The drive seemed to take forever. His hands were still handcuffed behind him. His shoulders hurt. He tried to say something, but the Plexiglas partition between the seats didn’t permit any communication. Absolutely no leg room! The seat itself was a hard plastic shelf. The officers didn’t buckle his seat belt so every time they went over a bump or the car swerved he had to use his abdominal muscles to keep from falling over or bumping his head. It felt like he was being tossed around like a rag doll.
Dear reader, You’ve read the previous two posts, right? If not, here they are:
After being booked, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, he turned to the officer who seemed to be in charge, “Where’s my keyboard?” he asked several times, but got no answer. The officers turned him around and started marching him down the hallway. He swung his arms and body around to face the officers. It took two of them to restrain him.
“Put him in isolation,” the commander yelled.
“You did it now,” one of the officers said and they both laughed.
“You don’t understand,” Walter yelled as he tried to turn to face them one more time. “That keyboard is my whole life. I have to have it.”
“You should have thought about that sooner.”
Still laughing, they threw him into a cell at the back of the jail. A room approximately 6 feet by 9 feet, no windows, a cot, a toilet, a sink and an opening in the door for a food tray. The officers slammed and locked the door. He could hear them walking down the hallway, laughing, then another door slammed. Quiet!!! Not a single sound.
Dad’s Watchful Eye
Dad had done enough studying and had gone to counseling for several years. He realized that Walter probably wouldn’t change unless he encountered the right set of circumstances. The fact that Walter was young worked in his favor.
Dad’s plan was to hang around Knoxville awhile and watch. He knew Walter would go to Market Square to set up shop.
After getting settled in his motel room, Dad drove to Market Square. He knew the area well, so he parked a couple of blocks from the square and walked, not wanting to chance Walter seeing the truck.
He scanned the square as he approached. No Walter. For a moment he wondered if he’d calculated this one incorrectly. He sat at an outside table at Tupelo Honey Restaurant where he’d eaten before. The food was fabulous. When the waitress came to take his order he asked if there had been a guy playing a keyboard on the square.
“Yes,” she laughed. “You missed all the excitement.”
“What do you mean?” he said with a quizzical look.
She told him about Walter being arrested and the scene he made as they tried to put him in the police car. He smiled as he listened and thought, “Hum, this might work after all.”
The Change Process for a Narcissist
- Narcissism doesn’t change easily, but the person can change their behavior.
- The narcissist’s inability to change is because they don’t want to change. They like all the attention, the feeling of being superior, of looking down on others and they only do what works for them.
- Change begins to happen when the narcissist admits that his behavior is creating his negative feelings and he cannot shift the blame to anyone else.
- He must hate how the behavior makes him feel so much that he doesn’t want to feel that anymore.
- He must get to the place where he understands that his behavior was a choice. The negative feelings are the result of his own choice.
- He must also understand that the only way to change the negative feelings is to make different choices.
- “Since love and selflessness are unfamiliar to the narcissist, only their personal interests can make them change their behavior” – The Little Shaman.
Dad talked to the police officer in the square to find out where they had taken Walter.
The officer gave him the address on Maloney Dr. After pulling into the parking lot, Dad sat for a while before going in. What did he hope to accomplish? Did he want to see Walter? Get him out? Pay his bail? He bowed his head and prayed, asking for God’s wisdom and guidance about what to do.
He walked to the front desk just inside the double glass doors. The whole front of the building was glass. Several people sat in the waiting area. He asked for information about Walter. The officer told him the charge was performing on the square without a permit and assaulting an officer. He was scheduled to appear before a judge in three days and his fine would be at least $2,500 or 29 days in jail.
“It could be more,” the officer said. “He’s been very uncooperative and combative.”
The officer asked if he wanted to visit Walter or get him an attorney. Dad’s answer surprised himself, “No I don’t want to see him. I’m not going to pay his fine or get him an attorney. He needs to go through the system by himself.” He paused, “But, please, make a note in his file. I do not want him to know I was here and I would like to be notified of the results.”
The officer looked at him for a long moment then said, “Yes, sir. I’ll add the note to his file.”
Dad turned and walked out, returning to his motel room. He was in deep thought and prayer as to his next step.
I Hate the Way I Feel
Walter was still in solitary confinement, had been for days. The only people he saw were the therapist who came daily and the officer who took him to the exercise yard, where he was alone.
“You do realize you are in here because of your choices, correct?” the therapist asked on the first day.
“Well, if….” Walter was very expansive in telling about nobody picking him up and his night in the old barn. They spent a couple of days going through every little detail about his supposed music career, the trip to Knoxville, his experience in Market Square. He was very controlling, talking in an almost pressured fashion making it difficult for the therapist to get a word in edgewise. He had become very skillful in manipulating conversations.
So, the therapist listened day after day, taking notes, but not saying much.
