Thursday, November 17, 2011

To Make Amends

I've been ruminating lately on the whole apology vs. amends question I've come across in this blog community as well as in life.  I wanted to share my take on it.

An apology:
Saying "I am sorry," means "I screwed up.  I apologize."

An amends:
Making amends is a little more complicated, I think.  Amends are - technically speaking - payback.  Amends mean that I'm going to engage in restitution, that I will compensate you for the behavior I hurt you with, and the payment will be better behavior.
In my opinion, amends work like this.  I say, "Here's what I did, and it was wrong.  I know that I hurt you by doing this.  It was my fault.  I am responsible.  I am never going to do that again, because I have taken ownership of the choice to behave in that way toward you, and I regret it.  I wish I wouldn't have hurt you because you are valuable and I had no right."

Apologies, it seems to me, are a bridge type of action.  They're a brief moment in time somewhere between causing hurt and moving on.  Often an apology is instrumental in moving a relationship or a dialogue forward.  Sometimes, most often in the case of a misunderstanding, an apology is an acceptable action to acknowledge an insult/injury/slight and make it right or better by that acknowledgement.  Apologies are simple, usually, and are appropriate in the case of simpler problems that are not part of a larger pattern of intentional hurt.

Amends, I think, are more than an acknowledgement of wrong doing; when I make amends it means that I take it a step further than recognition.  Making amends is about taking responsibility for a harm that I caused, being honest about that harm's impact, making myself accountable for both the action and the harm and laying out a clear and well-thought-out plan for not only the promise that I will not cause that harm again in the future but also a how-to of the steps and changes I intend  to enact in order to ensure it.  Most importantly, amends are about follow-up; in order to truly make amends, I have to do what I say I am going to/not going to do.  Forever.

True amends require complete honesty, deep personal responsibility and sincerity.
Apologies require acknowledgement and words.

My group of malignant narcissists, enablers and crazymakers that I call the NFOO doesn't contain a single member capable of the honesty, responsibility or sincerity that amends require.

But they are good at the type of sort of apologies that Narcs like to use to get their way:
I'm sorry if I hurt you ~ when I know damn well that I did.
I'm sorry you see it that way ~ so I'll invalidate your basic memory or logic of the truth
I'm sorry that you felt XXX ~ even though that's what I wanted you to feel
I don't remember that, but I'm sorry if it wasn't right for you ~ when I certainly remember it well and I got what I wanted out of it

I think that all of these quasi-apologies are just a means to an end for a Narc.  What they all really boil down to is: hey, this stalemate where you're expecting me to acknowledge and make right the truth of my actions in order for me to gain access to you as my Narc Supply isn't working for me, so I'll say the right type of words I think you need to hear without actually changing any of my actions so that I can get what I want from you again.  Okay?

It's just another trick, another manipulation that the Narc uses to place them in a position of power.  So, the Narc hurts me, usually intentionally.  And then the Narc asks me to carry that hurt around with me.  When I refuse, the Narc makes it my fault.  If enough time passes and the Narc isn't getting what the Narc wants, the Narc will try to half-ass their way back in with empty words and hollow apologies.  So that the Narc can hurt me again.

Um, yeah.  No thanks.  Apology not accepted.  Not at all.  And what does the Narc do with this rebuff?  What a Narc does best, of course!  They use it as a way to show everyone that whatever this silly little problem Vanci had was, I tried to apologize and she wouldn't accept it.  I just don't know what's wrong with her?  Boo hoo, poor little Narc!  So it seems that the Narc will sink to any murky depth to get their Narc Supply.
At least it's not being sucked out of me anymore.  And for that, I am truly and unequivocally NOT sorry.  Not one bit.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Agony of Loss

I am a creature of habit.  
I have routines upon routines and lists within lists, and I largely live my life by them.  Part of this, I know, is due to the symptom/side effect of trauma that I live with to one degree or another everyday; hyper vigilance.  Most people who have been subjected to trauma, particularly the abuses that are perpetrated by omniscient and all-powerful authority figures while we are fragile and completely controlled by the tyrants, exhibit signs of hyper-awareness and a near obsessive need to control or plan for contingencies.  At least that's what my counselor tells me!

