Grumpy old men: narcissists in old age.

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It’s been said narcissists grow worse with age. As they lose their looks and mental acuity and become less sexually desirable and more unemployable, they lose the ability to attract the supply they need to feel like they exist. Most will fall into deep depression and a few might even commit suicide. Growing old and having to confront one’s own mortality is the ultimate narcissistic injury. The only thing they have left to obtain supply is their advanced age itself.

Some will become the stereotypical “get off my lawn” grouchy old man or woman, demanding their entitlements (or what they think are their entitlements) be met, no matter how unreasonable. They don’t bother with “charm.” They don’t even try to hide their self-centeredness or contempt for others anymore or make any attempt to be “nice.” They’ve given up playing the games they used to attain supply when they had their youth, looks, and health. They know they have nothing they can use anymore to attract respect, admiration, adulation, and attention, so they just demand and yell and cuss and bully other people to get it, using their age as an excuse to be mean.

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These are people who reach the age of 70, 80 and 90 and are still emotional 3-year-olds. They are filled with hate for the world and for what has been done to them to make them that way (unresolved childhood trauma), for what they have become, and regret for what they never could be. They project their self-hatred onto anyone who crosses their path.

I read this description of what one old narcissist was like. It’s sad but all too true. I’ve known people like this. I see my ex becoming one.

I’ve seen old narcissists. I used to see a 72’ish guy at the grocery store. It was awful. He would angrily force himself to the front of the line. Each person he pushed in front of and angrily exclaimed “I only have 3 things” was as much a source of supply as the supply I would extort through more elegant means. He was down to the point of just taking it. The more people acted startled and offended, but withheld their protests due to his age and frailty, the more he felt he existed.

He would reach the cashier and then insist that the price is wrong, putting the cashier in the position of holding up all those kind folks he cut in front of. It’s not his fault they’re being inconvenienced. Then he’d demand a new “shopper/loyalty card” to get the discounts — why saying “I don’t want it, throw it away.” Too important to be bothered with carrying a card like everyone else. Probably some long-held criticism that stores should just charge the same price for everything and not do the “member price” gimmick. Something he could criticize in the past, now something he could incorporate into his bitter existence.

He would then contemptuously instruct the cashier to take the coins from his hand because his fingers are knurled from arthritis. Projecting onto the cashier his own contempt for his body failing his grandiosity. As he walked away, he would throw his receipt on the floor as if he had been intentionally offended by receiving it.

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Raw nerve.

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Over the past few days I have been extremely anxious, even panicky. I can’t focus enough to write anything or do much of anything else either. I really have no idea why or what might have triggered it.

Last night instead of writing anything, I poked around on nostalgia sites, reminiscing about the things of my childhood, particularly the snack food. My childhood was terrible, but I have fond memories of the various sugary and salty foods I ate (why in %$#& did Buitoni ever stop making those awful but delicious toaster pizzas? Where’s a chalky, non-chewy Giant Sweet-Tart when you need one?) and the toys I played with (those over 45 or 50 or so will remember that Fuzzy Wuzzy soap that grew “hair” just like a Chia pet and had a small but high quality prize inside). These memories bring me a measure of comfort. Things seemed so much simpler before everything started going to hell about 30 years ago and hearts began to harden and greed became good because a movie character named Gordon Gecko said so. Life has just become way too complicated and stressful for someone like me (although I couldn’t live without the Internet, which for someone like me is the best thing that could ever have happened).

Sometimes I feel like I just can’t cope anymore. I’m so tired. I’m getting old. I have too many unresolved psychological issues. I worry about the future constantly. I have a pervasive feeling of nameless dread, as if something terrible is about to happen.

I don’t know where these feelings come from or what might have triggered them, but I feel like a raw nerve and even at work have been jumpy, quick to take offense to everything, and paranoid. I have too many disorders to function well at a job for any length of time, especially when it comes to dealing with others. Sometimes I just wish I could go off by myself and live as a hermit, never having to deal with anyone, but for that you need money and I have no money. I’m caught in a no-win situation.

The job might be part of the problem. I’m burned out; I hate my job. There. I said it. I hate the politics at work, and the favoritism. I’m not a favorite. I have never been a favorite at any job. I can’t play the game; I have never been able to play the game. I wish I didn’t have to work, or could just write and make a living that way. But I can’t, not yet anyway. I don’t want to look for a new job because I know it will be as crappy as the one I have, that I’ll still be forced to deal with people I dislike and who dislike me just as much. I’ll still feel like the odd one out, the employee who is most expendable and always overlooked. I’m so ill suited for the service industry but I can’t get my foot in the door for anything else. I burned all my bridges a long time ago, and now I’m well past 50 and it’s too late to start over in an employment situation or going back to school. My only hope left is to become a professional writer.

The DBT and self-soothing tools I normally use to focus and center are not working. My thoughts are racing and my hands are shaking. My sleep has been fitful. Maybe it’s the heat but I think it’s more than that. I feel like my head will explode. I don’t know what’s really going on with me right now. I need to find a good therapist. I need to be in a relationship but am too scared. I need to write more.

