Ten Signs You Love a Narcissist

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My introduction to the concept of narcissism came by way of my mom reading me D’Aulairs’ Book of Greek Myths. The myth tells of a youth so infatuated with his own image that he drowns in a pool trying to kiss the beautiful face he sees reflected there. To me this meant that narcissists were people overcome with self-love and to avoid them I steered clear of the vain and self-important.  The irony was that I became a magnet for this type of mean and destructive individual.

The reasons someone is a narcissist is not your problem. Changing or fixing them is not your job, even if you could, which you can’t. If you love one you will have this impulse, you will want to soothe their troubled souls, and feed their endless need, my advice, my best advice based on experience is this Stop Yourself Now!

If you’re wondering if the one you love is a narcissist, here are ten ways to tell:

  1. Everything is your fault. Everything! The movie is bad, the restaurant disappointing, they can’t find their keys, it’s your fault. Nothing is ever their fault, so if something goes wrong, or just doesn’t conform to their plan, it’s you. This is the theme, it’s not them, it’s you.
  2. Narcissists are un-please-able. You can, and probably will turn yourself and your life upside down trying to please yours; it can’t be done. You can try to anticipate their needs, desires and whims—forget it.  You might try to surprise them with a lovely gift that you agonized about for days, they will at best be puzzled by your choice, and at worst be offended. They will probably not be gracious. Nothing, not your efforts, not your sincerest and most heartfelt attempts to please them will ever be enough.  Because…
  3. Narcissists are bottomless wells of need and pain, and they are one hundred percent unaware of this, in fact any anxiety or pain they feel is your fault (see #1). They will say they love you, in fact they will likely mean it, except what they think of as love is probably not what you think it is. For most people love is about intimacy and caring, growing closer and supporting each other. For them it’s about you fixing their limitless pain (caused by you or someone else). It is like trying to fill a tub without closing the stopper. Knowing the source of their pain won’t help; as far as they are concerned you or whatever nimrod ruined their day are the source of their pain.
  4. They will lie to your face. But not like regular, sneaky liars. They will stand in front of you screaming at you about your latest transgression—there you stand frozen with dread and flooded with shame–can the neighbors hear this?  You may say, or even yell back at them to stop screaming, and they will look you in the eye and perhaps even continue screaming as they insist they are not screaming. They would never do anything like scream at anyone, so it’s not possible that they are screaming. Denial is an important feature of narcissism.
  5. There is only one story—theirs. They will reinvent history and swear their story is the accurate one. They will insist that anything that doesn’t fit their self-perception (which is most of reality) either never happened or happened in a way that makes them either the victim or the hero, but never the cause, the obstacle, or responsible for the problem. They are obsessed with how they perceive themselves and anything or anyone that challenges that view is just plain wrong, because narcissists don’t lie, just ask one.
  6. You constantly question your own sanity. If you don’t have a witness to some crazy incident or event that made you want to scream, or run away from home (and you probably won’t because their public behavior is very different from what their loved ones get to enjoy)  record that event. Write it down, and include as many details as you can remember, and how you felt.  A narcissist is someone who will pinch you hard and if you say ouch they’ll tell you it didn’t hurt.  You think you will remember this event, and you probably will, but when it comes up at some later date your narcissist will insist that your version of the story is incorrect, that’s not what happened, or how it happened, they will be certain, so certain that you will start to doubt your own clear memory, you will wonder if you’re crazy, if you have written it down you’ll know you aren’t.  (I don’t recommend sharing this with your narcissist; that won’t end well.)
  7. It’s not just you. Chances are your narcissist has a job, and leaves the house regularly, where they are confronted with all sorts of assaults on their fragile view of themselves. They will come home complaining about all the idiots they are forced to put up with.  They suffer from road rage and you may worry about them getting into fights with strangers on the street. They spend a lot of time being angry about the inferiority of the rest of the world, about how stupid, incompetent and useless everyone else is. They will probably not help out much around the house, or anywhere else.  They need to be served by their minions.
  8. Your life is a landmine. What was OK yesterday is a big problem today, though next week it may be fine again. You must choose the movie, the restaurant, the friends you see, where to vacation, and then you must pay for making the inevitable wrong choice. Nothing will ever be good enough, so stop stressing over these decisions, and see the movie you want to see, because seeing the movie you think they want to see will backfire, almost every time. Almost is important here, because the choices you make will be acceptable about 15% of the time, just enough to completely throw you and justify them blaming you for the other 85% of things you do wrong.
  9. You just want them to be nice to you. Forget it; they don’t know what that means. They can be charming, or seductive, and clever, but not nice. They are unable to empathize with you or anyone else, so kindness isn’t really on their agenda, because they can’t see things from your point of view. They will accuse you of being the difficult one, to them this is a crystal clear truth, don’t believe it!
  10. You want to run away from home. Leaving (you will fantasize about it constantly) will be considered an act of war, so if you do finally decide you’ve had enough, or no longer recognize yourself, or just need a day when no one yells at you and tells you what a waste of air you are, be prepared. Just because they tell you on a daily basis that you are a wretched individual who makes their life a misery, does not mean they don’t love and need you. They do not want you to leave them, in fact how could you even think of it?  How dare you leave them?  You are the problem, if you would just change, everything would be just fine.

