When you look back at old photographs of the narcissistic parents who raised you, does it ever seem utterly incongruous that you were ever in their charge? Their child? Sometimes I look back and think, “What was I doing there!?” I look at online copies of my parents’ Senior High School yearbooks and think, “And they became my parents. To me, they were God on Earth. What was I thinking!?!”
They’re just people. Common, ordinary, garden-variety people…who worked very hard on Little Lego Me but were completely lost about the dynamics going on with them, each other and their birth families.
And completely lost about who I really was too.
Then I think back to The Very Bad Things they accused me of and shake my head sadly. It’s not a subject I enjoy dwelling on because it hurts too much. They accused me of outrageous wrong-doings driven by their egotistical, omniscient clairvoyance and by their toxic need to project onto me (therefore simultaneously dragging me down to their level and shifting their guilt and each other’s guilt onto me). I don’t want to go into the details.
Back then, I owned my so-called “guilt” despite harboring some doubts as my conscience had failed to prick me for my supposed sins. But I demurred to their greater knowledge of what I was really thinking, dreaming, feeling, and planning rather than trust my own self-knowledge because Dad was constantly telling me, “I’m ahead of you by five minutes, five hours, five days, five weeks, five months, five years” (but he sure didn’t see this blog coming!)
Like so many of the narcissists’ tricks, in order to protect ourselves from the blind-siding and shock, we picked up their tricks, using them against ourselves to protect ourselves. An oxymoron, if ever there was one! This trick of clairvoyance and carrying my so-called “guilt” out to the Nth degree is something I’ve not quite unlearned. But I’d really like to.
Here’s an example. The other day, Michael feel asleep whilst soaking in a hot bath. I noticed he was peacefully asleep…and that’s when it all kicked off.
“He could drown,” my internal critic whispered.
So I took a closer look at him. It was physiological impossible for him to drown. He’d have to slide down, lay flat on the bottom of the tub and put his legs straight in the air for his head to fit under water. He couldn’t have done it awake let alone asleep.
“Don’t you love him?” my false guilt whispered. “Remember that old woman you knew…what was her name?…her husband drowned in the bath.”
Now I was seriously mired in the whole clairvoyance/false guilt thing.
“If you really loved him, you’d watch him every second while he’s soaking. That’s what a good wife would do.”
Did you see that? My guilt was being played out to the Nth degree.
“But,” I remonstrated, “there’s no way in the world he could possibly slip and drown unless he takes his legs off and sticks them behind his ears for safekeeping. Plus, I’ve got gobs of things to do while he’s soaking.”
Instantly, my internal critic had a swift retort.
“Ah, so you don’t love him. Living your own life is sooooo much more important than him. I see.”
And so the internal conversation went on and on until I had myself pretty well hung, drawn and quartered for being a bad, bad, bad, bad wife who obviously didn’t love her husband.
Then Michael woke up, smiled vaguely in my general direction and went peacefully back to sleep. The spell of this toxic take-it-to-the-Nth-degree false guilt was broken and suddenly I saw clearly how my brain had been rewired by narcissistic abuse.
It doesn’t take many repetitions of narcissists’ clairvoyant Nth-Degree blame to pick up the trick for yourself.
I’ll let you into a little secret: You’re not as bad as you think. And you’re definitely not as bad as they (the narcissists) need for you to be.
It’s something that hit me the other day when I was going ’round feeling like an abject failure. In other words, it was a pretty normal day.
It suddenly struck me that, far from being a failure, I’m actually over-doing the whole success thing a little bit! In fact, I am perfectly qualified to judge myself objectively and honestly and so are you! No 3rd Party with an Agenda need apply!
Here’s another dirty little secret: Narcissists, like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, take “righteousness” way too far. Their need for us to be guilty rotten bad people is so desperate, they hold us to standards that I do not believe God Himself holds us to. That may sound like blasphemy, but I’m sticking to it. When it suits them, mankind can pretend to be more righteous than God which is the whole premise behind why the supposedly holy people of Jesus’ day hated him while the so-called “sinners” flocked to His Love and Grace. His Yoke is easy and His burthen is light…but you’d never know it to listen to narcissists.
It’s not just accusations that can trigger clairvoyant-Nth degree thought processes. So can “love.” So-called “love” anyways.
Let’s face it: we learned love wrong from narcissists. I learned that love hurts. That love feels like a kraken with its tentacles wrapped around you, squeezing the life out of you.
So now, when I don’t crush the life out of those I love, I feel terribly guilty. Obviously, I don’t love them because I don’t demand to know where they are and what they’re doing and trod heavily upon their dreams.
For example, my husband’s hobby is anything to do with vacuum tubes. There’s a lot of high voltage going round the circuits he builds and he’s told me how many men’s wives have shrieked, “Oh no you don’t!” when her husband wanted to take up the vacuum tube hobby because of the danger of electrocution.
But I encourage him in his hobby. I’m always 100% supportive. It’s his life. He’s a savant at it. Knows every tube every made by heart and what it does. It would destroy his soul if I objected to his passion. But I can feel the cold, clammy tentacles of the kraken slither around me and whisper in my ear, “Seeee. You don’t love him. A good wife would …. ”
Be aware! Be in-the-moment! Be cognizant and you’ll catch that old false guilt/Nth degree blame in the act. It’s a wretched way to live and has absolutely no validity or constructive purpose in our lives. It’s high time we got rid of it!