“The pain, the despair, the craziness of self-destructive behaviour is as loud a statement as it is possible to make that our soul is in exile and under attack.”
– Andy White
Isn’t it typical. The moment you want something, it plays hard to get. However if you don’t want it, it’s there for the taking, offering itself up. Tempting, tempting… try to grab it, suddenly it slips through your fingers and laughs at you, while telling you to chase after it!
I finally got a chance to go outside and sit in the sunshine which had been flirting with me while I was inside, trying to lure me out. Come out and play, stop being so workaholic about life. Making my eyes blind with lust for it.
But the moment I settled down to enjoy its warmth, it disappeared behind a storm cloud.
So I went back inside.
And out it popped again, teasing me for giving up so easily in its pursuit.
I went out again. Cloud. Went in. Sun. I wasted about an hour playing this game. The game of seasons changing within moments, of sultry warmth turning to damp cold. Summer one minute, Winter the next.
As far as wasting time playing games goes, this was relatively short and not too painful, but it was still frustrating.
“We spend much of our time feeling the effects of our folly, trying to ‘work out’ our problems, or figuring ways to be rid of the psychological demons that plague us. We rarely stop to think what the need for the neurosis might be, or what purpose these quirks of the psyche might serve.”
– Andy White
I cursed the sun, the clouds, myself, and also my cat, who had been let out to enjoy the sun too, but who decided to also play hide and seek with me. Which wouldn’t be a problem if the garden wasn’t next to a busy road down which cars like to hurtle, and the cat is always drawn to the part of the garden near to the road because it’s dark and woody and mice and other small things hide and play there. So even when I was out and so was the sun, I was in the dark woods searching for the cat, afraid of fears coming true.
I came to the conclusion that today was one of those days when the universe plays pranks on you and your plans, and whittles away your humour until all you’re doing is screaming curses at everything and everyone.
I’m not really that bad, but sometimes I am. Although I usually only scream silently, inside my head. The curses remain within, cursing the inner while protecting the outer from their effects.
“Gordius holds the child at arm’s length out of the concern that his hollow core will become visible and undermine his shaky authority. He wants his depression redeemed but he’s afraid to be found out, so he remains aloof…”
– Andy White
Then, on one of my inside trips due to cloud, I checked my emails.
I hate doing this at the moment because I’m at the slow and agonising end of a slow and agonising legal process involving narcissists. One dead and one who… I sometimes wish would hurry up and die (and hate myself for wishing that). Thanks to to my mother, my father’s death has been turned into a convoluted opera in never ending acts, starring her, as Tosca, of course! The kiss of Tosca sucks you dry like a vampire whose hunger is never sated.
I’m almost at the finish line… and that’s always the hardest part since I never know if I’m going to make it. I have great stamina for the middle bits, the end tends to trip me up. Will exhaustion get me or will I just manage to drag myself to the end.
“Either way the child destroys itself… The threat of parental collapse on the one hand and the prospect of her envious attack on the other would be too much for him to bear.”
– Andy White
However, all the news was fairly good, compared to previous bad news, and got better when I found an email from Andy White letting me know that he had just created a blog.
Andy White – Narcissism and The Fruits of Suffering
If you don’t know who Andy White is, let me introduce him.
He’s the author of Going Mad to Stay Sane.
for more on Going Mad to Stay Sane
A book about which I could wax lyrical until I tie you up in Gordian knots of admiration. I happened upon this book years ago, and really wasn’t sure about buying it… but I did, because I’m the sort of person who buys books instead of food, to whom books are more nourishing than a meal, and it… was a life saver at very difficult time. It helped explain my life to me in so many ways.
I recommended this book in a post way back when – Narcissism is the Game, and You’re It – when I wrote it and posted it, I didn’t think about anyone reading it, or taking my recommendation to the point of wanting to get a hold of a book which as I now know is elusive… until now, as it has just been reprinted and you can find it and buy here – Going Mad to Stay Sane.
