names have been omitted in this post
"It's the craziest thing I've ever seen... when I get up in the morning she's playing chinese checkers. When I get home from work she's playing chinese checkers. When I go to sleep she's playing chinese checkers. I guess she plays all day. That's all she does. I think she's flipped out." My father told me.
I listened to his words and watched how convincing he could be. It really was quite unbelievable to watch. I listened as he tried oh so hard to make me believe that she really had gone off the cliff of sanity into the dark depths of instability. I stood there listening as his tone was cloaked in fake astonishment and maybe even a little bit of tsk tsk and concern for her.
I knew better. I stood there staring at him.
OH, THE GAMES A NARC PLAYS...
Inside I was indignant and angry. I knew exactly what he was doing. I knew exactly what my mother was doing. I also knew that he knew exactly what she was really doing. But I took a deep breath and put on my best face of concern...
"Oh gee... I don't know... is she depressed?"
I asked him in a seemingly helpful tone.
He shook his head and shrugged his shoulders in that way he does and spoke "I don't know..." He paused and then looked at me "I don't know, kid... I don't know what to do..." Ah, the act of a caring and concerned husband.
I called my mother and told her what he'd said. She laughed. "The den is the only place centrally located in the house where I can keep an eye on him. He's saying I'm playing chinese checkers because I've gone crazy?... What a joke. That's funny." In reality she was on to his little scheme of how he'd been sneaking community property of value out of the house bit by bit. The process of stashing stuff somewhere else was a lengthy one and not one she hadn't noticed. Items were disappearing each day. It was almost laughable how he'd tried to convince me that she had mentally flipped out. It was almost laughable how he'd tried to orchestrate an alliance with me. It was almost laughable that he actually thought I'd believe it. It was almost laughable that he tried to act like he didn't really know what she was truly doing... keeping tabs on his activities. He knew and yet he tried to use the facade of innocence to his own advantage and act like she was crazy and appeal to me. If this wasn't a classic case of crazy-making I didn't know what was.
It was just a very short time later I discovered my husband's cheating. Our marriage had been unraveling like an old worn out sweater devoid of hope. I continually felt like the floor beneath me was laced in egg shells... and if I tried to engage he would blow and just walk off. He had his nose perpetually stuck in his iphone and it never left his hand or sight... his attitude was one of indifference toward me... he acted like he was never in the wrong and I was always to blame... he stopped taking me places and his newest mantra at nine o'clock bedtime was "Because SOME OF US have to work!!!!!" when I'd try to engage in pleasant conversation. During my childhood a similar line of "Because I have to WORK!" had been emitted when attention was sought. Little did I know then that I was dealing with the same toxicity that I'd grown up with... yes, slightly different... but in the overall scheme of things very similar all the same.
HINDSIGHT IS I MARRIED WHAT I GREW UP KNOWING...
My father and husband were both workaholics... work was the very bane of their existence.... they lived and breathed it. The vices they had were specifically different even though the overall themes were the same. My father found value in what he owned... antiques, art, etc while letting everything else like home and vehicles fall into dismal disarray. Material things were image and ego enhancers that were valued above family, connection and what mattered. My ex found value in material things but instead his vices were homes complete with updates and the best of everything... cars, techie stuff and designer clothes.
Like a high dollar call girl I was dangled by my father who enjoyed the "Your daughter is so beautiful" oohs and ahhs.... which gave him supply and made me feel extremely uncomfortable in his presence where he was concerned. I felt his attraction to me overshadowed his to my mother which was a sickening thought. "You could get anybody in this town you wanted..." He told me when I was on the cusp of adulthood. "With your looks you can marry somebody with a family name here in town." He advised. When we are viewed as an object it ignores the intelligence, talents and capabilities we possess. I was rather amused that he seemed to think that's how it worked; sit still and look pretty and someone will snatch you up like a prize. What he didn't realize is that he wasn't part of that world... of "family names", country club sets, etc... he could have been but that would have required him to set aside the spending on "collections" and "stuff" and actually do something of meaning in the community... like contributing in some thoughtful way by donating something extraordinary or monetarily etc instead of squirreling everything he had away and hoarding it. I knew he was saying that with the intention of using me to make himself look better... using me to fuel the ego and image in the fantasy of me latching onto another family of higher status. I told him "I have no interest in that" and then silently took notes observing more dysfunction over the years... noticing much more than I ever let on.
HEALING FROM LOSS AND WOUNDS...
