Stirring up an ants’ nest

RedAnts

 

 

“Entre
Ce que je pense,
Ce que je veux dire,
Ce que je crois dire,
Ce que je dis,
Ce que vous avez envie d’entendre,
Ce que vous croyez entendre,
Ce que vous entendez,
Ce que vous avez envie de comprendre,
Ce que vous croyez comprendre,
Ce que vous comprenez…
il y a dix possibilités qu’on ait des difficultés à communiquer. Mais essayons quand même…”

― Bernard Werber

“In
What I think,
What I want to say,
What I think I am saying,
What I say,
What you wish to hear,
What you think you hear,
What you hear,
What you wish to understand,
What you think you understand,
What you understand…
There are ten possibilities for miscommunication. Let’s try anyway…”

― Bernard Werber (loosely translated by me so I may have mistranslated it to suit how I read it)

We all seek to express ourselves, communicate who we are in some way to others… but we are often misunderstood, because others are doing what we are doing too.

We’re all trying to be heard, to be understood… and listening and understanding becomes secondary to communication in some ways. Everyone is talking and expressing themselves, few are listening, understanding.

There may be a logical reason for that.

The world of communication sometimes seems to be a turbulent ocean of opinions. Be this, be that, don’t be this, don’t be that. Do this, do that, don’t do this, don’t do that.

I’m better than you because… who do you think you are!

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t… some cliches are true which is why we use them and keep returning to them even though we are supposed to shun cliches because popular opinion says cliches are bad and if you use them you’re bad too, or just lame, or… well, whatever they need to believe you are (inferior, flawed, faulty, unhealthy, imperfect) to feel better about themselves (superior, flawless, in good working order, healthy, perfect).

Everyone is a narcissist. Everyone is a victim of a narcissist… even the narcissist. But no one is a narcissist.

Everyone is right, everyone is wrong. There seems to be no in between. No neutral place where we can meet, interact and allow all sides to be expressed, heard, listened to.

We’re all connected more than we have ever been, yet also disconnected more than we have ever been.

We’re more together, yet more separate and alone. All alone together.

Yet even though communication is fraught with complications, we still try anyway, hoping to reach out and touch someone else. To feel and be felt.

Even though we may be misunderstood and castigated for being ourselves and expressing ourselves… we do it anyway, because we feel there is something more to it than just trying to answer that question which hounds us day in and day out – Who are you? – in all its myriad forms.

We may be complimented, we may be applauded, we may succeed…

We may be criticised, we may be booed, we may fail…

Sometimes we aim for one… and achieve the other.

“Quand les autres vous font un reproche, ils vous renseignent sur ce qui pourrait devenir votre force.” ― Bernard Werber

“When others criticise you, they inform you of that which could be your strength.”  ― Bernard Werber (more loose translation from yours truly, madly, deeply)

We may stir a nest of red ants (whose sting may wake you up at night scratching your wound until you bleed) when we express who we are, what we think, what we feel, what we believe…

That nest may be inside of us or outside of us, or both, or…

What options do we have… stay silent?… but even that is expressing something, and there are those to whom that is very offensive, and will tell us that our silence offends them, but so does our speech…

We can’t please others, perhaps in the short term we can, but the long term is a long road full of booby-traps…

Can we please ourselves… ?

Let’s try anyway.

 

stanley kunitz

 

*WPC: On Top

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14 thoughts on “Stirring up an ants’ nest

  1. You are a full- fledged translator, you keep the sense and find the real idiomatic expression in the other language!
    I find very inspiring this way of working through images and a concise sentence to start your writing journey.
    It’s curious, I am mulling over this very theme myself but being a spectator to what happens in my life it seems in my case communication doesn’t help much and most of the time it’s not effective :people are able to change everything and turn round what you said and you become the guilty one, there is almost never a point where people can meet, what they are interested in is just being right and having the last word
    .I see my words are permanently twisted, as though I had no voice to utter clearly.
    I have had a recurrent dream in my life for many years where I could save myself from burglars only if i could scream, but my voice didn’t come out; I don’t know if I stopped dreaming it 5threrefore accepting i couldn’t voice my need)or I finally succeed at getting rid of them screaming.
    I’d love to know your opinion about this: when someone doesn’t return your call (silent treatment?), I feel shuttered out and I find it quite violent, the fact comments itself, as the taoists would say, therefore I think it’s useless to ask why as to me it sounds as a trap where i am going to get the full negative monty in words, so I adapt to other people’s decisions but I get very angry mostly with myself and feel punished. Maybe this comes from my family background, but I can’t go beyond it and I can’t accept that my shrink defines me as rigid. I am just trying my best to set my boundaries and protect myself and i feel very fragile as a heap of broken glass and i don’t know where I am. Thank you for being there. xxx

