#319 – How To Break Free From A Narcissist With Dana S. Diaz

Thomas Green here with ethical marketing service on the episode today, we have Dana Diaz. Dana, welcome. Thank you. It is very good to have you. Would you like to take a moment and tell the audience a bit about yourself and what you do? Yes, absolutely. I am the author of a book called Gasping For Air, The Stranglehold of Narcissistic Abuse, which actually was developed from a journal that I kept in my former marriage. Um, that was not very nice. It was an abuse of marriage to a narcissist, um who also had some alcohol addiction issues and um started out, you know, a little rough but towards the end and even after the divorce, there was some domestic violence. So, um it’s something that I think needs to have some awareness brought to it because there’s not very much justice for victims of abuse because unless you’re walking around with black eyes and invisible evidence of what’s going on, people don’t really understand that there’s emotional and psychological, mental health issues, physical issues that you suffer inside as a result of the abuse.

Um So that’s mainly the area that I deal with. But outside of that, I am a normal person too. I am a wife, a mother and a cat mom. And you know, I’m a writer, I have two more books coming up. So um we’ll be checking those out next year. Hopefully they’ll be out and um I’m just trying to help people along, you know, because I have come so far not just in understanding my situation and why those situations happened, but healing from it because I have come to accept that that’s just how it is and, and I don’t want people to ever be ashamed of what they’re going through mentally or physically, whatever struggles they have because of the circumstances that they have found themselves in during their life. Well, Thank you for the introduction, um, very hard hitting uh title. Um And I appreciate you uh sharing your story uh in terms of, um just in terms of the setting our conversation up cos many people, I don’t know if you’ve found this, but many people use the term narcissist as like an insult, but in terms of how you would separate, let’s say a normal person from a narcissist.

Uh how would you describe that, that person? Absolutely. And I appreciate you saying that because as anti narcissist as I am, it’s it narcissists are not all bad people, typically on a very basic level, a narcissist is just somebody that needs to feel a, a, an extraordinary sense of importance and superiority over others. But you know, where it’s used very loosely in society and there is a stigma to that term, you know, it can be on the low end of just these are the people that you see on social media, you know, looking amazed and you can’t hate on them because they really do look as good as they think they do or we go to the very extreme end, which are the people that will use any tactic, including multiple abuses um to basically invoke um other people to make them admire and praise them so that they feel that sense of ego fulfillment.

And I always try to explain it very simply like tumors in your body. You can have a benign tumor that’s there, but it’s not bothering you. It’s just there and it’s still a tumor but it’s not gonna do anything to you. Whereas a malignant tumor it’s gonna cause you problems, it might kill you and you have to remove it. So, you know, we go from one end to the other and there’s everything in between. But in my experience, unfortunately, I have only dealt with the malignant narcissists that are the ones that will use any or all methods of abuse to get you to submit to them and to control and dominate every part of your life. So, um I, I was very interested to hear you say that about the fact that there, there can be good narcissists was, is that the word that you use them as self centered? I think that there’s a deep, deep sense of insecurity in all narcissists. They have a deep seated sense of insecurity that, you know, by attaining the admiration and praise of others, they will feel better about themselves.

So they’re basically looking to other people to project back to them that they are these wonderful people that deep down, they don’t think they are. So it comes from a place of insecurity. Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And uh at what point would you say it goes from being someone who’s maybe a little self centered and insecure to being someone who is um, well, should we, should we call them AAA bad narcissist? Yes, you know, I don’t know that they go from one end to the other. I think they, they just, you know, because we, as people are so complex, you know, it, it, there are people that will cross those lines and cross those boundaries and people that won’t, it just depends on their level of desperation. Um, you know, but it’s interesting that the malignant narcissists, these bad ones, you know, they actually don’t have any sense of empathy or remorse to understand that they’re doing something wrong.

Um So that there’s no, I mean, I look at like our US prison population, they say over 20% of the male prison population here in the US are identified as narcissists. So, and, and they don’t have any concept that they have done something wrong. They actually will turn things around and say that it was their victim’s fault that they got what they deserved basically. So I think that there’s just a sense of, you know, we’re calling people with a very, very healthy self esteem, a narcissist, which maybe they are. I don’t like to look at the label so much because at the end of the day, if you’re a terrible person that is intentionally causing harm to somebody, you know, as I always say, you’re a po si won’t say the words out loud but you’re a jerk. You know, it’s, it’s not right. And there’s a moral compass that we all have in our head and these bad narcissists do not have this moral compass.

