Love and the Narcissist’s Child

RefractedHeart

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Can you recall the moment that the concept of Love first became a conscious consideration for you?

When did you start thinking about Love?

When did you become aware that a certain sensation was a feeling called Love?

And when did you begin conjuring up the image in your mind’s eye of the one who would win your heart, sweep you off your feet and carry you across a threshold into a happily ever after?

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“Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up.”
― Neil Gaiman

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Love is…

a human obsession,
and in some ways it is also a creation of ours,
one into which we pour a lot of time, effort, energy and passion.

And we’re often building on a portrait of Love passed down to us from those who came before us.

We create castles in our sky,
shrines to our visions of Love,
populated by our prince or princess,
our king or queen,
of hearts,
who will make all our dreams come true,
wipe away our tears,
make us safe,
fill our empty places and spaces with treasures.

One day they will come into our life and everything will change for the better never to be worse again…

Our ideas and ideals of love can be very grandiose…
a gift of that bountiful imagination which we all have,
even when we think we don’t,
even when we’re certain that we’re realists who don’t believe in anything until…
we see it,
feel it,
and have it firmly grasped in our sticky fingers never to part with it again.
It belongs to us now.

Love is… narcissistic, even when we’re not a narcissist… and definitely when we are… which is why a narcissist may be so attractive to us when it comes to falling in love with Love.

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“Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.”
― Robert A. Heinlein

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A narcissist is obsessed with finding true love… they make of Love a mythic quest which only a real hero can accomplish… it is the kind of love which is so special that it is only designed for them, their loved one must only love them, must sacrifice themselves for them, must give and only give to them and keep giving… never taking, never wanting, never changing or trying to change…

you do not change those you love, but your love does have transformative abilities…

yes, it’s a contradiction of sorts…

basically what it is saying is – change me with your love in the ways that I want to be changed, but don’t try to change me in the ways that you want for me to change for you, and don’t expect me to do anything strenuous when it comes to changing, this love either changes me miraculously or… it’s not real love.

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(one of the most narcissistic love songs ever… which many of us loved because it spoke of the kind of Love we yearned to experience either as the giver or the taker or both…)

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I recently read a post on an astrology blog which summed this up beautifully through a Q & A about astrology which really wasn’t about astrology at all… that was just a means to an end, the end we’re always after whatever means we use when it comes to Love.

Someone asked the astrologer to tell them whether they should stick with a relationship or not.

What a question!

How on earth is anyone else supposed to know (even if they’re some sort of oracle) what you should do in a relationship that is yours?

According to the querent this relationship was everything they had ever wanted, wonderful, perfect… BUT… they had some issues, their perfect soul mate wasn’t perfect enough for them… and the astrologer… gave them an awesome earful and reality check which I think is… the sort of reality check we all need sometimes when it comes to relationships (including the one we have with ourselves – which influences the ones we have with others).

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Elsaelsa snippet

snippet via ElsaElsa – Capricorn Woman Meets Aquarian Man – Sparks Fly, But…

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What is a real relationship?

What is an unreal relationship?

And can the twain ever meet?

You often hear people who have been in and subsequently out of love with a narcissist describe the love they had as not being real… because they’ve come to the conclusion that the narcissist’s love was unreal, false, fake or some variation on that theme.

And if their love for you was fake, then… what does that make of your love for them?

The latter is what hurts the most because it cuts to a core which is afraid of being rotten in some way.

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“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.”
― William Shakespeare

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I can’t recall the moment the concept of Love entered my awareness, but it was fairly early on in my life…
I can remember that when I started playing with Barbie dolls, Love was part of the plot in the play, in fact it was the quest which both Barbies and Kens were after…
often the stories started where fairy tales (of the edited kind, the sort which companies like Disney sell us) end, at the happily ever after… and then everything went to shit.

(real fairy tales tend to have that as their middle…)
My hero and heroine would meet, fall in love, want to be together forever and ever…
but their happily ever after was always out of their reach…
there was always some evil a-hole (often more than one) who wanted to ruin things for them out of greed, envy, misery loving company, obsession, possession…
the evil a-holes were sometimes the parents of one of the heroic protagonists…

Gee… I wonder why my stories evolved like that?

I’m fairly certain that my first contact with the concept of Love came via my mother…
as she loved to talk… about Love and how she was the empress of it… and my ears were her captives as she owned them and me due to my being her child.

