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Thursday, March 7, 2019

Demons, Part 5: Ways to deal with hurt and the failure to outrun it.


A while back, I found out a one-time friend of mine had passed away from an overdose shortly after I fell out of touch with her.   At the time our friendship ended, she had basically tossed aside our friendship essentially stating that [our friendship] wasn't (paraphrasing it) "doing it for me".   Not one to be where I'm not wanted and having my self-respect, I honored her wishes.  In fact, I made a point to shut her out and blocking her access to me.  But, before I did this, I let her know that "I had figured that our friendship had an expiration date on it", before quietly fading away.  Even though we were never more than friends, I did like her a little bit and I was left wondering, what did I do to deserve being 'unfriended'?

Long after this estrangement, I looked at a common friend's page and saw her name in the friend's list on Facebook.  Out of curiosity, I decided to see what my estranged friend was up to.  I observed she had a memorial page and after following up on it, I got the rest of the story.   Even though we were estranged and she'd hurt my feelings, I was sad about it her passing.  She had overdosed within a number of months of our friendship ending.  Knowing that she overdosed shortly after our falling out of touch, helped me to understand that our estrangement was never really due to what I was lacking in the friend department to her.  Instead, it turns out she was a hurt person, struggling with demons.  She was seeking whatever she could to outrun or mask her pain and hurt.  A friendship that wasn't 'fun' enough didn't help her to do this.  It's clear now that neither I nor anyone else could be what she needed.   She needed to come to terms with herself and her pain.

I'd venture to guess most of know or are at least familiar with someone like that, if not having experienced it ourselves.  Someone who has or has had a deep soul level hurt that they tried to avoid facing.   From my experience and knowledge, anyone who has been there realizes that when you are in that place, you can either do one of four things--much of which I have done.  Some ways of dealing with hurt are unproductive and some are destructive.
  • Attempt to outlast it
    • Curling up into a ball, trying to sleep away pain, hurt and/or sadness.
    • 'Sleeping it off' can sometimes actually help if not overdone or abused.  Sometimes a new day can bring a fresh start and allow us to heal enough to deal with it.
  • Attempt to avoid it.
    •  Medicating it. This can take many forms, none of which are necessarily healthy and some of which can be downright deadly.
      • Literal 'medicine' such as drugs or alcohol to hope us cope.
      • Distractions to keep us from facing our hurt
        • Gambling, porn, overeating are 'pleasing' distractions.
        • Cutting and inking can be 'blocking' or masking distractions.  Just like a fire strategically set can burn the 'fuel' to a raging forest fire, a different type of pain can help block the 'hurting pain'.
    • Shutting down mourning.  Sometimes it hurts and makes us feel vulnerable to feel and to risk sharing our hurt.  Sometimes we are told to be brave, to keep a stiff upper lip.  While there is a time to be brave, sometimes when we shut down mourning, we are being just the opposite of brave.   We are avoiding.  Essentially, we are Zig Zagging through life: Diverting our energy from where it is really needed
  • Attempt to outrun it
    • Keeping too busy to have time to focus on it.  
    • Keeping busy I believe is a common way to avoid grieving the loss of a love one.
  • Allow ourselves to feel it.
    • Outwardly mourning and/or inwardly focusing on our hurt can be a distraction to what we need to get done, if it is timed wrong.
    • Finding a time and a place where it is safe to feel and mourn the hurt is imperative.  Allowing too much hurt to build up with no outlet is not a healthy place to be.
--

We all face some disappointment, some hurt--a promise not kept, a friendship lost, but I'm talking about deeper than that.  I'm talking a deep gut punch like a bitter divorce or an unexpected, untimely death, abuse and things of that nature.  This is not to minimize the 'smaller' hurts, but to put things in perspective.   Sometimes too however, enough 'smaller' hurts can build up and be just as debilitating.   But, I digress.  What I'm talking about is a buildup of hurt.  Anyway, as I've gotten deeper into my adulthood, I've come to realize that pain and hurt will not magically disappear and just because you claim you are 'over them' doesn't actually mean you are.   Our soul, and not our hopes, has a way of knowing if we have dealt with hurt.  My estranged friend reminded me.  Anyway, just some thoughts.   Here are a few other posts which I think would go with this one:

