The other night as I was drifting off to slumberland, a deer barked, the sound echoing eerily in the still of night.
Deer barks are similar to dog barks. At first I thought it was a dog, but the local dogs don’t bark. Not often, not like that. It went on for a while, repetitive and consistent. Not sure what it was saying. Calling to its fellow deer perhaps, wondering where they were.
My sleepy mind told me that it was an omen. I asked it what kind of omen it considered it to be, then, when it shrugged as a reply, I told it to shut up and go to sleep.
I’m not particularly superstitious, however there are certain links between things which are hard to deny, and sometimes superstition isn’t superstition at all but logic. Such as don’t walk under a ladder because it’s bad luck. That’s kind of logical. There may be someone up the ladder and they might drop something on your head by accident.
The following morning I literally had to crawl out of bed. Then crawl to the kitchen. Crawl feed my cat. Crawl prepare breakfast. Each movement sending shuddering spasms of pain through my body. If you’re wondering where my partner was in all of this… he offered to help, but he knows me well, and he knows how frigging stubborn I am.
Right now I am using most of my concentration (so I have an excuse if this post is ghastly) to suppress a cough because it’ll hurt with the sort of pain you might feel from being torn apart by a rack. And of course, I need to cough more than I actually do because I’ve told myself not to do it. I have quite a stoic tolerance to pain, but that doesn’t mean I actually want to feel it.
The superstitious element in all of this is not that a deer barked, but that on the previous day I posted a piece I wrote about a memory of bruising my back and having to crawl around for three days like a baby because I couldn’t walk. Did I curse myself somehow? Or did I have a premonition that this was about to happen and it prompted that memory?
I’m going with the premonition because this particular pain comes as part of a condition I have and it can be kept under control as long as I follow certain steps which of late, due to stress and exhaustion, I’ve been neglecting to do. So I brought this on myself by being careless and I was pushing my luck and clumsily knocked the ladder under which I was walking brazenly and old Uncle Tom Cobley and all fell on my head and hurt my back.
There is a writing challenge on The Daily Post at the moment about the Ghosts of Christmas past, prompting us to remember one or several past Christmas holidays and tell a story about it. I tried to think back to last year, but all my mind gave me was – Just think about it, this time last year you had no idea that this year was going to be this unusual! Which is very true. This time last year I was focused on building upon some new things I had just initiated, and looking forward to progressing gradually with those things. That never happened because 2013 had very different plans for me which completely scuppered the plans I had for myself.
As Woody Allen said – If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.
Throughout my life my plans have consistently been derailed by life’s alternate plans for me, so what happened this year is not unusual, but it has been an unusual year.
My whole life has been unusual, but I don’t know how I know that because it’s the only life I’ve ever lived. Reincarnation, a theory I quite like and find has a certain logic to it, doesn’t apply because I have no recall of my past lives. I’ve tried past life regression therapy, and it was interesting but I did not have vivid recall, or really feel that I was those lives, they felt like ordinary memories and about as reliable. The only way I know my life is unusual is because when I relate events from it to others they tend to react to me as though I was a very negative Walter Mitty, which leads me to conclude that my version of normal is abnormal in some way.
My memory system doesn’t really work on demand. I can only access the there and then when it is relevant to the here and now. Which is quite useful as I know, when I remember to know it, that if a memory pops up it has a message for me from the past which is pertinent to my present. Trying to figure out what that message is… a theory is always tested when it is put into practice.
Since I’ve been writing a lot about Narcissists this year, for my blog and for myself, because this year has brought my very first Narcissists back into my life and I needed a new perspective on an old issue, I considered writing about some of the past Christmases which I spent with my Narcissistic parents. If you think spending Christmas with one Narcissist is draining, try being with two Narcissists who are obsessively hell bent on outdoing each other’s levels of high drama. And when those Narcissists are your parents, and you’re at their mercy because you’re a child with no escape possible other than in your imagination… Sorry, I didn’t mean to sound like this is a – Who has had the worst Christmas experience of a Narcissist – competition, but if it did and is… do I win? And what do I win? When you grow up with Narcissists winning, at least for you, isn’t an available life option, and there are no rewards for anything you do, so… I’m kind of excited by the possibility of winning something for putting up with so much crap!
