"Tuesday: Faced with ever increasing uncertainty, what can we do but cling to whatever we feel sure of? And if we are not sure of anything much at all? Then we tend to hang on even harder to whatever it is that we hope we know. Faced with information that challenges our understanding, we become aggravated and annoyed. It’s now becoming clear that something is not as you thought it was. That’s no reason to get angry. Nor, though, is it a reason to assume that everything in your world is starting to go wrong.
Wednesday: ‘Keep your eye on the ball.’ ‘Don’t let opportunity pass you by.’ ‘Seize your moment.’ ‘Grab your chance.’ That’s the kind of thing people say to each other a lot these days. In some circles it passes for wisdom. No wonder we are all so jumpy. Where is the ‘relax and take it easy’ in any of that? How hard do you have to work now? What will you miss if you blink? You really don’t need to be so diligent. You can’t lose anything you are supposed to keep hold of. Nor can you miss out on anything that is meant to be right for you."
Sometimes I wonder whether or not I am ignorant of things. I don’t have a desire to know everything just to know it– the things I desire to know, I feel are completely relevant to my life, and effect me a great deal. I fear what I don’t know. How human. But as I uncover more about the people in my life, the information I gather does effect my life. People leave out things that they feel are unimportant- but then when learned, turn out to be important after all. It is the difference between seeing a beautiful flower, and seeing a beautiful flower that you know is poisonous. Again, I fear what I don’t know. As much as I hate that people do shitty things to me in my life, because I am a survivor, I also hate when people do or have done things that they feel I must "be protected from knowing about" and hide them. Once they are done, they’re done. And I should not be forced to live in a life that is based on lies.
What I have known about my life has changed in so many vital ways that sometimes I don’t know what side is up anymore. I have wondered whether or not my life was even real. I have failed, at one point in life, to be able to differentiate fantasy from reality. Thus, as I have aged, I have become more cynical. I have had to live based more on facts and less on theories. I have become increasingly suspicious of others, and doubtful of whether or not what I am told is true. Sometimes, I fear, inside, I believe no one. It can take a lifetime to build implicit trust, and but one lie, or reason to suspect to undo it, and put every truth that came before it into question.
For normally functioning individuals, relationships are essential to success, both psychologically and practically. Our work, and the development of our personal strengths and qualities, are all done in the context of relationships and with the help, direct or indirect, of others.
Relationships are our emotional, interdependent ties to others, and they provide us with support, validation, nurturance, and guidance. In the context of our relationships we learn how to cooperate, negotiate, manage conflict, wield power, regulate our emotions, and help others. Our close relationships, especially early ones, give us a firm foundation from which to explore the world and face its intellectual, social, and emotional challenges. Relationships teach us about ourselves, about intimacy, and about reciprocity. In short, we thrive or falter, both interpersonally and individually, as a function of our relationships.
Perhaps the easiest way to understand what our relationships do for us is to think about what happens when they are absent or lacking in quality. Infants and children in desperate circumstances, who receive basic care like food and clothing but no nurturing, do not develop normally. Their development is compromised not only socially, but physically and cognitively, as well. Individuals with poor quality relationships, especially early in life, have difficulty managing their own emotions and face compromises to their thinking and problem-solving. Moreover, these difficulties continue over time. Clearly, troubled relationships do not facilitate the development of subsequent competence and high quality relationships, and are generally difficult to overcome. Ultimately we need others – not only to survive, but to thrive and to realize our full potential.
Loyalty is, with some imprecision, siding with and sacrificing for others, particulalry in the service of those with whom one has deep social bonds, such as love and friendship. It is altruism directed toward those to whom it is "due." We value loyalty in our friends, and the lack of it – betrayal – can tear apart even close friendships. Members of a social species such as ours invest large amounts in a small number of people, some of whom are selected through no choice of our own – such as family members – and others who are selected through careful choices. A key factor in these important decisions is expectations about others’ loyalty. In our own lives, we prefer others to sacrifice in our interest. No self-respecting evolved creature could be expected to be otherwise. This preference is visible more abstractly – we admire (real or media representations of) people who sacrifice for those dear to them.
