All posts by Lynette d'Arty-Cross

The Narcissist’s Piano, and Other Foolishness

I found this in my search terms: narcissist piano. I did the mental equivalent of shifting from one foot to the other while I mulled that over. What does it mean??? Is it a typo? Is the searcher wondering if pianists are narcissists? Is that an actual type of piano?

I mean, this is the sort of thing that keeps me up at night.

So I did what anyone would do and googled it. At first, google stared stupidly at me. Then it coughed up narcissistic jazz, narcissistic piano bench and Ryan O’Neal.

Who knew?

Does Ryan O’Neal play narcissistic jazz while sitting on a narcissistic piano bench? Is Ryan O’Neal a narcissist? Or is it just his piano? Nope. I think that might be Billy Joel. (Get it? Nudge nudge. Just me and my old piano?)

This is so confusing. Is it an alien piano? It grew up on Mars eating Matt Damon’s poop potatoes?

Oh – I know! It’s a zombie piano. The lid opens and it takes a big drooly bite out of your sheet music.

And I couldn’t find my blog on that google search either so I have no idea why the narcissistic piano wound up in my terms.

Justin Trudeau, our PM. I just thought I would throw him in. Better than a narcissist piano and better looking, too. I think. Because I have no idea what a narcissist piano looks like.

The word piano means soft.

And narcissists aren’t soft. Not unless it gets them something. And then they’re hard.

Could the searcher have been looking for something like “narcissists who are soft” and since his first language is Italian, and he’s just learning English, it came out as narcissist piano?

Maybe I’m going a little far with that one …

My ex-narcissist played the piano.

Apparently he would have been Mozart’s doppelganger if he’d had the right breaks in life.

Or something pretentious like that.

I arranged for the piano tuner to come by and spiff up my piano so that the narcissist could play it. It had been in storage but I got it out for him because naturally, the narcissist didn’t have a piano of his own. Most doppelganger Mozarts don’t have their own pianos. True. It’s a fact.

When I came home from work, the narcissist told me that the piano was done. As in finished. Kaput. Toast. Ready for the big dirt nap.

The tuner had told him that the sound board was crumbling to bits. The carpenter ants were coming to take it away.

Then, a few months later, the narcissist asked me for a new piano. I briefly considered it but then decided not to. My financials were feeling the strain of being married to a doppelganger Mozart.

Later, after I had divorced him, I checked the piano myself. It has some little cracks, but everything I’ve read says that this is not a big issue. It sounds okay.

Hummm. I think the narcissist just wanted a new piano.

So there you have it. If someone else googles narcissist piano, there will be an answer.

And a cute picture of Justin Trudeau.

What do you think it means?

Getting Around

I arrived in the Northwest Territories at the end of February for a work assignment. It was -25C and one of the roads leading to the small community where I’m currently staying looked like this.

Very cold; very beautiful.

Here’s another view of the same road taken about an hour later.

Northern winter days are short.

If you watch Ice Road Truckersyou might be interested in this ice road that goes across Great Slave Lake from Yellowknife to a small community called Dettah. M and I drove across the frozen lake at -35C.

Great Slave Lake – very frozen!

Here’s a short video.

 

An ice castle was being built on the lake.

An ice lake ice castle.

The Snow King lives.

Two months later, the days are much longer – it gets completely dark at about 9:30 – and it has become much warmer. The south is a lot further ahead but it is spectacular here, too.

Great Slave Lake.

How is your spring?

Emotional Labour and the Seasonal Narcissist, Part II

NPD narcissists consume a huge amount of emotional labour. And before you know it, you can be down on your knees, completely exhausted, while the narcissist continues to, at the very least, be extremely dissatisfied.

There is no filling them up. They are never full. They are never sated. They are never content.

They simply have periods of digestion. Slowing down, savouring, enjoying … that’s not something with which they’re comfortable.

And yet, they desire the relief that slowing down and savouring can bring. They want it desperately and will chase it far and wide, but don’t know when they have it and are even scared of attaining it.

If they slow down … they might have to really consider themselves. And why bother with doing that? Because there you are, ready and willing to help them avoid their inadequacies and polish their fantasies.

Your love, your work, your labour will save them. At least for now. Until you do something human that screws up their picture of you and they start convincing you that there’s serious stuff wrong with you.

Up until that point, you’ve been pouring your emotional energy into them to shore them up, to give them a sense of self-confidence, to make them happy, to take away their pain, to provide them with everything they think they have been missing. And you’re beginning to feel depleted and exhausted.

