Monday, July 30, 2007

Final Curtain

Six days later sister received my response. I make a reference to "EQ" in this reply. There is a pop psychology term called Emotional is usually referred to as "emotional intelligence". My sister likes to think of herself as emotionally intelligent. I'm the book smart one and she's the emotionally intelligent one according to her. All the evidence I can reference from my sister's history and mine would reveal that she's not only average on the IQ scale, she's not got a high "EQ" either. I think she has confused her ability to manipulate, lie and bamboozle with being emotionally intelligent. Getting people to give you what you want can't be the only measure of "EQ".

What follows are the last words I have "spoken" to my sister since April 20, 2006. She made a tentative contact last December that I wrote about here:

Dear D,

Some things have become very clear to me in the wake of your apology. While you do cleanly admit to:

1) being defensive in your Apr. 1st email.....

2) putting me in the position of mother and, as such, needing me to assuage your defensiveness.....

...the fundamental core of what you did against me went unacknowledged and therefore unapologized for. This means that you are going to do the same thing to me at some point in the future. That isn't acceptable. I have been treated like this by you too many times before. Generalized apologies for how I'm feeling don't cut it. Generalized apologies for how you've "hurt and wronged" me don't cut it. Apologies that are non specific are absolutely worthless. There is no basis for trust to be built on general, non-specific apologies unless the receiver is gullible and mistakes it for a real apology. I'm not that gullible. While I did recognize specific admissions as noted above, those did not touch on the real offense to me. You use those two admissions to make it about you and your tender feelings....once again. In other words, those admissions were to serve as excuses. They were to explain away whatever it was I was in a snit about. I was supposed to see you as wounded and weak and misunderstood and thereby forgive you, when the truth is that you were being the aggressor and I was the victim of manipulative tactics. I will not be swerved from what really happened by these diversions.

I have labored through multiple drafts of a response to your apology. I have discarded them all completely. For me to turn my full attention to the content of that email would only be hurtful to you in a non-productive way since you are not willing to admit the truth of what you do. I am not out for blood. I am not needing to prove to you that I'm right. So I'm just going to lay down all weapons and walk away from the field. You can be right. And while you're being right, I'm going to just be gone.

Your apology letter was, in fundamental essence, identical to the apology letter Mom sent me that you claimed made you feel so sick (only hers was more artful). Well, your apology made me feel just as sick. I have been feeling physically and emotionally horrible over how to respond to what you are calling an apology. I have had bricks in my stomach as I have tried to find a way to convey what I am seeing to you. But I know it would be for nothing. I won't waste any more time on it because you are not willing to see and freely admit the core of what you should be apologizing for. I'm not going to script for you what it should look like. I'm not out to extort what would come easily to someone who is truly sorry.

So I'm going to say the same thing to you as I did about K. I will have a relationship with you someday.....someday when you grow up and are willing to take responsibility for who you are and what you do and the decisions you make. I'm am weary to the bone of hearing you give yourself a pass on everything by blaming your childhood. It is looking ridiculous for a 40+ year old woman to be blaming anyone but herself for what she does and who she is. When do you start to take full responsibility for these things? I'm beginning to think never. Does it occur to you that I had the same parents? That in many ways my childhood was much harder than yours? That I never have used my childhood to get me off the hook for the consequences of my bad behaviors? What I'm doing now, by saying "goodbye for now" isn't about my childhood either. It is about the present. It is about how I so clearly see the careless way you deal with me is far from a thing of the past. You probably have little to no memory of the frequency that you've done this kind of thing to me throughout our adult lives. But your memory, or lack thereof, is not my problem. My problem is my memory. When you dish out your manipulative garbage at me you force me to remember so many things. You make the past present. If you can't remember the various unkind and manipulative ways you've dealt with me over the years then I guess that just proves my point. My feelings don't make much of an impression on you because you always feel so justified for what you do.

So...after this email, I am laying down the pen and am leaving you to your reality. I can't live in it with you. Because of the fact that I won't play in your reality, it is certain that you would see me as cruel and mean and insensitive and whatever. I am no longer willing to accede to your version of reality in any way when it conflicts with what I know to be true. I will allow myself to be completely honest which you will see as cruelty. I am so done with protecting your feelings at the expense of my own feelings and principals. I am so done with the constant feeling of holding my breath around you hoping I don't ignite any fires. We've gotten along as well as we have because I was always willing to give in to get along. That was how I coped with Mom, too. My relationship with you has always felt too much like my relationship with Mom. The less cruel thing will be for me to take a bow and leave the stage. A clean break is less painful than a death of a thousand cuts which a continued relationship with me would feel like to you. You have very sensitive feelings. Unfortunately, your sensitivities are all for yourself. Your compassion you save for mostly you. I don't need to spend my compassion on someone who is so generous with it on themselves. I can imagine that you are shaking your head and wondering that I have this view of you and our relationship. I imagine what I'm saying doesn't comport with what you think and feel about yourself or our relationship. I can't help what you think. I can only tell you what I think. If what I'm saying in this email is can use it to help you envision what continued contact with me would feel like.

The high regard and love you claim to have in your heart toward me is a secret safe with you. It doesn't show. If you had those things in your heart toward me you would have treated me very differently than you have in the past, and than you did on Apr. 1st....and you wouldn't have followed that insult with the insult of a non-apology. Your type of high regard and love have never felt like the real article to me. I'm not going to pretend that its there just because you say it is. You've had plenty of time to learn how to show these things to me. That you don't know how after so many years on the planet means I'm not holding out much hope that will ever change. I no longer believe I have to put up with intermittent abuse just to prove to someone that I'm a good person. All manipulators and abusers in my life get the pink slip.

I'm sure this seems precipitous to you. Like I've come clear out of the blue with this decision. First of all, I'm not interested in giving you a recipe for how you should behave around me. That is what Mom does. I, on the other hand, want real relationships based on real caring. Not scripted behaviors. If you can't identify inappropriate behaviors, like manipulation, coercion, guilt-tripping, judging, and dismissiveness after all the conversations we've had about Mom and narcissism then, once again, your EQ is failing you. That you couldn't predict that I would not stick around if you decided to treat me as you have done in the past isn't anyone's fault but your own. High EQ would have told you this would be the result. I have demonstrated that I don't take manipulative crap off of anyone anymore by my decisions about Mom and Dad. You had a front row seat. But you would, if you could, demand yet another pass even while you refuse to apologize for what you really did. You are without excuse. You had all the information you needed to be able to know that your decision to try and force my will would be a fatal blow to our relationship. You did what you did with full disclosure on my part on how I would react to it. But, for some reason, you thought you were a special case with entitlement to endless do-overs if I should take offense at something you did. The plea is always, "That's not what I intended". "You misunderstand me." No, I don't any longer misunderstand when I'm up against a covertly aggressive person. I know when someone is selfishly and underhandedly fighting for their own way. I suppose it is very obvious now how different our view of sisterhood is. My view is simply this: the only sister you get to keep is the sister you don't abuse.

What you don't realize is that our relationship was on the brink back in the summer of 2002. You were so rude and dismissive that I was a hair's breadth from having nothing to do with you ever again. My offense? Refusing to surrender my opinion to yours. I'm betting you have no idea what or when or where you did this. You never apologized because I never confronted you. There is probably a book full of things you've never apologized for. (Just like now, I am sure I would never have gotten your attempt at an apology if I hadn't so adamantly gotten into your face because you don't think you did much of anything wrong.) Your reprieve came because of what Mom did several months later Thanksgiving 2002. We were back in regular communication again and Mom was the focus. What followed was two years of us having common ground (Mom) and many in depth and lengthy discussions on narcissism. What you didn't appreciate was that you were getting a clear picture of where my head was at on dealing with abusive, covertly aggressive personalities. This was your classroom on Anna. When the big test came, though, you failed spectacularly. D, you and Mom are the two most difficult people I've ever had to deal with. Ever. You are also the two most practiced covert aggressives I've ever had to deal with. You two have been the most cruel to me. You two had the most power to be cruel because you were family and the expectation was that you had the right to be mean and I had no right to protect myself by calling you on it. You two knew how to keep me down so I wouldn't resist. You have employed the best and most used tools of covert aggressives in your recent two emails to me. You're not out in the open enough with your aggression that you can be easily pinned down, which is the whole point of covert aggression. Nevertheless, I am well aware of what is going on. I see it all as clearly as if you were overt. No more wool over my eyes. Mom enabled me to rip it away....apparently, that was to your detriment since you didn't learn the lessons the last couple of years could have taught you. So, rather than seeing my exit as abrupt, you need to realize that you had an extra 2+ years to show me that you were different; to show you wouldn't use my relationship to you as sister to treat me any damn way you saw fit when you want your way. Since more than two years of discussion on narcissism didn't teach you anything about how not to treat me, I'm walking away. Since you can't, or won't, admit to what you really did against me, logic concludes: No admission = nothing will change. I don't have the interest or energy to keep up a relationship under these circumstances. I have many healthy relationships. Ours stands in stark contrast. I know when I'm being treated badly. No amount of fancy talk on your part can make me not know it.

