“Someone preaching a different sermon than he was living.” -Taura Stinson
“The Girl Who Lied”
Fiction. Based on a True Conversation on Narcissism.
This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.
by Mingjie Zhai
You are putting together an extra table so that two squares make a rectangle for the company of three girls. A different party of three came wanting the square table that you were about to take to make your square table turn into a bigger rectangle table. Your party had already sat down and you and your friend were already cleaning up the extra square table to make your table bigger.
“How many people in your party?” you ask.
“Four,” she answers.
You gave her the extra table that would make her table twice as big.
The only problem was that you only saw three people and you have three people as well but your party was there first.
The girl lied so she can get her way.
She felt entitled.
You wanted to say something in front of your two Drinker’s Den friends, but you thought about how awkward your new friends would feel if you started drama with the girl sitting next to you with her party. You remember how embarrassed Junie felt, once upon a time, when you told off the man who was disturbed that you brought your dog to the restaurant he was eating at.
You had told him that he’s there disturbing you, no different than your dog disturbing him. So, why should he be in this restaurant? You bit back. You knew Junie felt seriously uncomfortable. She was your client. You were helping her team obtain the needed 501(c)3.
You wanted to confront this pretty little liar at Kafka Cafe in front of your two Polish friends and take the table back. Instead you thought perhaps tolerance is about forgiving and letting go. You did not quite understand the full meaning of forgiveness…or rather, for the longest time you chose to turn a blind eye to the true meaning of forgiveness. Someone said in one of the past meetings that “Forgiveness means to “forgo,” or relinquishing the opportunity to seek vengeance or letting go of the opportunity to justifiably get even.
This was what happened when Americans helped the Germans rebuild rather than punish them so little Hitlers are not created again. This is what General MacArthur did for Japan after World War II. Through the enemy’s unconditional surrender, they were able to be helped.
Perhaps that’s why step one in the twelve steps is about surrendering. If you don’t surrender, you can’t be helped. If the Germans and the Japanese did not surrender, they wouldn’t recover from their spiritual, emotional, and psychological sickness. And they were terribly sick.
If what the Japanese did to the Chinese documented in the Rape of Nanjing, and if what the Germans did to the Polish people (six million Poles systematically slaughtered and 3 million of them Jewish-Polish) are considered as “really spiritual sick” people during World War II, then step one to recovery from this “sickness” would be unconditional surrender and unconditional forgiveness. Because they surrendered, today in 2019, less than 100 years later, both countries are flourishing. Their economy booming, on the road to redemption, and now it is up to the Chinese and the Jewish and Non-Jewish Poles to practice forgiveness.
Spiritual Warfare truth
And the paradox of this matrix.
To forgive your trespassers is to be forgiven for your trespasses.
Do you forgive the Japanese woman who seduced and stole your husband?
If yes, then it would be just a matter of asking God to remove the obsession you have over the taken man that you are tempted to steal from the Eastern European girl.
For they are no different than the girls sitting before you at Kafka Coffee Shop.
The instinct to start a fight with this pretty little liar is strong. You wanted to embarrass her and show her how Americans, especially Asian Americans, won’t stand for stupidity and ignorance. But now that you are much calmer journaling about this, you realize that Americans are the epitome of stupidity and ignorance.
You were sitting next to Charlie and Abby, one a South America expat and the other a native Polish girl who at one point lived in the States for quite some time, so she speaks English fluently. The three of you attended a meeting less than an hour ago where the topic is about tolerance and forgiveness. You shared how it is time you forgive yourself. Perhaps, that is the real reason why you are in Poland. You had to see the rippling effects of the war, the Terrible Mother at bay, waiting to take advantage of the traumatized, the resentful, the self-loathing, the broken, and the abused. The silver lining in the reconstruction is the heart of Chopin’s music still playing across old town and new town Warsaw, and the positive feminine of Mother Mary still rooted and painted blue in the murals of green trees.
When you got home, you realized why you are so irritated. She lied to your face to get her way.
You do that.
Perhaps more than you care to admit.
Forgive and you shall be forgiven is the spiritual law of this matrix.
You realize that you are about to live out a lie with Polish Airlines. You identified yourself as specially disabled –deaf–so Roxy can act as a support dog for you. You do have a disability. Bipolar. However, they don’t acknowledge such attributes as a disability. Most would probably just think you need to get over your depression and your manic because you can control it.
