Sunday, March 30, 2008

The High Price of Peace at Any Cost

I have made reference several times to what I call the Cult of Nice. When referring to the Cult of Nice I have commented on how this 'cult' labels it a 'sin' or 'wrong' to hurt someone's feelings. Both Christians and secular types who've swallowed pop psychology seem to often subscribe to this belief. This anti-logic provides a lovely escape hatch for malignant narcissists because you can be made into a 'sinner' for calling them on their garbage, or for simply stating truth. They wave the flag of their 'hurt' feelings and it is supposed that you will then cease and desist or risk being labeled a hateful, unkind person. You're accused of being mean...which is like a cuss word to the Cultists of Nice-land. The tables get turned so fast that the victim becomes abuser in a blink of an eye in this alternate universe of anti-logic.

Those who subscribe to this kind of thinking are not being rational in any way. Which is why I tend to see this as a religious/cult-like type of thinking. It is a faith-type belief in the supremacy of feelings over principles. The Cult of Nice is a false righteousness that attempts to dismiss or disparage real justice or right-doing through name-calling. It is a useful belief system which allows you to eliminate any opposition to your behaviors or attitudes by this pretense that others are responsible for your feelings. If you are confronted with an uncomfortable or unwelcome truth you can trump that truth with your 'hurt' feelings. Then the only 'truth' that matters is that you feel hurt, angry, upset, persecuted, etc. This is a custom made system by and for narcissists and other villains.

There is an adjunct to the "we must never ever hurt anyone's feelings" tenet of the Cult of Nice.

It is: "peace at all costs."

If I could be allowed to surmise, I think it is safe to say that nearly every family with a malignant narcissist has at least one family member who believes in the 'peace at all costs' maxim. This self-appointed 'peacemaker' has likely held most of the other family members in line for the family narcissist by forcing these other family members to 'go along to get along'. Because the family narcissist can make life very difficult when someone crosses their will, the family peacemaker will shame other family members by telling them they are responsible for not 'upsetting' Mommy Dearest, or whomever the narcissist is in that particular family. Because when 'momma ain't happy; ain't nobody happy' is reality for that family, the peacemaker emphasizes how everyone other than Momma is responsible for not rocking the family boat.

The urge to be a peacemaker is a survival mechanism when we are talking about children and hostages. I don't think there is any fault in those who learn how to read their abuser in order to avoid their rage. I am talking about a different person. A person who is an able-bodied, full-grown adult with the ability to walk away. When this able-bodied adult requires those who aren't free to walk away to bear the abuse and injustice in silence...that is when I get seriously pissed off. When the peacemaker makes excuses for the abuser's behavior, yet won't cut any slack to the victims...I am enraged. What is particularly disgusting is the phony righteousness that the peacemaker gets to wear. Too many do-gooders act like it is some badge of honor to placate the blood-sucking monster instead of locking the beast up and throwing away the key. I speak metaphorically.

I didn't always feel this way. No, for most of my life I've lived in the Cult of Nice through the misfortune of my birth into my twisted family. It took me a very long time to be able to see the insanity of the system and extricate myself. As I write this, the example that I am reflecting on is my own father. He is a living representation of the ultimate cost of peace at any cost.

Don't picture my father as a obsequious, weak man. He is nothing of the sort. He was a man of strength and forthrightness at one time...a long time ago. This was a man who would never stand by to watch some stranger get attacked and he not intervene. With fists if need be. This was not true, though, with his own children. He seems to have had no perspective where it concerned how his wife was...and how she treated his own children. He saved his pity for her. He made allowances for her bad behavior because he believed her childhood explained (and justified) her bad behavior as an adult. Because he made these allowances for the perpetrator, he was not able to see his way clear to protect his children from the beast. Because he pitied the perp, he ended up consigning helpless children to her abuses. He loved my mother above all else. His children were unwanted and annoying appendages to his idol, my mother. He tolerated us because he loved her. This also made it easy for him to demand of us better behavior than he expected from a full-grown woman, his wife. He only 'loved' us when we were invisible or when we performed as he expected us to.

My father today is a bitter, angry, cynical man. His mind gradually poisoned by Worm Tongue against his children and extended family. I have evidence in his own writing that he has surrendered his integrity in order to keep peace with the devil. His moral compass is so broken that he feels righteous and justified to demand of me, his grown daughter, that I too capitulate to the selfish demands of his infernal wife. He sees me as the problem because I will not bend over and grab the ankles in order to 'make peace'...like he has.

Yes, indeed. The price for peace with a villain is very high indeed. It has cost my father much. He has lost every one of his extended family members. He has lost at least one daughter. All he has left is his evil wife. And, perhaps, the one daughter who greatly resembles his evil wife, my sister. Was it really worth defending the indefensible all these years? I highly doubt it. I have seen clear indications that much of the time he can't stand to be around my mother. They live separate lives. He speaks impatiently and angrily with her much of the time. There are times when he is tender and indulgent with my mother. These are rare times when she has managed to use enough of her feminine charms to soften him. He is not a happy man. He has paid out too much of his soul, though, to cash in his chips. He will stay with her to the bitter, ugly end.

Count carefully the ultimate cost of 'peace at any and all costs'. It is very steep. In the end, all you will be left with is the cold comfort of your pretended integrity and righteousness minus your soul.

54 comments:

Steph said...

Anna - while normally I agree with your posts, there's something that I'd like to point out.

For those of us who have grown up in homes with a malignant narcissist, learning how to set boundaries, particularly learning how to speak up when someone is being hurtful, is empowering.

I get what you're saying here - we're all responsible for our lives and our feelings. But I felt it necessary to point out that not all instances of someone saying, "Hey, I felt really hurt/angry/upset..." are about "eliminating opposition" or shifting blame.

Sometimes, it's just about standing up for yourself for a change. It's about saying, "I'm all done with silently taking your abuse, thank you very much."

Now will this change the abuser? No, of course not. Especially not if the abuser is a malignant narcissist, but that's not the point. It's changes the abused. It gives them power.

At any rate, I felt I had to point this out. I hope I didn't muddy the issue too much.

Anna Valerious said...

I agree with what you are pointing out, Steph. I was hoping that the context would help people understand that I am talking about how malignant narcissists and other consistently bad-behaving people use this trick. When they do it...it is most certainly all about eliminating opposition or blame shifting. Yes, sometimes we must stand up for ourselves and state clearly when someone is being hurtful. I'm not condemning that. But I'm also not recommending that we talk about our hurt feelings when dealing with a character-disordered person. You only hand them more ammo to throw at you. Only talk to a normal and decent person about how they hurt your feelings. They will act appropriately with this information.

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

"But I'm also not recommending that we talk about our hurt feelings when dealing with a character-disordered person. You only hand them more ammo to throw at you."

In fact, it's yet another red flag. When you state that something is hurtful, the response is anything from "too sensitive/issues, etc" to blame/excuses. IOW, it's YOUR fault/problem.

Anonymous said...

My mother and sister are both malignant narcissist. These two evil witches have been in collusion their entire lives. I cut them off almost 20 years ago.

Unfortunately, I had some contact with my MN sister last year. During the course of my communication with her it became clear that the deranged bitch was relaying all the information I confided in her to my malignant mother. My mother in turn, sent messages to me via my sister. I wasn't surprised, as I'm aware this is how these crazy psychos operate. Unfortunately, at the time, I didn't realize how much danger I was in by revealing some of my personal struggles. I can tell you that these two vultures smelled blood and went in for the kill.

