Please note – I’m fine.
It suddenly struck me while I was in the middle of writing this post, especially the part where I mentioned feeling crushed and depleted of energy, that someone reading this might experience some concern about me. I still forget that people can genuinely care and worry about me, even those who only know me via my blog, and it isn’t because they need something from me therefore if I’m not okay it might cause them distress or inconvenience.
If I’m posting = I’m fine, even if what I’m writing about is intense, heavy, etc, makes it sound like I’m not fine. If I’m posting it means that I had to log in to my blog, create a new post, deal with the behind the scenes of posting – categorise (I may leave this particular post deliberately uncategorised but that’s still a category), tag (I may choose to not tag because I can’t be bothered), add links if linking which I tend to always do, sort out images and link to source if that’s an option (most bloggers use images now in their posts… how things change. I remember feeling a bit freakish a few years ago because I used so many images and most bloggers stuck with just text. Just text was the sign of a serious blogger), write, re-read, edit (not all typos will be caught and, in my case, some will be left in deliberately), etc. Those actions require a certain level of compos mentis = control of mental faculties = I’m fine even if I’m writing about not being fine.
If I’m not posting it doesn’t = I’m not fine.
It often means I have nothing to say (don’t look so surprised, no that’s not an order it’s simply a way of saying that I know I talk a lot in my posts).
I’m busy making a mess of mistakes elsewhere.
I’m taking a break from blogging because maybe I overdid it a bit (blogger burnout is real thing – the link I’ve provided is from a blogger who is ancient in blog years and has been blogging since before it was easy to do it – and it’s worth reading up on it before you experience it. Knowing the signs of it – they’re easier to spot in others than they are in yourself… twas ever thus).
But it might mean that I’m not fine… I’ll be back when whatever not fine thing I’m going through is over (aren’t you lucky that you get the best of me without the worst of me… why are you looking so doubtful!?).
[The astrology of this post is that all the planets transiting Leo atm are in my natal 12th house – the house of the unconscious, the psyche, possibly of madness which deludes itself into thinking it’s genius, hidden enemies, the shadow, the darkness within. Transiting Mars has just made its entry and my daily astro said I could either go super silent or share stuff. Guess which option I chose 😉 Are you surprised that I chose one of the options offered and didn’t go with a third option of my own making?]
The title of this post comes from a sentence which popped for me in someone else’s post.
Here it is in context:
“One short-term answer, of course, is to take a break from social media. Unsurprisingly, many of my clients have resisted this idea at first, because they’ve convinced themselves that they can find a way to enjoy the upside of external affirmation, without the downside of emptiness and self-punishing comparisons. (Spoiler alert: they almost never can.)
Ironically, some people even resist hitting the pause button on their social networks because they don’t want to tell people why they’re taking a step back, as the decision itself feels like a devastating admission of weakness in a world where everyone else seems fine. And yet, I have yet to hear a single Unhappy Achiever tell me that they regretted the time they forced themselves to stay off social media.
Ultimately, though, there is no shortcut to improving your internal sense of self-worth. This deeper work requires exploring, sitting with, and emotionally processing how achievement came to play such an outsized role in your sense of self, and learning to cultivate and trust a deeper, sturdier sense of your internal value—regardless of who is watching or hitting “like.””excerpt from Status: Feeling Empty by Josh Dodes
I happened upon it while browsing Psychology Today’s recent posts. The title of the post caught my eye, because I could relate to it, so I clicked to read it.
It’s from a newly created PT blog – Unhappy Achievers – which the author was inspired to create because a guest post he wrote for someone else’s psychology blog received a lot of positive attention and feedback in the form of comments.
They don’t seem to have “Like” buttons on PT… which is interesting.
I’ve noticed quite a few WP bloggers have been discussing the “Like” button recently, including me – I mentioned it in a couple of recent posts, although that’s not what the posts were about.
[It’s fun to note that this focus on “Like” is occurring during Leo Season, at a time when the Sun in Leo – which loves to be loved, is conjunct (has joined forces with) Venus in Leo – which desires to be desired]
The “Like” button is an intriguing psychological personality test of sorts – what it means to you both as a receiver and a giver of “Like” can be insightful. How you use it and view it can reveal yourself to you, show you glimpses of the structure of your psyche, and how you see yourself within the context of society, the role you have been given and give yourself in your social circles (which includes blogging and your blogging “clique”), relationships.
When you get your first “Like” on social media, it can be extremely exciting for many reasons.
OMG someone saw me, heard me… I’m not invisible and unhearable!?!
If you’re an Introvert (of the I quite like being invisible and unhearable kind) it could freak you out. Shit shit shit… abort mission!
