narcissistic holidays.

internet-meYou know what is really weird to me? All the ME stuff on the Internet. I mean, on the one hand, ME is a great subject. I think everybody likes to talk about themselves – you are your own best expert. (I’m exploring this, because I was looking at my last post’s title and wondering if people who don’t know me at all might come here and go: well, she’s a little into herself, isn’t she? Let’s get to know you…no, I mean ME! Let’s get to know all about you…no, I mean ME!) I suffer from moments of crippling self-doubt and am constantly questioning my own actions. I do this with everything, Internet. EVERYTHING. It’s exhausting.

Also now I have that song Getting to Know You stuck in my head.

In my Facebook news feed, I get articles from Psychology Today. You know which ones I click on the most? The better sex and/or better relationship articles, how to spot a psycho/sociopath, how to tell if someone is a liar, and how to tell if you’re a narcissist or involved with a narcissist articles. That’s it. If Psychology Today suggests I read an article on how to stop worrying and questioning your own actions and end all of your most terrifying, crippling self-doubt moments? Not interested.

Basically, what I’m saying is as I move through this life I’m living, I think I’m primarily concerned with avoiding liars and psycho/sociopaths because I want to have better sex and relationships even though I’m terrified I may be a narcissist or the kind of person who’s a magnet for narcissists or both (question: would two narcissists even be able to hang out in the same room together without gouging out each others’ eyes in sheer narcissistic rage?).

One of the things that led to the crashing of my marriage was my inability to be a team player. I’m not a loner – I enjoy being around other people. It’s just that, after I’m around other people, I always need to have a lot of quiet, downtime to psychically recuperate. No joke – when I get home from being around 23 kids all day, I need serious child-free quiet time and I can be really testy with you, especially if you’re a child, if I don’t get it. Still. Being around other people makes me happy, and I’m always up for a good party. And while I know HOW to be a team player, it’s simply not my preference. I like to do things by myself, for myself. I think this is partly a control issue – I just do it faster, better, and the way I know I’ll like it (and I can hear you thinking it, so yes: ditto for sex, though it’s more comforting with another person there). And partly it’s just a thing that introverts just do.

At any rate, I was often involved in long, frustrating conversations (with my extrovert husband) about being a better team player. Always put the team first, don’t just do what works for me. (But what if what works for me IS what’s best for the team? Conundrums.)

Let me give you a real world example. For example, I used to – around this time each year – write a newsletter to send out instead of holiday greeting cards. Partly I did it because when I was growing up we’d get these from people and I would laugh and LAUGH at the blatant narcissism in them – look at US!!! Don’t you wish you were US?!?! Here is Bob, getting his 2,000th award for being Bob!! And our children are more magnificent than yours!!! And we are just the happiest and most well-adjusted family in all of North America aren’t you feeling pretty pathetic about your own family now?!!?!!!!!

Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, the Narcissism Holiday Newsletters probably also made me a better writer, because what I’d do is copycat them in a really over-the-top absurd way but use my family as the focus, making up insipid awards for terrible things (like Alcoholic With the Biggest Heart) and inane accomplishments (like “got a big bonus for not killing their coworker Bob”) and then I’d share these with my people and we’d have ourselves a good laugh at the ridiculousness of some people. Because no family is without dysfunction, it is impossible to exist in this world without dysfunction at some level, and if you don’t think that’s true for your family I have about ten Psychology Today articles I’d really like to email you so you can re-think that. Two are about narcissism and one is about how sociopathic narcissists are created.

Which is why, when I started sending out my holiday newsletters, I always made sure to infuse them with good-hearted sarcasm and willfully sheer silliness, and let our readers know how happy we are they are willing to put up with us as people, we are blessed to know them, and wish them gobs of great blessings in the coming year. Sarcasm and silliness matter, and so does being blessed. This planet is one big rock of dysfunction.

And partly I did them because, well, I’m a writer and we like to write a lot of words and not just happy little blurbs on cards. (Though I will tell you: if you send out holiday newsletters, it is bad form NOT to write a happy little blurb to the recipient/s at the bottom of the newsletter – you look completely narcissistic if you do not.)

And partly I did them because the people I know and myself are my very best subjects. I can tell you lots and lots of things about us that we are doing that I find fascinating and hilarious and sad and awesome and ridiculous and bad and good and messy and wonderful. I bet you are the same way with yourself and your people, and so this is nothing to be ashamed about (I say). Everybody needs to be an expert in something. Just be sure to be at least be aware of the dysfunctional guy hiding in the back of the coat closet.

But it became a problem, because one person on my team got weird and paranoid that I wasn’t writing enough about him, that the newsletters were all about me. And one day, that person decided to become my holiday newsletter editor, and on that one day he went through that year’s newsletter and marked it all up with red ink, making grammar and sentence corrections, taking out things I’d written he didn’t approve of, and adding in things he felt were necessary. What got to me wasn’t the taking out of or the adding in of information; I could have totally sat down and worked out all that. What got to me was the sentence and grammar corrections. And it started a big argument that ended up with the newsletter being balled up and thrown angrily in the trash and not by me. And I haven’t written another holiday greetings newsletter since. (This incident was one of the first dominoes that sent the rest crashing, by the way. Because it wasn’t about the information editing; it was about the sentence and grammar correcting…and this is precisely why I read Psychology Today articles about narcissism.)

Having told you THAT story, I do also want to note that now that C and I are no longer living in the same space, I probably could send out a holiday newsletter and it would be completely fine and he’d be totally happy with whatever I put in it, information and grammar and sentence formation. In fact, we are spending Thanksgiving together, the three of us – C and Miss M, and I. And I really, really love that. I love it when love wins (though I do predict at least ten moments that either C or myself will need to turn our back on the other one and roll our eyes and go: Yup, this is why we are separated, this is exactly why. But Miss M will be deliriously happy to have her mommy and daddy together, and sometimes that is all that matters). And I don’t want C to be sad, because I will always be his family – he will always be in my holiday newsletters, should I ever begin them again.

……..I think I had a point when I started this. Something about psychology, narcissism, the Internet, and me. Somehow I ended up on the holiday newsletters being the first domino in the ending of a marriage. So I’m going to stop here and let you work out what the hell my point was because hell if I know. Also, I’m feeling very narcissistic right now and I’m going to get me some breakfast and not even ask M what she’d like (confession: she found some candy in my purse and that’s what she’s eaten for breakfast).