The Fishbowl ‘La Cosa Nostra’ World That People, Families, Organizations And The Whole World Live In. And How To Escape It.

La Cosa Nostra.  I say those words and you immediately think “mafia.”  Crime families.  Murders, extortion, drugs, violence and death and pain.

But if you came expecting an article on the mafia, click away to another link on your list.  Although this article will talk about the undercurrent that reveals exactly what “La Cosa Nostra” means and how it works and how we’re ALL victims of the mentality to varying degrees.

As I understand it, la costra nostra means “this thing of ours,” “our thing.”  Our way of dealing with things.

I recently had the term come to my mind as I was considering a friend who I am also mentoring and a difficult family situation this friend is now in.  The friend is in the right, but the whole family is basically saying being in the right is quite literally irrelevant and that my friend is not adequately participating in the “La Cosa Nostra” mindset which is how this family has been dealing with its issues for decades.  The problem is that this La Cosa Nostra mindset is dysfunctional, codependent, passive-aggressive.  Really very much like the mafia families which coined the term in the first place, except this family doesn’t leave a trail of dead bodies the way the mafia families do.  But this family has certainly left its own trail of emotional and psychological wreckage.

And another similarity is revealed in a line expressed by Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino, in the film The Godfather: Part III.  Remember it?

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”

That’s how my friend has been feeling.  Because what is going on is cyclical, a vicious spiral that keeps happening over and over again because no one changes, no one is allowed to change, and as broken and dysfunctional and codependent and passive-aggressive as the system is, it’s all this family has and all its ever had and so they all cling to it and resist anyone who tries to do anything different.

Insanity, as they say, is doing the same thing the same way while expecting a different result.

That’s what is going on in this family.  It’s like a disease that they have all inherited and they keep passing it on to one another to keep the disease always “in the family.”

Part of it is “living the lie.”  Because it’s always easier to pretend the lie isn’t really such a big deal when it is harder to expose it and deal with it.

For the record, I’m not talking about sexual molestation here in the case of this family.  But obviously that is right in the powerhouse of the La Cosa Nostra “this thing of ours” lie that other families in other fishbowls deal with.  I’m not revealing anything specific about the family I’m describing for what I think are obvious reasons: I have confidentiality to respect and I do respect it.

But I can tell you that when I described what I had discerned, my friend became very exited, because it was as if a lightbulb was suddenly turned on.  My friend had always understood that something was wrong, something wasn’t right and because of that something my friend was constantly “in trouble” in the family for deviating outside the lines of La Cosa Nostra.

Just like in the real mafia, keep it in the family, don’t get out of line and everything will be okay.  But try to escape it, try to change it, and watch the family machine grind into gear against you.  Oh, and don’t you DARE bring in any outsiders who will shine any sunlight on “La Cosa Nostra.”  That is the unpardonable sin.

It’s not just the mafia.  A lot of organizations are like that.  All religious cults are like that.  Way too many families are every bit as deep into “this thing of ours” as the mafia families.  They have their own thing, but the way they hold on to it, the way they are all committed to it, the dysfunctions, the codependence, the passive-aggressive behaviors, are identical.

And of course, these people who have “La Cosa Nostra” in their family relationships don’t leave it when they leave momma’s house.  They take it with them everywhere they go.  It’s how they live their lives and just don’t see it because they never question it because it’s the way they have always dealt with things and the way their family has always dealt with things and you don’t dare question that, do you?

So there are actually several fires going on in this family right now because it’s just so much easier to live in the lie and pretend the lie doesn’t matter or that it’s not my lie so I’ll keep my mouth shut and participate in the lie that way, or I’ll just put that lie in a compartment separate from all the other lies that I’ve also put into similar little compartments so that there is never any pattern that would reveal to me that I’ve got to deal with this garbage.  But one in particular really blew up because it has such serious undercurrents and it simply can’t be allowed to continue, and my friend is resolved to DEAL with it out front once for all.

A family member had sent ME a text initially supporting my friend.  This family member actually personally witnessed the triggering event and knows that my friend was entirely in the RIGHT.  And the family member wrote in the text:

“She’s my hero and I will stand with her and for her in anything.”

