Through the Looking Glass…

If you read all the stuff written about narcissists online at some point you’ll come across the concept of Flying Monkeys – which is a pejorative term to describe people who are used (often as weapons) by narcissists to bolster their side of a story against the person on the other side of the story with whom the narcissist is competing against (which to a narcissist may = war).

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flying monkey types

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I don’t really like the term Flying Monkeys, because this makes the people who are labeled that way seem like the minions of an evil villain,

and although it can seem as though your narcissist is an evil villain and all the people siding with the narcissist are their minions,

which in certain instances is what is going on,

and although seeing things that way can be helpful if you’re on the receiving end of a narcissist’s campaign against you,

because you need to see things as they are rather than as you wish they weren’t,

it can make you think and feel yourself into a powerless, helpless and desperate corner.

I’ve been in that desperate corner more times than I can, and care to, remember.

You do some really stupid things when you’re there, your thinking is so confused (mostly by fear, sometimes by anger – which is trying to protect you from fear) that you make bad decisions if you can make any decisions at all, and your feeling is… a constant screaming which drowns out logic making you more prone to be as illogical as the narcissist is telling everyone that you are.

The thing about Flying Monkeys is…

that if you’ve been in a relationship (of any kind) with a narcissist you’ve probably been one.

And when you were a Flying Monkey you did not experience yourself as the minion of an evil villain, you most likely saw yourself as heroic in helping someone who needed your assistance. You were rescuing a puppy being bullied by nasty children. You were being the knight in shining armor to a damsel in distress. Supporting a teammate. Doing for someone else what you’d hope someone else would do for you – have your back. Being a good human in a bad situation, restoring your faith in humanity (yours).

You’d be shocked if what you did was perceived as being the opposite of what you thought it was… and if later on you realised that you were used to harm a good person (who at the time you were certain was a bad person) by a bad person (who at the time you thought was a good person) you’d be ashamed, feel guilty, and regret what you did, wishing you could get a do-over now that you’re aware of all the information which wasn’t available to you at the time.

I’ve done some very shitty things while under the influence of narcissists… just as I’ve done some really stupid things while stuck in a desperate corner trying to fend off narcissists, their shitstorm, and their Flying Monkeys.

Strangely enough, one of the things I regret the most was being so angry at my narcissists’ Flying Monkeys that I couldn’t see… their position and their reasons for doing what they were doing to me on behalf of my narcissists more clearly.

I did have instances where I could see it,

such as when I’d notice during a ceasefire between Flying Monkeys that the narcissists were getting along fine and dandy with each other while everyone else was fighting the battle they had started (but for some reason they were no longer fighting with each other, perhaps because all they needed to get along was for everyone else to not get along then they could compare themselves to all of us and be different, special – look at those idiots fighting over some tiny insignificant squabble we had, aren’t they cute), but the fog returned with a vengeance and covered those instances of awareness up more often than not.

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“A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.”
― Hunter S. Thompson

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I hated them… but they didn’t deserve to be hated.

I hated them for making a complicated situation even more complicated due to their interference and lack of knowledge (they were only informed by a small portion of one side of the whole story, and the small portion they were given was tailored to suit their own personal story to get them involved).

I hated them… because they were the Flying Monkeys of the narcissist with who the narcissist for who I was a Flying Monkey was at war. So there’s that really ugly detail to consider. I, too, was only informed by a small portion of one side of the whole story and that small portion was tailored to suit my own personal story to get me involved).

But since the narcissists at war in my life were my parents… and I thought I knew the whole story… at least more of it than others who weren’t as much of an insider as I was…

I hated them… because I hated myself.

Narcissists are rather adept at getting other people to help them (and getting those others to blame themselves when the shit which goes with helping them hits the fan and then your face – never the narcissist’s face), and making those they get to help them feel good about what they are doing (do you know why you feel good about it? Because you’re doing for them what you wish someone would do for you but no one ever does because unlike the narcissist you’re rubbish at getting people to help you).

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Flying Monkey

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If I hadn’t hated the Flying Monkeys so much, if I’d understood them better, where they were coming from and so on… their position was so close to mine… then my hate for them wouldn’t have made things so much worse for myself, and… we Flying Monkeys might have teamed up to help each other and ourselves (that’s a pipe dream which is nonsense, but there’s a lot to be learned from things like that… like asking ourselves why we’re really fighting, and could we not perhaps get along if we stopped reacting so much to stimuli).

