It’s no wonder we’re all high-strung. Narcissists and their picayune judgmentalism of the most insignificant things would make anybody slightly neurotic.
I’ve often referred to my narcissists’ judgmentalism as the Pilgrim’s Progress-like burthen I drag through life. I pretty much can’t do a damn thing without thinking, re-thinking and re-re-re-thinking it sixteen ways from Sunday.
Thanks, narcissists. Thanks a lot.
On the other hand, their generous and crazy criticisms of pretty much everything and everyone is the stuff that humorous articles are made on. So thanks, narcissists, thanks a lot.
I remember the tree. “That dirty tree” as my grandmother called it with disgust. The tree that kept dropping its fronds on her pristine yard, tut, tut, tut.
What to her was a “dirty tree” is to me the most beautiful and dreamy of all the trees: the weeping willow. If I’m ever lucky enough to have one, I’ll happily clean up after it or maybe I’ll “use my brain, not my brawn, leave the clippings on the lawn.” (LOL. I read that ditty on a bus bench sign thirty years ago and it was so catchy, it stuck.)
Then there was the neighbor to her North who drove Grandma crazy. He was a single man who, quelle horreure, kept every light bulb in his house blazing at all times. Tut, tut, tut. It gave her endless fodder for conversation and gossip. Frankly, if you’re that hard up for mental stimulation and conversational content…! You have my sympathy. If he wants to “work for Northern States Power Company” isn’t that his affair and his alone!?
Later as a single woman living alone, rattling around three storeys with my dogs, I kept all my lights blazing too. It gives you sense a security and comfort…even if it meant I was now “Workin’ for Northern States Power Company.” The comfort of warm electric light was worth it. Tut, tut, tut.
And then there was her neighbor to the South who drove Grandma crazy. A single woman living alone (but who Grandma very much suspected of being a lesbian, tut, tut, tut) who “didn’t clean up the alley,” tut, tut, tut. As if anyone cares if the narrow patch of concrete between garage wall and alleyway is pristinely swept and weed free!
Never fear! My grandparents swooped to the rescue, trespassing on their neighbors’ land while she was at work to fulfill her inadequacies as a homeowner, sweeping and weeding for her.
How did she repay them!? By committing the iniquitous crime of mowing her lawn on Saturday afternoons, tut, tut, tut, at the exact time they’d invited company over for a nice gossip in the screenhouse over cookies and lemonade-mixed-with-iced-tea. They were sure she did it on purpose, tut, tut, tut.
Or maybe she worked hard all week and Saturday afternoon was her best time to mow the lawn. At least she did it!
You see where I’m going with this. Narcissists enjoy picking at the most minute, minuscule, insignificant, unimportant “failing,” so-called, of their fellow man and obsessing about it, blowing it all out of proportion. They thrive on it! It provides them with mental stimulation, ego stroking, conversation. If you’re that hard up…!
It’s the kids of narcissists who suffer the most from this. It really makes us paranoid of every thought, word, gesture and choice.
My family is best described as, well, let me put it like this. My Norwegian fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants husband sniggers at all my lists and spreadsheets and files and organization with a wink. I can’t help myself. It’s both nature…and nurture. Apparently, you can take my German ancestors out of Germany in 1871…but you can’t take the German penchant for organization out of our DNA!
Growing up in a very German and narcissistic home, there wasn’t much room for failure, lateness, human foibles or putting living before working. Life was approached like a well-orchestrated military campaign. “What is your strategy?” was the question asked about everything. That doesn’t leave much room for levenskunst or spontaneity. The older I got, the worse it got. There was a plan for everything. A strategy for everything. Everything was tightly scheduled. Everything was lists, lists, lists. More and more, working began to trump living. The passion fizzled and life became rather rote.
Most mornings, Mom and I woke up to handwritten, bullet-pointed notes waiting for us on the breakfast table. It was “family” done long distance and impersonally through writing instead of face-to-face.
Mom’s note might tell her what to do during the day and what to cook for Supper. Woe to her if the food wasn’t ready and piping hot, hot, hot or if she forgot to put the mustard on the supper table.
But he wouldn’t criticize her to her face. He’d criticize her to me. He knew which side his bread was buttered on!
This bred my lifelong terror of forgetting anything, hence my love of spreadsheets. I’m terrified of forgetting anything or failing in any way. I go everywhere laden down like I’m heading to Antarctica for a 6-months expedition. Perish the thought I don’t have anything and everything anyone could want at all times. Baby wipes, food, water, anti-itch cream, ibuprofen, coupons, change of clothes, dog food. Like Paddington bear, I don’t believe in going anywhere without a marmalade sandwich for emergencies. Symbolically, of course.
When they get done obsessing about things they can see like grass mowing and show shoveling, narcissists turn their picayune attention to the intangible and invisible. Your thoughts. Your opinions. Your feelings. That’s really bad if you, like me, suffer from intrusive thoughts that are not genuine to me yet occur nonetheless. OCD is bad enough. Interrogation and shame for it…! Now that’s a special kind of torture.
I’ll never forget how Mother was banned from bending over at the waist when she was outside. Apparently, she was told, a woman bent over at the waist is an aluring, provocative sight. Tut, tut, tut. If Mom wanted to weed the flower garden, she had to daintily squat down. If there were a lot of weeds, that was a lot of squatting. No wonder the poor woman has bad knees!
Now, when I bend over in my garden, the narcissists picayune judgments echo in my ears. “Are you trying to be provocative? Send signals!? Tut, tut, tut.” It’s not true but the thoughts intrude nonetheless. I’ve learned to ignore them but they sure steal joy.
Narcissists thrive on picayune judgments of others for the most insignificant things. It gives ’em a rush but leaves us in a state of torture.
Tut, tut, tut.