Breakthrough Journal #1: Raised by Narcissists, the Forces That Hold Me Down.

05/11/2016 § 5 Comments

2 years ago I faced an enormous challenge, and now I’m facing one like it, but on a bigger scale. I’m going to write a series of short journal entries, that hopefully will lay out the situation. This first entry is about the bigger picture; the societal bind at the heart of the abuse survivor’s experience.

I heard the following in a podcast about the HBO TV series, The Game of Thrones:  panel members talking about one of the show’s main characters who they all disliked. It was like listening in on the private conversations of an elite class of people who grew up emotionally scarred but manage to disguise it by ridiculing people with deeper problems. I’ve always wanted to write commentary like this but never before have.

“She [the character on the show]’s so annoying to me because she’s learned nothing! It’s like she’s learned nothing except to go ‘Oh, my gosh, the world is so mean to us!’ ” one member said.

Another panelist jumped in passionately: “[There are] people in this world who go through life going, ‘the world is so mean to me!’ and never actually see that they have a big blinder in front of their face, that they are the source of their own problems.  You know these people in real life!  I know these people in real life!  Y’know, I’m not… I still have love for [this character] I want to see her grow, I want to see… I believe in her.  I want to see her be queen.  I want to see her be strong.  I want to see her live up to [her family] name.  But you know what?  There are some people who never do, and maybe she’s gonna be one of them and we just have to face that.  It will suck, but maybe, maybe, that’s what her role in life is.”

Harsh words. She could be talking about me.  I’m “one of these people who never” grew up. Only I have; just a few short years ago, at the tender age of 56 (I’m now 60.) Yeah, I did have a big blinder in front of my face, but I knew it. I dedicated my life to getting rid of it. I didn’t know how. I figured it out, but it took too damned long.

So here’s the main point; every fucking time I reached out beyond myself for help and guidance, starting with my family, I got taken advantage of. Because this predatory society that we live in condones taking advantage of those of us who have been sacrificed by abuse, as long as they can get away with it. And by “they” I mean every one. Because in a meritocracy where everyone is ranked and rated for what they contribute to society– and how do we decide what society needs?– we are all dismissing someone with “less value” than us and sucking up to someone with “more value” than us. It’s a wretched system.

And the people who have been eaten by the system are on their own.

That’s what I’m dealing with in my current existential challenge. I’ve finally got my blinders off. Now what do I do?

See you for “Breakthrough Journal #2: A Cult Of Responsibility”

 

This Narcissistic Society

12/07/2015 § Leave a comment

Pt. 1  A Brief Reo

I first recognize was something seriously wrong inside my cognitive circuitry- my mind- when I was 12 years old.  I set out then to find out what it was, but got quickly stymied.  There’s a story there. 1

In high school, I came in contact with the mental health system.  There’s a story there, too. 2  But still, my life didn’t get better. 

At the end of high school, I made a “sacred vow” to unearth the nature and to heal this “cognitive mis-wiring” and overcome it no matter what it took. And here’s the story. 3  But still, my life didn’t get better. 

The next year, I reconciled with my father, something I had always thought would be impossible. TAST 4 

Graduating from university, I wandered from failure to failure, disaster to disaster, all caused by this internal cognitive mis-wiring problem that I alone detected.  In 1987, I reached a turning point and med my “2nd Sacred Vow” to heal myself more proactively. 5 But still, my life didn’t get better. 

I wandered through failures and yes, even some success.  I got married, moved to Japan, and then got divorced four years ago.  It was precisely at that point that I finally discovered the nature of the cognitive mis-wiring

It was my cognitive mis-wiring at all. It was my mother’s wiring.  It turns out that she’s a Narcissist.  It was the only solution I ever cam across that explained all the anomalies, all the mysteries.  About her, laws of physics bend to conform to a story inside her mind of her own infallibility.  One way to ensure her infallibility was by making me, in the eyes of the family — and myself== unchangeably fallible.  My mental process didn’t dysfunction, they simply didn’t conform to mother’s jacked up picture of reality.  Where there was dissonance, I thought it was my dysfunction.  It wasnt.  It was hers.  

