Saturday, December 30, 2006

More Contact

The Sister This Time

On April 20, 2006, I told my sister that I was gone. In my final letter to her I said "...the only sister you get to keep is the sister you don't abuse." *SLAM* The door was shut very firmly in her face. In the course of one letter, I told her eight times that I was out of her life. Since then my husband, daughter and I moved to a whole new state. Neither my parents nor my sister were told we were moving. I have kept the email account of mine that they have. What they still don't know is that the email account is the only way they have to contact me. They have no mailing address or phone numbers. We put in a temporary postal forwarding for six months which means the post office doesn't do address correction. At this point, they don't yet know how out of contact with me they are. The only mutual relatives that know where we live moved with us to our new location...and they are also out of contact with my parents and sister. So, no news of myself ever reaches them anymore. It's a nice feeling.

Last April, my sister had pulled one of her manipulative, lying, and nasty stunts on me. I called her on it. She eventually responded with a non-apology. It was a masterpiece of con artistry. I didn't fall for it. Told her she had pulled this kind of stunt for the last time with me. So, that means we parted ways with my sister needing to apologize for real for something she did.

So, the day after Christmas I check my email to find two separate notifications from Amazon that I had received an e-card and gift certificate from my sister. One for me, one for my daughter. My sister hasn't had my daughter's email address for years since she never made any real attempt to cultivate a relationship with her niece long before I cut off communication between myself and my sister. It was rather a shocker that D.... would send Christmas gifts in light of the above mentioned history. It was also inappropriate.

I recognize the "gifts" as a Trojan horse. She is trying to ride those gifts right back into my life. She sent an e-card with the gift certificate to me that was a picture of a snowy mountain scene personalized to say, "I hope you have snow. Merry Christmas. Love, D....." Um, yeah. Okay, forty dollars and that insipid note are supposed to buy her some goodwill? Sorry, I can't be bought that easily. I told her the price for admission, but apparently she is unwilling to pay the price I demand, which was a complete apology where she acknowledges what she did. She would try to stipulate the terms of her release with this post-Christmas Christmas gift.

So what to do with this overture by my narcissistic sister? Ignore it. It is the only safe thing to do when one has gone into "no contact" with family narcissists. They are famous for using the holidays to try to worm their way back into contact. I read the stories over and over at the ACON e-group. My terms of reconciliation were made clear. I was unambiguous. Narcissists don't want to play by any rules other than the ones they make up. For me to acknowledge sister's gifts in any way would open a door that I firmly shut. I know how the Amazon gift certificate thing soon as I opened the notification they sent me, Amazon sent sister a notification that I received her gift. That is all the acknowledgement she will get. Hopefully, the lack of reward for her $80 will be a disincentive for her to send gifts next year.

This was the Christmas season for bringing out the narcissistic relates. I'm getting the distinct impression that they are having a hard time dealing with the fact that I'm no longer around for them. I am glad that my absence has created their unrest. That was part of the purpose of it. I knew that they would be more forced to deal with who they are and how they treat people with me out of the picture than with me in it. You force narcissists to have to deal more with reality by being out of their lives. Which works out nicely for you. You can go on to live happily and peacefully without the narcissist while they stew in their juices out of sight and mind. Remember, you can't change the narcissist, but if there is any hope for change it will happen in your absence, not in your presence. You may never know about the change, if any should miraculously occur. That is called a consequence. There are consequences for bad behavior. Sometimes that means the people you've abused leave your life, or don't believe you've changed when you really have. Sorry. We're not required to hang around to see if our abusers have stopped being abusive. We have the right to self-defense and the right to not have a relationship with bad people. Even if those bad people call themselves Mom, Dad and Sister.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Contact From the Dark Side

It was two days ago, December 23rd. The doorbell rings. It's Mr. Postman dropping off a box. I picked up the box and gasped in horror and amazement at the return address. My father. The box is addressed to my 24 year old daughter. There is a postal forwarding sticker on it. My father doesn't know we've moved to another state so he addressed the box to our previous address. Our mail forwarding is still in effect for a couple more months so his package was routed to our present location and not returned to him. (By the way, we put in a "temporary forwarding" which has some advantages if you're trying to keep your new address from someone. During the forwarding period, the post office will not do address correction. At the end of the forwarding period, the post office will still not do address correction. It is a great way to keep those stacks of catalogs from following you to your new address as well.)