But if it doesn’t… or if it does but you get over it and want to see what happens next…
You may get addicted to the feel of receiving the “Like” and push yourself to get more…
“But for others, producing new achievements again and again is necessary for them simply to feel okay about themselves. And even worse, no matter how much they actually do achieve, it’s never enough. They expect achievements to fill them up, but time and again, they’re inevitably left feeling empty. Over time this insatiable need to achieve can leave them anxious, depressed, even enraged. And it can leave them confused – because usually they don’t fully understand what’s happening. It’s a response that makes no sense on the surface. They’ve worked so hard for something, and now they’ve done it! If they cannot take a victory lap, thank the Academy, finally feel good about themselves, then what was it all for? They’re supposed to feel fulfilled. Why do they feel so hollow?
The answer is complicated, and certainly depends on each person’s individual history. But here’s a start: if you learn early on that people value you for what you accomplish, not who you are, it’s easy to start believing that you must achieve in order to have value at all. That makes achievements a terrible chore, not a lasting source of joy. Achieving becomes a necessity, a means of survival. And if you have to achieve just to have value, there is never time to stop and relax. Because as soon as you stop achieving, you stop being lovable.
It’s exhausting.excerpt from Why Do Achievements Leave Me Feeling Empty by Josh Dodes
If you’re a blogger you might be tempted to post more of what gets you more “Like” and post less of what gets you less “Like”… this is part of the phases of the bloggerdome, it’s like an initiation phase… which is fine except when it’s not fine.
How do you know when it’s fine?
How do you know when it’s not fine?
For me personally…
It’s fine when it is fun = I’m enjoying it, I feel energised, vibrant, caught up in the flow…
“The 8 Characteristics of Flow
1. Complete concentration on the task
2. Clarity of goals and reward in mind and immediate feedback
3. Transformation of time (speeding up/slowing down of time)
4. The experience is intrinsically rewarding
5. Effortlessness and ease
6. There is a balance between challenge and skills
7. Actions and awareness are merged, losing self-conscious rumination
8. There is a feeling of control over the taskMihaly Csikszentmihalyi via Wikiquote
…perhaps because it is challenging me to try out something which I haven’t tried before or because it is allowing me to have an experience which I haven’t had.
I love experimenting = making mistakes which I don’t know are mistakes until later but fuck it, or doing something which I’m certain is a mistake but what if it isn’t and I’m wrong, and being proved wrong… or not wrong.
Discover what happens if… and learn from it.
It’s basically fine as long as it feels fine, and not fine when it starts to feel not fine…
Not fine for me usually means that what once felt like freedom, like I was learning newness, like I was moving beyond limitations (mostly self-imposed ones), starts to feel confining.
I start to feel trapped. Limited. Restricted.
I’m stuck in a role… and that role wants me to keep rolling with it. That’s what people want from me… I have to keep being and doing that or else they’ll abandon me.
And when I start to feel like that, the rumblings of rebellion stir. I want to break free… and I’m tempted to smash everything to do that.
[This is in my astrological natal chart. I’ve found it helpful to view it from the astrological perspective. The trapped part is in several placements and aspects – Saturn square Sun is the most obvious one. Saturn restricts, limits… when squaring the Sun it can feel like it is crushing the life out of the Sun (ego), never allowing it to shine. The breaking free by smashing everything is mainly natal Uranus conjunct (joining forces with) natal Jupiter (which expands what it touches, blows it up sometimes literally) and natal Pluto, with both Uranus and Pluto located in the 1st house of self. I’m mentioning this because I’ve been feeling very crushed (mostly by old intense insecurities), depleted of energy (as though life source is being drained, squished out of me), atm, and noticed that my Sun is in a tight rock and a hard place sandwich between retrograde transiting Pluto and Saturn]
What does it matter if I smash it all.
Please note – what I want to smash are invisible structures which feel like steel bars wrapped tightly around me (if a song came to mind, I loved that song). Not people… not other people anyway.
[Pluto – sometimes known as the destroyer – is retrograde (turned inwards, towards the self) in my natal chart, and it aspects my Sun (ego). Self-destruction is a regular feature of my experience of being. It’s not always a negative, especially where a certain type of ego is concerned, to apply a bit of self-destruction to liberate]
The fine which came before begins to look like an illusion, a delusion, a bubble in which I momentarily existed… but then it popped.
What is real-real and what is not?
The fine suddenly looks like bleak emptiness.
But the emptiness isn’t empty.
If it was truly empty it would feel Zen. Quiet, calm, silence.
But it’s not Zen.
