I have yet to have a few days pass that a survivor has not made a declaration about writing a book about their experience with the psychopath/narcissist. I see this in various page announcements on face book and survivor blogs. I see it in posts by survivors to my page and I have survivor friends who have already written books about the experience, but a couple of them are well established, well known authors, who have been published through publishing firms or are well established on their own.
Because I have heard this so often, I would like to share my observances about this with you if this is a burning desire of yours. I say this with love and in an effort to create a reality for you about this because I have seen what these endeavors mean for survivors who are not yet healed or where ego comes into play and they become too big for their britches! These are usually pathological survivors and they are those who create pages and want to write books….for the purposes of numbers and fame, but there are fewer of those, thank God, then there are survivors who want to help or share their story. This post is also a little bit of wisdom offered to you if you’re a survivor who is also a supporter and educator, whether you are new to this or have been established for awhile.
When we come out of these relationships and begin to heal, we develop a burning, passionate desire to derive meaning from the experience. Many survivors want to utilize their high empathy to support other survivors who are just coming out of the relationship. There is nothing innately wrong with this, however I think it would help to recognize a few things in our endeavors in the support field, creating support pages, writing blogs and writing books.
When I started a page a couple of years ago, I was very depressed, still reacting to the abuse and had as yet undiagnosed PTSD. I had not yet developed the burning desire to support and really knew nothing about it, I just knew that two of the pages I frequented were run by pathologicals and I was quite done with that and had hoped by creating a page that I might find others who were interested in discussing how to move forward without the spin and rumination of psychopath. In other words, for catharsis and connection to those interested in moving forward with the idea that it was now time to look at ourselves, taking the focus off the obsessing about the psychopath.
Oh boy. I learned a lot, but it was not an overall positive experience for me because I was not educated in what could happen when you’re doing an online page about how to heal from psychopathic abuse. I was not prepared for the trolls who would litter the page, the competitive targeting of other pathological page owners and their emotionally dependent minion, nor the fact that I would react in anger to it all, which is exactly what happened. My expectations were not overwhelming when I started it. Despite all the trolling, my page grew rapidly over a period of a few months to 1400. At the time, this was a rather large face book audience, and in my naivete, I didn’t see pathological targeting headed my direction because I was viewed as a ‘threat’ to other pages encouraging rumination and obsessing about psychopaths. Being pathological, none of the admins saw this as an opportunity and/or lesson in moving survivors forward, because they didn’t want to change that. They wanted to prevent tired and weary worn, ruminated out, survivors from coming to my page and sharing about moving forward. Such is pathology. . .
I closed the page after about eight months or so and removed myself from face book so that I could heal more. Face book, in many is a nice social networking tool if you’re promoting a business or to keep in touch with friends who do not live close by. All but two of my children are on face book and I can reach them easier there than I could over the phone! SAD! But the reality is that there are millions on face book, and with those millions it stands to reason that there would be many pathologicals, as well as survivors, trolling the pages, starting pages, targeting page owners, etc. It is a place where if a survivor is already disordered, that ego can become inflated rather quickly. Let’s put this into perspective: there are now thousands of pages dedicated to recovery from abuse. There is room for everyone. As a consequence of that experience, I warn survivors about the impact of pages in which trolls operate and what they look like. They are very dangerous and have the potential to create a transference of emotional dependence, from the psychopathic/narcissistic partner, onto the page admin. This happens less so on blogs, but it is prevalent on pages. The ‘competition’ is ridiculous.
When I shut down the page, I had some time to heal, receive a diagnosis of PTSD and began to work my program. I had planned never to return to face book. Then one day, I received a snail mail from one of my friends who lived in Michigan and she wrote that she was upset to find I was not on face book anymore (I’d left abruptly), and that she missed my presence. I then received emails from others on my list who expressed the same sentiments and so I was drawn back in. I had a plan of action prior to going back in. Stay on my list only, get rid of those that I don’t speak to or don’t know well (an impressive friends list is not where it’s at for me), and continue the friendships I had that were easy to maintain daily through face book. I had long since passed any desire to check up on the ex and there was still some leftover fear that he could contact, so I stayed far away from it.
My desire to support began to grow again when I was contacted by survivors who remembered the page and my name.
