Do you look before you leap or leap and look later?
Chances are you do a bit of both depending on the situation and how much you want to do one or the other.
At any given point we have a hundred tangents bearing down on our decisions, from our past, present, and all those possible futures we think about creating for ourselves. We may be aware of some and unaware of the rest… there’s just so much focus we can give to all those things which want our attention, and a few of them don’t want us to notice them. Those hidden things which are hiding for a reason, perhaps we hid them from ourselves awhile ago and never want to see them again.
We sometimes get pressured by others to either be daring or be cautious. The pressure they apply may have more to do with them and their needs rather than us and our needs.
One of the needs which influences us, and others, and the way others influence us, and how we influence ourselves, is the need to define ourselves to ourselves and to others.
We all possess an idea of who we are, or who we would like for ourselves to be.
We have that about others too… which sometimes becomes the reference point for judging.
That person isn’t being who I need them to be for me, they aren’t doing what I want them to do, they aren’t saying what I would like to hear… they must be a narcissist.
Okay, that’s an extreme example which is being unfair… but we’re often unfair in our judgments because judgments are designed to simplify and that’s unfair to all of us because we’re all a complex, complicated, intricate array of something which is beyond our ability to grasp in simple terms. So we simplify to keep things from confusing us… from confusing ourselves with how confusing we can be when we try to look further than our judgments.
Is he/she the narcissist or am I?
What if we both are,
or what if neither of us is but we both think the other person is and that we’re not…
and yet perhaps we’re both wondering, privately, secretly, with a sense of impending doom… no, don’t go there, just jump to the conclusion which keeps things simple and easier for you to deal with… but does it make it easier?
Even at the time in our lives when life is supposed to be simple (according to who exactly? Who started that rumor which eventually became a supposed truth?)…
When I was probably about six years old, I was taken by my mother to a local playground,
we were in NYC, living there for some indeterminate amount of time,
we lived near Central Park which had some rather elaborate play areas for kids.
That day I discovered both the joys and the pitfalls of leaping. You could say that I took a leap in learning… the hard landing way.
The playground was dominated by a complex structure in a giant sandpit which had slides, climbing frames, netting, and a fireman’s pole – the latter was to become the source of my joy and fall from joy.
I was terrified at first of making the leap from the platform to the pole – what if I missed?
I didn’t miss…
What pushed me to feel the fear and do it anyway? Well, the other kids, some of them smaller than me, were doing it and… they seemed to enjoy doing it.
It was great fun… but that great fun soon became boring as it became predictable, safe, stable. I wanted more, to take a step beyond.
So… using the kind of logic which I still use to this day, I decided to leap from the top of the platform without using the pole.
The first time I did it (yes, I did it more than once) was amazing and I wanted more of that amazing feeling. But you can only have that kind of amazing once, the first time you do something you’ve never done before, after that your mind and system adjust, get used to it and gradually it becomes… boring.
In chasing after the thrill of not-boring I ended up reaching too far, jumping further than my body could actually deal with the impact of the jump.
I guess on that day I also learned that the mind and the ego don’t have any notion of the body which carries the weight of their crazy around… or more to the point, they do have a notion of the body, it’s just not a real body they’re notioning about. They’re basically narcissists and the body is their victim. They don’t give a shit about the body as it is, they want it to be what they want it to be for them – they have dreams, grandiose visions, and if they believe… then it will be so.
They believed they could fly, and seemed impervious to the gravity of the situation.
On my final (and unlucky third) leap I landed awkwardly injuring my ass… of a mind and ego. They were not happy about being made to go home when I was king of the playground for being so daring (completely crazy).
Now some of you may wonder where my mother was during all of this, and why wasn’t she supervising her child’s activity. Shouldn’t she have stopped me from progressing to the injury zone?
Frankly I have no idea where my mother was or what she was doing with her eyes at the time. I was relieved that she wasn’t interfering. She used to watch me like a hawk, and I reveled in those moments when I was invisible to her because then I could experience myself without her input about who I was or wasn’t and should be being (for her sake).
