The Abusive Treatment of Body and Narcissism

The way we treat our bodies in this culture is the way a Narcissist treats everyone. Like something to use.  Narcissistic people are motivated by one thing.  Will this benefit me?

Let’s say I’m a Narc and I’m deciding whether I should say hello to you or not.  The thought process is simple. 

Will talking to you benefit me? 

Will talking to you make me look better? 

Will talking to you give me more power, or make me look smarter?

Will taking my time with you give me an edge in any way? 

Of course there are spiritualized versions of this. 

Will talking to you be worthy of my time?  My time really belongs to God, and after all, you didn’t listen the last time I told you what to do.

When relationally oriented (non-narc) types makes a decision, ‘Will this benefit me?’ is one of the considerations, but it is generally only one of many. What primarily motivates a relationally oriented person is, you guessed it – relationship.  Relationship to ourselves, to others and the world around us, which leads us to ask different questions.

Will talking to you make us both grow in our understanding of an idea?

Will talking to you make me late, which might harm another relationship?

Will talking to you honor you, honor myself, and honor God?

Will talking to you give you the feeling of belonging?

Now consider the way we treat our bodies.  Very fickle, and Narc-like, I say.  Body sometimes offers something that benefits me.  There have been times Body has been strong, and brown, cute, and just the right and shape and size for fitting into a nice pair of jeans.   There are times Body has made me look beautiful, brought me a bit of power, and given me advantages.  These are the times I’ve treated Body nice.  I’ve regarded it.  I’ve rested it.  I’ve attended to it’s needs, dress it up, stretched it and ran tracks and stairs and mountain trails with it, all friendly like.

And then something happens.  Body breaks.  It can’t do what it once did.  Just looking at Body makes me sick.  The swollen face, thinning hair, pasty and hunched.  Body that doesn’t benefit me the way I’ve wanted it to.  In fact it’s an embarrassment.  Total rejection and repulsion is what I feel toward a body that once benefitted me. 

Such narcissism.  Such objectification.  What if I treated my body relationally?  What if I sought to let my body know it’s value?  What if I attempted to receive the kindness my not perfect body has attempted to extend to me day after day?  Might I learn to speak blessings to my body?  Wouldn’t Body feel more beautiful if I made an attempt to welcome its presence?  Would the things I think and say to myself allow me to be more comfortable in my own skin? 

Some confuse narcissism as obsession with self rather than what it actually is, an obsession with a fantasy of self.  Because the true self is made up of a real human being.  A human whose body sometimes gives and sometimes needs to be given to.  Using another for my benefit is a terribly ugly thing.  So is using my own body, and distancing myself from it when it can’t be for me what I expect.  Body has value – it’s value stands alone despite not always being what I’ve wanted.  It’s time I treat it that way. 

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Living Together. Might it Help a Future Marriage?

 

Today a couple friends came over to spend the day with me – helped me piece together a quilt for my baby grandson.  It’s been a long time since I sat in a kitchen, barefoot on tile floor, adult conversation moving through the hours of a morning.  The topic we happened upon – What’s wrong with living together as a next step for a couple that is moving toward marriage?  The topic wasn’t the expanded version of people living the wild life.  It was all about committed Christian adults who truly believe it’s best to first get to know someone, date, and as a next step, move in before marriage.  And why doing so might or might not be the best idea.  Scriptures were discussed, the ‘one-flesh’ and ‘the break up would be a divorce’ ideas, hypotheticals, stories of heartbreak and stories of those who seemed to have made it work, and talk of our fears. 

After all the ideas turned and turned again, I thought to myself “A trial run wouldn’t have worked for my husband and I because it would have taken all the years of our lives to get a realistic representation of what we’d be getting into.” 

Because no two years – no two days have been just alike.

Because every time I think I know him, he’s someone new.

Because I’ve changed too.

Because what cuts me deep one season is what I desire most the next.

Because anything we set up long ago has gone along the wayside and  been replaced 100 times over by the current needs of life.

Because our goals and dreams have changed.

Because it doesn’t really matter what use to be, what is now is what we’re dealing with.

Because kids have changed us.

Because jobs have changed us.

Because changing a church has changed us.

Because having cancer once and then twice has changed everything all over again.

Some seasons in the game of life we’ve been top of the world. 

Others seasons we’ve been giant losers

– just trying to make it through the day.

A trial run would not have helped us to know if we could stay together and hold a lasting love, because we would need to have given our love a spin for about an eternity to know for sure,  which is why we said I do.  That’s what the promise for us was about.  Deciding he would be the one I’d take the lifetime chance on.  And I’d be his roll of the dice. 

