The 2% Solution: 30 Minutes to Transform Your Life

Navigating the Labyrinth of Narcissistic Abuse with Dana Diaz: A Journey of Resilience and Empowerment

April 17, 2024 Dana Diaz Season 1 Episode 84
Navigating the Labyrinth of Narcissistic Abuse with Dana Diaz: A Journey of Resilience and Empowerment
The 2% Solution: 30 Minutes to Transform Your Life
More Info
The 2% Solution: 30 Minutes to Transform Your Life
Navigating the Labyrinth of Narcissistic Abuse with Dana Diaz: A Journey of Resilience and Empowerment
Apr 17, 2024 Season 1 Episode 84
Dana Diaz

As I sat down with Dana Diaz, her story unfurled like a map to uncharted territories of the human spirit—her triumph over narcissistic abuse a beacon to all who have weathered similar storms.

This episode is a tapestry woven with the threads of Dana's resilience and wisdom, a detailed account of the insidious patterns of control and manipulation characteristic of narcissism.

We delve into the essential tools for recovery, from the pillars of self-awareness and solid support systems to the profound healing in the written word.

Dana's transformation into an empowered advocate and author is a testament to the power of reclaiming one's self-worth and the liberation that follows.

Embarking on a personal odyssey with Dana, we trace the roots of her strength back to a challenging childhood, learning how adversity can sow seeds of determination and compassion. Her heartfelt narrative encompasses the metamorphosis from being silenced to speaking out for those who've suffered in the shadows.

Dana's passage through DePaul University and her lifelong mission to help children of abuse underscore the cathartic journey from victimhood to finding one's voice and purpose in the most arduous circumstances.

The episode culminates in a robust discussion on the misconceptions shadowing narcissistic abuse advocacy. Dana provides a mirror for listeners to examine their own experiences with codependency and stigma, offering solace and strategies to navigate these complex waters.

We also touch upon the underestimated power of journaling as a vessel for reflection and transformation. It's a call for persistence in the face of hardships, a reminder of the indomitable human spirit, and an affirmation that everyone is worthy of feeling valued and capable of profound change.

Check out Dana's books on Amazon.com

Connect at


Have a question? Comment? Feedback? Drop me a text. I’d love to hear from you.

Support the Show.



A Message from Dai, host of the 2% Solution Podcast:

Hey there, you fantastic listener! 👋

As we wrap up another episode of The 2% Solution Podcast, I want to throw a massive, confetti-filled THANK YOU your way.

As we launch this podcast, your support is like getting an extra espresso in your Venti Americano—unexpected and refreshing!

Your reviews? They're like high-fives to my soul. Your shares? They're spreading more joy than cat videos on the internet. Subscribing? You're officially the coolest in my book.

Meeting in the 2% Collective Community? It's like watching a garden of awesomeness bloom – and you're all the sunflowers making it happen!

Keep being the amazing, 2%-improving rockstars that you are.

🌟 Stay fabulous, stay tuned, and stay 2%! 🚀

Love, laughs, and much gratitude,

Dai M.

P.S. I'm primarily active on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Feel free to connect and start a conversation. If you're searching for inspiring, motivational, educational, and healthy living content, check out my over 1500 articles at DaiManuel.com - I enjoy writing, okay? lol

The 2% Solution with Dai Manuel
Become a supporter of the show!
Starting at $3/month
Support
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

As I sat down with Dana Diaz, her story unfurled like a map to uncharted territories of the human spirit—her triumph over narcissistic abuse a beacon to all who have weathered similar storms.

This episode is a tapestry woven with the threads of Dana's resilience and wisdom, a detailed account of the insidious patterns of control and manipulation characteristic of narcissism.

We delve into the essential tools for recovery, from the pillars of self-awareness and solid support systems to the profound healing in the written word.

Dana's transformation into an empowered advocate and author is a testament to the power of reclaiming one's self-worth and the liberation that follows.

Embarking on a personal odyssey with Dana, we trace the roots of her strength back to a challenging childhood, learning how adversity can sow seeds of determination and compassion. Her heartfelt narrative encompasses the metamorphosis from being silenced to speaking out for those who've suffered in the shadows.

Dana's passage through DePaul University and her lifelong mission to help children of abuse underscore the cathartic journey from victimhood to finding one's voice and purpose in the most arduous circumstances.

The episode culminates in a robust discussion on the misconceptions shadowing narcissistic abuse advocacy. Dana provides a mirror for listeners to examine their own experiences with codependency and stigma, offering solace and strategies to navigate these complex waters.

We also touch upon the underestimated power of journaling as a vessel for reflection and transformation. It's a call for persistence in the face of hardships, a reminder of the indomitable human spirit, and an affirmation that everyone is worthy of feeling valued and capable of profound change.

Check out Dana's books on Amazon.com

Connect at


Have a question? Comment? Feedback? Drop me a text. I’d love to hear from you.

Support the Show.



A Message from Dai, host of the 2% Solution Podcast:

Hey there, you fantastic listener! 👋

As we wrap up another episode of The 2% Solution Podcast, I want to throw a massive, confetti-filled THANK YOU your way.

As we launch this podcast, your support is like getting an extra espresso in your Venti Americano—unexpected and refreshing!

Your reviews? They're like high-fives to my soul. Your shares? They're spreading more joy than cat videos on the internet. Subscribing? You're officially the coolest in my book.

Meeting in the 2% Collective Community? It's like watching a garden of awesomeness bloom – and you're all the sunflowers making it happen!

Keep being the amazing, 2%-improving rockstars that you are.

🌟 Stay fabulous, stay tuned, and stay 2%! 🚀

Love, laughs, and much gratitude,

Dai M.

