Tag Archives: identity

Changing, Moving, Growing

IMG_20151004_165227When I realized that change was headed my way, I didn’t realize that it was going to be this intense.

In July, we sold our house in preparation for a move next year. We packed up all our stuff and trucked it to a rental. I whined about that a couple of posts ago.

However, life is not always orderly nor predictable (nor should it be). In late August, the opportunity for a great job came up. I interviewed, and a couple of days later I accepted their offer.

The job was 1000 km. away in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. Wine country. Some of the best wine in the world.

Real wine.

I was on my way west (even though I’m not a young man) inside of a week with my car packed to the rafters, my poor Rudy dog parked in a kennel and my dear M left on the prairies to finish up a work contract.

Now I live near all those wine grape vines you see in the top photo.

After finding a long-stay motel to reside in and starting my new job on August 31, I immediately got sick. Go figure.

There was sniffing, snorting, blowing and wheezing. A cough that came out of my bootlaces. A jackhammer headache that doubled in intensity every time I coughed. Aches and pains in my muscles that could have been caused by digging the equivalent of the English Channel tunnel but weren’t. I sounded like a four-pack-a-day, 60-year smoker. If I laughed, I broke into a cough. Sneezing turned into a chain of mini-eruptions with attendant lava flow. I was feverishly hot and cold at the same time.

And through it all, I kept working. New job and all that. I was the queen of hand sanitizer, giant tissues and elbow coughing.

Then it started to go away.

I started to feel better.

I started to get cocky. I’m like that.

Then I started to feel really, really bad. I woke up one morning feeling like I needed to get the bolt in my neck tightened.

Which would have been all fine if my name had been Frankenstein.

But it’s not.

I decided to investigate by taking a look in the bathroom mirror.

I looked like I was wearing a turtleneck sweater with an inflation device inserted into the neck part.

The side of my neck was swollen from my ear to my shoulder and the pain that accompanied it was intense. My tonsils were swollen. My ear ached and crackled. I could hear everything inside my mouth but nothing outside.

A secondary infection had taken up residence. Yum.

It’s still not gone but I’m about to start my second round of antibiotics, for which I am eternally (and internally) grateful.

Nevertheless Continue reading Changing, Moving, Growing

Age? What’s Good for Cheese Is Good for People??

I’m pissed off. About ageism, that is.

I was just at a store picking up some necessaries for my new abode and got treated like a doddering old fool at the till. And the thing is, I’m not much older than that cashier is.

I’ve noticed this more and more lately. The penchant for people to automatically think that I don’t know how to use a debit card. That I have no idea what the internet is. A couple of days ago, I was asked by a bank employee if I use online banking.

“What was that sonny? Speak up! I can’t hear you! Frontline spanking? Is that what you said? You oughtta be ashamed of yourself. What would your mother say if she knew you were talking like that to a customer?” Of course, I was just thinking this. But I felt like saying it. In a loud, high-pitched, whiny voice.

Yikes.

I’ve been using online banking for 15 years. I’ve had a debit card for, I don’t know, probably about 30.

People keep calling me “dear” too. Does getting older automatically imply that I’m in some sort of relationship with you? A few days ago, I politely asked a waiter to stop calling me “dear.” He kept doing it anyway.

People who use that word also have a special voice that goes along with it, too. There’s this patronizing, condescending tone, like they’re talking to a half-deaf half-wit. Just give me some pablum and a glass of warm milk and let me be on my way. Don’t let my clippy clop bother you as I head for the door, if I can find it.

Holy bloody hell.

And another thing is that my husband, who is five years older than me, doesn’t get treated like this.

He’s a guy! He still has all his faculties! His hearing! His virility! His drive! He’s vital and living!

While on the other hand, I have one foot on a banana peel and the other in my grave.

I’ve faced a lot of discrimination in my life. Nowhere near as bad as what some people have had to deal with, but still.

My guidance counsellor in high school told me that I couldn’t be a pilot. (You’re not a guy!)

People gave me suspicious looks when they heard my very French surname. (You’re not English!)

Military combat? (You’re REALLY not a guy.)

But the government says I can, so f**k off.

