Lessons from Harvey.

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You are a strange species. Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are at their worst.  —  Starman, 1984

The above quote is from an almost forgotten science fiction movie in which a visitor  from another planet is confronted with the human condition for the first time.  He was right.   We are a savage and violent species, but when we face a common threat, we have always been able to put our differences, even enmity and hatred aside — and work together for the common good.   If it weren’t for that, I doubt we’d have survived for long.

Last week Houston was hit by what many are calling the worst storm to ever make landfall in the United States, maybe the worst storm in 500 years.   Harvey was a Category 4 hurricane, but it wasn’t the high winds or even the storm surge that caused so much devastation — it was the fact the storm sat in virtually the same place for days, dumping 50 inches of rain on the Gulf city of Houston, Texas, leaving hundreds homeless and stranded, with no way to escape.

In spite of the current political mood of divisiveness and hatred that threatens to tear our country apart, all that seemed to be forgotten during the days following Harvey’s arrival.    Hundreds of Texans who were able to unselfishly donated their time and risked their lives to rescue others.    They brought out their own boats, worked all day and night without pay,  in very dangerous conditions, to rescue complete strangers —  in some cases strangers who were very different than them.   No one cared whether the person they were rescuing (or was rescuing them) was white or black, Christian or Muslim or atheist, gay or straight, rich or poor, or conservative or liberal.    For a few days, we were all part of the human family, and nothing else mattered.

One of the most touching stories I heard was of a Mosque that opened its doors to everyone, including non-Muslims, and even stranded pets.   The mosque volunteers offered food, clothing, shelter, and emotional support to the people (and animals) who came to them for help.       Another story that touched my heart was the help Mexico offered to help the flood victims — even after our president repeatedly insulted our neighbors to the south and wants to build a wall to keep them out.  Their repayment for this insult? Only compassion and kindness.

I kept hearing other stories from Harvey that proved kindness and caring are not dead after all.   It occurred to me that maybe, as terrible as Harvey was, we needed something like this disaster to show us that we are all brothers and sisters, all part of the human family, and instead of hating groups of people who are not like us, we need to work together to help each other and promote the common good, regardless of petty differences like race, religion, or creed.

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The modern GOP is incapable of empathy.

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Today, The Huffington Post published this article imploring the GOP to show as much sympathy and compassion for its constituents as it does for its wealthy donors and to each other.

While I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment, I take issue with this article because of its unrealistic assumption that the modern GOP is capable of compassion or sympathy.

In fact, they are not.    Maybe back in the old days (B.T — Before Trump), and among some moderate Republicans, that may be true.  But moderate Republicans are in the minority these days and hold almost no power anymore.   All three branches of government are hamstrung by far right Freedom Caucus or alt-right fascist types who want to take us back not to 1953 — remember, we had a lot more “socialism” during the ’50s, a decade that the far right seems to otherwise love —  but to 1900!  They want a Dickensian dystopia: a new Gilded Age, complete with robber barons, people dying from preventable illnesses (for lack of healthcare); hordes of uneducated, illiterate citizens; children begging in the streets or stealing so their families could eat (and providing a handy reason to send them to work at an early age); harsh punishments for minor victimless crimes, workhouses for the poor, rampant sexism and racism, voting rights only for property owners, women treated as second class citizens, and no civil rights at all.  The early 1900s cartoon above this post could just as well apply to today.

The type of regime the modern GOP wants to install would be hell for all but the very wealthy.   It’s the type of oppressive regime you find all the time in the third world, but not in any civilized country.  It’s interesting to me that Trump admires and acts respectful to   fascistic, authoritarian rulers, but insults and is rude to leaders of western democracies.

