The huge irony that comes with self-awareness.

Woman Looking at Reflection --- Image by © Elisa Lazo de Valdez/Corbis
Woman Looking at Reflection — Image by © Elisa Lazo de Valdez/Corbis

Once you become self-aware, you can finally see all the ways you mistreated others or manipulated them. All my life I always felt like such a victim (and of course I was, and that’s why I became this way), but I never saw myself as hurting others, just always being hurt. I wore my “victimhood” like a trophy, much the way I’ve sometimes accused others of doing. (I wonder if I was projecting?)

It’s hard to look at yourself the way you really are, instead of through a thick fog of self-delusion, but it’s ultimately freeing. Yes, there is guilt–a LOT of guilt–but it’s of a different quality than the “guilt” I had before I was self aware. Before, my “guilt” was essentially self-serving, intended to obtain reassurance (a form of narcissistic supply). It was about making sure I wouldn’t be shunned, disrespected, or abandoned, not true remorse. Not only that, the stress of constantly avoiding being shunned, disrespected or abandoned caused me constant, debilitating stress which sometimes led me into black depressions.

Now, I actually feel badly about the ways I’d manipulate and sometimes abuse people–but it’s genuine guilt, not a fake show of “guilt” to attain supply. I feel terrible about hurting people that have been gone from my life for years, so there’s no way that my guilt could be to attain supply, since there’s no way I could ever contact those people to make amends. It’s just an inner feeling of, “That was just so wrong,” without any desire to get reassurance that maybe it really wasn’t wrong or that people don’t think less of me.

The huge irony is that all this guilt I feel now–genuine guilt, not self-serving guilt–is ultimately freeing. Rather than feeling worse about myself, somehow I feel emotionally liberated and even better about myself. Why? Because THAT me–the one who hurt people–is not the real me at all. I wasted so many years trying to be someone–anyone–other than who I really was, but I couldn’t see what was obvious. Seeing myself the way others see me is like being cured of blindness. It explains…everything. Everything.

It’s scary and upsetting to see how badly you treated those you loved, but along with that, I’m getting to know my true self–a genuine, non-fake, real person who never deserved to be hidden away like an embarrassing family secret. Those qualities that embarrassed me so much I had to shove them away into the far recesses of my mind–my sensitivity, vulnerability, desire to feel connected with others, and my tendency to think deeply about life and the world–are qualities I’d be proud to call my own again (tempered with the self control and rationality of of a grownup).

I’ve been working hard to bring this beautiful soul who never had a chance back out into the sunlight. HSP children just don’t know how to use their unique gifts–and if they were shamed for their sensitivity (and they usually are–even if their parents were loving and supportive, they tend to be easily bullied by their peers), they can easily turn to narcissism as their only defense against a world that isn’t kind to them.

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5 thoughts on “The huge irony that comes with self-awareness.

  1. Why are narcissists unaware of their actions? Why were you unaware?

    I suspect another person I knew online also has this and I do believe she is blind to her own actions. She is the worst ever I met because she is very nasty and hard to ignore. But instead she is always the victim and she sees things in people that are not there like she will think you are trying to manipulate her or that you are projecting and she will just accuse anyone of things without there being any links, she will also see insults in your posts that are not there and she will just attack you out of the blue and think you did something first, she is her own worst enemy and she thinks everyone is mean to her but yet she isn’t able to see herself what she does to others. Maybe she will become aware or maybe not.

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    1. I’m not sure why. It’s probably because in order to keep up the lie of the false self, denial has to be very strong. Most narcs never become aware and without awareness there is no cure. But I think if the desire and the awareness are there, the chances of healing are actually very good. I don’t think malignant narcissists can ever become self aware and they are perfectly “happy” being the way they are.

      Yes, I too have seen other people online, even in the narcissistic abuse community, who I strongly suspect are narcissists but project their own narcissism onto others all the time. I won’t get into details but it happens more than you’d expect. But it shouldn’t be that surprising when you stop to think about it because people who have suffered abuse are likely to develop a personality disorder, and often NPD or BPD. Beware of those who demonize Cluster B’s with a vengeance without making ANY exceptions. That’s an example of black and white thinking. I can’t say for sure and I can’t diagnose anyone, but it’s people like that I suspect of projecting their own narcissism onto others because they can’t face it in themselves. They don’t see it. Just because someone was a victim of narcs, just because they HATE narcs, doesn’t mean they’re not one themselves. The good news is, there is hope if a narc can ever get hit upside the head with the truth stick, like I was about 3 weeks ago.

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      1. Yes…I have experienced some pretty horrific stuff. I went far…on my own. I built my own self esteem. You tell people your story and they victim blame, or better yet,..they try to make you think your abuser was normal… and less Malignant then they were. I know myself and my own situation. And anyone who thinks they have more insight within yourself them you have…are simply way full of themselves.

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing what has helped you – and for sharing about your life, it takes immense honesty and integrity, compassion for yourself which made me so happy for you. There’s nothing more I can do or say for my Husband of 25 years whose pain in Childhood was very similar to yours and mine was too. I came to see the bullying was never about me but what was inside others – my Husband couldn’t see that. He ended our Marriage with the words “I can’t, I just can’t go against my parents” and our Sons and I haven’t seen him since, can’t reach him since, can’t know him anymore – his reaction to his parents ‘advice’ – control/manipulation was too much – we have all paid the lifelong price. I wish you continuing strength and healing, understanding and growing enduring happiness and love. Thank you again, Hazel x

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    1. That’s terrible your husband was still under his parents’ thumb as an adult and abandoned you and his family because of that.
      I have to admit, it was hard to make all this public, but I have to do accomplish what I’m trying to do with myself. It’s like doing an AA 8th step, sort of (the making amends one). It purges some of my guilt. It’s necessary to get better.
      Thanks for your kind comments. 🙂

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