How do I love ME? Let me count the ways.
If you are like me and are unlucky enough to have a narcissist or two sulking around in the background (or as they insist- foreground) of your life, you may appreciate this bit of insight a friend passed on to me.
I think most of us are somewhat familiar of the myth of Narcissus. The poor, naive boy destined to fall in love with his own reflection. “Look at ME! ME! ME! ME!” We can thank the myth-makers for providing such an apt description and name for the condition of Narcissism.
My friend commented that within the myth of Narcissus, we have only focused on half the story. We have forgotten the nymph, Echo. Echo, as her name would imply, is destined to repeat that which is said. She is not the initiator but the passive participant . And, as my friend pointed out, we have been serving as Echo’s for the narcissists in our lives.
How true that was. What does a narcissist want more, than the parroting back to them that they are correct, smart, God-like in their own way. And, I had been quite the Echo for a major portion of my life without even realizing it.
If you want to get along with a narcissist in your life (and by “get along”, I mean remove yourself from being a source of feedback for the narcissist), stop being the Echo in his or her drama.
You see, narcissists expect to be able to put out the most ABSURD statements and they expect to be believed- fully. Because to narcissists, what they say is NEVER absurd (even if what they are saying defies simple, Newtonian physics), because THEY are saying it and THEY are never absurd.
I realized the Echoing function with narcissism in a situation involving my stepdaughter. Her mother seems to display narcissistic traits, and I never understood the parroting function my stepdaughter often employed with her mother until now.
Last year, my stepdaughter told us the following, “Mommy really wants to take us to kid movies, but she can’t, because Daddy always takes us first.” What? First, the divorce has been done now for 5 years. In those 5 years, the Mom has NEVER taken the children to a movie. SEcond, the kids switch homes every two weeks. So my husband’s ability to swoop in and sneak the children to a movie before Mom does is somewhat limited.
Leave it to Mom to not own up to the simple fact of, “hey, I don’t like taking you to movies, but I am happy to do other things with you”, and instead absurdly pin it on Dad. Of course, the Mom’s comments made no logical sense. And I said to my stepdaughter (I now realize that this was a mistake), “That is a lie. Your Mom can take you to any movie that she wants.” And my stepdaughter (normally logical to the point of annoyance) looked up at me with big eyes and said, “No. It’s not a lie. Mommy said it.” And that is all it took for me to understand we were talking about two different thing.
You may say the following situation occurred because of a child’s perceptions, but that is not all of it. Her Mom makes many absurd statements to all of us, and we in our role of Echo to Narcissus, are expected to parrot them back. And, today I am not only writing about being a stepparent. I have known several people with narcissistic tendencies in my life, who have always expected my complete “understanding” and “agreement” with whatever absurd perception, impressions, or thoughts they put out there.
My thoughts with how to get along with a Narcissist run along these lines- I am no longer going to be an Echo. What’s a Narcissist without an Echo? Hopefully, a quieter version.