Rising Above Narcissistic Abuse

Dana S. Diaz Episode art

Overcoming Narcissistic Abuse: Dana Diaz’s Journey and Insights

In this episode, Dana Diaz, author of ‘Gasping for Air: The Stranglehold of Narcissistic Abuse,’ shares her personal journey of overcoming the challenges of being raised by a narcissistic stepfather and enduring a 25-year marriage to a different kind of narcissist. Diaz discusses her early resolution to never have children due to fear of becoming like her parents and the eventual realization and liberation she found in escaping her abusive circumstances, including the freeing yet peace-bringing decision to love and prioritize herself. The episode also delves into Dana’s experiences of physical and emotional abuse, how it impacted her health, and her process of writing as a form of therapy and empowerment. Furthermore, Dana offers insights into the dynamics of narcissistic relationships, the importance of understanding one’s self-worth, and how envisioning a new life can be the first step towards recovery and happiness. The discussion also explores the challenges of co-parenting with a narcissist and the significance of having a supportive environment in healing and moving forward.


00:00 The Decision Against Parenthood: A Personal Journey

01:07 Embracing Education to Overcome

01:59 Introducing Dana Diaz: Survivor and Author

03:31 The Struggle for Freedom from Narcissistic Abuse

07:04 The Complex Dynamics of a Narcissistic Relationship

18:32 The Isolation and Control in Narcissistic Abuse

22:34 Confronting and Expressing Feelings in a Toxic Relationship

25:28 The Struggle with Parenthood and Narcissistic Relationships

27:16 The Emotional Journey of Miscarriages and the Desire for a Child

28:46 The Arrival of a Newborn: Hopes and Harsh Realities

30:16 Finding Happiness Amidst Chaos: A Mother’s Love for Her Son

32:09 A New Beginning: Leaving Abuse Behind and Embracing Self-Love

35:32 Navigating Post-Divorce Life and Co-Parenting Challenges

43:37 Empowerment Through Writing: Sharing the Journey to Help Others

46:43 Advice for Those Stuck in Abusive Relationships or Unfulfilling Jobs

50:22 Engaging with the Community: How to Connect and Share Your Story


### Title: The Journey of Dana S. Diaz: Rising Above Narcissistic Abuse


#### The Turning Point


Dana S. Diaz's story is not just a tale of survival; it's a profound journey of transformation and empowerment. Once encapsulated within the confines of narcissistic abuse, Diaz shares her harrowing, yet inspiring journey with Ed Watters on the "Dead America Podcast." Her tale is not just about the dark phases of her life but also about the breakthroughs and the dawn of new beginnings.


#### The Early Fears and Resolutions


The conversation begins with Diaz revealing her early life's turmoil, marked by a lack of parental guidance and love. "The last thing that I wanted to do was bring a child into this world," Diaz confessed, highlighting her determination to not subject another human being to the childhood she endured. This resolve sprouted from deep-seated fears and a desire to break the cycle of abuse.


#### A Transition into Light


However, life had different plans for Diaz. Despite her fears and the oath of never having children, she found herself on a path of overcoming and growing. She became a mother, a wife, and even a cat mom, embodying roles she never thought she'd take on. Her narrative took a drastic shift from her early years, showcasing her resilience and capacity for change.


#### The Relevance of Conversation and Self-Reflection


Both Diaz and Watters discussed the critical role of conversation and self-reflection in combating and understanding narcissistic abuse. Diaz highlights, "We are all Dead America, we can all learn something," emphasizing the importance of challenging preconceived notions and engaging in dialogues, whether with others or oneself, as a method of growth and understanding.


#### Unpacking Narcissism


Diaz and Watters delved into the nature of narcissism, where Diaz points out the ubiquitousness of narcissistic tendencies and their varying impacts. Yet, it was her personal battle with narcissists that lined the walls of her life's labyrinth, starting from her narcissistic stepfather to her ex-husband. These relationships, marred by manipulation and confinement, led Diaz to a profound realization about her worth and the necessity to seek joy beyond the shadows cast by others.


#### Beyond Survival: Writing as a Road to Recovery


One of the most poignant aspects of Diaz's journey is her turn to writing as a means of catharsis and exploration. "Writing the book was a huge step in my healing process," she mentions, pointing out how documenting her experiences not only served as a personal release but also as a beacon for others navigating the stormy waters of narcissistic abuse.


#### The Aftermath and the Path to Healing


Post-divorce, Diaz described her life as gradually steering towards peace and true happiness. Entering a new marriage that fostered mutual respect and understanding, she found solace and a semblance of the normalcy she yearned for. This transition underscores a vital message of hope and redemption, illustrating that the scars of the past don't dictate the potential for happiness in one's future.


#### A Call to Action and Support


Toward the conclusion of the podcast, Diaz and Watters encourage survivors of narcissistic abuse and those stuck in seemingly insurmountable circumstances to envisage a life beyond their current turmoil. Diaz's journey serves as a testament to the power of self-love, resilience, and the transformative power of taking control of one's narrative.


### Conclusion: A Beacon of Hope


Dana S. Diaz's story, as shared with Ed Watters on the "Dead America Podcast," serves as a vivid reminder of the human spirit's indomitable strength. Her transition from a victim of narcissistic abuse to a thriving author and speaker is not just her victory but a beacon of hope for countless others. Diaz's narrative is a powerful affirmation that healing is possible, and a brighter, love-filled future is within reach, irrespective of the past's shadows.


Diaz's courage to share her story, her insights on overcoming adversity, and her advice for others embarking on their healing journey make her narrative not just compelling but vitally important. As Diaz continues to speak out and write about her experiences, her words offer solace, understanding, and a roadmap to recovery for those finding their way out of the darkness of abuse into the light of self-rediscovery and freedom.