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    1. Merci beaucoup 😉

      I’m not really sure… do you want my opinion of you (so to speak) in the scenario or of what I would do in a similar scenario?

      What you’re doing in the scenario shows in part your programming as a child of narcissists, how your parents taught you to see yourself as being an extension of them and thus when they did something, like the silent treatment, you took it personally and felt it as a punishment (which it often is with an N) because N’s need everyone to feel them (how important they are and unimportant you are) and feel things for them (feel their pain), etc. Your survival as a child became about being highly tuned into the psyche of others – of having to be aware of what they needed from you – and feeling that everything other people do is somehow directly connected to you, a reflection of who you are, and requires you to feel something or do something or not feel something or not do something for them. You came to view your existence as being something which other people controlled and had a say about because their ego used you as a building block. And they could deny your existence whenever they pleased, to manipulate you, control you, punish you and so on, for their ego’s purposes.

      So if you call someone and they don’t return the call, you’re trained to take it personally, to see it as a denial of you, and think it is more than what it is, so you try to figure out what it is, and what the person wants from you by ignoring you. You spiral into confusion. Nothing is ever what it seems in the world of narcissists and you know that and fear it and try to cope, find a way to deal with it and protect yourself if possible.

      You take other people, and their behaviour, personally, and feel it is your responsibility in some way (because that’s what children of narcissists are programmed to believe).

      So someone not returning your call, or an email, or any type of communication, feels like a slap in the face, a denial of you, an act designed to hurt you. You feel the subtleties of relationship and interactions as though they were huge and out to crush you. Everything is amplified to your senses. A twig snapping sounds like a giant tree crashing to the ground.

      This sensitivity is a good thing, a talent, but it is a muscle which has been over exercised, it needs balancing out by exercising a complementary muscle – insensitivity. Basically you need to become more callous, without overdoing it if possible. Just balancing out sensitivity and insensitivity so they both work in unison.

      It’s about re-programming yourself a bit… train yourself to take the behaviour of others less personally. It’s not about you, it’s about them. And this is useful for dealing with N’s too.

      What if their not returning your call has nothing to do with you, personally, and has everything to do with them? Maybe they’re very busy (everyone always is), they haven’t had time to return the call, maybe they want to but aren’t in the mood, maybe life has put them in a bad mood and they don’t want to share that, or maybe they’ve forgotten. It’s not about you, but all about them, what’s going on with them and in their life at the moment.

      Of course it depends on what kind of communication it is, business, urgent, friendly, not urgent, checking in, random social call… ultimately though most people are wrapped up in themselves (which is normal and not necessarily an N thing) and do things when they want to and don’t do things when they don’t want to (and find justifiable excuses for not doing them which may well be justified), and it rarely has anything to do with you and has everything to do with them.

      So what you do depends on you and what you want to do or don’t want to do. We sometimes use others as an excuse for not doing something we don’t want to do. Such as – I won’t call that person because they’re busy and I might bother them and then they’ll be mad at me and say something I don’t want to hear which will hurt me – when what we really mean is – I don’t want to call that person.

      If you really want an answer back from someone, then you’re the one who has to push the point and keep asking the question, keep calling. Because you are the one who needs something from them. If they don’t need anything from you, they won’t bother calling back. However you have to prepare yourself to accept their answer, whether it’s what you want to hear or not. That’s their answer. That does not mean you you have to accept it as your answer, just accept that it’s their answer.

      The rigid comment is interesting, especially as it stuck with you and rubbed you, how did he mean it? Did he mean it in the way you heard it? There are many different ways to interpret the word.

