God among us.

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God is everywhere, but sometimes it seems like he’s nowhere in the universe when we’re depressed or in emotional or physical pain.

You don’t have to go to church or read the Bible to find God.    God doesn’t live on a lofty cloud always passing harsh judgment on us underlings far below on this little planet.    He isn’t a being we can only know after we die, or only in religious settings.  He can’t always be found in that hellfire and brimstone preacher in the megachurch on the outskirts of town, and He certainly isn’t present in those television evangelists who prey on the poor and gullible by insisting you make a large donation to their organization in exchange for salvation.

In 1977, there was a little movie called “Oh, God” starring John Denver as an assistant grocery store manager, who was searching for meaning in his life.  God (played by George Burns) appeared to Denver as a kindly but slightly eccentric little old man who was one of his customers.   At first, Denver was unbelieving, but over time it became clear this old guy was the real deal, and his life began to change.

Twenty years later, there was a popular song by a singer-songwriter named Joan Osborne called “One of Us.”  The lyrics speculated about the nature of God, and whether He (or she) would appear as “one of us” —

If God had a name, what would it be?
And would you call it to His face?
If you were faced with Him in all His glory
What would you ask if you had just one question?

And yeah, yeah God is great
Yeah, yeah, God is good
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

What if God was one of us
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make His way home?

If God had a face, what would it look like?
And would you want to see?
If seeing meant that you would have to believe
In things like heaven and in Jesus and the saints and all the prophets?

And yeah, yeah God is great
Yeah, yeah, God is good
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

What if God was one of us
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make His way home?

He’s trying to make His way home
Back up to Heaven all alone
Nobody calling on the phone
Except for the pope maybe in Rome

And yeah, yeah God is great
Yeah, yeah, God is good
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

What if God was one of us
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make His way home?

Just trying to make His way home
Like a holy rolling stone
Back up to Heaven all alone
Just trying to make His way home
Nobody calling on the phone
Except for the pope maybe in Rome

Joan Osborne – What If God Was One Of Us Lyrics | MetroLyrics

The song in its time was somewhat controversial, because it had the temerity to suggest that God might be just a little too much like us — eg, too human (and therefore, not perfect).

While I don’t believe God would take up permanent residence in a human body, as He does in Osborne’s random stranger on a bus or as Burns’ unremarkable old man buying groceries,  I do believe God (or Jesus, if you are Christian) can use each and any of us as a vessel (for a short time) to touch the lives of others, and sometimes even change them.    We are all made in God’s image, and sometimes, when we least expect it, after feeling disconnected and ready to give up on spiritual life, God is suddenly right there, speaking to us, encouraging us,  or offering comfort — through another human being, often a total stranger.  That other person doesn’t even have to be Christian or believe in God, because I know from my own experience that sometimes God can even use a nonbeliever as a vessel to spread his love and care.

Here are some examples from my own life of times I knew God was there, using another person to communicate with me or perform those “random acts of kindness” that seem so rare in today’s complex world:

  • When I was buying groceries a few days before Christmas a few years ago and my debit card was run through and showed I had insufficient funds, a man behind me suddenly handed the cashier the $40 I was short of.
  • A customer of mine who recently bought me four new tires because he didn’t want me driving on the old ones (the man happens to be an atheist)
  • Every time my therapist  is able to feel my feelings with me and due to that high empathy (which is a gift bestowed on him by God, even though he is a non-Christian), know exactly what I need from him emotionally.
  • A hug from a random little girl of about 4 who told me, “don’t be sad.”   I wasn’t crying, but was going through a dark time in my life and was being abused at home.  Somehow she knew how much I needed that hug.
  • A man with Down Syndrome standing in line at the store who was pointing to things, smiling and laughing at everything he saw.   His eyes sparkled and he just seemed so excited to be alive.  People around him were laughing too, but not at him.  They laughed with him, because he was so happy and made everyone just feel so good (as an aside, it’s interesting how often God appears through people standing on line at the store).
  • Random thoughtful gifts or kind words from my children when I didn’t expect it and other people I never expected a gift or a kind word from.
  • A woman I met online and wrote about last November who offered to pay for me to attend a 4 day seminar addressing trauma from a spiritual/Christian perspective, after I told her I didn’t have the funds and couldn’t go.
  • Another woman I met online and became friends with, who sent two thoughtful gifts to me exactly when I needed them, without my asking.

