Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


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“No” is a Complete Sentence

NOI’ve written before about my relationship with a narcissist.  But I wanted to expand a bit more on my role in that – the doormat.  Doormats are magnets for narcissists.  Being walked all over is no fun and it can suck the life right out of you.

Do you have trouble saying “no” to people?  Even after you’ve said no, if pushed, do you have trouble sticking to your simple “no”?  Do you understand that “no” is a complete sentence?  Or do you feel compelled to offer an explanation of why you’ve said “no”?  Do you accept unacceptable behavior from others?  Do you get in a huff about “having” to do this or that but feel you must still perform the task?  Do you take on others’ problems only to become overwhelmed by them?

You don’t have healthy boundaries.  How do I know this?  Because I’ve gone most of my life without healthy boundaries myself and still have a bit of trouble setting them.  At least I’m aware of the problem now.  When I become angry, or feel guilty, or get my feelings hurt I’m painfully aware that it is usually my own fault.  Am I excusing the behavior of others?  No.  They are still responsible for their own behavior. But guess what?  So am I.

When we walk around with this martyr’s complex, feeling like we do all the work in relationships, and feeling exhausted by the weight of these relationships we are not exercising the power we have over the one thing we can control: ourselves.

I had a very hard time learning this simple lesson.  Yes, it is much harder to practice it than it is to preach it.  For me, anyway.  Especially when it involves those closest to me.  The fact of the matter is the word no is a complete sentence.  No explanation necessary.   I’ve begun putting this into to practice and little by little, each time I do it, it gets a little easier.

I’ve always been afraid that people wouldn’t like me anymore or that they wouldn’t ask me to do things in the future if I said no to them.  That’s actually a pretty irrational way of thinking.  If the only reason a person likes me is because I can do crap for them they don’t really like me anyway.  If I always so no then, yes, they might stop asking me to do things because most normal people get tired of one-sided relationships – not because I say no once or twice.   If I don’t reciprocate and ask others to do things they’d also get tired of a one-sided relationship.  But that doesn’t happen either.

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TedTalk – The Space Between

Many of us who have de-converted from Christianity or any form of fundamentalist religion, I suspect, have a very hard time with self-compassion.  While we find it easy to offer up a shoulder and a soothing word to others we find it difficult to tell ourselves that it’s okay to be ourselves; that it’s okay that we’ve made mistakes; that it’s okay that we believed a lie.

The following is a TedTalk video tells us why it’s important to go easy on ourselves, probably more important than self-esteem.  I found the speaker’s facial expressions a little grating so I went on to other things and just listened and before long I was taken in by her message.  For my blog buddies who struggle to offer themselves compassion:


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Why do possessed people have their pupils enlarge?

And other reasons people visit this here blog.

I will admit I don’t have a huge following owing to the fact that either:

1) My writing is sporadic, at best.  I don’t post daily, or weekly, or even monthly.  I post when the notion strikes me and so there is no specific schedule.

or

B) My writing isn’t of interest to a wide variety of people.  It’s either navel-gazing for my own purposes or it’s niche writing that is of interest to a handful of people.

I’m cool with that because my writing has been mostly therapeutic and largely not audience-oriented.  Most of the traffic I seem to get here is through search engines and because of that I get, probably, some very disappointed visitors.  They query their search engines for important things that their inquiring minds wish to know such as, ‘Why do possessed people have their pupils enlarge?’, and then they click on the links that pop up on their screen.  I’m sure they’re disappointed when they find I don’t have the answer posted, only that it makes me angry that any rational person would believe such a thing.  So in an effort to accommodate I’ll give it a go.

Scientific research shows that pupils dilate, or enlarge, for a number of different reasons – none of them having anything to do with demon possession. Drug and alcohol use, sleepiness, mental illness, sexual arousal, depression, and even thinking, depending on how smart you are, can cause pupil dilation and constriction.  So I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if you’re looking at someone and their pupils are dilated they probably aren’t possessed.  No, better yet,I’m going to go out on a limb and say they definitely aren’t possessed since, y’know there’s no such things as demons.  Unless it’s their own personal demons.  Then, yeah, you could call it that, I guess.  But you wouldn’t be helping them any because exorcisms don’t work on that. Okay?