      People are often rigid when they are not being themselves, when they are trying to be who they think they need to be so others will accept them, or who they have decided they want to be, which may not be who they actually are. There is a certain element of fear which causes rigidity in humans. If we’re afraid of appearing foolish, of not being liked. If we’re trying to control how others perceive us. And many other things.

      It can be a good trait to have too. We admire people who stand firm and tall. Who are decisive and certain. Who command our respect. These are also ways of being rigid.

      I’m usually accused of being too flexible. And I tend to deal with people with flexibility. So when I call someone or write to them, unless it’s urgent and I really want an answer immediately, I don’t usually follow it up if they don’t reply. I figure they’re busy and that’s that. They’ll tell me all about it if they ever get back to me, if they don’t then they don’t… maybe I’ll try again, maybe I won’t. C’est la vie and relationships. I’m rather a bad correspondent (I make more of an effort on my blog) 😉

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      1. Thank you so much for oyur words, you really describe well what happens.
        I am scared when I perceive that as a child of Ns I have absorbed so many traits, and some others the other way round; for instance, I would never be dismissive or ignore someone on purpose, or even by chance and I don’t indulge in the pleasure of manipulating people at all. I don’t know if I would call this sensitivity, I just feel all bruised and wherever I bump into, it hurts.
        I am not sure that the fact of being so much aware of people is a positive thing, and I guess my shrink said it in a negative way, to comment I don’t want to change my perspective. Just recently I happened not to return the calls of someone who always does it and boy, she didn’t enjoy it, she complained.
        I am very confused and that’s why I withdraw, as it seems at the moment I have no choice but undergo all this ordeal I have recently become conscious of, in order to react or stay put and accept everything as I used to do before, which I can’t as I would be unfair to the work and the effort I have invested on.
        You are absolutely right when you say I don’t want to call in order to know the reason why, as I already feel punished. Banning someone from one’s life is extreme for me and it justifies itself by its own being. I don’t think it does really matter why they have decided, but for whatever reason, they have chosen that way, fair enough. I have to learn to accept it. It’s a different logic and I wouldn’t do it nor to my friends nor to acquaintances, but I can’t expect everybody to behave that way. On the other hand, I have many friends I met a long ago with whom I don’t even realize if it’s me or them to call and I don’t feel threatened if I don’t get news, I do it-but those are people I am sure of, am fond of and I know it’s a mutual feeling. I am so scared of non-mutual relationship and this due to my recent experiences with men and people.
        I ascribe far too importance to others even to define myself- I am very concerned about my moral behaviour, exploitation, ambiguity, shallowness and as my shrink says, I do not give myself the right to do anything that doesn’t match to my standards: I judge myself a lot and I demand to myself to behave this way all the time, as I think I want to be loved, worth of others’ love, the result is I never forgive myself and I put myself under a lot of pressure, I get angry with myself and I am always emotionally exhausted.
        You painted a very realistic scenario concerning my parents but alas I have no memory, I only know I have been wallowing in guilt as a hippo in a muddy pond since a very early age, so this is an emotional memory with no detailed reference of a particular situation.
        Taking things personally-I do understand what you mean. But please tell me, when you are in front of somebody and your behaviour affects them and theirs you, isn’t this personal? I try to think of what effect my words can have on people, if I say something in a certain way they might suffer and this might affect them in the future. I remember when I was young I met a guy who told me he had been so disappointed by a girl that in spite of his feelings he didn’t even want to open his heart to me. I think it’s sad, but you have already told me that all I can do is to take care of myself and I can’t be responsible for other people.
        It’s all intertwined though.
        I have just finished The angry book by Th. I. Reuben and I have seen my way of dealing with anger is very dysfunctional, and it can be framed within the same kind of N parents.
        I am on the very edge of something I can’t even name it, I am aware I have been taught it and learnt all wrong but change is not so easy to make it happen as my unconscious is really resistant, it’s like losing the core of what I am.
        When my shrink tells me I am rigid it hurts like hell and I feel like a monstrous person and all I feel like to do is run and anesthetize myself. He has the power to drive me berserk, I get really mad at him, sometimes he overdoes it; there is always some truth though, (bloody hell!) in what he says but therapy can be all but supportive, it’s like wrestling and I am not a fan…It’s very hard and sometimes it’s too painful and I feel all my efforts are in vain, it’s just grief, that’s all I can think of. It’s horrible to think I am so lame and crippled, I wonder how I could became such a warped being, although I have not NPD (confirmed by my doctor), but I have absorbed so much the N traits by my parents, it’s very discouraging, it’s like a tunnel with no end. People who have no inner source of self-esteem are not stable and condemned to doubt about themselves all their life.
        Thank you so much for your time and your energy and bear in mind I am so grateful to you, you have helped me in such a difficult moment of my life; there are days I feel completely lost and alone and I revise what you have told me and your posts, they anchor me to life when my first instinct is to give up.
        Ti ringrazio con tutto il cuore e spero di non romperti troppo le palle:))
        s xxx

