What a simple but profound premise! I get daily emails from a FB group called the Brave Girls Club. The purpose of the site, and the emails, is to empower women who don’t feel very powerful. Today’s email said, in part,
“Truth feels good and peaceful and warm, even when the truth is a hard reality…….. Truth eliminates confusion and loves the beauty of life….in all of its forms.
Think of a time when you knew FOR SURE, for sure, for sure, for SURE that you were experiencing truth. Think of that feeling……..that peace….that knowing.
When you are in a place where you have very difficult decisions to make….especially during those times when BOTH decisions mean something very very good or BOTH decisions mean something very very difficult……..remember the way that TRUTH feels.”
All of their emails speak to me on some level, but this one really struck me, I think because I’ve been writing so much recently about the confusion perpetuated by the covert narc. Confused is the word I’ve been coming back to, over and over.
I have spent most of my life feeling confused, which is the reason I made such a great target for my narc. My confusion began in my family of origin, and dates back as far as I can remember. In EMDR I identified an early memory that I had forgotten, which led to tremendous confusion for me. This pattern continued throughout my entire childhood.
Children are programmed to be self serving, and, as a result, view everything as revolving around them. This is necessary, because as children we rely on our parents/guardians for everything. Unfortunately, everything can include a whole lot of bad. There was a lot of craziness in my family and, being the 3rd of 4 children born very closely together, I tended to be the one least attended to. For whatever reason I also became the scapegoat. 9 times out of 10, if there was a problem, or I suppose more accurately, if my mother was upset, it was because of something I had done. And in my household, the last thing any of us wanted was for Mother to be upset; it was not pretty. The flip side, though, was that I was also called “practically perfect”. I now understand that I was in no way practically perfect, that all that really meant was that I operated independent of the rest of the family. I took care of myself, I did my homework on my own, I was always the 1st to finish chores, I chose my own outfits without drama or strife, I brushed my teeth and carefully bathed etc. The things that most children need to be nagged to do, I did automatically.
I represented both sides of the coin – I was always the angel or the devil.
In my early years I spent more time being the angel, as I survived day to day with little difficulty. As my teenage years approached, though, all hell broke loose, and I became the constant disappointment; the one who always upset mom and turned the household into chaos. I was the one who, never quite measured up, regardless of how much I accomplished. I wasn’t as smart as the others (this is true & I’m ok with it; I’m still pretty smart!), I certainly didn’t work as hard as they did, and I demanded all sorts of things they apparently didn’t demand, and, while I was the “pretty one”, I was fat. In reality, the only one of these that was true was the intelligence, but what I lack in book smarts I more then make up for in emotional intelligence. In truth, I did work as hard as the others, I just did it on my own so no one knew about it. I didn’t demand more then the others, it was just so unusual for me to “demand” anything, it became an issue when I did. And, I was Never Fat, and I certainly wasn’t ever the prettiest one in the room!
As a young adult, all of these confusing messages rattled around in my head. I walked into my 20’s, after years of therapy, believing that I wasn’t smart enough, I had a crappy work ethic, I was demanding, and, while I was sort of pretty, I was fat. I’m giggling as I write all of this because here’s the reality of me in my 20’s.
- I earned a Master’s degree while working full time.
- I worked a full time job and a part time job to pay off my student loans
- I demanded nothing of anyone, at any time because I felt worthy of nothing.
- I was 5’3″ and weighed between 95 – 105 pounds; extremely Not Fat.
I began addressing some of these issues as a young adult, but when my narc 1st got to know me, he honed right in on my ambivalence towards my family, and used it to great advantage. Whenever I had a problem or issue with a family member, he quickly jumped in and “saved me” from them. At least, I thought that’s what he was doing. What he was really doing was isolating me from them while simultaneously positioning himself as my hero. Talk about confusion! One minute he’d be protecting me from my “crazy” family, then next he’d be adding to my confusion by telling me I was crazy.
Obviously, I was primed and ready for a narc! I was a walking ball of confusion, I was easily convinced that I was the problem in any given situation, I had doubts about my intelligence and work ethics, and I had body image issues. I was like a Light House for narcissists: stop here, there is safe harbor to be had. That was me – the safe harbor for manipulation and abuse.
My ex dove right into my tangled web of confusion and spun it round and round and round, till I had no idea which way was up, let alone what was right and wrong, good or bad. The hero who rescued me from my family came with a price: to gain his protection I had to give up my sanity. Since I didn’t have much sanity to give up in the first place, it wasn’t hard for me to do.
All of which leads me back to the opening premise:
Truth Eliminates Confusion
It reminds me of statistics. As an undergrad I Loved Statistics. I was also really good at it, and was hired on to be a Teaching Assistant. It was an absolute strength and, since I had few of these as far as I could tell, I latched on to it and basked in the glorious feeling of competence and intelligence it offered me. When I started graduate school I was so excited to take on advanced statistics. I knew it would be my forte’, my shiny piece of evidence that I belonged in graduate school. Even if I tanked all my other classes, which was highly likely since I wasn’t very intelligent and lacked work ethic, I’d still ace statistics. Imagine my surprise when not only did I not ace the class, I ended up with a C. And, the C was a pity C, because I spent so much time with the Professor trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. Talk about confusing!
The truth in the statistics situation is really quite simple (and embarrassing). The Professor was foreign, and I couldn’t understand what he was saying. At All. Ever. I never understood a word that came of that man’s mouth. I became over-wrought, filled with shame since only judgmental people can’t catch on to an accent (right?), and filled with anxiety. When I opened the book I could barely read the words, let alone comprehend them. It was hell, and led me to great confusion about my abilities in math.
As I watch my children go through school I see a simple, yet powerful truth: We all learn differently, and the favorite teacher of one person might be someone else’s worse nightmare. This is not a negative commentary on the student or the teacher, it is simply a fact of life. I am pretty good at math and terrible at languages. A very simple truth.
As I look back over the story of my life, as I begin replaying the stories I’ve been told, the events that feel pivotal, the feelings I’ve felt, I am beginning to recognize what is Truth and what is Fiction. Every time I come to recognize a Truth, a bit of the web of confusion unravels and frees up space for clearer thinking. And it feels great!
Truth is Peaceful. As I discover my truths, I find there is nothing else. There is no need to question or doubt myself, there is no reason for fear or anger or shame, and there is definitely no room for self-condemnation.
Perhaps Truth with extinguish the light on my Beacon for narcs! No safe haven here folks.