Paying it forward.

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One of the things I love most about blogging is the “paying it forward” aspect of it.   Once upon a time, I was a brand new blogger who knew nothing about blogging and had zero followers.  There was a whole learning curve to learning WordPress and making my blog look exactly the way I wanted it to look.  But one of the biggest challenges I faced in those days was obtaining a following.   I remember how frustrated I was when I’d been blogging for 2 weeks and had a paltry 12 followers.   But other bloggers who were more experienced and had large followings helped me along the way. They shared my posts, either by reblogging them or linking to them, or sharing them on their social media.    They were happy to help out,  expecting nothing in return, and I feel indebted to them for that, because without that early help, this blog would never have gotten the head start that it did.

Now, two years later, I’m in a position to help newbies, at least a little, by doing the same thing for them as was done for me. I’ve had several opportunities to do that, and I am as happy to help them as more established bloggers were to help me when I was new.

It will be exciting to see these new bloggers grow, and maybe in a year or two, I will be able to watch them as they help a new “generation” of bloggers get started on their writing journeys.  It’s a little like being a parent watching your kids grow up.

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Meet and Greet: 12/3/16

Dream Big, Dream Often

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It’s the Meet and Greet weekend everyone!!

Ok so here are the rules:

  1. Leave a link to your page or post in the comments of this post.
  2. Reblog this post. It helps you, it helps me, it helps everyone!
  3. Edit your reblog post and add tags.
  4. Feel free to leave your link multiple times! It is okay to update your link for more exposure every day if you want. It is up to you!

  5. Share this post on social media. Many of my non-blogger friends love that I put the Meet n Greet on Facebook and Twitter because they find new blogs to follow.

See ya on Monday!!

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Family estrangement.

 

scapegoating

Psychology Today has an interesting article about why family members become estranged.  In most cases, it’s an adult child between the ages of 25 and 35 who initiates the severing of the parent-child relationship.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/domestic-intelligence/201512/the-persistent-pain-family-estrangement.

“A difficult parent is that which the daughter or son experiences as being at the cusp of rejecting the child, or casting them out as a result of disapproval, disgust, or disappointment. When a daughter or son made the difficult decision to sever the relationship, it was usually because they felt that maintaining it was too emotionally costly, that they had to distort their soul into shapes that did not feel right to them in order to please or pacify a parent.”

In other words, No Contact.   I think most cases of an adult child severing their relationship with their parent(s) are due to feeling as if they have already been rejected or emotionally abandoned by the parent, so there isn’t as much guilt over severing contact as there might otherwise be.   But there is still sadness and grief involved, especially during holidays and possibly on birthdays.  The grief isn’t over what was lost so much as what never was or what could have been.

Tragically and unfairly, there is stigma against adults who lack family support or relationships.  Most people don’t really sympathize with you if you are estranged from your family, because they don’t understand it.  Most people think family will always be there for you through thick and thin, and in an ideal world, that is how it should be.  We are tribal creatures, wired for attachment, even as adults.

So when things go wrong and your family has cast you out of their midst, either because you became the scapegoat, or your values or lifestyle are disapproved of by the rest of the family, people from normal, loving families think the problem must be with YOU.  They can’t imagine that any family would cast out or reject one of their own, so you must be the one at fault.    If you have gone No Contact, they think that is a cruel and unusual thing for any adult child to do to the people who gave them life.   But because they weren’t the children of narcissistic parents, and have no clue what being the family scapegoat is like, they cannot understand the pain of staying involved with people who cannot love you unconditionally and are rejecting and abusive toward you even if they haven’t outright cast you out.

Many estranged ACONs are financially vulnerable due to having dismally low self esteem that kept them from acquiring the confidence and drive to be successful in a career or the self esteem to build satisfying, healthy relationships.  Many ACONs are divorced (often from other cold and rejecting abusive or narcissistic types much like their parents), unmarried, impoverished, and lonely.  Many also find it difficult if not impossible to build a surrogate family of close friends, because of their difficulties making friends for the same reasons their other close relationships don’t last.  They simply don’t have the self esteem or social skills needed for that.   A rejecting family who then turns around and blames you for your “failures” (due to not having given you the tools that most children got from their families to do well in life)  is like salt rubbed in an already gaping and infected wound.   It’s beyond unfair.  Add to that the sad fact that scapegoated adult children are usually left out of any will, if there is one.