P.S. I'm primarily active on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Feel free to connect and start a conversation. If you're searching for inspiring, motivational, educational, and healthy living content, check out my over 1500 articles at DaiManuel.com - I enjoy writing, okay? lol

Dai Manuel:

Welcome to the 2% Solution podcast, where we dive into stories that inspire and actions that transform. I'm your host, ty Manuel, and today we're embarking on a journey of resilience, recovery and empowerment with an incredibly courageous guest, dana Diaz. With an incredibly courageous guest, dana Diaz. Dana brings us a story not just of survival, but of flourishing, after enduring years of narcissistic abuse, from a challenging childhood to a 25-year marriage that tested her to the core. Dana's experiences have shaped her into not only a survivor but a beacon of hope for others facing similar trials. Today, she shares her insights into recognizing and overcoming the invisible chains of emotional abuse.

Dai Manuel:

In this episode, Dana will unpack the complex world of narcissism, shedding light on how malignant narcissists operate, their lack of empathy and the patterns of control and abuse they weave. More importantly, she'll share her personal catharsis through writing and journaling, which led her to her profound healing and her mission to help others. The takeaways from today's talk are vital Power of self-awareness, the importance of support systems and the healing that comes from sharing your story. Dana has turned her pain into empowerment, authoring books that reach out to those still trapped in the shadows of manipulation. So if you're ready to learn how you can spot, stop and move beyond narcissistic abuse, or if you just need a dose of inspiration to remind you of the strength of the human spirit, you're in the right place. Make sure to check out the show notes for links to Dana's books and resources and get ready to be inspired.

Dai Manuel:

This episode is a call to action for all of us to understand more deeply, act more decisively and uplift each other in our darkest times. Stay tuned as we explore these powerful themes with Dana Diaz, right here on the 2% Solution Podcast. Let's get started on the 2% Solution Podcast. Let's get started. All right, welcome back to the 2% Solution Podcast. As I said in the intro, I'm super excited for today's guest, dana, and I thought the last name was Diaz. That's how I knew her, but I see today on the Zoom poll it's Studeman. So what do you go by?

Dana Diaz:

Dana. Well, dana S Diaz, the Sudomit is the S, that is my nod to my current husband. But I am me, I am the original, you know, born Dana Diaz. So we're going with it. I love it. I love it.

Dai Manuel:

All of me. Oh, it's so good. Well, I'm excited to have you here today, dana, and, as I mentioned in the intro, just to recap, I know you're an author, you're a speaker, and what I'm most impressed by is your advocacy work for victims of narcissistic abuse, specifically the vulnerability that you use with sharing your own personal story, as well as how that's been supportive in helping others rediscover that self-empowerment. And so today I'm just excited to talk and share a bit about your story, but also to dive into what the hell is narcissism. What is narcissism? Because it's a buzzword we hear a lot about nowadays, but do people really know what it means? I have to look it up, you know like, I have two teenage daughters.

Dai Manuel:

Well, they're 19 and 21 now, so this has been very real conversation, especially as they are very much in the dating or boyfriend world, and you know I'm not going to name names, but there's been some things I've noticed. Okay, so I'm excited to share my this podcast, our conversation with my daughters.

Dana Diaz:

Okay, selfishly speaking, I think I could give them a. I could give them and everybody a quick lesson. I mean, let's just get to it. What is a narcissist? Um, narcissist the word actually comes from the name of the greek god narcissist. The guy liked to look at himself in the water because his reflection I guess he was hot or something, I don't know, but he wasn't bothering anybody. I can't say he was abusive or not, I didn't know him, but these are the people we see on social media and we all see them with their abs and their lashes and whatever. They usually look as good as they think they look, so we cannot hate on them. They might annoy you with how much they post about themselves and how great they are, but they're not bothering anybody.

Dana Diaz:

Now, what we have come to know a narcissist to be and what we are talking about here today, are narcissists who are so obsessed with feeling superior to other people. Some actually do think that they're superior and above everything, including the law. Some actually have a deep seated insecurity so they seek the admiration and praise to fulfill their ego. But these are people that, on the low end of things, I always say they're like tumors. A benign tumor is there. It's not bothering you, it's just what it is. The malignant tumor can cause you problems, it can kill you. It's got to go.

Dana Diaz:

These are the narcissists, those malignant ones that I'm talking about, because the problem with them is that they will enact any and all forms of abuse physical, verbal, psychological, sexual, legal, financial.

Dana Diaz:

They will do anything they have to do to maintain their control over you so that they feel so all-powerful and exalted and so important. And it's disgusting, because it's unfortunate, that a lot of these people realistically, our US prison population, the male prison population specifically I'm not picking on guys, because women are narcissists too, but over 20-some percent of them are identified narcissists and 38% of all women murdered are murdered by their partner, and usually narcissistic partners. So these are scary things. It's a scary thing to be a girl in this world, but I will also say that they're claiming 25% of men also experience, you know, a relationship with a narcissistic woman. So it goes both ways, but it's scary nonetheless to think that the odds are, you know, more in your favor than not, but you know there's a lot of awful people out there. You know that might harm you, so that they feel good about themselves, and that's what we're talking about.

Dai Manuel:

Such a great explanation.

Dai Manuel:

I really appreciate taking the time to dive into that Dana, because I know it is a hot topic and I know there's a lot of triggering conversations around this for people, especially those that have dealt with just abuse on those different levels that you described. So you know, for those listening, I apologize, you know, trigger warning that we're going to get into some real stuff here as Dana shares her story, um, but, but also just a real quick note and something I'd like to ask before we dive into your story, dan, of how you came to be supporting people with this is uh, I was doing some up and I'm just why I'm asking. This is like the research that I read or came across. It says the very few are actually diagnosed with that specifically, but there are different, like people on the autistic spectrum.

Dana Diaz:

There's a spectrum.

Dai Manuel:

There's a spectrum for narcissism, so is that that is true?

Dana Diaz:

It's kind of the tumors you could go on the one end. I mean, let's be real, we all have narcissistic tendencies, sure? Um? The intent is where we, you know, we look to see if it's harmful to others or not. Even it could be harmful to yourself, um, but there's so much there, the reason that I was kind of cringing, um, when you were saying narcissistic personality disorder. It is a debate.