I'm sure that if you were willing to denounce me to Mom and Dad as the evil bitch they already think I am that they would welcome you in with open arms. I'm willing to be thought of as evil if it allows me to live in peace.

Maybe, at some point in the future, I'll call you and see if you're willing to have an mutually respectful, healthy and adult relationship with me.

There is no tone of sarcasm in this letter. You can read it with a tone of weariness, resignation and sadness for that is what I'm feeling.

My next post will contain my parsing of my sister's non-apology letter which I never sent to her. It was an exercise I did for myself. Now, I'll share it with ya'll since it more fully shows what I actually took away from her attempt at an apology. It exposes her falsehoods and half-truths. One thing you have to pay careful attention to when analyzing a narcissist's fake apologies are the qualifiers and modifiers and subtle blame-shifting they sneak into their language. These will be highlighted in my next post.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

My Sister Pretends to Apologize

One of the main reasons I'm sharing this exchange of emails between my sister and me is because she is a slippery fish. Her tactics tend toward the subtler side; her non-apology a work of art. I'm hoping by exposing her tactics that it'll help someone out there who is trying to deal with a similarly slippery fish.

If you're new here, the "Labels" section of this web page has a category of "My Sister" which contains a history of my sister and myself going back to before she was born. The "last straw" event occurred within the email exchange I am now sharing. The first exchange of emails is here. The next parts of the exchange are here and here.

I had never before thought that I would ever ax my sister out of my life. I had assumed that arm's length would be a safe enough distance. The turmoil in my emotions as I was assaulted with my sister's manipulations, lies and smooth words was worse than what I went through with my N-mother. I was perplexed at the time that it was so hard on me. All I can really conclude is that it was because I had never anticipated feeling the need to completely shut my sister out of my life. Being confronted with her willingness to lie so voluminously to me in order to get her way and to "save face" made me realize I couldn't feel safe with her in my life. A part of me was shocked at how willing she was to use covert tactics to get me to comply with her wishes and then to "save face". To tell as many lies as she did in her two emails to me forced me to realize she is a dangerous person to have in my life. I don't know how you feel about liars, but I don't think they can be trusted any further than you can throw them. Good relationships rely on honesty and integrity between parties. I was forced to see that my sister can lie in nearly every sentence when she either wants something from me or feels like she has to maintain her "innocence" when she should be accepting responsibility.

In the past, her self-righteousness was a major tripping point for me as well. She has always been so assured of her rightness in situations where her will clashed with mine that I would usually acceded just because she was surer of her "rightness" than I was of mine. My sister makes high claims to being a pious Christian. This time around, though, her self-righteousness didn't shield her. I saw all too clearly what a liar she is, and I know liar's claims to being "righteous" are just as much a lie as anything else they say.

Without further prologue I now post her "apology"...

My Dear Sister,

I am so sorry that my last response offended you. I apologize for not considering that you would have serious concerns or a moral or ethical dilemma regarding K. I truly never considered for a moment that you would have different feelings than I on the matter and for that I am sorry. I can understand how you believe that I make everything about me because often I do. It is a residual effect of my upbringing that I daily combat. Sometimes though, I fail miserably and sin in this way. Please forgive me.

I hope that with time you will be able to accept my motives in writing you were not how you interpreted them to be. Please believe me when I tell you that my motive was simply to offer you “where I was coming from” so you could have more complete information from which to formulate your opinion. But can I understand your reaction in the light of the fact that you were dreading having to tell me because you said were expecting the worst in my reaction. I know that in the past I have tried to force you into beliefs that you did not hold. I know that I have hurt you terribly because of it. I am so sorry for that. But please believe me that this time I was only trying to be truthful and sensitive and reveal my heart so you could know me better. And I can see how you can read into it that I was once again making everything about me. I was and I am sorry.

