Propensities and Principles – of Reconciliation

“Propensities and principles must be reconciled by some means.”  –Charlotte Bronte

Reconciliation with an estranged family member is possible, despite the bleak statistics … the failure rate is staggering.

I’d read and researched, been up and down with my father in my attempt at understanding – I’d spoken to my wife, children, friends, mother-in-law and therapist.  I’d listened to the advice of my readers …

Somewhere in the process I realized that relating to him now based solely on residual feelings from childhood – my being reactive (negatively) to everything he said, and my not seeing him for the man he is today wasn’t productive.  My anger – justified or not, was standing in the way of problem solving.  And about this same time, I began to understand that I wanted the problem of estrangement solved, and I wanted it all to have a happy ending … if that was possible.

So, I stepped back and away from what happened when I was a child and suggested we start with today. Build a connection now – a new connection based on our lives in the present.  I told him about my family and my life during the years since we’d last seen each other, I gave him hope in the form of sharing a few fond memories I had of him while I was growing up, and I invited him to an evening out with our wives.

 I extended an olive branch …

remembered my own principles; ‘a man should not be defined by his mistakes, but by what he does to make them right.’

And in remembering who I am, it dawned on me:

I had to give him a second chance.

In my anger and pain I hadn’t realized that believing in second chances meant I had to offer something, too – a willingness, an open heart. 

I thought, eventually, we’d have to revisit my childhood – but armed with a new connection, a solid bond, the moment would play itself out differently – it would be less complicated and more constructive – less painful and more resolute – less angry and more understanding.

Maybe my decision was wise, I don’t really know.  What I do know is that I no longer feel a need to speak of my father’s mistakes with him, no need to revisit my childhood and make the man he is today confront the father he was then.  He may not have been the father I needed as a child, but he gets an A+ for effort now.

In addition to getting my father back, I’ve gotten a far more complete understanding of my childhood – something I needed to feel whole emotionally.

I admire and respect his approach – to this day he will not speak to me disparagingly about my mother.  This is, even in my family where my mother has caused a sea of pain, destruction and heartbreak, the right thing to do.   Denigration is not the key to understanding, truth is.

If propensity represents the dark side of human nature, as Bronte suggests, acting on  our principles allows us to be something greater …

and to have something greater:

relationships based in truth, understanding, kindness, loyalty … and maybe even forgiveness.  

Understanding Today


I’ve gone back and read much of this blog in its entirety – the last time I did this was before I reconciled with my father.

I feel something – not sure what to call it; it is less than regret, but more than bad, for my part in thirty years of estrangement.  I had to do what I did to know the wonderful life I have known, and thankfully he understands that, but I am still feeling that indefinable something.  

When I stop to consider, I realize what I feel is connected to all he lost – and what is lost to time is irretrievable.

He missed my wedding, the birth and childhood of my children, holidays, birthdays, graduations, family vacations; I missed being there for him when my oldest sister died … the list goes on and on, and it staggers me – humbles me.

The past several months, since talking to my father  has brought me a more complete understanding of my childhood, I’ve compiled a mental list of wrongs committed by mother.  I did not intend for this to happen, did not set out to accomplish this task, but I realized as I read back through the pages of Silence Shattered I have done just that.

It’s odd because I don’t have a need to assign blame – I never have.  My need is, and has always been, to simply understand.

My mother assailed my childhood, left me devoid of a connection to my family for years and years, made me believe things that are untrue, led me to question my father’s intentions, integrity and sense of morality, turned her back on all three of her children  … and she now uses the fact that I have Bipolar Disorder, a disorder she gave me, in an attempt to exonerate herself – to support her denial.

She feels no shame, no sense of remorse.  She accepts no responsibility for the lives she has complicated or destroyed, feels no sorrow in knowing the unbearable pain she has caused.  In her own words:

” I will take this opportunity to just bow out and save myself the headache of dealing with it.”  

That’s what she does, she wrecks havoc with people’s lives and then she walks away – from everyone.  A woman who can turn her back on her children is a cold-hearted bitch who is capable of ANYTHING.

There, I said it.  I’m not proud of myself for expressing my pain and anger in such a crass way, but there it is – and it is appropriate; I, her only son, am a ‘headache,’ not to be dealt with.  Cold-hearted bitch.  She is truly vile and despicable.