It’s not quiet, calm, silence… it’s noisy, agitated, inner stressful sound which may appear silent from the outside looking at the person experiencing it.
On the inside it’s all:
Nothing I ever do is good enough. Nothing I do makes any difference. I’m back where I started. I can’t break free from this pattern. This habit. This.
I’m worthless. Useless. Pointless. Meaningless. Purposeless. I don’t belong here. Why am I here. What. Why. How. When.
It’s an emptiness which wants to scream a scream from the depths of within… but often doesn’t.
Except when it does…
[I have a weird distraction as I’m re-reading this post. There’s a cricket in the room… guess how I know that. It goes silent when I look for it. How am I going to find it and return it to the freedom of outside? The window was closed until now so how did it get in. I’m not on ground level. This has happened before and I have photo evidence of the previous attempt which I’m too lazy to share with you, maybe in another post… I don’t mind if you don’t believe me.]
Last night I read a BBC news article about a phenomenon known as mass hysteria:
“It was a quiet Friday morning last July when pandemonium broke out at a school in north-east Malaysia. Siti Nurannisaa, a 17-year-old student, was at the centre of the chaos.
This is her account of what happened.
The assembly bells rang.
I was at my desk feeling sleepy when I felt a hard, sharp tap on my shoulder.
I turned round to see who it was and the room went dark.
Fear overtook me. I felt a sharp, splitting pain in my back and my head started spinning. I fell to the floor.
Before I knew it, I was looking into the ‘otherworld’. Scenes of blood, gore and violence.
The scariest thing I saw was a face of pure evil.
It was haunting me, I couldn’t escape. I opened my mouth and tried to scream but no sound came out.
I passed out.
Siti’s outburst triggered a powerful chain reaction that ripped through the school. Within minutes students in other classrooms started screaming, their frantic cries ricocheting through the halls.”excerpt from The mystery of screaming schoolgirls in Malaysia by Heather Chen
Fascinating story and phenomenon.
A similar phenomenon happens online sometimes – one person screams on the internet and the scream ripples out from them affecting and infecting others, inducing panic, rage, fear.
A small version of that happened on WP at the end of July/beginning of August.
It was a very Leo season (with Mars transiting Leo and Mercury retrograde in nurturing sensitive momma Cancer) big drama event.
Something similar happened several years ago when WP bloggers became aware of a site known as Bloglovin’ (link takes you to the Wiki page about it) – bloggers noticed it because they were getting a lot of referrals/traffic/visits/views from it, so it had been going for a long while before they noticed it. They visited the site and found their entire blog and all of its content mirrored on it.
Panic ensued, tempers flared, pitchforks were grabbed… and then everyone forgot about it, settled back into their routines, posting as usual. Some bloggers went a bit copyright crazy during and after… but this is the internet.
Someone recently asked bloggers to describe the internet in one sentence… one blogger replied with – Much Ado About Nothing. Which was a clever answer, funny, if a tad dismissive.
A spoonful of dismissive is healthy, especially when online. Knowing where and when to apply it. How much is too much. What the side effects are… such as that what you do, others can and are often doing too, and while it it may feel okay when you’re the one doing it to someone else, it may not be so great to be on the receiving end of someone else doing it to you.
The internet is a bit like life lessons on speed – super high speed karma.
An echo chamber which returns to you what you put out there – and gives you the opportunity to see what it is that you’re really putting out there rather than what you think you’ve been putting out there or have carefully planned to put out there to get a carefully manipulated hoped for something in return.
If you’re screaming into it, it’ll return your screams to you… perhaps someone else will scream in your direction, at you.
If you’re angry, angry will come back to you, maybe in a different form but it’s still angry.
If you’re running on empty… it’s amazing how long and how far you can coast while on empty especially online… it’ll bring that painfully to your attention. Maybe you’ll come face to face with someone who sucks that last bit of… and you’re done!
If you’re saying you’re fine but you’re not fine… that’ll confront you too.
“Various Internet platforms, such as blogs, chatrooms, and forums, provide an ideal environment for narcissists to reinforce the sense of their own importance; they can focus on themselves and describe to all who care to listen (or, indeed, who don’t) what they’ve seen, heard, and felt. Social networks, for example, are another place where narcissists can present and “sell” themselves. Narcissists tend to use social networks as a way of cultivating their own standing among others. They take selfies (self-captured photos of themselves), and continuously upload them; they invest a great deal of time in improving their personal profiles; they deliberate at length as they choose pictures, and their posts tend to focus on how “I did…, I do…, I am…” (Wang, Jackson Zhang, & Su, 2012).