Dana Diaz:

I don't believe in narcissistic personality disorder as a diagnosable situation, because a true narcissist, a true malignant narcissist, would never go to get a diagnosis like that, because nothing's wrong with them. It's you. You're the problem. They will find justification for how they treat you, even when they abuse you. They could shoot you and find reason that they were right to do that. So these are not people who are going to willingly go and sit in front of somebody. You know, oftentimes what two of the main characteristics that would separate a true narcissist from somebody that just has the tendencies is they lack remorse and they lack empathy. So try to get somebody that has no remorse for what they've done and no empathy to think about how their actions affect others to go sit in front of a psychiatrist to get a diagnosis. Yeah, I just don't see that happening.

Dai Manuel:

That makes a lot of sense, the way you describe that, and it also sort of like, I think, about sociopaths, right, like it seems like there's a very like the way you just described. There's a very like the way you just described their lack of empathy, especially, you know, that inability to recognize that it does harm for others and the blatant fact that they just don't care.

Dana Diaz:

Right, and it's intentional, and it's intentional. So, yes, these are antisocial, psychotic people.

Dai Manuel:

Oh yeah.

Dana Diaz:

And they're everywhere.

Dai Manuel:

They, they they are Well it's funny and I I want everyone to be aware. I know, now that we've given you these filters through which to see some people or some traits of people, you will start to notice it more. It's sort of like the, the idea like let's not think about pink elephants.

Dai Manuel:

Oh, you're thinking about pink elephants, you know so um, but but on that note and this is a serious note is Dana I, I? I know it was like 40 years ago or or recently. After 40 years of abuse, you finally made a decision to change things, and I can only imagine just the lead up to wanting to make that change. So can you take us back and sort of walk us through that? Because I know this is the origin story. This is how you just became someone that's known as the superpower of helping people with this. So the floor is yours. I've been really looking forward to this.

Dana Diaz:

Well, thank you, I'm not sure where to start, but we'll just start. I think we'll start at the end and go to the beginning, because I think the beautiful thing and I think all of our lives have this circular aspect. But my life really did come full circle because just three and a half years ago I was just about to turn 45. I had gotten very ill and because of the narcissistic abuse I was experiencing in my former marriage I was with him 25 years it had made me so sick because of the stress, the cortisol, that stress hormone was running through me for so many decades at such accelerated rates and levels that I became autoimmune and it gave me a lung disease that's similar to having COPD and fibromyalgia all at the same time. So my body was in havoc and for somebody that coached cross country for nine years, ran five miles every day, ate apples and hard boiled eggs and you know this shouldn't be happening I should not have been wearing a backpack, oxygen machine and feeling like I had rigor mortis setting in after sitting down for 10 minutes and I mean people have to understand I dropped down to 93 pounds. I couldn't I couldn't tear toilet paper off the roll to take care of myself. That shouldn't be happening in your mid-40s when you're otherwise healthy. So that was my motivating, life-changing moment where I said, okay, is this what I really want? And I kind of looked back and said what the hell happened? How did I even get here? Because this was not at all what I intended.

Dana Diaz:

So, going back to the beginning, it goes back to before I was even born. I was an unplanned teenage pregnancy Oops, accident and mistake. I was told that referred to as such. After I was born, fortunately, my grandma and great grandma saved me from abortion or being adopted out and they decided to make a pact Grandma would get a job to take care of my expenses. Great grandma would take care of me. So the beautiful thing is I had a foundation. My great grandma was very loving. She was my mother. She still is in my heart today, even though she's passed. She was just a beautiful influence on me, showed me what love is. I had two very doting uncles that served as father figures and I love them dearly as well. But that was my foundation. So that was good.

Dana Diaz:

But then mom decided to get married to an older man she had met. He had a house, he had a car, lived in middle class neighborhood in the suburbs, you know, had much more than my mother ever thought she could attain on her own and with her own resources, and for some reason everybody thought it was a great idea for her to suddenly take me to go live with them and live this wonderful life that it was supposed to be. Well, it wasn't. It wasn't in the least bit. As a matter of fact, the first time I met this man I didn't like him. I mean, he tried to give me a stuffed animal to win me over. He acted nice, but kids are really. They can see through stuff Like that movie. I see dead people, I see fake people. I just have that natural ability to see through BS. And he wasn't very nice to me when no one was around, not that he was awfully nice to me when my mother was around, because my mother was, you know, very emotionally detached and neglectful of me in a lot of ways, very physically detached. We had no real bond or relationship and nor did she ever seek to create one. So we'll get to.

Dana Diaz:

The gist of it is that in my life with them, from a very young age, about five, six years old, I was physically and verbally abused by my mother's husband. He would tell me on a daily basis and I challenge everyone, think of your child, or any child, five, six, seven years old, a little girl. I shouldn't have to pay for another man's child. You should be glad that I'm feeding you and sheltering you. Nobody's ever going to love you. Your mother doesn't even love you. You're a burden, you're a bother, you're stupid. By the way, that bowl of spaghetti you're having for dinner is going to make you fat. Nobody's going to want you if you're fat. Oh, that peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Nobody's ever going to want you when your hips widen like a middle-aged woman's. This is what I heard every day of my life, growing up until I was 18 years old and walked out.

Dana Diaz:

The problem was, as you might have figured, I'm a little fiery. I can be tenacious, and I was very much so as a little girl. I would go to my mother. She wouldn't say anything to him. She'd actually turn around and tell me that I should stop lying and making up stories. So when all these things were happening, I would just stand up for myself and say I even stood up for her, oftentimes saying don't talk to my mother that way. You can't do that to my mother. Well, I would be met with physical consequences and those weren't very nice, certainly not to the severity some people experience physical abuse.