Leave anyway, because nothing will ever be just fine, not even for one day. Be prepared to pay for this final crime for a long time. Even if they find a new victim lover they will continue to punish you for as long as they can. You may never regret leaving, not for a moment, but you will forever rue the day you hitched your wagon to theirs, and they will help you with that every chance they get.

If you’re reading this and wondering if maybe you are a narcissist, don’t worry, I promise you are not. If the thought even crossed your mind if you wondered as you read this, ‘Am I guilty of some of this?’ you are hereby absolved.  No self-respecting, card carrying, full-on narcissist would ever entertain that possibility.  If they read this, they may even read parts of it aloud to you and say ‘this is just like Pete’ or Sue, ‘he/she is such a narcissist! I can spot them a mile away!’ Yes, they probably can, but not from up close!

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The Hobby Lobby Ruling Has Nothing to do with Religious Freedom

Though I was not surprised at the outcome of the case of Burwell V. Hobby Lobby, I was surprised by my own outrage, and shocked that so many people seem to think this has something to do with religious freedom . I felt sick and angry and really almost frantic. Lately I have jokingly said I’m thinking about leaving the US, about living elsewhere, and this decision has added another straw to my camel’s back; it isn’t yet broken, but we’re getting close. Despite the outcry of victory from the GOP, and the likes of people like Reince Priebus, Bobby Jindal, and Ted Cruz (individuals I have no regard for whatsoever) that this was a case about religious freedom, anyone who believes that has no understanding of what religious freedom is.

Religious freedom is a freedom everyone single person in America has. All of us, no matter what faith that is, or even if we choose, no faith. We have the right to practice the religion of our choice, and we have the right not to practice any religion. Because this is so critical I will re-state this, individuals have religious freedom, entities do not. Businesses are not citizens, they are not individuals, and they do not have freedoms and rights, people have freedoms and rights, business entities are just that. Their owners have the same rights as individuals, but their businesses are not them.

Almost all I’ve read or heard is saying this a women’s issue, and though it is, and it has diminished women in a deeply profound way, it isn’t just a women’s issue; those women who need contraceptives are having sex with men! I have read numerous posts etc. written by women who use some of the contraceptives included in this ruling, and they are using them for reasons other than preventing pregnancy, and of course they should have access to them, but what I hear when people bring up these issues is that at least they’re not using these things to prevent pregnancy, as if that is some dirty, shameful thing.

I’ve heard from multiple sources that 99% of women in the United States use some form of contraceptive, and most of them are trying to avoid pregnancy!  And all of them are having sex with men! And quite frankly that is a perfectly acceptable reason to want access to whatever form of birth control you, your partner and doctor feel is the best method for you. Contraceptives aren’t  just for sluts and whores (and I apologize for using those words, and my implication is that is what these male Justices, and most of the males of the GOP seem to think). Contraceptives are used by women and their male partners, some are married, and some aren’t, and regardless, the choice to engage in sex without risk of pregnancy is no one’s concern beyond theirs.

Add to this insanity the premise that these few (sic) methods are being banned not because they actually are abortifacients, when in actual fact they are not, but because the ignorant, and wealthy owners of Hobby Lobby seem to think they are. This case actually reached the Supreme Court and it is based on misinformation, and some fictional belief of religious zealots who feel they have the right to make decisions for their female employees!