She loved to talk about Love… I think she saw herself as Aphrodite…

(my father’s penchant for painting her did not do much to alleviate that delusion…)

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“…you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.”
― Charles Bukowski

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Her favourite fairy tale to tell me,
apart from Goldilocks (which she told really well, changing it slightly each time, infusing it with personal details, making the story tie in with real life…)
was the amazing adventures of her and my father’s love.

No one else really existed (including me… I was an inconvenient fart caused by their gender members meeting and greeting).

In each version (and there were many variations on the theme depending on mood and other parameters) of her story about the great and grandiose love which they shared,
she was always Goldilocks,
innocently wandering into the woods and ending up in a place where she could have been eaten by bears and other beasties, finding everything not quite to her liking even if she politely muttered that it was just right… wait a minute and it would soon not live up to her expectations invariably causing disappointment…
she never portrayed my father as a hero,
although she did hero-worship him (but mostly because of how that reflected upon her – only a true heroine could catch a hero’s heart),
he was usually the Beast who Beauty managed to love enough to turn into…
someone she would rather be with,
with her super special magical Love…

which to this day, even though my father is now dead, she is still trying to force him to live for her (she did tell me repeatedly while he was still alive that she looked forward to the day he was dead as then he could become who she wanted him to be and he would stop interfering with her vision of him…

for some when a relationship ends… is the moment it truly begins, they never loved you as much as they do now that you’re no longer around, and they’ll never love anyone else as much as they love you because you’re inside of them, you are their inner love fantasy which will only really die when they do…).

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I’m not sure that I ever heard my father’s version of how my parents met and ended up together…
considering that he often portrayed my mother as a witch in his tales about her later on…
I wondered what he ever saw in her in the first place,
other than a muse for his work,
but he had many of those… and he simply moved on when he was done with them.

Yes, he was a narcissist…
and so was my mother.

Which makes me a child of narcissists…
and possibly a narcissist myself.

You can’t always believe what you hear, what you are told,
(and that includes my labeling my parents as narcissists)
what is based on a true story and what is pure fabrication… when it comes to what my parents told me about themselves, their lives… and me as an extension of them… I still don’t know which is which, but I have a fairly good idea about the parts which involve me… their version of me was usually fantasy and that fantasy wasn’t always a pleasant one. Mostly it wasn’t… someone had to embody the worst of them, and it certainly wasn’t going to be them.

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“I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.”
― Pablo Neruda

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One thing which is true is that their Love dominated my childhood,
in one way or another,
particularly the version of it where Love turns to Hate…
(a common occurrence where narcissists are concerned – they sometimes confuse the two, and if a narcissist ever loves you… you too will be confused about the difference between Love and Hate).

Someone asked me  – How do children of narcissists stop attracting/being attracted to people who are similar to their (narcissist) parents?

Are we cursed forever to keep reliving our relationship with them? Bound to fall in love with yet another narcissist? Bound to our parents forever?

Or forced to be alone because we can’t trust ourselves to not fall for people who are like our parents?

Why do we keep repeating the relationship we had with them with others?

I came across this concept of…
basically falling in love with one or the other of your parents reflected in a partner…
quite awhile ago,
and it scared the crap out of me,
made me paranoid about Love,
particularly about whether I could trust myself when it came to falling in Love.

I definitely didn’t trust myself by the time that I considered falling in Love to be something more than a childish crush.

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My first great love,
when I was a teenager,
had many echoes of the relationship which my parents had between each other,
and which I had with them.

(my relationship with this person was heralded by the Culture Club song above… hmmmm…)
The subject of my affections…
(no, that isn’t a typo… I do not like the term ‘object of my affections’, as that’s what we and others are, an object, a thing, without feelings or a pulse or anything living about us, when the love is narcissistic.)
wasn’t a narcissist,
but was a teenager… so was I…
teenage Love can be very narcissistic,
and it can also be fraught with all those issues about Love which we inherit from our parents,
and which we’re trying to rebel against…
but the more you try to rebel against something, the stronger it seems to take hold of you.

After that experience…
many things happened in my life which took me away from teenage distractions and interactions,
I was sucked into a very adult world,
and deeper into the horrible mess of my parents’ relationship.

If you’ve ever watched a Soap Opera and laughed at how ridiculous it was…
I lived in a Soap Opera 24/7,
and as much as I tried to laugh at how ridiculous it was… mostly I just wanted to kill myself because I couldn’t figure out how else to escape its clutches.

Which is pretty much how a relationship with a narcissist ends up making you feel.

How do you get yourself out of this fine mess in which you got yourself? How do you get out of it alive?

