Tell Me What You Are Thinking
You may remember Sophie who was one of my ex-girlfriends. She was a happy-go-lucky kind of person and loved dashing from person to person wishing them well. She was like a machine spewing out good wishes, pleasantries and compliments.
“You look really well,you have lost weight.”
“That skirt really suits you.”
“I heard you recently got married, you must be really happy. That’s really wonderful.”
“Hey great news on that new job. I am really pleased for you.”
“You look so content, I am really happy for you.”
She was really, really good natured. Oh and she used really a lot. There was not a bad bone in Sophie’s body and she always saw the good side of everything. I was by turns fascinated by how she managed it and also hugely attracted by her capacity to find victory from the jaws of defeat.
“He’s grumpy because he is tired, he works very hard you know.”
“I guess he didn’t have time to speak to me today, he has really huge responsibilities. He really has.”
“I don’t mind that he forgot my birthday, I am just really pleased to be with him, that’s a good enough present for me.”
“I haven’t heard from him so I guess he is out with his friends. It is really good to spend time with other people now and again, it keeps things really fresh.”
She just skipped along merrily handing out kindness and warmth as if that was all she was programmed to do. I reached this conclusion because behind the permanent smile, the twinkling eyes and elated expression she wore there really was not a lot else. She had no interest in politics, current affairs, sport, history, literature and so on. She would listen patiently if I railed against the latest proposals concerning immigration nodding and smiling and when I asked her what she thought she would say,
“Oh all of that is for people really clever. It’s not for me.”
She was never dismissive in the sense of pouring scorn on it just because she was not interested or she did not understand. No, she just had no interest because she felt it was beyond her, not something she had to be concerned about. She was concerned with just one thing ; skipping around like some modern day fairy sprinkling goodness everywhere. I do think she lacked much in the way of her own opinions and thoughts because she usually deflected any attempt to get her to critique something with a self-effacing comment like the one above. She never seemed to be caught in a moment of contemplation. She never seemed to pause for thought. She would just ask what I thought. She did this repeatedly. She was always concerned to know what I was thinking about.
“What’s on your mind?”
“Penny for your thoughts?”
“What are you thinking?”
“Where is your mind today?”
“What’s going on upstairs?”
Repeatedly throughout the day, as we sat watching television, after we had made love, during dinner, going for a walk, when I was shaving and so on. Always wanting to know what I was thinking. So I told her. From the mundane (“This shaving gel is not as good as the last lot I bought”) through to the loving (“I was just thinking how wonderful it is being with you”) to the scathing (“I was just wondering why on earth I am with such an empty-headed woman as you”). That was all she wanted to know. What was I thinking? On and on she would go, asking and asking and no matter what I said, be it compliment or nasty comment or ephemera she would smile and give a satisfied nod.
All of this made her very attractive to someone like me at the outset as she was a real high volume fuel generator but once that wore thin, it was rather difficult to denigrate her so she would react the way that I wanted. She put me in mind of that toy the Weeble. The catchphrase surrounding the Weeble was “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.”Sophie was like that. I would be horrible to her and she maintained a smile (although I thought or at least hoped she was dying inside) and made an excuse and found a rationale for my unpleasantness. Insults just seemed to bounce off her. Smashing plates and ornaments caused her to stand and watch with a slightly perplexed look on her face before she tidied the pieces away. She did not cry or show fear. I would sit and flirt with other women online and comment to Sophie about how attractive they were. She would look over and agree with my comments and go on to compliment how white their teeth were or how she liked their hairstyle. If I wandered in during the middle of the morning she would just ask how my night had gone. I am sure she could smell other women on me but she did not seem to react. It was as if she was wrapped in this coating of pleasantness that was impervious to any nastiness thrown at her. She would either respond with a soothing comment, make an excuse for what I had said or done or just not react and get on with her day. I used to wonder if she had me worked out and this was her way of negating me. How had she done this? Who had put her on to this strategy?
One weekend she was staying with me at my house and I returned earlier than she expected. She had not heard me come in (it is often said that I manage to move around with a strange ability to be very quiet, popping up without warning) and I could hear her talking in the bedroom. I crept closer and through the slightly ajar door I realised she was talking to herself.
