Narcissism In The Work Place – Redux

I see a lot of search terms in my stats that include “narcissim in the work place”  and “how to spot narcissism in the work place.”

The first and best bit of advice I can provide is this:  It’s just as difficult to spot it, initially, as it is in personal interactions.  Narcissists abound, within and without the workplace.  So be aware; prepare not only for the technical aspects of your interview, but have a small list of characteristics beneath your note-taking page to remind you what to look for.

When you first interview for a job, you’re usually so excited that you got the interview, and you’re so focused on doing your best in that interview that you don’t notice body language, tones of voice, and/or certain other behaviors that could be dead giveaways that you are interviewing with a narcissist.

Before I discuss that, though, let me say this:  If you are interviewing and/or work in corporate America, you can bet your sweet little bippie that you are surrounded by narcissists.  Perhaps your department isn’t rife with them; perhaps the individual in the cube next to you isn’t one.  You can rest assured, however, that at some point, you WILL run into one.

I suggest you first read this post.  It will open in a new tab.  Read it before you go on an interview.  Read some of the other posts I have here on NPD and Narcissists.  That won’t guarantee you won’t wind up working with a narcissist, but forewarned is forearmed.

As a rule, you don’t recognize a narcissist until they’ve already damaged you.  The average non-NPD simply doesn’t think the same way a narcissist does, and many of us have experienced the devastating fallout that comes from working with a narcissist, to the point of losing our jobs.

Narcissists will win.  Even if you manage to block a move or two, they will manage to tap dance around you, and the abuse will escalate.

Even in these tough times, I advise getting out if you find yourself in a nest of narcissim, or if you are working with one powerful enough to destroy you.  You’ll know, because your stress level will be intolerable, you will find that you are questioning your sanity where you never did prior to working with this individual and you will find that you have become grist for the rumor mill.  You go in as grain and you never come out . You simply keep getting ground.

It is better to be poor and have your self-esteem intact; to be happy with who you are, than to be financially comfortable and in constant fear for your sanity, health (stress will kill you), and miserable.

We all have choices.  Some may seem very painful at first and we don’t like pain.  No one does. Sometimes the most painful choices are the ones that are best for us and our families.

Jus’ sayin!

 

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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.

 

 

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.

 

 

Search Term: Narcissists Aren’t Bad

I saw the search term: “narcissists aren’t bad” in my search engine stats just now.  For anyone who wants to know whether a Narcissist is bad, I’ve written enough here about it to let you know.  🙂

That said:  Narcissists aren’t bad people, they are people who do bad things.  There is a difference.   The school of thought to which I subscribe, because I believe it most accurately presents NPD as we encounter it most, is the one that says a narcissist is an individual whose emotional growth ended between age 6 and 7.

This age has commonly been known as the “age of reason.” It is the age, in most cultures, where a human child is believed to be emotionally developed to the point where he or she is capable of understanding the difference between right and wrong, and is capable of acting upon those differences, regardless their choice of action.

By the time an NPD individual reaches this age, he or she has assimilated emotional (and sometimes physical) abuse into themselves.  They have integrated it into their own personality and for purposes of personal survival, have created clear lines of demarcation for good and bad within themselves.  Generally, they will have been born to, and raised by, at least one NPD parent, if not two.  If they have one NPD parent, the odds are very good the other parent is steeped in the emotional trauma wrought by a narcissist and is not capable of protecting the child because the non-NPD parent is too busy attempting to protect themselves.

The child witnesses this emotional war and defines for him or herself, based upon what they observe and are told, the best method to protect themselves from further hurt.  This protection comes in the form of creating an alter-ego that, within the confines of their own minds, becomes themselves.  This alter-ego is all-good, all-powerful, all-knowing, and many times simply omnipotent.  The child creates an alter-ego that allows them to be God, thus giving them the illusion of control, at least within themselves.