Feeling he had finally made his case, Walter asked, “What do you think?”
“It’s not what I think, it’s what you think, it’s about how you feel about where you are and how you got here. You chose to hitchhike, right?”
“You chose not to get out in Chattanooga, to leave your dad’s truck, assault the officer, and to give the booking officers a hard time. Is that correct?”
“Yes, sir,” Walter said quickly changing the subject. “Do you know where my keyboard is?”
“I don’t know,” the therapist said. “Who put it at risk?”
“I guess I did,” Walter said dropping his head. “If I don’t have my keyboard I can’t practice. If I don’t practice continuously, I’ll never make it. I’ve been waking up during the night in a panic that I won’t be good enough.”
The therapist sat back down to listen, “Tell me about it.”
“I had a dream last night that I was in Nashville, dressed in raggedy old, dirty clothes, exhausted, going from studio to studio and bar to bar trying to get a gig. I kept hoping that one of them would take me in and at least give me a try.”
“Everybody kept turning me away. I wasn’t good enough. I was so ashamed. I’d made all that noise at home and now I was living on the streets,” Walter said, “Because I hadn’t been practicing.”
“Let me get this straight. So, without the keyboard, you aren’t good enough? Is that what you’re saying?”
The therapist got up and signaled the guard to open the door.
According to the Arizona Christian Counseling Center, narcissism and self-centeredness are all about manipulating and controlling people and circumstances to getting the desired result at any cost. Walter was willing to give up home, family, friends, everything to get what he thought he really wanted, what would make him feel good about himself – being a famous musician.
Actually, Walter’s self-centeredness came from “fear.”
- Fear of not being good enough.
- Fear of being forgotten.
- Fear of being ignored.
- Fear of not being loved.
- Fear of punishment.
In Walter’s younger years, every time his mother would get upset with him she’d say things like, “you’ll never amount to anything. You’ll never be good enough.” As Walter got older, his mother stopped saying negative put-downs, but the narcissistic, self-centered, beliefs and behaviors had already been deeply ingrained in him.
Tears began to fill his eyes. A thought entered his head. Almost like an audible voice. He stopped. It happened again.
“You’re not alone. I’ve been here all along.”
Walter remembered a verse from Sunday School, “I will never leave you; I will always be by your side.” Heb 13:5b (NASB)
He dropped to his knees and began talking to his Heavenly Father, who he hadn’t talked to for a long time. He remembered another verse.
1 John 4:18 (NASB) “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”
Kneeling on that hard cement floor he cried out to God, “If you loved me why did you leave me? You said you’d never leave me.” Pictures of days past started going through his mind. He saw the time Mom locked him in the shed for crying when he hit his hand with a hammer. He looked again. “You were in the shed with me. I see you.”
Scene after scene flashed through his mind. In every scene he could see Jesus there, sometimes holding his hand. In one scene Jesus was holding him up. He began to realize that his behavior was compensating for his fear of failure, compensating for the condemning voice he heard in his head, enamored with the idea of being a popular successful musician to drown-out the fear of failure.
Walter had no idea how long he had been on his knees. He had no connection to the outside world. In this isolated cell, Jesus washed him with his love as scriptures he’d memorized flooded his mind.
Philippians 4:4-9 (NASB) “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus… The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
2 Timothy 2: 1(NASB) “You, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”
Time to Make Different Choices
The next morning he told the therapist about the voice and the scenes he had seen in his mind.
The therapist sat quietly listening as a smile began to appear on his face. He handed Walter a notebook. “This is a ‘thought journal’”, he said. “To change your behavior, you need to change your thoughts. Proverbs 23:7 ‘For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.’ Our thoughts control what we say and do. I want you to write down every thought you have and do a quick analysis of each thought. Pray about your thoughts. There are also worksheets inside to help you accomplish this. The purpose is to develop a new way of thinking that will change who you are. You have nothing but time, so you should make a lot of progress.”
Walter launched into the assignment working on it every waking hour. He even asked for a Bible. He lost all track of time.
The Cell Door Opened
It had been a couple of weeks or so since getting the assignment. His cell door opened. Why? He had seen the therapist and had been in the yard.
An officer stood in the doorway, “I need you to come with me. Bring your things.”
Following the officer down that long hallway, he didn’t ask any questions. He had learned it didn’t pay.
At the intake desk, the officer said, “You’re being released.”
“What? Who? I…I don’t understand. I haven’t served my full time and I don’t have enough to pay the fine.”
“It’s paid. You are free to go,” the officer said handing Walter his personal items.
He turned to the officer, “Do you have my keyboard?”
“No, this is all we have.”
A voice from behind him said, “I have it.”
Walter turned to see his Dad standing in the doorway holding his keyboard.
“I don’t understand. Why are you getting me out? I’ve been such a jerk to everybody. Why didn’t you just leave me?”
“A voice told me you were ready.”