Discourse of this sort provides no real intimacy because the narcissists are completely focused on presenting their own particulars and make no real effort to listen to other people, much less conduct a conversation with depth and meaning. Studies indicate that narcissism is a constantly increasing tendency; more and more people are feeling self-important with increasingly disproportionate egos.”excerpt from The Internet is a Narcissist’s Paradise by Yair Amichai-Hamburger
I think the excerpt above is a little bit too biased against selfies…
A few years ago, at the height of narcissism being a hot trending topic, there was a study which connected selfies and narcissism, focusing mainly on the unhealthy aspect of narcissism – it hit a chord and lots of people jumped on that bandwagon, and what was an opinion, one possible optional way to view something, was copy-pasted into fact. Selfie-posters were branded as narcissists… but are they narcissists?
Quite a number of mental health professionals wrote articles about it… but how many of them tried experimenting with taking selfies, posting them online, seeing how it felt and what it stirred up for them personally, to form their own conclusions about it?
I challenged one mental health professional to do that when they wrote a post which judged all selfie takers as narcissistic. Should a mental health professional really say that? That person was also a WP blogger whom I had followed because I liekd their blog until that point… I haven’t seen any posts from them in a long time. Did they block me or did their interest in blogging peter out because they didn’t get what they wanted from it?
Years, decades, ago I had this business idea to open a centre where people could pay to go into a soundproof booth and scream.
It was mainly inspired by my own desire to find a safe place where I could scream, like in Arthur Janov’s Primal Scream therapy… only I didn’t want anyone else to hear my scream. I wanted to do it privately, get it out of my system.
I was very stuck, trapped, in the version of reality created by my narcissist parents, and couldn’t find my way out of that hellish labyrinth. I was born in it… or else I’d have used a string. Every escape attempt was foiled… often by myself. I was my own worst enemy.
I had been helped to become my own worst enemy – it’s easier for a narcissist to control you if they turn you against yourself, get you to control yourself in a way which benefits them.
I wasn’t allowed to say anything other than what they wanted to hear, and even if I did blurt out what I wanted to say which wasn’t what they wanted to hear, they didn’t hear it because they have selective hearing.
There’s a very interesting PT blogger whose blog – Resolution, Not Conflict by Susan Heitler – I was reading yesterday, who explores NPD from intriguing, unusual and often controversial angles. I like the fact that she seems genuinely interested in the feedback she gets from those who comment on her posts, and she replies to a lot of the comments, including the ones who disagree with her – many PT bloggers seem to ignore the comments section (perhaps they’re too busy to read them…), or ignore the comments which don’t agree with them, only answer the ones which flatter them or are form “peers”.
She suggested that narcissists may have a hearing impairment, which might be genetic or neurological, it’s a real thought provoker, in a post which explored a contentious question…
A contentious question which cropped up on my blog years ago when I used to get thousands of views a day and an overwhelming (for me) amount of comments sharing personal stories and problematic issues.
Someone said something to someone else in the comments, for which I immediately apologised as soon as I became aware of it (it happened during my night time, and I only spotted it when I logged in in the morning). It made me so angry for a variety of reasons that I did something which I didn’t normally do – delete comments and unapprove a person from commenting, I even stopped that person from explaining themselves because they started their apology with “Sorry, but…”. Then I wrote a rant about it, about commenting and what not to do on my blog. That’s a long time ago in blog years… I’m being vague here, but feel free to ask me for specifics if you’re curious.
No, scratch that. I’ll be less vague right now.
The Susan Heitler post I read is this one – Do You Think of Narcissism as an Autistic Spectrum Disorder?
What it reminded me of was when a woman commented on one of my narcissist posts asking me for some help with her ex whom she was certain was a narcissist. She wanted her ex to be involved with their child, and she wanted things to go smoothly – she was trying to resolve a conflict. She mentioned her child was autistic. Some other person decided to direct a comment at her suggesting that those who are autistic are also narcissists. She was understandably and justifiably upset, however she kept calm and didn’t say anything. I apologised to the woman for this person’s comments – she said I didn’t need to, oh I needed too, it happened on my blog. Then I blew a fuse at the person who thought it was okay to comment like that about someone else’s child.
That experience was one of several which made me take a long hard look at myself, what I was doing on my blog, what I was putting out there, how it rippled out from me and what it brought back to me.
I am normally not someone who flies off the handle. I sometimes wish I was more like that and not like I am. But I am also glad to be like I am even if I sometimes think otherwise.
While my narcissist parents regularly screamed, privately and publicly, got their rage, fury, out of their system, said whatever they wanted… I couldn’t do that. Every time they did it, it increased the inner screaming which I kept inside.
I didn’t let it out until I started blogging.