It has not been easy.  Because I’m not an easy person to predict, and neither is he.  That’s the problem about marriage.  Who knows how to maneuver unless we know what to expect.  The year we fell in love, if someone had told me I’d better live with him to discover that he stomps around in the kitchen and slams things down loud when he’s mad, I’d have to tell them that it wouldn’t be a fair trial as a few years later he found his voice at which time I wished he’d start stomping again and stop talking!  If they’d told me living together would help me understand his struggles with God, and how that would affect our kids, I’d have to tell them that just as I have grown, so has he, and that our kids seem to have outdone us on their love for Jesus despite our struggles.  If they told us I better try him out to know more about the way he’d adore me one day and despise me the next and that I had found myself a moody man, I’d have to say nothing has changed in this department, and probably never will.  Moving in would not have helped me.  I knew when I said “I do” that I was marrying one part sweetheart, one part demon, and eight-parts kitchen table.  In the end, who would I have married that could have made my life as full and interesting and good as the one I rolled the dice for? And how would trying out one after another help me find a better man?

I know that if I go out and lease a brand new Suburb, I’ll love everything about it for the first little while because the engine hasn’t yet frozen up – 350 miles from home.  The door handle hasn’t fallen off in my hand.  The seats haven’t yet cracked and cut into my leg.  The frame hasn’t morphed and wobbled down the washboard road. 

The heartbreaking problems that have caused the most pain in this marriage didn’t show up for 15 years, and nearly tore us apart.  They would not have shown up in a 14 year trial.  That would mean that trying our relationship out for 14 years would have not provided either one of us security. 

Date.

Take your time. 

Big Issues will usually show themselves even when not under the same roof. 

But some things don’t show up for years.

What has pulled us from the brink has not been a guarantee of a predictable soul-mate, but a guarantee from God.  God will never leave us or forsake us.  We call on GOD and HE will show us great and mighty things.  The Lord will take our hearts of stone and turn them to hearts of flesh.  God is the reason we are still together.  This one thing we’ve done right in our marriage.  Turn again to God when hopelessness suffocates our functioning.  When I took a gamble and choose my husband, I was betting on GOD to get us through.  The Scripture says to not be unequally yoked.  That one’s a biggie, and we didn’t do that perfectly either, as a person can fake their love for God.  I think in some ways we were unequally yoked most of our marriage, but because there was a willingness for both of us to turn to God in tough times (“Will you pray with me?” says one enemy to another.  “OK” says the hated one), we continued to become more closely yoked then we had been before.  For all the horrid things I know about my husband, and he knows about me, I would still choose him over any other person on the planet, and I’m pretty sure he’d say the same of me.  Most days:)

The Day I Said Grace And Meant It

Ya, I’m one of those who says Grace. 

In private. 

In public. 

In the cafeteria. 

In a fancy restaurant. 

And when I’m eating food alone. 

To be honest with you, it’s always been a struggle for me to make it more than just something I rush through.  I’ve tried to remember I’m talking to God when I rattle off “Dear Jesus, thank you for this food, Amen”.  For a long time I’ve tried, rather unsuccessfully.  Until just the other day….

There I stood, cart and I, far isle of Super Supplements.  I had reached out to a number of fitness guru’s, asking their best advice on how to get well.  A friend had told me about a product.  There it was.  I stood before it, silent but shouting a prayer out to God.  “God, do I buy this stuff?  Do you hear me?  I need your help.  You know if You don’t act, I’ll have another anaphylactic reaction.  You know I can hardly eat a thing already, and now it’s reactions to grains, nuts, nightshades.  Please, I’m down to greens and berries… had an anaphylactic to bone broth.  God, don’t let this collagen cause a reaction.”  As I stood there shaking and shouting in the silence, Peace showed up.  And I knew.  Almighty God, He is the only one who can make what I put in my mouth a blessing to me. With peace about it, I placed the product in my cart and headed for check out.

The Blessing, for me, has always been about thanking God for the food I eat.  Thankfulness is good.  I guess I just missed the part about the prayer being a request, asking God to bless what I’m eating.  I realize this idea might be taken too far.  “Lord, bless this Mega Big Gulp Red Bull and Onion Rings to the nourishment of my body.”  On the other hand, some of us react to cashews and oatmeal.  Prayers aren’t magic words that give us what we want.  Prayers are heart cries.  Laying out the case before God who already knows about the reactivity in a body, and knows what might help.   

Saying Grace..

… asking God for what I don’t have

… asking for what I can’t get

… asking for what I don’t necessarily deserve

… asking for what I don’t know how to fix. 

I’ll continue to eat my spinach, cabbage, my blueberries and collagen.  I am fully aware I might become allergic to these at any time.  And I ask that God’s Grace might alter the contents of every bite, making what I take in a blessing to my body.  It’s no chore, to Say Grace.  It’s life. 

Bless the Lord, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless his holy name. 

Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all his benefits. 

Blessed be God, eternal king, for these and all his good gifts to us.

Psalms 103: 1,2