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.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Heard a Story…

…yesterday while talking to a friend about his three years with a woman who was(is) Borderline Personality Disorder.  I’ve read where this disorder has many crossover traits with NPD, and as he told me his experience, I felt, again, how lucky I was to have ended it with my N only 3 months into it, instead of 3 years.  I can’t imagine spending that much time with that kind of chaos in my life.

As my friend talked and told me about several of his online dating experiences, I became even more convinced that my decision to get clear of online dating is a good decision.  I’ve heard stories from several men about their experiences, and when I hear these stories, I always run them through my filters because I know that I’m only hearing one side of it.

Even filtered, the women these men dated were pure crazy.  It’s the only way to describe them.  So I’m wondering, are the women on dating sites just as bad as the men?  I’m certain not EVERYONE on a dating site has issues, but I have yet to experience anyone who is truly balanced, emotionally healthy and in control of their lives and themselves.

The first year I was on Match (2004-2005) I met 19 alcoholics.  There was one who I met and truly liked a lot.  He lived around 50 miles from me and when he would come to visit, he’d get a hotel room at the local HI Express.  He never drank around me.  He was wonderful to me.  We progressed to where I felt comfortable visiting him at his home.  He invited me to come up on a Saturday morning.  I arrive and his sister opens the door.  Surprise number one.  I had no idea his sister was visiting.

She let me in, introduced herself and said “he’s in the living room – it’s down the hall and to the left. If you need me, I’m in the study.”  That comment confused me a bit – why would I need her?  So I headed into the living room.  Surprise number two.  There he was, sprawled on an air mattress, in his underwear, passed out, with Steel Reserve cans littering the living room floor.

I headed back out of the living room and into the study where she said:  “I could have called you and told you, but I felt it was better for you to see it.  He’s like this all the time.  The Air Force grounded him because of it, his wife took their child and left him because of it and he’s about to lose this house because of it.”

Sis did me a huge favor.

One down, 18 to go.  Even the guys who said they “never” drank were heavy drinkers.  I soon changed my profile to say:  “If you drink at all, do not contact me.”   No one contacted me.  So I took that out.  The last drunk I met on Match hid it just as well until the first time I went to his home.  It was a wreck.  There are wrecks and there are wrecks.  This was the latter category.  Still, he’d cleaned his kitchen and dining room and had prepared a wonderful meal for me, so I stayed for dinner – and watched as he pounded down 15 bottles of Ice House beer.  I did the dishes, and when I turned around, he’d disappeared.  I was getting ready to leave (for good!) walked down the hall to use the bathroom, and found him sitting naked on the toilet, passed out.

I left.

There was the guy who had broken up with his girlfriend the week prior and didn’t tell me until the third date, on the patio at his house, that he was hurting so badly from the break up.  I wound up listening for a polite period (he was drinking the entire time) and then I left.

There was a member of the local symphony who, after one date, called me incessantly to find out where I was, what I was doing, and then, one evening when I wasn’t at home when he called, just ripped into me.  NEXT!

There was one who was charming, absolutely wonderful.  I wound up moving 85 miles to live with him with an eye toward marriage (mutually discussed.)  He waited until I was totally unpacked, dropped the mask and the abuse started.  Two years later, I found my strength and left.   He still tries to be my “friend.”

There was the guy who was amazing until the time he came to my house (5th time we’d been together – hadn’t been physical) and pulled anal beads out of his pocket and started playing with them.

There was the guy who was OMG beautiful to look at.  Stunning.  He was great for three dates and then the ugliness started. Just prior to that I found out that he wasn’t divorced – he wasn’t even legally separated.  He simply lived in the “small” house at the end of the “big house” driveway.  His wife lived in the “big house.”  I Left him downtown one night – he was 95 miles from home.  His car was at my house.  I got home, got his stuff together, put it all on the hood of his car, along with his keys and a note that said:  “do not ever contact me again.”  He still texts me every now and then.  I have subsequently found out that he’s been arrested more than once for drunk and disorderly in public, domestic violence and had several DUIs.

There was the guy who, on our first date at a lovely northern Italian restaurant, poured me a glass of wine, ordered and then looked at me and said:  “you’re gorgeous.  I’d love to see you 20 lbs lighter.”  I looked at him and said:  “you’re gorgeous, too and I’d love to see your IQ 20 points higher” and left.  As I was leaving he yelled after me:  “Stupid cunt bitch!”

I’ve met one man on a dating site who is wonderful.  Truly a good guy.  We’ve been friends for 6 years.  He had his chance 6 years ago, but he was just out of a 20 year marriage and put himself out there too soon.  This past February he told me the stupidest thing he ever did was push me away.  We’re beyond the point of romantic relationship though – that time passed as we morphed into close friends.  He’s been involved for 3 years now with a woman from a dating site who has borderline personality disorder.  She’s got severe health issues and her doctors don’t give her long to live (of course – that was 18 months ago), and this man feels “honor bound” to take care of her.  Co-dependent.  She’s just like his ex-wife.  I couldn’t have anything but a friendship with him because I’ve seen too much of his relationship patterns.  We’ll stay friends.

There was the guy who waited until date two at a fancy restaurant to tell me he “actually” had five children, not two.  The youngest was 10 months old and his wife was pregnant with number six – by him.  Funny, his profile said he was divorced.

So, given this array of specimens to be found on dating sites, add to it my latest – the N – and I’m not dating anyone from a dating site ever again.  I’ll take my chances in the real world and maybe I’ll get lucky.

I’d love it if some of you would post your dating site experiences here.