Not About Narcissism; Not Really

I love this poem.  I loved it when I first read it in 1994, and I still love it today.  Some things resonate so loudly they can’t be denied:

(With gratitude to Sandra Cisneros for writing this poem. It’s all over the web, so I hope I’m not committing a copyright violation)

Loose Woman

They say I’m a beast.
And feast on it. When all along
I thought that’s what a woman was.

They say I’m a bitch.
Or witch. I’ve claimed
the same and never winced.

They say I’m a macha, hell on wheels,
viva-la-vulva, fire and brimstone,
man-hating, devastating,
boogey-woman lesbian.
Not necessarily,
but I like the compliment.

The mob arrives with stones and sticks
to maim and lame and do me in.
All the same, when I open my mouth,
they wobble like gin.

Diamonds and pearls
tumble from my tongue.
Or toads and serpents.
Depending on the mood I’m in.

I like the itch I provoke.
The rustle of rumor
like crinoline.

I am the woman of myth and bullshit.
(True. I authored some of it.)
I built my little house of ill repute.
Brick by brick. Labored,
loved and masoned it.

I live like so.
Heart as sail, ballast, rudder, bow.
Rowdy. Indulgent to excess.
My sin and success–
I think of me to gluttony.

By all accounts I am
a danger to society.
I’m Pancha Villa.
I break laws,
upset the natural order,
anguish the Pope and make fathers cry.
I am beyond the jaw of law.
I’m la desperada, most-wanted public enemy.
My happy picture grinning from the wall.

I strike terror among the men.
I can’t be bothered what they think.
¡Que se vayan a la ching chang chong!
For this, the cross, the calvary.
In other words, I’m anarchy.

I’m an aim-well,
shoot-sharp,
sharp-tongued,
sharp-thinking,
fast-speaking,
foot-loose,
loose-tongued,
let-loose,
woman-on-the-loose
loose woman.
Beware, honey.

I’m Bitch. Beast. Macha.
¡Wáchale!
Ping! Ping! Ping!
I break things.

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Healing From Narcissistic Abuse

Actually, this post is to myself.  You’re welcome to read it and comment upon it, which is why I’m posting it on my blog.  🙂

This evening, as I made my simple dinner, which consisted of cracked black pepper turkey, banana peppers, and an orange pepper from my garden on a whole grain sandwich thin, it occurred to me that every single ingredient in this sandwich, down to the pepper plant in my garden, had been purchased and provided by my ex Narcissist.

I looked around and saw the grill he had bought for me, the toaster oven, the electric can-opener (because my hand-crank one wasn’t good enough, apparently), the stand mixer, the microwave, the vacuum cleaner, the case of Yuengling beer that I’ll never drink, all the boxed and unhealthy pre-packaged meals in the pantry, every bit of “phude” in my freezer – all but the chicken does not qualify as real food to me – was purchased by this man.

I saw the third “mondo” fan in my living room that he’d purchased because two weren’t enough.  I saw the Pampered Chef apple corer and peeler, complete with stand, that he’d purchased, saying I could re-engineer it into something to use with my jewelry-making business.  A wire twister (which I already have), perhaps.

On my drive home from work, I saw my ultra-bright headlights – special ones – that he’d bought and installed, saying I needed them, even though I drive a small SUV that sits me up higher than most sedans and that already had perfectly good lights.  As I was getting out of my car, I saw the two, now emptied, $50 gas cards he’d bought me in early May.  I tossed them in the trash can on the way in.

On the way up my steps, my raised garden, which he “surprised” me with on his day off by working all day in the hot sun to have ready for me when I got home that evening, stared me in the face.   As I entered my home, the bag of rock salt in the corner of the foyer grinned up at me – it’s been there since winter – he bought it. There was the tray of Kentucky Coffee Bean Tree seeds that he’d collected and brought over to give to me thinking I could incorporate them into jewelry. The list goes on and on and on.

I never asked for these things.  The garden I simply mentioned, in passing.  Last April, I’d said I was going to have some soil brought in and build a raised garden out front because I love to garden.  I was going to do it.  I wanted the satisfaction of knowing I’d done it myself.  

This is what he did.  I asked him to stop, repeatedly, and he wouldn’t, citing as a reason “it’s what I do.  I see a need and I fill it.”

I started to feel as though perhaps I’d misjudged him and then I backed myself up.  Whoa.  Reality check.

While the food I ate tonight was healthy enough, the majority of the food he brought in here, against my protestation, was unhealthy, full of additives and chemicals, and high-calorie.  I remember coming home one Wednesday, early in our relationship, before he had a key to my home, to find bags of groceries spread out on a table in my basement.  Not only had he bought groceries, he’d brought a table to lay them out on. I opened each bag to find it was full of things I wasn’t supposed to eat.  I’d told him on our first date, when I’d made bruschetta, which I’d told him about beforehand, and to which he never replied that he didn’t like tomatoes, that this was the way I ate.  I ate as many whole foods as I could, and I tried never to eat anything that was processed or pre-packaged.

I remember dishing out the bruschetta and as I did so, he said, “Hmm.  I don’t usually eat tomatoes – don’t like them, but this looks different.  I’ll give it a try.”  I remember thinking “why didn’t he tell me he didn’t like tomatoes?”  I’d described the dish to him, so he knew what was in it.

I didn’t need the grill.  I never even thought about having one.  HE used it – not me.  It’s a dust catcher now.  I didn’t want a toaster oven.  I wanted a TOASTER.  I’d mentioned I was going to go to the local discounter and pick one up for $9.  I don’t toast that much, but when I wanted toast, I wanted toast.  In he came with a shiny new toaster oven.  I don’t use it much.  HE used it.

I had a microwave – but apparently it wasn’t good enough.  It was good enough for ME – all I ever used it for was quick-thawing and occasionally making whipped eggs for egg sandwiches.  In came a brand new microwave.

