Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Black and White

Cheshire's post got me thinking. I too have succumbed to black and white thinking since the beginning of my recovery.

In a way, it's only natural. When your world is rocked by a revelation, when all your paradigms shift, you're going to go through a period of seeing the world in dichotomies. Have you just become a "born again" Christian? You're going to see the world split into believers and non-believers. Have you just had a baby? You're going to be noticing parents and those who are not all around you. Have you diagnosed your parents with NPD? You're going to be splitting the world into "narcissists" and "non-narcissists" for a while.

It's understandable. After a while, though, this kind of thinking impedes our recovery, because that's exactly the kind of thinking we inherited from our narcissistic parents. People got written off and discarded after getting defined as something unworthy. Based on very little.

For me, personally, the black and white thinking was slowly superseded by a spectrum type thinking. I started seeing "narcissism" as the basis of human evil and present to some extent in most of us, but only really diagnosable as a disorder at the point where it disrupts normal human functioning. When I see it in myself - the relatively small selfishnesses or the proud, martyr-like "selflessnesses" - I no longer categorize myself as a narcissist and thus beyond redemption. I acknowledge a negative element and attempt to eradicate it. Gradually. Mostly, I trust God to do most of the heavy lifting for me.

I'm fresh out of anger and resentment. I feel sorrow and pity for my father. Maybe because I haven't seen him for so long and he's done nothing upsetting lately. Who knows? I just know this feels better.


  1. Good thoughts, thanks for posting this.

    This ability to mourn the damage your father has felt and done -- could it be a matter of distinguishing between the empty manipulations caused by his syndrome and the underlying condition of his soul?

    - GKA

  2. Sounds like you are getting to a healthier place. I think you are right that in an effort to make sense of what is ok and what is not ok with narcissistic parents black and white creeps in to help sort information. Then more thought happens and filling in the shades of grays fills out the picture. I am working on shades of gray to help me see more clearly. Maybe some day I will add color. :)

  3. I read that post too. My husband has taken a similar view about his NM - he has been no contact for about 2 years and spares very little thought or analysis on her. She's "crazy" and that's that. We only recently found out about NPD and I'm the one who has been more interested in reading ACON blogs and trying to figure out his mother, whereas he doesn't see a point in revisiting the past.

    Part of it is that I always believed that people tend to end up with significant others who are most like their opposite sex parent. If that is the case then what does that make me? I spent a lot of time wondering whether I am a narcissist. Like you I was applying the label to everyone around me who exhibited some characteristic of NPD. And I questioned all of my own behaviors.

    "I acknowledge a negative element and attempt to eradicate it." This is what I have been doing as well.

    Thanks for this post!


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