Do narcissists cry?

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This is a revision of the Jan. 1, 2015 article.  It’s one of my most popular posts, so I figured I’d post it again, with a few changes.

Do narcissists cry?  Sure, they do. Of course they do. And the histrionic, somatic types will cry conspicuously and loudly and convulsively and make sure everyone notices.  Think of Joan Crawford’s over the top histrionics in he movie Mommie Dearest.  The attention they get from this show of dramatics (which you cannot ignore) elicits lots of narcissistic supply for them and gets them the sympathy they crave.  Remember, positive attention isn’t necessary to serve as supply to a narcissist.  Any sort of attention–even disgust and anger–will do.

Self-serving crying and fake empathy.
Narcissists cry for themselves, never for you. They *might*cry when they see a sad movie, if they experience themselves through that character. Movies are a safe way to shed tears, even for those who don’t cry easily (and that includes non-narcs too). But narcissists aren’t really crying for the characters in the movie. They are really crying for themselves.

Some narcissists who are good actors can pretend to cry for others–these are dangerous narcissists able to feign empathy but show their true colors after they’ve charmed you and duped you into thinking they’re the nicest, most sympathetic person in the world. But it’s all fake. Those “empathetic tears” are crocodile tears. A narcissist can never cry for anyone but themselves.

Narcissists are just big babies.
Kim Saeed, a writer who has an excellent and extremely popular blog here at WordPress about narcissistic abuse, wrote an insightful article about what makes a narcissist cry (basically, self pity and attention getting). It’s a good read. Narcissists cry the way an infant cries–to have their immediate needs met. Whether they admit it or not, they need a mother–and most likely never got adequate mothering, so they’re still trying to get it. Like an infant, they are incapable of separating themselves from others and can feel no empathy for anyone else.

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Here’s who your narcissist really is.

While some narcissists take pride in their appearance, professional accomplishments, athletic prowess, or outstanding intelligence, there are some narcissists (the covert type) who take a perverse pride in being as pitiful and pathetic as it’s possible to be. These are what I call “needy narcissists” (Kim Saeed refers to them as “extreme narcissists”).  Many of our mothers (not mine–my mother was overt and aggressive) fall into this category.  They guilt-trip you and constantly whine about how badly you’ve treated them.  They remind you of all the wonderful things they’ve done for you.   They are emotional, financial and spiritual vampires who will suck you dry if given half a chance. They tend to attract empaths and HSPs and codependent types of people who are willing to give them the pity and sympathy they crave. And they use tears to elicit those things. Tears are powerful and contagious and get babies what they want–why not narcissists? Hey, if it works, use it.

Can a narcissist ever cry non-self serving tears?

A narcissist crying for reasons other than self-serving ones is rare.   But if one ever enters therapy or gets to a point where they recognize their own narcissism and is able to grieve for their lost true self, it’s possible.  Don’t get your hopes up though.    That being said, I read an article by Sam Vaknin about the way he cries in his dreams, which I thought was pretty interesting.   If something like this can happen, maybe it could be used as a catalyst to healing.  Maybe.  (Sam is not cured of NPD and probably never will be.  It’s his livelihood).

Dreaming and “lucid” dreaming: a possible key to healing?
Dreams open us up to the subconscious mind, so remembering dreams is useful in therapy.  For a narcissist, dreams have the potential of tapping into the atrophied and depressed true self–the self that dissociated and went into hiding during early childhood to protect itself from abuse by caregivers. Sam Vaknin writes about this phenomenon in this journal entry, in which he describes two nightmares that briefly brought him in contact with his true lost self, at least until he woke up.

He writes:

I dream of my childhood. And in my dreams we are again one big unhappy family. I sob in my dreams, I never do when I am awake. When I am awake, I am dry, I am hollow, mechanically bent upon the maximization of Narcissistic Supply. When asleep, I am sad. The all-pervasive, engulfing melancholy of somnolence. I wake up sinking, converging on a black hole of screams and pain. I withdraw in horror. I don’t want to go there. I cannot go there.

One’s narcissism stands in direct relation to the seething abyss and the devouring vacuum that one harbors in one’s True Self.

I know it’s there . I catch glimpses of it when I am tired, when I hear music, when reminded of an old friend, a scene, a sight, a smell. I know it is awake when I am asleep. I know that it subsists of pain – diffuse and inescapable. I know my sadness. I have lived with it and I have encountered it full force.

Perhaps I choose narcissism, as I have been “accused”. And if I do, it is a rational choice of self-preservation and survival. The paradox is that being a self-loathing narcissist may be the only act of self-love I have ever committed.

