This is the third of a series exploring narcissism and probing for deeper truths. While each post provides its own value, reading all of them will provide an encompassing perspective.
In the previous post, I explored the dynamics between narcissist and codependent (in all the forms this takes) from a spiritual perspective. We continue from there…
We Have No Idea How Much is Possible
We don’t realize that there’s a whole realm of experience of life which is available to us, and it starts with self partnering, being there for ourselves, realizing we need to give ourselves the parenting that wasn’t given to us. We need to be the parents for ourselves now. We need to be responsible for ourselves. Nobody else is fundamentally responsible for us in terms of taking care of our own woundedness, our own needs, primarily.
And then there’s the possibility to take a step further into, actually, self-love. Deeply loving. Appreciating. Valuing ourselves. And then I thought, well, what’s even farther than that? And I’m calling it transparency, where the sense of a self becomes thinner. Because so much of who we think is us, so much of how we identify ourselves, is based on our woundedness.
So what happens when we’re no longer carrying the effects of all that woundedness around with us is there is this experience of being more and more transparent, more fluid. It is really interesting how this term conveys the split: ‘trans’ (beyond) the parents.
Because in this lifetime, a lot of these dynamics within us get mirrored in how we experienced the parenting we got. Now, what I would claim is that in essence, this is the playing out of the movie of everything we brought with us into this life. So, while self-partnering is the ability to really get beyond the effects of parenting, it’s far more profound than that.
The Making of a Narcissist
For most of us reading this, we’re likely in the area that I’m referring to as codependent. The point I want to make is that codependents can be, or may become, narcissists.
Why is that?
Because if we don’t take responsibility for our own woundedness, and life keeps heaping it on us, at some point a decision can get made, either consciously or unconsciously, that goes something like this:
“Fuck this, I just can’t take this anymore. I can’t deal with this pain and confusion anymore.”
And we cut ourselves off from our own pain, deep self-doubt, and woundedness. We cut ourselves off from a very important part of our humanity. We cut ourselves off from ourselves; and consequently, from the ability to truly feel or recognize the “other.”
This, I would say, is the step into the realm of narcissism (again, not as a clinical diagnosis). Because narcissists can’t be empathetic. They can’t feel the other because they’ve chosen not to feel themselves anymore.
They’ve made a deep choice to not feel their own inner pain.
Self Partnering Frees Us and Keeps Us Safe
And because of this choice, their pain gets played out into the world. But usually only in the direction of a select few who they have carefully auditioned for the part.
I have played that part (codependency) for most of my life. Thank God there was finally one relationship that so significantly took its toll on me that I had to begin to question more deeply why certain dynamics kept recurring in my life.
I personally began this journey in 2015, and was fortunately introduced to a non-victimized, spiritual view of this dynamic. And I began to see how in a whole host of ways, I was not taking responsibility for myself.
I had not been a good partner, parent & protector to myself. And I dove into a healing journey that continues to unfold to this day.
And over this past year of 2020, my exploration has gone even further. I’ve learned this much more deeply through a few different types of engagements I had in different areas of my life: a friend, a client, someone I was dating, and a business relationship. I learned that there was only one thing I needed to pay attention to in order to make my life work and keep me out of repeating patterns.
The One Simple Thing That Works Every Time
At some point with each of them, I realized that I was uncomfortable about something in our dynamic. Some examples were: repeated disregard for previous commitments; feeling that I was being diminished by them; them defining me in certain ways which seemed inaccurate; them telling me what it was I was experiencing; uninterested or dismissive of my perspective.
One way or other, there would be something going on that I needed to take responsibility (ability to respond) so that I would not continue to be taken advantage of.
With each of them, when I respectfully asserted a boundary (being clear about what was and was not acceptable to me), and then consistently held fast to it, the dynamic between us would take a sudden and dramatic shift.
But when I wouldn’t continue to go along with how they wanted things to go, each got upset and it quickly got ugly.
I immediately became the insensitive one, the horrible one, the ungrateful one, the wrong one, etc.
Because I tend to get to know people and their stories, I knew that each of them had really crappy childhoods. Each was already aware of that (at least to some degree). And each either was, or had been doing, some amount of work to heal from it.
But regardless, each wasn’t interested at all in why I was saying what I was saying. But each, to a person, was very interested in painting themselves as a victim to me.
And when I would not capitulate, there was what I can only call the energy of rage being expressed toward me (sometimes as indignation, one of rage’s less obvious forms).
With the one I was doing business with, who had also become a friend, he even threatened to physically harm me if I shared with anybody the experience that I was having with him and his business.
Instead of feeling and taking responsibility for their own inner upset at my response, I became the one who was to blame for it all.
But I no longer buy the story. I used to.
Hard Lessons Showed Me the Simplicity of the Remedy
These were really hard lessons this last year, but I am immensely grateful for them. They truly opened my eyes to how simple it was to truly know what is really going on.
What was hidden underneath what can often be confusing dynamics, very quickly became seen.
But what I realized is something that is profoundly simple. Stating and maintaining clear boundaries (what is acceptable and not in my company) seems to ensure that I don’t get enmeshed with narcissists.
But the simplest thing … well, it’s one of the most challenging things for a codependent to do.
To be continued …