My Big, Fat, Lousy Karma Trap

11/28/2016 § 2 Comments



My Karma Trap: a trifecta of ADD, NPD* and PTSD. (Attention Deficit Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Post-Traumatic-Stress Disorder.) 

Yes, that’s right, I’ve got it, ADDNPDPTSD, (or pronounced Adnippedputsid!) Oh, if only this blog could go viral and reach other people with this or similar complexities. What stories would you have to tell? It’s the bane of my life, a perfect storm of un-asked-for shittiness, a karma-trap of a thousand demon heads. AND I HAVE DEFEATED IT OR MY NAME ISN’T VICTORIOUS BANNER OF PERSEVERENCE! – – well, almost defeated it, but this last bit is a bitch. 

Just 5 ½ years ago, at the age of 56, did I finally begin to figure it out. It was at exactly the moment when I realized that my mother was a Narcissist that my wife left me. Somehow, these two events are interconnected.  “Daisy” wanted an urbane, creative and generous mother-in-law, and when she finally realized that’s not what she got, she turned away and bailed on me.  I don’t really blame her, Mom is really messed up, but I’d been warning Daisy about her for years and she wouldn’t listen. But, to be fair, it wasn’t just about my mother. I’m difficult. 

The ADD makes me spacy– really spacy. It gives people the impression that I don’t try hard enough, that I don’t give a shit, or that I have a bad additude. The narcissism, a residual effect of my mother’s narcissism, empowers me to deny my spaciness, to live in a bubble of unreality where my spaciness, and other people’s reactions to it don’t exist. And the PTSD assures that I will blow up and get ugly if my spaciness gets questioned. All of which combines to make me a pariah, like I have Obnoxious Personality Disorder or something. I can’t hold onto jobs, which means I can’t make savings and am perpetually broke; I lose friends as soon as I make them, and I can’t hold onto relationships or even start them. Which means I’m usually alone, giving people the impression that I’m a loser. It’s all recursive, these three disorders overlap and reinforce and combine to trap me inside my bubble. But I’m not what I appear to be.  

I found the key to getting out of this only a few weeks ago. There is liberation in knowledge. ADD is a neural disability. It means that the regions of the brain that specialize in attention and decision making get momentarily cut off, like an internet connection buffering. And when they buffer, I go back to doing what I was doing before the buffering incident began. I reset. I may forget what I was doing just before the buffering incident, or I MAY INTUITIVELY SOLVE THE PROBLEM that initiated the buffering sequence– it depends on how much pressure or stress I’m under at the time. So here’s the big secret:ADD isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s a gateway to intuitive non-linear problem-solving. When I’m writing, for example, and come to an idea that I can’t find a word or phrase to express it with , I may space out or even nod off momentarily, and when I come back, the phrase I’m looking for is there in my mind. IF I’m in a congenial environment. 

And here’s the other secret I learned recently, and it’s the killer– I read it in a book; it’s something I could NOT intuit: forcing oneself not to space out makes it worse. Holy Shit. Maybe this isn’t it, but it’s like the neurotransmitter chemicals — at the borders of the brain regions surrounding the attention and decision-making centers — build up, forming a barrier. And if you try to force the barrier to yield, it reinforces itself instead, prolongs the buffering sequence, and (I conjecture) shuts off the intuitive problem-solving mechanism. Forcing myself NOT to space out prolongs the space-out time and kills the creative problem-solving process that occurs in the buffering.  

Which MEANS that all the thousands of times Dad yelled at me while I was spacing out actually prolonged the space-out time. Making it impossible for me to do what he wanted, and making it look like I was being defiant, which increased his anger, prolonging my buffering time even more until the two of us exhausted ourselves with nothing resolved. Time and again. 

But it did much worse than that. His frequent yelling sessions reoriented me to try to appease him by forcing myself to focus — even though it prolonged the ADD event. He didn’t hate me, but he couldn’t figure out an alternative to screaming at me, even though it never worked. He must have been encouraged by seeing how lucid I could be after recovering from a space-out. He used to lecture me on will-power and the principal of mind-over-matter as if that was my problem . This was the 60’s and no one ever heard of ADD, even though it was first discovered in the early 1900’s. The glut of Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta sales, and the boosting of pharmaceutical companies into the stratosphere, was yet to happen. Back then, yelling was the best medicine, in our house.  

