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.

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Site

Narcissism and Relationships Blog

I’ve linked you guys to a great blog, full of REAL recovery advice, how to handle “no contact” how to get OUT of an N abusive relationship and much much more.  I stumbled on her blog while doing a search myself.  She’s also got a Facebook page.  If you’re a facebooker and you are in need of a community of support, please like her page.  You can do that from her site.

She’s well worth the continued read.  Sign up for her newsletter – it’s full of great advice.  I’m needing it myself right now!

Holy Moly Mackerel! I’m moved, I have food, shelter, clothing and I’m happy!

Yesterday was moving day.  I’ve moved around a lot in my life, but the older I get, the harder it gets.  Our economy being what it is, I found myself forced to move 80 mile west of where I was living.

The good:

I’m up in the mountains.  I like the mountains.

It’s a small town.  I like small towns.

It’s a town with old-world european flavor.  I like that, too.

My home was built in 1900.  I like that.  (see cons also!)

 

The bad:

In order to afford to live, even frugally, and save a bit of money, I had to move to a “less desirable” area of this town.

I live in a 111 year-old home that has been converted to a duplex.  While I have plenty of space, the walls are paper-thin and my neighbor has two children and a boyfriend with whom she apparently fights; frequently.

Since no one has lived in my home in almost a year (my landlord refused to rent to “just anyone,” my neighbor has not felt the need to control her children, since there was no one next door whose aural sensibilities needed consideration.  Today I awoke to much screaming, crying, yelling, dragging about of things, and in general, noise that goes well beyond that which could be deemed a tolerable level.

Still, I’m fortunate.  I’m tired, emotionally and physically, but I’m lucky.  My family helped me move and my brother; the man with two bad knees, moved my furniture AGAIN.

It’s a lonely existence for right now because I don’t know anyone in this town.  That’s okay – I’ll figure it out.

The kitchen is minuscule, the stairs to my second floor are so steep as to be almost vertical.  The full attic compensates for that.  So does the rent.  I live in a state that has one of the highest costs of living in the nation.  Thanks to my former company, USG, who transferred me up here on a salary barely feasible for South Carolina, where they hired me, I’ve had to learn to live without luxuries – you know the things – brand name toothpaste, rationing shampoo by diluting it with water, and buying food boxes from the local food charity.

That’s okay, I eat.  Some don’t.  I’m glad to be gone from USG.  Good riddance to bad rubbish.  If all americans would simply stop and ask themselves who they are truly helping by working in their drone-like jobs for Corporate America, we might, again, be a nation built on free enterprise, full of people who do things about which they are passionate.  It won’t happen though.  Corporate america pays just enough to make Americans feel the illusion of safety.  Shrug.

Me?  I will make it.  I’m strong.  I have skills and gifts outside that which corporate America used to parsimoniously pay me for.  I’m going to use those skills and to quote Katie Scarlett O’Hara:  “As God is my witness, I’ll never go hungry again!”

(ever gone hungry?  I have – and recently.  I can tell you it ain’t pleasant.)

 

Jimmy Buffett Reminded Me to Breathe…

Song of the day, week, month, year.  Breathe in, breathe out, move on.  It’s all anyone can do when the hurricanes hit.   All we have is today.  There is no tomorrow until it’s today.  Sometimes it’s hard to remember to take it easy, take life one disaster at a time, and do it one day at a time.  There are silver linings everywhere, and it’s most important to find them when life is difficult.

Narcissism in the Workplace: Moral Compass Malfunction?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder can be a paradox.  Maybe.  If we think about what it means to have a moral compass, or a moral agent, we can come up with at least two logical philosophies.  The first is Immanuel Kant‘s philosophy that states one must be rational to engage in morality.  The second is a philosophy put forth by the Utilitarian philosophers that states morality cannot be tied to a rational thought process; rather, that it is tied more to the avoidance of suffering.

I tend to align myself with the second philosophy for a number of reasons, the most prominent being that a Narcissist is programmed to avoid suffering at all costs.  A Narcissist’s actions will have a direct correlation to the amount of discomfort he might feel in any situation.

I’ve worked in corporate America most of my adult life.  No one warned me about narcissism in the workplace, because 30 years ago, no one knew to do such a thing.  Instead, people would tell me to stay away from so-and-so; never to get on the “wrong side” of someone else, and with one particular supervisor, to make certain that I place a copy of each of my completed projects on his boss’ desk at the same time I placed a copy on his desk.  The reasoning behind this was simple.  I was told if I wanted credit for my work, I could not just hand it over to my supervisor, because at the next staff meeting, all my work would be presented as his.