After confiding in my sister that I had struggled with depression, she sent me an email that was clearly orchestrated by my malignant mother. It was a quote from that relic Ann Landers and the gist of it was, as far as depression and suicide go, well, some people are meant to live. My mother had read me that same quote when it was published some 25 plus years ago. I remember distinctly how strongly she agreed with it. My thoughts at the time were, of course you agree, that lets destructive, evil scum like you off the hook.

I soon learned, after the last encounter with my malignant narcissist sister and shadow mother that the slightest indication of pain, sadness or suffering, in short, any sign of humanity, only wets the appetite of the malignant narcissist.

I got rid of my sister once and for all. She and my mother are a package deal. I can tell you that if I ever have the misfortune of crossing their paths or that of any other malignant narcissist, I will show no sign of weakness. In fact, my M.O. will be to intimidate the hell out of them before they get a chance to deploy their narcissistic warfare. I know that the best defense with these monsters is to be totally inaccesible. Failing that, scare the shit out of them right out of the gate.

If a malignant narcissist has hurt you, telling them so only makes them feel happy, satisfied and powerful. Whether or not it is true, tell them how great you are doing, how happy you are and how life is going your way and watch them wither. Revealing your fortune is like throwing water on the wicked witch.

Anna Valerious said...

Anon @ 1:38 PM -- Very well said and excellently illustrated.

I know that the best defense with these monsters is to be totally inaccesible. Failing that, scare the shit out of them right out of the gate.

I completely agree with your approach. I have already planned such a tact should I ever have the misfortune of dealing with my MN mother or sister again. Or any other MN for that matter. Showing a character disordered person of any stripe where your vulnerabilities are is a suicidal act. One is not empowered by revealing to these types where your soft spots are. They are cruel, they are evil, and they delight in your pain. Don't give them what they feed on.

Katherine Gunn said...

Peace at any price is the same thing as appeasing evil. It never works. It doesn't work on the global scene. That was the line PM Neville Chamberlain (of England) used in the 30s concerning Hitler - appeasement - peace at any cost. History shows how well THAT worked out.

The same is true with Ns. They are evil. Evil is never satisfied. You give evil a little room and they will demand more - not stopping until there is nothing left - then being angry because there is nothing left and blaming you for that. The very nature of evil is to suck dry those who will let them and them despising them them - holding them in contempt for it. The illusion of peace - for that is all it is, an illusion - is not worth your own integrity or sanity.

My father chose to not even notice what his N-wife was doing to his children. He was too caught up in his own misery to even consider what was going on with his daughters. This is from a recent conversation with him. To his credit, he genuinely apologized to me for not protecting my sister and me from her. He said that the easiest way to deal with her was to just not challenge her. Yeah. That was how the majority of her family has always dealt with her from childhood on. The price for imagined peace has been huge in real peace. But I am at last finding what real peace is. It includes not seeing her hardly at all.

Anonymous said...

Anna, another great post! My dad was like yours, a strong man until he let my N sister move into his house after her divorce. She made his life pure hell for 20 years until he died at 85. Yet, he would defend her behavior somewhat to the rest of us, though also complain bitterly to me (I was the only one who would listen, and even then I chewed him out for letting her abuse him - his house, his money. She left him nasty notes that would sometimes reduce him to tears, and he often left his own house for hours to get away from her. When I would tell him to kick her out, he would reply, "I wouldn't do that to a dog." He, himself, had N tendencies.)

As he sat dying in his easy chair of congestive heart failure, my evil sister sat and watched TV. What was going on in his mind as he sat there half unconscious while she had the TV cranked?

When we initially took him to the hospital (they later sent him home to die as there was nothing they could do and that's what he wanted), my sister railed at us, "I'm going to die before he does." (She has RA.) She showed him no gratitude or sympathy, nary a thanks for all he'd done for her, just more anger at him in true N style. When my brother told her to come and say goodbye to Dad as he was almost gone, she came up with a dozen excuses not to. My dad was literally in a room 10 feet away from her, he had supported her for 20 years, including repairing her car (working on it till the bitter end at age 85), buying her groceries, and even buying her lunch every day, asking her what she wanted and going to town to get it for her. Can you imagine? She couldn't even bother to say goodbye to him.

May she rot forever in her private hell of loneliness, as the rest of the family has pretty much gone no contact. True evil, true unmitigated evil. Did I say loneliness? What a joke - she's probably already forgotten we exist. When my brother and I both pretty much ignored her feeble attempts at contact, she told her daughter that she was not going to talk to us any more because we were mean to her. We have both gone to extreme lengths to help her, only recently having realized she was an N. We've since found out she's said evil things about us for years, even as we were trying to help her. What a liar she is and hides behind a mask of being a religious guru, knows the Bible inside out.

This is what comes of playing their game, the price is truly higher than you could ever imagine. If you're living with an N, get out!!! NOW!!! Everything you have, your sanity, health, happiness, is at stake. If you have children, you're exposing them to evil and will be held accountable by them someday. Get out, whatever it takes. God bless.

Anna Valerious said...

Thank you all for your impassioned, enlightened and eloquent comments on this subject. You all are rockin'!

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

Yea, I like this subject too. Trying to "keep the peace" with any of these sorts just doesn't do any good in the long term. I feel for people trapped in such relationships or in dire situations because of them. :(

"she told her daughter that she was not going to talk to us any more because we were mean to her. "

Yea, "mean", because you're not willing to put up with her crap anymore. Didn't you get the memo, it's "mean" and "abusive" to have backbone and not take someone else's crap.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anna,

Once again you've posted the exact thing I needed to read at a particular time. I've commented here before a couple of times about my MN mother and pacifist father, and during all the phases of grief, fury and recovery I've been going through (still going through) I seem to be getting more and more furious with my father.

My father sacrificed my brother and me over and over, and left us alone with her while he traveled for weeks at a time on business. We were so neglected, and when we weren't neglected, we were abused and manipulated.

I grew up frightened for most of my childhood, and if my father ever bothered to wonder what his children were experiencing, he certainly would never have done anything about it.

But now I've moved half a country away, with my husband and two children, (the only grandchildren in the family) and the only interest my father has is in achieving some kind of communication with my young children (which I won't allow.) He only wants it because my mother does.

I could go on about the slander, malicious attempts to frighten me, etc. And my father has allowed it all, and backed up every lie she has told. But here is something that I find pitiful and worrisome . . . the last email he sent to me didn't have a heading at all, as if I've become so depersonalized that he can't even type my name . . . and he didn't use the word "I" in the entire thing. It was "We are so frustrated," and "you have crushed our hearts" . . . it's like he no longer exists as a separate individual from my mother.

We,we, we . . . I wanted to shout at him "Where are YOU? Where is your brain? Where is your heart, and did you ever have any feeling for me in it?" I think he must have loved me a little, in some way . . . but not any more. To him, I no longer deserve to be addressed by a name.

Thank you, Anna, for posts that help to dissolve this horrible burden of grief and guilt that I've been carrying since birth. I wonder if I'll have to struggle with it my entire life . . . but I can't set that example for my children, so I have to conquer this.

--L.E.

Jordie said...

Keeping the peace, or making the peace with relatives seems to be etched into the bedrock of Western culture. I don't know how many movies I have seen, soap operas, TV sitcoms etc, where two family members are finally slugging it out after years of stuffing their feelings, and some little bright spark tries to come along and force them to 'make up'. Of course the insinuation is always that the peacemaker is the 'good' one, whilst the hotheads are the idiots.

We don't want to live with painful feelings, and more importantly, we don't want to have to deal with inconvenient truths. The person who lives by those truths, and points them out to those in denial is always the enemy. Of course confrontations are stressful, but I have learned through my birth family, and twenty years in a real religious cult that it is so much better to deal with truth than lies. And lets face it, truth is messy.

