Wednesday, April 13, 2011

From the Top

Memories of my childhood are few and far between. Among others, my wife says that something traumatic must have taken place, and the Little Me blocked out these situations and emotions. Big Me is struggling to find those situations and emotions because it could be that these events triggered Little Me's emotional de-evolution.

Every time an intense emotional situation rears its head, I run to the fridge, or the pantry.  Or just away.  Obviously, food was a comfort for me growing up and I've developed some kind of sick love affair with it. Couple that with another sick love affair with television and movies. Sick because I would watch movies and shows to get an understanding of how emotions worked. I thought these characters were showing me the proper ways in which to react to emotions, situations, to other people. I ended up investing whatever I had of myself into shows and movies hoping that I could feel or at least kind of feel, attempt to feel, and eventually fake feeling what these people on the screen felt. There leads a path to absolute destruction.

My wife and I got to discussing last night. I felt I had a problem from an early age: I have a memory where I was investigating my kitten's anus, promptly stuck my finger up there and then it gets hazy. For a long while I thought I had tossed the kitten down the stairs, and I'm still pretty sure I did but I don't actually remember the throwing part.  I have this strange sense that I did.  I don't remember being scolded for this action either - but I guess that doesn't mean that I wasn't. I was about three at the time.

I went to a day care until I was nearly 10 while my mother worked and my step father worked. There I would find worms and chop them in half because I heard that both ends would grow back and it would be two worms. I don't think I ever found out then if the two pieces grew into two whole worms. Today, I know that I'd killed those experimental earthworms by cutting them in two. Curious? Inquisitive? Malicious?  Jury’s out.

...

A few years after that, a childhood friend and I would catch frogs in the brook near his house. We'd place the frogs into aluminum soda cans, tennis ball cans, Arizona iced tea cans. Then, we'd shoot the cans to hell. Naturally. Do all adolescents do this kind of thing?

A few years following, I was doing some landscaping work at an office and I saw a fawn in the woods in the back yard. I threw a rock at it. It was a mixture of aiming to hit it, and to scare it. To this day, I can't conjure up the precise reason as to why I did this. And I was an early teen at this point.

I guess those stories illustrate my theory that I had some emotional instability, even at an early age, and it continued on upwards to adolescence and my teens. My wife thinks that's just what some children do, but she didn't think that I was evil. I think it's what some people do that have deep-seated emotional anarchy.

There were a lot of topics I touched on in this post. I believe I will come back to them time and time again. I have to come back to them - this is how I will reconcile the Little Me with the Big Me.

Someday soon I hope.

15 comments:

  1. Hi, I know that when I was about 4 or 5 yrs old, my idea of how to play with my pet parakeet was to let it walk around on the floor, and put my finger on its tail feathers so it couldn't continue, and watch it struggle to continue, for a few seconds--but then a tail feather or two would come loose.

    I did this two or three different times, until the tail feathers were noticeably less, then I decided it wasn't the best idea, and besides, I felt a little uneasy about it having to struggle like that--it gave me the idea it might feel distressed, and I felt guilty about that.

    In later years, I was amazed I had done that, and kept in mind that probably pets were not the best idea for kids much under 7.

    Also one time around that age, I heated a grasshopper in a jar to see what it would do, telling myself it was only a bug, but then felt bad because it obviously seemed to feel pain, so I decided not to do anything like that again.

    Then, around that age, later, I was in the backyard, dragging my doll around by the hair, acting out how I felt my father treated me (though he had not actually dragged me by my hair, but by my arms or ear), and saying "bad dolly, bad dolly!" and acting as though I were an evil giant--

    (which was exactly how I felt about my dad most of the time, because he would come and yell and scold and contemptuously berate us kids for having a problem, or for ordinary normal kid behavior, without bothering to first find out what was going on, or helping us with the problem, like he should have been doing).

    Well, he came upon me dragging the doll, and his response was to grab me and hit me, yelling at me that I was bad to do that. I wanted to tell him that I had only been copying him, because I was always angry at his behavior already, but of course I didn't dare.

    But the incident helped draw my attention to the useful realization that his behavior was wrong, and it was understandable for me to be angry about it--

    and most importantly, it highlighted the incident strongly in my conscious memory, so that it was present in my mind later in my childhood and life, to help me always keep in awareness where most of my anger was really coming from--

    so that even as I would frequently be tempted to use various situations as excuses to relieve myself of anger by unloading it on others, I would realize its real source, and generally be able to respond to different stressful incidents at least somewhat reasonably and fairly.

    Unfortunately, I wasn't much good at fairly and assertively defending myself, when that was called for, as I had no idea how to do that.