If someone in the work place tells you this about someone else, lend credence to it.  Assess the co-worker who is telling you this, watch how they interact with others and if your gut tells you they are on the level, listen to them.  I have experience with not heeding such advice and in one instance, during the early 80’s, was actually fired because I spoke up for myself in a meeting, stating the work being presented was mine and pulled out evidence to prove it.  I was fired that afternoon and no one said a word.

Narcissists in the work place are just as bad as they are outside the work place.  Have you ever had any of the following happen to you?

1.  Your work is presented, at a meeting to which you were not invited, and you found out later that your contribution to the effort was either not mentioned, or was stolen from you and presented as someone else’s work?

2.  You are provided direction for a task or process, you write down all instructions provided, and once completed, it’s determined by your supervisor’s boss that something is wrong.  You are called in to explain why you proceeded as you did, and you explain that you took direction from your supervisor, and oh-by-the-way, here are the detailed instructions, that you wrote down.  You are then told that you wrote the instructions wrong – your supervisor will read them, immediately see where he or she screwed up and rather than own accountability, will deflect blame to you, stating YOU misunderstood and your notes are wrong.

3.  It feels as though you are constantly being thrown under the bus by a co-worker, but you are never able to actually prove it.

4.  Several co-workers are also thrown under the bus and they have the same issue.  When you compare notes it all points to one person, but there is no real proof.

5.  You find, when comparing notes with co-workers, that the extremely vicious statement made by someone with regard to someone else was also made about you, and then you all realize that the same person has been setting each of you against the other.

6.  You are working in a group, and you make certain that everyone in the group is included in all communications, but you continually get emails or correspondence from one person in that group; the communication from this person seems to target you in some devaluing fashion, and the rest of the group has not been party to it.

7.  You are working in a group, and when you ask a particular individual who is hyper-critical of your efforts to please send his or her thoughts via email, they refuse.  No paper trail, no proof.

8.  You know you are doing your job well and correctly.  You are never late, you don’t take sick days, you work late when you know it’s necessary, because for some reason, the work isn’t getting done, and it’s not your piece that’s not getting done,  you are a team player, yet your direct supervisor, who arrives at work later than you do, who you know is very tight with one particular co-worker, suddenly requests a meeting and writes you up for being late, chastises you for not working smart or fast enough and shoots down your statement that your extra time has been used to complete tasks that were part of the group goal and weren’t being finished.  Then you are written up for not meeting the group goal in a “timely fashion.”

9.  You notice that a co-worker is getting preferential treatment, and getting it consistently.

10.  You’ve been “reported” for breaking “rules” and even though you can prove you did not break “rules” your supervisor tosses the proof aside and states that he or she has “evidence” that you’re at fault.

11.  One co-worker, or supervisory figure is praised for his or her work, you look around the meeting table and you see your other co-workers grimacing, because they know what you know:  that this person stole your work, lied about you, curried favor, threw you under the bus numerous times, and everyone knows that no one can truly prove it.

Those are some of my experiences.  I’m sure you’ve got others.  Narcissists in the work place function exactly as they do outside of the work place.  They curry favor with those they feel can be of benefit to them, they have no moral compass when it comes to the good of the group versus their own good.  It’s not a case of a moral compass malfunctioning.  It’s a case of having no moral compass at all.  They work very hard – at making you look bad so they can look good.  They gaslight in the same manner they would gaslight anyone else.

Many times a work place narcissist will target one person; they will target the person they have deemed the weakest.  That would be the individual who displays accountability, who works hard, doesn’t break the rules, and has an exceptional work ethic.  A work place narcissist can’t abide anyone working with them who might appear to be better at anything than they are, so they set about devaluing this individual to other co-workers and to management.

They are insidious about this process.  They don’t run to management with an issue about the person, rather; they simply sow seeds of doubt, seemingly at random.  They’ll do it at a company gathering; they’ll do it over lunch, or while chatting in the hallway.  They will cause seeds of doubt regarding the individual’s character to germinate.

They will drop a casual remark-in one instance that I witnessed, it was regarding the fact that a co-worker always wore black to work.  I heard the comment:  “I wonder why she always wears black.  I’ve never seen her in anything but black, even her mascara is really black.  Did you notice that?”

