While Debby is away on her winter break in Mexico I will be sharing some of her posts from her series here on Smorgasbord and guest posts on other blogs in the last few years that I am sure you will enjoy.
This week an early interview with D.G. Kaye, Debby Gies as part of a Sunday interview series ‘A Funny Thing Happened to Me.’ in 2015.
Little did I know as I asked Debby about one of the topics for her non-fiction books, narcissism, that a few years later she would be writing the Relationship Column for us and her Spiritual Awareness series which also looks at the relationships with others in our lives that can bring joy and misery depending on their natures. You can read Debby’s Relationship Column post here A Path to Narcissism
Thank you Debby for joining us today and perhaps we could start with the increasingly documented personality trait labelled Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It is only recently that this disorder has become better known as more and more people realise that at some point in their lives they have been subjected to its negative impact. Perhaps you could describe the sort of behaviour that a narcissist would exhibit?
Hello Sally and readers of this wonderful blog. Thank you so much for inviting me to this new series to share my stories here with so many other talented artists and writers.
A narcissist, in laymen’s terms, sees him/herself as the center of existence. They feel as though their appearance and/or words trump everyone else’s. In my mother’s case, she had created a false persona that she had convinced her own self that she was superior. It was her mission to be the most beautiful one in a room, and craved attention so that focus had to be on her at all times.
Everything she talked about was exaggerated to make sure she could captivate her audience with her stories of grandeur. Her wants and needs came first to anyone else’s, including her children’s. She’d go to any lengths to acquire whatever it was she seeked.
Now, some people like to tell lies and paint pretty pictures of themselves for attention, but a true narcissist, as in my mother’s case, actually believes her own stories because she lived in her own ego.
I learned through the years of studying her, that this was a disease, which commonly wasn’t recognized as such. In the last generation, I don’t believe it was prominently diagnosed.
Do we all have some elements of that behaviour and if so what triggers it becoming a full blown disorder?
I don’t believe we all have the elements of becoming a narcissist, but I do believe there can be circumstances or incidents one encounters in life that propel one to becoming narcissistic. I’m no licenced psychologist, but I have to believe it can also be linked to various (undiagnosed) mental disorders, such as depression, which becomes a catalyst to narcissism, used to overcome some troubling issues. I say this because I think that besides my mother’s strife to be the best in show, I sensed a sadness within her that she was trying to conceal, not just to everyone, but also to herself.
She medicated that inner sadness with booze, pills and gambling, intermittently. She came from a poor family, and in a Scarlett O’Hara sort of way, had used her beauty as a weapon to obtain materialistic things in life.
I don’t believe anyone is born a narcissist. I think that it is the situations one lives through, which have a propensity to steer them in that direction as a means to achieve a status to feel better about themselves; and no matter at who’s expense.
It is obvious, as in your case, that a child would feel powerless in that kind of relationship. But is also true that adults of narcissistic parents can still be under the influence of that negativity especially as the parents age. What would be your advice to someone facing that challenge?
I would have to say the statistics show that many adults are still held under the powers of a narcissistic parent. It’s a major feat to become freed from the power that parents hold over us, mainly from their use of guilt as a means to obtain what they demand.
I was petrified to say the word “no” to my mother, my whole life. I danced to her every whim, and there were plenty of them. Children’s psyches are delicate, and grow from what we know and are used to. If we’re obedient, and not defiant children being raised by a narcissist, the odds are we shall remain under their power for the rest of their lives unless we are lucky enough to take a stand to them. For me, it was always unsettling to be around my mother.
We have to find a way for ourselves to live comfortably and deal with that parent (in my case.) It is very unlikely that person will ever change because they don’t believe they are the one with the problem.
I complied with my mother’s demands all my life and it ate away at me like poison, I took her wraths and tantrums because I felt I had to obey. I was the child, no matter what age I was. It took me decades and barrels of courage to get over the feeling that she had entitlement to anything she demanded from me, as a daughter. With a lot of self-therapy and self-analysis, I tried to reason with her to no avail.
I had to learn the hard way that it wasn’t my job, or in my power to fix her. The sickness wouldn’t allow anything positive I had to offer her, register with her. In the end, it was my own self-sanity I had to save, and painfully after so much emotional torment, at 48 years old, I walked away,
Sometimes you have to learn when you can’t fix a broken soul who doesn’t think it needs repairing.
In the UK there are around 120,000 divorces a year which is one of the highest in the European Union. In the US I understand that is around the 2.5 million mark per year. Whatever the figure that is a huge number of men and women and of course millions of children who are faced with this life changing event. What do you believe are the key issues that partners find so difficult to overcome that leads to this very final dissolution of their relationship and family?
Many times people get married for the wrong reasons, varying from anything such as, for material gain, pregnancy, or just settling for a relationship in order not to be alone, just to name a few. Other times, it could be that people marry too young.
Experience shows us that as we grow older, our wants and likes change as we grow. Sometimes people drift into new directions, leaving a partner behind when they no longer share interests. Also, infidelity is a major cause of break-ups, and I believe the promiscuity begins when one isn’t receiving the shared interest, respect, attention or kindness from their partner. They crave acceptance and to be acknowledged or included as a partner in their marriage, and when they stop receiving, they become vulnerable when they meet someone who feeds that need.
