Am I the only person tired of reading articles about narcissists? In addition to yoga selfies, all of my social media is cluttered with articles about narcissists. For a personality disorder comprising 1-6%(depending on the source) of the population, narcissists really get a LOT of press! I’m amazed at how everyone has recently broken up with a narcissist. As a person who has been diagnosed by non-professionals with good and not so good intentions, maybe I’m a little sensitive and I get my panties in a bunch.
Typically, people who diagnose humans go to school for that distinction for 6 or more years. They get a fancy looking piece of paper called a degree. While my sarcasm is dripping, I won’t apologize for the intention. Our ability to Google does not a doctor make.
I will be the first to admit, I am guilty of Google diagnosing myself all the time. I have convinced myself I have cancer and every psychiatric disorder known to man. The problem is that a long list of symptoms can seem familiar to anyone. I, at least, have the decency to diagnose myself. Inevitably, when I am convinced that I yet again have testicular cancer, I’m the only one talking myself off a ledge. I’m not tarnishing anyone’s name online or amongst friends, etc.
This morning, I counted 7 different articles regarding narcissistic relationships. Am I somehow only following sites that hate narcissists? Or, it is possible that we are throwing labels, now medical diagnoses, at people without having a clue what we’re saying or why we’re saying it? Selfish is not a narcissist. Manipulative is not a narcissist. Someone who uses you is not a narcissist. They could be, potentially. They could also not be. The only way to know for sure is if that person is clinically diagnosed with NPD.
So many commenters on the articles tell awful stories of experiences with their “narcs”, and I rarely read them seeking therapy, support, etc. I rarely see guidance to seek therapy or support in the articles. I read a lot of hatred and anger towards those “fucking narcs”. Even the articles themselves have a very skewed perspective. It is as if these people are less than human. A “narc” feeds off your energy, a “narc” will put you down to make him (almost always written as male vs female, interestingly) feel better.
That’s a DSM V population being described. If you substitute that with Depression, Twitter would explode. I don’t understand. Mental illness is mental illness. “Oh well, this mental illness is far more palatable.” Mental illness isn’t really palatable in general. It IS ugly and it IS unpleasant. Sitting on my couch folding laundry, sobbing, snot running down my face, saying “I’m not actively suicidal, I just don’t want to live anymore, but at least I’m not suicidal” is a reality. Me feeling like my children don’t get enough of my attention some days because I’m in a fog due to depression is a reality. Sometimes, I fly into rages before I can catch myself and I scream shit that would make a sailor blush, because I am fucking unstable (at best!). The truth is mental illness hurts. Illness in general hurts.
Regardless of mental illness, I am responsible for my actions and words and that hurts. I have watched me hurt the people I love most (especially yours truly) OVER AND OVER AGAIN. When I was a cutter, I watched me slice my arm open. When I actively binged and purged, I saw blood in my vomit and realized I was killing myself. When I am depressed and feel as though I’m on Itchy Butt’s Lonely Island watching everyone else live and ignoring the world while I’m on my phone, or in my journal, or lying in bed, I know I’m losing precious time with my kids and I am choosing to while feeling as though I don’t have a choice.
I have ruined my life countless times and put everyone I love through hell. I have made my own life a living hell. I would not wish me on my worst enemy sometimes. I will not make excuses for myself. I am responsible for my mental illness. I know people like to get in a tizzy, I didn’t ask for this – well a narcissist did not ask to be a narcissist either. You’re born that way or made that way: just like all of us. We are all human beings. When you reduce a person to a label, you forget there is a beating heart behind those letters.
There was never a moment in my life where I woke up and said, “I am going to fuck some shit up today.” I have had some terrible, terrible people in my life. I don’t think any of them thought, “I am going to fuck some shit up today.” These articles paint narcissists as having some twisted covert agenda to lure unsuspecting empaths/women/virgins into their traps.
The biggest problem I have with this is: it’s bullshit. Like attracts like. If you are one of those people screaming you dated a narcissist, well then you’re probably a narcissist. There I said it. Flame away. Most of these articles are written with a new age twist, so the same people who write the Law of Attraction are writing to protect you from evil narcissists. The mind boggles.