I didn’t have a “normal” vacuum cleaner.  I used a shop vac.  I live in a converted church that is very old, has the original wood floors and drops a thin layer of dust daily.  So I would shop vac everything.  It was quick, powerful and easy.  In came a “normal” vacuum cleaner that’s cheap, doesn’t hold much dust or fur (I have two cats that shed mightily), and needs to be emptied before half a room is finished.  He insisted it was too much for me to carry the shop vac up and down stairs and that I use his “normal” vacuum.  There went that form of exercise.

I didn’t need the apple corer/peeler.  I don’t core or peel my apples – and I rarely make apple pie or any kind of sweet with apples.  I certainly wasn’t going to re-engineer it to twist wire since I had a perfectly good wire-twister, which he’d already seen me use.

What I realized, during my reality check, was that this man had insinuated himself into my home, set it up the way HE wanted it, and in doing so, intimated that the way I was functioning wasn’t good enough for him (or anyone, apparently).

Last June, he brought me an a/c window unit that he casually told me he’d removed from his attic, since it wasn’t needed there.  I was grateful, until he dumped me, when he informed me that he’d taken the cooling source from his young adult children’s rec-room and the attic, where the pool table and all the gaming equipment lived, was now too hot for anyone to use, and he wanted it back.  No dice.  Sorry.  It’s mine now.

I have other items that he “stole” from his family home.  A dehumidifier.  A humidifier.  The “mondo” fan.  The stand mixer!  I read recently that domicile theft is a not-widely-known characteristic of those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

At one point, when I had asked him some questions about things I’d read in the Bible, (he was actually a pastor for many years!), he said he’d bring a bible over and we could go over them.  Next day, he shows up with two bibles – one for him and one for me.  He handed me “mine” and I opened it up to find it inscribed to his wife from her mother!  I immediately handed it back to him and told him it was inappropriate and “bible study” could wait.  He got snarky about it and attempted to shrug it off by saying “well, she doesn’t use it – she has tons of them.”

Excuse me?  Did the inappropriateness of his gesture totally escape him?  Yes, it did. He saw nothing inappropriate about stealing from his wife to give to me.

So much for thinking I’d misjudged him.

This was my evening after work tonight.  A lesson.  Just because someone does things that seem nice, it does not mean that the person is doing those things from a kind and pure heart, and for the sole purpose of “filling a need” when the “need” is seen.

I spent the first four to five months of this relationship in pure bliss, thinking I’d finally found Mr. Right.  The red flags were waving at me like a toreador dancing around a bull.  It’s not that I chose not to see them.  I flat out DID NOT see them.  Not until about the middle of month five and definitely month six.

I’m a private person who enjoys living alone and likes having quite a bit of “me” time, yet I allowed this man to take over my life almost every day of each week for 15 months.

I truly enjoy coming through my front door now, knowing that I don’t have to scramble to clean the kitchen, vacuum, cook dinner and be all “beautiful” in the 45 minutes before he would show up.  I enjoy walking through my door into my home, putting my handbag and shoes where I want, gliding into my CLEAN kitchen (because it’s not full of dishes he left the night before), feeding my kitties, preparing a simple and HEALTHY meal for myself, sitting down at my table to read my email and eat, and then going into my living room to make jewelry or read or DO WHATEVER THE HELL I WANT TO DO WITHOUT FEAR OF CRITICISM.

Don’t ever allow someone to take over your life and your home.  I won’t do that again. Ever.  If you see it happening, take a deep breath, step back and try to view it objectively, even if you are head-over-heels for the person who is doing it. Even if you think you LOVE that this person is taking such “good” care of you.  Stop and think and assess.  Ask yourself why this is being done.  Ask it many times.

So I’ve Been Away For Awhile…

…and I apologize.  I can’t promise I’ll be here too often, but I’ll try.  I found temporary work, which might turn into permanent, so let’s all pray it does!  I actually like the company where I’m placed, too.  Amazing.

Yesterday, I had to leave at 3 pm with what I can only describe as a migraine.  I’ve had bad headaches, and the last one was 2 years ago, but this beat everything.  Could hardly see, the smallest noise felt like knives stabbing my skull and light was intolerable. So I went home.  A few hours of lying in the dark with complete silence helped, but when I stood up I lost my cookies.  Good thing the bathroom is only a few steps away from  my bed.

I’m home today – woke up with the headache back, but not quite as bad.  Still feel nauseated.  So I called out.  Where is this going and why is it on a dating a personality disorder website, you ask?  Hmmm. Well, I’ve met a man.  Or shall I say he met me.  We’ve been seeing each other for 6 weeks and while almost everything is right, there is one biggie that’s wrong.  First the right:  He’s always there for me.  Totally.  If I need anything, he’s there.  He’s with me 5 days out of 7, but he gets sent home at night.  He takes excellent care of me; he takes care of me as a husband would (should) – not conspicuously; not with grand flair; not with a “look at me” attitude.  He sees a need and he just seems to fill it without show.

So you’re asking what’s wrong…

Well, while he’s been separated for almost 18 months, he has yet to file for divorce.  Okay, I know that with some men, unless they  have what they consider a really GREAT reason for filing for divorce, they’re just gonna wait it out.  He wasn’t looking for a partner and neither was I. We just sort of saw each other and a loud click happened.

So we talked about it.  He’s very open to talking – about anything.  He listens.  He also tries to “fix” but that’s a male tendency anyway, so I just chalk it up to that.  For now.

His plan is to pay off all joint debt, because his wife doesn’t make a lot of money.  The kids are grown, so he will have no child support to pay.  He’s saved enough money through investments for his kids’ college educations, even if they want to go to grad school.  He wants to make sure his wife is not left in dire straits and will be able to support herself and he wants the courts to agree that she is able to do that.  He wants a quiet, no-fault divorce.  This will mean giving her the family home, which was his grandparent’s home.  She lives there and the kids grew up there, so he feels she should have it.  It’s his to do with what he wants, so I stay out of it.

He hasn’t told his kids about us yet and I’m cool with that.  It’s only been 5 weeks.

Why’d he leave his wife?  That’s a very important question.  One that he answered with total humility.