Many have read this post and have pointed out that on Amazon the book is valued at an exorbitant price.
So many people pointed this out to me (as though the price of the book and its unavailability was somehow my fault – mea culpa) that I eventually felt compelled to contact Andy White.
“Chaos is the beginning of wisdom. It points unarguably to the inadequacy of our world constructs and the failure of our belief system to really support us. WHen we despair in this chaos we are forced to acknowledge the limitations of the way we have things set up for ourselves”
– Andy White
If you know me… you know how hard doing something like that is for me. I’m not just shy, not just an introvert, I’m a hermit. But when I come out of my shell, I can seem like a full on extrovert, and sometimes scare the crap out of people. That’s how I roll, one minute I’m hiding behind a cloud, next I’m blinding you with my shine!
Haha… but not so haha!
The results of this have been intriguing. This hermit drew another hermit out of their shell to share their shine. I can’t take credit for this, but I can try… I was brought up by narcissists, it’s hard not to follow in footsteps.
Anyway… before I lose the plot… check out Andy White for yourself on his blog – Andy White – Narcissism and The Fruits of Suffering.
He has not only reprinted Going Mad to Stay Sane, but is also coming out with a new book, which he generously shared with me. It is epic!
And now he’s blogging!
Welcome him to the blogosphere, check out his blog and posts!
May the seasons change in your favour!
“The experience of suffering throughout life can be so consistent, that it becomes identified with one’s very being. Suffering becomes a way of knowing oneself and to be deprived of this suffering then constitutes a source of acute anxiety.”
– Andy White
ps. I also wrote about this book and it’s meaning for me in this post – The Absent Father and The Devouring Mother.
Thank you, Andy!
Thank you for your blog, Ursula… and for sharing your precious insights.Looking forward to being able to read this book! take care xxx
Cara, Seashell, it’s great to hear from you 😀
Thank you very much, for everything!
Wow. Thanks for information. 🙂 I have visited his blog.
I hope this situation with your mother is over soon. I won’t say that I hope it turns out okay because my experience with my ex-narcissist tells me that “turning out okay” is a very, very relative term. When I finally got my ex-narc out of my life I paid for it, literally (not to mention emotionally and intellectually). I knew that he would go for the money and I was willing to go into debt to effect that result. It didn’t stop him from continuing to try to contact me, though. Positive reinforcement of the financial variety? I think so. Anyway, my best wishes for a conclusion and a return to your life. You deserve peace and good things. 🙂
Thank you very much 🙂
Things have taken an age and it has been exhaustingly challenging, more so because it’s the same old drama bollocks redux as far as my parents, their affairs and their extras are concerned, but there was this whole other level of bureaucratic bumbling added to it. Part of the problem was getting my mother to do things properly, and finally get a lawyer to do the work instead of her running around like a greedy squawking chicken without a head making a pigsty because she still thinks she’s the star in a soap opera and is above and beyond laws of nature and government. At one point she tried to convince the authorities that I was dead, which meant my having yet again to prove that I existed. There’s nothing like a narcissist doing everything their way to waste endless time and resources.
I’m not adept at multi-tasking, and tend to only be able to focus on one thing at a time to avoid getting confused and diffused, so this has meant putting a lot on the back burner, including emotions and such. I’m looking forward to a release, finally being able to breathe deeply without wheezing, coughing and spitting up blood.
There isn’t anything new about what is happening, and that has been the most stultifying part of it. But being bored to death by it has been useful, and I have learned a lot, so that’s something. I’m not a child or a maiden anymore, I’m an old crone 😉
Che sera sera!
I love it that he makes the connection in one post between our exile from the Great Mother (as part of our evolution of consciousness) and narcissism. I read an amazing book many years ago by Edward Whitmont, called Return to the Mother where he overviews the emergence what he calls our “heroic egoic” consciousness a very patriarchial development out of earlier schemes of consciousness where we were less separated from nature.
