By Becky (Ruff) Reed
“Man has gone long enough, or even too long, without being man enough to face the simple truth that the trouble with man is man.” ~James Thurber
I have to admit that a sense of humor – either during or sometime after events – kept my life moving forward many times, one step at a time. I could easily be the quintessential poster child for failed romances and the last one with a narcissist surely took me into the realm of eerily uncanny expeditions to the dark side. I believe that I understand something of the phenomenon of New Thinking as shown by Eckhart Tolle and his premise (as with so many others in this particular path of thought) that there is only the Now. Because living entails an emotional response, that Now is a point in time where we not only observe ourselves in dramas and settings, but where we feel the emotional flows of energy emanating from our views in that scenario.
Anyone who exists within time frames also looks at the future, responsibility, cause and effect, choices of the past, and the precipitate of fallout from any specific action taken in response to a stimuli of some sort. But, what I have come to see for myself is that our emotional responses to “something” will not alter the occurrence...it does, however, make being in that present time more acceptable or frightening/upsetting, depending on the point of introspection.
With utter despair and excruciating distress, I discovered myself discarded by a spouse and his family when my funds had run dry and anything I offered of myself produced no useful end for them. I began searching desperately to find a way to cope with MY NOW. The pain of loss was almost unbearable – much more so than any other relationship breakup in my personal experience. I feel that my discovery of the term with its ideas, narcissism, answered my driving need to label this phenomenon.
In the midst of horrific anguish while freshly used, devalued, and discarded with the precision of a surgeon's scalpel in my marital relationship, I voraciously devoured reading material searching for answers to my trek through the bowels of the Twilight Zone. I was lost, alone, and terrified by the turn my life had taken, leaving me emotionally devastated and financially decimated. I stumbled onto a site with Lisa E. Scott's book, It's All About Him, and this became the turning point for my own self-redemption and healing. I found well researched data on narcissism peppered with stories of others falling into the dark abyss with this chameleon of a manipulator and in this information, an introduction to Sam Vaknin and his work, Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited. There is a path of comprehension that I needed to find. Just as in the movie, “I, Robot,” where we discover that even these beings of other-than-flesh-and-blood presence tend to group together when stored away from activity, I, too, needed to know that I wasn't alone. What I sought was some kind of understanding of what had occurred, a sense of camaraderie to counteract the responses of friends and family, and most importantly, the amazingly awe-inspiring feeling that we – specifically, me - might not be damaged goods who sought this painful excursion into an alien realm.
Thomas Sheridan in his Puzzling People, relates that many feel they have come in contact with an alien force. A total absence of empathy in the narcissist shocks those associated with the individual. Although the narcissist has learned by social conditioning to observe and mimic emotions to fit into social structure, there usually exists continual drama and chaos in his realm.
The “sensitive” as coined by Scott, which I so much prefer to “codependent,” strives to fathom the uncharted experience when compared to past relationships and teachings about communication offering an avenue for connection. Eventually - and the time frame for healing may continue for about two years – each of us rummaging through our beliefs following this excursion into total confusion, will change her/his personal vision of desolation into one of strength, integrity, and the ability to reclaim her life.
I detested the idea that seemed to predominate within the ranks of therapists that codependency was only bad and indicative of my own deep rooted “illness.” In a period of my life when just emerging from continual chaos and turmoil, this itself, seemed like a conspiracy to eradicate any validation of my own experiences. It seemed much too simplistic in fostering the idea that low self-esteem was the problem in all instances, to be “cured” in the victim. Even if the intentions of counselors were good, they certainly created sustained roadblocks for a willingness to communicate freely for fear of being chastised with labels. This, indeed, was my own movie played in the midst of a strangely entangled family with my marriage to a man I believe to be a narcissist. What I found tremendously distasteful was the thought that my response to a genuinely horrific experience was pathological itself.
Through reading books and joining blog sites, I found it to be true that I had begun to effectively climb a course of purposely essential steps of gradational movement into recovery. It's a most individualized journey to dropping the shackles of fear and self-doubt as I painstakingly incorporated mental and emotional purging and growth. Being tested in a very unique way, I, too, have found my own nodding acquaintance with intellect, warmth, and heartfelt compassion. I discovered that I needed to change my perceptions and ideas on past teachings regarding other people and even the hallmarks of communication. My track of development included rethinking my own conduct in this dark territory and with some difficulty, offered me a lifeline away from unaware therapists and unknowledgable friends and family whose judgments left me drowning in uncertainty. Learning to trust my choices and again to live consciously has been a most enlightening procedure.
My life has been altered. I am finally no longer afraid and although not the same innocent I once was, I have the courage to stand for my convictions and to be fully myself, warts and all. Whether or not romance enters my future, I am OK and look toward tomorrows with fresh discernment and even an eagerness. There is nothing to hide and no attempts necessary to fit the vision of someone else for me in a particular blueprint. I have now transformed my vision of myself as being a desolate “sensitive” into one of personal strength and integrity, one step at a time. My gratitude to energies in this universe and all who shared their testimonials with me is immeasurable.
The above is an excerpt from IT IS WHAT IT IS... AND WHAT IT IS, IS by Becky (Ruff) Reed, an ebook free to all readers of Cultivate Life! magazine.
To download the full ebook go to the Feature eBooks section of Trans4mind.
Becky Reed is a professional copywriter and editor as well as an entrepreneur who has founded and managed a variety of companies offering support services to busy professionals and parents, Becky is author of Romance Stew: The Way to a Woman's Heart