My therapist made me cry tonight.
Here is what happened. We were discussing some of my narcissistic traits, in particular my covert need to feel special or superior. The way I do this isn’t direct or overt. Until very recently, I was never even aware I did this.
I finally realized today that I have this pattern of always siding against popular opinions, no matter what the topic is. I thought back over my life, about forums and online groups I’ve participated in, real life groups I’ve been part of, and realized that I actually sort of like to stir the pot, and take on whatever is the unpopular view. Sometimes I’ll do this even when I don’t really care one way or the other. For example, there was this entertainment forum I used to post on. There was a celebrity everyone there hated, and I really had no opinion one way or the other, but still, I found myself righteously defending this celebrity against the haters (and siding against who everyone else liked). At the time I thought it was because I was defending an underdog, because I do have a strong sense of justice. And that was true, but it wasn’t the main reason. The primary reason I took a different stand than everyone else was because doing so made me feel special, not part of the “group think.” Hey, I wasn’t a sheep who couldn’t think for myself! I had original ideas and was smarter than everyone else! I knew more! I was special! Of course I would never state this directly. I always wanted to be thought of as a nice person. As long as you thought of me as nice and smart, everything was hunky dory. If you challenged either my intelligence or my good intentions, I’d get all butt-hurt and plead innocence. Or disappear in humiliation. I had a habit of disappearing or leaving groups when my “superior” opinions were challenged–or when I was called out for acting like an arrogant know it all. I couldn’t back up my arguments because I lacked conviction. I never took a real stand on anything because I didn’t have any real convictions. I only cared about myself. Feeling strongly about issues outside of myself is something very new for me.
The other reason I sided with whatever was unpopular was because I have always felt like an underdog, and was never a popular kid. So I could relate to underdogs and anything unpopular, even if it was a concept or a thing rather than a person.
This same pattern reappears over and over and over, as far back as I can remember. In any group situation, either online or offline, I *always* find myself having a different opinion than everyone else, whether it’s politics, entertainment, home decor, food, music, or anything else. I can be very contrary, and this is annoying to some people. I can understand why too. It’s because of this underlying feeling that I am better or smarter or something. But it isn’t really that at all. In reality, I feel like I might be inferior to you, so this “proves” I’m not. I’m not always sure when I am being sincere and when I’m not, or is it just this need to feel special or smarter than everyone else? I’m not sure sometimes. I think it’s a bit of both. I do feel like my views about things on this and my other blog are my real, sincere ones. I’m getting a lot better.
Of course, my contrariness would bring me the attention I craved– usually the negative kind, but I enjoyed stirring the pot and then sitting back and acting all innocent and wondering why *I* was being persecuted! Now I feel like I’m on the outside looking in and the view makes me want to cringe in horror.
My point here isn’t about what my opinions actually are. Sometimes I really do feel strongly about the “unpopular opinion,” especially recently. It’s about my narcissism and my quest for the emotional empathy I lost. Or feel like I lost.
I told my therapist about all this, and he pointed out the fact that I sided with underdogs meant I was showing a kind of empathy. Then he told me that I developed the narcissism as a protective shield to keep my empathy safely hidden so it wouldn’t be harmed and that I had done a good job as its guardian. (It also buried my roiling and uncontrollable borderline emotions so I didn’t have to feel them).
This happened toward the end of our session (it annoys me that if tears come, it’s usually in the last 5 minutes). I just buried my face in my hands and cried. I’m not even sure why I was crying but I just felt warm inside because he understood. I also knew what he said was the truth and it really hit home. He asked me what made me so emotional so I told him I never felt like anyone empathized with me and that whenever anyone does, I’m almost overwhelmed with relief and gratitude, like someone who is starving and finally gets a hot meal.
I know this post is a little disjointed and probably doesn’t make a lot of sense. Everything is just so confusing to me right now. I have a lot to process.