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.
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
that youd do anything not to touch.
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.”
09/27/2015 § 1 Comment
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 »
11/14/2014 § 2 Comments
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.
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 »
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 »