47 comments on “Rock Bottom

  1. I wouldn’t take this struggle from you if I could. Stay where you are bc you are about to grow. 🌲Al😃

    • I need to find the energy to grow. I need to get my passion for life back. Right now, it’s gone, and I’m not sure how to go about heading in an entirely new direction.

      Stephen

      • Stephen,
        I can remember a time when I didn’t care about things that usually brought me joy, so the thought oflosing those things did not motivate me. I felt likemypassion was gone. It scared me so much that I sought the help of a therapist and eventually got back to myself. I believe new beginnings can be disguised as painful endings. Hugs, Al

      • Hi Al,

        Thanks for helping me to see the other side. I do know that this will pass. I just wish I could speed up the process!

        I’ve been seeing a counselor even before this happened. So far it hasn’t done all that much good, or so it seems. Perhaps I need to take a different approach to counseling or find a different counselor.

        Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Al!

        Stephen

  2. Stephen, I cried as I read your story. I know how lonely I am, not having any family. My father, who was the only family I had, died last fall, and my mother the narc immediately adopted my two cousins, which was a good thing in that it gets her off my case but is a reminder of the fact that I am truly an orphan. I did have a family of choice, in a different country, but I had to leave them to take care of my father. So now it’s me and my dog. I’m so, so proud of you for looking alcohol in the face and taking it on. I well remember those seltzer and lime cocktails! That’s mostly my favorite drink, decades later!

    I’m really sorry about your bike. I hope when things settle down for you, maybe you’ll be able to get another. I’m glad you walked away from that one–as my Nana used to say every time I got into and out of some scrape–“God must have a purpose for you!” And for me that’s something to hang on to. You hang on, too, and don’t let go, hear?

    • Hi Laura!

      Thank you for your kind sentiments. I certainly appreciate them, and can certainly use them right now.

      It certainly sounds like you’ve had your own struggles with family. Good for you for surviving! It certainly was a blessing that your mother chose your cousins to be her acolytes and didn’t attempt to ensnare you after your father died. I’m sure that would have made your father’s death just that much more challenging for you.

      I am fortunate in that I wasn’t hurt more severely. I was pretty bruised and had to miss a couple of days of work because I could hardly get out of bed for a few days due to a bruised spine and bruised ribs, but most of the effects of the accident were gone after a week or so.

      Yes, i’ve become a connoisseur of seltzer! I used to know my wines quite well, but now I’m a master of seltzer. Certainly a more healthy choice than wine!

      I’m not sure when I might get another bike. Since the DUI case is still pending, I’m not rushing out to buy another one. I think I may see where this life episode leads me before I decide whether to get another one. I think I may wait a few years.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Laura!

      Stephen

      • You are a wise person, Stephen. You’ll do fine. I don’t know your local laws, but in general if it’s your first DUI and no one else was involved, and you’ve already taken steps to address your alcohol issue, your attorney should be able to get you the minimum penalty. I know that in some places there is a non-negotiable fine, but in others, a first offence can be negotiated, especially if the offender has taken it as seriously as you have.

      • Thanks for the vote of confidence, Laura.

        I’m not sure where the DUI case may ultimately go. I have hired a lawyer and requested a jury trial, but we have yet to meet with the DA to discuss any pretrial deal. We had an appointment a few weeks ago to meet with the DA, but it was cancelled and hasn’t been rescheduled to the best of my knowledge. From what I know, sometimes these cases can take a long time to finally settle.

        So far we have had a few things go in our favor, but it’s hard to say what the final outcome might be.

        Stephen

  3. Wow Stephen,
    I didn’t expect any of this. I’m glad you are fine after the accident and I’m sorry about your motorcycle and your girlfriend .
    I wish I had the right words to say to you. It’s hard being alone. I have my family and they are all far away. I know it’s not the same but it feels the same when you need a hug and nobody is there to give it to you.
    So here it goes my hug, you are not alone, many of us are thinking of you ❤

    • Hi Paola!

      I’m right there with you: I didn’t expect any of this either. Such is the path of alcoholism it seems.

      It is hard being alone. Even my counselor readily identified that I’m very alone, and that doesn’t help my situation. She’s been encouraging me to try and form new relationships, but so far I haven’t made much of an effort.

      I certainly could use a hug right now! Thank you!

      Thanks for your stopping by and sharing your kind sentiments, Paola!