Well, at least until the La Cosa Nostra machine got to her.  Her tune completely changed within two days.

Then suddenly my friend “the hero,” who this family member had pledged to “stand with and for in anything,” is saying that my friend “the hero” is “prideful” and “immature” and “childish.”  Why?  Because my friend won’t keep playing the La Cosa Nostra game and won’t play out the same dysfunctional co-dependent baloney that she has always played before.

You see, the other family members have always played the passive-aggressive thing, getting angry and basically butthurt and then refusing to talk to my friend for weeks and even months at a time.  But my friend is the one who has always reached out and forgiven in a dynamic that has been the only glue holding the whole La Cosa Nostra Ponzi scheme together because SOMEBODY has to be an adult or at least go through the motions of pretending to be one.

So everybody else can act butthurt and be passive-aggressive, but if my friend doesn’t reach out and try to heal the wounds that La Cosa Nostra guarantees will always continue to fester, the family starts to fall apart.  And that’s my friend’s fault.  It’s my friend’s role in La Cosa Nostra.  Don’t try to get out of it no matter how much it is hurting you or how much pain you are in.  The rest of us need you to do this because damned if WE’RE going to do it.  For instance, damned if WE’RE going to take it upon OURSELVES to arrange for the family gatherings we want to keep having, to cook for those gatherings, to host them and largely pay for them.  YOU’VE got to do that.  And it’s “prideful” and “immature” and “childish” if you expect any of us to do it.  It’s “prideful” and “immature” and “childish” for you to quit doing what we have never done and won’t do.

It’s actually quite remarkable to see a family that is obviously completely wrong in its thinking, but they all think that way so what is wrong is obviously right by process of dysfunctional-democracy.  The rest of us voted, and we voted to maintain the definition of insanity as our way of doing things.

And is there any loyalty to the truth?  Is there any loyalty to the hero?  Nope.  Not when it conflicts with La Cosa Nostra there isn’t.

I recall a different situation in a different family that is partially going on in this family: a wife who had some serious issues was talking and talking and talking about the family’s problems, blaming much of it on the husband, basically depicting him as an angry, hard-headed, intolerant man who wasn’t capable of being reasonable.  The wife was telling the husband’s family about their son and brother frequently.  And everybody was buying her story.  Why?  Because the husband was the kind of man who kept these kinds of problems to himself rather than broadcasting his garbage on Facebook and the like.  Well, ultimately something happened that began to reveal that it was the WIFE who had issues, an addiction to drama among others, as well as a long history of “La Cosa Nostra” in her own family that she was now trying to imprint onto her husband’s family.  And at least the husband’s family finally began to understand that their son, their brother wasn’t the monster that a disturbed wife was trying to spin an image of in order to gain sympathy and be the victim when SHE was in actuality the unreasonable one all along.

So my friend is the same way as this husband was: let’s not ignore the teaching of Jesus that when you have a problem with someone, YOU GO FIRST TO THAT PERSON AND TRY TO RESOLVE IT.  No, rather, let’s NEVER go to that person.  Let’s INSTEAD go to EVERY OTHER PERSON in the family and try to form a coalition of “La Cosa Nostra” against that person and win the argument that way.  Because dysfunctional-democracy is not only tantamount to truth, it is more important than truth.  And in fact the truth doesn’t matter; they only pay lip service to it.  I repeat the refrain my friend keeps hearing from the family: “it doesn’t matter what happened.”

It doesn’t matter what happened, meaning, “pretend it didn’t happen.”  “Live in the lie” like the rest of us are doing.  And if you don’t do that, well, we’re all going to side against you because you are being “prideful” and “immature” and “childish.”  According to the family member who had just said that my friend is “her hero” and that she would stand with her and for her in anything.

You’ve heard that phrase, “With friends like these, who needs enemies?”  Yeah.

It’s going to take a whole lot of courage to change this dynamic, because only one person can now see that this is a fishbowl of dysfunction.