I was at the lunch table when this was said, in the presence of 9 other people, but presumably it was said to only one individual.  Heh.  Hardly.

A month later, I found that the “woman in black” who I worked with closely, had suddenly turned into a departmental pariah, rumors were flying about her personal life, and the narcissist who had started it all had even searched for her online and found that she was a member of a motorcycle club.

No one would ever say that it was the narcissist of the group who found the online information but I knew it.  No one else cared until she started her insidious devaluation of this co-worker.

Naturally, this must mean “the woman in black” is a bad person.  It must mean she does terrible, immoral things.  It must mean she cheats on her husband and is an unfit mother to her children.  It must also mean that she’s a poor reflection (like that word?) for the company, and it must also mean that she’s got personal issues.  Stands to reason, right?  She wears black, she’s part of a motorcycle club so it naturally follows that she’s a sleaze bag mom who is unfit to raise her children and the by-product of that is that she’s unfit to work for the company, even though she is one of the best workers they’ve got.

What it really meant is that the narcissist found this woman’s presence intolerable, went searching for something that she perceived as a weakness; something that could be manipulated and spun, and proceeded to infect 7 co-workers and our supervisor with her poison in an effort to get the person fired.  It worked.  Only two people didn’t buy into it.  One of those people was yours truly.  The other was the “woman in black.”

All it took was two months and a woman who had worked for this company for 11 years was fired; she was fired based on lies, a deliberate devaluing of her character based on speculation and the seed of doubt that this woman was doing the great job that everyone else thought she was doing. This was done by an individual who was transferred into the department at the beginning of those two months.

In two months, a woman who had 11 years with the company, in the same department, was fired, and since the state in which we worked was an “at will” state, the only reason she was given was “you’re not a good fit.”

The narcissist wasn’t finished though.  She’d managed to get rid of one mirror that wouldn’t reflect well for her, so she began watching for others.  I was next in line.  By this time, I knew the importance of documenting everything with regard to this woman; from the time she came in to work, to what she said in every meeting, to what I overheard her saying to others.  I refused to interact with her in any way that didn’t have a paper trail.  So how did she get me?  Easy.

I’m one who doesn’t bring my personal life to work.  No one knew much about me, other than that I was a single mom with a teenage son.  They didn’t know who I dated or if I dated.  They didn’t know if I was involved with anyone.  What they did know was my name and my son’s name.  They knew where he went to school – the usual stuff that co-workers share.  I never shared anything I didn’t feel couldn’t be printed on a bulletin board.

All it took was one comment from me, empathizing with another co-worker at lunch, who was going through the terrible teens with her child.  Just ONE comment, stating that I truly understood, and offering information about a program that was available for troubled teens.  My son wasn’t troubled – not like this woman’s was.  My son was a relatively normal and rebellious teenage boy who did the normal stuff teenage boys do.

Within a week, rumors got back to me that my son was in this program.  Then more rumors that my son was in the program because he’d been caught dealing drugs at school.  When I heard about the rumors, from someone in a totally different department, with whom I was friendly, my reaction was a completely flabbergasted:  “HUH???”

Then I got popped for a random drug test.  I came up clean, as I knew I would, but bells were clanging in my brain.  Two weeks later, I got a call from my son at 1:00 in the afternoon.  He’d been in a bad car accident,  and was part of a four-car pile up in the westbound tunnel of the area where we lived.  He was fine, car was totaled.  I raced out of the office.

That was a Thursday.  When I came in on Friday everyone wanted to know what happened.  I was cautious with details – none of it was my son’s fault – but I just don’t give out a lot of details at work.

The following Monday, I heard a rumor that my son had been arrested for DUI as a result of that accident.  Not true.  You can’t quash a rumor like that.  It bred on itself.  Over the next two months, my son’s accident went from “thank GOD he’s okay” to “her son caused a four-car pile up in the tunnel because he was stoned and he almost killed 3 other people.”

During the next month, I found out that some work I’d done on a project, that was housed in a location where everyone could access it, because they HAD to access it, was all cabbaged up. I found this out because my boss emailed me that he was getting corrupt data when he used the database involved.   I sent an email to everyone in the department stating that they were not to use the database on a particular server until I’d fixed it; that something had gone wrong causing relationships and table links to disappear.

