Am I a Narcissist? The question that caused an “Epiphany” and more questions…

Chanelle Henry
10 min readJan 18, 2024

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It’s been a very long time since I actually wrote on here with true authenticity. I’ll be honest, life sucks at the moment, but I’m still focusing forward and trying to think…

Positive? Sure, we’ll go with that.

Let me catch you up.

It all started with the question: “Am I a Narcissist?” Of course is you ask yourself that question, you’re not… but you may still have the qualities or tendencies that could classify you as a narcissist. Taking a look back at everything I was able to see that situations where I hurt others, wasn’t intentional, but they also didn’t need an apology either, instead, I needed to forgive myself.

In 2020, as I neared 40, my life was in turmoil. I had suffered a miscarriage alone, grappled with the onset of the pandemic, returned from grad school feeling defeated and like I made enemies instead of a family, and faced (and still facing) profound loneliness. This period was marked by estrangement from my family, losing my childhood home to mold (and still currently have mycotoxin poisoning), and a stretch of homelessness.

Even through all of this chaos, a life-altering epiphany emerged. As my grandmother was showing signs of dementia (which actually ended up being the mold), I was dealing with recovering from a car accident as well as a TBI. Let’s just say, I am worse than this guy below. My luck is incredibly horrible while also swinging sometimes to incredible blessings and opportunities.

So what was the Epiphany?

  1. “You have a limited amount of fucks.” — Life’s finite energy demands prioritization. Like a budget, invest your cares wisely. (and read Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, definitely reminds you of what’s important)
  2. “You aren’t special, and that’s a good thing” — Embracing ordinariness frees you from unrealistic expectations, allowing genuine growth.
  3. “This is everyone’s first time on earth.” — Everyone is navigating life without a manual. This shared inexperience breeds empathy. And yes know what you’re thinking, what about reincarnation or other metaphysical and spiritual beliefs? Do you remember that other life and the conscious you had in it? Chances are, you probably don’t, so again, give yourself grace.
  4. “You aren’t the only one going through this, read that again with love.” — I used to hate when people would say this to me, but when you read it with love (and usually how it was said was not meant with love at the time), it actually is reassurance that there is a ”Shared Struggle” that is shared, and with that should come shared love. Recognize the universality of struggle. Compassion is key.
  5. “It really wasn’t your fault” — I blame myself for everything which is actually funny because it’s usually believed of me that I don’t think anything is my fault when I would blame myself for death from drowning if I prayed for rain. But there is a point when you have to forgive yourself. Understanding that some things weren’t your fault is crucial for healing.
  6. “Being too unique breeds loneliness.” — I don’t mean “eccentric” or being yourself, I mean being the one that says “I am so unique and can’t get along with anyone because of it.” Over-emphasizing uniqueness can isolate. Balance is essential.
  7. “You can truly have anything you want, change your future, and enjoy your present.” — This is a hard one because you constantly have to work it like a muscle. I used to be told a lot that I didn’t deserve a lot of things. So I worked so hard to prove that I did, but that caused me to think so far ahead and so far behind that I tripped over the present. You have the power to shape your future and savor the present.
  8. “‘Why’ is an unproductive question that usually leads to lamenting (depression) or fear (anxiety).. who, what, where and when move you towards progress.” — There really is a such thing as a productive question, or as some may call it the Socratic approach. Focus on ‘who, what, where, when’ over ‘why’ to foster progress, not regret or fear.
  9. “Everybody can tell you how to do it but they never did it.” (Jay Z) — Unproven Advice: Many offer guidance, few have walked the path. Seek wisdom in experience. Enough said, Hov got it.
  10. “Resistance causes pain.” — I never let this quote go since I heard it in church as a kid and as I continued to learn more and more in life, it proved itself true. Acceptance reduces suffering. Resistance often amplifies it.
  11. “Everyone is a child, no really, we are all children.” — Some of us have just been here longer and are considered an “adult” but what does that mean? We know time does not create wisdom, perspective does. Everyone carries an inner child. Understanding this nurtures compassion.
  12. “Life is hard, but you don’t need a reminder. Amplify the good.” — For some reason I seem to attract people who are at their lowest and while I like to think that maybe it’s for a reason, I end up jumping on the “Life sucks” train. I mean, I started this whole writing by it! But seriously, there are problem solvers and problem dwellers. Try to be the former. Life’s inherent challenges don’t need emphasis. Focus on the good.
  13. “There really is a reason for everything, and that could help with your world view.” — I try to stay curous. I do believe there is purpose in everything: Finding reasons, even in chaos, can offer peace.
  14. “Strive to have different problems.” — what do I mean by that? I’d rather be worrying about which first class seat I want on my trip to Thailand than how I’m going to pay rent and budget my food stamps. Aim for new challenges; they signify growth.
  15. “Giving away and letting go allows for so much abundance.” — I think this one is pretty obvious… Letting go creates space for new blessings. Period. But it’s hard to let go, especially if you can’t see the ground. Trust yourself (or a Higher Power if you believe in one), you will land on stable ground.
  16. “You can only do what you can with the knowledge you had at that time.” — this was advice that I got from one of my favorite people, I called him Papa Byrd. After he said this to me in my early 20s, 4 hours later he died of a heart attack. Talk about a defining moment. I never forgot it, but I didn’t forgive myself for my past decisions. Judge past actions by past knowledge. Growth changes perspective.
  17. “Ask first, assume never.” — I’m just going to leave that right there.
  18. “You’re one question or action away from being a completely different (and happy) life.” — I actually got this quote off of a TV show that I can’t remember at the moment, which is strange because I always remember TV and quotes (autism thing), anyway… A single action or question can pivot your life towards somethings completely new. If you always do what you always did, you always get what you got.
  19. “Time is an illusion.” — I’ll get into this one in a later post. It’s really just about letting go of the perception of time as it’s subjective. Focusing on the now again brings a lot of peace.
  20. “Hacking isn’t just for computers, it’s for your body and mind as well” — Our body really is a lot easier to understand when you have the right tools. We are still stuck in caveman days (our brains are at least), so knowing how it works (like how eating salty and sweet at the same time can change your mood) and applying hacking principles to optimize body and mind. BOOK ALERT
  21. “Don’t get addicted to suffering.” — I notice every time I would go back to Philly that I needed to leave, now 4 years later, I feel like giving up. It’s crazy how much we can get addicted to toxic behaviors. Recognize and disrupt patterns of (subconscious or concious) self-inflicted pain.
  22. “Don’t “don’t”… decide to do no matter what.” — Replace ‘don’ts’ with proactive choices.
  23. “Knowing when to walk away is not just for business.” — Knowing when to step back is crucial in all life aspects. Go where you feel love and supported, and if you don’t have it, create it like me. (No seriously, I’m forcing myself to put myself out there no matter what, and I’m scared AF) Knowing when to walk away, may be the best thing you can do for your life.
  24. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant” — The Politician. So I watch A LOT of TV, and I got this off of a show or movie and it really is true. Transparency often leads to solutions.
  25. “Recycle paper and plastic, not people” — You ever notice how it seems like these days people seem “disposable”? I don’t know how we got there, but it’s a good reminder that you are dealing with flesh, bones and a beating heart. Don’t entertain someone just because, if you don’t want to be their friend, say it, don’t string them along, that’s a different kind of cruelty.
  26. “It’s okay, actually, it’s essential to sometimes love from afarrrrrrr.” — this is a hard one. It has to do with my mother. If it wasn’t for Katurah on Survivor 45 this season who talked about no-contact with her mother, I probably wouldn’t have the courage to talk about it. For a while I thought I had to really love everyone the best I could, but walking away can be a profound act of self-care.
  27. “Your friends and family can and should be cancelled” — This was a hard one because I realized as I was growing, either I was met with jealousy, confusion, excitement or no reaction. There were other things that made me realize that your support is very important. It’s okay to disconnect from toxic friends and family, even if when you look around you may be the only one left.