    All I had ever had modeled for me at home, and what I saw too much of on TV and movies (which I searched for clues about how to behave, because the examples at home were, to me, obviously not quite right), was to either angrily attack or to give in and placate, whenever there was a disagreement.

    So if someone was being unfair to me, and I felt angrily attacking them was acting nasty like my father, then my only other choice, I felt, was to ineffectually object, and then to have to give in when they ignored my objection. And that sucked.

    Even with all my reading and searching for years, I somehow never came across the kind of assertive skills info I was instinctively looking for until I found When I Say No, I Feel Guilty, in my late 30's. What an eye opener that was, and I was so grateful to find it, and so pissed that I couldn't find any such info sooner.

    Now that I'm 60, I've finally found 'the rest of the story' of narcissistic family dynamics,and am both grateful to have it, and so pissed off that I've only stumbled across it now. Drats, like so many other people have commented, I sure could have used that info in my teens, for heaven's sake.

    Thanks for your detailed descriptions of your experiences; the more such info I get, the more it helps me make sense of my situation. Thanks again, so very much.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh, and the darn TV and movies mostly didn't have anything to offer in the way of good examples of how to act! Just once in a great while I would see something that seemed to make sense.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Goofed;didnt post this right,so 1st comment was supposed to be 2nd:

    I know that when I was about 4 yrs old, my idea of how to play with my pet parakeet was to put my finger on its tail feathers so it couldn't walk around the floor, and watch it struggle to continue, for a few seconds--but then a tail feather or two would come loose.

    I did this two or three different times, until the tail feathers were noticeably less, then I decided it wasn't the best idea, and besides, I felt a little uneasy about it having to struggle like that--it gave me the idea it might feel distressed, and I felt guilty about that.

    In later years, I was amazed I had done that, and kept in mind that probably pets were not the best idea for kids much under 7.

    Also one time around that age, I heated a grasshopper in a jar to see what it would do, telling myself it was only a bug, but then felt bad because it obviously seemed to feel pain, so I decided not to do anything like that again.

    Then, around that age, later, I was in the backyard, dragging my doll around by the hair, acting out how I felt my father treated me (though he had not actually dragged me by my hair, but by my arms or ear), and saying "bad dolly, bad dolly!" and acting as though I were an evil giant--

    (which was exactly how I felt about my dad most of the time, because he would come and yell and scold and contemptuously berate us kids for having a problem, or for ordinary normal kid behavior, without bothering to first find out what was going on, or helping us with the problem, like he should have been doing).

    Well, he came upon me dragging the doll, and his response was to grab me and hit me, yelling at me that I was bad to do that. I wanted to tell him that I had only been copying him, because I was always angry at his behavior already, but of course I didn't dare.

    But the incident helped draw my attention to the useful realization that his behavior was wrong, and it was understandable for me to be angry about it--

    and most importantly, it highlighted the incident strongly in my conscious memory, so that it was present in my mind later in my childhood and life, to help me always keep in awareness where most of my anger was really coming from--

    so that even as I would frequently be tempted to use various situations as excuses to relieve myself of anger by unloading it on others, I would realize its real source, and generally be able to respond to different stressful incidents at least somewhat reasonably and fairly.

    Unfortunately, I wasn't much good at fairly and assertively defending myself, when that was called for, as I had no idea how to do that.

    All I had ever had modeled for me at home, and what I saw too much of on TV and movies (which I searched for clues about how to behave, because the examples at home were, to me, obviously not quite right), was to either angrily attack or to give in and placate, whenever there was a disagreement.

    So if someone was being unfair to me, and I felt angrily attacking them was acting nasty like my father, then my only other choice, I felt, was to ineffectually object, and then to have to give in when they ignored my objection. And that sucked.

    Even with all my reading and searching for years, I somehow never came across the kind of assertive skills info I was instinctively looking for until I found When I Say No, I Feel Guilty, in my late 30's. What an eye opener that was, and I was so grateful to find it, and so pissed that I couldn't find any such info sooner.

    Now that I'm 60, I've finally found 'the rest of the story' of narcissistic family dynamics,and am both grateful to have it, and so pissed off that I've only stumbled across it now. Drats, like so many other people have commented, I sure could have used that info in my teens, for heaven's sake.

    Thanks for your detailed descriptions of your experiences; the more such info I get, the more it helps me make sense of my situation. Thanks again, so very much.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi, I goofed; the 1st comment was supposed to be at the end, will probably now be the 3rd comment.

    I know that when I was about 4 or 5 yrs old, my idea of how to play with my pet parakeet was to let it walk around on the floor, and put my finger on its tail feathers so it couldn't continue, and watch it struggle to continue, for a few seconds--but then a tail feather or two would come loose.

