Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Site

Narcissism and Relationships Blog

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

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

So I’ve Been Away For Awhile…

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

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

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

So you’re asking what’s wrong…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Without hesitation, he said:  “no.”

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

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

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

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

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

Lord, let me do this right!

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.

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.

 

I Drove 330 Miles…and I’m So Glad I Did!

Like many of us, I see a psychiatrist.  I’ve seen the same doctor for 16 years, and when I first started with him, I really DID need him.  I was a mess!  With lots of support, encouragement, and good advice, I found myself healing from some serious childhood stuff.  I think my Doc is my medication now.  I was without him for almost two years after being transferred out of the area by corporate America.

I tried to find another doctor.  Folks, you can’t replace someone who has been there for you; who has been your ROCK for 16 years.  You just can’t.  It’s almost like a marriage, only with the professional boundaries in place.  So I decided, after trying yet ANOTHER shrink, that I was going to chuck it all where I am and go back to what I knew and trusted.

I drove 165 miles one way to get there today.  While sitting in his office, Doc _____ looks at my file and then looks at me and says:  “has it really been that long????  I could have sworn I’d seen you just a couple of months ago!”  I wasn’t sure what to make of that, so I asked him.  I said:  “hmmm – is that a good thing?”  Apparently, it was, because his reply was:  “Yes!  It means our rapport is so excellent that we can pick up where we left off, almost two years ago.”

My session with him was excellent and so worth the time, drive, traffic, and money.  I told him about the N, and described the situation to him.  I asked what he thought about it.  His reply:  “What do YOU think is wrong with this man?”   I replied that through research, I’d come to the conclusion the man was NPD.  Doc concurred.  He’d come to that conclusion simply from hearing me recite email conversations – and I surprised myself that I’d memorized them.  I was concerned about that because I thought maybe I was obsessing.  Doc told me no, I wasn’t obsessing, rather; I was doing what I do best:  analyzing and processing.

We discussed my primary relationship history.  Doc is a funny man.  He said:  “Okay, so far, with regard to primary relationships in your life, you’ve lived with a psycho domestic abuser, you married a dry drunk, you divorced the dry drunk and involved yourself in a long-distance relationship with a man who was very safe because neither of you had to invest anything in the relationship, then you married a man with Bipolar Disorder, you divorced him and it nearly killed you, then you moved in with a passive-aggressive Momma’s boy, and when that didn’t work you stayed away from men for awhile and started healing.  Now you tell me you found an NPD.  Are you done with men now?”

Yes, I’m done with men.  My judgment is obviously not at a level where I can trust it.  Unless the universe plants just the right man in my path, and gives me a sign that he IS the right man (and it would have to be something planetary, like Jupiter, aligning with Mars or something along those lines) I am done with men.

I don’t need a man.  I’d like one, but I’m fine without one.  I’m not emotionally needy now, although at one point in my life, as a young adult, I was extremely needy.

When I first started seeing the Doc he diagnosed me with borderline traits.  He told me this today.  I didn’t realize that.  He said he didn’t feel I warranted a formal diagnosis of BPD, because I was a high-functioning individual with a shitty childhood history to overcome.  He told me the that my official diagnosis was PTSD. I’d never thought to ask.

Without this man, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.  He told me why his formal diagnosis was PTSD with borderline traits and looking back over my life (I’ll be 50 in a few days), I can see how right he was.   I still experience issues with PTSD, the most common issue being what Doc refers to as “ghosting.”

If I have a choice, I never sit with my back to a door.  There were things that would happen to me as a kid and with my first live-in if my back was turned.  To this day, I will sometimes feel as though someone is behind me and I’ll whip around, in fight or flight mode and no one will be there.  People have seen this “startle” response in me – I whip around and go into a slight crouch, my muscles tensed and I’m told I have a panic-stricken look on my face.  That’s “ghosting.”  I don’t think it’s really a medical term, but it clearly describes what I’m feeling.  I’m feeling the ghosts of my past; I’m feeling them so strongly that adrenaline kicks in and my brain sends me immediately into both an offensive and defensive mode.  My posture becomes defensive and my mind pulls forward into the offensive, bringing all the rage I had and still have toward the people who hurt me.  The rage is there, but I’ve learned to control it, as opposed to allowing it to control me.  Life wasn’t always like that.

