On the 4th of July, the USA will celebrate Independence Day. It was our Declaration of Independence that stated that all people, regardless of where they were born or what country they reside in, possess certain “inalienable rights.” Why? Because we are endowed with these rights at conception by our Creator. They transcend borders and trump colors and creeds.
The inalienable rights that are your birthright are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
But if you live with a narcissist, your Life sucks, you don’t have Liberty and they’ll be damned if you pursue Happiness.
Surely life must be something more than merely being alive. Something greater than taking in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide. Something deeper than taking in nourishment and expelling waste. Something more compelling than the endlessly boring routine of going to work and coming home.
I mean, we’ve only got one chance to live on this planet. Personally, I’d kinda like to get it right.
Aye, that’s the rub. How to live…really live? We certainly didn’t learn levenskunst, the art of living, from our narcissistic families.
Do Narcissists Really Live?
Narcissists don’t really live, do they? I mean, they go through the motions, but it’s all somewhat…hollow.
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They have careers, but the prestige almost matters more to them than the paycheck. They revel in wearing a power suit and throwing their weight around in the boardroom. They revel in taking credits for others’ accomplishments to snag promotions so they can brag to all and sundry.
They have houses and cars, but it’s not about shelter and transportation. Nope. It’s about “keeping up with the Joneses.”
They sport the latest designer labels, but it’s not about comfort and covering. It’s about impressing the cute guy at the bar.
But they’re just a little bit lacking in the “Longtime Friends” and “Hobbies” categories. Oh! That narcissistic charm attracts people to them, but sooner or later, the gilding flakes off the lily. When they start pulling narcy shit, one of two things will happen. Either their “friends” will flee, screaming, or they’ll dump their “friends” for a variety of self-aggrandizing bullshit reasons.
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And they don’t really have hobbies either. No, that’s not quite true. If we have a hobby, suddenly they appropriate it and make it theirs.
If they actually have their own hobby, it’s likely to be something “impressive” like hitting a golf ball at the swankiest country club or piloting the biggest, fastest speed boat on the lake. A quiet hobby pursued for personal enjoyment in the privacy of their own home…um, no. That’s kinda’ anathema to the narc mentality.
Learning How to Live
Maybe that’s why children of narcissists don’t know how to live, really live, either. We didn’t learn it at our parents’ knee.
We are your workaholics…because performing well was how we earned love. We’ve never learned how to live without doing, doing, doing.
The Italians talk about dolce far niente or the sweetness of doing nothing. We struggle to feel happy and feel worthwhile while doing nothing or pursuing a silly little hobby we enjoy…if we even have a hobby or can identify and feel what we enjoy.
If They Can’t, We Can’t Either
Oftentimes, narcissists overtly stand in the way of us living, really living. I loved playing flute in band, but I was made to quit. I wanted to stay in school, but I was taken out at sixteen. I wanted to keep dating a certain guy in my twenties, but I was made to dump him. I wanted to move out, but they said “no.” And when I started playing the fiddle and mandolin, Dad appropriate my new hobby…at my expense.
Looking at Life Upside-Down and Backwards
It took marrying a man with a terminal illness for me to finally learn that there’s something more to life than work and earning money. There’s living. Doing what I really enjoy merely because I enjoy it. Doing the things I’ll regret not doing on my deathbed.
I try to imagine being 90-years-old and guess what my thoughts will be. In the words of Vita Sackville-West, “She could lie back against death and examine life.” That’s what I try to do, now.
Coming Soon: Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness
For more rants, ravings and reverse engineering of narcissism, please visit www.lenorathompsonwriter.com and don’t forget to subscribe for daily updates by email. Visit my website to order “anti-narc” art! All proceeds go to help me afford therapy. Thanks!
This article is for informational and educational purposes only. Under no circumstances should it be considered therapy nor replace therapy and treatment. If you are feeling suicidal, thinking about hurting yourself, or are concerned that someone you know may be in danger of hurting himself or herself, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is staffed by certified crisis response professionals. The content of these blogs and all blogs written by Lenora Thompson are merely her opinion. If you are in need of help, please contact qualified mental health professionals.