You Can’t Go Home Again… if… your home is a narcissist

“And he never had the sense of home so much as when he felt that he was going there. It was only when he got there that his homelessness began.”
― Thomas Wolfe

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The other night I had a dream about finding the perfect house. Perfect as in it had everything that I was hoping a house would have for me, including being affordable in both the buying of it and the living in it afterwards for many years to come.

I am at the moment house hunting, so this dream was simply a reflection of my conscious mind’s thoughts. It also reflected the stresses and fears bothering me about it.

One of those fears is about being practical. I’m worried that I’ll make a decision based on the heart in a rash and impulsive manner which will end up with the dream turning into a nightmare.

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Heart and Brain - The Awkward Yeti

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Which is what occurred in the dream.

The perfect house became the most imperfect house possible. What I had thought it was, was not what it actually was. Everything about it was an illusion, and the bubble popped as soon as I bought it. Then it all became about regret and all the furnishings and furniture which come with that interior decor, such as anger, or that which becomes anger when we don’t want to face them as they are.

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“I have to see a thing a thousand times before I see it once.”
― Thomas Wolfe

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Luckily I could escape this nightmare just by waking up.

While mulling over what my sleeping mind had created of my waking mind’s thoughts, it struck me that certain aspects of house hunting were similar to what we do when seeking a romantic partner.

We have a dream of who this person is before we meet them. Who our perfect match is going to be. That wish list guides us in what to look for when we meet people who may possibly be a love interest. It also may cause us to ignore people who could be just right for us and never give them a chance because our perspective of them is – not on the list.

In some ways someone we love is a home for us, a house for our heart and everything our heart symbolises, a safe haven for our soul,  a place where we can unpack all our belongings and they will be accepted. A space where we can grow, improve, change, and yet also just be as we are with all our faults, flaws, and individual quirks, which aren’t flaws and faults in this sanctum but what makes something and someone unique in a wonderful way.

Our loved one, we hope, will find the beauty in our ugly and show it to us too. Will see the genius in our stupid. Will hold onto to us when we try to run away. Will support us when our structure crumbles, falls apart, and help us to fix what needs fixing without breaking what is fine as it is.

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Immune systemvia Dorkly

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A few weeks ago I went to see a rather unique house. It had been on the market for a while, and the price had dropped considerably. Its uniqueness made it difficult to sell. Its present owners’ attitude also made it rather hard to sell or to buy.

One of the things which the sellers were hoping for was to find a buyer who would appreciate and accept the house as it was. They had poured a lot of themselves into it, had lived there for a long time and were a part of the place itself, and were having a hard time parting with it especially when prospective buyers kept discussing all the changes they were planning to make to it which would change it drastically.

Other people wanted to change the house completely, turn it into someplace else. Which is kind of like changing someone whom you love into someone they are not for the sake of your love for them and the potential you say you see in them. Why buy a place which needs the kind of drastic changes that turn it into what it is not, why not find somewhere which is already what this place would be once drastically changed.

People are strange. And that’s rather endearing for the most part.

I loved the house exactly as it was – which was strange for me. However this house was one which the owners did not really want to sell and so they created the sort of obstacles which even my heart wasn’t impulsive enough to jump over.

I saw the warning signs of a dream heading towards nightmare and decided to pass.

And that was the end of that possible love affair and partnership.

That house was the dream house with way too many personal issues which weren’t mine, but if I ignored them, they’d become mine and the dream would turn into a nightmare.

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“For he had learned some of the things that every man must find out for himself, and he had found out about them as one has to find out –through error and through trial, through fantasy and illusion, through falsehood and his own damn foolishness, through being mistaken and wrong and an idiot and egotistical and aspiring and hopeful and believing and confused.”
― Thomas Wolfe

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This is something which could be related to falling in love with a narcissist. Narcissists often appear to be your ideal partner. They can seem as though they stepped out of a romantic film. The romantic lead of your dreams has made themselves real just for you. You’re so swept off your feet by finding all your wish list in one person that you don’t notice the cracks in the veneer, or anything else which would alert you to this perfect home for your heart being a money pit which will bankrupt you.

Love is blind to things known as ‘red flags’. Those warning signs that tell you that what is perfect is only perfect in nightmare terms.

It’s probably a good idea to keep in mind that those who write ‘red flag’ lists, either for house buyers or soul mate seekers, tend to do so in retrospect. In other words they learned the hard way that some dreams which become reality may turn into real nightmares.

We’re all so much clever in hindsight, but that kind of cleverness comes at a price – we have to make the mistakes to learn from them and then turn them into the kind of wisdom which we pass on… in another kind of wish list, the kind which is born out of regret. I wish I’d known this before I did what I did.

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Juno

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It’s so much easier to see the lie someone else is telling after you have fallen for it, believed it, and been hurt for believing it, then emerged out the other side aware of the lie due to the stark and raw pain it caused you by believing it to be a truth.

But who was the liar? The person who told you a lie or you for selling yourself the truth of their lie?

We’re better at accepting our part in the belief of a lie when it’s about something which is less threatening to our foundations.

