Exes and Razor Blades

April 10, 2017

Last night I had a dream that involved my first “real” ex-girlfriend. We were together in the dream, or at least living together. I told her things about our relationship “then” (at the “time” of the dream) that would apply to anyone who would be my mate now.

After I woke up, I wondered if she was a symbol of “The Female” in ALL of my past relationships…and if my words to her in the dream were meant to express (to my conscious self) my attitude now.

My real-life relationship with her began a very long process of extracting out of myself an inner brokenness that attracted me to females who personified something lost in me, a battle not won, a love not attained. It was like other romances (both before and since) that brought angst instead of love–dysfunction and demands, incessant emotional vitriol and high sexual energy.

I thought about contacting her today. “Hey, I had a dream about you last night. Is everything OK?” And I didn’t. There’s no reason to.

——–

I wondered today if my dream applies somehow to a more recent ex, or if it even could. But I don’t believe it could. Being in a romantic relationship is like giving your partner a razor blade and letting him or her shave your throat. When you give someone a razor so she can shave you, and halfway through the shave she tries to cut your throat, you don’t want her to “shave” you again.

Short of cutting your throat, even ranting and raving at the sky and waving the razor wildly in the air while you rest your head in front of her is plenty of reason to end the shave (and be reluctant to repeat the experience). Similarly, holding the razor to your throat and “only threatening” to cut it is sort of a deal-breaking incident…even if the rest of the shave was just fine.

I’ve had all of these figurative experiences in romantic relationships.

One ex showed me repeatedly that she can’t be trusted near my neck even with a letter-opener. After a couple of botched shaving experiences with her, I figured we could start again with that and work our way up–first a letter-opener, then a small pocketknife, then maybe a bigger one, and eventually back up to a razor–but every time I was proven wrong.

If you can’t trust someone to shave you without cutting your throat (especially on purpose, but even by accident), that person can’t be your mate. Or am I missing something? Is there value in just giving someone a razor and letting them cut your throat?

——–

Recently, in the absence of both relationship drama and the angst of the pursuit of romantic love, I’ve turned more towards broader ideas about “truth, justice, and the American way” (to quote Superman) or “the nooks and crannies of life and the human experience” (to quote myself).

And I spend time with my kids. And I work. And I write, when I can, about things that I’ve learned in these 42-plus years of living.

What matters most is what matters most, and I’ve learned that what matters most is learning and knowing myself. Romantic relationships, more than any other experience, have taught me this, and they also have brought me my life’s greatest joys: human connection, self-knowledge, the ability to express it in words…and my children.

For that, I am grateful for the romances in my past, whether or not I have one in the future–but I’ve also learned that I can shave my own throat just fine. Or I can keep my beard.

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Do Narcissists Suck at Tickling?

January 23, 2017

Tickling requires empathy. It’s a psychological game (in a positive sense). One can’t tickle oneself; tickling requires a partner and, like most human interactions, when done the “right” way it’s a give-and-take.

Tickling is fun! It’s enjoyable. And some people suck at it–or refuse to do it (or do it right) at all. Like many enjoyable experiences, the main point of tickling is to induce laughter–and to have fun while giving or receiving the tickling.

Tickling doesn’t take much effort, and it can build trust and intimacy between people. It tends to be an interaction between children, or between adults and children. Adults who tickle each other tend to be friends, romantic partners, or potential romantic partners.

“Flintstone! Get in here on the double and tickle me!”
“Yes, Mr. Slate!”
(Um, no.)

Tickling can be a healthy or unhealthy interaction, depending partly on the psychological condition of the person doing the tickling. It can be done the right way or the wrong way. People can mess it up or even accidentally hurt whomever they’re tickling. It can even be used to abuse another person.

Tickling, then, can be a sort of barometer for a person’s psychological health.

“Tickler Types”

I’ve experienced several kinds of tickling or ticklers. Interestingly, only one of them is what I consider to be psychologically healthy.

1. The excellent tickler. This person enjoys tickling and being tickled. He or she knows how to tickle–where to focus one’s efforts; how to find the best “tickle spots”; which techniques to use; and when to stop. This tickler was tickled as a child in a healthy manner…or wasn’t, but has recovered the natural childlike ability and desire to engage in tickling. The excellent tickler understands the psychological dimension of tickling, including the fact that physical contact isn’t always necessary to induce laughter while tickling.

2. The doofus. This person wants to be a good tickler, and even tries his or her hand at it (quite literally)…but sucks at it. The “doofus tickler” botches it somehow, messes it up, or accidentally causes pain while “tickling”. The doofus doesn’t understand the psychology behind tickling, but still is willing to give it a shot…but his or her tickling isn’t really fun for the other person.

3. The faker. This person also doesn’t understand the psychology of tickling, but also doesn’t really want to do it. Tickling isn’t enjoyable to the faker, but, for the sake of the relationship, he or she pretends that it is. Fake tickling isn’t really fun or enjoyable, though.

4. The sexual tickler. With sexual or romantic partners, tickling can lead to sex or be an early part of foreplay. It can help one or both partners “get in the mood”–precisely because healthy tickling fosters trust and intimacy between people. For the sexual tickler, though, tickling is intended to lead to sexual interaction. Whether the other person knows it or not, tickling for this person is a calculated way to create physical closeness and induce trust and intimacy (falsely, as it were) in the other person so that the tickler can use it to make a sexual advance.