I opened my page again, briefly and then decided to close it permanently and open another with a new name. One that also matched my blog because I had started that as well. I began to have that ‘burning’ desire to support. It was different this time for me. I love to write. I felt that I could utilize my low level skills in helping other survivors understand their experiences. I wanted it to be low key this time. I did not use the same name as I had had before. It was brand new. It wasn’t long before the page admins I had dealt with before, found out about my new site and sent their minion to intimidate, but that was brief. I just kept going and ignored them. If I’m not responding, then it’s not fun for them anymore.
I had little expectations about the blog and the page. I was doing it for the joy of writing and for the connection to survivors who were in pain and struggling. I think I helped a few, but this time my perspective had changed too. I was a small fish in a huge pond. I had no desire whatsoever to ‘compete’. I see no need for it. I find it repulsive and stupid. When I see things on a universal level, rather than just limited to my own space, the world, I realize is rather large and full of gifts and talents. Everyone wants to start a page, everyone wants to write a book…everyone wants to get a blog going. . .
I think it’s important for as many survivors that wish too, to share their stories. Abusers are all about silence and the more we speak out, collectively, the more the abusers are revealed. It’s important, in my opinion, for every survivor to share their story, but not so much in that anyone is going to ‘make it’ in the writing field, but that it’s cathartic for them. If you help one or two survivors, you have established meaning about your experiences. If you’re willing to learn more about yourself, about the disordered and about how survivors are pretty much all the same when it comes to their aftermath reactions and the predictability of the playing out of their relationships, it’ll give you a good idea about what a book may look like if you choose to write it.
We all have ego. Some more than others. I have met survivors who claim ‘healer’ status and they are those that concern me the most. Taking a position of healer is, in my opinion, the consequence of an inflated ego. Why? Well because in a sense, we all have the potential to encourage a survivor to move toward healing. “Healer’ comes with a sense of ‘entitlement’ that creates discomfort for me personally. It assumes an authority type flavor to support that isn’t earned with degree, but only in labeling self and ego through experience. I am very, very careful about this, because I do not see myself as a ‘healer’ and I don’t apply titles to myself that put me into a position to be an ‘authority’ on anything. I find this intimidating to other survivors and the reality that someone has an established self labeled authority is something to be very cautious about. In my opinion, there are extremely few who could apply this to themselves legitimately.
I say this because there are far too many pathological ‘healers’ out there and in fact, the survivor supporters that claim ‘healer’ status are often disordered. This does not imply that all are or see themselves as authority, but ‘healer’ is a very powerful word and assumption made about one self and for a survivor who is wounded, it can mean disaster in that she is already suffering from emotional dependency issues and may well suffer from other disorders that the ‘healer’ is not prepared to treat. I think knowing your limits is very important, while also having a humility in how much you can really offer and what the expectation is in offering it and who is open to receiving it.
Survivors in positions of ‘authority’ have a major responsibility, not only to the survivors that read their work or listen to their advice, but also to themselves. Most of us carry a high level of empathy, right along with our PTSD or other mental health issues from the relationship. Self care can be avoided and healing yourself can be distracted from in survivor support work. This is when it becomes unhealthy for you as the supporter. There are monumental triggers doing this work. There was a time I could not work with survivors who had just come out of their relationships because the cognitive dissonance, level of denial, lack of education about the disorder, was just too much for me and I would react to them. I had little patience for survivors who just could not walk past the pathological, maintain their NC, sabotage their recovery work, hang onto unhealthy pages where they would ruminate for months, then come to mine and start the same drama. I was just done with that in my life, and with survivors who really weren’t yet invested in their healing for whatever reason, but more so in the drama that certain pages provoke and promote. You will not find peace amidst drama and it’s hard to support survivors in genuine and healing ways when you are partaking in it or allowing unhealed survivors or trolls to upset and trigger you.
My perspective on this has changed now due to having done some healing and growth work and learning the exercise of mindfulness and letting go. The reality is that we can’t ‘save’ everyone and not everyone wants to be saved. Learning to understand how addictive the pull to the psychopath is, as well as the ruminating about psychopathy, PTSD, etc, ironically helped me to have patience, as well as establish boundaries with survivors who were not ready yet to let go of their psychopath/narcissist or who were hanging onto the relationship via rumination and support systems that encouraged this. I don’t and won’t encourage it. There is a very big difference between educating a new survivor and supporting in encouraging them to look at themselves or encouraging them to stay stuck. It’s irresponsible of me to encourage ‘stuck’.