“Must not think, do not think Sophie. Just keep doing. Smile and shine, shine and smile. Keep going forward. Don’t think about it. We know what happens when you think about it. Bad things happen but we don’t do bad things do we? No. Only good things. I don’t do the thinking, he does. I need to know what he is thinking and then I can make him happy, it is only fair, he deserves it doesn’t he? Don’t think Sophie, must not do that, come on, you can do this, you always do. Do it don’t daydream.”
I stole away and then realised what I needed to do to break her.
After that, whenever she asked me what was I thinking about, I would respond by saying “Nothing.” She would look puzzled and ask again. I would repeat my answer. She then would look slightly anxious. I would turn to her and ask
“What are youthinking about”
She would try and deflect my question by asking me again or changing the subject but now I knew how to get to her. I would never tell her what I was thinking and instead pursue her to tell me what was going on inside that sugary head of hers. It worked. She became upset, angry, frustrated and anxious so I kept it going and going and going. I have no idea why it troubled her so much. Her eyes filled with panic when I kept saying nothing and then she seemed to shrink, her light dimming as I asked her about what she was really thinking. She could not cope with it. I did not work out what it was about thinking that caused her so much consternation and I did not care, all that mattered to me was being able to provoke her into giving me that emotional reaction. It seemed that too much thinking on her part was a dangerous thing indeed. The important thing was that I had worked out how to provoke the provision of negative fuel. Makes you think doesn’t it?
16 thoughts on “Tell Me What You Are Thinking”
I agree with both the above. Codependant Carrier Empath and child of a narcissist. Programmed to serve. Almost like a doormat. Full of light and goodness. Possibly even very religious.
Like a magnet. Light attracts dark and vice versa.
HG did you push her to test her unconditional love and servitude to you?
She is a Codependent Carrier Empath, right?
“She is a Codependent Carrier Empath, right?”
Actually maybe Marthyr, rather than Carrier.
Was Sophie raised in an abusive family and was overcompensating by trying to make everyone feel happy and positive to deflect her early experiences?
2. I do not regard it as deflecting her early experiences but more a consequence of reliving them.
The answer to Q.2 is somewhat heartbreaking to me.
If I understand correctly, what you are saying is that within your relationship she was ultimately reliving the abuse she had experienced as a child, therefore going to her defined coping mechanisms for enduring that abuse.
If so, this is a harsh reality we need to comprehend. You have always been open about who and what you are … your work would not be what it is without that openness. In you we recognise what we have been dealing with, and are given as thorough an explanation as possible in order to recognise that in others. It is a gift.
My heartache comes from the fact that Sophie had to suffer this torment in order for us to gain some of this understanding. It’s hard to think of someone suffering to create a benefit for me. At the same time, I think as different empaths add their suffering here it will be to the combined benefit of others to understand and recover.
If I go a step further, Sophie’s suffering meant something. Some good has come out of that. I hope one day to be able to see my own suffering the same way, and it surely has benefited me in many ways to find myself here.
Many times we think we suffer needlessly. This is one way for me to come to terms with that.
If we really drill down, HG also endured torment that has allowed others to gain understanding. His needless suffering leading to a vast body of work in which we all share and have benefitted from. It seems that we are all returned to our childhood abuses. The difference (to me) being in the learned and adopted coping mechanisms for each individual resulting from their abuse, and our individual perceptions regarding those coping mechanisms.
NA, I appreciate your comment and understand that the narcissist has often suffered abuse in their past/as a child. My comment was in no way intended to undermine the myriad of suffering on both sides. I am happy to acknowledge what we also understand from HG’s work in regard To Control is to Cope.
The difference is the trajectory that we take in those circumstances, and for some reason I was deeply affected by reading HG’s answer to the question asked. I was focused on the suffering of the victim. From my perspective, this is a legitimate focus to have, and indeed I paid my respects to HG’s work in commenting from that focus.
In a fundamental way I am showing a true level of respect for the persona of HG by not denying or dismissing his proclivity in relation to narcissism. It’s origins I am happy to acknowledge again, as per your comment, while at the same time not removing any of my sentiment with regard to Sophie and what she endured.
It is not a criticism of HG, as much as it is a recognition of what his own suffering and experience has created.
