2014 in Review December 29, 2014Posted by alwaysjan in Blogging, Personal.
Tags: Blogging, Personal
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. Last year the monkeys also used visits to The Louvre as a comparison. I have since donned my beret (bought for me by my friend Lesley in Paris but made in China) and am enjoying a glass of California wine to celebrate. I want to add that the majority of Planetjan’s readers are referred by Google and not Facebook.
Seeing as I only published 14 posts in the last two years (Mais non!), I’m definitely a candidate for the Flogging for Lazy Blogging Award. WordPress has put a positive spin on the fact that my top viewed posts are some of my oldies. (Planetjan Classics!) I’ve been working on writing that is not related to blogging, so I have an excuse from my mother (though it might look a lot like my own handwriting). Sometimes I want to say RIP to NPD but personality disorders still fascinate me and there are still people looking for answers. Au revoir 2014!
Here’s an excerpt:
The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 96,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 4 days for that many people to see it.
Downton Abbey Christmas Spoof with George Clooney December 21, 2014Posted by alwaysjan in Entertainment.
Tags: Downton Abbey Christmas Spoof with George Clooney, Downtown Abbey Spoof, George Clooney on Downton Abbey
Part 1 What better early Christmas gift than a peek at Christmas Future with George Clooney and the Downton Abbey cast. It seems that Carson likes women’s shoes does he? It’s hilarious and all done for charity. Watch both parts. It’s a gift for Christmas Present since the new season won’t begin in the U.S. until January 2015.
Part 2 Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
When Pigs Fly September 23, 2014Posted by alwaysjan in Personal, Pets.
Tags: Death of a pet, Death of a pig, Personal. Pot Belly Pig
December 1996 -September 2014
Our beloved Maisie is flying at last!
Dogs look up to you, cats look down on you. Give me a pig! He looks you in the eye and treats you as an equal.
I’m afraid Halloween just won’t be the same. Check out Halloween for Queen Porcine.
The Dark Triad vs. The Dark Tetrad Personality February 12, 2014Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Tags: Dark Tetrad, Dark Triad, Internet Trolls, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, NPD, Psychopathy, Sadism
I first wrote about the Dark Triad of personality traits in 2009 in Why Bad Guys Really Do Get the Most Girls. Unfortunately, the post, which was linked to New Scientist, has since been blocked so that only those with a subscription can view the article in its entirety. Sad face.
Today, I read an article on CNN about how Online Trolls are Internet Sadists. These are the people who write anonymous provocative comments online crafted to antagonize and upset, and they rate highly in Dark Tetrad personality characteristics. My first reaction was that someone needed to use Spellcheck. I’m familiar with The Dark Triad: Narcissism, Machivellianism, and psychopathy. These three traits together form an unchecked malignancy of the human core. But wait, there’s more! The missing, until now, red-headed stepchild is Sadism. And The Dark Triad + Sadism equals The Dark Tetrad. Shudder.
I urge you to read Everyday Sadism – Throwing Light on the Dark Triad, published by the Association for Psychological Science.
I’ve written mostly about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), which I’ve often referred to as Baby Bear with Anti-Social Behavior being Mama Bear and Big Bad Daddy being Psychopathy. Both Sociopaths and Psychopaths show high levels of narcissism.
The Narcissist who darkened my door made several comments/gestures that in the light of day seem down right sadistic. I think we often think of narcissists as blundering bufoons who go through life like bulls in the china shop unaware of the effect they have on others? It’s like they don’t know any better? Or do they? Food for thought.
Image: This one goes WAY back to Mark, a blogger who went on to write for the blog, The Critical Thinker. He’s been off my radar for too long.
Narcissistic Game Playing – Part 2 January 6, 2014Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Tags: Afraid of Commitment., Games Narcissists Play, Ludic Love, Ludus, Narcissism, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Serial Cheaters
Narcissistic Game Playing, which described the Ludic love style, has been one of the most read posts on my blog, as so many with Narcissistic Personality Disorder fall into this category. Last night I came across more information on the Ludus-style love that really resonated with me. Cue fanfare. And so I bring you Part 2! This information comes from a website I’ve tracked to a California Polytechnic State University site. I’ve recopied the description below from the site, which appears to be from a course syllabus/or readings. I could not find any attribution. The original is rife with marginal margins and some spelling errors that just HAD to go. Click cla.calpoly.edu to read about all six love styles. LUDUS (Self-centered Game Player) “The ideal constructed type of ludic lover is that of a person who “plays” love affairs as he or she plays games or puzzles – to win, to get the greatest rewards for the least cost. A ludic lover hates dependency, either in himself/herself or in others. This type shies away from commitment of any sort (does not like lovers to take him or her for granted). The ludic lover enjoys strategies, and may keep two or three or even four lovers “on the string” at one time. A ludic lover may even create a fictional lover to discourage a real one’s hopes for a permanent relationship. He or she avoids long range plans and is careful not to date the same person often enough to create the illusion of a stable relationship. A ludic lover would rather find a new sex partner than to work out sexual problems with an old one. And yet, he or she may suddenly show up for a replay, even years later, with birthday flowers, a bottle of a favorite wine, a sentimental Valentine, or a record of a favorite song, and vanish just as suddenly. A ludic lover usually enjoys love affairs, and hence rarely regrets them unless the threat of commitment of dependency becomes too great. Dates with a ludic person are never dull, even though they may not happen with great regularity. He or she is never possessive or jealous. The ludic lover usually has good self concept, and usually is assured of current success in love as well as most other areas. Unlike a pragmatic lover, a ludic lover never reveals all of himself or herself or demands such revelation by partners. Ludic lovers are not likely to be very sophisticated sexually. As a rule, they have only one sexual routine; if the sex partner is not pleased by the ludic lover’s sexual pattern, then the ludic one simply finds another partner rather than attempting to improve an unsatisfying relationship. If she does not like his sexual behavior, the ludic man moves on to someone who does; if he does not get an erection or bring her to orgasm on his own (with no help from her), the ludic woman looks for a man who will. Sex is self-centered and may be exploitative rather than symbolic of a relationship. A ludic lover does not listen to (or take time for) feedback that suggests commitment, which is “scary.” A ludic lover may not even want to be his or her partner’s best sex partner because that might necessitate commitment or dependency that would be “awful.” Physical appearance of the partner is less important than other qualities, such as self-sufficiency and lack of demanding behavior to ludic persons.” This description SO nails the Narcissist who darkened my door. Even though “Joe” was a Cerebral Narcissist, he had many women in play (“my girlfriends”) but always kept them at arm’s length. I observed this first hand and it all had a “wheeling and dealing” aspect to it that he enjoyed enormously. Half the time, he couldn’t remember who he’d told what. But then a narcissist can deny he/she ever said anything. And yes, several friends who’ve recovered from their Close Encounter with a Narcissist reported that the N reappeared out of nowhere via a Christmas email. Holiday trolling is common as the N wants to see if he can drop a line and still get a bite. What was funny was that one N sent out a Christmas email and neglected to hide the names of all the women he was sending it to! Ouch! Image Credit: “Mind Games” clipart from Discoveryeducation.com
I, Narcissist Slayer January 3, 2014Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Tags: Narcissist Slayer Award, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, NPD
Thank you CZBZ at the Narcissistic Continuum for conferring on me the title of Narcissist Slayer. That definitely looks like me on a good hair day. And what’s that I’m holding – my award or a rocket launcher? I’ll be eagerly awaiting the arrival of my sword. What? No sword included? Can you tell I’m eagerly awaiting the return of Game of Thrones?