My need was to understand:

but I am incapable of understanding a mother who is devoid of love for her own children.

Incapable of understanding hatred so deep and all-consuming she would destroy her own children in order to hurt the man she was once married to.

I can’t remember if she ever mattered to me at all;

I think she must have, because I feel betrayed …

She did not win, did not succeed.  I love – intensely, deeply and forever.  I am not like her.  I cannot understand her.

My father, for all his mistakes, loves too.  Loves his children, all three of us – and his grandchildren, those he has met and those he has yet to meet . He forgave my need to walk away, even comprehends why it was necessary.  In the end, my mother didn’t get what she set out to get – and she lost ALL in trying.   She condemned herself.

If not for the pain she caused my father, me, Elizabeth (and by extension our spouses and children, her grandchildren) and Janet, I’d feel vindicated in my final understanding, but …

there can be no real satisfaction when so much was taken from my father, my sisters and I.

It is, however, freeing and cathartic to know that ultimately …

she, Evil Incarnate, did not win.

For now, that’s enough.

Black Heart


Reconciliation with my father is going well, in fact it’s going really well.  Oddly enough, that has me contemplating my mother a great deal …

not contemplating a reconciliation, but pondering, understanding, and accepting exactly why that will never be possible.

Without my mother’s influence – her self-serving and purpose driven exploitation of my father’s mistakes, which made me fear him tremendously as a child, and question his judgement, intentions, integrity and morality as an adult, reconciling with my father would likely have come a long time ago.  As I have said before, I made the decision to walk away from him, and that is on me, but my mother certainly designed and engineered that outcome.

If, as the theory of False Memories goes, an unscrupulous therapist can cause an adult patient to remember things incorrectly – or even recall things that never actually happened, what is a morally bankrupt parent able to convince her child of?

I have clear memories of my father beating me, it happened.  He knows that, I know that – everyone who lived in our house knows that.  But I also have vivid memories of my mother using those beatings to make me afraid  of him every minute of every day.  She made me believe he could, at any moment, lose his temper and hurt me.  This is how she controlled my behavior as a child.  She ‘spanked’ me so much so he wouldn’t have to beat me, she told me this.  She also told me that my father had to beat me every month or so, despite her ‘efforts’ to make me well behaved, because I was just a bad kid who didn’t understand anything other than a beating.

And as terrible as what she did to me is, what she did to my sister is far, far worse.  She convinced Elizabeth that our father molested her.  She used the fact that my father had beaten me to make me fear him, and she used the fact that Ed was guilty of sexual misconduct to convince my sister that our father had molested her.

Both my sister and I have deep seated abandonment issues, issues our  mother worked day and night to create and develop.  When a child intensely fears being abandoned by her mother, her mother is all-powerful …

Elizabeth believed, or  has pretended to believe for decades, everything our mother told her about our father – in either scenario the outcome is unfavorable for Elizabeth …

If Pat was telling the truth, Elizabeth had repressed memories of being sexually abused by our father – and has had to live with all that entails.

If Pat was lying, which she was, Elizabeth had to pretend to believe her, and shun our father, or risk being abandoned by Pat.

Our parents were divorced, something Elizabeth never came to terms with; in her young mind, our father had already left her – it happened the day he moved out of our house.  So intense was Elizabeth’s  fear of abandonment by that point, she lacked the ability to understand their divorce logically and rationally.  She was never going to risk Pat’s abandonment, too … so she chose to believe Pat’s allegations, or at least pretend she did.

And now, today, Elizabeth either believes she was molested by our father – which is so far from the truth it would be ridiculous to even consider if the outcome weren’t so tragic …

or, she carries more than three decades of guilt for falsely believing/accusing our father of something so heinous.

And worst of all for Elizabeth — her mother did all of this to her.

Pat wanted us to hate our father, and this predates their divorce – I was very young when she so effectively began to make me as fearful of him as I was … she made Elizabeth very afraid of him, too — all the while she was playing our protector, twisting our thoughts, feelings and emotions according to her purpose.

As their marriage deteriorated, and Pat’s bitterness and resentment and loathing of Ed reached an apex, it all got much, much worse. Pat’s melodrama, which had always disturbed me, became a nightly show for Elizabeth and I as she sat on the couch drinking cheap wine through a straw directly from the bottle — something she told us she did so she could face having to sleep in the same bed with our father.