      Stephen

      • 🙂 More hugs to you!
        And don’t hesitate to contact me if you ever need a friend! It’s really sad feeling/being alone.
        (I’m far away but we can always chat :))

      • I used to be so alone.
        But it forced me to consider God as my best friend and Im really grateful for that.

  4. You haven’t had a drink since that day! That’s 3 monthes-something to feel very good about. It seems you’ve made some really good decisions since that day. Accept that you are human too-we make mistakes. That’s how we learn to make better decisions. I haven’t talked to my FOO in 8 monthes. I wish they were loving people but they are not. We can’t fix them.

    • Hi Robby!

      Yes, it’s been nearly 100 days since I’ve had a drink. 100 days is a major milestone in AA. Truthfully, it hasn’t really been that hard to not drink. Even though I did drink quite a bit, I never achieved the level of a physical addiction to alcohol, and suffered no ill effects when I quit.

      Good for you with your N/C with family! I know how hard those first few months are. I felt like I was constantly at war with my inner programming from childhood during that time, the programming that said I wasn’t being a dutiful son if I didn’t accept my mother’s abuse any longer. You’re right, we can’t fix them, and they are incapable of being loving.

      I do struggle with beating myself up when I make mistakes and struggle to forgive myself. Again, it’s that inner programming at work that says I have to be perfect and mistakes are not to be tolerated. Often, I feel we ACONs are harder on ourselves than anyone else.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Robby, and best wishes on your continued no contact!

      Stephen

  5. Stephen, you really aren’t alone. We are here for you. I’m so glad you weren’t physically injured in any life altering way and that no one else was either. You’re not alone in seeking out a sub-acute numb, like a constant therapeutic drip of make this life less painful. I get it. I’ve done it. I’ve never had a DUI, but how many of us haven’t that could have? Almost infinity. I had a motorcycle and went over an emabakment stone cold sober. Some teenage kids took a corner and literally knocked me over the side. I also just had bruises and cuts. Things like that can happen just by accident too. Regarding alcohol, I am cutting way back, secondary to knowing there are goals that I simply wont achieve unless I stay on them, sober and hard. Life is hard. I know you’re lonely. I hope you can feel the love for you across the net, because it’s there for you. And I hope your AA friends will fill in some of that people void too. Things will get better. Sherri.

    • Hi Sherri!

      Thanks for your kind words, and I certainly appreciate the support. It’s been a tough go of it the last few months, and I still don’t really see the path to the other side, but I do believe it’s out there, waiting for me to find it.

      Yes, the accident I had could have happened to me if I was stone cold sober, too. As I mentioned, the curve I was on when I wrecked was very challenging, with a switchback in the middle of the curve, and I have, at other times, had to slow way down to correct my course when negotiating the same curve. I’m sure having 3 beers in me didn’t help, though.

      I like the term “therapeutic drip”. That’s a great way to put it. Alcohol, at least for me, definitely helped to take the ragged edge off of life; that part that I’d rather not recognize. What’s unfortunate is that I liked my life when I was drinking. Now that I see how damaging that lifestyle was, I need to find a new lifestyle that I can enjoy equally, if not more.

      Yes, many many people just haven’t been caught yet driving after drinking. Most of the literature that discusses functional alcoholics says that they haven’t had to suffer repercussions from their drinking mostly due to luck. It seems my luck ran out.

      I’ve only been to the one AA meeting. I’m thinking of going to more, but I’m not sure. AA has a very religious bent to it, which is something that really bothers me. People say to ‘just ignore’ the religious side of it, but it’s not that easy to do for me. There is also SMART recovery, which is more CBT based and most likely something that would resonate better with me, but there are very few meetings in my area, and the one meeting I did find on the SMART website seems to not be ongoing on a regular basis. SMART does have an online community, so I may just try that.

      Since this happened, I’ve been seeing an AODA (Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse) counselor. It hasn’t been all that helpful seeing her. She’s a huge proponent of AA. We’ve talked at length about my reservations regarding AA and she hasn’t offered me any other viable alternatives. I may need to see someone else that has more tools in their tool box than “you’re a drunk and you need to go to AA”.

      I certainly appreciate your love and support, Sherri! It truthfully means a lot right now.

      Stephen

  6. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. The realest thing Ive read in a long time. Well done! Amazing writing

  7. I dont think AA is “religious” but they do encourage one to at least IMAGINE you have an omnipotent ally which can’t really hurt, can it?

    • Good point, Mia. At this point, I’m open to just about anything. I may need to try some other AA meetings. Hopefully if I keep trying I can find a better fit.

