An Observational Analysis of My Awakening (Part II).
Laying the Initial Foundations
This blog post set the tone for things:
So what is the self-aware narc to do? Where do I go to find a safe and comforting place to share my journey and grow from it? They say writing can be cathartic when you are dealing with mental illness. I know this to be true based on past experiences – and, well, this will be the biggest and hardest undertaking of my life. So I’ve decided to create this anonymous blog and use it as a record of what’s happening inside my head.
I will tell you now – I am a sick and twisted individual with a lot of pent up shame and anger. The things I’ve done in the past – and the things that I do now, I am horrified by them. You are likely to be as well. The things that I think are even worse – by a rather significant order of magnitude. My point is, if you intend to join me on this journey, then be prepared for the darkness that is this cancer of the soul called narcissism.
What I am HOPING to do is 1) work out my thoughts and feelings, 2) give other NPDs the sense that they are not alone, and 3) provide insight into the NPD mind for those that do not (and cannot) fathom what it is we really are.
Spirituality was most certainly not a factor at this point. All I wanted was healing!
In the next two sections I plant the seed that becomes my later theory regarding fragile NPD, and I describe a mental picture of taking back my life.
A narcissist is emotionally trapped in this childlike state. So when you think about the narcissist in your life – try to remember that at the core (at least for some of us) is a deep pit of despair and longing for acceptance. We never had the unconditional ‘good enough’ love experience that a child is supposed to receive from someone other than itself.
I’ll leave you with this. Let’s say that my body is a car. And lets say that my mind is the steering wheel. Most narcissists sleep through the entire journey and never wake up. If we do somehow wake up to our reality we find that we are asleep in the PASSENGER seat. And guess who’s driving. As you awaken, the False Self will start by trying to lull you back to sleep… and it will be relentless in doing so! In my vision, there are steps to recovery that are commensurate with: staying awake, taking over on navigation, getting into the drivers seat, silencing the false self, and ultimately booting him out of the car altogether.
In hindsight, I’d suggest that this story about being in the car is very very close to the path I actually ended up taking! In my theory regarding my awakening I note that part of the key is having an intuitive understanding of your own path. This was very much mine!
Here I start discussing the dangers of lying in therapy – this provoked my focus on radical self-honesty in the chair!
There are no drugs that help. I take Wellbutrin so my head doesn’t explode, but it just deals with a symptom, not a cause. Therapy is only partially successful – and usually fails because the narc can’t be honest in session, or doesn’t care enough to make the session worth while. Narcs also have a way of getting under a therapists skin – it’s fun to mind wrestle a trained psychologist and win. We get high off of conquests like this. We get to prove our superiority against a worthy opponent. Once we do though – that opponent is no longer worthy, so the therapeutic relationship crumbles to dust. Spirituality is another possible dimension for healing, but there’s so much damage floating around in various spiritual communities that it may be hard for a Narc to feel comfortable or they may get TOO comfortable (target rich environment).
Indeed I must chuckle at that last sentence now.
This next part is almost an entire post, but it really does a good job of setting the stage.
For the past couple of weeks I’ve been studying pathological narcissism in order to better understand myself. For me, the acceptance of my disorder has been a powerful and rewarding experience. However it has also left me a shell of a human being with no sense of internal identity.
I’m okay with that now. I’m ready to move forward.
I want to understand where my false self arises from, where the split occurred, why it occurred, how to heal that wound, and how to move on with my life. I also want to work towards self-acceptance and self-healing. This is all very tricky though because narcissism can be extremely complicated.
That said, I’ve also decided to use my narcissism against itself. Within my narcissism, I am ruthlessly efficient in how I approach the deconstruction and ultimate destruction of a target. So why not then turn this ruthless efficiency in on my own FALSE SELF in order to dismantle it and take away its power over me?
The way my brain works is highly analytical. One of my TRUE strengths is large-scale systems thinking and analytical problem solving. I am often able to identify and describe connections between objects and events that lead directly to new insights and solutions. Some times these connections are only apparent to me – which I often find surprising.
While I agree that labels can often be counterproductive in a therapeutic setting, KNOWING that I have this thing inside me gives me a ‘root’ that I can grab ahold of and rip from the ground! I’m a root-cause analysis kind of guy – so I’ve chosen to embrace my narcissism in a new light. I want to solve the problem!
But therein lays the real problem. Narcissism is so poorly understood on so many levels that any question regarding the possibility of healing must really ask the question – from what?
This set of statements both begins and ends with a major sense of an identity in crisis. It also begs the fruit without knowing it.
Here I attempt to draw from some of the available scientific data on NPD. There is one particular paper that includes the concept of a Fragile Narcissist. This type was the best match for the nature of my particular disorder. Here are few interesting points regarding the paper and my analysis of it:
Fragile narcissism is characterized by grandiosity that serves a defensive function, warding off painful feelings of inadequacy, smallness, anxiety, and loneliness. The fragile narcissist wants to feel important and privileged, and when defenses are operating effectively, he does. However, when the defenses fail, there is a powerful undercurrent of negative affect and feelings of inadequacy, often accompanied by rage.
Fragile narcissists also “suffer the most; they have the poorest global adaptive functioning and the highest comorbidity with major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder”.
As for treatment options, “fragile narcissists may respond best to empathic understanding and interventions that acknowledge underlying pain, insecurity, and vulnerability. These patients would require the clinician’s help to tolerate feelings of vulnerability without resorting to grandiosity or devaluation of others”.
That last little bit is EXTREMELY valuable information to me. It tells me that 1) I have selected a therapist that will guide me in a manner most therapeutically appropriate to my situation; and 2) that there is HOPE!
Within this and other data, I feel that have now obtained the intelligence needed to begin my fight against this enemy.
It is my belief that the suffering captured here is accurate to this flavor of the disorder – and is also a key factor in how I was able to make the leap.
Finally, we touch on the nature of self as a changing, flowing thing that does not actually exist. I was on to something here, I just had no idea of it at the time!
Just remember – the narc morphs into what the relationship will allow him to be. He will drop the mask a little at a time to test your responses. If you don’t put your foot down quickly enough to establish a level of equality, the mask may drop completely and then you end up with the nightmare narc… but what are these masks all about?
I can only speak from my own experiences, but – I am Mr. Wonderful when you first meet me. IF I want to meet you that is. When I turn on Mr. Wonderful, that’s what you get… But let’s say we’ve known each other for a while and been together for a while. It’s hard being Mr. Wonderful all the time – there’s no way to sustain the illusion. So I drop the Mr. Wonderful mask and put on the Mr. Really Really Good mask. I might wear that around for a while to see how you react. Then I might go to Mr. Just Okay for a while and test the boundaries again. Eventually you get to Mr. Mask – which is the full on Narc in his worst possible form. You’ll never find the real person in there – he doesn’t exist.
This is correct. He does not exist.
Throughout this section are a number of obvious seeds that had already been planted and were growing. This may have been due to a number of other things that were occurring at the same time in the on-line forums. A lot of this came from the forums.