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.

 

 

 

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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.”

 

 

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.

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Never a Time

01/12/2014 § 5 Comments

For the last six months, I’ve been writing the words, *There was never a time*– just that — on napkins and notepage headers. I tried and tried but couldnt get the words out. Yesterday morning the words came out. Ursula K.Le Guin calls this effect the bung-puller, like a cork that won’t come out from the bottle and until it finally bursts out explosively spewing wet fizzy all over the place.

There never was a time it could have been prevented.
There never was a time you could have changed your fate.
She acted mechanically. She lived as if her path were cast in iron.
Only once long ago did she make all her choices.
Before you ever arrived:

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The Accidental Sorceress

11/30/2013 § Leave a comment

A commentator has asked me to elaborate on my reference to shamanism, so here is a writing about it. The story as described here seems quite unbelievable and fantastic as I write it, but it is in fact 100% true xcept for the name changes to protect innocent and guilty alike.

In the 1990s, I volunteered to work at a crisis clinic that trained non-professionals to assist the clinic’s psychologists.  My work buddy in the class they offered for credit was a Civil Engineer named Don, who was not quite as straight-laced as he first appeared.  We were all given buddies for a 3-month-long project to establish a counseling relationship with each other. As we sorted through how we were going to do this, he told me that he had attended a series of workshops on Core Shamanism with his wife. I was interested in this. And so he agreed to perform a shamanistic ritual to fulfill our course requirements.

Core Shamanism is a program initially developed by Michael Harner and Sandra Ingerman Harner for the Anthropology Department at MIT.  « Read the rest of this entry »

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