I imagine meeting up with the other slayers to share a bracing adult beverage before returning to wield our pens in the fight against this nefarious personality disorder and debunking the myths that surround it.
As is the case with these blogger awards, there are guidelines, or as we say in third grade, multiple-step directions. These are:
1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them
2. Put the award’s logo on your blog
3. Write a blog post and share the blog(s) you have chosen. There are no minimum or maximum number of blogs required.
4. Inform nominees on their site
5. Share one positive thing you took away from your relationship with a narcissist.
First things first. Neither of my parents were narcissists. When I first saw a therapist (himself the adult child of a narcissist), that’s the first thing he asked me. He explained this was because only those who’d been conditioned since childhood could/would put up with narcissistic abuse over the long run. For me, it was all of four months until the D&D – not a long period in the grand scheme of things. But the damage done to my psyche was devastating. So if I wasn’t conditioned by my childhood, what was it that drew me to the flame, even once those red flags were waving?
Looking back, it was the fantasy and belief that this person who was alternately flirting/hurting me could be helped. He needed me. Now that seems narcissistic just to write that, but it’s true. Some have described narcissists as “puppies with rabies.” I’m a dog person and had to be bitten repeatedly to get the message. I learned that ultimately, the only person we can fix is ourself/or how we respond to those events that swirl around us which we call life.
Finally, the best thing of all is that by sharing my own Close Encounter with a Narcissist on my blog (which was very scary at first – I’ve been had!), I’ve met so many amazing people, both women and men, who were looking for information. Their comments, insights, and friendship mean the world to me – and that includes you CZ.
Breaking Bad Blues December 24, 2013Posted by alwaysjan in Entertainment, Popular Culture.
Tags: Breaking Bad Blues, Breaking Bad Christmas Card, Getting On, Quotes from Breaking Bad, The Returned, What to watch after Breaking Bad
The seasonal malaise started early. I’m not talking about Christmas, but the Season 5 finale of Breaking Bad on Sept. 29th.
After teaching third graders all day and having to repeatedly remind them to sit “criss cross applesauce,” I so enjoy watching TV shows that prominently feature the alphabet – as in V for Violence, L for Language, and S for Sexual Situations. I like to think of it as a yin yang kinda thing, so the end of my five-year escape to the dark side with Walter White and Jesse has me down.
I was stepping out to buy more butter for making cookies this morning when I found this card in my mailbox. It had been hand delivered by a friend who for the longest time couldn’t fathom my interest in watching Breaking Bad.
“How do you reconcile the fact that he’s a drug dealer?” she asked. I could only shrug. She has since binge watched all five seasons and had a dazed look after the finale. Whoa! What a ride!
I’d thought about posting something nostalgic as it IS Christmas, but when it’s in the 80s in SoCal, it’s so not a Love Actually scenario. In the interest of trying to view the glass of eggnog as half full…
When I was in the UK over the summer, everyone was all aflutter watching The Returned, a French series (Les Revenants), but it was only available via Channel 4. Think of it as a French Twin Peaks. I was excited to see that The Returned began airing on the Sundance Channel in October and highly recommend it.
My husband and I have also been watching Getting On on HBO, which is based on a British series with the same name. It took me two episodes to fully embrace the show, but now it’s a must see.
That said, none of the above series feature a sidekick who can use the word “bitch” with the regularity and conviction of Jesse Pinkman. Sad face. If you’ll never look at the Periodic Table of Elements again in the same way, then here’s a holiday gift for you.
Click HERE to read the 60 most memorable quotes from Breaking Bad.
Breaking Bad-ify Your Name September 2, 2013Posted by alwaysjan in Entertainment, Popular Culture.
Tags: All bad things must come to an end, Allbadthingsmustcometoanend, Bad-ify Your name, Badify Your Name, Breaking Bad, Breaking Bad Names, Making your name like Breaking Bad Credits, Name like Breaking Bad Credits, Name like on Breaking Bad
Watching Breaking Bad is one of my guilty pleasures. It helps that it’s on Sunday night because come Monday, I go into G-rated teacher mode and get to hear who had a visit from the Tooth Fairy.
I remember when Walter White was just a schlubby high school chemistry teacher and his star student, Jesse Pinkman, had an unlined face. Time flies when you’re having fun/or on the run. What an amazing ride! And what fun to watch Bryan Cranston, who I best remember rollerskating on Malcom in the Middle, undergo his own professional development. (I had to throw in some teacher talk.) On KROQ radio the other morning, they played Aaron Paul’s audition tape for the the role of Jesse. It was so much fun to listen to Jesse’s innocent voice.