Doc helped me work through all the garbage that caused that response; he helped me work through to my SELF, to bring the good and bad together and merge them into the person I really am.  He was there through two divorces, three downsizes, an immeasurable amount of heartbreaks; he got me through the teenage years with my son, and all the way through it, he was there to let me know I was okay and that I would be okay.

So, given all that, why on earth wouldn’t I drive 330 miles round trip to spend time with such a supportive and encouraging individual?  Why did I think I could ever replace him?  I’ll probably still be seeing him when I’m 85 and he’s 90, provided, as he said:  “I’m still alive, all the grey cells are working and I don’t need my Depends changed too often.”

I always marveled at how stable his marriage was (and is).  He got married at 21, has four grown children that he adores, and judging from the photos in his office, a wife he adores and loves as much as the day he married her.  Well, I know that, because he’s told me.  He would be lost without his wife.

That’s what I always thought I would have.  I told him that today.  I’ve been very conflicted about this turning 50 thing and mentioned that it’s really bothering me because I’m not where I thought would be at this point in my life.  He replied:  “Maybe you’re not seeing the forest.  Do you think it’s possible you’re exactly where you need to be?”

Yup.  Right again.  I thought about that on the drive home.  I AM exactly where I should be and where I need to be – for me.  I can’t compare my life to anyone else’s life.  I can’t judge myself based on someone else’s accomplishments or what society has decreed to us is defined as “success.”  I AM successful.  I’m here, writing this, still alive, and an emotionally healthy individual who has, at this point, minimal emotional baggage.

I’ve accomplished one hell of a lot in my life, but most would see me as largely unsuccessful because I don’t have the material acquisitions that our society values so greatly.  I don’t own a home, I’ve been laid off 3 times in three years, I have no retirement or savings because I ran though it all through various terms of unemployment, and right now I’m past due on my car payment because my (former) boss turned out to be a total asshole and at this writing, I have $25 to my name.

Know what, though?  It’s okay. I got an email today that is going to change that financial picture.  My entire life I’ve always had what I needed, when I needed it.  I may not have always had what I wanted, but I ALWAYS had what I needed.  That should really be enough for anyone.

I find, as I age, that the things I want are intangible.  They are things only I can provide myself.  Peace, happiness and contentment.  Value of myself FOR myself.  Self esteem without entitlement.  The knowledge that when I look back, 40 years from now (because I WILL live to be 90) I will know that for most of my adult life, I’ve worked to do the right thing, even when it didn’t feel good to do it.  I’ll know that I succeeded in becoming what I truly want to be:  A human being who works to help and heal others, because through that, I help and heal myself.   It’s an ongoing process…

Deconstruction of a Dating Profile

For those of you who are trying to find love online, here’s an example of a dating profile you should avoid.  I dated this person, and since his profile is public content, there is nothing illegal about re-posting it here.  I will not post his dating-site handle (but I wish I could so women in my area who read this can avoid him) or his name.  I will deconstruct his profile for you.  My commentary is in red.

Most tell me I am warm, giving, knowing, and patient. 

Most of what? Most of whom? If “most” apples in a barrel are good does that mean that ALL apples in a barrel are good? Do you not know whether you are those things? No, you don’t because your entire image of yourself is a construct built upon what others tell you.

Others tell me I have a good sense of humor and am fun to be around.

Here we go again with what YOU say OTHERS say.  You don’t want to actually say that you have these qualities because deep down, you know you don’t really have them, you only present them when you are in the presence of others from whom you can benefit. Presenting these qualities is not the same thing as actually having them.

Many things interest me and I am entertained easily. I love kayaking, skiing, hiking, skating and most of the usual sports but I tend to gravitate toward the arts.

Note that this person places the emphasis on the more “extreme” sports, the ones that require more skill for the average person to engage in them.  There is only a nod toward the “more usual sports” because this person feels the “more usual” is beneath them.

I am emotionally healthy as I am filled with positive feelings and energy most of the time.

Um, okay.  How does that define emotional health?  Notice this person doesn’t say “others” speak to the individual’s emotional health.  This is something this person is CERTAIN of, and even goes so far as to define it for us.

I enjoy talking and listening and sharing emotions.