I saw a poster once years ago which summed it up really well...

"The truth hurts, and then it sets you free".

Anonymous said...

Being able to express myself and let it all out is both liberating and healing. Thank you!

I made a typo in the quote from Ann Landers that my malignant narcissist mother sent me. The gist of it was, in regard to people that are depressed and suicidal, "some people are just NOT meant to live." I omitted NOT by mistake in the first post.

Funny how my malignant mother has clung on to that quote for over 20 years. It's as if she is conscious of her innate ability to cause another so much pain that it could ultimately lead to illness or their demise. I can picture her presenting the Lander's comment in her defense, should God forbid, a suicide note ever crop-up exposing her evil.

The other message I got loud and clear from her is, I have no right to exist outside of being an extension of her. "Some people are NOT meant to live" translated "You are NOT meant to live" because you don't give me what I want. Her crap never worked on me and so I was raised by a woman who would have rather seen me dead. As far as a malignant narcissistic mother is concerned, if you dare remain an individual and refuse to feed their perverted needs, you are better off dead.

It's sweet justice for me that her hatred only strengthened my will and she knows it.

Anonymous said...

I used to think the Nmom had actual opinions when it came to me. She didn't. Everything she did or said to me was based on me and my reactions, not her own preferences at all. It wasn't personal, she customized her behavior to everyone, regardless of the inevitable contradictions from person to person. If I wanted "x", she was against it. If someone else didn't want "x" - she was suddenly for it [for them only, that is - not me]. If "y" upset me, she demanded it. If "z" humiliated me, she was irresistibly attracted to talking about it. Before I caught on to this I used to wonder, for instance, what was it about my career that bugged her so much? It finally dawned on me: it had nothing to do with WHAT I did - it was that I actually personlly WANTED to do it. That was the yardstick for all her 'opinions', demands, needs and requests, to me and everyone else. Block anything that strengthens us, promote anything that weakens us. Period. Appeasement would have meant weakening the exact thing I personally needed to fight her with: my integrity, my actuality as a person, my sense of meaning and purpose, and my connections to support and strength in the world outside her orbit.

I watched one of my sib's go the appeasement route as an adult. Not pretty. Like watching someone get more and more lost until they are literally unrecognizable. I caught pure hell for my continual resistance, but I could at least somewhat recognize my own self at the end of the day.

Appeasing the N is at a grave cost, a true Faustian bargain. Only the N demands a customized appeasement based on partaking in your very own personalized destruction. Thats what appeasement is to the N, submitting to endless incidents that have been personalized around your very own fears, hurts, weak spots etc - whatever will make you ashamed, uneasy, upset, panicked, confused, guilty, thrown off, uncentered, doubtful etc. It is not just what upsets us, it also means giving up what it most important to us. Of course N's don't just hone in on our weaknesses, they hone in on destroying our strengths. Make the mistake of telling and N your dreams, and they will do their best to stop you from achieving them. Tell them what is meaningful to you, and they will suddenly completely withhold it if they can [or, continuously dangle it as bait, and THEN withhold it]. Tell them what is most important to you, they do anything possible to make sure you don't get it.

Anonymous said...

"Tell them what is most important to you, they do anything possible to make sure you don't get it."

Ns like that are why "camouflage" and reverse psychology exist. Love what you hate and hate what you love. It takes a lot of skill to do that though, and if the N is a parent, then you could easily end up making it a habit.

"It's sweet justice for me that her hatred only strengthened my will and she knows it."

:D Yea, that is. Beats being stuck with her. Heh

krl said...

Yeah.....I, too, have 'lost' my father..(actually...I never HAD one..but the idea of it kills me). I observed a strange thing when I was little. Nmom and I were enmeshed....and dad and I were at odds most always. We are both 'simple', direct, and feisty. Mom could squelsh me with a look...but, dad would pick on me until I cried or got angry. Here's the odd thing: On a few occasions, I had an opportunity to go do something alone with him. And we got along great....and talked about stuff....and laughed our heads off about things. I would be so happy. The minute we got home, though....all the shit would start over again. As the years went by....as I married and raised a family....worked very long and hard....I earned his respect. We got along 'fine'. He still said some dumb things but there wasn't malice in it. He mellowed as he aged. Mom got meaner and more viscious. In October of last year, I went NC and had an opportunity to tell my dad I was and why. I told him I loved him and that he was welcome to stop by or call me when he could...that I wasn't going to initiate any contact of him at home because I knew Nmom would raise such hell and he would be in a worse dog-house. He said he knew he had reason to leave her and that she was verbally abusing him, but that she was the wife God gave him...(not to mention she would take him for every dime....oh yeah, she has never worked a day in her life) and he would stay with her till death.

How sad it this? The only thing that gives me any peace is that I have seen him walk out the door when she is railing at him...or say: "THAT is an out and out LIE!" to her. But, Lordy! What a choice...Maybe it is his own sense of integrity...but, egad! I am disappointed that he doesn't call or stop by....but then, what is so different about that? He never did before anyway.

Ahhhrrrgggghhh. Just rambling. Just kinda sad about it. Yeah, I know...but, still...it DOES make me a little sad. I feel nothing for Nmom....just a little sad about him...even if he didn't do right by me. Guess I don't think he is a bad man....just a dumb sheep.

Anonymous said...

Krl,

My father is a dumb sheep too. Which is, I guess, a way of saying he's a coward, because I don't think it's a function of intelligence, but rather a lack of moral courage. Now that I have two children of my own, I'm even more appalled by my father's lack of interest or concern in his children. And worse, his willingness to sacrifice us in any way you could imagine, to keep the peace with his Narcissistic wife.

But here's the irony . . . now that my father has made all these terrible choices, I think he is losing more and more of his actual intelligence. Just before I decided to go NC, a little more than a year ago, I noticed that when we all went out to dinner, he wouldn't even choose which chair to sit it at the restaurant. He had to wait for my mother to decide for him. Because it wasn't worth the trouble it would cause otherwise.

I guess when you habitually surrender your autonomy, and as you become older, it must be harder to reclaim it. I go between feeling pity for him, to having incredible anger about the terrible choices he's made, and allowing his own children to be hurt so badly.

The very last time I saw him, we met at a coffee shop, and he was lying to my face about some of our family history, and telling me that his marriage to my mother was better than it had ever been, because he wanted me to forget about horrible things she had done, and go back to pacifying her. And when I told him I just couldn't do it anymore, he started crying. In public. And he played the grandchildren card, and told me he was getting old, and he needed to keep them in his life.

But what he really wanted was for me to go back under my mother's very degrading and abusive control. I still don't really understand why he thought (thinks) that is the only choice. I truly don't get why he lets himself be debased as a man and as a human being, or what it is he gets from my Nmom that is worth such a price.

But he'll do anything, say anything, give up anything, for her.

I don't think that's love. It's fear, or masochism, or something else. Not love, though.

--L. E.

Toni said...

The Peacemaker role is responsible for generations of dysfunction and abuse, allowing the cycle to perpetuate. People who do this are weak minded, weak souled wimps who won't even open their eyes enough to glimpse the truth. They are myopic and selfish babies, and only care about how they feel, and that their little world remains undisturbed.

A true peacemaker is a negotiator and a problem solver. Peace comes at a cost. But what family enablers do is lie, lie, lie and pretend A is B because A is just such a bummer. Sometimes entire families do this and God forbid a person with normal perspective comes along and points out a truth. I can imagine how many marriages have been destroyed by a normal person being dragged into an inlaw family like this. How many spouses allow their inlaws, particularly mothers, to meddle to "keep the peace" - ala Everybody Loves Raymond.