Of course, at first, a relationship with a narcissist can be something entirely different…
the narcissist can make you feel as though you’ve been transported into your dreams come true.

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that smile you gave me

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There are a lot of theories about the how’s and why’s of this… which mostly centre around the narcissist… most literature online and in books about NPD, narcissists, etc, are all about the narcissist… which is the way a narcissist likes for things to be. They need to be the centre of our attention, of our universe… and they don’t really care if that is negative or positive as long as it is… which allows them to know that they are… that they exist and that their existence matters.

And we seem to like it that way too… because it stops it being about us.

But… what if it’s more about you than it is about them?

Yes, everything about you and your relationship is about them and their relationship (or the lack of it) with themselves… as far as they are concerned.

They’re wrapped up in themselves

(and they hate themselves… underneath all the self-love is a deep fathomless pit of self-hate…

for more on that, read this – Narcissism by Richard Boyd of the Energetics Institute (this site keeps changing the link to this page which is annoying for people like me who link it… but it’s still a great in-depth article on all aspects of Narcissism)

and therefore if you love them they can’t feel it, so they test your love in the only way they know how, by offering you everything they hate about themselves to see if you can love what they can never love…

if you can then maybe you can heal their wound for them…

Love conquers all, doesn’t it…

but usually all that happens is that their wound is passed onto you…

and now everyone is wallowing in self-hate…

seeking a miracle cure for it…

from someone else).

But…

What if your love for them is not just a reflection of them, but a reflection of you?

I know… that’s disturbing and you want to look away, look at them and blame them the way that they are looking away from themselves and blaming you.

The buck has to stop somewhere, doesn’t it, or we’ll all just keep going around on a merry-go-round of hell…

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“…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.”
― Pema Chödrön

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After my first love,
what I experienced through it,
and mostly what I noticed about myself due to it… which wasn’t pretty…
and because I got sucked deeper into my parent’s relationship nightmare after it… coincidentally… or not, maybe…
I…
took the coward’s route
and vowed off Love completely…
until I could ‘sort myself out’…
not sure what I meant by that…
I know what I thought I meant by that…
but…

I thought a lot of things during that time… and my thinking was not always clear… rarely clear, often under the influence of the narcissistic way of viewing everyone and everything…

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Love, narcissistic style, is a thought process…
the feelings aren’t felt but thought…
it’s amazing, when you pay attention to it and are willing to go to uncomfortable inner places, how often what we claim are feelings are actually just thoughts…
thoughts which can disguise themselves really well as feelings,
and convince us that we’re actually feeling what is not a feeling at all but a very strong thought that wants so much to be a feeling… it wants to be what it is not… much like a narcissist.

Have you ever caught your mind in the act of convincing you that you ‘felt’ sad or angry… when you didn’t feel that way at all? It wanted you to hate someone who… you didn’t hate and never could with all of your heart, but the mind doesn’t have a heart it just wishes it did because it’s scared of how little control it has over the heart of you

And your mind bullied you into to accepting a thought as a feeling… and screwed up your relationships, your heart and sometimes even your soul because of it. The way that narcissists do that too…

Have you ever found yourself in that strange predicament of trying to make yourself believe that you ‘love’ someone or something that your heart doesn’t really have any feeling for…?

I did that a lot about my parents… because society told me I should love them when I didn’t, and made me feel (or think I should feel… a thinking and sinking feeling) ashamed, guilty, bad for not feeling what they thought I should feel… for them (all of them, my parents, society…). So I made myself feel what I wasn’t feeling and felt good about it (while feeling the bad consequences of it) through thinking myself into feeling that way.

That’s a narcissistic experience… and no, it doesn’t make you a narcissist for experiencing it.

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“A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.”
― Oscar Wilde

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Narcissistic Love is a thinking thing, a mind thing, an ego thing…

it’s the part of us that wants a dream to come true and edits out all those ‘red flags’, details, and reality which we don’t want to see…

it’s the part that conjures up fantasies of revenge…

or any other illusion where we get what we want, get our way, control the story and everyone does what we need for them to do for us to feel… think we feel… a certain way… better… have closure… or our happily ever after whatever that is in the moment.

It’s the part that can’t let go when we know that we would be better off if we did…
for those who go No Contact with their narcissist and struggle with it…
yes, some of it is the fault of the narcissist who doesn’t recognise such things, they never have, never will… and once they’ve decided that you’re a part of them, you’re like a limb on their body and that’s not going anywhere… unless they go with it.
but some of it is down to you and you know it which is why the struggle with it hurts so much…
the side of you which is having the hardest time with going No Contact is the side which… sometimes longs for a Love that is… unhealthy… yet satisfying in a way that healthy Love just doesn’t yield.

