It’s 10:27am –
I’ve been awake for 3 hours, doing ALOT of heavy research on narcissism – What it is, How to spot narcissists, How to deal with them and What we can do to avoid developing narcissism.
I’m in Trogir, a small town about 30 minutes away from Split, a big city in Croatia. It’s summer now, the weather is amazing, we are 10 steps away from the beach. I’m sitting near the jacuzzi that my friends and I have been enjoying for the last 2 nights and typing furiously away. I’ve lost count of the number of types I typed the word “narcissism”.
I’m almost done with my blog post, and something doesn’t feel right. No matter how accurate I try to make my writing (including many good references and making my NUS degree worthwhile), something in my gut doesn’t feel right.
I feel the need to call myself out. And instead of posting, I googled “Why not to call someone out”
Within the next 5 minutes, I find my answer to that feeling and I realize that my intention for writing that blogpost was laced with maliciousness. I didn’t just want to write an informative post about Narcissism, I wanted to call my ex out. I wanted the world to know the trauma I experienced through revealing nitty gritty details that I slipped in into that blogpost for “context”. The truth is, I wanted social justice. I wanted people to think badly of him – because of all my hurt and pain. The one thing I keep asking myself is, would I do this as my best self?
Going through trauma and trying to recover from it drops you in the deep end of the depression pool. It’s sometimes almost impossible to see things from another perspective when all you can feel, think, and remember are the things that were done to hurt you. And sometimes, that depression clouds your mind and renders you vulnerable and blocks your better judgment.
A friend of mine had my back the other day and gently asked me to consider not painting my ex in such a bad light. He highlighted that “the repeated references to your ex-husband (is) rather unnecessary…..your posts are shaping people’s impressions of him and that’s rather unfair and even vicious. ”
I started defending myself and saying that i didn’t wish to protect his reputation anymore. I started using my trauma as an excuse and painting myself as a “hero” that wanted to highlight narcissism so that people would understand more about it and realize where narcissistic tendencies are developed.
” I’ve been traumatized to the extent where I don’t care what people think of me. I just want to self express. And although some people might think I’m being vicious, he has every right to defend himself if he ever feels the need to. I would rather publicly call him out than allow him to continue sending me messages privately. ”
I started creating a logical train of thought so that I could get my friend on my side and empathize with me instead. ” Do you think it would help if I showed more context?”
My friend very kindly started empathizing with me and said “I do think as you write more, in time to come people will form a bigger and clearer picture. Perhaps I said what I said and feel what I feel because your story is “still developing”
There. I had gotten my vote of sympathy. I had gotten my friend’s ‘approval’ and I could now write my post without guilt.
But no. This guilt is the reason I am calling myself out. Then i wanted to find out more about WHY I always turn to social media to feel supported.
Yet the most potent critiques of call-out culture come from those who feel it is an excuse for crude vigilante justice – “zealotry … fueled by people working out their psychological wounds”, as the New York Times columnist David Brooks called it earlier this year. A “trial by fire” method of responding to any alleged violation of propriety, writes the Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf.https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/nov/01/call-out-culture-obama-social-media
Very often, when bad things happen to us – we turn to sources of justice.
The very first system we turn to is the legal one. We sue a person, we report them to the police, we turn to a unified legal system to get legal justice.
But what happens what the harm caused to us is not regulated by the law? What happens what the damage done to us is psychological, emotional, mental but not physical? What can we do when there’s no way to bring someone to legal justice and the only way to feel validated is through getting social justice?
That’s why the internet provides such a good source of ‘getting revenge’. By calling someone out, we turn our supporters against them. By calling my ex out as a narcissist, what I was doing was use very reductionist methods to rationalize his mistakes and paint myself as a victim.
This hit home
When we rationalize our own mistakes, “we tend to give ourselves really high context”, she says. “We think, well I was going through something, and there were certain norms at the time, I was following everybody else,” but when someone offends us we’re less willing to see what contributed to their behavior, aside from inherent badness.https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/nov/01/call-out-culture-obama-social-media
I’ve clarified before in my previous post, that I don’t think my ex is a bad person. In fact, I wanted to highlight narcissism as a developed personality disorder and explain why my ex became (an alleged) narcissist.
I wanted to use his case (and mine) to shed light on narcissism and our roles to play, either to avoid breeding narcissism in others or realize we can stop narcissistic tendencies from developing in us.