Later that day I had a very strong experience of myself, of the results of being myself without interference. The effects of the awkward landing had only been subtle at first. I knew I’d hurt myself but I was a stoic child. Ignore the pain and at some point it’ll get forgotten and go away. What actually went away on that occasion was my ability to walk. My legs turned to jelly and I was left crawling as though I was a baby again.
My mother thought I was being dramatic and putting on a show. Why would I put on that kind of a show? There was absolutely no logical reason for pretending that I was in pain and couldn’t walk. But my mother always thought that others were faking their injuries… it’s how she dealt with the pain of others.
Many years later she injured her back and was confined to bed for awhile. I was in charge of caring for her. I was a teenager at that time and the idea of caring for my mother… let’s just say I did the practical stuff and then shut myself in my room. One evening I heard a loud thump outside my door, and when I opened it I found my mother lying on the floor of the corridor which led to my room.
It was a bit like looking at a beached shark.
In that moment I took another leap… a small one.
Instead of treating her how she would have treated me (and avenge my six-year old self who spent three days unable to walk, watching Godzilla movies on TV so it wasn’t that bad, while being harassed by my mother who refused to call a doctor because she was convinced I was faking my pain, and kept telling me as much until I wished Godzilla would leap out of the TV and land on her) had our roles been reversed, I picked her up, helped her back to her room, and spent more time with her while she was recuperating.
The reason she’d left her bed was… my fault, of course. She was lonely and bored, I had abandoned her to be lonely and bored while I had a party in my room by myself. That was selfish of me… I was supposed to be looking after her, entertaining her, helping her to… not spend any quality time with herself.
She didn’t do well when she was ill.
Being ill forced her to spend time with herself… unable to do things to distract herself from her self.
Her life was a running away from the self that she was to another self which her mind and ego wanted her to be… sometimes her body couldn’t keep up with the dreams and fantasies of those inner narcissists.
Those inner narcissists who accused her body faking her own illness, and harassed it until she’d drag herself out of bed… to collapse on the floor a little while later, filling the air with waves of a secret pain that leapt out of her into others.
You describe your childhood in such an interesting way! My eyes and brain got stuck on the part where you were explaining how your mother did not believe it when others were sick… that brought up a strange memory of my ex (I wasn’t a hundred percent sure he was a narcissist, back then, I only had a thought that he might be.. I did not want to believe that, or label him. For the longest time I thought he just was “a little” broken, like many people are… including me probably).
Anyway, the memory was that we were discussing where to live in the future. I said that if I got pregnant, I wouldn’t be able to live in an apartment 4 or 5 flights of stairs up. I explained that a lot of people I knew who were pregnant, could barely walk in the end of the pregnancy. (Not to mention carrying a newborn baby 5 floors up, every day, as a new mother…). Ex just shrugged and said he didn’t believe that was a “real condition” that people had, he said they were just faking it.. I shuddered when he said that, I don’t know why.
Anyway, as for leaps; I do both! Sometimes I think long and hard about things, other times you could call me reckless for just jumping! 🙂 I think that is wonderful, to have the ability to be different, at different moments/situations in life. I feel sorry for those who are completely rigid and would never take on another perspective of things… that is sort of how I think about narcissists now… with more pity than anger (ok, some anger still). But by being so rigid, not having the ability to truly open themselves up to love and other ways of feeling/thinking, they are missing out on a lot of things…. that is sad…
Sorry for my posting a novel as a response.. 🙂 But your posts make me think so much that my head explodes! 🙂
Thank you 🙂
You head explosions are beautiful fireworks 😀
Awhile back I came across a book written by someone who was writing about their relationship with a narcissist, and one of the things they kept mentioning was that everyone around them who had an illness (even a doctor confirmed one) was faking it. The writer seemed more narcissistic than the people they claimed were the narcissists in their life.
