BodyImage

Fat. Chance.

Most women at some point in their lives have struggled with their weight. And if you’re over 30 and have and access to social media, magazines, television, movie theaters and/or advertising (plugging anything from sports cars to carrot juice) you’re probably not down with  fat.

It’s an ugly word. It says so much in the space of three letters. If you’ve ever been called the F word, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Lazy, slob, gross, ugly, unfuck-able; these are all judgmental derivatives of the word fat.

Even if we’ve never been considered remotely fat by our friends and family, chances are we’ve obsessed over the numbers on our scale at some point between learning to shave our legs and perfecting liquid eye-liner.

I was a stripper addicted to cocaine for the better part of a decade . THIS PHOTO of me (my own words in bold) was taped to my refrigerator for YEARS.

KikiBikiniBodyDys_Page_1

 

I want to wrap my arms around her and do everything I can to make her see what I refused to believe because of my inner-bully telling me I wasn’t enough.

Enough for what? More tips on stage? More validation I was attractive? The beautiful, curvy size-12 woman I am today looks at this photo and wants to simultaneously laugh and cry.

I’m not posting this to brag about being a stripper, or show off the bikini bod I wish I still had (and never appreciated). I’m posting this photo as a reminder for us all – including the media – to help young women see the beauty in their bodies, no matter what size.

Think about it. What chance do young women have if our standards are navigated by the skewed perception that skinny equals enough?

To be fair, I was a chubby high-schooler and my stripper period took place during the waif era.  Still, I can’t help but wonder – what was I thinking (more on this later)?

Thoughts?

fear

Sine Metu (Without Fear)

FEAR

 

Your fear is 100% dependent on you for its survival.”  ~ Steve Maraboli

If we placed our fears in a petri dish and the universe asked what it needed in order to survive, we all know the short and long of it – it’s us. We’ve seen the Pinterest boards and Facebook quotes. We get it. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself, and we must do the things we think we cannot do. If only our understanding of fear somehow brought feeling back to the paralyzed consciousness it creates.

Just because we get why we’re afraid, doesn’t make our feelings less so. A child’s fear of monsters under the bed won’t lose validity when the lights turn on. They’re relieved when discovering the monsters don’t exist, but their fear was always real.

As we get older, the monsters morph into tangible worries like having enough money, making life changing decisions and to top off the insomnia trifecta, being in good mental and physical health.

Although fear is universal, our own struggles narrow the scope and they become much more crystallized within the walls of our story. Each of us has our path, and it’s always walked alone. Our compass is built from life experience, the realization of who we are (which only comes from letting go of who we pretend to be), and the choices we make based on how we handle fear.

Fear is fucked. No one really talks about it, because the more we talk about it, the more it exists. Also, with fear lives vulnerability. It’s a he-said-she-said trap of “I know you are, but what am I”; fear points the finger at vulnerability, while vulnerability blames its very existence on fear. It’s six of one, half-dozen of shit, making us feel weak and alone. So we bury them both, deep inside Continue reading

KikiBlogAneurysm

Shit just got real: my brain aneurysm

It’s been weeks since the docs told me about my little bubble brain. They didn’t use those exact words, but I prefer a sugary colloquialism over the actual medical diagnosis: “Intracranial Aneurysm.”

What started out as a personal quest to get to the bottom of my twelve-day migraine (landing me in the ER twice) ended up being the very beginning of a new adventure: discovering, learning about and living with this ticking time bomb.

brain%20aneurysmTruth? I thought a brain aneurysm was a stroke. But after a crash course with a couple of top-notch neurosurgeons, I now know better. I learned that an aneurysm of the brain is a weakened area of a blood vessel. If it ruptures, this causes bleeding in the brain – which is called hemorrhagic stroke. Roughly fifty percent of people will die immediately, the other half, brain-damaged.

If. Rupture. Stroke. And, scene.

If. Those two letters joined at the hip have been a storm cloud hovering above me since my diagnosis. It’s one of those words that, when on automatic replay is guaranteed to heighten anxiety, perpetuate insomnia and toss you around in a cyclone of worry and fear.

Everybody has their Ifs. If they finished college, saved more money, accepted a job offer, stayed Continue reading

Familiar

LoveLockThere is a special bridge in central Paris, the Pont des Arts. It’s a pedestrian bridge crossing the River Seine, linking the Institut de France and the central square (cour carrée) of the Palais du Louvre.

What makes this bridge so special are the countless padlocks, inscribed with initials and messages of couples in love, attached to its structure.

