I'm sitting at my computer. My ex is being clingy right now, mostly because he's bored and has nothing else to do but sit in my room to avoid facing the aching void of loneliness that fills his soul with toxicity that oozes out of him like... fuck I don't know, whatever it is that oozes and is toxic... but it's bad enough that other psychics have said there's nothing there... all they see is... emptiness. I think that's the soul-condition of the narcissist. Perhaps that's what makes narcissists. Traumatic childhoods so painful, the soul simply flees, leaving an empty shell of a person who can't connect on any level to anyone because they're missing the software.
He's quit jobs three times in the last month and a half... after spending several months on unemployment... after getting fired from his job as a security guard at the local mental health crisis hospital because of his uncontrolled mood swings and emotional instability "causing" him to snap on a mentally ill patient. The reality that yes, my exish-husband is too crazy to work at the crazy hospital is something that I am reminded of daily, since we still live together until one or both of us can move out of here...
He's behaving himself right now, just sitting on my bed watching South Park on his phone. I could be annoyed, but I decide not to be.
This is where I am with my own personal development: I can choose my emotions most of the time.
I say most because as much as I wish it was all the time, there's times when I snap. Like 80/20. 80% of the time living with a narcissist is a fucking miracle, but yes, there are times when I lose it. Although those are getting fewer and further between, they're still there sometimes. Usually when the above-referenced exish-husband is in a particularly narcissisty mood and pushes and pushes until I do snap.
Every time I reach that point of snapping myself, of raging back at him and using all his buttons - of which there are many - to ... well ... to be honest ... to push him until he abuses me more. Because that's ALWAYS the result of my losing my emotional control.
He rages. I stand my ground. He rages more. I stand my ground more. He rages more. I snap. He rages even bigger. And then a fist is flying, and thank goddess I've gotten good at the duck and run because there hasn't been fist to body contact in a long, long time, but he's swung more recently than I want to admit...
This is NOT me saying I blame myself for his abuse. And it's also not saying that I want the abuse. Because I don't. It's NOT my fault even when I lose emotional control because after six years of living together, he knows how to push ALL my buttons. Not just the bad, ragey ones, either. And I'm trying to learn how to turn those buttons off. To disconnect them. Permanently. I do not recommend this to anyone ever. The most rational action would be to leave.
But sometimes, we can't take the most rational action, and we have to accept the reaction that our circumstances dictate as possible.
I thus far have not been able to afford to move. I know I have options. IOr really, I would have lots of options. If I was neurotypical without social anxiety and...
I am so weird that my roommates remind me regularly of how weird I am. I am so not normal that anyone that spends more than five minutes with me can spot it. I literally fucking shine. It freaks me out. Seriously. FREAKS ME OUT. It's weird to me that I shine and that people can see me. Not always. I'm very good at hiding. But when I let myself be seen? Well... you know how I can shine... Is that ego? Maybe. But ego is based on experience, and I spend most of my life saying the wrong thing and being shooshed offline and saying all the right things and being applauded online.
I live in many worlds...
I am living in an abusive marriage which we have both agreed is over, we've both agreed needs to end, we've both agreed we can't really stand each other, we live in separate bedrooms, we know we're getting divorced and I want to move soon, alone, without him...
I am married. And I think about saving my marriage at times. Because I do love him. But I know he doesn't love me. Not really. There's nothing there that can hold love. He's too empty to love, that void sucking up all the love that I can pour into it and never filling, never able to truly return that love, but...
But he can give a good enough imitation of it that sometimes... sometimes I almost convince myself that he's better and that since he's better now he'll keep getting better ...
I want a divorce. I so, so desperately want a divorce. My soul aches to be free of him. My mind contemplates all the possible ways that I can escape from him with my sanity intact without having to live on the streets or compromise my need for solitude by moving in with other roommates because I've tried that over and over and that's how I ended up with the sex addict friend who kept wanting me to join her parties for two weeks before I came back and that's how I ended up with the hugger who flew across the country to stalk a guy for three weeks... and those are how I learned that I can't live with anyone but who I live with... if I move, I have to live alone because I don't want to people.