My father and I stopped all communication in October 2005 after a hopeless exchange of letters in the wake of my telling my mother I was not going to talk to her anymore. His motivation was to convince me to make things "right" with my mother. My motivation was to tell him I would still like to have a relationship with him even though I found that having one with my mother was insupportable. He made it clear that wasn't an option. I very politely ended our hopeless exchange allowing him the "winning position" by not answering his last letter to me which was filled with history revisionism, lies and accusations. I didn't want to further antagonize him by continuing to refute him.

Back to the box. My daughter immediately opened it and found a very short, typed note on top of a photo album. The note said:

Dear N......,

Since my three score and ten is rapidly approaching I wanted to give you this before it was too late and your family history was lost forever. It is nice to know where you come from, even if there is a rift in the family right now. I know your children and their children etc. will appreciate it even if it doesn't seem important right now.

I hope you all have a great Christmas season.


On the front of the album is a computer generated label that says, "The Family History of [Daughter's full name]. The album starts with my father's side of the family. A few copies of old documents going back to my great, great grandfather with some very old photos. Cool. The bulk of the album is dedicated to my father's side of the family. All the photos are copies. Until he gets to pictures of me as a child. Original photos all. Yes, indeed. Apparently, he doesn't need to keep originals where I am in the picture. Interesting. Then he has a large picture of me with my first husband who is daughter's biological father. This is a man who was almost entirely absent from my daughter's life. But he is memorialized in this photo genealogy simply because blood is all that matters with my dad. My daughter was raised by the loving man I am still married to, and he adopted her. He doesn't even get an "honorable mention" in this album, except, perhaps, for the fact that the full name of my daughter splashed across the outside of this album includes the last name of her adoptive father! This inclusion of her bio dad and exclusion of her REAL dad greatly irked my daughter. There were other significant oversights in this picture gallery of people. Including my daughter's older brother who died in infancy. No indication that he ever existed.

Then my dad gets to my mother's side of the family. Two pictures of my maternal grandmother. One when she was around 18 and the other when she was in her 60's. That's it. No pictures of my mother's many siblings, cousins, grandparents, or even of my mother (except where she is in pics of me or daughter in the previous section of the album). This has led to various speculations on our part. I suspect that my mother is being petulant and refusing to share. This album was my dad's idea, not hers. She would feel no obligation to cooperate much. My dad probably has a few residual good feelings about my daughter, his granddaughter, but not so my mother. The confrontation between my mother and me that led to the final break was precipitated by something she did to my daughter. My mother has never been affectionate with her any semblance of affection with my daughter likely evaporated in the feud.

My first reaction to this photo album was gratitude for my father's efforts. But as I thought about things, I started to lose any feeling of sentimentality as I realized what a slap in the face this was intended to be. His granting of this family history to my daughter is the same as his saying that I am dead and gone to him. Even with the present estrangement he could have shown some effort at conciliation by bequeathing the family history in its proper order by giving it to me. But, no, it is clear that I am like a dead relate to him. Believe me, I am very happy that my daughter has this little bit of history. I am only commenting on what the message is that my dad is sending to me by giving this to her.

Another thing is how this is proof that I will receive nothing when he dies. (Not that I wanted or expected anything. This was something my husband noted.) Everything will go to my sister including all family pictures. I will not have access to any of this when he is gone. He is making sure, before he dies, that something gets passed on to his only grandchild as a way of preserving the past for future generations. Another thing that lends itself to this interpretation is that he did not use this gift to his granddaughter to establish any request for continued contact with her. He is simply using her to 1) take a swipe at me 2) look like he is a good guy 3) preserve some part of himself for the future. He doesn't make any expression to his only grandchild that he misses her, that he would like to stay in touch with her, that he gives a flying crap about her. It is really all about him! He sees the danger that all memory of him and his bitch wife is going to vanish when they die.

While my father seems to value keeping a record of dead relatives, what is ironic in all this is how he and my mother are estranged from every living relative save one. My sister. And, who knows, maybe they are estranged by now too. I'm not in touch with my sister anymore so I wouldn't know.

My husband, daughter and I live a few houses down the street from my father's brother (my uncle, obviously). His daughter (my cousin), and her two sons live with him. My father and mother are estranged from all of them too. When my daughter showed this album to my uncle and cousin, my cousin noted how many of the copies of early documents, photos and newspaper clippings were ones collected by my dear uncle over the years. My mother insisted on borrowing these things a half dozen years ago so my dad could get copies. My father is still in possession of the originals and never even gave copies back to my uncle. Yes, indeed, my parents STOLE these things from my uncle. We have the proof in our album! Apparently, my parents felt entitled to own these things which is why they wouldn't consider it theft.

My daughter is still trying to decide whether or not she will acknowledge receipt of I'll let ya know how it goes. By the way, even though my father may have intended to impress me with how dead I am to him, it does not excite any emotions in me but mild bemusement and general sense of being entertained. He can not hurt me. What he thinks of me is of no consequence whatsoever, so he is unable to hurt me or rile my feelings. I just sit here looking on in quiet amusement as I receive more evidence that my parents have no peace in their hearts. Our estrangement has brought me much peace and happiness. But for them, the estrangement leaves them with a constant reminder that their false reality is indeed false. My dad is trying to gain a little bit of peace by assuring himself that some semblance of memory of him will get passed on. I hope that works for him. I guess I do feel a little something else in the wake of this. A tinge of sadness. I really do feel sad for my dad that his wife was worth giving up relationships with the rest of his family. I feel sad when I imagine his bitterness and loneliness. But the sadness is moderated by awareness that he chose it all.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Words and their importance

Words have meaning. They are conveyances of logic and the very basis of rational thinking. Without an agreed upon understanding of the definition of words there can be no cohesive society, there can be no framework to hang a civilization upon. Words are designed to communicate. They are to send unambiguious meaning from one person to another. Every social contract is defined by words. Those words must have a precise meaning not subject to individual interpretation for the words to have any force, authority or meaning. Words work best when used to transmit truth, reality, logic. Words are harder to employ to transmit feelings or abstractions. Yes, they can transmit these "hard to nail down" things, but it requires more effort and artistry. Even so, these efforts rely even more heavily on words containing precise definitions.

Enter: the narcissist. The narcissist's use of language is a study in perversion. To pervert something is to misuse it. To debase it. To "misconstrue or distort". If language is the medium of clear communication, and it is, then to pervert the use of language is to use it to fend off communication. To obscure. To fend off understanding. To avoid committing to an idea. To throw you off the truth and send you down a blind alley so the con-artist can avoid exposure. To transmit false realities...i.e. lie. The narcissist hates nothing more than to have you hold him to his words. He reserves the right to change meanings of words, to make claims of never saying those words, to twist up your thinking with shifting definitions of words. He uses language to his own ends. He destroys social contracts by not allowing himself to be held to anything he says. He is a language anarchist. He is the antithesis of civilization. He is a danger to every society he finds himself in be it a family, a work place or a nation.

By his misuse of language he perverts his own mind. Over time we see the narcissist losing track of reality. We see him slipping further and further from the moorings of objective truth by his life time of perversion of truth into lies. His thoughts, which are designed to be organized by language, become disorganized and non-cohesive because words long ago lost their meaning to him. The shifting sands of redefining reality by redefining words have greased his palms and left him with no grip on truth. We see the aging narcissist become trapped in his delusions with no ability to find his way back to truth because now his mind can not work properly. His perversion of language eventually perverted his thinking. He is adrift ...cut off from true society by his misuse of his mind and his misuse of the great conveyance of thoughts by the vehicle of language.

Beware of those who misuse language. Pay attention to the words people use and hold them to what they say even if you are holding them to their words in your own mind without confronting them. If they won't "own" the words they choose to use when you proceed on their words as if they meant what they said, then consider that a red flag if a pattern of this behavior develops. Words have meaning. Words are the foundation of our thoughts and the most important medium for a cohesive society. The meaning of "is" isn't shifting and elusive. Know for yourself what words mean and don't allow someone to pervert what they mean in your own mind. This will allow you to live in reality. This will make it hard for anyone to brainwash you into believing a false reality. Words have meaning. Stick to the meaning and you'll get through life with your rationality intact.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

This Is Your Brain on Hypnosis

A relevant subject if you've ever dealt with a narcissist...

At the end of my commentary I'll be providing a link to an interesting article on what is going on in your brain during hypnosis. Scientists have come to recognize and respect that hypnosis is something real. Real in the sense that it is possible to affect how someone may think or act by applying certain techniques. This article explains how hypnosis is about how the brain interprets sensory input...the brain is wired in such a way that it is quite easy for it to suppress outside input and create an alternate reality. A certain percentage of the population is considered "highly suggestible"...a small percentage are impervious to hypnotic technique. Children before the age of 12 are extremely vulnerable to hypnosis because of the immature wiring of the brain.

