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TRIBEWORK is about consuming the process of life, the journey, together.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Depression, anxiety, grief and burnout over the decade that was

It really doesn’t feel like another decade is coming to an end, but the fact is it is.
Here are some of the ups and downs of my 2010-2019 period:
The first month of the decade I was inundated with what I call prophetic anxiety—I could feel conflict and change coming. After two very solid years professionally in 2008 and 2009, 2010 was signalling the end of that season. Indeed, as I look back, that solid season stretched back to 1991—a period of nearly 20 years. After 2010 I faced a sustained period of conflict and challenge in my work.
But in 2010 at least, I was still managing safety and health for the Safety and Health Steering Group at Fremantle Port Authority. Personally, having moved house and area, 2010 was a good year maritally. We had done significant work on our marriage and at last it was bearing fruit. There was certainly less time spent in the car getting back and forth for my two younger daughters. 2010 for the most part was a good (7/10) year.
Enormous change happened this year. Suddenly I was working for my first narcissistic boss. Never before had I encountered anything like it. Professionally I hit crisis point when, before he started, I was given a five-figure pay rise and had 75 percent of my role stripped from me. I felt overpaid, bored, and constantly anxious.
Soon I slipped into a dark depression, because what I had loved (keeping people safe), now had no life to it, and I just didn’t know how to interact with an evasive, aggressive, provocational, ridiculing boss. And I felt trapped. I was still the “face” of safety at the Port, and still very much believed in the vision, but I was out of my depth in the key interpersonal relationship that had most influence over me. This caused me to plan ahead.
A postgraduate counselling program captured both my interest and passion. It was a year of undulating mental health. It was the first time I ever experienced the exhilaration of KNOWING beyond doubt that I was depressed. It was like the light went on. I was well accepted and liked within the counselling program, and yet it was still a year of great challenge and change.
God led me to go to a secular university; a secular counselling scholar led me to acknowledge a key truth about myself, which led me to a program of sessions with a secular psychoanalyst, who ultimately referred me to a secular sociological book—and a God-appointed epiphany came! Which led me back into ministry. Hope emerged on the horizon.
The year we gained a ministry, a house and our son. It was a dynamic and expansive year for the most part. Mental health was steady, we were busy in ministry, but it didn’t last long. Taking on the role of being peacemakers within church conflict was a learning experience. For a six-month period, my wife and I felt settled for the first and only time (even now) of our married lives.
Storms come into all our lives, and at the beginning of the year we had no idea of what would be coming. We never expected to face the tumult of ambiguous grief in experiencing the loss of our son before actually losing him. But that was just the foreground. God demanded so much of us in the second six months of this year, including changing churches, because my employment had become untenable.
What impacted my mental health most was not simply grief. It was also more relational stress (and relational grief) than I’d ever experienced. I had never before experienced such a strong sense of betrayal.
A year that could only be described as a rebound year. Where the ghosts of the previous year continued to haunt. Where we had to continue to grapple with change we wouldn’t have chosen if it hadn’t been forced on us. Where we moved to a new neighbourhood. Where we continued to mourn the loss of Nathanael.
I remember several nights going to the church office late to pray and sob. I needed to be alone. One thing I have learned about this year as I look back; I felt stronger at the time than I was. I’ll never forget pastor Craig Vernall saying it takes a full three years to recover from grief. I thought I was okay, but I was not okay, and I didn’t respond well to an environment that wasn’t conducive to where I was at. The worst year of my life beckoned. 
2014, or even 2003 or 2004, should have been the worst year of my life. But these years don’t compare even in the shade of 2016. February was traumatising and humiliating. June 2016 was a month of intense attack. I felt the force of isolation. The prophetic nature of my call as pastor was not appreciated in places where I felt God compelled me to use my voice to speak. Certainly, amid entrenched conflict. I sensed that I needed to be strong, and God proved faithful yet again!
This is not to say that there weren’t frequently days where I was driven down in the brutality of attack for yet more situations where I was cast into roles I really did not want to have. For the first time since 1989, I truly detested the vocations that had found me. But, even though I was working so hard, and felt so frustrated, I found surprising resilience.