Perhaps you can. You told your temporary sponsor here in Poland that you are not taking medications for it. She names others who are and others she knows who are not. The label bipolar is what turned off both Rylie and Aaron. Aaron spotted you early on that you were perhaps faking your disability just so Roxy can go everywhere and anywhere with you.
Not a bad guess. You hope this is true. That would mean you are faking it, that you are actually normal, and that you don’t experience the highs of highs and the lows of lows. You wonder if you would have traded this experience of bringing Roxy along anywhere and everywhere to avoid the two suicide attempts and the four mental hospitalizations. You wonder if you would have traded making one third of what you used to make in income doing the work/travel life of building your own publishing/educational/production organization for a stable job that brings you to same place every day of work for three to five times the income of what you are making now.
You think about it.
You’d rather be crazy.
Bipolar is a gift.
You’ve seen it face to face when you were interviewing Justin Phillips, also known by his moniker, Crywolf.
He really transformed your life in that interview. It did not occur to you till later, but the seed was planted by virtue of his being and becoming. He did not preach about bipolar. No, in fact, he was rather ashamed of it. There is still so much stigma surrounding it. However, he knew he needed to talk about it because you shared your true story of your suicidal attempts as a result of this dis-ease untreated at the time you were not ready to talk about it.
Awareness is key.
Transparency is the seed.
Transformation is the redemption from a tragedy to a Love Story.
You think about the example of the girl in the cafe who lied. She is a chronic liar because she has grown up with an enabling mother who taught her explicitly or implicity the art of deceit and manipulation.
Your sponsor told you the story of how growing up if she could not be number one at a particular study immediately, whether that is swimming or playing the piano, she would just give up. She tells you it’s the alcoholic nature of selfishness and self-centeredness. You were the exact same way growing up. Now you think of it, perhaps it was also narcissism.
Face to Face
“I do believe Jesus did fall in love with Mary Magdalene. He was a man, tempted by fleshly desires just like every man. He had to be a man of this world to experience what it was like to suffer with man,” you say to Smartie.
“I can relate to Mary Magdalene the most,” Smartie admits.
It is Sunday. Smartie invites you to City Church. It is sunny when you both left Church service. You smile because the sermon was about the activation point, about when Jesus was first introduced on the world stage as God’s son after he was baptized. Then it was game on between angels and demons. After church, you two head to a Pho place. You tell her Pho is pronounced, like the beginning of “Fuck,” that Pho is soul food for Asians. This makes her appreciate the pho she is consuming even more.
You both open up to each other about love anorexia with what started as her describing her last failed relationships that burned her and avoiding relationships all together. She knew she had problems and perhaps did not want to hurt men or be mean to them so she would rather not get involved. She, like you, consider herself as damaged goods. Still, she couldn’t help but be attracted to this guy at church the way you could not help but be attracted to Aaron at your church. The only thing stopping her? He was too young. “He’s a boy,” she says. She looks like a girl the way you look like a girl, yet both of you are the same age, mid thirties. When she said that, you realize you were caught in the same situation. You don’t want to go back to LA for the very reason that you would be tempted to contact him. No, best to continue your quest, trust God, and leave him and his five year relationship with the woman he just proposed to alone.
Smartie has not heard the term, “love anorexia,” but based on your sharing, she could identify with a lot of what you have described. She and you have both been single for the past 18 months. The last man took a serious emotional toll on her. What she thought was a man who was serious turned out to be a man who exhibited symptoms of narcissism, asking her to lie in front of the police. She drew a hard boundary. The way you had to draw a hard boundary of not getting into a love triangle.
You both realized that you have similar family backgrounds. You two are one of the lucky ones. You both got to travel during a time when both your home countries were devastated by communism and ravages of war. Both your dads were influential businessmen, enough to get out of the country, and both your respective mothers had the Terrible Mother narcissism embedded within the respective matrilineal heritage that you two now inherit. Is it queen femme fatale? Lady Siren? Beautiful Seduction? What was this shadow toxic feminine that you are now both familiar with by the way you observe yourself acting around the men you ensnare and the women you dismiss or make weak?
There was an old timer, an old lady maybe around her late sixties, who said something about your share of your suicide attempts. She said that your problems were “no big thing” and she looked at you with some contempt. You realize this the green eye of jealousy hidden in the guise of advice giving. She had compared your story with hers. She probably lost families from the war and yours was the story of a suicide attempt from a breakup. The dismissiveness is the narcissism. When everything is measured through the relative eye of the personal story of the observer, that is how narcissism manifests its ugly head onto others.