And if they do, they’re not using it because they don’t think rules apply to them. They don’t think the law applies to them. They know what they can get away with and even the things that they shouldn’t get away with they do. So they perpetrate, you know, whatever abuses they can get away with on their victims and then they feel powerful because now they’re, they are above the law. They haven’t gotten in trouble, their victim hasn’t reported them. So, you know, I think it’s just, it’s just like any other human being. Some of us follow the rules and have a moral compass and some don’t. And it’s the same with narcissists. Would you say it’s a lack of empathy problem? Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, the best example I could give of that in my former marriage which I, I discussed in detail in the book. Um, I was having a miscarriage and, and it was, it was actually happening. Um, and it was very painful. Um I was crying, I was asking him for help.

He was maybe 10 ft away from me and he looked at me, looked away, didn’t say a word and turned up the volume on the TV to so that he didn’t have to hear me crying and begging him for help. And I asked him to take me to, you know, the hospital, take me to a doctor and and he, he wouldn’t even say a word to me. He just ignored me and left me there. You know. So, if that doesn’t display the kind of, uh, lack of empathy that these people have, I don’t know, what does they’re cruel. Yeah. I’m really sorry to, uh, to hear that you went through that. Um, one of my questions was gonna be about, at what point did you realize you were dealing with someone like this? Um I’m guessing by that point you 100% knew that you were dealing with someone who had empathy problems. Um But how far along were you when it started to, when you started to realize it, it’s unfortunate because I was raised by a stepfather who was abusive to me physically and verbally.

Um, by the time that I met my ex um, ex-husband, I, you know, I had been diminished to nothing. My, my stepfather made sure, I mean, he actually told me, you know, he, he is the king of all narcissist. He would tell me every day during my childhood that nobody would ever love me. Nobody even ever wanted me to be born, um, that he shouldn’t have to pay for another man’s child, all these terrible things. So I went into the world having no self esteem and, and no concept of even knowing why I was even here. II I honestly, I was so lost. So it’s actually no wonder that I went for the first person that, you know, showed me the tiniest bit of attention and affection. But I knew the second I, my ex-husband, the very first time he walked into my life, he reminded me very much of my abusive stepfather. So I think that there’s a sense psychologically that we tend towards situations that are comfortable, even if they’re negative and unpleasant, we understand them and we know how to navigate through them.

And, um we, we just tend towards that because if you had sent me a very nice young man, I probably wouldn’t have known what to do with that, you know, and it sounds terrible to say, but at the same time I can look back and say there, I was, I think what was I 1919 years old, young girl just out in the world, um feeling very lowly about myself being told that I, I, you know, my mother didn’t love me, my stepfather didn’t love me. I, I was just eager and I’m gonna say the word desperate for anybody. It, it probably wouldn’t have mattered who it was. So, even though he was very standoffish and aloof and I could sense that he wanted, um, you know, he felt entitlement and he wanted servitude. I was eager to offer that to him. It, it, it almost was the perfect storm if you think about it. And now that my book has come out and I’ve talked to other victims of narcissistic abuse in romantic relationships.

I have found that many of us have come from childhoods where our sense of who we are has been diminished in some way by usually by similar abuses. So it’s unfortunate that I saw it right away. The red flags were waiting, waving all over. I mean, within 2 to 3 weeks, there was an angry outburst that made me very nervous as to, you know, what he was capable of and the violent tendencies definitely persisted, um, and just got worse over time. But I think that’s part of the narcissistic abuse is that they push the bounds little by little. So every time something happens, you feel unsettled, you don’t like what happened, but it’s, you don’t wanna upset them. It’s not enough to confront them or at least not for us because we don’t wanna, we unfortunately don’t wanna lose this person because we think this is the only person that’s ever gonna possibly love me and ever is gonna possibly wanna be with me.