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Crying of the Stone Angel by Eternal Dream Art at Deviantart.com

Can a narcissist’s true self ever see the light of day?

The true self is there in hiding, sometimes peeking out in dreams.  A narcissist without insight (which is almost all of them) would not be able to write the post quoted above.   Even if they were aware of having such a vulnerable inner self, they would never admit it.   They’re so walled off from their true feelings they can’t access it even in dreams.   Instead, they shore up a fake self that takes the place of the true one–but it’s not sustainable and will fall apart without a constant source of narcissistic supply that keeps it inflated like a balloon.  The constant inflation keeps their false self alive and as long as it’s there, they never have to face the black emptiness inside where the atrophied child-self exists.  If they fall into such a depression, they may go insane.  Suicide is not unheard of.

Sadness and tears that could arise from being able to encounter one’s true self, even if only briefly in a dream, could be the key to healing.  If only anyone really could figure out how to harness this and keep it accessible long enough for the narcissist to start doing some difficult internal work before they slap that mask back on.   Harnessing any brief moments of emotional nakedness is like trying to hold onto a dream while awake–most of the time, it dissolves and fragments like soap bubbles before being  swept away in the the river of day to day reality.   It’s still there, buried in the narcissist’s unconscious the way a clam buries itself deep in the wet sand near the shore after the waves recede.  But in all likelihood, the narcissist will die a narcissist, and no one (including themselves) will ever know what could have been.   I think most of them choose to remain living in the darkness because it’s a whole lot “safer.”  Maybe “lucid dreaming” (a skill that can be learned) could be one way to capture the true self when it emerges in a dream, and keep it there long enough to work with.

Most people don’t believe narcissists can be cured (and in most cases, they can’t be and are perfectly fine with being the way they are).  That being said,   I like to remain optimistic.   I can’t believe there are people walking on this earth who have completely lost their souls.  Unless a person has consciously chosen evil and has become sociopathic, I don’t think most narcissists are that far gone. The challenge is catching them when their guard is down, which is almost never.  I don’t recommend you try  doing this yourself.  Leave it to the professionals or to God.   You cannot fix a narcissist.   All you can really do is stop giving them supply, so stay (or go) No Contact.

Self-pity and self-compassion: there’s a huge difference!

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I read a post yesterday on another blog that I agreed with, except there was one thing that didn’t quite sit right with me. The post said that self-pity is an important part of healing from Complex PTSD.

In his book (which I’m still reading), Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving, Pete Walker says that self-compassion is an important part of healing, and I think this is what the blogger actually meant. But self-compassion isn’t the same thing as self-pity, an activity which I don’t find at all healing and in fact seems to make my problems worse. Of course we have the right to engage in self pity from time to time (and probably can’t help doing so), and no one should deny us the right to do so. But for me, it just doesn’t work. It’s an unpleasant, soul-sucking experience that seems to drive my negative programming even deeper than it already is.

The way I see it, the difference between self pity and self compassion is analogous to the difference between pity and empathy. I think this makes the distinction clearer.

Pity has an element of condescension or even contempt. You pity someone you dislike or look down on. It’s kind of like sympathy but it’s contaminated with judgment and scorn. You feel like you’re “better” than a person you pity. A wealthy banker may “feel sorry” for a homeless person without feeling a shred of empathy. The banker is glad they’re not homeless, and feels as if they’re above that anyway. If someone says “I feel so sorry for you,” or “I pity you,” you’re likely to feel offended and judged, not comforted. I hate being pitied so much I might be tempted to punch you if you do.

Superficially, empathy, compassion, or sympathy may seem like the same thing as pity, but they’re not the same at all. Sympathy means to feel sorry for someone without judgment or condescension, but it’s not quite the same as empathy, because it lacks the sharing of a feeling. It’s a shallower emotion, but it’s still better than pity. Compassion and empathy are interchangeable and both imply feeling “with” another person, or sharing an emotion with them. It’s giving your friend a heartfelt hug after a breakup, or laughing or crying with them when they’re happy or sad. It’s giving a homeless person your own sweater because you hate to see them shivering in the cold. There’s no condescension or judgment. When someone empathizes with you, they say, “I understand” or “that really must have hurt.” Doesn’t that feel a whole lot different than someone telling you, “I feel sorry for you.”