So it’s with some nostalgia that I watch the final season. Today, my friend Buddy put up his name on Facebook, so it looks like the Breaking Bad credits. I’m not going to use his name, nor mine, but it’s easy for you to do. Go to Breaking Bad-ify Your Name and find the Name Lab Facebook App (which will then “cook” your name.) You can only do this to the name you’re registered under on Facebook and can then either download a cover or profile pic. Dang! I’d hoped to Bad-ify my blog Planetjan and even make a cool name tag for my door for Back to School Night. I’m afraid those ideas have now gone up in smoke.
You know it’s occurred to me that I usually sign my name with a double M. MM.
Turn that upside down and you’ve got WW. Serendipity?
If you haven’t watched the show, boy what a binge-watch you have in store.
Comments Welcome August 6, 2013Posted by alwaysjan in Blogging, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Uncategorized.
Tags: Blogging, Comment Policy, Comments, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, NPD
I just noticed that I have over 2,000 comments in response to 219 blog posts. It’s no secret that the majority of comments are in response to my writing about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Eliminating cursive writing from the curriculum doesn’t generate the emotional response as having discovered the person you thought you were in love with isn’t capable of love.
So, in honor of all of those who’ve shared their stories of the turmoil wrought by a close encounter with a narcissist, I thought it was worth commenting about comments. Your comments.
I’m a teacher by trade, not a therapist. I provide a listening ear. I’m a survivor. And ultimately, I’m an optimist. Sound good? You’ve come to the right place.
It’s interesting because in the summer of 2012, we had quite a lively discussion going on between commenters. I was on vacation and was so impressed with how everyone was so thoughtful in their responses and kind to one another. I was beginning to feel like I wasn’t even needed! However, when someone said, “Wow! This is a great forum!” I winced. I don’t need nor want the responsibility of monitoring a forum.
That said, I have a lot of people who stop by regularly to let people know how they’re doing. Or to offer solace and a pat on the back to someone else who’s still reeling from their involvement with a narcissist. Some of these people go back to Year 1 of my blog. They’re like old familiar friends and I’m amazed at how wise they’ve become. I’ve watched them work through the “What ifs” and WTFs and move on with their lives. This brings me joy.
I always try to respond to NPD-related comments within 24 hours. I remember how horrible I felt when I realized who/what I was dealing with. I’d been “had” and who would believe me?
But, here’s the deal. I hit the Edit button and write my comment on the bottom of the actual comment in italics. I do this because I don’t want to see my face appearing in the sidebar over and over again. The downside of this is when people sign up to Follow Comments, they don’t receive a notification that I’ve replied. They won’t receive a notification until another person comments on that post.
FYI: I must approve everyone’s first comment. Once that’s done, future comments are posted automatically, but I receive a notification. Just in case. Only twice have I had to delete that first comment to block a flurry of rants that followed. I don’t like rants. Rants make my stomach churn. After a long day at school spent with 30 third graders, I don’t have much patience for adults who behave like bratty children.
When someone comments, I can see their email address. Maybe half a dozen times when someone was in severe distress, I emailed them to let them know I’d responded to their comment. I also eliminate most people’s last names from their comment. Just in case.
And yes, there are a few readers who I’ve allowed to contact me “off blog.” It’s amazing how most people’s writing voice so echoes their real one. So it was no great surprise that when I met up with Lesley, my most prolific commenter, in Scotland last month, she was just as warm and clever and wise as she was “on blog.” I also talked to Phil while in the UK and his sardonic wit was spot on as well. It’s funny, because we have so much more to talk about than NPD now. Life has a strange way of moving on. Believe it or not, but you will not always feel like this experience is consuming/has consumed you. The future awaits.
Readers can usually learn more from the comments than they can from reading my posts. So read up. And thank you for commenting!
Typeface for Comments is BigHouse.
The TSA Searched My Hair July 30, 2013Posted by alwaysjan in Travel.
Tags: Humor, Searching Hair, Travel, Travel Experiences, TSA, TSA searching hair
Oh, the joys of travel.
Over Spring Break, I flew back to Detroit and environs to see my mother, who’d recently moved closer to my brother. He asked me to run my flight options by him as it’s an hour’s drive to the airport. The flight I’d bookmarked worked fine. So far, so good.
But when I got to LAX, the Delta kiosk spit out my credit card and refused to issue a boarding pass. It directed me to “See an agent.” I got in line and shuffled along with my bag. Finally, it was my turn. I pulled out all the trip itinerary I’d printed out from my computer. The woman looked confused. “Where’s the paper with the confirmation number?” she asked. She checked her computer and then I heard the dreaded words. “You don’t seem to have actually purchased a ticket.”
I remember crying with disbelief. Could I really be so stupid? And of course, the answer was yes! I had bookmarked but neglected to confirm and pay for my $340 ticket! But, the agent informed me that I was in luck. Although this flight was sold out, there was one seat left on the next flight. And it was only going to cost $1300. “But I could fly to London for that!” I cried.
“Only one seat left,” she reminded me, “so you have to decide now if you want it.” I tearfully handed her my credit card.
Now on the plus side, I got a seat in First Class. When the flight attendant brought out a basket of candy bars, I couldn’t believe they were free. I had told the guy sitting next to me my tale of woe and he ventured, “I actually think that might be the most expensive Milky Way you’ve ever eaten.” Ouch! When the basket-lady came round again, I, the basket-case, grabbed three more to get my money’s worth. I’m a clever one.
I’m going to skip over losing my keys at the airport for fear it could reactivate my PTSD. And yes, why did I take my keys with me on vacation? My son would locate these two days later at the TSA’s Lost and Found office manned by the world’s most disgruntled employee. But I digress. Did I mention that I had to be driven straight from LAX to Urgent Care as I’d developed a full-blown ear infection and had to be back at school the next day? But those are just Bonus Features.
