Daenerys: I know fire's looking pretty great right now. Raging infernos of vengeance and all that, but trust me. You gotta go ice.
I get it. It’s not fair that you’ve spent a lifetime being used, lied to, abused, and exiled. You’ve never truly had a home. On top of it all, you have your shitty family’s legacy of madness placed on your shoulders. Is today the day Daenerys Stormborn snaps? You can hear them all wondering. It colors your every act and word. Any thoughtless turn of phrase could potentially be used against you as evidence of your inherited insanity.
And now you’ve risen above all of that, against all odds. You’ve done the impossible and you did it with your own wit, your own magic. You’ve beaten everything they could throw at you and you survived. And now you’ve finally made it back home, triumphant, and…
And now you’re still the outsider. You’re still trying to prove your worth and so you cling with all your might to the one thing that’s kept you alive this whole time: this win is your destiny. What else was it all for, if not this moment? And yet…
And yet your advisers are whispering about your moods now. You sense that even your closest allies are not really all that invested in your goals now that you’ve helped them with theirs. Your closest friends are gone, taken away from you one by one by enemies that would give anything to see you fall.
Cersei, patron saint of narcissists, knows exactly how to make you writhe. She will strip your allies from you one by one, and she will blame you for every wound she inflicts on your psyche. After all, this wouldn’t be happening if you would just have the decency to die and let her have her way.
But Daenerys, you don’t have to give in. You don’t have to set King’s Landing on fire with your raging grief, even though I imagine that would feel really good in the moment. The best course of action is, truly, as you have been advised: surround her and do nothing.
Starve her out. Don’t flinch even once, no matter what she does. She will run out of people to push off walls, and you can have your victory.
Why I won’t speak directly about my abusers publicly
And here we come to the heart of this post. From time to time, a well-meaning friend will suggest that, with everything I’ve been through and all the crazy that’s happened in my life, I should write a memoir. I always have to reply that that’s simply not my way.
I am a lifelong victim of gaslighting, mental and emotional abuse. I have had a few abusers—like many children of narcissists, I was an unwitting N-magnet until I learned more about what was happening and why. Armed with information and a lot of self-work getting all their malware out of my brain, it became easier over time for me to avoid and resist abusive people.
Like Cersei, my abusers routinely made a game of seeing how crazy they could make their victims seem to everyone else. I saw it in not just myself, but their other victims (there are always more victims). Abusers are always on alert for an opportunity to twist reality to their liking.
One of the most important lessons I learned is that the more defensive you get (“I would never say that about you!” or “How is that even possible? I wasn’t even at that party they’re talking about!”), no matter how untrue the allegations, narcissistic abusers have a way of getting into peoples’ brains and giving them just enough reason to doubt you. After years and years of this, you begin to doubt yourself.
So the solution is: Don’t engage. As much as possible, in all ways, cut them out. Wall them off. Be ice, not fire.
I will most certainly explore my traumas and the 30+ years of abuse that I have lived through in my fiction, but I’m not giving my abusers their own platform to speak from. They don’t get to share any sliver of my sunshine.
This space is mine.