Yes. I’m 50-something. Yes. I’m female. It doesn’t mean that I live under a rock with only my walker and my knitting for company. And, I’m not a cheese.

So get with it, “youngsters.” Just treat us older people like … well, like people.

Have you faced ageism in action?

When You Move House, Don’t Forget to Pack Your Brain

I once read somewhere that moving house is the third or fourth most stressful thing you can do. I’ve moved before, but for some reason, it didn’t seem as stressful as it does this time. Maybe that’s because I’m older. The joints and muscles don’t work as well as they once did, and as a result, everything takes longer and is more tiring. 😦

The other thing is that last time, I was just moving me, and I hadn’t accumulated much stuff. Now there’s two of us, and I’ve been here for six years and I’ve managed to collect an impressive array of stuff that I didn’t have when I lived in a condo.

A complete set of garden furniture, including arm chairs and a chaise. A vast assortment of hoses, rakes, shovels and other garden implements and tools. Two rain water barrels. A garden gnome. Bags of drought-resistant grass seed. A weird instrument that looks like a mini-oil well driller but I have no idea where I got it or what it’s for.

You find stuff like this when you’re moving. Questions like, what am I keeping this for? And, what is this for? keep popping up. And let’s not forget that ureka moment when you realize that you’ve just found something that you’ve been looking for for ten months.

Yesterday, M called me out to the garage to ask me if I wanted to keep the rain barrels. It felt like answering that question might take two sessions with a therapist.

We have cartons and packing paper and bubble wrap everywhere.

It took nearly three days to pack up our rather large collection of china and wine glasses.

And, just for added excitement, we’re deciding what needs to be packed up for next summer’s move and what needs to stay out. Because …

right now, we are only moving across town to a rental house.

Next July, after my last year in my present job, we are moving to another part of the country.

As a result, I’m not doing a very good job of keeping up with my reader, or with much of anything else outside of this move, either.

I actually think today might be my birthday, too. But I’m not sure. It’s also entirely possible that I’m a Justin Bieber fan, as well. Er – no. I don’t think I’ve lost it that much. Have I?

So wish me luck, because if my brain falls out and lands in the wrong packing box, I might not find it until next year.

As you know, misery loves company. Do you have any moving stories to tell?

How to Get a Narcissist to Love You

One of my blogging friends has not had this post show up in her reader so I am reblogging it. My apologies to those who already got it. 🙂

In the Net! - Stories of Life and Narcissistic Survival

The title of this post arrived in my search terms about a year ago. This query also came up for Ursula over at An Upturned Soul; she posted a excellent response that you can read here.

Frankly, I considered responding but then dropped it because I felt very ambivalent. I wondered if it was a real question or if it was in fact a narcissist who was just trolling. If real, what would I say to someone who is looking for an answer to this? I felt a little depressed every time I thought about it – there’s some poor, desperate person out there who is  trying to save a marriage, an engagement, a friendship, a relationship of some sort. But Ursula encouraged me to try – to give my take on it.

This person – I’m going to call him or her “Terry,” has likely done at least a little…

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How to Get a Narcissist to Love You

The title of this post arrived in my search terms about a year ago. This query also came up for Ursula over at An Upturned Soul; she posted a excellent response that you can read here.

Frankly, I considered responding but then dropped it because I felt very ambivalent. I wondered if it was a real question or if it was in fact a narcissist who was just trolling. If real, what would I say to someone who is looking for an answer to this? I felt a little depressed every time I thought about it – there’s some poor, desperate person out there who is  trying to save a marriage, an engagement, a friendship, a relationship of some sort. But Ursula encouraged me to try – to give my take on it.

This person – I’m going to call him or her “Terry,” has likely done at least a little research because he or she has learned that narcissists have been categorized as being unable to love.

But undaunted, Terry perseveres. There must be a way! There must be some hope out there! Some obscure research or study or enquiry that espouses an approach that claims to work! That does work! I’m going to find it! And proclaim it to the world! I will not give up! I will not be a cynic who gives up on someone!