A clunky, dirty, heavy blanket of undeniable, unbreakable love.

Built in 1804, this nine-arch metallic love shack is a place couples visit from across the globe. After securing their customized lock, they toss its key into the Seine [river] below – a sign that their devotion is eternal, never to be undone.

I’d love to return to Paris one day and walk the Pont des Arts – if only to breathe in the stories. Each piece of metal, many rusted and eroded through time, so singular in their tale, yet Continue reading

Your Crazy is Showing

Narcissist self portraitSo here’s the thing, I’m crazy. Not in a Have the Lambs Stopped Crying, Clarice? crazy. But enough to warrant psychotherapy and be excused from the occasional jury duty order (my bright idea that, no doubt will kick my kharma down the road, I’m sure).

So how crazy is my Crazy?

Being an adult entertainer in my former life twenty years ago, grabbing my ankles on stage was just another day ending in “y.” You’d think unveiling my official medical diagnosis to the World Wide Web would be cake.

You’d think.

Pumping the breaks on conclusions jumping off the screen, I’ll say this: I’m happy to report this post isn’t coming from a locked down facility with padded walls. But the mere fact this scene was a vacation fantasy from my life during some of my worst depression days? There’s the rub.

One of my favorite writing tasks was to sum up my memoir in six words, thanks to friend, Larry Smith and his brilliant Six Word Memoir empire. My post was well received and actually ended up being a feature on his website. Check it:

Ex-stripper turned writer. More exposed now.

So although my comfort in performing in the buff six days a week was in check, I can’t say the same for sharing too many personal details of my mental illness. Let’s just say I have issues (mainly PTSD from childhood and trust issues with men – go figure). I’m sure your working on Continue reading

bedifferent

A lesson in Weird

Years ago in the mid-nineties when my niece was around seven years old, we passed a book store during one of our special one-on-one days. I loved hanging out with Sydney (still do) – especially since my sister and I couldn’t be more different.

My older sister Laurie is the left brain, practical, problem-solving thinker. Me? I marinate in my right-brain-ness; satiating on the creative, fanatical, finger-painted wonder that is my messy life. You want neat, tidy, brilliant, finance-managing and scary-smart logic? Laurie is your gal (I’m in awe of her brain, actually). I’ll be in the music aisle dancing to Earth Wind and Fire, swinging my unkept auburn locks while my overly-priced-candle burns away – wondering where all my money went.

When it comes to the thinkers and feelers of the world, no one is any better or worse than the other – we’re all just wired differently. It’s actually pretty great, once we get past our “my way or the highway” vibe.

Two polar opposite sisters in a dysfunctional family always makes for some interesting dinner table talks; and proved surprisingly educational when it was just my sister’s daughter and me on this particular day.

“Eeew, she’s so weird.” Sydney was referring to a magazine cover photo of Gwen Stefani in the Continue reading

ClarityBlog

Unfolding as it should be

 *Photo credit: Mark W Stromberg

The Universe is a trip. Whether you believe in God, Allah, Buddha, Elohim, Jehovah, Shàngdì, or Bahá’u’lláh, the raw truth of life is that most of its bullshit is out of our hands. Our hearts wrapped in passion and circumstance, we grip tightly to what we know is slipping away.

Take our own bodies, for instance. After we reach a certain age, our miraculous flesh-vessel we’ve abused so thoughtlessly in our 20s starts to break down. In what seems like almost overnight, we’re worrying about cholesterol numbers and heart rates. Of course, we’re not totally helpless to father time – we can choose lettuce over Lays chips and water over Pepsi. We do have control over how much we exercise and handle our stress. It just takes a little more effort the longer we’re walking this earth. Good times.

Outside of the inevitable aging process, there are other things we find hard to accept. Maybe you didn’t land the job that was perfect for you, or your dream home is out of reach. Disappointment is part of the ebb and flow in each of our lives – and the way we handle it is crucial to our mental health. But, it’s easier to say “go with the flow” than actualy practice such a groovy mantra in our every day lives (can I get an Amen?).

Being turned down from a great job or realizing you can’t afford your dream castle is one thing – but how about when your anguish is born from personal rejection of YOU? How do we recover from the “it’s not me, it’s you?” love scenario?

Here’s where things get tricky. When it comes to our love interests not picking up what we’re putting down, we’re basically on our own – everything relies on us – how we feel about ourselves. Our friends remind us how fabulous we are – how it’s their loss!, that everything happens for a reason! and, you are the total package! (we love them dearly and please don’t stop gushing, but pass me the barf bag while you’re at it). Jokes aside, the bottom line is that unless we truly believe their love drops of confetti, those priceless affirmations are simply clogging up deaf ears.