What’s funny, in a non-funny, ironic sort of way, is the sister of the family member who called my friend “my hero” before labelling her as “prideful and immature” and said she would stand with her and for her in anything before standing against her, works at a nationally-recognized company (their ads appear regularly on television) that has an environment that is absolutely RIDDLED with this same sort of pathological dysfunction.  This other family member works in the corporate office where the owner, the top human resources officer, and other similar people are based.  And the situation is a constant drama from this family member’s description.  The pay is quite good, but the culture is so toxic that it frequently becomes unbearable.  I’ve talked on the phone with this family member about this deplorable work environment quite a few times when it gets to be too much and some counseling and encouragement is required.

Well, guess what?  This family member wants that same sort of mentality that is intolerable at work to characterize this family!!!  Hey, let’s not actually deal with our problems because that would be sane; let’s instead keep doing the same dysfunctional things over and over again but this time maybe we’ll live happily ever after.  Let’s play our own version of Game of Thrones and live the lie and use the dysfunctional, codependent, passive-aggressive dynamic because it’s the only system we’ve got and because no one is ever allowed to change it the only one we’re ever going to have.

What was done to my friend to trigger this most recent and most serious crisis, was clearly not only biblically immoral, but was dangerous to herself and to her children.  But she is now being expected by the rest of the family to climb out of the smoking ruins of the car wreck, limp out and say “What car wreck?”

The only requirement for being part of La Cosa Nostra is to sit stride a horse and say, “What horse?”  And don’t you even DARE acknowledge there’s a horse under you.  Especially if that horse is sick and lame and miserable.

Most of the men that most of the women in this La Cosa Nostra family have become involved with have been right out of Hollywood casting for having every serious issue a crappy man can have.  And that’s okay, because it gives the family a different crisis to gather over and talk about.  Pathological liar?  check.  Substance abuser?  check.  Serious anger issues?  check.  Serial adulterer?  check-check-check-check-and-check.  They keep finding the same man because they have been indoctrinated to think the same way.  And that way is broken and leads to brokenness.  They don’t want this brokenness: but they have been conditioned to consciously accept it and subconsciously to seek it out.

You find out that grandmother actually KNEW her daughter’s husband was not only having an affair, but was literally living a bigamous relationship with that woman and had even fathered children with her and was living with her part of the time, but she didn’t tell her own daughter and felt “noble” for not doing so because she was sparing her daughter’s “feelings.”  Mind you, she probably told one or two other family members, who told one or two other family members, until everybody knew about it but the humiliated daughter whose life was being ruined but she didn’t get to know because La Cosa Nostra believes it’s better to live the lie.  The daughter wanted so badly to get away from the terribly dysfunctional dynamic of her family that she got married to that man who would betray her at the too-young age of 17.  And so married a man who claimed to love her but acted out every form of hate a man can have for a woman.  And of course, once the cat was finally out of the bag, the same grandmother wanted her daughter to stay with the adulterous turd, stay married, because let me say it again: “it doesn’t matter what happened.”

Now my friend has her own children.  And they are swimming in the same family La Cosa Nostra fishbowl singing viva la vida, live the life.  But living the lie of La Cosa Nostra, our (dysfunctional) family thing.

Do you know what the secret is to winning an argument/debate in this family?  It’s really quite simple: refuse to listen.  Just say, “I’m not going to listen to that.”  And walk out.  Respond, “I’m not going to read that” if someone tries to present their side of the story in written form.  Don’t bother me with facts.  It’s not part of La Cosa Nostra, this thing of ours.

How do you create this mindset?  It’s like baking: all you need is a few key ingredients and you can cook up dang near anything.  First you need an instigator, the person who triggers the crisis.  Next you need a drama queen (who may or may not be the same person as the instigator) who as they say in Spanish will “heat up the head” of one or more choice family members they know they can count on to get that rise.  And then all you have to do is fill the rest of the dish with people who don’t care about both sides of the story, who don’t care about the truth, but who only care about putting out the fire that has been started in the family or the group.  With aforementioned attitude always working to the favor and the benefit of the instigators, the drama queens and the hot-headed members.  Because all that seems to matter to this group is mollifying and placating these people to put the fire out.  Until they do it again, and then again and again, and then again and again and again.  Same crazy story, same crazy solution, same crazy results every single time, guaranteed.  You might know this as the squeaky-wheel-gets-the-grease theory, which always favors the squeakiest wheels while the wheels that aren’t causing any problems get ignored.

Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him.  — Acts 7:57

Stephen told the mob nothing but the truth.  But they didn’t want to listen to the truth, and so they killed him.  They didn’t want the truth.  The lie sounded so much better to them.

In the same way the actual La Cosa Nostra, the actual mafia crime families, don’t kill people for lying; they kill people for reporting and testifying to the truth.  The lie is fine; it’s the truth that they despise.

The truth is never popular when people are dysfunctional and codependent.  That is something you can count on every single time.

And so every single dysfunctional family has an endless stream of justifications to refuse to listen to the truth, to ignore the truth, to handle their ongoing, constant crises the same way their dysfunctional La Cosa Nostra fishbowl has always handled the constant dram every single time before.

You know you’re in a dysfunctional environment when you are distrusted and punished for exposing and declaring the truth and rewarded for either being an instigator, a drama queen, a reactionary, or somebody who just shrugs his or her shoulders and pretends what happened never happened.

I suppose a particularly hilarious current example is Nancy Pelosi.  She created the mentality of the very mob that turned on her:

In this case Nancy Pelosi is the instigator who got “instifated.”  The mainstream mefia as always are the drama queens who heat up people’s heads with hysterical and often untrue biased, one-sided depictions of what haapened.  And then there’s the increasingly apathetic public that just hopes someone will put the fire out.  Only there’s ALWAYS a fire now, isn’t there?

This is the way of the world now, my friends.  Our universities – you know, the places that most self-congratulate themselves for their “tolerance” – have created an incredibly toxic, dysfunctional culture that won’t even listen to one of their OWN now because you can’t listen while you’re mindlessly shouting your garbage, can you?

So my friend is in a vice, now feeling squeezed from all directions.  Even from the direction of someone who had just got through saying, “She’s my hero and I’ll stand with her and for her in anything.”  But then immediately afterward refused to listen to her side of the story, saying, “I’m not going to listen to that.  I’m not going to read that” when she tried to explain.  And called her “prideful” and “immature” when SHE is the one who knows too damn much to bother to listen to someone who is older and wiser and whom she called her “hero”; SHE is the one who is being immature and childish.

Does she even know how much she’s betrayed her “hero”???  Amazingly, no, she doesn’t.  Why not?  How in the freaking world could she think she’s helping rather than hurtfully betraying???

Because it’s all part of La Cosa Nostra.  She’s been conditioned.  Let’s not change anything because it’s how we’ve always done it before.  Get back with the program.  Here’s the family script and here’s how you’re supposed to act now.  And since we’ve always done it this way, this must be the right way.  No matter how wrong it obviously is to anyone who is outside the dynamic observing it from a biblical perspective in terms of what God said should be the way we righteously live and righteously live with one another.

So why am I writing about this family?  I’m not writing to shame them or expose them.  But I just see this as such an example.

It’s just such an example of the way of the world, that’s why.  It’s the way of the world, the culture that we swim in.  You play the game.  Don’t you dare ever try to change the game or change the rules of the game no matter how crazy the game is.

The people in this family are Christians.  But they have been so conditioned to think a certain, dysfunctional way that they have “Christianized” their dysfunction that the way they deal with feelings and with events is nowhere found in the Word of God, but only found in their family fishbowl.

Paul writes in Colossians 2:8, “Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.”  The problem is that we are so steeped (like tea bags in hot water) in these empty philosophies and this high-sounding nonsense that what is entirely unreasonable if you could only get some PERSPECTIVE actually seems like it’s working to you.

Another passage I’m fond of is 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, which says, “We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do.  We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.  We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God.  We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.”

“The strongholds of human reasoning” is a FISHBOWL that no Christian has to live in any more.  But the only way OUT is to go UP and start thinking the way Christ teaches us to think in His Word that we diligently apply to our lives through prayerfully reading in submission to the Holy Spirit.  You are NEVER going to EVER understand your problems, your family’s problem’s your work problems, your world’s problems, until you start swimming UP and start swimming AWAY from the La Cosa Nostra fishbowl that you’ve spent your whole life swimming in.

