My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Saturday, March 5, 2011

understanding narcissism...

I think what fascinates me most about Charlie Sheen is his narcissism. Having been married to a narcissist... it makes me sad for his kids. The wives, the goddesses, the hangers on... they always have a choice to get out. Those kids are stuck with him... and his lack of ability to have compassion for anyone else.

AND... Having raised a child with autism, I almost feel like narcissism should be on the autism spectrum. It's a complete disconnect from the ability to have empathy for anyone else. It's an inability - or a refusal - to recognize the boundaries between an appropriate amount of self-confidence and an over the top falsely inflated sense of your own importance.

You can never love a narcissist enough. Anything short of complete devotion and submission makes them doubt your loyalty. Yet... they want to surround themselves with "winners"... people who have the same strong sense of self-confidence. You simply can't be both confident enough to gain their respect and subservient enough to prove your loyalty. It's an impossible tug of war.

I had a new found respect for Sean Penn after watching Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" episode in Haiti. It showed Sean's devotion to the Haitian people... he has not just written checks but has actually stayed in Haiti, working tirelessly to improve their lives.

I just lost it when I heard that he is partnering with Charlie Sheen.

The more media attention Charlie receives, the worse the narcissism will get. Stop talking about him. Ignore him. Let him run out of money. Let the people who surround him - the "yes men" so to speak - let them drift away. Let him have a reality check. That's his only hope. Otherwise, he will self-destruct.

I lived with a narcissist who was above the law... above paying taxes... above paying bills, except for the ones that benefited him... above following the rules and regulations that keep society from falling apart... he was too smart to have to worry about his wife finding out he was cheating. He was too important to have to worry about being fired from his job. And when it all fell apart and his Pandora's Box was opened... he was too proud to even begin to understand or appreciate his role in it all. He blamed me for gaining weight and getting sick. He blamed his employer for being dishonest about his compensation package... it was a "sinking ship" therefore he didn't REALLY want to be there anyways.

One truth that is inescapable... if you can't accept your own responsibility in your failures, you are powerless to correct them. You're stuck. As long as everything is everyone else's fault, you're always a victim. This is another conflict for a narcissist... they are control freaks... they power trip... yet... they are victims.

In my situation... the narcissist projected his greatness on his own spawn. They were above failure. Any failure on their part had to be ignored... and it had to be someone else's fault... but never his. Their mothers were always to blame for any shortcomings. He was always to be honored for any successes.

One time the younger one wet his pants while he was in my care. He was 8 or 9 at the time... this was a common problem for him but one that was being ignored by his parents... we took a little road trip and on the way back, he wet his pants. It was MY FAULT for not stopping often enough for him to go to the bathroom. Anyone who knows me in real life can tell you... I've got a one hour bladder - at best. I never pass a bathroom. Anyone who has to go more often than me needs to be under a doctor's care. But I was the bad guy. I was also the bad guy when I suggested bringing a change of clothes for him the next time we were going to be away from the house for more than a few hours... rather than have him face the humiliation and embarrassment of going around with urine soaked clothes. But you see... my preparation for his potential failure... was viewed as an accusation that it would happen.

Past behavior is the best prediction of future behavior, isn't it?

The other thing about being around a narcissist... in order for them to always be the best... they have to make sure that the people around them fail. If you do everything according to their wishes, they change the rules, raise the bar higher, bring up your past "failures". They never celebrate or appreciate your success, unless it comes as a direct result of their influence. Unless there is some way it can bring honor to them, your success is mundane - "should have been expected".

You can see how difficult this would be for a person like me who celebrates the wonders of every day. I marvel at the sunrise... I appreciate the fact that the daffodils are starting to pop up everywhere. Yes, they do this every year but I've never stopped enjoying it. There are miracles all around us, if you allow yourself to see them.

Can you imagine a free spirit like me living with someone who demanded complete compliance with his every mandate? Or raising kids who are used to my unconditional love... who are used to forgiveness, not harsh judgement? I reward improvement, not perfection. In my heart, only one perfect person has walked the earth... the rest of us are but a vapor. Every life has a purpose and weight in this world... but there is only one who is worthy of worship.