So the next time something happens it’s just a little bit worse, but it’s still not a deal breaker. But see, they know they have gotten away with it and that you haven’t left and when they feel that you’re unsettled and you’re unsure about them and unsure about the relationship, that’s when they come back with what’s called love bombing. They tell, oh, it’s you and me against the world. You’re the one and you know, my ex would caress my cheek when we’d watch television or, you know, do bring me flowers. There’s all these loving things that happen. So, in your mind, you’re thinking, ok, they’re capable of love, they’re showing me love, they’re showing signs that they’re capable of this. So I just have to make sure that I act in ways that provoke that side of them instead of this angry side. It’s sort of a Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde situation where you know, how to affect them and they know how to affect you. I mean, that’s sort of how the relationship works.

So you’re trying so hard to get that good side of them that the bad stuff happens and the bad stuff teaches you what you don’t do. There’s all these unspoken rules that you learn, so you won’t do that again because you don’t wanna have the consequences. So you keep doing this, people pleasing stuff to keep them coming with all the love and the affection and, and the good times because, you know, people think that, you know, like I just went out on the street and found Chucky running around with a butcher knife and disheveled hair and, you know, no, I didn’t. You know, the, these are people even Ted Bundy, the serial killer, you know, from decades ago was charming and handsome and had, you know, a partner and a daughter at home and yet he was out raping and killing women every single day. So these are people that know, they know when to put on their show and, and they know how to affect others to get others to like them or, or feel, um, you know, that the people feel that they’re trustworthy and that, you know, that they know how to make things work in their advantage.

Basically, it sounds to me, um, correct me if I’m wrong that you, you did some, you sort of blamed yourself for that person’s actions towards you. Is there a point at which that, um, you stopped doing that? Yes. But it took about 20 it was about 20 years into the relationship. And it’s unfortunate because I think that, I mean, I, I will say this the, the day we got married, III, I will never forget hearing the wedding march playing and I, I panicked because I thought, what, what am I doing? I don’t want to marry this guy. This is not who I wanna be with and I’m not right for him. He’s not right for me. What am I doing? But we got married and we had a son and, and, you know, I think once you make that commitment, at least for me, I took it very seriously and I thought I have to try to make this work because I knew what I was getting into and I ST, you know, I, I, I’m a very responsible person so I wanted to make the best of it.

I wanted to see if maybe I could change him, maybe I could be better and then he would be better. You know, II I always tried to take that angle of, you know, if you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you always got. So maybe I’ll try something different because if I’m doing something different, he has to react differently and, well, it just never worked. It was always, you know, it was always just, it would blow up in my face. So there was never a point necessarily that I thought this is it, this is it. But there were multiple times that I questioned why I was there if that makes any sense. But it is common in abusive situations. You know, they say on average, um, the victim wants to leave the relationship seven times before they actually do. And the irony is, is that I did talk with lawyers six times before the final one. The seventh lawyer is the one that I actually did file for divorce with. But it took me about 20 years to get to the point where I just said that this, this is just not working and I don’t wanna do this anymore.

But you know, the sad thing to me looking back is, you know, all the things that happened and I can name a million things. But, you know, he swung a crowbar at my head once I ducked if I hadn’t ducked, I wouldn’t be here. He, he was very aggressive and hostile. Um, intimidated, stalked, verbal. It just all these abuses. There was a knife incident that he shot a gun outside my bedroom window after, like all these things would tell a normal person. Get out of this relationship. Yet I stayed, I stayed, I was afraid of him because I had, I had received text messages and emails at one point, I stopped taking his phone calls because I felt like I had to start getting evidence because nobody would believe me. Um if I told them that he was saying and doing the things he was doing. So, you know, I have texts and emails that he sent, telling me, you know, cryptically or outright that he wanted me dead.

Um So I was scared, I was scared that if I left or if I tried to leave or if I filed for divorce, that something would happen and, and there were definitely signs of that and that’s why I kept a journal because I thought if something happens to me and he makes it look like an accident, which I had the idea that that’s what he was trying to do. Um in, in several instances. Um I wanted to make sure that people would know it was him if they found this journal. So yeah, it it’s unfortunate that it took me getting physically sick. Um It, I went through about a year of testing, doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me because I had two dozen symptoms that were so random that didn’t seem to go together. Some were neurological, some were cardiovascular digestive, muscular, you know, I, I everything from brain tumors to lymphoma to MS we, you know, were tested and discussed and it turns out that it was the high level of cortisol, which is a stress hormone that was running through my body for, for so long at such high levels that my body thought it had to eradicate some sort of a virus like it would a cancer or something that my white blood cells were killing themselves off.