The great split happened around the middle ages when we began to demonise and exile parts of human experience with a whole host of rules, prohibitions and splits, many of which came out of fear. This ties into the prevalence of narcissism in our age as a development we need to move beyond, but which requires us to embrace our vulnerability and the chaos of the greater feminine. It struck such a strong chord with me at the time. He obviously has great insight from his own personal experience and is straight up about the healing required of us. Being victims of narcissists we come to be narcissistic too, in ways we don’t know until they cause us pain and that pain is the fuel for growth and evolution of our own consciousness. Great that you have been able to make people aware of Andy White, Ursula, really appreciate it as he has heaps of very insightful and interesting things to say. ❤
Thank you very much 🙂
I think you might really enjoy his new book, which will be out soon, as in it he delves into the Great Mother, and reconnecting with Her. One of the reasons I find his style of writing and expressing so compelling is that he has lived and lives it. His work is alive. It’s not just some psychologist telling us how we can heal our mess while he sits in his chair neatly detached from it all, from his own wound. Andy embraces his own wound, in a way he embodies Chiron.
He uses mythology beautifully interwoven into psychology and living life, and I know that’s something you do too 🙂
Yes am really looking forward to reading it Ursula. He seems to know the territory so well and the way he uses mythology enables him to see things in a profound way, but not detached. I think it truly is only people who have really embraced the deep wound who understand the work and the journey, like he does and you too.
Thankyou so much for your kind remarks and for the reference to Whitmont’s book ‘Return of the Goddess’, which I ordered and received in today’s post. I am really looking forward to reading it and, having had a peek, think it will be a great resource.
Yes, happy stolstice to you Ursala and I hope you will prevail.
I predict you will drag yourself to the end — Mars in Scorpio. I’d make it just on sheer spite — to try to throw a pail of water on the wicked witch to see if she melted. However you never know how these things will go with narcissists. Often water splashes back and melts you. Nothing seems to stick to them but I still want to try to wrest some justice from the situation.
I’m reading this week backwards. I’m away for work.
Thank you very much 🙂
Yep, Mars in Scorpio can pretty much drag itself through anything (so can a Capricorn Sun), or play dead while not being dead at all, just taking a much needed rest 😉
I love reading and watching things backwards (drives others crazy at times, because I’m happy to work my way back from an ending before I know the beginning and middle, which is apparently not how you’re supposed to read a story or watch a film – unless it starts from there and progresses from there). But I loathe flashbacks, confuses the frig out of me, especially when they’re my own.
Narcissists are the ultimate timeline effer uppers… but they have a line they follow and it can be messed with, if such a thing is something we want to do. Requires a bit of commitment to fighting crazy with crazy. Or something like that. Mars in Scorpio quite likes doing that kind of thing (so does Cap).
Happy solstice, blessed be!
Funny, I start every magazine from the back page and read forward.
😀 great way to read!
Dear Ursula, thankyou so much for all your fantastic support, you have done me a great and generous kindness…
My book, ‘Going Mad to Stay Sane’, is finally being reprinted (Yay!) and can be preordered using paypal at the following url;;;
yep, that’s the whole thing…
that’s a very big url…
Yeh, do you think he’s compensating for something…?
maybe, that …and the techno savvy of a Neanderthall…
Anyhoo, all those justifiably grumpy peeps who’ve had to squirrel away their hard earned pennies to buy a volume of my work that cost more to read than i got paid to write, can now part with a much more modest sum and spend the rest of your piggy bank doing something more exciting, like learning how to prepare puffer fish without killing your dinner guests or DIY hangliding, mountain not included, or just sitting back and watching TV while your arteries clog dance their way into cholesterol suburbia.
self destructiveness is a serious business and rarely what it declaims on the tin. With sensitivity, assuming significance in what is often dismissed as mere symptom, self destructiveness can be a spring board for a soulful life like no other if we can decode the meaning in the message, if we refrain from putting a lid on it with medication or inveterate ‘fixing’.