5. The torturer. This is a sadistic tickler. Rather than tickling to have fun, laugh, and strengthen trust and intimacy, the torturer uses it to dominate and inflict pain on the other person. The torturer enjoys not the tickling itself, but the suffering that sadistic tickling causes. With this person, tickling might appear to begin quite “normally” (to the unfortunate target), but it quickly descends into sadism: holding the target down, tickling “too hard” and digging into soft areas; ignoring the target’s pleas to stop; and even “tickling” until the victim cries or soils his or her pants. (The latter seems to be a goal of some sadistic ticklers.) The torturer was likely “torture-tickled” as a child and now “tickles” sadistically in the same way that other abused people become abusers. Sadistic tickling is abusive.  It is a violation of another person–indeed, it is torture.

6. The non-tickler. This person doesn’t enjoy or like tickling or being tickled–and may even say that he or she “hates” being tickled. The non-tickler was likely tickled by a sadistic tickler as a child, probably more than once. Having lost much (or all) of the joy in the laughter and bonding that tickling fosters, the non-tickler associates “fun” with pain…and probably enjoys other pleasant activities less, too. This person was a target of abuse–torture, no less–in the name of “fun” and as a result has experienced emotional trauma from tickling.

Psychology of Tickling

Many children and adults love to be tickled, but only to a certain point. Beyond that certain point, tickling stops being enjoyable and becomes (psychologically, if not physically) painful. Why is this?

The physical-and-psychological “game” of tickling involves consenting to a certain degree of vulnerability to another person. One (theoretically) willingly allows the intrusion of someone else’s body into sensitive and soft parts of one’s own: mainly the belly, sides, armpits, and neck. Indeed, the armpit is the quintessential “tickling area” in our culture.

These areas are not “public-access” body parts, like the hands, forearms, upper back, or shoulder areas are for some people. “Tickling areas” are semi-private parts of the body, normally reserved for close associates and trusted intimate partners. One does not publicly touch a stranger’s belly, sides, armpits, or neck (or, for that matter, touch these parts of anyone but the closest intimates without permission).

Moreover, these areas are vulnerable to harm. The soft tissues of the “tickling regions” are among the easiest body parts to damage through assault. They are the parts (along with the face and genitals) that we protect when we assume the fetal position or roll up into a ball to avoid physical trauma.

These are also semi-sexual areas. A spouse or romantic partner might affectionately touch his or her mate on the neck, side, or belly. Touching these parts of a child’s body is normally, “properly” reserved for close family members, same-age playmates, and medical professionals. It can be alarming to a parent when a stranger touches one’s child in these areas–even (or perhaps especially) to tickle the child.

[IMPORTANT NOTE:  Tickling a child without the prerequisite relationship might be a way for a pedophile (in this case, a pathological variety of the “sexual tickler”) to get close and gain access to a child. The excuse to a suspicious parent of “Aw, I’m only tickling her! See? She likes it!” can be the doorway that grants a pedophile access (if the excuse is accepted) or denies it (if rejected).]

When we consent to being tickled, we are handing over a degree of power to another person–for a specific purpose (mutual enjoyment) and period of time (until either one of us says we’re done). If that power is abused, particularly if we are helpless to avoid or overcome that abuse, we suffer emotional trauma. “Too much tickling” can be a personal violation.

On the other hand, observing the “rules” of tickling teaches us some valuable lessons.  The main “rules” of tickling might be as follows:

1) Don’t tickle too hard.
2) Stop when the tickled person says to.
3) Don’t tickle inappropriate areas of the body.
4) Be nice.

Following these “rules” teaches us about trust, vulnerability, respect, personal boundaries, consent, and cooperation. Tickling is itself practice in these domains of personal interaction.

Healthy and Unhealthy Tickling

A psychologically healthy person is likely to be an excellent tickler. He or she can tickle (with respect) and be tickled (with vulnerability). In my opinion, it is developmentally important that a child NOT be abused by tickling. Such abuse can affect the child’s ability to trust others, be vulnerable, and even to enforce his or her own personal boundaries against violation.

By the same token, someone who abuses the “tickling game” is showing a lack of respect, disregard for consent, and willingness to take advantage of someone else’s vulnerability.

Observing how someone tickles can reveal much about that tickler’s psychological health. So can observing how willing they are to be tickled. If the person tickles like a “doofus” or fakes it, he or she has likely been “torture-tickled” before. If someone effectively uses tickling to abuse others, that person likely has other issues that cause harm.

Of the six “tickler types” listed above, a Narcissist is likely to fall in types #2-6. Unable to understand the psychology of tickling, he or she will tend to either suck at it, fake it, use it as a sexual advance, use it to dominate others,, or avoid it altogether.

Non-Narcissists might also fall into these categories, but a Narcissist will not be an excellent tickler–because the “game” of tickling requires empathy in order to do it well. Empathy is one psychological game that the Narcissist is not able to play.


