During my first marriage, my wife and I, and another couple, went to see a hypnotist preforming at a comedy club. As soon as the hypnotist asked for volunteers, the other husband jammed his hand high up in the air. I had known this guy forever. I was hoping he would be an unhypnotizable brick, and I would finally get the definitive proof I have longed for that all the hypnosis induced chicken clucking cliche's people bandy about are bullshit.
And I was right. There was not a clucking chicken to be found on stage.
What we did find was a group of people that thought they were neighbors in a trailer park. One that had been been visited recently by extraterrestrials. He convinced them that they were on a Jerry Springeresque talk show, and that one of the women had slept with E.T. and was now carrying it's child.
The other women were calling the "pregnant" woman a slut. They were convinced that her propensity to wear provocative attire was tantamount to "asking" for it, and that if she was with alien child, she had no one to blame but her slutty self. For a while I thought they might come to blows over all this alien fucking. They sounded more jealous than put off.
He then got my friend up to the mike all finger snapping and riffing some beat generation Ginsberg- Kerouac hybrid that didn't make a lick of sense.
Later my friend told me that it was as if a curtain had been lowered around him and it made the hypnotists words true and unquestionable. That no matter what else his sense's were telling him, he could not over power the thought that every thing the hypnotist said was true. His description was chock full of the qualifying "sort of's" and "kind of's" that let me know I would never understand it unless I lived it. And over the years he never lost that look of bewilderment whenever he was called on to tell the story.
This manipulation of the subconscious is an analogue to living with a malignant narcissist.
I never had a lot of face time with my mother. She was never "there," even when she was there. She was more like a crazy aunt that should have been locked in the basement and best avoided whenever possible.
After my fathers death I saw her on holidays, and if she was living in town maybe once a month.
I always thought that maybe she was kind of jealous of any woman I brought over to meet her.
But that's just silly, right?
I do know I quit bringing women over to her house, because something wasn't quite right with the way she acted.
After her stroke, I moved in and came and went as I pleased. She didn't clamp down on me directly. But I always thought that maybe she kind of wanted more control than most would consider healthy.
But that's just silly, right?
What she did do was find issues that were unacceptable with every one I knew. And then hammered on these issues until I withdrew.
By the time I came to my sense's, I was walled off from the world. I had isolated myself, and insulated myself from everyone in my old life except for my ex-wife. Even with her I about bit her head off anytime I came up.
She was a real life 2001 a Space Odyssey.
Alone in this howling void of a spacecraft, I was observed constantly by an unblinking lens that registered every action and word.
I had hoped to make up for the lost time wasted by fate. But it was not fate that had kept us apart.
What I got was her systematically rewriting my youth. Rewriting my relationship with my father.
Minimizing her evil and positioning herself as Mother fucking Teresa.
And I bought it. I bought it all. Why would anyone lie. Especially not my own mother.
I wanted to believe. So bad. I wanted to believe that things were never as bad as I remembered, and if they were, that she had changed. Mellowed with age.
And if she had backed off a half a click, or had an ounce of impulse control, or a single boundary, I might still be down there.
But a narcissist never knows when to say when.
Each passing day inched us further from reality, and closer to life in her fantasy.
And then she lost me.
She was talking to herself and no one else.
In an instant, she fell from the grace of the sage to a stupid, twisted, old crazy bitch.
And she knew I knew her for what she is.
This was something she couldn't allow. Every day after, I presented with the same posture as before.
But she understood that I was no longer a believer, and her narcissistic rages became a daily ritual. Something endurable if she could keep it this side of torment.
But a narcissist doesn't know when to say when.
When it came down to her or me, I picked me.
I am not sure why disordered people dedicate themselves to cutting victims from the herd. I do not know why their need to isolate and dominate becomes an obsession.
It's a strategy of divide and conquer. Isolate and dominate.
Create a captive audience and spoon feed them whatever reality strikes their fancy, with none of those pesky and inarguable bits of distraction.
I don't know if there is a lesson in this.
If there is, it might be:
Never outsource the ability to think for yourself.
Never trade self sufficiency for a false sense of security.
Know that the answers to your questions lie within you.
Know that anyone attempting to commandeer your autonomy does not have your interests at heart.
Know that no matter how good a person's intentions appear,
and no matter how well spoken a person may be, if they tell you they are expanding your world by asking you to make yourself smaller, they are using you as a means to their own end.