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There are so many other examples, but these are the first ones I thought of.

Think about the times that God has reached you through another person — who either gave unselfishly of themselves, or just made you feel comforted or happy during a dark time or when you least expected it.    Make a list of those times and refer to it when you feel like God has forgotten about you.

Think about how you can touch the lives of others.  Ask God to show you how He can work through you to help others in need.

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Becoming real.

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I haven’t been posting as much about my recovery or therapy on this blog as I used to, because it’s grown so big and I feel more comfortable posting such deeply personal stuff on my other blog, because it’s so much smaller and has far fewer readers than this one does.

But I’m making an exception today, because of how important I think this dream I had last night is.

My subconscious mind seems to be revealing the most to me lately through my dreams. Later I tell my therapist about them, and we interpret them together. Sometimes though, the meaning is obvious to me and lately it’s getting easier for me to figure these dreams out on my own.

In my last therapy session, I was asked what my real self is really like.   I wasn’t able to answer very well.  I felt like I had to make things up.  Chair Girl (my inner child, who I have “sit” in a chair in my therapist’s office, which is how she got her name) is so elusive, and only comes out intermittently.  I know she’s shy and has the potential to be very loving, but sometimes it’s hard for me to capture her essence, who SHE is.

Last night, I had another beautiful dream that answered this for me.

I owned a strange object.   It was a cat made out of black stone.   But it wasn’t actually black stone.   The person who gave it to me explained that this object had once been a real cat, who had been killed during a plane crash (but whose body somehow remained intact) and whose owner, a man from China, had the cat’s body cryogenically frozen and sealed, much like those services that do taxidermy on dead pets and send your pet back to you stuffed and fitted with glass eyes.  But this cat wasn’t stuffed and it didn’t have glass eyes.   It was hard as a rock, heavy, and shone like stone.   Its eyes were sealed shut, forever sleeping.

I loved the cat anyway, and felt sad over what had happened to it.  I  liked to just sit with it and pet it, even though it was no more than an object and could never respond or give back any love.  I sometimes wondered what he had been like, and I named him Max.

One day something very strange happened.  I knew Max had been dead for years.   But on this one day, while I was holding it in my arms, pretending it was a real cat, I heard a small mew.     I looked down and saw that Max was trying to open his eyes.    I almost dropped him in shock, but instead set him down gently on a chair and watched in amazement.   I wasn’t sure what to do.   This was scaring me.  But I was frozen in place.   I couldn’t stop watching.

Max began to transform.   His cold stone body became a beautiful coat of reddish brown tabby fur, and his eyes, now opened, turned from black to brilliant blue.   He started to breathe.  He looked up at me and meowed loudly.  It occurred to me he must be part Siamese, with those blue eyes and loud, raspy voice.

I asked him if he was hungry, and he immediately jumped down and walked regally toward the kitchen, as if he understood what I was asking him.  He kept looking back at me, meowing.  I happened to have some cat food and he ate as if he’d been starving.    My shock having worn off,  I felt love overflowing for this tiny animal.   I picked Max up and held him and listened to him purr contentedly.    He was so tiny but so beautiful and I realized that somehow, it was my love that had woken him up and transformed him back into a living, breathing, loving cat.

One of my favorite stories as a child was The Velveteen Rabbit, and I think it’s because of the universal truth in that story:  that being loved is how one becomes real.

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Max is the real me.  By learning self-love and self-empathy, she’s waking up and making herself known. She’s becoming real.

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.

The Inheritance (with message by Graham Cooke)

This video was just sent to me, and I am BLOWN AWAY.

The singer is Jonathan Helser.

Empty words.

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“I love you.”

Adult children of narcissists hear those words a lot.  But they ring hollow and false to my ears, because words are just words–it’s the actions behind them that give them meaning.  And I haven’t been shown much (if any) love or support by my family or the other narcissists in my life who have have uttered those three words to me so many times.

Anyone can send a Hallmark card or say “I love you” but that’s as close to love as narcissists can get, because they never learned what love really is.