Now what you’ve been waiting for – my hair. No sooner had I gone through the Security “Assume the Position” Screener in Detroit then I was asked to step aside. “We need to search your hair,” the TSA woman said matter-of-factly. Huh? Okay, my hair tends to look like a native shrub, but I’d just had it cut for the trip. It’s not like anyone would mistake me for Angela Davis or Marge Simpson.
I was so stunned at this request that all I could do was laugh as the woman proceeded to massage my head. (It’s not the same with gloved hands.) I told her I had a bit of bed head in the back and asked if she could fix that. I couldn’t stop laughing.
When I told my students the next day what had happened, one boy suggested that I could have had a machine gun in my hair. “Really?” I asked incredulously. “Well, maybe a miniature one?” he offered. I made a mental note that I needed to reteach measurement and probability.
Rest assured that even when my hair is in the air, you can fly with peace of mind.
Drawing by Eli
Not A Leg to Stand On June 15, 2013Posted by alwaysjan in Health, Personal.
Tags: Health, Knee Pain, Strawberry Festival, Torn Meniscus, Total Knee Replacement
When I last wrote about my knee in 28 Days Later, I was four weeks out from Total Knee Replacement (TKR). I’m pleased to say that at six weeks, I no longer wanted to die. And just as my doctor had predicted, by the time I hit that 12-week mark, I was in love with him.
I went back to school after 10 weeks, as I’d exhausted my sick leave and was on Extended Medical Leave (1/2 pay). I was a little bit nervous about my ability to navigate the stairs, but ultimately I did just fine. And it took me all of 10 minutes to regain control of my classroom after being out for so long. It was all good. Too good?
Okay, my right knee now makes a THUNKing sound (which is good way to teach about onomatopoeia?). I asked my doctor about this and he said, “Well, your knee is all titanium and plastic, so what do you expect?” It’s not like it was in Silent Running mode before. Point well taken.
I was floating up and down the stairs at school. Heaven! Then my LEFT knee began acting up. A shot of Cortisone did the trick. My husband had tickets to go to The Strawberry Festival in Yosemite to meet up with his best friend from kindergarten, Anne. I love Anne because she remembers more about my husband’s childhood than he does. Approximately 20 some odd people were to converge at Camp Calamity. Oh, how aptly named.
Neither my husband or I had ever been to Yosemite. Finally, we were going. Oh what fun we would have.
The first night was great. The camp was set up so that there was a long table for all of us to gather. The women’s restroom wasn’t too far. Who could ask for anything more? Okay, the ground was uneven, but our hosts had laid out artificial turf and rugs so that it was the ultimate outdoor space. They had this down as they’d been doing this for 31 years. I was in awe of just how organized they were. We slept the first night on an air mattress. Oh, what a difference it made. This was going to be fun. (I’d never uttered the words “camping” and “fun” in the same sentence before.)
The second day we got in Anne’s car and she drove us to Hetch Hetchy. We walked down the road and across the dam and through the tunnel. I couldn’t believe how easily I could walk. I hadn’t walked this far in years and kept waiting to be in pain – but I was fine.
When we got back to Camp Calamity we dined and then as the sun began to set, we set off to the Music Meadow. The paths are traced with white chalk, so it’s easier to walk. We hadn’t gone far when I stepped off the path. My left knee twisted as I slid into a hole. I would have fallen to the ground if the two guys walking next to me had not grabbed me. The pain was exquisite. So I was carried me back to Camp Calamity. I was laid out on a chaise lounge and someone made me a wicked Margarita. My husband, Richard, soldiered on to the Music Meadow. When he returned, I was immobilized and had to be carried to the tent. Not a good sign.
I’ll cut to the chase. We drove back to Los Angeles the next morning as I had to have people carry me to the restroom. Talk about humility. I was wheeled into the hospital ER where it was determined that I had no broken bones. My entire leg was encased in a knee immobilizer and I was sent home with pain meds.
The hardest thing was writing to my students’ parents that I’d injured my OTHER knee. I was out for four days while awaiting the results of an MRI. Meanwhile, our collection of crutches was ever expanding.
The MRI showed a torn meniscus, a Baker’s cyst, and some arthritis, but I was given the okay to go back to school. I managed for two days and then everything went south. By the last day of school when I had to clean out my classroom, I was limping and in excruciating pain.
I finally met with my doctor. I now have arthroscopic surgery scheduled, but he couldn’t fit me in before my trip to the UK, which was to be my reward for having the TKR. I had this same surgery on my right knee in 2006 which compared to the TKR was a piece of cake.
So I’m hobbling. I have been ordered NOT to pivot. I ice my knee three times a day and try to keep it elevated. This was not the summer vacation I envisioned. I’ve warned my Lesley/s in the UK that I might not be up to doing the Highland Fling. I might have to just be put in a wheelbarrow and taken to the local pub?
So if my readers wonder why I’ve been errant in posting, it’s because I’ve been waylaid once again. At least this has made it impossible to put my foot in my mouth. I, however, choose to see the glass as half full. Cheers!
Photo Credit: Drawing by Daniel
Tags: Emotionally Abusive Relationships, Health, Narcissism, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, NPD, Warning People about Narcissists
I’m afraid I’ve been hunkered down in the trenches at school, so it’s been a while since I’ve posted. But, this week a discussion started up about the wisdom of telling a friend that they’re married to a narcissist.
Some of my regular commenters dished up a serving of humble pie and some things to consider before you speak the truth. As someone who’s been known to put both feet in my mouth, I can appreciate their reluctance to say yah or nay before you take this very big step.
When someone is involved with any emotional abuser (whether he/she be a narcissist or not), especially during the Idealization Phase, that adrenaline rush, the feeling that this person is The One, my soulmate, is overpowering. There can be a zillion Red Flags a flyin’, but the person will just put on their rose-tinted glasses, so those Red Flags fade into the background. Any mention of the N’s faults or quirky/odd behaviors will usually be explained away. The person “in love” with the N is telling you what they’ve been told. They want so badly to believe this is real. Even if the situation is clearly dodgy, they’re often convinced that contrary to all that’s happened before, they are the exception to the rule. Their love will cure all. If only.