I’m speculating here, but I wouldn’t be surprised if repealing child labor laws is part of their eventual plan to destroy democracy and any chance of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for those who aren’t white, Christian, able-bodied, or unable for various reasons beyond their control to attain great wealth and power.    These ruthless monsters are waging war on the most vulnerable among us and I truly believe their intention is a modern day version of eugenics.  Denying healthcare to millions, attempting to dismantle public education, and removing laws that protect our air, water and food — while building underground bunkers for themselves so they stay safe when the air is unbreathable, the landscape looks like a war zone, and desperate hordes of impoverished are forced to steal and kill just to survive — is a sneakier, more underhanded version of the gas chambers of Nazi Germany.   Dark Triad people like Mitch McConnell want to thin the herd — but let “natural law” do the job instead of poison gas and concentration camps.   I’m enraged and terrified because I and most of the people I love are among those these conscienceless rulers want to eliminate, and that’s why I’m so passionate about this scourge on our nation.

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I decided to comment on the HuffPo article:

Sympathy and compassion are traits of a democracy.   America is no longer a democracy. It’s an oligarchy. The modern GOP is a criminal, sociopathic organization whose members lack any empathy or conscience. They are all about greed and power, and they gaslight and demean and lie to anyone who cares about the “least of us.”   They call us weak, snowflakes, un-American, elitist.  This organized crime ring of grifters, pathological liars, Ayn Rand acolytes, greedy sociopaths, their spineless enablers, and the fake “Christians” who have twisted Christianity into something more closely resembling Satanism never will. They can’t because it’s alien to their dark natures. They are modern day Pharisees.

“By their fruits you shall know them.”

They bear rotten fruit.

“We have met the enemy and it is us.”

We have become the Evil Empire the rest of the world hates and fears.

We live in dark times, but…

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Yes, we are living in very dark times.  Not just here in America, but in many other countries around the world.    It’s enough to send the most emotionally healthy person into the pits of despair, but we can’t allow that to happen.   Succumbing to despair and hopelessness is exactly what the enemy wants, because when we’re helpless and hopeless we can lose our souls. We become weak and malleable spiritually, and more easily used by the forces of darkness.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man of God, a preacher who fought for social justice and what was right and good in the eyes of God — a stark contrast to many American “Christians” of today, who somehow believe wealth, whiteness, material success, and greed are godly, and if you aren’t blessed with these things (and if you don’t vote Republican), you aren’t one of the “chosen.”

This uniquely American belief system is based on Calvinism, which is in my opinion an ugly and hateful philosophy that teaches that Jesus didn’t die to save everyone, but only the  “elect.”  The belief that only certain individuals can be saved and this was determined before you were born is called “predestination.”   Many fundamentalist Christian churches believe in this.  To those who hold this doctrine, there is nothing you can do if God hasn’t chosen you.  You will not only be cursed with disease, misery, and poverty, but will ultimately wind up being punished for all eternity — just because God didn’t favor you.   This horrible and cruel doctrine is in direct opposition to what Jesus taught us.   Today, of course, someone who acts the way Jesus did would be called a “socialist.”

If God is really like that, I want nothing to do with him.  That God is worse than the devil himself.  But I don’t believe God is like that.

We live in dark times, and more and more people are embracing a false Christianity that is anything but.  They may read their Bibles and attend church every Sunday, but it means nothing.  Even the enemy can spout Bible verses.     Those of us who practice kindness and compassion, and care about the less fortunate, the immigrants, the old, the sick, the children, and the oppressed and suffering people of this world (the way Jesus did) have a duty to pray for those who have been deceived.   We must not lose sight of the truth, whether it’s refusing to listen to “fake news” or “alternative facts,” or not denying such realities as climate change or the fact that none of us can survive without each other.  We are not islands and were never built for individualism above community.  We are tribal creatures, intended to support each other and work toward the greater good, not just what is good for us.    What benefits you benefits me, and benefits the entire society.

We must pray the ignorant ones see the truth and stop listening to and believing the lies that run rampant across the land these days.    America is not the promised land and it never was.    People who believe that America is God’s chosen nation and only the white and rich are blessed by God aren’t evil but they are ignorant.

America may fall just like the Roman empire, but those of us who believe God loves us all and who reach out to others rather than kicking them when they’re already down will be able to transcend all the hatred, violence, greed, and selfishness that defines America (and the world) today and find peace and joy in our relationship with God.

Trump’s budget, repealing the ACA, the triumph of evil, and the rebirth of community spirit.