There’s a blogger I read who is a narcissist.   I like his posts because he writes about narcissistic abuse from a narcissist’s point of view (nope, not Sam Vaknin).  Oftentimes you learn more about something when it comes out of the proverbial horse’s mouth.    You get a whole new perspective on things that way.    Usually he writes about the tactics a narcissist uses to prey on others, but sometimes he’s more transparent and and shows some vulnerability–even writing about the abuse that was done to him and turned him into a narcissist.  From one especially gutwrenching post where the blogger, HG Tudor, describes what sort of “love” he was taught as a child:

Love is being told to never trust anybody.

Love is being made to re-write the entire essay because of one spelling mistake.

Love is being sent to stand outside on a cold winter’s day until all three verses of Ode to Autumn are recited correctly.

Love is knowing nothing is ever good enough.

Love is understanding that someone else knows better than you what is best for you.

Love is turning away from the reality.

Love is standing straight against a wall for several hours for speaking out of turn.

Love is for the weak.

Love is being told that when I am gone nobody else will look out for you.

Love is succeeding.

Love is building a wall as high as possible.

Love is trying until it hurts and gaining that final curt nod of approval.

Love is being seen and not heard.

Love is fulfilling your potential and securing that legacy.

Love is hurting you even though it hurts me, but someone in this household has to do it and it won’t be him will it?

Love is reading to yourself than being read to.

Love is living in the shadows and hoping not to be noticed.

Love is being the best.

Love is the preserve of the powerful.

Love is being denied a birthday party because the other children are too stupid.

Love is being undermined in order to prevent conceit.

Love is a begrudged recognition and the injunction to try harder, go further, climb higher, run faster, study longer.

Love is burning your hand but not crying.

Love is a righteous beating.

Love is being distant and pretending things never happened.

Love is being sent away.

Love is not being told.

Love is splendid isolation. 

 

He has it right.   He knows this is not what love is, even if he has no idea what real love is.    There’s a lot of anger in his post.  What he may not realize is this list could apply to ALL children of narcissistic families, not just people like him who have NPD.

There’s one difference though.   For those of us who didn’t become narcissists, we somehow learned what love is.   Real love is unconditional love: love that is unearned, love that is given just because you’re who you are, regardless of your flaws and shortcomings. You are not shamed for being who you are, at any point, ever.  You are cherished for your soul, not your appearance, income, intelligence, or achievements.   You are not judged for being in a bad mood or for not being happy all the time.  Someone who truly loves you will still love you even when you’re sad, mad or afraid.  They will offer support in some way, not turn their back on you or blame you or kick you while you’re on the ground.

Those of us with C-PTSD and other trauma based disorders didn’t get unconditional love from our immediate families.   But if we didn’t become narcissists we might have had a taste of enough of it to make a model of it for ourselves.  Maybe a loving relative outside of our immediate family–a  grandfather or aunt perhaps–showed us this kind of unconditional unearned love.  Maybe we were “adopted” by the loving parents of a friend (not literally adopted, just treated like a member of that family).   Perhaps we were fortunate enough not to marry an abuser (unfortunately, that’s not the case for most of us, since we were programmed to attract and be attracted to abusers) who showed us what real love is all about.   Maybe we had a compassionate teacher when we were young.  It’s even possible that one or both of our narcissist parents (if they weren’t malignant or sociopathic) had occasional moments of lucidity when their false self was temporarily down for whatever reason, and during those rare moments were able to see and love us for who we really were, not for what they wanted us to be or what we could give them.

My point here is that love was somehow modeled for us by somebody before the critical period for being able to accept–and give–love came to a close.   Probably not enough to heal our wounds; the damage done to us was severe and complete healing may not be possible.   The scars will always remain, no matter how much work we do on ourselves.   We may be compromised in our ability to give and receive love, but we can still learn.    Even if we’ve been shown very little love throughout our lives, by the grace of God, our souls, though damaged, somehow remained intact.    For a narcissist, there’s no inkling of what actual love might feel like, even if, as with the blogger quoted above, they want to know.