Yes, we bought those shoes, or that dress, or that gadget, or that game, because those selling it told us how perfect it was for us, it would solve everything magically as advertised, and we wanted it to be perfect for us, we saw it as being perfect for us… and we knew it wasn’t, we knew we were selling it to ourselves because of our heart’s desire to own a dream, a magic pill which cured all, but… our bad, we’ll be more careful next time (maybe), learn from our costly mistake and not repeat it (or that particular version of it).

But when it comes to the dreams which bind us together and are a part of the structure of ourselves, who we believe ourselves to be, then accepting that we are partly responsible for selling ourselves a lie about someone else and the part in our structure which we wanted them to play and be, can be too much for us to bear and so we pass that burden on to maintain our stability.

The lie becomes all someone else’s fault, and we turn them into an evil genius who manipulated us like a puppet. We’d rather see ourselves as a puppet being manipulated by someone else than see our hand in it.

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“It is very comforting to believe that leaders who do terrible things are, in fact, mad. That way, all we have to do is make sure we don’t put psychotics in high places and we’ve got the problem solved.”
― Thomas Wolfe

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Once love is not the blissful dream we wanted it to be, then it becomes the nightmare we make of it. That may be the worst part of it – the loss of the dream which we had in our grasp. Something which for a moment was real and made us feel on top of the world… then it slipped through our fingers because it wasn’t as real as we wanted it to be. We suspect that it never was real but we told ourselves it was as that’s what we wanted it to be. We don’t like where that is going, what that is telling us about ourselves… it must be all someone else’s doing.

We find our dream house and fall in love with everything that is right with it, with our hopes and wishes for it, and for us with it. It’s only later, after buying it and moving in, living in it and with it, that we start to notice what is wrong with it.

At first we stick to our dream of it and ignore the problems. That creaky floorboard which also feels spongy… it’s an old house, this is part of its character, not dry rot or termites or anything like that. That stain on the ceiling is just the lighting in the room, not a leak in the roof or rusty piping drip, drip, dripping. That crack in the wall, was always there, right? Part of the history of this place, its charm. You knew it wasn’t perfect, and that’s what you loved about it. A bit of spackling and a fresh paint job will sort it out. It’s not subsidence or dodgy foundations of any sort.

When our perfect dream home crumbles around us, we blame ourselves, then shift all of that blame to others so that we don’t get crushed by the weight of it.

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mistakes

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Are we angry at the narcissist for ruining our dream or angry at ourselves for believing that our dream could ever come true?

Is it the house’s fault that it’s a living hell or our fault for buying the house while under the spell of our magical thinking?

Narcissists are a house that is really trying to be the perfect home for you so it can see itself as the most perfect abode in the world.

Sometimes that house knows what it is doing, knows it is using false advertising (but surely you know that too) and hates you for making it do that to get you to buy it, and sometimes the house thinks it is perfect and will always think that about itself, and hates you for not believing in it no matter what it does. That’s the difference between an overt narcissist house and a covert narcissist house.

But what about us? Did we buy the house expecting it to be exactly as advertised. Do adverts ever tell the truth?

The property business is suffused with prettying white lies. ‘Cosy’ means ‘cramped’. ‘Period features’ means ‘impractical and pricey’ or ‘this stuff is old, don’t tell us we didn’t warn you’. ‘Architect designed’ = it’s manmade, so expect design flaws. ‘Rural idyll’ = next to a farm if you’re lucky, needs a tractor to get to it, probably also next to a sewage plant, garbage dump or something else no one wants to live by, and is miles away from anything you need (and delivery vans will find excuses why they didn’t deliver next day). ‘Brand new development’ = in a flood plain, on an old toxic dump site, or some other horror to be discovered in a later episode, no one knows what’s wrong with it yet be the first to find out!

The love business is also suffused with prettying white lies. And the other person is not the only one telling them. We all know this and see it as normal and natural. Our best is what we sell to others, our worst is what we hide (to surprise them with later when they prove to us that they like us as we are = as we said we were until further notice).

Narcissists aren’t that much different from us (who think we’re not narcissists), which is why we don’t recognise them immediately. They’re doing what we’re doing… except they’re different from us in the long term. They keep doing what we do in the short term. They keep making the excuses which we stop making at some point (we do stop doing that, right?). They keep lying to themselves and to us hoping that at some point the lie will turn into the truth (we stop lying and start telling the truth to set everyone free, yes?). They have more invested in that than we do, which is why when we finally face it… they never do (or do we?).

They’re the house which will never admit that it’s not as advertised. They want to be that beautiful mansion featured in an architectural or home design magazine, the ideal home, the perfect place, and if they keep saying they are, then they are – if we don’t see them that way, that’s our problem for trying to live in a space which doesn’t do human inhabitation.

It’s so beautiful when there is no one living in it, when it is staged to look like people live there, but… it’s staged to appeal to us placing ourselves there but not actually trying to live there.