Hi LET, I hope this isn’t a duplicate comment. I had the same thinking, HG sought out the most efficient way to hurt her, just as my narcs did, but at least her pain is being used now to teach people, I posted comments here hoping the same with mine but also for my own benefit. I don’t see what my narcs did as not benefiting me entirely but it’s hard not to look at how Sophie, you, I, others couple benefited so much more from kindness, love, compassion etc. Narcissism really sucks, it is always hurtful to read about Sophie and HG’s very honest comment really brought it home.
AV, thanks for sharing your thoughts. It was a very honest comment from HG, and in my own comment I was in a way commending that.
I used the word ‘open’, but ‘honest’ also crossed my mind. There is also a truth in what HG shared, which is probably what prompted my response, similar to your own feeling, Some may think there is a judgement attached to that, but from my own perspective there was really only a sense of sorrow. Sophie was vulnerable and an empath. HG was able to utilise that vulnerability for the purposes of gathering fuel. That is a less emotive way to express the same thought, but sometimes it is important, at least to me, to really get a sense of what our empathic and emotional nature would bring to that experience.
On this occasion, I wasn’t really trying. It just happened.
I know what you mean here. A few weeks ago I was involved in an online discussion about the meaning of life, or more to the point the need of humans to find meaning in their lives. The discussion involved the difference between meaning and purpose, the balance of intention versus outcome. A commenter posted an insightful example, it’s applicable here as regards Sophie and to my mind, it’s applicable across a variety of scenarios. It’s lengthy, but it’s worthwhile. I think you’ll appreciate it LET because I know your faith is important to you.
“ Even if there is a meaning, it is very possible that we as humans could not comprehend it to begin with, but it also stands to reason, to me anyway, that it likely doesn’t matter whether or not we know. If there is a grand plan, our conscious participation in that plan is likely irrelevant. We will likely meet that reasoning for our existence without ever knowing that it has occurred.
I would guess that if humans were created by something, a computer that is generating our world, a God, or some other idea that we haven’t even thought of, that their perspective would be so outside our ability to perceive, that it would seem completely bizarre to us.
Imagine someone named Kyle, and Kyle’s entire meaning in this world is to help a woman get up after falling in the street. He encounters this situation, helps the woman up, and goes on with his day, her thank you echoing in his ears. Then he dies, and meets this creator type. Kyle asks what the meaning of life is and it responds, “Well yours was helping that woman up.”
Kyle lived eighty something years, and had many things happen to him, and he has no idea what this Creator is talking about. “What woman? When?” So, it shows him a replay of the event. Kyle furrows his brow confused and says,”That’s it? That was my ‘meaning of life’? Are you kidding me?”
However, to the creator, Kyle helped the woman up, which prevented her from getting hit by a car. She continued living her life, and has a child. Sixteen generations later, one of her distant grandchildren will challenge a line in a book of accepted information and be proven right, which in turn changes the course of an entire field of study, in a direction that changes human civilisation, but even that won’t happen in the distant grandchild’s lifetime. They won’t live to know they were right. However, it was necessary for that event to occur for some other aspect of creation to continue on as it has, and as it will.
Kyle cannot see the chess moves so far away, and even if he could, the idea that his entire life’s meaning was reduced to an encounter with a stranger, that he doesn’t even remember, is probably not going to sit well.
That is why it’s important for humans to find purpose, separate from meaning, as it is what makes their lives something that they value, regardless of whether they understand the grand plan of a Creator that may not even exist.”
TS, I always enjoy your comments and I see you have focused on the sense of meaning I mentioned in relation to suffering. It’s a really complex area of thought which somehow was triggered by HG’s simple statement. The idea that we benefit from someone else’s suffering. NA has pointed out that HG also suffered, and I acknowledge that. My purpose was not to dismiss anyone’s suffering, but how that trajectory plays out as we grapple with our means of coping.
For me, meaning will always top purpose, though both are important aspects we often focus on in our lives. You have given a good example of how someone might wonder about their purpose in life and never quite know what that is, or what their life will mean in the long term. The simplest thing might impact life into the future and way beyond our own generation. It would be impossible to know and we may hope to get some possible enlightenment, but for the most part that is out of our hands. It makes me think of HG and his legacy, how he is building that here and we are all a part of that. We will all have some kind of legacy.