You are right when you say that you and I differ in what we believe about sisterhood. Now I understand how you think on the matter and will not be making the same assumptions I have in the past. That you feel I have taken our relationship for granted was a sorrow to me. I am so sorry that I have made you feel taken for granted. Please forgive me for showing you such a poor example of my love for you. I want to learn how to love you in a way that feels like love to you. I know that our differences in temperament and disposition have made it more difficult for us to relate all through our lives. I know that when I am excited I want everyone to get excited too. What I didn’t know is how it made you feel when I do that. I am so sorry.

I can also see that you and I feel differently about relationships. I have always known that you take them very seriously and try to be honorable in your relationships. But I never understood before now that you consider relationships as responsibilities to carry. But knowing that now, suddenly it makes a lot of sense to me why you are thinking as you do about K. I think I get it. You don’t want to burden K with a relationship that you think is unnecessary and you aren’t sure you are ready to enter into the responsibility of a relationship with her either. That you and I think differently about this is not a matter of one of us being right and the other wrong. I think it’s because we have completely different temperaments which cause us to perceive things entirely different. I hope what can change in the future is that we can both feel free to express our perceptions freely. I will work on receiving your input without making you feel judged. I certainly don’t want you to feel that way with me and I am sorry that my last correspondence made you feel judged by me. I have re-read the e-mail I sent and I can honestly say that it wasn’t the intent of my heart when writing it, to make you feel judged for not believing as I did. But I believe you that you did feel that way and so I offer you my deepest apology. If I were to be completely honest with both you and myself, I would have to say that my last e-mail to you was written from the perspective that I was trying to justify my decision and make you see that I wasn’t a bad person for believing that I was doing the right thing for K. That I caused you to be burdened with granting me absolution on the matter is very wrong. I can see why you reacted as you did. I was asking you to give me what you could not...and should not have to give. Please for give me for doing this to you and causing you such distress as a result.

I spoke to K about your preferences on the Saturday I received your first e-mail. I told her that you felt morally and ethically wrong to impose on her life at this time of her development. I told her how you didn’t want to hurt her, P or D [K's adoptive parents] or interfere with her family life in any way. I told her that when she is an adult and able to initiate a relationship with you, that you will be more that happy to receive her at that time. Her response was,“ so she is not rejecting me...she just feels like now isn’t the right time.” I agreed and she was fine with it.

You are right, if I was present at your first meeting I would do everything I could to facilitate you getting to know each other. And now I understand how irritating that would be to you. And you know, I can accept that. I can see how that would feel like pressure to you and how that could cause resentment or at least discomfort. And I don’t want to cause you to feel that way at all. So I can see why you made that request.

Anna, much of what you see in me is true and valid. I am praying that God will make the necessary changes in my character so I am a better person. I hope that you will understand that much of what I say and do that causes you pain is not intentional. In my heart I hold the highest regard and love for you. In our youth you were the nurture that I did not receive anywhere else. I do ask a lot from you because that was the role I have seen you in. But it was wrong for you to have been placed in a position to “mother” me. That was far too great a responsibility for you to have to carry when you were so young and it is wrong for me to hold you in that role right now. Please forgive me for burdening you with my emotional needs. And please do not read sarcasm into that statement. In fact, nothing I have written today or on my former e-mail comes from sarcasm. I am sincere in my expressions to you. I have hurt you and I have wronged you and I am truly deeply sorry. Please forgive me.

I Love You, D
My next post will contain my reply to this letter. I will let you know now that I did not address all that I saw in this letter when replying to her. I trashed several drafts of a response and ultimately decided not to go point by point with her because it would be wasted effort. She had made it clear she was in no way willing to accept my point of view unless I was giving her what she wanted. After I sent her my reply I sat down with her letter above and did go point by point as to what I saw in her letter and have kept that for myself. It helped me to stop mulling the letter over in my mind once I was able to thoroughly respond to it. I will share that private analysis of her letter with you after you read what I sent to her. Since you are not aware of all the history between me and my sister my private analysis of this letter will help you better see what I did. Sister labored for almost two weeks on this non-apology letter. So I know she deliberately chose every word of it. Therefore, I hold her to every word of it.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

An Added Link

In light of my sister's upcoming "apology" email that I'll soon be posting, I hope ya'll will check out this cynical take on non-apologies. I added it to the "links" section of this blog and it is titled "How NOT to Apologize When You Have Seriously Fucked Up". It is a work of brilliance.