I always kept a clean copy on my laptop, which I backed up daily.  I overwrote the corrupted database with the clean copy, sent an email less than ten  minutes after being notified, that it was okay to start using the database again.  Situation solved, right?

The next day, I came into work to find my laptop on and that someone had logged in as “admin.”  I questioned everyone.  The narcissist in the group turned around and said:  “Oh, I had to get hubby up here to help run some reports and he used your laptop.  He was a peach to do it, since I knew you’d be too busy today to get to them.”  Her husband was in our IT department.

My head instantly spun like Linda Blair’s.  I calmly thanked her, turned to my laptop to find an IM from a co-worker who sat behind me.  It said:  “check the database on the server – it’s all screwy again.”  I checked.  It was corrupt beyond corrupt.  I IM’d back:  “no problem – I’ll just overwrite it.”  I went to the folder where my clean copy was always kept and it was gone.  I checked my restore point – it had been changed.  I frantically checked the cds where I kept a daily copy (it was a small database, but crucial to operation of the department and company), and an entire 5 days worth of cds were missing.

I couldn’t restore the database with current information.  It was my JOB to be able to do that if it was deemed necessary.  I went to my boss to tell him.  He told me to shut the door and proceeded to tell me that he’d been advised that I was having difficulty concentrating on my work, and that there had been several mistakes found in the database, even when the copy was “clean.”  I asked him who told him this and he refused to tell me who.

I knew who had done it.  He then went on to say that he felt it was in the best interests of the company if my relationship with the company was severed, since it was apparent that my “personal” issues were causing too much pressure on me to be able to function with the accuracy necessary for my position.  He chastised me for it.  He stated that “others” had noticed my “work was slipping” and when I again asked who had noticed, he refused to tell me.

So I asked WHAT personal issues.  Our friendly departmental narcissist had done her job well.  My boss, who knew me to be reliable, productive, knowledgeable and who used me as his go-to person for anything requiring data, told me that my son’s “drug-related car accident” seems to be causing my focus to slip, and that this had been brought to his attention several times over the preceding three months.

He stated that since my service to the company “up to this point” had been exemplary, that he would give me 30 days so that I would have time to find a new job.  I replied to that with:  “If you are going to fire me, please fire me.  I won’t quit; not now, and not in 30 days.”  So he fired me.

Narcissist won.  She got me out of there.

She got one other person out, after she was finished with me.

Guess what?  Two months after she got her last “tarnished mirror” out, she was part of an enterprise-wide downsize.  SHE was given no notice, was told, mid-day, when a security guard came to her desk with her pink slip, stood over her while she packed her personal belongings and then escorted her to her car and watched as she drove off the lot.

It’s small comfort, because her actions with regard to me, happened in 2009, just after the economy began its downward spiral.  I found a job, moved out of state for it, and it evaporated before I could start.  I was living with family in that state, so at least I didn’t have to worry about how I was going to keep a roof over my head.  Three months later I found a job.  A week into it, I was told that office was closing and my options were an 8 week severance package or a transfer to the city where I now live.  I took the transfer.  A year later, I was downsized.

And here I am, 7 months later, unable to find work.  Would I have been caught in that initial enterprise-wide downsize that the departmental narcissist was caught in?  I don’t know.  The odds are pretty good, I’d have been transferred, or something would have been found for me, as that’s what was done for those who had an exemplary record and seniority within the department.  Had the narcissist not been transferred into my department, I might still be working there.

Might, maybe, what-if?  Who knows.

This is a cautionary tale.  I know of no way to protect oneself against a narcissist in the work place.  I’ve tried.  Documentation doesn’t seem to do any good.  If you are targeted by a workplace Narcissist know this:  They have NO moral compass.  They will steal from you, lie to and about you and if you appear in any way to outshine them, they will set about devaluing you in a most insidious fashion and you won’t realize the bus ran over you until you look down from your out-of-body perch on the ceiling to find the bus didn’t accidentally hit you.

I wish I had answers for you.  I don’t.  Corporate America breeds an environment that is conducive to narcissism.  It breeds an all-or-nothing environment that deliberately places co-workers in competition with one another.  Throw a true NPD into the mix and all bets are on the N coming out on top – at least for the time being.