A year of more change, and a real mix of fortunes. I think I continued to resent what had happened in the previous few years, which tarnished the memory of our grief, which continued as a journey to emerge in God’s timing. We always want our grief to be done with; but, at least in my experience, it works slower than we anticipate. When the grief lingered, and especially for a man-as-breadwinner who was in work he loathed, that mix of grief and resentment came finally to be understood as true complicated grief. I attribute the complicated nature of my grief to the entrenched stress of relational conflicts I had at the time. My grief was misshapen by despair.
A year full of hope, even if we were still in a liminal period. As the world began to experience #MeToo and then subsequently #ChurchToo, I began to learn more about the impact of trauma in my life, the impact of trauma in a loved one’s life, and the likely impact of trauma on all of us. It informed not only my own journey, but also the way I practised as a counsellor. I began to understand at a fresh depth some of my triggers. It transformed my empathy and that improved my theology and practice.
This year has seen many doors swing open; more than I could say yes to, but most of those doors I have said yes to, because I don’t know what God is doing if I don’t say yes. And the most significant mental health issue I faced was when I nudged burnout. For me, burnout begins to occur when I feel depressed for not being able to keep up. Quickly, if I’m not careful, it can turn into a crisis. I’m glad that when I began to rub up against burnout I quickly saw my GP and got onto a mental health care plan. I arranged some additional supervision, had some great pastoral care from my manager, and recommenced a process with my psychologist who had helped me so much in 2016.
Over the decade that was, I suffered depression at least twice, battled seasons of anxiety, experienced complicated grief, and rubbed up against burnout.
Over the years, as we reflect, we can chart the trajectory of our mental health. This is all part of knowing and accepting ourselves at deeper and more intimate levels.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

I don’t care who you are; you have no right to treat me like that

One word tests, typifies and guides all relationships. One word is the sieve through which we can sift the motives, words and actions of all who pass through our life. One word, alone, will give to us the power of discernment, so no longer will we live in wonder as to when a wrong relationship will ever be made right.
Do we allow behaviour in our culture, or in our family, that excuses disrespectful and boundary-breaking behaviour? Is a person really allowed to get away with whatever self-absorbed behaviour they feel like without being held to some account?
No. That is the simple answer. Applying our “no” is the harder matter, for there are bound to be vigorous protests made as a result. Let it be.
The word is not “boundaries,” though I would suggest that when the word is invoked, boundaries are the sensible conclusion. Narcissistic behaviour demands boundaries.
There’s the word! Hidden in the last sentence, albeit in a different context.
The word is demand. Wherever there’s a person demanding anything of us, that’s a red flag right there. People can make specific demands, or they can behave in demanding ways, and of course it’s not unusual when both are employed; a specific demand spoken in a demanding way. How much worse when the behaviour of a particular person is consistently demanding?!
There are many situations where a family member, a partner, a co-worker, even a boss might overstep their side of the boundary. Let’s face it, anyone who wants to relate with anyone in a positive and loving way will always seek to know where the boundary is and take care not to cross it. Occasionally we may feel for the boundary and slightly overstep, yet we would respond in humility when we’re cautioned—if we’re not a demander.
The demander has an entitlement mentality and they feel they’re entitled to behave as if existing boundaries are non-existent or don’t matter. They may know they’re there or they may not care that they’re there. It certainly isn’t the case that they don’t know. 
The demander isn’t someone who demands on the odd occasion; they’ve come to be characterised as demanding. Even as they enter the room, or we’re aware they could enter the room, we’re on tender hooks, walking on eggshells around them.
The demander is never happy even if we bow to their demands. They insist upon winning a battle where nobody wins. It’s their way or the highway, and everyone has to adjust because they refuse to look at the incredible baggage they carry.
The demander even seems set on crashing through new boundaries that for us become new frontiers of indignity and arrogance. Is it their intention to upset us? I think many times it’s a yes. Somehow in all this there is the desire within the demander to say, “See, look how THEY responded negatively!” We will be gaslit for enforcing our own boundaries.
He only thing that works in the relationship with a demander is boundaries, and we know when the boundary is effective because we feel their heat, whether subtly or bold.
