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I’ve told my story in a number of posts. I condensed it below so no one has to piece it together from scratch.


I come from a very dysfunctional family - narcissistic mom (diagnosed with borderline personality disorder), narcissistic older brother, enabler dad. I left home at 18 hoping never to see these horrible people again. I had a long term marriage to an abusive man who cut me off from having friends. I left him 5 years ago and filed for divorce. He stalked & harassed me. I left my place to hide at my parents. (I was in low contact with them the last 5 years of my marriage.)


To my relief he passed away 8 months after the divorce. Didn’t have to look over my shoulder every time I left the house any longer.


Unfortunately, I was distraught (PTSD) by my ex-husband’s behavior and not thinking straight. I stayed on as a caregiver to my parents who had begun to have extended hospital stays (A Fib, viral pneumonia, broken shoulder and hip). They did improve where they didn’t need me ft and then didn’t need me pt. Their physical health was ok. The mental cruelty was still there and very strong. They demanded I sell my home and move in full time with them. I told my dad I wanted to have friends and date. He told me he and my mom should be all I needed for a social life. The last straw was being cut out of being part owner of valuable family land because I refused their demands. I left for good in June 2020. The PTSD I had from my marriage was deepened from being with my mom, dad and brother. Could be my imagination, but felt they thought I’d be an easy mark to take advantage of since I put up with an abusive marriage for so long.


I feel much improved these days. I want to have friends & date. There’s COVID & there’s still residual PTSD though. I need to see a therapist for sure to handle the ups and downs of finding friends with PTSD. Need help with handling embarrassment of explaining crazy family and ex-h. What questions did you ask of therapist to know they can help you? How long did it take you to get back some semblance of a social life? How do you answer the question where are your parents from people you’re just beginning to know & don’t trust to tell the real story to? I kind of feel like damaged goods sometimes.

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I think our culture can easily make us all feel like damaged goods at times...which you are not! You have been through a lot! Your story is helping more people than you will ever know. However, you certainly don't have to share any details with anyone! When people ask too many questions about my life...I tell them..."Even the most talented author could not create the characters in my family..." It always shuts them up! Again...don't ever feel like you need to explain these people to anyone. You are obviously strong! You have good things ahead of you! After caregiving, it's hard to really know what we like and want in life....but those ideas will come. The good news is that you are truly a survivor and on your way to creating your own, unique, beautiful life! I am excited for you! Thank you for your honest post! Warmly, Sunny
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there is a lot of great advice above. as an ex teacher for 25 yrs and having taken a good work shop on listening and supporting people, there are sometimes good reasons to "expose" one,s past. its not healthy to keep all those emotions/hurt/anger pent up inside. having someone to discuss things are very helpful to sort things out. that is sometimes why some will tell very private parts of their lives to complete stranger... just to remove that dark cloud from over their head. go to the gym as physical activity releases certain beneficial hormones.
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You don't need to get into the long, drawn-out saga of your messed up marriage and family. In order to leave things in the past, you need to get comfortable with saying something like "My family was dysfunctional, my marriage ended in divorce, and it's something I don't find helpful discussing outside of therapy."

When you do start establishing friendships, you do not have to be an open book. Anyone who asks intrusive questions expecting details that are none of their business isn't worth your time and attention. They may be exactly the same as your mother, father and brother.

Put yourself first from now on.
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MMasonSt Jan 26, 2021
Thanks for your answer! Any nosy, intrusive questions & no more contact. Life is too short for dealing with drama.