One commenter last year had a neighbor whose husband fit the bill. There were children involved and she knew this woman’s life was miserable. But what to do? Talk to her face to face? Leave an article about narcissism in her mailbox?
Let’s face it. Most of us don’t appreciate unsolicited advice, no matter how well intended. Even when someone is telling us the truth, our natural inclination is to become defensive. We perceive the advice as a judgement, an intrusion. How dare someone presume to tell us what’s going on in OUR life! And what do you know about this disorder? Since when are you an authority? I think you might actually be the one with the problem!
I do believe in many cases the person you’re telling already knows that the person they are with is damaged. Something is amiss. But they’ve been living in denial, often because they can think of no alternative or are reliving a dysfunctional childhood dynamic. It might be ugly, but it’s familiar.
So, let’s say you DO tell someone they’ve been sharing their bed with a no-good narcissist. If you think their eyes are going to light up and they’ll say, “OMG, that’s it! That explains so much. Thank you for figuring out what’s wrong with my life. Now, I’m off to call a divorce attorney. Can you watch the kids while I start packing?,” I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed.
More likely than not, you’ll be told to mind your own business.”You know your life isn’t so perfect either?” You can expect to be shut out of this person’s life altogether. More likely, they’ll shoot the messenger and bury you in a shallow grave after they delete you as a facebook friend.
Maybe though, you’ve planted a seed? Maybe after your friend/neighbor calms down, they’ll google narcissism? Maybe. But don’t count on it.
I wouldn’t have the same trepidation telling someone new on the scene that a certain someone is bad news. Of course, it helps if you don’t appear to be speaking as the jilted ex. I believe if you speak from a place of honesty and wisdom, it is possible to “warn” someone. Whether that warning will be heeded is anyone’s guess, but at least you tried.
On some level, I believe those who’ve had a Close Encounter with a Narcissist want to spare others the pain. Sometimes it’s for selfish reasons. We really are afraid that the Narcissist will find happiness with someone else, but of course, this is only an illusion. We’ve seen through the Narcissist’s bag of tricks and want to expose them for who they really are/aren’t. I realize it’s natural to want to warn others, but at the same time you want to avoid looking like the crazy one. It’s a fine line to walk.
If you see a child playing on the train tracks and the headlights of an oncoming train, do you hesitate? In this instance, I do think we have a moral obligation to speak the truth as we know it. The results might not be what we expected, but we at least we were true to ourselves.
If you’re reading this, I’m curious as to whether anyone DID say anything to you. If not, what could someone have said that might have helped? Or maybe nothing anyone said could have changed the course of what was to come next. You had to learn the hard way.
Parents in Denial March 12, 2013Posted by alwaysjan in Parenting, Teaching.
Tags: Difficult Parents, Education, Humor, Parents in Denial, Teaching, Third Grade, What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents
Saturday morning I woke up with my stomach churning over a conversation I’d had with a parent after school. No harsh words were exchanged (unlike my first year of teaching when a parent flipped me off in front of a class of second graders), but the parent looked at me incredulously when I said her child was still having the same issues as he had on Day One. Another Parent in Denial
But there’s something I need to come clean about. Before I became a teacher 10 years ago, I, too, was a bonafide Parent in Denial. If only I’d been a teacher before I became a parent, I wouldn’t have been such a pushover when it came to my sons’ lame-o excuses. My boys were angels! So any teacher who tried to tell me otherwise was obviously not used to dealing with a creative genius or a real boy.
How bad was I? When my younger son was accused of throwing an apple across the lunch area outside and hitting the custodian in the head, I insisted that it couldn’t have been him because I’d seen him throw in Little League and his aim wasn’t that good! And I believed this with all my heart.
The “apple” incident was just one of many. There were phone calls. Meetings with tribunals of teachers. Suspensions. Sometimes the police were involved.
My sons are now 30 and 26 and they are decent, hardworking young men whom I’m now very proud of. So, imagine when several years ago my accused “apple thrower” blurted out, “Mom, you know all that stuff they said I did in middle and high school?…well, I did it all.”
By then I was teaching and I had to hang my head with shame. To think I had been THAT parent. Not always, but there were a couple of rough years when I’d questioned a teacher’s motivation, competence, and even demanded that my son be changed to another class. Because of me, there were some teachers who woke up on Saturday morning with their stomachs churning. Karma?
A colleague posted What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents on Facebook. It was just what I needed to read on Saturday morning. At a time when the average new teacher leaves the profession after only 4.5 years and “parent disrespect” is cited as one of the leading reasons, I think this is timely indeed. Read it and see what you think.
28 Days Later – After Total Knee Replacement Surgery January 20, 2013Posted by alwaysjan in Health, Personal.
Tags: Gratitude, Health, Humor, Knee Replacement Recovery Time, Total Knee Replacement
I’ve never gone so long without writing a new blog post, but then I didn’t know that Santa was bringing me a new knee for Christmas. Nothing says Merry Christmas like jingle bells on a walker. Ho Ho NO!
Six years ago when I had arthroscopic surgery on my right knee for a torn meniscus, the surgeon informed me that I had the knee of an 80-year-old woman. I was considered too young for joint replacement, so the “conservative” measures began. A strap on knee brace that made me look robotic. I saw the look on a student’s face when they got a glimpse of it one day under my skirt and ended up doing my own Show and Tell. The kids thought it was pretty cool. But, in reality, it was hot and itchy since it was all synthetic. Then there were Cortisone injections that did nothing. And for two years, I worked with a personal trainer to strengthen the muscles around my damaged kneecap. I was on prescription meds, but the doctor worried that ultimately they could damage my liver. “Geez, if I’m going to blow out my liver, I could just do that with alcohol,” I said. The doctor nodded sympathetically.
Meanwhile the two flights of stairs at my old school loomed. Up and down a dozen times a day. Some days people asked if I was limping. A peg leg was beginning to seem like a viable option. My last option was an injection of an organic substance made from chicken combs (I’m not naming names). It was worth a shot (no pun intended). Oh, the jokes about whether I would sprout feathers or lay an egg. But a week later, the pain had only grown worse.