Social service agencies and charities don’t help much.  They are temporary measures at best, and have limited resources.  They don’t love you unconditionally like a family would; in fact, they don’t really care.   So scapegoated and marginalized adult children often have no resources to which they can turn when things are rough (and they usually are).  They are vulnerable in every way it is possible to be vulnerable, due to poor mental and often physical health and without the means or the tools or the friends and family to give them support when they most need it.   Then, much like their own families did, society blames them for their failures and poverty, telling them it’s their own fault they have so few resources and insults them by calling them worthless drains on society.  It wouldn’t surprise me if it turned out that most homeless people were the scapegoated children of narcissistic families.  Having been dealt such a lousy hand in life’s lottery, you’d think there’d be more suicides among estranged adult children.   But the survival instinct is strong with us.   It had to be, or we wouldn’t still be here.

The price of being the most emotionally honest member in a narcissistic family is a high one.

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Sh*t haters say.

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I have haters. I’m cool with that. As a person who was bullied a lot during my life I wasn’t always cool with it. I will never like being hated, but now I regard it as a hazard of the trade. If you blog, even if you blog about unicorns and rainbows, someone is going to hate you. I guess I’ve grown used to it. At one point I almost took my blog down because of the haters, but I’m so glad I didn’t. Continuing to write exactly what’s on my mind in spite of people sometimes disapproving of what I say or even hating me for it is good practice for worrying less about what people think of me overall. It just doesn’t matter.

Criticism isn’t the same as hate. I’ve had critical comments too, and some of them were perfectly justified (and where appropriate, I’ve apologized or admitted when I was wrong). Even where I had to defend my viewpoint and saw no need for apology or backpeddling, I realize people are going to disagree with you sometimes. They are entitled to their opinions and the right to express them. That doesn’t mean they’re bullies, trolls, or haters.

But some comments run into the trollish category. Comments become trollish when they become personal attacks or are based on lies. Here are some of gems I’ve run across during my two-year tenure as a blogger.   All are lies, or at least exaggerations. But now such comments are actually funny to me because of how clueless they are.

Enjoy!

“Yeah, she has a fuckton of followers, but none of them are friends. She doesn’t have friends, she has fans. She’s just collecting fans for the supply. They will drop her like a hot potato when they realize how phony everything she says is.”

I don’t care about having fans. I’m very close to my blogging friends and consider them to be as real as real-life friends. I care about them very much and feel like they care about me. Maybe you’re just jealous because my blog is more popular than yours.

“I think she is being paid off by people like Sam Vaknin because she quotes him so much. I bet she is giving him some favors on the side.”

Now this is funny. Sam stumbled on my blog and commented here about 5 times shortly after I started this blog and that lasted for about a month before he blocked me. As far as the second thing, are you serious and do you realize how stupid you sound?

“Lucky Otter is a sociopath.”

Smear campaign much?

“She was never abused. She was probably the abuser. She just tells that story to get more fans.”

Bullshit. And the “fans” again.

“There’s something seriously fucked up about someone whose son is a gay furry. She must have been a terrible mother.”

I’m proud of my son. In spite of having broken people as parents, he knows exactly who he is and is a lovely, intelligent person with a ton of empathy for others.  Do you even have children?   

“I’ve seen photos of stuff in her house, and she’s not poor like she says. She’s got a house full of antiques and is always going on vacation.”

Those “antiques” are things I picked up at Goodwill and yard sales for about three to six dollars each. I probably make less than you do, my income being at the official poverty level. I suppose driving on the Parkway (which is two miles from my house) a few times a year and taking pictures is a “vacation.” Alrighty, then.

“Her blog is monetized. She’s only in it for the money.”

I had the opportunity to make a little pocket change from the ads, which comes to about $40 a month. But I’d be doing this even if I had to pay to do it. If I can earn some money from it, I don’t see why I shouldn’t.

“She plagiarized my post!”

That is a lie. I LINKED to your post and quoted from it. And I promptly removed the offending post after you lost your shit over it. Most people would have LIKED the extra views that link would have brought them.

God, I love my haters.  They keep me entertained.

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The Truth In The Lie Of Narcissistic Love

This brilliant post ponders on the question all of us who have ever been in a narcissistic relationship (or had narcissistic parents) have asked: can a narcissist feel love? This deeply personal post says yes, they can. But they have no idea how to express their love in appropriate ways because everything, especially loving someone, hurts too much. So they hurt the one they love instead so they don’t have to feel all that pain.

You can’t reason with them or plead with them to stop doing what they do, though. Attacking you isn’t something they can control — it’s an automatic reaction, almost like a reflex. Whether or not a narcissist is capable of FEELING love, they don’t know how to EXPRESS it in a loving way, so you’re better off not wasting your own love trying to make a relationship with one work. If you must love a narcissist, do it from a safe distance.