The Narcissists’ Playbook

October 29, 2016

One of the first steps out of Narcissistic abuse is the realization that one is, in fact, dealing with a Narcissist.  I’m going to generalize a lot here (quite legitimately, I believe), but first, here’s my definition of a Narcissist:

a person who deceives others in order to take, deplete, and consume their life energy (“soul”) because the Narcissist lacks it

I wrote an article explaining and expanding upon this definition here.

The Uniformity of Survivors’ Experience

Narcissists all seem to operate according to the same “playbook”–as if they were all receiving basically the same instruction or guidance from the same source.  This is why survivors of Narcissistic abuse can legitimately refer en masse to “Narc(issist)s” or “a/the Narc(issist)” without further qualification and still be understood by other survivors.

It is in comparing one’s own experiences with the experiences of others who have endured similar (Narcissistic) dysfunction and abuse, up close and personal, that one finally becomes aware of the problem of Narcissism and all that it entails. With awareness comes choice, and with choice comes change.

These survivors’ experiences are characteristically similar…sometimes eerily, uncannily, almost exactly similar.  There is a certain calling card or modus operandi in the behavior of a Narcissist.  These practically uniform behaviors seem to point in a single direction, to a single source, as if there were a “Narcissists’ Club” with certain rules and standards of behavior (however low they may be).

(Maybe there’s even a Secret Narcissist Handshake, accompanied by a wink and a smirk.  Notice that Narcissists tend to leave each other alone.)

The Unique Individual Narcissist

There is some variation, of course.  Narcissists are not all literally exactly like each other.  The possibly universal set of traits that comprise “Narcissism” are tempered in the individual by the personality:  the unique set of characteristics that are one’s own and nobody else’s.  This is the case even for Narcissists.

So not all Narcissists are identical to each other, though they all may be strikingly in accord with each other.  Even an army–the very model of uniformity!–has dozens of different jobs, each with its own set of behaviors, functions, and even equipment.

Still, one who is not a soldier, but who knows what a soldier looks like, can easily identify one by his or her appearance and behavior.  So also can one who knows what a Narcissist “looks like” can easily identify one by his or her appearance and behavior, despite his or her similarity to everybody else.

To others, alas, the Narcissist does look just like everybody else, and to point him or her out to others might make one look crazy to some people.  “He’s got a shirt and pants and shoes just like everybody else.  So what if he sulks a bit?  He’s just having a bad day/week/month/year/etc., that’s all.  Lighten up!”

But are Narcissists really “just like everybody else”?

Disorder, Distortion, and Dysfunction

I may risk seeming unnecessarily divisive here, but I submit:

I’m being necessarily divisive here because Narcissists are NOT “just like everybody else”.  They may LOOK just like everybody else, but on the inside…well, they use a different “playbook” than everybody else!

There obviously isn’t some physical book, issued to every Narcissist, that could be found and read and exposed and re-printed for all to see.  The “playbook” is a sort of mental blueprint or psychological programming.  It can be “read” by observing the Narcissist’s behaviors–especially up close and personal, such as in a romantic or familial relationship with a Narcissist.

Observing a Narcissist’s public display of “acceptable” behaviors generally will NOT reveal the inner workings of the Narcissist, who can and does (as a lifestyle) deceive therapists, co-workers, teachers, authorities, social acquaintances, business associates, and friends of the family.  There’s nothing necessarily wrong with the Narcissist’s intelligence (perhaps unfortunately).

The problem is in the Narcissist’s disordered thinking, distorted feeling, and dysfunctional behavior.  (Perhaps these are three chapters in The Narcissists’ Playbook.)

Public vs. Private Behaviors

There are certain rules and standards that are understood and agreed upon in human societies.  Some behaviors are acceptable and others are not.  Many that are not acceptable are considered crimes.  Most people do their best to go pretty much by the same rules and standards that “everybody else” goes by.

The Narcissist knows very well what those social rules and standards are.  In fact, his or her survival as a Narcissist (read: his or her double identity) depends on knowing them very well.

But, as already mentioned, the Narcissist has his or her own (read: secret) rules and standards, as demonstrated by the behaviors endured–again, almost universally–by survivors of Narcissistic abuse.  Moreover, the Narcissist is able to “behave” him- or herself in certain (read: public) scenarios, while being quite secretive about his or her more abusive and socially unacceptable, or even criminal, behaviors.

This is one reason why Narcissists aren’t considered “crazy” by mainstream society (apart from simple public ignorance of the problem).  The popular logic goes somewhat like this:

If the Narcissist doesn’t do it all the time, then he or she can control it and therefore is NOT “crazy” because crazy people can’t control their behavior!

But they can surely hide their many dysfunctions and abuses when it really matters, can’t they?  There are words that describe this sort of behavior in grown-ups, such as slimy, manipulative, shady, sketchy, two-faced, treacherous, devious, deceptive, lying, and insidious…but, of course, not crazy.

Crazy people can’t all follow the same playbook, can they?


MY Truth, YOUR Truth, or THE Truth?

October 11, 2016

There is Truth and there is not-Truth. Not-Truth is not necessarily LIES, but it is falsehood.

There’s even “your” Truth and “my” Truth–but these are also false if they are not TRUE. The only “my Truth” and “your Truth” that is actually true is my or your perspective on THE Truth.

If what I claim as “my Truth” is not true to begin with, then it’s not a perspective on Truth at all. It’s just what I’m choosing to see, whether it’s true or false.