See:

Cheers,
Rich


Sunday, March 3, 2019

Heartache: Wanting the one thing you can't have

I went to Dennis DeYoung the other day and as I expected, he put on an excellent show.  He talked a bit about his time with Styx and you got the sense that while he likes doing shows, he would rather do a show with his old bandmates.  I had previously read up on the Styx story and found it in a bit sad.  The band had a creative falling out after Mr. Roboto and then got back together for a tour in the 1990s.  However, in 1999, they seem to have a permanent falling out as the band fired DeYoung and replaced him on keyboards and lead vocals.

I've read on many occasions that that DeYoung is open to and expressed a desire to reunite with his old bandmates.  However, I've read on many occasions in which they stated in no uncertain terms that it isn't going to happen.  It's really sad in a way, DeYoung was the biggest creative force behind the band and definitely the voice you'd associated with them.   In short, getting back with the band one more time is the one thing he'd want, the one thing that he'd truly like before his time here has passed, yet it is the one thing he can't have.  Perhaps, others in the band perceived him as too controlling or not committed to them enough.  Not totally sure.   The point is, it sounds like he'd eat his pride and make whatever amends he needed to for just one more chance to be with them as a group.   He is 72 and while he appears to be in good health.  However, at that age, as I know from personal experience with parents, the time to put your affairs in order is significantly shorter than in your 50s or 60s.

I've had moments where I just wanted to talk to my mom or brother just one more time.  I've wanted to share a thought or a memory or a moment with them, but the reality and finality of their death has precluded me from doing so.  Anyone who has lost someone close has probably felt this way.   I think many people have had friends come into and leave their life, with them still longing for the friendship that has escaped them.  The same applies to a love that has been lost or even family members you've fallen out with.  It can be a hard pill to swallow.


How do you deal with the one thing you want but can't have?  I'm not sure, but I do have some ideas.
  • You find a way to be grateful for what you do have.  That doesn't mean you forget the thing that which tugs on your heart.  It does that means you don't allow it to dominate.  Instead you focus your positive energy on what you do have instead of treating it like a pale imitation what you used to have.  In other words, treat your current life and relationships that you do have a something other than a consolation prize. 
    • I don't see my daughter everyday and I go stretches without seeing her, while I am sad about those points, I can't let them dominate when I do have her.
  • You be grateful for that which you had.  When you became so accustomed to lost loved ones or the special person(s) you have in your life and they are no longer available, it can take some time to get to the 'than to never have loved' stage of "it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have had".  But, with time to process, time to mourn, and time to reflect perhaps with some effort you can get to this stage.
    • It is still a hard pill for me to mourn losing my brother when he was 43.  It felt like a life of someone so close that hadn't been fulfilled.  Yet, I have to remember the close times we had together and the cool things about him than to get caught up in longing to speak to him again.
  • Look for new people and new opportunities to give your time, love and effort to.   You can cry over spilled milk for a while but eventually to move forward sometimes you just have to get a new carton of milk.
    • Back in the late 1990s, I had a relationship end that broke my heart.  Time, distance and seeing all sides of the situation--she has a good family and found what she needed and me seeing that I would not have had my daughter if I had been with her (at least in her current form).  But, hindsight is 20/20 and heartache is heartache.  So, I adjusted and moved on and as a result, I am richer the opportunity to know my child.
    • My first marriage ended up ultimately being a disappointment and somewhat disillusioned me towards marriage.  Yes, I could have stayed lost in the disillusion of it and I could have been sad to lose time with my daughter forever, but that wouldn't have been healthy.  Instead, I took some time for myself and figured out a few things and eventually started dating again.  Had I stayed in the disillusionment, I would not have had the opportunity to get to know and appreciate my new family.
  • You realize that just because it seems hopeless now, what you need may come back either in the similar form or a new form.  In Carly Simon's own words, "I know nothing stays the same, but if you're willing to play the game, it'll be coming around again'.
    • Our favorite group splits up, the lead singer takes on a solo project or they replace the lead with a new one--such as with Foreigner and Journey.  It seems like more often than not this is the end of the band as we know it.
    • Freddy Mercury took a break from Queen to do solo work in the mid to late 1980s, but they got back together to do a final few albums before his passing at a young age.
Who knows sometimes that which you think is permanently lost may be 'coming around again' as Carly Simon sings, but even if it doesn't, being deliberate about dealing with the heartache and loss can help put you in a position to better move forward.  