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I absolutely hate Trump’s projected budget, as well as Trump’s Obamacare replacement, which although is nearly universally hated  not only on the left but on the right too (albeit for different reasons), is likely to pass this Thursday when Congress votes on it.

This administration not only wants to repeal Obamacare and take from the poor and middle class to give more tax breaks to the rich, they also want to eliminate (not just cut) the EPA, as well as Meals on Wheels (which help many disabled elderly and half a million disabled VETERANS), after school programs that help single moms, free legal services that help the poor in civil cases, federal grant programs for colleges, the NEH and NEA (both which promote arts and culture to the masses for free or nearly free), NPR (the only place on the radio where I can get the factual news while I’m driving), PBS (how can anyone hate Sesame Street? Really?), and many,many other programs that help families, and the poor and middle class.  Not only that, but they want to privatize public education, making it impossible for the poor or those who live in rural areas to send their children to school at all.  A voucher just isn’t going to cut it for these people, many of whom voted for Trump.   Next I expect they’ll try to repeal the child labor laws.  “Send those kids whose parents can’t afford to send them to school to work to teach them about the value of hard labor,” they’ll say.   “Let’s make America great again — like it was in 1900.”

Let’s stop kidding ourselves by making excuses like “more jobs will be created” and “taking away entitlements will force people to be self reliant.”   Nearly 40 years of trickle down economics has shown it does not work.  It doesn’t create more jobs and the money funneled to the top doesn’t trickle down to the most vulnerable Americans whose poverty, illness, or advanced age is almost never their own fault.   It’s become popular to blame them though for all the nation’s ills, instead of the greedy corporations and billionaires who keep taking and taking and taking and seem to be voracious in their need for more and more tax breaks and perks.     This is typical “blame the victim” mentality on a national scale.  Their greed and narcissism is off the charts and is destroying our country. The destruction or privating of everything good about America, and destroying its people and the environment we live in is exactly what they plan to do.

It’s time to face the ugly truth about this presidency.  I believe this budget (and the repeal and “replacement” of Obamacare) is actually an intentional death sentence for the so called “nonproducers” — the most vulnerable members of society — the poor, old, disabled, and sick.   Remove their only hope for healthcare, then take away all the popular programs that fill in the gaps and help many of these vulnerable people have better lives, keep them alive, and keep them from becoming totally ignorant. Many will die.  Those who don’t die  or suffer with chronic medical or mental conditions will be faced with lives so difficult and painful they may be forced to suicide.  But this administration doesn’t care.   In fact, letting the vulnerable people kill themselves off is probably what they want.   They are evil.   They want people to suffer. They want “the little people” to have nothing.  They don’t even want us to have clean air or drinking water.  They don’t care.

Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will be next.   What will happen to all the elderly, disabled, and sick who rely on these programs? What will happen to the nursing home residents who rely on Medicaid to cover their expenses?  Guess they’ll all be tossed out in the streets and be forced to move in with their adult children, whether those children have the means to take care of them or not.   If they don’t have adult children to care for them, they will die lonely, painful deaths with no one to care.

Yet these same far right conservatives wring their hands and shed tears over the unborn.  Once you’re born though, it’s “bootstraps, baby!”  Your child is sick?  You shouldn’t have gotten pregnant.   Don’t have the money to buy health insurance for your child?   It’s not our problem!

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It’s all because they want to keep everything for themselves.  They decry socialism as the ultimate evil and tell lies about long wait times in European countries who have universal healthcare and other social programs that help their people.  But I don’t know one European or Canadian who complains about having to pay higher taxes in exchange for having decent healthcare.   In fact, every one I know is very happy with their single payer healthcare, and feel very sorry for us that we don’t have it.   They wonder what is wrong with us that we still think healthcare should be for profit and don’t share their philosophy that “wer’re all in this together.”

I would be more than happy to pay higher taxes for single payer healthcare.  I sure as heck would rather pay taxes for programs that help people and cultural enrichment programs like the NEH and PBS and NPR  than I would for a ridiculous, unnecessary wall or for even further buildup of the military and nuclear weapons than we already have.

