Sunday, September 28, 2008

Patricia and The Narcissists

Allow me to say again that the reason certain aspects of my little life have a place in Blogland is that if something is going on with me, tons of other people are going through/have been through the same shit. As it happened, that realization was one of the great lessons of going to the University of Texas at Austin with 48,000 other students. Sad but true: You are never unique.

I've been contemplating how relationships develop sexually. Granted, I was married nearly all of my adult life, so my experience in this area is somewhat limited. But anytime I've been out with a fellow that I was interested in having more than one drink with - which is about half the time - the man was making a pass at me fairly soon. I always thought it had something to do with the knockers, but I'm wondering if there's something a woman does - like sending a psychokinetic signal - that lets a man know she's attracted to him so he will make a move. Or maybe some men take the time to know a woman first, and I was simply never involved with one of those.

I've been involved with three men (sort of four) since I started trying to get divorced. Every case was me repeating an unfortunate pattern with Emotionally Unavailable Men. Those three were all, in a word, Narcissists. As it happens, the fourth is a Recovering Narcissist who has spent some productive time in therapy over the last year or two, which is why I still speak to him. Actually, if you count Cretin Vodka's theatrical crush on me, we could number the narcissists at five.

It's not that I go for a physical type who is so attractive that I fail to notice a man's obvious character flaws. I seek out the damn flaws. Hell, one of the Narcissists had the biggest butt I ever saw on a man. His butt was so big we called him Double Wide. For sure I'm not attracted to their looks. I'm attracted to them because they are Selfish, Arrogant, Condescending Jack-Asses convinced they are Entitled to have Everything their Own Way because They Know Best and are Always Right.

For the record, Buzz Kill is not a narcissist, or even bossy, condescending, etc. He is secretive as a way of maintaining financial control, and at the time he had severe intimacy troubles because he was so cut off from his own feelings that he needed me to process his anger at his mother for him since it was too scary for him to admit he got mad at her - but he is not a narcissist. He is fully passive-aggressive, so it's like the Narcissists are an intensification of my previously established pattern.

Not surprisingly, I don't want to jump into another heartbreaking relationship. Consequently, last night I was examining the pattern in an attempt to avoid another repeat, googling for information, insight and hope. Since my search criteria included the word "narcissism," the first thing returned by Google had this blurb:

Voicelessness: Narcissism Narcissism is a misnomer. At their core narcissists don't love themselves -- in fact their self barely exists, and what part does exist is deemed worthless. All energy is devoted to inflating the self...

I quickly followed the link and found myself at Voicelessness and Emotional Survival. As someone who realized only about four years ago that she had a right to exist on the planet, the idea of voicelessness is compelling.
What interested me most on this website was an article titled, "Why Do Some People Choose One Bad Relationship After Another?"

People who have not been given "voice" in childhood have the lifelong task of repairing the "self." This is an endless construction project with major cost overruns (much like the "Big Dig" in Boston). Much of this repair work involves getting people to "hear" and experience them, for only then do they have value, "place," and a sense of importance. However, not just any audience will do. The observer and critic must be important and powerful, or else they will hold no sway in the world. Who are the most important and powerful people to a child? Parents. Who must a person pick as audience to help rebuild the self? People as powerful as parents. Who, typically, is more than willing to play the role of power broker in a relationship, doling out "voice" only insofar as it suits him/her? A narcissist, "voice hog," or otherwise oblivious and neglectful person.

I have always known the pattern had something to do with a corrective experience, but I hadn't looked at it in terms of an Existential issue. It's probably a good thing to explore the nuances of existentialism with an Artist from the South of France.

In my heart, I can feel that I'm not looking for someone to complete me. There is no "Missing Piece." I can also feel that the pattern is broken. Right now, I'm going to take some time off from Romance and Relationships - maybe even a whole week - to ponder my own Existence and Identity. The last time I took up the Identity Project, I read Sartre and Descarte and made a list of my attributes:

  1. I am a woman who wears comfortable shoes and
  2. I meet deadlines.
Hopefully this time around, I'll come up with a better list.


Gail said...

Hi Trish -
WOW! I was hanging on to every word.

I particularly allied with the voiceless comments - and seeking people equal in power to one's parents to finally be heard - listened to - valid. I have picked a few "power brokers" over the years, for sure. Not sure when I stopped. Sometime around when, ummmm, when a priest insisted I hear him!! I pretty much stopped listening after that and fought to find my own voice. I listened to myself and I liked what I heard.
Although I have a continuing theme - way too literal or perhaps gullable. (sp). Oh well. I kinda try to balance that with not having people in my life who take advantage of that - easier said than done.

Your voice is strong and beautiful. Keep listening to it.


dissed said...

It's a good, solid project.

Wearing comfortable shoes and meeting deadlines are important, dammit. Maybe tweak it a bit: I wear comfortable shoes unless it's a drop-dead gorgeous four-hour- shoe occasion, and I meet deadlines whenever possible. Leave yourself some wiggle room, here.

P. E. Nolan said...

One should always leave oneself a bit of wiggle room (especially around the toes).

