Why I didn´t work on my essays today – nightmares, hangover and triggering articles

I was honestly just doing some research for one of my essays, when I stumbled upon this article on narcissism (it´s in German) and once again wished somebody would just shoot me. Which doesn´t exactly help my progress with the damn essays. And feels pretty shitty otherwise, too. As if the day hadn´t started ugly enough.

Empathizing with psychopaths

I woke up reasonably early with 1) a cold, 2) a hangover and 3) after a night of never sleeping more than one hour at a time while 4) having bizarre nightmares. I´m sure you know those nights. As for my nightmares, one of the worst dreams was about the ending of Dexter 4. I´ve wrote about that here.  Even though I´m twenty years too old to feel bad about the ending of a goddamn movie for more than five minutes, I still get that hollow feeling in my chest when I think about it.

+++Spoiler alert++++

The dream depicts Dexter´s life after Rita´s death. He is getting married again, just a few months afterwards. He is in a desolate state, though. Given that he is a psychopath, he has no access to his feelings. He cannot mourn Rita´s death. He has numbed even more. He is merely drifting through life, reacting instead of acting. He cannot enjoy killing anymore. The last person he killed was Trinity, the guy who killed Rita. Trinity was lying on Dexter´s table, waiting to die, knowing Dexter had no clue Rita was dead. Remembering this, knowing that he let Trinity die without taking revenge, how can Dexter ever find closure? How can he ever feel strong and good and alive again as he kills someone? All Dexter can now feel at the thought of how killing used to make him feel before is shame. He doesn´t even want to think about it. All he has left is his mask, the normal life, but without his “hobby”, the mask has lost its purpose. He has no normal ambitions and desires, and therefore he does whatever is most easy: He does what everybody else tells him to do. So if someone wants to marry him, he marries her. He doesn´t really want to, but he has given up on himself and his life. As he is waiting for her in church, he remembers Rita. Through his numbness he starts to understand what it means that she is gone, and that this is forever. He feels a trace of sadness, and he gets a hunch just how much there is to mourn for. Not just Rita´s life, but his own. The person he could have been.  What it would be like to have feelings, and to be able to emotionally connect to others. If he could, then somebody could comfort him, help him cope. The way it is, he is completely isolated. Locked up inside a very tiny space within himself.

++++++++No more spoilers++++++++++++++++++++++++

This was more than just a random nightmare. It had a truth to it, on an emotional level. Let´s call it an emotionally lucid dream. The feelings I ascribed to Dexter in my dream are in fact relevant to me.  The dream told me a truth about myself. The scary thing is that this dream reminds me of something that happened to me about half a year ago.

I had been out on a folk festival with my girlfriend and her mum, and we all got a little drunk, and suddenly I lost touch with reality. I felt completely disconnected to everything and everyone around me. And also to myself. I was crying the entire time, but I didn´t feel anything. When I got home and went to bed, I also kept on falling asleep and waking up again. And I dreamed about something related to Dexter as well. I dreamed about that same isolation. I kept on waking up having panic attacks, the whole package with hyperventilating and feeling sick. I was never really awake, though, at least not awake enough to do anything about my state. I just tried to get my breath under control, while telling me who I really was. Not Dexter. But me. Daytime, everyday-life me. That lazy student who still lives at home. And then I had another dream. I was on my way home, feeling deeply sick, knowing that this time I would definitely have to throw up. I was desperate. Somehow I managed to get home without throwing up, though. And at home, I felt so strongly that someone was not there. Gone forever. Ripped out of my life. And there was that same goddamn hollow loneliness. A feeling like something terrible had happened. Like there would never be safety and happiness again. Need I mention that I woke up sitting in my bed, feeling like I couldn´t breathe?

Isn´t it ironic how both these dreams finally merged into each other in the end of the fourth season of the Dexter series? Which I hadn´t even seen back then? Maybe I shouldn´t be surprised that it disturbed me so much.

Narcissism and black pedagogy

Now for the narcissism thing. The article was on a website on trauma and dissociation. I found it very interesting that they should draw a line to narcissism, but I was severely disappointed. The first thing they talked about was how it would be wrong to blame the parents by default if their child turns out to have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Well, granted, yes…but I thought they were interested in NPD as a result of traumatization? If we choose to understand a disorder as the RESULT of a trauma, then we already KNOW who or what is to blame, don´t we? (Let´s assume, for the sake of the argument, that the cause of trauma-NPD would be traumatization by the parents)

Next thing they say is that oh so many parents whose kids unfortunately turned out narcissists search their souls for whatever they did wrong. Oh yeah, all parents are good at that when their children don´t behave the way they should. “What did I do to deserve a child like this?” If said child does not happen to be a narcissist, psychologists tend to view such statements as mean and punitive.

