I Wrote My Way Out: My Journey Of Empowerment From Victim To Survivor

After the most traumatizing event that a human being can go through, instead of staying silent, I wrote about it.

Ellen M. Lerner
6 min readFeb 13, 2024
Photo via Unsplash.

Narcissistic abuse is one of the most traumatizing events that a human being can go through, and however, whenever you figure out what in the hell actually happened, doesn’t matter if it is in a therapist’s office, an informative book, confession, a friend who just happens to have their PhD, or right here on this very platform — the most cathartic thing you can do is to write about your experience.

The more you write, the more you understand. And the more you understand, the better equipped you are to make sense of it, make peace with it, and ultimately…let it go.

I reached that pivotal point not too long ago. And now, when I am writing about narcissism, I’m not doing it for myself…not anymore. Nearly four years of no contact will do wonders for a person. Almost feels like a miracle. Because I was certain that my life was over. And though I believe in second chances, where this one thing was concerned, I did not think that was even a possibility.

Even with the bullsh*t I had to deal with on Quora, (and if I ever return I am certain I’ll go through it some more,) still… I wouldn’t change a thing…I would do it again in a heartbeat.

And then one day when I first started embarking upon my journey someone did me one of the biggest favors of my life. Truly. A stranger. I can’t even remember his name…

In the very beginning, when I first started to write about my experiences, my profile, along with my credentials said “Survivor of Narcissistic Abuse.” Everything else remains exactly the same.

One day this stranger sent me a message. He was absolutely livid! I thought, at first he had made a mistake and was sending this message to the wrong person. Nope. This was absolutely intended for me! I can not remember his words verbatim, but it went something like this…

“Why would you ever define yourself that way? First…you’re just asking for trouble, but do you honestly think that is all that defines you?”

I tried to remain calm. I tried not to get upset or defensive. I was trying to explain to him that it was “almost like a badge of honor that I carry with me always…”

He said… “That’s all well and good, but I can tell just by reading a handful of things that you’ve written, that is not all that defines you…you are so much more. If that is how you see yourself, that is all you will ever truly be.”

He was right.

That stranger did me one of the biggest favors of my life. I slowly deleted (going backwards) “abuse…narcissistic. of.” I left one word…


And a bit of time passed. I wrote a lot. Here and there I would answer a question regarding songwriting on Quora, but I could literally only write about narcissism. Was that stranger right all along? Is that all that really defined me? If so, I might as well have stayed in that insanity if that is all that defined me.

I started to remember everything that I loved. What has moved and inspired me. My amazing parents. My friends. All of my amazing doggies. My love of music. My career. A dream come true. Going back to school. Stories passed down to me. The list goes on and on…

I still answered questions relating to narcissism, but I no longer felt obsessed. There were days I dreaded writing about my experiences and yet, had to.

There was a time that I felt as if I had more of a ‘trauma bond’ with Quora than I did with the man who literally tried to end my life.

Again, writing about your experience is not only healthy, freeing, and necessary…if you do not do it one way or another, you will never be able to get through it.

Then time passes, and time heals. At a certain point you get yourself together again, you still have days that it is the hardest thing to believe, but you gather yourself back together once more, take a deep breath, put pen to paper, and that’s when you start to really come back to life.

And now, when I answer a question relating to narcissism, I’m not doing it for myself. Not anymore. One of the many “perks” that comes with this madness is “paying it forward.”

At first, it felt like the cruelest irony of my life. I thought to myself:

“So not only did I walk through hell, barely made it out alive, but there’s community service involved too?”

You bet your life there is!

It is our responsibility as good, decent, caring human beings who went through unimaginable torture to help the next person. And hopefully, they will do the same. And so on…

That is precisely how we eradicate this epidemic. At the very least, that is how we make this world just a little bit better. That is how sh*t gets done!

Because, as we well know, there is no pill for narcissism. And good luck getting them to go to therapy — and if you think jail time will make them remorseful, think again!

This is how we do our jobs as human beings. I know you have heard that saying… “Be the change.” It took me years to fully understand what that truly meant.

That is exactly what I am trying to do…

I truly hope I am.

Sharing your story is helpful. More than helpful. It is life altering. It will literally save your life — at least it did for me.

However, at certain point (no time frame, take however long you need, there is no time table for healing) when you feel it (and you will know), you will find yourself writing about other things you are passionate about.

You will (hopefully) continue to write on this topic. Everyday, new victims emerge from narcissistic abuse with many questions. We were that person once upon a time.…and we never forget. How could we?

If you find yourself laughing at things you never thought you would find funny again, if you smile at things you used to love but thought were gone forever…if your friend says these very words to you at lunch. One spring day, almost three years ago….

“I’ll never fully understand what happened Ellen. It was so awful, I was there. I was just as confused as you…I hate that you went through it. And I missed you so much. You weren’t ‘you’ anymore, but you’re ‘you’ again…I don’t know what to say really…um..it’s just so good to have you back.” And I replied…”It’s so good to BE back.”

Don’t ever stop giving back.

You have a voice.

Whoever tried to silence you… tell them right here, right now, that you will no longer stay silent!

But… eventually, hopefully…you won’t need to raise your voice for yourself anymore.

Instead, do it for the next person. And the next…

Just think how truly amazing it was that you were able to save your own life.

Now, think how amazing it will be to save someone else’s.

Photo via Unsplash.



Ellen M. Lerner

My name is Ellen. I am a Composer. A Pianist and Vocalist. A Student. A Writer and most of all...I'm a Survivor.