There’s a Flip Side to Everything

narcissus_echo_by_moonvoodoo

There is a flip side to everything. I say this a lot, to myself and to others. At its basis is the Yin Yang symbol. Black and white together forming a whole. The black has a drop of white in it and the white has a drop of black in it. I apply this to everything and everyone. I find it helps to balance my view, and it also serves quite well when trying to solve a problem.

Of course between the black and the white, there is a rainbow of shades. However…

The human mind likes to split things mainly into opposites, it does this as a part of the judging process. Judgment is a useful tool, but it can become too rigid and this can lead to a stalemate.

Apply this to human relationships, especially to arguments which get stuck in a standoff between two people who both think they are right and the other is wrong, and who both think the other person needs to understand how wrong they are and accept it, admit it and cede victory to the rightness of the right one. But who is right and who is wrong?

In my mind both are right and both are wrong.

I can be an annoying person to know. I suck at being sympathetic, taking sides, because I can usually see the other side of the story. Not all of it, just enough to realise that there is a chuck of it missing. That missing piece interests me. I want to know what it is so that I can see the whole, rather than just one half.

Everything which I apply to others, I also apply to myself. Which can be irritating. Whenever I am ranting internally about something or someone, a little voice pipes up inside my mind which says… Yes, but there’s a flip side to this. Sometimes I just don’t want to go there, I just want to enjoy my moment of I’m right and everyone else is wrong. But I know that at some point I am going to see it the other way around, realise that I’m wrong and everyone else is right. Eventually the two sides will come together and blend, and then I will get a more balanced perspective. Which ultimately is what I’m aiming for.

I grew up with Narcissists. In their world they are right and everyone else is wrong. Full stop. I did not become a Narcissist. I won’t go into why because it is too complex and not what this post is about. However I did go through a period of being an Inverted Narcissist. Which basically means I believed I was wrong and everyone else was right. Full stop. But I realised the folly of that. Snapped out of it and moved on. It wasn’t that simple, but for the sake of keeping this simple I’ve put it simply.

That experience, growing up with Narcissists and being an inverted Narcissist, was painful but also very informative. It shaped my mind, how it works. That’s what our formative years do. And it taught me how to think on both sides of the line which divides opposites. It also shaped my emotional nature, and did something very similar with that.

I was trained by Narcissists to be empathic. To know what they were feeling and what they needed so that…

1/ I could feed their needs. Supply them with the Narcissistic supply they seek from everyone.

2/ I could avoid the tantrums and vitriolic blasts of the awful truth about myself when I didn’t give them what they wanted from me.

I became an empath for Narcissists and for myself, as a survival tactic.

Quite a few people who write about Narcissism link the personality disorder with empathy. However they tend to split the two, as in Narcissists, who are viewed as being devoid of empathy, are attracted to highly empathic people because they are the best source of Narcissistic supply.

I agree the two are linked, but I have a slightly different view of it.

I disagree that Narcissists are devoid of empathy. They are very empathic, just not in the conventional idea of what being empathic means. They are ‘bad’ empaths. They use their gift for ‘evil’. How do you think that they manage to get so deeply into the psyche of their victims? It is not all the victims’ fault for letting them in.

Being the child of Narcissists, and often being considered invisible by them due to not existing as a separate entity, you get to watch how they operate, in fact they tell you how they do it with pride. Both my parents had an uncanny ability to locate the most vulnerable point within their victims. It was not guesswork or due to poking their victim until the victim reacted, although they did do that too. They sensed where the Achilles’ Heel of others was located and then they used it against them to get their Narcissistic supply.

I’ve not only watched them do it to others, and listened to them discuss how they do it and how clever they are, I’ve had it done to me. Narcissists invade you. They trespass over your boundaries and push their way into you. They are doing to others what was done to them when they were too young to know what was happening, this is part of the wound which turned them into Narcissists. They are repeating the formation of the wound over and over again, passing it on to others.

If you already have a weak boundary, then this invasion is easy.

Narcissists don’t have boundaries between self and other. Others do not exist as anything other than an extension of the Narcissist. They are alone in the world. Always.

Empaths also don’t have boundaries between self and other. They tend to feel the existence of others as being at times more than their own, as though they are less tangibly real than others, they are diffuse, others are more defined and solid. They feel invaded by the emotions of others and are often confused as to whether what they are feeling is their emotions or the emotions of those around them.

