Wednesday, November 14, 2018

And She Never Said His Name

Dr. Ramani Durvasula was the first speaker at TedX/Sedona this year.  A therapist, a professor, an author, an all around interesting human wrapped in a delightful exterior, Dr. Durvasula accomplished a miracle - she spoke about DJT for 18 minutes, and she never mentioned his name.

Her talk was about narcissism.  It was terrifying and uplifting at the same time.  Her book, Should I Stay or Should I Go, posits a question TBG and I have been asking ourselves lately.  How bad does America have to get before we seriously consider relocating to British Columbia?  Last Tuesday's election results have eased the pressure somewhat, but Dr. Durvasula told us that second chances only give permission.

It's as hard to think about as a country as it is in a personal relationship.  The stakes are just as high. The more she talked, the more she drew us in.  Here's some of what she said, and what it meant to me.

Narcissism is characterized by charm, charisma, and confidence on the plus side, entitlement, invalidation and vindictiveness on the other.  I don't find him charming, but some do.  He certainly has charisma (yes, it can be negative charisma - think Hitler) and confidence could be his middle name.  The negatives make my stomach churn; I'll let you fill in your own blanks, the same way the audience was as we sat, mesmerized, listening to her describing our Commander in Chief.

There is a pathological insecurity at the center of the behavior.  Grandiosity is the defense.  Does knowing the underpinnings help?  She went on to remind us that nothing will help.

Forgiveness = keeping the status quo.  Calling it Locker Room Talk came to mind.

Mutuality, respect, patience and trust are all absent from the narcissist's culture.   Not showing up at Belleau Woods.  A European Armed Forces is insulting to America.  If (insert anything here) won't do it, I will, because I alone can fix it.

Over time, you slowly become inured.  Remember the first time The President of The United States told a lie?  Do you even notice it any more?  Rachel Maddow reminds me every evening - this is not normal., normally.

Insecurity keeps us in the the relationship.  Is that why pundits are encouraging the newly elected House Democrats to temper their talk of impeachment.  Is a Constitutional Crisis scarier than living under  narcissist?

You can't fix it.  That's the reason I send my emails to my Senators and Representatives at the state and local and federal levels; DJT is impervious to change.

What can you do?  This is the part that gave us all hope, that let us walk out of the room with crooked smiles on our faces.  Set Boundaries.  Accept that it won't change.  Manage your expectations.  Tend to your own garden.  Practice kindness even when others are not.

I left her presentation feeling good about Grandma's Garden at Prince Elementary school.  I felt the I can fix this button turning off.  I stopped hoping that someone would be able to bring him to his senses.  I focused on what I could do to be the change.

And through it all, she never said his name.  When I asked her about that over dinner, she smiled and nodded.  She'd given the talk a few times before, and each time someone asked the same thing.  She said she had asked those others: What are you doing to take care of yourself?  How are you doing in your own little corner of the world?

That's a good  place to come to rest after a bruising electoral season.


  1. My husband's mother was a narcissist and I learned the best way to deal with such a person is stay away and ignore. Hard to do when it's my own government, but having one in the family, I have practice doing it and tending my own garden.

    1. As always, you exhibit the healthiest of healthy responses. Making our little corner of the world a better place is A Sane Act in and Insane World.

  2. great blog and interesting take on the Ted talk.
    What can one do to become the change? very important question you pose. My take, start with living consciously and accountably. Know what you say and do , own it and then align your actions around the values that you identify with.

    Value your time and be with people that represent additions to your positive energy. Bring kindness and patience into a world that is being populated with cruelty and ignorance.

    AND most importantly, have these conversations with people that get it or want to get it but don't yet see the pathway.

    Way to go Ashleigh!

    1. You walk the walk, as well as expressing it elegantly, Mr. Dreamicakes. You are so good at spreading light.... one of the many many reasons I love you.


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