This journey of recovery has taken me down some VERY interesting paths but at the end of the day they all lead to the same place. The following is just my opinion.
I’ve come to the fork in the road, the kind with more than two directions and no matter which one I go down it APPEARS to end at the same place. They all seem to be connected.
In reading about co-dependency, anxiety, and addictions, a new word has entered the picture: narcissism. When I take the path of co-dependency it leads me to the very familiar place of anxiety. When I read about addictions it ends up at anxieties front door. As any of you that have had a relationship or have known someone that appears to be a narcissist you may not believe what I am about to say but many of his or her actions are a result of anxiety. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that if you suffer from anxiety that you are a narcissist. This is my journey of discovery and I am looking at all avenues to get better.
I currently have 2 people in my life that have been described as narcissists. They both have huge hearts and love to give. They are both very controlling and manipulative and know how to make you feel like you are the slime of the earth.
They both can rage in a manner that would make even the fiercest king of the jungle retreat back to its lair. They are both very insecure but for people that don’t know them well you would think that they are perfect. They need you to think they are perfect. They have all the answers and present themselves as having all they need and that they have everything in order.
Their insecurity creates the anxiety that propels them to appear perfect and in control. Would a narcissist fit the description of being co-dependent? Well, codependents are very self-serving. Many of them seem to be very saintly, in fact, sometimes it even seems they are wearing a halo.
Now, behind closed doors, that is where all the pressure they put on themselves is released.
I was reading about co-dependents in a book by Melody Beattie. As she was describing the Karman Drama Triangle, I could clearly see how these 2 people work their way through the triangle. Rescue, persecute, victim. Since they feel like they are god and have all the answers they will “help” even though they really don’t want to and then they will persecute because the added pressure they put on themselves and then when anyone gets angry with them for persecuting they will retreat into the victim role. How did this all get started…anxiety. I have to do better, be better, seem perfect, and be perfect. Melody says it this way, “However, at the heart of most rescues is a demon: low self-worth. We rescue because we don’t feel good about ourselves. Although feelings are transient and artificial, care-taking provides us with a temporary hit of good feelings, self worth and power. Just as a drink helps an alcoholic temporarily feel better, a rescue momentarily distracts us from the pain of who we are. We don’t feel lovable so we settle for being needed. We don’t feel good about ourselves, so we feel compelled to do a particular thing to prove how good we are. We rescue because we don’t feel good about other people either.”
Right, OK so most narcissist’s demand that they be served, that they be taken care of. In fact it’s probably narcissists that the codependents are taking care of. Here’s a challenge. Try to notice when and who you might see a narcissist helping.
Here is a description I read on a blog:
“You help and you do favors and you struggle to say no, because you don’t want people to be mad at you. Yes, your self-confidence hinges on the well-being of others, but at the end of the day, people pleasing is in service to yourself. People-pleasing—even the Christian kind—is ultimately about you. And soon “you” becomes your focus. Your reason. Your basic motivation. That is my story. The seemingly benign desire to be a nice Christian girl had planted seeds, and put down roots, which grew into a pernicious self-focus. What appeared to be Christ-centered was, at its core, self-centered. My problem wasn’t people-pleasing. My problem was self-focus.”
So what appears to be a halo is actually hellacious. It’s self-seeking, self-rewarding. I’m not thinking about that when I’m doing it but in the end it is about me. It’s about self-preservation and reducing the anxiety.
There is definitely a difference between helping and care-taking (rescuing). I’m still learning the difference.
Are all codependents narcissists? I don’t think so. Are any codependents narcissists? Possibly. Of course I look at me first. Do I fit all the qualities of a narcissist? No. I don’t rage and persecute others, but I do rage at myself. I turn it inward. I punish myself. Do I help others in order to feel better about myself-not always. Do I do things for others because I feel they are incapable-sometimes. Do I feel like I have all the answers? I feel like I have to have all the answers. Do I get upset if someone criticizes me-yes the mama bear in me comes out to protect my very fragile self-esteem. But it’s because I do try so hard to be perfect.
Although it’s said that narcissists are very egotistical I think it’s a façade they have worn for so long they have come to believe it. I think they are much like the beast in Beauty and the Beast. They have had people in their lives that have catered to them, out of fear, for so long that that is what they expect and demand. They have learned how to manipulate and control their environment in order to ward off anxiety.
What I do know for myself is that many of the actions I do or don’t take that later cause me grief are motivated by anxiety. The anxiety of impending rejection, abandonment, and criticism…the list goes on and on. I have also come to learn that my anxiety lies to me ALL the time and that the fear that arises is totally unwarranted.
So, for me I will continue to research, look at possibilities, look inward to reveal the demons so I can kick them the hell out of my life. I will continue to seek out alternatives to medicine to increase my serotonin levels. I think anxiety has been hiding in the shadows of so many other mental illnesses that it needs to be brought out for what it is so that it can be destroyed. For me, I want to unzip the cloak of anxiety that’s attached itself to me as a second skin and walk in freedom.