Dana Diaz:

But I learned I had to keep my mouth shut. It was better, kept the peace. I just kind of withdrew altogether and kept to myself, just flew under the radar, as I say, just so I could get out of that house. But unfortunately, when I left the house saying nobody's ever going to treat me this way again and I'm going to go out in the world, I mean, from 12 years old and I knew I wanted to help other children of abuse because at certain points I did tell people, child services did get involved, police were called and not one damn thing happened. They, they were generous, they were success.

Dana Diaz:

I was the problem. You know, nobody believed me. I self-inflicted the wounds, ok, so I self-inflicted the wounds, okay, so, yeah. So I felt like there was. I definitely felt the injustice. I wanted to change that. But what was I going to do? Well, I wanted to go to beauty school.

Dana Diaz:

He, of course, being a narcissist, said that's not real school, you have to go to a university. So I went to DePaul University where I discovered very early on in my freshman year that apparently I was good at writing and speaking and it was fine because the political science. I thought I tried pre-law but I was like gosh, the system is really. You learn real quick. It's ass backwards. Nothing really works the way it's supposed to and I wasn't sure that I could really do what I wanted to do and create the effect I wanted to create in a system that was so broken, write and able to speak so naturally. I thought, okay, I'll go that direction, get a degree in journalism, minored in psychology, because I knew there was a lot of that there for myself and to help others.

Dana Diaz:

But in the meantime I met my ex-husband and he reminded me of my stepfather in so many ways. Yet he hit me differently, and I didn't mean hit physically. He struck me differently because he was unsuspecting. He wasn't as overt as my stepfather saying look at me and my fancy car and you'll never have a house like this. And we all know one of those narcissists.

Dana Diaz:

My ex-husband was more of a. I always say he was like Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh, with the slumped shoulders and the drooped head, like nothing good ever happens to me and poor me. So like he'd bait people, you know, almost thriving on their pity, you know, so that you would praise him and encourage and admire him and exalt him for every little thing to thinking you're lifting his spirit, you know, and being his cheerleader. And in return I was getting affection. And so, even though it wasn't right, I mean, we were like oil and water. But I was a codependent, I mean, let's be real and I was desperate. I was so starving for love that any little bit of crumb of attention or affection was enough for me. It was good enough. It didn't need to be everything, it just needed to be enough. So we began this push and pull where, even just three weeks into our relationship, something got thrown across the room at me and it was over a CD, the new, no Doubt excited about it, I ran out and bought it and he was angry because he had bought it as well. And it was such an unreasonable overreaction to start throwing things and having all that screaming and seething anger with spit coming out of his mouth, I was like, ok, I'm good, I'm out, best wishes, see you later. I don't want any part of this, but this is how narcissistic romantic relationships begin. Then the next day, it was I'm sorry and he's caressing my cheek and he'll never do it again, and it's the two of us against the world. Well, you tell a girl whose mom and theoretical my stepdad was the only dad I'd ever known, my own parents I didn't feel love from. I'd never been good enough. They didn't care.

Dana Diaz:

This guy tried to right. He didn't mean to do that. He might have had a bad day, right, we all have bad days. Here I go start enabling, excusing, tolerating. So he got away with that and we were in love for a few days and then something else would happen. Then we were in love for a few days, then something else bad would happen, and the bad was just him not being happy about something I said or did, or maybe I looked at him wrong, or maybe something didn't go the way he wanted it to. So I was going to pay for all of that. I was going to pay for everything bad that happened to him in his life from then on.

Dana Diaz:

The problem with this was that in this push and pull, all those little bad moments, you know, it went from throwing stuff across the room to crowbars being swung at my head, to prescription medications that might have well that he wanted to kill me, to guns and knives at the end of this 25 years. And how does it get to? From point A to point B? Well, I was the girl that had no boundaries day to point B. Well, I was the girl that had no boundaries. I was so afraid of disappointing people because I didn't want to be abandoned or rejected, like I had been in my childhood, that my boundaries were very loose. They were there, but they were loose, and what narcissists do is they step just over those boundaries and they know damn well what they're doing. You're unsettled enough. You might even say something, but then they twist everything around. So somehow now you feel responsible for what they've done, because they were justified in what they were doing, but you also don't feel offended enough to end things.

Dana Diaz:

And then I go back to the point A, to point B. How does something get thrown across the room to? At the end he's threatening to kill me and shooting guns. Well, it's like gaining weight, you know. You look back five years. You gained a few pounds since then. How did I gain 10 pounds? Because it happens little by little. Just like every time this bad stuff happens, it's a little bit worse Then, it's a little worse the next time and a little more then. So it creeps on you so that you become so unfazed at how extreme and severe and unreasonable and abusive. Oftentimes you don't even recognize it as abuse because it is your normal. It's not until you maybe say something out loud and somebody looks at you, you know, jarred by your comments or stunned that you would.

Dana Diaz:

You know that this is even going on that you're like why are you reacting that way? It's no big deal, it's a very big deal, you know, because and it's sad to me, like when I was writing my book, I felt bad for my younger self because, like my son is, he'll be 21 next month His girlfriend is 19. And I look at her at the same age. If she came to me and she's not even my daughter, I think of her as one. But I'm like if she came to me and said my own son swung a crowbar at her head, oh my gosh, I would be packing her up so fast and going and kicking his ass. But that's a whole other thing. But you know, nobody did that Like I thought it was OK. I let him treat me that way and that was so sad to me that I let things get to that end.

Dana Diaz:

But going back to this full circle, so here I am at the end of that 25 years. I'm 44, just about to turn 45. My health has been destroyed. My self-esteem, gosh. I didn't even know who I was. Honestly, I'd been stripped of any sense of who I was and I didn't even have my own thoughts or opinions. I wasn't allowed to, I wasn't allowed to do anything that Dana wanted.