However, I also need to delve deeper into my OTHER intent. To stand up for myself and demand for social justice.
My ex has sent me multiple messages, emails and I have all the evidence I need to prove my allegations of him. In a response to my jabs at him on social media, he (and his mistress turned wife) have on multiple occasions threatened to sue me (on very baseless things). And I have to admit that a part of me did feel very justified for painting him in bad light.
The way my writing sent him into such a fight/flight mode is already evidence of him feeling a certain way.
A frequently cited problem with call-outs is that it’s all too easy to get carried away and overpunish people, turning alleged perpetrators of upsetting acts into victims themselves. “What can often start out as well-intentioned and necessary criticism far too quickly devolves into brutish displays of virtual tar-and-feathering,” writes the activist and writer Ruby Hamad.https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/nov/01/call-out-culture-obama-social-media
I have to do better. I have to recognize when I’m being bullied and when I am slowly becoming the bully.
There are many reasons why he did what he did, and many reasons why I did what I did. By justifying both his and my mistakes, I am invading into his right to self-expression.
Just because I wanted to empathize and use rationalization to justify his behavior doesn’t mean it’s the best way to do things.
Perhaps a better way to deal with this is to realize the cause for his actions is NONE OF MY BUSINESS. I don’t need to justify my emotions based on WHY he became this way.
I don’t need to gather around a group of people and victimize myself so that I feel better.
Why? Because it wouldn’t. No amount of guilt-shaming him will help me in this long road of recovery. For all I know, he might be on path of recovery too, and what better way to show kindness than to leave him be, focus on my own problems and healing?
I conducted a poll once, just to see what people’s responses would be. “Should I indulge in the call-out culture and call out my ex?”
Many of us are emotionally driven into decisions and of course, the majority said “fuck him!!!” “Do whatever it takes to heal” “Since he didn’t care about you, why should you spare a thought for him?”
If I had any reason to call him out, it was only for self-serving reasons.
The fact remains that if I truly did care and love him once, and if I have the ability to CHOOSE my actions well (as opposed to making uncontrolled ones), I should call myself out now and realize that calling him out for anything isn’t going to help him.
By shoving him into a corner and leaving him nowhere to turn to, I’m doing the exact opposite of what I would want someone do with me.
If I were to put myself in his shoes, I would hope that someone can privately talk to me instead of calling me out in public, where the impression of me is then seared into everyone’s minds already.
I KNOW that I have every right to call him out on things. I could even argue that he doesn’t deserve my empathy. But the main reason I would issue an apology to him is because calling him out was never NECESSARY.
It served no purpose other than to victimize myself and put him in a bad light.
Having said this, I am publicly apologizing for my actions and vowing (to myself) to be better. To do better. To practice what I preach.
I want to show people that our actions have consequences, and that if we have it in us to rise higher, to transform and to become even more empathetic – we should.
I’m not apologizing because he deserves it. To clarify, I do not think he deserves any kindness or empathy from me. But I’m apologizing because I did myself wrong.
I’m betraying my own conscience and turning my back on what I truly think I should be doing.
At the end of the day, we all do “selfish” things to protect ourselves.
Sometimes the cliche phrases only make more sense when you’ve processed through all of your emotions and thoughts.
Do I feel that by calling my ex out, I can help him in any way? No.
Does calling him out make me feel better? No
So why continue then? Instead, I want to focus on my intention of helping others through figuring myself out.
Helping others has never been a very core goal in my life. My goal in life is to enjoy it. Life is precious and a gift and I want to enjoy every second of it. But i’ve also learnt that I really enjoy helping people see things from a different perspective. Not a better one – just a different one.
The interesting thing about acknowledging and learning new perspectives is that it helps lend insight into who you are more.
The reason we react positively or negatively towards something, the reason why we feel more guilt towards certain actions, the reason we have developed certain traits (whether good or bad) is all because of conditioning (big topic for next time)
The good thing about conditioning? You can re-condition and unlearn things you don’t like about yourself. You can self-regulate and vibrate to higher frequencies.
You can CHOOSE to grow.
Special shout out to the few of you who have been my sounding board the past few months. Some of you are close friends, some family and some strangers that I have never met, but have had very deep and personal conversations with me.
To this group of you, I thank you for your energy and your time. I thank you for seeing me and letting me see you. I thank you for the constant push for vulnerability and for giving me the courage to express in a safe space.