One thing that might be contributing to my high anxiety is caffeine. I’m addicted to coffee. I’m craving some right now, but I don’t think I should make any. I might have to cut down on my favorite beverage–a prospect which itself causes me anxiety.

I spend most of my free time holed up inside the house on this laptop, which is fine when I’m actually being productive, but last night all I did was poke around on random nostalgia sites and Facebook and wrote absolutely nothing. And then felt guilty about it.

I know what I need to do is go out, do something outside the house, get off the computer, but I don’t have the motivation.

Finally I got the idea to just write about my panic-stricken state. After all, this blog was intended to be my therapy, so what have I got to lose?

2015 is already half over!

time

Time really does seem to fly by faster the older you get. It seems like this year just started but according to my WordPress clock (it’s 4 hours off and I don’t know how to fix it) it’s already July 1, which means we are six months into 2015. In six more months it will be 2016. Where did a whole half a year go?

Serious question.

memory

Sometimes when I remember a time in the distant past when I was remembering something even longer ago, I wonder if I remembered more about it then than I do now. Like, when you’re 14 and remember when you were 4, are your memories of being 4 clearer then than when you remember being 4 in your 50’s? Do we lose the details of our long-term memories as we age? I wonder about that.

I am going to die.

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I am going to die. Someday. And so will you. Let’s not kid ourselves–life is a terminal illness and you and I will both die from it sooner or later.

My daughter said something just the other day that made me stop in my tracks and gave me a bit of a jolt.
She said, “Mom, you’re entirely too healthy for your age.”

She’s right. I’ve never had a serious illness (not counting major depression that required inpatient psychiatric treatment) and I avoid doctors like the plague. Most people my age suffer from some sort of chronic health problem or another. I don’t fuss about my health more than the average 20 year old and I certainly enjoy my artery-clogging, sugar-laden foods. The only reason I don’t weigh as much as a house is because I work it all off at my physically strenuous job. So at least I’m not living a sedentary lifestyle. I quit my gym membership because I don’t need it anymore. Every major muscle group gets a workout every day. I’ve never been in better shape. It’s the best thing about my job.

I’m 55. That means if I die at an average ripe old age (75), I only have twenty years left to live. That’s a sobering thought. Twenty. years. until. I. die. Going backwards in time, twenty years puts me at age 35, in 1994. So the amount of time that has past between 1994 and now is the same as how much time I have until I’m 75–and that’s if I’m lucky. I don’t eat right–I love my comfort foods way too much, and I smoke. Not heavily, but I still indulge in this killer habit, knowing it will probably spell my early demise. If I don’t quit smoking and don’t change my eating habits, I will be lucky to make it to 75.

Let’s say I actually live to be 80. That’s only 25 years from now: the same time forwards from today as going backwards to age 30, in 1989. That’s only one year shy of the 1990s, folks, and the 90s don’t seem that far in the past to me, no sirree. Not like the ’70s seemed remote and distant to me when I was living in the ’90s. But I was younger then and time stretched and yawned forward and back in both directions. Now it seems compressed and speeds up faster every year. Ever notice how the older you get, the time seems to speed up? When I was 10 or 15, a decade seemed like an eon. Now a decade seems like a year did back then. Maybe even less than that.

If by some fluke, I live to be 90, that’s the same amount of time going forward (35 years) as going back to 1979, when I was 20. Now that seems like a good chunk of time. 1979 seems like a pretty long time in the past. Disco wasn’t even dead yet. Jimmy Carter was still president. I was still a “minor.” I can get down with living another 35 years. But I don’t really want to live to be 90.

I wonder if all this thinking about God and religion and spirituality I’ve been doing lately has to do with realizing I’m getting up there and having to face my own mortality. When you’re young, the rest of your life seems like a vast amount of time; you can always put off that thing you know you should do until later. Why rush things? But listen, kids. Life’s not as long as you think–because as you get older, the time will speed up. A lot.

There are some interesting theories as to why time seems to speed up as we age. One of them, described in this blog post in Scientific American, is because as a percentage of our age, a given chunk of time takes up a smaller and smaller percentage the older we get.

Here’s an interesting thought experiment. When you’re five, five years is a very long time–it’s your entire lifetime! To a fifty year old, five years is a mere 10% of the time they’ve lived, so it doesn’t seem like much. What is 10% of a five year old’s life? Six months! So six months to a five year old is perceived the same way as five years is perceived by a fifty year old! You can have a lot of fun playing with the numbers this way. When I was 35, twenty years seemed like a very long time–because it was more than 50% of the time I’d lived. At my current age, twenty years is just a little more than a third of the time I’ve been alive, so it seems that much shorter. My perception of time passing is such that thirty years is roughly the same as 20 years was to me then. And it will continue to get worse until the day I finally shuck off this mortal coil.