In the movie All Passion Spent based on the book by Vita Sackville West, Lady Slane’s children automatically assume they will take over control and management of her life after the death of her Prime Minister husband. They receive the shock of their lives when they discover their mousy, submissive mother has other plans.
Instead of living as an unwelcome guest in the homes of her controlling, condescending and money-hungry children in turn, Lady Slane moves to Hampstead and completely renovates, refurbishes and decorates a beautiful cottage she first saw thirty years before. There she reinvents her life with eccentric friends…and it drives her children crazy!
Her rigidly socially conscious and climbing son comments, “Don’t you think it would look a little odd in the eyes of the world that you would choose solitary retirement rather than living with your devoted children?”
Lady Slane responds, “I have considered the eyes of the world for so long that I think I deserve a little holiday. After all, when can one please oneself if not in old age? Do you know what the greatest luxury is?…It’s the first time since I married my husband that I have had nothing else to do. And I can now lie down against death, as it were, and I can examine life while the air is full of the sound of bees.”
Wait. Read that again. “I can lie down against death, as it were, and I can examine life…”
In this article you and I will “lie down against death” and consider narcissism. Death is a clarifying perspective on life that I make a valiant effort to remember especially when thinking about narcissism.
Now before we go any further, let’s get the customary, expected thinking about death-and-narcissism out of the way, namely: “You’ll be sorry for going No Contact with your family someday when they die.” That’s not what this article is about at all.
What if They Die First?
One of the biggest, perhaps unspoken, reasons Victims of Narcissistic Abuse hesitate to go No Contact with their narcissistic abusers is the fear of losing a support system. No longer having built-in babysitters when you need them. Losing any recourse if worst comes to worst financially.
Now consider this hesitation from the perspective of death. What if they had already passed away? That support system would be gone by definition. Death is the ultimate No Contact whether we go first or they go first, No Contact via Death will happen.
Let me tell you a little story. Once upon a time, there was a very nice lady with a very narcissistic mother. Because of her extreme devotion to her narcissistic mother, she married a rage-filled narcissistic man because, and I quote, “he felt like home.” He broke her emotionally, the walls of her world closing in on her more and more thanks to PTSD induced agoraphobia. At the end, she even chose to reject her daughter in favor of, yes, her narcissistic, empathyless mother. Her life has become more and more a kind-of isolated living death. Death.
So what was the ever-loving point!? If she had chosen to “die to her mother” long ago, she would have live-live-lived now and remained lifelong friends with her loving, empathyfull daughter. As it is, I always get the feeling that she’s just waiting out this life, hoping to get through unscathed and financially solvent, intending to do her live-live-living in the next world. How sad!
What if We Die First?
In the midst of the drowning false guilt that keeps so many people from embracing the joy of No Contact with narcissists, comes one piercing, even life-changing thought: What if we die before them? Would that not be a guilt-free No Contact by default?
Of course it would! Building on that idea: Have not our narcissists worked hard to make our lives a kind of living death!? They took all the sweetness out of it in many ways, both subtle and overt. So why not just go No Contact now?
By “dying” to them earlier than our physical death by going No Contact, we reclaim the sweetness of life. We don’t just survive…we live-live-live! Like Auntie Mame so eloquently said, “Life is a banquet and most poor sons-of-bitches are starving to death!”. Life with a narcissist is “starving to death.”
How long does it take to starve to death? Between one and two months. My great-aunt starved to death when Lou Gehrig’s disease robbed her of the ability to swallow. She said it was an easy way to die.
Have not narcissists been starving us to death — for years. They worked hard on driving us away. “Killing” us, if you will. My point in this article is to say, from the perspective of death, it’s time to go No Contact without guilt.
Take a leaf from Lady Slane’s book: “lie down against death, as it were, and…examine life while the air is full of the sound of bees.” Then go No Contact. I was glad I did and you will be too.