--

For what it's worth, I hope Mr. DeYoung gets the opportunity to make peace with and come to terms with his old bandmates.  But, if he doesn't get that opportunity I hope he is at peace with it or is able to find a way to get to peace with it.   Either way, I believe it is okay for him to express sadness or longing for it.   However, he as he is doing now, needs to move forward and understand that it just might not ever be in the cards.

Just some thoughts for the day,
Rich


Saturday, February 2, 2019

Toxic cleanups are best done by HazMat people

A while back I wrote a blog post called #MeAsWell: For What It's Worth related to CSA (childhood sexual abuse) and my person experience on the matter.  In the process of talking about it to my wife, I got the sense that she could only understand it to a certain point.  That's not a fault of hers as sometimes you can only fully grasp a circumstance or situation if you've been in a similar one.   She lost her husband abruptly a few years back and had to learn to raise two kids on her own.  I've lost close relatives too and one at a young age.  While I can understand hurt of losing someone at a relatively young age, I cannot appreciate my spouse dying unexpectedly and leaving me kids to raise alone.   Anyway, it got me to thinking about why there are some things that are hard to talk to about even those closest to you.

For me, it is how I was affected by CSA and specifically what struggles I've had including the inability to easily trust others.  It is also some aspects about my late brother's life--he committed suicide. (Don't you forget about me: The blog I needed to write one day about my late brother.)   For others it could be about their struggles with the bottle.  For yet others, it could be about their marriage or job failures, etc.


So, I tried to relate to her about why people might have trouble talking about their most painful experience, issues, concerns, etc.   Many or most people have someone in their life who says, "You can talk to me about anything."  While this sounds good and the intentions are usually good, there are some definite blocks as to why this doesn't always hold true:


  • Sometimes people have had others who have said the same thing and they found it that it wasn't true. The others didn't behave or react in a helpful way.  Alternatively, they found that what was talked about in confidence with their someone was gossiped about later.  In other words, they thought it was safe to talk about very personal subjects and were let down.
  • Sometimes people feel too much shame or embarrassment about a subject matter and they don't want to initially open up with someone close.
    • A professional such as a minister, counselor or therapist is often the best first person to go to.
    • A professional often has the level of detachment necessary for you speak your mind.  Whatever block felt (humiliation, embarrassment, etc.) may not be as strong with a 'stranger' as it would be in front of someone you see all the time.
    • Most professionals are trained to remove or at least not let their biases get in the way.  They are trained not to react, but to listen.
    • Most professionals have likely 'heard it all' or enough that they won't be shocked or rattled by what you open up about.
  • Sometimes people realize that someone close to them is not necessarily the best one to talk to about a given subject.
    • The know their someone would just not be able to understand the issue as they have no experience in dealing with it.
    • They know that their someone has their own issue(s) which may conflict.  For example, if your someone has a history of depression/suicide in their family, talking too much about your depression could be a subject way too close for them to deal with or could trigger them.

I titled this post as I did because the things that really trouble people and are hard to open up about can be toxic--at least to the person who is troubled if not to those around them.   When you have a toxic spill, who would you call?  Why a person trained in toxic cleanup.  That is, HazMat certified people.   Likewise, when you have a subject which is toxic  (at least to you), who should you call?  Someone who is trained to or experienced in dealing with toxic emotional, behavioral, mental and/or spiritual issues.  Now, after the fact, you may realize what was bothering you may have been overblown, but that may not be clear until you have someone 'detoxify' it for you.  That is to say, break it down in such a way that you see it as overblown.  On issues that are truly 'poisonous', a professional will be able to give you the tools to process them and explain what troubles you to those around you.

