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….You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead…

Sometimes when you grow up with narcissists, a part of you gets broken, the part that can distinguish between you and someone else. Feelings become this tangled mess, so you can take on the feelings of the narcissist as your own.

I call it being trapped in a hall of mirrors. It is like a reflection within a reflection, a real fun house of distorted images. To escape, you have to learn how to take responsibility for your own feelings and to embrace the nature of yourself. Once “you” are clearly identified, it becomes much easier to define others and to spot distortions in those mirrors.

People who don’t yet understand this tend to just project. They are so trapped in their own subjective reality, that they will blame others for their feelings. We all project to some degree when we relate to one another, but people who can’t or won’t embrace the nature of their own selves, tend to just project and then react, usually negatively. They don’t understand that the whole world does not control how they feel, they do. People don’t make us angry, we allow our own selves to get angry. People don’t hurt our feelings, we choose to allow our feelings to be hurt. We are in control of our own selves.

I was lost in that fun house hall of mirrors for many years, or perhaps not so lost after all, because I have always had the Lord leading me and guiding me, but it was not unlike Alice in Wonderland falling down that rabbit hole. Lost in a Wonderland of projection and reflection, a strange world of subjective and objective reality, where I had a hard time seeing where I ended and others began.

God has been so good to me, so faithful, because in that process of being forged, He taught me how to not personalize things, how to identify what are my feelings versus someone elses, and how to protect myself from the projections of others. That skill creates a kind of emotional safety and security that I did not learn as a child, that many did not learn as children.

God really can hand us beauty for ashes when we turn to Him. There is no rabbit hole to deep for Him, nothing He hasn’t already seen, nothing He doesn’t already understand.

As to those whitewashed tombs that smell of death and decay, that hide the bones of the dead, if you are broken and your story is imperfect, that is truly living, that is breath, it is the beauty of the human experience, painful and messy perhaps, but gloriously alive and real. No whitewash required.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity….Matthew 23:27-28