Tag Archives: narcissism

Duck! The Pendulum is Coming Back… #Psuedomutuality in the Family You Co-create


This is an excerpt from my as-yet untitled WIP / memoir. Any comments would be most welcome. I have thick skin. xoxo

Because I grew up the way I did, I was determined to create a loving, balanced, healthy and safe world for my children. Am I alone in that? Because I thought that way does it mean that my parents went into their worlds, and intentionally fractured, scared, and traumatized me? I don’t think they did. I don’t think anyone does that. But what my parents didn’t do is step back, look at the trajectory of their lives, their pasts and how those tendencies, habits and patterns would affect a child they parented. I’m sure my parents might’ve thought that they had it all figured out, “Sure, maybe we’re a little unbalanced, but we’re not UNSAFE, I mean, I’m not…” is something I can imagine each of them saying.

It goes beyond “trust” as in, “would you trust your child with that person?” because trust looks like a lot of different things to a lot of different people. In terms of my parents, I’d have to look at it like this: How long would my kid be with that person? What would be the context of my kid being with that person? Would it be one-on-one, no distractions, on land away from a car, outside, and away from alcohol, pills and rage? Ok, I’ll trust this for about an hour, max.

When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I was delighted. I had just returned from a long weekend meeting my very first genetically related baby; my nephew. I remember holding him and saying to Dan, “I want one of these.” He nodded and we felt we were ready. We’d been a couple for seven years and married for three. We’d traveled, we’d exhausted a lot of baggage out of our systems and we had a dog. READY!

Genetically, I only considered alcoholism and addiction as major threats to my children’s health and happiness. I also considered the possibility of a genetic retinal disorder affecting my sons, but I felt the chances would be slim because I understood it to be carried by the mother, and I didn’t have the disease.

What I never considered; what never, ever entered my consciousness was the possibility that my sons would have mental health issues and that I would be tossed into the rodeo of depressive disorders, suicidal ideation, crippling anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder. Even though I knew it: my family, for generations back, had these traits. I spoke about it with my friends, therapists and other people — mostly as survivors of parental cruelty, narcissism, neglect, and aggression — but I naively never considered it as part of my being a parent. I wasn’t going to be cruel or neglectful or depressed. RIGHT?!

And so, decades into my marriage and into parenthood, the inklings grew into curiosities that developed into signs that evolved into disorders that bloomed into illnesses.

In 2019, we went to Ireland to visit our oldest son, the one I said I wanted before I knew I was bearing him. We walked around Galway, Dublin, the Aran Islands, Cliffs of Moher. On Good Friday as we walked Quay Street in Galway nearby our hotel, we passed a store called “Fields.” Its blinds were drawn, signifying that it was closed. A woman passed by and I asked her to take our photo because the letters were legible and it was our last name and because we were in a group, we were the plural of Field, as the store was named.

She gladly obliged. The weather was cold, we were in a seaside town (a very easy thing to accomplish in Ireland) and we crouched below the letters. We’re all hunched together to fit and to stay relatively warm. I loved that moment; the trip was food for the soul and my beautiful sons were doing well. Or so it seemed.

When I printed that photo several weeks later and put it in a frame, it dawned on me how we were all playing a part in that photo. We were all performing to crystallize a narrative. A narrative that we were healthy, well, and prospering. The truth had come out in the weeks since that photo and its printing. We were not at all all well. I was aware of my own baggage and pains but I didn’t consider that my kids were in their own bubbles. In a way, it was a type of narcissism; that they weren’t allowed to be sad, or down, or struggling because that would mean that I hadn’t created a fabulous world; it meant I was failing.

The truth is that we were struggling; we were creating our own version of pseudomutuality, our own version of a “pretty on the outside, crumbling on the inside”; and when I realized that, my heart broke. I felt that I had failed; that somehow, I’d injured them, that I had created a world for them that was not only unsympathetic and unsafe for their pain and suffering, but also that I was the cause of it. That in the world I’d worked so hard to shelter them from repeating the types of pains I endured, I had created an environment where my children could find no succor. It wasn’t that they weren’t allowed to have a mental illness, it was that I was going to take it all on — I would simply STOP IT from reaching them.