They say socialism is evil, but they are hypocrites.   They believe in socialism alright — socialism and welfare for the wealthy and for corporations (remember, corporations are people!); but rugged individualism for everyone else.   These people have no empathy.  They have no conscience.  They are morally bankrupt.  Their hearts are black and shriveled like prunes.  You can see it in their hard, cold, dead eyes and cruel smiles.

What they really are trying to do is thin the herd and create a banana republic that cares only about the wealthy 1% and f*ck you if you aren’t one of them.

But there’s a plus side to this.  People will be so outraged if this budget (and the ACA replacement) goes through and these programs are abolished that charitable giving and community spirit will increase to levels we have never seen. Many corporations, celebrities (almost all who are liberals), and other compassionate wealthy people (they do exist!) will set up funds to fill the vast hole left by the Republicans or to fund the dying programs so they stay in existence — or create new ones. Grass roots organizations and community organizations will spring up to help their neighbors and fellow citizens. There will also be backlash from the left the likes of which has never been seen before, and Republicans are nearly guaranteed not to win another election.

Within the ruins these hardline conservatives leave in their wake, emerging from the ashes they leave behind of a once great nation that cared about the common people both here and around the world–the proverbial phoenix will rise again.  People will start to take care of each other again, because we will have no other choice.

Have we forgotten?

Wise words from a Republican:

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children…
This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

–Dwight D. Eisenhower, US President, 1953 -1961

 

Where I stand on “positive thinking.”

I was going through some old posts, and the last sentence of this one demanded my attention, because it looks like it has finally happened. Time for a reblog.

Lucky Otters Haven

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Positive thinking taken to extremes is deluded thinking.

I’ve seen several blog posts about the problem of forced positive thinking lately, and since this is an issue that has concerned me for a long time, I thought I’d add my own take on it.

In recent years, there’s been an increased societal pressure toward “positive thinking.” I think two factors have led to this trend–the New Age philosophy that we can “be as gods ourselves,” and the continued glorification of the Reaganistic optimism of the 1980s. The signs are everywhere, in self-help and pop psychology books, in countless popular slogans and memes that appear on bumper stickers and coffee mugs, on motivational posters, on calendars, on the political campaign trail, and all over social media such as Facebook. The forced positive thinking brigade has even infiltrated churches. Motivational speakers like Tony Robbins and preachers of the “Prosperity Gospel” like Joel…

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I think it’s time we stop bashing all narcissists.

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This post is probably going to make some of you angry or upset. I understand that. After all, many of us were badly damaged by the narcissists in our lives. Anger and even hatred is an understandable and very human reaction to their abuse.

The blood sport of “narc bashing.”

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There are a lot of people these days writing about narcissism and the sentiments found on the Internet about “narcs” and “N’s” is overwhelmingly negative:

— They can never change.
— There is no hope for them.
— They are monsters.
— They are demons.
— They aren’t human.
— God hates all narcs.
— They all deserve to burn in Hell.
— There is nothing good about them. Everything they do is evil.
— They were born evil. They are bad seeds.
— They never tell the truth.
— They have no emotions. They are machines.
— They all deserve to die.

Pretty ugly, isn’t it? This attitude is fueled by hatred and behind hatred is fear. Again, I understand this. I’ve experienced that hatred and fear myself. We have a right to be angry if we were badly treated by a narcissist. People with NPD aren’t pleasant to be around. But here’s the rub: unchecked fear and anger lead to hatred, and hatred accomplishes nothing. Hatred builds walls and leads to a refusal to even try to understand people with a devastating mental disorder. Hatred is itself evil–and narcissistic.

Hatred also leads to bigotry and intolerance. There is already too much of that in the world. People with NPD are mentally ill. We don’t malign people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder the way we malign people with NPD, but people with those disorders can also be very unpleasant to deal with. If someone started a blog that spewed hatred toward people with schizophrenia, there would be outrage. That person would be called a bigot and possibly evil.

Narcissists are abuse victims too.