I had become autoimmune and the script touchiness you hear in my voice is a rare lung syndrome that the doctor says is like having a pulmonary disorder and fibromyalgia all at the same time. And the irony, it’s common among victims of abuse. So it, you know, when I got sick, I had dwindled down to £93. I was skeletal. I could barely breathe. I needed a backpack oxygen machine with a mask on my face just to wear to work every day just to get through every day, so I could breathe. Um but my body was not functioning and, and my, my doctor sat me down at the end of 2019 and said all of your organs have basically, you know, they’re shutting down, they’re at minimal survival rates. And if you don’t get out of whatever situation is causing you so much stress, you know, there might be, you know, terminal consequences and I’d never thought that stress really could kill you.

I’ve heard the phrase but I didn’t realize that until I was actually living it. And, you know, I, I remember laying down that night and thinking is this man worth it? This man who tells me every day, he doesn’t even like me. This man who tells me he wants me dead. Is it worth dying for? Is it not? You know, I wanna be alive. I wanna live my life. And there were so many things that I hadn’t done because he hadn’t wanted me to, I wasn’t allowed to do anything that brought me joy or success or achievements. I couldn’t even have friends. I couldn’t even go to the store down the street for cat food without being accused of cheating on him and sleeping with somebody while I was away for 15 minutes. You know. So I just decided right then in that moment, you know, thinking about the things I, I had gotten a degree in journalism from university. I wanted to be a writer but I never did because he didn’t want me to, I wanted to travel.

He didn’t want me to leave the house. He actually told me the house was my prison. You know. So I just said, II, I have to be done with this I have to take the risk because one way or another, I’m gonna die and I would rather die trying to get out of this situation than stay in it and let him reap the benefits of walking around and taking people’s pity for having a sick wife that he probably wouldn’t take care of because I didn’t expect that he would take care of me. He never had. Um, and, and I, I just, I, I just said that that’s it. This is it. I, I’m gonna live for me now and I think it took, unfortunately getting so sick to realize and of self respect that, you know, self-respect for my life and for what I wanted and the fact that I did matter, um, to get out of that. So, you know, I filed for divorce, things got much more violent afterwards. Um, but it’s only been three years and a few months and I’m standing here today, you know, as an example to others that I am healthy now, I’m, I don’t even know the last time I needed my oxygen machine, I’ve gained my weight back.

I don’t have all those random autoimmune, um, flares and reactions that I was having before. And I am a writer and I, I’m even remarried to a longtime friend. And it’s amazing that to me, at least that I could have a healthy relationship after living the 1st 45 years of my life, you know, in, in such terrible circumstances and, and circumstances that were meant to basically destroy my spirit and, and any sense of who I was or any capabilities that I could be standing here and say, wow, look what I have done in such a short time. But if I can do it, I feel like anybody can do it. Well, congratulations. I feel like you deserve a massive round of applause so well done. Um And yeah, the, the fact that you’ve gotten your book out, uh it means that you did become a writer. So I like that positive end of the story. Um What I do find very beneficial uh when I speak to someone like yourself is to, uh possibly that there is someone listening right now who is, maybe they’re not at the end, but they’re, they’re, they’re just, they’re considering leaving that person who they either they know is abusive or a narcissist or they suspect it’s the case.

So if you had a chance to speak to that person, what would you say to them? There’s so much to say. I, I am not, unfortunately, I’m not the person that tells people, get out, get out, get out because not everybody can get out safely and, and you know, there is planning involved in something like that. But what I would say is this, you know, who you are is important if I had stayed in my situation and just gone through the motions of life and hoped that I lived long enough that, you know, to see my son grow up and move on. That’s great. But look at the impact, I don’t think we realize the impact we have not just on other people but on ourselves the way we talk to each other, the way we treat each other. But more importantly, how do we talk to ourselves and how do we treat ourselves? It saddens me when I think that I gave myself permission to be in that situation for so long.