Dana Diaz:

So I asked myself a question one night, just thinking in the scheme of life, because I honestly am looking at if I'm in this condition physically at 44 years old, almost 45, am I just going to die one day? And that's it? Is my life just going to be over sooner than later? And that was it because I didn't even try to do anything that I had set out to do when I was younger. Nothing I wanted had come to fruition. So I just it's that simple question what do I want? And it was a very easy answer. I went to school for journalism. I wanted to write. I loved writing. I wanted to still advocate for victims of abuse because I finally realized I had been so terribly abused in my marriage and my childhood. I wanted to help victims and I even wanted to be married, just not to somebody who hated me and wanted me dead. Minor details Big details.

Dana Diaz:

I mean, you know I don't ask for much. You know, the wonderful thing about asking yourself that question is that once you see it, you cannot unsee that vision. You can't If it's what you truly want. It's always like for me. It had been there for 30 years. It didn't go away.

Dana Diaz:

But the next question was well, am I just going to let this be it? Can I achieve any of that in this situation? I didn't even have to think about it. No, I was not going to have love the way I needed to be loved, without abuse. Minor details too. With this man I was not going to be able to write or have. I couldn't do anything. A narcissist isn't going to allow you to have any sense of achievement or financial freedom or, you know, success that they couldn't have themselves. So that was out of the question. I mean, I knew that I could not live a life that was true to who I was and live to my full potential, or even know what my true full potential would be if I was still with this man. The irony of it was that, making the decision to end that relationship, to get that divorce, I also realized that I had been the one who had the power all along. I mean, granted, in domestic situations it's sometimes safer to stay until it's safe enough to leave. But theoretically I had put that hypothetical collar and leash on myself so I could unsnap it, I could take myself off of it and get out, which is what I did, and I think it's really important for people to understand that. You know like I get it.

Dana Diaz:

At one point I thought who am I Like? I start writing this book. I took my journal of atrocities, as I call it, you know, a record of all the things he was saying and doing to me, because I honestly was afraid he was going to do something and make it look self-inflicted and nobody would ever know it was him. So I wanted it to be there for somebody to find. But I took that and elaborated it and that ended up being a book. Like, who thought I could write a book? It was flabbergasting even to myself. And then when I was talking to publishers and a couple of them were actually interested and I was like, oh my gosh, like I might publish a book. I never in a million years would have thought anybody would have even considered publishing a word that I said or wrote. But the beautiful thing is it's only been three and a half years since that divorce and in that three and a half years I've not only published my first book. I have two more books that I've written that are coming out later this year. I'm just finalizing the revisions on them. I am also remarried to somebody whose family I knew 20 years. I've known him for roughly 10 and he'd always been there.

Dana Diaz:

But once my vision was unclouded and I was very clear about who I was and what I wanted. It's amazing what you attract, you know, when you know. I always say it's kind of like. I felt like a flower in a garden, but I had all these weeds overshadowing me. They were covering up and subduing my beauty and my potential to bloom and to grow in the sunshine. I couldn't even see the sun. I didn't even see a way out. I didn't even know there was a sky and a sun that I could glow in the rays of. I wasn't getting nutrients from my soil because they were sucking it all out. But once all these weeds started plucking themselves out, you know, my mother and stepfather cut ties with me. I got divorced.

Dana Diaz:

Unfortunately, a lot of family, all different sides of family, decided to side with this one or that one, or believe this thing about me or that. But, as devastating as it was, once all those weeds were gone they weren't taking away from me anymore, they weren't sucking the life out of me, they weren't diminishing me. I was getting the sunshine, I was getting nourishment because there were other flowers there, one of them being my current husband, that people that were for me. But I didn't hear their positive words over all the negativity and all the naysayers around me and all the diminishing comments that I started to believe about myself that kept me in that submissive situation. So it's very empowering to be able to ask yourself what you want, because then you know, you see, you take those steps forward to an act to get the processes going.

Dana Diaz:

And so now I'm remarried. And you know, for all the people who say, oh, I'm broken and I'm damaged or I'll never. Well, if you don't, if you don't get out of it, you never will. You have to make the decision to decide what you want. And I called myself broken and damaged once too, but I will never again, because I don't like talking to myself that way. I have had people talking to me in terrible ways my whole life Now that I have positive self-talk and I'm like you know what.

Dana Diaz:

I'm not broken and damaged. I'm affected. A lot of crap happened to me, but I'm still standing here. I'm still alive. Am I sickly? Some days? Some are better than others. I'm still alive. Am I sickly? Some days? Some are better than others, but most of the time I can put up on enough makeup and drink enough coffee to get going and be the Dana that I like to be. And I have a wonderful husband who, despite my humanity that I'm not perfect and that I am always going to be a work in progress and I'm still going to be healing for the rest of my life has shown me grace and forgiveness and taught me how to give that grace and forgiveness to myself and to others as well.

Dana Diaz:

And so here I am again, this full circle thing. I was meant, I realized, to go through all that stuff. I had to go through it so that I could understand it because, whatever it is God, the universe, whatever impacted what gifts I was given, I am able to explain it and understand it and verbalize it in a way that helps others get that perspective on their own relationships and what they do with that is up to them. But I certainly strive to help people to improve their lives and to go for it. Because you know what? Here's my last little tidbit, and then I'll get off my soapbox. I met another podcast host, 83 years old. He might be 84 now, but he said, he told me. He said when he turned 80 years old, he decided now, mind you, he 80 years old. He decided Now, mind you, he didn't think. He decided that he was going to publish one book every year. Wow, he has published one book every year. That's awesome. It is awesome.

Dai Manuel:

But it is proof that if you decide something, if you make that decision, I don't care how old you are, I don't care where you are in life, you will get there. If you really want it, you'll get there. Thank you very much for just your openness, your vulnerability and your willingness to share and unpack 40 years of abuse. I can see how your degrees in journalism and psychology has really supported you in this ability to tell the story but, more importantly, also articulate what it is to be abused by a narcissist.

Dana Diaz:

And what is a narcissist? What does it look?

Dai Manuel:

like, how does that show up for us?

