Feb 10

When Narcissists Win Grammys

We watched the Grammys last night.  The Grammys might also be called, “The Music World’s Parade of Narcissists“.  We watched to see the artists we like, but as the spectacle continued, we became annoyed by the display of glitz and the embarrassing acceptance speeches.  The extravaganza took on all the fascination of a train wreck.  We felt compelled to watch to see which Narcissist would attempt to out-do the other Narcissists.

It was painful, hilarious, disgusting, and not in the least entertaining.  Just what do the Grammys have to do with music?

At the risk of sounding like I’m channeling my grandma when she watched the debut of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, I have to wonder, what do baggy pants have to do with entertainment?  The station had to block the sound on half of the lyrics “sung” by Eminem and his bad-ass buddies.  Is this music worthy of any awards?

At one point Jenny said, “Why don’t they wear regular clothes, stop acting so weird, and just sing?”  Will noticed that the audience wasn’t clapping very enthusiastically, and said, “I think they’re only clapping to be polite.”  What part of the Elton John/ Lady Gaga spectacle was entertaining?  Maybe it was a fine display of marketing and packaging in an attempt to sell more CDs, but I’m not rushing out to buy anything based on what I saw, and I like Elton John.

Check out the lyrics for the Black Eyed Peas’, ‘Imma Be’.  The only line missing is, “Imma Be a Narcissist.” Continue reading →

Jan 10

Noxious Narcissism

bind-weedThe other day Will and I were riding home from the ski hill with grandpa.  The subject of  “Blooming where you’re planted” came up.  I don’t think I’d find many people to disagree with the premise — be happy where you are planted.  I asked grandpa what he thought about the fact that there might be a lot of weeds where we are planted.  He responded by saying, “The best way to deal with weeds is to make sure the plant is healthy.”  He is right, of course.  The healthier the plant, the less chance the weeds have to take over.

I pretend to be a gardener.  I love gardening and flowers and vegies and being outside playing in the dirt with the kids and the worms.  I never use any kind of chemicals.  That stuff scares me.  In fact, for me it is therapeutic to pull weeds.

We have a lot of bind weed where we live.  Circling our little garden is a four foot fence made of chicken coop wire.  It is just about impossible to uncoil bind weed from that fencing, once it has a chance to get started.  And actually, bind weed is kind of pretty when it blooms.   Bind weed is part of the Morning Glory family. I usually ignore the bind weed that crawls up the fencing.  It looks nice when it blooms, and it’s difficult to get rid of once it takes over.  But bind weed needs to be pulled before it wraps its tendrils around young seedlings.  I try to get Sweet Peas to climb that same chicken coop fencing.  It does well if I can keep the bind weed away from it.

So back to the ride home from the ski hill.

I was enjoying that exquisite relaxation that comes from a day of exercising outside.  I didn’t have to focus on driving.  My mind was thinking about blooming and weeds and toxicity and narcissism.  Suddenly I envisioned Mark wrapping his arms around Will and pulling him onto his lap — the way he has done since Will was a toddler.  He always seemed to be restraining Will.  He’d refuse to let him run around and play.  He seemed to want to pin him down in an effort to control him.  And then I envisioned the way bind weed wraps around a vulnerable little Sweet Pea seedling — choking it.  The Sweet Pea seedling bends under the weight of the bind weed.  It is helpless until someone comes along and pulls the bind weed.  I could see my own little Sweet Peas struggling to stand tall, to catch a breath, to reach the sun, to grow and bloom. Continue reading →

Dec 09

I’ll Take The Fingernails

“Are you kidding?  That’s for me?  You guys made that for me?  Were you thinking about me when you made that?  Can I have it?  Can I keep it?  Can I hang it in my house?  Won’t it look so nice in my house?  I can’t believe you guys made that for me!  You guys were thinking about me!  That’s so cool!  That’s really for me, right?”

Would you guess that Mark had been presented with the most exquisite gift ever given?  Maybe an original painting?  Maybe a handmade quilt?  Maybe a one-of-a-kind piece of pottery?  Maybe the Hope Diamond?  Guess again.  The kids gave him a few evergreen branches tied together with a Christmas ribbon.  Will says, “Ah, yea, Dad.  You can go ahead and hang that on your house.”  Then Will turns to look at me with this expression on his face that says, “Get me outta here!”

Those exclamations are the sounds of feigned interest.  That is the sound of a person faking enthusiasm for something they think they are supposed to get excited about.  That is what it sounds like when you pretend to be interested in something your kids have done.  Can you imagine having to pretend to be interested?  Can you imagine not thinking that everything they create is some kind of gift, or an indication that they are destined for a life of greatness?

We’ve heard that a lot.  Usually those exclamations are followed by short statements that tell the artist how they came up short in their execution.  “Jenny!  That’s the most amazing drawing of the Loch Ness Monster that I’ve ever seen.  But I don’t think he has purple spots.”  “Will, I love the story you wrote.  But, Buddy, you should really stick with painting.”

