Sunday, February 17, 2008

Devalued and Thrown on the Junk Heap

Many of you have been baffled by the sudden devaluation you've experienced in your relationship with a narcissist. You had reason to believe you were important to them as they have been to you. You've been supportive, loving, taken the heat, hung in there--only to find yourself one day treated with inexplicable coldness, cruel disdain. What the hell happened?

It will be helpful to ask a narcissist what the deal is. Sam Vaknin can describe in almost clinical terms how this all works.

"The narcissist mistakenly interprets his narcissistic needs as emotions."

The absolute driving need for the narcissist is seeking sources of attention, i.e. narcissistic supply. What he said in the above sentence is important to remember because we all make the mistake of thinking the narcissist is motivated by what motivates us. For example, we pursue a relationship with a person of the opposite sex for many reasons. We're looking for shared dreams, companionship, love and passion, family, etc. While the narcissist appears to be pursuing these objectives, hopes and dreams along with us, they are actually motivated by something quite different. They are simply looking for a teat. A place to suckle on the milk of human kindness. You have been assessed to be a source of supply. That is your purpose and function. Period. They mistake their narcissistic drives to be emotions. And so do you. They dance the relationship dance with you which has all the appearance of being motivated with the same motives you have. They mouth words of love and fidelity which confirm to you that you both are on the same page. Meanwhile, they feel complete aversion to real intimacy. They are not truly connecting with you on an emotional level. You are not aware of this distance. Not yet. No, they are after something very different than what you're after.

They have this addictive need for supply, for a certain quality of attention that you've been determined by them to be a rich source of. They groom and pet you so you will continue to release the sweet nectar of life for them. Once you are hooked, then it is your job to groom and pet them. You are there for them to fall back on when the more important and impersonal sources of outside supply are in scant availability. You regurgitate all the past remembrances you have of their moments of glory. This will keep them going in those times of famine when the most delicious sources of supply are not forthcoming.

I find it interesting that Vaknin calls the grand outside sources of impersonal moments of glory as being Primary sources of supply, while the poor schlub back at home who kisses their ass and picks up after them is designated a Secondary source. Isn't that just like a narcissist? In Vaknin's classification of the quality of supply sources he puts us beneath the less available and less predictable sources of supply and gives us the role of second fiddle. The truth is, without these so-called secondary sources the narcissist would be in a fair fix most of the time. That observation aside, we'll operate from his paradigm for the length of this post so we can see how the narcissist views us rather than how it really is. Because in this context how the narcissist views us is really the point. When you are in a relationship with a narcissist you have entered the narcissist's "Pathological Space" and therefore his/her rules apply. In their space they are the ones defining reality for you.

"But then, often abruptly and inexplicably, it is all over. The narcissist is cold, uninterested and remote."

Vaknin then describes some of the reasons for the sudden devaluation of you. First of all, the qualities that made you attractive as a source of supply are also reasons for the narcissist to look down on you and see you as inferior. He lists some of the qualities the narcissist finds attractive in a supply source:

"...sufficiently intelligent, sufficiently gullible, submissive, reasonably (but not overly) inferior to the narcissist, in possession of a good memory (with which to regulate the flow of Narcissistic Supply), available but not imposing, not explicitly or overtly manipulative, undemanding, attractive (if the narcissist is somatic)."

Ahhh, but the cruel catch is that these qualities insure that the narcissist can perceive you as inferior to them; at some point, they will hate you for your inferiority.

This is also experienced by children of narcissists. The child will conform and strive to be as the parent demands. This requires submissiveness and fear. There will be times when the child is despised for the very fear and submissiveness that was demanded of them. Why? Oh, who the hell knows. From what I've seen it is because there are times when the fear and submission is inconvenient to the narcissist. Or they simply need an outlet for hate and they suddenly choose to see the child as a coward instead of a well-trained slave. The child is confused and despairing because the more they try to be what they thought was expected of them, the more they are devalued and despised. It is a horrifying experience for a child and probably has caused more than one suicide. You as an adult have been nearly shattered by your sudden devaluation; multiply your reaction ten fold to get a sense of the child's pain and confusion.

Vaknin gives a few more reasons for the sudden devaluation.

"...the narcissist resents his dependency. He realizes that he is hopelessly and helplessly addicted to Narcissistic Supply and is in hock to its sources."

"...the narcissist perceives intimacy and sex as a threat to his uniqueness. Everyone needs sex and intimacy - it is the great equaliser. The narcissist resents this commonness."