Drinker’s Den addresses alcohol but there is no support group to address the toxic feminine of narcissism. The dismissiveness, the gaslighting, the manipulation tactics, the chronic “not good enough” criticism, the lack of validation and true compassion for the other. This is the negative feminine that has a lot of the older generations who survived true atrocities to be poisoned by resentment, self-loathing, unforgiveness.
You believe that the toxic feminine comes from unforgiveness and self-loathing. It’s not your mother who is the narcissist. Rather, it is the narcissistic spirit that haunts those who have been already abused, traumatized, and hurt. It’s some kind of collusion between Jezebel and Narcissism that creates the siren, or the toxic feminine.
“I have set a healthy boundary between my mother and I, but I did not take the suggestions of those audiobooks that says to cut them out of your life entirely,” Smartie tells you.
“I really believe it is a symptom of communist abuse, it’s much bigger, stronger, and greater than anyone of us can contend with,” you say.
“It’s definitely generational,” Smartie agrees.
While in Berlin you were audiobooking daughters who survive narcissistic abuse. By first catching the symptoms of narcissism, or having the awareness of narcissism is the first step to recovery. Next, is to call it out both in others and in yourself. You reflect back at what Drum and Bass did for you. It really is a blessing. He knew and you knew that his calling you out on it would mean the end of the relationship, but it would also mean that you heal and transform from it, which is what he wanted you to do. He loved you. Perhaps, he still loves you. The last time you made an amends to him over the phone, he told you that he still loves you. But he also knew that if he stayed, it would have been the death of him.
You’re typing away at Costa Coffee on Tamka and Kruzkowskeigo, listening to Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and it struck you hard how much music, especially music from Los Angeles, has influenced the world. The world. You saw R Kelly and Aaliyah’s music playing at a hookah lounge in Berlin while waiting for your bus, your Polish friend listens to Bill Burr, and everybody knows Green Day, Guns and Roses, and Red Hot Chilli Peppers. You are surprised at just how many people in the entertainment industry you have already met or are connected to, yet here you are acting like a recovering addict (which you are…never forget), playing a small game.
You hit up Good Charlotte’s publicists, one from Los Angeles and the other from England, to see if you can do an interview with the band. But you have to be specific and authentic. You ruined your opportunity with Cat when you were still drinking back in Colorado when you showed up late and arrogant. You also hurt your relationship with Kevin Kerslake when you were at Sundance when you did not make time to see him to just appreciate his craft with his premiere movie, “Bad Reputation” starring Joan Jett. You got greedy. You wanted to interview both Joan and Kevin though you only know Kevin and you are still building that relationship with Kevin.
He made the time to meet with you one on one a couple of times as an advisor for this nonprofit. You had walked in his movie premiere of “As I Am” late and you did not make the time to even respect what his work is about. That is really the alcoholic in you. Self-serving, full of envy, pride, feelings of low worth, and not good enough. You get caught in your own head and forget that people want you to succeed and that your success helps others in the long run. You are of no use to anyone if you do not get grounded in your own intrinsic self-worth.
The greats that come before you did it through grind, humility, and respect for the people who support them. You did not respect yourself nor your opportunities so when the opportunity did come, you dismissed it.
When people ask you why you came to Warsaw, you realize you came because you needed to confront the terrible toxic feminine. Because you know there is a Terrible Mother that tries to hold you captive, telling you that you are not worthy, you are not good enough, you will fuck it up so why even try? It’s all lies. The poisonous coddling, enabling, manipulative dark feminine. You are here in Warsawa to learn how to defeat it.
You know it starts with getting swallowed by it. Being inside the belly of the whale is the initiation of the hero. Yesterday, you listened to Neil Gaiman discuss truth in fiction in the Masterclass you renewed your yearly subscription for. He starts off the story when he took a hike with his children in the woods and were stung by yellow jacket bees. In a rush, he escaped the attack having been stung 60 something times, only to realize that he left his glasses in the woods, and had to go back to the place of the attack. The next day, he went to retrieve his glasses. He realizes that it took extreme courage to go back to where he was attacked. He mentions that it does not take much courage in the act of being attacked, but to go back to where the attack happened to retrieve his lost glasses…that took extreme courage. He also mentions that courage does not mean that you are not afraid. Courage means being afraid and taking action anyway.
You reach out to Kevin Kerslake to make amends on your taking the relationship for granted. You start actually watching his documentaries so you can appreciate the mentor who made time to give you advice with his years of wisdom in the filmmaking and music world.
What are you doing here in Warsaw?