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        1. One of the most important thing which a child of narcissists has to learn to do is stop worrying about other people. Other people can take care of themselves. It’s a big challenge because you were brought up to forget about yourself and make other people your main focus, to worry about them, what they want, what they need, and were made to feel that they were so sensitive and fragile that you had to ‘walk on eggshells’ around them. Some of the rigidity is the self censorship, constantly monitoring what you say and do to make sure it’s okay and won’t hurt or bother other people.

          I think maybe your therapist sees your inner strength and is encouraging it to come out and express itself openly. He wants you to let yourself out of your cage and be the tiger that you are. He is challenging you, so you’ll get mad and fight back, that way you access your personal power, see your own ability to take charge and stand up for yourself, and then you can adjust what you want to adjust – such as the parts of your programming which work against you, while keeping the parts which work for you. Therapy should not support the things which hurt you, it should show you how to deal with the things which hurt you in a way that is empowering, and it sounds like that’s what he’s doing. Encouraging you to be yourself and be feisty about it.

          What I mean by not taking things personally is don’t take everything someone else says or does as being directed at you, as being about you (even when it seems to be directed right at you). If someone doesn’t call you, don’t think that the reason they haven’t called you is something bad about you or done to punish you. Keep a certain detachment from other people, breathing space between you and them. Where they are free to breathe their own air and you are free to breathe yours.

          It’s good to be considerate and thoughtful in your interactions. To care about others and how you affect them. But remember they can look after themselves and protect themselves. If they get hurt, they can heal it. People are stronger than they may seem, and resilient too. If you’re too careful with people and treat them like delicate and fragile things, they tend to feel stifled by it or they become dependent upon it, and then you become their keeper. Bumps and scratches are going to happen when we run free in our relationships, they heal and so do we.

          Trust what you are doing, it’s tough, but you’re doing really well (even when you think you aren’t). Trust yourself, be kind to yourself, and take good care of yourself 🙂

          Tanti baci e un grande abbraccio (le mie palle sono state rotte dai miei genitori tanti anni fa, non ti preoccupare 😉