Be very wary of this kind of phrase in an online profile.  It sounds innocent and it may well be innocent as well as truthful, but I happen to know this person.  I dated him. He does enjoy talking – about himself.  He listens for perceived criticisms and the emotions he shares are thinly disguised rage.  He feeds off YOUR emotions and stores them up to use as ammunition against you. 

I’ve been told I’m old fashioned and I’ve been told I’m eclectic, urban and modern. 

Again, he doesn’t know himself – he tells us what others have told him.  He has no clue what he truly is. 

I think I’m a bit of mix since I strive for balance in most areas.

He doesn’t know what he thinks, since he’s already stated that his opinion of himself is garnered from the opinions of others.  How many people strive for balance in just “most” areas?  This is an individual who doesn’t know anything about balance and probably added the word “most” as a subconscious qualifier.  I doubt he even realizes what he’s said about himself here.

I am honest and loyal and sometimes too trusting.

This is classic NPD in this case.  Again, he  shows us that he hasn’t got a clue.  How can he be honest when he’s already told us that he has no clue what emotional health is and that he only strives for balance in “most” areas?  The part about being loyal and too trusting is a classic set-up from NPD people.  

This is a huge red flag, and it’s already setting his potential victims up to BE victims. He’ll be “loyal” and “trusting” until you evince dissatisfaction with him.  At that point, his entire visage will change, his normal MO will cast off the cloak of charm, warmth and affection and you will be told exactly what a terrible person you are, and any emotions you may have “shared” with him will be brought out and used to decimate you.  You’ll know you are nothing more than a thing to him, that you are disposable and he will attempt to convince you that you have misinterpreted him in all ways.  Any hurt you sustain from your interaction with him is your fault.  To paraphrase another source:  “so sorry that you’re a casualty of my pathology.”

An Optimist-idealist grounded in the practical.

Note he doesn’t state “I am an optimist-idealist grounded in the practical.”  To state that would not allow him to say “I never said I was that way.”  While this may simply be poor grammar on his part, based on the preceding elements of the profile, one could reasonably ask:  “Why is this phrase here?”  

I’ve been known to act like a child and think like an old man, then think like a child and act like an old man.

He’s been “known” to do these things.  Known by whom?  Note that he doesn’t state that HE ACTUALLY DOES THESE THINGS.  He simply invokes the ubiquitous and invisible “others” by use of the word  ‘known’.  

You? You’re easy to talk to and like to talk and laugh. You’re generally happy with yourself In body and spirit. You enjoy the outdoors and appreciate the fruits of the country but also like urban activities and the suburban typical.

First, he’s telling you what you will be if you are going to interact with him.  He’s not stating qualities he appreciates in another, he’s stating WHAT YOU ARE and if you prove not to be these things, you’ll be sorry.  He’s also pompous as hell – “appreciate the fruits of the country?”  What the hell is THAT?  You like to go apple-picking?  His entire profile is written from the perspective of condescending pomposity. What does “generally happy with yourself in body and spirit” mean?  Does this mean he’ll be okay if you’re sometimes not happy that way?  No, in this profile it means you WILL be happy with these things because he has decreed it.

Your open-minded, funny, and can enjoy laughing at yourself. 

He says nothing about compassion, independence, warmth, empathy, loving, giving, etc.  You are to be open-minded, funny and you have to enjoy laughing at yourself.  That is ALL you will be. Note he doesn’t state that you can enjoy laughing at him!

You are understanding and respectful and appreciate those qualities in me.

This time he tells you what you are.  You are understanding and respectful – and you WILL appreciate those qualities in him.  What he left off here is this:  “…as I interpret those qualities.”

This is what he’s currently doing with his life:

Generally: Surfing the curl of the daily experience and picking the next big wave. (Ahh…Escapism through metaphor) Family and Friends are most important. Life is care and devotion to myself and those around me.

Okay, this statement is fraught with issues.  First, he displays how  “intelligent” he is by using metaphor.  He also uses metaphor to escape from having to state what it is he is usually doing, which is trolling dating sites for his next mirror.  That would be “the next big wave.”  

He uses grandiose surfing metaphor to describe what he’s doing with his life, which is precisely NOTHING.  He states that Family and Friends are most important.   I know for fact that he doesn’t get along with his siblings.  His sister moved to Guatemala not too long ago to continue her education through experience, and when I was told about this I got very excited.  I wanted to know how she was, what her experiences were, etc.  