So how do we arrive at the Self Worth Station without derailing our effervescent Love Train? For one thing, we can stop buying the lie that only the beautiful people are immune to heartache; that if we were fill in the blank enough, we would find love. Don’t believe me? I’ll see your Jennifer Anniston and Raise you a Halle Berry.

When you realize that no one is immune to heartache, the real work begins. Accepting the reality that, as phenomenal as we are, there’s someone out there who we want that doesn’t want us (or we want who we think they are, but that’s another post entirely).

Acceptance can be brutal. So much so, that we try to navigate around it completely. We attempt to drink, drug, fuck, shop, eat, or gamble our way out of it. The problem is, we’ll never get to Oz without that goddammed road, and each brick is built with acceptance, self-worth, forgiveness and self-love.

It’s a real pain in the ass to remind ourselves how amazing we are. And a tragedy for those who never truly believe it. For some of us, self-worth is a sultry mistress cloaked in years of mental abuse of you aren’t enough. The road to finding our Awesome is long – and not without lessons in love along the way.

There’s no way around feeling the sting of disappointment – and heartache is just part of life. But there is a way to lighten the load of our suffering by grounding oursleves in some basic truths: we ARE amazing, everything DOES happen for a reason, and this TOO shall pass.

Not buying it? How about reading this poem from 1927:

“Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let not this blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should be.

Therefore, be at peace with The Universe whatever you conceive it to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams; it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.” – Desiderata of Happiness by Max Ehrmann

Unfolding as it should be.

So, let your tears build a river of acceptance. Submerge yourself in sorrow and disappointment – then take a breath – and another – and just let it be.

 

 

LookingBack

The Blind Leading the Mind

For a minute there, I lost myself.  – Karma Police (Radiohead)

As kids, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of learning your enough. Tall enough? Bring on the rollercoasters. Smart enough? I’ll take that pop-quiz. Old enough? I’ll be home before dark. Responsible enough? Thanks for the ten spot, I’ll fill the tank (I’m dating myself here).

For those of us who grew up in Dysfunction Junction (abusive, alcoholic or addict households), it’s easy to argue that while we may have physically grown into our adult bodies, our minds are another story. On any given day, we’re pretty much hovering aimlessly between recess and study hall. And if you’re an addict – I’m positive when you’re in party-mode, you’re probably in need of some daycare. Or maybe that’s just me.

Damaged

In trying to explain my world to a friend recently, it went something like this:

“It’s like my brain is being held hostage by my mind. I know what I’m doing is fucked up, crazy and beyond forgivable, but I do it anyway”

I don’t think she got it.

It’s easy to call bullshit when it comes to anyone but us. There aren’t any cobwebs of denial obstructing our view of the tangled webs anyone else weaves. It’s a totally different world when forced to turn the spotlight on our own fuck ups as a result of our choices and actions.

There’s nothing like heavy fallout to pull our heads out of our ass. We lose jobs, get into legal trouble, even lose friends who – let face it – may be as fucked up as we are, they don’t need added drama.

Everyone is in recovery from something. The hard part is remembering that no matter how much we think someone may have their shit together, that we’re all just fragile human beings floating in a sea of struggle. No one is immune to the landmines life throws our way. We just have different ideas and methods in terms of how we handle our collateral damage.

Forgiveness is powerful. Support and understanding are essential. Getting out of bed, taking a breath with the thought that each day is a new opportunity to get it right, with the support of loved ones you’ve wronged? Well that’s just everything.

 

FaceInMud

You’re not a Pussy

I was seventeen. He was 27. A one-night-stand-turned-partner in bed, turned roommate “boyfriend”. A coke dealer who spoke with his cock and screamed with his fists.

Three years and nine months we lived together. We fucked and fought like animals, but walking hand-in-hand remained elusive.

“I’ll never walk with you because of your skin.”

The attention is better than none at all. With him, I feel alive.

I knew no other way.

It was my first day at the ad agency and the drive to a client meeting was long. My boss behind the wheel was cocky, convinced he was just being funny. Conversations of where’d you grow up? quickly morphed to, so…you boning anyone?

“I’m so glad I’m a good lover.” He boasted while turning into the parking lot.

This is a good job. Don’t say anything. Be flattered he feels comfortable enough with you to go there.

I knew no other way.