Living By The Moonlight

“The heart dies a slow death. Shedding each hope like leaves, until one day there are none. No hopes. Nothing remains.”

Arthur Golden


The Narcissist Loves you in their heart, but hates you in their mind.

This statement apparently runs contrary to everything that’s known about Narcissism. I mean, Narcissists are incapable of basic empathy, let alone Love, right? It’s been established over and over. If they were capable of Love, they would not be by definition Narcs. Yet, Narcissistic Personality Disorder is classified as a Cluster B disorder-which is a group of highly emotional and erratic disorders.

Volatile emotions such as anger are familiar to Narcs because those are well traveled neural pathways; the rest are less developed, produced shallow positive emotions such as happiness and Love. I recall when I was a cute innocent fifteen year old HSP/Empath traipsing around with my Narc. My greatest fear before I…

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What animals can teach us about mindfulness.

happy_pets

I’ve always believed animals are our greatest teachers. As humans, we tend to dismiss animals, thinking of them as lesser creatures with limited (or no) intelligence. We think that just because they can’t read, don’t speak, don’t wear clothing, and don’t create art, music, or multi-national corporations, that they don’t have anything to teach us. If anything, we try to make animals conform to us, dressing up lapdogs in cute outfits or teaching them tricks to impress our friends.

Animals have much to teach us, and in many ways, if we acted more like them, as a species we humans might be better off — and a lot happier too. Mindfulness is a skill that helps many of us cope with daily life and eases the symptoms of depression, trauma, and many mental disorders — and there is no person more mindful than a cat, dog, or other animal. Even the Buddha was never as mindful as that Labrador retriever who looks at you with such soulful eyes, or that cat that sits peacefully in your window purring his little heart out.

If you have pets, watch them closely. They don’t worry about the future or fret over things that happened in the past. They don’t obsess over themselves or what others are going to think of them. They don’t beat themselves up over past transgressions or worry that they might not be acceptable. They live completely in the moment, reacting only to what they need to in order to survive and be happy. When they are given food, they happily nosh down on it, thinking about nothing except how good it tastes and how nice a newly-full stomach feels. If you ask your dog if he wants to go out for a walk, he doesn’t sit around sulking because he thought your tone was condescending; he happily jumps up and starts to dance around, sometimes even smiling (I am certain dogs can smile). If you scritch your cat under the chin, she will turn her face up to you, squint her eyes so they are almost closed, and begin to purr. She doesn’t worry that you might think she has bad breath.  She doesn’t care!  Watch a group of otters at play. They are like happy children, enjoying the water and the bliss of splashing around and swimming in it, and the joy of being together as a group.

Humans are the only creatures who unfairly judge their own kind, are cruel and unjust for no good reason except to boost their own egos, and seem to look for things to be miserable about, even when things are going well.

Many people think we make ourselves miserable due to our higher intelligence that makes us think about everything way too much, and that could be true. But what exactly is intelligence? How do we know that animals don’t have just as much of it as we do, even if they have a different kind of intelligence? Just because we can read words and earn a paycheck doesn’t mean we’re better or have a superior way of thinking. Case in point: have you ever witnessed some people with Down Syndrome? While their cognitive abilities may be impaired, they are some of the most joyful and affectionate people on earth. I remember one day standing on line at the supermarket. Ahead of me was a young man who clearly had Down Syndrome, and he was happily smiling and waving at everyone who looked his way. People smiled in reaction, not because they were being “polite,” and not because they were laughing at him, but because he was spreading joy. You couldn’t look at this man and not feel a little of his natural happiness. Studies have shown that people with very high IQ’s are more prone to mental illness and depression. People who aren’t as “smart” do seem to be happier. Sometimes I think too much in the way of cognitive intelligence actually gets in our way and keeps us from living in the moment and just enjoying life.  Children at play have a lot to teach us in that department too. We can learn from them.

I’m not comparing the cognitively challenged with with animals and kids to be offensive, but I do think it’s important to point out that all of these groups seem to be more able to live in the moment, and living in the moment is what mindfulness is really all about. Mindfulness and staying in the present leads to joy. So who really is smarter?

Instant joy:

If you’re depressed or feeling bad, just go to Youtube and watch videos of cute, funny and happy animals (or babies, if you prefer).  There are thousands of them.  They are popular for a good reason: they make us feel better and can make us laugh and smile when we’re down.    It always works for me, at least a little.

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Can you have too much empathy?

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Believe it or not, the answer is “Yes”! But it really shouldn’t be too surprising, since people with high empathy are also highly sensitive, and since they feel everything so keenly, sometimes the negative emotions surrounding them can drag them into a depressive state.

