It’s NOT You. Devaluation and Discarding

Let’s talk a bit about devaluation and discarding.  For further purposes, and because I’m lazy, we’ll steal AlwaysJan’s abbreviation of D&D.  If you are at the point in your interaction (not relationship – N people don’t have relationships) with an N where you’re walking on eggshells because nothing you do seems to make this person happy, and you’re wondering what you can do to turn things around, stop wondering.  NOW.

It’s not you.  It’s the N.  I’ve talked in prior posts about how N people view humanity.  Humanity is there only as a mirror for them to look in.  If they don’t like what is reflected back at them, they will break the mirror into tiny pieces and throw it away.  Don’t think for a minute that an N will simply throw the mirror, whole, in the garbage.  It’s essential that they break that mirror; crush it; destroy it so it can never mirror again.

Interacting with an N is a rollercoaster ride.  One minute you’re up, the next you’re down.  You’ve been on this rollercoaster for quite awhile and by this time, you have no idea when to expect which direction.  This is part of the devaluation stage.  At some point, you reflected something less than 100% positive feedback to your N, and they became enraged.

My N was very good at internalizing his rage and he expressed his rage by saying I’d done something to him and now he needed “time.”  Withdrawal.  Punishment.  Another direction on the rollercoaster.

Here’s a great example:  My N had emailed me one morning, as he did every morning, to say hi and asked how I was.  He didn’t want an answer that said “hey – I’m great.”  Nope, he wanted details.  At first I thought this was a marvelous thing.  I’d hit pay dirt.  A man truly wanted details about how I was.  Some men do want this, but N people only want details so they can sniff out something that might be deemed  a criticism of themselves or something they can squirrel away to use to hurt you with at a later date.

So I told him.  I’d just received an email from a friend who had been diagnosed with cancer.  A very good friend.  This came on top of my father having a seizure and me losing 15 weeks worth of much-needed income-producing contract work.  I was crying.  I also had ice on my eyes to reduce the swelling because I had a student in 30 minutes.   So I told him ALL of this.   His reply?

“what happened?”

Now I’m thinking I must not have communicated it well enough and tried again.  No reply.  I went off to teach, came back, called my mom, talked to her, and then was on the phone with my friend off and on for the rest of the evening regarding her cancer and other things that were going on in her life.

I fully expected I’d hear from my N at some point regarding the emotional downturn in my life.  Shortly after midnight, when I got off the last phone call with my friend, I realized I’d not heard a peep from my N.  By 1:00 a.m. I was hurt and angry.  At 5:41 a.m. when something told me to go online to the dating site where we’d met, there he was, trolling.  He gets up at 5, ostensibly to get his son ready for school (and this summer, for summer school) and to be able to be at work by 7 or 7:30.  Yet the FIRST thing he did was hop on a dating site and troll.

I fired off an email that told him I was disappointed not to have heard from him and in light of the fact that he was online at a dating site at 5:41 a.m., yet didn’t have time to offer me comfort after specifically asking me what was wrong, and that his presence on the dating site communicated to me that I was not the “special person” he said I was and that he was not pursuing the “long-term potential” he saw in me,  I felt it best if we did not see each other anymore.  I BROKE IT OFF WITH HIM.

He replies with:

Wanted to write ” I forgive you” but rather write “I still think a great deal of you”.  I am going to need some time to think now.  Just as you finding me insensitive enough not know you needed a call yesterday rocked your boat, the result has rocked mine. If you really need to talk, call at any time.  I may be only listening for some time as mentioned above, I need some time to think. Your expectation that I would call was a test and I don’t like tests.  If we are to continue I have a request.  If you feel a need to talk, call me.  Say that it is important.  Or I am certain I will fail another test.

And I thought that in replying with:  “I understand.  Take all the time you need” was a good way to end this thing.  Oh silly me.  The idiot bat was still in motion – but I now know it wasn’t my fault.  He was wielding the bat.  I had no control of this other than to just walk away, but my heart was engaged and as much as I wanted to walk away; as much as I was determined to walk away, I couldn’t walk away. 

Let’s deconstruct this:

  1. He wanted to write he forgives me, but instead writes that he still thinks a great deal of me.  What did I do that he felt needed forgiveness?  I dumped him, that’s what.  So he reels me back in, not by admitting any fault, but by saying he still thinks a lot of me.  “still?”  When did he not think a lot of me?  Oh that’s an easy question to answer.  
  2. He is going to need some time now.  He’s punishing me.  He’s withdrawing.  I am no longer a good little mirror. 
  3. He admits that what he did rocked my boat (as he intended) but provides no apology for it; there is no accountability for his behavior.  He simply states what he read in my words.  He’s feeding me back to me.  He feels nothing. 
  4. He tells me that what I did rocked his boat. Of course it did, I dumped his ass and N people can NOT allow themselves to be dumped.  So instead of acknowledging his accountability and making apology and/or feeling sad or asking if we can discuss this, he tells me he’s going to withdraw (he has to take control somehow!).  This is punishment.  It is devaluation. 
  5. Then he tells me that if I really need to talk to call him anytime but to know that  he’ll be mostly “listening” for some time as he needs time to “think.”  He is attempting to lure me back in by inviting me to call him, so he can listen for anything that he can perceive as a poor reflection of himself.  He does not want to hear what I have to say, he wants to hear me tell him I was wrong, that nothing is his fault, that he is perfect, and if he doesn’t hear that, he will continue to punish me by taking even more “time.” 
  6. He states that my expectation that he would call was a test.  Of course it wasn’t a test. It was a normal and healthy expectation of someone with whom you believe yourself to have a relationship.  It’s a normal expectation of a man who has been all over you in email, phone and says he just “can’t wait” to see you again.  It’s a normal expectation of a man who, up to this point, has appeared to actually CARE about you.   For him, though, it was a “test” and since I was so cruel as to point out that he’d failed it, miserably, he creates a rule for me. See #7. 
  7. He has a “request” that if I have something “important” to say to him to call and let him know it’s important, otherwise he is certain he will fail another “test.”  This is a rule and it applied only to me.  It was not a request, it was a command. 
  8. He writes “if we are to continue.”   Huh?  I’d just broken it off with him.  Totally.  Yet he assumes there’s a continuance? 
So that evening, I’m thinking I’m done.  At a little after 10 pm, my phone rings.  It’s the N.  I answer.  Oh lord, why did I do that?  I know why.
First he tells me he bought a bottle of scotch on the way home from work and then goes on to describe it and then  proceeds to insult me by telling me I wouldn’t know the type of scotch.  I’m sitting there, on my porch, in disbelief.  He’s got to be drunk.  There can be no other explanation because I’m a single malt woman.  I love scotch, even though I don’t drink often.  Scotch is my drink of choice when I DO drink, and I know a LOT about it.  I have books on it.  I belong to an online discussion forum about it.  He knew all this.  DEVALUATION. 
Then he apologizes for not contacting me about my hard day.  You guessed it – there’s a “but” in there.  “I’m sorry, but…”  But…it was my own fault that I was upset because I took it personally.  He couldn’t possibly have called to offer comfort because he’d had such a busy day at work.  Liar.  I knew he was online trolling dating sites the entire time he was at work that day.  He didn’t have time to call me to offer comfort because he had to fix his dirt bike.  He didn’t have time to call me to offer comfort because he had to prepare dinner.  The list goes on.
 At the end of it, he again lets me know that my hurt feelings are my own fault because I had an expectation of him.  Excuse me?  Of course I did.  I still didn’t realize I wasn’t speaking to a rational human being.  And then he sucker punches me by telling me that in light of my “behavior” he will be bringing other “people” (read: mirrors) into his life and it is/will be taking a long time and that we are “just friends” and that there is no “relationship” and that he’s given me no cause to think there was one.   And then he says:  “Gotta jump now, promised (son’s name) that I’d watch a movie with him.”   Huh?  It was after 11:00 pm and said son had to go to school the next morning.  Liar.  DEVALUATION.
I sat there, phone in hand, feeling like I was the biggest heel on the planet.  How could I have thought I wanted to break it off with this wonderful human being who was so busy and who really WOULD have called me if he’d only had the time?
I went inside.  I thought and thought. I obsessed over what I had done wrong.  How could I have misjudged this fine human being.  What damage had I caused?  I called my brother.  Big bro said:  “just give him time. it won’t take long.”  Well, the thing is, it hadn’t taken long, because he’d called me barely 6 hours after shooting me an email telling me he needed time.   What I didn’t see was that this was him attempting to take control of things.  He called me, so I would feel as though he’d taken his time and all was well, etc.  He needed to be in charge of the dumping process.  This was a step in that direction.  It reeled me back in.
So there I was, thinking things were okay and that we were on the track to healing whatever damage I’d done.  Thing is, I’d done NOTHING.
I hear nothing from him for two days.  So I call him and tell him it’s important and I need to talk to him.  I followed his “rule” for me.  Can you guess what happened?  Are you nodding?  Nothing happened.  Dead silence.
Then, a day later, he sends me an email telling me he likes a photo of me. I replied with:  “did you get my voice mail?”
Oh, he got it all right.  That was HIS opportunity to grab his mirror, fling it to the ground, stomp all over it, shatter it, put the pieces in a bag, take a sledgehammer to the bag and then use a pile driver to grind the mirror into dust.  I’d say he then picked up the bag and discarded it, but you know what?  He’d already discarded me.  Sometimes discard happens before devaluation.  I now know the exact date and time he discarded me and it was well before this situation.  This was merely another opportunity for him to play games with me.
None of this was my fault.  Not a single bit of it had to do with me other than the fact that I wasn’t a good mirror.  I’m GLAD I wasn’t a good mirror, because that would mean I think very little of myself.  It would mean I am just like HIM, and I’m not.
So if  you find yourself in a similar situation, know that it’s not YOU who caused it.  YOU did nothing wrong.  What’s happening is the process of D&D and not in any specific order.
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7 thoughts on “It’s NOT You. Devaluation and Discarding

  1. this was just what i needed to read at this moment. i’ve been involved with someone like this for 13 years and it ate up my youth. it’s so insidious that it just pulls you in. i need to keep in mind that when dealing with this kind of person, interactions are not what you think they are. they aren’t normal and walking away is all you can do.

    • This was annoying to read. Most women are so stupid! Allowing themselves to be manipulated and even trusting men in the first place. Idiots!

  2. You’re right, walking away IS all you can do. It’s also the most difficult thing to do. 13 years! That’s a long time to be under the influence of an N. NPD is extremely insidious. Remember this: An N looks for someone who reflects the characteristics he believes to have himself. So when he first targeted you, it was BECAUSE you are so special, good, kind, loving, giving, compassionate, and emotionally healthy. You became the perfect mirror for him – for a short time.

    Never forget this: To this man you are an object. He doesn’t love or even like YOU – he loves/likes the reflection you provide that tells him how great he is. That’s it. And when you’re not providing that reflection to his satisfaction, he will viciously devalue you, with the point being to emotionally beat you into being a good little mirror, sublimating all your own needs, sublimating your RIGHT to be treated with dignity and respect.

    When you no longer provide him ANY validation, he will discard you. He may have done that many times already – it’s a cycle. Just know this much: If the man truly is NPD, he does not value you on any level as a human being. You are worthless to him for any purpose other than to reflect back at him what he believes to be true about himself.

    You can’t win.

    Best of luck and feel free to post here, rant here, cry here, or just ramble on sorting out your own thoughts. You won’t be judged and you won’t be found lacking in any way!

  3. Also, don’t ever expect an N to miss you once you leave. He won’t. He won’t give you a second thought unless it serves his own agenda some way. He won’t miss you, won’t seek help, won’t change.

    Leaving him is something you do for YOU. It’s hard, too. That illusion of love that N people are so good at creating at first is intoxicating, but remember – N people are empty inside. They have no feelings so the love you thought he was providing was simply him handing you back to you.

    That love was YOU. That’s enough right there for you to know that you have something wonderful to give an emotionally healthy human being. You saw it, you know what it feels like. He never felt it at all. He saw it as a reflection of his delusions about himself. He will take it and claim it as his and attempt to convince you that you never had it.

    Mirror mirror on the wall…

    If/when you decide to end it with him, be prepared for him to attempt to make you feel totally worthless. He will bring out 13 years of ammo and aim it directly at you, so get your “I’m Strong and Healthy” hat on and prepare for the assault. You can do it!

  4. thanks for the encouragement:) it’s pretty much over now. i’ve been so sad but could never ever understand this person (and believe me i tried). not sure if they are an n or not but the descriptions of the confusing communication really register. this person could be so nice so it’s really disconcerting when the mean side comes out.

  5. It’s terribly difficult to tell if someone is truly an N. Many times there are some N characteristics but there are some that cross over into Borderline Personality Disorder and various other disorders.

    Sometimes it’s not a disorder at all – sometimes it’s an actual mental illness. There’s a difference. A disorder can’t be treated unless the person with (who IS) the disorder understands that they have the disorder and seeks treatment.

    I was diagnosed with “almost” Borderline back in 1992. I was having so many issues in my life that I got in therapy and stayed there for 17 years. It was necessary. I changed because I wanted to. It’s also a daily self-vigilance task. I have to watch my own behavior to make sure that what I’m feeling isn’t a projection of my own behavior on someone else.

    Most people with disorders just go on blaming other people. I got lucky. I was a single mom, I was unemployed a LOT, and I needed to be able to take care of myself. I was forced by my own guilt and shame one winter, when I couldn’t afford heat in the home where I was raising my son, to get help. I thought I could do it on my own. I blamed everyone but myself, I created chaos in other people’s lives and then, one day, my 4 year old son crawled into bed with me, in the middle of the day, on a Saturday, because it was so cold and said: “mommy, why do you always lose your job? I’m cold.” That did it for me. So simple, yet so complex.

    I also think that my “near miss” diagnosis and subsequent healing is what has enabled me to be an easy target for N people. I was raised by one parent who is an N, and an alcoholic, and by another parent who is a dry drunk. I left home at 17, completely unable to function in the world.

    I lost job after job. I went through relationship after relationship. I’ve been through two marriages and in both, I had to own my part of the accountability for their demise. My second husband was a man I truly loved. I was a woman who he loved but couldn’t live with, even though, by that time, I’d had many years of therapy. I still needed more. He didn’t understand my disorder and I didn’t know he was Bipolar until after we married. It was doomed from the start.

    My last relationship? The one with my N? I KNOW none of that was my fault. Because of my past, I spent quite awhile looking to myself for the reasons it failed. I could find no reason at all and that’s when I went searching for info.

  6. I may not be fully grasping this scenario and I’m sorry that this relationship was distressing forvyou, but I can’t help but wonder whether or not you can see how you too devalued him. You two met on a dating site? Were you agreed to be exclusive? I ask because the way you frame his being online as “trolling” seems to assume something akin to infidelity. Unless you both had made an agreement to remove your profiles, why did it matter that he was online? Why were you monitoring his usage (ie 5:41am)? This kind of behavior suggest that you struggle with insecurity anxiety, not uncommon in BPD. And rather than give him the benefit of the doubt, your devaluation of him prompted you to “fire off” an email at him due to your perception of his devaluation of you.

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