Dana S. Diaz

[00:00:00] Dana S. Diaz: The last thing that I wanted to do was bring a child into this world, not knowing how to be a parent. Because I certainly didn't have a mother or a father, you know, that demonstrated any example of how, how to do that. And, you know, there's this cliche that you turn into your parents or a parent, and that alone terrified me.

[00:00:25] There was no way in hell I would put any human being through what I went through. In that house, in my childhood home, no way in hell. So I just, as a teenager, I don't know, I was probably thirteen years old, I think, when I just said, Screw that, I, I'm never having kids. I am never having kids. Kids are cute, they're nice. I'll borrow other people's. I, I, I was not one of those little girls though, I think, because of the home I was in, I wasn't one of those girls that played house and wanted to have ten babies. I, it just wasn't me. I, I, the thought of raising a child terrified me.

[00:01:07] Ed Watters: To overcome, you must educate. Educate not only yourself, but educate anyone seeking to learn. We are all Dead America, we can all learn something. To learn, we must challenge what we already understand. The way we do that is through conversation. Sometimes we have conversations with others, however, some of the best conversations happen with ourself. Reach out and challenge yourself; let's dive in and learn something right now.

[00:01:59] Today we're speaking with Dana Diaz. She is the author of Gasping for Air, The Stranglehold of Narcissistic Abuse. Could you please introduce yourself? Let people know just a little more about you, please.

[00:02:13] Dana S. Diaz: Yeah, absolutely. Hi everyone, I'm Dana. Um, I am the author of the book about narcissistic abuse. Um, but in my real life, um, I am not in an abusive situation anymore. Thank God. I am a wife, I am a mother of an amazing twenty year old son, and I have two stepsons, I'm a cat mom, I'm just trying to live a peaceful life and make the world a better place. Kind of a, an idealistic hippie sort of philosophy, but one that I think is being well received.

[00:02:45] Ed Watters: Well, we need more of that in our world today.

[00:02:47] Dana S. Diaz: Yes.

[00:02:48] Ed Watters: But today, you know, in our world, we deal with a lot of narcissistic personalities.

[00:02:55] Dana S. Diaz: Yes.

[00:02:56] Ed Watters: You know, I really believe that we all have narcissistic tendencies. It's just how we display them really matters. And through researching, there's a lot of different things you can come up with narcissistic behaviors or narcissism.

[00:03:14] Dana S. Diaz: Yes.

[00:03:15] Ed Watters: But what I caught out of researching you is this intentional harm.

[00:03:22] Dana S. Diaz: Yes.

[00:03:23] Ed Watters: This really defines what we're going to talk about today with your story.

[00:03:30] Dana S. Diaz: Exactly.

[00:03:31] Ed Watters: What, what is it like to be free from the behavior of your past before we get going into this?

[00:03:41] Dana S. Diaz: Well, to give people a perspective, I was raised by a narcissistic stepfather and then swore I'd never let anyone treat me like that again and fell straight into the arms of my ex and was with him twenty-five years. And he was a different type of narcissist. Um, but I mean, for my whole life I have felt like, you know, kind of a bird in a cage. You know, I, I, there were all these rules, you know, love for me was withheld if I didn't follow rules or if I didn't please the power that, you know, the powers that be. And love was given, you know, sort of like a dog getting a treat when I was a good girl and my ex even would call me good girl like a dog.

[00:04:29] It was really sad. Um, so to be free literally feels like somebody opened the door of that cage and just let me loose. But, you know, they've done some psychological studies, I just learned about this actually from, uh, another doctor, um, whose podcast I was on. And he said they did these studies with, I believe it was dogs that were kept confined and, and restricted in many ways.

[00:04:56] And after some time they opened the door to free these dogs, but the dogs wouldn't leave. Even though they were not living, you know, a good quality of life, they didn't leave and that just speaks to why we get so caught in these traps as the victims, um, that we don't know what to do with ourselves. But at the point where I was, um, in that relationship, that marriage,

[00:05:22] towards the end, I had gotten sick, um, because of living in such a volatile situation. The stress was causing cortisol, which is a stress hormone to run through my body at such elevated rates for too long that it actually caused me autoimmune reactions, depleted my white blood cell count, and gave me a lung syndrome.

[00:05:43] So. It was just down to the point where when the doctor said that my body was shutting down, my organs were not functioning properly, they were at minimal survival rates, I kind of opened my eyes like, What am I doing? Like, what am I doing with this guy? Like at some point I had to decide to put myself first and love myself enough to get myself out of there and make a better life for me and my kid.

[00:06:08] So, yes, now that I am free, I mean, literally, I, I don't know how to express it to people. I just feel like, yes, liberated unburdened. Um, I mean, when you're, it felt like incarceration. I mean, he even told me at one point that our house was my prison. I was allowed to go to work and come home, but God forbid, I needed

[00:06:32] Ed Watters: Wow.

[00:06:32] Dana S. Diaz: to go to the store for cat food or want to go to church on Sunday. Boy, there was a fight. There was a big fight. So it was just easier not to go anywhere, do anything, see anyone, talk to anybody. I was just there to serve him.

[00:06:47] Ed Watters: That's, that's interesting. You know, it's weird what the mind will allow us to do. And,

[00:06:56] Dana S. Diaz: Yes.

[00:06:56] Ed Watters: and a lot of it is a protectionism, it's how we know to protect and defend ourselves. So through researching you, I, I know that you're marriage day wasn't the ultimate wedding day for you.

[00:07:16] Dana S. Diaz: No.

[00:07:16] Ed Watters: So, you know, this is interesting in many ways that you didn't want to get married, but you did anyway. Uh,

[00:07:25] Dana S. Diaz: Yeah.

[00:07:25] Ed Watters: That, that's, that's a prevention phase to me. And if we can get this across in many ways, was this a instinct for you and what made it that you didn't follow that instinct?

