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.