Strangely, or not strangely at all, my online screams, rants, have been some of my more popular posts. Often it was because I said what others were still keeping inside of them, afraid to let it out, rock the narc-boat, of the consequences, of the power of it and also of the potential futility of it, like I had been.
After all those years which feel like eons of holding it all in, back…
perhaps for noble reasons such as not wanting to hurt or harm others with the impact of it (my narcissist parents helped me to convince myself that I was dangerous, a threat to peace, to the status quo, that I was a monster, evil, a beast, a problem which needed to be locked up in a dark basement – in other words I was the mirror never to be looked into, the portrait of Dorian Gray, the resting place for their projections, where what they didn’t want of themselves was buried), so you carry the burden even as it crushes, breaks, and snuffs out your light…
… you finally let it all out and…
What if it all goes pfft?
What if it’s all for nothing, much dramatic ado about nothing.
What if I truly am the nothing I was repeatedly told that I was, not just by my narcissist parents, but by extended family, their friends, their social circle, institutions, society, authority figures?
And my existence, and everything within it, my experiences, feelings, thoughts, emotions, ideas, what I’ve done, not done, etc, is all meaningless?
What Josh Dodes mentioned in his post about feeling empty:
“In an earlier post, I described the population I call “Unhappy Achievers.” These are people who need to achieve, again and again, simply to feel okay about themselves. Typically this pattern is the result of learning early in life that your value comes from what you accomplish, rather than who you are. The need to achieve in order to be worth anything at all—and ultimately, to be worthy of being loved—often leaves people wrestling with lifelong feelings of anxiety, sadness, even anger.”excerpt from Status: Feeling Empty by Josh Dodes
ties in with my experience of growing up with parents who are narcissists.
Narcissists are an extreme version of “Unhappy Achievers”.
And they pass that on to anyone who comes under their influence – they only value you, “love” or “Like” you, for what you accomplish for them.
Susan Heitler also touched upon this in her provocative post – Can Parental Alienation Occur Beyond Parents and Kids? Alienating individuals and groups can wreak havoc on friends, nations, and more.
Both of my parents did the parental alienation routine. My father wanted me to hate my mother. My mother wanted me to hate my father. I was a traitor either way.
The other day I had an odd conversation with myself – I’ve never been to South America, I told myself… and myself agreed, sighed wistfully about it, and… then the memory came flooding back of a trip to Venezuela, and an incident which happened there which is a point of reference for me for that fucked up parental alienation battle.
My mother was air-conditioned restaurant and my father was outdoor barbeque, and I was piggy-in-the-middle who was commanded to choose between them, either way I would be ripped apart, eaten, chewed up, and come out of it in pieces.
[And yes, all of this can be found in my natal chart – particularly Pluto opposition Chiron in the 7th house of up close and personal relationships, and Uranus opposition North Node in Aries conjunct Chiron. Me versus you, me trying to please everyone and pleasing no one including myself, being wounded again and again by those who are closest, who claim to love me but whose love is all about them and never about me. But what about me?]
They also alienated me from the rest of the world because they were alienated from it.
Both of my parents grew up during World War 2 – my father was a teenager in Italy, my mother was a pre-teen child in the UK who was then shipped off to Canada. Neither of them ever “got over it”… it’s not something you just get over, move on from, let it go. It was a big trauma for the world, and all the people in it.
As adults, both of my parents went against their families – what their families wanted them to be and do. So they were alienated from their families too. Their families never saw me as part of the family, both because of my parents alienating me from their families and because their families alienated me.
I sort of existed but didn’t exist.
[I have Black Moon Lilith in the 10th house of public image and status, square Pluto in the 1st house of self… it’s code for you’re the black sheep, persona non grata, public enemy, no matter what you do]
Who you are as a person is… well, to a narcissist you’re not a person, you’re a thing, a symbol, an extension of them, a tool to be used, a toy to be played with, an accessory, an alibi, a dumping ground, a target, a goal, a source of fuel, a supply which must meet their demand, etc.
If you grow up with or spend a lot of time in the company of narcissists, your symptoms will include – “feelings of anxiety, sadness, even anger.” – times at least ten and you’ll never feel good enough, worthy enough, like you’ve done enough for them.
Whatever you did for the narcissist yesterday will be forgotten today – today is another day, what have you done for them today, why haven’t you done something for them today, they’re hungry, needy, feed their hungry need or face their displeasure which regularly takes the form of making you feel like shit. You don’t want to feel like that do you, then do something now to make them feel better!
It’s a bit like the feeling of posting on social media sometimes… especially if you’re posting on social media when you really need a time out from it, to log out and log off.
That’s it from me…
Over to you!