    I did this two or three different times, until the tail feathers were noticeably less, then I decided it wasn't the best idea, and besides, I felt a little uneasy about it having to struggle like that--it gave me the idea it might feel distressed, and I felt guilty about that.

    In later years, I was amazed I had done that, and kept in mind that probably pets were not the best idea for kids much under 7.

    Also one time around that age, I heated a grasshopper in a jar to see what it would do, telling myself it was only a bug, but then felt bad because it obviously seemed to feel pain, so I decided not to do anything like that again.

    Then, around that age, later, I was in the backyard, dragging my doll around by the hair, acting out how I felt my father treated me (though he had not actually dragged me by my hair, but by my arms or ear), and saying "bad dolly, bad dolly!" and acting as though I were an evil giant--

    (which was exactly how I felt about my dad most of the time, because he would come and yell and scold and contemptuously berate us kids for having a problem, or for ordinary normal kid behavior, without bothering to first find out what was going on, or helping us with the problem, like he should have been doing).

    Well, he came upon me dragging the doll, and his response was to grab me and hit me, yelling at me that I was bad to do that. I wanted to tell him that I had only been copying him, because I was always angry at his behavior already, but of course I didn't dare.

    But the incident helped draw my attention to the useful realization that his behavior was wrong, and it was understandable for me to be angry about it--

    and most importantly, it highlighted the incident strongly in my conscious memory, so that it was present in my mind later in my childhood and life, to help me always keep in awareness where most of my anger was really coming from--

    so that even as I would frequently be tempted to use various situations as excuses to relieve myself of anger by unloading it on others, I would realize its real source, and generally be able to respond to different stressful incidents at least somewhat reasonably and fairly. (continued in next comment)

    ReplyDelete
  5. (continued from last comment): Unfortunately, I wasn't much good at fairly and assertively defending myself, when that was called for, as I had no idea how to do that.

    All I had ever had modeled for me at home, and what I saw too much of on TV and movies (which I searched for clues about how to behave, because the examples at home were, to me, obviously not quite right), was to either angrily attack or to give in and placate, whenever there was a disagreement.

    So if someone was being unfair to me, and I felt angrily attacking them was acting nasty like my father, then my only other choice, I felt, was to ineffectually object, and then to have to give in when they ignored my objection. And that sucked.

    Even with all my reading and searching for years, I somehow never came across the kind of assertive skills info I was instinctively looking for until I found When I Say No, I Feel Guilty, in my late 30's. What an eye opener that was, and I was so grateful to find it, and so pissed that I couldn't find any such info sooner.

    Now that I'm 60, I've finally found 'the rest of the story' of narcissistic family dynamics,and am both grateful to have it, and so pissed off that I've only stumbled across it now. Drats, like so many other people have commented, I sure could have used that info in my teens, for heaven's sake.

    Thanks for your detailed descriptions of your experiences; the more such info I get, the more it helps me make sense of my situation. Thanks again, so very much.

    ReplyDelete
  6. @Anon-
    Thanks for sharing your experiences; it lessens the stress I've put on myself when I hear that other children succumb to their curiosities regarding pain and answering the question "what happens if I do this?"

    I'm glad you were able to find the info you were looking for. So often I've been told that I'm lucky I'm "catching this early" because it's not so often that a mid-twenty-something can get a foothold on Narcissism.

    So far as I can remember, I'm the victim of emotional abuse only, not physical. From your story of dragging the doll, I shiver to think of the Little Anon at that time, acting out the only thing Little Anon knew - to mirror the father's behaviors.

    Perhaps I too was acting out my aggression on these, nature's creatures, since I couldn't express anger correctly - I was taught to placate and suppress and that my worth was determined by how much/often I placated.

    We're all fighting the good fight,
    LSV

    ReplyDelete
  7. Yeah, I'm sure I was acting out on these creatures for just that reason, and still feel bad about it. When I was 10, I was desperate for an outlet and drew a face on a paper bag to punch, then felt guilty for punching it.

    Then I made a small paper puppet and acted all menacing and bullying toward it, with more awareness that I was deliberately trying out the behavior that was done to me, and that I was doing that on purpose to try to make sense of how my father acted. So I felt more like it was somewhat 'permitted' for me to do that.

    I found that the behavior was unpleasant and unsavory, but I could understand that it had the reward of feeling powerful and in control. But I didn't want to pay the price of feeling nasty about myself to get that reward, so I wasn't going to do that to other people.

    So I ended up looking for opportunities to angrily attack different kinds of wrongdoings, and gradually discovered (over decades) that it was possible to attack issues rather than persons.