Being mean can just be not doing whatever is the whim of the N. If you think this or do that, you are mean, even if it doesn't involve the N. My mother thought it was mean when I moved out of the house and when I took a job not of her choosing. N-sib just had a mortified look, as she never moved away and took the job assigned her by mother. What a nuthouse. Dad kept it all together, by enabling and supporting the madness, and N-sis, even being N, knows its not right but won't go there. She revels in being the nice one. Soul-less if you ask me, particulary as my neice was raised this way- another generation continuing the cycle.

I agree that exposing your vulnerabilities to an N is a big mistake. But if you do not show weakness they create a whole fantasy world in which they assign negativity to you. For instance, they invalidate my relationships, jobs, hobbies, despite any success. Good= bad if the N wants it that way. But that is just talk, I know it kills them when I do well, and when I am vague in giving them details/ammo. :)

It is amazing, even outside of the N realm, how difficult it is for many people to be real or accept simple truths. We are just supposed to gloss over things to keep life looking artificially pretty.

Anonymous said...

"But here's the irony . . . now that my father has made all these terrible choices, I think he is losing more and more of his actual intelligence."

I have observed this too, not with a parent but with a sib that went total appeasement as an adult with our single Nparent. I would say that over the years of her collaboration with the Nparent she has truly lost significant actual intelligence. She also has lost the level of social skills she once had, significant memory, many basic life and coping skills and most of what was her original personality as a young person.

By the way, in my case the Nparent is now dead, and I don't know if this is at all typical but the appeaser sib is as bad as ever if not actually worse. I had naively hoped that a spell of sorts would be broken once the N was out of the picture, but no, not at all. The only big difference was that she suddenly tried extra hard to develop a startlingly different relationship with me, one in which 'this time' she got to be the full-blown N. Yeah, no kidding. It was as absurd as seeing a bully's obsequious lackey try and step into his shoes without the power of the bully behind him.
I guess she wanted to keep it all going, the 'world' in which she was 'good' for appeasing and I was 'bad' for resisting, the world that she had paid such a high price to belong to.

Now she is lost in a no-mans-land: the N is gone, and she refuses to align with the truth of her experience which means no self to go back to either.

Ruby said...

Spot on. Oh, I'm so weary of self-righteous cousins and the like landing in my inbox out of the blue after a 10-20 year silence and presuming to tell me how to behave.

"Tell them what is most important to you, they do anything possible to make sure you don't get it."

My N-'Mother' isn't like this. She was very supportive of my career for a long time. Because she could feed off / claim credit for my success. And I, well-trained sucker, would do things like send her cards saying "I couldn't do this without you" blah blah blah. Bollocks. I could have. I did. (She showed her true colours at a party for the launch of my first book though, when a friend said something glowing about me to her, and she made a face and said I wasn't all that. Right in front of me. My friend's face was a picture!)

When I left that job due to burnout and did a much less high-profile one for a while, for a rest, she tried to talk me into going back to what I'd been doing. She missed that second-hand glow. I'm back to doing exciting, exhausting things with my life now but I've been NC for 4 years so she can't lay any claim to it. She sent an email saying "You've done more to make the world a better place than I ever could have". Some might think that sounded lovely. I know she's saying that being a useful human is purely for competition, and that I've won in the martyr stakes. For now. Sigh. Why do I open those emails, why?

Anonymous said...

Anna:
I have a question. What Toni is saying above pretty much wraps up my family experience and what little I know of our past family history. When I first began to find out about N, I was just so amazed to find such a shockingly apt description of my mom. It was only many years later that I recognized the behavior really existed in most other family members too, to one degree or another. Now, am I missing something here? I have read SO MANY books on N and NONE mentions this! The books [that I know of] do not mention that N really 'runs' in families, due to everyone for generations basically being coerced and brainwashed to drink the koolaid or be banished. Several months ago I was desperately googling things like "sibling" and "abuse" and found almost nothing worthwhile, that is until I got HERE and hit big. [AGAIN: BIG THANKS!!]

Why is the mainstream information on N seemingly missing this really big feature of N? Reading this blog the last few months has been so super helpful exactly because you and the people who comment discuss this very thing, the tendency for entire groups to be poisoned and mired by the N dynamic. When I first realized that one of my other relations had N traits too, then another and another, admittedly I began to feel paranoid. I felt like I was suddenly seeing them everywhere and felt I really couldn't be right. But reading things like Toni's comment, and many others, and all your posts for the last few months I feel totally validated that it is true. N's breeds more N, and it is only logical that where there is one there is likely to be more, and if not N's then other poisonous variations of N damage.

My question is, is this info out there and I have somehow missed it, or is it really missing from many books that discuss N?

Toni said...

"She also has lost the level of social skills she once had, significant memory, many basic life and coping skills"

I am stunned at the similarities I'm seeing on this topic. My N-Sister has shown the same type of deficits and as N-mother is elderly and enabler dad is gone, the power is withering. Like anonymous, I'm sure my n-sib is planning on being the new N matriarch when NM is gone. That is when this supply source will be cut off. She will definitely try to keep it all going, as this has already started. Like I don't notice the sudden interest in me after years of team effort to ignore me. Like I don't notice the dependence on me ever increasing. Like all the past years never happened, and I'm just here to feed her at her whim. It is a setup for the future. Not. Gonna. Happen. I have plans.

Some recent studies have correlated intellectual laziness with dementia and alzheimers. I can see all these N followers with no minds of their own sucumbing to diseases of the brain which seems appropriate.

How shameful that families make such choices that destroy. In normal- world, dad stands up to NM and sibs support and protect each other. The N has no chance if all stand together - no feeding supply there. These are choices and what disrespect to self and to God to chose to destroy a family by appeasement. For what, to appear "nice"?

Anonymous said...

My own label for the condition of those of us who were raised by MNs is "cocker spaniel syndrome." We wait at the door patiently, in the freezing rain, for a glance--a gesture--a signal--that we are accepted and loved by our narcissistic "masters." We slobber in delight when we should be savagely biting that cruel hand.

Cocker spaniel syndrome surfaces frequently throughout life. We soothe. We accept blame inappropriately. We allow ourselves to be abused, unfairly treated and neglected. Because we're constantly waiting at the door for approval.

How humiliating! I find myself submissively peeing, symbolically, all over the place.

krl said...

As I am reading the comments on this post, it comes to mind what was NOT referred to in our family. 'Nice' was never used. 'Love' was never used. 'Happy' was not used. None of the 'goodie' words were ever referred to by either Nmom or DumbDad. Everything was black and white: 'Good' or 'Bad'...'Obedient' or 'Rebellious'....'Principled' or 'Emotional'..'Wicked'/'Evil' or 'Biblical'....'Doctrinal' or 'unbiblical'...'Conservatative' or 'Liberal'....blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. There wasn't even any rooooooom to 'hurt anyone's feelings'!!!!!! You just got SHUT. DOWN. If my parents weren't angry with you, then all was well. They weren't 'happy' people either. The only way you guessed they weren't mad at you was if they weren't on your butt about something. (Yeah...because they were sleeping...just about the only time. I learned to burn the candle at both ends....getting up 2 hrs ahead of them to have some peace and staying up 2 hrs later than them to have some 'self'. I don't think they knew.)

