Losing Your Skin

For a long time, we treat our bodies as if they’re who we are. We love their shape, their color, their softness. We feed them our loving admiration, our self-definition, our energy. We like to be looked at… we consider our beauty as being on the outside. But one day we realize our bodies really don’t really define us anymore. And that’s the day we realize… hey, I’m starting to outgrow this.

At first, the body starts to pinch, like a lobster outgrowing its shell. Our conditioned thinking – our ego – suddenly feels restrictive. It’s become too small to contain our expanding hearts. We enjoyed its so-called “protection,” yes, but in reality, we were always going to outgrow it… we just didn’t know that. And why didn’t we know? Because the shell itself convinced us that we we were already fully grown. We were utterly certain of this… but how?

Well, think about it. If you were the shell – the ego – and didn’t want to be discarded… what would you do? Well, you would try to convince yourself that there’s no reason to grow, that you’re as big as you’ll ever become… that you’ll never need to shed your skin. And since you don’t see many lobsters going around without a shell… it appears as though nobody sheds their skin, that everyone is fully grown.

If we don’t figure out this deception on our own (how could we?)… that’s the moment a narcissist steps into our lives. They represent an old lobster that never shed its skin… clinging to it, as it were, to appearances, to money, to outward trappings. Narcissists are afraid that without the shell, there might not be anything underneath. Too risky! And they certainly don’t want to see anyone grow bigger than they are. So they treat everyone as if they, too, were only empty shells, and mercilessly berate anyone for thinking otherwise: “Can you imagine the gall, imagining they have an inner self?”

Most likely we would never willingly outgrow these old shells of ours… but once we meet a narcissist, it becomes obvious. We notice every single pinch: how limited the ego sense can be, how manipulative it is, how devastating the constant devaluations are. We start to feel things on the inside, no longer content to just bump against the world with this hard outer shell. More than that, thanks to them, we notice how our ego shells are constantly stealing energy from us, suffocating our expansion… our dreams of growth.

Yes, pinched and crooked, the narcissist arrives just in time to double the pain that our egos have always caused us, giving it outward expression, so to speak… just in case we still harbored any dreams of peaceful cohabitation.

So when the day comes to shed our skins, we’re ready. “Get me out of this limited thinking!,” we cry. That’s the same day the narcissist discards us. In shedding our skin, we expose the superficial mindset for what it is: just a shell. The narcissist – by gripping so tightly to theirs – helped us lose our love for it, our faith in its protection… our consent to be shackled to it. Through them, we see the shell’s endgame: manipulations, self-deceptions, self-loathing, constant fear. In a way, the narcissist is the perfect foil: the enemy in the movie, the one who forces us, the protagonist, to grow beyond our limitations.

And like a lobster, once we shed our old skin, we remain in hiding for awhile (boy, do we!). We are extra-sensitive, easy prey… at our most vulnerable. Development of our next exoskeleton takes weeks, months… sometimes even years. And in the meantime… guess what… we are growing like monsters. Lobsters can expand up to 40% after they’ve moulted. I think humans grow up to 1000% bigger. Yee-haw!

At this moment, it would be so easy to blame the old shell (or the narcissist) for its smallness, its inflexibility, its rigidity… wouldn’t it? I think for most of us, it’s normal. But in reality, friends, we should be rejoicing at this moment. How else would we see our ego limitations so clearly?

In short, with the narcissist God has found the perfect instrument for helping us separate from our shells. And while you wouldn’t wish a narcissist on your worst enemy, you will certainly be grateful afterwards. Who knew that you could just walk away from your limitations? Looking at that old shell, you realize that all its worries and anxiety were insignificant, useless, superfluous, and oh so tiresome.

In fact, now that your “inner self” has been exposed, you discover how much stronger, expansive, and self-loving you really are. Heck friends, you just might choose to never grow another limited shell again!

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