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I’m so starved for unconditional love that when it is given to me, I want to cry in gratitude and some emotion that feels very close to relief.   Occasionally I have.    I can tell you what that kind of love feels like:  a sincere hug when you’re depressed; concerned ears that listen without judgment even if they disagree with you;  someone who isn’t a fair weather friend and is still your friend even when you’re going through a rough time or aren’t at your best; a real family that always welcomes and supports you no matter how old you are or how many problems you’ve faced and doesn’t disown you, judge you, shun you, talk badly about you behind your back, or tell you everything’s your own fault.   Love is like a respite from pain after an excruciating illness; it’s reassurance that the thing you dreaded the most did not come to pass, that in fact, the outcome was wonderful instead.    That’s what love feels like, and it’s everyone’s birthright.  That some of us received so little of it–or none at all–is appalling to me.     The injustice of it makes feel rage.

I received just enough of this kind of love, and at an early enough age, that it was modeled for me.  I received just enough that my soul escaped relatively intact, even if my mind did not.    I can feel unconditional love for others, but I’m still afraid to reach out to them, because I learned that people can’t be trusted.  So many people in my life have shown me their “love” has no real meaning and is just three pretty words with nothing inside but betrayal and hurt.    The terrible irony of having received enough of a “taste” to know what real love is  like is that you constantly crave more of it, like a drowning person gasping for air.  You haven’t received enough to feel confident that it will last or that anyone in the world really cares about you, so you either clutch onto it for dear life or avoid relationships altogether.

I don’t want to become bitter and full of hate.

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Credit: lynnmosher.com

I’m dealing with a lot of conflicting emotions right now in the wake of my dad’s passing, and rage is probably the dominant emotion I’m trying to process. Not rage at my dad per se, but rage at every narcissist I ever knew starting from the time I was a small child, making my life hell. For those of you who have read my recent posts, you might have noticed the increase in anger I’ve been expressing toward narcissists in general. My posts this week sound a lot like my early posts on this blog, during the first few months after I went NC with my ex.

Rage, anger, and even hatred can be useful, even necessary, when you’re going No Contact. Your survival is at stake. Your anger gives you the courage to escape and overrides any fear that may keep you in thrall to your narcissist. But beyond that, it begins to eat away at your soul and eventually can turn YOU into a narcissist. I’ve seen that happen so many times and it’s tragic. I’ve written about this phenomenon numerous times on this blog so I won’t do so again.

I bring this up because my writing lately seems to reflect a return to a narc-hating mindset. I don’t find hating narcissists helpful, personally. I find it more helpful (for myself anyway) to think of them as a different kind of victim, a type of victim that other victims have trouble understanding because their behavior is so predatory and sometimes incomprehensible. Thinking of them in this way seems to give them less power over me and makes me less afraid.

I don’t want to become an embittered, angry, hate-filled person. I don’t want hatred to take over my battered but still intact soul. I don’t want narc-hatred to turn me into a narcissist. This doesn’t mean I forgive the narcissists in my life for what they have done to me; but I do want to attempt to understand why they do the things they do. I want to understand how and why they became that way. It’s important for me emotionally to do this; being able to understand or at least try to helps me heal.

I know the rage and hate I feel right now is out of character for me, but all my emotions are in turmoil following my father’s passing. I pray that this too will pass and I can return to understanding narcissists without condoning or enabling. I still pray for their deliverance and always will.

Matthew 5:43-48:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? …

Narcissists and Sex.

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I can’t believe I’ve never written a post before about narcissists and sex, but sex is one of the biggest ways they manipulate and control the rest of us.

Many people mistakenly believe narcissists love sex. Actually, that isn’t true. They’re not even especially promiscuous. In fact, many narcissists are downright prudish. People with Borderline or Histrionic Personality Disorder are much more likely to be promiscuous, because in their minds, sexual attention is equated with love and acceptance.

Narcissists don’t love sex. Sex is merely a tool they can use to get what they want or to control or manipulate their victim. There are two kinds of narcissists: cerebral and somatic. While very different on the surface, at heart they really aren’t very different at all. Neither has any empathy and neither has any desire to emotionally connect to another person and will go to great lengths to avoid it. This means neither a cerebral or somatic narcissist is capable of making love to another person because making love implies an emotional connection to someone else.

Cerebral narcissists.

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Cerebral narcissists are the pretentious, insufferable intellectuals and achievers of the world. They think they’re smarter or more successful than everyone else and go to great lengths to be adulated and admired for their “intellectual superiority” or “successful lifestyle.” Cerebral narcissists often hate sex and avoid it. They may even be prudish, especially if religiously-bent (many of them are, because religion gives them “permission” to be hateful and judgmental toward others).

