's story. Did she need a hug? Generosity of spirit is in recognizing the contributions of others, what they have done to make your life better. I have been witness to people's concern for someone else's welfare while standing in a tragedy of her own. Most people give the benefit of the doubt over and over to one another, forgiving, understanding, extending compassion because they know others have done so for them. They know people cared and their caring restored worth and meaning in their lives. They mattered.

There's a Human Being Behind that Screen Name

Not a day of my life passes without someone's screen name coming to mind. They are as real to me as my neighbor next door. Some people with-screen-names have become part of my family. "How's Talia doing today?" my daughter asks. "How's Honeybear?"

The stories my cyberfriends have told me are as important as family reunion tales. Like the day I was gardening and thought of Cheriblossom's beloved rose beds she left behind when she divorced. When cyberfriends are welcomed into our hearts, they become a meaningful part of our lives. Like EllieShakenAndBetrayed, Still_Believing, SydneyFireworks, Time2Go, Bewildered, BeWonkers, BeKind, PracticalJude, Eyes_Up,  and in particular today: Caliban's Sister.

I met Caliban's Sister (CS) several months ago. She posted comments regularly on my blog, so naturally I encouraged her to start blogging. She understood the complexities of narcissism and as a professional and accomplished woman, she still suffered the same indignities everyone suffers in the narcissistic family. It pleased me seeing Caliban's Sister blog because Kathy Krajko (author of "What Makes Narcissists Tick") had encouraged me to blog a few years ago. In a full circle manner, I was returning Kathy's influence.

There's much to learn about the blogosphere, which means blogging has been both challenging and rewarding. However, things haven't turned out so well for Caliban's Sister. When I earned my combat boots managing a forum, I wasn't on my own. I wasn't a newbie without a legion of friends behind me. I had advisers who stood up for me as a good person---a little green perhaps, a lot long-winded, and way in over my head of course, but a kind person who was trying to do a hard thing.  I made mistakes which most people were willing to forgive because I was 'new'. I still make mistakes, even after a decade of writing messages; but most people give me the benefit of the doubt because they know me as a human being, not their narcissistic mother. You don't want folks confusing you with her, lemme tell ya.

Dissent is not Disrespect

When people accept us flaws-and-all, we accept ourselves flaws-and-all: We're good enough, smart enough and gosh darn it, people like us. Caliban's Sister is no different than anyone else. She's was a brand new blogger last fall, who leaped in with both feet to support her peers (or interlocutors as she's fond of saying). She didn't have a history of well-established relationships to come to her defense when people took offense at one of her comments. I know Caliban's Sister as a kind woman, awfully smart and ethically dedicated to proper attribution, but a manipulative controller she is not! If she admires me in any way, it's mutual. Believe me.

My observation is that her dissent during a hot-button exchange has been interpreted as disrespect. This has triggered a Rube Goldberg Reaction with daring twists and turns and leaps-of-logic sprockets, confabulated stories, inside-scoop insinuations, and cockamamie constructions---all to activate an old boot aimed directly at her head. Disrespect us? We'll show ya! The conspiracy theories concerning Caliban's Sister rate right up there with the Illuminati.

Listen up cyberspace warriors: 

Never Assume Malice When Inexperience Will Do 

Caliban's Sister is good enough, but she's not perfect. She's a scholar, but she's not a snob. She's a decent blogger for a beginner, but she's no Machiavelli. I will stand up for her character just as I would anyone being mistreated in a group I consider myself to be a part of.

I'm not asking people to change their decided opinions. God knows we have enough research on cognitive dissonance to realize that won't happen. But I would encourage those of you who've not yet decided, to ask yourselves if Caliban's Sister is: 1) Professor Moriarty; 2) the generous professor you only wish you'd had.

Giving her the benefit of your doubt does not subtract from your credibility or your toughness. So please remember, even if you hate the way she writes and the background on her website makes you ever-so-slightly seasick: there's a human being behind her screen name.  And she is a good person. And she did not mastermind a plot to steal anyone's followers.

Love to all,


Caliban's Sister: Shame and the Decisions We Make 

Narcissistic Continuum: The Significance of Validation

About Respect on Emotional Competency


  1. Ah yes, the twists and turns of what you said really meant... and because it meant x I think you're a y and those chromosomes don't lie.