[00:07:46] Dana S. Diaz: Oh, that's a loaded question. But when, looking back and having figured it out, you know, now, you know, in my late forties, so, you know, I hate to always be, you know, psychologically, we always blame the mother and the father, but really they are to blame for many of the things that we do. Because so many things are developed in childhood.

[00:08:05] You know, to give people a background, I was born to a mother, a teenage mother, who didn't want me. And unfortunately at the time that I was conceived, this was not a society that, you know, really, uh, allowed for that. Um, so there was a lot of shame and ridicule that she endured, um, for being pregnant with me so young. Um, so she always remained emotionally distant, um, from me, kind of rejected me. Like, cats reject their kittens sometimes.

[00:08:35] And then when she got married, her husband, he is the king of all narcissists. I didn't know what a narcissist was when I was a child, but he was verbally and physically abusive. Um, honestly, I'd take the physical abuse any day. I could take a bit, you know, a bit, beating up and get over it. But the verbal abuse has stayed with me to this day and I'm going to be forty-eight in a couple months.

[00:08:59] Um, you know, he was telling me every day that nobody ever loved me. Nobody wanted me, nobody would ever love me, I was a burden, he shouldn't have to pay for me, I'm a bother, you know, all these things. And even though I was so strong willed as a little girl and even as a teenager, and I would talk back to him and tell him to stop talking to me like that,

[00:09:20] I knew it was wrong and I knew he was wrong. But boy, when you hear that every day and your own mother is telling you, you know, that he never said that, he never did that, you're just trying to get attention. You know, you're, you're being gaslighted, your, your reality is being manipulated. I went out into the world,

[00:09:40] I got out of that house as soon as I legally could, but I went out into the world. Um, I didn't know it then, but I see now, I was a complete people pleasing codependent. I had been starved of love and that's all I ever wanted. I wanted to feel worthy, I wanted to feel loved, I wanted, you [00:10:00] know, these basic things that any child should expect to get from just their mother alone, but it hadn't been given to me.

[00:10:07] So, you know, here was this man who, who, found some reason to, to target me, I guess. Um, but he saw these qualities in me, I suppose. And, and a narcissist loves that servitude, they want somebody to praise them, adore them, do everything they say. And here I was just wanting love. So he says, I will love you forever if, and I was jumping every time he said jump.

[00:10:35] So it was almost a perfect match, even though it was a very hostile relationship. And he, he didn't take long to expose his true self and they were certainly red flags and made me very nervous. But when things were good, they were really good. He loved me, he gave me my treat when I was a good girl. And that sounds disgusting and sad.

[00:11:00] And there are going to be people out there who say, I would never let somebody control me like that, I'd never be submissive. Let me tell you, people that know me, know I am strong. I have a mouth on me, I am opinionated, I am educated, I have a very firm belief in who I am, but it happens to the best of us because I wanted love more than I wanted anything else.

[00:11:24] I would do anything this man asked me to, I would walk to the ends of the earth if it meant getting that need filled. It was a basic human need that I was denied for the first eighteen years of my life in my childhood home. So I wanted it at whatever cost. So yes, when he asked me to marry him, I said, Yes.

[00:11:43] When the wedding day came, everything in me was like, I don't want to marry this man, this is not going to end well. I even remember thinking, We're going to be divorced. I don't even know why we're bothering doing this. But I proceeded anyway. And the irony of it too, is that there would have been nowhere to run.

[00:12:06] It would have been very awkward because I liked to do things a little differently. Um, I am Catholic, always have been, always will be, wanted to get married in a church, but my, uh, groom was an atheist didn't believe in God at all. So we were having a civil ceremony on a cruise ship on Lake Michigan in Chicago.

[00:12:28] So I'm on a boat, where am I going to go? Unless I was going to jump in this like fifty pound dress I was trying to hold on my little body, there was nowhere to go. And that would have been a really rough, uh, afternoon if I had had to go up there and say, We're not doing this today or any day, but Hey, let's have a party.

[00:12:49] Um, certainly people have done that, should do it if they really feel that strongly. I did not though, I went through with the wedding. And I figured he'd grow up, he'd mature, it would be okay. Somehow it would get figured out, but it didn't.

[00:13:11] Ed Watters: Yeah, that's a tough one. Uh, now did you go to college before you got married?

[00:13:16] Dana S. Diaz: Yes, yes. I got a degree in journalism and I minored in psychology. Um, you know, I had wanted to go to beauty school, but unfortunately that wasn't good enough for my narcissistic stepfather because he couldn't brag about his stepdaughter going to beauty school. His stepdaughter had to go to a university and a reputable one.

[00:13:36] So I picked a very expensive one being the snarky teenager that I was and, uh, you know, went and got my degrees. But, um, my ex, you know, he didn't like seeing any success or anything on my end. I couldn't make more money than him, I couldn't have a higher education or achievement higher than him. Um, so he just kind of held me back, you know, in our life together. I, I just, uh, I couldn't live to my full potential, certainly.

[00:14:07] Ed Watters: So when, when you were writing the book, like every day you're out here podcasting, you're reliving the event each

[00:14:17] Dana S. Diaz: Yes.

[00:14:17] Ed Watters: and every day that you talk about it, write about it. You know, so does that help?

[00:14:24] Dana S. Diaz: Tremendously, tremendously. I've actually, I'm going to say it and I'm going to get a lot of heck from people, but I am not a fan of traditional talk therapy. Um, it has not gone well for me in the past. Um, you know, I just, uh, just stay away from that if I can. Um, but writing the book, huge, huge, huge step in my healing process. You know, I started writing it actually during my last year of marriage to him.

[00:14:57] So I was still in it and I just wanted things to be fresh in my memory and I wanted to write it in a way where the emotions were real and raw and where I was still connected to them. Because I think people could relate to that better than, you know, some very well scripted, nice, you know, sugarcoated, you know, uh, you know, narrative of, of what the marriage looked like. And, um, I think it's been received well that way because it's not polite. You're gonna think things sometimes, and I wrote about those things. Yeah, I wish this, you know, M.F.er would take his stupid motorcycle that he bought without my permission and drive it down the street and get hit.