--


Personal note, I was  able to help one friend off a toxic substance--the bottle--and able to relate to what led them to it.  However, that friend was ready to get sober, but just needed someone to be there for them.  Unfortunately, I later had a friend who I found out was addicted to heroine.  I tried to be there to help, but found that I was in over my head.  My friend had demons that were troubling her that I just wasn't equipped to help out with, though I tried.  Sadly, she died at the age of 25.  The best people to help her were trained professionals.  Family and friends could be supportive and were to the extent they could, but she mostly needed trained professionals as much as possible to guide her.  That is, "HazMat" people.


Anyway, just some food for thought.  I hope this helps others who want to be there for a loved one realize that sometimes there are limits to 'being there' and the best you can do is be supportive while they find their 'Hazmat' person.


-- Rich




* Note sure how well this video fits, but I thought why not?

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Perspective: See you on the other side

I've noticed over the past number of years an amazing phenomenon in my life.   I suspect some of it--the phenomenon--is part of the natural process of gaining age and experience, some of it is karma, and some of it just coincidental.  So, what is it you ask?  Glad you asked!  What I speak of is seeing or being on the other side (of situations or life in general).  I will expand upon what I mean in just a moment, but what brought the concept was a mundane everyday experience.

I was on my drive home earlier tonight and was in the fast lane as is my custom. I noticed someone bearing down on me.   I was going 70MPH + and giving a reasonable distance with the car in front of me (60mph being the speed limit).  Anyway, the driver behind me must have had a hot date or something, because I couldn't make out his headlights in my rearview mirror.  Frankly, I don't know if I could see his license plate?   You know if a driver is that close (especially at a pretty high speed), they are dangerously tailgating you.  As is my custom, I let off the gas a little as I don't appreciate someone risking my safety because he or she is impatient.   I did a kind of jerky move though, once I passed a car off to the side, I noticed that the tailgater was making a power move to get around me.  I wasn't having any of it. After all, I was going to be that jerk's karma this day.  I sped up enough that he couldn't pass me as I caught up to and was now passing another car on my side.  He fell back behind me and continued tailgating, probably pissed off that he couldn't get around me.  He probably also knew what I had done. 

Every since I was involved in a high speed collision with another driver and her irresponsible driving, I don't take kindly to irresponsible, overly aggressive drivers.  If you are behind me and look like you want to drive more quickly than I am, I will probably see you and make every effort to move out of your way.  In other words, safely and reasonably let you pass me.  If you are pushy about it--in a way that threatens my safety such as tailgating or threatening to cut me off--I don't take too kindly to it.  I will make it a point make sure you don't get rewarded for driving in a reckless manner.  I'm sure that's not defensive driving, but who's perfect?

The funny thing about the story above is that I used to be the jerky, impatient driver who tailgated others in the fast lane in an attempt to ENCOURAGE them to change lanes and get out of my way.  My wife said, "Maybe they don't realize how pushy they are being.  They want to get where they want to get and don't really think about the other person."  I disabused her of that notion.  Not to say that that is never the case.  But, I personally know better. I used to think to myself as I was riding close to the driver in front of me, "Aren't you getting the message?  Just the get the hell out of my way."   It's funny though, years and a high impact collision later, I'm the old man effectively screaming, "Get off my lawn" or the driving equivalent of it.  I see it from the other side now.

In my first marriage, when we first lived together, my now ex moved into my apartment and then the house I bought shortly thereafter.  I never realized how much of an adjustment that may have been until years later. I remarried and I was the one that was moving into my significant other's place.  She has owned the place for over 20 years and I'm the person moving in.   It gives me some perspective now from the other side.