I’m going to use an example – please note that I have no idea if narcissists are involved in this example, it’s just a story which reminds me of ones involving narcissists I have known and it is one which is being played out in the circus known as the media (the type of media which can make anyone appear to be a narcissist and their story appear to be a narcissistic drama). Certain aspects of this story hit home with aspects of my own story.

The story is the one of the break up between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard.

What interested me the most about this story isn’t the story itself…

which is an ordinary story of love which has turned into anything but love (as we expect love to be) involving ordinary people (two humans who long to love and be loved, who once loved each other and…then ended up elsewhere) even though the main protagonists may be considered anything but ordinary…

What interested me was the comments of people not involved directly in the story who are watching it unfold and weighing in on it with their opinions. Taking sides, refusing to take sides, being irrational, being rational, being cynical, skeptical, passionate, furious, calm, dispassionate, and all the plethora which emanates from the cornucopia of being human and observing other humans…

We’re looking in the looking glass, but what are we seeing in it…

and how does what we see in it reflect who we are, show us the side of ourselves which we may think is the inside of someone else… is it the same or different?…

and what lies through it on the other side, is it truth or…

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“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”
― Lewis Carroll

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We often find our own stories in those of others, and maybe through someone else’s story we may understand our own better, or not…

Sometimes we get triggered and all the confusion around our own story comes out in how we perceive the story of someone else.

Maybe it becomes a source of saying all those things we couldn’t say about ourselves and those close to us…

we can say things about strangers whom we don’t care about and who don’t care about us and what we say about them.

They may want and instigate that we care about them, but if the tables were turned…

We can accuse them of crimes – the crimes of those in our lives, our own crimes, and it doesn’t matter because we don’t have to live with the consequences of doing that, especially not if we do it anonymously online.

They may accuse each other of crimes and get us to participate in their accusations…

We can fight the battles which we’ve never been able to fight in our own lives… or keep fighting the ones we do fight in our own lives… taking the side which is our side against the side which we’re against in our own life scenarios, refusing to ever see any other side but our side… which may be helpful to us or not.

You can learn a lot about yourself and others by the way we handle things which aren’t our business. Sometimes that’s when we’re more open and honest because we have nothing to fear in the way of repercussions, we can be bolder, brazen…

or maybe we react with the same fear we have for ourselves in our own lives.

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unleash the flying monkeys

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There is nothing like the social experiment known as social media to expose us as much as…

others are also exposed to us by it.

Their exposure exposes us and vice versa… we’re all laid bare and feel a bit too naked, a bit like in one of those dreams where we’re socialising in our all-together.

When we feel exposed… we’re all quick to cover the bare up with whatever we can.

With a story like this we may choose to be apathetic about it – it’s none of our business, it’s a fence-sitter, it’s so far removed from us, it’s too effing confusing to feel anything about it… it’s gossip, we don’t do gossip, we’re better than that (we hope but we do like to have a chat about the people in our lives, and ourselves – but talking about yourself isn’t gossip, is it?).

Or we may get involved for our own personal reasons whether we’re asked to do so or not… maybe we can feel more about it than we can about our own lives and the people in it.

We may choose a side and then change sides later when new information comes out… a flexibility which we may not be able to have with ourselves, it’s so easy to dig a hole for ourselves when things are personal, even when new information comes in to tell us that maybe we made a mistake, got things wrong, didn’t understand… yuk! We hate being wrong! And often try to make a right out of wrong piled upon wrong. It can be done if you’re really dedicated – narcissists show us it can be done all the time.

We may wonder what the truth really is and figure that we’ll never know only those personally involved will know it…

But doesn’t that frustrate us when people say that to us, have that attitude, about our story… we want them to know our truth! Dammit! And it ain’t the truth which the other person on the other side of our story is telling!!!!

but will they, do they…

it’s easy to lose yourself when you’re inside the maelstrom.

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“I was not proud of what I had learned but I never doubted that it was worth knowing.”
― Hunter S. Thompson

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We tend to pick a side in our own side of the story to feature as the main event…. and often hide all the variables and other factors which don’t support it. Our truth often has bits chipped off of it… sometimes based on the mood we’re in when things kick off and away from what they once were. Yes, we loved this person but now we don’t… and now that we don’t they’re all these things, have all these traits and behaviours, which we hate and could never love… don’t remind us that we once loved them! They deceived us!!!

