God, grant me the serenity… my views on AA.

ROCK BOTTOM is what it usually takes to bring someone to the realization that they have nowhere else to go, but to seek help. Becoming vulnerable enough to recognize that this has become a much more powerful “monster” than you can manage alone. But what was “rock bottom”? In many cases, its when the elastic band of enabling and tolerance from others in your life has finally snapped. Whether it be family, friends, workplace or in some cases – Court ordered mandate… the time has come. A local meeting is found and the beginning of the accountability journey follows shortly after.

Now don’t get me wrong, I applaud AA and its worldwide chapters, they’re the saving grace for countless. I’m the daughter of a 26+yr recovering alcoholic and have attended many meetings supporting my Dad on his annual anniversaries. Alcoholism has controlled males on both my Mother and Fathers side for generations. Unfortunately, only my Father decided to seek help. His sobriety saved his life and his relationship with myself and my siblings.

My last partner (Narcissist) was also an alcoholic – during one of our many endings where I couldn’t take anymore… he reached out and advised he was attending AA and recognized he had a “disease”. He requested, yet again, we work together to be the “greatest love story we were always supposed to be”. He must have changed right?!? (I now know without question that it was his employer that gave him a choice to seek help or be fired). I went back to him again, being his biggest support and was so proud he decided to do the work with his self care.

I could write chapters on “him” and the abusive, damaged monster that he was with or without alcohol… that isn’t what this blog post is about. This is about the damage done to those effected by alcoholism.

Now I’m aware of Al-Anon – the support to those effected by addiction…. this has more to do with AA itself. When someone makes the choice to attend meetings, chooses every minute not to give in to the addiction, this is about them. Its life altering and essential…. what I have an issue with after a lifetime of being exposed to alcoholic males, is not the support provided…. but calling it an “illness”, a “disease”, an “allergy”. This is a watered down version of what it is – which is a prior trauma, that was left untreated and became an unhealthy coping mechanism to mask pain.

Becoming sober takes incredible strength, I respect this and my father is living proof that having a strong support system with a group of peers who can relate is monumental to recovery, but it doesn’t deal with the mental health aspect of the root of the problem.

I chatted with my Dad on Fathers Day this year a little bit about this. His childhood traumas have never been faced, he buried them deep – but they’re always there…. we spoke a little about my last relationship – who used his alcoholism as a free pass for the incredible abuse my daughters and I experienced, what his ex-wife and his own children I KNOW suffered unimaginable hell because of… but as he often joked at his meetings that I went to as often as I could “I didn’t need alcohol to be an asshole, it just made me a bigger asshole”… and the room laughed, validating him. AA likely saved his career, but it certainly never made him accountable for his behaviour.

I shared with my Dad, “Its amazing support Dad, I’m so grateful it was there for you and for others, but despite the 12 steps, alcoholics in many cases can’t remember the trauma they caused others. The emotional, psychological and in some cases, physical scars their victims are left to carry. Family, friends & the workplace support revering addicts, we praise them, listen to them, but the reality is Dad… you can’t be sorry for the times you can’t remember, and you haven’t ever healed from the source of why you were drawn to alcohol as your “therapy’ of choice. We were victims, we suffered… and then are expected to forgive and support addicts on their path to recovery… but what about ours? Don’t you wonder why I’ve always been drawn to extremely dominant men, the last one being the absolute most toxic, damaged of them all? Its all I’ve ever known, to be the the “fixer”? Dad stared into the distance, his eyes welling up, fighting back tears – and his response meant everything… “Baby, you’re absolutely right, I’ve never ever thought of it this way. God dammit, you’re right. I’m so sorry”. (he also reminded me that if I want my ex “handled”, he can make it happen ” I know people”… which made us both laugh).

My point is this, ACCOUNTABILITY. Recognizing you’re an addict, seeking help and remaining sober is wonderful, and does take strength. Facing the reasons why you ever became one – is courage, and this will bring the much needed systemic change.