I like to think that I've found a nice balance between pre-planning and spontaneity, though, and I can say without a doubt that the longer I am away from the NFOO and the farther my thinking is from them, the more normalized and balanced I am.  I can, in other words, deal with disruptions well, most of the time.  

Lately, though, there have been a lot of minor shake-ups in routine, some of which have involved my sleep cycle.  I can say also without a doubt that all work and not enough sleep make Vanci a very scary girl.  So I've been taking it easy when I can and trying to be patient with myself; saying to my reflection in the mirror - "Hey!  It's okay that you don't have the energy to _______.  Look at the _______ you accomplished today.  Be grateful for _______.  Be proud of ________."  It's helping.  My routine is becoming re-established. 

But oh man oh me oh my the Narc legacy just loves to find a way to kick me when I'm down.  We say in alcohol recovery that alcoholism is a progressive illness; that even if we dry out, we have to remember that the disease is in the corner behind us doing push-ups and waiting for a chance to jump us.  And that the progressive nature of the disease means that it gets worse, never better, if left untreated.  I think that the family legacy of the Narcs might be like that too. 

I'm out.  Officially.  Fini.  Done.  Ties severed.  I have no desire to go back, I have no reason to go back and most importantly I couldn't be reinserted into the Matrix if I tried.  It is impossible, after all, to unknow a thing once it's known.  But they're sneaky, you know, and sometimes I discover that even behind my castle walls they've found a way in.  It happens in my head, don'tcha know, my own brain, trained so arduously from day one by the malignant, sociopathic, abusive and vile fucks that called themselves my parents to keep me down, just turns on me and spews some nasty crap.  It's insidious sometimes. 

I take 10 or 15 minutes each morning as part of my daily routine at work to read the small, poorly written and atrociously edited local "news" (read: gossip) paper.  Just a looksee to keep myself informed of the local general public, you know? 

I realized this morning that I read the obituaries every day with the expectation that I will see the death notice of NM or ENF.  Morbid much?  

Even curiouser, I realized that each day that I do not see a notice for either of them, my gut reaction is one of what I can only quantify as disappointment.  

I have loss in spades, but it's the kind of loss that drags on and on.  They are, after all, all living together in their clan compound only fifteen short minutes away from my house.  And by all, I do mean all: NM, ENF, GCYB and his wife and her son and NOSis and her husband and son.  And god knows who else lives there too.  So it's a funny kind of loss; mourning the loss of one's long lost relatives in the morning while hoping to avoid them in the grocery store that afternoon.  It feels incomplete, somehow, and like the disease that can rear its ugly head at any moment.  It's unfinished, a loose end.

I think that I've spent enough time in the drawn out agony of loss and I'm ready to move on.  I think I'm craving grief instead.  I re-read that and immediately wondered what kind of person that makes me.  But I have to say it's true; I long for the end.

Or maybe I'm just hurt and don't even know it yet because I am absolutely positive that when NM or ENF do pass away, I will certainly find out by reading the local gossip rag.  And when I do hear from NOSis or GCYB that it's happened, as I'm sure I eventually will, they'll have found a way to make it my fault.

What a lose-lose.  What a fucking waste. 


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Self-Worth and Conflict

I took a (thankfully rare) business trip last week to spend two days in the excellent company of the other twelve people within my state who hold the same job position that I do.  It was uplifting to be with my peers even if the disruption of my schedule and day-to-day life was exhausting to recover from.  I've been ruminating in some of what I learned of myself, and thought I'd share some conclusions I've come to regarding fear of conflict and how it relates to a strong sense of self-worth.