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LA0via Planete-Deco

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It’s so beautiful, so perfect, flawless, faultless, a dream ideal, no wonder you wanted to live there… but then you tried to actually live there…

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“To lose the earth you know for greater knowing; to lose the life you have for greater life; to leave the friends you loved for greater loving; to find a land more kind than home, more large than earth…”
― Thomas Wolfe

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10 thoughts on “You Can’t Go Home Again… if… your home is a narcissist

  1. That’s funny, I’ve been thinking the same thing recently. I was getting used to my own single motherhood and figuring things out without any interference, and then, BAM! There’s the guy that shows up and makes you rethink certain things. Luckily (or not) for me, mine is uninterested and unavailable, so I can continue on with my plans, but he definitely has the wheels in the brain working overtime.

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  2. Another great post, the comparison between the house and “heart” was spectacular. I find it interesting that you mention the “wish list” of your ideal person. I’ve heard this quite a bit over the years and never really understood it. I always found it difficult to answer the question of “who is the dream partner” because people aren’t perfect. At some point you meet someone who appears to be perfect to you, in spite of all of their imperfections, but that’s the point of a true partnership, isn’t it? To recognize that it starts off based on bullshit, but you see through the bullshit and recognize that there is some kind of real person in there. You accept that as it is, or you don’t. Perhaps, like the house, you work together to make a few adjustments to make it your own, and allow things to mesh, but ultimately you’re not looking for any kind of relationship, partnership, friendship, or whatevership if you think you’re going to overhaul a person to fit your idealistic values. I know people who tell me what they think I want to hear, and its totally obvious most of the time, but I also get that they may have their reasons for keeping their true selves hidden. If one day they care to share that, or not is up to them. Some people I see something in, and deal with it much longer than I should, others I have a much shorter tolerance for, its all personal preference. I’m weird like that though, I tend to overstay much longer than the other person wants me to or leave much earlier than someone else wants me to, other times just get stuck for whatever reason & do what I can to leave. Eventually, the perfect for you person and home comes along because the bullshit & the ideal found a balance suitable for you.
    Best of luck in your house hunting, Ursula!

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    1. Thank you very much 🙂

      I love what you said! I completely agree.

      When I met my partner, I had reached that point in life when I was just getting comfy with the concept of being alone, I was rather excited about it and was slightly cranky about him turning up and spoiling my ‘spinsterhood’. My wish list was – someone who just gets me (accepts the burps, farts, cussing like a pirate, speaking only in nonsense, and looking like they fell through a hedge backwards even when they make an effort). His wish list was – someone who doesn’t want to ‘change’ me. We just got along and got each other, and still do.

      I’ve never been good at compiling lists (not even shopping lists), mostly because I get bored by my own lists before I’ve even started them. Although it’s fun writing them and leaving them around for my partner to scribble sass on them.

      I’m trying to get to that point about house hunting, where it’s about meeting that place which just kind of gets you and you get it.

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  3. Nicely done post. Definitely gave me some food for thought. 9 years later, I’m still living in my perfect too small home with stained carpets I cannot replace or get clean, and cracks in the plaster, peeling paint. Still I love it. It keeps me warm, safe and dry, and that’s exactly why it’s perfect for me.

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    1. Thank you very much 🙂

      Your home sounds lovely, with a warm and inviting energy. I tend to see stains on carpets as splashes of paint on a canvas of life, each stain tells a story, and some of them are great memories.

      And cracks in the plaster remind me of Doctor Who, there are whole universes through those cracks full of wonder.

      When you love your home, it loves you back!

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  4. I love the analogy and it gave me some insights…this time ones I haven’t wanted to see or maybe genuinely didn’t…or maybe I sensed it but was in denial. The truth is hard sometimes. But necessary. Thank you.

    Good luck to you on your house hunting though, I hope you find a truly (truthfully) perfect house for you. 🙂

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    1. Thank you very much 🙂

      I’m really just hoping to find a house which I don’t regret buying, I’ve never done this before so… it’s rather terrifying. There’s so much to think about.

      I’ve found that letting myself see a starker version of what I’m looking at helps to balance things and can be empowering. When I look at myself and see my part in a dynamic, then I have the choice to change how I interact and proceed from there. It’s made a lot of difference, and still does when I let myself be blunt with myself. There is an ouch factor but there always is in life, at least in my experience.

      Take care, and be gentle with yourself, especially when being stark.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Definitely me – I sold myself the lie(s) and then lied to myself and to him, too. It’s so hard recognizing what one has done to oneself (after sort of escaping from the minimizing and rationalizing, et.al. – that’s if one ever really can) and then taking responsibility for it.

    Good post, Ursula. 🙂

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    1. To get free from my parents I had to see the part I was playing in keeping myself stuck (in their versions of reality, of me, of life, etc). As long as I did certain things and saw things a certain way, then I couldn’t break free and create something new. Of course, there are layers, but… there are always layers.

      I remind myself to look at myself before I accuse anyone else, as it is often me who is causing the part of the problem I’m experiencing. When you see your part in it, then you can see the other person’s part more clearly, and maybe find a solution for both of you (or at least for yourself – because maybe they’re not experiencing your turbulence).

      Thank you 🙂

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