Really, it took me ages to understand that my parents did this precise same thing throughout my youth. So I have an argument with my father, and later my mother comes to me and tells me how sad and frustrated he is because he just wants to have a good relationship with me. And of course I´m the evil bastard child who always pushes people away who want nothing but being nice to me. She doesn´t say that latter sentence. But it is automatically implied in the sentence she does say. At least the way I see it. The way she sees it, that´s a gross and unfair exaggeration on my part. All she wanted to do was mediate between me and my father. Even though she is really getting tired of this. Can´t we just get along? 

So here we have me: A quarrelsome, ungrateful brat who pushes her slightly problematic but very loving and concerned  father away for seemingly no reason at all, thereby hurting his feelings, and then, as her poor, stressed out mother who wants nothing more than a happy, harmonic family tries to mediate between her and her daddy, said brat twists around the words in her mouth just for the sake of creating some more drama.

Now this isn´t sarcasm on my part. I really feel like that about myself. Which makes me wonder why on earth I am like this. Why am I such a piece of crap? What is wrong with me?  Why do I have to destroy a happy family? Why do I pick up fights and create drama just for the sake of it, without even realizing it? How can I be so blind to myself? This self-image is so hideously ugly, and my own apparent craziness and monstrosity is so bizarre that I just cannot look at myself like that. My mind shies away from it. It´s too crazy. It would mean that I am socially delusional. It would mean that my perception is so screwed up that I cannot rely on my interpretation of anything I see and hear. After finding out about Dr. Stoneface, though, I somehow don´t quite buy that. Rationally, that is. The awful feeling is still there.

Back to the article. What really hit me was the passage where the author described pathological narcissism as interpersonal dependency, a dependency similar to a drug addiction. The argument goes as follows: Deep down, the narcissist is scared and insecure (oh, really?). He needs emotional supply (care, compliments, love whatsoever) from the people around him in order to cope with that scared, instable part (well, here I do see a connection to stuff that is said about childhood trauma survivors). In order for the narcissist to become self-reliant and re-fucking-sponsible (I´m so…SO tired of this adjective!), the people in his life must apply some psychological version of tough love and, while-of- course-supporting-him-in-becoming-independent, they must no longer fulfill his pathological needs. He must learn to deal with his fear and insecurity on his own.

Now, whatever that is supposed to mean IRL. “I cannot tell you your hair is looking great today because I love and support you so much. I know you´re pissed off now and you´re getting an anxiety attack, but in the long run you´ll be grateful. See you later, and remember not to cut or kill yourself. Those are just dirty tricks to create drama and manipulate people. Of course you can cope with your feelings in a healthy way, you just couldn´t be arsed to really try until now because there was always an easier way out. Being mature and healthy is tough, huh? And you thought we normal people had nice and easy lives. No, not at all. We´re just stronger and better than you.”

No, okay, gallows humor. Whereas…maybe this isn´t so far from reality after all. This “remedy” really, really frightened me. It starts with me imagining everyone I know joining for a secret meeting where they, under the guidance of a wise, experienced psychologist, decide how to deal with me in the future. They exchange stories about the horrid things I said and did, they feel incredible relief as they can finally share their frustration and hurt! They express their constant self-doubts, my mother can finally tell everyone what she told me years ago when I was once again depressed and suicidal: “I don´t know what I did wrong, maybe I was just trying to be too perfect. Sometimes I feel as if you just want to bring me down. Show me I´m not a perfect mother.” I bet this will make so much sense to everyone. So eventually the psychologist, who has been listening sympathetically all the time, will agree that, indeed, I am the problem. Now, of course, this is not to judge me. It´s not just that I am a problem, I also have a problem. Deep down I´m probably unhappy myself, and I really want to be helped, even if I wouldn´t admit it now. So instead of abandoning me, now everybody needs to search their souls to find out what they might be contributing to my out of line behavior, so they can finally make the necessary changes.

