Reverting to Type

Recently I’ve noticed some changes in myself which I quite like and would like to be lasting, but you can never be certain how long a change will last, if it will last, or if it’s just a temporary condition (perhaps a form of momentary madness)…

these changes feel and seem natural,

I haven’t actively done anything to make them happen… I kind of gave up on trying to make changes consciously and purposefully happen with myself awhile ago after about the umpteenth time that I went through the cycle where you force a change upon yourself and it works as long as it’s the focal point of all your focus, but as soon as a distraction (usually in the shape of real life in real time throwing your controlled experiment a curve ball) breaks your total focus… your castle in the changed sky crumbles and you revert to type.

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While I’d noticed the ‘revert to type’ tendency in other people, particularly in the Narcissists in my life…

the narcissists I’ve known were often obsessed about changing themselves into someone else – they have this ideal of who they want to be, a vision of the perfect person they could be (and who would be admired and loved by all others), and they work hard at trying to be that person, trampling all over who they really are, hating their natural self (for scuppering their efforts, sabotaging their work, rebelling against their rule, and mocking their plans), distorting themselves like a contortionist to fit into the box which will make them happy, give them everything they’ve ever wanted, make all their dreams come true, realise their ambitions, and so on…

I would watch these narcissists put everything they had (and often what I and others in their environment had too) into their new creation – their new persona. They will take bits of you and pieces of others which they like, admire, envy, want for themselves and weave them into this new persona they’re making up.

At first the new persona (their new happy beginning) would be supercharged with energy – fired with the enthusiasm which a new venture brings with it, buoyed by the freedom of discarding the past and everyone, everything in it that has been weighing them down (all those responsibilities which come with being consistent, sticking with a regular personality, dealing with the consequences of actions and words, the burden of living up to who they said they were and following through on all those promises they made while inventing their last persona, etc ), and nourished by the reactions which new’ others (their new audience members who have no reason not to believe that this person is real and not a fleeting flight of fancy of a fantasist) have to their new persona.

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I recall one instance which will always stick with me – a picture which my mind’s eye took of a ‘turning point’ in my life which serves as a reference, something never to be forgotten (unless I want to be stuck in narcissist disney forever) as it captured the ‘reverting to type’ scenario in an instant, a polaroid moment, and it also serves as a screenshot of things connected to the narcissistic way.

I never quite realised until that moment how much my mother’s preternatural youthfulness relied on me and my actual youth. It was as though she was sucking my life force out of me and using it to keep herself younger than she was (everything I was ‘into’ she had to be into too, and other tales from Narcland). While I had inklings of this as it happened… I always wrote it off as me being crazy (a common occurrence for those who have a long term relationship with a narcissist), because frankly it was nuts, Vampires aren’t real…

I’d spent a lot of time living with my mother… so much time that I began to wonder if this was IT for me… that somehow my ‘karma’ was to be her companion, caretaker… someone had to ‘love’ her and I guess since I was the only one left, I was the one holding that hot potato, unable to pass it on to anyone else – and would I want to give that Sisyphean rock to someone else ?

Hell yes! While I have had delusions of being noble… and those delusions were quite strong… and did include self-sacrifice and the dubious rewards which go with it… I’d have handed responsibility for my mother onto someone else without a doubt… but no one ever offered, or at least the possible candidates were chased off by my mother before the heavy baton could be passed… and for some reason I didn’t think I could just leave and not pass it on…

until I did think that and did just that.

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This quote sounds great until you consider that it includes all those you’ve decided are the ‘wrong’ people…

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I didn’t go NC (No Contact) at that time – NC is very hard to do, especially if the Narcissist in your life is a parent (Society frowns upon the child who abandons and disowns their parent, regardless of issues of abuse and such… while society will feel sorry for you, pity you, have sympathy for you – and confuse it with empathy… interesting series about that on this blog – Accessible Psychology – for losing big in the parent lottery… they still think you should love your parent even if they’re impossible to love – and other fairy tales told to adults).

Months went by and I got quite used to, comfortable with, not seeing my mother… but I’d been there and done that before and it always came with the proviso that she had access to me whenever she needed it –  I did hear from her on the phone fairly frequently (ergo my phone phobia which I still have to this day).

Then she turned up in physical form because… she needed it.

I don’t know what I expected but in the short time we’d been physically apart she’d aged like she had never done when we were together (or apart before). This had never happened before in our previous apart times – something was different (I didn’t realise that it was me). Psychologically, emotionally, and in other ways she’d also aged… backwards… not getting younger in a positive manner, but simply reverting to type – to who she had been before who she was depended so much on my input.

I know I’m not explaining it well… some things are unexplainable…

like trying to explain to someone who has never encountered a Narcissist what a Narcissist is like and why you’re such a nutcase…

or trying to explain why you’re addicted to a substance which someone else finds repulsive…

or trying to explain why you’re you and not the person someone else has decided that you are – who they’d like you to be to fit their story of who they themselves are…

or someone else trying to explain to you why your solution to their problem isn’t going to work for them but you’re certain that it should because it worked for you (or at least that’s the story you’re telling and have convinced yourself is the truth)…

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when you live with Narcissists for a long time you end up relying on things which those who don’t have to live with Narcissists don’t rely on and often scoff at – the fantasy world works in different ways for Narcissists and for victims of Narcissists… but sometimes it works in a very similar way – it saves us from things we’re not ready to face, deal with…

but what happens when we’re ready to face and deal with those things which fantasy helped us cope with until this moment?

The other day I did a reverse link click – as in a followed a link which several people had followed to one of the posts on my blog to see who had shared it and why. I’m always curious about how and why people end up here…

This was on a forum which was discussing Narcissists in a surprisingly level-headed manner (which is always nice to see because this kind of discussion often ends up in a type of Marvel comics territory – the great evil vs the great good, supervillain vs superhero – and while you do have to go through that type of phase when sorting through your experience of Narcland… it’s easy to get stuck there, just as it was easy to get sucked into and stuck in the world of your narcissist).

The person who shared the link to my post mentioned that they didn’t think I was a professional therapist but that they were fairly certain I’d been through therapy… neither is the case… and I’m not sure why either is relevant for my post to have relevance – life experience is life experience, and if something you read rings true for you and your life experience…

but I guess we all have our parameters and for some ‘therapy’ is that parameter – for me it wasn’t because my very first introduction to therapy was via my godfather who was a child psychologist. Maybe he was a good professional within his office and office hours but outside of those he was… not good with children, especially not children whose parents were Narcissists… and those parent Narcissists manipulated him as though he was an instrument made of easily manipulated strings. How my parents loved to make a point of him being a child psychologist by profession… and then use him to psycho-analyse their child based on the data they gave to him about their child – our child loves the colour black, what does this mean! Our child prefers to be alone, this must be a bad sign… (not for an only child whose parents tended to make sure other children were not part of the social circle… but sure, forget the context and assume the worst).

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I did once try to go into therapy, but…

when you’ve grown up in Narcland everyone can seem like a narcissist out to use you to further their own persona…

and chances are you’re the kind of type who because of reasons (that take a while for you to uncover… and often the uncovering happens alone) finds the one very narcissistic therapist in an ocean of non-narcissistic ones…

and when I tried to do that… like when I tried to do anything else…

the narcs in my life always had to get involved in everything I did… and then take it over.

So I went my own way… a way which was then and is often now hard to follow – if Narcissists are trailing you, the best place to lose them is in a labyrinth, one which is similar to the map of your mind… as then maybe you can find your way out of it, but only if you’re willing to know it, its ins and outs and round-a-bouts, its doubts, shouts, routs and what it flouts…

there are many people in this world who are willing to sell you (all magic comes with a price, dearie) the ‘secret’ to dealing with and healing from a narcissist… some of their methods may work for you, but for how long and how deeply?

Depends… on many variables… as does everything and everyone…

What makes us think one person is a Narcissist and another isn’t? What makes us think we’re not the Narcissist in the equation? What makes us… make judgments of any sort and believe that those judgments are sound, real, right?

Where do all our definitions come from?

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We tend to value what we have to pay for more than what is given to us for free – it’s a weird human quirk, one which has powered many fortunes and narcissists…

and theories about the meaning of life and the experiences had while living it and seeking meaning for it (what if it’s meaningless – and that’s it’s purpose and meaning?)…

if it hurts it must be better than what doesn’t hurt… but why?

Who would we be if we experienced no pain versus who we are because of our experience of pain?

How many hero stories (and thus villain stories… because hero stories tend to always need a complementary villain story) would disappear if pain wasn’t a part of the human experience?

Because we all feel pain and hate feeling pain and thus turn pain into something else? Necessity is the mother of invention… and we’re always inventing new ways of seeing and being due it being a necessity…

We have a penchant for tales of failure which are transformed into victory, pain vindicated and a phoenix rises from those ashes of who and what we once were…

we’ve changed… or so we believe, or say, or think… until we end up in our changed form being exactly who we were before we ‘changed’…

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What if ‘reverting to type’ wasn’t such a bad thing…

what if change wasn’t such a good thing…

what if we’re here to become less than rather than more than…

in other words we’re here to simplify rather than complicate…

come home to what’s natural and that may be something that doesn’t fit into what we’ve decided is our box…

maybe what we think is authenticity isn’t what authenticity actually is…

what we think is mindful isn’t aware of who we are at any given moment at all…

or maybe it is…

is any of it?

 

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