What I’ve noticed is that many empaths do not see the flip side of their empathic gift. They do not see how they invade others with their emotions, mainly because they are too focused on being invaded to see how invasive they are being.

Another thing which I have noticed is that empaths seem to only pick up the negative emotions of others, and claim positive emotions as their own. Which is why they want to use their gifts to heal others. They want to share their abundance of inner positivity with those who have an abundance of negativity. This is unbalanced. If you pick up the emotions of others, you do that with positive and negative emotions. In fact emotions are neither positive nor negative, they are both, they are energy which can take on whatever quality we give to them, we are the ones who label them with a polarity depending on how we experience them, and experience is subjective.

All of the words above apply to myself. I was an empath. I still am, however I have created a defined boundary between myself and others. This involved a lot of self-facing. Learning to see my self, find my self, get to know my self, define to myself who my self is. It also required popping my illusions and delusions. Stop lying to myself, understanding why I lied and what the purpose of the lie was, and start being blunt and truthful. The most important thing I learned to do during this process was to see the flip side.

As an empath that meant realising that I many of the emotions I thought I was picking up from others, I was actually pushing into them. I’ve had empaths do this with me, tell me what they are picking up from me, what I am feeling… but I’m not feeling it. I know I am not because I have learned to know what I am feeling and what I am not feeling. I also know when someone is trying to push themselves into me, project their stuff not just onto me, but also into me. But I have boundaries now. I protect those boundaries using the flip side. When someone, especially if I know they are an empath or a Narcissist says something to me I pause and flip it back around on them. Narcissists are always talking about themselves, no one else exists. Empaths are often confused between who is them and who is not them. I used to call this Me but Not Me.

Both Narcissists and Empaths have an emptiness within which is filled by others. That emptiness is where the self should be. The self has been displaced, pushed out of its natural home within.

In the case of Narcissists that self has been pushed outside of them into the world, thus everyone is their self. In the case of empaths that self has been pushed into deep hiding inside of them and needs to be found and encouraged to stop hiding. Only by finding the self and releasing it from its hiding place can defined boundaries be drawn between self and other.

Why do empaths attract Narcissists, or, more to the point, why are empaths attracted to Narcissists? Because Narcissists will invade the empath and seek out the hiding self within them. This is what an empath longs for, to have their real self found and freed from the long game of hide and seek. Yet the empath is the one doing the hiding and if the self is found it may just run to a new hiding place. If the self is found by a Narcissist, the damage done may convince the real self of the empath to hide forever.

I have been hesitant in sharing this view. Not because of Narcissists. If a Narcissist were to read this they would think it was about others. Narcissists rarely see themselves as having NPD, they do however see disorders in everyone else. But because of Empaths. Empaths tend to get hurt by everything and everyone. The truth is that they are hurting themselves using others to do so. I did. Those I know who are also empaths have used me to hurt themselves and then made me responsible for their pain. That pain needs to be claimed as self-inflicted if the healing within it is to be accessed. That’s what I had to do with myself. It’s painful to do that, but not as painful as being hurt all the time by everyone and everything and feeling powerless to do anything about it because you give your power to everyone but yourself.

Feel free to express your views in the comments. I take all and nothing personally. There’s a flip side to everything.

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7 thoughts on “There’s a Flip Side to Everything

  1. This is a very interesting perspective on Empath/Narcissist relationship! I’m an Empath who’s developed my boundaries and released the remaining narcissists from my life. I recently learned about this emp/narc relationship and I too am realizing my mom was a narcissist. But I don’t feel that fluidity you feel btwn emp/narcs, and when you mentioned zodiac signs, it makes me wonder if zodiac signs has an effect on that fludity?? I’m a Scorpio Empath, and now when I sense a Narcissist and I don’t engage him/her at all. Not even the least bit relate to them.

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    1. Thank you for sharing 🙂

      Researching the empath/narcissist connection is interesting and insightful, especially as this area has been getting more attention in recent times which means more views/opinion/thoughts/experiences about it are being shared from diverse sources which enhances, increases and alters perspective.

      There is one article on the empath/narc connection which has had quite an impact since it was first written. It has made the rounds and is interesting to read:

      http://www.thespiritualeclectic.com/2012/10/11/are-empaths-and-narcissists-2-sides-of-a-coin/

      – it makes this point early on:

      “Some readers have asked me if I think that narcissism and empathy are two sides of one coin. My initial reaction was to balk.

      “Why do you think that?” I asked.