Actually, in the years between now and when I made the original list, I've added some nice heels to my shoe wardrobe. Some people might have invested their child support more wisely, but I felt that wardrobe was the best investment at the time.

It's like Coco Chanel said: I don't understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little - if only out of politeness. And then, you never know, maybe that's the day she has a date with destiny. And it's best to be as pretty as possible for destiny.

Most days,desitiny will have to meet me looking like I just finished cleaning the garage, but it's still nice to be prepared.

Anonymous said...

Today's Onion headline, 'Woman dates five narcissists in a row but still tries to find man to think about her'

Comrade Kevin said...

Some men are base enough that all they think about is the exterior. Some are not.

I will say this. I've gotten into some awful relationships with the opposite sex before and I think a lot of it stems from the fact I was a scared, anxious, nervous, high strung kid who isolated himself from his peers out of fear and as a result never got much attention growing up.

And part of it too is that for a long while I didn't want to be alone, so I'd just settle for anyone.

P. E. Nolan said...

re: anonymous comment
the beauty of this one, which sounds remarkably like Cretin, is that it has to miss the point entirely in order to be snarky. Narcissists (insert eye roll)!

This time I'm leaving the comment because I'm not a pussy, but I'm going to quote the PSA on Comrade Kevin's blog:

Dear Readers,

Anonymous comments are the last refuge of the cowardly.

Either grow a pair and leave your name, or go vandalize public property with a spray paint can, which is kind of what your comments look like when placed on this blog.


P. E. Nolan said...

I've had some great relationships, and have stayed friendly with the major boyfriends of my past because they were good friends. The articile on Voicelessness goes on to say that for some people, getting involved with Narcissists is actually a quest for self healing. When you're finally strong enough to break the pattern, you've healed.

It's not a quest you take on conciously, obviously.

Kitty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kitty said...

I don't know if I'm attracted to narcissists. I do know I'm attracted to men with loads of self-confidence. I'm sure I find it attractive because I have very little, and I think if I can 'win' a man like that, then I must have *something*? The trouble with men with loads of self-confidence is that it's often not well-earned self-confidence: the building of a sense of self over many years of experience and 'learning'. No, they are arrogant schmuks whose mothers have made them believe the sun shines out of their backsides, and they just accept that view wholesale.

I wonder what it would be like to be a narcissist? Would it be a nice place from which to view the world?

Wearing comfortable shoes is a GOOD THING - life is crap in uncomfortable shoes.


P. E. Nolan said...

From the reading I have done, the individual with LOADS of unearned self-confidence = arrogant schmuck whose mother gave him the idea the sun shines out his arse = Narcissist. They may not have full blown Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but they have narcissistic defense mechanisms.

The sad thing is that they apparently hate themselves much more than those of us with Garden Variety Self Esteem and Identity issues which lead to normal depression.

The good news is that once you start to get a handle on this stuff, it's easy to spot. Narcissists have tons of red flags a-flyin'

PS to Kevin. You must have started having girlfriends early if you say you were just a kid. You're half the age of most of the women on here, youngster ;)

Anonymous said...

I agree -- the world is a place that requires comfortable shoes. Your remark "But anytime I've been out with a fellow that I was interested in having more than one drink with - which is about half the time - the man was making a pass at me fairly soon." intrigues me. I've had the same thing happen all my life (I just turned 50) and in my case it's definately not the knockers. It actually happens with men in just casual group situations. I've often wondered if I emit some sort of signal that I'm not aware of.

I've only made the mistake of dating a narcissist once. Unfortunately, I compounded the mistake by marrying him. I do believe I learned my lesson on that front anyway. I can now spot them a mile away.

I've been reading your blog from the first posting and absolutely love the way you write. Good luck pondering your existence -- I look forward to reading your observations.


P.S. It's possible this is going to post more than once -- first time I've ever commented on any thing -- and I seemed to have some trouble get it to publish

Gail said...

Hey Trish
Fascinating comments. Would love to know what the one said you deleted. Must have been a whopper!

And anonymous 'Annie' is not me, the kid. You knew that though, right?
She took my name. :-(

I always wear comfortable shoes.

You are way cool.


P. E. Nolan said...

Hi Annie
Thanks for leaving a comment. I'm always surprised to hear that people are out there reading who don't already know me from somewhere. It's very encouraging for me to find that people like my writing since I'm a big chicken in that department.

I'm also interested to find that the Narcissist ponderings have struck such a chord. Those folks apparently do a lot of damage in this world - and not just the ones in business and politics.

Thanks for making a connetion.

Anonymous said...

Gail -- sorry Annie is my name and if you are under 50 then I had it first. ;) Not trying to steal anything from you tho. Thanks for the comment back Trish, it's nice to feel welcome. annie (the elder)

P. E. Nolan said...

Actually, Gail is over 50 - but you still had Annie first. Life is funny that way.

monsieur said...

You should post more pictures of yourself. You would begin to exist. Your soul would be captured and posted on the internet. And you would meet more stalkers. Well, not meet them. You should refer to your pot use as it relates to your relationships. I can't stand pot but I sure love reading the writing of people who do, and listening when applicable.

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