[00:15:42] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:15:42] Dana S. Diaz: I want, you know, like you're going to think those things when somebody is abusing you, you're, you're going to wish that, you know, things that you wouldn't normally wish as a person. And I think that when you can expose yourself in that way, and even expose your own faults, and weaknesses, and mistakes that you've made, you know, we're all human. And I think we all need to accept the fact that, you know, yeah, this is a sad story. It was definitely wrong what happened to me, but at the same time, like the publisher said, when she first read the manuscript, This whole, the husband's a villain, boohoo, the poor wife, you know, it's all been said and done a million times before. She, she said, You need to bring in the things that you said and did, the things that weren't so nice

[00:16:30] and maybe not, you know, normal to your character. The things that definitely contribute to provoking him to go to the extent to where there were some violent situations and life threatening situations that happened. And the reality is those things did happen, he pushed me. You know, they call it reactive abuse now.

[00:16:49] I don't like that term very much because if you're reacting to it, you're not trying to abuse the other person, it's more you standing up for yourself and lashing back. But however, somebody wants to, you know, uh, you know, use words for that. It is what it is and it happens. Um, you know, certainly we're silenced, we're subdued, we're not allowed to express anything. So if we do, boy, it just all comes out.

[00:17:17] Ed Watters: Yeah. You know, my wife, she went through a very bad, traumatic childhood, excuse me, and I've, I've lived with this aftermath of the narcissistic behavior.

[00:17:34] Dana S. Diaz: Okay.

[00:17:34] Ed Watters: It, it, it is immense and it

[00:17:38] Dana S. Diaz: Yes.

[00:17:38] Ed Watters: changes your whole world, and the

[00:17:41] Dana S. Diaz: Yes.

[00:17:41] Ed Watters: world of your spouse, and

[00:17:43] Dana S. Diaz: Yes.

[00:17:44] Ed Watters: anybody around you.

[00:17:45] Dana S. Diaz: Yes.

[00:17:46] Ed Watters: So understanding how this is playing out and why it's playing out, is critical. And a lot of people don't like to get into that raw material that, this is the facts. And this is

[00:18:03] Dana S. Diaz: Yeah.

[00:18:03] Ed Watters: the only way you're going to let loose of these feelings is to understand them and

[00:18:10] Dana S. Diaz: Exactly.

[00:18:10] Ed Watters: push forward with freeing yourself from them. It's important to have the support around you when you change. What, what type of support system did you have throughout this for yourself? Was there any support at all?

[00:18:32] Dana S. Diaz: Well, my ex was a typical narcissist very early on. He isolated me, um, you know, in slow ways. Um, you know, they don't want you to be influenced by other people, they don't care if it's family, friends, your mother, your sister, nobody. They don't want you to have influence. So this man had made it, you know, it started with, we're going to his family on the holidays, not mine. So we started seeing my family less. Um, okay, fine. You know, then it was, Well, I want to move ninety miles further west out into the country in the middle of nowhere. I've always wanted to. Okay. Well, if it would please him, then he'd be pleased with me. So, okay,

[00:19:17] I'm up for, you know, an adventure. I always try to be positive about it. So then we were moved away from everything and everybody we knew, lived on a little farm, uh, cornfields around us. You know, somebody over there has thirty acres, there's a house over there with seven acres. You know, there's, there's people around us, but certainly not a subdivision or a neighborhood where you're going to pass somebody at the mailbox or on the street.

[00:19:43] These are back road gravel roads. Um, you know, then it was, you know, just isolating me in the house. Well, I don't like you talking on the phone. It bothers me when I'm watching TV. Okay, so let me go outside and talk on the phone to my [00:20:00] grandma or my friend. Well, who are you talking to outside? What do you have to say that's so private that, are you screwing whoever's on the phone? No, but you know, you have these fights over and over and over. Okay. So then I start texting when we get to the point, you know, people have to understand in this relationship, cell phones had only come out during this relationship. So then we get to texting.

[00:20:24] Well, who are you texting? Why do you got to be secretive? I'm not being secretive. I just, you don't want me on the phone so I'm trying to text so I don't bother you. Well, you need to be paying more attention to me. Okay, but all you do is sit around and watch TV. All right, let's sit around and watch TV.

[00:20:41] So I open a book. I don't want you reading books, you're not paying attention to what we're watching. Okay, but I'm not interested in what you're watching. I'm interested in this book. You don't need to read books, there's no reason for you to read those. Okay, so then let me peruse the internet. Let me just go on Amazon or read blogs.

[00:21:00] Why do you have to be on the internet? What are you looking up? I mean, do you see how this just, and it's constant, constant, constant fighting. Even going to church on Sunday, the one hour a week I could look forward to being out of that damn house and around people who didn't treat me, you know, like a servant and who saw some value in me. He would fight me.

[00:21:24] I was apparently screwing the eighty year old priest, or I was meeting a man at church. I couldn't even go to church. It was, he actually had said to me almost every week, You love God more than you love me. And you know, whether you believe in God or not, but presumably I do, because I was going to church, that's just a crappy thing to say. Because if you are a religious person, yes, you are supposed to love God above all. And God shines down on you, and sunshine and rainbows, and all this other stuff on your marriage, and your life, and your kids. But, My Lord, I could not win with him.

[00:22:04] It didn't matter what I said or did, it was wrong. And you just, when you're surrounded by this negativity and it just like overshadows every aspect of your life, think about how down and depressed, and you can't talk to anybody, you can't text anybody, you can't read anything, you can't do this, that, the other thing, you just have to stand there waiting for your next direction like a damn dog. And that's not a life, it's not a life for anybody.