The carnage will be horrific, and the N will be standing triumphantly over it, beaming beatifically at your former boss, while surreptitiously fingering their fake moral compass that always reads correctly, because that compass is missing the mechanisms that a normal compass would have.   That compass tells the Narcissist that true north points at him or her and since it has no magnet to move the hand, it will always point at him or her.  A Narcissist’s moral compass will always show him the way – and that way is toward his own glory.

The compass doesn’t malfunction.  It is an empty housing, just like the Narcissist.

 

 

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.

 

 

The Pop-Psychology Perversion

How many times have you heard someone say:  “You just need to accept it” or “You just need to accept yourself.”

Yes, we do need to accept certain things, and we do need to accept ourselves, as we are, at any given moment.  This does not, however, imply that through acceptance we then give ourselves permission to remain in stasis, smile and shrug when we perpetuate bad behavior while hiding behind pop-psychology’s perversion of the concept of acceptance.

While it is key to accept ourselves as we are, this doesn’t mean that we aren’t bound by a power greater than ourselves, to change those things within ourselves that are less than desirable; things that, when they appear, have the ability to hurt others.

Too many times I’ve heard other people say “well, that’s just the way I am.  If you want to be with me, you just need to accept it.”  There are two things in that statement that send me heading for the hills.  First, the speaker is blithely stating that he or she has accepted their character flaws and intends to do nothing about them.  Second, the speaker is telling me that I, too, need to accept those flaws, and ignore them, regardless their detriment to me, if I want to be a part of his or her life.

Does anyone besides me see anything wrong with this?

It’s a perversion of the Serenity Prayer.  This prayer, when we speak it, is a request for help  to accept that which we cannot change, to change that which we can, and the blessing of wisdom to know the difference between the two.

I’m a veteran of 12 step programs.  I started long ago when it was rather harshly stated to me that I had all the character traits of an Adult Child of Alcoholics.  I had no clue what this meant.  I was given a clue and thank GOD I had enough glimmer of sense left in me to feel horror that I was perceived this way.

I went to AA to learn who my parents and various members of my family were.  I went to Al-Anon to learn to cope.  I went to ACoA to learn who I was.  I went to all three to grow and change.  I was horrified that someone I respected and loved saw in me all 15 of the characteristics of Adult Children of Alcoholics.  I’m not horrified now.

It stands to reason, given that I was raised by an alcoholic and a co-alcoholic, and that alcoholism was the syndrome du jour for my step-mother’s family.  My mother died when I was 2, and my father remarried shortly after, needing a mother for his 4 children.  I was the youngest.  I grew up surrounded by alcoholics and their enablers.  Then, when I was in my early thirties, my aunt, who had 9 years sober in AA, and who I respected and loved, brought me up short.  I was 32 when I went to my first 12 step meeting.  I’m 50 and haven’t stopped.

I learned through these programs that it was essential to acknowledge and accept, but that it was also essential to come to know myself well enough, to face the pain instead of running from it, and through that knowledge, to change those things about myself that I KNEW were awful, and that I thought I hid oh-so-well. 

It’s a long and painful process, and it’s a process that never ends, because through it we experience growth and through growth, we are always faced with choices.  It’s very easy to make the wrong choice simply because it’s the easiest choice to make.  I did that many times, until I learned that choice is not all about ME.  It’s about anyone who might be affected by my choice and in making choices I must consider all those who will be impacted and what that impact will be.  Many times, a choice I wanted to make would hurt others, and in learning to consider others ahead of myself, I learned to make the hard choices; the choices that might make life more difficult for me in the short-term, but which would protect others from certain damage.

Pop-psychology, in the form of many therapists and best-selling, self-proclaimed “gurus” tell us that we must always “look out for number One.”  Yes, we must.  I agree.  I disagree with their definition of “Number One.”  “Number One” is not ME.

Do you know what “Number One” is?  It is Love.  Pure and simple.  Pure and complex.  Pure and painful.  Pure and uplifting.  Pure and rewarding.  Pure, patient, and giving.

If you believe what pop-psychology tells you, then you are likely believing that “Number One” is you.  That’s the biggest lie of the last 2,000 years.  Some say Christianity and religion is the biggest lie.  It’s not – it is only a lie when it is perverted by humankind.

With the exception of one, Satanism, all other faiths I have encountered have, at their foundation, the premise that humankind must love one another.  We must give selflessly and without expectation of gifts in return.  We must also use the wisdom of our souls to understand the difference between giving selflessly from an abundance of love and blind faith to the control of something man-made.

