Narcissistic Abuse And Money


Budgets inspire a meltdown.  Unexpected expenses have me panicking and shaking for days.

This is the result of nearly a decade of abuse around money and budgeting.  I would budget.  He would blow it.  I would budget around that, He would blow it.  He wouldn’t allow any surplus in the budget, He had to get the next thing, He had to get another big expense, He had to buy more things.  I distinctly remember a discussion where he wanted a new car and I said if we got the large purchase he wanted on finance, we would have no wriggle room in the budget at all, and he replied with “that’s fine, we don’t need it anyway!”.

I’m talking no savings, no ability to go anywhere or do anything other than survive.  Literally living paycheck to paycheck.  In the end, when it had gotten really bad, we were on a combined income of nearly $200,000.  He spent every cent and more.  He would bully me to get a credit card, and put things on it.  I had to, to make ends meet, and then, despite budgeting to put it back on the card, he would spend it.

He would spend it.  He would spend it.  He would spend it.  He spent it all.  Because he wanted to Keep Up With The Joneses.  He was obsessed with the idea of wealth, of having it, and the approval he would receive from it.

It has taken me years to get a healthier relationship with money – I can actually put money aside and not compulsively spend it.  But I still want to vomit every time I work on my budget.  Unexpected expenses may always send me into a panic.  But the most difficult thing?

He is still doing it.  Through a series of decisions and a complex situation on both our parts, I am still somewhat reliant upon him to provide a small amount of money to pay off the debts I incurred at his behest.  And he’s not.  He was great for a while.  Now he’s not.  He’s spent it all, and I am once again scrabbling to make it work.  Except I no longer have any sway, I no longer have a way to cover for it.  So I become somewhat catatonic.

Which basically just involves me lying on the couch staring blankly at the TV while I’m at home, and spending minutes at a time staring blankly at the paper in front of me when I’m at work, and just generally wanting to not exist.

The day I no longer rely on him to pay off that debt will be the happiest day of my life.

Conflict Avoidance


I have been conditioned to avoid conflict.  I have been punished, ignored, cold shouldered, berated, insulted and put down whenever I rose to a conflict instead of rolled over, whenever I voiced an opinion that was contrary to what was being said.  I didn’t realise it was happening – it started off small, and phrased like a concern for me “you shouldn’t argue with people on the internet”.  By the time it was blatantly “don’t do that, that’s rude” it was too late, I was hooked into the narcissist and I wasn’t getting out.

Despite the many years I’ve been away from Him, I am still not free.  I have identified an immediate aversion to conflict, to the point where I will go along with things that I do not like, things that I feel are unkind, because I cannot deal with the conflict.  If someone says something unkind about someone else towards me I’ll smile and play along – doesn’t matter who it is, I just shut down, go into conflict avoidance and people please mode, and my brain disconnects.

I never used to be like this.  Back in high school (a friend of mine reminded me of this) I was sitting at a group of desks and another girl came over and said she wanted it.  I politely said no, and when she persevered, I told her to fuck off.  In exactly those words.  I had no issues telling two girls who were harassing me at home to fuck off and never come back again.  I had no problems standing up to bullies.

I am now into my fourth week of fluoxetine, and I have discovered an amazing effect.  I’m getting my backbone back.

Today a colleague was rude about one of the people I provide support for.  This particular individual is Chinese.  The rest of the office is not.  This particular colleague asked me to tell the Chinese woman to see her “once she’s done with her jabbering”.  Instead of my usual response – a polite, mincing smile and a churning of discomfort in my gut – I felt immediately angry.  While I couldn’t vocalise it properly, I certainly let it be shown in my face and posture.  This colleague was being very rude and racist about another colleague, one who she works with, and one who works harder than damn near everyone else in the office.

And for once, my first response wasn’t conflict avoidance.  I was, and still am, intensely proud of myself for that.  I feel more like me than I have in a decade.

A Not-Really Inspirational Depression Blog


I have a fairly simple policy with my writing in all forms.  I will write for myself, and just hope that there will be other people in similar situations or of similar mindsets who may enjoy and/or benefit from what I have written.