Last, and certainly not least:

"...narcissists simply get tired of their sources. They get bored. There is no mathematical formula which governs this. It depends on numerous variables. Usually, the relationship lasts until the narcissist "gets used" to the source and its stimulating effects wear off or until a better Source of Supply presents itself."

There ya have it. It hurts like hell to suddenly find yourself reduced to being shit on the bottom of some narcissist's shoe, but, if you can wrap your head around this, it's not personal.

Yeah, it was never, ever about you. It was always about them. All about their relentless and all-consuming pursuit of the nectar of supply. You simply made yourself available for feeding upon. You were an means to an end. Nothing more. Yeah, that smarts. Hopefully, though, you can force yourself to realize they didn't set out to hurt you. They don't see you. It's not about you. It will never be about you. You didn't exist for them as a fully feeling and sentient human being. They can not properly assess your value as a person. You are only as good as the nectar of attention you can give them. No matter how great the quality, at some point they get bored. All you'll get for thanks is a door in your face and a big kiss off. They are nothing more than big children who play with their toy for days, weeks, months. Then one day they lose all interest in the toy and kick it aside for another. Like the toys in Andy's room that sit in the toy box ignored and devalued by the newest toy...you've been drastically and catastrophically demoted. All in a moment, a twinkling of the narcissist's eye.

They've moved on to another source and leave you to the licking of your wounds. Lick your wounds, but don't work on that too long. You have reason to be thankful. You are no longer being used. You are no longer someone's sycophant, slave or fall-back supply source. Been dumped by a narcissist? Thank the God in Heaven for your new lease on life and resolve to not again be taken in by a parasitic narcissist. They are not worth the tears you're shedding for them. You are weeping over the relationship you thought you had, but never did.

Life is too short.

Quotes from Vaknin taken from here.

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh, so true, so true. This came at the perfect time for me. I'm transitioning from being the shit on the bottem of the shoe. This explains it all so well. This is a great site and so educational as well as comforting. Thank you...

jordie said...

"Hopefully, though, you can force yourself to realize they didn't set out to hurt you"

I am a bit confused. I was operating on the understanding that the malignant narcissist enjoyed other people's pain and deliberately inflicted it.

Would you mind clarifying this point?

So, what IS in a heart? said...

I get that some people are more susceptible to an N than others, but no one is really immune to it. There's a lot of strong, smart personalities out there that never thought they get abused and ended up being that way anyway. :/

One other reason Ns might hate the "fearful and submissive" is because it's probably an extension of their own internal demons. THEY would be afraid and submissive too were they in a similar situation, and they loathe it. So, they end up hating the very thing they want out of others. Vakin did mention that Narcissists are cowards and are easily intimidated.

"All you'll get for thanks is a door in your face and a big kiss off."

True, and as painful as it is, it's actually easier and BETTER in the long run than trying to leave them. It's much harder to get rid of them.

There has to be a way to make it THEIR idea to leave you if suspect that someone you know is an N or any other kind of abuser. Or, find a way to not be a target to begin with.

Anna Valerious said...

Even when a narcissist is feeding off the pain they inflict on you...it really isn't about you. They are feeding. It is basic, primal survival for them. Even when they are hurting you, you are an object. You are depersonalized. You are a tool. And means to an end. When they are hurting you, they are feeding.

It can be hard to juggle this around in your mind to make it make sense. How they can enjoy inflicting pain and yet refuse to even see you as a human being...it doesn't make sense unless you frame the picture in terms of a predator. The predator doesn't see the antelope and think about the antelope in terms of being a living being with feelings. The predator doesn't identify in any way with the prey because they plan to make the prey into DINNER. Antelope = meal. That's all. The prey has no needs or feelings that the predator must bother with. The predator is entirely focused on getting fed. It is not about the antelope for the lion except as a feeding opportunity.

So, yes, the predator registers that there is an antelope in his sights, but he doesn't worry about the antelope's feelings, its right to live, whether it is terrified, whether it may have dependent young...none of that matters to the predator. They only see a feeding opportunity. Does the predator hate the antelope? No. It isn't like that. The predator must feed and the antelope presents an opportunity to fill that desperate need. In that sense, it isn't personal. Even when they get supply from your pain, it is still not any more personal than the lion taking down the antelope.

So, what IS in a heart? said...

One more thing before I forget. IMO, Ns subconsciously know that the "sycophant" is only being that way to avoid further punishment, not because they want to BE an N's sycophant and so are punished anyway.