This alter-ego is not to be confused with multiple personalities or schizophrenia.  It is simply a coping mechanism whereby the child, who, at this point has been filled with the terror and humiliation of unrelenting emotional abuse, manages to construct, in his or her childish mind, what they believe they should be based upon what they’ve been told they really are.

Emotional abuse is contradictory.  The child of an NPD may be told one day that they are the sun, stars and moon and that their N parent believes them to be special in a sense that no other child is special.  The child internalizes this.  It goes in the “good” drawer.  The next day, the N parent contradicts what was said the day before and tells the child he or she is stupid, clumsy, and compares the child to the the sibling of favor for that day.  You know the routine:  “Why can’t you be like so-and s0?  So-and-so isn’t stupid.  So-and-so got an A in arithmetic.  So why didn’t you get an A?”

The child internalizes this.  This goes in the “bad” drawer.  The child keeps the “bad” drawer locked as often as possible and only opens it far enough to allow devaluation to slide in and then the drawer is slammed shut and locked.

As the child grows physically, he or she remains at around age 6, emotionally.  An NPD has never learned to integrate the “good” and “bad” into a whole.  This is a crossover trait to Borderline Personality Disorder.  NPD and BPD have many crossover traits, and I’ve found that when the behavior issues are seen in a male, they are termed NPD and when they are seen in a female, they are termed BPD.  This is not always the case, though.  It’s simply what I’ve seen.

Now, think about a six-year-old child.  What is their primary focus?  Their primary focus is themselves.  A normal six-year-old child, raised by emotionally healthy parents will experience emotional growth that corresponds to their age.  A six-year-old child who has a narcissistic parent, and another parent who is too busy attempting to survive the abuse perpetrated upon them by the narcissist, will retain, and further, hold dear, their primary focus, which is on themselves.

The child has constructed an alter-ego who they have come to believe is their “real” self, because at age 6, they subconsciously know that they can’t be as bad as mommy or daddy has said they are.  It is at this point that all the good that might be in that child is sublimated to the alter-ego.  The child grows up believing they ARE their alter-ego.  They also know, but refuse to accept, that the alter-ego is nothing but a construct pulled from what they have perceived to be “good” along the way.  They add to that drawer full of “good” – they add the ability to mimic empathy and compassion, but because they have sublimated their TRUE ability for empathy and compassion, and because the parents have not nurtured this ability, all they have is what amounts to a photograph of it.

So they keep taking photographs.  Enter the mirror.  By the time the child has grown to adulthood, he or she has become very adept at watching others and adding photographs of what they perceive as acceptable behavior to their “good” drawer.  The problem with this is that they stopped developing, emotionally, between ages 6 and 7, so their criteria for good is that which they originally created as a child, and is unreasonable, unhealthy and a total illusion.

These children, who were unloved and abused and who learned to cope through construct, have grown into predatory adults who seek mirrors in the form of other human beings.  They seek love, because it is a driving need for them.  They will never admit it is a need as deep as hunger, but it is what they seek.  Having no foundation for love; no good role model for it, they believe love is defined by all those photographs they have taken of behavior that fits the construct created when they were 6 or 7 years old.

These adults can’t love because whatever love they gave prior to age 6, was repudiated.  Think about a child between the ages of birth to 6.  I can use my own son as an example.  I have never felt more loved or needed in my life, than during those years when my son was between birth and age 6.  At age 6 he began to truly think for himself, to spread his fledgling wings and for those who watched, including me, his behavior was a giddy balance between self-serving action and true remorse when he realized his actions had hurt someone who loved him.

At age 6, my son was learning to assert himself as an individual; he drew from his prior experience with me and his father, and grew in compassion, empathy, and love.  He learned that while he might want always to be the center of attention and so special as singularly “better” than anyone else, that he WAS NOT singularly special, beyond the fact that I thought of him as special only because he was my son,  nor was he always going to be the center of attention.  He learned this was a good thing.

