Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Fleas of Narcissism

                                    [picture source]
Fleas, Fleas, Fleas

I have read about fleas of narcissism before. Lucky Otter talked about fleas recently too.  These are the things you can end up with from being raised in a narcissistic household. These would include learned behaviors and reactions they taught you during your childhood.

One thing I want to add here, is that if you are worried about being a narcissist, while some children of narcissists become a narcissist like them, you often are NOT! Narcissists do not worry about it, the very idea that they may be disordered is way beyond them. They would never in a million years admit anything is wrong with them. My mother in one pissed off email fest actually wrote, "**** thinks I am disordered!" by then I had laid it out and wrote to her that she was a narcissist and had no empathy, though I came to the sociopath conclusions later on.

One fleeting thought someone raised in sick sociopathic households can have, is "Am I anything like them?". One can have this feeling of, "Has the evil infected me?" Being raised with no love, I wonder how I was able to love people and I do. I knew by a very early age I did not want to be like my parents. For Aspies, justice is very important, it is hard to explain, some see Aspies as being little minion "rule-followers" but it's different then that, we want to follow what is "right" over wrong. My conscience was very different then their's. One thing that would happen to me is my parents would slap me for being "too sensitive". I was told constantly to "harden up"! Today as a 40 something, I know telling a ten year old crying Aspie, "You can't cope!", is pretty sick.

I struggle with my own worries about evil then. All Christians do and have to battle against the sins they may commit. God is merciful and there to forgive once one repents but I have worried about falling away under my crushing poverty and losing trust in God. Even crazy bad health problems one's thoughts can go into despair, instead of prayer. The concept of conscience was not taught in my family or acting according to one's conscience. I was different. I felt guilt.

However I struggled with a few fleas from being raised in my family. My family all had violent tempers, with screaming, yelling and throwing things and using foul language. They do not censor their tempers. Even Mini-Me has a bad temper and I saw her screaming at her kids a few times.

I can struggle with a bad temper though I have learned to temper it somewhat and try to keep the yelling to myself as much as possible within the confines of my apartment. I would never touch anyone, but when angry I can yell loud.

Long ago I learned to walk away from people while yelling, to keep the damage more minimal. The other day,  I started yelling about a door being locked in my face, and hopefully no one heard me. I said one irritated low volume thing with no cussing they did hear, and then thought inside, "I better cool it". Aspie melt-downs can complicate this, sometimes an Aspie is not mad but just anxious. I know I am not perfect and well, everything is a work in progress.

My family does not feel guilt over their tempers, they think it is okay to rant and rave and cuss the room blue. I was always embarrassed to eat out with my father because he would tell the wait-staff off over every little thing and even would yell. I had visions of goobers hitting our food back in the kitchen.  You know something is wrong when the neighbors are calling the police constantly over your family's screaming and yelling and they show up and because of your father's position do absolutely nothing while a poorer guy would be getting dragged off to jail.

This is an area where I definitely had to learn NOT to be like my family and to keep it in check.

Other ACONs may struggle with taking criticism--I am okay with criticism that is meant for improvement but not for the mean kind.

One rarer flea I can get is if I am around people I can tell do not like me or don't understand Aspies or have personality traits like my parents is I can get very sarcastic and will go into "fight or flight" mode inside. I will go into Aspie blunt mode and not "cloak" for the neurotypicals and throw caution to the wind. However this can be dangerous around narcs and other personality disordered types who can manipulate things to turn my emotions against me. Aspies have to remember blunt honesty isn't always the best social mode. Around narcs of course, silence and disappearing is safer.

I found myself  in a "fight or flight" mode in my stomach and having some of my fleas come out too often when I was around certain personalities. Sometimes it is not even something that a particular person is doing or any personality disorder but a clashing of values and world view.

This is one thing ACONs should always pay attention to when it comes to dealing with the world. Pay attention to how you FEEL around certain parties. These are feelings I am learning to pay attention to. Not everyone is a narc but we have to learn to control our fleas around personalities who may trigger us or we may differ with. I know there are neurotypicals out there who have no capability to understand me. Of course we have to be mindful of the personality disordered who may be out to hurt us too. During the early stages of no contact we can be more sensitive too as we wake up to new ways of doing and acting coming out of fog.

Others may have a hardened view towards the world. I know I did for a short time. My parents would scream at me for being "too sensitive" and I had that weird abuse where they denied me the protection and treatment owed a young girl where I was treated more like a boy. I was told to harden up and not to have feelings. My feelings angered them. They failed in this change of me, but there was some fleas left over.

 An ACON going through this one can get feelings like "Everyone is out to get me.", "I'm not going to be a sucker". I had this in my 20s to an extent expecting that everyone was going to screw me over. One roommate even asked me, "Why do you have to act like such a tough girl?" Get hit enough times and you are always ducking and this is not a good way to deal with the world. When I lived in the ghetto, I did grow somewhat harder and when I escaped to a small rural town, had to adjust my entire stance towards the world. I didn't need to walk around in defense mode all the time even if I had to learn balancing this one, self protection balanced with openness. I actually had to learn and experience that there were good, kind and loving people in the world which defines many of my friends.