I could go on and on – she assassinated his character and did everything in her power to discredit him in our eyes.

What kind of mother does this to her children?

Sure, she was hurting Ed, the object of her disdain, but she was destroying her children in the process … her children, and she did not care …

There can be only one conclusion here:

She never loved us to begin with.

In fact,

Pat has no idea how to love anyone …

except herself.

I have no clue who is in Pat’s life today – she has thrown her children away and turned her back on her sister.  I know it sounds cavalier to say, ‘oh well, we’re all better off without her,’ but it is true.  Tragic and sad, but true.

Concern and compassion goes to those who are still trapped in her web, unable to discern who and what she really is.

Bipolar Disorder and Memory


Bipolar Disorder is a brain chemistry disorder – a chemical imbalance.  And it does impact memory, but not in the way some people seem to think it does …

You can casually read the results Google returns for your query, and depending on your search terms find the phrase, ‘Distorted Memory,’ associated with Bipolar Disorder, but ‘Distorted Memory’ isn’t the same as False Memories, or Distorted Memories.

Distorted Memory refers to deficits in executive function; i.e., memory storage and retrieval.  

Bipolar patients have difficulties with short-term memory, and may have difficulty accessing long-term memories – we also experience difficulties in concentration; cognitively, our memory can be compared to that of someone who has suffered a stroke.

When I was sick, I was asked a simple question related to my career – a question whose answer I had known for more than twenty five years, about a concept I had literally been teaching to other people for more than five years, and I COULD NOT answer it.  I could not retrieve the information I KNEW was stored in my brain.

Conversely – if, during the same phase of my life, someone had tried to teach me this information, I probably could not have learned it, stored it, or even understood it, despite my foundational knowledge and expertise.

Distorted Memory … not DISTORTED MEMORIES. 

As for False Memories … that isn’t even a real thing as far as credible members of the psychiatric community are concerned.  False Memory Syndrome is a phenomenon largely attributed, and attributable, to unscrupulous therapists.  It has NOTHING to do with Bipolar Disorder.

Incidentally, we collectively – as in every human being on the planet whether they have Bipolar Disorder or not , are far more apt to ‘falsely’ remember and perceive our lives as better than they actually were, not worse …

Which is terrifying for people like me, because I remember my childhood being the stuff of nightmares.

In Reaction to Denial and Harassment …


I don’t know if anyone can explain what’s its like to be an abused child well enough to make others understand in a real or visceral way.  It isn’t just abusive events, it’s an every day awareness that you are helpless and vulnerable – at the mercy of people who are devoid of empathy; people who are supposed to love you and care for you.  It’s knowing that at any moment the violent and painful things that have happened before, will happen again.  It’s an ever-present feeling of anxiety, of being on the edge – of knowing all too well what happens when you make a mistake and behave like the child you are.  It’s a dark and insidious feeling you cannot escape, and it never goes away, never eases for even a second.  There is no respite, no shelter or calm. There is only fear and unrelenting comprehension that what you fear most will happen again, just as it always has — the only question is when.

Children cannot process trauma, it damages them and changes who they are – it literally alters their brain chemistry.  Beatings are traumatic, and they are permanently etched on my psyche.  I have no idea how often one of my parents hit me – when something happens daily, or even just frequently, it becomes part of the tapestry of your life; beatings in my house just were.  And along with the trauma of the beatings themselves, I had to live with the fear, pain – both physical and emotional, and the intense humiliation that went along with them.

I have no idea at what point it all became too much for me, when an adult diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, Depression and PTSD became part of my future, and my destiny.  No one knows how much is too much for a child to bear and still end up being an adult who is well, and whole.  The affects of abuse –  extent of damage and long term impact on mental health aren’t the same for every victim.  Every child has his own breaking point, but once it’s been breached, negative mental health consequences are inevitable.

You can either accept that for the truth it is, or you can’t, but …

I’m growing very tired of people who deny, and who defend abusers – and the extent to which some will go is remarkable, and even illegal. A grown-up who attacks a child in verbal assault – her argument devoid of all critical thought and invalid in every way possible – her words designed only to wound and inflict pain on said innocent child – has crossed a line that should never be crossed.  No matter what she [the adult] thinks or feels or believes, attacking a child is degenerate.