I can definitely relate to why Scrooge hated Christmas. The Ghost of my Christmas Past would show me scenes of tantrum contests, screaming matches, abusive tirades, all escalating into a giant explosive bust up just in time for my birthday in the New Year. I did have moments of revelatory insight during those times, but they were brief as it is hard to maintain awareness when you’re being torn apart by two lunatics using you as a piggy-in-the-middle, fighting over you yet it has nothing to do with you and you have no say in the matter, and in the end it’s all your fault because neither of them are to blame for anything ever. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and a cherry bomb on top of a Happy Birthday to You!
One of the insights came when I was about 8 years old. My parents did not live together for most of the year. The reason for that is typically, Narcissistically complicated and only makes sense to them, and didn’t make sense to them either as they both had very different reasons for it, usually the other one’s fault, and the reasons kept changing like blinking Christmas lights. Christmas was usually spent at my father’s house. But this particular year my mother refused to travel there and so my father actually came to us. He wasn’t going to. He was planning on digging his heels in and playing the poor abandoned father and husband card, but something changed his mind. He had some sort of point to prove. My parents, as usual were already fighting in the run up to Christmas, so really spending it together as a family was a recipe for disaster, but that’s just the sort of drama Narcissists love.
As per the family Christmas ritual, my parents spent the days before Christmas building up inner gasses of grudges and anger until it all exploded on Christmas Day at lunch like a pulled cracker.
I have no idea what the fight was about and it’s irrelevant. Narcissists can go off the deep end of drama over a nothing, in fact a nothing is more likely to set them off. But at some point my father slapped me. He never touched me, so it was very unusual. I glared furiously at him, went stony with silence and left the table to go to my room, where I burst into stress-induced tears. The slap in the face had not hurt much, what hurt was the realisation that something which for so long I had been led to believe was my fault, was not my fault at all, and therefore there was not a thing I could do about it. I had understood this clearly and had confronted my father about it, and took him so off guard that the only answer he had was to slap me, because my confrontation had slapped him.
I had been wondering why it was always my fault that I rarely got to see my father. I had accepted this without thinking about it logically because I had been blamed for this since I was very young. But that day as I listened to my father whine about poor him, how he suffers because he never gets to see his daughter and he loves her and misses her so much…
…and although he was blaming my mother for this, and she was arguing back at him that poor martyric her, she was the one who made all the effort to keep this family together, to take his daughter to see him, but she could only do it during school breaks, he was really blaming me, he always blamed me because I usually did not argue back like my mother did, and since I was the one going to school, and school was my mother’s justification for keeping me away from my father, and school was stupid and I was stupid for going to school, then it must be my fault…
…it occurred to me that if my father loved me and missed me as much as he claimed he did (but had a funny way of showing it by wasting the time we had together whining, fighting and playing blame pass the parcel) why did he not visit me more often.
That idea shocked me, why had I never considered the problem from that angle before!?!
He was an adult, I was a child. I couldn’t do anything without parental consent, he on the other could do as he pleased. He could afford to do so, he could afford to travel whenever he wanted to, wherever he wanted to, he could also choose to live in the same house as me… but he didn’t. Instead a child of eight was expected to do all of that, to be the adult while the adult behaved as though they were the child unable to travel on their own and with not enough pocket money to do so.
In that moment I had one of those revelations that everyone has at some point in their relationship with a Narcissist – You realise that they are full of shit.
I knew then that my father did not love me and never would. Of course my mother had repeatedly told me that he didn’t want me or love me since I was an infant, but I’d always hoped that she was just being the bitter and angry bitch that she was, and that she was wrong about my father. She wasn’t, and I don’t know what really hurt the most, that my father didn’t love me and I knew it without any doubt, or that my mother was right, because if she was right about that, what else was she right about? That was not somewhere I wanted to go because she was always telling me the awful truth about myself.
In that moment of realising the truth about my father, I impulsively confronted him and told him that he was full of shit. That’s when he slapped me. Children are not supposed to say such things to their parents even if it is absolutely true… especially if it is absolutely true. Adults can’t handle the truth when it is a child who speaks it. Egos, especially those which own Narcissists, have an image to maintain.
That’s pretty much what all my Christmases as a child were like, no matter where we were or who was with us. Narcissists love an audience, the more the merrier!
One year, when I was a teenager and my mother refused to ever return to my father’s house and my father refused to visit her house, my parents decided to spend Christmas on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. All I can say is that every night I considered jumping ship, and not in a healthy way. I knew by then that sharks follow large ships, because I was obsessed with sharks, perhaps because subconsciously I equated them with Narcissists and it was my systems way of dealing with something. When Narcissists attack it is similar to a shark attack – you’re swimming along in calm and seemingly safe water, then wham, from out of the deep dark blue a shark attacks, bites a limb off, spits it out to let you know how disgusting you are, then leaves you to bleed to death… and it’s all your fault for swimming in shark infested water even though the sign on the beach said there were no sharks in these waters.