We’ve been dating for months. He left his phone unattended during one of our overnight sleep-overs. Temptation sold out to my worst fears realized – I painfully asked the question, taking a peek at his phone. So many sext messages. My stomach flipped and I was sick.

We never did say we were exclusive. Some of his time is better than none. We have such amazing chemistry.

I knew no other way.

There’s a time to shrug your shoulders at the world and give in to the daily shit of life. Someone cutting you off on the freeway? Go ahead, buddy. You’re not worth the stress.

When your self-worth is tested, especially when at a low – this is where you need to remember that YES, you may have known no other way – but that was yesterday. Today, you’re focusing on strength – finding your voice.

What is it that you WANT? If you find yourself in the throes of life not surrounding yourself with people, opportunities and challenges that don’t serve your happiness – ask yourself why.

The cinderblocks of I’m not good enough may fall deep inside your soul – but YOU have the power to stop pouring the cement. Time to stop believing that crumbs are the same as a seat at the table.

There IS another way. You’re NOT a pussy. You’re a fucking LION who’s learning.

Conquer your kingdom (you’re worth it).

“When You Hold Onto Your History, You Do It At The Expense Of Your Destiny.” – BT.D. Jakes

 

LouieBlog

The Incomparable Dr. Bigelow

Perspective is delicious. Comparison is dangerous. When you combine the two, sometimes you’ll find yourself in the middle of a Sports Guy Chest Bump with the type of nirvana only a three-legged dog and Charles Grodin can serve – Louis CK being the master chef of such delectable comedy cuisine.

It’s an acquired taste. You either satiate on the comedic texture of humanity and all her fucked up idiosyncrasies, or you don’t. For those who do, we find ourselves licking the fingertips of the rolling credits counting the days until we get another taste.

If you’re one of the millions of viewers who tuned in to the latest episode (six, season four) of Louie (Monday nights on FX), you’re picking up what Louis CK so sharply laid down.

Booya. It’s so obvious. Your life really doesn’t suck. Well, not as much as those guys. And you don’t hear them complaining, do you? Besides, as Grodin’s hilariously played apathetic Dr. Bigelow explains to a lost-boy-seaking-advice-Louie – nobody really Continue reading

Pensive

When a text becomes a blog

When it comes to texting, concise is always better. But when you’re a writer – well – sometimes editing isn’t our bag.

In texting with a friend whose turning 45 soon, I sensed he wasn’t really present (a good barometer of how tight you are is when you can peg their vibe in a word).

Sure, it’s easy to be off a little when trying to decode those annoying short text replies – and forget about trying to hear inflection. What’s sarcasm to one person, may be totally misinterpreted by the other and the next thing you know, you’re in the midst of a totally unwarranted bitchfest.

With close friends though, it’s easier to read between the texts. The subtext of their replies is rife with emotion – and we either press for answers (“what’s up?” “are you okay?”) or we let it go, giving them space to breathe.

I knew my fellow partner-in-crime was reflecting a bit especially since his birthday is looming. So when he confirmed , “I’m just in my head”, I was in no way gonna pry.

Still, the writer in me wouldn’t dare miss up on an opportunity to share my thoughts.

And just like that. A blog is born.

I realized after reading my marathon text, that I could really say this to every one of my loved ones – including myself.

Wanna read it? I was hoping you would.

“There’s a comfort of knowing we aren’t alone. Even when we wanna be left alone.

People pop up in our lives at what seems to be the worst (or some would argue perfect) timing. We take mental inventory. Ask hard questions we have no desire to know the answers to right now. We wonder if things will ever be different – will we always be fucked up with certain things or people?

Will we ever get a break?

Our own worst saboteur is ourself. We know this. We are frustrated by this and morph our stress into anger and sorrow.

But remember all of it is normal, expected shit when it comes to our mental evolution.

I don’t believe broken hearts are meant to heal completely. We just learn to live with and allow our strength to draw from its survival.

Our stories shape us. And I don’t know about you, but I believe the most amazing, inspiring and lovely people are walking around with their own fucked up stories. Their tattered hearts are the most beautiful because they embody what’s real and raw. They beat with more passion and endurance.

Keep honoring your heart.”

Quite possibly the longest text I’ve ever written.

Happy birthday, friend. You’ll always be so cool.

91377_1227039420090_460_194-1

St. Elmos Crier

I just finished watching St. Elmo’s Fire. It’s been twenty years since I saw it last and boy, what a difference the decades make.