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          1. Dear Ursula,
            I read all your replies to the other people writing their own stories and it’s incredible how much pain and grief we can encounter in our life journey; I think of this ocean of men and women as I had met them in real life and I am so sad to see we have to learn to love ourselves at a very high price. I often find myself in front of people who are stolid as brick walls and would never question themselves even for half a sec. It is discouraging.
            I am so confused by life and my family behaviour that sometimes I believe I am becoming mad, I am the narcissist-doubting about myself, not being sure of my boundaries, feeling attacked all the time.
            What you said about my therapist is true, but it’s very hard to handle as most of the times I perceive him as aggressive and dismissive of my feelings- maybe this is due to the transference as he represents parental authority in our therapeutic relationship; if I am undergoing a major change, my responses to reality are not adequate as I don’t deal well with my emotions, I don’t manage them as I should, in short I am not able to put into practice my new way of seeing things.
            When you talk about deprogramming myself I sense this concerns my behaviour, therefore traits which can be modified and not the core of self, whilst to me, on the other hand, I perceive that my way of being is inadequate to life and I will never succeed to become another person.
            For my shrink, if I am looking for a suitable job and I wish to use something of what I have studied, this means I am not flexible, as he suggested I should hide my qualifications to get a humble job. If I show resentment and anger towards my father (who is giving me the silent treatment because I don’t enjoy his plans to disinherit me), he tells me I am rigid as I don’t want to contact him.
            I am so puzzled I don’t know any more if I have the right to listen to myself or not; having said that, I am positive he’s a competent doctor but I am not sure I can accept all this.
            I am always craving to be accepted and I feel not an inch of this attitude.
            When he suggested to hide my diplomas from my cv he hurt me in a way I can’t tell- this is the only thing I am left with, I have nothing else and no sense of self.
            I do not know any longer if I am clever, if I am a good person, if my actions are correct- and please I am telling you all this to be validated by you, I value your way of seeing things because you can perceive subtleties with a stunning accuracy and you have a very clever and articulate way of interpreting reality; I do doubt about myself as I might be one. Therapy is something which makes you feel very unstable and I am not confident that it can be beneficial to me.
            There is one curiosity- a recurrent episode in my life which has already revealed having devastating effects and I wonder why I always get entangled into this, Indians would argue it’s a matter of karma, a bad one of course! I always seem to lend my books to people who haven’t got the slightest intention of giving them back to me; once I even experienced this dreadful feeling with one of my former professors at Sorbonne (!), I asked her 17 times and she always found excuses and finally kept all my nine books, to which I am very sentimentally attached, the reason residing in what they represent to me and not in their material value.
            I have a “friend” who has already proved to belong to this kind of flock twice, I had to insist a dozen times before getting it back, but she answered back snappily saying: ”I am going to give it back to you otherwise you get a nervous breakdown”, after keeping them one and a half year. Honestly, I do not understand why, as I find the act of lending a kind one, with the implicit clause it has to come back to me. Reading The Angry book by Reuben, I discovered by chance this has been classified as an unconscious act of hate called subtle sabotage, but I don’t understand the dynamics as it’s weird to hate someone who kindly lend you something.
            What do you reckon?
            I have just come back in tears; a young man who insisted to meet me (I finally accepted but I made it clear just as friends) out of the blue told me: “You can easily tell that you haven’t slept with a man for a long time”. I find it atrocious, and humiliating; as though there was something disgusting in me that men can sniff and find repulsive. Am I taking it personally? Is it an insult or an imagined insult? I am the narcissist then. And I would swear to God I would never say anything of that kind to anyone, and not because I am perfect or superior, but you don’t need to be particularly clever to avoid hurting people.
            Ursula, sometimes I find myself thinking that maybe I am a N and I haven’t got the right to take your time and place in your cyber space but please believe me I feel as though I was on the verge of falling into nothingness and I feel dizzy, I can’t distinguish anymore who I am and what the others say I am. I would like to see positive change in myself as you do, but I really can’t.
            Ti chiedo scusa, ho tanta paura, ho paura di diventare pazza.
            Grazie per tutto quello che fai per me. Ti voglio tanto bene.

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            1. excuse me, there is an important mistake: I tell you all this NOT to be validated by you. sorry i wrote precisely what i didn’t want to.Sorry.

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            2. You’re not an N, if you find narcissistic traits and behaviours in yourself don’t worry about it, all humans are narcissistic, it is natural, normal and healthy. Did you not say the other day that your doctor confirmed that you do not have NPD. There you go. Your doctor would not tell you that if it was not true. You are not an N. Point final.

              You’re not going crazy either. You’re experiencing a change of mind, lots of new perspectives are flooding in changing how you see yourself and others and the world, you’re facing many old hurts and fears which is stirring up anxiety, vulnerability and fragility, you’re trying out new things, letting go of old things, challenging beliefs, you’re recreating yourself, rediscovering yourself, and so much more which means your mind needs time to process, adjust and adapt. When real change happens, when our old structures fall apart, it can feel like we are going insane, it’s normal, give it time, you’ll be fine, you’ll adapt and begin to build an entirely new structure.

              When I talk about deprogramming and reprogramming, what I mean is what is also known as re-writing your script. It’s not about becoming someone else, it’s about being yourself, relaxing into who you are rather than who you think you should be or who others tell you that you are or should be. So, say your mother at some point when you were a child kept telling you that you did not like the colour pink, and you accepted this as true because she seemed so certain and adamant about it, so you spend your life not liking the colour pink and telling people that you don’t like it, then one day you ask yourself – why don’t I like pink? And you realise you don’t have an answer, maybe you have reasons which you’ve come up with over the years to explain it when people ask you why but none of those reasons feel like an answer. So why don’t you like pink, where did the dislike come from? You search your mind, memory, but all you can find perhaps is that your mother told you that you didn’t like it enough times for you to believe that it must be true… but is it true? Maybe it was true once (benefit of the doubt), but what about now? You decide to wear pink and find you like it. So you re-write your script, take out the programming which says you don’t like pink and you are now someone who likes pink and you feel good about it because it is your decision, your choice, it is you being you.