I Get in Sister's Face

My sister's last email was infuriating. I had specifically told her I was settled in my mind on this and I asked her to not try to pressure me to change my mind. That was me kindly warning her to not do what she ended up doing. She was judgmental, condescending and a bit freely revising some history that was now proving inconvenient to her case.

Since I don't believe that showing one's anger is necessarily a wrong thing, I responded in such a way that she could not fail to feel mine. I used sarcasm. My sister also looks down on sarcasm. She doesn't think it is ever right to use it. That is because she is somewhat ignorant. Sarcasm can put a fine point on something and deliver the message much more clearly. Even God Himself uses a bit of Divine sarcasm in the last several chapters of the book of Job. Read it. It makes me laugh every time I do. God using sarcasm to make His points to a man who needed to comprehend a reality bigger than himself. God doesn't sin...God uses sarcasm. Do the math.

My next email was pointed. It was also my sister's last chance to get it right. I was giving her one last opportunity to pull her shit together by what I instructed her with in my "P.S." Also, you will probably notice my frequent use of the word "feeling" and "feel", etc. It is because that is the language she speaks. Because I tend to rely on logic and rationality to guide my decision-making processes sister chooses to portray me as emotionless. She hasn't hesitated to frequently portray me that way to my face. She has made it clear to me that she looks down on me for being this way. So I made sure to speak her language. For all the good it did.

Thank you, D, for being gracious enough to allow me to have a different opinion than you on this without having to cast shame, blame and aspersions on me and my views.

Thank you for confirming that K lacks the maturity and perspective right now to have me in her life as you believe that my truthful feelings and reasoning can't be understood by her. My email was anything but rejecting of her. You appear to have completely missed the part where I state that I DO want to meet her. How is my clearly stating I would like to meet her when she is an adult being hurtful? How is it hurtful for me to respect K's adoption? If I can't be truthful with her then what is the point of her meeting me? It seems I'm too hurtful of a person to allow her to get close to. Perhaps you need to warn her off.

Thank you for giving a stark revelation of her inability to discern what is best for her at her tender young age as shown by her continued desire to want to meet Mom and Dad. You have been warning her against them since you two met up. Yet she still thinks she wants to meet them. I see a profound lack of wisdom and maturity which is completely understandable and even appropriate for her age. I am not condemning her. I am simply saying she needs to grow up more before she will be able to make wiser decisions about who should be in her life. I'm willing to wait and see if, when she gains more maturity, she still wants to meet me. I am not being unreasonable or unfair or rejecting. I resent what appears to be almost a deliberate misapprehension of my words by you.

Thank you for making this all about you and what you want while acting like this is only about what K wants. Thank you for not giving any weight whatsoever to my feelings or beliefs. Thank you for pointing out what a failure I have been as a sister because I didn't "enter your joy". Never mind that it would have been disingenuous for me to pretend to feel something I didn't feel. Frankly, I'm just about never enthusiastic enough for your tastes. Here is a newsflash about me: I am honest in my reactions. I fake nothing. I would not be able to count the times when I have expressed honest enthusiasm or praise about something and you keep poking me and prodding me to ramp it up. I always get the message: I'm not emotional enough for your tastes. I don't "validate" you the way you think I should. Why can't I be myself and be allowed to think that it okay for me to be me? Why is it always about you and what you want and need? Why are your needs always top billing, yet when I, in a rare moment, express my need for some respect for my feelings and I get slapped around? Why are you fighting?

By the way, I notice you didn't bother to ask me what my reservations were when you were so hurt by my lack of enthusiasm. I knew you sensed my reservation, but I also took note that you didn't ask about it. That told me you did not want to hear a dissenting opinion. I took the hint. I didn't force my thinking and emotions onto you. I gave you as much "validation", or whatever, that I could without being dishonest. I figured if you really wanted to know, you would ask. The day finally arrived. You asked. "Tonight she asked me if you two even wanted to meet her. And you know, I didn't know how to answer. Is that something you would even want?" I answered your question honestly and clearly. And then you punish me for it! If there was only one right answer to that question then you should have told me.

When you signed those adoption papers you forever forfeited any right to hold me to any expectation regarding K. You should be treading extremely lightly here. But somehow you have this idea that you have a right to expect me to conform to your ideas in this matter. Where do you get off? Get out of yourself for a moment here and realize that my decisions regarding K are not your business. You are overstepping .... big time.

