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.