Yesterday was the Winter Solstice for the Northern hemisphere, marking the darkest point of the year.
It was pouring with rain last night. It was so heavy, pounding the roof above me. It felt as though it was never going to stop.
This morning it’s bright and sunny. Maybe it’ll stay clear and I’ll be able to feast my eyes on the full Moon and the celestial fireworks of a meteor shower.
But the weather can change moods suddenly. One minute life is beautiful and the next minute the sky is falling.
It’s temperamental… like a narcissist.
One minute they love you and the next minute they’re hating on you.
One minute you were an angel sent from heaven to save them and the next minute you’re the devil who is dragging them to hell.
One minute you’re their knight in shining armor and the next you’re the dragon and someone else is being called in to fight you and save them from you.
One minute they’re chatting away happily and the next minute they’re screaming, ranting and raving at you.
And you have no idea what happened, what you did to deserve the sudden onslaught which is pounding down on your head.
I saw the image below in a recent post by an Australian blogger:
Images can express things so much better than words can. I’ve found imagery to be very helpful in understanding my experience of narcissists.
This one reminds me of how it felt when my mother would have one of her tantrums. She’d see red, explode, and flames would come out of her mouth burning me to a crisp.
I could usually sense an explosion coming. I could hear the ticking. I could feel the tension building. I could see the signs in her body language. I could smell the fumes of her internal fuming.
There’s a distinct pattern to everything a narcissist does, to what they say, to the way that they are, but it takes a while to notice it, see the signs, put it together, make connections. Once you’ve observed the pattern it becomes obvious.
It’s like being able to understand a natal chart in astrology, and tracking planetary transits moving around the wheel of your chart. Knowing that when this planet hits that natal placement, this will most likely occur.
Of course with astrology there are multiple options as to what it is that could occur, whereas with a narcissist the options are limited to what they always do.
Take tonight’s full Moon in the sign of Cancer, opposing the Sun in Capricorn. It’s going to be a face off between Mother Moon and Father Sun, of big emotions and the system (which often has been established to control big emotions). Will it affect you or will it pass you by. If it affects you, where and how will it do that.
The title of my post is inspired by Julie Demboski’s Astrology post: 22 December 2018 Full Moon in Cancer: Beacon in the Dark
This sentence in particular in her post caught my eye: “Take care not to confuse the order of this – it doesn’t do anyone any good to fight first, then figure out what they want!”
Why? Because if you have a narcissist in your life, fighting is a regular feature of the relationship. As is wanting – they have a deep craving within which is always starving.
Sometimes they will pick a fight with you just so they can figure out what it is that they want – you’re a sounding board, a wailing wall, a whipping boy.
Sometimes they want something from you and you haven’t figured out what it is quickly and efficiently enough for them. They gave you a billion subtle coded hints and you still didn’t get it and give it to them. So they have to fight with you because you’re selfish and insensitive, and it’s the only way for them to get through your thick skull, teach you a lesson about what they want and don’t want.
They don’t want you to make them angry, why do you always make them angry! Now they’re angry they want to get it out of their system or it will poison them.
Sometimes what the narcissist really wants is to fight with you.
For half of the time my mother would be busy being stiffly polite, nice, killing everyone with kindness. Even though she constantly told me that she didn’t have a manipulative bone in her body and couldn’t lie to save her life, she advised me to do the same as her – kill everyone with kindness especially those you hated – as it was a great tactic which worked wonders for her.
Problem is her tactic didn’t work wonders for her at all. It made her bitter, angry, furious, bubbling and boiling up inside.
See if other people took her kindness for granted, didn’t understand that she was doing this for their benefit and that they owed her for it, didn’t realise the amount of effort it took her to be nice, polite, the sacrifices she made for them, how gracious, generous and superior she was to them… it made her frustrated.
What was the point of the hard work of being kind if they didn’t reward her with the admiration, adulation and loyalty which she expected. It infuriated her that they thought this was being given to them for free, unconditionally, and that they weren’t grateful.