Then, last year, I had a completely unexpected experience.  The necessity to extend my visa in Japan, and to get a new job under harrowing circumstances, led me to push myself as I never had before.  

Pushing myself further led ultimately to exposing some cognitive mis-wiring inside me after I concluded there wasn’t any. It was real after all,; it became exposed, and it finally expired: I myself was a Narcissist.  It was this that I perceived when I was 12. 

I am a Narcissist. 

Or was.  Narcissism is a condition stemming from 3 preconditions: innate inempathy– the inability to experience the feelings of others; the development of Oral Character Armor as described by Alexander Lowen and others 7; and an inner promise to protect oneself — secretly — from the outside world that causes the construction of an elaborate psychological fortress.  

Now, both my mother, brother and myself have constructed such fortresses, I am not inempathic or Oral even as they are.  By Mr. Lowen’s scale of Character Armor, I am Masochistic (8), which is appropriate for one who secretly decided to accept his mother’s abuse, as did my first sister. 

Am I really a Narcissist?  I don’t know, but I do know that, 1 year ago, a deep delusional structure in my mind collapsed.  For the past year, I have been reexamining my entire life from the lens of once being under a deep spell of delusion, and no longer being so. (9)

It turns out, there are reasons I’ve made so many enemies in my life; and reasons I’ve made a few devoted friends, too– I can be a charming mofo when I want to be; and there are reasons I believe deeply and to this day that I could never attract another woman to me as a mate — because Mother convinced me of that when she denied that she loved me.  There are reasons upon reasons I have been a chronic failure at the workplace and in the handling of money.  Above all, there were reasons I had a vicious and terrible temper — she broke me down every day to prop herself up. 

Pt. II   The Argument

But there is something else involved, something that I have been unable to express in words until now.

My extended family– my clan, my tribe– has failed to protect me from my abusive mother and father.  But my school and community also have failed me by not responding to my calls for help; the county mental health institution failed me by collaborating with my Narcissistic mother.  But deeper down, America has failed me.  The doctors and psychologists I’ve reached out to have failed me, and the New Age communities and religions I’ve joined; even the institution of marriage had failed me.  And it’s not just me.

As I write this, December of 2015, it feels like the news has been exploding all year. How do I even start? There’s veen domestic violence, mass shootings, domestic terrorism, Islamic terrorism, Christian terrorism, and a great great miasma of anger everywhere.  seems everywhere, and there’s a sickening refusal for those responsible to do anything about it. (Oh, how this reminds me of my own family!).

There’s domestic violence, mass shootings, domestic terrorism, religious terrorism, and a great great miasma of anger everywhere. There’s a movie out about a newspaper investigation of how church priests have been raping devoted boys and  girls for decades, or continuously, in Boston but all over America and the world, and nobody did anything about it. There’s another movie about  Wall Street traders who saw the coming disaster pf derivative trading, and no one did everything about it.

.  Consistently, all of these groups, instead of helping me go where I wanted to go, instead of finding out about my abuse and assuring me that it was not okay, instead of confronting the delusions that had taken control of me despite my persistent efforts to overcome it, had uniformly concluded that I suffered from having a weak and wretched character who was never willing to go far enough to overcome my own supposed limitations.  Many times, I have been driven out of groups, households, workplaces and schools, because my compatriots had given up on believing in me. 

This wasn’t supposed to happen! 

If in reading this, you doubt me too, and you don’t feel like I’ve proven to you that things are as bad as I say they are, then ask me questions!  Must the burden of proof always fall on me?  I would have to walk back into an abyss of terror to feed you enough facts and stories to find the one or two cogent details that might open your mind.  For my wife it was learning how mom treated me when I was given a (false) diagnosis in high school — she treated me like I was possessed by a dybbuk (a Yiddish ghost) who had no capacity to be responsible for myself.  But that detail that convinced her might not convince you.  