I always loved this movie because I was attracted to the tightness of the friendships. I also identified to Demi Moore’s character “Jewels”.  Back then, I thought she was the fun one. Tonight, I saw her as much more than the party gal. I saw myself in exactly the same way. It hit me by surprise and delivered much introspection.

All the signs of addiction, depression and mental instability were wrapped up in Moore’s husky voice, fire engine red hair and black lace tights. I loved the Billy Idol mural in her apartment and those hot pink walls were awesome. I started to cry a little during the scene where she locked herself in the apartment and sat on the ground shivering. I’ve totally done that.

It’s amazing how some old movie from your 20’s can make you appreciate how far you’ve come in your 40’s. Some movies just stick.

So tell me, what movie from your childhood (or 20’s) sticks with you?

KikiBeachStretch

Soon

When your lashes unlace to greet the light. Your body uncoils, unwrapping your flesh from her thread-count comfort. You discover reassurance. It’s close to normal, this sacred breadth you’ve reclaimed as your own. You stretch, allowing your lungs to expand and release within the space of familiar. What’s old is slowly new again.

You are singular but not small.

When brushing past a stranger in a crowded room, their fragrance leaves a familiar trace – something happens. You inhale detailed Technicolor memories – setting the dragon free from slaughter. There’s no use in sleighing the visions of who you were with them. You unleash the reality, welcoming their face, their hands on your body, their taste on your tongue. Falling among the trace of tears that struggle to emerge are fragments of your smile.

You are longing, but embrace living.

When driving home isn’t met with worry. Anxiety falls into the lap of acceptance. There is no one on the other side of the door. Your phone is silent. You curl up to the empty space, making peace with alone.

And a song is just a song.

Soon.

Soon you will find the familiar reflection. Your smile, unorchestrated without agenda. Free-falling within the space of your heart, you find yourself. Your laugh laces her fingers with acceptance and time.

When you slip under the covers. Your eyes slowly drift. Your thoughts aren’t far behind. They whisper. Soon. Soon. Soon.

Forgiveyourself

Forgive WHO?

We’ve all been there. Turned into that person we don’t recognize. Our brains hold our happiness hostage, giving pain where pain doesn’t need to exist. We unknowingly sabotage our hearts because our perception of reality is altered thanks to a heavy dose of What We Wish To Be The Case.

Perception is horrifying when the lens we choose to view from isn’t based in what’s real. The trick is knowing that we are choosing to stay in the clouds.

Red flags are not welcome signs waving from across the field. We aren’t bulls who need to charge at the first sign of danger. Seriously. Danger doesn’t equal excitement. Healthy doesn’t need to be boring (is this just a drug addict thing?).

I can’t speak for any other PTSD-Drug Addict-Sex Abuse Survivor-Ex-Stripper, but for me – the lessons in reality come at a lofty price.

Between planning a huge life-changing move, my story-telling series, and licking wounds from a recent breakup (talk about being in denial), it’s all I can do to keep it together.

So how do we get real with ourselves without beating our hearts up in the process? For starters, we need to forgive. Not the ones who’ve hurt us – but ourselves.

We can point the finger all we want, but let’s face it – at some point, when it comes to living through pain based on patterns we keep repeating – we need to look at our own choices. Once we realize we have more power over our happiness than we realize, the best thing to do is wrap our hearts around our loving souls and forgive us.

There are so many things I’m not proud of about myself. So many actions I’d love to take back. Tomorrow is another day. Another chance to get it right. New beginnings that shed old patterns. How lovely it would be to have a clean slate with the one person who matters the most, who we are always the hardest on – us.

So tell me – What do you forgive yourself for?

 

nb

A Narcissist’s Harem: Are you in one?

* After reading these two brilliant pieces: Narcissistic Harem’s In A Nutshell – Why it’s time to stop envying the ex and various hanger-on’s ; The Narcissist and His Harem: Why You Should Decline Membership - I picked my jaw from the floor and felt compelled to share:

 * * *

Let me start by saying that although my tag line states that I’m in recovery from narcissism, the term is a very tongue-in-cheek way of saying I’m a recovering addict.

Addicts are narcissists in our own delightful way – in that when we’re using – it’s all about us. Hopefully, after we pull our heads out of our ass, this darling trait dissipates and a much more level-headed, compassionate and thoughtful person emerges.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, the purpose of this post isn’t to gab about my addiction or recovery from drugs. I’d like to shed some light on something I’ve been working through after a recent personal heart-wrenching experience I really brought on myself. Again. Familiar heartache induced by my own denial that somehow, if I were enough – my prince charming would change.