I think I am more focused on finding meaning in the here and now, particularly as it relates to experiences which we would consider harmful to us, or tragic. These are the moments that baffle and confound, that cause us to wonder about the purpose of life in general, and why suffering is an essential part of that. HG’s comment highlighted for me the fact that suffering cannot be dismissed, and in turn can be used to benefit others, which essentially gives it a purpose from which we can derive meaning.
Once again, it’s less of a judgement, and more of a reflection. The suffering of Sophie, which HG determined due to his nature, somehow cried out to be acknowledged, but in a manner where it was seen to have served its purpose and contributed meaning both in terms of HG’s work and in terms of our understanding. Therefore, her suffering was not in vain, though saddened me all the same. I would like to think I could attach the same understanding to my suffering … at least in time.
Probably feeling drawn to the darker aspects of my experiences currently as my feelings probably reflect. Not sure what that’s about, but it could be the addition of a new life coinciding with a very dark world right now. At least a focus on narcissism makes it seem that way at times. Thank you for sharing your perspective again, TS xox
Yes, I did home in on the suffering aspect. I do think we ask ourselves “why?” a lot. It’s the injustice of it I think. We recognise we aren’t perfect but we also know we didn’t deserve the treatment we were given. Sophie’s story highlights that in particular, she comes across as particularly vulnerable I think. Not fair game. I feel protective towards her. Possibly because she shares her name with my daughter also.
Sophie didn’t deserve what she got, but then neither did anyone else here.
That comment resonated with me because I applied it to the common question, “If there is a God, why does he permit suffering?” Out of all the answers to that question I’ve stumbled across that one comment probably answers it best, for me anyway.
I think in many ways, it’s what we do with the suffering that counts. How we look forward and live our lives, move past it so that those experiences don’t become the hat we are destined to wear.
Sophie won’t know that her experience was used to teach us about narcissism, but hopefully Sophie found her own purpose, something that fulfils her, that enabled her to move beyond her relationship with HG and the prior relationships that facilitated his manipulation of her.
Like Kyle, Sophie will be unaware of her impact but should she ever meet her maker, and he shows her her meaning, hopefully she’ll smile and say to him, “What the hell were you thinking?!”
Finding a purpose often leads to finding meaning, I think your living in the now approach is a perfect way to do that.
Yes, I can understand how a new little life might cause you to re assess, re evaluate and question the world that this little one will grow up in. There is a lot to be concerned about in the world right now, but, there’s still a lot of beauty to be found in it too. The simple things, things that have genuine and long lasting value.
TS, lost my first attempt at a comment, but I’ll try again!
I forgot you had a daughter of the same name, and no doubt our protective instincts play a part when we react to these kinds of things. It’s impossible not to sense her complete vulnerability, which can also be a source of irritation in some ways and was probably how I may have viewed this article originally. It was more HG’s comment that flicked a switch for me in terms of her vulnerability.
You mentioned “prior relationships” and that struck a chord with me, how Sophie was primed for her relationship with HG by others, so her suffering extends much further back, as do her responses. In that sense, meeting our Maker will definitely prompt questions … WTH? is likely to be attached to some of those xox
I appreciate you reminding me of the simple things. Those are the things we find beauty and wonder in when we take the time to consider them <3
Yes, I hiss involuntarily when I see this article. Association is a powerful thing. Although, I think the similarities end at the name. My Sophie is becoming a force to be reckoned with! I have to think about my responses these days or I risk being outmanoeuvred!
A straight talker, honest but I suspect her narcissistic trait of defiance is right up there haha! Maybe not defiance exactly, stubbornness, she got my stubbornness haha! Good for her, it’ll serve her well.
Yes, this Sophie will have ticked HG’s boxes for special traits. Tenderised as he puts it. I can see why those special traits are useful to the narcissist, sadly I think they are also likely very difficult to disguise. There will be things we say that give the game away, things we don’t say.
The only option is to spot them and evade ensnarement because they’re definitely going to spot us.
You’re welcome, it’s easy to get dragged down at the moment. Very little in the news to feel optimistic about, but when we narrow our focus, concentrate closer to home, we have opportunity to create a safe and meaningful environment. It might be a bit of a bubble, but if that’s what it takes, then that’s what it takes.
You got this grandma. Xx
Was she the child of a narcissist?