    Is it really 10 years my lovely friend CZ. Having encountered my own case of the misconstrued and misdirected commentary, I feel for your friend.

    And, having survived our own, you said I said, no I didn't yes you did, tell me it isn't so miscommunication, I know that if you support her, it means, she's on the up and steady. And while I don't follow the n and p boards any more, I do follow you, because you my friend are the real thing.


    (just thought I'd pop in and say hello. I miss you!)

    and for those wonder... my screen name back in those days long ago when ns and ps played prominently in my online contributions, my screen name was Ellie.

    and... it was nice to see some familiar names in your list! Talia. Shaken. Cheriblossom -- is she still painting? she was so incredibly talented!

    1. Oh dear! Seeing your face has made me cry, Louise. I'll need a moment to compose myself. Thank you so much for speaking up.

      I miss you, too. I was thinking about you all morning because of this situation that has caused pain and confusion for so many people. It's always the vulnerable people who get hurt.

      I'm gonna edit my post and add your screenname! I created most of them out-of-the-blue 'cuz I didn't wanna make anyone feel bad. But every single time I prune my roses, I think of Cheriblossom. And every time I weed beneath my Canadian Chokecherry I think of you. Talia is recovering from minor surgery and Honeybear is just the cutest name on the planet.

      Cheri is still painting, yes she is. She sends snapshots of latest portraits via email and it's been ten years since we first met her. She's amazingly talented and getting better every year.

      I miss you, too Louise and I promise to email soon. I really didn't know you were still following my blog......your presence has taken me by surprise and I appreciate it, I really do.


  2. You have been an inspiration to me for a very long time, dear CZ. You and Ellie(above), Cheri and so many others were instrumental in helping me come to terms in the aftermath of the relationship with the NPD'r. I have been the recipient of your generosity and at a time when you needn't have given me the benefit of a doubt, you did anyway. I do not know Caliban's Sister, but I do know you, so it comes as no surprise that you're standing up for her character as you would for anyone you consider being mistreated. Because that's what you've always done. As Ellie/Louise said...you are the real thing.


    1. Thank you, Talia. We've had our own history, haven't we? And you've become a close friend whom I would trust with my last bit of chocolate. ;-P

      We've both seen 'cliques' form on the web---some for good; some not. Some groups facilitated authentic and deep healing, other groups thwarted it. We've also watched bully groups come and go---depending on the mental health of the leader.

      If she's a con-artist, some people lose their money but even worse is that some people lose their integrity when they act outside their conscience. You can get a second job to make up for the lost cash. It's a long road restoring your good self, your honor, and your self-respect.

      I'm sure you'll agree with this advice: If group members don't have second thoughts and aren't a tad chagrined at the things they've done in the 'heat of the moment', then it's best to step away for awhile. Get your bearings again. Figure out what kind of person YOU want to be and then get started being that person.

      I think it might be a unusual for a self-help organization to last as long as WoN. That wasn't an accident. It's the result of solid principles guiding our decisions and you have been with me for years, Talia, helping me live UP to those principles. You've even bandaged my face when I fell on it a time or two.

      To those who don't know, Talia has been a forum adviser for many, many years. We met on the NPD forum in 2003, I believe. She is a WoNderful woman of Worth with a heart of gold and nerves of steel. She's the sister you only wish you'd had.


  3. CZ, I am overwhelmed by this post. As you know, I urged you not to respond to the nastiness. That you felt you had to, on ethical grounds, is why you have so many friends, readers, and people like me who have been helped by reading you over the years. As you know, I read blogs about narc parents for nearly a year, before venturing to leave a comment, for the first time ever anywhere, on your blog. I did so anonymously because I had no blog or blogger identity. After I'd left five or six longish comments, you (with your excellent ear) noticed that I'd been a student of NPD for quite awhile. Your gentle query went thus, and I paraphrase a bit here: "You seem to be well-versed in the literature about NPD, Anon. Do you have a blog? If you do, I'd love to read it."