What would be your advice to anyone in a relationship who is facing potentially serious issues about some of the communication points they should be discussing with their partners to help prevent a complete breakdown?
We have to communicate our thoughts and feelings to our partners. We have to open our ears and listen back when they express their feelings to us. We should be supporting their work and passions. This must become a two-way street of reciprocation.
If we feel we are giving our all, and we aren’t being paid any mind or consideration for our own thoughts and feelings, this is a good sign we are not in a loving, supportive relationship. This would be the time to seek some outside therapy to salvage a relationship, before it becomes time to sever it.
Thank you so much Debby for providing such an important insight into one of the most corrosive relationships that we can find ourselves in and also the strategies that might help us overcome the challenges we face.
Now time for the central theme of the Sunday Show interview..Debby shares ‘A funny thing happened to me..’
What are the Odds?
I title this situation with the phrase I’ve countlessly repeated many times throughout my life because I’ve often encountered situations in life where the odds were slim of things happening.
Sometimes it wasn’t always a good situation, but in this instance, I lucked out with favourable odds.
When I was twenty-five, I took a leave of absence from my then position as an executive assistant to the general manager of a downtown hotel chain. I had a fantasy that I wanted to fulfil of travelling through the Greek islands. Part of that trip I rented villa on the island of Mykonos for six weeks.
I travelled alone, as I was fiercely independent and had no trouble meeting people and forging friendships.
While I was waiting for three days in Athens for my booked passage over to Mykonos, I had befriended some interesting people staying at my same hotel. One of these people was a lovely Dutch boy, a few years younger than I, who was backpacking through Europe. Another couple I befriended were from Australia, also backpacking and taking on work around Europe to sustain their travels. They were at the same hotel at the same time as I was, all treating themselves to a few days in a nice hotel instead of the usual youth hostels.
When we all parted to go our separate ways, I had given them my address in Mykonos, and invited them to drop by if they were on the island in the coming weeks, and I offered them a room to rent in the villa for a nominal fee. I thought it would be nice for them, and it would also give me some extra pocket money.
Only a few days had gone by in Mykonos, and I had broken my foot getting off a high step on a bus while going into town for some provisions. Now, that situation alone is a story, which you will find in my book Conflicted Hearts, but nonetheless, my foot was broken, and I wasn’t going to another island to have it casted. I saw a doctor who wrapped it tightly in a tensor bandage, gave me crutches, and told me to keep my leg elevated as much as possible. Walking on crutches on the broken cobblestone roads and struggling to get up the small mountain (and down) on the rickety path to the beach was a feat in itself.
A few days had passed and as I struggled again to get to the beach, and find my rock where I elevated my foot, I laid down my things and began thinking that I should cut my vacation short because it was too hard for me to get around. I was sad and scared about my demise. Tears sprang from eyes in my feelings of defeat. And then moments later, I heard somebody shouting my name.
I was sure it was a call for someone else, as I had yet to make friends with anyone there, except for the jeweller in town who befriended me when I fell off the bus and helped me get to a doctor, then scared the crap out of me. (Again full story in my book.)
I quickly sat up to see where the far away voice was coming from, when I realized God had sent me an angel.
My little Dutch friend had come to visit. He stayed for two weeks. He was so kind and helpful. He prepared meals for me, took me to town and carried my things, and helped me up and down the hilly paths. We shared a great friendship for many years after through letters. And, of course, I never took a dime from him.
Could lightning strike twice? After my Dutch friend left, a mere one day later, the same miracle happened at the beach when my Aussie friends showed up looking for me. They stayed with me for two weeks.
Coincidence? Divine timing? Those who know me well know that I often preach that we meet people; sometimes for reasons, sometimes for a season.
Love your story Debby… Coincidence perhaps, but also down to how well liked you were by those you met that they wanted to see you again…
About D.G. Kaye (Debby Gies)
D.G. Kaye is a Canadian author living in Toronto, Canada. She writes nonfiction and memoirs about her life experiences, matters of the heart, and self-help about women’s issues. Her positive outlook keeps D.G. on track, allowing her to take on life’s challenges with a dose of humor in her quest to overcome adversity.
D.G. began writing when pen and paper became the tools to express her pent-up emotions during her turbulent childhood. She began journaling about her life at a young age and continued writing about the imprints and lessons she learned through people and events she encountered. D.G. writes books to share her stories and inspiration. She advocates for kindness and for women’s empowerment. Her favorite saying is “For every kindness received, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”
When she’s not writing, D.G. loves to read (self-help books and stories of triumph), cook (concocting new recipes, never to come out the same way twice), shop (only if it’s a great sale), play poker (when she gets the chance), and, most of all, travel
Books by D.G. Kaye
Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – and: Amazon UK – follow Debby: Goodreads – Blog: D.G. Kaye Writer – About me: D.G. Kaye – Twitter: @pokercubster – Linkedin: D.G. Kaye – Facebook: D.G. Kaye – Instagram: D.G. Kaye – Pinterest: D.G. Kaye
Thank you for joining us today and Debby will be checking in from time to time and would love to hear from you.. thanks Sally.