And what it did to me! What it did was force me to internalize the behavior to force and prolong ADD-buffering events instead of accepting them and relaxing into them. So all through my adult life, I bowed and scraped for any person who chastised me for doing something spacy and inappropriate, instead of learning how to compensate for the condition which I didn’t know I had! In other words, I was completely dysfunctional and unprepared for living in modern life. Try putting that on a resume! 

The weird thing was, I was aware of something being wrong as early as 10 years old. So that was the father’s part of the story; here comes my Narcissistic mother’s part. I told her that I was sick inside, but it wasn’t in my body but in my mind. I knew the term “mental health illness” but was afraid to use it. I asked her to take me to my old pediatrician because I had a pretty good rapport with her, but she was retired and Mom refused to contact her, so she took me to a General Practitioner who had no idea what I was talking about and ran me through some primitive colonoscopy test. I was pretty frustrated.  

The rest of our lives together (she’s still alive at 86) was one exercise of obfuscation after another. When I finally found out I had ADD in 2010, she told me she had known about it since 1984. She even writes a dissertation paper for her Education Masters degree, using me as her example. Yet for 26 years she told me nothing about the thing I’d been searching for since I was 10. I’d say I don’t know what her problem is, but I do know – – she’s a Narcissist.  

So where does this leave me? I made personal vows to get to the bottom of this problem at 10, 18 and 32 but didn’t find out about the ADD until was 56, and then didn’t really get it until just this past fall, at 61. It was my wife who was the first and only person to identify my ADD (and tell me about it!) but instead of softening her to stay with me, it hardened her to divorce me the following year. I was just too messed up. I think one reason she didn’t stay was because I didn’t take the ADD diagnosis to heart.  

And the reason for that was that I also was a Narcissist and didn’t know it. I didn’t even know that my mother was Narci until practically the same day “Daisy” left me. That’s a whole other story. After she left, I resumed this process I had begun the last time I made a Sacred Vow to heal. Realizing Mom was Narci set off bells and whistles inside me, and my memory has been busy making recollections and connections ever since. Four months into the process, I suddenly realized that Mother had systematically scapegoated me, since I very young. As a Narcissist, she has very thin skin, just like Donald Trump, and requires a decoy, someone she can deflect blame that falls onto her, just as Trump deflects blame onto Obama, women. Rosie O’Donnell, and really any one else he could find. Then I found out this is a common feature of families with Narcissistic parents, the scapegoating of one child. That gave me something new to work on. 

By 2014 I had lost two teaching contracts in two years, losing the sponsorship to renew my Japanese visa, and plunging me into an existential struggle. In order to prevail, I had to cut off some final, sticky energy cord that still existed between her and me, using shamanic practices. I did prevail, and earned my Visa and sponsorship. I also recovered a buried memory, of my mother threatening to ruin my life if I earned a Boy Scout Eagle Badge. Yep, she did that. I never did get that sucker. Why? Like I said, she’s a Narcissist, and she couldn’t have her designated scapegoat be successful at something. It was so rough I constructed a mental barrier to forget about it.  

One day while teaching for the school that now sponsored me, I suddenly realized that I had been following my own hidden agenda and ignoring the school’s agenda. Something burst inside me, and I felt like a sack of self-deceptions that went back years and years started to tumble out of me. I honestly thought, “if my mother ever broke out of her Narcissism, I bet it would feel like this.” 

Then, in meditation, it was shown to me that I was in fact Narcissistic myself and I did just break out of it. It was a hack; (it was a Monster hack!) I hacked a bit of organic viral code that attached itself to me. I didn’t just talk through it or cry it out– a lot of conditioned coding you can cry out but this Narcissistic bubble is a tougher construction. I had to perform an action–succeed at something; like get a visa sponsorship — that undermined the reason for the construction of the bubble in the first place. Which was that N-Mom liked to sabotage my successeslike, my Eagle Badge. This was psychic *, and I did it myself, intuitively. 

My contract with the employer was not renewed, and here I fell into the hard luck and the challenge that I’m living in now. I need a new sponsor, I have nowhere outside of Japan to go. But my reputation is ruined. Because I followed my own agenda in my first month at my last employment. Karma Traps are a bitch.  