Another lesson I’ve learned about support work is that we are not, repeat, not professionals. I take this very seriously. This means we are not equipped to deal with disorders that should be dealt with in a professional therapeutic environment. I refuse to work with a survivor who is experiencing dissociative disorders, borderline personality disorders, bipolar disorders, depression and PTSD when it is not evaluated and treated professionally. In other words, I won’t take on a professional role when I am not qualified to do so.
Support is fine and even beneficial, but I also know that I can cause hurt to a survivor if I take on more than what I am qualified to do. I will refer and will continue to do so if I see it is something I am not able to handle as supporter and educator. This is such an important understanding and point of wisdom: If you are not professionally licensed to deal with mental health issues and disorders that the survivor is experiencing, PLEASE seek assistance for them if there are suicide attempts or ideation. That is a 911 and I don’t mess with it. If someone has a dissociative response, immediately refer or call 911. I realize that sounds a bit drama, but it’s no fun trying to work with someone who is experiencing this and you can’t ‘talk them down’. I won’t put myself or a survivor in a place of emergency in which I do not know what to do. I understand mental health issues well enough to discern whether or not I can handle it, and what is going on, but I don’t assume to know what to do clinically. I err on the side of caution always. You can potentially do more damage to a survivor if you are unhealed, if you are not professionally capable, if you attempt to walk them through what is an emergency situation.
This is, in part, why I refuse to add ‘healer’ to my name, or associate it with myself because it implies that I can do something that I am not qualified to do. Healing has many aspects to it, many variables and elements. My ego is way too big for my britches by assuming I can handle survivors who are experiencing extreme depression, PTSD triggers, dissociation or suicidal ideation or attempts. I am very mindful that this is also emotionally exhausting work because you are dealing with people who are experiencing extremes in emotions where it relates to trauma.
Taking care of yourself, stepping back, being extremely mindful and aware of your issues, what you can and cannot do, is imperative to your own recovery. I have seen far too many page admins triggered by trolls who haunt their pages and are looking for a vulnerability to send them reeling. This happens A LOT. If you are not expecting this, it will be nigh impossible to do this work when you are not healed. I think it does matter whether or not you are indifferent to your own situation and your ex’s or childhood abuse, while offering support. If not, the chances of your being triggered and subsequently triggering other survivors is very, VERY high. It isn’t healthy for you and it’s not healthy for them, despite your good, and even loving and compassion intentions, it is wise to consider whether or not this is something you have the stomach for. Much like an Emergency Medical Tech who is on the job seeing the most gruesome of accidents, where death is a daily thing, after a time, it can get to you in being exposed, literally and everyday to trauma. This is similar in being exposed to survivors who have experienced extreme trauma too. Some of the stories are absolutely horrifying when it comes to abuse. Preparing to hear this takes a lot of guts. It is not for the faint of heart and it is not for a survivor who is not healed. This is serious work and should be taken seriously too.
Be very cautious about how much information you put out there about your own abuse or your personal information with regards to medications you take, diagnosis you’ve received and your relationship with your psychopaths. I am not in any way suggesting not to share it if you feel compelled too, however it is very, very important to keep in mind that there are lots of trolls online and face book is notorious for this. There is also the possibility that your ex or someone who knows your ex,who can see what you’re writing about. Be very careful in what details you put out that can define who you are to them. It’s also important to keep in mind that what you write, if you’re still in ‘victim’ mode can be seen by a troll in seconds flat and it’s an opportunity to exploit you. Even if you are not in victim mode, but are simply sharing your story of abuse with an indifference to it, having addressed it and moved on from it, you are still open to criticism and others who will not like what you’re sharing. This happens a lot too.
Not everyone is going to agree with what is written. There are lots of armchair psychologists out there, in the form of unhealed survivors and trolls who may offer criticism that would cause you to trigger. Another thing to keep in mind is with regards to friends and family. My personal friends list, is separate from my page, my group and my blog, and there is a way to make your posts to the page private. This is especially true should you be in a private group and get surprised by a post popping up from a group member to the group, or to you. Hide them. If you have critics within your family and they are choosing to read, simply ask them not too if it’s that upsetting to them, or if they don’t listen to this request, ban them. Same goes with friends as well.