Anyone who demands of us, especially with incredulous consistency, ought to be quarantined. And yet, it is all too familiar that the person we want to be protected from will often be the one we must accommodate.
But not without boundaries.
Now, I do realise that all this needs to be highly nuanced. If we’re serious about loving everyone in our midst that includes the narcissist. We love them best with graciously firm boundaries, for their own good, if not ours and others’.

Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Hiding behind the good doesn’t minimise the harm already done

I don’t know what it is about some people and institutions, but when a scandal breaks, some hide behind the good that has been done in order to minimise the fallout created.
When the supporters are mobilised to protect such a person’s “good name,” I don’t know about you, but it always wreaks as inappropriate to me. If there’s a scandal, let the facts settle, and get the independent thinkers and real authorities (where appropriate) involved.
The best organisations and people have nothing to do with partiality and conflicts of interest. If a matter can’t be settled with all the facts laid out, there is something wrong.
Let the cards fall where they will and don’t allow people to tread all over a crime scene, not that we’re talking only crimes. This is just solid business and life practice.
Then there’s the issue of those who have done incredible things in their careers and ministries but are alleged or known abusers. What happens when a scandal breaks?
In one scenario, the abuser’s integrity—yes, that’s an oxymoron—has them fall on their sword, which is great (especially for victims of their assaults) when it happens. This usually happens when their guilt is clear cut.
But another scenario is all too predictable; the cover up is attempted, which involves the cranking up of the propaganda machine, and where there is a flurry of communication and alliances mobilised for a battle; to “save the ‘wronged’ leader.”
This kind of thing does victims significant damage. The victims are re-traumatised as their names are implicated in a “smear campaign.”
I know some reading this may have a bias toward believing that false reports are common, but I believe through over twenty years involved in incident reporting that people just don’t report what is destined to demand massive courage from them without the allegations having threads of strong truth about them.
In some circles, and particularly some (not most or all) church circles, where “God must be on the side of the leadership,” counterattacking allegations is seen as their right. That is skating on thin ice.
What occurs is the army of “friends” that are mobilised against the allegations cites the tremendous good that has been done, all the while forgetting that it DOES NOT MATTER how much good any of us does if there are serious immoral, unethical and illegal practices involved.
How is it possible that “good Christian people” can go into bat for a person with a stellar record who has also abused minors? Or, had “affairs” (i.e. in real terms, clergy sex abuse) in their time in ministry? Or, spiritually abused congregants or staff? Or, been involved in financial misconduct or another legal breach? The list goes on.
Nobody can vouch for a husband who looks impeccable but whose wife finally calls him a horror. Whatever you say to his defence is immediately disqualified because it’s irrelevant in a situation that involves what only his wife and family can see. How can anyone call her a liar, a mischief or (worse!) a Jezebel? To call anyone a Jezebel for calling time on an abusive marriage is itself an abuse—spiritual abuse.
We can well understand the shock, horror and disbelief we feel when someone who was seemingly above reproach and so full of integrity has to answer serious allegations of misconduct. The fact is nobody is beyond temptation, no matter how good they seem. It shouldn’t surprise us, but it does, simply because they vowed before God never to do such things!
This principle is the same in all those places where the person has no doubt blessed people, but where secret liaisons become coherently well known. A litany of witnesses compels the fan club to be quiet. And even a single witness deserves their hearing. If the person is innocent, let the facts stand in the person’s defence. Otherwise, stay quiet.
No amount of good covers for even a single incident of significant wrongness. And where there is such wrongness, repentance must meet the level of the wrong done. And it ought to be the victims who have a say about when the repentance demands mercy.
There is an old saying attributed to Warren Buffett: 
“It takes twenty years to build a reputation and only five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
Indeed, if only we walk daily with that reality in mind, that’s the “fear of the Lord” that drives integrity, because integrity doesn’t come from within us without depending on God.
Integrity comes from being truly accountable before God, and that makes us stand up and take notice of wise voices and truths everywhere. Integrity doesn’t lean on its own understanding.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Blessed are the courageous, who nurture a relationship with their pain

We all have pain. If we face it and feel it, and it doesn’t floor us, we have the opportunity to bear it. But if we feel it and it’s unbearable, and we must turn away from it, our act of turning away reduces our capacity for life, and the healing process continues to remain a future possibility. 