    I cannot imagine a more gentle prompt. It is true that without CZ's responsiveness, engagement with my writing, supporting me privately on email, as well as my other good friends Kara, Toto, Kitty (who came late to the disturbance), Molly, Elena, Maree, Cass, and a brave few others, I wouldn't have had the guts to start another public blog. The support of people who stand up, speak up, against bullies and slander means everything, not just to me as a person, but to anyone who wants to start, or keep blogging. Unlike what certain lies are saying, I urged people to keep their blogs up, to keep writing no matter what, because writing helps us. It helps us. We help each other. That's the entire point. In all this, I've had one rock-solid role model, who took to helping me navigate the rapids, who advised me with great generosity and the gift of her time. Remember, CZ has a huge forum, and talks with so many people every day. That she took me under her proverbial wing (not easy to do. I'm tall), says everything about her that anyone needs to know. I said to her privately, and I"ll say it here: heart+courage=Character.

    1. Hello dear CS,

      You've been put through the mill, haven't you? Since last fall when the conspiracy theories and accusations were justifying your peer's atrocious behavior ('atrocious' considering people HATE the way they were treated by narcissists....oy vey!!!!!), I've tried counseling you based on my experience with similar situations.

      In most cases, the advice for dealing with High-Conflict people is to back away, say nothing, do nothing, allow the bad energy to dissipate of its own. And in most cases, people settle down and use their brains to think, instead of their feelings. People aren't trusting their gut and going with with their higher intuitive reasoning, but they fool themselves into believing they are. They are using Emotional Reasoning.

      From wikipedia: "Emotional reasoning is a cognitive process that occurs when a person believes that what he or she is feeling is true regardless of a presented evidence."

      EMOTIONAL REASONING is what screws up people's lives. They make a miserable mess of their "recovery process" by thinking with their feelings, not their brains. This happens ALL the TIME. I hope to post about it soon because it's a serious set-back in our recovery.

      If we do not have a leader OR GROUP with adequate recovery time, then the entire clique can go up in flames because no one is steering the ship. They're all on the poopdeck flexing their muscles and firing cannonballs at other ships while shouting "ARGH!" (this is a true story. The facts have been changed to protect identities, but trust me. It happened) hehehe

      I'm glad you listed the names of people who did what they could to stop this from escalating. Nobody knows when or if they should step in, and that is why situations like this continue unabated. However, in this case, many of the people were well-known members of the ACoN community which gave them credibility. Until the recent escalation of bullying comments, I had hoped those well-known members would get their shit together.

      If we see behavior that goes beyond the 'norm', such as what recently came to pass, then we are obligated to say something. We must. We cannot stand by and shut our eyes hoping the problem will go away. OR shut our eyes pretending what we think is happening, really isn't happening.

      I have stepped in because I got emails. Readers of ACoN sites were hurt to see my name trashed after knowing the work I've done for over a decade now. You were a new player, CS. Which made you especially vulnerable. I am really sorry for everything you've gone through. There was "a moment" this summer when I hoped the ACoN community would come together. I think there's just too much work to be done for that to happen right away.

      By the time ACoNs have sufficient healing to feel better and move on with their lives, that's what they do: Move On. There's not much longevity to hold 'the group' steady during situations like the Caliban Incident.

      I am glad you don't hate me for encouraging you to blog, CS. :-) You have never once, not in several months time, blamed me for anything. That is very refreshing and I love you for it. But it's not the usual tactics of a mastermind, now is it? Much more akin to the daughter of a narcissistic mother who's been doing her recovery work and is still doing her recovery work. Recovery is a lifelong process and we can't let anyone fool us otherwise---especially not ourselves.


    2. CZ, one of the things that demoralized me most about this latest chapter of bullyfest was that my friends got smeared. It hurts me that you would think for a second that I could blame you. I can only hope you are kidding (in a grim way). You were a rock for me the moment the beatdown began. You remain an inspiration and a role model both for how to tolerate conflict, and more importantly how and when to speak up for someone. I tried to speak up for someone in October. And hellfire rained down on me. The thing that's most awful about the current situation is that the same people who pummeled me then have upped the ante by trashing some of the best voices out there: people of heart, mind, and conscience. It hurt to see you, and others whose only infraction is friendship with me, maligned in such vile terms. I am glad you don't hate me, for getting you tangled up in the mess. We were all moving well past it until this latest rant began anew. To ridicule us for talking about the topics that interest us? Who does that? Thank you for your courage. As an ACoN whose FOO never ever stood up for me, it means the world to me. love, CS