I have an interesting job in that I have a lot of power to make things happen.  I am the face and voice of my company to all the clients within our portfolio, and I am almost solely responsible for the 'customer experience,' (and I'm captioning that because I just hate corporate buzz words and phrases.)  My actions, largely, dictate our clients' continued happiness.  Additionally, I function in a role that places within my hands the ability to move almost all transactions forward, to make things happen for others, while posting credit for a job well done in the name of others; those that I assist.  I knew this going into my job and I actually chose the job partly because of this.  I don't feel slighted and I don't miss the recognition.  I enjoy the anonymity that I am allowed to function successfully within.

These same parameters are true for all of my counterparts, and the job therefore tends to attract a certain type of personality to it.  We are largely nurturers; willing to work hard and toil to complete tasks from the realm of mindless to head-ache inducingly complex while claiming no credit for the job when it's done.  We are behind the scenes people.  We are self-motivated.  We are intuitive.  We are open to change and criticism and we are always looking for more efficient ways to accomplish our tasks.  We're untitled and unsung movers and shakers, at least in my mind.

Interestingly, I discovered an area of personality where I am very different from my peers, though.  When it comes to conflict of any kind, most of these folks are very, very shy.  They are a positive group, always looking for that silver lining, but when they are directly confronted with anything other than the most passive tone imaginable, they quickly fold, cave, give in.  Often, there are tears.  I was shocked by this to an extent, until I remembered that I used to be like this too.

Frankly, now, daily, I am a bad-ass.  I take no shit from anyone unless it's my previously dished shit being thrown back at me and I know I started it.  At one point in the meeting, several of my peers were discussing a particular external partner that we all work with and how difficult he was to get along with.  I'll call him Jerk.  Their collective way of problem solving around this individual's attitude problem was to... find another partner to work with and not tell the Jerk they were doing so.  I couldn't believe that this was their best plan, and asked why no one had just stood up to Jerk.  I was asked if he was a jerk to me.  My answer,
"Listen, the guy's a Jerk.  So, one day he called me and needed something and he was being a jerk, so I said, 'Hey!  Jerk!  You're talking to me ALL wrong for someone who needs a favor!"  And he backed down.  He's been pleasant and respectful ever since.  Amazing what happens when you burst the bubble, isn't it?

I am not grateful for the defense mechanisms and personality guards that I have to keep in place due to my NFOO.  As much as I would like to say I'm grateful for these necessities, that would be a lie.  I'm grateful I learned how to protect myself, sure, but I'd rather that I was never wounded so deeply that I needed them.  Still, they are of use.  I've faced down bigger demons in my day than any that my co-workers can possibly throw at me.  Jerk's got nothing on them!  And I think that this is a key to my self-worth and lack of fear of conflict.

I am Vanci.  I know who I am and I'm comfortable in my skin almost all of the time.  When I am uncomfortable, I know that this is just a clue that I have something I'm not dealing with and I take proper steps to rectify it.  There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that anyone can say or do in the course of the day that can change who I am.  I embrace me.  If others don't, no harm no foul.  I don't have to be loved by everyone.  And I don't have to love everyone else.  I can be civil, when civility is called for and I live in the knowledge that what other people think of me is truly none of my business.

However, I am not passive, particularly when it comes to others' treatment of me.  I understand that everyone has a different approach to communication within business, and I try to be open to other people's ways and means.  Still, I am a human being, and most of the time a very good one.  I deserve to be treated as such.  I am not a doormat and I never will be again.  If this creates conflict, so be it.  Conflict creates opportunity for growth.

I can trace this self-assuredness directly to my upbringing and my life as an ACoN.  I was treated like shit, and I was treated like shit for no damn good reason.  There's nothing I can do to change that, but as an adult I've grown and I've taken a really hard look at myself.  What have I learned?  That I deserve not to be treated like shit.  Therefore (and this is the uber-practical part of my that just insists on turning every scenario into an equation: 1+1=2, always) I will not allow myself to be treated like shit, and if somebody's got a problem with that boundary, well, step on into the ring and let's go a few rounds.

I'm glad for the confidence and lack of fear that this evolved attitude allows me.  I get to be me, and that's apparently more than some people allow themselves.  I'll take it.

You got a problem with that? :)