Again, though, it’s a fine line: is this their pain to fix or mine to be blamed for creating — narcissism is insidious as hell; before you know it, if you’re not careful you will be just as guilty of stealing their pain and making it all about you as well as stealing their joy… The reality is that I needed to allow them all their own spaces to be whatever they were going to be. My job, as a parent is to observe and help, not take over. If I take over, they can’t solve their own problems or learn to tie their own shoes. Buying them Velcro shoes or loafers all the time does not avoid the reality that tying a knot — just like getting help — is a life skill.

It’s always the mother, as many psychotherapists have said. Surely, I was not immune from infecting my children with my trauma. That sent me down a spiral that got me back on the couch for the fifth time and into a clear space where I have been able to write these words and share these stories. It has taught me about epigenetics, about how traumas are passed through the genes just as easily as height, blue eyes or the ability to sing, work on machines, or design buildings.

The idea of duality, that we can be one thing and another at the same time is simple, really. As a friend once said to me when she told me about her cancer diagnosis. I said, “Not you! You’re so wonderful and fabulous and dynamic!” She said, “Why not me? I am also flawed, jealous and controlling.” How can we be so blind to the other side of the coin? We must open our eyes and allow the truth: that we can be wonderful AND have depression; that we can be clever AND be a rape survivor; that we can be talented AND struggle with crippling self-doubt. Even more, we can be seemingly totally normal and come from generations of hard-scrabble, boot-strapping, persevering survivors of famine, of war, of genocide, of slavery and possibly not connect the dots that all that boot-strapping includes self-doubt, anxiety, fear, rage and dedication that is largely misunderstood or worse, taken for granted as just being “how she is.” We are more than the people on our birth certificates; we are ALL the people who came before us and the people who come after us will include us and our baggage as well.

I will not share my children’s’ stories; I feel I’ve already gone too far. I’ll bring you up to speed though, to let you know they are doing well; they are “adulting” the best they can and we are much more aware of each others’ needs for space, for time, for compassion and for a spontaneous hug.

Thank you.

30 Days of “A Year of Living Your Yoga” — Day 8: Your Child is Not You


Welcome to Day 8 of my blog series. This series is based on Judith Hansen-Lasater’s “A Year of Living Your Yoga.” While the book has 365 quotes, I picked only 30.

I will try to keep these posts to about 500 words. (These words don’t count — ha ha, nor does the quote.)

Here is the quote:

May 28 — Your child belongs to her/him -self. As much as we want to make life perfect for our child, her life is hers, and helping her and you understand this is the most important job you can do as a parent. Remember today to live the awareness that your life belongs to you and your child’s to him.

> > > >retching sound< < < <

Sometimes these quotes really get to me. This is absolutely one of those times.

My mother wanted to be my twin. She wanted us to have the same haircuts, the same clothes, the same shoes. She even wanted us to go into business together — how that would work, I’m not sure, but the plan was that she would design the clothes and I would make them (what is thread?). She wanted to call them “MolMee’s” (her nickname was Mimi, so the “mee” was that transliteration of her name). This enmeshment had all the hallmarks of doom from the get-go.

I was born to defy her be my own person. I just was. And I was born to instill in her a duty to love me anyway. And I was born to love her anyway. She would put me in a dress and I’d destroy it. She’d put me in shorts and I’d go put on a kilt. She’d ask me to pick flowers and I’d cut down a bush. She had this vision of me… this concept and ideal… it was simply not going to happen. She gave me lots of ideas…

As a result: I distanced myself from her because I felt I constantly disappointed her. It’s really hard on your kids if they feel your happiness or success rests in their achievements.

I suspect this is dragging you down, but this is one of The Easiest posts for me to write in this series. The thing is: do you do this? Do you try to get your kid to be your buddy? Do you try to get your kid to excel where you blew it? Do you try to get your kid to love jazz (archery!) or Proust (plank?) or crocheting (flour?) when she’d rather throat punch herself? And then you wonder, “I THINK ALL THESE THINGS ARE WONDERFUL! Where’s the love?!”