His reply was:  “I don’t know.  She left three months ago.  I haven’t had time to email or call her to find out how she is and what she’s doing.”  

I was stunned.  Had that been MY sister, I’d be emailing her daily, I’d be checking her Facebook to see new photos, I’d send her snail mail so she’d have things from home, cards and little things made and sent with love.  I’d be in constant contact with her.  

He stated his other siblings are “slobs” and had nothing positive to say about them.  Yet Family is most important to him. 

He spoke of his mother in glowing terms.  His mother died in 2007, and she was an excellent surrealist.  When I look at her artwork, I see the emptiness in her.  There is one painting that is scarily desolate.  

It is a depiction of  four humans in the form of trees, and the center “tree” is  obviously an older female who is oblivious to the trees around her.  The other three trees (her children)  surround her and their branches reach toward her.  She stands alone, with clearly defined space around her, space through which her children will never be able to travel.  She is powerful, she has no need of these other trees and in the painting, she is the tree given the most detail.  This painting gave me serious insight to this man’s relationship with his mother.

This man has also told me that he only has one dream.  It’s a dream where he is around 6, standing in the living room, watching his father chop the decorated christmas tree down with an ax.  His father left the family unit when he was 7.  He states that from that point forward, he never had a relationship with his dad because of what his father “did” to his mother.  My guess is that the N’s mother made certain the children drank the kool-aid with regard to their father. 

Notice in his last sentence above that he states that life is care of himself BEFORE it is care for others.  In my experience, care for oneself comes naturally when one gives of oneself to others.  If I actively nurture my friends and family, as well as the family of mankind, I am, by definition, providing care for myself.  I’m not placing myself ahead of others, I am working in TANDEM with others. 

These are his favorite books, movies and shows:

Most of my reading is done on the web.

Yup, most of it IS done on the web.  On dating sites.  He is a remarkably uninformed individual but if you read his pretentious list below, you’ll likely wind up with the notion that he’s remarkably WELL informed and well-read. 

I used to enjoy really long hair stuff like Proust and really silly stuff like Kurt Vonnegut.

I’ve heard Kurt Vonnegut described as many things, but never as “silly.”  Vonnegut is known for populating his novels with characters who are searching for meaning and order in an inherently meaningless and disorderly universe.  He’s known for his irreverent humor, satire of contemporary society and his focus on the futility of warfare and the human capacity for both irrationality and evil.  And this person finds Kurt Vonnegut SILLY

Pedestrian stuff like Michener and scary stuff like King.

Michener is pedestrian?  No.  Danielle Steel is pedestrian.  John Grisham is pedestrian.  Michener?  He wrote from wartime experience; he wrote from his experience as a world-traveler who immersed himself in various cultures.  He wrote compelling epic portraits of those cultures.  Nothing he wrote is pedestrian, yet he is casually lumped in with Stephen King, who, while being a great teller of scary stories, is rather pedestrian. 

Poetry by Stephen Dunn and tanka (Japanese Poetry Method).

Ahh.  Now we are getting to the meat of it.  Stephen Dunn.  Read Poem for People That Are Understandably Too Busy To Read Poetry .  G’wan.  I dare ya.  It’ll open in a new tab, so you can come back here without having to click “back.”  Read this gem and you will know exactly what an N is.  Until today, I hadn’t investigated Stephen Dunn.  Wow.  If I had researched him before I dated this man, I might not have dated him – or, being into poetry myself, would have thought him quite deep for being able to understand Dunn.  Holy shit on a brick.  Read Biography In The First Person .  Wow.  

Next he states he likes Tanka.  He doesn’t state he likes Haiku, which is characterized by the 5-7-5 syllable rhythm.  Oh no.  He’s special, he prefers Tanka, which most people won’t know anything about, and is characterized by the 5-7-5-7-7 syllable rhythm.  Yet, when I replied to one of his initial emails to me in Tanka he didn’t recognize it.  When I pointed it out to him, he said it wasn’t recognizable to him as Tanka.  Excuse me?  Anyone familiar with Tanka would have recognized it immediately.  Devaluation from the very beginning.