You know, I recently saw a meme on some social media that said, you know that that dude that’s making you cry every day. I’m gonna take a guess and say that’s not your soul mate, but it’s true. You know, if somebody is making you feel that miserable, if you are afraid to say anything to have an independent opinion or a thought, if you are walking on eggshells because you’re, you’re trying to avoid consequences. That is a problem. And I am telling you your life is worth more than that. Your life is worth more. Every word we say matters. I had no idea that here in podunk USA is surrounded by cornfields around me that I could affect other people the way I have with my book or with my experience and by telling my story, but I have, but the beautiful thing about life is we all have a story. You know, some not as severe. Some, not as extreme but somebody out there can, it, it, it resonates and, and that impact is very important.

So don’t waste your time in a situation that is not allowing you to live to your full potential and live the life that you want and deserve. And I’m sorry, that’s a lot, but there’s a lot to tell somebody in that situation. But I think it, you know, the, the gist of it is just to know that you’re important. What that person, who that person is saying you are is not who you are, that’s who they want you to be for their own self serving purposes, but who you are is inside of you. So you have to do what I did and say, what do you want? What do I want because you know what you want and it probably isn’t what you’re living. It’s great advice. Thank you for sharing it. Um The, the messages or the, the examples that you gave are so unjust that it kind of makes me wonder about if you’ve got any con any closure regarding, you know, an opportunity to tell this person how you felt or something along those lines.

Did you ever get that? I didn’t. But I think that it, you know, I, I have figured out, you know, these people will take anything you say or do and twist it around to some advantage or, or, you know, to some victimhood, you know, that they experience. So it, the words are wasted. I think that, you know, like so many people talk about forgiveness and everything and I say what I had to do was resolve things with myself and forgive myself. Because at the end of the day who put herself in that situation, I did, who stayed in that situation? I did was what he did all these things he did wrong. Yes. But I was the one that put that hypothetical collar and leash around my neck. I was also the one who took it off and there’s a lot of power in knowing that, you know, it, it was me and I’m gonna take responsibility for that. So I forgive me and I think that definitely writing the book, you know, and elaborating on, on, on those experiences that I, I had put in my journal has helped a lot because it helped me to understand things like I understand more about him now that we’re not even in a relationship and even things that I didn’t realize about myself that I wouldn’t have really recognized if I had just had the thoughts in my head or those memories because there’s something about seeing something on paper and reading it where even though it was my life and, and things I experienced, there’s an objectivity that takes place when you’re reading words versus, you know, reliving the memories in your head.

And so, you know, you see patterns and you see, you know, behaviors a little differently. But I think that’s the beautiful thing about it is that I have a different perspective now. So do I hate my ex? I, I should but I don’t, it is what it is, but I learned a lot from it and I think that’s why despite thinking, you know, there’s all these ideas. I, I don’t like when people call themselves broken or damaged after, after trauma or some toxic relationship, I’m not broken or damaged, I’m affected. Absolutely affected. I will stand here and say, I, I have fought the demons of depression and anxiety and hyper vigilance and, you know, the triggers are, are nasty but, you know, I’ve learned to self regulate. I, I have sought help for that. I have practiced it but isolating myself was not the answer. And that’s what we all tend to go to because we’re like, oh, if I just stay away from people and things and, and social situations, then I’ll be ok.

But guess what? That’s not gonna make you better. You’re just basically hiding yourself and, and you know, basically preventing your healing, you have to interact with others, you have to be triggered so that you can pull those tools out of the toolbox that you read about and that you learn and hear about and put them into practice because you’re not gonna pull a tool out and be, you know, perfectly using it the first time you have to practice. But the beauty of that is that you can have a healthy relationship, romantically, you can connect with people, you know, in friend and family situations once you can, you know, resolve these things of the past. But I think that there are definitely scars that I have emotional scars, but they have made me who I am. So do I regret the past? No. Do I wish to go back and say something and warn myself? No, I don’t be because I think all those things needed to happen. They needed to be experienced for me to be the person that I am now and to be able to have the beautiful marriage that I have now and and to be able to help people the way I’m helping them now.

So you know, there, there are lessons everywhere. It’s just how you look at it. I could sit in the corner and cry in fetal position all day long about all the things that have happened to me and I have done that. I did it for many, many years. I did it even after the divorce, I did it even I think about a month ago I had a good cry because something triggered me and you know what the stuff resurfaces. But I knew I’m like, I just need a minute, I need to pull myself out, get it out, release the tears, release that energy. And then I was ok and it was like, ok, I’m good, I’m good. You know, and we’re all gonna falter on that, you know, once in a while, but there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s beauty and having a soft heart and, and sensitivity and knowing who we are and who other people are and you just get up and move on. But, you know, we’re all deserving and worthy and enough for somebody. Um, it’s just who you decide to give yourself to. You know, so there’s definitely choices in life.