Yea, it's all sick, and yea, life's too short to even think of putting up with it. That's why the advice is always "get out while you can".

Naive No Longer said...

"it is still not any more personal than the lion taking down the antelope."

But when the lion takes down her own lion cub, it's personal. It's personal to all of us who have experienced that hurt first-hand.

It may not be personal to the narcissist who uses everyone and everything as means to an end - in order to meet their selfish needs. But it is sick and pathological.

Even in the animal kingdom, one wouldn't see a lion taking down their own cub (correct me if I'm wrong).

Anna Valerious said...

Not saying it doesn't feel personal. Of course it does. I'm just suggesting a way to help a person detach from the feelings of betrayal by the narcissist. Realizing how little value you had to them is an important mental step to disengaging your emotions from them. This blog is about helping people find the thinking which will free them from the narcissist both physically and emotionally. If you want to believe it is personal, you will allow the pain of their behavior to continue to ruin the quality of your life.

Yes, you're right. The lion doesn't eat her own cubs...usually. That kind of thing can happen in the animal kingdom (eating their own young) but it isn't common. It isn't natural. Neither is it natural what the narcissist does to their own children. No analogy is perfect; the predator analogy is also imperfect. People are in possession of a very large brain which is equipped with the ability to make moral decisions. The animal does not have this. Despite a large brain and a prefrontal lobe, the narcissist has reduced their existence to predation as if they are just an animal. Of that there is no argument. They have chosen to feed off of their own kind. That they choose to do it even though they are not an animal makes them evil. But no predator personalizes and identifies with their prey. Even the gentle farmer doesn't name and befriend the steer that he plans to butcher for the family dinner table. Even when we are decent we don't identify with and personalize our meal. The narcissist has to greatly depersonalize us in order to easily devour us. If you can accept that fact you will be able to more quickly disengage your emotions from the narcissist. To be physically free from the narcissist is only the first step. You always have to free yourself from them emotionally as well. I've offered a view of their behavior that can facilitate that happening sooner rather than later.

Naive No Longer said...

I wasn't taking issue with the analogy. Just commenting - more like venting - at how personal it can feel to be depersonalized by your own mother (not that you were insinuating otherwise).

Your point is well taken about needing to accept these facts about their behavior in order to emotionally disengage from the narcissist. As you can tell, I am still in process with this!

The truth in your viewpoints on this blog greatly facilitated my making the decision to go no contact. Freeing myself physically has been an important first step. I am now giving myself permission for the first time in my life to acknowledge what has been done to me and have emotions that weren't allowed growing up. She cast such a spell over us that we weren't allowed to see let alone acknowledge (even to ourselves) that she was anything but a good mother. She had our heads so messed up, I always thought "I" was the problem...it couldn't be her.

Your last response (comment) was extremely helpful for me. Something about the logic in the presentation and the clear-headed, clean truth to the thinking cut through another layer for me. It's so cool when that happens! It's like an aha! moment. I now see where I am allowing myself to stay emotionally entangled with her on some level. For the first time I feel hope that I will ultimately be able to fully disengage with her emotionally.

Thank you, Anna.

Anna Valerious said...

There has to be a way to make it THEIR idea to leave you if suspect that someone you know is an N or any other kind of abuser. Or, find a way to not be a target to begin with.

There is a way. It is called not making yourself look like lunch meat to a possible hungry predator. Which is what Kathy's blog post on "Vaccine for Narcissism" addressed so well. I posted the link in my post of 2.08.08 for anyone who may have missed it.

holy water salt said...

Anna-
Thank you for all your work.

I do think some narcissists that are psychopaths do play with their victims, it is in a way personal.

My N/P targeted me b/c of disability and the setting we met in. I have read psychopaths love to snub their nose at institutions like schools, churches, and courts.

I like the predator/prey analogy, but Ns are human (yeah, barely) so I cannot ascribe all their behavior to instinct....they are not mentally ill, they have a personality disorder. Mine used to play elaborate games to dupe people...and it mattered who was there. Though I suppose you can say it could be any priest, not Fr. Smith, but I wonder. In order to get-off on the game they have to know the people involved, we can't be random people.

And I know for certain it's me that want to kill, not just anyone. They said that themself.

Thanks for the blog- I need these reinforcements as I often feel so
damaged. I know, I know it's not me, but Ns do a number on your life.

Anna Valerious said...