  4. I share your view about generosity of spirit. I have my own views on what I sense about other bloggers from the way they write and what they write about. But I do not personally know those bloggers. I don't know how they really treat the people in their life. I do not know them well enough to make any charges. They might be Narcissistic or they might just have Narcissistic Fleas. It is not for me to judge them. All I can do is deal with my own Narcissistic Fleas rather than point the finger at others. I am very grateful to all bloggers who have shared their experiences because I would not have come this far without them.
    If somebody has an argument with someone I'm willing to hear it provided we focus on the behaviour, not on destroying the person. Caliban's Sister's critics have been using verbal abuse, taunts and insults to make their point for the best part of the last three months (and not only about her , also about anybody who was remotely connected with CS, including people who had not even had any dealings with any of them before), yet, instead of retaliating CS has continued to write about things that are relevant to all of us.

    Great post CBZB. I loved the pictures too.



    1. Hey Kara, I know, her pictures are always so great. Even if you couldn't read, each post is so much fun to look at. The amount of work, the labor of love, that she's done has given us what I've come to think of as a Library about NPD. Her review of all those books, keeping in mind that different folks want different approaches to the disorder, is part of her generosity. Sometimes I come here just to feast my eyes. N-Continuum is on my Bookmarks Bar, next to Google, Yahoo, Zappos, Netflix!

    2. "If somebody has an argument with someone I'm willing to hear it provided we focus on the behaviour, not on destroying the person."

      Hi Kara,

      How quickly disagreements resort to ad hominem attacks. Especially when we can't 'see' our opponent, thus reducing them to screen names, not people. It's a seductive way to vent our anger and frustration and as members of a 'recovery community', we need to pay attention (to others AND to ourselves).

      From Wikipedia: "Abusive ad hominem (also called "personal abuse" or "personal attacks") usually involves attacking the claims of an opponent trying to invalidate their arguments but can also involve pointing out true character flaws or actions irrelevant to the opponent's argument. Equating someone's character with the soundness of their argument is a logical fallacy."

      When a clique compares mutual admiration to a blow job, studious women to dykes, group friendships to sycophants, women with authority to Hitler, while subscribing to a philosophy of Dick Hertz and Ava Gina and calling it "Truth and Light", I'd suggest the rational part of the discussion just m-i-g-h-t be over. ;-P

      Maybe people will have a 'wake up' call and realize this is not the way to heal. It's the perpetuation of childhood abuse onto others, now that we're the adults!

      Still, there's good to be found even in terrible situations. I've met you, Kara. And I'm proud of you for standing on the side of freedom from the dehumanizing legacy of the narcissistic family.


    3. Thanks CZBZ. I have learned a lot about speaking up from you and I'm very grateful that one day you decided to share everything you learned with the rest of us.

      I love the quote "Equating someone's character with the soundness of their argument is a logical fallacy."
      That is my point. The only way to back up an argument is with facts. Opinions, beliefs and suppositions are not facts. To say "I'm pretty sure Cali is all of those things" is not a fact. The term "pretty sure" is vague. You're either sure or you're not. You either have actual proof or you don't. If you don't have actual proof, what you are doing is slandering. Trisha's emails to Doug are not proof of CS manipulating her. That's Trisha's claim. A claim is not a fact. What is a fact is that Trisha was triangulating.
      Everything becomes so much clearer when you deal with the facts (or actions), and not with the "alleged' motives of people.



  5. Hi CZ,
    This is such a lovely, caring, thoughtful and thought-provoking post. I'm so happy to see people coming out of the woodwork to support CS, people who don't even know her. This is a huge testament to your own character, love, support, and kindness--as is your willingness to put this out there at all. Your presence in cyberspace has obviously made a huge difference in a lot of people's lives.

    Prior to a few days ago, I had not considered that shame is the underlying cause of so much of the stubbornness and grudge-holding that goes on in the world. And this is so even though I've OFTEN had the thought, about my own miserably unhappy, alcoholic, narcissistic father that "in order for him to change, he would first have to acknowledge all the hurt and pain he's caused to the people he was supposed to love and protect." And, that since doing that would be too overwhelming for him to face (especially now, at this late stage in his life), it's highly unlikely to happen. It was a thought that helped me over the hump of waiting and hoping for things to be different in my FOO, a thought that helped me move on with my life and the business of healing. And part of that healing was reading, writing, and talking about the role shame played in my FOO and in myself. But until now, I had not connected the two.