A friend who reads this blog sent me this article, thinking it could possibly explain the depressive state I’ve been in. While I’m not sure that’s the reason I’ve been so down, it’s still an interesting article and should bring some clarity to HSPs and empaths who are feeling inexplicably depressed. If you are an HSP or an empath, think about whether you’ve been exposed to negative people or people who are going through bad experiences or suffering depression. You might have picked up on the emotions of others.

Empathy is a wonderful trait to have but having too much of it can hurt its bearer. At some point, you can even suffer from “empathy burnout,” which basically means you shut off your ability to feel empathy after you’ve been drained emotionally by giving too much of yourself to others. Empathy burnout is common in people in the helping professions, many who are naturally empathetic. After a few years, they may find themselves no longer able to empathize with the people they help, and even beginning to resent them. That’s why there’s so much attrition in these professions.

I think practicing mindfulness is a good skill, not only for people with C-PTSD and personality disorders, but also for empaths and HSPs who may have too much of a good thing!

Here is the article she sent me.   It also explains the differences between empathy and sympathy.  (They are not the same thing!)  Sympathy is more detached and cognitive; even narcissists can feel sympathy, though they might have a limited capacity to feel emotional empathy.

Exploring Hyper-Empathy Syndrome

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NPD: weird traits.

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Here is a list of some traits of NPD (with detailed explanations), some of which I’ve never heard of, but make sense/or I have noticed (the tendency to not have opinions of their own is included here).  Some are truly strange but accurate:

Odd sense of time/no sense of the passage of time.

Unusual/bizarre eating habits

Strange work habits

Bad gift givers; stingy

Lacks a sense of humor/doesn’t get jokes (but are often meanly sarcastic)

Naive and easily taken advantage of (!) — actually makes sense because they are oblivious to what is going on around them

Complain all the time; negative and pessimistic

Passive, lack initiative

No opinions of their own

Can’t follow conversations

May look much younger than they are

Self-sabotaging impulsivity

Occasional moods of giddy euphoria (not to be confused with real happiness — which is alien to narcissists)

http://www.halcyon.com/jmashmun/npd/traits.html#time

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Something new I’ve noticed about narcissists.

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I received an email today from a reader asking me if narcissists have preferences — that is, do they really have opinions of their own?  An example was used of a man who said he likes a certain TV show, but when asked who his favorite character on the show was, couldn’t (or wouldn’t) name one, as if he hadn’t actually ever watched the show.

Did he really have a favorite TV show, or was he just saying he had one to give the impression he had his own opinions?    The email writer also said that this person changes his mind a lot and seems to tell different people different things which sometimes conflict.  (I haven’t answered this email yet, but my answer will be that I really don’t know if narcissists have their own preferences or not).

This was an interesting question to me, because of something I’ve been noticing lately about narcissists, especially when they (temporarily) drop their mask.   I noticed they seem to have no personality.   Many people have said they seem soulless, but it isn’t really that.  It’s not a question of whether they’re good, evil, or in between.   It’s more as if they’re a blank slate and there’s nothing imprinted on that slate.   I get the impression of a sort of nebulous “white fog” where a person should be.    It’s like a person without a personality, who then adopts a false one to give the impression that they have their own interests, preferences, like and dislikes, when in actuality they don’t have much of an opinion about anything.   Depending on the person or situation, they “change their minds”–so when talking to one person they may like ABC, but when talking to another one, they like XYZ instead (and dislike ABC).

When a narcissist drops their mask (for whatever reason) it’s as if you’re trying to communicate with a blank wall.   They still don’t share their true self with you because they don’t even know who their true self is (if it’s even accessible), so it’s like there’s no “self” there at all.  It’s both unsettling and sad.

I know one who began to open up about their past and get into some some real meat about the trauma they had experienced when young, but then she abruptly stopped, probably because it was too painful or scary.  I can’t get a clear impression of this individual; she shares nothing personal and is more like a shadow than a real person.   She seems to be trapped in a weird no-man’s-land between the shame of no longer wanting to present a false self (she knows she has NPD and is in therapy) but also not having the courage (or the ability) to present a true one either.

It occurred to me this could be some form of dissociation.

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1982.

Posts, that is.

If I wrote one post a year, starting in the year 1 AD, it would have taken me until 1982 to write that many posts.   I could have gotten in another 34 posts since then. I guess I’m doing pretty good, having managed to accomplish this feat (minus the 34 extra posts) in a little over two years.   But if I only wrote one post a year, I doubt I’d have any readers.  Who would want to wait around that long?

Just another one of my strange little “shower” thoughts.  It seems profound somehow.

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