There is certainly a process in being sanctified through pain. And that can take a very long time. Indeed, I would argue that that bearing pain that cannot be reconciled is the ultimate faith, hope and courage. Those who bear enduring pain exemplify Jesus. 
… the gospel is indelible hope in the presence of pain.
We may wonder, though, how a good God and pain can fit together in the same sentence. But as soon as we realise the Bible documents how Jesus overcame it all, even as pain threatened to swallow him whole, we are shown the key for whatever pain we patiently (or not-so-patiently) bear. Let’s make no bones about it, pain is a crushing reality.
Of course, we must qualify pain. It’s such a broad term.
I think of it as anything that occasionally or continually threatens our wellbeing. Many people have chronic physical pain they live with 24/7. Others bear a situational pain, for instance, trauma survivors when they’re triggered or when they’re anxiously hyper vigilant about the potentialities of triggering events. Whenever we struggle with our mental health, we’re in pain. The past can be full of fragments of unreconciled pain. The future could be so bleak as to manifest to the present moment the pain of depression. That kind of darkness is as unfathomable as the deepest grief.
Being human at least involves what we call existential pain—a pain we experience in being human and in being alive. It’s the mix of fears, sadness, limitations, uncertainty, thought of death and other harms, and concerns for love and loss, amid the confusing wonder of life.
In the realm of existential pain is the bearing of the eventual frustrations that press upon all our lives. There is also the regularity of bearing moments we would prefer were over already. How few moments are true bliss! Yet, hope abides as we hold out for the notion of comfort. As humans, we are cravers of comfort.
I know and admire many people who bear either an unusual kind of pain or an extraordinary amount of it. Honestly, I marvel how they do it.
The truth of the matter is we all have a thorn in the side, that Paul said God allowed to prevent us from becoming conceited (See 2 Corinthians 12:7-10). It’s only those who sense they have no debilitation who are proud. Anyone encumbered by some manifestation of pain is humbled by their experience. And humility, we know, is to be prized, so we can value the role of pain, even if on the other hand we despise its presence in our lives and in the lives of our loved ones.
An elderly couple my wife and I know from our church have inspired us greatly to this end. Recently, the wife who was in her 80s died of cancer; a very painful battle. 26 years previously she had such a debilitating stroke it left her with the use of only one arm, and the rehabilitation process, to begin with, took several years. She lived a quadriplegic existence. Her husband has battled chronic pain all his life, yet he diligently cared for “his precious love.” The enduring image we have is of their smiling faces despite the pain and impairment they have borne continually for decades. They pray for everyone else, and I’ve never received more encouraging emails from anyone than them. They have prayed for my wife and I and our family continually for all the years we’ve known them. They ooze gratitude and thankfulness. Yet, there’s the reality of their pain. They’re real about it, but they don’t dwell on it. Out of their thorn in the side comes a courageous humility that would not be there otherwise.
Blessed are those who nurture a relationship with their pain, for theirs is a kingdom that endures and eventually overcomes. These don’t look like overcomers in the world’s eyes, but their attitude to life commutes courage for the fear that would otherwise cripple them.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

15 situations where apology is unwise and possibly even dangerous

Apology is a big deal to me. Besides spending a lot of my life coaching people on the when and how of apology, I find that God is forever honing my daily practice; so necessary is it for relationship maintenance, intimacy and trust.
But there are definitely times when saying sorry is ill-advised at best, or downright dangerous at worst:
1.         When we know from past behaviour patterns that the other person will automatically assume that our apology equates to us taking 100% responsibility for the matter at hand. Our apology is more safely made when we’re dealing with someone we can have constructive dialogue with, who will also be open to discussing, in due course, what was their fault.
2.         When we’re not yet solidified in taking 100% responsibility for OUR contribution to the conflict. Whilst we take zero percent responsibility for their contribution, we must own one hundred percent of the contribution we made.