On a walking field trip to the nearby bookstore, I winced and hobbled. I resorted to doing my Lamaze breathing. One of the oh-so-nice parents asked delicately, “Are your wearing new shoes?” By the time we arrived at the bookstore, I had to sit down. If I was a boxer, I would have been down for the count. Later I hobbled back to the school and then home to book a sub. That was the end of November.
I went to see a new surgeon. He thought I was one of the less than 1 percent who have an allergic reaction to the chicken combs. Great. But, when he said he could do the surgery just before Christmas it was music to my ears. He pulled no punches, “For the first 12 weeks you’re going to hate me, but after that….you’re going to LOVE me!”
So, it’s been a month now. The three days in the hospital were doable as the IV painkillers did their job and you’ve gotta love those nurses. I was even visited by a volunteer with “Happy” the therapy dog. But then it was time to go home. The night before I was released my husband returned to find boxes lined up on our front porch. Enough equipment to start a convalescent home. Hey it’s three seats in one – a chair, a commode AND you can sit in the shower in it! Oh the look of horror on my husband’s face. “I’m no nurse,” he said proclaiming what has always been obvious. It was seeing me using a walker that unnerved him the most. When after a week I finally decided I needed to get my hair cut, he drove me up to the side door, let me out, then sped away so no one would see him with me.
Each morning I settled in for the day on the couch with my leg in the CPM (Continuous Passive Motion) machine. Our dog, Layla, didn’t appreciate losing her el primo spot on the couch to this whirring machine. I’d hoped to read, but mostly I laid in a zombified state while my knee went through the spin cycle. My husband, Richard, is an amazing cook so I was served breakfast each morning with the admonishment, “You better not get used to this!”
I don’t know how people manage to go through this operation who have a family who expects them to soldier on. I literally did nothing but watch movies and read. I followed comments on my blog. Friends texted daily. My husband usually works at home upstairs, so if I needed something, he was only a text away. He cooked three incredible meals a day.
Initially a physical therapist came to the house. After the first visit she informed me I’d need ice next time – and not for drinks. After two weeks I graduated to outpatient therapy. I actually drove to my first appointment, feeling like I was finally out amongst the living.
It’s now 28 days later. The guy hauled away the CPM, so Layla has reclaimed her spot on the couch. Last Thursday the physical therapist kicked my butt. He had me on my belly with something like a dog leash attached to my ankle that I had to pull on to raise my leg behind me. S&M. That day I told him my new nickname for him was “The Mangler.”
“If you don’t climb the mountain, you can’t see the view” is a quote I often tell my students, so I shall continue to claw my way up the mountain rock by rock even on days when gaining a foothold seems almost impossible. I can’t complain. I have insurance and I’m in pain because I’m getting better not worse. I’ve done the math. I should be “in love” by St. Patrick’s Day though I have to go back to work before then. I’ll have to settle for being “in like”.
So for this and all my family and friends who’ve been there for me, I am so grateful. Santa may have brought me a new knee, but he also brought me a new appreciation for all that is truly important in my life. Happy New Year!
To find out what came next, read Not A Leg to Stand On.
Drawing by Colby
Do Narcissists Know They are Narcissists? November 11, 2012Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Tags: Narcissism, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, NPD, Relationships, Self-Aware Narcissists, The Scorpion and the Frog
Someone recently commented – it was more of a rant actually. The person said that since Narcissists don’t know what they’re doing, it’s rather “mid-evil” (yes, that was the spelling) to hold them accountable for their actions. They went on to say that being critical of Narcissists should make us take a long look in the mirror at ourselves. How dare we be so judgemental toward those who know no better? To their thinking, this made the victims of a Narcissist no better than the Narcissist themselves. I heartily disagree.
Although I enjoy the dialogue with my readers, the tone of the comment was so confrontational, I felt a sense of relief as I hit the Delete button, (and I can count on one hand the times I’ve done this.)
How ironic that only days later I came across “You Probably Think this Paper’s About You: Narcissist’s Perceptions of their Personality and Reputation,” a peer-reviewed article published by the National Institute of Health (NIH) in 2011 that addresses this very question. Does a Narcissist recognize their own narcissism and how it interferes with their life? FYI: We’re talking Pathological Narcissists here, Malignant Narcissists, or Clinical Narcissists, as the researchers refer to them. These are not your garden variety of narcissists – blowhards who dominate the conversation and enter the room with an implicit “TADA”!)
It took me several days to wade through the paper as it reactivated my PTSD from taking a statistics class. So, if you’re not up for the read, here’s the gist of the article. (To read the research paper in its entirety, hit the above link and then press on the Free PMC Article feature.)
“Lack of insight is believed to be a hallmark of narcissism…” begins the paper. When it comes to Narcissists’ self-insight, there are two competing views.
The Narcissist Ignorance view argues that narcissists, ” lack insight into their personality and reputation and overestimate how positively others see them.” This is akin to “ignorance is bliss.”
The Narcissistic Awareness view, however, finds that narcissists do have insight into their personality and reputation. The researchers predicted that ultimately the Narcissistic Awareness view is correct. (Bold type is mine.) Narcissists tend to recognize some of their own narcissistic traits but are more likely to see these negative qualities in a positive light. They’re masters of spin.
The Narcissistic Awareness model finds that although narcissists are likely to make a positive first impression, even the narcissist realizes that over time others do not view their performance as positive as their own self-perception.
This provides one reason why Narcissists continually seek out new people to impress. They know from experience that as people get to know them, their impression of the N will not be as positive.
“Narcissists’ failure to pursue long-term relationships and friendships may reflect their awareness that only new acquaintances see them in a positive light.”
Ultimately, “Narcissists understand that others do not see them as positively as they see themselves. Second, they understand that their reputation is more positive in a first impression context than among people who know them well. Third, narcissists describe themselves and their reputation as narcissistic.” (But they don’t necessarily view this as a bad thing.)