If survivor support happens to be your ‘calling’ or your writing and educating is a ‘calling”, this is great, but I have learned lately that some people will not like your ‘calling’. I have created some close friendships with other survivors from early on in recovery a couple of years ago. Most of them remain my friends today and I have a group that we are all apart of and have been for a very long time. This has been tremendously healing for all of us and we have kept the group to an intimate few, however, I am fully aware that that they are also survivors that I have supported in the past. A few of them have gone on to new lives, which is what support is intended to do, but our friendships are now distant or non existent. For a couple of survivors on my friends list (not in my group), they avoid contact because they are involved with pathologicals, caught up in the fantasy again. For others it’s the reality that I’m a reminder of a time in their lives that was very painful. And yet still for others, I’m a reminder of what they don’t want to deal with when addressing the psychopath/narcissist in their lives. I don’t even have to mention anything to them, it’s just a matter of my presence as reminder. It has nothing to do with me personally. I am hesitant now to create friendships with the survivors I support presently, because while it’s comforting for them initially while going through the early stages of recovery, if they are doing the recovery work, eventually, they move away from psychopathy altogether and have no interest in it. They all know what I do within my work. I’m learning a lot about letting go and that sometimes, if not most of the time, people are in your life for a reason and only for a season. It’s a painful lesson to learn, but letting survivors go who have done the work and have moved on, is the reason I got into this in the first place.
Keeping this in mind is really important because ‘bonds’ tend to develop through our connection in our experiences with the disordered as few really understand what it is to have lived it. Having boundaries means that when goodbye comes, it’s GOODBYE and letting survivors go and move on, is healthy for them and healthy, ultimately for you, Why ask a survivor to stay in friendship with you if they are done with psychopathy and this means you too? Don’t take it personally.
Now, about the book writing. This is very easy to do these days. You can self publish on Amazon. Or you can submit manuscripts to publishing companies, but it’s less likely that yours would be chosen to publish. So here’s the reality about writing a book:
There are millions of books out there of varying subjects, authors, etc. There are thousands more about psychopathy, sociopathy and narcissism. There are thousands of books out there in the self help, relationship field. THOUSANDS. The chances of ‘your’ book being different than someone else’s who has had the same experience is pretty slim. The experiences are different, the characters are different, for obvious reasons, but the players (with some variations in roles), the relationship itself and the outcome are all the same. They are predictable. The only difference in the thousands of books written, are the perspectives of those writing them. Some are clinical in nature, others are based upon experience, some are motivational, and yet others are about PTSD and trauma as outcome to the relationships.
I have a friend named “Peace” who self published his own book and he is the owner of the PsychopathFree forum. I love him dearly and we met online. I was humbled to be an occasional support to him during his traumatic experience. He has blossomed and grown a lot over the last couple of years. His book is on my blog via a link to Amazon.
One day, after it was published, I read through the reviews about the book. Some of them were pretty shocking with regards to criticism and one of them was so nasty I found myself responding to it in defense of Peace and his work. But I learned some lessons in having read the book, as well as reading the reviews: when you self publish, you do not have the benefit of an editor. When you self publish and you are not very clear about the fact that you are simply a survivor sharing a story and not speaking from a place of authority in any way, you can’t be criticized for coming off like you’re speaking in clinical, emphatic terms, rather than from experience. I think there was not enough emphasis in Peace’s book about this and it opened him up to ruthless criticism that was not deserved. It’s obvious that it wasn’t a clinical perspective and only one shared from experience. Emphasizing your survivor status sharing an experience is very important. Not just as a way to avoid criticism, because you won’t, but also for other survivors who will read your work. It’s important to have very solid boundaries, even in writing our experiences, so that survivors are not led to believe that our experience or our work is somehow coming from a place of ‘authority’ or from a professional perspective.
When you publish, people are not going to like it. They will rip apart your writing, your grammatical errors, focus on the things you say about the psychopath and call it inaccurate in descriptive terms. They will tell you that it wasn’t worth the money they blew on it. They will compare it to other survivors stories and claim they learned nothing new or that they learned more from a clinical perspective than they did your work.