Fish is a good analogy, considering the earliest Christian symbol was a fish.  The symbol was the result of Jesus telling His disciples He would make them fishers of men.  And the letters in the fish symbol were IXThUS and represented Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior.  Jesus told us that we could know the truth, and the truth would set us free.

So imagine a fishbowl, with the fish swimming around in it.  And all the fish have to swim in the same direction, because darn it it would get confusing if some of the fish started swimming the other way, wouldn’t it?  The Bible makes it crystal clear that the fishbowl of the world is on the devil’s counter; for satan is the god of this world and he has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they cannot see the light or the truth: (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).  See also:

  • The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.  As the Scriptures say, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.”  — 1 Corinthians 1:18-19
  • “For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes–so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.’  “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.”  — Matthew 13:15-16
  • Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted, so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.” — Matthew 15:13-14
  • But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.  — 1 Corinthians 2:14
  • He will use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them.  So God will cause them to be greatly deceived, and they will believe these lies.  Then they will be condemned for enjoying evil rather than believing the truth.  — 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12
  • Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done.  Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip.  They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents.  They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy.  They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.  — Romans 1:28-32
  • For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will.  That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.  –  Romans 8:7-8
  • But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ said.  They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires.  These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them.  — Jude 1:17-19
  • Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires.  — 2 Peter 3:3

But what if that fishbowl wasn’t on the counter?  What if that fishbowl was actually placed in the OCEAN?  And all the fish had to do is to start swimming UP until they were OUT of that bowl and free to swim the way God always intended fish to be able to swim???

  • Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”  — John 8:12
  • And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  — John 8:32
  • So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.  — John 8:36
  • He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.  No, I will not abandon you as orphans–I will come to you.  Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live.  When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.  — John 14:17-20
  • And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.   — Romans 8:2
  • But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  — 2 Corinthians 3:16
  • Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others.  For, “Who can know the LORD’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?” But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.  — 1 Corinthians 2:15-16
  •  For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.  — 1 Peter 1:23

That is the actual reality.  We don’t have to swim in this stupid, ridiculous fishbowl we call “the way of the world” and that I’ve been calling “La Cosa Nostra.”  There is a better way.  There is a way that God has revealed.  All we have to do is start swimming UP rather than sideways.

But swimming up is up to US.  For the scriptures say, “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law” (Galatians 5:1).  When you become a Christian, you are changed, converted, regenerated.  But you are very much still able to sin because you still have your old nature in addition to the new nature that your regeneration in Christ created.  Before, you only had a nature that only had the capacity to sin; now, you have a new nature within you that has the capacity to no longer be a slave of sin (Romans 6:6), but to become a slave to righteousness (Romans 6:18).  In Christ you now have the power that you didn’t have before Christ transformed you into a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17) – you have the power to swim UP, to respond to the upward call of God (Philippians 3:14).

There are a lot of Christians who are like my friend, who are frustrated and stymied by family members who may themselves even be Christians, but who still have one foot firmly planted in the world and who keep living out lives in bondage to what they don’t have to be bound to (Romans 6:6; Romans 7:6).  They have still not been adequately taught to put off their former way of life, their old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires (Ephesians 4:22).  We find that one major difference between unbelievers and Christians is that Christians are able not to sin, whereas unbelievers are trapped in bondage to sin and will swim around and around in the devil’s fishbowl throughout their lives as a result.

It begins by a love for the truth, and expressing the truth in love.

There are surely many moments that Christians should simply overlook the little faults that their loved ones possess; but there is also a time that we ought to be able to discern when we have the Holy Spirit to take a stand and stand for the truth.  Wilting to a dysfunctional family dynamic and supporting or enabling another member’s major malfunction is neither noble nor righteous; it is codependence.  And codependence is the way of the world, not the way of Christ.

I might add to this later, but I’ve got a meeting and I’ve got to go and I just had it in my heart to write something down.

 

 

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2 Responses to “The Fishbowl ‘La Cosa Nostra’ World That People, Families, Organizations And The Whole World Live In. And How To Escape It.”

