I had breakfast with a friend this morning who gave me the best analogy for a narcissist I have ever heard:
“A person who shits in their hand, offers it to you, then has hurt feelings when you recoil in disgust.”
Yep. It’s gross, but to the point. I’m really angry at all the various narcissists in my life right now. It’s a manageable anger, but it stays simmering below the surface. The number one offender is my children’s father. A close second is myself. And then all the lesser narcissistic characters from over the years.
Nothing gets me as angry as when my kids are hurting. Nothing. I can’t even describe how violent the shade of red is that veils my gaze when my sons are in pain.
What is hurting them the most right now is the narcissism of their parents. I would love to be able to blame just their father. But it takes two to tango, and as I age I am so ashamed of the arrogance and ignorance I displayed by having children at 21; especially given the person that I had them with.
I was raised to be as selfless as possible. To be the care taker in any situation. To handle anything and everything. So I idolized selfish people. People who were ‘free’ to think only of themselves. Such an attractive quality to me. I was also attracted to the people who made those kind of people. How do you go about raising a person to be wholly self centered? How do you instill the instinct to only consider one’s self in any situation? Ick. Yeah, that was a fucked up way to spend my 20’s. It’s been a helluva learning curve.
Still, and this is the hard part, I have to be compassionate to the young woman I was. I have to love her flawed understanding of intimacy and worthiness despite how much pain that mistake caused, is still causing. I have to forgive her for confusing self-awareness with self-consciousness. And it is not easy. But if I don’t love her in the way she expected that raging narcissist to love her, then the pain of regret remains. Shame is only useful when there is wisdom to be found there.
How many of us are ashamed to have fallen in love with a person incapable of giving us what we need? It’s a common enough theme; I see it everywhere. But when I add my children to the equation it becomes an almost unforgivable crime. And it is taking a lot of self love, a lot of compassion from this me to my younger self, to make amends.
But that’s what I’m working on. I’m nowhere near forgiving him for offering a handful of shit to my kids and having the nerve to make them feel guilty for rejecting it. That will have to come later, I need a deeper reservoir of love to wash that anger away. The best I can hope to do right now is forgive my younger self, deal with the shame of a failed partnership and stay in the present with my sons.
I’m also really really thrilled to have my new analogy though. I’m conjugating it in so many ways. “Poo-offerer” is my favorite so far. Close second is “Keep that pile o’ poo to yourself.” Heh. Gotta love the little things.
If you’ve got a narcissist in your life and you’re looking for some support, check these links out: