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How I Experience My False Self

Uploaded 10/30/2023, approx. 17 minute read

People often ask me, how does it feel to have a false self?

But you see, the very question betrays a misunderstanding or ignorance or inability to perceive narcissism as it is.

Narcissism is such an alien experience, so in many ways inhuman, outside the remit of being human, that it's nearly impossible to communicate.

I don't have a false self. The false self has me.

I'm a hostage, exactly like the Israeli hostages held in tunnels under Gaza city.

I've been held, for most of my life since age four, I've been held hostage by a terrorist organization known as the false self.

It started off as an innocent game.

I invented the false self as an imaginary friend and we both inhabited a virtual world, a paracosm, and the false self was protecting me.

The false self was strong, perfect, brilliant, all-knowing, all-powerful.

It was my own private God and it defended me when I've been abused and traumatized in ways which are too graphic to enumerate in public.

So the false self has always been there for me, always had my back, gradually became my best friend.

And then, exactly like fake friends, it took over. It took over my life.

It stole, it absconded with who I am. It became me.

I've been replaced.

I felt that I'm dissipating, evaporating, rendered unto molecules.

The center was not holding. I could no longer hold myself together.

Wherever I looked, there was the encroaching false self, snatching elements and figments and components and ingredients of my being and becoming me to my great horror.

And yes, it's been a horrifying experience, especially if you're taking into account that I've been four years old, five years old, six years old.

You wake up in the morning and suddenly another piece of you is not you.

It's like being amputated gradually, consumed by a tribe of termites from the legs up.

And you tend to vanish into a cloud of non-being.

Anyhow, I felt, throughout my life, I felt empty inside. I felt this void, an all-consuming black hole.

But now there was this so-called friend turned enemy, the false self.

And I've seen the enemy and it was I. And there was nothing much I could do about it, except just wait passively and patiently for my own self-consumption, being self-digested.

And the false self was so, so way better than I've ever been, so endowed with qualities that I could only aspire to.

The false self was my dream of becoming reified, was my ideal self externalized, ideal ego externalized.

The false self was everything I've ever wanted to become and everything my mother wanted me to become.

So it was a double yummy. I could gratify myself and my mother simultaneously.

That was very addictive. And one day I woke up to find out that I will never wake up again.

One day I woke up to realize that I've died.

It's exactly like Kafka's Metamorphoses, the famous story where Gregor Samsa wakes up to discover that he has become an insect, a giant insect.

I've become this giant entomological entity, the insect that was my false self, an entity from the future in many ways, a kind of artificial intelligence that is inexorable or pervasive and relentless.

What could I do as a child but step back from my own life and relinquish it and just go on as the false self?

And all that's left was the false self. I've disappeared. I've sacrificed myself, like human sacrifice, to this new God knowing full well that I'm unbecoming.

It's not even reversion to the womb. It's not going back to the womb.

It's going back to the stage before an egg and a sperm have met.

It's going back to an evil sort of nothingness, a vacuum that can't tolerate nature.

And so one day I woke up and it was there, the false self, and I was no longer.

And today my entire existence is through a glassdarkly, as if I'm beyond or behind a partition, a partition that is both elastic, infinitely elastic and adaptable on the one hand and on the other hand as rigid as can be.

I'm only an observer of my own life, mild interest in what's happening.

When people confront me with truthful voices, when they tell me, when they reveal to me who I am, when they expose my actions, when they judge me, when they confront me with my decisions and my choices, and I can't face this, the voices become more and more distant, receding into a galaxy of deferred pain, deemed and then echoes and then no more.

These voices of reality, of the truth, the voices that introduce me to my shame, these voices are perceived as enemies not because of what they're saying necessarily, but because getting in touch with my shame would be deadly, lethal.

So these voices want me dead, sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively, metaphorically, but in my mind always they want me dead.

These are the voices of my extinction.

I can't allow the truth to penetrate. I can't face who I am. I can't cope with my shame. I can't be anything else but the false self because there is nothing left but the false self.

The process of transubstantiation and transmutation that I've gone through is not religious, it's diabolical, it's being replaced by another entity and that's why people who are less enlightened, shall we say, use metaphors such as demon possession or maybe not metaphors, they believe in it.

The false self, exactly as Freud said, by the way, is a bit demonic.

And so I recall when someone wants to denude me of the false self, to deny me the false self, to unravel it, to deconstruct it, to expose it, to bring it down to its knees, to take it down.

Whenever someone attacks the false self, if the false self is gone, what would be left? What would be left behind?

I'm not even saying who would be left behind because I'm no longer, but what would be left behind?

Except the reverberations of abstract pain and shame and hurt, the bleeding edges of what used to be my personal biography.

And people think that they're interacting with the narcissist, never.

Never. There's nobody there. People are interacting exclusively with the false self.

When they think that they are out to heal the narcissist, to cure the narcissist, to take the narcissist down or expose the narcissist or attack the narcissist or collaborate with the narcissist or love the narcissist, they are sorely mistaken.

They are in cahoots, in league, in a coven with the false self.

The false self depersonalized me, derealized me.

