Narcissistic Abuse and Expressing Emotion

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I was in a long term, committed relationship, with a narcissist for a long time.  Almost a decade.  Almost a decade, to be precise, throughout my twenties.  As a result of this, I have a myriad of issues I am unpacking and unpicking, including PTSD, but one issue I’ve noticed (and I’m working on really hard) is the inability to express emotion in what I perceive as a correct and healthy manner.

As an autist, I have always experienced emotion very intensely, to the point of physical pain or discomfort.  As an autist in a relationship with a narcissist, I … edited my emotional output and expression to be palatable to the narcissist’s inability to cope with anything other than superficial expressions of emotion.  I would, in a sense, tense up my emotions, whip them up so they were light and fluffy enough to be appropriate for the target audience – Him.  This, in a sense, prevented me from fully appreciating the depth of emotion that I could experience.

Another part of my abuse was the constant pressure to be perfect, to always be happy, to never be sad or angry or upset.  Everything was always fine.  Everything was always okay.  Nothing was ever wrong.  This caused me to avoid situations that might bring up any negative emotion, to seek only things that brought me enjoyment, and to ruthlessly clamp down on feeling.

It’s so ingrained it’s now part of my coping mechanism, and it got me to where I am today.

I realised it was a problem late last year, with my now partner.  In an effort to correct this, I would spend considerable time before talking to him sitting, breathing, relaxing my stomach muscles and allowing myself to feel.

It’s taken a long time, but now I can look at him and there is no tension in my chest.  I can look at him and allow myself to smile and know that it is a genuine one, not a pinched, repressed one.  The fluoxetine definitely helps with this, but it has also been months of hard work, months of patience on his part, months of care and consideration.

It feels amazing to be at this point.  I know there’s still a ways to go in this specific area of recovery alone, not including all the other ticks I’m trying to shed, but just this level of progress is so heartening.

That Sly Manipulation

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I was going to write about the difference in feel between the same actions with different intent.  Instead I’ll write about manipulation, because a terrible ‘friend’ and manipulator has just exited my life, and I’m feeling sore.

If I went into the history of the friendship it would be a novel.  Instead I shall say that he was a good friend’s internet boyfriend when we were in highschool, and when she left him … I stayed his friend.  Dealing with him always stressed me out, because he was needy and he was very negative and he would do and say things that would make me uncomfortable.  It got to the point where I uninstalled Facebook Messenger on my phone because just seeing his face pop up made me want to scream with anxiety and frustration.  There were many a day where he would pop up and I would scream “fuck off” to my phone and be in a terrible mood for the rest of the day.

It’s only very recently that I’ve realised why.

He is manipulative.  He says horrible things about himself so that I will say nice things.  He cowers and crawls when he feels it will get him what he wants, he deliberately inspires pity.  He is incapable of seeing anyone’s discomfort or pain other than his own – I told him he’d done something to hurt me and all of a sudden it was all about him, how bad he is, how he hates himself, how it hurt him, how anxious he is, how sick he’s feeling, how he can’t cope … and this has, I realise, been the pattern throughout our entire friendship.  There is no room for me in the friendship.  There never has been.

I took him to task, and I wouldn’t let him pull his shit on me, so he blamed me for him dropping out of school and failing at work and ‘proving him right’, and how he wished I thought he was dead.  What a lovely human being he is.  How kind and considerate.  And yes, there are two sides to this story, I “attacked him” when he apologised the first time (saying I’m sorry, I’ve got the job, my boss has sent me to a counselor because I tried to kill myself, me, me, me, me) and so he “fled” (blocked me so he could continue believing I was a mean and horrible person who hated him).  But holy hell I have never said, suggested, or attempted to make him believe in any way, shape, or form, anything like  what he just said to me.  That’s just downright cruel.  I’m aspie as fuck and even I know that shit don’t fly

I’m angry, sure, but also just kind of … disappointed and deflated.  This is someone I’ve known for 16 years.  This is someone I’ve supported through depression, someone I’ve cheered on from the sidelines, someone I’ve encouraged to do what he enjoys, what he loves, to look after himself first and foremost.  I know it’s just who he is, and in a way that almost makes it worse, because I didn’t see it until now.

Except that I did, I just didn’t really know it.

Fluoxetine two weeks in

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I’ll have been on fluoxetine for 2 weeks as of tomorrow.  It’s been an interesting couple of weeks.

The first week was like I was lightly high on MDMA the entire week.  My words would trip over themselves falling out of my mouth, and my usual filter was … absent.  My brain would skitter off while I tried to concentrate on checking my work.  But I was completely anxiety free.  I was walking on cloud nine.

I also experienced increased thirst (which is no bad thing, as I live in a permanently dehydrated state), my kidneys were sensitive if I didn’t drink enough water, I had quirks of thermoregulation (I’m typically a lizard human but found myself overheating at work!) and difficulties focusing my eyes.

The second week has continued much the same as the first with regard to physical side effects, but the mood has not been quite as sunny.  I’m managing to concentrate better, which is good, because the work I do is quite reliant on speed and accuracy.  I have more energy during the day, and I’m more alert, so I don’t rely quite as heavily on caffeine to keep me moving.  I still can’t quite make words play as well as I used to, but I’m hoping the more time I spend writing in this new headspace, the more words will come back to me.

But now I’m in that irritating phase where I have a bit more energy but not the anti-depressant bit.  So I’m angry and I’m agitated and I feel like I’m stuck in the same spot pushing the same shit up hill.  I want to be anywhere but here doing anything but what I’m doing right now.  I want to be an amorphous blob.

I still experience anxiety, as well.  I still have some generalised anxiety, and oh boy do I still have specific situation anxiety, but it’s a bit more muted.  I experience it more in my head and less in my body, if that makes any sense.  My gut doesn’t drop and my heart rate doesn’t skyrocket, and I don’t start shaking, although I do notice I perspire more when I’m experiencing acute situational anxiety.  I still need to twitch, I still need to fidget, I still have my muscle ticks, but the threshold is a lot higher.

I’m hoping the third week starts picking the mood up a bit.