I'm going to make one more run at my line of reasoning before I let everyone take whatever view they will without further comment from me on it.

The cat and mouse.

After a long hunt, the cat catches a mouse. Cat tosses mouse in the air and captures it again. Cat holds mouse in it's mouth and walks around with it's tail held high right before she drops it. Cat lets mouse try to get away only to delightedly capture and torture it again. This game is played until the mouse dies or escapes. Is the cat interested in the hundred other mice on that acre of land? No. Not once she got one in her teeth. The cat's attention is focused on the mouse she is tormenting simply because this is the mouse she has captured. If the mouse were sentient it would probably wonder why the cat hates it so much. Why me? The mouse would feel like it was personal. But for us, who stand outside the situation, we can clearly see that the cat was only hunting for a mouse. It doesn't matter which one. It doesn't matter if this mouse has a name. Its only value is that it is the mouse in the cat's paw. That, dear friends, is not personal. That is convenience. That is the "bird in the hand worth more than two in the bush" motto in action.

Once again we are looking at a predator/prey dynamic. Yes, the cat is focused on and interested in the mouse because it is the mouse that is in the cat's reach. Is the mouse personally affected by the cat's actions? Absolutely. Would the mouse be correct to think that it is something special about him that made the cat turn him into a plaything? Other than just being the one that got caught, no, it would not. In that way, it is not personal. In the sense that the narcissist/psychopath has caught themselves a plaything, yes, they are focused on you. It is you they want to torment and murder for no reason more complicated than you are the mouse in the cat's paw.

This viewpoint is a very objective one. You can only "get" it if you stand way outside yourself and look at the players from there. This understanding of it not being personal is not based on how it feels. It feels personal. The torments have been designed based on your reactions to things. But this is true for the cat with it's mouse. The cat enjoys the predictable reactions of the mouse and sets up the game to exploit those reactions. Is that personal? No. It is calculation. It is perversity. It is cold exploitation of another for nothing more than what it does for the predator. The cat is in it completely for itself. So is the narcissist. You have the misfortune of being the mouse they happened to catch. If it wasn't you they were tormenting, it would be another nameless mouse from the field. That ain't personal.

Toni said...

Excellent post and so true. My n's used up one person completely and moved on to me. Watching how they operate it is like they use people as tools and like the title of the post, the tools get old and worn and thrown on the junk pile. Only to be replaced. They don't hate the old tool, as a matter of fact they might look back wistfully at the old tool and how good and sturdy it was for its useful life.

I can see why they like to stick to people they have hooked, it is easier. Until the victim doesn't feed them anymore in whatever way they need. They they will move on and replace the tool with another.

Agreed, what makes them so evil is that they are not animals, they are not running on instinct as the cat is. Yet they behave as the cat does with its prey. While they may be mistaking an evil motivation for emotion, they are not completely cluless as to their doings.

Intellectually they know we are not tools and that we all have feelings, they choose to ignore this and do things in the way to satisfy themselves, instead of doing the hard work of looking within. If we are viewed as objects they have nothing to question or possibly feel bad about when they abuse us.

I KNOW deep inside my Ns know they are users. I know they know using is wrong. They say so about other people. They don't connect it with themselves because they choose not to go there.

It is personal because it is family, but really it isn't- not to them or me. I was just born here. If they could use the other person closest to them as they did, I have nothing to feel bad about, it's not me. They are cold as stones, they are feeding, sucking N's and whoever is easiest to feed off of will be the prey.

So, what IS in a heart? said...

This page can also give you some ideas on why the predator operates the way they do:

http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/stalking.html

If you're in THAT situation, then there is a reason why he says not to handle it yourself.

"There is a way. It is called not making yourself look like lunch meat to a possible hungry predator. Which is what Kathy's blog post on "Vaccine for Narcissism" addressed so well."

Yea, I read that article and liked it A LOT because it rang true for me too, but what I meant was to never even get noticed by them, but I guess that's impossible unless you're a strong hermit sort of person.

But, I was also asking about people who might already be ensnared by such a person because it seems to me that the damage is less IF it's the abusers idea to leave. Unless, the "vaccine" works in this case too.

Also, personal or not, it stems from the Ns own internal issues more than anything. Once you detach from them and see them objectively, they're a lot less damaging and ultimately easier to get them out of your life since you see them for what they are.

Just my 2c.

Anonymous said...

Very well put. I do recall my N said one day on the phone:

" I could marry any of these people walking down the street." Any! All interchangeable.

