Back Home With Insights and Introspection


Finally, I can write a blog! I don't feel like collapsing into a heap of exhaustion after a day of traveling, and I am able to make thoughts coherent enough for a blog post. Because there is SO MUCH I want to talk about; I want to space them out into separate topics rather than throw them all into one jumbled 3,000 word mess. 

This last week has been monumental for me, because there has been a lot of reflection and understanding about my life as it was, my life as it is right now, and my life how it's going to be in the future. I think the universe did her job with the external help I reached out for in the way of therapy and medication, then proceeded to give me revelation after revelation as my mind quieted enough to absorb information in a much more intimate way. 

First, I guess, let's talk about the medication. The Vybriid has been a huge change. I don't feel revved up and happy, I feel more present in the moment, and my panic/anxiety are well under control, and trust me, I've been tested these last couple of weeks. It has made me more of a participant in my life rather than simply reacting to events. I've completed a full 2 week cycle, and really the only complaint I have, is that if I eat anything fatty or rich, it goes right through me. Other than that, I feel very grounded, self assured, and content. Instead of freaking out about 'what if?' I am able to go step by step through things in a pretty levelheaded way. 

Over the last weekend, someone forwarded me this article. It resonated with me so much, I wound up reading everything the author of the article has written. Though it's not rocket science, and seems like common sense to most, the mindfuck of narcissistic abuse causes that panic and paralysis I experience, and I saw it finally articulated. Suddenly, I felt the weight of that fear of success I've carried around with me my whole life lift. 

"They use your strengths that threaten them against you, and turn them into weaknesses." 

That sentence made me level up. Yes. My self-discipline and work ethic was a huge trigger for my mother. My ability to be resourceful on my own was, and still is, an enormous trigger for my ex-husband. Both are over the top histrionic and emotional, and my ability to compartmentalize and focus unnerved them, so they'd throw it in my face that I was a calculating sociopath or something. 

No, I'm strong. I'm a hard worker. I believe in myself. Every success I have had was born from a menial start. When I moved to Atlanta, no job was beneath me. Most of the time I've been here, I've had 2-3 jobs at a time. I still have two jobs. I have no idea where it is I want to end up, I've never actually known that, but I know this hunger for success, not success I mean independent security; has been a fire in my belly since I was 11 years old. If you listened to my Second Skate podcast, I get into pretty raw detail about what happened when I was 11, and it was from that moment on this voice inside me, "I am not who you say I am," became my mantra, and it is why no one can break me. 

The narcissists are broken and want the world/people/circumstances around them to fix it instead of owning their lot in life and doing something about it. 

THAT realization after all of the reading I did finally gave my undercurrent of constant anger a definition and why I get so pissed off at people. 

I am not who you say I am. I know I deserve better, even if I have no idea what better even is yet, I have always known I deserve better and have been willing to bust my ass to get there. 

This is pretty nuanced, but I can share a simple example. When the move to Atlanta happened, I was extremely angry and resentful for a VERY long time. Again, I'm going to oversimplify it, but it was basically preached to me: get an easy job, find yourself a man with money, and come party with us. Oh, and change everything about yourself to achieve this. Be more FUN! Wear sexy clothes! Drink more!

So I did, and had three SUPER SHITTY relationships, gained a shitload of weight, hated my life, and got severely depressed, because I felt like there was something wrong with me. It wasn't until that Christmas I got the tough talk from OG about how I need to be the captain of MY life, and within the year, those people were kept firmly at arm's length, NOT because they're bad people, they're wonderful people, but because it wasn't me

In the moment, I was a pissed off rageaholic about it, not because of anything they said or did, they were being the best friends they knew how to be, but it was my own internal struggle of knowing who the hell I am and what I want out of life. These were lessons I needed to learn, I guess, and I don't have the anger for it anymore I once had, but reading that article and knowing that the battle was that inner voice saying, "I am not who you say I am or need to be," finally gave me a place to park all of those intense feelings. 

My trigger, as it turns out, is feeling like I am being set up to fail to make others feel better about themselves. Hello, anger. You now have an origin, and I understand you. 