      Stephen

  8. Hi Stephen,

    I know it sounds lame, but please don’t feel too down. I mean, I know it’s hard to help your feelings. But you can feel encouraged that a lot of people here do care about you. Even if we haven’t met you in real life or anything, we can still care about you, and want the best for you.

    I hope you find a good counselor that works for you better than the one you had.

    Kind Regards,
    Clint

    • Thanks Clint.

      Your support really means a lot to me, as does everyone else’s support here. It seems when bad things happen to me, I’m made even more aware that I’m alone, and it’s good to know that there are those out there that truly do care. Thank you.

      I plan to do some investigating on an alternate counselor this week.

      Stephen

  9. I’m glad that you hit rock bottom before anything truly catastrophic happened. My rock bottom hit 95 days ago when I attempted to pick my daughter up drunk. Thankfully, it was noticed that I was under the influence and my daughter never got in the car. It could have been a tragic event. Congrats on choosing to get sober! Things will get easier and you can find support through AA and other recovery groups. Check out smartrecovery.org 🙂 I look forward to reading more of your journey.

    • Hi Luminessa, and welcome!

      I’m glad that you’ve chosen sobriety, too! That’s great! Congrats on your 95 days! Sounds like we both hit bottom at about the same time. I’m sure that had to be really difficult to not be able to pick up your daughter because you were intoxicated, but good for you for making changes so that never happens again!

      I’m glad my bottom wasn’t worse. I could have had someone on the back of the bike or I could have been severely injured myself. I’m out a bunch of money and no longer have my bike, but that’s about the extent of it until all the DUI proceedings are finished.

      I did check out SMART recovery today although I didn’t have time to really do a deep dive. It’s something I plan to do very soon. I may also try additional AA meetings. Have you been going to AA? I went to one meeting and it really didn’t sit well with me. Perhaps I need to try different meetings.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Luminessa, and best wishes on your healing journey.

      Stephen

  10. Jesus Stephen, that’s a pretty difficult thing to have to grapple with as well as all the other difficulties that go along with being part of narc family. I think being fucking lonely is just part of the deal and it is pretty fucking hard not having anyone to count on. But as Winston Churchill once said “If you are going through hell, keep going” 🙂

    (and stay off the bike and the booze….).

    Les

    • Hi Les!

      Difficult. Agreed. It doesn’t make the whole dealing with a narc family thing any easier. Truthfully, it’s an outcome of my upbringing, and it’s not uncommon for many scapegoats to end up abusing drugs and alcohol. Thankfully my abuse of alcohol didn’t result in my demise, and I still have time to get it right.

      Yes, lonely. Very lonely at times. It definitely adds to the challenge of it all. I sometimes wonder how much of the loneliness is self induced because I have never been able to count on anyone but myself.

      Very interesting that you quote Churchill. Churchill was a functional alcoholic. I’m sure a good stiff drink was in order when he was staring down the gates of hell as the Luftwaffe barraged Britain, with no idea when help might come or when Hitler might invade. Sometimes the same challenges that lead to alcoholism also give a person the ability to maintain composure and stay unflappable under extreme duress, because, frankly, they’ve most likely seen much worse.

      Staying off the booze is definitely the plan! I may get a bike again someday, but it won’t be for a while, and I most certainly won’t be drinking when I ride it!

      Thanks as always for your comments, Les!

      Stephen

      • Yes I’d forgotten about Winston’s drinking sorry about that 🙂

        I read an interesting book some time ago that compared Hitler with Winston Churchill, there were many similarities actually (except one was a monster…)

  11. Dear Stephen,
    I came across your blog a little while ago after realizing that my sister most likely suffered from NPD. I immediately found your writing compelling for its honesty in portraying your struggles with your family and the aftermath of a relationship with narcissists. Given how much your blog has helped me think about my relationship with my sister (we’ve been No Contact for 7 years now — even though I did not know before that she suffered from NPD, when she tried to stalk me those many years ago, I severed all contact from her), I just wanted to say that you are much more than whatever your family painted you as.

    You write in the entry:
    ” Little do they understand that I’m acting as a mouthpiece for the family’s dysfunction.
    I’m also very upset with myself for continuing to let the issues of my FOO get the best of me, to a point where I ended up getting arrested. I’ve worked so hard to improve, and episodes like this make me think I’ve accomplished very little.”

    Even though you might believe yourself to be a mouthpiece in regards to alcoholism, you are more than the sum of your genes and an addiction, one that you will no doubt triumph over.