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It’s true that people with NPD are extremely unpleasant to deal with. But all mental disorders are unpleasant. People with NPD weren’t born that way. There is no such thing as a “bad seed.” In almost all cases, a person became a narcissist because of severe abuse or neglect as children. In most cases, they were raised by people who were themselves malignant narcissists or psychopaths.

Pastor David Orrison, who writes about narcissism from a Christian perspective in his “Narcissist Friday” posts, illustrates this well in this sad story. He is rightfully critical of the disorder and its manifestations but his posts are always written in a way that attempts to understand narcissism and people with NPD the way Jesus would have done–holding them accountable without hatred.

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Some of you have said, “but they don’t count because they made a choice to be narcissists.” Yes, that is true, it was a choice. But that choice was almost invariably made when they were young children, as a coping mechanism to protect themselves from being hurt anymore. Narcissists are people who started life with too much sensitivity, maybe more so than those of us who identify as HSPs (because we still found a way to cope with life without constructing a protective False Self). Narcissists felt too vulnerable and naked. They were born without any natural coping mechanisms at all. They knew they couldn’t survive without this protective natural armor, so they had to construct a False Self to cope. The False Self is a lie, but it protects the True Self from further harm. The reason they act so mean is because they live in terror of the False Self being damaged and exposing the too-vulnerable True Self. Like the rest of us, they wanted to survive. This was the only way they knew how.

This doesn’t give them an excuse to act as they do. It doesn’t mean we have to tolerate their manipulations and abuse. I’m not condoning abusive behaviors and that applies to anyone. But we don’t have to spew hatred against people suffering from NPD all over the web either. We don’t have to be so judgmental. We don’t have to pat ourselves on the back because we are “better” people. Only God can judge us that way. We can try to have compassion without giving in to abuse or allowing narcissistic behaviors to destroy us.

A serious dissociative illness.

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Narcissists suffer. They are deeply unhappy people. They don’t know how to feel empathy, or experience joy or love for others. They never learned how–or they dissociated themselves from those feelings at an early age because it hurt them too much to be that way. They are not without emotions. In fact, their emotions are so strong they feel like they must always be on the defensive, 24/7, 365 days a year. Imagine how stressful it must be to go through life in mortal terror of your facade of invulnerability being ripped off, of constantly having to act a part in a play, of never being able to show your pain to others, of never being able to risk loving anyone else or feeling empathy, of being bitter and envious of everyone all the time? It must be hell.

Narcissists, in spite of their name, don’t love themselves. They only love their False Self, and will do anything to protect it from exposure as the mask it really is. Because the False Self was constructed when they were so young, they don’t even know themselves most of the time. How can you love someone you never got to know? If anything, they live in deep shame of who they really are so they hide from the world behind their masks.

Some mental health experts believe NPD should be classified as a severe dissociative disorder. You can read about that here and here. It’s not that narcissists don’t have any goodness in them, but that they have “split” from their good (true) self to avoid further harm–even to the point where they can no longer access who they really are. But the pain they feel still comes through and if we listen closely enough, we can hear what they are really saying: “please love me.”

Narcissists never got to grow up. Their true self is at the emotional stage of a very young child. Inside every narcissist is a little boy or girl of 3 or 4, sitting in a dark corner crying because they feel so lonely and unloved. Their reactions are at the level of a young child too. They never learned how to experience more mature emotions, because the False Self was constructed when they were too young to feel the emotions of an older person.

NPD is a spectrum disorder running from mild all the way to psychopathy and sociopathy at the top of the spectrum. Most narcissists are not psychopaths (who actually have Antisocial Personality Disorder rather than NPD and have built a wall so impenetrable even they can never access it and will never be able to admit they are the ones with the problem). Even malignant narcissists (just under psychopathy on the spectrum) may have rare moments of insight and regret for the way they behave. It’s my belief that NPD is as much a spiritual disorder as a mental one, but that doesn’t automatically make all narcissists “evil.” Who are we to assume that God hates all narcissists and can’t help even the most malignant ones? I believe God can perform miracles should He choose to do so. To speak for God this way is itself narcissistic.

