By Ken Kemp
Artists express their creative impulses in many ways. Albert Einstein famously said, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”
It may be oil painting or water color, sculpture of clay or rock, graffiti or pencil. The imaginative artist connects real people with the real world.
Sometimes, we at FLITE find an artist whose means of expression is putting words on a page.
“The written word has so much power. It evokes emotion. It tells a story,” says Laura Charanza, author, journalist, television reporter, distance runner, devoted mom and survivor of abuse.
Laura is drawn to FLITE’s passion to see others engage art. Our hearts break when we see the victims of abuse withdraw into a world of shame, self-doubt, and fear. Art can express those deep longings and hope for healing and envision a world of wonder and beauty and wholeness. It’s imagination put to work.
The conviction comes from experience.
Journal for Life
For Laura, writing started in high school when she learned to journal. Raised by an intensely demanding parent, she grew up with impossible expectations. She never felt good enough. She developed a severe eating disorder.
When she went off to college, she was drawn to journalism as her major. An ardent reader and prolific journal-keeper, she wanted a career that put her in the middle of the story. Her dream job was to investigate, research and write powerful stories and then share her findings on camera.
Her focus earned her a degree in journalism with a minor in English from Southern Methodist University – and an internship at a local television station in Dallas. She excelled, and before long found herself covering stories all over the Dallas area and winning a role on camera for Channel 8. After marrying, and as her children came along, it became impossible to find balance as time demands for a television journalist imposed a heavy scheduling burden, so she changed careers.
The Proverbial Frog in the Kettle
“I was like the proverbial frog in the kettle,” Laura explained. Her wedding and early marriage were the stuff of fairy-tales. But as time went on, Laura’s self-doubt became self-loathing. She suffered from severe panic attacks that came without warning. She became estranged from the man she married. In her new career as a medical representative, she encountered all sorts of illness – including liver and genetic disorders, often fatal.
Her personal and professional worlds closed in. She felt as though she would break. Something was wrong. Desperately wrong.
As she looks back now, she sees the yellow flags, and then the red flags, too. They were warning signs that she had missed. But in therapy, she learned about a personality disorder that can be as destructive as physical abuse. The more she studied, and in therapy, she concluded that she had been a victim of what the American Psychiatric Association in their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders calls Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
She had lived with classic narcissists* for her entire life. Unwittingly, she submitted to their control and abuse. She determined to set herself free.
As Laura began to find healing, one discerning counselor encouraged her to write – to tell her story. So she did. The first two chapters were the hardest. Her goal was honesty. But it hurt. So much so, that she had to set the whole project aside.
Two months later, rested and full of perspective, she started writing again. This time, she couldn’t stop.
A Survivor’s Story
Ugly Love: A Survivor’s Story of Narcissistic Abuse is now available.
From the cover –
Laura Charanza is a survivor of forty years of narcissistic abuse. Laura has worked with psychologists, physicians, life coaches and spiritual healers to understand narcissism and a narcissist's victims. With empathy and transparency, Laura tells the first person story of a typical and toxic relationship with a narcissist. But understand that there is a way out, and here is where your journey to freedom, peace and true love can begin.
The book stood for two full days as best-seller in its category the first day the e-Book version was released.
Already, she is hearing from her readers. They tell her,
“Thank you for describing my life so clearly.”
“You helped me understand what I’m living with; now I can do something about it.”
“You are an inspiration.”
“Thanks to you, I know I can do this.”
Author Laura Charanza is committed to FLITE because she sees her passion in its mission to empower artists to find healing and hope.
As Einstein said, the “true sign of intelligence” is imagination - that touches the heart and energizes healthy change.
*ADDITIONAL NOTE: From the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (APA)
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).
2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
3. Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high status people (or institutions).
4. Requires excessive admiration.
5. Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations.
6. Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.
7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.