Narcissists have a degree of self-awareness. It’s just that they don’t/won’t change.
So even if you are clinging to the idea that a Narcissist behaves badly because they don’t know any better, you need to get your head out of your arse. Too many women (in particular) believe they are The One who can help the N see the err of their ways – only to find themselves ultimately cast aside, chastised for daring to think they had anything to offer so someone so great. Think The Scorpion and the Frog.
If you haven’t heard this tale, I’ll make it short. A scorpion asks a frog for a ride across the river. The frog knows the scorpion could sting him, so he declines. The scorpion reassures the frog. After all, if the scorpion stings the frog then they’d both drown. This seems logical, so the frog agrees to ferry the scorpion across the river. Halfway across, the scorpion stings the frog, who cries, “Why did you do that? Now we’ll both die?” The scorpion’s reply? “I couldn’t help myself. It’s just my nature.”
Know this about Narcissists. It’s just their nature. Don’t be stung again.
The Psychopath Test – Pass or Fail? September 16, 2012Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Tags: Book Review, Jon Ronson, Lack of Empathy, Narcissism, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Robert Hare, Superficial Charm, The Psychopath Test
Okay, I’ll tell you straight off that my personal book shopper told me this book was “all over the place” when she handed it to me on the playground. I tucked it under a stack of fliers to send home, so as not to appear callous and indifferent to my young charges.
The last book she slipped me was Taft 2012, a rolicking fun read. Most of the books she slips me are a bit “off the beam” as my Scottish friend Lesley would say. Author Jon Ronson also wrote The Men Who Stare at Goats, which was made into a movie starring George Clooney. I was disappointed with the movie as I expected way more footage of adorable goats. Alas.
The subtitle of The Psychopath Test is “A Journey Through the Madness Industry.” The quote on the front from The New York Times Book Review calls it, “Engagingly Irreverent.” That’s something I’d like to have on my tombstone only I plan to be scattered. Alas.
The premise of the book is….well, that’s where it all gets a bit complicated.
Here goes. Ronson meets Tony who feigned insanity to avoid prison and ended up at Broadmoor in the UK. Tony has found it’s much harder to get out of the nuthouse than the Big House.
Trying to root out whether Tony is in fact a psychopath, Ronson finds himself meeting with those psychology-hating Scientologists. I admit to a certain bias here as the Church of Scientology bought an entire building where my favorite restaurant used to be and promptly evicted all the tenants. No, me/and he thinks these are strange people indeed though I perked up when I read that L. Ron Hubbard loved Coca-cola.
Armed with Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist, or PCL-R, which was designed by Candadian psychologist Robert Hare, Ronson sets out to meet famous and notorious personages to see if they meet the criteria. Here a check, there a check….you get the picture.
Along the way he meets some incredibly charming and predatory people. We also learn how the DSM-3 walked out of the primordial soup as a 30-something page booklet that evolved into the 943-page bible for the American Psychiatric Association. At the onset, Ronson cracks open the DSM-IV and promptly diagnoses himself with 12 different mental disorders.
We learn how Big Pharma has an interest in new diagnoses as there’s certainly got to be a pill to swallow for THAT disorder. (No surprise there.) And many of those people at the top of the food chain are indeed psychopaths. (Ditto.)
While Ronson did attend one of Robert Hare’s seminars and interviewed him, he’s inserted Hare as an ongoing character throughout the book and I have to admit I wondered how much of this actually happened. I do have a link to Robert Hare’s Site on Psychopathy (Without Conscience) on my blog and sure enough, “Bob” Hare, as Ronson refers to him, offers a disclaimer to the book “On Ronson.”
A book reviewer on Amazon thought the book had all the makings, but…. Oh, here’s a link to The Most Helpful Positive Review and The Most Helpful Negative Review of the book.
After reading the book, this was one thing that stuck in my mind. Two researchers in the early 1990s undertook a detailed study of the long-term recidivism rates of psychopaths who’d been through a program at Oak Ridge run by Elliot Barker in the late 60’s and early 70’s. It involved a hefty dose of LSD and a lot of hugging it out to learn empathy, something both psychopaths and narcissists lack. Barker’s program was viewed by many as proof that psychopaths can indeed change and develop empathy. Some were released.
Now in regular circumstances, 60 percent of incarcerated psychopaths released into the outside world go on to reoffend. So what did the researchers find about those psychopaths who’d been through Barker’s program and “learned” empathy? A whopping 80 percent went on to reoffend. Ultimately, the psychopaths only became better at feigning empathy/not learning it.
It’s a cautionary tale for those who think that anyone lacking empathy, whether they be a psychopath or a narcissist, can truly change. But those who’ve had A Close Encounter with a Narcissist already know this.
“Both terrifying and hilarious.” – O, The Oprah Magazine
Narcissists Are Mad Men – Episode 3 September 3, 2012Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Tags: Idealization Phase, Mad Men, Men who love the chase, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Primary Narcissistic Supply, Relationships, Secondary Narcissistic Supply, Somatic Narcissists, What is Narcissistic Supply?
I’m not a diehard Mad Men fan, but when I ran across a copy of Sterling’s Gold – Wit & Wisdom of an Ad Man, my first thought was, “Forget Sterling, this is NPD Gold!” The book is ostensibly written by Roger Sterling, Jr., better known as Don Draper’s boss. If you follow my blog, you know I’ve written about Don Draper in Is Don Draper the Devil or a Narcissist?
I thought some of the quotes in the book would make excellent jumping off points to discuss questions that keep appearing via the Search Engines that churn 24/7. I’ve been addressing some of those questions in my The Mirror Talks – Reflections on Narcissism series, but it’s summer so I’m down for something different. (Since I’m officially back at school, summer is SO over for me, so this will be the final episode.)
What Is Narcissistic Supply?
A Narcissist would rather get a reaction from a total stranger than receive a genuine compliment from someone near and dear. And the more someone “runs” from them, the more they’ve gotta have IT. What is IT? Well, it’s not love as in “Love is the Drug” by Roxy Music. No, IT is new blood to feast on. Okay, that’s sounding a little vampirish, but let’s face it, a Narcissist without supply would shrivel up and die as sure as a vampire on a sunny California day.