3.         When we’re not prepared to make the changes required that a good apology demands. Too often apologies are said that appear to us to be sincere, but still fall flat. If we apologise, we’re really saying to the other person that we know what we did was wrong and that we won’t do it again. It is fair and reasonable for the other person to expect change. We would expect change if roles were reversed. Nobody wants bad behaviour that’s been apologised for, repeated.
4.         When our apology may trigger something in them that would be bad for them. Sometimes people aren’t ready for our amends. We may be perfectly willing to make our amends, but the wisdom of Step 9 of the Twelve Step program is making amends is not about us. We pray for an opportunity when making our apology would only be a blessing to them; that it would not wreak further damage. This takes discernment.
5.         When we haven’t yet thought through the apology; when our level of reflection is superficial, we may find ourselves caught out in a very insincere situation, where they could duly ask, “Is that it? You don’t really understand, do you?”
6.         When you bear absolutely no responsibility for the conflict. In other words, abuse. Now, be careful here, because some abusers would use this to gaslight their victims into, “You incited me!” Uh-uh, when someone has been abused it would be inappropriate to take the other person’s responsibility.
7.         When we’re not yet prepared in our hearts to forgive. It’s sad to say, but very important to realise, forgiveness is not that simple. It involves nuances of mercy for a person or situation that in many cases requires a process of heart work. If we begin to apologise, but for some reason cannot yet forgive the other person for their contribution, that conversation could well backfire and make matters worse.
8.         When we’re not ready to receive their rebuttal or their rejection of the apology. Making apologies is risky business. It’s not for the faint-hearted. Indeed, it takes a lot of godly sincerity to say sorry well. Part of this sincerity is deciding beforehand that the apology, however well meant it is, may well be rejected, and it is infinitely better to plan to be open-minded and open-hearted enough to see their point(s) and to be able to journey with those points. Indeed, extra steps may well be demanded, and those steps could well be justified. The worst-case scenario is there may be no way back; they may write us off. We need to be prepared for this as a possible eventuality.
9.         When they ‘accept’ of our apology, but still refuse to forgive us. Yes, this happens a lot. They accept our apology, and they’re “just fine,” except we know by their distance that trust is not restored, and they may even say this. If we’re not prepared for this, it wouldn’t be a good idea to apologise yet.
10.      When our apology comes preloaded with conditions. This is the most basic error anyone can make. If our apology uses the words or concepts of ‘if, but, and maybe’ we stand on troubled ground. “I’m sorry, but if you hadn’t done this, I wouldn’t have done that… sorry; maybe don’t do this again, because you can see how it made me react…” Conditional apologies betray the word ‘sorry’ even in the act of ‘apologising’, and what equates to victim blaming ensues. Apologies must be unconditional. If we can’t yet ‘stay sorry’, we’re not ready to say sorry.
11.      When we’re not equipped with all the information. Sometimes we think we know what we did wrong, and we feel ready. But what if the other person brings up something we hadn’t considered, and it blindsides us. We must go into the conversation expecting to hear what we hardly expected to hear.
12.      When there’s a compound apology to make. This rarely happens, because those who don’t apologise for an initial infraction usually don’t then apologise for their abject denial that made matters infinitely worse. But, let’s explore it. It’s that time when someone did something they didn’t own up to and, in denying any fault, it made matters infinitely worse. If we’ve engaged in behaviour that requires an apology for one behaviour that we have for some extended period denied, this compound apology is very complex, and mediation help is advised to be sought to ensure the person being apologised to isn’t further traumatised. Refer to point 4 above.
13.      When we haven’t thought through the possible requirements of restitution—how we will make right of the wrong done. This comes in at least two forms: the restitution we’re prepared to make or are about to offer AND their requirements of us in order to make proper restitution. We really need to think through the issues of what we’re prepared to do before we make our apology.
14.      When an apology might significantly change a relationship dynamic with a loved one. We always need to understand that even our deeds of goodness can be used by the enemy to create dissension and division. This is about anticipating the fallout. If anyone could become distressed by an apology we’re about to make, it would be wise to engage in dialogue with these loved ones or significant others first.
