Posted by: Judy | November 15, 2011

Insanity making of narcissists…

I’m learning to change my perspective. Using humor has become an eye-opener. So, why do I share these crazy-making moments here? Because I know someone out there is dealing with something similar and wondering if they’re the only one. You’re not.

The latest bit of insanity has been my parents pushing me to earn a degree. The truth is that they have always pushed for me to earn a degree. They’ve discovered the wonder of online classes. Something I’ve known about for years. I’ve taken a few. They don’t know about that. On purpose.

What made this especially funny for me is that I’ve been following OWS, and their complaints about the cost of schooling and having no job when they graduate. And yet, the rallying cry from my parents is still to “get a degree.” This has been used as a criticism against me for all of my life.

I took a different track this time. As always, the idea is presented as a pleading suggestion. It sounds heartfelt and caring to those on the outside. I asked what they expected me to major in. And as noncommittal answers were given, I kept asking what they wanted me to major in. Finally, thrown back at me was “I don’t care if you major in underwater basket weaving. Just get a degree.” It was all I could do not to laugh at the absurdity.

What good is an underwater basket weaving degree if there’s no market for it? So they want me to “get a degree,” so I can say I have one? Why? Bragging rights? For the record: They’re willing to pay for it. What this means: I will owe them. Forever. Whenever they want an accounting of what I’m doing with what they’ve paid for, I will owe them an explanation. I’ve watched it with my siblings. They all feel duty bound to report back. Not simply strings attached, but binding chains.

The lie: “I don’t care what you major in.” They do. Oh, they do. Saying “I don’t care” is how they open the trap, lure you in, and then snap it closed behind you. Then they start in on you. Lived it. When I first started college I wanted to major in home economics. I was good at it. “Oh, no. You can’t make money in that. You have to major in engineering or math. That’s where the money is.” No home economics. So, I decided to major in education. “Oh, no. You can’t make money in that. You have to major in engineering or math.” The problem is that I don’t think math. Never have. I do think English, so I decided to major in English. “Oh, no. You can’t make money in that. You have to major in engineering or math.” They sang that song to me until recently, when I finally exercised the scorched earth policy.

Here’s the truth they don’t want to look at: I have an AAS, that’s a two-year degree. I also have three certificates of completion, the last of which I paid for entirely myself. Of the four, only the last three have made me any money. I’ve never been able to find a job with my AAS. The one that made the most was the first, my travel agency school, and the last, my medical transcribing school. The first, I heard a constant lament of how working at the airlines wasn’t a real job. I finally believed them. The last, there wasn’t much they could say because I paid for it. That and I wasn’t willing to be a doormat anymore.

So, I listened to the old song and dance being played: “You need a degree,” and now I can laugh because it’s so ludicrous. What I needed was people who believed in me, who loved me for who I am and not who they thought I should be, regardless of how ill-fitting that image was.

The other night, I was up until 3 a.m., working on revisions, so the manuscript would be ready to go to my continuity editor. When am I going to fit in one more thing? Granted, they don’t know about the writing, because I don’t want to hear: “Oh, no. You can’t make money in that. You have to major in engineering or math.” Neither do I want the over-the-top “what can we do to help?” Cramming down my throat every tidbit and scrap of information they can find that will somehow have a negative edge to it, predicting the doom and gloom of my endeavor.

I would love to share the joy and excitement of what I’m doing. I also know what will happen, because the pattern is so predictable. If they know, they will do everything within their power to destroy me. Nothing overt, really, at least not within the hearing of anyone but me.

How can I be so sure? I’ve watched it happen with me and with others. Over and over and over again, I have watched them take a joyous, wondrous moment and shred it, crapping all over it, and then I’ve watched in horrified fascination as the attempt is made to salvage it so everyone is thanking them for being so wonderful… it’s truly frightening sometimes. They will tear the person apart, and then say enough nice things that the person is actually thanking them, and people don’t even recognize the sick game that it is.

SO, laugh or cry. I’m choosing to laugh, and it’s amazing.


  1. Their predictability is actually helpful. Besides I know lots of engineers out of jobs. Math degrees no longer exist unless tied to education or statistics or accounting. I still say if underwater basket weaving is their idea of acceptable…culinary school would be fun. But like you said, the price is too high.

    • I really would love culinary school, but when I intimated it on another occasion recently, it was shot down so fast I laughed. Fortunately, I didn’t laugh out loud where they could hear me. 😛

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