Narcissistic Supply is the attention given to the Narcissist from other people, whether it be from you, the cashier in the checkout line, or total strangers. It doesn’t really matter who these people are (though more important people, more desirable people do yield more of a supply high) as long as they mirror back to the Narcissist the image he’s worked so hard to perfect, project, and to protect. A Narcissist will accept positive or negative attention as long as they’re at the center of it.
Meanwhile, a Narcissist is forever on the lookout for new supply, even when they’re supposedly in a “relationship.” Why? For a narcissist, there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing. More is always better. You can be at a party with the N yet feel suddenly invisible as the N hones in on a new person to dazzle. Hey, remember me – the person you came with? Could you at least introduce me?
And oh how a Narcissist loves the chase. When someone new comes into their orbit, someone who has not “succumbed” to their act, they fire up the charm and it’s full speed ahead. But here’s the rub. The minute that someone stops running and expresses real interest in the Narcissist, their days are numbered. The N has no desire for a genuine relationship as that would require (dare I say it?) emotional intimacy. They just need to know that you’re willing to take their calls. They like knowing that the door is always open – even just a crack – because they can get their foot back in for a quick fix when they’re between chase-worthy people.
You have to understand that like children, Narcissists love novelty. Picture a child at a birthday party opening one gift and exclaiming over it only to toss that toy aside to open the next gift. (This is why in NYC when my boys were small, people no longer allowed the birthday boy/girl to open gifts in front of others. It was just too hard to watch.)
If you insist on hanging around, the Narcissist will devalue you and put you (his once new toy) on the shelf. He may take you down from time to time to play with you, but then back on the shelf you go. Or if he’s not a tidy child, he’ll just toss you onto the heap of other toys he’s grown bored with. Now you’ve been demoted to being Secondary Supply. Those in this category still interact with the Narcissist on a regular basis, but that new car smell is gone. They exist to remind the N that he’s already conquered them. Next!
That’s why the N is always on the lookout for the next best thing. Even though you love them, care about them, and would do virtually anything for them, that’s just SO not what turns them on. They’d rather have a total stranger smile at them because they’re sure it’s because that stranger thinks they’re charming, sexy, clever, fill in the blank.
No matter what you do to try and inject excitement or drama into the relationship to return to that Idealization Phase, it’s not gonna happen. The N will be happy to use you, abuse you, and even lose you as often as you’ll allow them to. You know there’s lots more where you came from!
So here’s the question. Do you really want to be used by someone who views you as “old business?”
On My 9th Year of Teaching – Looking Back at Year 1 August 19, 2012Posted by alwaysjan in Teaching.
Tags: Classroom Management, Death of a student, Education, First Year of Teaching, Personal, Reflections on Teaching. First year of Teaching, Teaching, Third Grade
This week I’ll go back to school. It will be my 9th year working as a credentialed teacher in a public school.
I took the scenic route to becoming a teacher. I taught art in NYC. I worked as a substitute on and off. I was a District Intern with the Los Angeles Unified School District for 10 months teaching in a modified bilingual classroom. There was no toilet paper. The jello made the kids sick. My own sons were acting up. I quit and sold my blue pocket charts at a yard sale.
Two years later, I tried another alternative program to credentialing and was placed in a classroom of high risk 5th grade students. I didn’t have the experience at that time to deal with them. Every day after school the custodian would push his broom through my classroom and say, “These are bad kids, very bad kids.” The enrollment numbers were down, so I was first to go. After only 15 days in the classroom, I couldn’t leave fast enough as I was done – or more accurately, done in.
Yet, no matter how many times I decided I was DONE with teaching, I always returned. No sooner had I sold those blue pocket charts than I was out buying more. Ultimately, I realized that it’s when I’m in the classroom that I feel most alive.
In 2004, I finally earned my California Teaching Credential. I was 50 years old. What can I say? I’m a late bloomer.
Did you know that half of all teachers leave teaching within the first five years? Looking back, it’s a wonder I even made it through my first year. It’s a year still seared in my memory as no class in pedagogy could have prepared me for what was in store.
It was only the second week of school when the principal came to the door of my classroom. This was not a good sign. Had I filled out the attendance incorrectly? He led me to the office where I met the father of one of my students. The man, head in hands, was weeping.”She was just so stressed,” he kept saying. I wasn’t quite sure what this was about.
It was only the next day that we learned his wife had committed suicide by shooting herself in the garage. And the kids? They were still at home watching TV as he had told them their mother was at work. I’d never felt so at a loss for what to do/say in my life. Several days passed and the boy returned to school. I bought a heart-shaped pillow where he could sometimes rest back in the library when he felt sad.
A new boy, Ezekiel, joined our class. He was adorable and so smart that he’d skipped first grade. He immediately befriended the boy who’d lost his mother. I remember thinking, “This is a good thing” as they were both such bright and kind-hearted boys.
But after Thanksgiving, Ezekiel did not come back to school. Could he have gone on a trip to see relatives I wondered? Then came the call. He’d collapsed at home and was at the hospital on life support. Could the children pray for him? They did – with all the strength their little second-grade hearts could muster.
The next day the principal and I drove to the hospital to see this precious boy. When a child was pushed by us in the hall on a gurney, the principal asked, “Was that him?” I honestly didn’t know. I was used to seeing Ezekiel in his school uniform with those big sparkly eyes. The family was gathered. The mood was somber. He’d just collapsed one evening at home. It all happened in the blink of an eye.
Ezekiel was taken off life support the next day. Crisis counselors from the district descended on my classroom. I’d never felt so at a loss for what to do/say in my life. But the words eventually came to me. We wrote a poem. We talked about how someone is never really gone unless you forget them.
At Ezekiel’s funeral, his first grade teacher was the first to speak. I will never forget what she said.
“Teaching is a dangerous job because you can fall in love with other people’s children.”
That’s the truth. And so begins another year.
Photo Credit: Jan Marshall