And why didnt she just believe me on the face of it? Because I am a Narcissist. Because people see in me the very disconnect between my inner reality and the outside world that I’ve been craning to see for 48 years.

Or is there something in my experience that is too dark and frightening for you to face directly? So it is with survivors of abuse, with former alter boys who were defiled by the village priest, girls who were raped by their fathers, young woman raped in their dormitories the first time they lived away from home by the star quarterback whose conviction would cost the university thousands of dollars.  Show me a “pervert” who is harmful around children, and I’ll show you a person who was molested when he was a child.  We weren’t there for him then, and now we prosecute him for acting out his fury the only way he knows how.  We failed him. 

I’m not blaming anyone.  And I don’t blame my mother.  No doubt my mother made the very best decision she could, to refuse to forgive her father for I know not what, with no one around who would stand up for her in the very conservative world of Jewish-Russian immigrants that met at the synagogue across the street from her.  Her religion failed her, and it failed me, and the U.S. community failed them, even as it gave us refuge, but wouldn’t protect our families who were turned down by the boatloads fleeing Europe at the outset of World War II.  

I have no need or intention of gaining vengeance or vindication on my family or home, well, maybe a little vindication. My point is that our nation weren’t strong enough, our psychological sciences weren’t smart enough, our communities weren’t brave enough to rescue me.  I had to rescue myself, and it took to damned long!  Even with the help of spiritual agents. 

To me, as it exists now, my extended family, my ethnic people, my American society, have colluded with my mother’s oppression of me.  You have been deceived by her charms, have turned a blind eye to her rage and her misandrony, and you have been stupid about my suffering and needs.  Again and again and again, because I am a white (Jewish) male, people have perpetually and constantly been blind to my suffering and my needs. 

And why is that?  Because all of us are more vulnerable, more wounded, more broken than we have the capacity to deal with, so we keep it light.  The prevalence of alcoholism all over the world, in so many eras of history — and the prevalence of meth addiction and heroin and crack addiction– all point to a society that has more darkness in it than we know what to do with.   We appoint each other to medicate ourselves responsibly so that we can hold it together to function in a world that is much to complicated for us.  Yet the degree of psychological pain that must be present for total drunken intoxication Friday night after Friday night year after year, generation after generation, is sheer madness.  We are not a happy society.  But like my own family of origin, we do not dare to present ourselves as unhappy.  We just hold it in and hope that someone melts down before we do. 

It’s right that it was necessary for me to rescue myself.  In a sense we all have to rescue ourselves.  All structures that define us also limit us and there will be people among us who will fall through the cracks of our social structures, as I almost did and still might.  In the end, none of our structures will save us from the long night, the harbinger of another
World War.

For me, most of the business that drives our economy colluded with my oppression.  It is hard for me to conceive of a means of livelihood which isn’t exploitative.  I focus on education and art, but there are so many ways that these careers collaborate with income inequality, the perpetuation of class struggle, wildlife habitat destruction, global warming, the entire interconnected web of post-colonial evil.  

Just sayin’!

1 footnotes to be added later.

 

 

 

Out of the Fishbowl: My life as Narcissist 2.0

09/27/2015 § 1 Comment

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This is the first post Ive entered in almost a year.  I dont know what I’m going to say.  I used to believe that I was a very open, honest and sincere person, but the person I thought I was, it turns out, was a contrivance. My real self has been trapped inside a fishbowl inside my mind.  I was finally freed from it a year ago. .I no longer have any idea who I am.

I live in the same house, I wear the same clothes, I have the same scant career, the same poverty.  Its whats interior that has changed.

I made “sacred vows” to myself three times in the course of my life.  I vowed to find and overcome the source of some great dissatisfaction when I was 12, then again when I was 18, and again at 32,  For the past 4 years I’ve had the answers. Last month I turned 60. I begin my 6th decade starting all over again from scratch.

4 years ago, I discovered that my mother was/is a Narcissist of epic proportions; that she set up our family to attack each other in order to protect herself; and that she made me her private decoy at a very young age so that any criticism of her would always stick on me instead.  Finally, I discovered that I too am a Narcissist.    « Read the rest of this entry »

Expecting to Fly Part 1: After Completion

04/26/2015 § 2 Comments

From Journal, 4/5/15
I havent blogged in four or five months, and a lot has happened in that time. I broke the code on a number of secrets!

    I

  • I’m as trapped inside myself as I’ve ever been.  And.  Thats. What Im writing about.
  • I toggle between two narratives; 1. that Im going down in flames flailing; 2. that I have just recovered from a controlled fall, and am on the verge of complete flight.  But Ive been on the verge of complete flight for 6 months and nothings happening.
  • I have recently been given a bad performance review from my last contract. It is the newest evidence that I am still spiraling down.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Overcoming Narcissism: an Epiphany

11/14/2014 § 2 Comments

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Everything is different now.

What you need to know: last February I lost a job contract I expected to renew — because I couldn’t finesse a tricky cross-cultural situation with my Japanese supervisors — and suddenly found myself not only out of a job but poised to lose my visa. If I lost my visa, I would literally have nowhere to be.

Worse, I discovered that my passport had expired a year earlier, unbeknownst to me, which meant I was officially an illegal alien.  Worse still, I found I was blacklisted by one company for another sticky cross-cultural situation.  This was a desperate summer.

I fought and fought till my wrists got numb, and in the end I did done dood it. I got a job, a company sponsor, a visa, a passport, and a back-payed unemployment insurance check. And now Im finally eligible for the permanent visa I’ve had mine eyes on for a long time.

But the job I won was entry level for which I’m way over-qualified for, and its temporary, ending in February. What you need to know is this: that I fought harder than Ive ever fought for anything before, to get a job that isnt very good.  And yet, this job is my prize, my trophy. It’s an opportunity to improve my karma and raise my standing, so I had better pay attention to whatever it has to offer.

Quite a bit, it turns out. Working in a Japanese institution is tricky and Id gotten a lot of things wrong up to now. A number of teachers who I couldnt stand working with in the past bnow appear to have made more sense than I gave them ever credit for, and it really pains me to admit it. I must have been a real asshole, even a scant year ago.

In the week after summer vacation, I resumed my struggle to get the teachers to clean up their acts and teach real English, not the crap they actually teach. One day, I come to work to find a complete lesson plan on my desk for a lesson to begin in 30 minutes. Good Lord! There was no time to revise to higher standards. Did they actually expect me to be their sidekick and play along with their parochial ideas of what English is? Using a methodology that has proven itself not to work but they don’t even realize it? I have a moment of crisis; the only way to perform this job is to shame myself.

The moment passes. And then, epiphany. Something in me just suddenly gave it up. “Wait a minute! Raising standards isn’t what they want me to do. What the hell am I thinking?” My default mind seemed to think it has to solve every problem put in front of me. Now, why the hell does it think that?

I can guess. I had to always prove to myself that I was a better person than Mother made me out to be. So in a fog of self-revulsion, I consigned myself to take on the tasks of Sisyphus to gain her approval, all the way into my late middle ages. And to getting myself fired or laid off from nearly every job that ever hired me. It wasn’t good enough for me to be good, maybe I didnt think I could be good, so I required myself to be more than good; to be brilliant! Even though it was my “brilliance” always got me into trouble.

This is how damaged I’ve always been! This is how my NM crippled me. I lived in a bubble that I didnt know was there. Tilting at windmills at every corner. And alienating everyone I worked with.

It began to dawn on me that the ones humiliating me are not these Japanese English teachers, but my Narcissistic family long ago, as if no time had passed and we were still in the House of Yelling in its suburban New Jersey enclave.

The ones who I desperately need  to prove my capabilities to aren’t these good people but my crazy Narcissistic Mother from forty years ago.

