Sometimes, I miss the old Me. The Me that smiled all the time. The Me that never got angry. The Me that “couldn’t say boo to a goose” and never said “no” to anyone. The Me that behaved as though she were living in a fairtytale. The Me that never reacted to physical pain, even when Grandpa accidentally stood on my hand once. The Me that never disagreed. The “glad girl” Pollyanna version of Me. I kinda’ liked her. And my narcissists really liked her.
I miss my façade. I miss the “Nice” me. I was proud of her! She was so, so nice!
The carefully hidden truth was, of course, much different. My smile was automatic and not genuine. Inside, I was drowning in self-doubt and seething with misplaced anger. Once a year, on schedule, I lost my temper but I was on the verge most of the time. I even gasp! used swear words but only in the privacy of my car. But those were flukes. Usually I was nice, nice, nice! That was my Official Identity.
The Official Me was the one the narcissists designed. What happened in my car, stayed in my car. It wasn’t real, to me or to them. I embraced the fake identity they carefully constructed: sans rebellion, unique opinions, sadness, exhaustion, anger.
Who wouldn’t want to be that one-dimensional person!? You’re Cinderella in the Last Act, untouched by reality, living “Happily Ever After” every day of your life.
I don’t like Me so much anymore.
I take care of me now.
I get mad. I swear.
I set boundaries…and hold them.
I tell all the family secrets.
I’m not so nice anymore.
That’s why I don’t like Me so much anymore. I actually miss Pollyanna Me.
Ironic, isn’t it. I worked so hard to get rid of her…and now I don’t like the new-and-improved Me. My parents don’t like me. My adult step-children definitely don’t like Me. The only person who likes the new Me is Michael. When I scream “Son of a Bitch” he has a paroxysm of laughter. He says it’s not convincing. That I don’t swear right. He says I sound just like Bernadette in The Big Bang Theory squeaking “Sonofabitch” in falsetto.
What happened to me? Did I do something wrong? Did I take bitchy pills!? What happened to Pollyanna?
Maybe, like the Queen Mum pictured above, I’ve been to the wars.
All I know is, Pollyanna Me got burned. Burned badly. She went into everything with a big smile and the best intentions trusting that everyone would do right by her and believing everything would turn out wonderfully. Then she got taken advantage of. She got pushed too far. She got royally burned.
That extra-strength elastic she was made of suddenly snapped back. Like a severed tendon, the elastic tightened up, shortened up. You’d think it’d be all bagged out and flexible but no! It healed rock-hard and taut for self protection.
But maybe there’s a middle ground, somewhere between Dukes-Up-All-the-Time-for-Protection and Naked-In-The-Wind-Pollyana.
Maybe a Me I can like again lies somewhere in-between.
The anger, the swearing, the boundaries-topped-with-jagged-glass-and-concertina-wire were useful when I first started healing from narcissistic abuse. Back then, I needed it. I was vulnerable. I was hanging on to No Contact and My Truth by torn fingernails and chipped teeth. Pollyanna had to take bitchy pills just to survive!
But those days are gone. Back then, I was pretty sure I was right about my family being narcissists. Now I know I’m damn right. My narc-dar is in pretty good working order and I don’t need my dukes up. I have wisdom on my side.
Truth is, I’m not seething with anger anymore. Huh! Fancy that! It kinda crept up on me. My anger’s cooled to a dull, sad realization that the Past cannot magically change no matter how much I think, cogitate or seethe about it.
Maybe I can stop swearing now. I don’t really like Me when I’m swearing. It’s gotten to be a habit, damn it. See!?
I once heard the Queen Mum described as “granite, but the nicest kind of granite.” That’s what I want to be. Not Pollyanna, not Cinderella. I want to be the Queen Mum who picked her way daintily through the rubble of East London during the WWII Blitz, and when Buckingham Palace was bombed said, “I’m glad we’ve been bombed. It makes me feel I can look the East End in the face.”
I’ve been bombed. Now I can look suffering humanity in the face.
Granite. That’s the goal. But the very nicest kind of granite. That’s a Me I can live with. That’s a Me I can respect. That’s a Me I could even learn to like.