All autobiographies serve a purpose beyond income, fame and book tours. They are the author's opportunity to redefine themselves as they see themselves. A scoundrel's autobiography is his or her big chance to whitewash their identity and try to make their shocking actions somehow "okay." An honest person's autobiography is their big chance to tell their side of the story and divulge the details no one knew, until now, to recapture the good reputation they may've lost through being the victim of gossip, lies and secrets. They will come off smelling like a rose. In both cases, the autobiography is all about defining yourself.
A narcissist is a lot like a politician. All politicians are beloved in the eyes of their supporters; most narcissists are adored by someone. To those people, they can do no wrong. The same politician may be despised by their opponents; a lot of narcissists are despised too. And then there are others who are torn, seeing both the good and the bad in that politician, for politicians, like narcissists, are neither all good nor all bad.
There should be a new abbreviation. We have "ACONs" or Adult Children of Narcissists. But we need a new one: ACONKs. Adult Children of Narcissists' Kids. Because it's a thing. A very "thingish thing" as Winnie the Pooh would say.
Teasing! Narcissistic teasing! Cruel teasing! It was no mistake that teasing made it into the "Top 10" topics I first published when Narcissism Meets Normalcy launched almost three years ago. Today I find myself inspired to return to the subject by one thing: the bathroom mirror. Apparently I've misplaced my Ring of Power because, unlike Bilbo Baggins, I'm definitely showing my age.
It's almost embarrassing how frequently the topic of "housework" (and especially dishwashing) seem to crop up in Narcissism Meets Normalcy. Now that I think of it, my very first article for the Huffington Post was also about housekeeping. But then again, this can be a very volatile topic, even a weapon, in the hands of narcissists. So let's just deal with it once-and-for-all in Three (Not Very Easy) Steps.
It seems particularly apropos to write about food on the day after Thanksgiving. While everyone is, to quote Dickens, "steeped in sage and onion to the eyebrows" I'm reminded of a quote by Spain's three-star chef, Santi Santamario, who famously told a chef's conference, "All good meals end with a good shit." And frankly, I believed my first narcissists-and-food article Narcissistic Invalidation: Even Your Tastebuds Are Wrong would, well, take a crap. The topic was so "weird" I fully expected the article to bomb at the box office. It didn't!
What's the very best thing to do if your toddler is laying on the floor, kicking, screaming and thrashing in a full-blown temper tantrum? Ignore them...utterly. Why? Because if you take it seriously, you give their tantrum and them power and they'll keep repeating the behavior that moved you to action...and emotion. But if your toddler's huge expense of energy and emotion achieves precisely nothing, if it's not even noticed, well then! They may just "straighten up and fly right" as the old song goes. Hmmmmm, I wonder if that wisdom also pertains to narcissists. After all, we've been told they have the emotional intelligence of a toddler. Like a coloratura sorprano warming up, their favorite song is "me, me, me, me, ME, me, me, me, me." What if we were to ignore them and their drama, their grown-up sophisticated versions of a toddler's temper tantrum? What then? Would it take away all their power?
This is for you, the husband watching his wife in the last throes of dementia. It's for you, the mother watching her six-year-old so weakened by chemotherapy that he can't even open a door. It's for the soldier's wife, watching her patriotic hero husband suffer constantly from...what!? It's for you. It's for me. The caregivers who watch their loved one suffer, day in and day out, almost wishing we could take their physical pain — because the emotional pain of watching them suffer almost seems to hurt worse.
Codependence may be my Waterloo. The dysfunction so interwoven in my DNA, the fabric of my being that it will haunt me to the grave. But when that thought discourages me, I think of Liesl.
Enough is never enough. If you were raised by a narcissist, a perfectionist or some version of a "tiger mom/dad," then you probably live a life dedicated to achieving, achieving more and then achieving even more and more. And more. You're always trying to be a better person. Always trying to be a more accomplished person. You set yourself new challenges and then judge yourself by your success or failure in achieving them.Your identity as a failure or success as a person rides on your newest self-assigned challenge. It's never "an ever fixed mark" set in stone. Believe me...I know about this from experience.