We just sometimes make the wrong ones, you know, for, for reasons that we can understand now that we look at our past. But, you know, we just have to acknowledge it and move forward and make better choices next time. It’s a great answer and I 100% agree with you as soon as you said, it would have fallen on deaf ears. Then, you know, I’m 100% with you on that 11 of your previous answers. You said that you have a son. Um And you also said about the fact that your stepdad basically told you, you know, you were no good from a young age. And my um my thoughts on that are that Children, if you tell Children something, they’ll believe you, especially if you’re in a parental role. And the question is around how you decide to um raise your son as a result of how you erase yourself. Have you got any thoughts there. Yeah, it’s very interesting because by about 12 or 13 years old I decided I didn’t want Children at all and you know, I, I just could not fathom bringing up a child and making a mistake.

Um, cause there, there is this idea that’s out there, there’s some cliche about, you know, you turn into one or both of your parents when you become a parent. And the thought of that terrified me. That I thought I’m just gonna not have Children that way. I don’t have to hurt another human being because I could not live with myself if I did that. But, you know, we women, we have this biological clock in us and, and I, I, everyone was having babies and I’m going to baby showers and I thought, oh no, I didn’t want a baby. And so, you know, having my son, the beautiful thing about it was that as scared as I was, I knew what not to do. I knew what not to do because I knew what those things felt like. And I know that was the whole reason I hadn’t wanted to have a child to have a child. So I just did the exact opposite. I mean, I, I, my, my son is probably very annoyed at how much I love him and I know this because, you know, I do embarrass him a lot.

Um, he’s gonna be 21 in a few months. So, you know, he’s a young man now and living his life and I’m very proud of him, of course. But, you know, I am not shy about showing him affection and, you know, I will put my arms around him and squeeze him tight and tell him I love him and you know, he stands there like, oh get off of me like you don’t need to be showing me affection in front of people, you know, but I’m gonna do it anyway. And I have made sure not to ever waste an opportunity to tell him that I’m proud of him or to specifically, you know, congratulate, you know, I’m not trying to give him an overinflated ego, but I want him to know I’m here. But at the same time, I have also let him falter, you know, there are decisions he’s had to make in his life. And I am not one of those moms that’s gonna tell him what to do because as I always told him, I’m not gonna be around forever and I needed to give him the tools to be able to live his life well, but to make good decisions.

And so that’s that, that was my, you know, if he ever came to a crossroads in something I would say, well, if you do this, this might be the potential consequence. If you do that, that might be and you have to figure out what you want. What do you want to take a risk. Do you want to try that? You know. So I feel like I’ve given him a good sense of right and wrong and deciphering things and just, you know, loving him more than anything and just knowing he’s loved and I think that when I got a divorce from his father, um, you know, he, he was 17. So it’s not like we could, you know, legally put something into place. He wasn’t five or, you know, you take him for three days. I, well, my ex-husband didn’t even want any part of our son. Unfortunately. And the divorce didn’t take financial responsibility at all. Wanted no part of guardianship, nothing. Um, but my son said he wanted to stay with me anyway. And I think that spoke to our relationship because he knows his dad.

He, he knows his dad is unstable and erratic and all these things and I’m the consistent and stable one. and I would do anything for him and, and I think that’s what a child needs to know, to have the safety and security of that parental relationship. Does he still love his dad? Of course, he does. That’s his father and he should, and I’m not going to convince him otherwise. And does he want his dad’s approval? Yes, of course. You know, I’m 48 years old and my mother and stepfather don’t even speak to me. They haven’t for several years. But of course, I still want their approval too. I’ll never get it. But, you know, so I don’t judge my son on that. I’m just here. I’m just mom and I love him. He knows that. And it’s been great and I’m, I’m, I’m, I honestly, I’m very proud of myself for having raised him the way I did despite where I came from. Amazing answer. Thank you for that. And, um, you did say about, uh, the fact that he, your, uh, ex-husband didn’t want involvement, but you added unfortunately.