Prior to my asking the question, I’d heard from folks who have known this man for 15 or more years and was told there wasn’t a better man.  I was told how horrible his wife was to him, and how none of these folks could understand why he stayed with her for 24 years.  I heard nothing good about her from these individuals.  From him, though, I heard only that “things just got so bad I finally couldn’t take it any  longer.  The last 10 years of our marriage seemed to be all about what I did wrong.  During counseling, it wasn’t about working things out; it was about how much she could tear me down in an hour, bringing up things that I’d apparently done wrong 20 years ago.”

He didn’t trash her.  Didn’t tear her down.  He simply said the above, and that one day, he woke up with the realization that he wasn’t a horrible person and that he was worthy of being treated well.  So he moved out.  My big question was: “will you ever go back to her?”

Without hesitation, he said:  “no.”

Now, here’s a man who married young, and prior to me, had only been seriously involved with one woman -and he married her.  He knows no other way to act than like a husband and that’s how he acts when he and I are together.  I find I don’t mind it at all.  I rather like it.  I just wish he’d hurry up and file for divorce.  What bothers me is that I’m saying that after only 6 weeks of being with this man.  Some would say:  “when it’s right, it’s right and you just know it.”  Others would say:  “whoa!  slow down!”  I’m saying both and neither.

It totally feels right.  He’s got no narcissistic tendencies that I can ferret out; he appears to have no ulterior motives and so far, he’s just “there” for me.  He encourages my creativity, doesn’t attempt to isolate me, helps around the house, helps with gas money and food, and I feel totally loved, wanted and appreciated by  him.

I’ve been warned about rebound syndrome.  Thing is, this guy wouldn’t know rebound.  All he does is commitment.  He had ample opportunity to date after he left, but he took the time to get himself together.  He doesn’t want to “date.”  He figured that if he was supposed to be with another woman, that woman would turn up, so he didn’t look.  He doesn’t force things to happen.  And then, one day, we found ourselves sitting next to each other and started talking.  Things went from there.

I don’t know if I’m rebound for him.  I don’t think so, but maybe that’s just because I don’t want to be his rebound.  I don’t want to be anyone’s rebound.  I want a nice steady partnership and I believe this man and I can have that.  Again – is that simply because I want to believe it?  I don’t know, but at 50, I don’t have a lot of time to sit around waiting.  It’s not like I’m 20 and can take my time.  I’d like a life-partner and I’ve done the internet dating thing – that doesn’t work.  I’ve joined groups and dated – that doesn’t work.  I’m thinking that just meeting someone out of the blue like this isn’t coincidence and I’m going to give it a shot.

I’m happy, contented, a little scared, very vulnerable and on top of the world.  All at the same time.  Yet…I know infatuation and this isn’t it.  Hmmm.

Lord, let me do this right!

If You Feel Stupid…

…and were involved with a Narcissist, know that stupid is exactly  how the N wants you to feel.  Know that and allow yourself the luxury of mourning what might have been, had the individual been different; mourn the illusion, but then dry your eyes, know you’re NOT stupid and move on.

When you feel stupid and naive, it’s because that’s how the N has set things up.  You were never “good enough” for him or her.  You were nothing more than a mirror and at some point you start reflecting his or her poor qualities.  You didn’t act your part, you bad mirror.  What happens to mirrors that don’t reflect correctly?

They get discarded.  They get thrown away.

Keep your eye open.  Don’t give your heart to someone until you have dated them (not slept with them, not made out with them, not played house with them) for months.  Watch the person.  Be alert for behaviors that seem odd.  Be alert for all the characteristics inherent in NPD.

Remember this, as you date:  All of us exhibit some qualities of narcissism, but it’s not a way of life for us.  True narcissists use, abuse and live their narcissism.  Don’t ever forget that as you journey through the murky waters of the dating pool.  🙂

Let’s Have Some Fun!

Here’s an opportunity for you to post your dating horror story.  I’m working in conjunction with The Wrong Fish to find the best (worst?) dating horror story.

Click here and write your horror story.  This is anonymous, so please change all names in your post.  Don’t reveal your REAL name.

Over the next 30 days we will collect stories and then provide a poll that includes ALL the stories and you can vote for whichever is your favorite.

I’m not sure yet what the prize is, or if there will even be a prize, but hey- you get to unload, and maybe read stories that will make you think yours was a cakewalk.  Or not.  (snort!)

Have a go at it.  Be creative.  Just protect the “innocent.”  We can’t have any libel suits on our hands, yanno!

Vote!!

I’ve been writing a comprehensive book on personality disorders with an emphasis on NPD.  I’m not a psychiatrist but I know someone who IS psychiatrist in real-life and who specializes in personality disorders.  He has agreed to review this book prior to publication for accuracy of information.  I’m also going to request that he write a forward for it.

This book  will define the term personality disorder, it will provide all the DSM-IV (cited) criteria for NPD, with real-world descriptions of each criteria.  Each criterion will probably be a chapter unto itself, since there is such a massive amount of accurate anecdotal material available.

I will also include chapters on Borderline Personality Disorder since that disorder has so many crossover traits with NPD.  Depending upon how long the NPD book is (I’d like to keep it at 300 pages!) I may have to write another on BPD.   These books are being written with the purpose of helping others recognize these disorders and understand what they can do to better their situations if involved in any way with someone who is one of these disorders.

Please remember that individuals who meet the criteria for NPD and BPD don’t “have” the disorder, they ARE the disorder.  Why?  It’s simple.  To have something implies that one can NOT have it.  For an NPD, the realization that they are a disorder will never come, so they don’t “have” the disorder, they ARE the disorder.  For a BPD, there’s a shred of hope, but in most cases, they, too, do not realize that anything is wrong with them, thus they don’t “have” the disorder, they ARE the disorder.

You will learn methods for recognizing those who are potentially NPD or BPD on the first date, but more importantly you will learn an accurate method for analyzing online dating profiles to determine whether the writer is NPD.  It’s a little more difficult to extrapolate BPD from a dating profile and not always accurate, so I won’t provide that.

The book will also contain a compassionate and common-sense guide to rebuilding emotional health during the aftermath of interacting with an NPD (remember, they don’t have relationships!) and it will provide cited research into the developmental phases of a child who grows up to be an NPD adult.  This will provide a glimpse into the why of an NPD and it will allow you to feel compassion for them, while understanding that pity is wasted and it will also allow you to learn your best method for detaching and distancing – for good.

Additionally, there will be anecdotal information based on my personal experiences, interviews with others who have had similar experiences and between each chapter there will be lined pages for you to make notes if you choose to print the book.  The book will be in PDF format and will be read-only, and you will not be able to do a “save-as” so you can make electronic notes.  Allowing that capability is dangerous for an author.

Please note, since this will be my material, garnered from many long  hours of research, and then the effort put forth to write a book that resonates with truth, REAL help and guidance, it will be copyrighted as my material.  If I provide this book and someone wants to use pieces of it in their own work, they will need permission to use it and any portions of it that are used must be cited (as I am doing with all my research.)  I want to help others, and in doing so, I also want to help myself.  If there is enough interest in this as an e-book, when I am finished writing it, I will post it here as a downloadable book at a price of $9.95  for 30 days prior to allowing my publisher to release it (at a much higher price!)

Vote now!

Another From Search Terms: Does a Narcissist Know They Treat People Badly?

Yes and no.  How’s that for a contradiction?

A narcissist believes they are good.  They have conditioned themselves to believe that they are ALL good and have no character flaws.  They believe anyone who questions their “goodness” is bad.  They believe, from conditioning, that those who are “bad” must be punished.

So, do they know they treat people badly?  I’d say, that deep down, in that place where they have their emotionally arrested selves hidden, they know.  This will never come to light. Not an inkling of it will be allowed out of the locked drawer where the Narcissist keeps everything he sees as a poor reflection of himself.

If a Narcissist apologizes to you for treating you badly, you’d better read the fine print, which isn’t immediately visible because it is contained between the lines.  Mine did it thus:  (bold and italics are mine)

“I apologize if I hurt your feelings, but you know this is how I am and if you take it personally, that’s your fault.  If I do it again, tell me and I’ll apologize, but know that it’s just how I am and that I will do it again.”  

See what he’s done?  First he declines to admit that he actually DID hurt my feelings.  He states “if.”  This is typical of an NPD.  They’re not going to admit to hurting anyone’s feelings, so they use a qualifier that absolves them of blame and places all blame on you.  What this man said to me in that first sentence is this:  “I’m not apologizing for anything.  The entire issue is immaterial.”

Next, he absolves himself of accountability for his actions by stating “you know this is how I am.”  Because I “knew” this was how he was, I was then simply supposed to accept it, smile, and shrug it off by telling myself:  “oh, that’s just how he is. He didn’t mean anything by it.”  I’m not supposed to feel anything but loving acceptance of his little quirks and because (since he’s already told me this in his apology) he’s accepted “how” he is, then something’s wrong with me that I don’t accept it.  I’m supposed to actually support and encourage his unacceptable behavior, because after all, HE accepts it and encourages it within himself because he sees nothing wrong with it.

After that he tells me it’s MY FAULT my feelings got hurt and it’s my fault because I found “how he is” unacceptable.”  THIS little bit of information will be stored away for future use against me.  A Narcissist won’t tolerate anyone finding anything about them unacceptable.

Let me tell you, this piece of it came out about a month later in a long-winded nasty diatribe where he tells me how horrible I am, how undesirable I am as a partner, and that he doesn’t have “romantic feelings” toward me because I’ve “evinced dissatisfaction” with him.  Poor boy.  Oh dear.  See – this is classic NPD.

What I didn’t know at the time is this:

1.  He’s NPD

2.  NPDs don’t HAVE romantic feelings.

3.  I wasn’t in a relationship.

4.  All the stuff I saw in him that I thought was so wonderful was simply him reflecting MYSELF back to me.  He stole my compassion, empathy and any trait he thought was good and could be used to make himself look good and he reflected it back to me.

5.  At the point where his hyper-sensitive, as-seen-on-TV, get-it-now-for-the-low-low-price-of-$19.99-but-wait-if-you-order-in-the-next-10-minutes-you’ll-get a-second-one-free Little Orphan Annie Imaginary Criticism Decoder Ring  scrambled my communications he pulled out every bit of information his LOAICDR had given him, and using the companion LOAICDR Translation Tool for Narcissists, the free gift that came with the rings if you ordered within the next ten minutes he decoded a message that said “My feelings are hurt” to mean “You are a bad person, you’re stupid, worthless, and will never amount to anything.”  You see,  the LOAICDR is extremely sensitive and the companion Translation Tool for Narcissists has only one translation for anything that’s perceived as criticism. That translation is compatible with all the emotional abuse heaped on the Narcissist prior to age 6.

6.  The Translation Tool for Narcissists does provide instructions for keeping this from happening again, which is to immediately spin the situation, deny accountability and project blame for any and all hurt on the victim.  It then tells the Narcissist to react with vicious devaluation of the victim before the victim has time to sort through all the Narcissist-speak.  It instructs the Narcissist to stomp the victim into submission and do it HARD and if that doesn’t work, to simply throw the victim in the trash and go get a new one.   But I digress.  Let’s get back to the deconstruction of my N’s “apology.”

Then he says:  “If I do it again” meaning that there’s doubt he did it in the first place.  He says to tell him “if” he does it again and he’ll apologize, and then qualifies that with the justification (completely rational to him) that it’s just “how” he is, and then he goes on to tell me he WILL do it again.

It’s classic Narcissist gaslighting.  It’s classic Narcissist-speak for: “You’re crazy, I’m not.  You’re bad, I’m good.  You’re worthless, I’m omnipotent.”

Anyone besides me see an issue with this “apology?”   I hope so.

A Narcissist will defend his or her right to treat you badly, and they will do it using a rationale that is only logical to them.  When a non NPD hears the narcissist explaining WHY he or she did what they did, it will ALWAYS come out as an action they could not control because you MADE them do it.  You won’t have time to process it because it will be followed up with more vitriol.  Remember this:  Every horrible thing a Narcissist does or says to you is a projection of what he KNOWS to be true about himself.  It has nothing to do with you, it is not true about you, and the Narcissist has to convince you that it IS true about you, particularly if you are their only source of supply at the time.  They are desperate to stomp you into a submissive little mirror. 

A Narcissist does not own his or her actions.  If they did, there would be no narcissists.

If you are being treated badly by a Narcissist, the odds are very good that you’re to blame.  Didn’t you know that?  (read sarcasm, please).

If you are being treated badly by a Narcissist (not IF – WHEN) it is because you did not reflect appropriately to them.

When you are being devalued by a Narcissist it is NOT your fault.  It is simply because the Narcissist does not view you as anything other than an object with an expiration date.

If you stay with a Narcissist, beyond the point where you realize what’s going on, you will continue to be treated badly, and then it really WILL be your fault, because you made a choice to stay. 

If you stay with a Narcissist thinking you can fix them, you are DELUDED. Get help NOW.

If you stay with a Narcissist because after you had a deep, heart-felt conversation with them, and things got better, you’d better be prepared for an emotional nuclear warhead to plow through you.

Narcissists don’t HAVE “deep, heart-felt conversations.”  They let YOU talk, and they make assenting noises if they’re at the point where they realize they’re about to lose their current supply and they don’t have any other supply lined up.

So – clear as mud?  A Narcissist is a walking contradiction.

 

 

Learning the Truth

Allison, whose blog is Pieces of the Heart, wrote the following as a comment to my post : Narcissists Fold Spindle and Mutilate.  I thought it was worthy of its own post because it is full of the wisdom of experience.

Leaving an abusive and/or narcissistic relationship is difficult and once gone, an individual can many times be presented with an issue that is almost just as difficult to deal with:  that of “outcast mentality.”  Leaving the abusive relationship doesn’t mean the abuse magically vanishes.  It simply diminishes.  It is up to us to make it stop.

I don’t want to write too much here, other than to let you read Allison’s reply to my post.  This is a woman who has chosen her battles and has won or is winning the war.

“Not being accepted after leaving these types of relationships causes greater “outcast” mentality. When I finally pulled up my bootstraps and decided for a better life, it took me a while to really understand that I was not all the things that had been said to me in those non-relationships and by those who judged my decisions. The ONE thing that kept me centered through obstacles and continued abuse, even after I separated myself from it, was seeking a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, my higher power. I learned that I was truly loved, NOT from what someone told me, but from what I understood from a thirst to know. I researched and studied the Bible on my own, so I would know the truth personally.”

This comment could only have been written by someone who has sought the truth of her situations and came to personally know that truth.  Learn the truth so you will know it, personally.

 

Narcissists Fold, Spindle and Mutilate: Where and how to get help

I just read a post entitled  No Longer Dead and I knew immediately what this woman was dealing with based on the first half of her post.  My assumption is that the second half is her, telling herself that she will not accept this individual any longer until or unless he acquiesces to her completely legitimate and emotionally healthy demands.

If this woman has been dealing with an NPD, she was dead to him from the beginning.  She never truly existed as a human being worthy of love, respect, dignity and empathy.  She was simply this person’s mirror.  It appears she spent years being devalued and discarded and then finally got sick of it, found her strength and decided to move on.

This is a good post to read.  Many times, when we are the focus of devaluation by a narcissist, we don’t know what the heck is going on.  All we know is that nothing we do seems to be good enough; everything is our fault; we are crazy.  Nothing is wrong with the narcissist and he or she makes it very clear to us that we are the problem.  Still, when we’re in the middle of it, it’s difficult to step outside the fishbowl and peer in.  Objectivity seems to be the lowest on our list of priorities, with survival of a relationship that never was being our top priority.

Even if you’ve been married to an individual for most of your adult life, if you are being treated the way the woman in No Longer Dead was being treated, you haven’t had a relationship.  A relationship takes two people.  A Narcissist absolves themselves from relationship responsibilities before they engage with another individual.  A narcissist doesn’t have relationships; he or she merely has mirrors.  Even if you’ve been married for 30 years to a narcissist, it sadly means that you’ve been a mirror (and nothing more) for 30 years.

Narcissists can’t love another human being.  They don’t love themselves, even though their surface would indicate that they do love themselves – too much.  Scratch that surface and you find nothing.  Narcissists are fragile shells and to keep their shells intact they abuse before they can be abused.  This is why they are hyper-vigilant for the slightest criticism.  They twist and spin words that they believe might be critical (even if they aren’t) and deliberately make them critical so they can set about stomping the purveyor of those words into submission.

Narcissists are emotional vampires and they have memories like elephants.  Those who share emotions, who show they have emotions, who are compassionate and empathetic, are considered weak to a narcissist, ergo; they are FOOD.  A narcissist will suck you dry, and when you finally realize what’s been going on and stand up to the narcissist in your life, they will pull out every emotion you ever shared with them, twist and spin it and fling it back at you with deadly accuracy.  When they see their mirror has gained strength, thus providing the mirror the means of seeing the narcissist for what it truly is, they will move in for the emotional kill.

There is a point at which you, as a mirror can avoid this emotional kill, if you truly see what’s going on.  It’s a nanosecond in the scope of a 30-year marriage, or a many-years-long “relationship” with a narcissist, but if you see it, and flee when you see it, you will have a slightly diminished time frame during which you have to heal and rebuild your emotional health and strength.  If you don’t see it (and many of us don’t, and no one but you can say when that point is) you will be so emotionally crushed that it may be years before you have the strength to bootstrap yourself out of your situation.

If you are experiencing any of the issues described in the first half of No Longer Dead you MUST take a step back, grab your journal if necessary, and start assessing things.  Just start writing, and don’t worry about how things come out.  This will allow you to re-read and identify what’s truly going on.  If you don’t write, see a counselor.  Talk to a trusted friend.  Get an objective view of your situation.  While you’re doing this ALWAYS KEEP IN MIND THAT A NARCISSIST NEVER CHANGES.  THIS IS NOT A RELATIONSHIP; YOU ARE ATTEMPTING TO SAVE YOURSELF, NOT A RELATIONSHIP THAT NEVER WAS. 

I don’t recommend seeing your family pastor or priest.  Why?  A pastor (and especially priests) are trained to keep the marital unit together regardless the circumstances.  If you see a priest you may be told it’s your responsibility (if you’re female) to act in submission with your husband’s will, regardless his will.  Depending upon your denomination, a pastor may tell you the same thing.  Fundamental Christian pastors may tell you (if you’re female) that you’re the one with issues since you’re not acting in accordance with “God’s” will or your husband’s will.  Trust me on this one, I’ve been there.

Most religions don’t recognize personality disorders as an acceptable reason for divorce.  My experience has taught me that when religion enters the picture, it is the woman who pays a huge price when her mate is a narcissist.  If there are children involved, you must get them away from the daily influence of the narcissist or you will have children who grow into damaged adults.

I believe that faith in a higher power is essential.  Many don’t believe that, and I respect their choice. For me, though, if I didn’t have faith in a higher power, I’d never have made it this far in life.   If you don’t have faith in a power greater than yourself, all that’s left to see you through your turmoil is whatever reserve of inner strength you may have.

My best advice for getting free of a narcissist (and you are with a narcissist if  all or most of the first half of No Longer Dead applies to you) is to seek secular help.  Prayer works, regardless your form of worship or faith.  Positive thinking works, but getting there is difficult.   Narcissists have many crossover traits to alcoholism, as well as to Borderline Personality Disorder and Histrionic Personality Disorder.

Even if the narcissist in your life doesn’t drink, that doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t have alcoholic traits.  It’s very easy for someone to believe they are not an alcoholic simply because they don’t drink.  Alcoholism is defined not only by the consumption and need for alcohol, but by a very clear set of behavior patterns and those behavior patterns align with the way I’ve seen narcissists act.

If you are with a narcissist who does not drink, the odds are good you have a dry drunk on your hands.  Al-Anon is a great place to get the help and support you need in dealing with a dry drunk and/or a narcissist.  Please open the link for dry drunk to read the characteristics.  You will see that they align clearly with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

If the narcissist in your life drinks, it’s very important to get help through Al-Anon.  There are meetings everywhere and while some view it as a betrayal to the person with whom they are involved, that is simply misplaced loyalty.  Most of us who wind up with a narcissist in our lives have had prior experience with some form of emotional dysfunction in our lives, probably during childhood, when we are most malleable and taught to accept behaviors that are truly self-damaging.  Regardless your faith, if you believe in a higher power you must ask yourself if your higher power would find your situation acceptable, and would that higher power believe it to be something that is good, healthy and uplifting for you?

Remember this:  Martyrdom is not the glorification of God or any other higher power.  It is the glorification of EGO.  Many times, we have our egos too invested in who we are; that which we allow to provide us our criteria for life is our ego, not our SELF, which involves listening to the still, small voice and acting from within a higher level of knowledge with regard to self.  If we act from within the self, and not the ego, martyrdom to the cause of a narcissist becomes anathema to us.  In martyring ourselves to another’s abuse of us, we deny that which has been universally given to us:  love, in all its forms. Martyrdom is not love.  It is the glorification of our own egos, and that is not a good thing.

If you are with a narcissist, and you have sublimated yourself to that individual’s monstrously sick manipulation, you are martyring yourself.  STOP NOW!  

If you don’t stop the madness now, you may find yourself dealing with a massive case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Trust me on that one, too.   PTSD can result from recurring, consistent emotional abuse.  Couple that with the physical abuse that some experience when with a narcissist and you’ll wind up with a full-blown case of PTSD.

Pink Blinders

I hear so many people, fresh out of relationships, blaming their ex-partner for the entire debacle.  I hear (mostly women, but some men) casting blame like boulders.  I would say there’s probably only one instance when the demise of a relationship truly is NOT at least partially your fault, regardless your behavior, and that’s when you’re involved with an NPD. They’re an entirely different breed of monster and I’m not addressing them further in this post.  To learn more about them, read my other posts categorized under NPD.

Aside from that instance, I don’t think any of us can be totally absolved of fault in the demise of a relationship.  When we enter a relationship we make a choice to do so.  Some of us engage far too quickly when we think we’ve found the person of our dreams.  There are several issues with that:

1.  Sometimes what we think we want isn’t what we really want.

2.  Sometimes what we think we need isn’t at all what we need.

3.  Sometimes we are engaging simply to assuage the pain of a recently broken heart, thinking that having a new “love” interest will distract us.  It will.  It will also distract us from learning what went wrong in the preceding relationship and learning from our mistakes.

4.  Engaging too quickly, which means becoming physically involved, or taking ourselves off the dating scene after just a few dates with someone, usually spells disaster.  It’s essential to take the time to get to know the person, instead of attempting to force the individual to fit our ideals.

There are reasons that young women used to be chaperoned when they “walked out” with “gentlemen callers.”  First, these women were still girls, usually not out of their teens.  Even if they were older, their experience with men was usually limited to that of father, brother, uncle and/or elderly neighbors.  Cousins?  These women (girls) were chaperoned with their male cousins because cousins used to marry.  Here we are, in the 21st century, with a 50% or higher divorce rate, and a whole bunch of adult humans who can’t or won’t engage with a new potential partner in an emotionally healthy fashion.

Chaperoning provided a few benefits, regardless how stifling or old-fashioned it may seem. First, the chaperon would usually be someone older (but not always) and could observe interactions.  They would watch body language between the couple and listen to the verbal interaction.  Back then, because society was so “polite” people learned how to read body language and interpret language that we might, today, simply allow to pass us by because we think we have so much better information upon which to rely. We can do a background search on a potential partner.  Hey – I did that and he came up clean.  First date, he asked me for my panties AND since I wouldn’t oblige, asked me if I’d follow him home and lock him in a male chastity device.  The N I dated came up clean.  His divorce records were public, so I read them.  I didn’t read carefully enough.  PINK BLINDERS.

While I’m not advocating that you engage a chaperon for six months, I AM advocating that you watch and listen.  Pay attention to body language and if you aren’t well-versed in it, research it.  There’s a tool for that.  It’s called “the internet.”  If you found this post, you can find many on body language.  🙂   Listen, and I mean really HEAR what the other person is saying.  Over time, you will hear what you need to hear to know whether this person is right for you.

Observe how this person interacts with others.  If the way s/he interacts with others doesn’t jive with the way s/he is interacting with you, you should then ask yourself why there is a difference.  Ask the person why there is a difference and listen to the answer.

All of us have ideals and the danger of an “instant relationship” is that we don’t give ourselves time to get to know someone before jumping in, heart-first.  We meet someone who appears to fit our ideal for the right partner and because we’re human, ergo imperfect, we don’t remove the “Turbo-Charged Romance-Driven and Comes in Ten Shades of Pink to Coordinate With Every Ideal You Have Blinders!” (as seen on TV, and $19.99 will get you two pair, in different shades)

What if…and here’s a revolutionary new idea…WHAT IF you chose (because life is about choices) to take things slowly?  What if you chose to tell your prospective ideal partner that you’re willing to date him or her, but want to take the time for both of you to get to know each other prior to taking dating to the relationship stage?   What if you kept your options wide open?  What if you chose to do the emotionally healthy thing?  What if you decide to put yourself in control, as opposed to immediately handing that control to someone you barely know and have dated only a few times?

Fearful question, the “What if.”  Lots of things could happen, but ALL of them would be positive, even though they may not feel like it at the time.  Below are a few of the fears that prevent people from taking things slowly and empowering themselves by remaining in control of themselves and their relationships, with the upside of that fear in bold italics:

1.  If you don’t jump right in the man/woman of your dreams might get away.  If the man/woman of your dreams won’t wait for you, after you’ve expressed a desire to take your time about it, the odds are excellent that this isn’t the individual of your dreams.  Move on. Bullet dodged. Take the Pink Blinders off. 

2.  You’re lonely and feel as though you’ll never find someone else, so when you do meet someone with whom you click, you believe it’s your last chance for love so you’d better grab it now.  there is never a last chance for love.  The feeling that you’ll never find someone else is the hole in yourself that you are seeking to fill with the presence of another human being.  Fill it yourself.  That’s a huge burden to place upon another person, and the odds are good that if you place that burden upon them, you’ll be in another of those “I’m never gonna find someone to love me” situations very soon. Take the Pink Blinders off.

3.  You’re lonely, financially burdened, need help, and this individual presents a way out.  You convince yourself that they are the right person for you because you’re desperate for someone to take care of you and you feel overwhelmed at the thought of digging out alone.  Being lonely isn’t a good enough reason to jump at an instant relationship.  Learn to like spending time with yourself . Get a dog.  Borrow a dog.  Read a book.  Go to a mall and say hi to strangers.  If you are financially burdened and feel overwhelmed at the thought of having to take care of yourself for another moment, step back and assess the reasons why you feel that way.  If you’re in over your head, adding a partner is going to make it worse, not better.  If you feel you can’t take care of yourself, no one, and I mean NO ONE is going to be able to do that for you.  Learn to take care of yourself and you will be immeasurably more attractive to potential partners. Take the Pink Blinders off.

4.  You’re getting a bit older and you feel like you won’t ever have sex with anyone but yourself, again.  Ever.  In your life.  Ever.  And that thought is unpalatable to you.  Um, do you really want to take on another human being, complete with emotional baggage, engage with them on an emotional level (because you’re smart and you don’t have casual sex), and, as my good friend, Ana, said yesterday: “be willing to put up with a lot of shit…” just so you can ensure you don’t miss out on having sex?  If you’ve been sexually active most of your life to this point, what on earth makes you think you won’t have that again?  And if you don’t, is it really the end of the world?  Would you engage in instant relationship, risking your heart, your emotional well-being, and perhaps even your health, just to be certain you had full naked body contact with another human being?  Take the Pink Blinders off.

Ask yourself an all-important question when you meet the someone you think is the individual of your dreams:  “What am I willing to give up for this person?”  Relationships require sacrifice and if you’re thinking you’re “in love” with someone you barely know, please ask yourself that question, because there’s a chance the price you pay for jumping in with your pink blinders on will be an extremely high price, paid on credit, and with a high interest rate. You’ll pay, emotionally, for quite some time.

So, now you’ve made a choice.  Your choice is to jump in, regardless your intuition, regardless your common sense.  The pink blinders came with super heavy-duty temple adhesive (that the infomercial conveniently “forgot” to mention) and you just can’t seem to take them off.

You’ve spent a few months seeing this person and you thought you were their bestest and only.  You thought they felt the same way about you.  You just KNEW they did, because why else would  they be calling daily, emailing, asking you out?  But wait!  They’re not really doing that.  Check your phone records.  Check your email.  Review past conversations.  Oh no!  In the past month, you’ve  initiated everything and you didn’t realize it.  That’s because you can’t get those damned pink blinders off and it’s your own fault for buying them in the first place.

So, who’s to blame for the failure of your relationship?  Really?  Was there ever a real relationship?  What were you telling yourself that made you think that after a few dates you were in a relationship?  No, you can’t plead temporary insanity in this court.

You are the only person who has control over your relationships.  If you choose to hand that control to someone else, it’s your own fault.  You can’t blame anyone else.  If you see behaviors you don’t like, and allow them to persist, you are merely watering the garden of undesirable behaviors.  If you react to those behaviors with an “eye for an eye” doctrine, you’ve just proved your emotional immaturity to everyone, but yourself, because you’re probably still wearing those pink blinders (although, at this point, they may be sitting a bit askew on your face).

I believe that too many people are in love with romance.  I cringe every time I read a forum post or hear someone say that they are divorcing or leaving a long-term committed relationship because they “just don’t feel the romance and excitement anymore.”  Grow the hell up, people!  Marriage and committed relationships take work, and I pity you if you’ve bought into the pop-psychology that says “if the person is right for you, you won’t have to work at making it work.”  That’s bullshit.  Humans, by our very nature, are fickle and easily distracted creatures.  We want what we want and we’ve been saturated with self-help material that tells us we are entitled to have what we want, and that we can get it just by “thinking” it.  We don’t have to work for it, we don’t have to put forth any effort.  We simply have to think it into existence and et voila! there it is!

I have two ex  husbands who told me post-divorce, that they went into marriage thinking that if they didn’t like it, got bored, or it wasn’t “working” or felt like it was “too much work” that they could just jump out of the marriage.  That’s precisely what they both did.  The first ex has “just jumped out” of two marriages now and I believe he’s getting ready to do it with a third.  The second husband just jumped into a marriage.  He married me because all his buddies were getting married and he didn’t want to be the last man standing.  He jumped out of our marriage for an old HS girlfriend who dumped him a month after he left my son and me.  Karma can be a bitch.  🙂  Approximately two years later, after not dating at all, he met and moved in with a woman who is the best friend of his step-sister.  He lived with her for 3 years and bought a house with her.  He didn’t marry her until two weeks ago, and what I and many others see that he apparently does not see, is that the woman he married resembles me very closely.

Second ex is loaded, and the odds are good that he jumped into this one wearing his pink blinders and then by the time he finally got them off his face, he realized he’d been living with and signed a mortgage with this woman, so he may as well marry her. His family and friends would have expected it and he’s ALL about the expectations of family and friends.  The expectations of a wife don’t matter.  At all.  Second ex learned nothing from the mistakes he made while with me.  How do I know this?  Because HS girlfriend, who he left me for, and who is still “technically” single, just showed up as a friend on his FB page.  She wasn’t there for 3 years.  I know this story and I feel for his wife.

I’m certain she’s been told the same lies I was told about HS girlfriend.  New wife has her pink blinders on and has probably had them on the entire time.  It’s easy to wear them with Second ex.  He’s filthy rich, he’s Cary Grant-Gregory Peck handsome, he’s intelligent, articulate, and oh-so-attentive as long as life is going his way.  He’s also an unmedicated bipolar who relies on daddy to get him out of jams.  My guess is that New Wife hasn’t seen this aspect yet.

Lest you think any of this about Second ex is sour grapes, let me relieve you of that thought.  While I’ve stayed in touch with him over the years, and he showed interest in reconciling, I made certain he understood that I was NOT going there.  EVER.  The emotional damage he did to me can be forgiven, but never forgotten.  The emotional damage he did to my son will never be forgiven OR forgotten.

I was wearing pink blinders when I met him, when I moved in with him and when I got engaged to him.  I wore them up until 4:57 pm on a monday in August of 2004 when he came home and said:  “I didn’t sign up for this, I’m leaving.”   He was gone by 5:04, with just his car keys.  I was blindsided so badly my pink blinders went flying off my face and I saw him, within seconds of that statement, for what he was.

How many ways can you spell A N G R Y?  He told me later that he didn’t dare attempt to get past me when I blocked his path to the stairs leading to our bedroom.  He said he’d never seen me look like that.  Of course he hadn’t because until this point, I’d been wearing my pink blinders and though life was gloriously rose-colored.  I had my little family, I had a lovely home, I had a man who, by his accounting, daily, adored me, I had my every need, want, and desire promptly taken care of.  It’s amazing how fast an individual’s brain can react once the pink blinders have been torn off the face.

I have to own just as much accountability for the demise of my marriage as he holds, though.  I didn’t pay attention.  I didn’t give myself enough time to get to know him.  We moved in with each other within 3 months of meeting.  We got engaged within 9 months of meeting and were married 11 months after that.  Even when his brother attempted to undermine us by having a “secret” phone conversation with Second ex about my son the “problem child” (his brother has children now and one who is waaaaaay more of a “problem child), I didn’t see that as a red flag.

I was angry that Second ex didn’t tell his brother it was none of his business and to stay out of our relationship, and Second ex and I had a grand fight over that, but I allowed it.  That set precedent.  I should have gathered my son, my belongings and my life and moved on, right then.  A man who allows his family to be disrespectful of the woman he’s chosen to marry, and to denigrate that woman’s child is no man at all.

I reacted to bad behavior with equally bad behavior of my own.  I grew passive-aggressive, but no one could have told me that.  I wouldn’t have listened.

Second ex’s parents divorced when he was 5.  His mother raised him in a broken-down trailer, so poor they had to use dish soap for shampoo.  She did this, even though Second ex’s father was and is a multi-millionaire who would have provided.  She blamed her ex for everything, refused to accept any help from him, and raised her two boys in poverty, making them drink “Dad sucks” kool-aid daily.

When I came on the scene, she thought it was grand that I had an adolescent child.  She swung immediately into grandmother mode and my son’s favorite place to be for almost a year was with Second ex’s mother and step dad.

One day my son came back from their house telling me that he’d been disciplined harshly for something minor.  I called and asked about it.  I figured the truth would be in the middle.  It was.  I thought the situation was resolved.

Oh no.  Second ex’s mother called a “family meeting,”  a meeting that excluded me, and decided that if my son could “lie” about that situation (he didn’t lie, he exaggerated, and he admitted to the deed he’d done), then what were the odds he was going to accuse them of child molestation at some point?  WTF??????  To this day I have no clue where that came from!  So without a word to me, they, including Second ex, decided that my son wouldn’t be allowed to visit his favorite place any longer.

And still I did nothing but get angry and blame Second ex for being spineless.  Who was spineless?  Me.  I allowed that shit to happen and still didn’t pack my son and myself up and leave.  I indirectly gave permission for this kind of abuse to continue, and continue it did.

Even with all that, during the course of our marriage, I didn’t allow myself to believe that  I was truly seeing was WHO Second ex was.  I chose to believe that at some point he’d stand up for me.  I chose to believe it because I WANTED him to do it.  We don’t always get what we want.

There is more horror that I could write about, but you may be bored by this time, so I won’t.  The entire point of this missive it to simply say:  Stop and think about what you are doing before you do it.  The consequences to yourself (and to others) if you do not think, may be so massive you pay the rest of your life.

Remove the PINK BLINDERS now!

Sorry folks, I suck at brevity.  🙂