Cerebral narcissists suffer the deepest narcissistic injury when their intellectual prowess or success in the material world is threatened, someone else is deemed smarter or more successful than they are, or they are exposed as being of only average intelligence or ability. Because they aren’t normally promiscuous, they may be either asexual, or (to maintain the image of normality which benefits their lifestyle, or to fend off loneliness), they may desire to attract a spouse, which means sex is used to draw a potential mate to them and/or maintain a loveless marriage. Sex is never an expression of love or emotional connection, because love and genuine emotional connection are things all narcissists avoid like the plague and are incapable of anyway.

Sex with a cerebral narcissist is likely to be cold, machine-like, and lacking in spontaneity and emotional expression. The other partner is bound to feel frustrated and unfulfilled–and of course the narcissist could care less. A cerebral narcissist may also withhold sex as “punishment” or to control their partner. While not usually promiscuous, some male cerebral narcissists may go outside their marriage (such as to a prostitute) to fulfill their physical needs, since to them, sex with someone they don’t know or have a responsibility to is preferable because there’s no risk of emotional complications or demands from the sex partner.

Somatic narcissists.

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Somatic narcissists are concerned with their body image, health, or physical appearance. They believe themselves to be the most handsome, beautiful, or sexiest person in any given room. They go to great lengths to maintain and embellish their most prized possessions–their own bodies. They may use sex as a way to woo potential partners because they know they can. But they don’t genuinely enjoy sex; it’s merely a tool to get them the attention and praise they want. As with the cerebral narcissist, they’re incapable of making love–that is, feeling emotionally connected to another human being through the sex act.

Some somatic narcissists may be promiscuous, but unlike a Borderline, sex isn’t a “replacement” for love. It’s a tool that is used to control and manipulate a potential victim. A woman with somatic narcissism who has maintained an attractive body and style knows her sexual attributes are most likely to win her a potential mate. She knows she can bewitch a man with her body and doesn’t hesitate to use it for that purpose. But once she has won him over, she’s likely to begin to devalue and eventually discard him. If he has attributes she thinks she needs (money or success), she may even marry him because it benefits her lifestyle. But she’s likely to get bored and be unfaithful. It’s a game to her; sex is just the advantage she knows she has to win the game. Lest anyone think I’m being sexist here, there are plenty of somatic narcissist men who act the exact same way, and the women they attract mean nothing to them except a means to an end.

A few narcissists who have become sociopathic may even use sex as a means to control and terrorize their victims. In their minds, it has become equated with violence and rage. Some serial killers like Ted Bundy (diagnosed with NPD) use sex this way, to dehumanize and destroy their victims. Even some who aren’t murderers may use sex this way, like the abusive husband who mercilessly rapes his wife while he beats her.

What is good sex really? And why aren’t narcissists capable of it?

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Good sex is fun. It can be an incredible physical release. But without genuine emotional connection, it’s really no better than a drug–a temporary “fix” that might make you feel good for a little while, but doesn’t last and is ultimately unsatisfying.

Although being emotionally committed to another person isn’t all fun and games, and can be hard and sometimes painful work, sex between two people who genuinely love and care for each other transcends its physical boundaries and becomes a spiritual thing that only human beings are capable of. It leaves the realm of the animalistic and physical and becomes something that transforms both partners and connects them to the divine. Lovemaking requires complete vulnerability–it’s one of the only times in life (outside of childbirth and breast-feeding) that a person is both physically and emotionally naked with another person, leaving nothing hidden.

Such utter vulnerability makes lovemaking scary to many people. And it’s more scary to a narcissist than to anyone, because they’re so terrified of ever appearing vulnerable to someone else. It requires a level of trust they simply aren’t capable of. Even non-narcissists often find it difficult to connect with another person on such a profound level, and I think that’s what’s behind the shame and embarrassment people have when the “S” word is mentioned. It’s also what’s behind the almost universal corruption of a God-given act of love into something sordid, base, and shallow–almost the polar opposite of what it was intended to be.

A word about limerence.