Dai Manuel:

And I know that's all captured very well in your book and, by the way, I know you didn't mention the book, but, uh, I did hear you mention, you know, before, when we were chatting, uh, about being an unfortunate expert and narcissist, and I thought I thought that was so telling, you know.

Dai Manuel:

So telling, cause you're right, you know. But these hero journeys that many of us find ourselves on, you know you, you get to the other side and inevitably you do turn around. You see down at the bottom of that hill that you just climbed, much for other people that are dealing with the same challenges that we ourselves dealt with. And so I applaud you and your willingness to go back down the hill and say hey, listen, it's rocky to get up there, but follow me, I'm here to help, you know. And and that is beautiful, you know it really is beautiful. And and uh, to see so much beauty come out of what many would consider a very dark time you know, and so thank you for for all of that and real quick, what's the name of the book?

Dana Diaz:

Gasping for Air, the Stranglehold of Narcissistic Abuse.

Dai Manuel:

Beauty titled. Thank you, I love just the visual that that creates, but I can imagine that writing the book was also very cathartic for you. I can just, I'm imagining that Now I mean, what was that process, like you know, because obviously going back through that journal and I mean it sounds like that journal documented a lot of hard days. It was a lot To revisit that, yeah, yeah, revisit that and unpack that and then put it into a book format. I mean, I could just imagine, there must have been just challenging moments it was.

Dana Diaz:

Can you just talk about that experience? Yeah, I mean it took three years because it was really hard. I mean, honestly, the first manuscript I sent off to the publisher, you know she sent me, you know they send you back 20, some pages of notes of delve into this. This isn't necessary. And it was almost better than therapy because I mean she really challenged me. The interesting thing was is that she said, you know, ok, like, granted, he was a drink jerk, abusive, everything else.

Dana Diaz:

But the story's been told that the boohoo, poor wife, you know, victim to a mean, awful husband, you know she's like. You need to get into this more. If you're willing, if you're not afraid, if you're up for this challenge, you need to really get into this more. And that's where it started to become cathartic and that's where it started to become what was published. Because I did, I can almost appreciate now, like how actors really have to, you know, hone that skill of envisioning and imagining, because I was going back to very real things that happened. But you know, looking back, you know what did I see? What were they wearing? Was there sweat glistening on their forehead? What did I smell? What did I feel inside, emotionally, physically, and I tried to get that. I feel like I did a good job of getting that all out, but I think I it just opened my eyes to a lot of stuff that I never even realized myself, and I'm an overthinker. So, believe me, I have thought in every scenario.

Dana Diaz:

But the beautiful thing about writing, and why I encourage people to journal, is because when you see the words on paper as opposed to scrolling through the memories and the recollections you have in your brain Seeing them on paper there's a certain level of objectivity that comes with that. Where you know, some of us are a little more visual that if you see the words and like, oh, this happened, and then you're reading along oh, this happened again, this happened. And then you're reading along oh, this happened again and this is what happened before. You start to see reasonings for people's behavior, you start seeing patterns, and so telling my stories helped me to see things that I didn't understand at the time, that I couldn't sort out just in my brain and my memories, but I could sort them out on paper and or on the computer screen, as the case may be. So it's a really cool thing to do. That, you know, if anybody does like to write and if any.

Dana Diaz:

But I tell people all the time free journal meaning get a notebook, get a piece of paper and don't I don't care what it is, even if it's not a nice thought, it's a terrible thing If it's your true feeling, get it out, don't stop yourself, don't stop and edit, just throw it out there, because it's very interesting in that nasty stuff, in the truth, which a lot of people aren't ready for, even their own truth, but in that truth. That's where you will grow, that's where you will learn. And that's what I hope to do with my book is not just for me, because I grew and learned a lot from writing that book, but it's also helping other people grow and learn. And, like you said, I've always been that girl. That's like me. First, you know, in public speaking class, you know everybody's sitting there, you know terrified shaking in the knees, like don't make me go first, and then the teacher calls on somebody or says anybody, and everybody's looking around. I'm that girl like all right, I'll go. So it's kind of like that thing, like I am putting myself out there.

Dana Diaz:

And when I did this book I did acknowledge those things. The publisher said she's like you probably weren't an angel all the time either, like we love you but we got to know you. But you probably did some stuff, and I did, admittedly, and you know what. I'm not going to be ashamed about it. I put things out there that I'd rather people didn't know about me, you know, and things that I regret, but I think that's part of what makes us human, and you know all you can do, because we're all going to falter, we're all going to stumble sometimes, and I still do.

Dana Diaz:

There are cringy moments in my life now where I'm like, you know, I wish that hadn't come out of my mouth, or I wish I hadn't said or done that, or I'm in a mood today, but that's part of who we are and we have to embrace every aspect of ourselves and give ourselves that forgiveness, because if you can't love yourself, respect yourself and forgive yourself, how the hell are you going to go do that out in the world?

Dana Diaz:

You can't, and so it makes you a better person for it. But it's not fun, it's not nice, and healing isn't exactly what people think it is either. Your fairy godmother is not going to come, sprinkle magic fairy dust on you and you're going to wake up and ride rainbows and unicorns and all that good stuff. It's nasty and ugly and the depths of hell will open the ground underneath you and pull you down under. But if you are ready to go there, whether through writing or traditional talk therapy or I mean, I've seen goat yoga therapy whatever, do what you got to do, whatever speaks to your heart, whatever do what you got to do whatever speaks to your heart, but definitely it is something worth thinking about doing. You just have to be ready for the challenge, because it absolutely is. It's dreadful, all that stuff.

Dai Manuel:

I think you know. First of all, thank you for the, the transparency around the good, the bad and the oh gosh gosh of journaling, because I I do. I've had similar experiences with journaling and yeah, and. But I do find that when I'm having those down days, it's nice to get it on paper, yeah, rather than get it out on my kids or my wife, you know and as shrek says, better out than in.