Sigh. It's all the same thing....'dancing as fast as I could' to quiet the demons in the house....trying to figure out what 'nice' was...and still stay alive and juggle to survive. I was 'cursed' with 'mean eyebrows'...I mean, it didn't matter HOW hard I tried to compose my face...to take away ANY 'attitude look'...my eyebrows gave me away. These damn eyebrows of mine got me in more trouble! I thought about shaving them off one time. Haha. "Get that LOOK off your face....!" What?!!! Not only did I have to do what they said but I had to have the 'right attitude' about it.

Summing this all up: I guess I wasn't a 'nice' person....but I DO still suffer from all the shit I DID swallow. I am thinking these eyebrows just might have saved my life.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ruby,

::My N-'Mother' isn't like this. She was very supportive of my career for a long time. Because she could feed off / claim credit for my success::

I can't believe this. I'm an author too. I write fiction novels, and since I was first published right out of college, my mother fed off my success. I took her on book tours and to writers conferences with me, always at my own expense. And I knew everyone thought it was rather bizarre, our relationship, but I wanted to please my mother and give her the secondhand glow. She lied to many people and took credit for my success, as in "I really helped her to get here and I'm the unofficial editor of her books," but I let it go because it made her happy. And that was the whole point of life--keeping NMom happy.

Ironically, my career was one of the things that helped me to find the strength to break away. My mother started to demand, forcefully demand, to see a manuscript before I had finished it, and I told her no. (I had never shown her my unfinished work before, and this was an escalation of her intrusiveness in the other areas of my life). And because I refused, she blew up. All hell broke loose, until my husband and children and I were forced to leave town to escape her poison.

Best thing that ever happened to us, and also to my career.

But to get back to the present subject, my father started to lecture me (and tell everyone else) that Mom had "worked with me" for years on my books. She never did anything, except go on trips and tours as a sort of parasite. She never contributed one idea or word. I never asked her to help me with my work, or wanted that, and my father knew that.

But now that all has been said and done, my father insists that my mother and I were very nearly some kind of writing team. It makes me wild. Anyone who has to write for a living would understand what a personal violation that kind of lie is.

I'm so sorry if I'm ranting. But the kind of RELIEF it is to hear similarities between my situation and others', is so liberating and comforting, it almost makes me lightheaded. I've lived in an alternate reality for so long--one that my father and brother have also occupied--that every day of true reality is an amazing discovery.

And my realization of my father's betrayal keeps on growing. I don't know how to accept, or forgive. I don't even know that I should. I do know that it helps to visit here.

--L.E.
PS. My brother has told me that in the past year, my mother has bought an expensive computer and printer set-up, and has redone a room in their house to be her office, so she can write a book too. And she doesn't have the self-discipline or the insight to do it. But she sits there convinced that if her daughter can do it, so can she.

Ruby said...

It's harder to forgive the non-N parent isn't it? Because they're not nearly so deluded; with them there's a chance that they can and should understand, should SEE. And when people don't see, they're doomed to repeat their mistakes, and we're doomed to resuffer from them.

My father divorced my N-'Mother' so he doesn't talk about her much, but after I went NC with her, he tried to justify her behaviour by reference to her 'dreadful childhood'. Credit to him, when I challenged that approach (and reminded him of her lovely, non-N sisters), he reconsidered at least somewhat. I can love him and keep him in my life because he's prepared to try to SEE sometimes. Ns are so impossible to love because you can't ever imagine a future in which change or growth is possible.

I find this virtual place here such a tremendous comfort.

Anonymous said...

Anna - it is chillingly true what you wrote. In my case, it was my N-MIL whom everyone had to tip toe around. She is flanked by all her N-children. Her husband was the peace-maker and blamed her 'condition' to a difficult childhood and family circumstances. Result? She becomes more brazen and all the children picked up her N behaviors as my FIL was away on business most of the time, and all turned on their father at the slightest opportunity! Yes, the only way to have peace, without compromise, is no contact and to show no fear, of them. These Ns are really sick in the head and heart. They have no empathy. If you show your weaknesses, they smell blood and go for the jugular, yours! So one must always stand-up against them, to disarm them. Show them you are weak, they will hunt you and devour you! And there is no cure for them, except death, after they leave a trail of destruction. So stand clear least you get yourself rolled over by these Ns. You cannot help them. Disengage. Disengage. Disengage!

Anonymous said...

Anna - I wanted to add that in the end when my FIL fell ill, the N-wife and N-children isolated my FIL but they were so good at camouflaging it as kindness and concern, it was revolting as I recall now...but at that time, the scene just looked weird and discomforting to me as my FIL looked to me with fearful eyes...as if he knows that now he is unable to fend himself...his N-wife and N-children will bully him! As I recall, I believe my FIL died fearful and alone, although he was surrounded by his N-wife and N-children! I was always an outsider in the family as I stand-up to them ... I am glad I did and I know my FIL think so too! May his soul rest in peace, poor man. An N-wife and all N-children! Is N contagious or something?

Anonymous said...

I have observed this too, not with a parent but with a sib that went total appeasement as an adult with our single Nparent. I would say that over the years of her collaboration with the Nparent she has truly lost significant actual intelligence. She also has lost the level of social skills she once had, significant memory, many basic life and coping skills and most of what was her original personality as a young person.

How true this is. There are three children in my family. My brother the oldest, myself and then my baby sister. When I was growing up my father was away a lot for work. Its hard to explain but there was the classic double bind situation. She would mock us for not having friends over but when I started to connect in a meaningful way with anyone she would find a reason not to like them. Suddenly they were – a little rough around the edges, or had a mother who was not ‘right’ or they were fat or not doing well in school or my favourite -

Mum:You shouldn't be friends with so and so.
Me: why not?
Mum: you don't know? How many times have I told you this?
Me: Told me what?
Mum: these kids, they never listen. DON'T DON'T DON'T spend so much time with her.
Me: but why?
Mum: Just don't

If I persisted then she would get a lot more aggressive about getting me to drop them.

When we went out she would watch me talking to other people (she still does this. Sometimes at parties I will catch her looking at me through the corner of her eye and eavesdropping on my conversation) and then critique my performance when we got home. And not in a nice way. It was always the same when we would get home – my brother and I would get scolded for something we had said or done wrong. I had been to loud, I had been too flirtatious, I had joined a conversation without being invited, I didn't cross my legs when I sat down, i talked too much, i talked too little oy va voy!

Eventually it just became too much trouble for me to go out or to try to make friends. So I stopped speaking unless I really needed something. It drove her nuts. I couldn’t complain or I would get smacked down but it meant that there was very little she could fault me on. Instead of constant criticism, we have settled into a silence that lasts to this day. We never talk about meaningful things, ever. There is a part of me that craves closeness with my mother and a connection but I try to keep reminding myself of what happens whenever I do try to open up to her. I get shredded.

Anyway about lacking social skills – I just forgot how to make friends. Even now I prefer my own company. When people are nice to me I push them away, refuse to return their phone calls, don’t bother to learn their names, decline lunch invites from coworkers so often that they stopped asking me. I make sure I fuck things up and I know I am doing it but I can’t help it. I despise people who want to be friends with me or men who try to love me. I think that they must be losers because if you had it going on you could do better than me. I have to fight the impulse to lay down a be a doormat when people treat me nicely.

I hate when I get treated badly but I like it too because I know how to behave in a bad situation.

I saw this thing on the discovery channel about feral children. Children raised by animals / with minimal human contact. They don’t learn how to speak and how to behave like humans and after a certain age they never will learn these social skills. One of the doctors said that feral children can learn to speak sentences but things like irony, sarcasm, tone and context are lost on them. There are critical periods of social development in a child’s life and if you miss them its not always possible to go back and rectify the damage.