I feel that I'm one step removed and that I'm at one remove from who I could have been, from the potential that used to be me.

Never being. I've never attained the level of being. I've never become.

But I used to be a potential and I have a vague and dim memory of having been a potential.

And yet the false self denies me even this.

And I can't recall this potential, let alone realize it.

So everything looks unreal to me. Everything is a fantasy.

People say, why does the narcissist engage in shared fantasies and other such concoctions and pieces of fiction and narratives?

Because everything is like that in a narcissist's life.

It's all a piece of fiction, a narrative, a story.

Everything is not real. And I am not in anything, anywhere. I am not.

What defines me is my absence. It masquerades as presence.

I can imitate presence. I do presence really well. I'm charming. I am intellectually stimulating and so on.

But it's absence masquerading as presence. It's totally depersonalized. I am never there, really. Never invested, perfected, never committed, never present. I've never experienced presence, the way I've never experienced love. This is no love without presence, of course.

Now I realize, 62 years later. So it all looks dreamy in a bad sense of the word, like marriage, surreal. It all feels as if I'm caught in an endlessly looping silent film or in the pages of the never-ending story.

And sometimes I want to extricate myself, but I know that the alternative is, infinite void, infinite nothing. The alternative is existing as a non-entity.

I have two options, you see, to existentialize my absence, to pretend that it is a kind of presence, to render it tangible in some way, to translate it into actions and decisions and choices so that other people feel me, feel my absence, to touch other people with my absence, to inflict upon them the emptiness that I am, to suck them in as a black hole would.

That's one option. The other option is to let go and to become this absence, to exist in it, to experience myself within this emptiness as an element of this void, from within the void.

And I can think of nothing more terrifying.

The false self is my only firewall, my only protection against this.

Of course, I will never give up on it and never let it go.

My false self is also a decoy. It attracts the fire.

I don't have a true self left to the best of my knowledge. At least, I'm never communicating with it. I know rationally, intellectually, that I used to exist as a true self.

Before the abuse and trauma, which, trust me, in my case, were unspeakable, before the abuse and trauma rendered me false, I used to be true.

I used to be a smiling, very cute kid, actually, exceedingly cute. You can watch the, you can see the photos on my Instagram.

And then I've been monsterized.

You see, exactly as Nietzsche said, when you gaze into the abyss, it gazes back at you.

And I was forced to gaze into the abyss time and again, too many times.

I didn't have any defenses or any protections. I was four years old.

And so I became not me. Not me was better than me. Not me didn't suffer. Not me didn't hurt. Not me didn't bleed. Not me's skull was never fractured. Not me didn't have to confront my mother.

Eight hours a day, ten hours a day, every day, relentlessly, unstoppable, ruthlessly, for sixteen years.

Not me didn't have to suffer to endure any of these things.

It was a decoy. It attracted a fire.

My fourth self is tough as nails. It can absorb any amount of pain and hurt and negative emotions.

I developed immunity to the indifference, manipulation, sadism, smothering, exploitation, and torture, physical as well as mental, that I've undergone.

Inflicted on me by those who are supposed to love me.

So my fourth self became my invisibility cloak. It engulfed me.

It wasn't warm. The fourth self is not warm because it's very alien. It's very godlike. It's very detached.

It's so vastly superior to the child that the child can never really identify with the fourth self.

And yet it's protective. It restores calm in a sense of impregnability and impermeability and invincibility and immunity and invisibility and omnipotence.

The only tools, imaginary as they might be, against the onslaught of terror and horror that is inflicted on some children, myself included.

Of course, as I grew up, I began to misinterpret the fourth self, as if it were my true self.

I said, "The fourth self is not false. It's really who I am. I am really, for example, a genius. And then I went around begging people to validate my fourth self, to confirm it to me, to tell me it's not false.

I was saying, "Actually, I'm not who you think I am. I'm someone else. I am this fourth self. I am really. I am really. Please believe me. How can I convince you? Let me know. I'll do anything. Just keep telling me that the fourth self is me.

Because if the fourth self is not me, who am I? Where am I?

And I deserve a better, painless, more considerate future.

Only the fourth self can guarantee this.

It's a kind of a defense force, the Israeli defense forces. It's a contraption. It's intended to alter other people's behavior and attitudes.

I felt unlovable, dislikeable. I felt that my destiny is to be constantly rejected. And I have been constantly rejected all my life.

No woman has ever wanted to talk to me or approach me in any way, shape or form. They felt the illness, probably.

I didn't have friends.

And in this splendid isolation, I had to tell myself a story to make it bearable and tolerable.

And the story was I'm so vastly superior that I'm inaccessible. People are ants. They're inferior. They're stupid. They can never have any intercourse with me, physical or verbal.

I just gave up on belonging, on being accepted. I gave up on being loved a long time before.

I've learned to associate declamations and exclamations of love with searing physical pain afterwards and worse.

So love for me was an abomination, a threat, an ominous cloud which rains hurt physical scars and mental devastation.

So I gave up on love.

But I did want to be loved sometimes. I didn't want to be accepted. And then I gave up on these as well.