    Only in recent years (especially since I discovered the info about narcis. dynamics)have I achieved enough calmness and relief from the frequent volcano of rage I often was, to be able to be much more effective in respectfully and assertively dealing with such behaviors.

    I wasn't dumping my rage on people, but when I was so often angry about various issues, that still made me a threatening and stressful presence for my friends and foc.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Anon-
    It is certainly wonderful to hear that you have focused your energies on the issues at hand, isntead of acting out at people or things (again, I'm glad it was just a puppet and not a real person or a creature). It is most rewarding to find those issues and face them head on, knowing that you have some knowlege behind you (and of course some supporters!)

    Wreak havoc on thos narc issues!
    :-)

    ReplyDelete
  9. ahah animal abuse! i've thought about this too. maybe it's normal but i just feel guilty for no reason. i remember when i had pet iguanas around age 9, i would make them 'race' by freaking the shit out of them, batting at their tails. i also once accidentally took the tail off by rolling it between my palms. when one of them got sick and died, i felt guilty.
    i used to love insects as a little kid. i'd play with baby spiders and ants and such. i remember i once accidentally squashed a baby spider and i felt so traumatized and guilty. it still makes me uncomfortable to think of it.
    i guess now that i look at it, what i did wasn't bad. but i had an extreme fear of being bad and often felt extremely guilty and ashamed for accidental things. so i dont like those memories.
    i always felt extremely guilty about pets. we had a couple of little pet dogs when i was growing up and they never turned out right. always nervous, highstrung, unpredictable, one of them was aggressive. i felt responsible for them and their suffering.


    what you did doesnt sound malicious. and kids are 'malicious' sometimes growing up, aren't they? i wouldnt know since i wasnt allowed to really be anything, but when i look at kids, a lot of them are bratty and inconsiderate and that's normal. they're freaking kids, they're just trying things out.

    cutting earthworms in half...shooting things in cans...sounds more like a sort of numbing..compulsive analytical distance. i dont think it was bad intentions. like watching tv, maybe you wanted to see how the earthworms would feel, cause you wouldn't know. a sort of compulsive looking outside of yourself for answers on how to be 'right'.

    ReplyDelete
  10. lisa- I remember thinking at the time I was shooting the cans, "wow this is awesome". Then I took out the frogs and saw that some of them even had the bb's still lodged in them and I felt ... well I felt a little bad for them. Perhaps it was me attempting to feel something and then succeeding. At the time I was doing it, all I could feel was joy whilst I shot up the cans to heck. I mean, I knew what was going to happen, but I did it anyway. Sounds a bit malicious to me. I guess my only saving grace was that I still had enough emotional wherewithal to fell guilty that I'd done something like that.

    Thanks for reading!
    Lifesizevision

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  11. I don't think you have to "attempt" to feel, LSV. Especially not when you were a child.

    You have the feelings. You have learned to bury them sometimes, but you still have them. That is important!

    ReplyDelete
  12. oh then you were definitely feeling! that sounds normal to me. and you were a different younger person then.
    i think your maliciousness and enjoyment is normal and something that is inside everybody. actually i kind of envy your glee. i'm too busy feeling preemptively guilty to feel much glee.
    i'm happy for the clarification of your feelings.

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  13. lisa- Perhaps it was just the curiosity and subsequent results of acting on that curiosity that got me to "feel". I don't like to think I'm malicious, but I can't help thinking it from time to time because of these things I've listed. And again, you're right, I was a younger, less developed person then, so that was probably my exporation of the world around me.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Perhaps if our parents had been more 'normal' and caring towards us, and able to spend time with us, they actually would have taught us about nature and how to respectfully interact with it.

    I do know that as I got a bit older in our neighborhood, by about 8 yrs old or so, I was showing the younger kids and the other kids my age those things, such as how to pick up kittens and cats properly so they would feel safe, and not to throw stones at birds or wreck their nests or break the eggs, because baby birds were going to hatch and the parent birds were going to be feeding them, and then the kids would be able to see that happening--

    my mother had shown me some of these things, and to my surprise, the other kids were very interested in what I was telling them, and picked up on it all right away, and I remember wondering why their mothers hadn't already told these things to them.

    Then, when we moved several different places after that, I always found that the other kids were interested in being shown those things. I always, even at 8, showed them in enthusiastic, encouraging ways rather than blaming ones, so that probably helped get those results from the other kids, so at least I was doing something right back then!--quartz

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  15. Quartz- Of course you were doing something right - childrend aren't born with severe dysfucntions. They are born with the ability to live healthy happy lives and it's the nurture part of their lives that can determine what type of person they turn out to be. I could have been a lying, manipulative, all around jerky person, but something in me held onto the "good". My wife was able to bring that part out.

    lifesizevision

    ReplyDelete