I remember these bits of conversation, like "AHA, OMG----NO"

Thanks Anna- your explanation, does make sense. If they personalized, they wouldn't be Ns. We are all objects.

HWS

Anna Valerious said...

Toni,

Thank you for saying it in yet another way...and for getting it. You totally get it.

Anonymous said...

I think the act of wrapping our minds around the impersonality of the N's motivations is hugely difficult yet very important. While the N's would quickly deny or minimize any lasting effect to us from their behavior, they would not want us to ever believe that it is not totally personal. To the N, our behavior, our actions, our choices, our faults and inadequacies "make" them do what they do. Correcting us, teaching us, advising us, rescuing us, fixing us, collecting what is their due, demanding fair payback, accusing us, etc, is all in response to our specific characters, our actions and our particular relationships.

The N would be horrified at our ability to see it as ultimately impersonal. It would not only rest the blame squarely on the N, but make it easier for us to see revealing patterns including their covert abuse of other people, past or current. And the more we can see the N's as impersonally motivated, the easier to spot a ploy as it is happening. Strip a N ploy of its customized and personalized trappings, and we can see a predator on the take.

It is actually scarier to see the N this way, and that is important too. A mouse who thought a cat's attack was "personal" could feel a possibility of controlling or changing the cat's behavior, a possibility to negotiate or educate. The mouse who saw the cat as a compulsive mouse killing machine, would never feel even remotely safe anyway near one.

krl said...

Anonymous of 7:12PM said what I tried to write all afternoon and couldn't find the words..(so I gave up and didn't post) Thank you. Makes 'sense' to me!

krl

Naive No Longer said...

OK, the cat and mouse thing hits home.

"A mouse who thought a cat's attack was "personal" could feel a possibility of controlling or changing the cat's behavior, a possibility to negotiate or educate. The mouse who saw the cat as a compulsive mouse killing machine, would never feel even remotely safe anyway near one."

I have finally given up the notion that I could negotiate or somehow explain ANYTHING to my narcissistic mother to make her magically see and change. Ha!

And now it is sinking in that it is not ME (in a personal sense) but could be ANYONE that the narcissist could get their hands on as prey. As Anna said, whatever mouse is within the cat's reach.

This may be a slightly different but it struck me how I can see this dynamic so clearly when it comes to a loved one whose husband cheated on her for years and what a shock it was to find out. She was truly a devoted wife and mother and did nothing to deserve this. She thinks his behavior speaks about her personally... that she's just not lovable enough, that she must've done something wrong, etc.

I have repeatedly told her. This isn't about you. This has nothing to do with you. It is HIS issues that caused him to do this. To lead a double life for years and years while appearing to be an upstanding Christian husband. In that sense it is not personal, it is not about you personally but rather about HIS sickness.

While digesting all of what is being written here it struck me that I am able to see objectively in the above illustration yet couldn't apply it to my own situation. And now I see that in the same way, it isn't personal. My mother is sick, and acting true to form. I was just within handy reach. Especially as the first-born. Oh look, now I have a defenseless child. What better prey for my supply!

This is about her and her sickness and her sick needs. THIS IS NOT ABOUT ME. I just happened to be born to her.

Anna Valerious said...

Anonymous @ 7:12 PM,

Brilliantly stated. Blazingly brilliant.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear that that resonated with people, and many thanks Anna.

I really appreciate your blog and this forum for respectful dialogue and exchanging ideas and experiences. Community and knowledge is empowering, and this is exactly what the N's would NEVER want us to have. Thanks for doing this amazing blog.

- anon 7:12

Anonymous said...

Regarding my own situation, I firmly believe that part of the struggle in not seeing the devalue/discard maneuver as personal stems from my own possible narcissism (I hope not!)

What I mean is that I wanted to believe that I could succeed where so many others had failed. I wanted to believe that my N really bonded and cared for me, that I was exceptional. Therefore, when I found out that I was as disposable as the rest, it was brutally difficult to not see it as personal. To go from being built up as this great and important person, to being thrown away overnight, really shakes one's confidence up.

I fell victim to allowing my own ego to be played upon by this person. I'm starting to see how it's my own grandiose impressions of myself that have kept me from truly seeing my former N as impersonal, their actions not being about me. Again, for me, it's been about getting over the fact that I'm not exceptional and wasn't more meaningful to them than the scores before me.

Naive No Longer said...

Anonymous @ 10:48.

