Have you ever felt that how you were wired was somehow wonky, and you were never going to understand or fit the mold that you were supposed to?
Several months ago, fourteen, in fact, I wrote the following passages, and even with time to reflect, I am frozen, still. I can’t even breathe right now, thinking of how I am unable to find love in my heart for narcissists. I am trying to understand how they are and why they are, to have some sort of empathy or grasp on what is salvageable in them to care about. But I can’t even like them, not even a little bit. They cause too much damage, leave too much rubble in their wake without concern. Is this because my own wiring is wonky? Is there something wrong with me?
It is ludicrous to me; defenders of said narcissists, they call from the ashes still afire around them, that the narcissist that burned them never intended to harm them. That the narcissist has remorse and is hurting, too. I can’t even. I know egomaniacs can choose to have empathy about things that happen to them. I know narcissists are capable of compassion; in some cases, it just isn’t essential to them or their survival.
So, here I am months later, still wondering how to live with a more Jesus like heart. I guess I will just be flawed in this way forever. Mostly because it seems absurd to have a positive emotion for the narcissist that has hurt someone I care about. And I am not sure I will ever be able to find a way. Maybe releasing this into the world and learning how others handle and cope with narcissists in their lives will lead me to a path of hope and understanding.
Tara Westover wrote, “Was it really fun and games? I write. Could he not tell he was hurting me? I don’t know. I just don’t know. I begin to reason with myself, to doubt whether I had spoken clearly: what had I whispered and what had I screamed? I decide that if I had asked differently, been more calm, he would have stopped. I write this until I believe it, which doesn’t take long because I want to believe it. It’s comforting to think the defect is mine because that means it is under my power.”
Is this what we do to ourselves, make ourselves believe one thing because it is what comforts us the most? Whose reality is real? What is acceptable?
Hurting people is the worst thing you could do. But we have all done it. I think it is patterns of bad behavior that become the true test of character. It is those patterns that define and create a landscape of who that person truly is. And you can forgive or try to understand that person, but you don’t have to continue to let that person’s behavior upset your balance. If it is continually causing you hurt and suffering, then the person doing harm is someone you need to distance yourself from. I don’t think you can think clearly or make decisions about what is good and true until you are clear from that behavior and manipulation.
And this is where my thoughts keep turning when I am left alone with myself during this quarantine. And somehow even though I think that I am right about creating distance and safe spaces from narcissists, I am still the villain, because I cannot find redemption in someone I believe is a narcissist and quite possibly a sociopath. And so here we are…my words from fourteen months ago still rolling around in my head…
The storm outside matches the insides of my heart. Hail, sheets of rain, howling wind that makes the walls rumble. It is as if this storm knows the rage inside my heart needs to escape. It can’t be contained there much longer.
Pain isn’t my strong suit. Even though I love to hide, pushing my feelings down, stuffing them into oblivion can only last so long. The only way to conquer pain is through it. It has to do its work, and you must go through it.
Denial, I am good at denial. But no more. I have chosen this life out loud to cut the crap out of my life literally. No secrets, no shame, no perfection, no lies, living out in the open as it is. What you see is what you get.
And then there is love. Love can be a complicated thing. It turns people inside out and makes them believe the impossible. I used to think love was a good thing. I am not so sure love by itself is a good thing. Sometimes the impossible is a bunch of deceit. Sometimes we love a toxic, narcissistic soul that takes and takes and takes, leaving us with lies, emptiness, and love unreturned. So why should they be allowed a seat at your table? I am all for everyone should have a seat; until that someone is cruel and doesn’t care about the table or anyone else that is seated there.
Seeing through people’s souls is a sixth sense I cherish. I don’t abuse it; I only use it if you want to get close to me or the people I cherish. If your insides don’t match your outsides; if your soul is besotted black and you reek of self-serving arrogance, you don’t make my cut. But if you are who you present yourself to be and your actions match your words, I most likely will never let you go.