Do Johnny Depp and Amber Heard know what the real story is or have they lost sight of it because of the strong emotions and the momentum of the wave which strong emotions cause…

Or because there are so many other people involved who are writing their story for them. Professional Flying Monkeys hired to spin, who don’t give a hoot what the real story is because that’s not what they are hired to do…

And maybe the real story isn’t something which actually exists because everything changes all the time from moment to moment…

Sometimes we get stuck in a moment and try to turn it into forever.

These days you can drag a moment out for many years before that elastic band snaps and pings you in the face… if you’re lucky you can see it coming and duck, let it hit someone else in the face.

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Circus/Monkeys - Polish Proverb

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One of the many things which I’ve learned from the narcissists in my life and the dramas which unfolded from a moment…

the more people you can involve in it, the further away you get from ever knowing who you are and what actually happened.

Partly because you get so distracted by all the acts that are part of the circus which your life has now become (and maybe always was but you’ve only just noticed it),

forget the monkeys, they’re just one aspect of a whole parade of mess…

some of this mess is yours… and maybe you’re making it messier by getting caught up in the mess which isn’t yours – as that seems easier to deal with.

If someone accuses you of something, it’s easier to defend yourself because you’ve got an accusation to work with… and a defense strategy to figure out.

It may feel hard but it’s not as hard as taking a look at the accusations which you’re throwing at someone else and what those say about you (what your own accusations accuse you of being and doing and so much more… that looking glass may break and you don’t want that kind of bad luck piled on top of the bad luck you already think you have).

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“One of the deep secrets of life is that all that is really worth the doing is what we do for others.”
― Lewis Carroll

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I went through a period of never telling anyone anything about my story.

Not saying anything about anyone involved in my story.

I thought I’d be able to keep my story intact that way and therefore know it better…

in some ways that tactic worked,

and in other ways it showed me that we do need to share and do need to expose ourselves and our stories to the opinions and involvement of others… even when they don’t give a shit about us and our story and are only in it because of themselves and their story.

The side show which I found most interesting in this whole Johnny Depp and Amber Heard media circus relationship debacle is this one – Doug Stanhope’s Perspective – not for what he said about them but because of what he said about himself.

At the end of the day… others are a mirror for us, and sometimes we get sucked into that mirror… go through the looking glass. What are we looking for in it? What do we find?

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What you you think, feel or don’t think and don’t feel ?

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Through the Looking Glass…

  1. Wow, thank you for this. There’s a lot of self-reflection going on here.

    I see now that I was definitely recruited as a flying monkey at the beginning of this mess. I was the new, shiny, full of life, source of fuel. I feel horrible now. It was all lies. But I chose to believe. I chose to participate. I helped with every ounce of energy I had in me. I accept the blame for my part in this charade.

    I feel like such a shit now. If this was a 12-step program, I’d be on her doorstep and begging for forgiveness. I know by now that she thanks me for taking him off her hands, but during the whole mess, it was terrible…..

    Now he’s someone else’s problem and she’s the new fuel, the new flying monkey. I wish them the best.

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    1. Thank you 🙂

      I know that feeling well, of hindsight and self-reflection leaving me with the – I feel like a shit now – taste in my mouth.

      Occasionally you do get the opportunity to apologise directly to those you may have hurt while under the influence of some intoxication. That can be quite an interesting experience, especially if they share their side of the story and offer you pieces of the puzzle which make up the bigger picture. Sometimes things are best left alone because we’ve all got dirt on our hands, and even if we own up to our dirt others may not be so keen to do that about theirs.

      I had a long chat with my father’s mistress (who became his long term partner) a few years ago just after my father had died. Many years before that I’d sent her a letter of apology for the way I had behaved towards her as an angry teenager. In our chat she revealed that she’d used my letter over a decade after I’d sent it in a court case against my mother. I kind of banged my head on the table internally, but just shrugged about it externally. The ‘love’ triangle involving the three of them had no innocents, they all got their hands very dirty and dragged others into it (and those others, like me, also got their hands dirty). I’m glad I apologised with that letter, but you just don’t know what people are going to do with your apology. I’m glad I got to chat with her, she filled in some blanks for me – the case is closed even with some loose ends (full closure and disclosure isn’t always possible or necessary).

      I think the most important part of seeing that your side of the story may not have been as pristine and innocent as you thought it was, with right and wrong, good and bad, clearly defined, is that it releases you from being stuck, and the humbling it brings softens the heart, loosens up rigidity allowing you to let go of what you’re holding onto, it makes you to learn in a deeper manner which can be transformative.