Dai Manuel:

So uh, you know I I'll save you, I won't burp but uh, you know it's very much, it's one of those burp, but you know it's very much, it's one of those exercises and it doesn't take very much. I'll do like maybe three minutes in the morning, five minutes in the afternoon, like it, just when it's something, when inspiration strikes, it's just when I got to get this crap out of my head, you know.

Dana Diaz:

Yeah, exactly.

Dai Manuel:

I think. Thank you for sharing that. I think that's a wonderful 2% actionable item. So those that are listening, I hope you take note. You're not journaling. Think about journaling as a cathartic exercise to get the crap out, so you don't have to put it on anybody else. You know. Very true, but this has just been amazing and I'm like look at the time. I wish we had another, like four hours. We have like a Rogan episode here, right. But I wanted to quickly cover a couple things as we finish up today.

Dai Manuel:

Dana and I'm going to have you back when the other two books are coming out, because I want to come back talk about that and talk about some of the new things that you're working on, because this has been just such a wonderful conversation and I've learned a ton, so I know everyone that's listening has learned a ton.

Dai Manuel:

But I wanted to chat real quickly about this idea of um advocacy because I know that's part of what you do today and and you are, you're, you're a proud voice for those that often don't have one and, yes, obviously you know being the unexpected expert in our 40 years of of expertise, um, you know how do you approach creating awareness and understanding on this subject matter, because I I know for many it's very triggering as well, as a lot of people don't want to admit it that they're. In a relationship like this, like even around conversations around codependency.

Dai Manuel:

You know like people are very shy oh yeah you know like no, I, I don't enable him and I'm like you. You know, of course, I'm using those types of terms that you're used to in that, but you know people are very apprehensive about owning anything, especially on these subjects. Right Back to the labels and the IM statements that you alluded to earlier. So I'm just curious how have you found it best to navigate this on this four-year journey of really carving this path?

Dana Diaz:

I think it's just leading by example, because you know, being that person, like I'm the first person to say, yeah, I was a codependent. I think I still probably am, and I see a lot of codependent. You know aspects of my husband, but I'm like two negatives make a positive it's inependent. You know aspects of my husband, but I'm like two negatives make a positive it's in your perspective, you know. So it's about taking the label off and not owning the stigma that other people put on you. You know there's a million things that that I could feel about myself, but I want to feel good. I want to, you know, acknowledge the fact that I've made mistakes and that I have regrets and that I still, in the future, might say and do things that aren't characteristic or presenting the best part of me. But I think, by by saying it out loud to other people, it's okay not to be perfect. I am not perfect and, as I said in my book, as I'm cringing you see my face like there are things that I'm like, not stuff I wanted out in the world, but I think that has to be. It's again just leading by example that for me to say I'm perfect. Yet here I am, I am still feeling good, I'm smiling, despite things that happened. Nothing awful has happened to me because I've made mistakes.

Dana Diaz:

You know crap happens to everybody, but you can still have blessings. You know it's just to show people. You know there's more to it and the only person that you can count on to limit yourself is you. But the only person that can also bring you to your full potential is you. You can't blame other people, you can't, and even for your own things that you're accountable for. It isn't just about saying OK, yeah, oops, but I'm going to move forward. I mean, I always tell people look at Walt Disney. I mean, how many times did he go bankrupt? How many times was he denied by different banks and lenders and financiers and even his own family? You know that that were pooing on the idea.

Dai Manuel:

He was fired from his first job as an artist. He was fired First job, he was told you'll never have a career as an artist. Can you believe?

Dana Diaz:

I'm like whoa, exactly. But he had this vision. He had this vision and look what would have ever happened if he had ever given up. Because I'll tell you what, I'm persistent, but I don't know if I would have been as persistent as him. I challenge everybody to look up his story, because what would this world be without a place to take our children and spend way too much damn money on princess crap and Mickey Mouse ears? I mean, let's be real. Although the waffles there are ridiculously good If anyone goes to the Mickey Mouse waffles, waffles there are ridiculously good if anyone goes to, got it the mickey mouse waffles. But seriously, what an amazing story.

Dana Diaz:

But why don't we? Why do we always think that that stuff only happens to somebody else? So here's me. I'm, you know, I. I'm not saying I'm nobody to feel like a deficient person. I'm just saying like I'm not some celebrity, I'm not some famous person or doctor or you know, have some sort of wealth or status. I'm just a regular person. And I think what people relate to is that, yeah, I'm just me and I'm showing you the way. And if you'll follow, you know, I'm happy to go along that journey with you and show you what mine looked like, and maybe yours is going to be a little bit different, and that's great. We all have to live within our own right, but, yeah, we got to go for it. I want everybody to know that they can have better. You know, even if you choose to stay in your circumstances, you deserve better, because I don't think people hear that enough, you know, and we don't tell ourselves that enough.

Dai Manuel:

I think that is so well said and, yeah, I often contend that. You know, it's our every single person on this planet. It's their birthright to be happy, joyful, joyful and live a life that fulfills them. You know like. I really believe that's everyone's birthright and it's amazing how we can do a lot, not only for ourselves but also for others, to prevent. That makes sense. Really, just an insightful conversation today. I'm so grateful to have had this time with you. One little more question on advocacy and then I got a closing question for you.

Dana Diaz:

Closing question.

Dai Manuel:

All right, and I guess, I believe, because I know, even just being someone that did a fair bit of research before we came to this conversation today, but also just in general knowledge, just you know, just general interest I've wanted to know more about this so I better understand it, I imagine, and because I encountered a lot of conflicting views, different opinions, right, just like when we started with the beginning. You know about this diagnosis that psychologists or psychiatrists are using today to label people with these disorders and which they're calling it a disorder, and I guess you know what are some of the misconceptions about narcissistic abuse that you're working to dispel. You know what I mean, like through your advocacy, specifically, like, is there anything that you can list?

Dai Manuel:

Because I think this is a great way for us to sort of end this, because to get more of that clarity on what we've been talking about today, yeah, absolutely.