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Most narcissists are entirely capable of limerence, a feeling of strong infatuation that is often mistaken for love.   It’s not a bad thing in itself.  Indeed, many long lasting relationships and marriages begin with limerence or “falling in love.” To make the transition to a healthy long term relationship, limerence must become replaced or be transformed into genuine attachment and feelings of deep caring about the other person. Limerence isn’t love and it doesn’t last. You can become limerent about a celebrity but you certainly don’t “love” them since you don’t know them at all. It probably evolved as a way humans could attach to someone else long enough to bear a child and see it through the first year of life, when an infant is at its most vulnerable and needs two parents. Research suggests that intelligent mammals, such as dogs, cats and monkeys, may feel the entire range of “human” emotions, and this includes feelings akin to limerence as well.

Limerence is actually very narcissistic. It’s common for two people who have just met and are “falling in love” to say things like, “I can see myself in your eyes,” or “I feel like we’re one person.”  Popular music is filled with such sentiments.  The person you’re limerent about becomes a kind of mirror. You aren’t seeing them as they actually are; you are projecting your own needs onto them and imbuing them with qualities you desire but they don’t necessarily actually have (if they do, it’s a happy coincidence-and that could become the basis for genuine love).  A narcissist in limerence can SEEM vulnerable and loving, and in the beginning of a relationship with one, no one can act more romantic.  You’ll be wined and dined and woo’d with flowers and candy until you develop diabetes. But all these gifts and promises of undying love aren’t about you at all–it’s all about them and what they think they see in you that can give them what they want and need. Once you reveal that you’re only human and can never be all things to them, the D&D will begin and they will think nothing of tossing you in the trash like an old broken mirror, as if they never knew you at all.

Viral post shows why early attachment is so important.

A few weeks ago, a Facebook post written by a new mother, Dayna Mager, went viral. I’m reposting it not only because I found it so touching, but also because the message it conveys is so important.

A baby will NOT become spoiled if you what this mother did. In fact, quite the opposite. A child who is mirrored this way will grow up self-confident and able to empathize with others without losing themselves in the process. Infants abandoned in orphanages and never interacted with (even though all their physical needs are met) will develop severe attachment disorders which could lead to complex PTSD or worse, personality disorders like Narcissistic or Antisocial Personality Disorder. It’s why so many of the children adopted from places like Russia, Africa, and Eastern Europe have had so many problems adjusting to their new families or developing healthy attachments to anyone else. It may be too late for some of them, because the “critical period” during infancy when they should have been closely bonded with their mothers or other caregivers was missed.

The part I have bolded in the post shattered me as I read it.

Here is Dayna’s post and the accompanying photo.

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This was from several weeks back, yes, I climbed in the crib in hopes to soothe my screaming, teething, blushed faced, and tear soaked little girl. My husband came home to this, and I am re-posting because this captures the essence of my heart, and my “why…” There I was in the heat of this exhausting, beautiful thing we call parenthood, and I remembered a promise I made to her.

One of the first times Matt and I left Luella, was to a worship concert. At that conference, a missionary shared his story, and it shook me to the core. A moment that would forever be burned in my fragile, hormone raging, new mommy heart that had already become 100xs more fragile after meeting her.

That missionary was in an orphanage in Uganda, and he has been in many before, but this one was different. He walked into a nursery with over 100 filled cribs with babes. He listened in amazement and wonder as the only sound he could hear was silence. A sound that is beyond rare in ANY nursery, let alone a nursery where over 100 new babes laid. He turned to his host and asked her why the nursery was silent. Then , her response to him is something I will never, ever forget. EVER. This was my “why” moment.

She looked at him and said, “After about a week of them being here, and crying out for countless hours, they eventually stop when they realize no one is coming for them…”

…They stop crying when they realize no one is coming for them. Not in 10 minutes, not in 4 hours, and maybe, perhaps, not ever…

Broke.

I broke. I literally could have picked up pieces of my heart scattered about the auditorium floor. But instead, it stirred in me a longing, a hunger.. A promise in my spirit.

We came home, and that night as Luella rested her tiny little 10lb body against mine and we rocked, I made a promise to her. A promise that I would always come to her.

Always.

At 2:00am when pitiful desperate squeals come through a baby monitor, I will come to her.