I have depression and anxiety (amongst other things).  While I’m being medicated for it, the medication doesn’t stop me from being anxious or depressed.  It just makes it … less severe.  I still have negative thoughts, I still have panic attacks, I still have episodes of acute anxiety to stimulus, but I have a bit more mental clarity.  I have that tiny bit more headspace, alertness, ability to cope with it.  I think.

But I still don’t really have that much motivation, and I’m very deliberately not launching into ‘I’m totally going to do this, this and this all the time because it’s good for me’.  I have very limited energy right now, so I’m carefully selecting and doing really small things that help build me (from the ground up) into a healthier, more positive space.  If I can’t do that thing one day / week, that’s fine, I cut back to basics and wait until I have energy again.  I’m not going to suggest going out for a hike, or taking up yoga, or drinking kale smoothies because I don’t have the energy for that, and I know most other people with depression don’t either.  I’m not going to suggest taking a long bath, or cleaning your room, because when just having a shower is exhausting, cleaning your room is going to be too much as well.  Eating well is all well and good, but that also requires effort, energy, and thought.

It’s important for people with depression to realise that it’s okay.  It’s okay to not be okay.  It’s okay to not get out of bed for days.  It’s okay to not go outside.  It’s okay to not do dishes.  It’s okay to not do washing.  It.  Is.  Okay.

Take it right back to basics.  You can get up to pee?  Take a glass of water back to bed with you.  Can’t make a meal to eat?  Cereal and milk (if you can, chop a banana or another easy fruit that you like on top) is a perfectly acceptable meal (I’ll often do oats, flax seed, a sprinkle of LSA and a chopped banana).  Can’t do the dishes?  Buy plastic plates.  You are allowed to do things to make your life easier!  You are not required to do all these things you are “supposed to do”!

Be kind to yourself.  I don’t just mean pamper yourself, or love yourself, because if you’re ambivalent about yourself while you’re depressed you’re doing well.  I mean give yourself permission to not do things.  Spend a few minutes every few hours assessing your energy levels and how much you feel you can expend.

No energy?  That’s okay, cuddle back into bed or back onto the couch and nap.  If you can, a cuppa tea is often warming and comforting.  I personally love Earl Grey if I want caffeinated, or rooibos tea (with milk and honey) if it’s later in the day.

Little bit of energy?  Cool!  Next time you get up to pee, do a little thing.  I’ll often take a couple of mugs that I have inevitably forgotten on the arm of the couch into the kitchen and put them in the dishwasher when I get up for any reason.

Got a bit more energy?  Neat!  Is there one thing you would really like to start on today?  Wiping down one bench top is enough!  Picking up tissues and putting them in the bin is enough!  If you feel you are able to do more, that’s awesome!  Be sure to not just use that energy on cleaning or cooking, but also on yourself.  Having a shower and putting on fresh undies makes a world of difference.  Clean sheets are luxurious.

It has taken me a very long time to realise and even longer to accept that I can’t do everything, and that’s okay.  It took reading it, over and over again, for me to get the picture.  It’s hard, I’ve actually got a lot to do and a lot to organise and a lot of associated anxiety with it.  But I’m making decisions to make my life easier – like paying someone to clean the crate I haven’t cleaned in over a year that’s been living in my garage and I really need to return to the person I borrowed it from.  And asking friends to help me do tasks I just can’t bring myself to face, like sort out my wardrobe and get rid of all the shit I don’t wear (which is about 90% of my clothes).  It turns an insurmountable task into a fun, manageable one with two pairs of hands, some chocolate, and some good music.  And most of the time, we say ‘yeah we’ll totally do that’ and then end up vegging out on the couch, and that’s also totally okay.

So please, if you’re reading this and you’re depressed, just remember, it’s okay.  

The Difference Of Intent


Intent.  It’s something you can never directly see, and yet it impacts all actions.  It’s something I’ve been thinking on a lot these past few months.

Because the amazing human being in my life does some of the same things that He did – not many, but enough for me to have occasional flashbacks.  The difference between the two is as clear as night and day, but certainly not something I would ever have seen at the time.  It is a difference in intent.

