The missing thing

  • 12 Replies
  • 1506 Views
*

all4peace

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • 8111
The missing thing
« on: December 14, 2018, 07:48:46 PM »
Have you ever had an experience and later it plays like a movie in your mind, but along with seeing what IS there you realize what is NOT there?

Empathy is such a natural part of our human interactions. We humans tend to care for one another, to soothe, comfort, cluck with shared sympathy, furrow our brows with worry for the other. We are such expressive creatures,

It is a strange thing to be in a room with someone who has no empathy. You can pour your heart out. You can share your pain. You can try to get them to see and understand. And there is simply nothing. It's the missing thing that in its absence becomes THE biggest thing in the room, while missing.

Without empathy, without any ability to imagine another's experience, to try to step into their shoes, to see why our actions may be hurtful or why they may feel the way they do....without that, what do we have?

I want to have empathy for those without empathy, but it's frankly just chilling to me.

*

SmartyCat

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 129
Re: The missing thing
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2018, 08:06:08 PM »
Yes. Both my parents were emotionally immature (will never know if a PD is/was actually involved), and empathy was not on the menu. Shutting down a conversation was considered a brag-worthy victory. My uN GC brother presents himself as the family "nice guy", but has no boundaries and only a casual acquaintance with the truth, and quickly goes waify at the merest suggestion that others are poorly affected by his behavior.

For most of my life I "assumed" empathy on their part, and thought I was just overly sensitive or as much of an embarrassing basket case as they implied. I clung to isolated examples of caring behavior - that kind comment 30 years ago, the good advice about a pet 11 years ago - as evidence of their overall character. Only recently have I flipped the script and thought closely about whether I would treat others the way they do, and it's been kind of shocking. Feeling inadequate sometimes, needing help sometimes, is part of the human condition. Emotionally healthy people don't seize on that as an opportunity to humiliate someone they claim to care about.

I agree, it's chilling to deal with those without empathy - exhausting because it's a one-way street and trust is nowhere to be found.

*

RavenLady

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 209
Re: The missing thing
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2018, 12:18:52 AM »
YES. It took very extreme circumstances in my own life to wake up and realize...wait...aren't parents supposed to care about stuff like this? Like, when you break the glass and sound the alarm for the first time in your life, aren't parents supposed to "be there"? Or at least *try* to "be there"? Especially if it's out of character for you to ask for any kind of help at all? Or at the very least, aren't they supposed to say "sorry, no can do, but wish we could"? But instead of receiving help, we get shamed for asking.

I'm so grateful I had the experience of working with abused and neglected kids and feeling that intense rush of protective instinct to drive all the scariness out of their lives. It was revelatory, that instinct. It stands in such sharp contrast to what I've received.

So I try to take comfort in knowing I'm probably not repeating the same mistakes. And that I was wise to get the hell away from my family the first chance I could as a teenager, even if, at the time, I didn't understand why. But as the abuse amnesia (new term to me that y'all taught me!) fades I'm now having to face the extent of the denial that kept me from facing the truth about my family for so long. It's gut-wrenching.

I've long had this weird fantasy of shouting at Mom "You can't handle the truth!!" like some howling lunatic from a B movie. Now I know why. Because it is true.
sometimes in the open you look up
to see a whorl of clouds, dragging and furling
your whole invented history. You look up
from where you're standing, say
among the stolid mountains,
and in that moment your life
becomes the margin
of what matters
-- Terry Ehret

*

sandpiper

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • 1804
Re: The missing thing
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2018, 06:38:16 PM »
Yes.
And they do replay, over and over, with the sentiment 'Did that just happen? Did I really hear that? What the What just happened?'
There are standout moments in my life when it has dawned on me that my suffering - or someone else's - is inconvenient to the Narcissist. The N sees that it's there and they choose to disregard it to pursue a course of action that is to their advantage, even if it is going to screw the other person over.
Generally for me those moments contain
1. the narcissist's recognition and understanding that someone is suffering
2. the narcissist fails to empathise
3. The narcissist's response demonstrates beyond all doubt that the suffering of the other person is inconvenient to them
4. The narcissist follows a course of action that will benefit them, even if it is clear that their actions will have a negative impact on the suffering of the other party. They act without conscience and without ethics and without empathy.
5. If anyone calls them on it, the narcissist becomes self-righteous and immediately spins into classical wounded narcissist behaviour: gaslighting, smear campaigns, pitting 'sides' against each other and attempting to discredit the other party, usually in the nastiest of ways by protecting their own image and doing whatever they feel is necessary to take down the other.

It took me a while to realise that the same elements have been involved in each of the standout epiphanies that I have had about a narcissist's behaviour, but that's the recipe.
I've been so bamboozled by it that I've actually sat down and made a list of those epiphany moments and I've compared them to other incidents where someone may have been ignorant, or not well-informed, or has just made an error of judgement which they have at some point realised, and they've made an effort to correct their own behaviour and undo the damage.

Those moments don't leave you, though. It's the moment when you realise that someone is missing a vital aspect of their humanity and there's a shark in the tank with you, circling around you. For me those moments are loaded with a sensation of intense anxiety, because suddenly I've realised what's standing beside me.
It's kind of a Little Red Riding Hood moment when you start thinking 'What big teeth you have, Grandma, and what yellow eyes you have...' and if you're silly enough to mirror that back to them, the wolf will throw off the disguise and give you a good strong serve of 'Yes! All the better to eat you with!'

Fairy tales really do manage to nail those epiphany moments.