      The reader went on to say that she really couldn’t tell the difference, based on what she’d read. Were narcissists really just empaths in disguise? After all, in her experience, narcissists knew exactly what she was feeling and tended to change themselves into who she wanted them to be in order to sucker her in.”

      This article is also rather intriguing – https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/anxiety-zen/201508/shy-sensitive-introverted-and-narcissistic

      It very much depends on our definition of what it means to be an ’empath’ and empathic.

      Being an ’empath’ has gained popularity – anything which becomes ‘popular’ becomes diluted and often confused because whatever is the ‘in’ thing to be becomes something many people claim to be, whether they are or not is another matter.

      I’ve known quite a few people whom I now consider to be ‘narcissists’ who have claimed to be ’empaths’. One in particular went on and on about being an ’empath’. They never shut up about it – which should have been a ‘red flag’ because most real empaths tend to keep quiet about it – best not to advertise that you’re that tuned into other people and their needs. My experience of their ’empath’ identity was of them transferring and projecting their emotions onto me while disowning them as theirs and telling me that what they felt was what I was feeling (even though it rarely was and what I was really feeling was irrelevant to them), making me responsible for the fallout of that – which was of them not wanting to ‘feel’ what they were feeling and blaming me for being the source of their feelings (I was not the only person they did this with). When I was feeling good they’d tell me I wasn’t feeling good, I was feeling awful – because they were feeling awful, and nothing brought that on more than if you felt good, and so on.

      Funnily enough their ’empath’ skills only picked up bad feelings from others – anything good belonged only to them. They were the sun trying to shine in a world full of people-clouds. A ‘real’ empath picks up good things as well as bad things – they rejoice when people are happy as much as they feel sad when people are unhappy.

      I kind of put up with it because (I was trained for this kind of shit) I knew they were going through a rough patch… and maybe they needed to disown their own feelings before they could eventually own them, but then I realised that their rough patch was not a momentary thing but a permanent status.

      They regularly ‘discarded’ people they claimed were ‘toxic’ to their ’empath’ identity. But even when they’d gotten rid of everyone they claimed were toxic to them… nothing changed in their status, they simply found new people to accuse of being toxic to them after a short honeymoon of thinking they’d found the new best person on earth who was good for them. In other words – the usual narc cycle.

      Narcissist do seem to be drawn to empaths, but empaths also seem to be drawn to narcs. There’s avery interesting article about that but I can’t find the link because my bookmarks are a mess (Mercury in Aqua) and searching online for narcissit/empath is now a tidal wave of results where not so long ago it was more limited.

      Approaching this dynamic from the astrological perspective is intriguing, but where do you start?

      The particular person I mentioned above loved astrology, but hated their own natal chart – they went through all the possible alternative for drawing up a chart until they found one they preferred – the draconic chart.

      I have read a couple of astrology articles which tried to discuss narcissism from an astrological perspective – and maybe find signs of it in the chart, but as they pointed out – finding something like that in a chart is not an easy endeavour as it may not be where you expect to find it.

      Neptune/Pisces which is considered ’empathy’ central can also be ‘narc’ central. So in some ways the astro makes the issue confused and the lines between things blurred too.

      Mind you, Scorpio – cuts through BS whichever way you look at it. But Scorpio can also be overly paranoid about what others are up to (Mars in Scorpio here… definitely sometimes read more into people than is actually going on, both positively and negatively).

      And if approaching this astrologically this opens up the whole concept of ‘karma’ (north node/chiron) and questions like – were we perhaps narcissists in a past life and are now reaping what we sowed, and hopefully learning from it in a way which changes ‘bad’ karma into ‘good’ karma or at least neutral karma.

      The subject of ‘narcissism’ isn’t just about people who may or may not be ‘narcissists’ it’s also about the people who interact with the ‘narcissists’. It’s not just about what attracts ‘narcissists’ to us and how to stop that attraction of them to us, but also about our attraction to them. Everything flows both ways whether we like it or not or want it to or not. What motivates them to see others as they see them and what motivates us to see others as we see them (Scorpio/Pluto = transformation which may require going to uncomfortable places).