My brother and I are both very introverted and have poor social lives. My sister does very well in that regard. She was the golden child. In families the baby of the family usually has the least power but in our family my brother and I were beholden to my sister. We bore the brunt of my mother’s aggressive behavior until we both left to go to boarding school and then my sister stopped liking my mother so much because guess what, my mother had to inflict her N tendencies on someone. But by then my sister was a preteen and I think had had time to develop a healthy sense of personhood so even when my mother tried to discourage her from being with her friends – she refused and when my mother criticized it made her unhappy but she recovered. It wasn’t the soul crushing experience that it was for my brother and I. My mother no longer rages at me – I put a stop to that, she still rages at my brother because unfortunately he has yet to stand up to her.

Once I asked him why he didn’t tell her not to do that and he said that if he kept quiet that eventually it stops. But I can always see that he gets really hurt. That said, he rarely answers her phone calls these days. Sometimes she won’t hear from him for weeks at a stretch.

When I went to my mother’s place of work everyone loves her. She’s like a rock star. People want to hug her and seem happy to see her but that is in such marked contrast to the atmosphere at our house. My sister holes up in her room emerging only to have dinner and everyone else would focus really hard on the TV. We don’t speak. For a long time I was really proud of that. I thought we were a better kind of family because we never fought. Ever.

Anna Valerious said...

Toni said: The Peacemaker role is responsible for generations of dysfunction and abuse, allowing the cycle to perpetuate. People who do this are weak minded, weak souled wimps who won't even open their eyes enough to glimpse the truth. They are myopic and selfish babies, and only care about how they feel, and that their little world remains undisturbed.

Your comment here is right on target to what I wanted to address in this post. I wanted to focus attention on the self-serving aspect of a pretend peacemaker. How they don't make true peace, they just insure that their world doesn't get rocked by someone upsetting the family monster. I so despise this type of peacemaker it would be hard for me to express my loathing. Thanks for saying this so well, Toni.

Anna Valerious said...

Several of you have brought up your observations of the apparent undermining of intelligence of persons who have acted as N appeasers for years. I think there is much evidence to support this conclusion. It is also true that the Ns themselves lose intelligence over time. The mind is designed to work according to truth. Reality is the bedrock of mental and emotional health. If you spend a lifetime defining lies and fantasy as being 'truth' the mind will cease to function well, or at all, at some point.

Anna Valerious said...

My question is, is this info out there and I have somehow missed it, or is it really missing from many books that discuss N?

I haven't seen this discussed in books on narcissism either. I have one possible explanation as to why this doesn't get focused on.

It is much easier to distance one self from a sibling, or cut them off completely, than it is to cut off a parent. I think there is much greater angst out there about the dilemma of having an evil narcissist parent because the demands of family, church and society stipulate that no parent is so bad (short of being convicted of murder) that you are justified in cutting them off. There is much less pressure to keep a sibling in your life. With today's mobile society it can be quite easy to put geographical distance between yourself and a troublesome sibling. The geographical distance can easily disguise an emotional zone of safety that you've constructed for yourself. People seem to be satisfied when you state, "I hardly ever see my sibling because they live 2,000 miles away." People will nod understandingly and carry on, usually without a lecture.

While large geographical distances may explain to most people's satisfaction why you don't see your sibling, it doesn't hold as true for parents. People still assume you should keep in touch by phone, letter and periodic visits with parents despite distance. So because there is much less expectation in society that siblings will remain close all their lives there is less sibling abuse going on after sibs reach adulthood.

This is just a guess, but I do think it is at least somewhat valid. Since there is no Biblical command to "honor your sibling" there are few justifications or clubs for people to use to force adult siblings to stay in contact. With the greatly lessened societal expectation in this regard, there is less psychological upheaval in adults who have had abusive siblings. I think this may be why the professionals have overlooked the problems that narcissistic siblings create. In the 'mob family' model that I've talked about before, it can be much more difficult to extricate from an abusive family dynamic. Sometimes gaining distance from a sibling can be very difficult depending on how your family is structured.

Maybe someday the literature on malignant narcissism will examine the problem of MN siblings who torment other siblings. Until then, everything that applies to MN in general can be applied to this relationship. Just because this particular dynamic isn't looked at specifically that doesn't mean there isn't help out there. Whether the MN is your parent, your boss, your spouse, your child...how you deal with MN is pretty much the same across the board.

Anna Valerious said...

It's harder to forgive the non-N parent isn't it? Because they're not nearly so deluded; with them there's a chance that they can and should understand, should SEE.

I agree. In fact, I have contended here on my blog that the non-N parent is just as evil, if not more so, than the malignant narcissist. There is less excuse for the non-N parent to stand by and allow abuse because they are not wrapped up in the crazy convolutions of a N brain. Obviously I don't believe there is any excuse for a MN's behavior, but I find even less reasons to justify a non-N allowing the predations of the MN upon their own children. To stand by and not stop abuse means you too are an abuser. By proxy. In my Nov. 30, 2006 post about my father I declared that I see him as being "just as evil" as my mother. So, yes, I agree. I can be harder to forgive the person who stood by and did nothing. In fact, I don't forgive that person. Short of a specific apology for their craven and cowardly acts of indifference I will withhold my forgiveness forever.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible this can be contagious??
My husband is a narcissist, his mother is a narcissist, now his 13 year old daughter is making me wonder. I must say it took me years to catch on to what was happening and what he was doing to me, but I caught on alright!!
Now that he know's that I'm aware of his game/illness, I am now the enemy. He has now enlisted his teenaged daughter in his antics, she willingly goes along. Is this contagious??
I am so thankful to God that he opened my eyes.
And Thanks to you Anna and fellow bloggers for this site.

P.S.
I think my mother was an N, that's where I learned or was conditioned to tolerate such nonsense!

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

"That said, he rarely answers her phone calls these days. Sometimes she won’t hear from him for weeks at a stretch."

Actually, that is a form of standing up to someone. Quiet, sure, but maintaining low contact does send a message, and it works for him.

As for N being contagious. It's not a virus, it's just behaviors that people tend to pick up for whatever reason. Maybe it's because they think it's "strong" or maybe it's how they profit. Who cares? What matters is that they have chosen to be Ns.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about intellectual laziness causing dementia/alzheimer's. The people I have known with this disease included a university professor and a medical professional, both active and involved in their retirement years.

But perhaps for the MN, the "use it or lose it" theory does apply. Empathy and humanity, unused, will wither and die.

Anna Valerious said...

I was not describing intellectual laziness...I was describing an intentional twisting of reality as contributing to loss of intelligence. I also don't believe that all Alzheimer and dementia is caused by Nism. There can be organic causation for mental decline in old age. But there does seem to be a large amount of anecdotal evidence that perhaps Ns make themselves even more prone to dementia in old age due to the constant brain-f**king they've done to themselves. It would be interesting if someday science would follow up on the anecdotal evidence someday.

Anonymous said...

Ruby and the others who brought up the concept of "second hand glow" - I have not heard such a perfect expression in a while. The subject of "peacemaking" sucked me in, because that's my stepfather in a nutshell, but the "second hand glow" grabbed me in the comments section.

I also ended up doing very well in life, though only due to the fact that I got away from both my parents (who were divorced) at an early age. A counselor at my junior high school noticed that I was very unhappy at home, but had great grades and test scores. With her help, I was soon at a boarding school on full scholarship. As my father said more than once, "I cost less to send to an expensive school than to keep at home."