Then there is the child to parent role being flipped.  When I was a teen, I remembered thinking my parents were old.  Then one day I found myself being "my parent's age" and having children.  While I wasn't carefree as a teen, I remember that I wasn't super worried about paying the bills and things like that.  Now, I can see it on the other side.  Having to worry more about others than myself.

I suspect one day, I will be the older driver who is taking too long during rush hour.  I will be the older driver who is driving 45 in a 45 zone irritating the people behind me.  In other words, the one who is blocking the younger drivers, you know those drivers who are in a hurry.  If I have the presence of mine and am not too ornery, I might even laugh about it as it is happening.

I guess another way of describing this situation is: If you live long enough you will experience life's rich ironies.  That is, irony with a rich helping of iron.

Regards,
Rich

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Perspective: Wants Being A World Away From Needs

I got an iTunes and Amazon gift cards recently for Christmas (2018), so of course, what do I do?  I sought to supplement my music collection on my iPod.   Anyway, I had been a little sad this Christmas season as I had just turned 50, I didn't have my daughter for Christmas and most of Christmas Eve, I had previously lost three of my immediately family members in recent years and frankly, the year had been very tiring at times and I'd reflected on long-time hurts.  So, one could say I was feeling a bit sorry for myself.

I'd always respected Roy Orbison as a musician and I know I heard his life story before.  However, I never really thought to much about it.  But, this time was different.  I'd been looking up ELO on YouTube and stumbled upon the Traveling Willburys which then led me to Roy Orbison.  In a way, this search had taken me to the "End of The Line" as far as Roy Orbison.

Anyway, in researching his music, I came across his life story and it was very tragic and sad.  Yes, he may have eventually accumulated some wealth and not had to worry about where his next meal came from.  However, his life was far from easy.  He was born smack dab in The Great Depression with his parents both struggling with employment.  He was blessed with a guitar and a gift of music.  Though he was talented, it took him a while to get established in the industry.  His star gained momentum in the early 60s, but he was hit with marital problems which led to divorce in 1964.  He and his first wife, Claudette, had patched things up in late 1965, but this was only a temporary reprieve from downtimes and tragedy in his life.  His 1st was killed in a freak accident in June 1966 and in September 1968, his two eldest sons died in fire that burned his house to the ground while he was touring.  His star by that that time had been in decline.  Eventually, it picked up again and he found new success in the 1980s.  He died of a heart attack at age 52.  I'd heard his story before but this time it really got my attention and I felt sadness for him and thought, while I've faced adversity, I hadn't had to face losing a spouse and kids and health problems like he had.   In a way, though I haven't achieved fame and fortune like had, I hadn't faced some of the tragedy he had.  This got me thinking about something I've thought about a lot during my life.

I've long thought that, we in this country, are very fortunate. I have felt some guilt that my want, even in an unnecessarily poor childhood, was still less than need in many other places in the world.  Our poor usually are better off than much of the world, especially places like Haiti.  I guess it's all perspective.  I grew up with less than many/most others in my school and across town and I felt poor, but seeing images of others having to worry about starvation is very humbling.  Anyway, I have a few thought on wants and needs in my life, the life of kids in this generation and in the world as a whole.

Ponderings:
  • Being around people with "more" can give a distorted picture and can create false 'needs'.  
    • For example, if the people I see socially, work with, or are related have large homes and live in a very nice neighborhoods, it might create a sense in me that in order to 'fit in', I need to have that as well.  In reality, in such a case, I don't 'need' those things, but 'want' them to prevent me from feeling 'inferior'.
    • If a kid goes to school and all his friends have nice clothes, nice cars,  and nice things including electronics out the wazoo, then the kid will 'need' some of those things to at least be able to 'relate' or 'fit in'.  The need, in this case, isn't more nice things but to appreciate that you can't always have every nice thing.  The other need is for other parents, with more means, to raise their kids with a healthy respect for others regardless of what others have.
  • Getting used to 'luxuries' can make them seem like needs.
    • Growing up, I didn't have a microwave oven until I finished college, I didn't AC until I went away to college, I didn't have a dishwasher until I moved into my first apartment, I didn't have a TV with remote or with cable until I was on my own.  At the time each of these things seemed like a luxury.  
    • I am so used to having all of these things that to have them taken away makes them seem like a need that is unmet.
  • If you grown up or gotten used to having more, the best way to remind yourself that much of what you have is a luxury is spending time around those who struggle to have basic needs met.
  • Our real needs are sometimes masked by purposely or unwittingly by those things we feel are needs.
    • If we feel ugly, we may feel like we 'need' to shop for clothes.  In other words, substitute an outfit to deal with insecurity.
    • If we feel sad, we may feel a 'need' for the latest electronic or other gadget to distract us.
    • Often times what we really need is not more 'things' but instead peace and serenity.

