WHEN ST THERESE GAVE ME A METAL ROSE THAT HERALDED THE HEALING OF A NARCISSIST
Some time ago, it was the end of summer and I had just finished a novena to St Thérèse; everyday for 9 days straight I had offered the Glory be to the Father 24 times. A Glory be to the Father for every year of St Thérèse's life. I prayed for the intention that a friendship be healed. You see, I was about to go on vacation with my old buddy on the day the novena ended.
I'd heard of other people getting the gift of a roses after praying to St Thérèse, but I never thought this would happen to me. I had not mentioned to anyone that I had offered the novena. But just as I was leaving for the airport, I heard a knock at the door and met an old colleague of mine who handed me a gift; an extraordinarily beautiful hand-crafted metal rose and a bottle of rose oil. There was no occasion; not my birthday or a celebration, they were just grateful to me. While I have a very feminine personality, and flowers are usually a safe bet as to something that will make me happy, it was rather too "coincidental" that I received such a present, only minutes after offering the novena. I asked them if they knew of the connection between St Thérèse and receiving a rose, but they sighed and said they didn't rely on saints, that instead, they thought hard work was better. Then they looked at me holding the rose and thanked me again for my hard work! Again, I was a bit surprised because I hadn't thought of myself as working hard so much as struggling.
But, wow, was I edified to hold that metal stalk in my hand and feel as though my prayer had been answered and that I'd have the best time with my friend and that the relationship would be showered with the type of graces that in my presumptuousness I thought it needed. Ha! Instead our time away together was disastrous.
Even before the vacation, there had been conflict; my old chum was seething about the variety of pro-life work that I did. She had spread a malicious falsehood about me and it had made other people angry at me, and I had hoped to explain to her that she was in the wrong. When I had a quiet moment with her, I did so, and told her how hurt I'd been, but she reacted violently to this, the mere suggestion that she could make a mistake made her hysterically mean. She certainly had no empathy with me for all the trouble she'd caused me and she knew me and my faults well and she felt she had to tell others about my failings, so they knew the truth. Fair enough, I had thought when we were younger, maybe I'm such a wretch that I deserve this bad press. But she blackened me so she shone brighter. This time her bad-mouthing was more serious, because I saw her as hurting the pro-life cause and she made it harder for me to do the direct and indirect intervention that I did with pregnant women.
She had another reason though that was mercenary. My pro-life work diluted my income and I used my savings to cover expenses when I was double-jobbing, making a living and also doing a bit to encourage women to keep their babies. She was in the habit of getting me to pay for things and giving her hand-outs, which in my ignorance I thought was for her good; I'm from a very humble background and have instant pity on someone when they say they are in need of money. Yet she was so extremely talented and could command high fees for her work, but she had a secret. She often gave freebies to clients who complimented her. Compliments were her preferred currency. But if she did a free project and the client did not flatter her appropriately, she enacted some type of emotional vengeance. All the free work she was doing meant she had to rely on me and others who had modest incomes and didn't want to see her go without.
During the course of our time together, I didn't put two and two together that she had narcissism. And I was disappointed that my prayer had not been answered exactly as I would have liked 🥀 I was still a vending machine Catholic and wanted the item that I felt I had payed for in prayer. Sigh. What a pair we made, I was a spoiled brat spiritually and she was a narcissist desperate for supply which I was failing to give. She wanted more cash from me, but something stopped me this time. For all my ineptitude, I was given a grace to see the situation in a way that my life experience or my learning did not allow. This time, I did not countenance her lies and I refused to pay her way.
At the time I had a peace in saying no. This was the grace of the novena, while it was hard in the moment, it led to her getting better. When our "vacation" together was over, I put distance between her and me. I did a St Thérèse (albeit very poorly) and tried to be as loving as possible to her whenever we were in touch. She never apologized but she did charge her clients appropriately and she stopped looking to people like me, which meant she had to be weaned off a major source of ego bolstering; compliments from clients who loudly announced her to be a giver. It had been like her ego was a hot air balloon that floated on the air of flattery, but she learned to do without it.
Some years passed, and when we next met up, she didn't ask for money, and she showed signs of healing from this extreme craving for flattery. Her other relationships had gone the way ours had gone, she'd hurt the people who were good to her and she had only flatterers left, but they wanted something first, before they would praise her, and she saw that the ones who loved her had been so burned by her treatment of them that they did not want to repeat the cycle so they had distanced themselves which left her alone and in pain. She did, to a limited degree admittedly, face the fruits of her actions and there were far fewer causalities of her personality.
While the memories of that vacation were painful for some time afterwards, I can't help but feel there was a bigger grace given than the one I'd initially requested. Had she apologized for hurting me with her malevolent chatter, then perhaps I'd have cooperated in her narcissism even more than I'd done in the past. Narcissists often need someone like my younger self who was plenty narcissistic to be the one who will accept fake apologies; my ego would have been assuaged by such an apology and I'd have continued to let her take advantage.
Beloved St Thérèse was in a convent that had quite a few narcissist nuns who felt that she was so beneath them that they disrespected her whenever they could. The incident I found most galling was of the nun who made clicking noises by snapping her rosary against her teeth. St Thérèse reacted with benevolence and treated this boorish behavior as a blessing, but she never acted like them, or said that they way they conducted themselves was right.
She is a special intercessor for the narcissist in your life. St Thérèse may give you the double grace of being loving to the person who is acting narcissistically and the strength to stand up to them when you will not go along with their schemes for their ego-enlargement. It may mean your temporary suffering - as it did in my case - but it just might be the way they will heal.
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