Narcissism vs. Self Love

Lori Ann Reese Skylar Smythe

You don’t get to diagnose it if you can’t spell it correctly, dumb dumb.

Shy people make me feel uncomfortable but I secretly love them.  My best friend in fact is shy (but confident).  She doesn’t like to dominant the conversation in a group or ‘work the room’ the way that extremely extroverted types like to.   Like my husband Kevin.  You can see him floating around talking and laughing, charismatic and energetic.

I like that too.  I am somewhere between a ‘Diane’ and a “Kevin”.

When I’ve taken tests I’ve been shown to be extroverted.  This is always a surprise to me (while people who know me chuckle quietly at my shock) because I crave quiet time alone to write as much as I crave conversation and company.  It’s a 50/50 split for me, and I get very cranky if I am deprived of my alone time.

I often describe myself as an introvert who was forced to become an extrovert to survive.  I was born into a very extroverted family.  I had very extroverted friends, but in high school I was more likely to be found behind the scenes than up front with my friends who were better looking and far more popular than I was.  Until I got a kick ass car and keys to our family cottage.  Then I was cool to take advantage of.  I got to pretend I was accepted and ‘cool’ while acquaintances got free transportation and beach parties.

I knew in my heart I wasn’t cool.  I just learned to act the part.   And it wasn’t that I wanted to be cool I just hated to be alone and I hated to go home.  So I did everything I could to be around people  and alter my state of consciousness to forgo my realization of my situation at home.

I just wanted to be around happy, nice people.

As I got older and went to College and University I found that I attracted shy people.  They found me entertaining and brazen, outspoken and full of moxy.  It was a well rehearsed kind of personae and the more shy people I attracted the more I was relied upon to ‘create the party’ or come up with the fun, cool ideas.

Truth be told I never felt I was cool.  I felt like I was forced to be a dancing bear, and frequently felt isolated and alone even in a big crowd of people.    I know none of them really cared about me.  I drank to forget that, among other things.

I remained outwardly extroverted and inwardly insecure and pensive.  The forced personality of a bikini on the body of girl that ate too much pizza.   But when I stepped back to let other people lead the group (no matter what situation I was in) one of two things happened.

1) No one stepped into a leadership role.  No matter how long I waited for it to be assumed by someone else.

2) People grew to expect and then demand that I take the role and not offer it to someone else.  This became in the workplace a measure of confidence in my abilities.

Sometimes people who don’t want to be leaders find themselves forced into leadership roles when other people do not have the confidence to step up.  And this part is the kicker… those same leadership oriented personalities will be RESENTED for “always being the leader”.  How arrogant of them.

For real?   We didn’t see you get your butt up and come up with anything at all.  No ideas, no concepts, no fun things for the group to do.  No opinion, no wonder someone else had to step forward.  Nothing ventured nothing gained but some people are incapable of contributing anything.  They just wait for a leadership type A personality to step forward and make the magic.

And behind closed doors, they miscontrue and diagnose narcissism.

A true narcissist doesn’t give a shit about the feelings of others.  In fact, the emotional impact of their actions will never occur to a narcissist.  They don’t apologize.  They don’t recognize a need to make amends.  They don’t even go down the journey of finding fault within themselves,and admitting their faults?  Yeah right.

But a confident woman who is okay with risk taking? Starting a business?  Moving to a new country? Striking up a conversation enigmatically with strangers?  These are bold, wonderful, strong and brave decisions and personality indications of a human being who lived small within herself for a long time.  Someone who did the internal work on herself to break out of little cages that were constructed for her.

I have been beaten down in the most intimate relationships of my life.  And I had two choices.  I could have wallowed in the shock of it all, and became smaller or made the second choice to get angry.  Not at anyone specifically, not at Life or God or Luck or happenstance.   I got angry at myself for putting myself consistently last.

When I started putting myself first draining, one sided or laborious relationships were the first to go.  Anyone that was habitually a chronic drain on my energy, my optimism and my resources (time, money etc.) had to be distanced.  Where was a finite amount of energy I had to spend, and to navigate the big changes and goals in my life, I had to respect my own personal time and energy.

The part I am working on now is forgiveness.   Not to rehabilitate any previous relationship, but to simply categorize humans as perpetually flawed beings who make bad decisions.  Who have tantrums.   Who lash out even when they aren’t sure why.

Because I know I have been that human too. Sometimes I still am.

Maternal Narcissism

Come on. I double dog dare you to ask me how I actually know what a true Narcissist is like? :) Want a hint?

It is not narcissism to put your life first.  To aim for happiness.  To make the big, scary, inconvenient, costly, difficult, wearing and exciting changes to your life to where you wake up in the morning and WANT to start your day.  Where you are in the drivers seat of a life you actually love (not one you simply live because you must).

So if you treat me less than I think I deserve, you will hear about it.  It will come up in a pointed conversation because among the many responsibilities I have in this world, taking care of my heart, my mind and my sometimes naive optimism is important.

  • If you are always negative?  You can go.
  • If you are vindictive, cruel or dishonest?  You can go.
  • If you place materialism above humanism, you may go.
  • If you hate chihuahuas, you may go (Diego made me write that… sorry).

Making choices that edit your social life so that you are surrounded by people who make you happy, love and respect you, elevate you and are loyal to your shared relationship?    Good.   That’s what you are supposed to do.  It’s called pulling the weeds from your garden so the flowers can grow.

And it isn’t narcissism at all.  It’s called getting an A+ in Self Love.

There is no such thing as a self-sacrificing narcissist.  What you are looking at is a one-time shy girl who developed brass ovaries, and an intolerance to catty, insecure people.   And it still hurts my feelings, as I create distance between my life and anyone who I deem to be a tax on happiness.

I still won’t get chilli poppers at Eddie Mac’s because a lady terrified me with her demeanor.  I miss the poppers… so much.

Please don’t throw the label around unless you are sure what it means.  In 90% of cases I have found it to be missed diagnoses of “Jealous-Bitch-Ism”.

Ponder it.

Pardon me while I go stare at my gray hair in the mirror of my new Hyundai. Pfft!