And yet, I haven’t been good at love lately. If I am being hurt, I step away, pull back. Biting my tongue isn’t easy. I don’t know why I should have to when I care about you and want what’s best for you. And people I admire pick their own people to love. They don’t care what my bullshit radar says. And I have to accept that. Releasing my protective grip is near impossible. My heart crushes and seizes under that kind of pressure.
But unconditional love, love without exception means you can’t use a bullshit radar. You have to love people as they show up. And in most cases, I can handle that. Most cases. But if you are a cruel, selfish, liar, who causes pain and heartache without a thought, you are out. In fact, door slammed, one chance, and you lose. Redemption is inconceivable.
Can you be incapable of loving unconditionally? Do you get forgiven if you can’t watch your loved ones get hurt by someone over and over again? If you slam a door shut and lock twenty deadbolts and then board it up for safe measure, are you the bad guy?
And forgiveness…I can’t even get close to talking about that yet. Sometimes you reap what you sow. Too bad, so sad. Sorry, not sorry. Oh, and good riddance. If you hurt someone I care about, that is how I feel about you. If you hurt me I will likely get past it, but you hurt what is most precious to me then forget it; you are dead to me. Worse than dead. Lost. Dust. Nothing.
It’s all too much this morning. I decide to run. I have to get out of my own head. But I can’t breathe. It’s like I keep sucking in poison. Fury has toxic, suffocating fumes. I walk with rage. A long stride, swinging arms, an intent glare. The dark, swirling sky and constant mist matching my mood with perfection. And when I can’t take my own thoughts anymore, I sprint again. Trying to focus on my stride. The way my feet land, toe heel, toe heel, and then again I am breathless and weak with resentment.
Why? Why? Why? And the thoughts swirl endlessly and viciously through my mind.
Stuttering across my consciousness is a conversation with a client. A client, who I believe is psychic; incredibly intuitive, described herself as crazy. I have described myself as crazy, too. But at that moment, pungent acidity bubbled up in me and then almost as instantly calm washed over me; “crazy isn’t knowing something before it happens,” I told her.
“Crazy is intentionally harming another person. That is crazy. I will never be able to understand or rationalize how someone does that.” And there it is. And this is how I will become the villain in this story. I will speak up. I will shout against shame and stand tall against the person who should be sorry in all of this but isn’t capable of that emotion. Only narcissism sits in the place where a heart should be.
Maybe I will work through this. Perhaps I will be able to invite liars to my table one day to appease those who can, but my heart seems to refuse.
We protect ourselves from pain unconsciously. It is a survival skill that we will instinctively move away from danger both physically and emotionally. But what if someone you care about, a friend, a family member, keeps running toward that pain. Don’t you cry out for them to stop? To watch out. Is that what this is? I don’t know for sure.
They always say write when you are passed something, over it. But what if you never get over it. What if watching someone you treasure suffer from someone else’s cruelty creates a jaded, vengeful bitterness in your own heart that cripples you and makes you the villain in the story when you were only trying to help. All I know is I am tired of being quiet. This isn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last. And if trying to help you keep your eyes open makes me the bad guy; then que será, será. I don’t know who else to be. I don’t know how else to be. Maybe this is the role I am supposed to play in this story. The girl who can’t keep her mouth shut. The girl who cries, “wolf” only the wolf is deadly real, but you love the wolf, and it breaks my heart to see what that wolf does to you. What that wolf has done to you and what that wolf won’t hesitate to do to you again.
Love is tricky. Complicated. Sometimes maybe impossible to understand. And sometimes, when you adore someone, you think it is worth it to be the villain. You don’t care what you lose to save someone you think deserves better. Even if it means losing them. I would rather tell the truth. I would rather be myself, then hide and watch you suffer because that is what you want. I can’t pretend like everything is okay. Like everything is the same. The whole damn village is burning down, and the person who lit the match shouldn’t be able to build it up just to burn it down again. And if that is what happens, I can’t watch. I can’t stay quiet. Maybe one day I will love with unconditional abandon, but this isn’t who I am right now. Right now, I am still angry, still wanting justice and transparency. And somehow the villain.