    From what I’ve read on your blog, you are the following:
    *A father. Even if you don’t have a family of origin to depend on, you have a daughter who depends on you and whose love and affection can bring you joy.
    *A creative person. You are musical and this is a powerful tool for expression.
    *Introspective. You have an ability to reflect on your situation and your life realistically and thoughtfully.

    All of the above are better indicators of who you are. Yes, being from a family with narcissists will always be a part of your life, as it is mine. But, over time, I have also come to realize how important it is to reaffirm my own identity outside of my family’s influence. It’s a struggle, I admit, but it’s also the only way I can see to regain myself.

    best,
    Athena

    • Hi Athena, and welcome!

      Thanks for taking the time to introduce yourself! I’m always humbled when others are able to resonate with my story, and if sharing my story helps others to find some sort of validation, it’s definitely a positive outcome of my life’s experience.

      I’m sorry that you have been made to endure narcissism in your family, too. It’s certainly not a fun experience; to have the people that are always supposed to have your back be the first ones to put a knife in it.

      Thank you for your kind words. I certainly appreciate them, especially right now. Yes, I am much more than my upbringing. I do realize that. I always will carry some of the effects of my upbringing with me, but the best thing I can do is to realize when my old methods are still affecting me and take the necessary measures to achieve mitigation. Alcoholism is a symptom. A symptom that says I still have work to do. A symptom that I need to treat by getting to the root cause of why I chose the bottle. As I mentioned to my AODA counselor when I first met her: I know exactly why I drink, I just need to find a way to fully make peace with all I’ve been through, and then the drinking will take care of itself.

      Through my research on AA and SMART Recovery, it seems I’ve been taking many of the steps they recommend, even before this most recent incident. What that means to me is that if I keep with the program, not drinking should become easier and easier.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Athena, and best wishes on your healing journey.

      Stephen

  12. The other commenters have covered what I wanted to say, and eloquently so. I just wanted to express my gratitude for your having come through that nasty encounter with gravel relatively unscathed and having gotten a life changing insight from the experience. I believe your life will ultimately improve without alcohol in it, but I see the transition is a difficult one. I love this blog and am always excited when I see a new post because you are such a thoughtful and candid writer. I’m glad you’re alright, Stephen. You will find the “family” you deserve eventually. If your current therapist isn’t working for you, keep looking. The right one can make all the difference. And please keep writing.

    • Hi AT!

      Thank you for your kind words. I certainly appreciate them, especially right now.

      I’m grateful, too, that I came through this episode relatively unscathed. It certainly could have been much worse. It was the wake up call I needed. The wake up call I needed to get my life pointed in a new direction. I’m not sure what bits and pieces of my old life I’ll take forward into my new life, but that’s all part of the process of discovering where I want to go next.

      I agree, my life will improve without alcohol, and I’m glad to be done with it, honestly.

      I’ve been thinking of dropping formal counseling for the time being so I can more deeply focus on where I want to go next. I feel that it’s difficult to get the what I need from counseling without clear goals, and with all the changes I’ve been through lately, I don’t feel as though I have definitive counseling goals. I’ve recently cut back to seeing my regular counselor about every 3 weeks and my AODA counselor once a month. As I mentioned above, the AODA counselor has been less than helpful.

      I’m glad that you enjoy my posts. I do have quite a few other topics I’d like to cover, and now with the advent of the alcoholism issue, I’ll have even more to discuss.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, AT, and best wishes on your healing journey!

      Stephen

  13. Just a general comment:

    Thank you all for your wonderful support! It means more to me than you will ever know. It’s nice to know that I have a cyber family that cares about me and has an understanding that I’ve never known.

    Many of you have also emailed me your well wishes personally, which I greatly appreciate, and I will do my best to respond soon.

    Again, thank you!

    Stephen

  14. Personally I never drank, so I can only forward an interesting article I found about AA

    http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/03/the-irrationality-of-alcoholics-anonymous/386255/

    Compare it to your experiences, find validation or condemn the article (and by extension me) for getting it all wrong, whatever helps you onward.

    I do hope you find a group which helps you deal with substance abuse issues better than you did in the past, from what you write AA and your counsellor might not be the right way to go about it. Any change of switching the Ethanol counsellor?