On the flip side of being almost crippled by lower back pain which is radiating all over my body… at least I can’t feel that chronic shoulder pain I have. That’s been driving me nuts these past few months, so this gives me a reprieves from that. There is an upside to every seemingly bad experience, you just have to pause in mid story and change the plot a bit, change your script from grumbling pessimist to rambling optimist. For a while anyway. my mind can still be flexible even if my body can’t move.
So, I’ll be spending this Christmas doubled over in pain, sucking it up and waiting for it to pass, it always does. I said I wanted to relax this Christmas and not actually do Christmas, now I have a reason even I can’t argue with. And I’ll be distracting myself by playing Zelda on the Wii, annoying my partner by asking him if there is the option to be an evil Link and not save Zelda, yet again, because I suspect her of being a Narcissist, and I’m really sick of fighting those monsters from which Narcissists need perpetually rescuing. I’d rather rescue the monsters from the Narcissist, that might actually be rewarding and have a happy ending.
May you all have a very merry unusual Christmas, whether you celebrate it or something else or nothing at all… Have a lovely holiday season!
With best wishes from me to you!
Speaking of Ghosts from the past which haunt us – I did a series called Ghosts in the Brain, please be aware they’re ramblingly long (like this post), and I’ve evolved my thinking a bit about that which I expressed then which was partly the purpose of writing them as I did. I reread a couple of them to make sure it was a good idea to link to them and draw attention to them rather than leave them to be buried under new posts, and they kind of tie in with this post, and although some are better than others… I’ll just shut up now before I talk myself out of it:
Ghosts in the Brain – Ghost #1 – Never Good Enough
Ghosts in the Brain – Ghost #2 – The Rage and the Fury
Ghosts in the Brain – Ghost #3 – Why Am I Alive
Ghosts in the Brain – Ghost #4 – Trapped
Ghosts in the Brain – Ghost #5 – Why Don’t You Love Me
Ghosts in the Brain – Ghost #Shhh – Paranoia due to Life Experience (contains my astrological chart)
Everything is a Ghost in the Brain… And Ghosts can’t be Burned
Ghosts Don’t Burn (my Deviantart/Neil Gaiman/Blackberry competition entry)
First of all thank you so much for your previous post and this one; they are a sort of Christmas present for me, as I seems I have to work on those points for a long time.
The act of forgiveness towards oneself is of pivotal importance; today my shrink tried to point out I should forgive my mother, but I am sorry, at the moment I feel overwhelmed by knowing I have been educated and trained to give up to myself and there are so many experiences in life which won’t come back because I didn’t allow myself to love myself, although I wasn’t the daughter I should have been. I feel it’s more important to give sense to our suffering rather than rushing to forgive our abusers. Once again we have the same reference in mind, I read you mentioned “This is the verse” by Philip Larkin, “They fuck you up, your mum and dad/ they didn’t mean to/ But they do”, which is obviously a nice way to put it and underlining the fact we are not responsible for that, but we have gone through it without being able to fight it. Children, as you were on that Christmas day. It’s a beautiful piece of writing, I mean how you tell and write and what you are telling, it’s not only a matter of aesthetics. You are brave.
I mentioned the British joke of the drunken stork delivering me in the wrong place, but he didn’t laugh. I happened to think last night of something I haven’t done before- what if I had normal parents? I could have led and lived a normal life. Forgiveness and optimism are a sign of resilience, such as the desire to speak up your mind and the truth, this is what you are doing, and it’s a sort of victory over the abuse. I feel I am far from seeing life as an open door, although I am struggling, but I am not very good at it.
These days I thought I was feeling better but all at once I am crumbling and falling to pieces. Sometimes looking inside myself doesn’t resemble to a charming landscape, I just think I am getting out of all this and suddenly disruptive thoughts and memories come up and peep into my mind and sorry, I can’t be a loving daughter anymore. I am very sorry for that little girl that I was and she is still crying somewhere, my parents’ poison is in me and I am trying hard to get rid of it. As I am touching the bottom once again, it will take so much effort to come to the surface and the quest of creativity is like a mirage for me, I have it’s an illusion I can grasp with my own hands and at the same time it’s out of reach as my inner image of myself resembles too much to my parents’.