One thing I had to do after becoming a Christian in my thirties, was I did use the Christian people I met as role models. I would pick older women, and some I still have on my social website, and would observe how they treated people. These were women with loving families and who gave to the community and treated people fairly and kindly. While I did Aspies are more apt to do this, in choosing mentors. My best jobs when I was young,  I always had a mentor.  I don't think this is a bad thing to do. I was doing it at an older age then most, but choosing positive role models when you have had negative ones for far too long is a good thing and I think a sign of healing.

So fleas can be overcome, you just have to be aware of them.

Update: I deconverted from Christianity. I was misled using Christian people as role models.A few are real people who are kind, but those were rare. 


  1. I'm still struggling with the fact that the Mini-me can keep dry sinks with no spots with 4 kids in the house. I couldn't even keep pancakes off the ceiling when my kids were at home. Dry sinks is the priority, not clean hands I guess, but that is off topic.

    My fleas (Oh, I hate that term, we are not flea-bags), is everything. So I feel like I'm starting to lose it, that's why I press in hard for authenticity, it is the real me. From there I can act and do and say the right things. That's why I know I'm not a narc.

  2. Yeah that one floored me. Her house was so clean it was amazing, but then it was kept almost empty for cleanliness too. There wasn't even the usual books, magazines and toys. I was disabled and the second floor was up this long staircase I could not do safely but I am guessing it was just as clean up there.

    I agree about seeking out one's real self. It is hard when I feel like I am around people who do not accept me, the Aspie cloaking mode can make things worse and then I am asking far too often is it safe to really be me? But the me of today is telling myself stay away from places and people where you do not feel safe. I know I am not a narc too. They aren't plagued by such fears.

  3. I know we can't just be ourselves everywhere, it is not always safe. I guess its when not being ourselves becomes a way of life is the problem. And too being constantly in the presence of danger too is serious. We can make sure we are in a safe zone most of the time. Then I can focus when I'm not in a safe zone. But when you practiced authenticity long enough in your safe zone, it gets to be the actual safe zone where no one can hurt us. People hurt us all the time and I can't control that, but I feel the pain, then that pain can move on.

    When I am scared, all I want to do is feel scared, at one time that was hard and I used to block it, so fear lingered and stayed with me always. So authenticity helped me with that. I no longer feel scared all the time, thus it is not always in control of me.

    When I had a few friends, it didn't take me long to offend someone. Then I had no friends and I didn't even know why. Clueless as to what I've done. It was because I blocked out everything. It was habit forming. Nowadays, because I feel my way through everything, it has gotten better. I notice what I say more. Its because of staying faithful to authenticity.

    For me, when pain and fear lingers, I lose presence of what I'm doing. Its because I'm consumed by bad things. I can't focus, I'm screwed up.

    For instance, I used to snap at people, I never do that anymore. When I feel grouchy, I just feel.

    Thanks for letting me talk about this, this is a great topic.

    1. Being Aspie for me the social world can feel like playing chess without a rule book and blind-folded. I understand what you mean about authencity, I have the moments where I can be "me" around the good people and social things even flow. I will not be hurt, I can share things with them. There people see the "happier" me, that is often hidden safely away.

      Not the fake grin smiles from cloaking but real smiles and laughs. I warn some I may offend you ahead of time but don't mean too, I came out of the closet as an Aspie in some social circles. It's weird like night and day for me being around people where I am clenched up inside and the other ones here I do feel safe and accepted. I agree we have to be careful of the fear and pain and it can roll me off the good social track.

    2. I said something to husband today while we were talking, after church--mine does Wed night Bible studies and prayer, and I said, the family never got to see the good in me--well refused to see it and imagined a family where they would have been kind to me and how good it could have all been.

    3. I keep wondering what it could have been too, and I'm thinking that maybe I can't think that way anymore. It doesn't help me to go forward, because I still have to live in the now. Because I get frustrated because I'm still so scared and I have to practice normalcy daily. It is a constant effort. I can't just relax and just be, it has to be work. But I have all the tools, its not so bad I guess.

    4. I know I have to be careful of going into would of, could of, should of land. I know it can make the struggle to go forward that much harder. I wish I could relax and just be too and not have to "work" so much too. It is good you have more of the tools now.