One’s perspective can be true, or it can be false. It’s just a point of view. But if one isn’t looking at Truth to begin with, then one can hardly claim one’s perspective to be one’s (or anybody’s) “Truth”.

But many still do. In fact, most of the time when people say that a perspective is their “Truth”, I’ve found that perspective not to be true at all! If one SEES Truth, there’s no need to call it “my” Truth.

It’s just the Truth.

It would be true for the person to simply say what their “Truth” really is: their opinion. Opinions are not Truth, even if we say they are, even if we climb them and conquer them and plant the flag of Truth in them.

A rock is not bread just because a person claims it to be, and one cannot really “plant the flag of Truth” anywhere. Truth is self-existent and self-evident to anyone who wishes to see it.

One does not create Truth by declaring that something is “true”, even if only “for” him- or herself. Truth does not exist only for certain people, and it doesn’t transform itself according to either people, perspectives, or opinions. It’s simply there, and either one SEES it or one doesn’t.

Truth is OBJECTIVE. It exists apart from any one (or anyone’s) point of view. One’s perspective of Truth, though, is SUBJECTIVE. It exists only in and from one’s own point of view.

These can and do exist together.

However, one’s opinion (or, indeed, falsehood) is also SUBJECTIVE–also existing in and from one’s point of view. The mere fact that an opinion (or falsehood!) can be transferred from one person’s point of view to another does not make that opinion OBJECTIVE, though.

The transference of a SUBJECTIVE viewpoint (whether one’s Truth or one’s falsehood) from one person to another requires the act of BELIEF. This is not the same as perceiving Truth from one’s own perspective, which requires NO belief.

One does not BELIEVE Truth, except by accident, because Truth is DIRECTLY perceived, with no middleman or intermediary involved–just the SUBJECT (point of view) and the OBJECT (Truth perceived).

Two people who both see their own perspectives of Truth have no conflict in their views because there is, and can be, no conflict between “my” Truth and “your” Truth. Truth is One!

But LIES are many.

When a person in conflict falls back on the claim of “my Truth”, rather than pointing to OBJECTIVE Truth, beware! If you cannot see Truth yourself, you may end up believing LIES instead.


20 Things I “Should” Have Said to Narcissists in My Life…But Didn’t

September 5, 2016

We’ve all had those times when we thought:

“Man! I should have said _______! I wish I’d thought of it then!”

This is a tongue-in-cheek list of comebacks that a (hopefully former) target of Narcissistic abuse might wish he or she had said after a Narcissist has just thrown down the latest red flag, or a deal-breaker.

These are meant to entertain (and maybe facilitate healing and recovery for) folks who have been there.  I’m not suggesting in any way that anyone should actually say any of these to a real, live person!

These are NOT problem-solving communication strategies (which don’t work for very long with Narcissists anyway)—and, depending on the situation, any or all of them might be dangerous to say to an easily enraged person.

In real life, the best thing to say to a Narcissist or Borderline is as little as possible, before and after carefully and peacefully making one’s exit. Leave the talk therapy to the talk therapists, who are trained to do it, and tend to your own well-being.

So, just for the fun of it, these are humorous but empowering comebacks that I personally might have said (but didn’t) in real-life situations with various Narcissists and Borderlines I’ve been close to over the years, in response to things that they have actually said or done.

I would never say most of these things to a Narcissist or Borderline in person. There’s just no point in it, and no need to. In real life, I would simply end the conflict by removing myself from the situation with as little conversation (drama) as possible.

——–

1. What’s that? I’ll never find anyone who will love me as much as you do, sacrifice as much as you have for our relationship, or give up as much as you have to be with me? It sounds like you’d be way better off without me. Let’s make it happen, starting…now!

2. I’m sorry to cut you off in mid-rant, but I don’t spend my time with people who call me those names, speak to me at that volume, or use profanity with that much poison. Especially not all three, like you’re doing now. Goodbye.

3. If you really cared about my relationship with my kids, you’d stop calling and texting me with drama and emotional chaos when I’m spending time with them. See ya!

4. No, I’m really not the cause of all of your problems. But let’s find out. Later, gator.  I’m sure everything will be better for you tomorrow.

5. If you think you “might” have multiple personalities, I think I “might” believe that either 1) you do, 2) you’re crazy, or 3) you’re just trying to manipulate me. Either way, I only date one person at a time, and I require that they be both sane and decent. Happy trails!

6. I see that you’re trying to bully me right now. Let’s see if you can do it all by yourself. Ciao!

7. You say that you (destroyed my stuff/told lies about me/said horrible things to me) because you were upset? I say you’ve shown me that you have no self-control and I should probably fear for my life around you. So I’m done being around you now.

8. I’m sorry. I wasn’t paying attention to your tirade. I was blocking your number before I go, in case I forget to do it after I leave—that is, leave you—for good.  Like, right now.

9. I know you seem very humble right now, and your apology sounded very sincere. However, since this is like the 20th time you’ve played this game with me, I’m going to start playing a new game. It’s called “Life Without You.” So long!

10. Wow. I’m amazed that one person can tell so many lies in such a short time. I think I’ll tell you a lie now: I’ll still be here with you in one minute.