Again, it takes a cast iron gut to read all of that criticism. When we are writing and are proud of our work, believing it has something to offer the world and that it’s ‘great’ somehow (watch ego), and we publish it, oh boy….unless you have NO expectations about what you’re sharing, that your experience is not much different from others, that you are not a professional writer, nor a clinician, that what you’re writing about is cathartic for you, meant for you and as part of your recovery and if a few survivors read it, and are helped that’s enough. No one is going to make ‘bank’ off a book that thousands of others are working on. No one is going to be called by “Oprah” for an interview. And in light of that, my perspective is that there is a very big universe, full of experiences to be shared and that there is enough room for one and all, because what one survivor may not connect too, they may make a connection to you and your experience and that is important. If you have no expectations, if you aren’t dreaming about the next flight to Chicago for the Oprah interview or that you’ll be buying a big house with a nice car in the drive way…then you’re going to be fine.
I’m working on my own book right now. As one survivor to another who is thinking about or is embarking on this endeavor, for me it is a labor of love. It is a book of meaning for me. It has been very emotional to write. It has been very healing. It has taught me so much about myself, areas where I need work, as well as how far I have come in the process. I have compiled over two years worth of work, from both my pages and my blog, as well as expounding on all of it. The gift is in the process of writing it. It is so interesting to see where I was when I started this journey and where I am now. I have had to really look at myself, my motives for writing it, my own ego, my low level skills as a writer, with more of a message to deliver than grammatical correctness.
I have been back and forth about it for over a year now. The idea floating around in my head, but frozen when applying finger to type in writing it out. I needed to examine my hesitation in writing it. I don’t have the ego to do it. To promote it. To write without flogging myself for the message or for my punctuation and grammar. I don’t see that I have anything ‘special’ to offer because I read so many books that are so damned good in this field, whether they are clinical in perspective or survivor stories glorified into novels (Claudia Moscovici is a close friend of mine and wrote the “The Seducer” a novel about psychopathic seduction, as well as “Dangerous Liaisons” about psychopaths), by author friends that are well read and well written. They are of the ‘professional’ breed and I compare myself a lot to them and frankly, I can’t hold a candle next to their work that I so admire and respect. I see myself as a survivor, a granddaughter, daughter, ex wife, ex mistress and mother to psychopaths, on a shared healing journey, nothing more. There are many out there like me. I’m a small fish in a huge universal pond of very gifted and talented writers. I guess I’m in awe of them and their gifts, and I do not see myself as having anything like that to be considered ‘gifted’.
Ironically, deciding to write it was a push from other survivors and friends who believe in my work and/or have benefited from having read it and applying it to their own experiences. I have heard, countless times, “You should write a book!”
Doesn’t every survivor who writes and where it resonates, hear that? It’s not ‘different’ in that way. So as I’ve been writing, I see that my expectations are nothing. I see my place in the world, not as nothing, but as another survivor supporting other survivors and there are lots of us out there. I see that I can educate and share with my writing, but I don’t come from a clinical perspective, only many experiences and roles played to psychopaths. I see that I have a life outside of pathology and outside of writing that matters more to me in recovery with peace and living life very simply, trying to decide what I want to do with my life now and what I can do with the limitations that I have.
I’m also aware that some folks who do not like me or my work are chomping at the bit, waiting for this book to rip to shreds. Ironically, this is a good thing, because I’m working through that, plugging away and ahead and not giving a rip what they think. It will be published and then it will pass. Just like their books and just like every other book that is published. . .unless of course, you’re a J.K Rowling or a Stephen King!
So, having said that, I hope this gives you some idea as to what it is to write a book and what you can expect. I hope this gives you an idea, as a supporter, how to go about it in a way that’s safe for you and others, and be able to help at the same time.
And if you’re writing that book, good for you! I encourage this if it’s what you want. Just be realistic about it. At the same time, I really do believe that we all have something worth sharing. Just make sure that you keep ego in check and understand that you are just one of many who are wanting to do the same. And hopefully, you’ll be able to reach a few survivors that need to read your experience, contributing in small ways, to their recovery and connecting you to the greater universe. Now that is meaningful!
Onward and upward.