We are told we need to have faith in ourselves above all else, that we must take care of ourselves before we can possibly take care of another.  Lies use a seed of truth for their foundation.  Lies take that seed and carefully craft it into something believable, yet false.  That is the purpose of a lie.  Lies are told with the intention of gaining control, of deliberately deceiving one or many in an attempt to make the liar more than he or she truly is.  Lies are told, perpetrated, fed and then, when they are big and solid enough, used as a foundation to trick humanity into believing what another power-hungry and greedy human being wants us to believe.

We all know the truth.  We were BORN with the truth.  It is in our souls.  Western civilization has been brainwashed to believe that we are not capable of seeing truth for ourselves; we are taught that we must look to other human beings who have somehow been imbued with “authority” and “wisdom” to guide us toward the truth.  We allow ourselves to be guided like sheep, even when the terrain feels unfamiliar and rocky; when it feels dangerous and just plain WRONG, we follow, because we have been taught to follow.

We are taught to sublimate our intuition; our higher knowledge; that still, small voice that will speak to us when we drop the defenses we’ve been taught to raise against it.  What is that still small voice?  Some call it God, others call it The Holy Spirit.  Many call it their Higher Power.  Some call it Allah.  Some call it Buddha.  Some have many names for it.  The name doesn’t matter.  A rose, by any other name, is still a rose.

I respect all religions whose foundation is one of uplifting humankind, of uplifting the spirit, of teaching and spreading love.  I do not respect, and in fact I abjure and abominate those religions that speak to uplifting the EGO, to personal preservation regardless the damage done to others.

I view pop-psychology as one of those religions.

I believe we are here, as human beings, to do as much good for our fellow humans as we possibly can do.  I believe it is the REASON we are here.  I believe our souls have been commanded to do this and  I also believe that we have been given the frailty of human form to test our ability to perceive and tread the high road.

My faith lies in eastern philosophy, because it is there that I find the foundations for Western Christian faith.  I do  not disrespect or denigrate Christians  who truly walk their talk, because the teachings of Jesus Christ, for those who have read them and have not perverted them to their own ends, are souls who have accepted their human frailty, who have set about changing that which they can change, without a need for manipulation and control, and who give of themselves  to others selflessly and with a never-ending abundance of love.

Read, if you will, 1 Corinthians 13, from the Christian New Testament:

<< 1 Corinthians 13 >>
American Standard Version

1If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.
2And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
3And if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor , and if I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profiteth me nothing.

4Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

5doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil;

6rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth;

7beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

8Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away.

9For we know in part, and we prophesy in part;

10but when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away.

11When I was a child, I spake as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child: now that I am become a man, I have put away childish things.

12For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known.

13But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Love never fails.  Never.  Humans fail.  When we do what we do and it is done with LOVE, we will not fail.  The burden is upon us to recognize and understand ALL our actions and to use the wisdom present in ALL our souls to determine whether our choices, before we put them to action, are choices made from within pure love, as defined above.  Love of self is not love.  It is ego.  We love ourselves when we love others.  We help ourselves when we help others.  Pop-psychology would have us believe it is the opposite:  that we cannot love others until we love ourselves and that we cannot help others until we help ourselves.  Pop-psychology fails miserably as a guide for life in that it makes no mention of the fact that we can NOT love ourselves until or unless we love OTHERS first.

Be very careful when you use the word Love.  It is a powerful word and it is not one to be bandied about lightly.  It is a word, in all languages, that is fraught with bogs, mires and quicksand.  Love is a concept, and while a concept can be defined, the definition is generally defined by humans with a self-serving end in mind.

The next time you reach for a self-help book, or you go in search of help online, stop, walk out of the bookstore, walk away from your keyboard, and sit in a calm, quiet place for an hour.

It is best if you can be some place where the sounds of human invention do not intrude.  No music, no cars, no fans or electric or electronic devices.  Find a creek or a stream in the woods and sit on the bank.  Listen to nothing but the ambient sounds around you.  Let no thought enter your head.  Breathe deeply, drop false defenses in the sure knowledge that you are safer without them,  and let the still small voice grow to a roar.

When it does, you will hear what it is you need to hear, and it will be truth.

That truth will have nothing to do with the pop-psychology dogma that commands us to to selfishly guard our love, keeping it to ourselves; hoarding it so that we can become “better” people.  It has nothing to do with the concept of “ME” or “I.”  It has everything to do with “We.”

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.