April 27, 2008

It's a hard life in the aNimal kiNgdom

After browsing online museums for a few hours, I found an image that captured my True Self: a woman in red, brave enough to relax between the tails of two leopards. I wanted to write tigers because it sounded better but thought it would be more important to go with 'reality' on a narcissism blog. Reality being that leopards never change their spots no matter what we call 'em. Might as well be honest about their classification as Felidae though it's not for sure whether the felines in this image are leopards, cheetahs or jaguars. Since "Jaguars never change their spots" is not a cliché, we'll go with leopards and call it Good Enough.

I'd also like readers to know that I don't generally hang out in my garden with one upturned breast pointing towards the sun. If J.W. Waterhouse had painted a midlife woman reclining on a bench, she'd be pointing towards the wall, not the sky. Maybe that's a little too much reality...even for a N-blog??

On this Sunday morning, I remembered a particular Native American tale and wanted to share a few of my thoughts about wolves since I'm writing about predators:

 Two Wolves
One winter’s evening whilst gathered round a blazing camp fire, an old Sioux Indian chief told his grandson about the inner struggle that goes on inside people.

“You see,” said the old man, “this inner struggle is like two wolves fighting each other. One is evil, full of anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, deceit, false pride, superiority, and ego”.

“The other one,” he continued, poking the fire with a stick so that the fire crackled, sending the flames clawing at the night sky, “is good, full of joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith”.

For a few minutes his grandson pondered his grandfather’s words and then asked, “So which wolf wins, grandfather?”

“Well”, said the wise old chief, his lined face breaking into a wry smile, “The one you feed!”

Most likely, everyone has heard a version of this story. If we were so unfortunate as to apply the moral of the tale to narcissists, we focused on their Good Wolf and denied the existence of big teeth, furry paws, and ravenous appetites. So rather than feeding the positive attributes of narcissistic predators, apply the story to your inner battle of 
healthy versus unhealthy narcissism.

Don't fret about narcissists' battle integrating good and bad within themselves. They can't. The bad is always out there; which means of course, you don't want to be narcissists' scapegoat. Besides, wolves eat goats---at least they did in Idaho and apparently this is true for marriage, too.

It's easy to blame ourselves for being fooled by wolves in sheep's clothing, but I never saw a sheep in Dockers so how can I blame myself for not knowing wolves were fashion moguls? When we spy a wad of fur hanging on the bottom of a pant leg, we'd best tell denial to take a hike. Call a wolf, A Wolf; give truth a chance to save you from yourself.

NOTE TO FASHION ILLITERATES: Docker pants do not have fringe. That's a puff of fur, my friend. Don't let any wolf try and tell you otherwise.

While doing battle with your Inner Critic (in this case: the Bad Wolf) focus on your strength and resiliency. Throw back narcissists' negative projections as belonging to them, not you. Don't build on negative self-talk to the point you've committed yourself to a codependent clinic. Of course you feel terrible right now, we all do. Self-blame is a short cut for restoring personal control over an uncontrollable situation. If we are at fault, we can fix it, right? In the case of the narcissistic relationship, I'd have to say "No." Wolves do not love little lambs a' divy. They eat them.

Reporting live from the animal kiNgdom,


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