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.

Advertisements

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 My Latest Narcissist…

…oh lord, what do I say?  The signs were all there.  He charmed me from the beginning; he was “perfect.”  He was too perfect.  He did everything for me.  Only…something was always not quite right with him and I knew it.  I chose to ignore it.  I was in a financial bind and he showed up at the right time after inveigling a way to actually meet me.

We worked at the same company for 5 months.  I went in as a temp, knowing that the assignment wouldn’t go permanent.  He noticed me from the beginning, or so he says, but waited four days to actually manipulate things so he could come sit and get to know me.  When i think back on that conversation, it was all about him.  He didn’t ask a word about me.

He was charming.  He invited himself on our first date.  I was going hiking and he just invited himself along.  He was so obvious and so “sweet” that I said:  “well, why don’t you come along.”  Turns out he doesn’t hike.  He strolls.  Slowly.  I didn’t find that out until we were at our destination. So we strolled.  He was separated, he said – had been for more than a year, and was filing for divorce by the end of the year.  He promised.  He swore.  He said he couldn’t envision himself back with her.

I believed him.  I wanted to.  I’d been told by all who knew him (and they were all co-workers) that he was a great guy and I couldn’t do any better.  I had a cardinal rule at the time:  Never date a married man, separated or not.  I broke it.  We had a great time.  I suggested we get together again sometime soon. I didn’t expect it to be the next day – which was a monday.

I got home before he left work and next thing I know he’s texting me saying he is 20 min away and bringing supper.  I was very taken aback.  We hadn’t discussed this.  But I thought it was kinda cute (red flags are NEVER cute) and so I told him to come on.  For the next 15 months I had no evening to myself other than Wednesdays when he was “paying bills.”  With his wife.  I questioned it and got a glib response to the effect that they were both still responsible for the expenses…

Uh huh.  I swallowed it.  For around four or five months he was able to keep the mask from slipping, although I saw it go a little cockeyed a couple of times when I asked about his plans for filing for divorce.  He would tap dance around it, tell me he hadn’t thought about it, anything to just shut me up.

He told me he and his wife had lived separate lives for years prior to him telling her he wanted to divorce.  While they lived beneath the same roof, they didn’t share a bed.  Just expenses.  Co-workers corroborated this.  Of course they did – that’s what he told them. I still don’t know the truth of it, but I suspect it.

Each day, after work, he’d come over, spend a couple hours but was always home by 9.  That must have been just before his wife came home.  She worked a strange schedule.  Then he started spending saturday nights at my house, and when I thought to ask, he said he just told her he was out with friends, and when it got late, he just crashed at whatever friend would take him at their house.  Lie.  Big lie.

He was supporting me, financially.  Groceries, gas, paying bills I couldn’t pay and I had no clue where his money was coming from, until he told me he’d taken a loan from his 401K – and since it went into the joint account (notice he didn’t give it to me to use as I saw fit, even though it was supposedly for ME), and he told his wife it was for a person at work who was in need.  Well, I saw about $500 of the $5,000 loan he took.  His wife spent the rest.  No apologies to me, just anger when I asked him why he’d done that instead of putting it in his own account.  Seems he didn’t have his own account – yet he’d been “separated” for more than a year.

January I caught him in a whopper of a lie.  Big one.  He denied it until I pushed so hard he had to admit it and then it became my fault.  You know how that goes.

That’s when he started withdrawing, stonewalling and gaslighting.  He grew cold and distant and any emotional support I thought i was getting went away.  In reality, there was no emotional support.  HE can’t empathize.  The only feelings he can feel are his own and those are all about how right, good and wonderful he is, so naturally I should have no problem with him.

I won’t go into the gory details, but suffice it to say that he discarded me when he realized I was way too close to the truth about him.  My niece had just died, and this man couldn’t even ask how I was holding up.  When I told him about it (stupid me) he replied “sorry – sucks.”

The following saturday, even though he knew I was dealing with my niece’s death, learning a new job, my mother’s illness, and some other pretty heavy stuff, he texts me:  “I bought a Hyundai.  Here’s the link so you can see it.”

Huh?  Why do I care about his car?  Well, it turns out he felt he “failed me because he couldn’t fix my financial situation.’  (God complex.)  Instead of being a normal person and accepting failure and moving forward or trying a different tack, he just dumped me.  It was an excuse – he wanted me gone – that way I wasn’t a drain on his finances and he could buy a shiny new car.

That night, I was under great duress and I emailed his wife a letter that stated this man had been having an affair with me for 15 months and it included things she probably needed to know if she wanted to make intelligent decisions about her life.  I doubt she heeded them.  He read her email before she did and blew my phone up, frantically attempting to get ahold of me to beg me not to tell her – you see, I’d also said I was mailing a hard copy in case her husband read her email and deleted it.  He rang my phone and texted so much that I had to silence it.  He even drove by my house to see if I was up.  His last text said “Now that you have me at your mercy, I’m begging you to let me tell her myself..”