              N parents tend to batter their children with false information about who they are (who the parents are and who the child is), programming and brainwashing them until your mind just accepts their version of you. When a child of narcissists grows up, they have a false self created for them by the N parents… however unlike the N parent they also have a real self, a core self, who is aware that there is a false self plastered over it, and that the plastering was done by someone else and accepted as a means to survive a hostile environment. So the work begins to remove the false self… but if the parents are still in action in the child’s life, or if society is experienced as being on the side of the parents, encouraging the maintenance of a false self, then it becomes a complicated process to release the real self from the false self. This process can go through phases where you have no idea who you are anymore and hope someone will tell you, but if they do tell you none of it feels right. When you find yourself not knowing who you are, don’t panic, it’s just part of the process, your real self is always who you are you just sometimes lose the feeling of knowing. The feeling returns.

              re: The man and his remark – people say a lot of silly things, especially when they are trying to impress someone they like. I’ve heard this line in a film, my guess is this man heard it in a film too, thought it was cool, and was trying to appear like a man of the world who knows women, understands them and how to talk with them (something many men find confusing and daunting). He didn’t find you repulsive, it was not an insult, there is no shame in not being sexually active, and I would say he found you attractive and was hoping you would choose him to be the man with whom you sleep.

              re: lending books or anything – “Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend, And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.” – Shakespeare.

              I doubt if it is an unconscious act of hate to not return something borrowed. I suppose it could be sometimes, depends on context really, but most of the time it’s just humans being lazy, forgetful or too busy. If you consider something of yours to be of value to you, don’t lend it to people. Books especially, people love books! And money! If you enjoy lending things, then make sure you only lend things you’d be happy to give away as a gift. That way it doesn’t matter if it is not returned, and you don’t lose a friendship.

              re: the CV – I’m sure there is a reason your therapist said what he said, and it probably had to do with something you said to him. Such as – I can’t seem to find the job I want, people keep telling me that I’m over-qualified – so he offered you a solution – hide your qualifications and then you won’t be over-qualified. But your qualifications mean a lot to you, so it was not a viable solution, and his words hurt you.

              I think your therapist is challenging you, showing you other ways of approaching and perceiving problems, giving you a selection of options and it’s up to you to decide what to accept of what he says and what not to accept. It is sometimes easier to find ourselves in what we say ‘no’ to than what we say ‘yes’ to. You are very definite about your qualifications and how much they mean to you – so by saying no to your therapist’s suggestion of altering your CV, you found yourself. By arguing with him, you are listening to yourself, and that is right.

              You are undergoing a major change, and it’s going to be scary, unsettling, and you’ll feel out of your depth because the experience is different and new, and so are you in many ways. Don’t worry about putting what you’ve learned into practice, it’ll happen naturally, bit by bit, it is already happening, we don’t always notice changes when they are happening because we are doing them not observing them, because we are caught up in adjusting to the change and not necessarily aware of how much we have changed.

              Take good care of yourself, trust yourself and be gentle with yourself.

              Consider yourself as a composer and you are also the symphony you are composing – there’s going to be a lot of cacophony during the creation of music, then one day it will all come together in harmony 🙂