Of course while I was there, both my parents pretended that they were paying full tuition. From there I went to an Ivy, and married someone I met there who is from a lovely, well-off, stable family who has welcomed me.

Due to events over the past few years, I finally had to ask for NC from my mother (dad went a long time ago, he was worse). Not permanent NC, just temporary, while I get my thoughts together. No, I told her, I don't know how long it will take.

The email campaign has been unbelievable. The drama queen (mom) has become this meek little mouse - do I remember when she told me which boarding school was the prettiest? That's the one I chose, and she is so happy to think that even though I couldnt' live with her, she did her small part in where I went to boarding school, that boarding school led to college, where I wouldn't have met my spouse, etc.

That's right, because she pointed out a pretty school in a brochure, that's why I'm where I am today ... how far away can that glow get, again? Third hand, fourth hand, fifth hand - ?

The other comment I had was about the Peacemaking. That's my stepfather, who lives with my mother, which is more than I can say I've done since I was 8 years old. When she's impossible to deal with, he has to deal with the fallout, so he's been trying to do anything to get me to "make up" with my mother ... the last time was when he sent a "personal and confidential" Fed Ex to my SPOUSE's office ... asking them to please intercede with my "apparent fantasies of wrongdoing" ...

Words could not express ...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for addressing my question concerning siblings being N's. Books I have read seem to focus most on the N boss, mate or parent, not siblings or indeed whole families [being either N's or N collaborators]. When I look for any information on sibling problems, everything seems to go into the 'rivalry' box, which seems to minimize the idea of significant difficulties. You are quite right too - people seem rather casual about the idea of not getting along with siblings, unlike parent problems.

Odd what outrages people and what doesn't, when the same behaviors are done by different people, be it parents, siblings, friends or strangers. We are expected to forgive family members for things which if committed by strangers did we would be urged to call the police. When I was a teen, I ended up in the hospital the result of a beating by a sib. Teachers, clergy, hospital staff - as well as every single other adult in my life actually - didn't bat an eye about the circumstances, at least not around me. True, this was the 70's, and awareness about things like this were generally abysmal, but I know if it was done by a stranger an entirely different scenario would have unfolded.

I have just looked up your reference to your "mob family" post. Bulls eye. In my family 'nice' was certainly stressed, but it wasn't #1. That spot was called LOYALTY. As it had been drummed into my head from the earliest years [as a very young child I was the only kid I knew of that could be specifically punished for disloyalty] so it was a real trigger point. Being accused of disloyalty was The Worst. Only as an adult did I realize it wasn't true loyalty at all that was being asked of us. The yardstick that was used to measure 'good' or 'bad' family members had nothing to do with intrinsic values or true commitment to one another, it was degree of submission to the leader [only], falsely called "family loyalty".

Well, thanks again for your thoughts on my question. There is always so much food for thought here. I am often thinking about your posts over a period of days, and find much solace and camaraderie in all the comments. Like other commenters, I too am amazed at how many similarities I find to my own circumstances.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you Anna about peacemakers and bystanders. When I first read about N.P.D. it was a complete revelation - suddenly everything clicked into place. I have spent many hours reading everything I can find. With this knowledge I can look at what an N does in a completely different way and understand what he is doing and why. Without this knowledge, you can only try and understand it on the basis that you are dealing with a normal human being, which is not the case. I however find it very difficult to get others to understand this condition. Perhaps you have to spend a lot of time reading about it to get the necessary understanding, though I do feel that anyone who has had experience of an N should "get it" fairly quickly. Has anyone had any success in getting others associated with their N to read about the condition - were they just unwilling to spend the time, or did they read about it but just didn't get it, or did they read about it but refused to accept that this was the explanation for the N's behaviour ? I feel that this is important because the peacemakers and bystanders cause us just as much ( if not more ) grief as the N. I have given up trying to get others to understand this condition and how it applies to the N. I always seem to end up looking the crazy one !
While I realise that those without the knowledge of NPD will have difficulty in trying to deal with the N, they all know what evil and unacceptable behaviour is so they must know that there is something wrong with the N. How can we make them see ????

Anonymous said...

Anna, My NH switched crossed over to his siblings, who are all Ns! In the past, he never wanted them to visit. Now because I discovered his infidelities and booted him out, he went crawling to them! I was the peacemaker until I realized he is what he is, only getting older and ever worst at his antics!

The best way to unmask Ns is to turn the tables on them! Once discovered, they really 'blossom' and you can see the gaps between his grandiose and reality. It is as if it is too much effort to put up the act anymore, especially if they have several acts on at the same time.

Took me a long time to get over this realization, but getting over this nightmare, I am.

So Anna, if Ns live their entire lives on lies, what happens to them as they grow older?

rin said...

" ... surrendered his integrity in order to keep peace with the devil"

Excellent way to put it.

Anonymous said...

Steph wondered why we shouldn't share our feelings with Ns. I learned that lesson long ago. Here's what happened.

N sent me a threatening letter. This was the pinnacle of N's attacks on me, over many years. My spouse decided to confront the N. So, he foolishly said that the N shouldn't have done this because it hurt my feelings.

BAM! The N sent another threatening letter, anonymously, with more of the same.

I had not expressed hurt feelings. I had expressed anger to my spouse. There is a difference. There is no way I would call an N and say, "Stop it. You're hurting my feelings." That had never stopped the N before. Here's what I would have said:

"N, you have gone too far. You have made a threat, and that is against the law, under section XXX of the anti-stalking law #123. So, I'm warning you, cease and desist right now. We're keeping your letter as evidence. We'll hand it over to the police if you ever bother us again."

So, it did come down to a cease and desist letter. We changed our phone number. And the N stopped.

Share your feelings with your friends, not your enemies.

CZBZ said...

"N, you have gone too far. You have made a threat, and that is against the law, under section XXX of the anti-stalking law #123. So, I'm warning you, cease and desist right now. We're keeping your letter as evidence. We'll hand it over to the police if you ever bother us again."

HA! Brilliant!!

We don't have to be jerks but we cannot show any vulnerability.

I learned the hard way, too. For a long time it was incomprehensible to me that my own husband could care less about my tears.

Expressing my feelings only made him more grandiose, not less.


CZ

Debbie Downer said...

I know that you are on vacation but I just wanted to let you know that I agree when people seem to lose actual intelligence after living with an N.

My experience both with an N parent and an N friend is that they do tend to infantilize you by either insisting on doing things for you or making the decisions for you.

If someone is continuously making decisions for you then its not possible to develop that decision making 'muscle' so to speak. And we all know that if you don't use a muscle then it atrophies.

That is the other thing that makes peace at any price so awful. If and when the narcissist leaves either because they die or because they have used you up, you are left with the resulting feelings of shame, anger, despair, hurt, bewilderment and also coming to realize that you perhaps have severely stunded skills for coping with the real world outside of the bubble in which you and your narcissist created.

That aside if you have practiced peace at any price with your family then even when you realize the consequences of your choice and even if you are truly sorry how do you make up for being a co-conspirator so to speak? It makes it really hard to go back.

sonicido said...

Peacemakers in the "church" are nothing but "pew muffins". Soft, gushy, keeping "sweet". They have never been bitten. Narcs don't like the taste of a pew muffin-they go for the real meal.

Anonymous said...