  1. Alex Dumas Says:

    What you describe is pathological narcissism. Your friend needs to research narcissism and come to the realization that he/she has to go what’s called “No Contact.” Forever.

    If they do not go no contact, this will continue to be their life, forever. Don’t YOU get sucked into it. The person who at first said, “I saw what happened and I will stand by you,” only to do a 180 was swarmed by what is called the narcissist(s) “flying monkeys.”

    For more research, go to Ollie Mathews’ Youtube channel, The Narcissistic Resistance, and watch some of his videos. You may need to go through a few of them to figure it out.

    You can call it passive aggressive, dysfunctional, anything you want, but when you boil it down it’s narcissism. Very destructive and the only way to fight it is to stay away.

    I have a girlfriend who was married to one for 35 years! She’s just recently gotten away. They break down your health. They damage your self-esteem and confidence if you stay too long.

    Her husband is beloved by all his neighbors. They all think he’s wonderful and she’s a horrible person.

    Examples: She had a heart attack and went to the hospital and had a stent put in. When she got home she went upstairs to bed. It was THREE days before anyone came up to check on her.

    Later, she overheard her husband telling a neighbor that HE had had a heart attack and had just gotten out of the hospital.

    Good luck.

  2. Michael Eden Says:

    Alex Dumas,

    Well, its interesting that you mention “narcissism.” I have told my friend my previous concern for what I saw as some narcissistic traits and fearing for her because she was choosing an activity that could very well lead her into even deeper narcissism.

    People need to understand that narcissists DON’T love themselves. Quite the opposite they hate themselves. And their narcissism is really just a mask they put on that covers up deeply hidden insecurities and feelings of profound self-loathing. It’s not a conscious sense of self-loathing; rather, they have deep, suppressed feelings of inadequacy that they have systematically ignored and basically covered a wound with a thick psychological scar tissue that manifest as narcissism. But narcissists are people who are either covering up for a profound perceived deficiency, or they actually suffer from a far worse psychological condition that is pathological such as sociopathy. And with such a grandiose self-image, with an innate perception of superiority to others, it is then natural to feel entirely legitimate and right to literally even kill someone who gets in your way when you are so much better and so much more worthy than they. You know, the way I’d step on an offending roach in my kitchen that is inconveniencing me.

    Narcissism is a candy-coating over a lot of pain and a lot of hurt and deeply demolished self esteem that is SO deep it has to be fought for the organism to survive. And it is fought by many in the dysfunctional way of narcissism.

    I do agree that there is a point when a family dynamic is so toxic that the only way to deal with it is for a healthy person to withdraw and even disassociate from it to protect oneself.

    But I don’t think anyone should rush to leave one’s family without much prayer and much honest wrestling with that dysfunctional dynamic rather than just abandoning it.

    My friend has always known something was wrong, but could never put her finger on it.

    The situation reached what I viewed as a critical mass (and I have not described that situation in this article). But enough gears jogged into place that I as someone outside was able to finally comprehend what was going on and how truly systemic it was rather than merely being “a series of unfortunate events,” to quote a movie title from some years back. There was a common dysfunction that the whole family was holding onto because it was what they had always held on to every single time before.

    When I said the words, “la cosa nostra” she gasped in sudden comprehension, because this is literally a phrase that the family ITSELF has used to describe itself. And then I described to her what that “la cosa nostra” meant in terms of the family dynamic. And she got it. She has always been something of the scapegoat because she has always tried to resist this dynamic. But being so deeply inside of it she never saw it the way you see a forest rather than the trees and when you see only the trees you can’t find your way out of the forest the way you can if you see the whole forest.

    God has really been working. She not only understands how her family members have hurt her and why they’ve done it, but se also understands how she herself as been a reluctant enabler simply because she didn’t know how else to deal with it and resistance to the dynamic was always met with such steadfast resistance. She is going to have a family meeting with her oldest daughters and really try to fight past the “I don’t want to hear this” defense. And if she can break through there, she will then move from there.

    Please pray for her and pray for this family.

    I really wrote this to try to jog some gears in Christians who are in similar family dynamics.

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