    However I am addicted to online gaming and interneting in general. So I get a part of your problems, maybe, a bit, hopefully. First of all: kudos for staying away from what you mistook as safety. That does take willpower and is a feat you can and should be proud of. I feel in times of stress our old world resurfaces easiest inside of us. All the abusive voices and habits of them that old us we are not worth it and we will never make it and whatever not. I’m sure I do not need to repeat what this tape says, we all know it well.

    The point is you ARE better than that already. You do not drink again. You do not bemoan the loss of your bike in an entitled, immature way while refusing to take accountability for your contribution to the outcome. You already made changes and they created a void in your life which you now need to withstand and eventually fill. In that way you are further along than I am. I try to gradually wean myself off the internets.

    What helps me a little is to develop other things instead of drinking/surfing/gaming. While these may or may not work in company (maybe start to converse over a topic you like directly after refusing a drink? Your daughter? Your musical endeavours? just throwing ideas out there, discard, modify and keep as you please 🙂 ) they hopefully work in loneliness. I am working my way up to picking up sketching as a hobby and certainly try to go for a walk and work out much more than I used to. All these give a sense of accomplishment and often enough an endorphine rush that hopefully helps me kick the click in the end.

    As for your exgf: what a sorry thing to do! Abandoning someone when they need the help and work to change their life is such a despicable thing to do. Sometimes on my dark days I wonder if such people prefer us to be miserable. (On brighter days I just think them lazy and uncommitted.) Either way she does not deserve you if she deserts you like this. And you deserve much better!

    But deserving much better will obviously not help you with your current predicament of loneliness, which I know more about than I ever wanted. Personally I feel my trust in humans ever shrinking. Dogs are loyal, cats are too if you know how to treat them. Would getting a pet be an option for you? They help with depression even without a fancy therapy animal training regime. They love their two leggers and do what they can in their own… That’s how they are. Yes cats too.

    However you go forward, I wish you all the best Stephen! You have been a very positive influence in my life. Your blog was the first where I read about enmeshment and it has helped me understand what’s going on in my family so much more. For what it is worth: you are good enough to me and then some.

    awkward aspie hugs

  15. Oh and I forgot to mention: not drinking certainly has led to bullying and ostracising for me too. It must be so much worse when you feel you miss something you want to have there. Part of the loneliness comes from living in a society that has no place for people who prefer to synthesise this particular cell poison internally more than adding it from external sources. I can’t say I feel for you, that’s a lie since I do not know how I must be like going through that wanting to drink but I certainly can see how this would lead to frustration, desperation and isolation. Good luck!

    • Thank you for all your kind thoughts, stranger!

      Yes, it is definitely an awkward time for me. I feel like I’m constantly struggling right now. Struggling to find a new direction. Struggling to develop a new identity. Struggling to figure out what pieces of my old identity I choose to keep, and which ones I choose to toss. Honestly, I wish I had the means and the time for an extended vacation right now. Something like 3 months. Time to clear my head. Time to get a new focus. I could really use something like that right now.

      Thanks for the article on AA. The more I research AA, the more I find it to be a totally frightening, near cult-like organization. The premise of AA is that you trade your alcohol addiction for a religious addiction. NO THANKS!

      I don’t begrudge my ex girlfriend, honestly. I saw her abandonment coming, even before my accident. The accident just gave her a very convenient out. She made a very concerted effort during our 4 or so months together to not let herself get too involved. I never once visited her house during that entire time, and we never spent the night together. She would also limit how much time she had available to spend with me, and we often wouldn’t see each other more than a few hours a week. It was getting old, and I started to feel like her “shelf boyfriend”; she pulled me down off the shelf when she wanted a boyfriend and then put me back on the shelf when she was done with me, just to pull me down later for another time when she wanted a boyfriend. She had many of her own issues, too, that I don’t think she was managing as well as she thought she was managing them. To be honest, we could have made a very good couple. There were quite a few positives to our relationship, but if she isn’t willing to put any effort into it, it was never going to go anywhere, and it’s best that it’s over.

      I have had dogs and cats over the years, and at this point, I don’t think I want another pet right now. I do know what you mean about their loyalty, though.

      Yes, there are many perils with possibly trading one addiction for another. I never was physically addicted to alcohol, so I didn’t really see any effects when I quit, other than the psychological. Smoking, on the other hand, I was terribly addicted to. Quitting smoking is WAY harder than quitting drinking. Right now, I’m about 2 weeks into quitting and really struggling. 2 weeks is about the peak for emotional effects. I’m also gaining weight, which sucks. Not much fun to be around at the moment, that’s for sure!

