Someone whose opinion I value… because… well, amongst other things, they’ve weathered the storm that is par for the course in the process of getting to know me… recently told me that I should stop editing myself so much.
I agree, you’re right, I’m trying… and that can be very trying!
I’m not an easy person to know. People tell me that all the time, often very diplomatically as in – I’m an enigma wrapped in a parcel tied up in knotty bows. I like to make my presents difficult to open, it’s more fun that way especially if they’re rather lame.
I’m an even harder person to get to know. Except if you’re my cat, and can do this:
Just in case you think that once you’ve managed to get past the difficulties involved in getting to know me, things will get easier… they won’t (although my nearest and dearest seem to be under the illusion that I’m very sweet under the salty surface. I’ve only recently found out that being ‘salty’ means being bad-tempered. I can’t keep up with this ever-changing definition shit!).
Why? Why am I making something which in theory should be pleasurable – making friends, interacting, communicating, having relationships – in practice be such a pain in the patootie (I edited what I really wanted to say, which was – ass. ASS!).
Why do I make myself a difficult experience for others?
Is it because I think I’m so special that you have to run a gauntlet to prove that you’re special enough to have access to my specialness?
Shit, I hadn’t thought of it that way… hang on a minute while I edit that.
Is it in my nature to be this frigging (edited due to the word I actually used being XXX-rated, and no, it doesn’t begin with ‘F’) annoying or is it due to the nurture (or lack of it) which my nature received?
Just today I came across this article – Happier People Are Raised By Parents Who Do These Two Things.
The two things are basically – warmth and being less controlling.
Neither of which were things my parents did naturally. They were naturally cold and controlling, however, they were quite adept at faking being naturally warm and easy-going, and they believed their own fakery which is why they could be so convincing.
Their public persona was nothing like their private selves.
One minute they could be furies and wrath-beasts, verbally assaulting you for giving them a drawing you made of daddy, mommy and you. What a devoid of any talent moron you are! You’ve wasted paper with your disgusting use of it! You’re an eco-terrorist! Your horror upon horror is making them want to die for giving birth to you! You forced your existence upon them and now you’re torturing them for being weak humans who procreated!
Then an outsider walks in and…
LOOK! LOOK! Look at what my genius child drew for me! They’re so proud they could cry tears of joy!They’ve inherited the combined awesomeness of both parents! LOOK! LOOK! Look at what we’ve made, we made a child prodigy! Our genes are superb!
The outsider thinks you’re a lucky child for having such adoring parents, and can’t understand why you’re such an ungrateful brat who looks like you’ve just taken a bite of a shit sandwich. Your poor wonderful parents… to have to put up with such a child!
Unlike other people who were mostly only subjected to my parents’ public persona, and often didn’t know there was a very different type of person behind that designed-to-appeal-to-others image (oh, the terrifying disillusionment which occurred when they did!), I was exposed to both their public and private behaviours almost simultaneously (remember what you’re not supposed to remember, pretend not to know what you know which you’re not supposed to know!)… both of which I experienced as being real because I was supposed to experience them that way to help maintain them, and because they were both real to them while they were being them.
Which was very confusing as when we were a family in public they treated me differently from when we were behind closed doors. How could both of them be real when they contradicted each other? What was real, what was not…?
One moment they were loving, hugging, warm parents who encouraged their child to be a child, and were proud of their offspring, its precocious expressions and exploration of the world. That was in public when they had an audience they needed to impress with what perfectly wonderful parents they were, and how lucky a spoiled brat I was to have them.
The next moment, once public scrutiny was gone, once they no longer had an audience to restrain them, to entertain with tales of make believe, they were cold, distant yet invasive, critical cyborgs who discouraged their child about being a child – grow up, stop being childish, this is unacceptable (we’re the only ones allowed to be childish!) – and were constantly disappointed in all the flaws, faults, and imperfections which they eagerly sought by putting me under their intense microscope of wrongs which I had that reflected badly on them. These were useful to ab-use. Don’t do that it’s annoying, don’t eat/eat, don’t look/look, don’t move/move, don’t smile/ smile, don’t speak/speak, don’t etc/etc…
Everything that was right with me in public was wrong with me in private. But they were always right even when their right in public completely contradicted their right in private.
It’s confusing enough to have to deal with erratic parents and their nonsensical parenting in and of itself, but… you’re never as isolated as you need to be to deal with that on its own. There’s a whole world of pain waiting to make mincemeat out of you out there, especially if your parents are narcissists. The let it in to help them keep you in your very tiny place, foetal position forever enabled.
Even though my parents kept me isolated from others, especially my peers (so as to better keep control of me), they also exposed me to the opinions of others (so as to better keep control of me), especially those of adults whom they had brought in to back up their persona and version of reality – particularly when I was showing signs of rebellion and independence… which made making sense of things even more confusing.
If you think the world of narcissists is a frigging nightmare, wait until narcissists introduce you to the periphery of their world – which includes non-narcissists who sometimes behave far worse than narcissists because they’ve been poked and prodded by narcissists to let loose the inner beast they usually keep very well hidden and extremely well-edited.
Narcissists can bring out the worst in the nicest of people, then give them a target and a just cause to shoot and kill it. If you’re the target you learn to edit yourself to make yourself smaller and harder to hit and kill.
As much as my space and self was invaded by them, I also had times when they ignored me (because I wasn’t useful or needed at that time, someone else was being used in my stead), and Itook advantage of those times to get to know myself, to discover who I was naturally. This was a blessing for me, as it helped me to maintain contact with my actual self rather than lose it to their version of me (whichever one was the one they insisted upon for the benefit of their latest persona), but they often viewed this as a curse for them. So, they’d bring in other people to help control and censor me.
