Ameé Quiriconi: "It's a spectrum."

"We all tend to be narcissistic, our own levels of narcissism go up and down. It goes all the way back to childhood, to a parent's needs who were always above mine. When you're groomed for that, you end up finding yourself swinging toward people like that in your life, because our autopilot that works like that." -- Ameé Quiriconi, Broken Moms Podcast, where Punk Rock Meets Mental Health and Parenting.

"And I realize, I'm living my childhood." Being gaslit with things like, 'There was nobody here. That was the TV,'" when I know certain people visited. -- Andy Grant 

OMG! That happened in my own life. This is possibly the most real, to the point conversation, yet. Just wow. Buckle in, chill out, slow down, breath out, let it go, and let's see if we can really let some of this heaviest baggage  that always convinced us that we are the baggage; if we can finally, f-ing finally maybe, start letting it go. Really, really letting it go, and keep letting go, for however long it takes.

(57:33) Adam: "If you haven't checked out Ameé's show, I highly recommend it; and just because Mom's i the title doesn't mean it's only for moms. Just as this show's title, because it says men, doesn't mean you can't be a woman and dare listen in and get something out of it as wel. Because, we're all freakin' human beings, and we're all got some degree of being [ __ ] up." Ameé: Amen, exactly.

(14:08) Ameé: "They make you question your own reality; projecting their own deep shame; which makes you feel shameful. A term that came up yesterday was siloing. Keeping everybody in silos, so you were in one silo in that relationship, which was protected away so that she could then silo everybody else's relationships. And then you can control what information penetrates the walls of each of those silos. And that's like, that's also a hallmark of the narcissist; nobody gets to talk to each other; there's no integration, you know. In a lot of areas, everyone's kept up in these little chunks in these worlds, because the narcissist has to be the complete puppet master of all of those things. Listen to the episodes about narcissistic mothers, and the brain changes that happen. Women feel the same way, too, women just have a better tendency to reach out. There is this idea that 'I somehow got caught' in this abusive relationship. Men (in general) have a harder time with, 'how am I responsible for choosing this.' What's going on in my background, that sets the stage."

(18:08) Ameé: "Maybe I can get them to see, that this is really deep levels of shame their feeling, and they have some things in childhood to heal. OMG, bring that up to a genuinely narccisistic person, and you are the enemy. Enemy Number One. There is such a strong protection system in place in them to never admit failure, never admit defeat, never admit that there's anything wrong with them. When confronted with therapy it's, "oh yeah, because you need to be fixed." The hallmark of the narcissistic person is that they won't ever see that it's them; they actually are always the victim; it's always the other person's responsibility."

(20:36) Ameé: "When we are groomed by our family of origen ... you learn, my needs don't really matter. This is they life is supposed to be, I'm supposed to do these things for other people, and so you stay in relationships with somebody [compatibly conditioned] because you have been groomed to believe that's the case."

 (27:35) Ameé: "I talk about narcissistic mothers quite a bit, because, that's a big wound, right there. When your mom's needs exceeded your needs. As the oldest, part of that was caretaking younger siblings. And it could also be a narcissistic father. Did you always have to take care of your mom's emotional needs? The narcissist sniffs out weaknesses [to get what they want out of us]. 'I wanted them to take me to dinner. I wanted them to buy this for me. Whatever it is they wanted out of them. I got him to show that he cares about me by threatening abandonment [or staying present while emotionally ghosting]. If it gets them what they want at one micro level, they'll keep ramping that up." There's a male stigma attached to questioning whether our maternal needs were met. "Maybe 50% of the population had a secure, functioning childhood; the rest of us didn't."

(33:00) Adam: "I find shame to be an elment in anything a man keeps hidden, or [stays] quiet about. We should be able to take care of it, we should be able to suck it up, it shouldn't matter as much as it matters; the whole male role of being the fixer. If I can't fix it, I'll buy a another one, I won't admit I can't fix it, I'll replace it with something I could fix."

(34:10) Ameé: "Ah, that's what I was struggling with ... they do what a lot of us have done in starting self help, we do a better job trying to sort out the landscape in front of us, we start to diagnosing our world, and everybody in our circle there, and then step is to start looking at ourselves. They can give you the whole diagnosis of their partner, down to personality types and everything like that, but the next step is, so, let's talk about you. Where are you at, in understanding where you're at in this relationship? Men are less likely to understand how they can get in these [emotionally entangled] situations [due to stereotypical material, outward focus] and it might be harder for them start to look inward. Where are we at, internally, that guided you into the path of this person. Label her, good, but if you want to move forward with yourself, what do you need to know about yourself, in order to get you out of the crosshairs. If you don't ever do that work, you only do a good job of labeling everybody, you're just going to keep landing, right into the pathways of these people, over, and over, and over again. Some figure it out in retrospect, some are in the heat of the moment, figuring it out right now."