I'm reading everything in your blog as I am just now going the no-contact route. The catalyst was my father's death - he and my mother had been divorced for 30 years. I had a good relationship with him since then and that drove my mother crazy as I was supposed to hate him on her behalf. I will never forget her saying 'I will win in the end." Here's what she did when he was dying - she made sure, through my sister, his last wishes were ignored and they arranged to have him cremated. The rest is too detailed to go into here, but she also humiliated him as he lay dying. I only found out about this indirectly and when I confronted her she denied that she did any harm and she was "sorry if she upset me"! Next thing I know I get a scathing letter from my sister that things weren't as bad as they sounded and I owe her an apology.
One thing I can be thankful for is this was the catalyst that made me look into what has been happening my entire life, leaving me confused and guilty and I had no idea why, but of course I always ended up blaming myself. You and the commenters have written my story so exactly it's spooky. Anyone who can't see the pattern is in grave denial. Thank you all for giving me a place where I can replenish my sense of sanity and self.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Anna. I have been rereading about appeasers after an overnight visit from what was a dear old friend and his new wife. The guy had been someone I knew for years and years, and never had a problem with. Until now. I quickly noticed that his new wife was a classic N [my growing suspicions confirmed after she embarrassed us all by having a public fit in a restaurant, revealingly over an issue involving her needing to be perceived as superior]. He not only accepted this behavior 'as is', but was in a panic to smooth things over and placate her. OK, I thought, maybe he is just avoiding a fight in public.

As things played out over their stay, I realized the lengths to which he would go to "keep the peace". Turns out he wasn't just avoiding fights to be polite in front of company. He was also willingly betraying his friends and acting against what I knew to be his former values and character. Not only did he not challenge or question her N behavior, he actually joined in and went along with her inconsiderate behavior and expectations at the real expense of his friends/friendships. It was as if him joining in/acting like she was "normal" or acceptable would somehow make it so. Yeah, maybe in HIS mind. I don't need my reality assaulted, nor do I need to be tag-teamed by an appeaser and his N.

Thanks for taking all the time to archive your subjects. It has been extremely helpful to turn to this site as a resource to get perspective on this event. I know I cannot remain friends with him, my trust has been broken and my view of his character has plummeted.

Thanks for laying out the tools for ID'ing not only the N's, but their equally destructive appeasers. I am sorry to lose what I truly thought was a long term friend, but I will not subject myself to further "team N" abuse. As you say, "life is too short", and we have all got other things to do besides being pulled into the N rip tide.

Many thanks again for this resource. It is so valuable and practical, and you have made it easy to use for reference. Many thanks.

The Mess Hall Queen said...

I have found it to be absolutely damaging and distressing to EVER discuss my feelings with a sociopath or narcissist. NEVER EVER do it. Go discuss it with a balanced person, but never ever with an N or S.
Doing so is exactly like sticking your hand out to feed a scrap of meat to a wild animal.
Soni

joder23 said...

"Actually, that is a form of standing up to someone. Quiet, sure, but maintaining low contact does send a message, and it works for him."

Wanted to comment on this. I've learned from experience not to count on estrangement to send a "message" to the evildoer. Even if the evildoer understands the message, that doesn't mean he'll use the message as a catalyst to improve.

I think we all want to believe that if we cut someone off for a few years, that will shock the evil person into improving, and then you can reconcile with new, mutual respect. Most of the time, as in 99% of the time, that's just not in the cards.

I've learned that cut-offs work best if you use them for the singular, simple purpose of preventing new, harmful interactions between you and the abuser. Cut-offs don't tend to work as well as motivators or statements.

Anna Valerious said...

I agree, Joder23. I've never advocated going no contact as a means of reforming or shocking a narcissist out of their bad behavior, but I know some people tend to cling to this idea. So thank you for clarifying on this point. Going no contact is about self-preservation and not about reformation of the narcissist. I've had a bit to say on the subject of the savior complex, and what you've addressed is an aspect of that very thing.

VitaminB12 said...

I just stumbled across this blog. I must admit that I am a reformed sheep. I was married for 20 years to a narcissist, but that was 20 years ago too. I haven't spoken to him since the divorce but his protege has recently resurfaced. Mr. Narcissist had a daughter before we married and she is also a NPD as well as the older sibling to my three children. His daughter recently invaded the lives of her younger, but nonetheless, adult brother and sisters. My son (33) hasn't spoken to his dad in nearly 15 years. My daughters (twins, 35) have cursory annual contact with him via phone at Christmas and none with their step-sister. I am very fortunate that my children understood my shortcomings and forgave me for trying to make the impossible marriage/family situation work for 20 years. The four of us have a healthy, fun and respectful relationship in a part of the country far away from those people. Their step-sister recently located addresses on all three of my children and began sending a series of hateful letters defending her 'loving father.' It was difficult to watch their pain return as they discussed this ugly situation. However, they worked through it emotionally as they supported each other in continuing the estrangement while forcusing on their united mental health. (They did email their father who justified her as merely being protective of him.) I am very proud of them and their ability to make healthy choices. The real kicker is that this Narcissistic Half Sister accused her "Loving Father" of sexual abuse when she was a teenager. He is a horrible man and certainly inflicted pain on the rest of the family, but we never believed him to be a deviant. He never molested the other children and the half-sister's case never went to court. We are grateful to be far removed from that mess. My children decided to ignore her letters and hope she loses interest in tormenting them. I sm not sure what will happen at Christmastime when the twins receive their father's annual phone call. I don't know if they will talk to him or not. I'm deeply grateful that they have each other to help in their struggle. I try to stay out of it as much as possible because I don't have the ongoing heartache that they do as his children. They are adults and have to do what is best for them as individuals. My pain rests in accepting that I am the conduit that chose their father for them. Ouch! Good luck to all!

Nyssa said...

'By the way, in my case the Nparent is now dead, and I don't know if this is at all typical but the appeaser sib is as bad as ever if not actually worse. I had naively hoped that a spell of sorts would be broken once the N was out of the picture, but no, not at all. The only big difference was that she suddenly tried extra hard to develop a startlingly different relationship with me, one in which 'this time' she got to be the full-blown N. Yeah, no kidding. It was as absurd as seeing a bully's obsequious lackey try and step into his shoes without the power of the bully behind him.
I guess she wanted to keep it all going, the 'world' in which she was 'good' for appeasing and I was 'bad' for resisting, the world that she had paid such a high price to belong to.

Now she is lost in a no-mans-land: the N is gone, and she refuses to align with the truth of her experience which means no self to go back to either.'

This is exactly what is happening in my life now! Exactly! Am following the laws of LC and will go NC with the whole blinking lot if necessary. I'm no longer a cocker spaniel (what an accurate analogy!). Thanks for this wonderful, enlightening blog, and hugs and good wishes to all fellow sufferers of narcissists and the monsters they create(not me ha ha, I'm free) :)

thetrouserman said...

Oh, Wow! The peacemaker. This happened to me at our Mom's funeral. I was accused some stealing $40, and I was upset over this and fought back, which caused my one sister who really did the most of the accusing, to be very upset, and so the Peace Maker sister asked me to apologize to her because she was upset. I was shocked but apologized and then added, but I didn't take the money. And that sister snickered and said, "We love you anyway." I left and couldn't wait to get home. I wrote them letters saying I didn't wish to be in contact with them if they think that about me, and then a Buddhist nun I went to talk with said that family was important. Make up. That was a mistake as neither of them have ever admitted to me that they thought I took the money, even though my brother and his wife walked in and heard the entire family blaming me. As if I didn't hear the blame myself, so I guess he and I are both lying.

Now I don't believe that I could ever prove to anyone in my family that I did not take the money, except that I have one brother who believes and stood up for me.

Kristen said...

Hey Anna, old post I realise but I have to flip the roles and my dad is an N with mum as enabler. I get what you are saying, she chooses him over me always and now she has no contact with me (and him) to contend with because of him, his Nism and her enabling.