The book boasts a new preface from Dr Dale Mathers who was a consultant Psychiatrist at the Maudsley for many years and is now an analyst in private practice with his own book fresh on the shelf, ‘ Alchemy and Psychotherapy’ (Routledge) which is also a rivetting read.
Enjoy the book and find new ways to make sense of old patterns.!
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Thank you very much, Andy 🙂
Going mad to Stay Sane… preorder
Ooops! looks like my url is not going to pass muster, sorry peeps, find same on Facebook/ andywhiteblog.com
You need to use this – http://tinyurl.com/
It shortens long urls.
But no worries I’ll sort the links out.
thanks Ursula,, I’ll get it fixed this afternoon, what I know about computers is dangerous. I’m convinced I managed to set up my blog just by lucky mashing of the keyboard…… in the meantime the book can be ordered at my publisher, Jon’s site below or from my blog. many thanks.
Thank you, Andy 🙂
I’ve added links to your blog and the book on my posts. I’ll do another post about it later on.
Blogging is pretty much that – click some buttons and voila!
You need to put links to the book in your sidebar too (just a bit more mashing of the keyboard involved). I don’t use a sidebar on my blog because I’m difficult that way, but it is very useful as an aid for people to find stuff easily.
Andy’s blog is phenomenal and I am savoring it. Is there a way to subscribe to it please
Thank you 🙂
He’ll really appreciate that!
I don’t think he’s got to the subscribing bit of things yet, but his blog does have RSS and you can subscribe to the feed.
He had a quote in a blog that said ‘
The catastrophic expectation is a memory’. Donald Winnicott
I have really been a mental mess of late in what you call my ‘mid life crisis’. I d have to live to 120 for this to be middle age
I do have a fear that this loneliness I’m experiencing now even a couple years post narcissist combined w these thoughts of a future where I see nothing extreme loneliness and isolation, probably stem from my childhood experience of life.
It’s very hard for me to visualize a happy ending for myself I’ve taken care of the work but and the financial stuff And always had an expectation that part would work out fine. And it is.
But my ideas about how I will fare with meaningful human interaction, beyond trivial planned social stuff which I hate, is the polar opposite I always had an idea I would wind up alone and lonely which is exactly what is happening
I am really a hermit after work and it is tough to push myself out especially when my expectation is it might be awful anyway
I can not seem to break this thought pattern–all roads lead to loneliness doom and desolation.
A while ago I had one of my spells of existential crisis where I go through a what’s the point of it all, of doing and being, nothing I do means anything, I do everything the wrong way and can’t seem to get it right, and being is such hard work, to keep going when all I want to do is go to sleep and never wake up, and a bunch of other things which are pre-recorded and all I have to do is press ‘play’.
I used to have these as a child, only they were less intellectual then. Then they were more of a no one loves me, no one is ever going to love me, there must be something terribly wrong with me feeling. I loved the Sleeping Beauty story, but I didn’t want to wake up after 100 years.
I also had them as a teenager, and that’s when my narcissist mother noticed them, simply because when you’re going through adolescence the volume is turned up on the living blues. And at that time she was using me in a certain manner which meant that she was monitoring me even more than usual. But of course she made it all about how it affected her, and completely overlooked the fact that my ‘black moods’ as she called them were in large part caused by her. She even warned my partner about these ‘black moods’ in an attempt to frighten him and get him to go away and stop ruining her domination of me.
Society tends to call this kind of crisis – depression, mid-life crisis, and things of that sort and ‘cures’ it with drugs while telling us not to take drugs, or uses some pop psychology to ‘fix’ it. We’re told to shift our focus, be mindful, stop feeling sorry for ourselves, and other unhelpful things. So everyone pretends to be living on the outside, while we’re all dying inside.