So yes, if I was neurotypical, I would move in with someone else and get my shit together, but I'm not neurotypical and it takes me a long fucking time to get used to people and it takes other people a long fucking time to get used to me because I am really weird and uninhibited and people are socially conditioned to be uncomfortable with someone who always speaks her mind no matter what it is... And while I could do all that, and be okay, I don't want to. I want to be on my own, and so far, I have been able to tolerate this while I work towards that.
As I write this, the self-doubt whispers. "They don't care. No one really cares. They're just laughing at you. Nobody will understand."
And this is when I love having asshole Guides, because my Guides yell at the self-doubt voice. "Oh, fuck off." And then they yell at me, "TRUST YOUR COMMUNITY."
Which is really the "secret" to all of the work I've done on myself. Learning how to pause. Learning how to think after the pause. Learning how not to react, but instead to respond.
The difference between react and respond is subtle. Reactions are instant, responses are measured.
Another voice... maybe my own, maybe a solo Guide, standing out from the crowd... It doesn't matter if anyone's paying attention. What matters is saying what needs to be said, doing what needs to be done. That's all.
I breathe. In through my nose to the count of four, out through my mouth to the count of four, repeating, again, and again until my annoyance that he's interrupted me for the fourth time in ten minutes dissipates.
Breathe because even though I'm annoyed and I want to say something, it's literally a waste of words to say something that I've said more times than I can remember. The words running through my mind, wanting to be spoken, "Please, J, if I'm typing, it means I'm working, and if you interrupt my thoughts, it's hard for me to refocus."
He doesn't care, so I don't say them. This time. Because until he gets bored and leaves my room, he will continue to interrupt me to tell me about the show he's watching on his phone, the show that I don't even like, and that I'm not even paying attention to. It's like dealing with a toddler: even negative attention is attention to him, except that his temper tantrums could lead to my death so it's like walking a tight rope that's coated in glass... no matter what I do, it's going to hurt... finish the walk and I'm shredded... leave the rope and I'm dead...
I have these moments that remind me how odd I really am. I'm not emotional about any of this. At all. I have about the emotional attachment to all of this as I do to the sidewalk. I wonder if I should be emotional, if I should be hurt or angry or sad or whatever about the reality that I am still married to an abusive man who as recently as two months ago threatened to kill me after taking a swing that I ducked from so he missed and hit the bed frame that's been standing in the hall for a year and a half because I can't take it down by myself and he can't be bothered to help...
I reread that, and it sounds like I'm annoyed, but I'm actually not. It's just a statement of fact for me, much like saying there's a light breeze blowing the leaves in the tree outside my bedroom window.
This is how my life is right now, and I also know this is not how my life always was, and it's not how my life will always be.
I realize, in these moments, that this might be what the Buddha spoke of all those millennia ago. Nirvana. Escape from suffering.
Because even though this is my life, I am not suffering.
I have many health issues, bodily and mentally. I'm prone to depression, but I don't suffer from it. It just is. Sometimes, my mind and body don't want to cooperate with that indescribable "I" that is "me," and that's okay. I simply am whatever I am in the moment, and trying not to be only causes suffering.
I can objectively tell you why my life might cause someone suffering, and I can encourage others in similar situations why they're feeling what they're feeling and why they respond they way they do, and why, if they are suffering, it's not their fault, but I am not myself suffering. Is that weird? I don't know, I think it might be weird, but I'm okay with weird. I embrace my weird.
The emotions my readers feel are not my emotions. They feel the emotions I have chosen to express, not the ones that I'm feeling at any given time. I choose the emotions that are expressed in my writing carefully based on what I feel needs to be expressed in that moment. What am I trying to say? What am I trying to get them to understand? And as humans, we more easily understand when we also feel.
But it's not to get anything for myself. Honestly, I could deal with anything that happened to me. Resilience they call it, and I am very resilient. I'm not really afraid of anything. There are some consequences I'd prefer not to engage with, so I'll avoid actions that would possibly cause those consequences. But if I accidentally did something that caused some seemingly dire thing to happen, I'd shrug, problem solve, survive, and move on. Or I'd die, in which case, nothing about it would matter anymore anyway. Neither eternal damnation nor eternal nothingness frighten me. There is no point fighting against what is.