(36:12) Adam: "The only work we can do, is the work on ourselves."

(36:25) Ameé: "Sometimes that's the first step you have to take. You open your eyes, and you have to assess your situation. That's a natural part of our process. That's what our brain is designed to do, daily; take in information, decide whether it's safe or not to take the next step, to open the door, to drive out, whatever it all is; and we do that then with our social situations and our relationships, and we find ourselves like, 'okay, there's something wrong here.' It's normal to sit there and go, 'here's who everyone is around me,' but the critical next step is, 'how did I get these people in my life?' And it's that accountability, responsibility question. The shame of being in a situation with toxic people and feeling like it's your fault. It's not your fault, but you are accountable for the circle that you bring in around you, over and over again. So, if you keep seeing, okay, these are the people that I have around me, their labels are only important to you because it might help you understand, 'who else carries those labels in your life?' And, were those people responsible for teaching you about relationships? About partnerships? About communication? About emotional regulation? We can probably identify some really close people during our formative years, that had those similar labels. When you see that, you go, 'now I understand, that my models in my life were these types of people and I don't want those models anymore. So now, I'm going to learn and re-learn things that I should have been taught differently, and then I'm going to make a conscious efforts to avoid those people, now, so that I get out of that space."

(39:59) Ameé: "Once you see the writing on the walls, they're already trying to find your replacement. Even if it's coming from a heart centered place of, 'I want this person to be a happier person. I can see why they behave the way they do, and I've been through all of that myself.' The truth is, they don't care about you as much, [they care about what they get from you. In Vaknin's terms: sex, supply, or services.]. As soon as you stop feeding their needs, they're looking for the next person to take your place [male or female, romantic, or platonic]. They have no investment in making it work with you, unless they can get you to put the blindfold back on, and get back with the program. But honestly, once you start to pull the blindfold off, you're done; it's over with. In their mind's eye, there's no moving forward. It's just a matter of how to get you out, and usually they don't get you out until they've got somebody else to take your place [as their number one admirer and teller-of-how-great-they-are-in-all-ways]."

(41:12) Ameé & Adam: "Is there an island of angry narcissists? Doubtful, because they're working on finding the next person, or grooming the next person to take your place, there." ... "Well, that sounds horrible." ... "I know, I know, I don't want to be on that island. I will not go there for a vacation, that's for sure." ... "Sound like the next horrible Fox reality show." 

(42:17) Ameé & Adam "I think there is a tendency by men to dismiss this behavior, and just get rid of it. But then men just keep picking the same partner over and over again. ... Let's just say this person, your partner, is having a hard time. Let them go figure their shit out on their own. You figure your shit out. And if there's a moment in which your lives get to come back together and intersect because you've both done some healing, great, that's wonderful. But you have to be able to get yourself healed up, and if they can't work with you collaboratively on your relationship, then you have to just keep moving forward and keep moving on."

(46:08) Ameé: "Attraction is part of what is familiar. [We find the familiar attractive, and if the familiar is problematic, abusive, co-dependant, or dysfunctional, guess what?] It is something we have seen before in our lives. And we don't always equate our family of origen with our sexual, romantic relationships; but they are connected together; and how we choose partners, and how we view relationships, can actually be traced to that family of origen. And it's not just watching our parents in relationships. We didn't learn everything about romance by watching mom and dad or mom and her ten boyfriends, or whatever it is. Really a lot of what we learned about relationship and connection and love, came from our direct one-on-one relationship with our caregiver. And it feels like a weird thing for people to think about. It's like ew, gross, 'I learned about love and romance because of my relationship, or lack thereof with my mom, or my dad, or whatever it is?' Yeah, because you learned how to connect with somebody, how to undersand needs, how to read off of them. And that can be a big leap for people to be able to make. I can sit there and thing, 'well, my parents were married for like 40 years, and they had a great relationship.' Awesome, but what was your relationship like with them? Did you have some emotional needs that were unmet. It gets a little uncomfortable to think about that. Moreso for men who were groomed to not be tuned into emotional connection. ... And your friends might not be best, just reinforcing the, 'she's crazy, just move on, there's a 20 year old over there' messaging.