Art allows the True Self to find expression.

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The pain and hurt that fuels narcissistic behaviors can find honest expression. I’ve noticed many or even most narcissists have a talent in one or more of the arts–William Shakespeare, Ezra Pound and even Michaelangelo (who probably had NPD) come to mind, to name a few. Good art is about Truth and is one of the greatest blessings God can give. It’s through these artistic endeavors that a narcissist’s true self comes through, that they dare give that vulnerable hurting child a means to express the truth of how they really feel. Having a creative ability–whether in the visual, literary, or performing arts–is all the proof I need that people with NPD are still loved by God. Through their art, they are crying out through their mask. They want to be loved and they want to feel love. I can think of many examples of this, but the other day I received an email that really stood out to me and made me take a second look at my own negative attitude toward “narcs.”

The email was from a young man who admits he has NPD. He expressed a strong desire to try to heal himself. He hates his disorder because of what it has done to his life and the ways it has caused his relationships with others to suffer. He wants to know how to feel empathy and genuinely love others. I have no doubt his words were sincere and came from his True Self.

This young man said he was a singer-songwriter so I checked out some of his stuff on Youtube. (I can’t post it here right now because I have not asked for permission to do so). I was blown away by his talent. The words of the songs he writes express emotions almost too deep for words. His powerful emotions of pain and the desire to love and feel connected with others come through in his beautiful voice–and in his face when he sings. I have no doubt his music comes from his True Self, not his false one. Through music, he’s able to break through his wall of narcissism and allow himself to become vulnerable, to cry out in the darkness.

Insight and willingness: ingredients for change.

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I don’t know if this young narcissist can heal himself. It’s a difficult enough disorder to treat by professionals, but he says he can’t afford a therapist and can’t find one willing to treat NPD anyway. Most narcissists won’t present themselves for therapy because their disorder is so deeply ingrained they have no insight and think it’s everyone else who has the problem, not them. Some narcissists may have insight into their disorder and know they aren’t well but still not be willing to change because their mask has become too adaptive or they are too afraid. But insight is the first step toward redemption–it’s not possible to have willingness without insight. This man has both the insight and the willingness. With both present, I think there is hope for him.

Tough love, not hate.

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Just because we should stop spewing hate against people with NPD doesn’t mean we have to tolerate their manipulative and abusive behaviors. It also doesn’t mean we can’t leave a narcissist or go No Contact. In fact, doing so may be the most loving thing we can do for them. Going No Contact removes the source of supply we have been giving them, and in rare cases may cause a narcissist to seek help or at least begin to question their own motives. Going No Contact is also the most loving thing we can do for ourselves. Refusing to have further contact with a narcissist isn’t an act of hatred. It’s an act of self-love and survival.

St. Augustine said, “hate the sin, love the sinner.” Jesus inspired this quote because He hated no one but was no pussy either. We can hate the behaviors without hating an entire class of people with a severe mental and spiritual illness that causes them even more misery than they cause those they attack. Going No Contact or refusing to play their narcissistic games isn’t an act of hatred. It’s an act of survival and is just plain common sense. It may even be a way we can show them love–“tough” love.

I realize this post may be controversial because we ACONs have gotten so used to thinking of “narcs” as evil. Their behaviors may be evil, but people with this disorder are still human beings who have feelings–even if they don’t know how to show them properly or keep them under wraps. Except for the most malignant narcissists and psychopaths at the top of the spectrum–who probably can’t ever change–I think calling narcissists evil, or referring to them as demons, monsters, or machines is a form of bullying a group of very sick people and is just as hurtful to them as what they have done to us.

I also realize I may sound like a hypocrite. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve engaged in the popular sport of “narc bashing,” and recently too. While the anger and rage we feel toward people with this disorder may be adaptive while we are trying to disconnect from an abusive narcissist, when these emotions no longer serve a practical purpose (after we have gone No Contact or disengaged from our abusers), they become bitterness and hatred, emotions that eat away at our own souls and can even turn us into narcissists.

This is the post that scared me so much I almost deleted it.