The Story of Narcissus & Echo

One day Narcissus was walking in the woods when Echo, (mountain nymph) saw him, fell deeply in love, and followed him. Narcissus sensed he was being followed and shouted “Who’s there?”. Echo repeated “Who’s there?” She eventually revealed her identity and attempted to embrace him. He stepped away and told her to leave him alone. She was heartbroken and spent the rest of her life lonely & feeling worthless until nothing but an echo sound remained of her.

Nemesis, the goddess of revenge, noticed this behaviour after learning the story and decided to punish Narcissus. Once, during the summer, he was getting thirsty after hunting, and the goddess lured him to a pond where he leaned upon the water and saw himself in the bloom of youth. Narcissus did not realize it was merely his own reflection and fell deeply in love with it, as if it were somebody else. Unable to leave the allure of his image, he eventually realized that his love could not be reciprocated and he melted away from the fire of passion burning inside him. He reached into the water to grasp the reflection and drowned.

The irony of the reflection symbolism… Narcissists have no true identity, they wear masks. They are drawn to what they wish to emulate – “reflection” – all but their own. When you find yourself in a “relationship’ with a narcissist, remind yourself of how your spirit was when you first met. All of the qualities they once were so enamoured with, your physical appearance, your unique personality, everything that makes you authentic.. they didn’t “love:”about you, they wanted to hold onto and capture those same qualities for themselves. You became nothing more than an object they “owned”. In their twisted, distorted, sociopathic mind, you belong in a cage on a well organized shelf where they displayed their many possessions to appear “put together” for any and all who observe. You are not a person – you’re an object. Your thoughts, feelings & opinions are annoyances to them that they merely tolerate at best.

Similar to Narcissus reaching into the reflection to drown, Narcissists slowly pull you under the water with them, bit by bit, you slowly lose yourself, by trying to save them, until very little but an echo of your prior self remains.

Narcissist – not a term to be thrown around lightly…

There’s a few overused words I’ve noticed in the last year, “Narcissist” is #1.. Before using any term, it’s important to be informed on the meaning so it can be used in the correct context. This is not someone who is simply conceited, cocky or over confident… the opposite actually, they’re extremely insecure – they’re bullies. It’s someone who truly has no idea of self or true identity… they’ve grown accustomed to wearing masks, and their masters at controlling the narrative.

NDP – Narcissistic Personality Disorder, is just that, a disorder. Don’t get me wrong, this in no way is excusing the toxic behaviour that most certainly will cause damage to others. Psychologists have confirmed, NPD comes from an early childhood trauma while the brain is still developing. It doesn’t have to be physical abuse, it can be emotional of psychological abuse (even not receiving the nurturing one may desire), it can be witnessing traumatic incidents up until the age of 21. During development, these personal traumas can cause the neurotransmitters to shut down/close off to empathy, remorse, resulting in sociopathic or Narcissistic behaviour, NPD. Its a disorder because there is no cure, no pill and this person isn’t capable of being accountable or owning a single action so therapy – isn’t possible.

Surprisingly, I hadn’t learned of this disorder until after 5 attempts, I finally severed ties with a very abusive partner. I knew he was a monster, I questioned if I made it all up in my mind, I knew my reality was shattered and truly felt stable ground was never to be found again… until I began to research my experience for self care and accountability and KAPOW – there it was, point for point… he was NDP personified.

If anyone in your life behaves this way, they may have NDP :