You need to feel the urgency of the relevancy behind what you are doing behind the scenes of The Love Story Project. You need to see the results of what could happen if people choose self-expression instead of self-destruction to express the spirits of resentment, hurt, and pain…deep pain. People like Hitler and all those hundreds of thousands of Hitler followers who believed in Hitler’s lie that it was all the Jewish people’s fault, that this all happened because of “the other,” the nature of evil in victimology, these insidious Terrible Father and Terrible Mother shadows could be replaced by the Good Father and the Good Mother by taking on the responsibility of choosing The Artist Way.
Had Hitler endured and kept the faith with his paintings, despite being rejected by the Vienna Art School, imagine all that passion, articulation, and genius of expression channeled to something creative, inspiring, and productive. Instead, he choose power over love, not realizing that love is a power greater than power itself. Music is a unifier of differing people coming together on the co-creation of music and inspiration.
“Fusing sounds and cultures together,” says a musician and producer from Beats Antique, David Satori, in Bob Marley Legend Remix documentary co-produced and directed by Kevin Kerslake, your former mentor.
No Woman No Cry
“Music has a powerful way of getting into people’s hearts.”
“In this great future, you can’t forget your past.” Bob Marley
The night before you reached out to Jay Levin, founder of LA Weekly, a magazine that curates culture, art, and local artists, about the Break Your Heart Open proposal. He is interested in increasing the EQ among our community and started an initiative called The Big EQ Campaign, to bring more EQ education among public schools. You think perhaps there is a possibly. He responds by telling you to call anytime. But you have trouble mustering up the courage to actually call him.
This morning you had a dream of a house that was seemingly empty. You were afraid that the man whom you wanted to build a more intimate relationship, who was at your home, had somehow slaughtered your entire family. You started to panic and wanted to escape the house. Then, your sister shows up with your mom and dad inside the home looking at you with surprise because you looked worried and scared. You felt a wave of relief and your sister told you that the man whom you are looking for is in the front yard of the home. You head outside. He was standing next to your grandmother and your grandfather. They were silhouette behind a rising sun with the pink and orange clouds creating an illuminated aura around your grandmother as the centerpiece. You go straight for your grandmother and give her a hug. The hug seemed so real and you felt your heart starting to soften. Your heart started to liquidate as you started waking up. It hits you. You miss your grandma. You miss ah po.
You woke up crying and saying over and over again, “I miss you ah po.” She represented planting the good seed of grace, compassion, and nurture. She read you the classics when you were still a baby–and you still remember them. The princess who was too proud to settle for a prince and wound up with an old man that transformed into a prince once she humbled down, the poor girl with the lamb that provided her with food and shelter, and many more lessons through these fairytales.
You appreciate Neil Gaiman and his dark books because they represent truths that we are too ashamed, self-conscious, or proud to admit in ourselves or in others.
You came to Warsaw to observe how evil can manifest in a city that was war torn by evil ideology. Starting with the Nazi ideology of dehumanizing Jews and the neighbors who, through fear or pride, turned a willful blind eye to the unethical treatment of their neighbors. Then, the ideology of Bolshevik Russia who stayed and occupied Poland in the “Big Brother” lie of “protecting” their little sister Poland through mass propaganda when really it was just one big narcissistic gaslighting of the people of Poland until the Poles rebelled and until the Iron Curtain lifted in 1989 when Gorbachev came to power in Russia.
You were at the Joseph Stalin Science Tower. At the very top where it was foggy. You don’t know why you were up there other than you were compelled to go up there. You couldn’t see anything on that top tower because of the night fog. You felt kind of silly paying the 20 zglots that evening to go to the high tower since the entire city was shrouded in fog that evening, but you quickly realize that you are not up there to see the view, for you’ve seen the tower views of many cities. No, you came here for something else. You head inside where there is a small souvenir stand and there, among the bookstand with all the souvenir brochures and travel books covering tourist Poland, was one small sized black and white photographic book about what actually happened during the Warsaw Uprising. It was a photographer who stuck around while the war was happening and had photos of the people who resisted, the devastation of a beautiful city bombed into rubles, and he stuck around, through the entire ordeal, to tell people for generations to come that this actually happened.
Perhaps it’s a recognition of evil within us all.
We are all capable of evil.
The collective especially.
Under the context of ideology.
Under the context of social justice.
Evil is cunning, baffling, and powerful.
How do we fight evil?
You think of Dr. Jordan Peterson’s Rule 8: Tell the Truth. At least don’t lie.
Not truth from an ideological perspective, but truth from a personal perspective–a story, a personal story, and hopefully, a love story.