I have a wide range in taste in Movies but would watch an Oliver Stone effort over Ron Howard, Cohen brothers over Cronenburg, Burton over Zemeckis…

How many people take the time to tell the world what movie directors they prefer?  This is simply an effort to prove to potential supply that he’s arts-literate.  It’s grandiose, pompous, condescending and indirectly states:  “If you don’t like Oliver Stone over Ron Howard…(ad nauseum) you need to get with the plan.”  And the funny part about this?  He doesn’t watch films like these with ANY regularity.  He’s got a teenage son who monopolizes the television and they watch teenage-appropriate films.  When I suggested seeing an art film at the local art theater, he turned it down without explanation.  He simply said “no.”  

Shows favorites go more abstract: Salome over Cameron, Carmina Burana over Coppelia, Aspects of Love over Gigi, Circ Du Soleil over Ringling Brothers…

I really wish I’d read his profile more carefully.  He’s confusing opera with cult films, male choral performances with ballet, and it doesn’t surprise me in the least that he prefers Aspects of Love over Gigi.  In Aspects of Love, as Alex, the male lead, traipses through life nonchalantly breaking female hearts and at the end, leaves not one, but two women, in favor of a third, who wonders aloud what the future will bring, to which Alex replies “love changes everything.”  It’s not Alex’s love that changes everything.  Alex has no love.  In Gigi, Gaston marries her, because he understands what Gigi has been saying all along – that the world will perceive her as his mistress and Gaston has a conscience.  He doesn’t want to harm Gigi.  It would not surprise me in the least to find this list is merely a regurgitated reflection from comments he’s heard others make.

Music is a bit too large of a topic in my life for this textbox so I will leave it at, there is no genre that I don’t enjoy some part of. Food? Don’t like Brussels Sprouts unless they don’t taste like Brussels Sprouts. Other than that I go from the usual to the exotic in cuisine.

Wait.  He dumped all kinds of pretentious and pompous crap in about other things, but music is “a bit too large of a topic in his life for this textbox?”  If he loved all types of music, why not just state that?  Why not just state that music holds a huge fascination for him and he gravitates toward many types?  Oh no.  He has to mysteriously let us know that it’s “too large of a topic in his life.”   It’s SO large that it won’t fit in a text box that allows unlimited characters.  It’s infinite.  It’s much larger than YOU or I could EVER understand so he’s going to do us the favor of not expounding on it, because: 

At this point his sick of writing a profile that has to impress potential supply well enough to reel them in, and he believes he’s already done that, so he leaves us with a lame comment about not liking brussels sprouts and the generalization that he goes from the usual to the exotic in “cuisine.”  Not “food.”  “cuisine.”

While this is the deconstruction of my N’s online dating profile, perhaps there are elements of it that will help you deconstruct profiles you encounter that just don’t read “right” to you.  If your intuition is telling you that the person who has contacted you isn’t going to be a good thing for you, heed that intuition.  I did not heed it.  I allowed him to charm away my fears.  I allowed him to talk me into dating him.  Most men, when in receipt of an email that says “thank you, but I’m not interested in dating right now” will simply move on.  Not an N.  That presents a challenge for him and his perceived image of himself dictates that he MUST “conquer” this refusal NOW.  So that’s what my N set about doing, in a sympathetic and charming manner – so much so that I capitulated.  

Never again.  Matter of fact, I learned so well from this that just prior to removing all my dating profiles, I received an email from a guy whose approach was similar to the N’s.  I was on instant alert.  I refused him.  He persisted.  I refused.  He persisted.  I refused.  He sent his phone number, telling me he can’t wait until we talk.  I tell him we aren’t going to talk.  He replies that he’s made reservations for us at a fancy restaurant.  I blocked his ass and took down my last dating profile.  

 

 

 

What Self Esteem Is and Is Not

I could paraphrase and plagiarize the article I just read, but it doesn’t bear re-writing.  It is perfect as it is and I think it’s an extremely important article.  Dr. Nathaniel Branden has given us the real definition of self esteem right here:

What Self Esteem Is and Is Not

Dr. Branden clearly states what I’ve been ranting about for years, that the “self-esteem movement” is not about self-esteem.  It’s about self indulgence, and entitlement.  It’s about teaching our children to be self-indulgent and feel entitled.  It’s bloody dangerous and we have at least two generations who have been exposed to the pop-psychology “self-help” tripe of the self-esteem movement.