I don't know if I broke any new ground here, but I felt compelled to write this blog post.  Kids today seem to not appreciate what they have and when I remind them growing up how we did with less, it doesn't impact them.  I forget that its hard to relate to having less when you never have.  In a way, I feel like it is hard to relate to those in the world who do have less and are in real need unless you actually see them with less.  That's why I titled this post as I did.  Anyway, hopefully, others can relate or get something out of this post.

- Rich

This post reminds me of another I wrote:
Accepting People Where They Are.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Cutting Off Escape Routes: Forcing Responsibility

As an outside observer and as a parent myself I noticed a few things about raising kids and frankly 'raising' aka dealing with adults too.  I've spoken before of people having comfort zones.  By this I meant they are comfortable doing thing a certain way regardless if it is necessarily the 'best way'.   For example, for some odd reason, I like eating most leftovers cold.  Not sure if it is not wanting to wait or deal with heating it up or what.  To my wife, it doesn't make sense, but it's what I feel comfortable with.  In any case, escape routes are a comfort zone issue.  Often find ways to avoid doing what we should or need to by locating an escape route.  That is to say a reason, excuse, or delay tactic to take the place of doing what we need to.


Here are a few examples of things we might want to avoid and create an 'escape routes' for.  That is to say, the things we do to try to doing what we don't want to such as:
  • Having to talk to family.
  • Having to go to work. 
  • Having to do homework.  
  • Having to go to sleep/stay awake.
  • Having to go to the store.
-

Below are a couple examples of an escape route and cutting it off:
  • If my daughter isn't awake already (on a school day), I will wake her up to get ready for the day.  She has said, "If you leave (my room)  I will get up and get ready."   That was her escape route, pressing me to leave at which time she could just plop her head down on the pillow. Anyway, my response to her is this: "If you stand up and get out of bed, I will leave.  After sending my wife in a couple of times to see if she's asleep or changing, and being told she's asleep, I confronted her on it and forced her to get out of bed when I was there.   She didn't like it and growled at first, but it was important for both of us she get up and ready so we both could be on time to where we needed to go.  Anyway, my forcing her to get up and stand up was cutting off her escape route of rolling back over and falling back asleep.  I was forcing on her the responsibility of getting ready for school.
  • A family intervention in which the family refuses to leave until their drug-addicted family member 'surrenders' to rehab.  By that point, they likely would have been pressing him or her to seek help, but being brushed off or promised that they will get it.