That the one who wanted me to prance around like an organ grinder’s monkey was in another place, another time, that I’d never really left. Not this place.

My actual, real job here in the here-and-now is to assist them– my job title is ALT– Assistant Language Teacher; and not to connive to prove myself superior to them and thus earn their permission for me to exist. Which indeed my mother withheld.

And that I have never stopped grasping for. EVER. Throughout my long and painful job history of over 30 firings, I had never stopped trying to convince people who had nothing to do with it that I wasnt the person Mom projected onto me.

Yeah, I really did that. I was in a hypnotic state my whole life, trying to convince my NM and myself that I was a different human being than the one she took me for.  I acted it out every where and anywhere, in school and in the workplace and shared households– I’ve been frozen for 59 years in a robotic, mechanical, circular nightmare, trying to get her to release me when in fact, as a Narcissist, there was nobody there to release anyone.

I was locked in a self-perpetuating developmental vortex, desperately trying to complete a transmission of power with no living soul present to make the transmission.

I was trapped in a funhouse hall of mirrors with no visible exit. But in reality, I had already exited and didn’t know it.

And now, and now, I know it.

This past month I feel like Ive awakened from a life-long nightmare of sleepwalking through a proscribed regimen for failure:  the ones who expect me to indenture myself to my work are my family, not my work colleagues.

For the past ten years, Ive been conflating the Japanese people’s seeming confusion about communicating with foreigners in English with my mothers refusal to communicate with us children on any but her own terms: When I get pissed off by Japanese colleagues who are constantly trying to change the grammar rules and meaning of words, its my mother’s changing of the rules that Im really pissed about, because that’s where my passion resides.  This misdirected anger had shaped my entire method of teaching English; I had an Animus towards fixing my familys dysfunctional communication strategies that I acted out through a Japanese student base with their own communication issues. 

The Japanese seem to want to reinvent English in their own image rather than learn from us– and largely they have. This has been a hell of a difficult thing for me to negotiate through the fog of my own family’s communication sickness. 

So recently, I caught myself doing it againband put a stop to it before it got out  hand. It’s not my job to fix things nobody else knows are even broken. It is  my job to know when the teacher wants my help and when the teacher doesn’t. I was caught in a limbo in which I didn’t know what was expected of me, so I made up my own crazy rules and became fixated them. And of course Narci Mother had no clue how lost I was.

In recent correspondence with her, I asked her point blank to be civil, polite and considerate when communicating with me. Her somewhat evasive answer was essentially, “No.”  And that’s it for me. The spell is broken. No more giving her “one last chance.” She’s attached to me like a junkie granpa who can do nothing for me but drag me down. There’s nothing left to do but to tell her to take a long hike.
Just making this decision has actually released me from my life-long spell of failure and social suicide.  I’m doing fine at work.  We’ll see. I don’t see  anything dramatic happening.  I complained to one teacher this week that the usage of the phrase “… and so on” in the Japan-printed textbook was misleading, and bad uses of it were turning up in student compositions. But upon researching my grammar texts I decided to back off; the rules of the phrase are fuzzy and what sounds wrong to me is subjective. Finding where the line is to correct or not correct a teacher is tricky. I have a lot to learn.
ADDENDUM:  Just this morning, during meditation, my Spirit Guides came to me and told me I was ready to learn something that I wasn’t ready for  before   now.  I suppose I always knew. It makes sense, really.

The Narcissist’s son is a Narcissist. In recovery.

.

Managing Mother II, a Clan of Losers

10/24/2014 § 1 Comment

Letting my NM write to me in an email account reserved just for family has been like keeping a hive of bees in my bathroom.

I created it especially for her 5 years ago, but she hasn’t used it until recently. Instead she’s used every opportunity to complain, to family members and friends of mine, that I have banned her from writing me, which is simply not true.   One might think that she would rather complain than write to me. One might be right.