And, uh, I thought, I it’s an interesting dichotomy to cos I was gonna ask you about the fact that you’ve got a, an experience of almost co parenting with a narcissist and there’s probably some good advice in there as well. But are you saying that you didn’t necessarily have to deal with it? I don’t think there is co parenting with a narcissist. Honestly, my ex never wanted Children. That’s, you know, something that we discussed before getting married. Like I said, I hadn’t wanted chil. I hadn’t thought I would want a child either, but narcissists are all about themselves. Um, things actually became much worse after we had our son. Um, because now the baby was the focus of my time and attention and not my husband. Um, and, and that was a ver, I, I mean, it was a very, very big problem and that is when honestly, things just spiraled downward and, and very quickly and it was never the same. Um, but narcissists in a situation where, you know, you part ways, they are known to use the Children as pawns.

Um, they, of course they don’t wanna use their money on their Children and they don’t wanna spend their time with their Children. Um, it’s very common but they will use the Children against you. I am just lucky that, you know, I’ve heard so many stories of narcissists seeking custody of the child or the Children just to stick it to, you know, the person who left them in my case. Um, I’m not sure what his reasoning was but I’m glad that he didn’t fight me. I mean, there was never even a discussion. That’s the sad part. You know, it was just assumed that I would take my son and, and, and it was because the reason that I stayed as long as I did was because I was not gonna leave my son in that situation. I absolutely would not leave without him. And I had told my ex many times I am gonna be the best ex-wife ever because I don’t want anything. I don’t want any money. You could take all of it. You could take all the stuff, the cars, the, I’m not gonna fight you on anything.

I just wanna walk out of here with my kid and I don’t care about the rest of the stuff can be replaced. That is how badly I want it out. Yeah. Well, that’s, um, shows that priorities are in the right place in, in my view, uh, because, you know, it’s important. Um, but the, you’ve, I think you’ve referenced the fact that you’ve done a lot of self work, meaning, uh, I think there are plenty of examples of, uh, people who have been in your position and they haven’t been able to make it out or they haven’t done something positive as a result of going through that. So how did that happen for you? I think that I just needed to rediscover who I was because when you’re in a situation, particularly with a narcissist, but I think a lot of abuse victims go through this. Um you lose, you lose yourself, you lose yourself in that relationship. But narcissists in particular dictate everything, they dictate who your friends can be. But usually you can’t have friends because you can’t have influence.

You usually don’t see your family or have contact with them because again, they can’t, they can’t even risk that anybody influencing you other than them because other people will tell you to get out of that situation. You are told, I mean, my ex would tell me he, he didn’t like this particular lipstick that I wore because he said I looked like a whore. He didn’t like me listening to that music. He didn’t like me reading books. I didn’t even have a smartphone until he moved out of the house at the end of the relationship because God forbid I go on the internet and find information that might sway me to leave or might give me some sense of empowerment, you know, everything, what we ate, where we went, everything was dictated. So when you have lived like that, like when he did move out, I remember feeling lost. I mean, I was relieved but I was lost because I’m like, I don’t know what to do with myself because my whole life had been serving him and making sure, you know, constantly serving the situation and gauging the energy to determine what I’m supposed to do next.

What does he expect of me? What does he want from me? What’s gonna make him happy? What’s gonna keep the peace and without him there, well, my world revolved around him. So what was there to do? So I had to reach, reach down real deep and, and kind of dig to say, where’s Dana? Where is she? Where did she go? What is she even like? You know, and so I tell people all the time, start with the simple things. Even if you’re still in that relationship, don’t let this person diminish you so much that you lose who you are and who you are is in the little things. I’m sure you have a favorite color. You know, mine is red. So I painted my nails red because I like it and it made me happy to look down and see my nails painted red and it might be wearing, you know, that, that, that makes you feel really good about yourself or I’m sure for guys or, you know, there’s stuff you can do for yourselves too or, you know, it’s just little things, you know, even allowing myself.