(48:50) Adam: "So, what's the background upbringing that that leads to a narcissistic person? Because you said it was still a victimhood there, but they just ... Ameé: " Yeah, you know really the sadness, it's the sadness of the narcissist tends to be found in the fact that they were ignored. Their needs were ignored. And I know this is going to sound really strange, because sometimes the narcissist grew up as like a golden child, they were put on a pedestal, and they appear to have had all of their needs taken care of; but really, at the end of the day, their emotional needs and their individuality has been inhibited. And what I've seen, in my experience with people, and in talking with some of the experts that I've had on the show, we all are individual humans, we go through very significant phases in our development, where we begin to individuate, and that happens a lot during those teenage years. And, some of the the folks that I've seen that end up developing into having strong narcissistic traits -- and I will and I'll put this out here -- I have fought with my own degrees of narcissism myself

Like I said, narcissism is a spectrum, and my own degrees popped out when, again, I felt like I was in situations where, who I was as an individual was being largely ignored, either by a romantic partner, or business partner, and I drove myself towards the combative end of asserting myself. And so when somebody has grown up maybe they were groomed to be the star football player, and the fact is that they didn't like football, but their parents placed a lot a high value on being that type of the person, and what they really wanted to do was something and totally different, but they were in a situation where they couldn't say no; captive; you know, as children we're captive of our parents; and that's been their life story. They're likely to then seek opportunities to be themselves, and they'll have to do it in a controlling manner, because they never really learned how to be able to do it authentically. And then there are people that are largely ignored, and so it tends to be like an emotional disconnect. An inability by parents to recognize the individual child for who they really were, and robbed them of that ability, either by making them address their own needs, or trying to give them an identity that didn't really fit them, and forcing them to grow into an identity that really wasn't theirs."

"Because, we have some belief, or we used to, that we can mold kids into the types of humans we want them to be, and not realize that we're our own thing. So does that that answer that question or clarify? Like I said, I've looked at the most extreme narcissists that I've had in my life, and I have nothing but sympathy for seeing a childhood of where there were no boundaries set for for him, and his emotional needs weren't met the way that they needed to be, and giving the ability to be on his own and to do things his way was taken from him; not because it was out of malice, but because of a lack of a understanding by caregivers, and some of their circumstances. And so he spends every day of his life literally fighting to stand out, and it's toxic; to himself, and toxic to people around him. And it comes from the fact that he doesn't know any other life. He has to fight for that center of attention, and do whatever it takes to be that center of attention. And it's really sad, and depending on how deeply driven those those experiences are, determines whether or not there's ever any chance that anybody can actually turn the corner. And self-awareness is the first thing. So, for anybody that you have in your life that has no self-awareness about that, it's not for you to give it to them, you can't do that. And if you have your own, and you suffer from narcissism every once in a while, you sit there go, 'whoa I need to control myself,' don't worry about it, you're not a pathological narcissist, you're fine, you're like a normal human being."

Adam: I'm glad you bring it up, that it is a spectrum, and that there's an element of narcissism in everybody, and our ability to use it when needed, as a defense, as a little of assertiveness, whatever, in serving the moment, is great; but living in an extreme of anything is when it becomes problematic, when doctors might see it as a disorder, and give it a stronger label, or whatever.

(53:15) Ameé: The other end of the extreme is also problematic, which is the low end of it. Which is where you have have any sense of self-worth, or egocentric, that you are a hundred percent of the time secondary to everything; that's not a healthy place to live either. So, being protective of yourself, and so it can happen in the relationship with the narcissist is that you keep putting yourself second to the narcissist needs, and that has a long-term, ongoing, negative impact on your own life. Because we are supposed to take care of ourselves. Take a deep breath, and give ourselves some space, and that's where boundary setting comes in; and somebody that's been groomed by narcissistic parents, or a narcissistic parent, learns to never have a boundary, learns to never assert a boundary, and not have, and not be able to protect that boundary. And with narcissistic parents, you can turn into a narcissist yourself, or you can turn into somebody that's going to be constantly victimized by narcissists; until you realize, I don't want these people around me anymore.

Adam: It's a reminder of the old the old line of, you know, only the sane person questions their sanity. So, if you're concerned that your a narcissist, that might mean you're not one, right?

Ameé: Yeah, definitely. And you can tell somebody, too, when they say, when they claim they're not narcissistic, 'I'm not a narcissist,' ... maybe, maybe not ... 

Adam: Yeah, cold denial doesn't mean anything. But yeah, your own awareness of, 'hmm, yes if you are willing to consider it, that's a good sign that you're at least not living on one end of the spectrum, there.

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