Dana Diaz:

I think the biggest misconception comes back to just the term narcissistic abuse, because people think it is a specific type of abuse in itself and all it is is when a narcissist abuses you. So I think that's why a lot of people say, oh, I don't buy this narcissism thing. So to that I say just look at the abuse, because really, at the end of the day, that's what you know. I just want everybody to consider how they treat other people and I would rather that people weren't abusive.

Dana Diaz:

But under that umbrella of quote unquote abuse, I am talking about the bullies on the school playground, I am talking about the mean girl at work or that nasty boss who takes credit for all the work that you do, you know, as their own, and in all these things. But again, narcissistic abuse is just when a narcissist physically, verbally, sexually, legally, financially, you know, however, in whatever way, is abusing you. So you know, I've been known to say, and I'm going to say it again without the bad words but abuse is abuse and an a-hole is an a-hole. So I don't hear what you want to call it, but you know it is what it is.

Dai Manuel:

Well said. I you know what? I don't think it could have been said any more black and white right Like that is just awesome. I know. I think that's exactly what everyone needs to hear. I needed to hear that. I do know that I have relationships with a few people in my life and you know they, they definitely have those tendencies oh yeah.

Dai Manuel:

Um, I'm pretty good at enforcing my boundaries around those people now, but I wasn't always that way, right being that I've been a people pleaser myself. Uh, someone's very quick to say yes because I want everybody to like yeah. And that stemmed from being a kid, which, just like it sounds like a lot of yours stemmed from being a kid as well, but then it also repeated itself.

Dana Diaz:

But thank you for breaking the cycle you did more than broke.

Dai Manuel:

You just just demolished it. It have also now created a bridge for others to get the tools and resources to demolish their own bridges.

Dana Diaz:

Exactly.

Dai Manuel:

And I think it's just wonderful and thank you for being here today. This has been just amazing. And just a quick reminder to all the listeners and viewers Dana's links are in the show notes. You click show notes expand it's there, it's right there when you're listening to this. Okay, it's all there and it's all hyperlinked. To make it super easy, you just click on the button bam, you'll be taken to Dana's platforms and where she's putting out some great content, resources links, but also there'll be links to her book. Definitely go pick up a copy of that.

Dai Manuel:

If anything you heard today tweet peeked and tweaked your interest. Do yourself a favor and go grab that book. Okay, it's a great place to begin this conversation and and awareness piece. It's a great place to begin this conversation and awareness piece. And so, dana, as I said, I had a closing question for you, because I always like to give my guests final words, and what I'd love to ask you is can you offer the audience who may be in a similar situation and are looking for a way out or maybe they're just beginning their journey of healing Any words of advice for those individuals right now?

Dana Diaz:

Yes, I always say my big mom advice is to trust your gut. Listen to your gut. Stop making excuses, stop justifying things, stop dismissing notions that you have even though you have no reason to have them. Trust your gut because usually it will lead you away from toxic people. It will lead you in any decisions or crossroads you come to. It will will do you well and at the end of the day, you don't have to have a reason for doing or not doing, or liking somebody or not liking somebody. Just trust your gut because I promise you it is telling you something. For a reason, people don't give the energy and the vibe their feelings as much credit as they really should. So that's what I will leave you with. I promise you you will live a much better and much more settled and peaceful life if you just follow your gut.

Dai Manuel:

That was just the best advice, I think, that could be offered based on what we talked about today and and uh, you know I I'm a 47 year old comic book nerd and I would say we all have spidey senses.

Dana Diaz:

We don't have to be bit by a spider.

Dai Manuel:

We all got the pinguins right. We get those, but it's amazing how we ignore them, even in the best or worst of times. So thank you for the reminder. I think that was absolutely needed, and thank you again for being here, dana. This has been wonderful. When you have those new books coming out, please let us know we're going to have you on the show to come.

Dai Manuel:

Tell us all about them and we'll continue to learn about how you're continuing to advocate and support others that are dealing with narcissistic abuse, and so thank you again for everything, and can't wait to have you back.

Dana Diaz:

Thank you so much.

Dai Manuel:

That's a wrap on a profoundly moving and empowering episode with Dana Diaz. Today we journey through Dana's personal battles and victories against narcissistic abuse, uncovering not only the darkness she endured but also the light she found in sharing her story and helping others. Dana's courage to reclaim her life and health after 25 years in a toxic relationship is nothing short of inspiring. Her journey from victim to victor, author and advocate, highlights the transformative power of self-awareness and the healing that comes from understanding and articulating one's experiences For action items for anyone dealing with similar challenges. Start journaling, reflect on your experiences, recognize the patterns of abuse and, most importantly, seek support, whether through friends, family or professionals. Finding a network that uplifts and supports you is crucial. Let's not forget Dana's not just talking the talk. She's walked the walk, penning books that dive deep into the psyche of narcissistic abuse, offering insights and advice to those who might still be finding their way out of the shadows. So if Dana's story resonated with you, if you feel the echoes of her experiences in your own life, don't stand still. Reach out, seek help and start your journey towards healing. Check out Dana's books for guidance and remember you're not alone in this fight. For more resources, details and to connect with Dana. Make sure to visit the show notes, where we've included all her links.

Dai Manuel:

Follow Dana on her platforms to stay updated on her work and her new releases. Connect, engage and be part of a community that's turning pain into empowerment daily. Thanks for tuning in to the 2% Solution podcast. Remember it only takes a small shift to make a big difference. So keep pushing forward, keep striving for better and let's all do our part to create a world where abuse has no place to hide. Join us next time for more inspiring stories and actionable solutions. Until then, keep thriving, keep growing and remember change starts with you.

Understanding Narcissism and Overcoming Abuse
Journey From Narcissistic Abuse to Healing
Reclaiming Self-Worth and Moving Forward
The Power of Writing and Reflection
Navigating Narcissistic Abuse Advocacy Misconceptions
Overcoming Narcissistic Abuse Through Awareness

Podcasts we love