People who ask nosy, inappropriate questions are possibly setting you up. They have ammunition to slander you if you have the same circle of friends if you call them out on cr@p.
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It is good to hear you had the courage to leave. That means you are on your way to healing. However, you are still thinking in terms of what others may think of you. Please don't. Others don't CARE about you. They care about THEM. If you notice, people enjoy talking about themselves. They don't really care about your story, any more than they care about your Hawaiian Vacation photos if you know what I mean. There will be no need to speak of Husband and family any more than you wish to. Most people are very happy to accept "I didn't have a good marriage; it was abusive. I am not comfortable talking to anyone about it until I know them very well." Same goes with parents story. Anyone worth their salt will be happily satisfied, and guess what, it works as a thermometer as well, because if the DON'T accept it, then they are not the people you want to connect with.
You could consider support groups and support therapy but I would caution against making the participants your "friends". Two crippled people do not equal one person that is whole.
As to therapist, most will accept an interview, encourage it in fact. My favorites in my own life were TOUGH, and GOOD, and soon had me forcibly stopped from happily regurging over and over how abused I was; they forced me to look at my own actions; it was quite uncomfortable, and it was how I was able to grow, leaving the past behind.
Please get well before you date. Please concentrate on yourself. You do now understand very well what abusive people are. They can see you walking the world and know well how to ID you as a match for their illness; first and foremost would be from how much you care what others think about your past relationships, and how awful they were.
You need to walk the world whole, not as a victim, before you move on to a healthy relationship in which NO ONE will ever even BEGIN to ID you as someone they might enjoy abusing.
I sure do wish you the best. Leave the past. You don't need to discuss them. As you said, happily, one of them is DEAD. Let the others be the same in your own head and move on. You made the first and hardest step. I couldn't wish you more luck going forward.
Bonus suggestion for you. Join a gym or work out and join a MARTIAL ARTS SCHOOL. You will learn so much, be fit, feel safer and stronger in this world, and you will walk tall enough that no one will even think to mess with you. Check out different types to see what be a match for you.
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bundleofjoy Jan 25, 2021
dear alva :),

i really like your answer.
and i so agree, with the fact that future narcs can ID, sniff out a future target. narcs target kind, nice people.

about previous abuse, for example saying to a future man, “i was abused by ex”...i think it’s better to avoid that. especially at the start of getting to know someone. it’s however, just my opinion. i do believe in honesty/sharing info. the trouble with saying to a man, you were abused by another man, is that some men (although initially showing sympathy), see that as a possibility of abusing you too: you “accepted” it before, let’s do it again.

it might be an idea to simply say, “it didn’t work out. we had different values”.

regarding choosing a future man, people say: look at how he treats his mother. if he’s kind/sweet/nice to his mother, he might be kind/sweet/nice to you.

often narc men, behave terribly to their mothers, and hence also to other women.

dear mmason — some people say, the best revenge is massive success.

these narcs want to throw our lives out the window.

as my loving father said/says to me:
you own yourself.

no one owns you.

i was 3 when my father started asking me the question regularly (“who owns you?”). every time, i answered, “you own me papa!” i was sure he owned me. he said, “no, you own yourself.”

and as a nice friend told me today, after i told him of the awful behavior of the narc in my life:
this is your life, and your life alone, and you can’t throw it out the window.

hug!!

you asked, how do you move forward? encouraging words from others can help a lot!!! empathy/understanding from others too.

dear abused people by narcs,
i empathize and understand. find freedom. i know it’s often tricky, because we care/love/want to help.

we can’t throw our lives out the window. it’s our life, and ours alone.

hug!

i own myself.
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Mason, (((((hugs)))))).

I just recently went back into therapy due to increased anxiety around crossing streets in busy traffic (I was struck by a car back in 2012). My situation is nowhere near as complex as yours, and look at how long it took me to reach out to get some help!
Kudos to you to being a good friend to yourself and seeking therapy.

Take this one step at a time. What I finally did was find an organization that specializes in doing therapy with women. I answered some very basic questions that the screener asked and she set me up with a very nice Social Worker to talk to via Zoom each week.

I feel so much better and we have explored many issues aside from the terror in crossing the street. She gives me "homework", like stuff to notice during the week, finding a meditation app that I feel happy doing several times a week and the like.

Don't feel like you have to have everything worked out in your head before you start therapy or before you have conversations with others. I might put off dating a bit, simply because you have bad history of accepting abuse from others. You need a sort of compass I think to recognize the warning signs from these charming snakes!

Where are your parents? "Oh, we're not very close". I can't imagine you need to say more than that to anyone that you aren't best of friends with.
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MMasonSt Jan 25, 2021
Hi Barb, yes, that PTSD catches up with you. I’m glad you’re taking care of it. It does go away with time & therapy.

Great advice about keeping private stuff private. Will be looking for friends and that’s it. I have to strengthen the bs meter before any dating occurs. Plenty of wolves in sheep’s clothing out there.
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