Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Pocket Reference Book

I almost had a huge, narcissistic response to a friend last night.

I started to write a long, long response to something she had written me.

The truth? I was hurt. My feelings were hurt.

My response? Classic narcissism. I will prove I’m right; I will inundate you with information and bluster my way to the peak of perfection, pounding my chest. See? See? I was right!

In fact, I only wanted to feel understood.

I was afraid she thought I was stupid.

I stopped before sending it out. Wait. This response isn’t going to get me what I want. This is that crazy thing I do.

I went back to my book about Children of Narcissists. Ooooh, that’s it! Page 74.

Years ago, I had a friend who was in medical school. She went back as an older student, in her forties, and often joked about how hard it was to keep up with the youngsters. Memorizing wasn’t as easy anymore. She described early residency and I could not imagine having to walk through rounds and be able to know what she was required to in a second.

How do you remember everything? I asked, in awe.

I don’t, she said. I keep all these pocket reference books in my lab coat…

I need a pocket size reference book of my narcissism book.

I caught it before I went down my path of being right. She explained what was ultimately a misunderstanding on my part.

At the end? I felt understood and known.

Would my original response have done the same? Nope. I would have been on the peak of perfection, pounding my chest.

Alone.

For the first time in a lifetime? I saw what I was doing before doing it. I stopped. I thought about what I wanted.

I said, Ouch.
She said, Oh, that’s not what I meant…

I thought she was telling me I was stupid. It’s the only filter critical information seems to come through. Someone says, have you thought about…

And I only hear, You’re stupid. You’re self-centered. You’re selfish. Yes, I’m working with a pretty harsh inner critic.

She was simply pointing out a very real boundary issue to me.

She didn’t think I was stupid.

False alarm.

It’s that hypersensitive to criticism. Page 74.

I’m too old to remember this stuff.

Need a pocket reference book.

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