The symptoms of "narcissistic personality disorder," as defined by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Four Edition, Text Revision, include the following:
-A grandiose sense of self-importance
-Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love;
-A belief of being "special" and thus entitled to associate only with high-status or "special" people;
-A hunger for excessive admiration;
-A sense of entitlement, that is, unreasonable expectations of special treatment or others’ automatic compliance with ones’ wishes;
-A tendency to take advantage of others;
-A lack of empathy for others’ feelings and needs;
-Envy of others, or a belief that others envy one;
-Arrogant or haughty behavior.
In psychoanalytic thinking, the inner hallmarks of narcissistic pathology include self-loathing and a sense of inner deadness or emptiness. "What narcissistic people of all appearances have in common is an inner sense of, and/or terror of, insufficiency, shame, weakness, and inferiority." Depending on how they cope with these feelings, narcissists may feel self-absorbed in a self-inflating or self-denigrating way, but really they feel dead inside. In current psychoanalytic thought there’s no such clear or simple explanation for why people become narcissistically disturbed, but most therapsts find it helpful to think about both internal and external factors, including obvious or subtle traumatic experiences which may inform a person’s deepest beliefs about self and world. Symington argues that narcissism is, in part, a choice to fundamentally reject life, including the vulnerability that is a basic condition of being alive.
Another symptom of narcissistic disorders is to feel always apt to fall apart, and desperate to be held together. Psychoanalyst Otto F. Kernberg theorized that the narcissistic ego is split between two opposite, alternating states: the grandiose (or all-good) verses the depleted (or all-bad) "The sense of being ‘good enough’ is not one of [narcissism’s] internal categories."
Nacissistically fragile people are especially vulnerable to shame, which psychoanalyst Neville Symington defined as "the emotion we experience when we are aware of the parts of ourselves that are not integrated." In narcissism, the ordinary fact of having needs and being vulnerable is not well-integrated into one’s sense of self, so life feels like a minefield: everyday social pressures trigger painful feelings of shame whenever one feels one’s hidden, "bad" self has been exposed to view. In Jungian psychology, the "bad" self has a name: shadow. In research involving word-association tests Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung found evidence that the psyche is made up of unconscious structures called "complexes," or knots of feeling and belief that function as "splinter psyches" below a person’s conscious awereness. This concept went mainstream with the "inner child," but in Jung there’s not necessarily only one "inner child." Rather, each person’s psyche is a mysterious world, a microcosm made up of many different feelings and beliefs, inner children and adults and animals and imaginary creatures – far too much life and feeling for anyone to consciously know about all at once, but all integral to one’s selfhood.
The "shadow", then, is a complex – part of one’s personality – which one can’t see very easily. It includes both positive and negative beliefs and feelings, which have been disowned because they clash somehow with a person’s "persona," or public identity. Persona and shadow are opposites in Jungian thought, yet both are integral to a person’s ability to feel alive and whole. It’s a tenet of Jungian thought that whenever we feel strongly provoked or moved by others, it’s because they remind us of some less-known aspect of ourselves – our own complexes. In Jungian psychology, we grow by gradually coming to know more consciously the hidden parts of ourselves we glimpse in others.
Brandy is finished my resume. I will be spending some time in my email account and on the phone on Thursday, calling a few businesses in Victoria, to arrange an electronic submission of my resume. Yay, the hard part is almost over! Kathy was fired from work this morning for stealing money out of the ATM. Big fucking surprise. The cashier that Maria picks to be Assistant Manager turns out to be a thief. Are we really shocked? Has she exhibited ANY good judgement lately? No.
I’ve put my finger on the thing about all of this emotional turmoil I’ve been wrought with is all about. Something someone told me once about not being the one he could talk about anything with, really upset me. It was made clear to me that no matter whether or not we get married, no matter if we have babies… I still won’t be the one he turns to when he needs to open up, the one he can tell anything to. That hurt me, and then, I was doubtful that it was so.
But now I know it’s true. He doesn’t trust me. He is waiting for me to walk away. He’s still sure that I will. I WON’T. When I am his wife, as things sit now, when things are hard, when he needs support, when he needs something from me, from life… I won’t be told about it. Just like last time. I didn’t know. How can I fix what I don’t know? His lack of faith robbed me of my only chance.
What’s more, I know that just because I can’t see someone, doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Someone is hiding from me. Someone has something to hide from me.