Why would you have to consider yourself "exeptional" in order to receive common decency and courtesy from another human being?

You are hardly narcissistic yourself. You are simply seeing this from the narcissists point of view... that you would indeed HAVE to be exceptional in order to receive this kind of treatment from THEM. Heaven forbid!

krl said...

I'm wondering if the 'exceptional' reference from 'anonymous' was meant more like being exceptionally patient, exceptionally loyal, exceptionally longsuffering, exceptionally understanding toward the N....thinking that surely this would make a difference because we thought no one else had tried as hard....and because we felt that everyone else had just dismissed them too soon. (At least, that was MY experience with my Nmom....and how I felt over 50 years with her....and of course, REALLY felt shat upon when I realized what I know now.)

Toni said...

This is so timely. I just got "tooled" by this family N and wanted to provide this example.

It was a long hard day for me in which I had traveled in bad weather, got a lot of work done, and was finally ready to head back home. n-sis calls right before I'm leaving- can I give her a ride, please, it'll be quick. She knew she would be needing this favor but gave me no notice until I'm ready to leave. I'm annoyed but if she needs it, fine.

Then as I'm getting in the car I hear her say to n-mom "I was going to have Sheila (her daughter) bring me but this was just as easy." Sheila is unemployed, lives at home and was lounging around the house doing nothing. I did not know Sheila was home. How is it just as easy to call me, have me go over there, drive her there and back out of my way, when someone in her house could have just made one trip? I am disabled, twice Sheila's age and had been up since 4:00 a.m. working. N knows all of this.

It was just as easy to have me do the task because I'm an object for use. Sheila is not. Sheila would do if I, the tool, were not there. It does not matter that the object is less able to do the task than the person, Sheila, or that the object may be damaged. Things don't suffer. An object can be dented, cracked, broken but to the N, pain, feelings, don't come into the picture. It was "just as easy" to assign a task to this object. Easier, I'd say.

It would seem intentional or personal, wouldn't it? It's not. And she gave me a pie. That was just the equivalent of greasing the old mower after you've abused it, so it'll work the next time.

And you know what I want to do with that pie.

Anonymous said...

For Anon Feb. 18, 7:12am, you and Anna have explained what has been troubling me for the last year as I deal with Devalue/Discard from N spouse. It felt like being locked in battle, with him ascrbing all blame to me, but I can now see the profound depth and complexity of his manipulations. Down to the tiniest details, he has worked to control every interaction, especially the last few years. It felt so personal, and has been so destructive, but the cat/mouse explanation makes perfect sense. Yes, I was the actual mouse in his jaws, but it really wasn't about me. How sad/horrible to have to realize how he made the nearly 20 yr marriage rot from the inside out. "jewell"

Liesel Elliott said...

I just want to say thank you. Your posts never fail to open my eyes. As a child of a N mother and a father who was himself raised by 2 N parents, it has taken me an incredibly long time to understand our family dynamic.
I'm finally "getting it". I'm finally able to see my mother for what she is, and how her actions, upsetting though they may be aren't "personal".
It isn't easy, and I still fall into the trap of expecting my parents to act like, well, "parents".
But anyway, thank you. It's so nice, after all these years to know that it isn't me that's the crazy one.

Anonymous said...

I guess what I meant by my use of exceptionalism concerned my duplicity in having believed my N's rhetoric regarding my "specialness," distinguishing me from all others that ran in our circle.

Don't get me wrong, I hold this thug accountable for being an overall soulless person. However, it has caused me to do a painful amount of introspection, as I have been caught up in similar relationships in the past. At this point, I am working on changing what it is about myself that seems to make it easy to gravitate towards narcissists. One thing is to go with my gut in the future. I think we call get those little clues that something is drastically off about a person, but we ignore it and only remember it when it's too late!

Over the span of three years,I noticed my N easily discard "friends" and heard them talk about other significant "others" they had easily left, as if it were as easy and natural as breathing. To be sure, the clues to my ultimate fate and their true lack of regard for me were firmly laid out before me for several years. However, they actively went to great lengths to inculcate my "specialness" in me, which I think we can all fall prey to. It's this I'm trying to work on, as from what I've been told, N's don't ever really change, but I can, and in such a way that I can avoid such disasters in the future.

From my own experience,the devalue/discard routine is perhaps the most mind-numbingly cruel aspect of ending a relationship with an N. I think I'd describe it as being left in an uncomfortable twilight world, caught between knowing the truth intellectually and not being willing to accept it emotionally.