Seriously, that’s the fourth most asked question that gets people to this blog.

The third?  People wanting to know what size pvc pipe to discipline beat their infants with.  Who knew there were that many people interested in this?  WTF?!?  For the love of Pete, put down the pipe and go figure out what is wrong with your kid that is making him or her cry!  And it isn’t the need of a spanking that is causing whatever the problem is.  You do know spanking your infant will make him more cry, right?

Then there are all sorts of queries about narcissism.  ‘What does it feel like to be in a one-sided relationship?’, ‘relationship feels a bit one-sided’, ‘What does the Bible say about narcissistic relationships?’.  They go on and on – probably a hundred or so – but my personal favorite has to be, ‘Should a Christian be in a relationship with a narcissist?’.  To which I say, Honey, if you are a Christian you’re already in a relationship with a narcissist.

Finally, the number one query that brings people here – sluts.  Liberal sluts, sammich makin’ sluts, dirty sluts, slutty sluts.  You name the kind and its generated a hit here.

Needless to say I find this all slightly disturbing.


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Prophets or Profiteers?

Alright, alright.  Some of you were a bit frightened by the post on extreme narcissism; wondering whether or not that describes you.  If you were wondering it probably doesn’t.  An extreme narcissist wouldn’t care.   But that wasn’t my intent in the least.

There is nothing wrong with a little healthy narcissism.  By that, I mean, self-esteem.  If you feel confident in your abilities, if you think you can make a difference in this world, and if sometimes you realize you must put yourself first and don’t feel guilty about doing it this is healthy narcissism.  I envy you!

It is difficult to be in a relationship with an extreme narcissist and maintain any level of self-esteem.  So if you are the kind of person who is always self-seeking to the detriment of others, if you make those around you afraid of your reaction to constructive criticism, if you demand undying and unwavering attention and adoration, well, you might have a problem.

Extreme narcissism has an element of psychopathy wrapped up in it.  As one psychologist put it:

In my career as a psychologist, two areas of particular interest to me have been psychopathy and narcissism. Psychopathy is generally viewed as a particularly virulent form of narcissism, in which the person is not only very much focused on herself, or himself, but also highly manipulative, sometimes sadistic, and very much into control and power. One prominent characteristic of psychopathy is the presence of what is usually called a “glib, superficial charm.” These people are usually able, at least in the short term, to win over others very easily. They would generally be described as “very attractive” people (on the surface). Sometimes a person who merits the designation “psychopath” goes into a path of criminal activity (many, but not all, serial killers are psychopaths, and criminals known as “con artists” are often psychopaths); other times, the psychopath will be engaged in a legitimate career (politics, academia, corporate leadership). The key is not the type of activity the person engages in, but the degree of control s/he exercises over others.

Underneath the superficial charm, the narcissist/psychopath always has a “me-first” mentality. If you work with such a person, you may begin to see signs that s/he thinks that everything is about her; and, crucially, it will become clear that control/power is a major part of her game plan. However, this can be well concealed beneath a veneer of friendliness and concern for others; it may not become clearly evident until s/he receives what is known as a “narcissistic injury.” A person who is truly narcissistic will respond with extreme anger if s/he receives a challenge to her ego (an ego that is both fragile, and strongly defended). This response may look like an overblown rage fit, following a minor slight; or it may take the form of a cold vindictiveness, administered by acts of retaliation. These responses can be very shocking, even frightening, to the person who unwittingly triggered or evoked the narcissistic injury (by getting in the way of the narcissist’s plans, for example, or by displaying a lack of full approval and appreciation for the narcissist’s brilliant ideas).   ~Delaney Dean

Hopefully that explains a bit better the force and control that a true narcissist exhibits.  These are the characteristics of extreme narcissism:

  • grandiosity
  • need for admiration
  • lack of empathy
  • extreme self-absorption
  • intolerance of others’ perspectives
  • insensitivity to others’ needs
  • indifference to the effect of their own egocentric behavior

Add to that a level of psychopathy:

  • failure to conform to social norms; repeated unlawful behaviors
  • deceitfulness, repeated lying, manipulation
  • impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
  • irritability and physical aggressiveness
  • reckless disregard for safety of self or others
  • consistent irresponsibility
  • lack of remorse, indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt or mistreated another

You know those crime dramas that portray some mastermind deviant who brainwashes and controls a minion to do his bidding?  You think to yourself, that’s sick and twisted!  Who would do that and who would follow him?  Right?  It’s not all that far-fetched.  Look at all the carnage left in wake of religious extremism.

To keep the favor of a narcissistic/psychopathic tyrant you must please them.  And on nothing more than faith in them do their bidding all the while telling them how great they are and thanking them for allowing you the privilege.  Never do your own thinking and for heaven’s sake never go against them for fear of retaliation.

I’d have to agree with Cognitive Dissenter who said, “I’ve decided God gets a bad rap that is fundamentally unfair, given the fact that he’s an invisible imaginary dude. The perfect scapegoat for the real narcissists who hide behind him. Time to give credit where credit is due.  It’s high time we tore the curtain down and saw things the way they really are and the way they’ve really always been.  Are there really any prophets of a God?  Or are they just profiting off of those who are willing or have been frightened into being willing follow?


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One-Sided: My Relationship With a Severe Narcissist

In the book “The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists” there is a list of questions to help you find out if you are in relationship with a Narcissist:

1. Do you frequently feel as if you exist to admire his or her special talents and sensitivities?

2. Do you frequently feel hurt or annoyed that you do not get your turn and, if you do, the interest and quality of attention is significantly less than the attention you give?

3. Do you sense an intense degree of pride in this person or feel reluctant to offer your opinions when you know they will differ from his or hers?

4. Do you often feel that the quality of your whole interaction will depend upon the kind of mood he or she is in?

5. Do you feel controlled by this person?

6. Are you afraid of upsetting him or her for fear of being cut off or retaliated against?

7. Do you have difficulty saying no?

8. Are you exhausted from the kind of energy drain or worry that this relationship causes you?

9. Have you begun to feel lonely in the relationship?

10. Do you often wonder where you stand in the relationship?

11. Are you in constant doubt about what’s real?

12. Are you reluctant to let go of this relationship due to a strong sense of protectiveness?

13. Are you staying in the relationship because of your investment of time and energy?

The author of the book points out that this struggle, of course, reflects codependent tendencies, but the author also points out that almost anyone will sink into these behaviors when involved with a severe Narcissist.

Narcissism is manifested on a spectrum, mild to severe.  But someone who is hard-wired with this disorder will never change.

Does any of this sound familiar?  Did you answer yes to any of these questions?  If so you are in a relationship with a narcissist.

I worshiped a narcissist.  His book promised me that he would meet all my needs according to his great riches in heaven.  He did not.  Oh, I convinced myself that as long as I woke each morning, had a place to sleep and clothes on my back that my needs were being met.  I felt I needed more than that, but I dare not ask.  After all look at all he had done for me.  I was lucky my narcissist gave me that much.  Looking around I see he withholds even the barest of necessities from a large sector of the populace.

Do you know what happens when parents feed, clothe and provide shelter to their children but do not meet their emotional needs? They die on the inside. They have difficulty forming emotional attachments and trusting another.  Yet they inevitably seem to chase after that which is most elusive:  the attention of the one who neglected them, trying oh so hard to appease and please.  Always consumed and expending energy in an attempt to keep the relationship going.

What happens when one realizes they are in such a relationship with an invisible God?  When the denial isn’t enough anymore?  When there is nothing left but the ashes of nothingness in a tightly clinched fist?  There is nothing left to do but open your hand and blow scattering ashes to the wind.