  • controlling every aspect of your time with them
  • your feelings, opinions, personal space, ideas – aren’t encouraged or valued
  • any and all insecurities / weakness’, they use as fuel against you
  • incapable of accepting criticism, zero accountability, remorse or regret
  • Gas lighting : “sorry you took it that way”, “thats not how it happened”, “you always do this”, “you’re crazy” consistently causing you to question your own sanity by either blaming you for their actions (you caused this) or completely denying incidents. They will advise others of how you misinterpreted something or express concern for your mental state causing others to support them
  • they’re usually OCD in certain aspects, their possessions are coveted… including partners & children, but don’t mistake coveting for love – they’re preferred kept on a shelf, like perfect family pictures in frames, to be observed and admired by others, not to be unique individuals “don’t speak unless spoken to” is basically the mindset, your opinion is nothing more than an annoyance
  • holidays will be sabotaged, if something is special to you in any way – they will without question, find a way to take that pleasure away from you… it enrages them that they can’t feel emotions authentically, your goodness, they resent because they can’t ever own it
  • they wear masks, they don’t have any sense of true self or identity… they’ve learned to adapt by wearing various masks… often admired by others, they NEED constant positive feedback and praise. They’re completely different people inside the privacy of the home then they are in public
  • you learn to recognize the triggers in the hopes not to engage the “switch”… this is when Jekyll turns to Hyde – its a literally transformation… the eyes go dead, darting, jaw becomes defined, shoulders raise and almost widen, they stand taller, their gate changes and their personality, like a switch changes into a monster before your eyes. They don’t speak to wound, they speak to gut – and tears enrage them more as emotions such as this, they’re not able to feel naturally so yours – only enrages them and gives them more power
  • if you’re hurt or crying, they’ll yell louder, sometimes even imitating you, mocking the way you look while crying, advising you how pathetic and weak you are, often, once they’ve tired of screaming, they’ll stare and smirk at the hurt they’ve caused – they “won”. Then, like it never happened, they’ll offer you a hand to stand up, hug you and advise “it hurts me to see you hurting”… even hand you a kleenex….
  • whats theirs is theirs and whats yours is theirs – there is no partnership
  • they talk constantly about compliments they’ve received, any good deeds they did, theres no selfless paying it forward – they’ll ensure others are aware of anything they did to be viewed as a “good person”
  • you could read facts from a book, if its something they don’t believe or agree with, you’re wrong – and you’ll believe them

These personalities can be anyone from a parent, sibling, partner, child, employer – because at one time, they were small children themselves – who were hurting but it went unnoticed, perhaps even raised by one – often children of a NDP become one or are drawn to one (empaths) as this relationship is what they’ve known from the male or female role model in their lives.

This personality will, without question, damage those who are submissive to them. Its abusive, toxic and emotionally damaging, Removing them completely or setting healthy boundaries are the only ways to protect yourself. Just know, there is nothing a Narc despises more, than being “told what to do”… the only ones who will resent you for expressing healthy boundaries, are those who benefit from you not having any. They can’t change, they won’t change, you will lose yourself trying and will fail. CHOOSE YOU.

SO, before calling someone a “narcissist”… you’re literally calling them an abusive person who has a disorder…. they’re “monsters” who take pleasure from others pain and suffering that they caused…. choose your words carefully, they matter.

Just because “it’s always been that way”, doesn’t make it right (or healthy) #boundaries

This is one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned this last year. Just because someone is in your life, be it family a partner or a friend – when someone shows you how they’re willing to treat you , believe them. We teach others how to treat us by what we’re willing to accept. In many instances, we simply dismiss negative behaviours and defend with “it’s just the way they are”. By doing this, we teach ourselves that we don’t matter. We’re making the choice to compromise our self worth every time we just “let it go”.

We tend to overlook certain behaviours with the mentality “they’ve always been this way”. That’s true, because they’ve been excused and enabled. It doesn’t matter who someone is to you or how old they are, if their words and actions hurt you, it’s not ok. just because something or someone has always been a certain way, doesn’t make it the “right” way. If it’s unhealthy for you – express it and make the boundary known. If you want change, be the change and don’t compromise your mental well-being to appease another. Not doing this, you’re telling yourself that you don’t matter, you’re compromising your integrity.

This wasn’t easy for me. It hurt badly, the feeling of being disposable to someone you love. Then I realized, the only ones who will ever leave you for setting healthy boundaries, were the ones who benefitted by you not having any. They weren’t ever truly in your life, it simply benefitted them having you in theirs. Just because someone’s always been in your life, doesn’t mean it was a healthy relationship for you. The right ones stay, the ones who don’t – were never really there. You likely just clung onto the idea that they were supposed to be.

Make the choice to stop sacrificing your emotional needs to appease another. If you feel you have to, that’s when you need to be accountable to “why” and stop permitting it. Learn to love yourself enough to excuse yourself from a table that no longer serves you. Choose whatever and whomever fuels your soul, not consistently depletes it.

The world will adjust, the right ones will remain and the ones who left – were like weeds in the garden, choking out growth to become the best most authentic, healthy version of yourself. Choose you. 💜