What you apparently don't remember about the conversation where you first told me that you'd just met K is that simultaneously you were immediately putting on the pressure for us (N and me) to meet her. Big time. You were not subtle. You were a steamroller. You did not for even an instant seem to pause to think that this new development needed to be handled with at least a little respect that the rest of your family may be in a different place in their heads; that they may need time to adjust. I didn't even get one minute to adjust to the idea that K was now in your life before I had to also take in the fact that this meant, in your mind, that she was now in my life. And N's life. This had a dampening effect on my reaction to "your joy" because, frankly, it was too much all at once. All these friends and acquaintances that I'm being compared to are not in the same position as I am. They are not subject to your expectations in this. Of course they were able to express great joy for you. It doesn't cost them a thing because they bear no responsibility toward K. I could have been much more enthusiastic if you weren't immediately bestowing on me your expectation that I now had to instantly act as if K had always been a part of our family. You made me feel like I had no choice in this matter. It made me pull back. You are grossly unfair comparing my reaction to your friends' and acquaintances' reactions. You are also very unfair laying your expectations on me like it is my job to fulfill them. Like it is your right to do so. You have shown no respect or consideration at all for my thoughts and feelings on this from the very first moments of K coming into your life. Can you imagine for just one minute how that makes me feel? How it feels to receive your angry, condescending rebuke the very first time I do try to explain my feelings? You make me feel bullied. And it pisses me off. I think you should know I don't stand still for bullying anymore. Which is why I'm in your face right now. I hope you can understand my words this time around.

I knew you would not tolerate my thinking regarding K. I have truthfully expressed to you that I am happy for you in past conversations....because I really am happy for you because I knew you were happy. I wasn't begrudging of your being happy. I could completely understand it. I expressed that to you. But, again, it wasn't enough. I withheld any dissenting thoughts and my concerns because I didn't want to rain on your parade. I get NO credit from you at all for that. Only condemnation because I didn't express unbridled enthusiasm. You are asking me to be dishonest. I would have to have had a brain transplant in order to react the way you expected me to. I have been living in dread for this moment of truth. I have avoided expressing my thoughts on this because I felt sure you would react as negatively as you did. I am sorry I was so right about that.

As to your vow to "be silent on the matter". Isn't it telling that you couldn't be silent on the matter before you dumped your negative reaction on me? Your silence will now be filled with your shaming and rejection of my right to hold a differing opinion. Thanks.

I have clear and specific memories of things you deny in your response to me. I see you re-painting the picture in order to make me more wrong. I have a problem with that.

You have preached a good game about how people are entitled to have their feelings and not have to defend them or be judged for them. I fail to see you granting one ounce of respect for my feelings on this. Apparently, it is only your feelings that get this consideration. This respect and consideration for feelings has to be a two-way street or else the relationship is out of kilter and someone is getting the shaft.

Have you forgotten that only a short time ago I called my own mother into account for her over-reaching, her self-centeredness, her unfair expectations, her coming down like a hammer on someone she disapproved of? If I would hold my own mother to account for her treatment of me and mine, what makes you think I'd give you a pass for the same type of behavior? Somewhere along the way you seem to have come to believe there is a commandment that says, "Honor your sister, validate her whenever she wants you to even if it means going against your own convictions, and be sure to grant her expectations." Since I haven't found that commandment yet I'm going to call you on how you're treating me. I'm going to hold you to some account for your unfairness. I'm not going to let you steamroll me with your overt and covert rejection of my position by your implication that I a committing a moral wrong. There is NO moral obligation involved here. This is a matter where reasonable minds can acting like I'm wrong to hold to the opinions I do is simply you attempting to manipulate me. I'm too old, too wise and too cranky to not call you on it.

Here's a thought to carry with you. I don't owe you anything. I don't even owe you a relationship with me. I'm not being cruel here. I am stating stark reality. If you really let that sink in then you will find that I will never disappoint you again because you'll take nothing for granted and you'll have gratitude for who I am and what I am willing to give you. You have been presumptuous. You have assumed that I owe you things that I don't, and this has caused you to trample my boundaries. You feel like you can bestow your unfair disapproval freely and I just have to sit here and take it? You shouldn't feel so secure in your relationship with me that you can feel justified in attempting to shame me and to discount my thoughts and feelings like they don't matter, without consequence. I wouldn't put up with that in a friend. Blood relation is not enough for me to give you a pass on it. There is much more weight of obligation in a relationship between a child and parent. I have demonstrated that I am willing end that relationship because of its toxicity to me. You would do well to keep that in mind. I do not have to have a relationship with you. I choose to. Stop taking that for granted. By the same token, I am even less obligated to K. I don't owe her a relationship with me. It is something I get to choose. It is high time you start respecting that reality.