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Self-pity is part of our toxic programming. It’s driven by shame. Self pity is when you sit around and think about how much your life sucks and how much YOU suck. There’s no self-nurturing or comfort in self pity, no self love, only self-hatred and shame. Self-pity enforces the terrible things we’ve already come to believe about ourselves. If we’ve been told time and again how stupid, bad, clumsy, ugly, or what a loser we are by our narcissists, eventually those voices become internalized and we develop a toxic inner voice called an Inner Critic. When you’re stuck in self pity, that’s your Inner Critic demeaning you and repeating to you the same lies about yourself your narcissists already drummed into you. You learn to abuse yourself, and self-pity is just self-abuse. When you say, “I suck” or “I’m a loser” or “nothing ever goes right for me,” you’re reinforcing the toxic programming and acting as a flying monkey against yourself.

Unfortunately, for those of us who suffered from narcissistic abuse, it’s common to wallow in self pity. It’s an all too familiar state of mind, but it isn’t the real you. The things we tell ourselves when we’re stuck in self pity are lies. When I get stuck in self pity, I feel just horrible. I just want to die. I usually wind up feeling resentful and angry at the world, but also ashamed of myself for being such a helpless victim and pathetic loser. I’m consumed with shame and guilt, which leads to depression. I also can’t release the negative emotion when I’m in self pity mode. I get stuck there and it drags me down and saps from me any energy or joy. I’ve had hangovers that felt more pleasant than a bout of toxic self-pity.

self-pity

You can replace self pity with something much better that also feels a heck of a lot nicer: self-compassion. Self-compassion means acknowledging that you are a human being worthy of love, happiness and the good things in life, while empathizing with your inner child’s hurt over not having gotten those things. You give your inner child permission to feel sad or to grieve and agree with them how unfair it is that she/he got cheated or was abused. This may seem like self pity, but it’s not, because the element of judgment and shame isn’t there. You’re not beating yourself up over how terrible you think you are; you’re telling yourself you’re good and deserve better and allowing yourself to grieve. Instead of covering up your inner child with a paper bag, you’re offering her a hug.

It helps me to actually visualize my inner child. I have her talk to me and tell me what she needs and wants. I don’t judge her or try to shut her up; I just listen. If she feels sad, I tell her those feelings are valid and let her feel sad. If she feels mad, I let her express the anger (but at the same time reassure her she won’t be able to hurt anyone or anything because I won’t let her). I find that by non-judgmentally listening to what she wants and needs or how she feels, I’m eventually able to release any negative emotions and I don’t get stuck. By giving myself permission to feel without self-judgment or self-shaming, sometimes I wind up being able to cry, and as weird as it sounds, that always comes as such a relief. When I’m stuck in self pity, these healing tears never come, because the shame that’s been programmed into me won’t allow me to release them. My programming tells me the massive lie that crying is shameful and weak, when in actuality it’s sometimes the most healing thing you can do. Your Inner Critic is a narcissist who doesn’t want you to heal and that’s where all that awful self pity comes from.

“Some days I just want to crawl into a hole and make myself very small.”

This article embarrasses me now, but I think it’s a great example of how narcissistic I can be sometimes, even online. I just thought I ought to call myself out about this whiney, self-pitying, falsely-humble, yet grandiose post that’s like wearing a neon sign flashing the words “I can’t take criticism! Waaaaahhh!” This is covert narcissism and BPD in a nutshell. Narcissistic injury. We’re always so butthurt over everything.

It’s interesting. At the time I wrote it, someone called me on this post being very narcissistic, and that upset and angered me (of course!) I actually couldn’t see anything wrong with this self-indulgent post and thought the person was being a bully. They were, but that doesn’t mean the article wasn’t narcissistic.

Seeing myself this way is like having glasses after years of being almost blind.
But I’m being careful not to beat myself up either. The past can’t be undone, but you can make your own future.

Lucky Otters Haven

internet_fame

DISCLAIMER:
I feel like a disclaimer is needed, though the above photo should be enough of a disclaimer, because it says it all. Someone made a sarcastic remark about how I think I’m a celebrity because of this post, so I let their comment make me set this post to private, because I don’t have a thick skin and am too chicken to come out with a snappy or snarky comeback. I always think other people can get away with doing that, but I won’t be allowed to. It’s because of my past. I was never allowed to speak my mind or have a voice. Now I’ve internalized that and don’t allow myself a voice sometimes. I’m getting better but I’m not out of the woods yet.

In no way do I put myself in the same category as celebrities (who are just people who get wrinkles, have morning breath…

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Self pity and stress.

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Today wasn’t a good day, except for it being Friday.