Even more disturbing to me is the implied judgement that of you are poor (and I think in the eyes of the GOP poor=black/hispanic) you don’t deserve to have sex, and if you do have sex, your punishment is an unwanted child. I say this because it is these women who rely on subsidies to have access to contraception. They are poor! They often choose between feeding their kids and paying for their electricity, and what I infer from the righteous judgements and proclamations coming from the right is that these women have no business engaging in anything as pleasurable as sex, that is for rich white men, and women who can afford their IUDs, pills, etc. 

What I keep circling back to in my head is the play Lysistrata by Aristophanes, in which the women of Greece decide that the best way to convince the Men of Greece to end the Peloponnesian War is to withhold sex from their husbands until peace is declared.  I wonder how fast men would find a way around this ruling if the women of the US tried this. No sex until every woman has free access to whatever birth control she chooses! (This would probably reduce the number of abortions legal and otherwise are being performed now.) The odds of this happening are pretty slim, but maybe our plan B can be to get a Democratic majority back in the house, and make sure we put a Democrat in the white house in 2016.

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Stop Hitting Me in the Head With Your Bible!

god-speaks-english I have nothing against religion, in fact I encourage you to practice the religion of your choice, but please, stop hitting me over the head with your bible! My religion in none of your business, and quite frankly yours is of no interest to me. Someone seems to have sold the Tea Party on the idea that God:

  1. Is American
  2. Speaks English, exclusively
  3. Is White
  4. Is Christian
  5. Has a particular political agenda
  6. Hates certain groups of people

Let’s take these points one by one, and try to unravel them.

God is American (and of course so was Jesus). This is ludicrous on about a trillion levels, but let’s start with the fact that America as we know it today (inhabited mainly by non-indigenous people) has only existed for a few hundred years, and even evolution deniers concede the earth is 6,000 years old. Which leaves two options, God is actually a Native American (in which case we are in some deep shit) or God is an immigrant, hmmm…

God speaks only English. I think what this really means is that God is just for American Christians, not the rest of the God-less world population that includes Buddhists, Mulims, Jews, Hindus and of course atheists.  Just a little reminder that Jesus and the Disciples spoke Aramaic. Frankly I don’t believe God speaks at all. At one time people who claimed they heard God speaking to them were institutionalized, or medicated. Personally I don’t believe that God communicates directly with any of us. I mean there are seven billion of us!

God Is White. Do you recall this past Christmas when Fox “News” exploded when someone said that Santa might not be white? There are still plenty of people who think Jesus had blond hair and blue eyes (highly unlikely) and that his dad, God, is some old dude with white hair and flowing robes looking down at America and genially telling us which groups to hate. I am no biblical scholar, but I attended many years of religious school, and not once did anyone mention hate as part of the message from the bible (which incidentally people, not God wrote).

God is Christian. Well, if God were American (and we already covered this nonsense) there is a good chance God would be Christian, as 73% of Americans are Christian (but there are an awful lot of denominations under that umbrella), but the world is only 33% Christian, and since religion essentially is built on revering God, it doesn’t seem like God would participate in any religion, unless God is a serious narcissist, which is not out of the question.  As religions go, Christianity is the newest kid on the block. And if we’re going with the 6,000 year story (and it is a story) then what all was God doing for the 4,000 years before Christianity began? God has a political agenda. If you’re going to go all biblical, it seems like the only agenda God has is for us is to follow the ten commandments, and not one of those mentions voting Republican, and in fact if you look at the  Republican agenda, most of it goes against the ten commandments. When you can explain to me why Fundamentalist Christians aren’t murderers based on their actions like bombing abortion clinics, murdering doctors who perform abortions, and encouraging the proliferation of automatic weapons, and the ammunition that goes with them, I might buy your theory that all Muslims are terrorists.

God hates certain groups. God, as I understand things God only hates certain behavior. Not people, not things, not countries, not plants, or animals… you get the picture. Hate is a human emotion, and to take your hatred of anyone or anything is about as un-godlike, and, in fact un-Christian as it gets! Jesus spent his lifetime teaching love and compassion. Regardless of whether Jesus is your messiah or not, his teachings are about inclusion, not exclusion, about love, not hate, and about making and sharing peace, which is impossible if you’re busy spreading hate even if you think you’re doing it in the name of God! So please, practice whatever religion appeals to you, but leave it at home, or at church! Keep it out of our laws, our states, our public schools, and for God’s sake, stop hitting me, and everyone else over the heads with your bible!