The most popular article seems to be empaths vs. narcissists. Empathy is a personality trait. Narcissism is a personality disorder, so these are not polar opposites. An empath does not lack a sense of self? I do not know any empath who has no concept they exist. You can have too little or too much empathy; a lack of boundaries as an empathetic person will lead you to be codependent and enabling. A narcissist lacks empathy, which is part of the reason this is a personality disorder. If you identify as an empath and you are claiming to keep getting burned by “narcs”, then you are a person who is avoiding all your problems by trying to fix broken people. (Source: I’m a former empath who tried to avoid all her problems by fixing broken people) Whatever twist you use, whether its new age, psychology, or philosophy: broken people attract broken people.
Projection and perception create our realities. If you perceive yourself as a victim, God himself could descend on a beautiful white cloud and say “My child, thouest are not a victim” and you’ll say “Yeah, but Jonny….” and God will roll his eyes and go right back up. The best day of my life was when I realized everything I hated about my ex-husband was what I hated about myself. He’s lazy (so are you). He yells all the time (so do you). We’re a couple of arguing mirrors. It is not just him, it is everyone. That is how our perception & projection works, and this is where mental illnesses make it even more challenging. Our minds are how we process the world. Depression etc. makes it harder to process the world correctly. Similarly, narcissism (especially with a lack of empathy) makes it difficult to process relationships correctly. Imagine how it must be to be unable to have a true connection with people.
If someone keeps getting in relationships with “narcs”, the only person they can look at is the reflection in the mirror. If someone’s relationships are tumultuous and fraught with disaster, the only person they can look at is the reflection in the mirror. That reflection is the only person we can change, influence, and control. That reflection is the only person we have responsibility for. If that reflection is unhappy, it is our responsibility to fix it, and it is completely in our power to do so. Every self-help book, psychologist, therapist, guru, etc. will say the same exact thing.
When I say I am responsible for my mental illness, this does not mean I caused it. Responsible and blame aren’t synonyms. It means I am the one who has to take care of it. Who the hell else would? I am choosing to take medication to support me, so I am literally the person who puts the pills in my mouth, I am changing my diet, I literally changed my entire life – yoga, meditation, I’m a fucking hippie (according to my Boss Baby watching children), because I am a woman who studied Google diligently to understand herself (and her reoccurring testicular cancer), her illnesses, and what she can do to help herself. This was a more productive use of my time then blaming my husband, blaming my past, blaming my exes, and everything else. Beyond all that, I studied myself obsessively, because I’m the only person who can make me happy, and I really fucking enjoy being happy.
Mental illness has dark sides. We all know about suicide, but people with mental illnesses can be abusive, too. I certainly have attracted my fair share of people with problems. None of us lives in bubbles and our words and actions impact others. I would never say someone who died by suicide is selfish, nor would I say I have ever intended to hurt someone except me. People who love me have been collateral damage in my war against myself. Abuse does happen. I have abused and been abused by others. It is awful.
Blame only serves to diminish power and repeat the cycles, because perception and projection weren’t corrected. Patterns and cycles will never break without awareness and healing. Abuse is so complex, and it can take years of therapy to help unravel the enmeshed and entangled emotions, triggers, and people. It is not enough to read an article, identify with bullet points, Google diagnose your exes, and cast blame.
A mental illness of any kind is not an invitation to have your humanity reduced by an article, an ex, or a random person on the street. A person hurting you is not an invitation to be diagnosed or diagnose, either. As a person who has given and received her fair share of pain, I have never known peace until I finally understood I am in control of me and only me. I can’t change people, I can’t fix people, and I can’t heal people, and if someone is hurting me, it is my choice to accept it. Maybe my myriad of issues makes my life more challenging, but it’s what makes me who I am. Forgiveness and compassion are uniquely human traits, and they are the keys to healing any kind of trauma. For me, I needed to give the gift of both to myself more than any other human on this planet.
None of us asked for mental illnesses, abuse, etc. I have always believed shit happens to teach us. I believe we are responsible for what we do with the lessons, our lives, and our happiness. I believe my exes all have taught me how to be a better person. I am kinder, more compassionate, etc. thanks to my exes. My exes taught me about love, and my exes taught me what I will accept from the billionaire I will eventually meet at Wawa. Sitting here now, I’m thankful for my past because it has brought me to the present, where I am generally pretty healthy and happy.
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