Writer in Washington said...

On the flip side of this, my husband chose to end his relationship with his daughter because of her behaviors. Now he is the "villian" because he closed the door to access to our lives until she genuinely repents.

It is really not that he "discarded" her--she sold her relationship to him to the highest bidder (her mother and her grandparents) and started a character assassination campaign while still living in our home. At one time we had all three of his kids living with us fulltime w/o one cent of child support from the ex-harridan. The grandparents were sending her $ to a "private" bank account which we accidentally learned of. When he confronted her, she lied about it all, although we had the proof right there. Amazing, truly amazing. In addition, we had copies of e-mails that she'd sent to friends and both of our families portraying herself as Cinderella. My husband told her that he was putting her on probation for three months, and that if she wanted to continue living with us she would have to stop what she was doing. She chose instead to go live with her mother, but was warned that if she continued her character assassination it would end his relationship with her. She not only continued but became 100x worse.

So--discarding relationships isn't necessarily due to anything other than protecting yourself from a vicious N.

Anna Valerious said...

So--discarding relationships isn't necessarily due to anything other than protecting yourself from a vicious N.

You're new here, welcome :o). This is well understood and extensively covered on this blog. Going no contact with a destructive narcissist is usually the only real option for sanity and safety. It is definitely not related to what the narcissist does to their former sources of supply as discussed in this post. Most of the time what I cover here is the importance of going "no contact" with a malignant narcissist. This post is the flip side of my usual presentation. The motivations for decent people to end a relationship are as far removed from the malignant narcissist's motivations as the next galaxy. Which is why the MN's motivations must be examined...people usually don't "get" what is going on because they assume MN's have normal reactions to things. They don't. Hence, the necessity to spell out what they do and the perverse reasons they do them.

Writer in Washington said...

Hi, Anna:

Yes, I'm new. I was directed to your site from Kathy's by another person (so, what is in a heart?). I am a strong Christian, which is probably what has kept me and my husband sane throughout the past eight years. I can't say that the "christian community" has been at all helpful, in fact, most of our friends have been converted to the other side, I should have said "former" friends. Anyway, it is a welcome relief to find that we are not alone. Perhaps I should write my own blog about all we have been through. :)

Anna Valerious said...

WIW,

Yes, it is usually the case that other Christians are more of a problem than a help in dealing with malignant narcissists. This is one reason I take on some of the usual crap that Christians like to hand out like Job's Comforters and insert reality into the mix. You have my heartfelt sympathies.

By the way, you live very near where my sister does. (Gorgeous part of the state you're in though a bit too wet for my tastes!) I am presently "no contact" with her. When I saw you in my stats I wondered for just a moment if my sister had found my blog. I keep an eye out for her. The day she finds my descriptions of her here is going to be a very interesting day indeed.

Writer in Washington said...

I completely understand. I am always on the watch for my husband's former wife and his kids. We do live in a beautiful area, but may be moving to TN soon. We have family in the south and we would like to get away from the N's reach. She is so obsessed, though. I don't know if moving will do any good in the long run.

So, what IS in a heart? said...

WiW, check this link out:

How to respond to BS people.

I'm none too keen on the title of the blog, but he has some great advice on how to distance yourself from crappy people, and not just BPD abusers either.

If you think stalking may be involved, then check out:

No Nonsense Self Defense.

Has helpful info on stalking and recommends books/ways of dealing with, er, less pleasant people. I link that place a lot for it is very good!

Barb said...

When leaving our former church I remember a night where my husband and I were in bed and he said to me, Honey, _______ never was your friend. He then detailed our relationsip. I cried and cried and didn't believe him. I then asked my true friend, my daughter and finally a sister that only visited occasionally. They all said the same thing.

I have never heard my relationship with my pastor's wife and myself detailed so exactly as this post. Some things have finally made sense to me. I will be grateful for a very long time.
Thanks.

Anonymous said...

newly made aware
I feel so stupid that I was sucked in by this couple. The inflation stage lasted for 3 years and just ended abrubtly. I don't feel bad we both my husband and I feel relief...but I know that thsi MN is bashing me in public and had the nerve to call me at work yesterday to provoke a fight and now I can tell that I was still feeding her and now I know to totally disconnect and say good riddens!!! THANK YOU!!!!

Anonymous said...

I had two friendships that went the way you described in your first paragraph and the other comments you quoted: "But then, often abruptly and inexplicably, it is all over. The narcissist is cold, uninterested and remote."
"...narcissists simply get tired of their sources. They get bored. There is no mathematical formula which governs this."