      Thanks as always for your comments!

      Stephen

      • Definitely agree with cult like from my superficial knowledge about them. I recently read how many abused children from dictatorial controlling, judgemental homes have a tendency to join organisations that are like that as well. It would explain my fundamentalist aunt and if we puzzle together what you recently wrote about alcoholism and emotional abuse I see how AA might be appealing to people because it’s cult like. Spooky thought.

        Woah your exgf sounds A LOT like my last partner. Only they pulled me from the shelf when they needed a job done that they couldnt do. They never actually expressed a preference for me being around. In hindsight I wonder why I stayed 2 years in such a …. dare I even call it relationship? They were really good at finding reasons why I couldnt come to see them. We lived 5 hrs apart and after their 3 herniated discs they couldnt drive to my place anymore. Shelf partner indeed. At the end of the relationship I truly understood why all of their former partners cheated on them. Talking to them about it was about as productive as talking to a brick wall.
        Tho they did help marginally and in spectacularly unproductive ways to hep me move a lot closer to him. Surprise it didnt work out. We slept apart at their place too. Even more reasons they they refused to work at, no us time but them staring at their computer/phone. Unresponsive. When I complained about this they would immediately tell me how its going to be so much worse once the herniated discs are gone and they work again. Thats when I eventually gave up.

        Recently they had a new partner for the entirety of one entire month. They did not hesitate to stop over at my page the day they got together and rewrite history coming up with the weirdest accusations and being oh so holier than thou about their perfect life with the new relationship and back to work. It was pathetic in its transparency… Like you I think we could have made a really good couple if they had been interested in making it work but I guess they were much to set in their little routine, no room for a partner, even if they really wanted to think of themselves as welcoming. In hindsight I really wonder. Im really good at disappearing. If someone like me who was trained from the ripe old age of 6 weeks to disappear and who has taken their considerable talents and two decades to hone and perfect this “skill” wasnt enough for them, who might be? I really think my ex is in a very miserable place but it will take a long time if they realise it at all. I tried my best, I tried way too long, I failed. Predictably. I try moving on and learning how to spot and then not date the next charity case before I’ll try dating again.

        Imho pets are more than just loyal they also help with emotional issues. They just get it. And they are there. I have long ago given up on humans in a way. The truest version of me that I can produce will never be seen by humans. I only trust non human animals and I dont think that trust in mankind as a whole could be recovered. But I have no pet atm either. Im not sure I could afford it both in terms of money and organisation/energy.

        I hear you about the extended vacation. Its basically what I did, only I have no job, so I am on benefits. Thankfully this minimal monthly income is guaranteed for an undetermined amount of years/decades in my country. The last 1.5 years have been really helpful for me to grow as a person. But everyone nags. Its really disgusting how once you are broken down enough everyone will invalidate you just to not confront their own discomfort over the idea that parents can destroy a child like that. This in turn really is very destructive.

        I studied nicotine in detail once (and yes I really mean academic study, you know libraries, scientific publications, biochemical pathways, submitting your own report…) I read nicotine is even a tad more addictive than heroine. I was surprised at that. Then I was surprised such substances are legal… Then I just added it to the long long list of things wrong in this world.

  16. Hey Stephen, I just wanted to let you know that I have been thinking about you, off and on, through my days and weeks. And I especially agree with “The Anxiety Trip.” Please keep writing.
    I’m lonely this week. After my fiancee died, I went into many years of severe mental illness. I didn’t work, I was just a patient. So in many ways, my life is a miracle today, because I work at a challenging job full time, and basically, I’m not sick anymore. But everything changed. I was sick for so long, and I changed so much. I feel like the memories I made prior to that time actually belong to another human being. I have no family. I have no close friends. And I’m not convinced that I’m actually capable of the intimacy of a close friendship anymore. Anyway, I get by. I get by with the pain. And I’m still trying, on many levels, in many ways, and still making slow progress. My educational goal is to apply for grad school, a competitive program, and so I’m studying for the GRE this summer. The rest of it? It’s just one day at a time.
    Do you know that song by Wilco, “How to fight lonliness”? That’s how I feel tonight. But, having such impossible mental illness to compare it to, makes it completely do-able. Know what I mean? Sick was untenable hell, incompatible with human life. Sad is just sad and painful and lonely. These are feelings. I used to have symptoms. So I know I can make it, I’ve just never been clear on where the hell I’m making it to… or why. But, I’m hanging in there tonight. Hope you are well. Sherri.