It seems to crop up over and over – narcissistic people accusing others of faking their ailments, problems, issues, pain. But if the narcissistic person is in pain, has an ailment, problems, issues… does their opinion that everyone else is faking it mean that they’re faking it, are they suspecting others of doing what they’re doing, or is it just that they can’t handle it being real for others because they can’t handle others being real, or anything being real?
With my mother, I think she didn’t like the reality of dealing with someone being ill around her because it triggered too many insecurities for her on many levels. If they were faking it then she could bury her insecurities in indignation and annoyance at the person who was ill. If she was mad at you she didn’t have to face how powerless she felt as the anger gave her a shot of the appearance of having power. Something like that.
Many narcissists are seeking to find a place where they don’t have to care or feel, so being callous and dismissive gives them the illusion that they’re found that place and are invulnerable to life’s pains.
I think you do know why you shuddered – you had a premonition of things to come if you followed through with your plans. In that moment you saw him naked without the usual charm. Those moments with a narcissist do chill to the bone.
You’ll probably always have a certain amount of anger towards your narcissist – the anger that remains is designed to protect you, it’s anger’s original purpose at work.
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I think you have a good point there, about your mother’s reasons for being the way she was… And I am sure there are people who are narcissistic and point out others to be narcissists instead… they seem to almost enjoy feeling like a victim of the world, or something like that…
With the narcissistic ex, I got the feeling that it originated from some childhood wound, that weakness is not allowed to exist, or something like that. So when he saw weakness in others, it got too close for comfort and made him think of his own weakness… and he couldn’t stand that, he was perfect (physically)…
I believe you are right about the second thing, too. I did get a sense of horror, of what it would be like having a child with someone who wouldn’t display empathy or caring when it comes to real physical pains, etc. (I shudder even now, thinking about what he would have been like as a person to have with me at the hospital, having the baby)… I do feel more and more sorry for him, cause I do not believe he will ever feel love or loved.. not the way that I can feel it, I believe. That is sad. But yes, the anger is there still, and it is as you say, it protects me, it makes me never want to go back to all that darkness and pain again. I seek the light and love in life now, instead.. 🙂
That’s a keen observation about your ex feeling that weakness was not allowed to exist. I saw something similar with my parents, and with other narcissistic people I’ve watched. They’re obsessed with perceived weaknesses and eradicating them in one form or another. It must come from their own childhood because that kind of ingrained obsession usually stems from our formative ears and what we were made to believe was important in life.
I’m sure you can guess what he would have been like. The narcissist in your life wants to be at the centre of your attention, a pregnancy and then a baby steals that attention away from them and they never react well to that.
The feelings of sorrow which you feel towards him are normal and natural for a non-narcissistic human being. You don’t really want that kind of sorrow to go away as it is an intrinsic part of empathy and understanding. As time passes it will become more detached, as will the anger. What you’ve learned from your intense experience with him will add depth and richness to your future relationships, and also to your relationship with yourself – you now know more about yourself than you did before you met him. It may hurt, but that kind of pain holds healing within it. 🙂
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Yes, I can feel myself becoming more detached, with time… It is wonderful… But yes, the memories, the knowledge, is still there…. take care, see you around. 🙂
I’m familiar with this narcissistic belief that people “fake” whatever it is, all the time. My ex-narcissist had made a career of being ill, but the rest of us were just a bunch of layabouts.
And leaping? I can be quite impulsive at times. I have to slow myself down … 🙂
I think perhaps the fake issue may come from the difficulty which narcissists seem to have in feeling/determining what is real. Your illness doesn’t feel real to them, therefore they conclude that you must be faking it.
They have a really tough time feeling that our love for them is real which is why they keep testing it… until we stop feeling anything remotely love-related for them. And when they do something like try to express their love for others it always has to be OTT, like something out of a film.
Hmmmm… stuff to think about.