I do choose to have a relationship with K if she still wants one after she has come of age. It is not an unreasonable position for me to take. No, I don't want you to be present at the first meeting. Why? Because you come on like a ton of bricks. You will be an impediment to her getting to know us because you don't know us. Not nearly as well as you think you do. If past interactions with you are an indication, and I think they are, you will constantly be superimposing your version of who we are to each other and will be preventing any real knowing in the process. We don't need you there to tell us how to think about each other. We need the room to get to know each other without you orchestrating our interactions, reactions and impressions. If and when we have a relationship with K, it will be a different kind of relationship than what you have. You need to grant the space for K and us to get to know each other on the terms we strike up between us. You don't get to call the shots here. You need to back off.

I know you consider yourself very emotionally intelligent. I get the impression you think you are superior in this regard to me. You're entitled to think that. But what I find interesting is that you, even after these many years, do not understand me. You are rarely able to enter into my feelings. You always assume that my worldview, my feelings, should be identical to yours and seem truly surprised when I have to tell you that isn't the case. Then you seem to quickly forget what I've said and go back to misunderstanding who I am, what I think and how I feel. Where I'm concerned, you are not emotionally intelligent. You also have freely admitted that you've never been nearly as good at figuring our mother out as I have been. On the other hand, I have evidence that I have a very good idea of what your world view is and can anticipate your emotional reactions in various situations. (Your reaction to my thoughts on meeting K are a recent case in point. I was 99% sure you'd react as you did. I was hoping I was wrong, but alas, I wasn't.) I think I deserve more credit from you for being able to understand people and their emotions than you give me....and perhaps you need to give yourself a little less credit in this regard than you do.

So, how are you going to portray my position to K? Are you going to emphatically state that I DO want a relationship with her in the future as I emphatically stated it to you? Are you going to assure her of my genuine concern for her well-being as what is motivating me in this even though you disagree with my views? I gave you much you could say to her that would not make her feel rejected, even though you are acting like I have rejected her outright and entirely. That is a false assumption that you seem to want to cling to in spite of what I actually am saying. Why are you determined to think that I am being rejecting of K? What's the game here? If you present my views on this to her as simply me wanting to meet her without you being there you would be misrepresenting the issue. If you can't see your way clear to let me tell her in my own words what my thoughts and feelings on this are then it would be best for you to say nothing at all if you truly want K to want to have anything to do with me. I wait to see how you will choose to handle this.

Your sister,

P.S. Contemplate long and hard before you react to me. If you come at me with more recrimination I won't be open to it. I also not react well to any attempts at self-justification. I'm open to your vow of silence on the matter. I'd be even more open to an genuine apology.
Now began the wait for her reply. Thirteen days it took for her to try to fashion a perfect response. I admit it was an artful effort. It failed spectacularly, though, because I can't be baffled with bull-shit anymore. Notice how I even gave her the option of not saying anything more. If she had just stopped here she would probably still be in my life. But, no, she couldn't keep from saying more. She was so sure of her ability to maintain a "righteous" position by faking an apology. Trapped in her narcissistic world-view she couldn't see the proper path to take. Only looking at the world through her own eyes she continued to be unable to comprehend how things look from another person's eyes. Her loss, my gain. I expended a lot of words to impress upon her that she was in an extremely tenuous position with me. I know she did comprehend that fact. Her next response reveals the ultimate choice she settled upon...that she thought she could have it all. She over-estimated her ability to fool me with her smooth speech and artful lies. She thought she could continue to protest her innocence and keep me in her life. She thought wrong.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Sister Reacts to My Email

I continue now to pick up the story of the last straw event with my sister. The first round of emails between her and me is posted here.

Sister's next email came only a few hours after my measured and reasoned answer to her question about whether or not I wanted to meet her biological daughter.