The love is right there. Standing in front of you. Staring you in the face, saying (without saying): LOVE ME ANYWAY. DO ME A FAVOR: ASK ME ABOUT MY DAY and LISTEN TO MY REPLY.

How are your boundaries going? Are they blurred? Are they all gooey, like jell-o before it’s set and flooping (new word) through your fingers and your kid doesn’t know what’s his and what’s yours? Do you make your kid show everyone her new glasses or training bra? How about when your son (I hope!) gets his first chest hair? I don’t need to see that. I don’t really care and he’s freakin’ mortified.

If you are still confused about where your life ends and where your kid’s begins, check out “Toddlers and Tiaras” or “Mary Kate + Eight — Again” or “Honey Boo-Boo” (whatever the hell that is) or try this: ask them.

One of my favorite movies is “Little Miss Sunshine.” At first, the whole family is a giant codependent mess of effed-up boundaries and identity confusion. But as the pageant nears, and life-changing / ending family events transpire, we begin to see everyone figuring out that they are their own people. So we witness a glorious transition from ego-driven vicarious existence / mortality fear to everyone is their own person yet we can still support one another -thing (that’s a very technical term).

one big happy. eventually.

one big happy. eventually. (c) searchlight pictures 2006.

Does your child have a beautiful singing voice? Great. Guess what? it has nothing to do with you. You might be a beautiful singer, and maybe her maternal grandmother and likely a gazillion other people in her heritage. UM… So, NO. She doesn’t get that voice from you. She gets it from herself.

Take me for example. I write. I sing. I paint. I draw. I have parents who did all of this. But it didn’t all begin with them, and I certainly don’t think it will end with me. I used to be terrified that I would be paired up as a female version of my dad simply because I write, but our styles and attitudes about writing couldn’t be more disparate.

I have a quote. It’s my own:

Live vicariously through yourself.

Do you really think the world needs another You?

Don’t foist your dreams, fears, urges, drives, repressions, preferences, biases, ignorances on to your kid. JUST DON’T. They are gonna screw up, JUST like you did. It’s your job to try to educate them from doing it, BUT to be the soft place they land when they fall, because they will.

Thank you.


Are You Responsible? Or Are You a Jerk?


Years ago, I caught up with a friend who was evolving after a personal crisis and decided to join a 12-step program. He had been in the program for about six months and was sharing with me, as we walked off a soccer field, his journey toward self-discovery, self-confidence and self-pride.

We talked about “responsibility” and how when he was abusing his vice, he’d also abused the notion, and how he’d cast off and cut loose his accountability for most of what a conscientious person does not slough off.

I said, “You mean, like picking up your kids from camp on time? You mean, like not littering? You mean, like … ”

He said, “Ha. That’s stuff that I always do because people are watching: external gratification, ego-based living — doing the right thing not because it was right, but because I wanted to be seen doing it: I was all about appearances, having all the answers, being considered one of the reliable people; people considered me a common ‘go to’ person. Top seller in my company! Scratch golfer. The stuff I’m talking about now, is about internal gratification, conscience-based living: being responsible when no one else is looking. When no one cares. I didn’t have a conscience before. That’s why I thought I was above it all … that’s why I had to get help.”

We walked some more. He talked some more. I was curious to know, however, how fine is the line between “conscience-based” living and flat-out martyrdom. “It is a fine line,” he said. “I see martyrdom as making sure everyone knows you suffered while doing the right thing… doing the right thing should never make you feel bad; you feel good when you do the right thing… martyrdom can be a close ego trap.”

That made sense to me.

He continued, “Shopping carts. I never used to put them back. Sure, one was available whenever I needed it and it was in the corral when I went to get one, but I never put one back. I deluded myself into believing that what I was doing: leaving a cart in the middle of the parking lot or on a grassy median, was creating a job for some poor schmuck who needed a work-incentive program. That’s how arrogant and disconnected I was.”