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Yes. I agree completely. They have such a poor sense of what is real that they don’t know it when they see it. They also tend to fake things so much that in combination with their projections, they can’t believe that anyone else might be different or have different experiences or feelings. Their view of the world is the only one that exists. And if they’re faking their illnesses, then everyone else must be doing the same.
I saw that with my father more than with my mother because he was more obvious in his narcissistic world view. He was always trying to do to others first what he was certain they would do to him, but he based what they were going to do to him on what he did. Mind you, someone taught him to see things that way and to be that way. We all have those moments when we have a choice of which way to go with a reaction, and later with actions based on experience of others. Narcissists tend to go with paranoia and are constantly reacting to their own paranoia.
I got caught up in that paranoia for awhile, then I realised that you can step away from it and find a whole other way of being and experiencing others (as long as you’re not surrounded by narcissists… and even then…).
i used to torture my mind forever before taking a leap, except, after having taken it, all my possible scenario were wrong so i had to start again pondering the decision i thought i was taking which actually was a different one…
Why do you say that judgement is a way to simplify things? To me judgement is an incredibly difficult act, I am very slow at articulating it, usually my conclusion arrives when all the evidence is impossible to escape.
What you’re describing is a deeper and more measured form of judgment. You’re thinking things through, taking in all the variables, exploring the grey areas between black and white, taking time to process nuances, until you feel ready to make a decision – chances are you’ll keep the decision open-ended just in case new data comes in.
What I was thinking about was that kind of judgment we use in every day life when we don’t have time to think things through. For instance if we live in a city and have to bump into countless strangers every day we can’t take our time deciding if someone is a foe or a friend so we make snap judgments based on superficial criteria – how someone is dressed, how they look, whether they are saying what we want to hear, etc.
We use snap judgments to simplify our route through daily life and deal with interactions. This can be quite useful, however what simplifies can also become what complicates, especially when it comes to the parts of life where we need to go deeper and take more time to consider what lies beneath the surface. 🙂
This is my first visit to your blog and I like what I read, very interesting and entertaining. My ex was a narcissist and I know the pain of trying to live with it.
Thank you very much 🙂
Hi Ursula, I can totally relate to this. When I fell ill. I never got much sympathy or aid from the narc. She claimed, that I was feigning to illicit sympathy. I don’t know why, but it made me question myself about how ill or injured I was. But at a moment’s notice, I was always there when she fell ill. When she was in her 8-9th month pregnancy is when the abuse got horribly unbearable. I was already in the discard phase and didn’t know it or about NPD at the time. If she wasn’t pregnant, I wouldn’t have tolerated her rancid behavior (the previous abuse was always covert and hidden). I still don’t know if she timed it out, planned to just use me for insemination, afraid of true commitment or all the above (I probably don’t want those answers anyway), but the abuse was horrendous at this time while I was catering to her every need. Very sad, reflecting. I excused it all away on hormones until babe was born, and the hardcore abuse continued. I don’t know where I was going with all of this, but I saw her in a psychotic break in the last few months from what I’ve come to realize, because she was unable to run from all her demons like your mum in this moment you described.
I’ve never seen article about this particular topic, but it would be an interesting topic and read. Thank you for sharing. I hope all is going well on your end of the pond. Love you. 🙂
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Part of the recovery process includes reviewing memories and events with the new information we have gathered – it can be painful as we see what we missed before, we see how much we excused and allowed ourselves to be accused. This too shall pass, and we will be stronger and wiser for going through it.
Healing takes time, and sometimes it hurts more than when the wound was created.
You saw yourself at the time as being something which you now can’t see yourself as being anymore. You see yourself another way now, and you’re wondering how you missed what seems obvious. It only becomes obvious with hindsight.
Cut yourself slack and let yourself process what you see in reviewing these memories.
At the end of the day, this traumatic time still birthed an awesome being – your daughter is beyond the situation, people, and circumstances surrounding her birth. That’s your true healing 🙂
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