I wanted to say: Dear Terry, have you ever heard of snake-oil salesmen? Of bridges for sale? Of swamps that can produce the elixir of youth? Of spaghetti that grows on trees? Are you one of those people that P.T. Barnum indelicately described as being born every minute? Wake up, grow up, throw up or do whatever other “up” you need to do to get your head out of your ass and understand that narcissists are completely incapable  of loving anyone, ever. Oy!

That’s what I wanted to say.

But then I thought about it. Why shouldn’t Terry have hope? Why not? If we human beings had allowed ourselves to be stopped by every obstacle that ever came our way, then we would be a very sorry lot. No antibiotics. No lunar landings. No dinosaurs. (Oops. That one was fiction.)

But that’s the point, though, isn’t it? It’s okay to have hope, as long as it’s realistic. Maybe some day, we will know enough about narcissistic brain function to effect a “cure,” whatever that means. Medication? Talk therapy? An operation? Better parenting? Maybe a combination of all of these? Who knows?

But then again … maybe we won’t find a solution. Hope is good thing to have, but it has to be balanced.

Fear and emotional desperation can tend to unhinge us, can make us behave in irrational, illogical ways. And that’s what the narcissist generates. It’s intentional. In this highly subjective situation, hope is, well, it’s hopeless.

There we are, emotionally sickened and dangling by one fingernail while we grasp at any vestige of possibility – what can I do to get him back, to get him to love me (again)? The interior disintegration is profound and swift. We are like addicts who will do anything … That’s why it’s important to separate ourselves, to go “no contact,” to endure the pain of withdrawal so that we can get our lives back. Because this drug is bad for us. Really, really bad. It has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. It just is what it is, and it does what it does, and you are nothing more than the gravel under its feet or the sky over its head.

So hope? Yes. After you have disengaged from the narcissist and re-established your life and maybe even had some counselling, because let’s face it, if you have been involved with a narcissist, there’s a reason for it.

A reason that you have buried, that you have ignored, that you have spun. You have to face yourself and your part in this.

Cautiously. Carefully. Deliberately.

I tried to get my ex-narcissist to love me, again.

I desperately wanted to get him back into that idealization phase, even though I didn’t know at the time that that’s what I was doing. I sometimes encouraged him to talk about love, because I wanted him to put me  and love together in his head.

Not that he really needed encouragement, because he loved to talk about hate love.

He ranted endlessly about how poorly he had been treated by every female who had ever crossed his path for more than five minutes. We were all “scorners of men” who were lying in wait and planning to trick, trap, or otherwise punish every male in creation.

We were Eve incarnate, juicy apple in hand, enticing patter at the ready. We were evil landlocked mermaids with nothing but the siren call of total male destruction in mind, day in and day out. We were impulsive Pandora, straining to free all those spites and careless of her husband’s warnings.

And then the cycling would start:

Women, yes. I love how you smell. I love your clothes. I love how you look on my arm. I love … I love … I hate you!!! I hate what you represent!!! I hate you because you are women, and you have more than me, and I hate you!!! I love you! I hate you! I want you! I don’t want you! I want what you have!

Yes! That’s it. I want what you have! Give it to me! Give it to me, pleeeese. If you don’t give it to me, I’m going to take it, and make you wish you never tried to stop me. And I’ll swallow it. And then you will be weak and I’ll be strong and then I can feel better. Yes. It’s okay now.

I love you.

(Cue lines and music from a romantic movie. I say this because that’s literally what would be going off in his head. He might even quote the movie and pass the quote off as his own.)

But, two minutes later or two days later or two hours later:

I hate you!

Terry, do you see how this works? Your narcissist may tell you that you’re loved. But the very mouthing of these words is nothing but a tool. It’s a tool to get whatever it is you have that your narcissist wants. It’s a tool to relieve whatever pressure has built up in this individual’s festering mind. It’s tool to keep you off-kilter, off-balance and off-off, so that you can easily be controlled. It’s not love. For the narcissist, it’s one of many other words that is a means to an end.

The narcissist doesn’t understand love, doesn’t really believe that it exists and is really rather amused that the rest of us could expend so much energy engaging in such theatre. It’s about as real as the starship Enterprise.

And eventually, if you trail after this dickhead long enough, there will be nothing left of you. Not even your smell.