Narc parents are ill but we don't get to sign up for what we are willing to accept and live with when were children. We get what we are given and we muddle through somehow... and then finally we are grown and we get to know our parents as adults... working through those old wounds of childhood as maybe new wounds are continually inflicted... either confronting them and receiving backlash or quietly assessing how we feel with each interaction or painful neglect. Enduring abuse of all kinds perhaps even gas-lighting, projection and triangulation. And as time goes by we try.... or maybe we step back... only to try again... and each time we are cruelly disappointed. We realize that the love we are trying oh so desperately to get isn't attainable with those it should be. So then we try to quietly comfort ourselves... we give ourselves a hug and try to soothe the child within us. And it's only after we go into those deep wounds where love should have been can we come to terms with the true amount of damage incurred. It's only after we admit we were hurt and we didn't get what we needed... can we begin to rub healing balm into scars long set in.
We may believe we have to look out for ourselves... afterall, we can't expect a safety net of love, protection and comfort from those who aren't capable. So we become too self-reliant, independent, self-sufficent, etc. Whatever the term, it really translates to: "I don't lean on others because I can't trust they will truly be there for me"... because another disappointment is too much to handle. We also may see the world as a battle ground... there is always someone out to get us... because if we can't trust the one who was to be there for us (parent, spouse, etc) how we can possibly expect someone else to be? We don a permanent shield of armor to protect ourselves; what we view as insulating ourselves from being hurt, keeping others at arms length... but we don't have to. We can remind ourselves that all parents are not capable of being loving. Not all parents are capable of being who they need to be for their child. But we can break the chain of blaming oneself for not being loved. We can break the chain by expecting our parent to change... because they likely are not capable. We can break the chain by not enabling or giving excuses for their behavior like "Well, he or she tried their best" which minimizes and diminishes what we endured. We can break the chain by replacing the negative and lies we've been fed by replacing them with love and truth. Proverbs 3:5 ESV Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
Or maybe we suffer from anxiety from the lack of love. If we are a tightly wound up ball of anxiety and always ready to fight or flee... living a leave 'em before they can hurt us mentality... if we are unbelieving that we will ever meet someone healthy to love and be loved by... if we are closed to the idea of others being there for us, if we are always waiting for the other shoe to drop, the next storm to hit, the next lemon to land in our drink minus the sugar we will remain closed off to so much in life. That is a life not lived. We can stop projecting into the future and remind ourselves to live in the present... connect with others and share our inner light and lively spirit because staying closed off isn't healthy and going too far into the unknown future produces nail biting and nerves. When we focus on the present gift of life the world doesn't seem to loom quite so large and scary. Matthew 11:28-30 NIV 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Or maybe anger rules our life... maybe anger keeps us in control and makes us feel better about everything we can't control... like poor circumstances either chosen or not, or other people and how they loved or didn't love us. Maybe it makes us feel not so small and vulnerable... maybe it makes us feel not so invisible... maybe it makes us feel more powerful. But anger can be used for good or bad. Specifically anger can be a tool to fuel us forward and make us better, to grow and expand our dreams... or it can be a dangerous tool that we use to mask what's really hurting underneath... what's been missing... love. Operating with anger can affect us negatively in our personal life, our jobs and personal goals. Anger can be limiting in that it can push others away and create more problems than there were initially... acknowledging the initial childhood wounds takes great courage and wisdom... realizing that there are way more productive ways to release it and kiss it goodbye... exercise, boxing, running, shooting at the gun range, etc. When we look for positive ways to address not so pretty ways we've been coping... it's a win for us and everyone else. Ecclesiastes 7:9 ESV Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.
The time is now... bend down and tell your inner child that it's time to stop living with these untreated wounds, with these roles you were instructed to play, these understandably familiar but unhealthy patterns all the same. Tell yourself you are more than how you were treated whether as a child or adult... remind yourself that all the crazy-making, gas-lighting, projection that you've lived is not something you deserved, it's not something anyone should have to endure, it's not how you are meant to live. You deserve to love yourself with the love you never received.
What you are meant for is reaching for the galaxy, soaking up the world through travel, learning, art, inspiration, nature, good books, conversation and bonding with others... you are meant for being loved how you deserve and loving other's back. You are meant for standing in the sun, soaking up the aweness of life and it's beauty... you are meant for fun, for laughter, for games to be played but not ones that hurt or triangulate. You are meant for diving in oceans and wishing on stars... you are meant to create a new script... one that's healthy and sets the path for bettering the future generations of your family... you are meant to be free and not chained to a life that's restricting and dark. You are meant to be light as a feather and not burdened like stone. You are meant for light and to be one in the world.