    • Hi Sherri,

      I know you were talking to Stephen – not me, but I read your comment and just wanted to say I’m sorry you’ve gone through such a hard time. Best wishes to you.

      Clint

      • Clint, thanks for your kind words. To just be heard, to be seen and heard, helps me find a way to live on this Earth. It means a lot to me. Best wishes to you too. Sherri.

  17. Hi Stephen,

    I wrote to you on “This Boy”, and you were kind enough to write back. It meant a lot to me when you did, and I thank you for that. After hearing back, I looked at this comment “Rock Bottom,” and was saddened by what you wrote. You are obviously having a hard time with alcohol and your family. I just want to say a few more words about what happened to me, with the hope you might take something away from it that might resonate with you. i reached rock bottom some years back now, and was fortunate enough to find a therapist, who took me on.

    She has helped me see things in a different light, and helped me understand what happened to me. It’s amazing that even now my mind is like a fog sometimes when I try to see my father’s narcissism and to accept my mother was the enabler, but my therapist cuts through that every time. She always knew quite a lot about narcissism, so unlike some therapists who i think don’t get to the bottom of things, and i know this because i had other therapists before who weren’t able to do this, the one I have now is very effective. I am saying this, because from what I can read, you haven’t found a therapist you are happy with yet. But don’t give up, keep trying.

    I read a book lately called “Freeing yourself from the narcissist in your life.,” by Linda Martinez-Lewi. It is an insightful book, and is worth a read if you have a moment. I noticed on the back that she counsels victims of narcissistic abuse, and it may be an idea to contact someone like her who is an expert in this field. I only say that because I get the impression the counsellor you visited is more of a general counsellor, but i may be wrong. Even if Linda Martinez-Lewi lives far way, she may be able to recommend someone to you in your area. She has a website, “the narcissist in your life.com”, if you want to take it further, although i haven’t been on that website yet. i hope I don’t sound too pushy, I don’t mean to be.

    I just want, if you don’t mind, just talk about your alcoholism for a moment. My father was an alcoholic towards the end of his life, and i think with narcissists this is not unusual. Confronted by the sheer terror of abandonment, which they have brought on themselves, I know with my father, alcohol was his outlet, and to see him drunk most days when I looked after him, was horrible to see. And i am sure you have witnessed the same, and maybe worse. But when i read about you, i don’t see an alcoholic like my father and your mother. You don’t have a black hole inside you have to fill (I hope you don’t mind me putting it that way), like narcissists do. I see a strong, intelligent, kind man capable of deep reasoning and perception, who is stronger than his family, and really doesn’t need them as much as they need you.

    With my family, like you, i have two brothers who are flying monkeys, i used to find it very difficult to relax with them and talk to them, that fear would always be raising its ugly head. But my therapist just kept saying to me to stay in my adult ego state, and not allow them to put me in a one down position. My elder brother never used to take me seriously, and kind of talk to me in such a way that you could almost hear him saying” Oh, little Peter, he tries hard but he never quite gets it right.” but over time, i have kept in my adult state and not reverted back to my scared child when I am with them, and now i see they are starting to react to me differently. It has get so much better since the fear has gone.They will never change, as my therapist has said on many occasions. After all, why should they ? But I can change. So for me, by me changing has made them change, so i have got stronger. If they have got weaker I am not sure, but they are not feeling good at my expense any more.

    My parents have both passed way now, so in many ways after caring for my father and then my mother, I now feel much calmer. They drew me in and never let go until the end. I know when my falther passed away, i just felt relief, and the same with my mother, and i was physically worn out and probably mentally too, but i had my therapist to help me. What I said might sound callous, it’s not meant to be, but that’s how I felt. i can’t believe in the past that i once thought that I wouldn’t be able to get over my father’s death, as I thought i would die too, such was the omnipotent persona my father cast over me.

    I am saying this because i think maybe deep down you feel if you lose your mother- i am not sure if your father is alive- you will be even more lonely. I certainly thought life would be very difficult after my parents passed away, but in many way i have got stronger. When i do get lonely, sometimes it’s worse, it feels like emptiness, I realise that it’s not me feeling empty, it was my father. Like all children of narcissists we absorb some of the narcissism, so when this happens, I say to myself this is not me, this belongs to my father. i feel this helps me get over my depression and loneliness I get sometimes.