As I alluded to in yesterday’s post, thoughts of:  I’m old enough to know better! creep in whenever  I trip myself up, having not learned the valuable lessons the universe keeps trying to teach me. I can’t seem to get a clue. Or worse, I know exactly what I’m getting into (when I relapse, date an emotionally unavailable man…), but my “fuck it” switch is on – and I don’t care how much pain I’m serving myself on the back end.

You don’t need to be an addict to date the wrong person. And by wrong – I mean to say – a person who is not in a place to open their hearts to you because they have work to do on themselves. We’ve all been there. Maybe the chemistry is too strong, they’re so much fun, or they live right up the street and it’s too convenient NOT to date them. Whatever the reason, we dive head first.

Fast forward to the moment we realize – somewhere between the snorting laughter and multiple orgasms, we’ve slipped. Our world is smaller. We become obsessed. Every thought, action and daydream is about how we can serve our love. Our friends tread lightly, showing us the obvious red flags, but they know we’re in too deep.

MSBWNot every person we’ve dated who was clearly wrong for us is a narcissist, but check out these basic characteristics and see if any ring true:

1. Extremely confident.
2. Charming beyond compare.
3. Has many friends of the same sex (a “harem”) – most, if not all are previous lovers.
4. Requires excessive admiration [regularly fishes for compliments, and is highly susceptible to flattery].
5. Plays on sympathy.
6. Is the life of the party. Always “on” – a “people person.”

This list sums up just about every man I’ve ever been involved with.

There’s a catch-22 with dating a narcissist – or even someone who isn’t diagnosed, but just has some narcissistic traits – they’re so much fun and charismatic, it’s hard to see underneath it all – that they are manipulating our hearts to serve their hungry ego.

To be fair – the last man I dated isn’t a monster. Far from it actually. If anything, we’re so much alike in terms of our personal history and struggles. He used to tell me I was the female version of him and I beamed with pride. The issue isn’t how much of an asshole a narcissist is (my guy was actually quite dear), it’s that they don’t realize what pain their behaviour causes because they are so wrapped up in their own turmoil.

These people aren’t evil. Like every human being, they have a story. They didn’t wake up one day and decide to manipulate, lie to and cheat on the people they are closest to. They’re protecting themselves against what they fear the most – intimacy, abandonment, heartache. Reasons aren’t excuses, though – so even when knowing our partner doesn’t mean to – it doesn’t make our staying with them (and putting up with disrespect) okay. At some point, we need to take personal responsibility.

I remember early in our relationship, I was invited to meet he and his friends for drinks. When I arrived, I met them – all female – and already knew he had a sexual history (and current status) with at least one of them. I held my cool, and at the end of the night as he walked me to my car, I hugged him and told him I wasn’t going to be part of his harem.

On the drive home, I felt proud. I finally held my ground and stood up for myself with a man I was dating.

Three days later he was in my bed.

As much as I knew deep down he wasn’t available for anything serious, I listened to his confessions of love and adoration over and over again, trying to ignore the constant texts from numerous women at all hours. I knew he was still meeting women via on-line dating sites, sleeping with others. I still stayed.

So why, after knowing all of this did I fall from my self-esteem soap box? It’s easy, when you’re co-dependent and struggle with feeling ‘not enough’. We think “If I’m pretty, skinny, sexy, funny, smart enough – more than any of the others – he will pick me.”

cbAfter a few months, my insides began to turn. I finally realized I was manipulating myself as much as anyone.

After meeting a lovely women he invited to join us for drinks, I got the wake up call I needed. When he left for the mens room, his new lady friend asked if he and I were dating and she was floored to learn we were still lovers. She shared with me how he was texting her daily and flirting with her – and that she was thinking they were on the threshold of dating. She was me, six months ago.

It’s been a few weeks since having any contact with my ex. I don’t harbor any resentment or blame with him, and I hope we can circle back and reconnect one day. I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t miss him – but what I don’t miss is the feeling of being in a competition with his other harem members. I don’t miss the needy, insecure person I was turning into, who I’ve fought so hard – for so many years to change.

For some, standing up for ourselves and never settling for disrespect is natural. Then there are people like me, who are still learning to believe we are worth so much more than what we’ve ever allowed ourselves to feel.

Sometimes holding on give us strength. But when it comes to dating a narcissist or someone with narcissistic traits, we only get stronger when finally get real with ourselves. We need to let go of the belief they can be serious dating partners.

Thoughts?