An ongoing survival guide.
Chapter 7. Stop Making Sense.
Welcome back. Since school is about to begin for so many, it felt like a good time to bring back the guidebook. And my other blog topic is quite the downer. So, stay tuned for that.
A sensible question for many who are considering counseling as well as considering their own childhood baggage is this: how do you make sense of what has happened to you?
Repression, avoidance, and denial appear to not only be characteristics of narcissists, but of Americans in general. Spending 20 minutes watching the news in this election season is proof enough of that, but it gets to the very real issue that adult children of narcissists need to consider.
Do you take time to reflect on the past to get over it, or do you just try to forget about it and hope for the best?
Philip K. Dick once wrote that, “Everything in life is just for a while.” By itself, it is a very important insight for most things. And an idea few people want to actually consider. As much as I appreciate the author and his novels though, the truth about personal trauma is, unfortunately, weighted differently. Some things in life—even the smallest, briefest experiences—can have a significant and long lasting gravity upon which everything else gets caught up in.
It is the secret explanation for all those news reports when the neighbors of the most recent middle class white male cuckoo bird decides to go shoot people in public, and the neighbors or acquaintances bend over backwards to say a variation of, “But he was such a nice guy.”
Well, no kidding. But even the nicest of guys (or gals) can have a dangerous fixation, a set of poor coping skills, an early childhood trauma that is destroying their ability to function, an addiction, a really dark secret, and on and on and on. No one is ever just what they appear to be.
The children of narcissists know this better than most. They have seen beyond the curtain. And maybe that is why they can have so much guilt and/or difficulty reaching out for help for themselves. There is a fear there. A fear that they could be just like their parents.
Full of nothing but themselves.
Well, that’s a load of horseshit. Thankfully. Disclaimer: there will be a lot more cursing in this chapter—I’m in a foul mood. Children of narcissists are not condemned to living out the kind of life they have seen their parents live. If anything children of narcissists are overly sensitive to emotional needs—their own and those of others.
Even narcissists can change. Albeit slowly and carefully. But remember: true narcissists rarely believe anything is their fault, and they rarely volunteer themselves to sit on a therapist’s couch.
So what does that mean to you?
If you reflect on the past, you are less a prisoner of it. It’s the whole, the truth shall set you free, and an unexamined life is not worth living, etc. But I am not suggesting everything will come up smelling like roses either. That would be either religion or politics talking. I am talking about human emotions. The messy parts of us that refuse to live in black and white boxes. Choosing to do the work doesn’t mean that you will find ultimate peace or understanding, but you won’t be living a lie anymore, or doing as much stupid shit that you otherwise would be doing.
That’s the sales pitch. If you want something more, then you want something else.
Avoiding the past just means you are still ruled over by it. And I don’t know about you, but I am so sick and tired of those rules. I want to make some of my own.
Who’s with me?