And if her enemies whom she was killing with kindness didn’t understand that they were being killed with kindness… ugh! It was maddening, they needed to know that she had trumped them, checkmated them, killed them!
The other half of the time my mother would be having various types of bitching sessions, fights, tantrums and explosions – she was always right and righteous to do this.
And she’d feel much better because she had offloaded her burden, gotten it out of her system, cleansed herself of the toxic within. She’d puts all wrongs right… for now.
She’d be in a great mood afterwards, giddy, giggly, euphoric… unless the person who had been burned to a crisp decided to try and make her feel bad for what wasn’t her fault, for what was their fault!
Usually it was my father who, directly or indirectly, triggered one of my mother’s explosions.
Direct triggering involved them having an interaction, which led to him having a tantrum, exploding and dumping his toxic onto her, which she then dumped onto me like an internal toxic waste game of pass the parcel (I took it out on my Barbie dolls… just in case you were wondering, they were surprisingly understanding about it).
Indirect triggering could be anything which reminded my mother of my father and made her feel wronged by him.
If someone told her a story about something nice their husband did for them, if she saw an article in the news about a perfect couple, if she wanted to be taken out to dinner, if she was manicuring her nails… they’d been ruined because of him, she’d once had perfect nails, on perfect fingers on perfect hands but then he bought a house with a garden and someone had to make the garden perfect!
It could be due to one of “his” friends saying something nice about him and they didn’t say something nicer about her or didn’t give her credit for what was nice about my father – he was who he was because of her why didn’t everyone get that and pay homage to her! They loved him more than they loved her, but she was more lovable than him!!!
My parents in many ways were like two bratty kids, rival siblings, fighting over who was loved more by their parents – and the whole world of other people were the parents whose love they wanted to have all for themselves.
Last night I saw a brief news item about Michelle Obama appearing on a talk show to discuss her book “Becoming”.
She shared an anecdote about taking her husband to visit a marriage counselor. She said that at the time she thought she was “perfect” and that he needed to be “fixed”. The marriage counselor looked at her instead of him and helped her realise that she needed to look at herself and not at him as the source of her happiness.
It’s a great anecdote and her reasons for sharing it are great too. It’s always inspiring when people share themselves openly and can laugh at their human messiness.
You won’t get that from narcissists.
They are unable to laugh at themselves because they take themselves very seriously. They will try to fake laughing at themselves, especially if it is viewed by others as a desirable personality trait to have, if it will get other people to love them. If it will get them applause, they’ll do it.
But when they fake laughing at themselves it makes them uncomfortable particularly as they are extremely sensitive to other people laughing at them. They can only fake it for a short amount of time before they flip, lose it, lash out – how dare you find them funny! What are you laughing at!
They could never do what comedians like Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David do even though you’d think they’d be good at it since it involves adopting a facade which appeals to an audience.
But it’s such a lifelike facade, based on their own human faults, flaws and messiness, it’s so easily mistaken as the real them and it’s designed to be mocked. They’re allowing themselves to be figures of ridicule.
The very idea of deliberately making a fool of yourself, of setting yourself up to be a laughing stock, of taking the piss out of your personality, of making fun of yourself… it terrifies narcissists.
To a narcissist, the facade is everything, it is their hopes, dreams, their precious, their creation, their goal, their status, and they need it to be impressive, taken seriously.
They are more at ease laughing at others, making fun of others, getting other people to laugh at and make fun of others. They enjoy that and will go overboard with it.
Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee is an intriguing look behind the scenes of comedy and highlights the different personality types of laughter.
Barack Obama was on it when he was in office, he had a wicked sense of humor. That was a genuinely fun episode to watch.
But there were other episodes with other people which were painfully awkward to watch. They just took themselves too seriously even though they were in a funny business, and on a show about comedy. You could see Jerry Seinfeld really struggling. He wanted to have fun, have a laugh, inspire a laugh in others, entertain the audience. They wanted to make it very clear that their real self was serious not silly, smart not stupid.