Narcissists accept no less than worship.

From time to time, when it suits their purpose, they will fake humility... but there is always a manipulation involved in that humility. At one point, when I refused to cave into Michael's point of view... he spent 8 hours in the dark in our walk in closet. Eight hours. Straight. Without food or water.

For someone like me who is by nature a peacemaker... a people pleaser... a nurturer... someone who craves validation... can you imagine how disturbing it was to me to have him hiding in a closet and blaming ME for it? I spent those 8 hours running back and forth to the closet begging him to come out... bartering... pleading... asking forgiveness... for what, I'm not really sure... but whatever I did... I had to undo it.

Before I left Jacksonville... after all that had transpired... after discovering his mistress, his debt, his deceptions... after telling me that he "had tried but couldn't love me"...after my own suicide attempt where he (by his own recollection) left me to die, refused to call an ambulance, then abandoned me at the hospital while he went out for Kentucky Fried Chicken... then went back to the hospital and mockingly took photos of my naked, unconscious body and sent them to his mistress... after telling me that he was going to make sure I stayed in a psychiatric ward as long as he wanted... ... taking my keys to my car so that I couldn't leave him without his permission... he had the NERVE to stand in the parking lot of the hotel where i was staying and tell me that if I left, HIS LIFE WAS OVER. He had lost his hold on me which was the ultimate insult. He could no longer control me.

I see the same thing with Charlie Sheen. He lures these women in... treats them like "goddesses"... creates a dependence on him... and as long as they play by his rules, it's ok. But if they dare to consider him unfit... if they dare to try to prevent him from having what he wants, he throws tantrums... threatens custody suits... he manipulates them. If there is any type of reality check... if anyone dares criticize his behavior... he attacks.

I say all of this not to dig up old dirt... but because watching this whole Charlie Sheen mess unfold in public has helped me gain clarity over that time of my life. I have now (or will, in just a few days) been away from him as long as I was with him. I know that I am greatly empowered by the wisdom I gained from recovering from that trauma. I may always carry the scars but for me, the scars are badges of honor. The stubbornness in me was stronger than the delusion in him.

There are a lot of people who read this blog who have been scarred in the same way... or who are still being wounded by someone with a false sense of power or entitlement. Please know that you aren't strong enough on your own. Go to God... ask Him for strength. Narcissism is an evil tool that satan has used to destroy many, many people and it requires true, spiritual battle to overcome. Surround yourself by people who are loving, honest and compassionate. Don't allow your sense of self to be defined by someone who has a distorted view. Believe in yourself.

I still pray for Michael, almost every day. I still mourn the loss of what I believed was possible for us. But I am so glad that God brought me out of that life and into a new one. I know that He has plans for me and I am still working to be as close as I can to God's idea of perfect, not Michael's. I am enjoying my perfectly imperfect life... as a butterfly... flitting from flower to flower with appreciation and adoration for the simplistic beauty of my world.

Happy Saturday, y'all! Life is good!


MammawsDecorativeArt said...

I cannot applaud you enough for the bravery of the post. You've brought clarity and encouragement to me more times than you'll ever realize.

Adirondackcountrygal said...

I went thru hell with my daughter's father too, I can't imagine what you went thru. Taking pictures of you and sending them to his mistress. What a scumbag. I kept a blog when I was with my ex and talked about how I wanted to kill myself when my daughter was a newborn because I couldn't take his drinking anymore and he threatened me if I tried to throw him out and then I caught him with someone. A couple years later he found that I wanted to end it all and found him and his brother sitting there reading it on the computer and mocking me. No compassion at all. All he cared for was his expensive Irish whiskey because he fancied himself to be Irish. I could go on and on. I know a little about hell, we both were there..

alohanurse said...

THANK YOU for sharing, wow I thought my ex was mean... and he was (and still is).... your advice to go to God, and seek help, is precious and well-taken. I've felt that pain, and still do, it still destroys me even 8 years after my divorce, my self-esteem, my ability to trust, my sense that the world is a safe place... I really appreciate your honesty and openness xoxoxoxoxox