[00:22:33] Ed Watters: Yeah. So, so at any point during that time, did you express your natural feelings to him? And at that point, was it stressful and did you release it all at one time?

[00:22:52] Dana S. Diaz: Yeah.

[00:22:52] Ed Watters: How did that occur?

[00:22:54] Dana S. Diaz: Yeah. Like I said, every once in a while, you know, he would just, I just would keep everything in because I didn't want it, you don't want to poke a sleeping bear, right? I wasn't trying to provoke him in any way. Because people have to understand it, this wasn't like, oh, he's just mean and he's a narcissist. When we talk about narcissistic abuse, that's why I say it's somebody, it's a narcissist intentionally causing you harm.

[00:23:19] Not only was he manipulative and gaslighted me in the verbal and all that, but there were a lot, there were things thrown at me, there was, you know, holes punched in walls, um, damage to furniture, damage to things, um, destruction of a lot of things, um, you know, on our property. It just, you know, even putting some of our animals, uh, in danger that we had.

[00:23:44] It just, it, it was a very intense way to live. So I never wanted to provoke anything out of him. So I was constantly on guard, you know, kind of serving the situation, serving the mood, any shifts in energy, just to see if I could offset it or moderate it in some way. But, um, yeah, it was a very difficult thing to manage for myself. So when I would get to the point where I was just so fed up that it would just, my anger would just erupt out of me, and by anger, I mean, it's the part of me that has self respect and wanted to take a stand for myself. I knew it would be bad, you know? Um, he'd raise a fist up to me, he, you know, once he swung a crowbar at my head and I ducked just in time.

[00:24:37] Um, you know, so no, it was not received well at all. I mean, it was, it was not good. But then I'd shut up and I learned to keep quiet until the next time. And it was very rare that I would lash out. But boy, the things that came out of my mouth were not things that I'd ever imagine saying to my husband of all people. But you know what? It

[00:24:58] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:24:58] Dana S. Diaz: gets the best of us and you just get to the point where you, you cannot tolerate the abuse anymore.

[00:25:05] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:25:06] Dana S. Diaz: But you stay.

[00:25:07] Ed Watters: So yeah. So out of bad, you always have some positive.

[00:25:18] Dana S. Diaz: Yes.

[00:25:18] Ed Watters: You know, there's good out of it. Having

[00:25:21] Dana S. Diaz: Yes.

[00:25:21] Ed Watters: your son, that, that must have been one of those positive things. Did that help or hinder the relationship at that point?

[00:25:31] Dana S. Diaz: Oh, that sent everything spiraling downward so fast. That was like circling the drain right down to hell. Um, he, we had not, we had discussed children before we were even too heavily involved. Um, you know, and remember, and maybe your wife, you know, might have some, you know, feelings about this, but when you come out of a, an abusive childhood, you're terrified about the thought of having children.

[00:26:02] At least I was, and I've met many people who are. The last thing that I wanted to do was bring a child into this world, not knowing how to be a parent. Because I certainly didn't have a mother or a father, you know, that demonstrated any example of how, how to do that. And, you know, there's this cliche that you turn into your parents or a parent, and that alone terrified me.

[00:26:30] There was no way in hell I would put any human being through what I went through. In that house, in my childhood home, no way in hell. So I just, as a teenager, I don't know, I was probably thirteen years old, I think, when I just said, Screw that I, I'm never having kids. I am never having kids. Kids are cute, they're nice. I'll borrow other people's. I, I, I was not one of those little girls though, I think, because of the home I was in. I wasn't one of those girls that played house and wanted to have ten babies, it just wasn't me. I, I, the thought of raising a child terrified me. Um, but then, unfortunately, after we got married, you know, and my ex, you know, he's a narcissist, so he didn't want anything that would take attention away from him.

[00:27:16] But after we got married, um, I'd had a couple of miscarriages. I was fertile myrtle. If he breathed on me, I would get pregnant even though I was on the pill. Um, but those losses were so emotional. And so, you know, I only talk about one in the book, but you know, we had a few. And other people our age, you know, family members and such, cousins were having their weddings, and then they were having baby showers, and the babies were being born. And, you know, us women, we just, you know, you, you want one too.

[00:27:49] And in, in my head, still having not had that love that I was looking for, because, you know, it was given and it was taken so easily. There was this constant push/pull with my husband. I thought, Yeah, I really want a baby now. Maybe, maybe if I have a baby, this is the person, this will be the love of my life because I'm going to love this baby more than, I will, no mother will have ever loved their child like I love this baby. And if I love this baby that much, that, that kid is going to love me back too. That's going to be the one person in the world who loves me. And you know, I know I, I might get some judgment on that, I don't care. It's what it was, it's what it is.

[00:28:34] Um, you know, unfortunately abuse does skew the way you look at things and the way you think about things. But, um, eventually I convinced my husband, let's have a baby. And, um, we did carry, it was a difficult pregnancy, but we carried my son to full term and he was born. And, oh, I thought it was going to be okay when we were at the hospital right after the birth.

[00:29:01] You know, my, my ex was looking down, I think he saw like, here's his wife with this baby. And I think like, I don't know how to describe it, but I could see in his eyes there was what I wanted, to see his happiness. But to him, it was more of a claim like, well, now I got her because we have a kid together.

[00:29:23] Like I have got her trapped and locked down. This is my family, my son, my wife, you know? Um, so I thought maybe it would be okay. But the second we brought that baby home and all my attention was to this newborn, and obviously my body was going through things and I suffered postpartum depression or maybe it was just plain old depression because of my circumstances, um, it didn't bode well. It went really downhill really fast.

[00:29:56] Ed Watters: Yeah, interesting. You know, we, [00:30:00] we go through a lot of terrible things to find happiness.

[00:30:05] Dana S. Diaz: Yes.

[00:30:06] Ed Watters: Going through what you did, how, how did you find happiness after all of it?