    That shame is at the core of this unwillingness to look at one's own behavior makes perfect sense. I can see it in myself, when I overreact and don't want to admit I was wrong, when I feel threatened and lash out, when I get so debilitatingly disappointed in people when they don't respond how I secretly wanted them to. And on and on and on. The only difference between me and my father is that I caught it earlier, and I did something about it. And now my shame, which will always be a seed inside of me, is weak, and has only temporary power over my thoughts and actions. I'm so grateful it hasn't hardened into a way of life, into a worldview that I feel hopelessly stuck in. And I'm so grateful that I've become able to say "I'm so sorry" and "I was wrong" and "You didn't deserve that." Because honestly, 20 years ago, that was not the case. And I too was miserable. And at the core of it was my shame.

    So whatever else happens here, I have really connected some dots that I had not connected before, and that is huge for me. Isn't it amazing how, when you do the right thing, the whole world is affected in a positive way? And I'm quite certain I'm not alone in this. So thanks for that, CZ, and thanks for sticking up for CS. Can I call you "Braveheart" from now on? :)


    1. CZ, your link above to "Emotional Competency" re: respect is terrific. I'm bookmarking it. It makes me realize that my initial perceived "offense" at the bullies was simply to ask them, back in October, not to forget "Charity's" humanity, in their rage at her. That was ALL I did. That started the entire thing. A few people (maybe 5) "felt" I had "scolded" them. People might say it wasn't my "place." But as a fellow human being, someone participating in a conversation. I stepped forward just like I would if someone were being beaten up from all directions in real life. It was instinct. I said I wanted to "err" on the side of kindness. And that enraged this clique. They called me an "enabler of evil." That was my original "crime." My second "crime" was not to grovel and apologize for "scolding." If I had it to do over again, would I stand by silent while they eviscerated Charity? Maybe. I like to think not. But we don't get do overs in life. I will always want to err on the side of kindness.

    2. ps CZ, I posted a link to "Emotional Competency" on my blog. Thank you for the wonderful reference.

    3. You're so welcome, CS! Call me Arty LinkLady. Use my resources to help yourself--that's why they're here.

      I want to add another comment about what you've been through. People may not understand the debilitating effects of a 'cyber-mobbing'. They may not understand the obsessive rumination, the need to talk about what happened in order to understand it and avoid being victimized again. The emotional impact of something like this is traumatic on everyone---victims, witnesses, even participants.

      Displaced anger IS a constant danger. We've found, by venting our anger at narcissists, a way to release our frustration. But ventilation is a beginning phase...it's not a permanent stop to self-empowerment. It may feel empowering (anger is a quick fix when we're feeling powerless, anxious, scared), but we must exercise cautious using this same tool for every person who disagrees with us. It's easy to get stuck in that phase of recovery because self-righteousness feels better than uncertainty.

      When you suggested on someone else's blog that 'followers' consider a less-punitive approach for dealing with their anger, I thought, "Whoa. We got us a newbie here!" *wink*

      CS, it will take some time processing this experience. For yourself as the victim and for others, too. Hopefully, narcissism blogs will be even better having witnessed (or participated in) what can frankly be called a character assassination. A mobbing.

      We (non-Ns) need to remember that when we "gaze into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into us." And when we screw up, we need to fess up, get up, and show up for one another.

    4. Hello BraveNewKitty! It took awhile getting back to you because I wanted to read some of your articles on the topic of Shame. (For those who might be interested, click Kitty's screen name to visit her blog.) Are you saying that you don't enjoy feeling shame? You must be the only person on the planet who feels that way. ha!

      I've heard people describe shame as being in a box. They get themselves in a box and can see that they're in it, but they can't get themselves out; which makes them hate themselves even more for staying IN the box. They realize they're only making matters worse by staying in the box, but being too cramped up and restricted is still preferable to exposure. Then they finally unwind, stick their big toe out of the box and its not so bad as they feared and they resist a little longer before climbing in the box the next time.

      I assumed everyone could take responsibility for their crap-behavior, endure the shame, feel the guilt, experience remorse, and CHANGE THEIR LIVES. I assumed everyone was like myself which is a normal assumption to make but it's false. Minor thing, ha!