11. I’m glad that you felt the need to confess that you went through all my Facebook and text messages while I was (gone/asleep) the other day. I have a confession to make, too. I don’t date people who have such disregard for my own personal boundaries and privacy, so I’m going to stop dating you immediately.

12. Sure, I’ll throw out all of the notes I saved from high school and the photos that were lying safely in my keepsake box in the closet while I was at work and you were sitting in my apartment with nothing better to do than rummage through my personal things. I’ll do it right after I throw you out of my life. Oh, and yes, I’m actually keeping my old notes and photos instead of you.

13. Thank you for accidentally dropping your mask so I could see what a spiteful, vindictive person you are underneath that sexy exterior. Unfortunately, I’d rather masturbate than have sex with someone like that, so I’m going to go home now and enjoy a night to myself—the first in a long string of many nights alone that I’m frankly looking forward to after enduring your shit for so long.

14. That’s such a delicious (meal/dessert/treat) that you (cooked/bought) me to try to make up for dumping me last (week/month) and screwing your ex. I hope you like it, because I’m eating an entire pizza by myself tonight and watching 300.  With my phone off.

15. If you were speaking Chinese, what you just said wouldn’t bother me. However, you were speaking English, so I’m just going to forget you exist. Bye!

16. I appreciate you confessing that you drank too much at a party and had a sexual encounter with your ex while I was out of town.  Looks like it’s time for me to move on now.

17. If you wake me up in the middle of the night to fight with me one more time, I’m going to leave and go sleep in a hotel room for the night.  No, wait.  Once was enough.  Enjoy having the house all to yourself from now on.

18. You said I’m a what?  Oh, you must have me confused with somebody else.  I’ll just go now so you can find that person.  I don’t want to mess up your search for the perfect partner.

19. Ah, yes.  It’s all about you.  Everything revolves around youYou’re the judge, jury, and executioner.  What you say goes.  You’re the boss.  If I had seen this in you sooner, I would have left just as fast as I’m about to leave now.

20. No, I don’t understand.  I know and see that your behavior over time took a nose dive from angelic to suck, and I hear you justifying it now with excuses of being (drunk/hurt/angry/scared/etc.) to me now, but I don’t feel or act that way.  I can’t relate to it.  Frankly, I don’t want to.

I’d rather just be a decent human being than try to twist my mind to accept that the rules don’t apply to you and that you have a free pass to do whatever you want, without consequence or accountability.  Guess what?  You don’t.  Let me show you by removing myself from your world.


What IS a “Narcissist”??

August 8, 2016

First, here’s my own definition:

Narcissist (n.) a person who deceives others in order to take, deplete, and consume their life energy (“soul”) because the Narcissist lacks it

Let’s break this down and look at the Narcissist a bit more closely.

1.  The Narcissist lacks life energy.

It’s well-known in the Narcissistic Abuse Recovery community that a Narcissist requires continual “Narcissistic supply” from other people.  This energy comes in visible forms such as time, attention, effort, and sex.

(Money is a tangible thing that we usually acquire by exchanging our energy for it.  It serves several roles in Narcissistic abuse and merits its own discussion elsewhere.)

In other words, a Narcissist is dependent on other people for a form of energy that they have (and can give) but the Narcissist lacks.  Thus, the Narcissist needs one or more human targets as sources of supply.

Without this energetic “supply,” the Narcissist experiences such emotions as boredom, irritability, panic, and/or rage.  These resemble withdrawal symptoms, so it seems that Narcissism can be compared to an addiction–a dependency on energy received from other people.

What is this energy?

It isn’t electricity.  It isn’t food or nutrition.  It isn’t sunlight or microwaves or gravitation.  “Narcissistic supply” is another form of energy, one which can be exchanged between people and used in the process of human living.  It can also be used up, hence the Narcissist’s continual demands for it.

I call it “life energy”.

2.  Life energy is “soul”.

Non-Narcissists (that is, the rest of us grownups) don’t require this energy from others because we produce it within ourselves and use it for ourselves, sort of like having rechargeable batteries.  We use this “life energy” to live and thrive as human beings.  We also use the excess of it, beyond what we need for ourselves, as a sort of fuel to sustain our relationships.

If we run low on life energy, we have to replenish it by resting or “recharging” in some way.  This is called “taking care of you.”  We all need life energy just as we need food, and–also like food–we don’t have an unlimited supply of it.  (Just ask anyone who has raised children.)

If we don’t have enough of this energy to give, our relationships suffer.  When we continually give life energy to a Narcissist (or anyone else) who continually demands it, the giving of it drains us.  Our supply becomes the Narcissist’s supply.  Eventually, our relationships and even our health can fail because our life energy, our vitality, is drained.

This is how Narcissistic abuse weakens the target, invisibly, from the inside out.

What is this “life energy” that is not electricity or food; can take the form of time, attention, effort, or sex; can be depleted in the process of sustaining human life, health, and relationships; and can be shared or exchanged with others?

Basically, it’s emotional energy.

Emotion or feeling is a function of the heart–not the physical muscle, but the non-physical inner “feeling part” of a human being’s psyche.  The heart, on a deeper level, is connected to the soul.  (This is another subject that merits its own discussion elsewhere.)

