Clearing out old web bookmarks this morning because I wanted to add new and there was no good place to put them. All the accumulated categories of things I was interested in, but not so much anymore, were just taking up valuable toolbar space - such as old high school classmates found on the internet but I don't really want to contact, great blogs that just turned into other directions that I don't read after, and project collections that I probably won't do again. It's a little bit like looking thru boxes of college coursework and interests, isn't it? It was great at the time, but you just don't need to hold on to it forever. Eventually you become a different person altogether and you can only wave goodbye to the old you as she sails back to her place in time.
I did find one old blog by a woman who was So angry and So bitter about narcissists and NPD that she quite frightened me, but she alerted me to the fact that you can neither understand a true NPD, and you can't cure one. She died unexpectedly before I ever read her blog and I have since found where her ebook is hosted free online. She was NOT a health professional, she was a tennis pro, the book and the blog are strictly her opinion and her response to whoever the narcissist was in her life and how it affected her. However, if you have had an NPD individual in your life wreak havoc AND you are on still on the fence about it, reading her stuff might stir up enough in you to clarify what your deal is a little bit more.
Anyway, in a related vein, I also found a link to this article, You Carry the Cure in Your Own Heart, by Andrew Vachss in Parade magazine in 1994. The quote in a sidebar reads,
"When your self-concept has been shredded, when you have been deeply injured and made to feel the injury was all your fault, when you look for approval to those who can not or will not provide it—you play the role assigned to you by your abusers. It's time to stop playing that role."
Awhile back here I spoke of "not knowing what it is we are like." I didn't finish my college degree because I had completely lost sight of why I was doing any of it to begin with. I've had opportunities to go back, or to train in some other field, if only I could decide which one I wanted - but I still can't look around and pick one because I have no idea what I'm like. I can't give you an assessment of my own personality because it is so heavily overlaid with what other people required me to be or to do. I had a role assigned to me in my family from a very young age, I mean like 5 years old or younger, and I've been doing that role all this time. I have only inklings and clues to things I might have preferred to do or ways I might have expressed myself - if ever my self hadn't been obliterated in favor of taking care of other people so the adults in the room wouldn't have to.
From the article:
"A particularly pernicious myth is that "healing requires forgiveness" of the abuser. For the victim of emotional abuse, the most viable form of help is self-help—and a victim handicapped by the need to "forgive" the abuser is a handicapped helper indeed. The most damaging mistake an emotional-abuse victim can make is to invest in the "rehabilitation" of the abuser. Too often this becomes still another wish that didn't come true—and emotionally abused children will conclude that they deserve no better result.
The costs of emotional abuse cannot be measured by visible scars, but each victim loses some percentage of capacity. And that capacity remains lost so long as the victim is stuck in the cycle of "understanding" and "forgiveness." The abuser has no "right" to forgiveness—such blessings can only be earned. And although the damage was done with words, true forgiveness can only be earned with deeds.
For those with an idealized notion of "family," the task of refusing to accept the blame for their own victimization is even more difficult. For such searchers, the key to freedom is always truth—the real truth, not the distorted, self-serving version served by the abuser."
This is probably where I began in counseling, trying to find some middle ground to understand and forgive, because although most preachers and Bible based counselors know their Christian doctrine well, they do not know mental illness or even the face of genuine evil in humans hardly at all. No one does until they've been around it for a good, long while. In other words, I've preemptively forgiven those who've given me poor advice while meaning well. Even the most secular trained psychiatrist can completely screw up the advice giving business. We all have to live the lives given to us, advice is just a shot at help, not a guarantee.
But, now I've heard the door in my soul lock when it comes to being emotionally abused and manipulated, and that has left some people on the other side who still have no clue that they have been left behind. I was always an easy mark, ever letting a relative or a friend remain self absorbed at my expense. Now, my time is a great deal more valuable to me and I don't want to meet you for dinner because you "can't find anyone else to go out with tonight." And it may be that the other heir to my mother's estate is not happy and thinks he can improve his lot by bullying and threatening me again, after all, it's always worked before.
I'm not interested in his needs, wants, or feelings. I'm interested in mine now, and I will not be care taking anyone else anymore. It's over.
So then, with things cleared out and a new bookmark folder called "Arts," I found a site called Smarthistory, hosted by the Khan Academy, via Art is a Way. Perhaps I can still learn the things I was so enjoying in art class in middle school, but had to give up because I had to do the college track and doing algebra a year early was just so much more important. Right? Right for who?
And why the ugly Jackson Pollack painting at the top? I took that photo last fall at the National Gallery in Washington, DC. I never understood in the least the attraction to "modern art," it always seemed to be childish at best, and most definitely over priced. Then I dropped in for a 45 minute quickie tour of the modern wing of the gallery - and ended up staying for two whole days. I just Could Not leave, I was learning and fascinated at every turn. It wasn't until I got to this painting that I finally relented on why it was really "art" and why perhaps it might be worth that much money. I can't explain to you why it's so, but there is really something amazing and priceless in that modern wing as well. You'll have to go experience the work for yourself.
There is inestimable value in experiencing for yourself.