    I am not a trained therapist, and i am not writing to you offering advice, but rather as someone who had been through the mill like you, and is sharing some of that with you. But if anything i say does resonate with you, then great, and if it helps you find a good therapist, then even better. I wouldn’t pretend to know all the answers, but all I can say is for me therapy has been therapeutic, and helped to see there is life beyond my family- namely indulging my passions for art and writing.

    Take care, and all the best on your healing journey.

    Peter McIlwee.

    • Hi Peter,

      Thank you for your kind note. I’m so happy for you that you found a good therapist! That had to be very difficult to grow up with an alcoholic narcissistic father! My mother was an alcoholic, but she didn’t really have many of the stereotypical alcoholic behaviors. She just drank and hid it and then denied that she was ever drunk. It was ridiculous. Being drunk in my family was a sin, so the best way to avoid sin is blatant denial. It was insanely hypocritical!

      I’m definitely struggling with finding a therapist that resonates with me. The alcohol counselor I’m seeing is truthfully terrible. She’s very smug, which I find incredibly annoying. She behaves like she knows me better than I know me. I doubt it. I also think that anyone that lands on her couch gets the same prescription of “you’re a drunk and you need to go to AA”.

      My other (regular?) therapist is better, but we really aren’t making what I would call progress. We talk about the here and now a lot, but very seldom talk about the “how I got here piece”. I think part of it may be because I have most of it figured out already, well intellectually at least, so I always have an answer for her questions. It’s the emotional piece of it all where I struggle, and we haven’t really explored that part like I feel we should. Perhaps it’s somewhat my fault for not pushing the discussion in that direction.

      I like what you said about staying in the adult ego state with your family. I know how hard that is to do! It’s much easier to fall back into your historical (child) role with family and it’s what they expect from you, so when you don’t behave as they expect, they act as if something is seriously wrong with you, when the truth is, there is something seriously wrong with them! Good for you, Peter!

      I don’t feel as though I miss my mother, but I do miss missing here. Let me explain. I’ll see examples of other people who truly miss their family members and think to myself “I don’t have that, and never will”. When the anniversary of my deceased father’s birthday or his death roll around, I don’t even think about it. In fact, I don’t even remember when his birthday was, I just know it was toward the end of January. When holidays come around and I see other people that are enjoying their holidays with family, it feels very lonely, especially without a significant other in my life. It is what it is, and I do my best to get through it. I certainly don’t plan on ever going back to them just so I don’t feel lonely on holidays!

      Great on indulging your passions! That’s wonderful! I think the ability to indulge passions is one of the things that improves significantly when we are finally able to put our pasts behind. For years, I felt as though that tape my mother recorded in my head of “You’re a failure” was always playing and seriously hindered my ability to pursue my passions. Getting away from my family has helped me to throw out that tape and work hard on trying to become the person I want to become.

      Thanks for your note, Peter, and you certainly didn’t offend me at all. I appreciate your perspective!

      Best wishes on your healing journey,

      Stephen

      • Man, can I so relate to those comments. I don’t miss my actual N-mom at all. I miss the illusion of what I thought she was. Growing up sucks in that way 🙂

        >

      • I have similar struggles with therapists and I wonder if maybe you are a tad quick to accept responsibility there. In the end they are therapists. They should notice that you have emotional disconnection to some issues and help you release those. As I understand it that’s what they are for. Think about commissioning a firm to construct a house and then feeling guilty for not leaving the workers a guide how to assemble the materials into a house…

        It’s also sad that your better therapist chooses to focus on the “easier” part. The here and now is always easier to work with and modify. I feel she chickens out of the work she truly is supposed to do. It’s sad that psychotherapy is at a state were people like that already qualify as the better options. It’s not about having answers to her question and she really should know better.

        That AA therapist to me simply sounds like poison. I quit therapists who know me oh so much better than me very quickly (the quicker they show this attitude the quicker I’m out of there, didn’t make it past 5 sessions in recent past). I have seen therapists destroy me a lot further so I am extremely distrustful. I hope the experience is better for you and she at least does not damage you further. I wish I could be more pissed about how such sorry excuses for human beings are allowed to deal with the emotionally vulnerable.

      • Hi Stranger,

        I’ve decided to stop all therapy for the time being. I don’t feel that I’m gaining anything from any of it at this point, and it’s just a waste of time and money.

        I agree, it’s sad that people who are so poorly qualified are in the position of providing therapy to people who are so emotionally vulnerable. I’m glad that I’m at least able to see the lack of effectiveness and do something about it.

        Stephen

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