Go Forth & Nerd! Ep. 45 - The Wizard of Oz and other Narcissists
The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists
a book that changed my life...
The Wizard of Oz and other Narcissists
Welcome back to Go Forth & Nerd! My name is Jesse Bray also known as Mr. Bray and I am your resident nerd.
Today I'm going to share some extremely personal details about my life. I'd like to have an open and honest conversation about mental illness. Secondly today's episode's title is from from Eleanor Payson’s book “The Wizard of Oz and other Narcissists”. an excellent book that has truly changed my life. Fyi I'm not receiving any perks to share the this book nor I am I connected to the author.
Ok so back the title of this episode:
The Wizard of Oz & other Narcissists
I read the said titled book some time ago and it has completely changed my life and relationships. The book gives categorically detailed descriptions of how to deal with toxic people and how to recognize them.
Basically the book breaks our behavior into two ideas:
Narcissistic behavior or Codependent behavior. If you can feel your college Psych 101 courses rise up like mental indigestion I apologize. What makes this book so great is that it helps people like myself deal with being codependent.
If you're incredibly privileged to talk with a skilled therapist they'll explain that some things don't make sense while you're a child that may be the root of your anxieties as an adult or might bubble up as other neuroses. For example.
Here's a silly thing I do:
I have to rinse a cup out three times before I drink from it. Yes it makes me sound nuts but one time I accidentally drank from a cup from the cupboard that had a nasty milk stain in it so I have this weird tick to always want to make sure I'm drinking from a clean glass.
Back to the book, it continues to talk about how if your wounded by a narcissistic person you respond in either a selfish narcissistic way or a selfless codependent way. There are of course varying degrees of both healthy and unhealthy codependent and narcissistic behavior. What does this have anything to do with being a nerd? I think it's really important to be honest with yourself.
As a nerd I believe it's what we like that brings us together not what we hate. Anyone can dislike something while I believe it takes courage to truly like something.
Here's a goofy confession in being honest: Katie and I were recently at target - btw I just love Target t-shirts they're some of the coolest gems. Anyhoo I spot this epic blue golden girls t-shirt and I was like "heck yes I want this shirt". Then Katie goes "ok but do you really like that show or are you a poser?" I said "um well I like Betty White!" We both laughed and I passed on my poser apparel.
Sure I could rock that t-shirt but I wasn't embracing something I loved I was just liking it because it was trendy. Not always a bad thing just for me at that moment it seemed like a silly thing to do. What does this have to do with the book I mentioned or mental illness? Well truth is I wanted to warm you up with some lighthearted pictures on honesty and quirkiness before we dive deep.
The book is filled with some very nerdy folk tale analogies such as the Cinderella child and the Rapunzel child complexes totally worth a read!
The Cinderella child talks about the child that runs the gamut of abuse by the narcissistic parent: they're treated poorly, as the family scapegoat. While the smother mother techniques of the Rapunzel child reflects the abuse of the covert narcissists, a person that is seemingly coddled by their upbringing, aka the golden child will in reality grow to having massive insecurities in life. You might be thinking at this point what the Freud is he talking about when am I gonna get to the personal stuff and how does this relate to mental illness?
Well here's the super personal details mental illness runs in my family. So in the spirit of oversharing here on go Forth and Nerd coupled with the seriously amazing catharsis I get from telling these personal stories I wanna talk about some real stuff most people don't like to talk about. That's crazy people.
In comics crazy is a prop for entertainment; the crazy vixen or the mad scientist these characters are bent and so much fun to watch. However real world crazy is not so entertaining.
I think we all have our own sorta cray cray encounters; an example might even be the homeless dude that talks to his feet and begs for change or in my case as a portlander the homeless hipster begging for responsibly sourced free trade non-gmo organic coffee with almond milk.
I wanna clarify a couple things homeless people aren't necessarily crazy some sadly are drug addicts while many are truly down on their luck. Yet if you've listened to any of my previous podcasts you know I've shared how I've been homeless multiple times in my life. Many times as a kid and even as an adult. The thing is growing up homeless I developed several ticks; another one of these tick is for many years I was the complete opposite of a hoarder. Anytime I would feel any sentimental attachment to something I'd give it away. I can't tell you how many times I've purchased a favorite comic or action figure over and over again. I even used to feel guilty when I owned stuff. It's was a strange but tortured complex that I've been slowly healing through. When Katie and I got married I could fit everything I owed in a small corner of the trunk of her car.
I also used to think I should only have best friends. As if I could only keep ride or die pals on hand. It was a unhealthy strain on my relationship since having such extremely high expectations on my friendship I was in reality setting myself for being disappointed. No one can be all things to you. Not even your best friend and spouse, and not even if they're a gifted counselor. It's not fair to you or them.
Now these quirks were part on the peculiar traits of growing up in a constant state of flux. However, many of if not most of these traits I developed were primarily in response from the behavior of my mentally ill mother. She was a fledgling model and actress, always a dreamer, incredibly likable and very eccentric. She was so immensely likable over time I met lots and lots of celebrities too! Ben Stiller, Christine Taylor, Will Ferrel, Owen Wilson, the list goes on and on. People loved my mother. Yet she had a serious ailment bubbling under her gorgeous smile and cheerful exterior. She was incapable of distinguishing fact from fiction. She honestly couldn't tell you the difference between a truth or a lie if your life depended on it. She was a full blown sociopathic narcissistic. Not only was she incapable of separating fabrication from reality she biological couldn't feel an ounce of empathy for a single living soul. Everyone and everything was an extension of her own reality. Your life was just an appendage and if she couldn't use the appendage she'd either attempt to forcefully control it or just treat it as it was dead to her. The evils she committed she would never be aware of and all her Holly Wood friends just ate it up. Basically the whole Zoolander cast were casualties of my mothers lies. My mother was so greedy for the attention she feigned an elaborate lie about having terminal cancer. Yes you heard me right! My mother was so ill in the head she told everyone that she had stage 4 terminal cancer. With her lies she was able to captivate the hearts and minds of the stars that could captivate millions. My mother directly profited from this lie. However she eventually had to commit to her story. Which is probably best told in another episode. I understand this is heavy stuff but I share this for three reasons.
- Just as we need to take care of our physical health we need to in many ways take even more care of our mental health
- Perhaps there's someone out there listening to this episode that has felt isolated and dealt with the abuse of narcissistic relationships and I want you to know there is a road to hope
- Lastly I believe everyone deserves to find their zen and bliss in this world and in the spirit of the late Mister Rogers "I think everybody longs to be loved, and longs to know that he or she is lovable. And, consequently, the greatest thing that we can do is to help somebody know that they're loved and capable of loving."
I know this can come off kinda preachy but I'm airing some pretty dirty laundry here. So I think it's fair to tell you some truths that took me a long time to learn.
I want to thank you all so much again for listening! I truly hope this episode has inspired or encouraged you and if you feel this story would benefit a loved one please share this with them. Please feel free to send me an email if you'd like to chat or share a personal story. I know some times we just need to dry out these foul memories or experiences with another soul. Also if you've been on the fence about seeking some mental care please do prioritize your happiness you deserve it! And if you get a chance please do check of the book the Wizard of Oz and other Narcissistic! Thank all you so much again please take care and remember to Go Forth & Nerd!