      At a certain point during my divorce, it dawned on me that nailing my X's feet to the floor to ground HIM in reality, was making matters worse. He was not reacting the way I do when someone holds me accountable...that warm wash of shame leading to 'better behavior'. Instead of processing his shame like most people do, he defended himself against it and whether people know this or not, narcissists suffer. He was suffering. And he could not tolerate that suffering.

      I had to accept that he would never acknowledge the pain he had inflicted on his family because he couldn't. That makes our healing more complicated. And it can be confusing to see them bounce around like nothing's wrong because they are defended against reality. Our entire life was in disarray and he was going forward as if nothing was amiss, as if life was a frickin' bowl of cherries. That is why we get no closure---why it's so hard to heal.

      Shame is unhealthy, even toxic but I think it's also beneficial to society. The issue is not being able to process shame. Therapy was crucial for me, in processing toxic shame. Twenty years later, I realize how fortunate we are if we can do that.

      Thanks for commenting. AND, thanks for writing such an insightful, honest and educative blog, sharing your recovery process with other seekers.


  6. Dear CZ, CS, SF, HB, Talia, Ellie and to each soul who had the courage to stike that keyboard key, I found this among "support" quotes:

    The willingness to share does not make one charitable; it makes one free. ~Robert Brault

    Kind of sums it up for me. Thank you for your contributions for they have, and continue to, set me free.


    1. And the lovely PracticalJude shows up, as she always does, sprinkling her pixie dust and making keyboards sparkle! I'm adding two links to Practical Jude's story about Keyboard Fairies, published here:

      The WoN Forum Blog:


      Our FairyLand Blog:


      Judy has been at my side for a decade now, through our rough beginnings as forum managers until today. She's held me up, I've held her up, she's soothed my fears, I've soothed her fears. She's shared her life with me and I've shared my life with her.

      Our story should be testament to anyone wondering if cyber-relationships are shallow, or even 'faked'. When people are honest and willing to self-disclose, you get to know that person as well as if you lived next door. Jude and I have met face-to-face of course, which solidified our friendship after years of online 'anonymous' communication.

      She didn't run away after meeting me and that's saying something since she's a psychology professional. (Yea, that was worded kinda funny but I didn't wanna reveal too much information about her occupation). When I've gotten myself in over my head, PracticalJude talks me down. Gives me advice. Keeps me honest.

      By the way, I do the same for her. *grin*

      She's an incredibly warm and loving woman who has opened her heart to thousands of people. The only weapon she carries in her fist is a pixie dust fairy wand. And people LOVE her for it. Thank you for showing up, Judy.


  7. Hey CZ, look what I found, wandering around in your archives....

    If only I'd read this last September! shoulda coulda woulda. You've got something on everything in this Continuum. There should be a blogger advisory: Before starting a blog, hit the link above!
    Dadgumit you're good.

  8. CZ,
    Thank you for the kind, praising words. I treasure our friendship as well – so much, I’m still hoping you’ll marry me one day - :)

    I’m totally inspired by this post; it’s brought up so many cherished memories as well as new, exciting feelings. As CZ explained, we've tap danced in the quick sand for years and we’re still tapping till we hear our last song. (Did she say that?) I’m sure you catch my drift. Welcome to the dance-a-thon. (By the way, the keyboard fairies are out in force and lovin it!)

    All the names CZ mentioned have impacted my life in one way or another. Some literally and some figuratively, saved my life. Louise (AKA Ellie) is one of those people who literally saved my life; she told me to open the window and breathe. She writes poetry everyday and with her inspiring offerings, CZ’s unselfish love, seeing all my friends’ names again and hearing about the journey in your new shoes, it’s inspired me to write you a poem this morning. (It’s Haiku)


    On thin, glare ice skate
    blades shear epidermis, as
    sun warms the mittens.

    Best wishes and love sent your way,


    1. Dear Practical Jude,
      My hands and feet and everything in between has been warmed by the fact that you, a woman CZ thinks the world of, wrote a poem just for me, a woman you don't know at all.
      When I was 15 I wrote a small book of haiku that I called Loneliness Poems. To this day, I'm stunned by the depth of abandonment I expressed as a young teen. Reading "The Skating Pond" today, I feel the opposite. I feel accompanied. You have no idea what that word means to me. Thank you, with all my heart. Love CS


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