With that processing and getting a grip on it, I began to process my family, childhood, my own children, and the future. As you guys may know, the reality I live with my children right now is almost an exact replication of my own childhood. My father was demonized, bullied, and erased to the point he took a huge step back from our lives, because he thought it was the most humane thing to do. The truth would come out in the wash, and he was right, it did. Unfortunately, it had already broken his heart at that point, and he'd done everything he could to numb that noise in his head and the pain in his heart. 

His mother was a malignant narcissist, no naturally he sought one out in his adult life to fix it. It's what we do. He was also trapped in an identity that wasn't him, because the people around him couldn't accept that he was fine as a starving musician. He wanted to create his art, his way. He didn't want the house and the picket fence. He wanted to be a gypsy. I remember clear as day one of the most violent fights my parents ever had was over my Dad going to Nashville to make it big. He had an offer on the table. All he had to do was sign. 

He said no, and we moved to L.A. instead; and shame followed. I don't think people understand what a malignancy shame is. Especially when it's been used as currency your entire life. 

My uncle, his brother, the obvious 'Golden Child' of the family had it all. College degree, great athlete, important title, nice house, car, gorgeous girlfriend, the praise of his entire family... 

While he seemed to thrive under his narcissists mother's thumb, he felt like he let the world down when his 'perfect' relationship ended and he drank himself to death at the age of 39. 

My father followed him almost 20 years to the day later. 

You can die of shame and a broken heart. 

Processing all of that at this level is mind blowing, because I'm almost 39, was raised by a narc, married one, and have virtually had my children stolen from me. I have stepped back. I want their stability and their happiness before wanting to 'win' anything. I don't care about winning. I care about them

But then I remember... I was there. My dad would send care packages, my grandmother would send stationery so we could write and keep in touch. We were also sent thank you cards for the care packages. We never saw them. My mother locked them in my step-father's office. We were only allowed to speak to my father on speakerphone with them watching because he was 'bad'. 

I knew it wasn't true. My kids know I do my best, love them, and they know their father. They do what I did. Go along to survive. I remember clear as day my grandmother reaming my ass when I was 15, that I was ungrateful, selfish, and it was CRUEL to not write letters or send thank you cards for my care packages. 

I didn't say a word about them getting locked up. I just froze and let her chew me out. 

I've been thinking about this and processing what this is doing to my kids as people. This time around will be different. I am more ruthless and methodical than my father (thanks, mom) so I will use it to my advantage. My ability to compartmentalize is a huge asset right now. It's a marathon, not a sprint. 

Yesterday, I reached out to my ex-husband to let him know I was coming into town to visit the kids, please have them at X location at X time. 

He refused, informing me I would not be seeing them. 

Now, he does this ALL the time. Usually, I just show up at his house, knock on the door, and the kids come with me. He wants validation of his existence and power over me with a confrontation. It gives his adrenals a fix. HE'S IN CONTROL AND SO IMPORTANT OMG. 

Except he's not. I'll save the $1,000 a weekend in Chicago costs me and rest. It used to be very important for me to make the gesture of physically showing up so the kids SEE me keeping my word. But I can be honest, and say that maybe it was more about me showing him I will not be intimidated. 

I don't have that need anymore. It's documented, he has an illegal gun in the kitchen, better to sit this one out rather than get my head blown off in front of my children because I'm threatening his ego somehow. The emails have a timbre to them of a cornered animal. It's getting harder and harder to say, "She's the problem!" when I keep surpassing him in every way, shape, and form. Scared dogs bark. So I'll stay home and go up at the end of the month with a car load of stuff to put in storage; beginning the move back. The kids will get their weekly allowance and care packages, and they know where things stand. They're smart. 

So this is what I do during those endless miles on the road. I think, I process, and I try to put these fragmented puzzle pieces together so I can realize where it all comes from, then do something about fixing it. This week on the road was exhausting, but it gave me a greater inner peace and strength that I'm on the right path, history won't repeat itself, and I am doing just fine being who I really am. 

Jennifer Gulbrandsen