[00:30:16] Dana S. Diaz: You know, even in the midst of it, I wanted to be that person for my son that was always smiling. And I, I felt like I overcompensated with him because I felt guilty that I had brought him into these circumstances and they hadn't worked out how I'd hoped that they would. So even with all this chaos, and violence, and anger around us, I always smiled. I always made sure we had joyful moments and I spent quality time with him.

[00:30:50] So he was able to bring me the joy that my heart needed to feel, like he was kind of my lifeline. It sounds terrible, but you know, he, he was my everything. He was my world and investing myself completely in him, you know, just made me feel whole and fulfilled. And I felt that love between us, we had a very strong bond.

[00:31:15] Um, But as far as after, I think, like I said, after I got sick, it was just a matter of, you know, this is not the life that, like, I just kind of thought about death. And, you know, I think we all, when we're faced with, you know, some aspect of mortality, whether it's an illness or impending death, realistically, you look at your life and you're like, Is this what I want for myself?

[00:31:39] Like, is, do I, I just kept thinking like, I'm just going to die here one day and that's going to be it. And for what? What was I here for? Was I literally existent only to be everybody's punching bag? Like what purpose did that serve? So that they could have their egos fulfilled and they could feel strong and powerful.

[00:31:59] And, you know, it's hard because I don't think I'm any better than anybody else. I certainly was never made to believe I was worth, you know, anything at all. But, I don't know how to describe it, except that, you know, I started listening to Brené Brown and, and she can motivate a person like nobody else. But I did start to believe what she said,

[00:32:20] I'd been meant for more. I wasn't meant to be, I mean, my ex had me, you know, scrubbing toilets in this small town for money when I thought I was gonna leave DePaul University and go into a career, you know, in the newspapers or broadcasting. And, you know, life had not turned out anywhere near what I thought.

[00:32:40] And I thought, you know, you think it's too late and why bother, but it was time for me. I needed to feel joy, I deserved to be happy. And there's that mentality that, when I finally figured out that, you know, I say in my book, that love that I was looking for, it was in me all along. I was looking for it outwardly.

[00:33:05] Yet, when I was sick and I had to decide, like, do I want to keep living this life and just die for nothing? Or do I want to go seek out what I've always wanted? I wanted to travel, shoot, I wanted to smile, I wanted to wake up in the morning and just be happy. And I couldn't even do that in this life. So I just knew I had to make a change,

[00:33:28] I had to love myself enough and stop looking for it from other people. And just pick up my bootstraps and move on with it and just say, What do you want, Dana? What do you want for once? If, if you could have anything in the world. I just, I wanted to be, I love being married, I wanted to be married to somebody that I could give my whole heart to and love and care for and that would return that to me. And that, somebody I wasn't afraid of and somebody that I felt safe enough to sleep next to at night because I didn't even have that.

[00:34:01] I wanted somebody who my son could respect, you know, as a man or as a human being and could model, you know, good behavior from. Um, you know, and I just wanted so many things. I wanted to see where my career in writing, or in public speaking, or what have you, would take it. And that's when it kind of occurred to me.

[00:34:21] I was reading some of my journals where I had recorded, um, all these things that were happening in the house and that it was actually more for if something happened to me, so people would find it and know who did, you know, who done it. But, you know, I realized, you know, no, I'm going to write this book. I think there's a lot of people like me that need to know that no matter what they've been through, they'll be okay.

[00:34:48] And, and that that's not it. You know, there's more. If you want more, you just have to take the steps to safely put yourself in a position where you can achieve whatever it is that you want to achieve. And I don't say that like you have to go write books or, you know, be some Nobel Peace Prize winner, but you know, even if it just means being in a safe home every night and having a bed to sleep in, you know, things like that. Um, things that most people take for granted because a lot of us that are in abusive situations don't have those simple, you know, basic needs that are met on a daily basis.

[00:35:30] Ed Watters: So true, right there. So what's, what's the relationship like now between you, your son, and the ex husband?

[00:35:41] Dana S. Diaz: Well,

[00:35:42] Ed Watters: And lets, uh, before we go on, let's throw in the new stepfather along with that also.

[00:35:50] Dana S. Diaz: Okay, we'll go backwards with this one. Um, my husband that I'm married to now, um, you know, again, people have to remember small town. I've known this man's family for pretty much my son's whole life. My son is twenty years old and he, even my son has grown up with all my husband's nieces and nephews so, um, we knew him. Um, he was a good friend, always been drawn to him, liked him a lot, but you know, I was busy being in an abusive marriage. And he was, you know, taking some time after his divorce to figure himself out too.

[00:36:30] But, um, the ease of that for, for us as a couple and with my son was perfect because my son didn't even balk at it. He very much likes this, you know, my husband and loves the family. Um, you know, we're all just kind of intertwined in so many ways having known each other so long. So it's a very easy relationship for the two of them, separate from me, but also the three of us together.

[00:36:57] They, they get along like good friends, it's been amazing. Um, and he is everything that I wish, you know, everybody to have for a father, my, my husband. Um, very, very sweet, gentle, patient, and just all these wonderful qualities that he has that have been good for me too, to help me in my healing. Um, but as far as my ex, um,

[00:37:20] you know, unfortunately, after the divorce is when he became the most violent. Um, he even told people that he was planning on killing me, he attempted to. Um, unfortunately, um, he was not arrested, no charges were filed against him. Um, and, and so there's definitely some issues with our legal system and, and justice, uh, for victims. But, um, he decided to very intently move very close to where, uh, we live, uh, where I'm at with my husband.

[00:38:01] Um, he's seven miles away, um, I have had no contact with him other than when I had to see him at our son's graduation from technical school. Um, but other than a, a quick glance and a hi, that was it. Um, I have no intention of having contact, I think it's pointless. Um, he has made attempts to contact me through text messages and emails because I have his calls blocked on my phone.