*

RavenLady

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 209
Re: The missing thing
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2018, 08:39:48 PM »
sandpiper...YES. Yes times yes. You nailed it.
sometimes in the open you look up
to see a whorl of clouds, dragging and furling
your whole invented history. You look up
from where you're standing, say
among the stolid mountains,
and in that moment your life
becomes the margin
of what matters
-- Terry Ehret

*

Psuedonym

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • 752
Re: The missing thing
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2018, 11:37:32 PM »
Going through that right now. My uBPDm is stressing me out so badly that I've been having panic attacks, can't sleep without Ambien, and am generally a mess. My bf went to try to talk to her. He came back and said 'I could have told her you had a gun to your head and she wouldn't have cared.' It was actually validating to hear him say it.

*

overitall

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 368
Re: The missing thing
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2018, 08:38:58 AM »
Growing up with a uBPDm and uNPDf, complete lack of empathy was the norm....when I was a teenager and there was a HUGE event at my school which required parents to attend, they refused....I remember crying so hard because it was so important to me...uBPDm just sat and watched me cry...I think she said, "just get over it, I'm not going...quit your crying."  After a long, long week of crying and suffering, I chose to attend with my best friend's mother and my parents were FURIOUS....I heard about it for years...I was expected to miss out on a once in a lifetime event because they didn't care.....Somehow, my parents took this event and twisted it into a situation wherein I "disrespected" them because I attended with a non-family member...I couldn't win either way.

There were many instances of lack of empathy in my life....so many, that now as I reflect, it is astounding...I think that both of my parents were raised by very immature and uncaring parents and both never developed empathy, or quite frankly, any coping skills...

When I became pregnant with my first child my uBPDm's response was "well, don't expect me to babysit...If you want a kid, it's your problem."  No congratulations, nothing....complete.utter.lack.of.empathy.....it's amazing I am normal today...NC has helped me a lot and I cringe when I recall the things said to me over the years before NC


*

all4peace

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • 8111
Re: The missing thing
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2018, 03:53:37 PM »
SmartyCat, it still amazes me how much we humans (or for sure me) assume that others feel/think/behave the way we do. I have also assumed empathy where it simply didn't exist. I found myself in a world of massive hurt by the time I realized my error.

RavenLady, it was fairly painful times in DH's and my life also before we finally woke up to the fact that if our parents couldn't be loving and supportive THEN, it was never going to happen. Ever. It was painful and incredibly freeing to finally accept that. I understand what you mean about abuse amnesia. I try to remember the past, not as a grudge but to not forget and step right back into the abuse again.

Sandpiper, you just described uNBPDm's mode of operation.

psuedonym, that really hurts. I've been there and it's shocking to finally see that.

overitall, what a painful memory. Our pain just annoys the person without empathy.


In my recent adult life, those who have been totally devoid of empathy are trying to appear as if they have it. Huge eyes, big tears, pitiful voices, hunched over body. It brings up nausea in me and I can hardly bear to watch it as every part of me knows it to be fake. I think, for me, the only thing worse than no empathy is faked empathy. It's harder to know how to respond to that.

*

Jade63

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • 574
Re: The missing thing
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2018, 06:51:20 PM »
it still amazes me how much we as humans (or for sure me) assume that others feel/think/behave the way we do.
:yeahthat:

Oprah has a question she likes to ask the person she is interviewing. The question is:

"What has it taken you the longest to learn?"

My answer would be "that others don't necessarily feel/think/behave the way I do."

~Jade

*

sandpiper

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • 1804
Re: The missing thing
« Reply #9 on: December 18, 2018, 08:19:13 PM »
 :bighug: :bighug: :bighug: :bighug: :bighug: big hugs to all of you.
jade63 - the best bit of advice I ever had from a therapist was this: 'Learn to care less about the people who don't care about you.'
It is the hardest lesson of all, and I think that's common ground for all of us - because all you ever want from them is their love.
And they just aren't capable of it.
The hardest lesson for me has been to let go of that, and instead to invest in the kind of relationships with people who can love me back.

*

Call Me Cordelia

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • 1464
Re: The missing thing
« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2018, 08:00:59 PM »
You are such a good writer, all4peace. You captured how I felt when I reached my NC decisions. When it was my parents, I was going through the hardest time in my life, horribly sick and exhausted after having a baby and I couldn't figure out what was wrong, and my parents did not care AT. ALL. They live within driving distance and no help offered, "Hang in there," "This too shall pass," "Let me tell you how stressful MY life is," was all I got from them. When I called desperate for help home alone with the other kids, I got only the least helpful of the two of them who took their sweet time getting there, then sat on the couch and stared at the smart phone the majority of the time, and criticized and ordered me around the rest of it.

I always knew they were self-centered, but that's when I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt there was something really, really wrong with them. I just could not deal with that and my stuff. I didn't peg it as lack of empathy, but I knew that if they didn't care when I was going through all of that, they never would.

I definitely did doubt myself. Did that really happen? Or was the sleep deprivation making me hallucinate? No, the horrible birthday gift they left behind was real, so it must have happened! ("Well, you made me change all of my plans today but at least I don't have to go to the post office now.") It was definitely a twilight zone feeling. My own parents didn't care about me. Unfathomable, and yet no longer deniable.

 :spaceship:

*

all4peace

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • 8111
Re: The missing thing
« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2018, 04:22:11 PM »
sandpiper, what a great saying!

Call Me Cordelia, thank you for your kind words. I am sorry for how unsupported or cared for you were when you were struggling. It is hard to face the truth of lack of love or empathy, but then the healing can begin!

*

Call Me Cordelia

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • 1464
Re: The missing thing
« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2018, 07:21:28 PM »
Exactly. Stripping away my denial was the best thing my parents ever did for me.