The sun was high above us after the game, his kids and mine were sighing, moaning and hissing from their seats in the cars because they wanted to get their rightful post-game Slurpees. I was engrossed though.

“I’ll get you a donut too!” I promised them, “Just a few more minutes!” I begged.

My friend elaborated, sweat running down his temple. I used to think, “Where would the prison work programs be without me and my cigarette butts on the curbside? That was how I rationalized it. Other people in the program would say, ‘I left the dog poop there, the grass will grow better…’ we knew deep down we were full of crap. But I can’t tell you … I feel so much better now, just for taking back my shopping cart, it’s hard to explain. It’s like I have credibility now, real credibility. I don’t need to rationalize anymore,” he said.

Just blame someone else.

Anyone can rationalize anything. “Look what you made me do!” Have you ever heard that one?

Anyone can choose to look the other way. “Anyone can choose to do nothing, because even doing nothing, even not choosing is a choice,” said my sagacious 10-year-old the other day.



do you do this? are you one of those assholes? source: fhotd64476.yuku.com

What about when you do the wrong thing? And you KNOW it’s wrong! And you KNOW it’s indecent and unethical and completely unacceptable — for example taking or sanctioning a photograph of a unique-looking person, or of a minor, without their knowledge just because the technology exists. Do you rationalize it? Do you say you have a good reason? What could possibly BE that reason?!

At a local elementary school, there’s a upper-grader who goes into the restroom at school and snaps photos of classmates and then extorts the kids into doing whatever this person asks under threat of sharing the image on social media.

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL! Where are these kids learning this stuff? Where are the parents?! Since when is it OK to EVER record an full-on image of another person without their awareness or permission?

What about when you practice “Do as I say, not as I do?” Do you think that’s ok too? Do you run red lights or roll through stop signs but expect your spouse or kid to do the right thing?

When you point at other people, three fingers are pointing back at you.

What about when you know something is amiss, but you lie to yourself and you project your inability to sit with the discomfort of the truth, on to innocent people? That’s how many addictions and aberrant anti-social and sociopathic behaviors can begin: people rationalize and believe, with all their might (even though at first they say they don’t) that they are above the law or the code of moral correctness. That they are separate. They they are special.

“She looked at me wrong.”

And it morphs tragically into a drive-by or school shooting. No communication is necessary for these folks; they just go ahead and do what they want because they have just cause: “work incentive program”; “she’s mean to me”; “no one saw me…”; “I saw my mom do it once … “; or my personal favorite: “it’s always been that way, it’s tradition…”

Are you one of those people? Are children around when you do this crap?

Can you even admit it? And if you do, can you sit with the uncomfortable truth, the yucky, sticky and gross feelings that I would hope would come up (because that means you do have a conscience) with the choices you make and the swath of destruction, confusion, embarrassment and woe in your wake?

I’ve met people like this. I’ve bobbed in their seas of denial, half-disgusted with myself for continuing to hang on to them, despite my Spirit telling me to get away, to seek the light, to do the right thing — for myself — and to evolve.

I’ve held on because I put them first. I’ve held on because I feared that my life would somehow be less-than without them. I’ve held on because they made me feel like I needed them and that they needed me … I will never know. I’ve moved on. Their antics of delusion and harsh, foul projection of blame and accountability onto other people have finally snapped me to my senses; as though I’ve been t-boned or rear-ended.

My friend and that conversation flew into my head last week as I was walking back to my car from returning my shopping cart. Actually, I think of that conversation every time I put away my cart. “Even if you’re in a rush — ya gotta put the cart away,” I remember him saying.

How’s he doing? I don’t know if he’s still in the 12-step program; I sure hope he’s OK. He never contacted me to atone for any of his failings while I was involved in his life and was hurt by his abuse and witnessed his faults. I wish him the best. I hope he does this from now on:

clean up your conscience. put your cart away.  www.ripoffreport.com

clean up your conscience. put your cart away.
source: http://www.ripoffreport.com

Do you put your “cart” (read: do the right thing) away or are you one of those people who thinks you don’t need to?