[00:38:31] Um, but they're usually, uh, you know, like right before my wedding to my husband, um, my ex texted me that I'm always going to be the one, there will be never any, there'll never be anyone else for him, I'll always be the love of his life. And, you know, I just, I can't. I, I just, I, I'm not even affected. I don't hate him,

[00:38:57] um, strangely, um, but I don't want a damn thing to do with him. He, I mean, he, he wanted me dead and he tried and I, I just, I can't. Now it's difficult when you're co parenting, but I'm very fortunate that we don't have a five year old that we have to swap in the middle of the week, every week. So, um, you know, that makes it tremendously easier to have the no contact relationship.

[00:39:26] Um, I do feel badly though, for our son, because, you know, here again, we go back to childhood trauma. My son is amazingly resilient, he is extremely mature about the whole situation and with life in general. I'm very proud that he came out seemingly unscathed, you know, when he could have easily fallen into a life of addiction to drugs or alcohol or, you know, trouble in so many ways, but he is,[00:40:00]

[00:40:00] he is just amazing, um, how he is, uh, overcome all that. However, however, um, he is also a boy, I mean, he'll always be a boy to me, who saw his father walk away from us multiple times during, you know, the time that his dad and I were together. The divorce was just one of the times that his dad had moved out, but his dad had moved out with a girlfriend, you know, back in, I don't know, was it 2006, 2007?

[00:40:34] Um, he was unfaithful many times. Sometimes he would just go stay somewhere else for a few days, just to prove a point to me that he could walk out whenever he could. But, you know, I have serious abandonment issues, obviously. But I see the same issues in my son. Um, but boys don't like to talk about that stuff,

[00:40:56] he would never be open to therapy. He's not going to come to mom and say, Hey, let's have a conversation about my abandonment issues with dad. But he is a boy that seeks his father's approval nonetheless. So he, he does have a very close relationship with his dad. Um, I don't like the influence. I don't like the fact,

[00:41:20] um, I have been told multiple times that, um, the way that I'm spoken of, um, in a very hateful way and lies that are told about me, um, to my son and in front of my son, um, it's just not appropriate, obviously. But I can't expect somebody that, um, has my ex's personality to have any consideration for the fact that our son doesn't need to hear those things about his mother.

[00:41:47] But, um, you know, one thing I've realized in all this is that I can't control other people. I can only control my own actions, and at this point, I can't even control my son. Because I have this theory about parenting that once your child is, you know, if you cannot physically overtake your child, you have no more control over them.

[00:42:09] You just have to hope that you have instilled enough, uh, of the good values that you wanted to in them, that they'll make good decisions on their own. But, um, he's got to figure it out. I love him, I'll always be here for him if he wants to talk. If he wants to hear mom's sage advice, but you know, kids don't usually listen to mom and dad.

[00:42:29] So maybe some, someone else will relay it to him. Um, but you know, he has to figure that out, he has to resolve that for himself. Um, and if that means getting hurt by his father at some point, which I expect, then it is what it is. I think we all have to go through that to find our own way. Um, but that's where everything's at.

[00:42:49] So it's kind of, with my son, and his dad, and, and me, it's kind of a love triangle. But as far as, you know, my husband now, and, and, it's great. I mean, everybody gets, it's peaceful. It's, you know, even my son had said, um, shortly before we did get married, my husband and I, he said, Wow, you know, he's just so easygoing and he smiles.

[00:43:14] I'm like, I know. The thought that somebody actually is happy. But when you're around that, you feel it and you start to be infected with that and we weren't used to that. So it's been amazing. I'm just glad that we could turn things around, you know, for both our lives and that we're in a good situation.

[00:43:36] Ed Watters: That's great. So you're releasing another book, it's a prequel to it?

[00:43:43] Dana S. Diaz: Yeah, I'm actually,

[00:43:44] Ed Watters: Is that already out?

[00:43:45] Dana S. Diaz: No, not yet. I'm working very hard, I'm actually a glutton, I have written the prequel and the sequel to Gasping for Air, and I am trying to publish two books at once now. Because, you know, why not? Um, so the prequel will talk about my childhood and all this stuff, you know, that led me to be a codependent, which is a label that I, and this is one thing I want to just say, getting on my little soapbox,

[00:44:13] you know, I'm not a huge fan of labels. But I'm also a big fan of it is what it is. But I don't like people talking about themselves negatively. Like, Oh, I'm a codependent, I'm broken, I'm damaged, or I was abused. No, you are just you and you were in some crappy situations that made you maybe not as well equipped to be in

[00:44:36] the best situation to make good choices for yourself and what have you. But I am, this is part of my mission in putting these books out is just to let people know like, Hey, I've been there and I get it. I have, I have been down that road of like, I don't even want to live anymore. I have felt so down to where I thought I was broken and Oh, poor me,

[00:44:58] woe is me. I was never meant to be here, so why am I here? But guess what? You were meant to be here and you're amazing. And it's okay if you're a codependent. Because guess what? You know, when you're not with a narcissist, it actually works a lot better when you're with somebody else who's very willing to receive, you know, your people pleasing nature and your care for them.

[00:45:19] When they reciprocate it, it's lovely. It's, you know, sometimes I have to pinch myself and be like, oh, we just had, was that an argument? Did we disagree, but we're still smiling and we're getting along? Like, is that how this is supposed to work? Yes, it can. So, you know, it's important for people to understand no matter where they came from,

[00:45:40] they're going to be okay if they decide they want a better life for themselves. And then the sequel will, I, I'm just getting a lot of pressure from people who've read this book. They want to know what happens next, it's kind of like Netflix. And I'm like, Wait, I got to write the next sequel. You're just going to have to wait until January, or May, or whenever it comes out.