 What my aunt said is so ludicrous it isn’t worth my time to defend, but my daughter was left feeling vulnerable and confused – my daughter who is unaccustomed to hostility, or adults who behave like children, was harassed and antagonized by a woman she has never even met – a grown woman who should know better than to say and do what she said and did.

My daughter, at seventeen, knows more about Bipolar Disorder, Depression, PTSD and Anxiety Disorder than most non-professionals will ever know.  She has been through hell because of what these illnesses caused; she knows what they are and she knows EXACTLY how I got them.  She has had trained professionals, many trained professionals, explain to her why her dad got sick …

but she is seventeen, and the idea that I am not seen as I truly am is challenging for her.  She knows I’m fine now, as I have been for most of her life; I’m stable, happy and emotionally satisfied.  She knows my memories are not distorted, or false.  She knows and understands, but she also knows she should not have to defend me to anyone, nor herself against wild accusations.   And she should not have to endure a verbal assault, especially one devoid of merit, truth, or even reality from someone who refuses to see things as they are and clings to erroneous, incomplete and untrue ‘information’ as though her life depends on it.

But that’s just it, her life – and the life of all who deny and refuse to recognize the truth, does depend on disbelief.  These people must be appeased and placated or they’ll be forced to face the truth in their own childhood, or worse – the childhood they gave their children.  My aunt isn’t defending my father, she is defending herself.  Nothing else could explain the vehement nature in which she spoke to my daughter.

We all do the best we can to manage our lives, and sometimes denial is the only thing we can do to get by – to make our past emotionally tolerable, to assure us that today has meaning, or is different somehow – but denial does not alter truth.

Anyone, including my aunt, is welcome to say anything they like TO ME – I opened myself up to potential scorn, ridicule, disbelief, insult, anger, indignation, denial, and accusation when I decided to tell my story in a public forum – but my children did not.

If you decide to confront me, know that I will not appease and placate you as others have.  I will not bow to your denial, or your self-righteous need to be heard.  I will not turn away from the truth I lived, or compromise for the sake of your comfort.

I know what happened to me as a child, I lived it every day.  I know who and what my parents were, and are.  I know what comes from abuse, it’s part of me now …

And nothing you can say or do, no amount of denial or refusal to see the truth can change that …

Although I honestly wish it could.

Heartless Reality



I feel enlightened.  I understand my childhood in ways I believed I never would, and I see the players for who they truly were, and are today.  That gnawing feeling – part of me for as long as I can remember, is gone; I know all I need to know.  The past is no longer veiled …

There is strength, and sadness, in this final understanding –  a kind of strength that empowers as only realizing the truth can, and sadness because, in the end, I didn’t want to see my mother for who she really is …

I knew her all along, I just didn’t know much of what she’s done – and I didn’t understand fully what she is capable of until recently.

I allowed my daughter to friend my father on Facebook, and I feel good about the decision.  He will be meeting her for the first time next Sunday …

I cannot imagine how bitter-sweet this is for him;

in his shoes I’d have to fight tooth and nail not to know deep and unyielding anger at my mother.

He has gotten beyond anger, as have I …

but we both carry scars that remind us of what hate, contempt and scorn can do … where they lead, and how high their cost:

Grandchildren who don’t know their grandfather …

A son and daughter who haven’t spoken to their father in decades …

Siblings who are all but strangers …

Cousins who didn’t grow up together …

She had no right to do what she’s done.  



Off All Meds

As I mentioned briefly in a post earlier this week, I am off all meds – which initially scared the hell out of me; my mantra had become, ‘Stable on Meds IS Stable.”


As I do not want to give anyone false hope of ever being Med Free, or mislead anyone in any way, I would be remiss not to explain;

these are the questions I have received from my readers, as well as their answers and explanation.


Do I have Bipolar Disorder?  Yes.

Am I currently sick?  No.

Is it typical for a Bipolar patient to ever know a Med Free life after diagnosis?  No.

Is it possible for a Bipolar patient to ever know a Med Free life after diagnosis?  Maybe, under certain circumstances.

Is it possible that I will not remain asymptomatic?  Yes.  But that is true even on meds.


My background is well documented, but here is the recap in brevity:

I was an abused child; physical and emotional abuse that caused my Bipolar Disorder

I estranged myself from my abusive parents in young adulthood and never looked back

My life went well – college, career, marriage, children … until I began having bouts of Depression in 2003 following the suicide of my best friend.  I did not treat this depression.