Apologies

This past week Brian Schweitzer managed to offend what could be a record number of people in one interview. He said that southern men were effeminate, that he thought Eric Cantor seemed gay-ish (not that there’s anything wrong with that…) and compared Senator Dianne Feinstein to a hooker. Then he promptly apologized. Hmmm. It’s true you can’t un-say something, and I have said plenty of things that I needed to apologize for, as have most humans, but when you express your opinion, and that opinion is offensive, an apology just doesn’t cut it. You’ve already told us what you think, now you’re just apologizing for getting caught expressing your beliefs. The apology is a lie.

An apology works when you’ve hurt someone’s feelings by being too candid, by using the wrong tone of voice, letting someone down, breaking a promise, perhaps when you’ve betrayed a confidence (all things I’ve been guilty of). If you are sincere, and explain yourself, most people will accept your apology, and move on. If someone uses a racial or ethnic slur, or insults an entire group of people, an apology does nothing. You’ve notified us how you feel, and now you’re sorry someone heard you, you’re not sorry for what you feel, only for where or when you expressed it, and that’s not a real apology!

As a parent I often talk to my daughter about apologies. She is one of the kindest and most considerate people I know, and this isn’t just my parental opinion, her teachers have been telling me the same thing for the past ten years. Even this deeply sensitive and caring girl does careless and inconsiderate things. We all do. When I bring them to her attention it can be difficult sometimes for her to understand why I want an apology, and what she is apologizing for, but that is the key to a real apology. I’m sorry I did X and made you feel bad.  I’m sorry I left a mess for you to clean up, I’m sorry I forgot to turn the lights out. These are apologies. I’m sorry I expressed my racist, sexist, or homophobic thoughts out loud… you can apologize all day long for that, but I’m done with you, as you have now revealed your character to me, and for you there is no apology that will repair my opinion of you.

Enter our current climate of polarized opinions, dysfunctional government and a culture of entitlement.  Add to that a lot of noisy people who claim they are Christians with special access to God, and God’s agenda, while smacking people over the head with their bibles. ‘Oh, I said gays should and will burn in hell?  I’m sorry, what I meant to say is that I don’t support marriage equality’. Thanks for clearing that up…   We are all moving too fast to worry about the impact we’re having on others, and if and when someone notices, we slap together a meaningless apology and move on, and chances are so does everyone else, except maybe the injured party, but maybe even them, because we’re not really listening anyway.

We live in a land of lies. In fact the media even encourages it. We demand apologies when what we should be looking for is a change of heart. We let people off easy, with a fake apology, rather than asking them to face the people they have offended, and giving them an opportunity to see they are real people. It is easy to be glib and dismissive, and even perniciously hateful to someone who isn’t real to you, but to sit down with them, with one or two people from the group you claim is evil, forces you to examine both them (as individuals) and yourself, as you are literally brought face to face with your hate-fueled feelings.

It is easy to hate a group, it is just as easy to blithely and insincerely apologize to them. We need to stop accepting both these scenarios. We need to start asking some different questions, and making some different demands. Don’t ask Mitt Romney to apologize to 47% of America, instead ask him to sit down with just five of them, and keep his mouth shut, and really listen to them tell him who they are.  Homophobia is on the decline because as more and more gay people are out and part of the community the community embraces the individuals, and that feeling of acceptance spreads wider and wider. It is easy to toss off an apology to a faceless group of people, but much harder to deliver a genuine, from the heart apology to just one.

 

 

 

Today, It’s About Hate (which is really about love)

I grow more and more weary and wary of the state of the Unites States, almost daily. I have lived on a coast my entire life, and except for a few years have lived in a city, so much of what terrifies me is happening in an America I feel increasingly distant from. The news is filled with stories of hate. People who claim they know what God wants, a notion that 40 years ago would have landed them in a mental institution not in Congress…

People who seem to believe that God is a white, American, gun-toting man who knows that (armed) rich white men should be running things, while the poor get poorer, minorities are so obstructed form participating in our “democracy” they give up, and where women should really go back to keeping their mouths shut, and their wombs open and ready. No birth control, no access to abortion, and no assistance for the children you must bear, and if you don’t want children, don’t have sex, BUT, you really should submit to any man who wants you, or he may kill you.