Like my child psychologist Godfather/Uncle. What I recall the most about his interactions with me were him telling me what was wrong with me, often prompted by my parents – we don’t like this, tell her it’s a bad thing and she must get rid of it (edit it out).
The things which he thought were wrong with me were mostly things that children are and do naturally. I have no idea why he was a child psychologist since he didn’t seem to understand children at all, and seemed to hate them. Or perhaps it was just me (prompted by my parents – hate her so she’ll hate herself, then she’ll be who we want her to be). Since I was the only child in an adult world, it’s hard to tell.
He had a particular dislike for my shyness, and couldn’t see that part of my shyness was due to being a child surrounded by adults who were always criticising me for being a child, for everything about me, telling me to edit myself into an adult before I was actually an adult – and was the adult I was supposed to be… like their version of being an adult?
I kept quiet and tried to be invisible so as not to bother them – which, of course, bothered them. If I didn’t keep quiet and was visible… that bothered them too.
Adults are confusing to a child. They insist that you be honest, then sometimes punish you when you are while praising you when you aren’t. They demand that you be truthful, then lie to you… but that’s not lying, not when they do it.
They give you a colouring book and crayons, then get annoyed when you colour things the way that you want to and go outside the lines. Meanwhile they colour you the way they want to and often cross the lines.
One of the ways that narcissists cross those lines is – They steal your originality and makes it theirs. Should you notice what they have done and make a fuss about it, they will chastise you for objecting to their theft, and may accuse you of stealing their originality which is actually yours that they stole from you.
They can do this so convincingly (because liars are better at making a lie a truth than those who tell the truth are, as it is a matter of life and death of their persona that they believe their own BS and sell it to others) that you may end up believing them, and doubting yourself. They will steal your identity and then alienate you from it.
They will plagiarise who you are, then accuse you of plagiarism if you challenge them, and even if you can prove that they stole from you what they claim is original to them by using time stamps or a signature style, they will have prepared themselves in advance for your ‘attack’.
They may have protected themselves by blaming someone else for what they have done. They know that they’re not the original source, and that they might get challenged about it , so to protect their sensitive souls and pretty derrieres, they credit another source with what they have done (a target for blame if the shit hits the fan), just not the original one because they’ll be damned if they’ll credit the actual original source as that source must never be revealed while they are still feeding off of it, stealing from it, in case anyone else wants to steal from it (they’ve got dibs on that!).
That’s one thing which tends to identify a narcissist for me, above many other things they do or don’t do – and what they don’t do is as informative as what they do.
They steal personalities to create their persona… and sometimes they do those stolen personalities better than those they stole them from because they don’t have all the baggage which comes with it, which created the originality of it.
Ask them why they are the way they are and they can’t explain the source of that trait, behaviour, personality, not without using someone else’s words, not without blaming someone else, deflecting, distracting and turning it around on you – why do you think I am the way that I am? If you answer that, then the next time someone asks them why they are that way, they’ll use your answer to answer them, but by then it will be their answer (copyrighted by them unless it gets flack, in which case it will be your fault).
They can’t self-reflect, and they hate to admit that they don’t know… and they’ll never say – thank you for asking, let me spontaneously explore this in a way which might make me vulnerable.
Why do I self-edit?
Because I grew up with narcissists and self-editing became a reflex, an attempt to try to just once please them with who I was (even if I wasn’t that). If only just once I could be good enough, let me just get rid of this, and that, and the other thing which bothers, offends, upsets you, whittle myself down to a nub… oh, no, that nub is ugly!
It was also a primal instinct, a survival mechanism designed to protect who I was from who they wanted me to be at any given moment, from the invasion of the body-and-everything-else-snatchers. I edited myself to hide what was my precious from those who wanted it by giving them false-preciouses to steal.
However, it’s also something I think I might have done naturally… my shyness is natural even though it has often taken unnatural forms. It spread to areas where it might not have existed naturally because boundaries were not encouraged, and the slightest hint of a boundary invited an incursion – what are you hiding… I want it!
Narcissists aren’t the only reason I self-edit, neither is my shyness the cause, sometimes it’s just the polite thing to do… not everyone wants to hear my uncensored, uncontrolled, unedited self because it can be quite caustic, and life is hard as it is, no need to add to that.
We rely on others to be sympathetic, empathic, considerate… radical honesty is not always the best policy.
I try to keep things simple, and to be myself, authentic, as much as possible… I’m human, so I’m going to fail at doing this as often, if not more, than I succeed.
Let’s’ just say that… I know I’m hard to get to know, and not easy to know, and I appreciate the effort you make in spite of the efforts I make to elude you. I’m trying to be less elusive… and that can be trying!
You’re helping me to be less of a pain in the… ass, but it may take a while for the update to my system to work without glitches.
And… telling me to stop editing myself… that’s kind of telling me to edit myself.
A ‘red flag’ for me concerning identifying a possible narcissist is when someone demands that I stop editing myself for them (especially if I wasn’t editing myself with them). Narcissists are paranoid and always think you’re holding out on them because they’re holding out on you.
So… there’s that… too…
[Please note – the person who inspired this post with their comment that I should stop editing myself is not a narcissist.]
Once you’ve inspired a train of thought… it just keeps going…
I am who I am… edited or unedited… I’m still me, as is…