By 2006 I was cycling between mania and depression but didn’t realize this until

2009 when insomnia – I literally did not sleep for a full week, led me to my doctor who diagnosed Depression.  Not knowing I was, in fact, Bipolar, I took anti-depressants without a mood stabilizer which caused a psychotic breakdown.

I have been hospitalized –  partial inpatient one time, and I have been under the care of a psychiatrist since September of 2009.

I have been sporadically stable since early 2011, and wholly and consistently stable since mid-2012 following my hospitalization.  I had a very brief manic episode in the fall of 2013, but it was not stability threatening because I caught it early and my doctor adjusted my meds accordingly.


Spring 2014 – present:


Not feeling depressed in more than a year, I did some research and consulted with my psychiatrist about the possibility of dropping the anti- depressant, Wellbutrin, from my meds; she, at the same time, noted I hadn’t been manic for months either and asked if I would like to drop Depakote as well.  We discussed and I researched – my wife researched, we spoke to our kids and got their feelings, and then decided as a team we’d try no Wellbutrin or Depakote, but we’d keep Abilify, my anti-psychotic.  The weaning process took about six to eight weeks …

and I felt better and more emotionally stable, on just Abilify, than I could remember ever having felt in my life.

In early fall, bolstered by my success and happiness sans Depakote and Wellbutrin, and tired of paying the very expensive copay for Abilify, I discussed with my psychiatrist the possibility of dropping it as well.  Here I met concerned resistance, but a pragmatic willingness to work with me in giving it a try …

again there was the weaning process, and again there has been tremendous success.

I have no delusions that this means I no longer have Bipolar Disorder – that is a lifetime diagnosis.

I also fully understand that if I am presented with certain stressors, my brain will react biochemically with mania or depression or both.

What has changed is …

I know why I have Bipolar Disorder now.  I know what it is, what it does to me, and how to effectively treat it.  I recognize the early signs and symptoms and understand a call to my doctor is mandatory.

I have accepted my diagnosis …

I would never again deny I was sick, or delay treatment.


Please understand, deciding to try life Med Free isn’t for everyone … for the overwhelming majority of people with a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, meds are a non-negotiable must for the rest of their lives.  

Never, never, never attempt this without the advice of a psychiatrist who knows you well and is willing to work with you to achieve a positive result.  










The Narcissistic Mother

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Do I have a Narcissistic Mother?

1.  Is everything All About Her?

2.  Does she demean, criticize and make derogatory remarks about others – or you?

3.  Does she respect your boundaries and your privacy?

4.  If you have siblings, is one of you the Golden Child and the other(s) a second class citizen?  Note:  if your mother is a narcissist, her Favorite Child can and does change according to her mood.

5.  Is she excessively critical of you?

6.  Is everything she does deniable or justifiable?

7.  Are cruelties couched in loving terms?   Aggressive, punitive acts paraded as thoughtfulness on her part?

8.  Does she make YOU look crazy when confronted with something SHE has done?  Does she say you have a vivid imagination? (common in abusers; denial and invalidation of your experience with her abuse) Does she say she has ‘no idea’ what you’re talking about?

9.  Is she jealous of you; things you have or your personal accomplishments?

10.  If she has money, does she use it to win and keep the affection of those whose loyalty she desires? Does she use money to manipulate and control?

11.  Does she seek to negatively influence your opinion of your father, grandparents or siblings?

12.  Does she lie to you, or others?  With you, she will lie blatantly – even attempt to convince you of things you know cannot be.  With those outside your immediate family – her friends, co-workers and extended family, she will lie thoughtfully and in ways that can always, always be covered up.

13.  Does she manipulate you constantly?  Does she seem gratified by the emotional pain her manipulations cause you?  (This behavior is so common in narcissistic mothers therapists refer to them as, “Emotional Vampires.”)

14.  Is she self-centered and willful?  Does she insist you act in accordance with her desires or risk her rage, wrath, punishment or exile?

15.  Is she childish and petty?  Does she feel a need to ‘get even’ with you if you dare cross her?

16.  Is she exploitive?  Will she do whatever it takes to get what she wants?  Did she marry for money?

17.  Did she shed her parental persona as soon as she was legally able to do so?

18.  Did she use physical and emotional punishment to control your behavior as a child?

19.  Does she ever admit when she is wrong, or apologize for what she has done?  Does she try to convince you, and others, she is innocent and you are the one who needs to apologize?