Right your ship.

Thank you.

30 Days of Brené Brown — Day 17: #narcissism #shame #purpose #exhausting


Welcome to day 17 of “30 Days of Brené Brown.”  Yesterday was awesome, wasn’t it? I can’t wait to get my cowl. I heart Alma.

Let’s get to it.

When I look at narcissism through the vulnerability lens, I see the shame-based fear of being ordinary. I see the fear of never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, to be lovable, to belong, or to cultivate a sense of purpose.
― Brené BrownDaring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead


My first impression of this quote is the one I’m going to go with and here it is: we’ve all been there. The problem is if we stay there.

I don’t think very fondly on those who manifest narcissism as their sole objective of life as it’s just utterly, completely and totally exhausting.

Get attention, any attention, just attention, doesn’t matter how, just do it: cause drama, stir up shit, get in peoples’ faces, get out of peoples’ faces, stomp into the room, stomp out of the room, be idealistic, be nihilistic, bite your tongue, wag your tongue, blame others, take credit, pout, fuss, muss, smile more than anyone else, cry more than anyone else, start a fire, (to) put out a fire, wear small hats, wear big hats, wear bad clothes, wear fantastic clothes, hide, expose, take lots of selfies, endlessly photo bomb, be defensive, be offensive, be pious, be craven, be silent, be loud, point at others, point at self, ignore the work, become a martyr, manipulate, triangulate, lie constantly, tell the truth constantly, wear honor like a badge, piss on honor like a bum… it goes on and on and on.

Just get seen.

Narcissists. You know I loathe ’em.

and if no one else sees you, then maybe you can just see yourself all the time.

and if no one else sees you, then maybe you can just see yourself all the time. but you don’t need to open your eyes, lest you y’know … turn to alabaster

Just exist enough out of the norm to get noticed.

Sadly, I know lots about narcissism and yet, I remain fascinated by it. Narcissism: 1, Molly: 0.

It’s all a big social disconnect anyway. I mean, if narcissists thought they’d ever fit in they’d die. They don’t WANT to fit in. But oh… they do…. they so dearly do want to fit in.

No they don’t.

Irony: here’s Ben Stiller (who’s not a narcissist pretending to play a male model who is a narcissist. I’m sure it was a far reach for Stiller):

derek zoolander doing  his "Magnum"  face.

derek zoolander doing his “Magnum” face.

Brown talks too much about this. She just needed to stop after “ordinary.”

What’s wrong with being ordinary?

Apparently everything.

I want to be extraordinary, but I don’t want to be a dick about it. I want to succeed, but not at the risk of assholicry. I know people who do this. I know people who cut themselves SO MUCH above the rest of us that I get a neck cramp.

You know what I dig? Silent success. Not bragging. Not wearing bullet bras and boasting scary arms.

uhhhhhhh.  mommy.


She’s incapable.

Anyway, I agree with Brown, it’s a fear of being considered ordinary. Fitting in is bad. Back to my concept about a narcissist’s ambition to really fit in: I’m full of crap. I really have no clue.

What I do know is that there’s a huge empathy deficit. Like dig all the way to China (remember that?) deficit.

But what I think Brown is trying to get at via her labyrinthine logorrhea is that narcissism is largely motivated by self-loathing.

I was doing a little research on this last night because I didn’t just want to bloviate all the time. In this series and on this blog I am guilty of this: I try to share my experiences to help you identify somewhere with feeling weird like I do sometimes. I am also guilty of taking steps to show you who I am.

That said, when I’m at a loss or I’m totally biased, an external source or data always helps.

The good news is that I’m glad I didn’t need a medical doctorate to figure this out; the bad news is that someone else did. Of spotlight seekers (which my mother was good at), cites celebrity doctor (yikes) “Dr. Drew” Pinsky, MD (whose moniker celebré is his first name, double yikes) says:

 … celebrities are in fact significantly more narcissistic than the general population.