15.      If, at any time, our apology carries with it the demand of being trusted again. Apology is all about throwing ourselves upon the mercy of the court of a person’s opinion, and much of the time opinion is very difficult to predict. Having apologised, we can demand nothing.
I acknowledge the principles of peacemaking ministry, PeaceWise, in this article.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Seeing the subtleties within unseen abuses is crucially important

This is one of those issues you don’t see until you see it, yet when you do see it, you then cannot unsee it.
The subtleties at play in unseen abuse—the visible effects of abuse are the tiniest tip of the iceberg—are difficult even for trained people to see, but thank God, once we begin to notice them an ability to discern them is aroused in us. Unfortunately, we probably need to have had some personal experience to understand how it happens, its impacts and effects, the nature of personal trauma, etc.
Unseen abuses are not just the tiniest tip of the iceberg as far as range of abuses is concerned. The real worrying thing is that this is also about prevalence. There is much, much more unseen and subtle abuse going on everywhere right now and historically than we would want to know. Again, it’s personal experience that highlights how common this is. Suddenly, the light is switched on within us in terms of the criminality of minds that we see quite commonly in all our communities.
Those who really don’t care to care, who are aberrantly selfish (Christian or not), who have no desire to project a nice guy/gal image, again, are the tiniest tip of the iceberg. It’s the one with the nice guy/gal image who is getting away with murdering their partner, work colleague, etc, slowly (taking Jesus literally) who is a more prevalent problem. The former is obnoxious and it’s obvious they’re not interested in relating with others. The latter, however, are malevolently motivated and impression management is part of their guile. This actually adds a huge additional dimension to the abuse, because their cunning can leave us feeling helplessly imprisoned. Then add to this the nature within such a person who CANNOT see, and therefore has no hope of recovery.
Seeing the subtleties within the unseen abuses is often even a hard thing for trained eyes, but in this #MeToo and #ChurchToo day, there is much more information in general circulation, which helps.
If someone indicates they don’t feel safe in a relationship or they declare to us that they feel they’re being abused, we must listen. We must be bold enough to open safe space for them to share, but without any sense of coercion, because that in and of itself will make the person feel unsafe and too vulnerable. We do not want to add to their anxiety or trauma.
It is more important to listen and to say safe supporting and particularly general things in the conversation, like, “no abuse is acceptable,” and “everyone has a voice,” and “relationships should not hurt.”
If we were to badger someone we feel is being abused into telling us what is happening, we too would be harassing the person who may well be dealing with a lot already. It would be better to build a support base for them that involves listening and availability—“I’m here if or whenever you want to talk.”
Listening in agreement
If they do begin to open up, it could simply be a case of listening in agreement before venturing into the territory of “what now?”—in other words, trained and skilled support for referral. Don’t assume your pastor is equipped. It would be better to put them in touch with people who already specialise in abuse support.
Listening in agreement is important, because the narrative within the person being abused is very often a mixed up or messed up one. They may know they’re being abused, but they may also underplay its severity, especially if it’s been going on for some time and has become normal. They may have some warped sense that they’re partly (or wholly!) to blame, when in fact they’re blameless for being cruelly treated. They blame themselves and battle with guilt usually through another subtle form of abuse: gaslighting. They’re made to feel they’re blame-worthy; that they’re the problem or even part of the problem—“if you didn’t do this, I wouldn’t do that,” for one example. Of course, this is a lie.
Listening in agreement, against what we might think, is actually what abuse victims are not expecting to experience, even if they desperately want and need to be understood.
Seeing the subtleties within unseen abuses is crucially important. Anyone in the vocation of helping people needs this discernment if they’re not to add a dimension of harm to the lives they’re trying and are entrusted to assist.
It is also important to see that people are abused usually in more ways than one.
If there’s a subtlety of financial or social abuse there, there will be other abuses, too. Spiritual abuse underpins much of it, as perpetrators coerce significant doubt into their victims. It’s not unusual for survivors of abuse to resonate with every kind of abuse. And it’s not that victims need to list a litany of types of abuse to be believed.
In every visible abuse, there is much unseen abuse going on.
And even when there are no visible marks or indicators of abuse apparent, significant harm and trauma is occurring wherever there is unseen abuse occurring.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Portrait of a sociopathic narcissist

The Allan Parsons Project song, Eye in the Sky, is the portrait of sociopathic narcissist. Take a look through the lyrics bolded below and hear the narcissist speaking:
Don’t think sorry’s easily said…
They won’t say sorry and won’t accept your apology. The very feeling and action of repentance is repulsive to a sociopath. Your apology will backfire on you and they would rather laugh than admit they’re sorry.
Don’t try turning tables instead…
The sociopath is very well awake to any thought anyone has to manipulating them, and they will see even genuine, transparent efforts to relate with them as efforts to swindle them. Because they’re super manipulative, they expect everyone else is, so they exist in a world that is hypersensitive to being duped. They doubt acts of integrity especially. It’s a no-win situation. Act with veracity and that can easily backfire.
You’ve taken lots of chances before, but I’m not gonna give anymore…
The victim of narcissistic abuse is the one taking lots of chances just being in the relationship; they’re the ones, as it would appear, who take all the risks in remaining trauma bonded. The narcissist says they’re “not gonna give anymore” as if they’re the only ones who have given anything. This is an abhorrent lie and is the exact opposite of the truth. Only the victim empath partner has given, and they’ve given everything. They’re worn out in the giving.
Don’t ask me
That’s how it goes
Cause part of me knows what you’re thinkin’
The key deception that the sociopath engages in is the act of mind control—to give the illusion that they have mental and emotional mastery over their combatant, sorry, partner. “Part of me” suggests they’re so masterful that only part of them needs to focus on this, because it’s so easy to “know what you’re thinking.” This is a cruel hoax.
Don’t say words you’re gonna regret
What rhymes with “don’t say words you’re gonna regret” other than, “I will never forget”? Anyone close to the sociopathic narcissist runs the real risk of crossing them. They do that and they’re marked for life.
Don’t let the fire rush to your head
A key dimension of gaslighting is taking small matters, and sometimes even things that don’t exist, and pretending they’re a thing or that they’ve happened, when they aren’t or haven’t. Gaslighting is a practice that causes even the most confident person to doubt themselves.
I’ve heard the accusation before
And I ain’t gonna take any more
If the narcissist is accused of anything, they’ve already seemingly thought their way out of it. They’re completely at the ready. They won’t be trapped, and if anything, any attempt that they see is an attempt to entrap them will backfire horribly.
Believe me
The sun in your eyes
Made some of the lies worth believing
This is cruel. They’re always saying “believe me” in such a way that it would appear a heinous crime if you didn’t. The sun in our eyes is their ploy to distract us so their lies are worth believing and may well be believed, to the incredulity of those of our loved ones looking on. They may say, “How on earth are they so hoodwinked?”
Now look at how absolutely chilling the chorus is:
I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you
I can read your mind
The sociopath is the puppeteer with their eye in the sky. Everything must be within their control. They’re forever “looking at you,” reminding you, whether vocally or silently, “I can read your mind.”
I am the maker of rules
Dealing with fools
I can cheat you blind
Wow. It’s like reading the narcissist’s mind. They make the rules and they enforce them. They only play by their own rules and those rules change on a whim. The narcissist genuinely thinks that everyone other than them and their loyal purple circle are fools; they can cheat anyone blind, which means they can cheat someone without that person even knowing it.
And I don’t need to see any more
To know that
I can read your mind, I can read your mind
The narcissist doesn’t need to see anymore; they’re supremely confident that their first glimpse is a great judgement and pigheadedness is their forte. They don’t remain to be convinced that they can read our minds. And isn’t it so creepy when we get the idea that people think they can KNOW that they’re reading our minds. The truth is nobody can read minds.
Don’t leave false illusions behind
Don’t cry cause I ain’t changing my mind
Tears don’t affect narcissists because they have no gauge for empathy and sympathy sickens them. Empathy would confuse them if only they had the capacity to feel, but they don’t.
So find another fool like before
Cause I ain't gonna live anymore believing
Some of the lies while all of the signs are deceiving
The narcissist says, “Try another fool, just not I, because everyone’s a fool compared with I.”
Photo by Shashank Sahay on Unsplash