Narcissists: A Dime A Dozen

I was in a“relationship” for six or so years. He was temperamental, demanding, and unreasonable. It never occurred to me that I was reliving the original relationship with my mother, only with someone who could fuck like an animal.

Everyone on the outside would shake their heads and give me advice. To no avail, because there were lessons in the relationship from which I couldn’t be saved. But I was drowning, and the life-savers thrown would sink into the abyss of my own self-destruction.

I shudder when I think about the abuse I allowed. That’s right. I was a grown-assed woman and I allowed the unwarranted insults, the crazy accusations, the breakups, and the addictive reconciliations. I was on an emotional roller coaster that I had built for myself.

Everyone on the outside would shake their heads and give me advice.

Others saw it as my wasting six years of my life. My mother hated him with a virulence I’d never witnessed. She would withdraw from his presence in revulsion. She left a bar-b-que because he was there and blamed me. I discovered then that narcissists hate each other.

Let me explain what I know about narcissism based on my personal experience. They hate themselves. There is none of this “I love myself, and that’s why I only think of myself.” People who love do not engage in self-aggrandizing, self-serving behaviors.

Narcissists hate themselves. They never feel like they are enough. They tear down the people who embody what they want to be but don’t know how to achieve. They crave attention to validate their existences. And it’s never enough, because their methods and successes are hollow.

Narcissists hate themselves.

I almost learned the lesson in the first month of the relationship. He had “broken-up” with me, and I had walked away with no regrets. But he called. He wanted me back. He abased himself. I thought it was because he “loved” me.

I roll my eyes now, but then, his pleas were a huge stroke to my ego. I didn’t know that I would play a part in the dynamics of a text-book case of narcissism. I didn’t know that I would suffer an abuse that would destroy everything I believed about myself.

All the signs were there. He was sweet and desperate in the beginning, as if I was the only woman in the world. Then he would push me away.

I didn’t know that I would play a part in the dynamics of a text-book case of narcissism.

I’m one of the most faithful and loyal people I know. It sounds self-congratulatory, but this is my strength – and my weakness. I am an immovable foundation in my relationships. Loyalty, love, family and in that order.  It’s a principle that I adhere to because it’s something that I haven’t experienced even though I’ve always tried to embody these qualities.

I’m the kind of person to whom narcissists gravitate because I devote myself to making my partner happy. He turned this strength against me. His jealousy was unfathomable. A man would look at me and it was my fault. I was a lying whore because I had friendships with men. I thought these abominations were a sign of his “love,” because that was what he told me when he would “apologize.”

So, I took him back into my warm, loyal embrace. I would overlook his excuses, his absences, and his cowardice. I held onto the debris of every shipwreck thinking this “rescue” would be different. I tried to make this parody work. I lavished him with my love and affection always wondering why I wasn’t giving him enough to be happy.

I am an immovable foundation in my relationships. Loyalty, love, family and in that order.

I used to wear my heart on my sleeve. If you wanted to know what I was feeling, all you had to do was look at my face. I found it difficult to hide my thoughts. I felt deeply and still do, but in that “relationship” my feelings were used as a weapon to stab myself repeatedly.

I was susceptible because I was reliving my relationship with my mother in a never-ending cycle of self-loathing. As I look back on my own life, memories as early as the age of two reveal a pattern of push-and-pull. I had been “set-up” to despise myself as a lying, attention-seeking whore. By my own mother. As a toddler.

It’s true what the experts say. The narcissist will use every weapon to hold onto his victim. The phone calls, not only from him, but from his family, were incessant. I would arrive home to his truck at my curb; his cologne on envelopes contained three-page letters upon which he poured out his “pain” and “remorse.” He even wrote upon the concrete walk-way that led to my front door. In children’s sidewalk chalk.

I had been “set-up” to despise myself as a lying, attention-seeking whore.

When I left him, I felt hunted. I trembled for three months: mind, heart, and body. I changed my email addresses and my phone numbers. In the aftermath, I discovered that he had done things to hurt me that would only become evident weeks and months after the “break-up.” He wanted to make sure I’d feel his presence like a menacing shadow to the point of destroying my only haven.

I believe his addiction to me was genuine, but he is incapable of love. I should hate him, but I don’t. I know how to love, deeply. He couldn’t understand this depth if he wanted to and I pity him.

I believe people can be kind. Narcissists know how to be sweet and charismatic that first month or two, so I give everyone the benefit of the doubt. But the moment I smell a whiff of manipulative behavior, I disengage. It’s almost comical to see his or her face right before I disappear.

I trembled for three months: mind, heart, and body.

Today, I cry for the child I had been. I cry for the child stuck in a body that “adulted” on automatic. I also amaze myself. I love, deeply, despite it all. Loyalty, love, and family allow me to rebuild my haven.

This foundation within me has always been unshakeable and if it seemed contrary to my behavior in the past, it was only because I had given away my power to another.

The lesson learned? No one can take power from you. Only you can give away who you are.

©2018. I.O. Kirkwood. All rights reserved for text. Image may be subject to copyright.

Suicide, My Sweet Suicide

 

Suicide my sweet suicide

I wrote this post on August 21, 2018. I do not claim to have predicted this tragedy. I.O.

 

I know I’m a little late on the draw, and that my carefully considered opinion may not help in the aftermath, but when Jill Janus of Huntress took her life, it left me stunned. Not because it seemed unlikely. I’m too much of a realist to be shocked by suicide, especially when committed by someone battling mental illness.