And then you will be discarded. Because what’s the use of keeping an empty shell around? It’s just cluttering the place up.

So, do I have hope for my ex-narcissist? I do. I send him good wishes every time I think of him. He, and those he’s in contact with, need good wishes more than most. But will I ever answer an e-mail or phone call from him? Never. Will I ever see him again? Not if I can help it. He is permanently “no contact,” now and forever. I will never again place myself in that situation.

So dear Terry, separate yourself from your narcissist. Get help. Find your own life again. The life that you deserve. Your narcissist will never love you nor anyone else. She or he is simply not built that way.

Good luck. 🙂

What would you say to Terry?

Where Does Narcissism Come From? Part I

Good question. I’ve thought about this a lot. If you look up narcissism, there is a tremendous amount of stuff about its roots.

Is it genetic? Is it caused by environmental factors? Is it caused by a combination of those? Is it triggered or does it develop slowly?

One thing that I’ve found irritating about everything I’ve read about narcissism is the tendency to blame mothers for it. This just seems too simple to me. To say nothing of the scapegoating that seems to be at work …

Women seem to be taking a disproportionate share of the responsibility for creating narcissists. And perhaps that topic is for another post. Part III?

Logically, it seems to me that narcissism doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all cause. Different people function in different ways and what may be a trigger for one person may not be a trigger for another. Additionally, I believe that there likely isn’t a single trigger at work at all. As well, the trigger(s) may only get pulled when various environmental conditions are right.

And what about the narcissist who develops very slowly over time?

So much goes into what makes a person behave in particular ways that I can’t believe that academic circles are still having this argument.

We’re all narcissistic. Humanity wouldn’t have survived without it. It’s the degree that matters, and I believe that narcissism can be placed on a spectrum with “normal” narcissism at one end and sociopathy/psychopathy at the other. Where one crosses over from being “rather” narcissistic to having Narcissistic Personality Disorder is again, a matter of degree. And, I would also say that it is perhaps also a matter of age and experience.

Much of what I’ve read on the subject tends to say that narcissism declines or levels out with age. I don’t necessarily believe that. Perhaps this is true of some narcissists. However, all I have to do is think of the narcissist to whom I was married. Harry is much older than me and was 62 when we met. I last conversed with him when he was 66. At that time, his narcissism showed no signs of abating and, in fact, was probably more sophisticated than it ever had been since his experience with me allowed him to improve it further.

Two months ago I received an email from him – I did not respond to it – where he bragged about his “new” life, “new” girlfriend with whom he is living, and the “new” city to which he recently moved.

He wanted to re-establish contact with me, again. Now, this email demonstrated his narcissism in several (possible) ways:

– everything was “new” – he was clearly idealizing the city, the girlfriend, the life. At some point, this will wear off and he will enter the “devaluation” phase of this relationship.

– he has had so many people run to get away from him that establishing contact with me proves that that’s not really true. Twisted logic, I know. But that’s how narcissists think.

– has he already entered the devaluation phase of his present relationship? Is that why he was trying to re-establish contact with me? They are always trolling for someone to build them up (and I really don’t know why he would think I would do that, but any port in a storm, I guess).

– it still stings when he thinks of how I dumped him. If there’s one thing that narcissists can’t stand, it’s being dumped by someone else. They, of course, can walk away from a relationship any time they please. He may have been trying to reel me in so that he could give me the boot.

– he ended the email by saying that he often thinks fondly of me and still doesn’t understand why we couldn’t have worked things out. He is completely clueless as to the damage he caused me, both financially and emotionally. To him, we can just pick up where we left off!

That comment, more than anything else, shows the degree of narcissism that lives inside him. Did he ask how I am? No. Ask after my family, my job, my dog? No. No. No. Because those things don’t matter. It’s always, always about him.

I think that Harry has a very polished act. Very polished. It’s taken him years to shine it up. He will never give it up, no matter what it costs him. And there is nothing and no one who will ever be of more value to him than his act.

So, how did Harry get there? Stay tuned for my take on the development of narcissism.

Where do you think narcissism (or any other human trait) comes from?  Is it nature, nurture or both?