[00:45:59] But yes, I am working diligently between podcasting, um, to get the revisions, you know, back and forth with the publisher. All my rewrites and, and hopefully, we're hoping by next spring, next summer at the very latest, we'll have both of those books out for everybody.

[00:46:17] Ed Watters: Awesome. You know, it's very important for people to be emboldened and encouraged to tell their story. Because even though you may not think it's not worth anything, it is to somebody. Because

[00:46:33] Dana S. Diaz: Yes.

[00:46:33] Ed Watters: you've already been through it and that's big. What you're doing is huge and we need more people doing that. Do you have advice or encouragement for people stuck and needs to transition out of these relationships, or even jobs, or whatever they may be stuck in?

[00:46:57] Dana S. Diaz: Yeah, narcissists are everywhere. Although I have to say,

[00:47:00] Ed Watters: Yes.

[00:47:01] Dana S. Diaz: I know some narcissists that aren't bothering anybody. They actually are humorous to, you know, cause you're like, Yeah, you actually do look as good as you think you do. I get it. But, um, they're not all harmful. But you know, my thing is, is that I think everybody expects me to, to tell people, Get out of it, get out of that relationship.

[00:47:22] And, you know, the thing is you, there are so many reasons why, why we stay. But we have to believe and want to leave that situation. If I had had four kids and one was special needs and I was, I mean, how do you leave that? How do you, you know, knowing that you might be out on this, it's not that easy, um, if you're not financially able to. If you have, God forbid, a child with cancer or something that needs medical care and you don't have medical, you know, insurance unless you stay with the person.

[00:47:58] I mean, there's pets even. I, I did not discuss it in my book, but you know, we had a bloodhound who I was very attached to and she had, she had epilepsy. She had sometimes a dozen seizures, grand mal seizures, daily. And then she got lymphoma. I wasn't going to leave her there, but where was I going to go with this big sick dog and a kid?

[00:48:22] You know, it, it's just not that easy. So I'm not going to sit here and say, Get out, oh my God. All I ask people to do is just ask yourself, and the thing is, be honest with yourself, what do you want your life to look like? If nothing, if nothing would be affected, nothing mattered, and you could freely walk out your, your door today and live the life

[00:48:48] that you wanted, what does that life look like? Because I think, for me, that was the first step. And it doesn't have to be, you know, you don't have to be like, Oh, I want to be a movie star and I want to, you know, it doesn't have to be like grandiose. It could be something simple. Like, I just wanted to be married to somebody who actually just even liked me, you know, and that returned love to me.

[00:49:14] I wanted to be with somebody who was a good man for my son to model at, you know, simple things. I, I, I, whatever, whatever it is, what do you want your life to look like? Because I think once we can see it and envision it, then we start to maybe act a little more, even unconsciously, towards that goal. Um, you know, for me, I saved, I, I kind of stashed away money for fifteen, fifteen long years so that I would be prepared for my exit because I always knew it would come.

[00:49:52] And I was thankful to have that money there for me. So it just takes knowing what you want and then moving towards [00:50:00] that goal. Um, but I will always tell people, primarily, Make sure you're safe because not everybody is in a safe situation to just be able to walk out whenever they, they please. Especially when there's children, you know, or anybody involved that could be affected.

[00:50:20] Ed Watters: Very good advice. Do you have a call to action for our people?

[00:50:25] Dana S. Diaz: Yeah, absolutely. Um, go to my website. Um, the link to buy the book is on there. Otherwise anywhere you go online, most people go to Amazon, but wherever you go online to buy books, you know, grab up the book, it's an ebook or print. Website also has a blog, if you've already read the book and you're waiting for the next season, um, you can read my blog. I post monthly and I also have other, you know, every podcast I'm on, we try to post them on there as, as they're released. And there's also a quiz there that you can click the button and see if you are experiencing narcissistic abuse. Um, though that might be something that might be a little more eye opening, some things that, you know, even if you just read the quiz and don't want to actually take it, just things to, um, look out for in your own relationship or any future relationships you have.

[00:51:17] Ed Watters: That's pretty awesome. You know, congratulations on your recovery and

[00:51:23] Dana S. Diaz: Thank you.

[00:51:23] Ed Watters: your transition. It's important that people acknowledge that that is something needed in people's lives if they're stuck.

[00:51:34] Dana S. Diaz: Yes.

[00:51:34] Ed Watters: So it's great to see people do transition out. And what you're doing is going to encourage others to help more people. And that's what this show is about and what you're doing, we just, we just love. So thank

[00:51:51] Dana S. Diaz: Thank you.

[00:51:51] Ed Watters: you for being here today and being part of the podcast. What's the best way for people to get a hold of you?

[00:52:00] Dana S. Diaz: Absolutely. Um, if you're on my website danasdiaz.com, there's a contact button so you can email me through there. Otherwise, I'm on Facebook and Instagram, people message me all the time. And yes, I love hearing when somebody says, I read your book and it gave me the strength to leave my abusive or toxic marriage or relationship.

[00:52:22] So, you know, if you just want content tips to heal, I post every single day on both platforms. Um, so that you'll be updated, you know, with any pertinent information about abuse, or resources, um, any podcasts, or, or books I have coming. So, um, definitely this podcast will also be on my social media as soon as it's released. So anyone who just wants more information, um, available to them, um, it's definitely a safe way to get at it that won't get you in trouble if you are in an abusive situation right now.

[00:52:57] Ed Watters: It's a very powerful story, and it's a nail bite of a read. So thank you, and I can't wait to see what else is coming out with Dana. And you enjoy the rest of your day, Dana. Thank you.

[00:53:15] Dana S. Diaz: Thank you for having me. Have a good day.

[00:53:22] Ed Watters: Thank you for joining us today. If you found this podcast enlightening, entertaining, educational in any way, please share, like, subscribe, and join us right back here next week for another great episode of Dead America Podcast. I'm Ed Watters, your host, enjoy your afternoon wherever you may be.