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I have never been so scared to publish a post until this one. I had this set to Private for several days and drove myself crazy trying to decide if I ought to post it. It’s about some of my most vulnerable moments and posting about those is incredibly scary for a person who usually has their guard up. But I longed to post it. Something inside was telling me I needed to and I wouldn’t regret it. I also felt this post was my best written one ever because while writing it I allowed my emotions to flow unimpeded. What to do?

I even wrote a short post asking people if I should post something that made me feel so naked and vulnerable. Ultimately, the decision to make this post public was mine, but the consensus seemed to be that I should.

I read this post over again earlier today from the imaginary perspective of a random reader who just happened on the article and had never seen this blog before. I realized that as this “someone else” it would be something I’d want to read.

So here it is, guys. The post that made me feel like I was going to pass out cold when I pressed “Make Post Public.”

Milk and Open Hearts: Embracing the “Feminine” Emotions

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I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about vulnerability lately. I’m reaching a point in my healing journey where I can start to allow myself to become more open to my emotions and to sharing the feelings of others. It wasn’t my intention to write another post about crying so soon after my last, but I think my interest is due to something that’s happening inside…

For years I couldn’t cry, but wanted to. I was so numb from all the abuse that I had dissociated myself from my feelings. I felt like I was dead and in hell. Recently I’m finding a lump in my throat or tears starting to well much more frequently–usually because I’ve been touched by something or someone in some way, and it’s usually a pretty simple thing. I realize this is a sign that the long term dissociation within my mind is coming to an end because I’ve gained more courage to embrace my feelings instead of pushing them away or denying their existence.

I remember even during the darkest days of abuse by my psychopaths and narcs, when I walked around like an emotional zombie due to all the abuse I endured, there were rare moments of clarity when truth and beauty shone through the murk of depression and PTSD.

During my pregnancies with both my children (I was pregnant three other times–one abortion which I am writing about next–the child would have been a boy born in 1999–and two miscarriages), my brain’s marination in a continuous bath of pregnancy hormones made me very emotional. Not depressed-emotional–in fact, I was happier than I’d ever been. Things just touched me or made me feel some kind of ineffable euphoria or inexplicable sadness and suddenly there would be tears.

I think the increased emotionality experienced by pregnant and lactating women is the result of nature’s opening our hearts to connect deeply and lovingly with our children from the moment we know we are pregnant. The torrents of female hormones–mostly estrogen and progesterone–help wire our brains to to allow the limbic (emotional) system to run things for awhile. The heightened ability to feel is a gift that helps our species survive because under the right circumstances, emotional openness transforms into unconditional love and empathy.

The hormonal bath continued for some weeks after the births of both my children and I remember getting particularly emotional one dark and cold night as I held my firstborn against milk-swollen breasts, with Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” playing on the stereo. I watched as my son rooted for the nourishment he sought and found it. Latched on tightly, dark pink lips pursed in determination and a primitive and preternatural hunger, my baby son began to nurse. As I felt the milk come down, I was overwhelmed with tenderness and love for this completely helpless creature who so recently had lived inside my body and taken nourishment from my blood, and whose wastes were eliminated with my own, and suddenly my face was awash in tears.

I watched as if through antique swirled-glass windows as my tears soaked my tiny boy’s thistledown-fine hair and ran across a petal-soft pink cheek busily working my milk glands. There was a melancholy underpinning to my overwhelming elation and I allowed myself to feel that sadness too–and realized that melancholy welled up from an awareness of how fragile my tiny son was, how fragile we all are–at any age; and how easily a trusting, childlike soul can be stamped out by hurt, abandonment and abuse. I wanted to protect this child from any harm that might ever come his way. I didn’t realize then my son’s own father would set out to destroy his spirit. Thank God he did not succeed.

At the moment the first drop of salt water touched my baby, opaque dark blue eyes fluttered open and gazed at me, seeming to understand my feelings. Sighing a delicate baby sigh, this tiny human being I had created through my love for a man and sustained and nurtured by my blooming, hormone-soaked body, nestled in closer and suckled harder until swept away in blissful sleep. I marveled at the knowledge this tiny boy would one day be a man, taller and probably physically stronger than me, and that I would play a huge part in his journey to manhood. It scared me to pieces but I felt willing and ready to take on the challenge–because of love, the greatest power we have as humans.