This doesn't mean I don't try to change what is. Just that having emotional attachment to it causes suffering.
I know what I want for my life, and I aim for that, but I'm not attached to when or if I'll get it. If I was, I'd be pretty fucking miserable all the time and I'd never even be able to function. And that doesn't really sound fun to me.
In spite of the adversity under which I live, I'm very aware of the privilege under which I live.
I'm white. That's like hitting the racial jackpot.
I'm a woman, though, which makes things a bit more interesting.
I have ADHD. I'm autistic. I have major depressive disorder. I'm hypothymic. I'm cyclothymic.
I'm fat. And truthfully, I do get a bit annoyed when people say, "Oh, you're not fat, you're .... " as if fat excludes me from being anything else, so they have to exclude fat, when in reality, I'm 5'4" tall and 250 pounds. I am morbidly obese. My BMI is 42.9, and yes, I know BMI is a shit weigh to measure health, but reality is I am fat and this affects how people perceive me.
I am socially awkward, which is probably as much from the autism which wasn't diagnosed until I was in my 30s as it is from everything else.
But I also have a privilege that is sometimes awkward to talk about. I'm brilliant. I have never been in a class where I didn't stand out. I have never tried to get an A, and yet graduated 10th in my class from high school, and maintained a 4.0 in college until I quit. Several times. Because being a genius fat socially awkward autistic woman with ADHD is not acceptable and I was, and am, reminded of this frequently.
That genius, though, that brilliance means that I process shit super, super fast. "Wow, you're a fast learner," is a phrase I've heard more times than I know, for my entire life. It others me. Anything that follows, "Wow, you're a..." is meant to let me (you) know that I (you) am (are) different. Even if it's not meant to be a negative othering, it's still othering, and all othering has the potential to turn negative.
Fast processing means I can learn really fast, and that I can run multiple programs at once. Programs, in this case, being trains of thought, perspectives, and potentialities. This is a privilege because not all have this. I lucked out on the genetic lottery that gave me both a brilliant father and mother, each brilliant in their own way. My father is a logical fast processor as well. My mother is a creative genius. Both had a wide range of interests. And they encouraged me, as best they could, to be smart. A lot else went against me in childhood: poverty, abuse, undiagnosed autism, ADHD, and depression, etc. But I was never shamed for my intelligence in my early years, and my parents never restricted my interests along gender lines. My father took me to community computer classes when I was 7. In the 80s. If we'd had the money and access to more, I could have been one of those tech bubble millionaires in the 90s, but instead, I didn't own my own computer until I was in my 20s, and my father has only recently started using the internet at all.
I'm also an autodidact. I learn best on my own, self-directed, and by observation and experience.
This is to say that my genius means that I can be objective in a way that perhaps others can't without assistance, but I have to learn it the hard way because I'm stubborn as fuck, so I'm like a cosmic crash test dummy. I learn the hard way, and then share what I learned, hoping others won't be as thick-headed as me.
I was not always as objective and emotionally non-attached as I am today.
And I still have a very, very, very long way to go. I don't want to be a guru. A tutor maybe, but not a guru.
I used to want to be a guru, then I learned about narcissism and now I'm all nope on that shit.
And I suppose this is long enough now. Not because I think I'm boring you, but because my attention wants to go somewhere else now, and I'm not fighting it.
My current lesson: Managing expectations. Both my own, and the expectations others have of me.
To manage my own, I must confront them regularly and choose to change those expectations to more accurately reflect reality.
To manage others expectations of me, I must accept that I can never 100% control how others perceive me, but if I am radically authentic and true to the deepest self that I have so far found, my community will self-sort and I'll be left with only those who expect me to be authentically me.
This is the first of a series of stream-of-consciousness writings I'll be doing on Patreon. Part 1 is free to read for all. Other parts may be for patrons only, so if you want to be sure to have access to the whole series, which will explore all of my experiences, beliefs, and lessons from lived experience, then become a patron!