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).
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.
“A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.”
― Hunter S. Thompson
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).
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…
“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”
― Lewis Carroll
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.
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.
“I was not proud of what I had learned but I never doubted that it was worth knowing.”
― Hunter S. Thompson
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.
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).
“One of the deep secrets of life is that all that is really worth the doing is what we do for others.”
― Lewis Carroll
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?
What you you think, feel or don’t think and don’t feel ?