How is this relevant to the topic of narcissism? I am convinced that the narcissist has learned intuitively how to hypnotize people. I am also convinced, due to my personal experience and through observation, that narcissistic parents employ their hypnotic suggestions to their very young children before those children have any hope of resisting. I believe this is why it takes so long for adult children of narcissists to break free from their evil N parent(s). On average, an ACON will likely be around the age of 40 before they seem to be able to break free mentally from all the early programming of their N parent. It is a painful, difficult process to shrug off what feels like the absolute underpinings of the universe that have been programmed into your very DNA before you were able to rationally override hypnotic suggestion.

Hypnosis is not magic. It is not supernatural. It is really quite simply a process that takes advantage of how our brains naturally work. It is potentially a very powerful tool of mind control and is therefore a dangerous tool. I think it is wrong to assume control of another person's mind for any reason. Humanity is too morally weak to always be benevolent with this type of power. But I am convinced that it is imperative to understand how hypnosis works because we've all been affected by it at some time or other. The narcissist's primary weapon of choice is that of hypnotic suggestion. Your best defense is to know yourself. Know how to recognize when someone is trying to hypnotize you by seeing the signs in your own reactions. For the easiest and best handbook on how to recognize when hypnosis is coming at you I will again highly recommend the book, "Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry" by Albert J. Bernstein, Ph.D. He takes all the mystery out of hypnosis and gives practical advice on how to evade it.

Here is the link to the article This Is Your Brain Under Hypnosis.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Living a lie

It can be easy to be sucked back into the N-vortex when they shift their tactics. I have pondered just a bit into why we adult children of narcissists (ACONs) get suckered by our N parent(s) when they suddenly seem to be "nice". I think at least part of the reason is that we are honest-hearted people. I have noticed that honest people don't presume deception in others. Especially in our parents or close relations. More on that in a moment.

Here is the scenario I'm picturing as I write this: you've been used and abused by the narcissist for years. You've started to get a clue as to what you are dealing with. You start establishing some boundaries, you start using a backbone, you are putting up with less crap. In the wake of the changes in you, the narcissist will also appear to change. They take on a more submissive posture. They seem to be behaving better. You start to have hope that you've made a difference. You start to believe that the narcissist's character has changed. You are set up for a fall. It is typical for a narcissist to back down when their source of narcissistic supply shows strength. They are bullies. Bullies back down when challenged; bullies start to whine and cry when someone stands up to them. That is what the narcissist in your life has done. They have not changed who they are, they've only changed tactics. What they can't get by baring their teeth they will attempt to get by showing a "softer side". They may suddenly appear reasonable. The rages stop. Or they will make a great show at being helpless and pitiful. They may suddenly get religion and make a profession of godliness and make a great show at waxing their halo. Whatever the new, softer version of narcissism you see in front of you, know this: it is still a narcissist you are dealing with. The fangs are still there....they've just hidden them for effect.

When the N makes changes in behavior they simply are employing a ruse. Ruse = deception. They lie. They lie by omission, commission, by a look, by a sigh, by insinuation. They are the personification of a lie. We, the honest-in-heart, have a hard time conceptualizing someone who exists entirely in a lie. It is not socially acceptable to allow our first presumption to be that someone is lying. Especially when it is a parent. No, we are to presume they are representing the truth...and only accept that it was a lie when it can absolutely be proven to be one. Once a lie has been proven you then have to shift back to the default position of presumption of the truth. It is this default position that screws us up over and over.

The sad, yet absolute, fact is that the default position when dealing with a narcissist is that they are lying. The anomaly with a N is when they tell the truth. They so seldom tell the truth that you don't even have to worry about mistaking that truth for a lie. They don't deserve to have us believe one thing they say or insinuate. If we presume that whatever they are doing, whatever they are saying, is designed to manipulate and deceive, then we are in a much safer and saner position. So, whether they are being "nicer" or whether they are raging, they are the very same animal. Predatory. The predation NEVER stops. Presume the fact that every waking moment they are predating you, and you'll always be on your guard even when it looks like they are now "safe" to be around. Never stop watching your back.