But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Because when you start to think that they’re right, that there’s stuff wrong with you and that that’s why they’re detaching, you will bear down even more.

You will expend labour on improving yourself, fixing yourself, correcting yourself. You will forget about your efforts to help them. There’s a terrifying, growing list of stuff you have to attend to, right now, before they walk out the door forever and it will be all your fault. Your emotions are twangling like a poorly strung violin.

All that work. All that labour. And this is what you get?

img_20161019_144940

How did this happen?

Well,  it happened because that’s how a true NPD narcissist is. The second they acquire whatever they have been chasing, they lose interest. And make no mistake, you are a “whatever.” After the chase has been won, you simply become a source of supply. Supplying what? A supply of whatever the narcissist saw as being desirable to take from you.

It could be money. Or status. Or connections. Or a place to live. Or warm fuzzies. Maybe it was all of those. It could be that you provided yourself as a person to control. Or as a person to feel superior to. Or maybe you’re a challenge to be dismantled, in which case you supply him with proof that no one is better than he is. Whatever the combination of holes you were filling for the narcissist … that’s what you were doing. Filling holes.

And filling holes is time consuming, hard labour with little reward; few of us will want to shout, oh, look what I did! A hole to be proud of!

So. The seasonal narcissist. A narcissist behaves according to three operational seasons: idealising, devaluing and discarding.

Oh yes. Narcissists can take apart a seasonal holiday, too. I’ve written about that before, and you can read my scribblings here and here. But to the narcissist, you are also seasonal, and you have a beginning, middle and end.

Is there anything seasonal about the narcissist from a conventional point of view? Yes, there is.

Think Hallowe’en. Think hobgoblin.

Personally, I tend to think dentist, as in that stuff you find in the spit cup they give you. I certainly don’t think Valentine’s Day. If there’s a season out there for the narcissist to manipulate your emotional labour and “prove” to you that you’re anything but special, it’s Valentine’s. In fact, it’s one of their favourite discard days.

Have you had a seasonal experience with a narcissist?

Spring Is on Its Way


It’s still January but about two weeks ago, the weather turned. The temperature crept up, the bit of snow we had started to melt, and the ducks started squawking and flapping. Every day now it’s a little warmer and a little sunnier.

This morning I was out walking and took this photo of Skaha Lake. I’m lucky enough to live across from it and have been watching its moody winter changes this year.

It’s still got some ice over the shallows near the shore, but I don’t think that will last long.

 

Skaha Lake is melting.
Skaha Lake is melting.

Spring is coming. 🙂

A Few of the Blogs I Follow

Happy New Year! 🙂 I hope 2017 is off to a good start for you!

To begin the year with the right winter flavour (Yup. I know. Some of you are in much warmer climes, and yes, I’m jealous), here’s a seasonal winter picture that I took in my former hometown:

A Canadian Winter Scene - Ice Fog on the Prairies A Canadian Winter Scene – Ice Fog on the Prairies

Since becoming a pilot many years ago, I have (obviously) had a big interest in weather and have developed a serious appreciation for its nuances. In this picture, I love the muted, gauzy, exaggerated light of the sun trying to break through a temperature inversion. Later that day, the sun did break through and the frost quickly disappeared.

But that’s not what I want to write about. Really.

I’ve lately been thinking that in blog years, I’ve been around WP for quite some time – four years! – and have been following and reading some of the same blogs for about that long. So today, I thought I would pass on the names of a few of those blogs. They are fascinating and interesting and have stood the test of time. In blog terms, that is. 🙂

So, to those who have stuck to it and kept blogging, despite all kinds of life stuff and no doubt the occasional temptation to just stop, you have my most sincere appreciation.

There’s no award involved and no questions to answer.

I just want to say thank you.

I just want wish you good luck and continued happy posting:

  • Ursula at anupturnedsoul.wordpress.com. Ursula is a fantastic writer who will make you think, laugh and cry. She’s had a big impact on how I look at the narcissistic interactions I’ve had in my life, but her writing is about so much more than that. I’ve also learned as much, if not more, from the comment sections of her posts. Drop by for a visit.
  • Jenny at http://charactersfromthekitchen.wordpress.com. I love Jenny’s museum visits and travels and her witty humour and great photos. She’s taken me along on some really wonderful day trips. Stop and say hi.
  • Nelson at http://oneoldsage.wordpress.com. Right now, my neighbour Nelson (he lives close-by in the Okanagan) is working on a novel-length piece of fiction, but he has shared trips to Europe and his thoughts about surviving cancer, among many other things. He really is “one old sage.”
  • Jenny at http://ramblingsfromamum.wordpress.com. Jenny doesn’t publish as much as she used to because she’s been very busy with her elderly parents and she’s also just become a grandmother! 🙂 Her heartfelt poetry is touching and genuine – have a little browse.
  • Jill at http://jillweatherholt.com. Jill has just published a book! 🙂 For a long time now I have enjoyed her kind, thoughtful, compassionate posts and comments.
  • Caitlin at http://broadsideblog.wordpress.com. Caitlyn is a journalist, traveller, teacher, liver of life and fellow Canadian who lives and works in the US. She writes about many and varied topics and they are always interesting, well researched and well done. Take a look through her archives.
  • Ross at http://rossmurray1.wordpress.com. Another fellow Canadian, Ross is a humourist who lives in Quebec. Until recently, he was a regular contributor to CBC’s Breakaway (http://www.cbc.ca/breakaway). Like Caitlyn, he writes about many topics, and he’s always enjoyable, acerbic and witty. He’s also published a book!
  • Ned at http://nedhickson.com Ned lives in Oregon and is a very busy man. Take a look at his blog and you will see what I mean, but you will also enjoy his gentle and self-deprecating humour and commentary. Ned was also one of the very first bloggers I followed.
  • Mark at http://exileonpainstreet.com. Mark’s posts are eclectic, varied and genuine. He shares his visits to New York’s museums along with journal entries from his callow youth and other observations about life and such. He’s always a fantastic read.
  • Christopher Martin at http://christophermartinphotography.com. Christopher is a truly gifted photographer whose nature and wildlife pictures are amazing. He takes many of his photos in the Alberta foothills of the Rocky Mountains.  Right now he’s doing a series on the snowy owl; last spring I spotted one of his photographs (it shows an elk being hunted by wolves) in The Globe and Mail (http://www.theglobeandmail.com). You can find the wolf series of photos on his blog, but be aware that they also show wolves doing what wolves do best.

So, if you aren’t already familiar with these blogs, go by for a little visit – you won’t be disappointed.

Do you have some long-time follows that you would like to share?

Fruitcake, Anyone???

At this time of year, there’s always a fight with the fruitcake gods … or whatever, so I dug up this old piece 😉 from three years ago.

In the Net! - Stories of Life and Narcissistic Survival

I have an uneasy relationship with fruitcakes.

You know, the stuff you eat. Well, I suppose you eat it. I mean, from what I’ve heard, no one eats it. It gets shoved into the back of some cupboard, or into the corner of a freezer, and there it stays until is discovered, like an Indiana Jones artifact. You have to dig it out with a pick.

And by then, it will have acquired the density of a hockey puck.

But my questions is, if so many people hate it, why does it keep showing up on store shelves? Somebody must be buying this dreck.

And what about the people who make them?

If you stop and think about it, there’s an awful lot of fruitcake around at this time of the year, and if you can find one person who says he or she likes it, then you’re farther…

View original post 399 more words

Emotional Labour and the Seasonal Narcissist, Part I

Today I listened to CBC radio’s Tapestry presentation on the subject of emotional labour. It’s an interesting topic and a type of work to which someone has finally given a name. Essentially, emotional labour is anything that people do that requires an emotionally invested outlay of energy. For example, we expend emotional energy keeping track of and making sure that our children go to the dentist, we listen when friends or family members need a shoulder to cry on, or we ensure there’s gas in the car. For the most part, emotional labour refers to the million little maintenance jobs (and sometimes not so little) that need to be taken care of and done on a regular basis, although much of this work can also be unexpected and/or quite time consuming. Statistically, it’s mostly women who complete these tasks, and we apparently spend a lot of time on them.

While listening to this piece, I was reminded of the amount of emotional labour one will expend if involved with a narcissist, and then I was reminded of a post I did about three or four years ago called The Seasonal Narcissist. It’s one of my more popular posts, particularly at this time year, but it only looks at the seasonal narcissist from the perspective of dealing with one on a temporary basis. It doesn’t really look at the long game at all. And it also doesn’t look at the energy that goes into having to be married to or in some sort of live-in relationship with one while Christmas, or any other holiday or special occasion, is in full swing.

Narcissists are never straight.
Narcissists are never straight.