Her last icebreaker included the information that she still has a box of my artwork in her storage. She’d told me that she sent everything, but that wasn’t true either.

So my old High School friend Lawrence, who still lives in the area says he can pick it up for me. He calls her up to arrange a pickup time, and she chews his ear off telling him about how I won’t let her write to me. He asks me if this is true and I say, nah, ‘snot true. I tell him not to let her say anything because I don’t want to hear about it. I can’t pay him enough to listen to her! He goes over to pick it up, and she chews his ear off again. He asks her, doesn’t Vic have an open address you can use? She says yeah, but she can’t trouble herself with all my rules. So he starts to take apart her statements logically, showing her that they make no sense.

The next time she wrote, “Thank you for finally letting me write to you.”  Never Give A Inch, the Narcissist creed. See? Im beginning to understand her.

I swear to God, shes not evil (she gets much worse than this;) shes just very, very stupid in a mean-spirited sort of way.  Unless Im very wrong, shes on autopilot with nobody upstairs, frozen into a pattern of automatic contrariness. Her saving grace is that shes utterly predictable, once you see the pattern.

Im not saying shes easy to handle, shes not, but if you know shes going to be a Bitch no matter what you do, then it becomes possible to not take her seriously (even tho she does!) It becomes possible to not get upset, because shes always going to act like a Narci and you know it though she doesnt.

For example, in a recent letter she suddenly wrote, “Im going to stop writing you,” just like that. And ended the letter without a closing. That would actually be fine if she started real No Contact on her own, but I knew she didn’t. She just can’t stand not being in control of our relationship. She doesn’t want No Contact, she just wants to control the Contact. So I knew she was going to pull something. I just didn’t know what.

Out of the blue, my best cousin Carleen writes me a letter on Google Plus. I haven’t heard from her in a very long time, since the 80s, I think, but since I corresponded with her mother (my aunt) recently,  I was expecting to hear from her a while ago.

She mostly talked about my art, and wanted to see more. I linked her to my website.

She’s been talking to mom. I can tell. The timing’s too perfect.  Mom signs off on my email, just drops me, and now Carleen’s talking to me who hasn’t talked to me in 20 years.

It triggers off my self doubt that she seems to have everybody in the family as far as the eye can see on her side. Am I being paranoid? How can she fool all my brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, in-laws, cousins, second cousins, third cousins, into thinking she’s sane and rational? Am I from a family of losers?

Now, that would explain a lot, wouldn’t it? I’m carving with words right now; I don’t know where this is going. I had to admit that Id become a loser before I could win again. Just refusing to be a loser wasnt enough. When my wife left me it sort of became official. So, it’s not me, it’s the family whos the loser? Is that what Im hearing? I’m manifesting they’re failure, that’s why they keep trying to reel me in; I can be their failure so they don’t have to be. Okay, got it.

In the last month, with Mother finally using my proper email site, I thought I could get her to stop sabotaging me. She actually replied, “You think you’re going to train me to watch other people’s boundaries? Nobody I know even has boundaries except for you!”  (And that’s how she controls the rest of my family.)

Im going to have to cut them out completely and let them cry and cry. They pull me down robotically. I.m finishing my midlife crisis and my Saturn Return; I’m turning 60 next year and I don’t need to be their failure anymore. I know what I have to do.

Victorious Banner of Perseverance
Japan

Quantum Leap Journal #20: Taking the Leap! 6/4/14

06/15/2014 § Leave a comment

Taking the Leap 6/11/2014

Let’s see, going back a ways;
THURSDAY 5TH: I got a text message from Berlitz that I didnt get the job, and a return call from RRR asking if I could schedule an interview the next day?
FRIDAY 6TH: I went in the pouring rain and had a fairly good interview that ended ambiguously at the end of the day, I get a text message from a neighbouring prefecture’s office for a Skype interview Monday morning.
MONDAY 9TH: Ive got the job.
TUESDAY 10TH: I dont got the job. « Read the rest of this entry »

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