Look at anyone and you will see the echoes of what you’re feeling and thinking in their eyes, and not just because you’re ‘projecting’. Ever wondered why so much literature, films and popular culture in seeing the future in dystopian shades. Our present visions of the future are bleak simply because we’re all feeling bleak. Even if you do all the right things, you end up feeling empty. And because the emptiness is so harrowing, we fill it, hoping to stop it from being empty. It’s funny really that the very thing which makes us feel so disconnected from others, actually connects us to pretty much everyone. Want to connect with people, share your emptiness and disconnection, but do it in a way which says it’s okay, I know we’re all feeling this, let’s feel it together.
Recently I’ve been house hunting and I always ask the seller why they’re selling. More often than not they don’t actually want to move at all, they’re doing it because someone told them to do it, because it’s what you do. I think this applies in some ways to loneliness, we think we shouldn’t feel that way, because someone told us we’re not supposed to feel that way, but we all feel it and in some ways we’re attached to it because it is home. It may not be our dream home, but in many ways it is the natural human state. Rather than viewing it as something to get rid of, sell… maybe we need to own it and live in it, and change how we and others view it, just by saying that perhaps it’s okay and not as awful as we think it is and therefore influence the way it feels.
At least that’s my take on it, for now. When I feel loneliness, doom and desolation… I tend to use science to balance it out, as in, atoms, particles, natural things at work, doing their thing through me and through everyone, everything. It eases the human gloom, that tendency to always see the end of the world as being nigh. And I remind myself that I don’t know shit, but I think I know it because I think I live in it and that’s a human fallacy.
Maybe the thought pattern doesn’t need to be broken, it just needs to be understood in other ways, ways which make something that looks bleak look abundant, and roads leading to a certain place… what if that place isn’t what and where we think it is. What is loneliness, doom, desolation… what is it to the atoms which make us up?
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What a beautiful comment, this is so deeply understanding. If we can accept those feelings as just being part of what it is to be human there is healing in that. How often do we listen to what others tell us we should be doing and go down the wrong path for us. I wonder in time which home you will find that is for your soul. 🙂
I’ve been a reader of your blog for a couple of months now. I first discovered it as I was searching an astrological aspect (I can’t remember what it is anymore.) The moment I saw this post I pre-ordered the book right away. I just received it today and I am reading it now. It’s a difficult read. Difficult because it is painful. My parents are like Cybele and Gordius. My father passed away when I was 17 and my journey towards self-healing has not been easy. I am extremely self-destructive, unmotivated and anxious. It took up until this year, I am 26 now, to realize that my mother is a Narcissist. I found that out through your blog. Your blog and this book has been extremely cathartic.
I hope you are able to help more people with your thoughts and stories.
Thank you very much 🙂
I have found astrology very useful for figuring things out, my astrological knowledge is a hotch potch mess, but exploring the themes in aspects and placements in the natal chart is revealing, and sometimes it can be more insightful than using psychology.
It’s one of the reasons I love Andy White’s book, his use fo mythology is similar to that of astrology, and the mythology actually captured the surreal and unreal experience of being a child of narcissists better than anything I’ve ever read on the subject. He wasn’t writing particularly about NPD or ACoNs, yet he was so spot on. And yes, at times it was painful because it hit home, in some cases right to the core. But I found it liberating, partly I think because someone had finally explained my life story to me. I’d never had that happen before.
Most psychology books I’ve read tended to make me feel guilty or ashamed, or worse permanently damaged beyond repair. The authors seemed to be sitting in a chair tut-tutting at me, they seemed detached from their knowledge. Andy gave the impression he’d lived it (which he has), and his book somehow said – you’re okay as you are, sure you’re messed up, but that’s okay too. Let me help you understand your own story.
It took me far longer to figure things out than you have, so kudos! because the training you get from narcissist parents to deny reality for the sake of your family can last a lifetime and it can be difficult to extricate yourself. What you are doing now for yourself is awesome, it is painful, but it will free you from the ties which have bound you to the pain.
Keep doing what you are doing, and take good care of yourself, you deserve to love and be loved.