Where He supported my interests because they reflected well on Him, this amazing human supports my interests because I’m interested in them.  Where He looked after my animals because it made Him look good, this amazing human looks after my animals because he loves them.  Where He would spend a lot of money on takeaway food because it was Living The Life, this amazing human spends money on takeaway food because it’s easy and tasty and it’s a nice treat (for both of us) after a hard day of work.

Where He would interact with my friends and, when they (very rarely) visited, suggest some things He thought they might like, it was all to reflect well on Him in some way, to make them like Him more.  This amazing human suggests things they might like because they might like it and because he cares.

And now, looking back, the difference of intent is so clear.  It has just taken seeing the behaviours expressed from a selfless intent to see the difference in the resulting behaviour expressed from a selfish intent.

And you can tell, you can really tell.  The words they use, the way they put them together, their tone of voice, and their body language.  The feeling left in your gut afterwards (never ignore your gut, it knows a lot more than your brain does).

I am intensely grateful to the amazing human being I now share my life with.  He is helping to heal a lifetime of trauma by simply being his incredible self.

Today Was Not A Good Day – And That’s Okay


The day started out wrong – my phone had reset during the night and my usual alarms didn’t go off.  Instead, I was woken by my partner’s later alarms, and couldn’t quite figure out what was going on.  So I hauled myself out of bed (admittedly after a bit of prodding – mornings suck) and pottered through my morning routine, which all went well, and I was off to work at a good time.  I just didn’t want to do anything, I wanted to be an amorphous blob, right from waking up.  I just didn’t care.

Nothing really bad happened at work.  We found a couple of old things that really should have been done a year ago (left over from the person in my role previously), and discovered a frustrating error that’s been repeated across a number of projects from someone who’s long since gone … and this may actually be a problem for this project.  It’s all gone up the chain and greater minds than I are deciding on things and will handle it.  Nothing out of the ordinary, and nothing I haven’t handled before.  And yet, by about 11.00am, I was silently panicking.

So I was panicking and I didn’t care.  I was sitting at work, in a job I know, around people I love working around, in a safe environment with two wonderful bosses who never get angry when I mess up, are always quick with praise, and who I get along with … and I was panicking and I just did not care, I did not want to be there, and I hated my job.  I got the frustrated fidgets – what can I do to get ahead, can I get another job on top of this one, what can I sell to get a bit more liquid assets, how can I maneuver myself into a position where I don’t have to do this anymore.

Instead of resisting the feeling and getting grumpy about it and saying I have no reason for it, like I always do, I took a moment to go home for lunch, sit down, and go ‘no, this is okay.  I am having a shit day, and there is no real reason for it, and that is totally okay.’  I felt a little better.

I went back to work, sat down, and within 30 minutes I was nearly jumping out of my skin again.  There was a cacophony of voices in the office – it’s all open plan, and we have a few Capable of Outside Voices Only people there – and too much auditory input is one of my major panic triggers (which I usually put down to the fact that I can’t filter any of it out).  I put my earbuds in and listened to a few minutes of white noise rainstorm, and that gave me just enough headspace to breathe, to sit back and let the noises wash over me, instead of slam into me.  It gave me just enough headspace to go ‘no, this is okay, accept this feeling, stop resisting it’ and really feel it.  It gave me just enough headspace to relax my stomach, my shoulders and the muscles in my face.

I checked myself at least 5 more times in the next few hours between lunch and home, reminding myself ‘I am having a shit day and that is totally okay‘.  By the end of the day my skin felt tight, my chest felt strangled, and I just wanted to scream at the sky.  I resisted the temptation – it’s rather alarming for people in the surrounding area – but that feeling stuck with me until I got out to do a bit of manual labour that evening.

That, along with listening to podcasts, helped flush out the last of my negative and anxious thoughts, and while I’m still feeling the after affects of an anxious day, I’m beginning to relax.

I will say that admitting ‘I’m having a shit day’ and then saying ‘and that’s okay’ made the usual frustration fidgets a lot less severe.  While my brain was turning things over, it wasn’t the usual desperate churn, and I never once felt physically affected by the desperate need to do something, but also do nothing, and be anywhere but here right now.   Definitely something to continue working on.