20.  Does she seek to impress others with her beauty, charm, ability to seduce men, or money?

21.  Is she obsessed with how your family appears to others?  Does your immediate family have one face for friends and extended family, and another at home behind closed doors?

22.  Does she demean and belittle your father’s abilities as a role model and provider?

23.  Are her thoughts, opinions and feelings important while yours are insignificant and meaningless?  And, does she project her own negative feelings, emotions and beliefs onto you or others?

24.  Does she begrudge having to care for you when you are sick or emotionally needy?

25.  ***Does she lack empathy?  Is she unaware that other people have feelings?

***The lack of empathy is the defining trait of narcissism and it underlies most other signs on this list.

” I do not love; I do not love anybody except myself. That is a rather shocking thing to admit. I have none of the selfless love of a mother. I have none of the plodding, practical love….I am, to be blunt and concise, in love only with myself, my puny being with its small inadequate breasts and meager, thin talents. I am capable of affection only for those who reflect my own world.“ ~Sylvia Plath

Trying to Understand Narcissism


In speaking to family members I hadn’t spoken to in decades, more and more is making sense …

what isn’t clear to me is how a Narcissist operates – how premeditated are their actions?  Do they scheme and connive, or do they fly by the seat of their pants?  Are their manipulations as delicately orchestrated as they seem – fine tuned to consider every possibility, or do they enjoy changing things up as the situation unfolds?  How are they gratified by what they do … ?

Don’t they understand their sarcasm isn’t witty or humorous?

Don’t they realize most people don’t simply banish family from their lives, or levy ultimatums that lead to conflict and estrangement?

Don’t they have some understanding that they are not entitled to happiness at the expense of others?

What is the source of their cynical and spiteful nature?

How is it they are able to convince people in their lives that others are damaged, disturbed, evil or flawed?

How can they make everyone around them accept, almost without question, a story so ridiculous, so filled with holes and out-and-out lies, it is obvious at least mild skepticism is in order?

And how is it we, those of us who have had our lives twisted and contorted through interaction with these people, cannot see with complete clarity – though we may have known on some primal level all along, as I did – just how ruthless and disturbed  the Narcissist is until we have gotten away from her?

Pat was safe until we all started talking to each other – her story only what she wanted it to be.

There has been much hurt, regret, remorse and sorrow as a result of her orchestrations and manipulations – and I am deeply ashamed of what I considered, albeit fleetingly, my father to be guilty of … things Pat led me to knowing they were false.  A Narcissist can take the mistakes of others and twist them into something  more; something dark, terrible, evil and willful – until you begin to question yourself, and what you believe.  Even now her lack of empathy staggers me.  Where is morality, decency and propriety – what fills the space inside where her heart should be?

I am angry, intensely so, but also relieved to know my assessments of her were never too harsh – if anything they weren’t harsh enough.

Naively, and despite some real evidence to the contrary, I believed I was her only real victim – but my sister has fared far worse than I have, and what she did to my father is unconscionable. And then there are the wives, or ex-wives, of the sea of married men she has seduced – one of which told us, after he’d gotten away from her, just how insane and disturbed he found her to be.

But that’s just it; you don’t fully realize, until you’ve escaped, exactly who and what she is.  I knew I didn’t like her, knew she had the morals of an alley cat, knew she was an abusive mother …

but until I left home, I had no idea how damaged I was as a result of having been her son.

And until I began talking to others she has hurt, I didn’t know their experiences with her were similar to, or even worse than, my own.

Does she not consider the consequences of her actions?  Or is her behavior indicative of cognitive shortcomings derived from a static mental state permeated by distortions and misperception?

Are Narcissists sick, and therefore deserving of compassion?

Or are they inherently vile; devoid of empathy and therefore evil?

And what happened to my mother … was she born this way?  Is she the Bad Seed?

Or did someone hurt her and cause this disorder in her personality?

In a case this complex, where so many lives have been damaged as a result of her actions, perhaps I shouldn’t even concern myself with why …

Maybe this time, only the acceptance of what is is appropriate …

because when dealing with a Narcissist, the only person you can save …

is yourself.