Jill was very open about her mental illness. She struggled with it every day and somehow managed to put a good face on it. I didn’t know her personally, but her bravery and honesty encouraged me to do the same. I realize now that she is my hero out of all the people I could choose.

Today, as I suffer for going to a concert on a Sunday – just going to a concert, not performing like she did – sent a shiver through me. Will I be next? Will I end it just to escape a particularly bad spell out of a handful of bad spells?

Because I have them. I will repeat myself until not only the sufferers understand, but those blessed to not have any way of relating to their suffering loved ones. On an average of every two to three weeks, I’m reminded of why I take my medication every day.

Jill was very open about her mental illness.

I have bad times, almost 26 episodes in a year that may last anywhere from 1-5 days at a time. Very few people know this about me. Even my loved ones are shocked when I tell them.

But these episodes are mild in comparison to untreated bipolar. I’m grateful this is all that is happening instead of a full blown relapse. I have a significant degree of control over my wellness now.

I am currently suffering from a migraine, a syndrome that often goes hand in hand with Bipolar. I didn’t drink or do anything weird this past Sunday, but the act of going to a concert, of enjoying myself, has a price.

I travel for work. One to two-hour drives, one-way. I love what I do. I do a job that gives my life meaning and that helps others. But I can’t work back-to-back days like that. I can’t work week-long details in the heat of August like I used to.

…the act of going to a concert, of enjoying myself, has a price.

This isn’t getting old and decrepit. I know plenty of people older than me who are tired, yes, but not debilitated by such work. I would need an entire week to recover. I would need to lie in bed most of the day.

I plan rest around what I do, rather than the other way around. I slept for most of the next day after the Grand Canyon. I took naps in between every activity on my vacation because I HAD to. When I was awake, I was full of vim and vigor. But I had to recharge because each activity exacted not only a physical toll but an emotional toll.

All those people. Fucking everywhere. Some so rude my blood simmered. I can’t imagine how it must be to have everyone in your face because you are a well-known and respected musician like Jill. As much as I’d appreciate the people supporting my work, I’d snap at some point.

I have gotten to the place where I tell my friends, “I love you. I want to see you again, but right now, I cannot people anymore.” Because I want to be able to tell them the same thing twenty-five years from now.

I can’t imagine how it must be to have everyone in your face because you are a well-known and respected musician like Jill.

My comrades in arms, boundaries are a good thing. Being actively nice or in performance mode all the time doesn’t get you anything but exhausted. There is a point where giving and giving and giving becomes a psychotic nightmare.

Take care of yourselves. Rest. Acknowledge that rest is not a weakness but a way to build your strength. If someone can’t handle your need to rest, get rid of him. If someone refuses to respect your boundaries, send her packing. Sometimes, you’ll have to be firm, and that’s a shame, but kindness can be disguised in assertiveness.

I know it’s hard. Believe me, I know. I’ve been told I’m kind to a fault. But I want to live. I want to enjoy life. I do not want to slide into the darkness that Jill fought to keep at bay.

I want her to be proud of me. I want her words and deeds to carry forward. I want her to know that wherever she is now, imperfectly perfect as she was, she had an impact. She saved lives, mine included.

I do not want to slide into the darkness that Jill fought to keep at bay….She saved lives, mine included.

To Jill’s family, I convey my deepest sympathy. You understood well enough to support her through her nightmare the way she needed. Relinquish blame. You stood by her side through all of it and you are brave and noble people. I hope others learn from your resilience and compassion.

You will not be forgotten, Jill. Even by people who have never met you. There is no shame to what you did or didn’t do. To me, you are a fallen hero and I will carry the standard, wave the flag, shout to the skies that you were never weak. You, sweet Jill, were stronger than many. Rest in peace.

© 2018. I.O. Kirkwood. All rights reserved for text. Image may be subject to copyright.

 

Insufferable existence

The Insufferable Reality of Being

My insides have been excoriated. Burned, salted, and frozen. I experience the agony like a physical pain that pulls my blood, my essence, into a pit of physical inception.

My goal is to break free of this intense apathy as the spirit roils within the bonds of flesh, tethered by a soul that desires manifestation. I am fighting the animal of my body whose bones have been programmed to fight, flee, and survive.

Before, I was too ill to wrestle with this demon. Though I am mostly well, the demon has grown toothier, hoarier, and sharper of claw. Survival is a traitorous bitch.

…now I look it in the eye. I scream in its face.

I have not escaped. I have not been ripped from my fate by the cold hands of medical science. Where before I had done everything imaginable to escape the horror of inception, now I look it in the eye. I scream in its face. I refuse to turn my back to it. I’m willing to name it.

About once every two weeks, I wake and know it will not be a good day. My body will ache, my head will throb, and my core will compact into a small, burning coal that sears the space below my rib cage. The Ego knows I long to escape. The Id throws temper tantrums that dance upon my teeth. I struggle within a concrete vise of emotional sterility.

I do not see things as others do. I am made differently. On purpose.

Sanity is a lipstick that smears my mouth. I’ve been raped by too many dark truths, drowned in too many deceptions, and hung too many times for crimes not my own to subscribe to this world’s idea of what is acceptable.

I do not see things as others do. I am made differently. On purpose. I am labeled insane by a society that does not see the wonders or the dangers that I do. I feel for a wounded world. Your hurts, his despair, her anxiety, are all within me. And still I smile because your joy, his relief, and her laughter are all within me too.

I often wonder if I have feelings of my own. Perhaps I do, but they are buried beneath the demands of this reality. I long to escape, and in the moments of agony, I realize that I cannot.

©2018. I.O. Kirkwood. All rights reserved for text. Image may be subject to copyright.