I, I joke about this and it sounds silly but I remember going, it, it was the first or second night without him in the house And you know, he was very specific about what I cooked for dinner. There were, there were rules about that too and I didn’t want to cook dinner. Honestly, I felt like something sweet. So you know what? I had a pint of ice cream. I ate the whole darn pint myself, but I loved it. And I sat down on the couch. I felt like the queen of the house. I’m like, oh, and I get to sit on the couch and watch what I want to watch, not what he wants to watch. These are silly things that people take for granted, but they don’t realize that in an abusive situation, you’re not allowed these little indulgences. So I say indulge your whims because in doing that, you’re gonna find those little bits of happiness that are like depositing, you know, into your happy jar of your soul and they’re gonna remind you who you are and it’s gonna get a little easier every and then and before you know it, you’re gonna be standing firmly on your own 2 ft, knowing exactly who you are, knowing what you want in the bigger scheme of life as far as careers and, and lifestyle and all these things and, and that’s just gonna lead you in the right path because, you know, like for me, once I saw what I wanted, I couldn’t forget about that.

I couldn’t unsee it. So, you know, you start taking these baby steps but you have to start with you. And I think just even, you know, rediscovering who you are and allowing yourself giving yourself permission to, you know, be who you are basically is gonna put you in a better mind space to receive the healing that, you know, you’re gonna try to get because whether you go to traditional talk therapy or I did some writing therapy, even if you don’t have money for things like that and you’re going on youtube, there’s a lot of people on youtube that can offer some perspective or a podcast like this, you know, you’re gonna receive whatever it is better when you’re feeling better about yourself. Well, the uh the writing and the career preferences are a nice segue back to the book. Um So, uh in relation to the book, have you got a chapter which you’re particularly proud of? Oh, I don’t, I probably, there is a chapter towards the end that it, it’s probably the last chapter and it just talks about it.

It’s actually, the day I, it took me months after the divorce to get my ex-husband to move off of our property because we actually had two houses on our property and that was a complicated situation. But the day he moved out, I stayed away and, um, my son was there, you know, I just didn’t want to make things more awkward. But, uh, you know, I’ll never forget walking back in the house and seeing that, um my ex had taken the kitchen table that we had specifically, we had actually gone together to specifically pick out the wood planks that made this table top and this these tree trunks that were the the legs of the table. It was supposed to be where we would have family dinners. Um because I never really had those family dinners as a child and it was so important to me for us to have them. But we tried a few times at this table and they failed. But in his moving out, he decided he was entitled to take the table and I feel like it was AAA jab at me, you know, to tell me because the whole reason we made this table together was because it was the family table and, and he made sure to take it to tell me that I’m the one that broke the family up.

But the beautiful part about it was that I walked in. I I’m getting chills thinking about it and I just saw the empty space, there was nothing there, no table. And my son came out of his bedroom and saw me just standing there staring and he went and took a fo a black folding table, just a little card table we had and he, he unfolded the legs and put it in that spot. It’s like he was telling me no, we’re still a family. You and I are still here. And that just made me so proud. But it showed me how resilient we were, we were gonna not gonna let somebody else determine what we were or who we were and we were standing strong together there. So that’s a chapter I particularly love. Um Yeah, I’m getting a little sensitive now just thinking about it. It’s really, really nice. And um before you went with the uh the tear jerker, I was gonna say it, it says everything about uh that person that they’re willing to take that if that’s particularly important to you.

And for me, it’s kind of like, uh if you have any doubt about whether it’s the right decision at that point, then it’s sort of like it’s helpful in a way because it solidifies. Yeah, that’s I’m exactly making the right decision if you’re willing to do that. So, um uh congratulations on the book, I think. Um I think you’re a great example of someone who, um you know, other people can look to and see what they can do um if they’re in that same position so well done. Uh if people do want to buy the book or get in touch, where do they go? Absolutely. Most people are buying the book on Amazon, but you can go to my website Dana S diaz.com. Um The link for the book is there as well as links for Facebook and Instagram if anyone wants to follow me so that they can keep on, you know, updates for the next two books that are coming because I do have a book coming about my childhood and then a book coming about what happened after the divorce and you know, talking about the hiccups that I experienced and, and moving on and, and, but it all has a happy ending.

So it’s all good. Sounds like you’re being super productive. So, uh well done there, kind of like the therapeutic exercise of churning out books on your behalf. So I’ll be, I’ll be watching. Um It’s uh it’s great to see. Uh Do you have any closing thoughts for us? I think the the most important thing I like to share with people is just to be kind in general but be kind to others, be kind to yourself. Um Because the way you talk to yourself and the way you talk to others has much more impact than you than you realize, Dana. Thank you for being a great guest today. Thank you so much for having me