Our dreams of a light-filled Love are met by an equally strong attraction to a dark kind of Love… these two sides do battle within and outside of us sometimes…

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(weird and completely irrelevant factoid – Marilyn Manson is an astro twin for me… uh oh… and this song ( by The Cure) is one which was an anthem for me when I was in my teens and summed up Love for me)

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I gave up on Love a long time ago,

perhaps even before I thought about Love…

but it’s inherently human to yearn for those very things which we give up on…

so we never really give up on them, we just tell ourselves to do so, it’s never going to happen for us, we’re not like the others…

but we are like the others…

and that is the difference which can help us distinguish between narcissistic Love and other kinds of Love.

Real love has an ordinariness about which can jar against our fantasies… forcing us to get real with it, with ourselves, with others.

Want to stop attracting or being attracted to narcissists?

Get real with yourself…

easier said than done…

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Soul Mates - Thomas Moore

extract via Soul Mates (redux of his book on Psychology Today) by Thomas Moore

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What is Love?

Forget about what it is for others… at least for now, you will have to understand their take on it, but first understand yours…

What is love for you?

Is it a battlefield?

Is it a miracle?

Is it magic?

Is it the stuff of fairy tales?

Is it going to heal your wounds?

Is it going to fill your empty spaces?

Is it stability?

Is it rebellion?

Is it safe or dangerous?

What is it for you?

Have a discussion with yourself about this… and listen to yourself when you do that.

Find your ultimate Love Story…

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“How did I escape? With difficulty. How did I plan this moment? With pleasure. ”
― Alexandre Dumas

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Then…

What was Love to your parents?

What was their love for each other? Did they love each other and if they did how did that play out? Did how it play out before your eyes and did it match their version of it when they spoke about it?

Does that play out in your relationships too?

What was their version of Love when it came to their relationship with you?

And does that play out in your relationships?

How do you Love yourself?

What was love for all those others around you while growing up? Not just those real people whom you knew, but also all those on TV, in films, fiction, literature… everything which informed your growing self about concepts such as Love.

And then ask yourself…

many many questions…

but don’t necessarily answer them…

with your mind…

let the answer come through another way…

focusing

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“What is true is already so. Owning up to it doesn’t make it worse. Not being open about it doesn’t make it go away. And because it’s true, it is what is there to be interacted with. Anything untrue isn’t there to be lived. People can stand what is true, for they are already enduring it.”
― Eugene T. Gendlin, Focusing

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gently drifting on waves of being…

and discovering of being…

so…

you attracted a narcissist and fell in love with them…

and they were as your parents were…

and now…

as a child of narcissists

you wonder if you’re…

never going to experience anything other than the dark side of Love…

is it you…

is it them…

is it karma…

life…

or…

is there a way to avoid it?

Is there a way to avoid narcissists?

To keep yourself safe from them and their kind of Love?

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because it matters - john green

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Yes…

by not trying to avoid them and their kind of love…

by not being afraid of being hurt, of being vulnerable, of heartache and pain…

as contradictory as that may seem,

the best way is the way most traveled rather than the less traveled way…

the road less traveled is the one that narcissists tend to take as they’re seeking something which isn’t part of the journey of being human…

so if you go thataway, then you will meet them there…

but if you go where humans go, then…

you may still meet narcissists,

but,

you will also meet others…

people who don’t live up to your dreams, ideals, and fantasies…

you don’t live up to theirs either…

but that’s okay…

they don’t expect you to (unlike narcissists)

they just want to be loved and to love in return… and they do want to love you (unlike a narcissist) and that…

allowing someone to love you…

as you are…

warts, faults, flaws, and being human and all…

is the greatest challenge of all,

because you can’t control that kind of Love…

or the person who loves that way…

And sometimes that’s why people prefer narcissistic Love to ordinary Love…

the Love which our mind has,

well, our mind tells us it is safer…

than that of our wild, bleeding, beating heart.

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Don’t be afraid of narcissism in Love…

there’s always an element of it within…

for when others love us they inspire us to love ourselves…

and when we love them we inspire them with self-love…

self-love isn’t a bad thing…

it can be very good…

healthy for us…

and for others too…

as the more we love ourselves in a healthy way, the healthier our love for them becomes…

but when we hate ourselves, and think of it as love, then it becomes unhealthy for us and for others…

it’s not narcissism which is the problem… it’s what we do with it.

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I live under your bed

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