Many people who have been targets of Narcissistic abuse describe the experience as “soul-crushing” or “soul-destroying.”  Some have said that the Narcissist “has no soul.”  This is because of the Narcissist’s continual demands for emotional energy from others, depleting their life energy, their vitality, their “soul”…as if the Narcissist lacks his or her own “soul.”

On the other hand, recharging our life energy–our emotions, our heart, our vitality–makes us FEEL good and strong on the inside; it’s “good for the soul.”

Narcissistic abuse is an assault on the heart and soul of a target.  Ultimately, it’s an inner struggle between the target and the Narcissist, which is why other people do not recognize it.

3.  A Narcissist takes, depletes, and consumes other people’s life energy (“soul”).

Let’s look at Narcissistic abuse from the other side, from the point of view of the Narcissist’s target of abuse (his or her source of supply).

In “normal” or healthy human relationships, people give of themselves to each other with some form of mutual understanding or reciprocity.  What we give can be in the form of time, attention, effort, or sex–and we tend to receive these forms of energy from others in return.

In other words, “normal” or psychologically healthy people respect each other.

When we freely give other people our energy, and expect no gift in return, we call this “love”.  Love is how we share our life energy with our children.  It’s also how a (grownup) Narcissist expects and demands to receive it from others.

A Narcissist wants to receive other people’s life energy freely, without having to give anything in return.  But the never-ending Narcissistic demand for supply is not love.  It’s the opposite of love.

Love gives freely.  Narcissism demands…for free.  However, unbeknownst to the target who is willing to give freely to the Narcissist, there will be no end to the giving, nor to the demands for it.

Children will eventually grow out of their normal “narcissistic” developmental stage and stop demanding supply, becoming adults who can produce their own supply.  Adult Narcissists will not, because they are apparently stuck in the “narcissistic” stage of childhood growth forever.

A Narcissist does not (and maybe cannot) respect his or her target–because the Narcissist is not psychologically healthy.  For whatever reason, the Narcissist doesn’t have enough life energy to give to others, or the ability to produce or even sustain it.  But the Narcissist can be quite good at faking it.

Indeed, pretending may be the Narcissist’s only strategy for survival.

4.  The Narcissist deceives others.

Ideally, a person has enough life energy to fulfill his or her own needs and share some with others in respectful, loving relationships.  I like to think of this as like a cup being filled to overflowing and spilling over to others.

A Narcissist, lacking this life energy in his or her own cup, seeks it from others–but, having none to give in return, the Narcissist (like a child) can only take it.  But the Narcissist’s “cup” never seems to stay filled and always demands more, more, endlessly MORE.

No amount of giving to a Narcissist ever seems to be enough.

A human being’s life energy is not unlimited.  Most people do not wish to endlessly pour their own life energy into another person’s “cup” on demand and deplete their own until (and beyond) the point of self-harm.  Psychologically healthy people may be willing to sacrifice their soul for love, but they don’t wish to sacrifice it for nothing.

However, since this is exactly what a Narcissist requires, he or she must therefore deceive other people into giving their life energy freely to the Narcissist.

Deception is the Narcissist’s primary (and also the easiest) way to get his or her “fix” of supply.  The ways in which this plays out in a close relationship is all-too familiar to the target of Narcissistic abuse.

The Narcissist lies.  The Narcissist cheats.  The Narcissist makes “future” promises.  The Narcissist swears to God, on the children’s lives, on his or her own life.  The Narcissist betrays.  The Narcissist leaves…and then comes back.

No one likes to be lied to.  When the target has had (given) enough, and the “fix” of supply is threatened, the Narcissist lashes out at the target.  The Narcissist belittles.  The Narcissist blames.  The Narcissist threatens.  The Narcissist attacks, goes for the throat, desecrates the soul.

The Narcissist abuses.  Why?

It’s simple.  The target of abuse is the source of supply.  Abuse is how the Narcissist keeps supply flowing.

This doesn’t make sense, though.  How does it work?

For a young child who demands attention (“supply” or emotional energy) from the parent, even negative attention is better than none at all.  Likewise, a Narcissist thrives on other people’s emotional responses to the Narcissist, whether positive or negative.

Sometimes this requires that the Narcissist provoke a negative emotional response.  If this is successful (the Narcissist gets supply), and the target stays in the relationship (the Narcissist gets supply), the Narcissist has “won” (the Narcissist gets supply)–and is assured that the supply will continue (the Narcissist gets supply).

And so deception leads to quite the powerful source of supply…if the Narcissist has chosen well…and the target proves his or her willingness to stay with the Narcissist…by enduring the Narcissist’s disrespect, lies, and abuse…which transfer the target’s vitality to the Narcissist…as merely a temporary “fix” of supply…and ruins the target’s relationships and health…and perhaps even damages his or her soul…all so that the Narcissist can continueto be a Narcissist.

5.  The Narcissist is a person.

Maybe a Narcissist is a broken person.  Maybe a Narcissist is a hurt child, forever trapped in an adult’s body.  Maybe a Narcissist is an extremely spoiled and abusive grownup.  Maybe a Narcissist is an unfortunate soul, possessed by a demon.  Maybe a Narcissist is a human being who has no soul.  Maybe a Narcissist is a real-life vampire who feeds on other people’s life energy instead of blood.  Or a human robot, or an alien pretending to be human in a “snatched” human body.