The first friend (of 15 yrs.) dumped me, stopped returning phone calls, disappeared off the face of the earth, and it happened after I told her I'd had a miscarriage. A couple of months later a mutual friend called me, said she was still in contact with that friend and she was telling people I was too boring for her.

A couple of years ago I read a book called "What Did I Do Wrong? When Women Don't Tell Each Other the Friendship is Over" by Liz Pryor. After reading this post, I wondered how many of the friends she talked about were really narcissists.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

thank you, thank you, thank you... everytime I get upset and think back about his rage and complete devaluation after which he started to pack my bags and told me to leave, I come back to this blog and sort of comfort myself with the cat and mouse comparison.

He litteraly used the word "convenience" when I asked him to describe to me what I had meant to him for the last two years; I was a convenience. I just happened to be there.

Words can't describe the hurt and pain I felt and still feel sometimes. Again; thank you for your blog and helping to disengage and detach from the feelings of betrayel.

Liselotte

Anonymous said...

I had been out of contact with the narcissist, my mother for 6 years. It was a terrible struggle to get away but I always had some guilt around it. So, with distance I started to contact. Because I had gone to ACOA and Ala-non meetings, my recovery felt pretty strong. I tested the waters and recontacted. The mother pull is very strong. But during the course of the years, other family members trashed me, I was literally crucified behind my back. I was left with no one in my corner. In my sick thinking, I just sent cards on special ocassions. I can see now that by going back, I set the ball in motion. I was ready to really test the waters and made arrangements to see my mother. But during a phone conversation, my stepfathers voice triggered a trauma response and I went into "fight or flight." I cancelled my trip (thank God they live 1200 miles away) and called a therapist to do some EMDR work around this. But I'm scared to death. My behavior looks narcissistic. I remember learning early on that this kind of behavior is a "mindf---." In an effort to test my recovery and establish a relationship with my mother, I proved them all right. I know I did this to myself by even attempting a reconnection. So, if anyone out there has in their mind that it might work out, trash the idea immediately. In Sam Vatkin's book he mentions something about the strange and ironic turn of events that the victim becomes the narcissist. This is almost eery but in trying to reconnect, my behavior "looks" narcissistic. I know from my recovery work that it was genuine and all I was experiencing was a need for that mothering that I did not get. This feels like it's getting twisted though. I am truly humbled by this experience. I do envision that (in my mind of course) family members rallying around her, trying to soothe her, feeling sorry for her and giving her all kinds of narcissistic supply. Meanwhile, they are also thinking "she was right about her daughter all along." As you can see, the victim was the problem all along.

sarah said...

Just realised my part time lover is a narci. trying to lose interest but till i do i want to keep him for a few reasons, while the good still outweighs the bad - only just. if i do not have any more emotional outbursts, keep a bit back from him, manage him as best i can, do you think i can keep him and protect myself from further damage till i'm ready to quit?

Anna Valerious said...

if i do not have any more emotional outbursts, keep a bit back from him, manage him as best i can, do you think i can keep him and protect myself from further damage till i'm ready to quit?

Who can tell? It sounds like your strategy will likely help you extend the length of the relationship. Whether or not you'll prevent yourself from further damage in the process only time will tell. Good luck with that one.

Katherine said...

Holy cow! My heart was racing as I read this. Having been deeply hurt by a person like this, it has not been easy to heal. Everything here sounds EXACTLY like him! I'm trying to process this information. I'll come back in a while. I have never felt lower in my life. I still feel that way. I still need time.

chrisy said...

i am married to a N he swept me off my feet - I left my husband of 32 years had to forego my lovely home and as soon as I married him he changed. I didnt understand why we had no intimacy in our marriage - we had had a fantastic sex life up until then -he said he had always been that way - no personal little intimacies just nothing... He has had 2 other wives and lots of affairs (how stupid was I not to spot that one!) The sex dwindled and stopped- but I was the one that decided that wanting him all the time just hurt too much -and I decided that next to nothing (and hurting all the time) I would just put a stop to it and stop all the hurting. There is no affection at all now = no cuddles few kisses and we sleep in seperate rooms - we are selling the house we live in and then I will be gone with the remnants of my life at 65 years old. Luckily for me I found out about Ns a year ago and have been "programming" myself since then to separate myself from him emotionally - but it will still be hard and it will still hurt like hell.