Those of you who are familiar with me know that I have first-hand experience with this. Over a 20-month period, I became immersed in all the difficulties one encounters during any type of special occasion if involved with an NPD narcissist.

The emotional energy I expended around these events was enormous.

First of all, “Harry” was incredibly unpredictable in general, but if Christmas was coming up, he was much worse. I have read lots of accounts of people watching their narcissist walk out the door just before Christmas (or other special events), leaving the significant other or spouse in emotional hell and the children devastated, only to return as soon as the holiday or event is over.

This is typical behaviour.

Essentially, they don’t want anyone to enjoy the holiday or event, because they aren’t going to be the centre of attention. And if they aren’t going to be the centre of attention, then what’s the point? It’s just a bunch of work for nothing. Then there’s also the problem that  watching others have fun when they’re not is just too much to bear.

So, let’s take everyone down! Let’s make everyone feel like crap! Let’s walk out! Let’s have a horrible argument! Let’s make everyone feel as wretched as possible!

Then everyone’s attention will be back where it should be. That’ll teach them!

I spent two Christmases with Harry. During the first one, we were on our honeymoon in Hawaii and within a couple of days, he became completely morose and withdrawn. I had no idea what was going on and felt confused, scared and concerned. The only time he talked was to forcefully complain about everything from what I was wearing to the food that was available. All he wanted to do was stay in the hotel room and watch tv. Otherwise, he brooded and became uncommunicative. He faked a stomach bug (I know this because he kept eating heavy meals from the room service menu) so that he didn’t have to go out.  A couple of times, he claimed boredom. Of course, suggesting that he leave the room would have been met with more complaints.

Describing him as “high maintenance” would have been an understatement.

Unbeknownst to me, though, it was my very first set of indicators that the person I married wasn’t the person I married.

When we got back home, for a short time he became all sweetness and light, and apologised for his behaviour in Hawaii by claiming that he just hadn’t been feeling well.  I didn’t know it then, but my expenditure of emotional energy was about to go up in a big way, because during our trip, he had been grooming me to walk on eggshells.

By the time our second (and last) Christmas came around, I was dwelling in a land of contradiction, confusion and confrontation. I had been shouted at and called every kind of name. I had been accused of  betrayal, disrespect and dishonesty. I had been accused of contemplating an affair and of spending too much money. I had been accused of eating too much, of making too much noise when eating, of eating the wrong things, and of being an alcoholic. He said I was lazy, poorly educated and stupid. My clothes and hair were wrong. My furniture was wrong. Nothing was right.

And for a while, I  swallowed the notion that it was me who was the problem.

My head was swimming  and I was starting to feel like I might head into a depression, but I kept trying. I invested serious emotional labour into trying to fix the so-called wrongs. The list of things that I needed to be careful about became longer and longer and I tried to adhere strictly to the “rules,” but every time I thought I had them right, he changed them and pretended that they had always been that way.

Just before the holiday, I was subjected to a tongue-bashing that left me reeling, but as I see it now, it was also the beginning of my liberation.

It dawned on me that he was looking for an excuse to leave or to destroy any happiness that I might have during the holiday with family and friends. And once I made that connection, other connections that had been loitering in the background strode into the foreground.

An uneasy Christmas proceeded, but the day before New Year’s Eve, when we were supposed to go to a party together, the other shoe dropped. He announced that he was leaving and would be back later in January to pick up his things. According to him, we were done.

And that’s when I turned the tables on him. left, and spent the night at a friend’s house.

My friend C invested some serious emotional labour of her own in helping me through that night and encouraging some flames from those awareness embers.

I began to see that I was in an emotionally abusive marriage. I began to see that no matter what I did or didn’t do, it would never be good  enough. I began to see that no matter how much emotional labour I invested, it would never be enough.

Trying to maintain him, to run around trying to remove any source of annoyance or anger from his day was impossible, because there was always something else. There was no amount of love, effort, or material items that would satisfy him. He was a bottomless pit, and I was expected to keep trying to fill it until I was exhausted and no longer useful.

The beginning of the end had started. Within the next month, I had started counselling, and seven months after that, I got him out of my house.

What it finally came down to was an unadorned realisation on my part that there was nothing I could do except walk away and work at getting my life back: the seasonal narcissist is always a narcissist. It’s just that they do more manipulation when those special occasions roll around. They know that people want to have fun and want things to go well, and that makes them vulnerable and malleable, especially if children are involved.

Stay tuned for Part II.

Have you experienced a seasonal narcissist? What are your thoughts about emotional labour?