I don’t know.  What I do know is that, for the purpose of dealing with a Narcissist, it doesn’t matter who or what the Narcissist is–or how he or she got that way.

Whatever we may think and feel about the Narcissist(s) in our lives, under every law of human society Narcissists are people and we must treat and regard them as people.  This attitude towards them is absolutely necessary, for the protection of both ourselves and our children.

However, it does not mean that we have to pretend to ourselves that the Narcissist is (or behaves) like the rest of us.

After enduring the torture of Narcissistic abuse, it can be easy to see the Narcissist as a non-person: an evil, self-serving, all-consuming, slippery, sneaky, lying, sadistic shell of a creature that only looks like a human being…but has no real person inside.

This perception may be true.

Nevertheless, we must remember that Narcissists have the same rights under the law that we do, as human beings, as adults, and as parents.  We may be all-too familiar with his or her ability to make up lies–and believe them wholeheartedly, with a convincing emotional display–but in a court of law, the Narcissist’s word is as good as ours.

Therefore, we must remember (and be able) to back up our words with facts.  We must be able and prepared to have documentation and even witnesses whenever we know we’re dealing with a Narcissist, especially when we have children with one.

We may not like it, and may not even know it, but to a Narcissist we are the enemy.

That’s not quite true.  To a Narcissist, we are food, a potential source of energetic supply.  A Narcissist is a predator, like a lion or a crocodile–not someone to “heal”, or help, or be more patient with, or give the benefit of a doubt “this time” or (yet) “another chance” (to consume you).

6.  What does this mean for the rest of us?

Never forget that for all practical purposes, and in the eyes of everyone else, you are dealing with a person as decent and rational as yourself (and maybe even more so) when you are dealing with a Narcissist.

Better yet, just stop dealing with the Narcissist as much as you possibly can, right now.  You cannot win a battle for your soul when the battle itself destroys your soul.  So fight as little as possible, get as far away as you can, and stay there.

This is the only way to win.

Once you are away from the Narcissist, your life energy can begin to recharge, your vitality can start to return, your cup can start to fill again, and your soul can begin to heal.  Only then can you be any good to anyone else, because only then will you have enough energy to take care of yourself AND share with those who both need and deserve it.

Fighting with a Narcissist will only empower the Narcissist and weaken you–and people you care about, too.  If you continue to fight with a Narcissist, you will not be able to help others, or even yourself.

If this isn’t clear to you yet, or if you don’t understand why, please re-read this article.


The End of Narcissistic Abuse: An Inside View

May 15, 2016

I wrote this on the day that I finally had enough. As I said elsewhere on that day, “My cup runneth over.”

This is what it was like after spending about 25 years, off and on, mostly in relationships with Narcissistic or Borderline partners.  This is what the last seven years of that time did to me.

This is what it was like to finally be done.

For the last seven years, I’ve been surrounded by a whirlwind of lies. This has sharpened me, and made me more conscious and aware, but it has taken a toll on me.

Seven years ago, my second and last marriage ended. There was no closure for me, no answer to the question, “Why?” And I asked.

In my search for answers, I teetered on madness. But I also did a great soul-searching during that time. Never have I swept away the inner world so…madly.

That time changed me. I scraped away everything I could that was not “me”. I remember vividly, at one point in the search, coming upon an image so tender and dear to me that I wished it were part of me. But it wasn’t, and I allowed it to be swept away. I cried as I watched it go.

It was an act of self-preservation. In the ruinous cellar of my inner world, I saw the pillars that held the whole structure intact. I recognized these pillars as part of “me”. I scraped them, scraped against them, scraped away all that I could, recognizing that I could not scrape away ME. It was impossible.

All that fell away was NOT me. It was temporary, exterior, mere wallpaper on the stone that was permanently there. I did not hesitate much, because I had already lost what I wanted. It was an act of self-preservation, the scraping of me.

Then came the lies.

Nature abhors a vacuum, and empty space will be filled by…something. I did not yet have the fortitude or the foresight to guard my emptiness carefully. I welcomed what seemed to be good, what “felt” good to my emptiness, to the space left by my recent loss. And so I fell into the whirlwind.

I did my best.

Nature Herself seemed to be aligned against me as I struggled forward, seeking. I was learning to trust, despite my setbacks. So I did my best to trust, the best I could, and I fell. Or at least I stumbled. Life presented forks in the road, one after another. I learned to choose one or the other, but I often took neither road and suffered the consequences. Or I tried to take both roads at once.

I was actually counseled to take both roads, as if all were attainable at once. “Faith! Belief! It’s not what’s real that matters! It’s what you THINK is real!” Baloney. Malarkey. Bullshit. There is what is, and there is what is not, and that’s all that there is. No mantra or affirmation can change the Laws of Nature.

Flood came and then drought. A record flood! The worst drought EVER! The coldest Winter in years, stretching deep into March. But I was popular and rising, sad but hopeful, figuring things out and enjoying my life. Then, ultra-deception, close and personal, and one more mooring was cut.

Things were still good, as I was learning and getting by. Faces came and went, and I let them come and go. I reached out, stretched out, bettered myself, moved forward. Aloneness. Solitude. Cold weather. My boys. I excelled, I achieved, I did well.