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              1. Thank you so much for your words. I do appreciate your point of view and your honesty, and the time you invested on writing to me, thank you.
                I have pondering for a while and I finally think that the reason of my disproportioned reactions compared to the event which triggered them lies in my long silence as a child of Ns. I have spent my life saying yes and accepting to be invaded and now, I realize, I discover my own voice- as though a mute dumb creature who has been trying to utter words for years and saw nothing coming out of her mouth, just thin hair, as it was like air what she said to stand for herself to people who were listening. I now link it to the dream of the burglars I mentioned before. Therefore I perceive unconsciously people who wants me to become what they have projected onto me as burglars, I find this detail quite poignant, as breaking into somebody’s home is universally acknowledged to be violent as not only the physical boundaries of the house are violated but people usually feel it as they were affected as individuals and not simply as owners.
                I sense this is a helpful insight and it interprets well the blunt, aggressive response to whatever attacks my own way of being and by now I can’t find la voie du juste milieu, all I can do is letting go what has been bottled up for so long (almost half a century, I am old!) and I also feel threatened as though people and didn’t acknowledge my changed self, my freedom to choose, to accept, to turn down. If I have felt used in the past, part of it was my responsibility, and I don’t want to be used anymore, I’ll do my best to protect myself.
                That’s how I perceive my shrink too, I feel I have to protect myself as it takes a lot of energy to say no all the time, and although I do believe he knows what he’s doing, I find it hard to put up with it- you also have to imagine that while I am crying of angry or lost he’s cold as a stone, therapy is not a piece of cake and it’s all but support. Sometimes I feel I have not enough stamina to follow this path.
                What you say about responsibility towards oneself is deeply true and I have to correct my usual concern for how people would feel if I chose to say no, to be my own person and not to be compliant and to please. It’s like not asking to people to take care of you, so you expect less from them setting your boundaries.
                I now understand the importance of saying things, writing them, breaking the silence, even daring to say a word to someone who wrote his story and you never met, all this on your blog but slowly in real life too.
                Thank you for accompanying me in this long journey.
                s xxx

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                1. You’re absolutely right. It’s very difficult to find the middle ground when you’ve been at one extreme for so long, and sometimes you have to go to the opposite extreme first, to experience it and learn about it, then gradually find the middle ground somewhere down the line. And when you’ve been silent for a long time, everything you say can sound loud to you, when you’ve only spoken softly and quietly, your own voice can sound harsh even if it’s not. The important thing is to keep going, keep exploring and experimenting and freeing yourself from your own cage. When what you’ve always done becomes unbearable, that’s when it’s time to do what you’ve never done. It may be frightening and disorienting, because it is unknown and new, but there’s also a feeling which comes with it, a powerful energy, a new lease on life, a new way to be and live and express yourself.

                  I fall back on old patterns all the time. The intervals of this get shorter each time, but it can be so frustrating nonetheless. I just don’t feel the need to beat up on myself the way I used to, and in some ways that’s how you know you’ve made progress, when you’re kinder and more considerate towards yourself. It’s strange really, we’re so quick to be cruel to ourselves for our perceived failures… but slowly we learn that we haven’t failed and that we’re worthy of our own love.

                  For a child of narcissists, especially if both parents are N’s and have dominated you and your life, you can sometimes end up experiencing everyone, the whole world, as a narcissist because your ears (and your senses) have been sensitised to hear what other people want from you, and what they want always seems to deny you your wants. And you often don’t know what you want because your needs have always been pushed aside and you have spent your whole life feeling criticised, especially for having any needs of your own. It takes time and a huge amount of effort to flip things around. It’s worth it, but it doesn’t always feel that way. You may swing between standing your ground, being true to yourself, and giving up your will and giving in to others. Stick it out, the more you learn to value yourself and be ‘selfish’, the more life becomes worth living and so much more in a satisfying way.

                  Don’t worry about the doubt and all the fears and ghosts haunting you, keep facing them and staring them down. Just as with the dream, it will all start to make sense, and the confusion will dissipate. The more you get to know who you are, the more you can free yourself to be who you are, loudly and proudly or however you want to be and do it!

                  Let the small steps you take inspire you to keep going 🙂

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  2. Wow! Well done! 🙂 I’ve long taken the position that it’s incumbent upon me to listen carefully. Look the communicator directly in the eyes and focus. No texting, no mutitasking of any kind. Just listening and paying attention. As you point out, there’s still lots of room for misunderstanding, but as a listener, it’s my job to do the best I can to listen.

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    1. Thank you 🙂

      You can always tell when someone is listening, and when someone is just going through the motions. It looks and feels different, it has an unusual quality to it. Thing is when you listen it benefits you, in some ways more than it benefits those being listened to. But it also has a flip side, you realise how often people say the same thing over and over, and that they’re not really listening to what they are saying.

      I think misunderstanding tends to overbook seats in conversations 🙂

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