      The best way to apologise is to let things make a difference for you in a way that enriches experience. The past has wisdom for the present.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t usually pay much attention to celebrity stuff. I’ve always questioned its verasity and to me, there’s also something a little creepy about looking at people when they have their whatsis hanging out. It’s like slowing down to gawk at an accident scene.

    I only experienced one monkey when my ex-narcissist and I split up. He really didn’t have anyone to do that for him, except this one person whom he met online right after our split. She was completely nasty and completely suckered, too, and so I get that (like most things) it wasn’t all her fault. However, I found it amazing that she could dive so quickly into defending someone that basically, she didn’t know – they had only met face-to-face once, I think. After she’d done her seagull runs (that’s how I saw her at the time – doing these quick flyovers to shit on everything), Harry dumped her. She had served her purpose. To some degree, I saw this as a good example of how women will sometimes automatically blame other women if they think there’s a man at stake. Yikes.

    I became monkey-like as well when he and I were still together – I eventually noticed how he liked to stand back and let me fight his battles for him, something I stopped doing in the last six months of our “relationship.” (My behaviour had been pointed out to me by a good friend.) I could see that he was flummoxed by my unwillingness to continue, but he wasn’t going to ask me about it, either. He just kept trying to manipulate me back into doing that “chore” for him. It’s interesting to me how I started taking that stuff on without actually noticing what I had slipped into. I still don’t really know when the first instance of it was – it was so gradual.

    The piece from Doug Stanhope is interesting. There’s a lot of shouting in that piece, and yes, it does say more about him than about Johnny Depp.

    Thought-provoking piece. 🙂

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    1. Thank you 🙂

      The way this particular celebrity news item is playing out, backwards and forwards, reminds me so much of what went on in my family. Following the unfolding of this story is like watching the unfolding of my parents’ story but from the outside. Even the photos of the couple remind of photos of my parents. My parents could go to a social event together and appear to be a united couple, all smiles and ‘look at what an ideal couple we are’ but behind the scenes in private they’d be at each others throats, screaming, yelling, throwing things, especially accusations.

      As their battle with each other escalated it became more public – and they both found out how useful making it public was, how much more exciting and interesting their fights could be, and how fascinated other people were by them when they exposed the ugly bits. Ugly is in many ways far more attractive than beautiful, it’s more approachable.

      My parents involved a lot of people in their battle with each other, they played their drama out publicly and socially, and there were quite a few Doug Stanhopes who weighed in, especially on behalf of my father.

      He would set up ‘staged’ pieces, acts in a play, for others to witness, so that his witnesses thought they’d been let in on the truth behind the facade, and felt that they were a part of the inner sanctum and had a role in the soap opera.

      Because of his career he had more social sway and power than my mother, he had a lot more people who wanted to be considered a friend of his, who wanted to be insiders and would stick their neck on the line to do that, and he was also more likable. He understood that sharing his ugly made him more persuasive, people let him in to their hearts and minds, felt sorry for him and wanted to protect him, whereas my mother tried to appear perfect, noble, beautiful which made people reject her as she didn’t need them or their protection.

      She did play the damsel in distress but her damsel was a bit too arrogant to win the kind of loyalty which my father managed to win. My mother didn’t have his patience for the game.

      What you said about people slowing down to look at an accident and finding it creepy to look at people when they’re letting it all hang out – that’s how I felt about those who watched the spectacle which my parents put on and who interfered in the story thinking they knew what the story was because they’d stopped to gawk, were invited to be a talking head.

      I had many run ins with people, often complete strangers to me, who felt the need to tell me what the ‘truth’ was about my mother, my father, our family, the story, the relationship, but nothing stunned me more than when someone who didn’t know me told me the ‘truth’ about myself – relaying something which my father or mother had told them, or which someone else had told them, and they didn’t seem to think they needed to double check the information or their sources. If I told them that they were misinformed… guess who was considered a liar. Mind you, I was as messed up and around by my parents as everyone else was, and many of the things which I thought were ‘truths’ weren’t.

      Someone recently asked me as part of some game to lie to them, so I did and they said that my lie was ‘almost the truth’, and I replied that a lie usually is.

      Almost the truth is sometimes more believable than the truth perhaps because we all lie a little bit to ourselves to make life less painful.

      Liked by 1 person

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