Then I smacked a brick wall. Trying to take two roads at once, ignoring the still, small voice within, I exerted too far and lost again. I felt the shift immediately.

Soon, Life presented a challenge. I accepted. I couldn’t refuse. I was grabbed, shaken, and shown what lay ahead, a glimpse. I accepted. I thought I was up to the task. I would never be the same again.

Elation. Hope. Pain. Confusion. Up and down, back and forth. Anger, rage. Blame. Appeals, denials, exertion, effort. Failure. I folded my hand. Enjoyed time alone. Experienced grace, light, life, impossibility! Friendship.

And then–return. I apologized, I confessed, I promised. It was not in my control to repair. I suffered, month after month. I acknowledged, I tried. I humbled myself, submitted to rebuke, to condemnation, to endless blame, spite, hatefulness.

Overcome and overwhelmed, I left. And found brightness. Lightness. Ease. And then–nothing. I distressed, and it returned. Then went away. Blame. Anger. Confusion. Desperation, betrayal, forgiveness, happiness. For a minute. Then, rinse and repeat. Again.

Pour another drink, my friend. It’s time to celebrate again! Or is it? That didn’t last long. The shittiest birthday ever, but I made some kids happy. Enough of this! No more. Guilt. Wretchedness.

Who did I hurt? Anyone? Everyone? Myself? Back and forth, over and over again. I can’t stop! There’s too much hope here to give up. I see! I see what’s presented to me, and I believe it…because I trust.

No matter what, I will do the right thing. I will endure. Is it so hard because it’s good or because it’s bad? I HAVE to find out! I believe. I will trust. I will continue. I will follow through.

I did not know that I would break. And I did.

Aloneness. Friendship. Peace. Tenderness. No contact. I must heal. I must let this grow right this time. It’s been wrong for too long to let it heal wrong again. I need my space. I need myself. I need you to leave me alone.

Maybe there’s still hope. I will see. I will step softly, on my terms. I know what’s best for me. I see you pressuring me. You need to stop. You don’t understand what you have done to me, what Life has brought to me, what’s going on inside me. I cannot carry your burdens right now. I can’t carry my own. Let me be. I will return.

You did WHAT??!! WHY??!! But it’s not TRUE!! How could you? Why did you?? What have you done? You’ve destroyed everything! And for what?? You didn’t even talk to me first! Does the truth mean nothing at all??!! What do you mean, you were upset? I don’t believe this. How does one come back from something like this??

Hello? Yeah, you were right. I know, I’m so sorry. I fucked up really bad this time. I don’t know what to do. You’ll take me back? You must really love me! I’m so happy! We’ll figure this out together!

Another flood. What do you mean, you can’t do this? Pain. Guilt. Control. Submission. Apology. Struggle. Violence. Drunkenness. Sadness. Trying…for nothing, for no reason at all but to cause more suffering. No, you can’t call me that. No, I’m not as you say. No, that’s not what I meant. No, I think I’m done now. I have other things to tend to. Important things are happening. But not here. This is dead, this is death. I must go.

Blackmail. Aloneness. Regret. I can’t believe I believed again. Lies. Intentional or not, still lies. I see the truth now. Now I can tend to what’s real, and right, and good, and true. I hope.

Hello? Yes. Yes. Yes. Thank you.

JOY!! For the first time in 6 years I can use that word! I feel JOY! My heart is bursting with love, overflowing! Thank you, Life, God, Universe! I haven’t ruined everything! Sweet, sweet preciousness! Yes, I accept. Yes, I am very, very sorry and I’ve suffered very much for my wrongness. Happy, happy, happy! Disbelief. Amazement. Humility. Togetherness. Family. We will overcome.

Or not.

The past creeps in like a cold fog in the night, drifting in wisps that coagulate and form together. It builds up, sucking the warmth, hiding the light, and making one’s breath cold like Halloween night. Anger. Blame. Denial. Let’s put the old record back on and play it. No, let’s not. No…I think we will. And so we do.

Wax on, wax off–or, rather, wax off, wax ON. Demands. Pressure. Resentment. Impatience. Stories told to elicit sympathy, maybe true, maybe not.

Connections that don’t exist. Falling, spiraling, downward, backward, to a place not quite known or defined, perhaps not real but treated as Gospel and preached as such. Material gain. Scores settled, balances paid, debts discharged…or not. Sometimes yes, sometimes no, depending on…what, exactly?

I’m not made for this anymore. I broke and healed. Right, this time. This isn’t where I dwell, but I’ll endure it, for as long as I can, because I have hope and because I’m very happy enough of the time to look past the harm. Not overlook…but look past.

I don’t think you know who I am. No, I’m not being arrogant. You’re acting like I’m somebody else, somebody I’ve never been. What you say isn’t true.

Why do you believe that? Why don’t my words make any difference? I’m speaking truth! I’m doing my best. Damn good, actually. Yes, I know I’ve done wrong. Time isn’t healing. The past isn’t receding. It’s becoming the present.

No, I won’t do that. I’ve learned not to do things like that. Nothing good comes from it. I’m sorry. That’s your choice. It doesn’t have to be this way. Or does it? It’s not something I control. There’s only so much I can do. I’m doing my best. I don’t know what to do.

I’m tired of the lies.


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