… His findings dispel the notion that the entertainment industry somehow makes a person more narcissistic. Rather, already narcissistic individuals seek out the attention that celebrity status brings. Dr. Drew says this behavior has nothing to do with a person being completely full of themselves—a common misconception about narcissism.

It turns out narcissism is not about self love—it’s about self loathing, Dr. Drew says. “It’s a deep sense of emptiness and a deep disconnect between primary emotional experiences and second-order representations of those experiences, such that feelings don’t have much meaning and other people’s feelings don’t have much meaning. They have trouble with intimacy; they have trouble empathizing with other people, and the only way they feel good about themselves is sort of filling themselves up with the positive affects of other people,” he says.

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/oprahradio/Dr-Drew#ixzz2nn4IIcKD

See?! I said “disconnect” and “empathy” first!!!

I’m cool.

To a narcissist, the purpose is quite clear: get seen. Pinsky (I will NOT play that “Dr. First Name” game) cites that actors and musicians with real, actual talent and investment in their work aren’t the most narcissistic (I still throw Madonna in that pile — she’s a Leo like Schwarzenneger). Guess who ARE considered the most narcissistic people in media?

I was looking for an image of all the talentless female reality-TV contestants (thanks, Pinsky, I almost said “stars”) but apparently there is no assemblage of all that botox, hair product, filler, spray tan, silicone, fake nails, stilettos, g-strings, saline, rejuvaderm, nor enough type-O blood to compensate for the likely poor results of such a reunion.  (Can you imagine?! I want front row seats!)

Pinsky said, “People on reality shows, they’re on TV because, ‘Hey, it’s me! I just need to be on TV!’ And that’s a narcissistic impulse.” <– (“like”? I didn’t write that copy. It’s awful; he sounds like an Olsen twin.) 

When you feel good about yourself, you just do and it shows. You don’t mow people down, or push little kids out of the way to the ice cream truck. You don’t need to show off, you don’t need to lie, you don’t need to do any of the things that I listed ad nauseum above. You don’t need to have a big house, you just need to welcome people into it. You don’t need to have the best car, you just need to obey the road laws. You don’t need botox you just — — hey…

My mother was a narcissist. I won’t go into details or shame her when she can’t defend herself, but she knew it and she used to make jokes about herself but they weren’t funny, they were just appeals to bait for compliments. The compliments she made of herself, they were just bait for disagreement. It all hinged on her unease with herself. I get it now and I got it then. She was never really at peace with herself (other than in a few pics I have of her, that one on the upper right is the best … or: maybe she was acting?! yes, it’s that tangled); that makes me sad. It’s a long story, but it’s likely founded in her relationship with her own mother. (What am I nuts?! Did I just say ‘likely’?! Of course it is…)

“I’m a narcissist with a self-esteem problem” she would quip of her dipsomania, waving it off as though it were just something to be tolerated and that came with the price of admission into her exclusive world which leaked all over the family. But believe it or not, I miss her voice. It’s the first one I heard. She is with God and He’s in charge up there.

(Hey man … we are ALL screwed up. Props to Mom for trying when she could.)

Narcissism is alive and well these days. Social media engenders its growth. I worry about my sons. I worry about their interest in “likes” on Minecraft or Instagram. I worry about their words in a text or iMessage being taken out of context and used to ridicule them. The world is a cruel place. There should be enough sunshine for all 7billion of us, but sometimes I think people aren’t so fair. The drive to fit in is so rampant, it can be its own undoing.

I think to be savvy to narcissism and its trappings (deceit, friends dropping like flies, people running from you) is what matters most; there is always time to repair damage. Another aspect that I believe can help stave narcissism is passion for what you do for OTHERS and not giving a whit about recognition. Living your purpose and sharing your gifts and sprinkling it all with a nice helping of humility helps too.

Ok. I think that went well. Chocolates may be sent to my agent.

Thank you.

ps: Merry Merry. This is where I’m cool with talent and the drive to share it. Carey enjoys this as much as I did. I hope you do too.  (And those kids… c’mon…)