So I've always been alone in the most profound and existential sense internally and externally.

My only friend was the false self. My only friend was me.

Bizarre dichotomy, kind of schism, multiple personality, if you wish.

And the false self reassured me, told me that I'm right, reinterpreted, reframed in clinical terms, reinterpreted certain emotions, certain reactions, certain actions, certain events.

The false self always flattered me, always sublimated everything, made it socially acceptable, condoned, rewarded.

I interpreted fear as compassion or bravery. So for example, if I was hurting someone, if I was causing pain, abusing someone, I may have felt bad afterwards, but then I interpreted this bad feeling, this discomfort, as empathy.

I said I'm feeling bad because I'm empathizing with my victim and being compassionate.

Or maybe confronting her or him was an act of courage, having balls.

Whichever way I came on top, if I hurt someone and then felt bad, it meant that I'm empathic and loving, capable of loving.

And if I felt bad and then felt good about it, it meant that I'm courageous and brave.

You see, to be afraid is humiliating. To be abusive is condemnable. To be an abuser is to be a low life, but to be compassionate or empathic or brave, that's commendable. That's commendable. That's understandably. That is a source of narcissistic supply.

So the false self helped me write the legends of my life, mythologize it in a way that would make me an Olympian God.

Or at least demigod, a Hercules in my own mind, a Prometheus bringing light and bringing fire to humanity.

I've always possessed an uncanny ability to psychologically penetrate other people, to scan them and diagnose them immediately, spot their vulnerabilities and chinks in the armor.

I've always had that. I had no... It was the only way I could survive.

I had to predict my mother and father. I had to foresee the torture and abuse, somehow prepare myself mentally, if not physically, wasn't possible physically.

So I had to come up with a radar, with a sensor, anticipatory and predictive theory of mine, their mind, my abuser's mind, people who were traumatizing me on a minute basis, hour by hour, day by day for many years.

And then I started to abuse this gift. I put it at the service of my control, fraternally and much later sadism.

I used it liberally to annihilate the natural defenses of my victims, my faking empathy or understanding, or by demonstrating to them how I understand them the way no one else can, how I resonate with them, how I penetrate their defenses.

And get to know them. I became a soulmate, a twin flame or something of the sort.

This capacity was coupled with my eerie ability to imitate emotions and attendant behaviors, effects.

I had these emotional resonance tables, and they were also part of the false.

I knew that this is how I should behave in order to induce the false impression that I'm experiencing an emotion.

I kept record of every action, every reaction, every utterance, every consequence, every datum provided by other people.

I observed.

I became a scientist of other people.

I regarded the state of mind, their emotional makeup.

And this was another step removed, was further removed.

I was receding even further into the penumbral recesses of my tortured, sick, tormented mind.

And then I constructed these formulas, impeccably accurate renditions of emotional behaviors and so on and so forth.

And I became deceitful, not because I sought to deceive.

On the contrary, I did not seek to deceive.

I wanted people to tell me that I'm honest and truthful, and my false self is not false but real.

I always sought the truth. I always wanted to be told that my phantasm, my phantasy with a ph and phantasy with an f, and that my virtual world, my paracosm, is not only inside my mind, which is terrifying, it means I'm insane, but out there.

So it's not true that I acted deceitfully.

It's not psychopathy.

I did not act deceitfully, but I became deceitful, first and foremost, towards myself, deceiving myself, my own first victim.

And so the false self grew, became thicker by the day, more rigid, more opaque, more isolating, more hermetic, more all pervasive and ubiquitous, more encompassing and engulfing, more surrounding and besieging, until I found myself in a prison cell of my own making.

The false self has incarcerated and imprisoned me and held me hostage, kidnapped me and hijacked what used to be me, this dilapidated remnants of what started to become and was never given a chance.

And that's me. It's my life. It's my world. It's my mind.

It is a darkness, and no amount of light can dispel it.

No amount of love, no amount of caring, no amount of understanding given. Nothing can pierce this deep space.

This outer world, this pandemonium, this bedlam, nothing can pierce it.

I have had hopes that if I could be loved, things would be different, if I could be understood, maybe I will extricate myself.

Maybe I will cease being a hostage. Maybe I'll be pardoned, gone parole, or break out of this prison, break free.

I've had these hopes.

I told myself these stories, and this is known as a shared fantasy.

This was my shared fantasy. The shared fantasy is not about, not only about, or not mostly about being loved.

No, it's about being free.

Love shall set you free.

That's the mistaken belief of the narcissists. That's my mistaken belief.

That if I only were to be held and accepted and loved, all would be well, and I will suddenly flower and discover myself and erupt.

But of course, there's nobody there. There's no one there. There's nothing to love.

And the shared fantasy is a fantasy. It is driving me away further from reality rather than towards it. It's not truthful because it's a fantasy. It's a form of self-deception and other deception.

So at some point you say, that's it. You have to accept. You have to submit. You have to accommodate. You have to adapt. You have to embrace. You have to lay quiescent and wait. Wait for the inevitable.

The truly great and ultimate liberation.

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