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Thanks for the lengthy reply 🙂 I really appreciate the support.
Yes! I have been obsessed with Astrology for the last year. Learning everything I can about my own chart. Growing up, I didn’t have a firm sense of who I was and I had terrible anxiety whenever I was asked who I was or what my interests/passions are. I still have anxiety, but it’s not as bad as before. I’m thankful for MBTI as well. I’m an INFP and reading about my type has helped to explain a lot.
I haven’t read much on the subject apart from your blog, reddit posts, and Andy White’s book, so I’ll definitely be looking forward to your future posts 🙂
I actually had a mini meltdown a few months ago when I realized that I hated most of the clothing I own. My mother has a habit of manipulating me into buying clothes that she finds appealing. I recall an instance last year when we were vacationing in Taiwan. We were out shopping at one of the many markets and she hands me a shirt, telling me to buy it. It was not my style – very childish and cutesy and I told her I that didn’t want to buy it. She then starts to give me trouble about not listening to her – questioning what was wrong with me. So I buy the shirt to appease her and try to convince myself that I like what she has picked in the process.
I never end up wearing it of course, or anything else that I was ever coerced into buying. She likes to complain that I spend too much money and that I’m going to hell for being wasteful when people in third world countries are suffering. I think she enjoys telling people about how “terrible” I am for being this way.
Two months ago I went through everything and donated of all the clothes that do not fit my image of who I am. I feel a lot better about myself now.
Take care of yourself too! And thanks again 🙂
Oh yeah, one more thing!,
I read Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Manual of Psychomagic and he offers many solutions via. Acts of Poetic Justice, to many compulsions we may have, such as: failure neurosis, frigidity, guilt attacks, etc. Perhaps you may find some of his insights interesting or helpful. I haven’t tried anything in the book yet as the acts are a bit extreme but I find his work very fascinating.
In the book, he recommends for freedom from an Invasive Mother:
“To the mother, alive or dead, the consultant assigns a small table that will act as an alter and positions it in a corner of the house. There, the consultant places, in a silver frame, a photo of the mother that stays covered by a screen (so that the unconscious fully understands that the consultant has a prisoner). Behind it, the consultant places a lit candle, a vase with flower, and a stick of incense. When the consultant eats at home, he sets up a little plate behind the photo-prisoner with a little bit of food: this way, the unconscious may well conclude that, since the mother is fed well, she cannot devour the consultant. The next day, the consultant gives the food that has been enshrined, whose essence has been devoured by the idol, to an animal….. The consultant should repeat this until he feels free of this invader.”
I’m going to try that one once I move out. :3
That sounds like an intriguing ritual.
Personally I wouldn’t do it simply because the idea of creating an altar for my mother and having her picture on it would make me feel that yet again she was invading my space even if I was doing it to free myself of her invasion. Besides I have no pictures of my mother, I tore all those up and threw them away a long time ago.
But when something appeals to you, you should try it out. Trust your instincts, do what feels right for you. And have fun with your healing, doing creative and unusual things can be a great way to connect with yourself. I’ve tried many different things over the years and it’s worth doing!
I keep meaning to see his film El Topo. He’s a very intriguing being 🙂
That mini meltdown sounds like it was a much needed realisation, another sign that you’re taking control of your own life. Sometimes the best therapy is the simplest and often comes from ourselves breaking out of habits, which in this case was literal. Being free is sometimes about affirming what you like and not accepting what you don’t like. Being true to you.
Narcissistic mothers may be prone to seeing their children as dolls, and they play dress up with their child-doll. Their child-doll must not rebel because the narcissistic mother always knows best, and they don’t listen to anything anyone says which doesn’t fit into their view. If you question them, or try to have your view heard, they turn the whole thing around onto you. You have to be and do who they want you to be and what they want you to do. They have to be in control of you to control their reality. It’s very frustrating and horrible to experience.
Keep doing what you’re doing, you’ve got this!
Btw, these are a couple of great astrology blogs:
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