In your last reply you touched something very deep, because it’s true I am trying to find excuses; art is a way to give sense to our suffering and our existence but this means accepting ourselves as we are, while there is a part of me that would have loved to accomplish my parents’ wishes; life hasn’t helped me either, as in spite of my studies and commitment I find myself as a misfit, exactly as they predicted it. It’s weird at my age I am talking about them again: for a very long time I tried to bury it all this and to behave “as if”, camouflaging my grief.
I find hard to accept my friends’ help, as though I wanted to inflict myself more pain, now it’s due to reason if I try to react but I feel my emotions are drifting away and I am lost. I see people caught into an entangled web of unhappiness (as the man I mentioned who last night was at war with his wife in front of me) but sad to say, they prefer this to the desert I am going through, as standing for myself isn’t much appreciated and many friendships are fading away, as they don’t find anymore what they are looking for.
“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”
― William Shakespeare
I find this particularly difficult to accept as I feel I was out there in a storm without shelter and couldn’t do anything but being hurt. It’s comforting to see this silent grief which makes me feel so isolated is due to the N pattern.
I have to thank you as writing to you today gave me a reason to struggle against negative and disruptive thoughts (although I shall admit my ramblings are not that funny); although we have never met you are a real person to me and I am very grateful for our exchange, you understand what I feel, what I am going through.
Thank you, this is an unexpected and precious Christmas present.
Hi, and thank you 😀 and Merry Christmas!
I think what your therapist said about forgiving your mother is good, not because you should do it, but because you reacted strongly to it. In your reaction to that idea you can find the wisdom you need to heal. Your therapist’s words inspired you to stand up for yourself, something all those who have had relationships with Narcissists need to learn to do. It’s a very powerful act to stand up for yourself and stand your ground because it ripples through you and changes your relationship with yourself.
The only person you need to forgive is yourself. It does help to understand those who have hurt you as it helps you to forgive yourself. By understanding I don’t mean making excuses for them and their behaviour, I mean seeing why they are who they are. That’s why I like Philip Larkin’s poem. It shows the wounding which is passed down from generation to generation waiting for someone to heal it rather than just pass it on. Your parents behaved the way they did because they were wounded by their parents and they couldn’t break the cycle so they passed it onto you. You however have the intelligence and awareness to break the cycle, which is what you are doing. It’s a tough challenge, but you have the strength to do it or you would not be trying to do it. Life is very logical.
Therapy is about opening a dialogue between you and yourself so you can access the knowledge you have within and can find out exactly what you need from yourself. No one else can solve our problems, or fix our lives, we are the only ones who can do that because we are the only ones who actually live our lives and do it from the inside out. Other people can help us to find our own inner guide, offer inspiration, point us in a direction, and they often do that by provoking us because in our reactions lies much information.
I read that once in a book and it struck a deep AHA chord. The author said at the beginning of the book – If you react strongly, such as with anger, to anything in this book, if you feel like throwing the book against a wall and claiming it is rubbish… Pause and see what your reaction is telling you because that is where the real wisdom resides, the book itself is just some words strung together, but you give those words meaning when you read them.
So observe your reactions and see what message they have for you. Disruptive thoughts can be enriching if you allow them to be. They can show you what you’re seeking. There is positive power in the negative, and beauty in what is ugly. Monsters only seem scary because we are afraid of them, once we stop being afraid of them, look at them, understand them, they shrink in size and sometimes turn into friends. Our emotions can seem to be monsters to us, which is why finding a way to express them, especially creatively and constructively, helps us to understand them and make them less threatening.
And of course your therapist is very human, and at this time of year people get very sentimental about family. It’s important to remember when you are with other people that they also have a world of painful experiences within them, and they are also looking for a way to heal. Remembering that makes interactions easier to understand. These things connect us with others.
And sometimes we have to lose ourselves to find ourselves, because where and who we were is not who we are and where we need to be. Myths and legends remind us of that, the hero often has to get lost before finding what they were looking for.
Take care of yourself, and let yourself just be, gently, as is.
sorry i am taking too much room..I have just finished reading your poignant posts “never good enough” and “be kind to yourself” which seem to be taylored on me and there is a funny sign too, as you wrote them on the 5th March-my birthday!!! Written in the sky…By the way, encouraged by your posts, I browsed on Astroclick and found it very original, although I am not aware of all the planets and their meaning. thank you!
Astrology can be a way to get to know yourself from a safe distance. My grasp of astrology is okay, I sometimes get things wrong, but that’s not important, it’s what it stirs up and the inner conversations which it inspires that matters. It’s a great subject to explore.
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