I pursued some part time business-education jobs following the end of the contract. And lost them again, because of my complex personality. Now was the time hack into my personality and take it apart. I began to realize that turning people off was an ongoing problem with Mr. Me. Journaling, I recalled over 50 crises in my life where I had dramatic falling-outs with people and groups, in and out of the workplace. I felt helps, and after losing one particular job, felt especially suicidal. 

It was the ADD. The reasons for the 50 crises ended up being about the ADD. My little bubble of Narcissism blinded me from identifying the ADD. Had always blinded me. And now I am seeing it.  

I learned to separate the frequent moments of spacing-out from the shame that my father had installed in me. That was important, and it’s ongoing. Learning that trying to force myself to not space-out makes the spacing-out worse was huge. That doesn’t mean that it’s okay to space out, but it does mean that spacing-out has nothing to do with my character. My character is intact. It’s a neurological bug, a glitch, a virus. It’s a parasite.  

I have always known that my intentions are to never hurt others, and that when other people think I am intending to hurt them, that that’s wrong. But the truth was that outside that little Narcissistic bubble I lived in, I really did question my character. I acted from shame that I denied feeling. But other people saw it. And I must have looked like an ass. 

It’s hard to wind this up. I have 7½ months to start becoming successful at something. Maybe it will be teaching English in Japan, or maybe it will be my art. I’m better at my art, but I have a long lifetime of sabotaging my art career. That sounds like a great reason to pursue it.  

The I Ching, the Chinese divination system I use a lot, recently told me that of things I wasn’t effective at before I can be effective now. I’ll take it. Maybe I’m ready enough to start over.  

There are two ways this can go. Maybe this is a repeat of all my past fails, and I’m marching to an ignoble end, with my landlord and friends all hating on me and I’m deported back to America jobless and penniless. 

Or maybe this is a whole new thing, and I’m inclined to think it is. Maybe the closer I get to the mid-July deadline, the more transformative things will become, like they did three years ago, when I got my sponsorship for the visa. 

What gives me hope is when I reflect that the recognition of the problem of my ADD could not have occurred without this crisis I’m in now. That’s real.  

And maybe, just maybe, the crisis that America’s in right now is the same, that it’s necessary for our transformation into a democracy .  

I long for comments and feedback from you.Tell me I’m gonna make it. That we’re gonna make it. Tell me your stories about your karma traps.

How can I spread this writing around? Are there other, better venues to use? 

Thank you one and all. 

Namaste.

    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.

     

     

     

    More than my share (a fragment for my brother)

    12/07/2015 § Leave a comment

    Either Ive been a dick all these years,

    or theres something to what Ive been saying

    that could open up a huge can of worms for you

    that you wont want to open

    not even a little.

    So you dont dare even acknowledge that I have a message,

    which means you must bombard me with allegations

    that Im a total nutcase.

    which you can do,

    especially because a lot of groundwork in this area

    has been prepared by our mother

    who is the real nutcase

    and the real

    can-o-worms

    that youd do anything not to touch.

    Period.

    Problem is,

    I’ve already opened it

    I opened it a long time ago

    so the more toxic she becomes

    the more you have to blame me.

    And why do I need to stick around for that shit?

    I’m not some superhero who can absorb

    an endless amount of blame

    from the whole fambly

    for the worms crawling

    in and out of mother’s can,

    which is what you want of me.

    But absorbing all that blame

    won’t stop the creeping wormies

    tho it might drive me to an explosion

    of Hulkian rage

    which can then be used to justify all the blame.

    No, I stay away,

    and you can nutcase me from afar

    which is something I can handle

    because ultimately its you

    and not me

    who has to eat the worms

    from her can,

    because Ive already eaten

    more than my share.

    Note: written on November 8, 2015, I have since Skyped with Brother-mine and it went well. I internalized the boundaries I needed observed, and kept him to them strictly without fussing about it.  His sons are 23 and 26, who I last saw when they were 8 and 11, we’ve lost a lot of time. There’s someone in him who I still love.  My oracle, the I Ching, said that by calling him and maintaining boundaries, I had won a “Possession in Great Measure.”

     

     

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