Born and raised a country girl from the Midwest, TL Durand led a fairly simple life – a mother, wife and accountant. A move from peaceful country life to the big city changed everything.
Suddenly a single mother, TL found herself not only struggling with the immense heartbreak but facing bankruptcy and the loss of everything she worked for her whole life. She and her youngest daughter spent the next nine months living with her mother while she got back on her feet. Then, within a few short months, she met the man who would change her life but not in the way she’d hoped.
Toxik chronicles her relationship with Kristopher, a malignant narcissist, whose emotional abuse nearly destroyed her.
TL now lives in the Southwest. She has repaired the relationships with her family and close friends, has many new friends, and has worked hard to build a life that she loves.
Her goal for Toxik is to do more than just “raise awareness” of emotional abuse. Instead, she wants to empower survivors to tell their stories and reveal the reality of it…a reality that is considerably more complex than the stereotypical narcissist.
Personal Note from TL:
When the thought of writing a book about my relationship with a narcissist first popped into my head, I dismissed it as the ramblings of my 3am monkey mind. With so many books and how-to articles out there, how could I add value to the discussion? Plus, there are many, many stories of domestic abuse that are far worse than mine – those with obvious cheating, physical, verbal and substance abuse. Why bother?
But, the more I thought about it, I realized BECAUSE my story didn’t include those things was precisely why I needed to write it (emotional abuse often goes unnoticed and disbelieved by onlookers, and often the victims themselves, yet it is just as destructive as blatant abuse). And, as a survivor, my experience has been much different than the textbook advice given in most books and articles.
When I finally began the writing process and told others about it, the common sentiment was what a “cathartic experience” it would be. While I didn’t doubt that at all, I had no idea what an emotional journey it would be. I thought enough time had passed, and I had done enough work on myself for those wounds to have healed.
However, reminiscing about our relationship, seeing our pictures and reading the happiness and pain in my diary entries brought back emotions I was unprepared for. My mind and body could vividly feel the feelings and remember the sights, sounds and smells. There were many moments of guilt, shame, anger and even nightmares throughout the writing and editing process.
It was even harder to relive and write about the intimate details of our relationship. Yet, I felt it was important to reveal how sexual manipulation & exploitation is a common and rarely discussed tactic used by narcissists to control their victims. The shame the victim feels for the things they did to please someone they love is a powerful tool in the narcissist’s arsenal.
During our relationship, and in the years since, I did not realize how bad things really were and how they impacted me. Indeed, you don’t know how wrong something was until you try to explain it to someone else.
With my manuscript complete and ready for publication, I hired an author coach to advise me on the process. His feedback was that while the book is well written, I was not known as an author and would have difficulty getting an agent. He said I needed to build my author platform and get my name out there first. As I considered his advice and began working on blogs, I couldn’t stop thinking that I didn’t write the book to become a famous author. I wrote it to bring awareness to a serious problem that many people are silently, and even unknowingly, suffering with. That topic was much more important than me as the author.
Since that time, I’ve realized we need to do more than just “raise awareness” of emotional abuse. With the abundance of articles, books, news stories, movies, podcasts and talk shows about narcissism and toxic relationships, it should be simple for everyone to spot and avoid these people. Yet, the problem continues to grow because the reality of dealing with a narcissist is not as black and white as it seems.
My goal for this book is to reveal the reality of a toxic relationship. How narcissists draw their victims in. How they keep them in. And, how difficult it is to get out.
By sharing my story, I hope to empower other survivors to speak up and share their stories so the reality becomes common knowledge.
The story is written from a woman’s perspective because I am one; however, countless men suffer from the effects of emotional abuse too. The book is in no way intended to imply that this is a gender-specific issue and the man is always at fault.
The places, events and conversations are recreated from my memory, photos and diary entries. To protect the innocent, and avoid retribution from the not-so-innocent, names and places have been changed, conversations are not exact transcripts, and some events have been compressed.
Brene’ Brown said, “When we deny the story, it defines us. When we own the story, we can write a brave new ending”. For the victims and survivors of emotional abuse, I hope this story will help you realize you are not alone in your struggles; there is a light at the end of the tunnel, if you choose to seek it; and you too can own your story and reclaim your strength.