I see people who claim to be Christians insisting that God Hates Gays, when I can’t think of one religion that believes God hates anyone. God may judge us, may find us wanting or falling down, or even worthy of punishment, but not because we love, no matter who that is.  I can’t imagine a God who would hate anyone of us, even the most horrible and reprehensible individuals on the scale of a Hitler or Jeffery Dahmer. I hope there is a special place if Hell for the likes of them, but more as a system of accountability than hatred.

Hating or disdain for women though seems even more widespread than homophobia, and much more insidious. I know plenty of men who though they may not actually hate women, certainly don’t like them. These men though don’t even understand that they don’t like women, because they do want to have sex with them, and they mistake desire for regard. Look at all the groups and clubs and societies created around denigrating women. The PUA, the PUAHaters, Return of Kings etc. whose mission is to glorify men and shame, diminish and objectify women who they claim they love. Give me a break!

In my life I have been fortunate to be raised by a father who admired, respected and had actual friends that were women. I have had teachers, and professors, bosses and peers who truly like women, who actually consider them people. I have also dealt with men who claimed they respected women, but whose actions told another story. Fortunately none of these men resorted to violence (that I know of) but unfortunately they made things very difficult for me and other women around them. While others looked on, but didn’t see what was right in front of them.

Sexism is deep and prevalent everywhere. From comments about Hillary Clinton’s age, or impending grandchild, to  comments about every pound gained or lost by women in Hollywood pantheon.  Women are judged on appearance, style, and their boyfriends/husbands and then maybe their substance, in that order. Do you think Angelina Jolie would have the level of adoration and accolades for her charitable work (which is noble) if she was less jolie?

Would I be writing this is I were a thin and gorgeous woman? Hard to say, but I hope that my brain, my integrity and my powers of observation would not be diminished in any way were I prettier!

As long as we perpetuate the notion that women are less than, other and creatures to be conquered, and bested, seduced and bedded, into subservience, men will feel justified in harming, raping, killing and objectifying us.

 

 

It’s All About Love

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daily offering in Indonesia

Last night my daughter and I saw a movie that like many movies was all about love. This is not a movie review, of Million Dollar Arm. though we both really enjoyed the movie, it is a reflection inspired by it. I love a movie in which the characters evolve and grow, become better people, and realize what’s really important  to them. JB is not a bad guy, just a guy chasing the right thing the wrong way. It takes him a long time to realize that love is the key to getting what he’s chasing. This isn’t much of a spoiler, it is pretty clear from the start…

Love is something so many of us struggle with. Love and it’s partner vulnerability, are what often stand in the way of finding and creating love in our own lives. I know they are for me. Throughout my life I’ve experienced so many relationships in which I loved and was not loved back. The two longest relationships of my life were with people who loved me, while I was ambivalent. In both cases I was tired of being alone, tired of pining for someone who couldn’t or wouldn’t return my ardor. I knew I was taking the role of all those lovers who hadn’t fully been there for me, and though I thought that was a preferable situation, I was terribly wrong. Of course both ended badly.

Now again I am alone. I have been alone for longer than I care to admit even to myself. I have my daughter (half the time) and so my life is filled with love, and yet with no partner, no romance, no kisses, I am deeply alone. Besides sex, which of course I want, I long for someone to talk to late at night, someone to help me fix things around the house, and in my head, I want another opinion about the color of the deck, if I’m overreacting, or if I look pretty. I want company and intimacy and private jokes and petty annoyances and someone to hold my hand during the scary parts of the movie, or life. I want love. 

Finding love is tough under the best of circumstances, and by circumstances I mean if you’re beautiful and thin. I am neither, and though I could be thinner (theoretically) I have tried to be thinner for almost my entire life, without much success. I saw a video yesterday in which a woman described her body as soft and luscious, and I wept. Could someone ever see me that way, and even more important, could I ever see myself that way? Would someone really see me, and love me if I could really see and love myself? Talk about vulnerability!

It amazes me that I understand that it’s all about love. That letting go of most of the other things we chase, and embracing ourselves, and others is the path to everything else we want. And yet I hold back, hoping love will come to me, not willing to risk going out and finding it.