  4. Good article about fleas, Peep. It was such a relief to read this, because I'd never heard of fleas (only the insect kind), and was becoming convinced I was really a narcissist. I was really starting to panic about it, and no matter how many people told me "you're not a narcissist because you admit your faults and take responsibility," I was unconvinced.
    What started all this was someone on FB angered by one of my articles called me a narc. And because of the way I'm wired, I took this as reason to question my own motives. I think this tendency to overanalyze everything is an Aspie thing. I also think we tend to be pessimists because we overanalyze ourselves and always seem to come up short. So, in effect, one stupid person's namecalling turned me into a "Narcissist." Not that I don't have N traits, due to my BPD, but the motivations are different (fear of rejection) and if bad behavior is called out or brought to a BPDer's attention, they will usually feel remorseful. They can have empathy but get caught up in their own drama. It's like they're wearing horse blinders.
    Anyway, I digress. About your fleas. Yes, of course you would have picked up a few given your horrible FOO and the fact you are still a good person with a good heart who has satisfying relationships IN SPITE of being an Aspie with a background of abuse, makes your special.
    As for the yelling, I yell when I'm frustrated. We Aspies have a low frustration tolerance, I think. And it sometimes takes us longer to learn certain things, too (I think Aspieness can be thought of as a type of learning disability) and that doubles the frustration.
    Aspie low frustration tolerance combined with BPD unpredictability and a tendency to "go off" can make me pretty volatile sometimes. Over the years I have leared to control these behaviors but sometimes it just comes out anyway. Especially now, because I think I'm just feeling more in general, due to my PTSD being almost gone. This is causing me to experience emotions that were blunted and numb for many years, that I haven't felt since the days before I learned how to control myself. So I'm finding some self-administered CBT along with prayer is really helping. Thank you for this post and sorry about the rambling. --Lucky otter

    1. Thanks Lucky Otter, I am glad you know about the fleas now, I learned from another narc website. I had the thoughts even long ago I did not like who I became around my family, I didn't want to be weak and passive a la Aunt Scapegoat, but would have to "fight back". I would add to this article stay away from those people where you don't like who you become around. The Bible warns that bad company corrupts good manners. This is something we have to take to heart. As a Christian even I had to depart from the family even over these issues.

      The narcs and sociopaths never worry about being narcs or sociopaths. I am sorry someone called you a narc on your blog. I haven't been called that one but I have gotten worse names usually regarding being so fat. I know these things can hurt. This blog is 5 years old so I probably had time to develop a thicker skin against the nay-sayers. I had people writing entire blog articles against me even in some circles of size acceptance in the early days. Just realize the internet can be like this. This person probably just wanted to lob the worse insult they could come up with.

      Us Aspies do overanalyze everything. One thing I have determined about some neurotypicals, the main prerogative is to "save face" in front of others, they will Aspie introspection as an avenue in to get the skewers in if they are personality disordered or well a mean person. I know I can appear "weak" to people like this because I am not "saving face" and am trying to be honest. We don't have the positive thinking or always trying to make things look better then they are but dealing with reality. Some become irritated with Aspies because of our anxiety too.

      So don't listen to the namecallers. I know BPDs fear abandonment and rejection. I am not BPD but I know rejection has affected me in negative ways. I have known BPD people before and know they will feel guilty. I see most BPD people as having come out of severe abuse. Not all of the abused will get BPD but it is a pattern of their early history. Yes getting caught up in drama can be dangerous for BPD.

      I think it is good you are looking at yourself and realizing what you are dealing with. I think your Aspieness may be helping you in dealing with the BPD, giving you a degree of introspection not all BPDers may have. I am not sure if BPD people usually avoid the therapists office like narcissists or if even most find out they are BPD but you are in better position of thinking about where you are at and seeking after healing via this introspection.

    2. continuing...
      Yes I would have picked up a few fleas, I mean when I went into adulthood I had to learn how normal people acted. I sometimes am in shock how my parents could act and get away with it though there was acts put on at the office of normal, nice, reasonable people.

      Thanks for saying I am a good person with a good heart. The Aspergers can bring frustration, because so much of the world seems over-complex to us. I get lost a lot and add in the hearing impairment. Things that adults can get done, overwhelm me. I sometimes feel like I am 30 years behind even in what I should be able to get done. In my 40s I've had to face some of these limitations.

      I think if you know you are volatile, you can create ways to deal with these behaviors. I know with my temper, I had to do certain things. I changed with age and mellowed out too. I was always a cautious person so no one ever had to worry about me ripping a room apart or anything but now I have to avoid the cutting sarcasm I can get when I feel under fire or inner social "flight or fight" mode. I am learning to just avoid certain situations and toxic people and to choose my battles so to speak. Being in the weight and health I am with the Aspergers, I have to practice self protection at a higher degree then a normal person.

      If you can feel your feelings and learn to channel them and react positive to them this can be a big step in changing things for the better. One part of dealing with emotions with me, in my case, is I had to let my head and not my heart do the leading as I got older to function in this world. I can be an emotional person--cry easily for an Aspie, husband calls me "the still water that runs deep" so for me, having to set aside feelings for good actions is something I had to learn to do more and more. Even to go NC, I had to make the decision and "do it" despite my own emotions.

  5. Your writing is so fulfilling and warm. Perhaps Christ is the ultimate role model to follow. I'm skeptical about trusting him, with all the cultural baggage and all, though the people who *find* him are everything I want to be. Thank you for this lovely article.

    1. Thanks, I deconverted from Christianity in 2017. Keep your skepticism and explore ways to follow "the golden rule" or accessing your own values. Glad you like the article.