Before I finish this post on escape routes I did want to make a few observations:
  • From my observation, people usually don't take to well to having an escape route cut off.   It's not called an escape route because you want to stay in the circumstance or situation you are in or face what you need to.  It's an escape route because you are avoiding something you need to deal with.  Being forced to do so isn't exactly comfortable.  
  • The process of cutting off escape routes can be done so verbally and/or by actions.
    •  If a spouse or sibling is avoiding an uncomfortable conversation, for example, you can redirect the conversation back when they try to change subjects or you can logically cut through the verbal objects they throw in the way.
    • If your child refuses to do her homework and instead goes out with their friends, you can take away their keys and take away their ability to leave without doing their homework.
  • Sometimes it is not our place to cut off someone's escape route.
    • Just because we don't like what choices our adult kids are making doesn't automatically give us a right to interfere and force our will on them, especially if they are not dependent on us.
    • When someone has told us they need space or they don't want to be with us anymore, we can push for a discussion on it or to have them hear us out.   But, keeping them from leaving OR keeping tabs on them while it may be a way from keeping them from 'escaping', it is usually considered harassment or stalking, which is not okay.  It's okay to want to be heard out, but it's not okay to control others.
  • Sometimes we need the escape route, especially if we are in an abusive or toxic relationship.
    • Changing our phone number or address is an escape route from an abusive estranged partner.
    • Get a protection order can be an escape route from an abusive estranged partner.
    • This is especially true, when there are no children involved.  There is absolutely no reason in this case for our estranged partner to try to reach out to us.
  • Sometimes an 'escape route' may be a coping mechanism (or safety valve) that the other party needs until he or she can cope better.  For example, if a child loses a parent, he or she may not be ready to talk about it or openly grieve in front of others.   Sometimes, they just need quiet time to reflect on their loss and do what they need to cope--such as listen to music or just cry in private.  Forcing them to do so too quickly can at the least can breed resentment and at could cause unforeseen problems with the grieving process.

In summary, there are times when it is imperative to cut off 'escape routes' and force responsibility on our loved ones.  However, escape routes are sometimes in place for our benefit and the benefit of others and we should consider the purpose and circumstance of the escape route before mindlessly cutting it off.

Just some thoughts for the day after Christmas (2018).

Cheers.


Monday, December 24, 2018

The 3-Legged Stool: Difficulty in Shaking off Narcissists

I was discussing with my wife recently about why I believe abuse survivors can have a harder time shaking off encounters with a narcissists, specifically those who attempt to control or and/or use belligerence to dominate.  For her it, the solution was to simply ignore the person.  In other words, if the person gives you 'unwanted advice', tries to 'suggest' (aka TELL) you what to do or some attempt at shaming, you either a) humor them or b) just totally ignore them or blow them off.  In other words, don't let them have any 'real estate in your head'.

Now anyone who has ever has ever 'survived' dealing with narcissists, especially those in a position of power over them and/or present in their childhood, probably knows what I am talking about.

In many cases ignoring or humoring them is very sound advice. This is especially true IMHO where their interaction with you doesn't undermine your authority in an appreciable way.  In other words, some things just aren't worth getting riled up over risking a fight.  However, I believe to someone who is an abuse/attack survivor, might find it hard to 'let it go' so to speak.

Her argument was that her dad could be a dominant personality and she was able to stand up for myself.   I understand her point and was struggling to find a way to help her understand.  I tried to find a way to answer why I react more passionately and get more upset when I am completely disrespected or controlled.  I finally stumbled upon an idea.   A table or stool with three legs is harder to collapse or flip over than those with fewer.  That is to say the more destructive factors you've had in your life, the less likely it is that you'll be able to 'let it go'.

Consider it this way:
  • When we think of a stool, we think of a handy product which can be used to hold us up when are reaching to get something we need.   Imagine the stool instead of holding us up, is used to hold up our baggage up and 'in place'.   Is that really a stool we'd want or is that a stool we'd want to see collapsed?
  • We know a 3-legged stool or table is more sturdy or stable than those with fewer legs.  From what I can see, abuse survivors don't just have 'abuse' in play.  From personal experience, observations and talking with others, people who are ultimately abused are often vulnerable to abuse because of other factors--overbearing parents/adults in their formative years and bullying for example.


Anyway, here are three legs of the stool which holds up inability to shake off encounters with narcissists in adulthood:
* Overbearing parent or other authoritative adult figure during childhood.
* Bullying (verbal or menacing)
* Attack/abuse

Now, these three legs or factors aren't necessarily exclusive.  That is to say the same person or persons can supply more than one leg of the stool.  That is to say, a bully can also be an abuser/attacker and that the overbearing parent or adult can be the bully who abuses or attacks for example.

