Now I realize The Big Bang Theory isn’t exactly the DSM-5. For that matter, neither is Doctor Who. But you’d be surprised how much you can learn, psychologically speaking, from geeky TV shows.
For example, whenever I hear my narcissists’ voices reverberating in my mind, I’m reminded of The Table Polarisation, Season 7, Episode 16 of TBBT. In a nutshell, Leonard, my codependent doppelgänger, and his girlfriend Penny are shopping for a dining room table, a piece of furniture their resident arch narcissist, Sheldon, has vetoed.
Penny suggests a lovely table made of reclaimed wood and this is how the conversation goes:
Penny: Ooh, this one looks nice.
Leonard: No. Sheldon doesn’t like reclaimed wood.
Penny: Why not?
Leonard: He’s afraid the original owners will come back.
Penny: Yeah. Well, Sheldon’s not here.
Leonard: Well, he is here. (vigorously tapping his own head) So unless you want to dig him out with a bone saw and a melon baller, there’s nothing I can do about it.
That perfectly describes it. Like everything else with recovery from narcissistic abuse, I know of no shortcuts to evicting narcissists from their hidey-hole in our brains. If anyone knows a shortcut, please! Stop holding out on me and share your tricks. Cause right now, the bone saw and melon baller are sounding pretty good.
There are no surer people in this world than narcissists.They’re positive about their beloved beliefs, spewing them as if they’re Divine Revelation.
Turns out, they’re mostly just their own personal opinions. I’ve long suspected they espouse opinions merely to find reasons to nag and criticize us as a momentary inflation of their own false egos. But they are so dogmatic, so positive, so sure about everything.
For example, I have an ex-friend who is pretty sure babies must have the same blood type as their mother, all fat people are lazy gluttons and she’s mentioned once that somewhere she thinks the Bible forbids people of different races from marrying. I’ve tried to convince her otherwise. What a waste of time and effort!
So Open-Minded Our Brains are Hanging Out
If narcissists are the surest people on the planet, we are the most open-minded. After a lifetime of being blamed, invalidated, criticized, yelled at, lectured — we’re amenable to all the dogmas of those who, apparently, are so much wiser and better than us as evidenced by their “confidence.”
That’s when they gotcha!
A lifetime of absorbing every word a über-religious, perfectionistic and critical narcissist spewed like Gospel meant I dragged an invisible massive tome of Do’s and Don’ts behind me in life, like Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol. All of it was carefully catalogued and memorized for one reason: I wanted to be a good person. Not like “them” – the people my narcissist so liberally censured.
Glance behind you. Are you also dragging a massive, leather-bound, gold-embossed book of your narcissist’s opinions? If so, who enforces the “rules” in that book?
Meet “Mrs. Should.” She’s the meanest, nastiest, ugliest witch you’ve ever met. Many years ago, I imagined her as The Enforcer, whip in hand, driving me unmercifully to “Obey the Book” every waking moment. She has another name: False Guilt.
A Day In The Life…
Let’s share horror stories. That’s always fun. You wanna know how bad it can get!? Oh, I’ll tell you.
Narc: My narcissist liked to say that women cheated their employers during their monthly cycle and when they had children by not working as many hours as their male counterparts.
Result: I worked harder and longer during my cycle than I did at any other time of the month. No matter how incapacitating my menstrual cramps, in twelve years I only called in sick from cramps one time. Once! And the other three weeks in the month? I felt guilty every single time I stepped away from my desk, even to use the bathroom. It’s a mercy I didn’t get a blood clot from sitting at that desk, unmoving, for hours.
Narc: My narcissist complained about me using the bathroom at night, interrogating me (via flying monkey) on why I was “up so much” in the night.
Result: When I woke at night with a full bladder, I’d lay awake for at least half an hour, waiting for more urine to collect in my bladder so I could make the most of one trip to the bathroom. I didn’t want to be forced to use a bucket at night again! As you might imagine, I was perpetually tired. When I married in 2012, I asked Michael if it was okay for me to use the bathroom at night. If he’d said “no,” I would have tried to hold it all night. Thank God, he spluttered in disbelief and encouraged me to use the bathroom whenever I needed to! What a relief. My body has always dumped liquid at night. It’s so nice to go potty without guilt!
Those are two pretty damn extreme examples of the narcissist’s dogma being lodged in the brain and in great need of eviction!
Back to Square 1
Although you may have successfully evicted your family’s narcissistic bullshit from your mind, beware of other narcs filling that freed-up grey space with their dogmas.
That’s what happened to me. Just when I had my family’s dogmas about, hhhhmmmmmmm, 50% evicted from my mind, now I’m back to Square 1. Dig out the bone saw and melon baller cause I need to evict my ex-friend’s half-baked dogmas from my brain, while kicking myself in the ass for being so humble, so open-minded, so downright stupid that I respected her beliefs more than my own.
Thanks to her responding to my hypoglycemic incident with a flippant, “You just need to drink water,” I now feel guilty for eating, even when I’m shaking with hunger and low blood sugar.
Thanks to her mocking a pregnant woman, sneering “She’s tired” spoken with disgust, now my chronic shame for hypothyroid-induced low energy is worse than ever!
Truth is your best friend, since the bone saw and melon baller aren’t exactly practical. Truth truly does set you free. It’s like a strobe light flushing out all the hidden corners of narcissistic nonsense.
Another trick I learned from my husband. He’s a good man because, as I once flippantly told a friend, “he thinks of what his father would do and then does the exact opposite.” In other words, dare to defy what the narcissists told you. Challenge the fears and taunt the paranoias they tried to instill.
Guess what happens? Absolutely nothing. All those fears and paranoias were to keep you under their thumb. When you realize that, you find freedom rather quickly.
Even as we’re trying to unsnarl the tangled skein of our thoughts and beliefs, it may be easier and quicker to control our environments. Even as my ex-friend’s words continue to torment me, at least I don’t have to tolerate her nonsense in the flesh anymore. Viva No Contact!
Yes, you can get your narcissist out of your head. Yes, it will take hard work and time, The Great Healer. Will it be 100%? No.
Treat their ingrained words like bullies. Don’t entertain them. Ignore them! Like bullies, when the fun of tormenting you is gone, when they lose their food supply, they’ll dwindle and shrivel away to mere ridiculous memories of nonsense your narc once said, but no longer dogmas that control you.
I tried it; it works!