1. I woke up with a pounding headache.
2. Traffic jam made me late again.
3. I wasn’t in a good mood and was being hypersensitive to everything. I felt like my coworker was picking on me today even though she probably wasn’t. Some days I just take everything the wrong way.
4. I felt depressed and negative all day, and I’ve noticed after some time of feeling more positive that a negative outlook tends to attract negative things.
5. I was unfavorably comparing myself to others who have things better. That’s a bad character defect (envy) I’m trying to work on.
6. I had another argument with my roommate. I’m convinced she is doing things to annoy me on purpose. I won’t even get into what the argument was about because it was stupid.
6. It was cold and windy and they are predicting snow tonight. I hate cold weather.
7. I was trying to renew my antivirus software and couldn’t open the browser to renew it. I Googled a customer service number for Norton and called the first one that came up, which was a shady company (iYogi–do NOT talk to them!) that supposedly represents Norton. I got a very nasty guy who barely spoke English who I allowed to remote access my computer, and he told me my hard drive was corrupted and then started hard-selling me some bullshit program to clean up my hard drive “that only cost $149.99 and you get all this!” He was almost impossible to get off the phone and started yelling at me and telling me I was being uncooperative because I wasn’t buying his hard sell.

I finally got him off the phone (he kept asking when he could call me) and scrolled on Google until I found a real customer service number and they were able to help me. Of course there wasn’t anything wrong with my hard drive, only a browser hijacker (Astromenda–be careful, it’s very hard to get rid of and it slows your system down and makes pages hard to open) that was blocking my access to certain pages. He told me people have complained to him before about iYogi. If you have Norton and have to call customer service, be sure it’s the actual Norton (Symantec) website’s number.

work-stress

I don’t know why everything has to be so hard.

That’s it for the negativity for today. Tomorrow’s another day.

Sometimes you have to remind yourself you are still moving forward even if you take a step back sometimes. I don’t have as many bad days as I used to. But I was beating myself up for having a bad day, being negative, oversensitive, hypervigilant, impatient, and envious. I need to stop beating myself up all the time. I’m too hard on myself. I was trained too well.

Girl Scout Cookies and God…

Frustration___Co_Production_by_ttancredi
Original art from Deviantart.com

It’s times like this my self esteem and progress in healing seems to take a dive into the toilet.
I don’t handle frustration well at all, and it can set me off on my old unhealthy patterns of negative thinking, feeling victimized, and wallowing in self pity.

I am having the tranny rebuilt on my car, and have just enough money from my tax return to have it done. Of course, God always comes through if you ask, and that’s what he did–but I still can’t help feeling sorry for myself because now I have to use my tax return to replace my tranny (and have a car that runs by the end of this week) instead of doing things I would prefer to do, like going to a few concerts or even planning a weekend trip. I know I should be grateful this happened now–when I have the money–instead of later on, when most likely I would not be able to afford it at all.

For the past two days, my roommate hasn’t been feeling well, so she has allowed me to borrow her car to get back and forth to work. Today I needed to get to the bank before they closed to deposit my state return and buy a few groceries. I live about a mile and a half away from the store, and the weather is nice so walking (which I would up doing) isn’t really an issue.

My roommate’s car wouldn’t start and we couldn’t jump start it with my jump start machine either. My daughter has a friend who was picking her up to go to the mall, and it would have been easy enough for her to drop me off at the shopping center so I could do my errands, but she said there wasn’t enough room in the car (there wasn’t).

So I walked, and instead of feeling happy that I could enjoy this beautiful and mild late winter day with the breeze in my face, I felt petulant and victimized instead. When they drove past me and didn’t slow down to ask me if I needed a ride after all, I felt angry and just wanted to give them all the finger. I know it was irrational of me because there were already 5 people in the car along with a baby, but I couldn’t help feeling like the victim again.

Now I’m cranky and depressed and just feel like sleeping away the rest of the day. Is this terribly narcissistic of me? I think it really is. I hate myself for feeling this way, and sometimes it feels like these sort of situations just make dogmeat out of all the progress I’ve made.

I know those of us healing from narcissistic abuse and PTSD have setbacks, but I still can’t help feeling like the way I feel is just wrong and selfish. So there’s guilt on top of everything else.

I knew I needed to blog about this today, as embarrassing as it is to admit how immature and childish I am behaving. I’m sure many of you have felt similarly in these sort of frustrating situations, even when they’re relatively minor, as this one is.

I need to focus on my blessings: my car WILL be fixed (even though it will set me back) and I had an opportunity to take a nice long walk on a pretty day. I also stopped and bought a box of my favorite mint chocolate Girl Scout cookies from some girls outside the supermarket. Think I’ll go indulge now. When all else fails, chocolate is great therapy.

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This may be the best therapy at times like this.