      The narcissists in our life makes us go deeper into ourselves. A very Scorpio pastime 🙂

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  2. I resonate so much with your post. I’ve heard the term empath many times as I’ve read thru my healing from my NPD ex. For the first time, your definition of empath seems to fit who I am. I like the responsibility and power though that you show in accepting what we actively do to ourselves and others. Through my discard phase I’ve felt this black hole coldness in my solar plexus. I have to often remember to fill that space with myself. An experience which is foreign and difficult to remember to maintain as I keep grabbing the handlebars of my mind and point them to center. I am and have been attracted to narcissists. The deeper they’ve discarded me the more I’ve defined it as true love. The more I’ve wallowed in the deserving of my ‘worthlessness’. My tastebuds for genuine love have always been tuned to vinegar. I’m sure I’ve dismissed pure water many times because it didn’t have that smell I have been tuned to hunt for. It’s good that this happened to me. My chest was ripped open and looted. And in my suffocation, there’s a new emergence, another kind of me. In this embryonic state we can form again, perhaps with healthy boundaries. Maybe this time my form will create a natural cup in my solar plexus. A true cup that cradles my soul without leaking. And may I stand in the cockpit of this new self and never step away from the helm. I don’t want to live in a world where there are narcissists. If I had been more in a relationship with myself, I wouldn’t have let the abuse progress. My new world will obliterate narcissists because I simply won’t or don’t have to smell for them anymore. May I crave water, where you hold it up to the light and still see water.

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  3. Ursula – so as I continue to delve in to your writings on narcissism (because I’ve only just KNOWN that I needed to research this stuff…I mean, I’m sure that I’ve been a target & an empath for ever, but having never had to deal so closely or been so affected by a narcissist, I’m late to the game so to speak), it equal parts saddens me & helps me. I think (from other writings of yours) that you are a Capricorn, like me. And long ago, I was told in my chart that I had the martyr complex to a degree – that I was “other-centered” and more concerned with others needs and desires above my own. I’m on a quest to create these boundaries that you mention and to heal myself…but I’m still unsure how to go about it. Some days I feel exceptionally strong and together, other days I’m so confused about how to go about this & how to move forward in my life. What tools did you use to learn how to set these boundaries? How did you learn to start standing up & VOICING your boundaries? Maybe some of those answers are in your other blog posts…which I’ll be working my way through :).

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    1. Yes, I’m a Capricorn. Which is connected to one of the things which has helped me, but also hindered me at times. Aside from all the ‘bad’ stuff in astrology about Capricorns (which annoys the hell out of me), there is good stuff. One of those is being personally responsible and accountable for our lives. We sometimes make ourselves responsible and accountable for the lives of others. Take their problems which they don’t want and make them our own. That is a boundary that needs adjusting. It takes a while to figure out where to draw the line between what is our ‘fault’ and what is someone else’s ‘fault’. People tend to pass blame on like a hot potato, no one wants to hold it. But blame is power. A complex power. Capricorns are quite good at accepting power and learning how to use it. This makes those who don’t accept their personal power think badly of Capricorns and anyone else who accepts personal power. It’s complex.

      You come across as having a very intelligent mind and a high emotional intelligence, this will help you to sort through everything in time. Remember to give yourself time. Don’t rush even when it feels urgent, especially when it feels urgent. Pause. Think. Contemplate. Listen to yourself, you know things which you do not know you know and doubt.

      Being clear then being confused is perfectly normal, that’s how the process of thinking works. The confusion is often due to the mind trying to understand the emotions. Emotions are confusing, but there is clarity there, just takes a while to see it.

      My tools… I use anything and everything. I learned that partly from Narcissists. They give as much as they take, just takes a while to see the gifts in the curse of having a relationship with them. Anything bad, flip it around and see the good side of the bad.

      It took me a long time to realise both my parents had NPD. Information on NPD is still vague, confused, but there is more now than there used to be. The best of it comes from those who blog about their experience of Narcissists. And there are more doing so now, more who have realised that breaking the silence is a key to healing.

      My blog is a bit of a mess. Some posts are just me ranting, caught up in a moment, letting my voice scream in writing. Blogging has been a very useful tool in clearing the mists of confusion. Cathartic and liberating. I spent many years in silence. When I re-read my old posts, which I do because my first blog was on tumblr, still have that one, and I’ve migrated some of the posts onto WordPress, so I re-read before I migrate… I can see my progression from confusion to a bit more clarity, then a bit more. It’s a slow process. Expressing yourself in a way you can review is very illuminating, because we often know more about ourselves than we know we know and we reveal it in our more candid self expressions.Those we don’t edit and censor.

      The answers you find in my posts… it’s you recognising what you already know. The same with finding answers in books and in therapy. It is basically a way to awaken the knowledge within you. You’re guiding yourself to sources of that awakening of knowledge, so trust your inner guide. Trust yourself.

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