Children of NPD parents do not learn this.  Their journey into adolescence and adulthood is dramatic, traumatic and filled with contradictory information.  By the time they reach adulthood, they have lost the key to their “bad” drawer and their “good” drawer has spawned several more “good” drawers, each filled with a jumbled detritus of what they have deemed, with their six-year-old emotional capacity to be acceptable behavior and character traits.

This is why an NPD is, at first, extremely charming, seemingly compassionate, empathetic and sensitive to your every need.  They are pulling from their “good” drawer those characteristics they have deemed useful to their effort to gain attention.  As they grew, they became more selective.  If they were in a group gathering, they would watch to see which members of their chosen sexual orientation seemed to be having the best time, and then they would watch to see what was causing these people to have such a great time.  They would photograph these behaviors and file them away.

Remember, a photograph is a shutter click in time.  It is not extended reality.  It is merely something that is for a short time.  At this point, an NPD has nothing within themselves to draw upon for normal interaction, because they built their bomb shelter long ago.  Nothing was allowed in that didn’t pass their stringent criteria, because anything that came in had to be something they could recognize as a reflection of what they viewed as “good” in themselves.

Over time, this collection of “good” gets confused.  It is never filed in any order, and it’s never given another thought by the NPD other than as a tool with which they can bring people into their lives.  It’s not a tool that is well-maintained.  It is a tool that is disposable. When it wears out and doesn’t work anymore, the NPD goes in search of more supply.  The “good” drawer is never quite empty because the NPD, like an addict, will see his fix getting low and will become frantic to replenish.

Straight male NPDs will go in search of straight females who exemplify all the qualities they have in their “good” drawer.  Remember, the NPD doesn’t actually have these qualities in himself, he simply has pictures of those qualities, and they are qualities he actually believes are his, not something stolen from various mirrors/prey along his journey to find the perfect mirror.

The qualities the NPD stalks are those qualities that he can only mimic, because in order to sustain the qualities, they have to be an integrated part of the personality.  The NPD stopped integrating anything into his personality at around age 6.

The most dangerous part of all of this is that the prey of an NPD doesn’t know they are prey until they have fallen victim to the NPDs abuse when they stop mirroring what the N wants, and believes he is entitled, to see.

The N believes that all the qualities he sees in his prey are HIS OWN qualities.  Because he sees them as his own qualities, he cannot sustain any form of relationship, as relationships are all about give and take.  They are about compromise and reciprocation.  An NPD does not compromise and he does not reciprocate.  He pretends to those things, for a very short time, because those are qualities he knows nothing about other than having seen them, briefly, in someone he held in esteem for a short period (because that person mirrored his beliefs about himself so well).  As soon as anyone evinces dissatisfaction with the Ns behavior, they are instantly and ruthlessly devalued and discarded.

That’s not the end, though.  The N has programmed himself to destroy anyone or anything that might reflect poorly upon him.  After the first session of D&D, the victim will probably believe she truly DID do something to hurt this wonderful person and will set about attempting to right something that she never did wrong in the first place.  The N will complacently sit back and watch, ever-vigilant for a slip-up.  He will direct the victim’s actions, controlling everything and at the first inkling that the victim might step out of line, the N stomps.  HARD.  The devaluation gets worse, it becomes vicious.  Sometimes it becomes deadly.

Herein lies the truth:  The NPD is not stomping on the victim.  He is stomping on a MIRROR that is reflecting what he  knows and understands to be his true character, and he is destroying it so that he does not have to look at it.  To look at it; to confront it, would mean deconstructing his safe-house; it would mean tearing down all the carefully constructed walls that took decades to build and an NPD does not have it within themselves to do that.  It is not possible.  Some say it is.  My observations show otherwise, but I’m not a psychiatrist.

Narcissists didn’t start out bad.  I don’t believe they are, at a soul level, bad.  I do believe that the young age at which they built their defenses dooms them to behaving badly for their lifetime.

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.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pink Blinders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remove the PINK BLINDERS now!

Sorry folks, I suck at brevity.  🙂