Narcissists don’t react to situations the way most people do.  Most people try to appropriately match their reaction to the situation.  Actually, I don’t think most people have to try to do that.  Okay, maybe we have to work at it a bit, when we’re reacting to something coming from someone we don’t know well.  But with our family, or people we know well, it shouldn’t be fabricated.   It comes naturally for most of us to find the right measure of enthusiasm for any given circumstance.  Narcissists don’t have that ability.  Maybe it has something to do with their lack of empathy.  Perhaps they have to fake all emotions when they are reacting to something that they haven’t created. Continue reading →

Nov 09

When Divorcing The Narcissist Isn’t Enough

Last night Will was so stressed, I actually resorted to giving him a Pepcid.  That’s the first time he’s taken anything for an upset stomach.  His stomach had been bothering him for two days.  Coincidentally, his father had been over both those days.

I’m too familiar with this feeling.  I have a stash of Pepcid for myself.

After both visits, Will started pacing, cussing and ranting.  I’ve told him that he can write about what bugs him.  We’ve lots of cryptic notes around the house.

“My Dad is an A hole.”

“F you dad.” Continue reading →

Oct 09

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

boots were made for walkin'The day the three of us packed our boxes and moved out of Mark’s house was also my Grandma’s 90th birthday.  There was a gathering at the nursing home, and the kids and I loaded the boxes in the car, and headed to the birthday party.  That sounds bizarre.  The fact that we put the boxes in the car, and went on with the plans of our day was a real indication that my mind was made up.  I couldn’t put the decision off because of a 90th birthday party, so we packed and went to the party.

My dad was there.  He’s a real piece of work.  There’s a whole blog’s worth of stuff to say about my dad.  And because there are divorces and re-marriages in my family, there were current spouses, ex-spouses, and ex-ex-spouses at this affair.  I am not close with my dad, and I don’t see him often even though we live in the same town.  A relative once told me that my dad had mentioned to her that he had seen me crossing the street downtown and there were two little kids with me.  My dad actually asked the relative who those kids were.  He had met them, of course, but he has so little to do with us that I think he sometimes forgets that I have kids.  Anyway, I  didn’t want him to be the last family member to know that I had decided to leave Mark, and I knew I wouldn’t be seeing him again, any time soon, so I figured I’d find a moment at the party to quickly explain my plans.  The kids and I were getting ready to leave the party, so I asked my dad if I could talk with him out in the hallway for a second.

We go out into the hallway and I tell him that I’ve decided to leave Mark and that the kids and I would be staying at mom’s for awhile.  He looks at me, his eyes well up with tears and he says, “You go back in there and you tell Mary that she should have never left me.”  I couldn’t help it, but I heard myself say, “Huh? Mary?  Mary who left you six years ago?”  And he sobs, “Yeah, Mary has no idea how she hurt me.  You go tell her to come out here and talk to me.”

I just walked away and let him stand there feeling sorry for himself.  I wanted to say, “I’ll be fine, dad.  Don’t worry about me, dad.  Don’t worry about Will and Jenny, Dad.  We’ll be just fine.  We don’t need anything.”  But all I could do was walk away.  You have got to admire the kind of talent, skill, cunning, whatever you want to call it, that  someone has to have to turn another person’s hardship into something that is all about them.

Aug 09

The Opportunivore

Out of curiosity, I Googled the word Opportunivore.  The Urban Dictionary defines an Opportunivore as, “an individual who seeks food in any situation where no exchange of capital is needed.”  I’ll take some liberties with that definition and change it to, “an individual who seeks adulation and admiration in any situation and assumes no reciprocating is needed.”

Narcissists are incredibly accomplished Opportunivores.  Give them any situation, and they can make sure that it is all about them.  Case in point, yesterday was the first day of school.  In our little family, the tradition is to take pictures in the morning before school.  Just the kids at home – no fanfare, no crowds, not in front of the school building.  Mark opted to greet the kids at the school once class got out.  That way he could be seen scooping up his beautiful children, and he could perform for an audience of admiring parents and teachers.

And today while I was relieving stress on the hill in front of the house, I noticed Mark and Will in Mark’s car.  From my vantage I could see the car suddenly start and then stop with a lot of jerking and rocking.  It turns out that Mark decided today was a good day to teach Will how to drive.  Will is ten.  I learned later that Will didn’t ask to drive the car.  Mark made the suggestion.

I know how Mark operates.  If he grants the kids special privileges, he gets rewarded with more admiration and attention.  Apparently, he wasn’t getting enough attention from Will, so he grandstanded and suggested that this would be a good day for Will to learn to drive.  Then, when they had completed the lesson, Mark scooped Will up for a “there’s  my good boy” hug.

Do you see the contradiction there? Continue reading →