Oh, and search their souls they will! Of course they will! They only want the best for me and everybody else, after all! They are all so goddamn capable of self-criticism it hurts! They are the good guys, aren´t they.

Well, what they come up with is that they´ve just been too nice to me. They protected me from the consequences of my behavior (whatever behavior we are talking about), and they soothed me when my “scared and insecure part” bothered me, and they gave me all sorts of narcissistic supply which I shouldn´t be needing in the first place. Big mistake! You may feel pity when she is crying, or whining, or having a panic attack, but don´t you ever let that pity guide you! Let the baby scream, when she realizes this doesn´t get her what she wants, she´ll stop and you can finally sleep at night!

So what happens in this fantasy is basically this: 1) Everybody I know is secretly frustrated with me and “sometimes just wants to smack me left and right”. 2) Nobody I know would openly talk about this to me because it is obvious that I cannot be talked to. I just shut down, twist around the words in their mouth or threaten to kill myself. 3) Everybody I know will from now on treat me according to some strategic guidelines. I will have no genuine, innocent, real relationship anymore. (Or as the imaginary psychologist will put it: My potential victims will be protected from my toxic influence.) 4) I must be treated like a little child who can be conditioned and drilled by reward and punishment. Once my behavior is under control, I can enter psychotherapy myself and slowly become an actual person. Given that, in fact, I am a grown-up person, this is, of course, humiliating as fuck, but it is just a natural consequence of my own behavior. It is neither sadistic, nor is it a punishment. I´m just being paranoid/quarrelsome/trying to play the victim. 5) I´m being abandoned. I´m locked into a room with all my fears and childhood nightmares and left to scream until I finally shut up and decide to function. (Which is damn interesting because it would mean that my fears are used as a means to discipline me.) 6) Once I´m good I will not get back the “pathological” love I was dependent on. I will get little doses of reassurance for good behavior, but I will never be trusted. One small step in the wrong direction, one dangerous little remark, and I´ll be cast back into my own personal panic room. Until I finally fucking LEARN! reliably adopt healthy behaviors.

Alright. This certainly works as a masochistic jerk-off fantasy. It won´t work as a cure for pathological narcissism. It might work as a way to create a narcissist, though.  Which is, who would have thought so, interesting.

Right now I can treat this whole article with some (yeah, really just some) sarcasm. When I read it, though, I felt a mixture of humiliation, utter hatred, panic, and a wish to just die. I mean – I don´t even know if my interpretation of the article is anywhere near the author´s. Maybe I´m really just completely off. I just find it remarkable how I immediately have this strong, purely automatic reaction. The scenario I described above just popped up in my head. And it made me feel like I couldn´t win. If somebody said all that stuff to me, about how he cannot compliment me, all for my own good (however bizarre that scenario may be), I´d be left with two options: “Act out” in some way, like cutting, and confirm that I´m a predictable, manipulative, uncaring beast. Or “behave” and thus confirm that I can cope in a healthy way if only you force me to. Thereby confirming that so far I just chose the easy way out. A win-win-scenario if there ever was one, eh? What I will really do, of course, is the following: Freeze up emotionally, deny that I even feel rage and humiliation and fear of abandonment – and hope I´ll just drop dead. Or that some gentle person steps up behind me, tells me my time has come and puts a bullet in my head. Or beats me to death with a crowbar, and do I wish I could see the face of the person who finds me! Or I´ll curse myself for the cowardice that prevents me from killing myself (and thus showing all those assholes how successful their strategy was).

This denying of my own feelings because they are in some way causing me humiliation is something I´ve talked about not so long ago here. I just love it when things are starting to connect but still don´t make any sense. I mean – where is all this coming from? Why do I react so strongly? I keep on wavering between the following options: 1) These things are truly awful, and somebody has done them to me in some way which I cannot remember. 2) This type of stuff (conditioning, for example) happens to all children and they can thrive on it. I´m just different in some way (psychopaths, for example, don´t respond well to reward and punishment, hello Dexter!), and therefore it did more harm than good. I would have needed some kind of special treatment. 3) I react so strongly because I feel somewhere in the depths of my soul that this is what I´d truly need. I´m just scared of it because living the way I do now is much more convenient and not so painful.  4) I´m not reacting strongly at all, I´m just creating some drama so I can avoid writing my essays.

Wow, what an awesome day, really. And bloody hell am I hungover.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: