If you have been following me on my social media for a while now you may have noticed I tend to stay away from buzzwords such as ‘narcissist’ ‘gaslight’ ‘co-dependent’ and so many others that circulate social media intensely. I do post content that is very relevant to these terms without explicitly labelling such behaviour as a lot of other creators would. Why? Well there are a few reasons I don’t.
Let me just start by saying that I’m not implying other people shouldn’t use these terms. In fact, I know how helpful it can be to identify the truth of an experience, label included! I know that some people will find comfort in knowing exactly what they are dealing, or have dealt with. There is also the aspect of adding a label to something that had you in a state of confusion for so long can bring clarity. Labelling certain behaviours can also help with healing and recovering from being victim to such behaviours. All in all, it can really be helpful to some to know what they’re dealing with. So if I’m so sure that identifying an experience can be a good thing why don’t I do it?
The first reason for not using such labels is I write about my own experiences of an abusive relationship to help people like me. There was a point when I couldn’t even see for myself that I was in an abusive relationship and when I did see it, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense for a very long time. When I write I tend to try and describe how I felt, what I saw, how I behaved, things that other people can identify with. That way if it strikes a chord with somebody and they come to find themselves exactly where I was, they have a chance of realising that. If my content was full of buzzwords that people didn’t really know what it meant or know how to see it in the context of their own situation then it may mean they’re skipping over their own reality.
The second reason I tend to veer away from using such buzzwords in my content is like a lot of trends on social media – they come and go. It breaks my heart to think I wasn’t the first woman to go through a relationship that was abusive, even more so to think I won’t be the last. I’d like to think that by using words to describe the behaviour, the emotions, the mind games and so on; as opposed to label it then my content can be found for anybody who needs it – no matter when they need it. When the trend has moved on and all of the #narcabuse content has seen its day, I’d like to think that by pinpointing the context of abuse, it will still be there for anybody who feels they need to see a story like their own.
The final reason I don’t put labels such as narcissist and sociopath on my ex-partner is because I’m not qualified to do so. I’m not a therapist or counsellor or doctor or any other form of medical professional that has the capacity to diagnose and treat such conditions. Did my ex display narcissistic behaviour? Absolutely. Does that mean I can shout from the roof tops that I was abused by a narcissist? Absolutely not. Another angle to look at it form is there are people out there that have been diagnosed with conditions such as narcissistic personality disorder that actively seek help, therapy, change and try to be better. I can’t imagine how they must feel at the moment with so many people relating their own negative experiences to the fault of somebody who may not even be a narcissist. As a society we’re making – very slow – progress towards being more accepting of mental health issues, yet abusive behaviour is being capped under such conditions and anybody associated with these conditions is villainised as a result.
So for anybody who has needed, or may need content like mine to help you feel a little less lost and alone, I hope you find the openness I write with comforting. In times when we can find ourselves so far away from, well, ourselves it’s good to see a beacon of light guiding us home.