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This wondrous connection–this moment of almost painful sweetness–was so honest and magical I almost dared not breathe. The tears poured down. I didn’t wipe the wetness from my face for that would have disrupted the beautiful connection I felt with my child.

It’s during these moments our hearts are open and we allow ourselves to become vulnerable, that we are fully engaged and connected with life and open to the bliss and pain of pure unconditional love. That kind of love is expressed in tears (often combined with laughter or smiles) because there are no words that could ever express the depth of this sublime emotion–an emotion of such beauty, rarity and truth it nearly hurts.

Tears are the mark of our common humanity and connect us with each other. We are pushed into the world crying, and are (hopefully) cried for when we leave it. Crying marks the most important milestones of our lives, whether they are happy or sad. There are always tears at graduations, pregnancy and wedding announcements, falling in and out of love, weddings, births, baptisms, death and funerals. There are tears wherever there is honesty, intimacy and love.

The happiest people in the world are often people who cry a lot. Their hearts are open, so everything and everyone touches them. They’re not afraid to connect and to empathize. Their love sometimes overflows the confines of their physical composure, and so they cry. I used to know a beautiful young woman who said she cried five or more times a day–just because she was so happy all the time. She wasn’t annoying happy. Honest joy never is annoying. She moved through life regally and with dignity and compassion, appreciating everything and loving everything and being touched by everything, and everyone loved her right back because they knew she was an empath. People wanted to be close to her, they wanted to be touched by her, both emotionally and physically. Her large expressive eyes were almost always wet with tears. At first it seemed a little strange, but soon we got so used to seeing her that way it just seemed normal after awhile. And it WAS normal, more normal than anything could ever be.

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I was so envious of that girl for her emotional openness. But she showed me a great truth about myself. I could be that girl because that was me. I just needed to find a way to knock down my thick concrete walls of fear. It’s getting easier. I still have a lot of emotional blockage, but I no longer feel like one of the walking dead.

In the Stephen King movie “The Green Mile,” John Coffey is an autistic man who nevertheless is an empath. He’s been unjustly sentenced to Death Row for the murder of two little girls because he was the last one seen with them (and probably due to his being black as well). You sense Coffey never killed those girls and in fact you realize how empathic this man really is. He has no defenses against the world due to his inability to hide his emotions (some autistic people have trouble regulating their emotions), and at the same time this very defenselessness gives him unbelievable strength and goodness. Coffey cried almost constantly, feeling the emotions of everyone around him and freely giving unconditional love where none existed.

A couple of years ago, there was a very popular video that went viral. It featured a 10-month old baby girl apparently crying from empathy as she listened to her mother sing. I’m not usually a fan of “cute baby” videos but watching this baby was fascinating because she cried like an adult would have–and the purity of her emotion was an achingly beautiful thing to see.

We are born withour hearts unguarded. When life begins to hurt too much (and it always does), children eventually learn to guard their hearts or in the worst cases (NPD, ASPD and some other mental disorders), dissociate themselves from their true feelings so thoroughly there is no turning back to the emotionally open state we were born with.

It’s a sad state of affairs that all the tender (“feminine”) emotions such as sadness, deep connection or friendship, love in all its forms, joy of the non-shallow type, feeling touched or moved, gratitude, and empathy– have been so devalued in modern society and are often seen as proof of weakness in a person when in fact they show a person who has the strength and courage to leave their hearts unguarded when it matters the most.

It’s interesting that all these softer emotions indicate goodness and purity of heart. They possess enormous potential to eliminate or reduce darkness and evil because they are emotions of healing, love, and our human connection with the Divine.

In a perfect world where all human beings had open, unguarded hearts, an alien from another planet upon first meeting a typical human would see smiles and laughter graced by tears. If the alien were to question what these signals meant, the answer would be “Love.”
The angels in Heaven would tell you the same.