Monday, May 16, 2011


Many ACONs seem to value the written word highly. And is it any wonder? Constant gaslighting makes you feel crazy for your memories or emotions, and having documentation in the form of private journals, public blogs, or exchanged letters, cards, e-mails, and text messages helps keep you in touch with reality and proves you are indeed the sane one.

Many of you journaled your way through your childhood and adolescence and emerged almost unscathed as a result. Not me.

My first diary was read by my father. I discovered this when he gave me the silent treatment once, when I was 7, and for the life of me I couldn't understand why this time. I finally got him to explain that he was offended by something I wrote about his mother. In my private diary.

After that, my next diary had a little key, but it was self-censored. It had only bleak, bland, one-sentence entries, such as "Went sleighing today" or "Went for a walk with friend". 

Then I had another real diary when I was 15. This one was read by my mother. She apologized.

I started hiding the diaries really well and kept writing, but less enthusiastically with time. I stopped at age 17.

But that's not even the full extent of the damage. A portion of the blame belongs to my husband and I told him so recently. He barely remembers the event, but when we'd been going out for a few months - we were both 18 - he was goofing around, took one of my diaries and asked "Aha! Who's this ex-boyfriend you wrote about here?" He was being silly, but he was also out of line - I should have told him "Leave my diary alone" and left it at that. Instead, having been conditioned by a narcissist, I realized to my horror that people's privacy is too fragile for me to cope with, and not only did I never write again, but I may have thrown away all my diaries! The fact is, I don't remember. I never found them in my old room. Did I really throw them out? Did my father find them? Did I hide them really, really well - too well? I have a black hole in my memory. And I was 18 when it happened. Or didn't happen.

After this, I stopped writing altogether. I used to write stories and poems, but no more. There were too many voices inside my head censoring me, telling me I'm no good, and perhaps the loudest and truest one telling me I was fake and lying with every word I wrote, because I was hiding something important from myself. I sounded effing didactic to myself in my head with every idea I had. I couldn't bring myself to even put these in black and white. 

Then, when I discovered NPD and especially, later, what it does to the kids, I started journaling again. No censorship this time. I knew where the censorship was coming from. My father's voice in my head.

(I knew my husband, now older and wiser and not a narcissist, would not pull the same juvenile stunt again. Not that I'd mind showing him my stuff this time - again, he's not a narcissist and I can share everything with him and he doesn't get offended by me. I shared being in love with another man for a year - during that whole year - every thought and emotion. My husband has proven he accepts me and can take me for who I am.)

It was incredible. In fact, I diagnosed my father about a year ago, but then somehow forgot about it. When I started journaling and writing this blog, it became real. Documented. Proven. Black on white. And I started getting better and getting better at dealing with him. I finally faced it.

Interestingly enough, my father who is a narcissist, but also an ACON himself, has an obsession with documentation. He keeps double and triple copies of everything. He saves all his correspondence. He copies his text message exchanges with his girlfriend on pieces of paper with dates. I understand this now. His mother was the virtuoso of gaslighting. I'm sure this is his desperate attempt at clinging on to a semblance of reality.


  1. that's interesting.
    lucky for me, i started journaling in my teens, and that was in the 2000s. so i journaled online. where my parents could't find me. when i first started though, it was a public journal for friends. so id idnt really say what i was feeling inside. i didnt start journaling for myself until college. and even then, i censored myself. which is why i could go on and on for pages without really saying anything. and its always been in typing online so my parents never get to see! ah HAH!

    my mom nosed through my sketchbook once, which was part-journal. it was INSIDE my nightstand next to my bed. why is she looking in there? she found some page where i said i hated her and she went wild about it. ugh. PRIVACY PEOPLE! PRIVACY! its hard to feel safe when your boundaries have constantly been stepped right over since the beginning.

  2. then they blame me for having things that i'd want to keep secret from them. jesus these greedyass monsters. oh god i'm getting angry all over again!

  3. Pronoia, this is a great post and you're writing like gang busters now - there's no stopping you!

    I can relate to the violation of privacy, that seems to be the norm in a N home - no private thoughts allowed. I swear mn mother was constantly worried about what I was writing about her - even to myself! Talk about a paranoid fear of exposure. I understand the need to document, especially when you're surrounded by pathologicals. You learn to trust no one and carry a big stick.

  4. I've always had a need to write. Write, Write, Write, from the time I was a young girl. Like you, The Dragon read my early diaries. "Oh Non, isn't this part cute. Non, you shouldn't say things like that" etc. I stopped keeping a diary until I was in my early teens, then I began to write with a vengence. Hours and hours, pages and pages of thoughts placed directly on paper... frantic scribbling, writing so fast I would skip words in my rush. The Dragon "tried" to read these as well. When she couldn't decypher them, she would say, "Non, why won't you share your secrets with me?" She didn't (couldn't) know that I had already learned to NEVER share anything with her.

    I've written in my blog, briefly, about my marriage to my first husband (a narc as well) Prior to getting married I burned all my journals. One reason was because the were full of negative.... negative everything. Another reason was, I couldn't leave them with the Dragon because she would take the time to decypher them, and I couldn't take them with me, because even then I knew my soon-to-be husband would not respect my privacy in this matter. (Yes, it's sick that I married him anyway.... you know what they say about hind sight? right?)

    Anyway, although I attempted many times to begin journaling again, I could not let go of the "I must self-censor" feeling I had. I simply couldn't put my real feelings down on paper.... not even for myself.

    My blog, it my first attempt at 'journaling' since I was a teen. I wasn't sure if I would be able to pour 'myself' on the screen or not. If I couldn't, Life Under the Nut Tree would have just been another empty blog floating in cyberspace. Something clicked, whether it was feed back from my fellow suffers/bloggers or whether it was I had finally reached a place and time where I felt safe saying my truth, I don't know, but it has been a life saver.

  5. Once my mom got into my early diary, I invented a code. Once things got too depressing to write about, I started writing about current affairs and politics instead. I didn't feel comfortable writing about injustice happening to me, but wanted to broadcast injustice done to others so that it could end. That's how I became a journalist :).

    Fascinating that N Dad is obsessed with keeping documents too. I do wonder how he feels about his own N Mother now. Does she dominate his life even now she's long gone? Is he still afraid of her? Apparently so, when you see how he reacts to you when you "act like her". The dynamics between N adults with N parents would be fascinating to explore further.

  6. NLR, my code was religion for a while - I was obsessed with Gnosticism and the idea of a petty, tyrannical false god who demands love and adoration that is not his due. I wrote a play about him when I was 16 and it felt so good to be writing it - also, the Demiurge's character was so easy to write, for some strange reason. ;)

    That's how I became interested in religion and literature :)

    My father's mother is the boss of him still, 15 years after her death. I tried to give him opportunities to tell me his truth about her, asking him direct questions, but he instead recites her truth, learned by heart, and ever looks me in the eye.

  7. I also kept a journal throughout middle school and high school - so sad that you threw yours out. I get the impulse, but it's hard not to regret it, eh? I agree with you - documentation is our defense against gaslighting.

    Great insights!

  8. Wow! I came home from middle school one day to find my mom sitting on my bed, reading my journal. Still, to this day, she makes fun of me about what she read. I stopped writing, then.

    I became fiercely private about everything: the contents of my locker, bookbag or bedroom, and still now I have a hard time letting people use my laptop.

    It always amazes me how similar the stories of ACONs are!


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