There’s more, but I’m trying to sway away from perfectionism that prevents me from hitting that green publish button above.

Most of the time in the past, my happiness would be fleeting because I was still missing some understanding about who I was and that being me in any form is okay. All of it basically equaling true self forgiveness and moving towards solidifying internal validation. Caring less really does equal more happiness, cliches are really truth, and it’s okay to walk away from anything uncomfortable at any time.

Deepening the Personal Journey:

This epiphany, while enlightening, brought its own set of challenges. It led to heartbreak and solitude, as I realized the importance of the company I kept. As I evolved, many relationships, including those with family and friends, dissipated. This was a painful but necessary part of my growth.

Being on the autism spectrum, which I view as a superpower, often leads to misunderstandings and assumptions from others. This aspect of my identity has shaped my interactions and experiences in profound ways.

However, having an eidetic memory and being on the spectrum requires me to have a different set of rules for myself to remain focused. For example, I would contact people from like 10–15 years ago because to me it’s like yesterday, but to them I was a source of pain that came back. Not because I necessarily caused it, but because they didn’t maybe go through the healing needed to not project pain and so what could have been a welcomed reunion turned painful. Or maybe I did hurt them. Reevaluating all events in life that can be remembered and attaching a healthier narrative can create a “second birth”, especially if ego is suppressed in the process or more simply: things don’t go wrong because of you. And that shit feels freeing as well.

The aftermath of a car accident in 2019 and a traumatic brain injury (TBI) added to the complexity of my situation. The ongoing legal battle and physical repercussions of the TBI have been a significant part of my journey, one that I am still navigating.

Did I mention…

The death of my father? Yeah 2022 was a pivotal moment. It altered me in ways that are hard to articulate. We were estranged and never got to reconcile, and I’ve been dealing with this deep loss alone. This loss, coupled with the realization that much of my life was built around unreciprocated investments of self, has been a tough pill to swallow.

Current Struggles and Resilience

Today, I find myself jobless and battling chronic pain daily (I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome). The strength I’ve gained is often overshadowed by the challenges I face. My trauma, worn silently, often goes unrecognized, and being autistic sometimes hinders my ability to discern when I’m misunderstood.

This journey, marked by both enlightenment and profound struggle, has taught me invaluable lessons about self-compassion, the importance of one’s social circle, and the complexities of personal growth. Despite the hardships, this path has led to a deeper understanding of myself and the world around me. It’s a continuous process of learning, forgiving, and evolving — a testament to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of life’s relentless challenges. I plan on sharing more on this, and hope that as the more I share, the less lonely I can be.

Respond in the comments below please 🙏🏾

  1. Have you ever experienced an epiphany that changed your life’s direction?
  2. In moments of profound loneliness or loss, what strategies have you found most helpful in finding your way back to hope or healing?
  3. For those who have experienced chronic pain or disability, what insights can you share about finding strength and resilience in daily life?
  4. If you’ve faced a situation where your life felt like a ‘lie’ or you realized you were investing in unreciprocated relationships, how did you cope and redirect your energy?

Until next time y’all.

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