We hear all the time, back in the day if I talked back like that, my mom/dad would have beaten me.  Sometimes the speaker might say how his/her voice was overrode by his/her parent, but that he or she eventually found his or her voice.   As a parent myself, I have found that I sometimes have to be assertive and override voices of a child/children.  Now, taken to the extreme that can be damaging and compel a kid to shut down or fear authority.  I do believe in most cases kids do gain a measure of a voice (and sometimes 'too much'), but I digress.  Like a one-legged stool/table, they can learn to easily push aside disrespect/lack of control later in life.  That is to say, the baggage associated with 'not having a voice', if others negative factors aren't in play, can thrown off more easily in adulthood. As people of my generation understood, that's part of growing up.

Add the factor of being bullied in your formative years.  Not only are you trying to seek their voice among adults in your life, but you are also trying to fend off those who would challenge their well-being and/or peace of mind.  With authoritative adults in a child's life, we typically think that the adult figure has the child's interests in mind.  In the case of a bully, for whatever reason, the bully typically doesn't tend to factor in the child's interest.  For whatever reason, they bully feels that it is okay to pick on his or her target.  Sometimes they don't care, but sometimes they can attempt to justify their behavior.  They might claim that they are helping a kid learn how to deal.   They might also that their 'victim' deserved it.  Whatever their reasoning their behavior it can reinforce the inability of a child to shake off disrespectful (or controlling behavior) later in life.  If you are so used to dealing with this sort of behavior, even minor 'bullying' in your adulthood can seem like more of the same (and hence hard to shake off).  Like adding a second leg, it can strengthen the stool or table which holds up the anger, frustration and/or resentment which results from facing 'bullying' behavior later in life.  A stool with two legs has some degree of stability, but is still by its nature can be collapsed relatively easily.

As with a stool/table, once you add a third leg (or factor), the stool becomes very steady and very sturdy.  In other words, it will tend to stay upright and not collapsed unless you apply a great deal of force to it.  A person who has dealt with an overbearing adult may have had to 'justify' their voice.  A person who has dealt with a bully may have had to create or find a space for their voice.  But a youngster who has been abused or attacked, especially sexually, has had to recover from their voice being stolen outright from them.  It's bad enough having to justify your voice or find a place to exercise it safely, but like the third leg of the stool, having your voice stolen from you, reinforces the anger, frustration and/or resentment.  A response to narcissist behavior in later life isn't simply ignoring attempt it.  It is using whatever tools you have at your resource to make sure your voice isn't stolen again.  Anger, frustration, resentment and the like can be seen as tools to be deployed to ensure you he or she who could hold you down and crush or steal your voice is not given that opportunity.  It isn't simply being annoyed that you are being 'bullied'. Nor is it 'stepping away' and finding a place where your voice is safe.  To a survivor of abuse and/or an attack, there is a sense that the one who would control, disrespect you and/or otherwise bully you must be guarded against and in some cases be shut down.  In other words, sometimes you need to bare your teeth, build a wall or counterattack to make sure their threat to you is neutralized.

To someone who has just dealt with strict parents and maybe some bullying, but has never had to face the insecurity of abuse, a severe reaction to a narcissist can look like an overreaction.  That is to say intense anger, frustration, resentment, etc. can look like an overreaction to a when dealing with a narcissist.  I've dealt with the all three--CSA (childhood sexual abuse), bullying and an overbearing/controlling parent.  As an adult, I've come to understand situations better than I did as a kid.  However, I still am more inclined to, like a cat, arch my back, when I feel under threat or attack, 'hiss' and keep a wary eye open.  

Hopefully, this gives more perspective on why some people can let attempts at abusive/controlling/bullying behavior slide, where others cannot.  The more negative experiences you have had to deal with in life, the more likely you are to see are to see 'more of the same' when it comes to dealing with narcissists.   It isn't just dealing with a jerk, it is dealing with someone who is a threat to your serenity (or at least it can feel like it).

Anyway, I'm tired when writing this, so hopefully, it does make some sense.  Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Rich