It’s strange how often narcissists end up achieving the opposite of what they’re trying to do, get, be.
They want to be the Sun king, to be worshiped for their rays, to be adored, loved.
But instead people keep withholding their love from them, judging them for being beautiful, ignoring their superiority, not giving them what they want, and it makes them so unhappy. The clouds roll in, the world darkens, grey turning black, the rain begins to fall, pounding down, flooding, drowning everything and everyone with its misery.
The reason I mentioned Michelle Obama’s anecdote is because of what she said about viewing herself as being “perfect” and taking her husband to marriage counseling to “fix” him.
Her story has a happy ending because she’s a healthy and normal human being. The experience made her self-reflect and she figured things out.
But if that same scenario had happened to include one or two narcissists… it would have an entirely different ending. The whole story would have been different.
My mother was always trying to “fix” my father because there was just so much wrong with him and he kept making mistakes. My mother didn’t make mistakes. She could not abide mistakes. Luckily for my father she was a saint and martyr to the cause of fixing him. She was his fixer.
Many of their fights were over a mistake he had made which she had fixed for him, and he wasn’t being grateful enough.
He was always getting himself into trouble. He would yet again make a bad business decision and she’d have to get him out of it. He would once again have an affair and once again she would have to fix the problem when he was finished with his fling.
Her favourite anecdote which she loved to tell everyone (because she thought it made her look so good) was the one about when my father brought a model home to stay for the Summer. My father was an artist, and the model was his latest muse.
They spent most of the time in my father’s studio. When not in the studio, the model swanned around as though she was the lady of the manor and treated my mother like a maid.
Then one day at lunch, in front of an audience of a bunch of my parents’ friends, the model bragged a bit too much about her perfect beauty and my father decided to loudly tell her the awful truth about her perfect beauty – in other words he pointed out all of her flaws.
Narcissists love telling people what’s wrong with them – it’s for our own good. They value the truth and authenticity and mindfulness – others should hear the awful truth about themselves so that they can be mindful of how they authentically are according to the narcissist. They love to be radically honest in front of an audience. They love to inspire shock and awe.
The model’s self-esteem deflated in a second and she crumpled into a flood of tears. Suddenly my mother was her best friend in the entire world, because my mother comforted her and generously offered to take her to the airport immediately before lunch was over as the model didn’t want to spend another second in the company of my father.
Some people just don’t know how lucky they are to be told the awful truth by a narcissist… and then to be able to just hop on a plane and that’s it, no more narcissist in their life.
When a narcissist picks a fight with you it could be for any number of reasons, mostly unreasonable, illogical, nonsensical, madness, cray-cray…
It’ll probably feel like your head is being pounded by heavy rain on a dark and stormy night.
Their Moon cup full of big emotions will spill over and drown out all the sunshine within you. Your system of self-control will be tested to its limits, as their virus tries to take over and rule your world of pain.
It all seemed so bright at first, you felt like the center of their universe, they revolved around you, you were their everything and they had stepped out of your dreams.
But now they are the center of your universe, you revolve around them, and the spinning, reeling, is making you sick. You want off this ride but you don’t know how to make it stop.
They’ve broken you with their fixing of you.
What was perfect is now a perpetual storm.
Every reflection is a funhouse mirror, the you before narcissist conjoined in unholy matrimony with the you after narcissist, mocking you, screaming at you.
How do you get out, get away… why do keeping going around in circles, why do you stay.
Can you shoot yourself out? But what if your bullets hit you?
Is it a fight to the death, is that what they want?
But what do you want?
Do you know… anymore.
You’re caught in a fight, not with them, but with yourself… how do you win that kind of a fight?
Maybe the solution is…
Through the looking glass and what you find there.
Featured image is Salomon Trismosin’s Splendor Solis