Her first hurt, her first heartbreak, we will come to her. We will be there to hold her, to let her feel, to make decisions on her own, and we will be there. We will show her through our tears and frustrations at times, that it is okay to cry, and it’s ok to feel. That we will always be a safe place, and we will always come to her.

Related to this, here is a post I wrote a few months ago about a very interesting experiment, The Still Face Experiment, which graphically shows the devastating effect lack of mirroring can have on young children.
https://luckyottershaven.com/2015/11/23/the-still-face-experiment/

I’d guess that most of us who suffer from C-PTSD, BPD or other trauma/attachment based disorders had mothers who believed it was best to let a baby “cry it out.” Back in the 1950s and 1960s, letting a baby cry it out in their own room was the fashion.

Love For All On Valentine’s Day

A bit late maybe, but there’s still 2 more hours left. ❤

The Tony Burgess Blog

Love is a great thing and on this Valentine’s Day I salute all couples who are expressing their affection for one another. I also have a wish for those who are not in a relationship with someone that soon they will find love, happiness and peace. Everyone should have someone to love and live well with.

To my friends who are in the LGBTQ community I support your human right to love the person you choose. It’s important you have that freedom and that opportunity. Many of you are celebrating the right to marry in this country. I hope for that freedom everywhere.

God bless each of you no matter your orientation or status.

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Question #51: What if limerence is NOT a delusion?

lucy_limerence

This was a question I thought of after posting my list of 50 things I ponder about, but I want to explore this further because I’ve never heard anyone else ask this same question.

Limerence is a term coined by psychotherapist Dorothy Tennov in 1979 in her excellent book, Love and Limerence. Limerence is a newer word for the state of infatuation, being “in love” (as opposed to real, agape or mature love), or simply “having a crush.”  I’ve always liked her word because I think it sounds exactly like what the emotion feels like.  I never liked the term infatuation because it sounds disgusting, having a crush implies an “unserious” problem only teenagers have, and being in love is probably not accurate.

She hypothesizes that limerence is an evolutionary adaptation that makes it possible for men and women to meet and mate, and lasts just long enough for them to marry and reproduce. That’s why the typical limerent episode lasts on average two years, and why it more commonly afflicts the young.

I’ve always been what Tennov calls a “limerent”–a person who gets crushes easily. Not everyone does. People with Cluster B disorders, especially BPD, are more prone to limerence than others, because we tend to idealize other people without really knowing them well or at all. It’s actually very narcissistic, because the other person serves as a kind of mirror, reflecting back the ideal qualities you want to see in them–until they don’t. Tennov calls the object of a crush a “limerent object.” In some ways, when you’re limerent about someone, you do see them as an object, because the idealized image of the other person isn’t based on reality or even accurate. At least that’s the common belief.

psyche
Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss – Antonio Canova (Italian, 1757–1822) – Eric Pouhier (May 2007)

But what if it IS accurate? What if limerence is actually a hyper-real state where you see another person as they really are, and just aren’t seeing everyone else the way they really are? What if it’s kind of like the idiot savant phenomenon in severe autism, where the autistic person seems to focus ALL their intellect into one narrow subject at the expense of everything else? In other words, if we were all created in God’s image, then maybe we are all far more beautiful and closer to perfection than we can perceive in everyday reality, and only in the state of limerence, when all our attention is focused on one person, we can see that person the way they really are, which is the way God perceives each one of us.

If you’ve ever been limerent about someone, and especially if they return your feelings (or you believe they do), you feel heady, giddy, euphoric, almost high. It’s a very spiritual feeling, and falling in love with someone does feel very spiritual. When we look at someone we are limerent about, are we really seeing them through a small window that lets us see them the way God sees the whole universe and everything in it?

Maybe the people who are closest to God and the spiritual, and who are the happiest, walk through life feeling limerent about everything. Being able to feel that way all the time about everything is the closest thing to heaven I can imagine.

That feeling can also be induced by certain drugs. Limerence could be closer to a drug high, but I prefer to think it’s a small peek into the divine.

I read somewhere that limerence is being considered as a mental illness in later editions of the DSM. Whether or not it’s real, I think that would be a shame, because limerence can be one of the most profound and magical experiences in life.

Further reading: Do Narcissists Fall in Love?