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.

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New Realization

10/30/2014 § Leave a comment

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I had a realization yesterday at work that there’s proof that I’m recovering, even since June when I had my huge breakthrough, because I’m handling my job completely differently every single day.
I’ll say more in an update.

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

Managing Mother

09/08/2014 § 2 Comments

On Training Your 4’9″ Narcissitic Monster

I started this entry feeling hopeless about my latest round of correspondence with Little Betty. I fell asleep, inadvertently losing everything I wrote in this post because I didn’t save it.  When I woke up, the problem was already solved.

Her letter appeared in my Yahoo mailbox like a call to arms. “Happy Birthday,” it began, before slapping me in the face. “I know I’m not allowed to write you, but I just want to wish you a happy birthday, your 60th?”

My 59th, but no matter. This was very difficult to translate. For the past week I interpreted it as, “Sure, you told me it’s okay to write you in Yahoo, but it didn’t register because I never listen to a thing you say. So I’ll cover it up by snarkily implying that you hate me.”

But last night, just as I fell asleep without saving my post, I realized that this was the first time since I started the mailbox account five years ago just for mom that she has actually used it. In other words, I called her bluff and she finally showed her weak hand, and coughed so that I wouldn’t realize that I had won.  What a freak!  And I didn’t for a whole week, too.

So I woke up feeling real good.  I can’t do 100% No Contact, but this 97 % is working out for me.

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 »

Quantum Leap Journal #14, 5/20/14

06/08/2014 § 1 Comment

The Man in the Mirror 5/20/14

Everybody I know is doing better than me!
that I follow.
that I watch
that I read about
that I collect business cards from.
that I network with
How do they all see me? 
Best not to think about it
Its a mirror easily mishandled.  « Read the rest of this entry »

Quantum Leap Journal # 18, 5/26/14

06/08/2014 § Leave a comment

The Language Whores 5/26/14

Not my students, not them! They’re great!  
I’ve kept two students for 4 years now, since June 2010, and I see them every Monday night in Chiba City about 30 minutes away by train.  They are doctors at the university hospital, in the Hematology/Leukemia Department.  They are national leaders.  I feel intimidated by them, they are younger than me, but so much more accomplished.  Yet they have told me directly that I’m the best English Teacher they ever had.  Its something to feel proud about.

Last class, Ch____ lamented that he still had trouble listening to English speakers despite all the advances he’d made.  We talked about it.   « Read the rest of this entry »