I encourage you to read the article.  It may be tough going for some, but it’s well worth the read.  It’s a little dry, but it’s quite clear and to the point.

 

 

 

Trolling Redux

I lifted the text below from planetjan’s  blog.  It is part of her post entitled Narcissistic Game Playing.  It has eerie significance for me because the last sentence echoes something my N said to me.  Read the lifted text and you’ll see some bolded text at the bottom.  I’ll clue you in below that text.

When it comes to relationships, narcissists have two birds to kill. First, because they think very highly of themselves, they use relationships to self enhance not caring whether this involves exploiting others. Think of it as feeding the beast. Although the narcissist desires perfection in a partner, in reality their partners (mere humans) are doomed to come up short. This game is not a cooperative game, but one in which the winner takes all.

But here’s the rub. Relationships are good in that they can provide positive attention and sex, BUT they are bad in that they demand emotional intimacy and prevent the narcissist from receiving attention and sex from other partners. If only they could have it both ways… (The feelings of the other person do not factor into the N’s thinking.)

So the narcissist turns on the charm, using all the extraversion and confidence he can muster to reel in a new partner. But “they would be careful to keep this relationship from becoming too intimate or emotionally close lest they lose control. Finally, narcissists would covertly seek out other potential romantic partners.” So it should come as surprise that the narcissist lacks a sense of real commitment to a relationship and is always on the lookout for an alternative, frequently flirting with others.

In this way, the narcissist maintains power in the relationship and a certain amount of freedom. If things go sour in the relationship, he’s already got his eye on his next target.

“Narcissists’ self-regulatory blueprint involves bringing people in and extracting esteem from them. If that entails being, in turn, charming, exciting, deceptive, controlling, or nasty, so be it.”

When I was in the devaluation phase with my N, he sent me the email I’ve pasted below.  First, understand that I’d already broken it off with him.  In a prior email he’d told me if I had something “important” to discuss, to call him, and not tell him in email.  So I called him and left a message letting him know I had something important to talk about.  He didn’t return the call.  So I sent him an email breaking things off with him.  The next day he sends me an email about a photo of me telling me how much he likes it.  I replied with:  “did you get my phone message?”

Below is his reply.  He completely ignores that I sent him an email two days prior telling him that I no longer wanted to be involved with him.   Obviously, nothing regarding me is important enough for a phone call, because he justifies sending what should be an “important” email by stating it’s going to hurt regardless what way he does it.  Devaluation.  I’m not worth a phone call.  At this point, it didn’t matter, except to confirm my growing knowledge that he’s a selfish, manipulative bastard who is incapable of sustaining any sort of intimate relationship.

I tell him I’m breaking it off and that translates to:  “you seem to want more than I can give right now.”

Then he gives me the slam-dunk.  He tells me he may be fooling himself into thinking he can maintain frequent contact with me right now, and in the same set of keystrokes tells me he’s trolling and has intention of spending that time he doesn’t have looking for other women.  The eerie similarity in the bolded text from PlanetJan’s blog text and what is in red and bolded below makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

——– Original Message ——–

Subject: RE: ops
Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2011 12:46:11 +0000
From: The N <the N’s email>
To: ‘Me’ <my email>

I think I’m going to hurt you be it in person or not so this has just got to happen now.

I like talking to you.

I like spending time with you.

But:

From my perspective you seem to want more than I can give right now.

I may be fooling myself into thinking I have enough time to maintain frequent contact with you and I certainly don’t want to give you any illusions.

 I am trying to bring a number of people into my life right now and it has been/will be taking a lot of time.

________________________________

I thought I’d got to the laughing point about this man, but this bit of serendipity made me want to go shower.  It made me shiver in horror at the thought of the monster I’d believed was a wonderful man.  It also confirmed, without any doubt whatsoever, that the man with whom I thought I was involved is a hardcore Narcissist.  There is so much going on in this email that I would emotionally exhaust myself attempting to deconstruct it any more than I have.  It would also cause me to become depressed again, and I’m not going there again.  I’m worth so much more than to allow myself to cycle down into depression again because the man of my nightmares is actually a living, breathing entity who lives 4.5 miles from me.