Yeah. Right.  Like that would ever happen.  So I sent another one, snail mail, to her mother’s address, which is where she’s living.  I have heard nothing since then, and while I’m thankful for the silence, I think the other shoe will fall, in time.  I’m watching my back carefully.

I loathe him; I despise him; he’s a liar, a cheat and a fraud, and I know enough about NPD to know I need to have no contact with this man.  Maybe telling his wife was the wrong thing to do, but at the time, I felt a helluva lot better!  I dunno now.  Hey – maybe it will serve to get them back together (as if they were ever really apart!) and then he won’t be out there hurting other victims.  Who knows – he’s a Narcissist and they always find their supply.

He’ll tell his wife whatever she wants to hear right now – because he stands to lose a ton of money if she divorces him.  She was hoping – for almost three years now – for a reconciliation.  So apparently he wasn’t as “separated” as he said he was.  It’s just that her schedule was wonky and he exploited it to get his supply.

He hurt me badly.  It started in january – maybe before.  I still didn’t see the signs.  I thought he was depressed, I wondered if I was going crazy, I tried to work with the stonewalling and would confront him on the gaslighting.  None of that works.  He’s a narcissist.  I know all this.

Lesson learned:  You can still get caught in the trap.  There’s a lot more to the story, but I won’t tell it.  It’s not worth telling.  He’s a liar, a cheat and a fraud and if his wife has any sense (and I don’t believe she does) she will divorce him.  My guess is, though, that she’ll take him back because he’ll be so contrite after being caught.  Things will roll along very well for a few months and then the monster will be back for her.

At least he’s out of my life.

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!

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!

Karma is a Beautiful Thing

I won’t name names or speak to situations but I will say that there are some who just keep building bad karma for themselves.  It’s always amusing when their own karma finally runs them over and they drag themselves up with a look of surprised outrage on their faces.

I heard something today that, had I not already believed in karma (you get what you give), would have convinced me beyond all doubt.

It took a coupla years but the wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round…

Narcissists ARE Evil.

Narcissists ARE evil.  Reasonable doubt doesn’t enter this picture.  While there are reasons that a narcissist acts the way he or she acts, those reasons do not excuse their CHOICE to act that way.

A narcissist will never do anything that does not benefit him or herself.

A narcissist makes conscious decisions; he or she makes the CHOICE to harm.

If a narcissist and his latest supply walk into a bar and the narcissist gets drunk, and then disorderly and is thrown out of the bar, whose fault is it?  If you answered “the victim’s fault” you answered correctly and this means you understand how a narcissist’s mind works.

I have posted here that I’m not certain whether a narcissist truly knows he or she treats others badly.  The reason I say that is because a narcissist, in choosing to treat another badly, makes the choice believing, in their twisted psyche, that their choice is right, good and moral.  That choice will always contain projection of their own accountability for a situation onto whomever (and sometimes whatever) they find to be their nearest victim.

While sane people KNOW a narcissist treats others badly, and does it on purpose, the narcissist has no knowledge at all.  All he has is a delusional belief system that tells him he is NOT treating others badly.

What a narcissist believes is of no relevance.  A narcissist’s mind is twisted, sick and dangerous.

What a narcissist believes is a delusion; it is a construct within which there can only be one “good” person.  You know who that person is.

A narcissist will always do only what is right for him or herself, and that action, regardless the harm done to any other individual(s), will be justified in the narcissistic mind as right.

A narcissist knows the difference between right and wrong only as it pertains to him or herself.  No one else matters.

None of the above is a justification for the pure EVIL that a narcissist perpetrates on his or her victims.

Narcissists do not and cannot love.

Narcissists do not care about you or anyone else.

Narcissists are very good at hiding all of these things – for short periods of time, usually the length of time it takes to suck in fresh supply.

Narcissists do not have relationships.  With anyone.  Period.

Narcissism is rampant in our society.  It is rampant because our culture not only encourages it, but supports it, through the venue of pop-psychology and the “gotta take care of Number One” mantra.

Narcissists do not want the best for you or anyone other than themselves.

Narcissists do not help anyone unless they can be certain it will be known by as many as possible that they have “helped.”   If you  need an example of this just look at corporate philanthropy.  That’s an entirely different post, though.

Narcissists are the embodiment of all we have been taught is morally wrong; EVIL; and they are excellent at cloaking their behavior in the guise of goodwill and self-sacrifice.

I just wanted to make that clear, in case anyone was wondering where I stand on this issue.

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.

 

 

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!