She betrayed her anger in her next email, although I could clearly see she was trying to disguise her anger in her reply. My sister looks down on the overt expression of the emotion of anger. She thinks it is always wrong to show one's anger. Probably because creating scenes with her self-centered anger was one of her frequent failings in life. So, rather than be honest when she has the emotion of anger, she will try to subvert and disguise it. That means it comes out in other ways. Like defensiveness and condescension. Here is her next email sent April 1st at 12:57 p.m.:

Dear Anna,

I am sorry you feel as if I have been putting pressure on you to know K. In fact, you need to know the pressure isn't coming from me. It is coming from her. And she is beginning to feel the rejection that comes from not being wanted and accepted by my family. That is why I asked. I will not ask again.

I have known for some time that you have had an issue with K being in my life at this time. I wasn't sure why, and I was deeply hurt that you were not willing to share my joy. Friends and even acquaintances were so happy for me and expressed great joy. The contrast with how you received the news was so great I couldn't help but notice. So now I understand where you are coming from and I will have to accept it.

Just so you know, P is completely fine with me and with my relationship with K. After K told her what it would mean to her, P was the one who orchestrated it. She has told me that K needs to know her family of origin to become the complete person she is designed to be. Having known me all along, P also sees that K and I are very similar in so many respects. K and I are blown away at how genetics are so much at play with who she is. I have told P that I am grateful beyond all belief that she allowed K the love and nurture that was needed to become the person she was designed to be and not an injured person like myself.

As a result of K being with me for these several months, I have been able to help nurture and develop a greater appreciation in K for her mother. K needed to know some things and understand the greater picture. She needed to know what her life could have been as apposed to what it is now. She needed to hear of P's kindness to me and of my great admiration of P. K's impatience and irritation of her mother have vanished as a result of her relationship with me. I would never do or say anything to take away from her love of P or D [K's adoptive father]. They know that and trust me. Everything I have done in the past speaks to my integrity on this issue. I would never do or say anything to take away from what I sacrificed so greatly for K. To undermine her attachment to her adoptive family would be to make all the years of sacrifice and pain of no value. I am not willing to do that.

One thing you need to know about K is that she operates from love. She loves people. She loves to be around people. She is not outgoing in the usual way but she has to have people in her life. And family is of great value to her. " Tell Anna I love my family." I remember feeling such joy when our extended family got together. It just felt right to me. The continual estrangements in our extended family caused me great sadness and still does. So I understand K's longing to know you. And it is a longing. Not at all brought on by me. In fact, I do not speak of you to her at all. I have taken your lack of sharing in my joy and lack of interest in talking with me about it as a sign that you potentially did not want anything to do with her. So I have kept silent. She is the one who speaks of you to me.

Yes it will be awkward to meet her at first. She will just smile at you and you will not know what she is thinking. But I have learned that she mostly is just trying to know you and observe you. Which for me was most uncomfortable. But she has always been the one to initiate visits with me. Now that she drives she will be making trips to see me even more often. At first I couldn't understand why she wanted to see me at all when she hardly talked. But now I understand her much better and I know that she just needs to know me. By knowing me, she feels as if she knows herself better. And it is healing the unspoken rejection that is harbored inside every child who has been given away.

K is innocent and naive, but she is also very strong willed and independent. She is kind and sensitive as well. I will pray about how to explain your position this to her. I feel as she may be hurt by the e-mail so I'm not sure I will have her read it. I will ask P's opinion on the matter. P knows her and how she would take it. Am I right to assume that you would prefer to meet her without me present. Perhaps that will be the take I will give it.

Thank you for letting me know your position. I will be silent on the matter from now on.

In the comment exchange on the last post I did on my sister someone portrayed K as being helpless. Quoting now, "In fact, the 'sympathetic character' from my point of view is indeed... your neice. [sic] She is the one most helpless in the situation..." This is a false argument. K was and is totally empowered from beginning to end in this situation. She was the one making all the choices. Her adoptive mother asked K if she wanted to meet her biological mother. Answer, yes. She could have said no. At any point along the way she is empowered to cut off all contact with her bio mother. She is not being forced in any way to stay in contact. This child is well-loved by her adoptive mother. Even my own bitch of a mother never could find anything mean to say about this adoptive mother. That is saying something. If K decided to have nothing more to do with my sister then she would have the means and power to make that happen. So to portray this young woman as disempowered and being carried about on the winds of life without a rudder is an assumption on the part of the commenter, not on the facts of the case.

Because there are people who seem eager to take every word my sister utters at face value, I'm going to dissect the above email a bit and explain what I know and how I understand what she is saying. All of you only have the naked words and not the history and knowledge that informed me as I read it. My reply to this email did not directly confront every thing she stated because I knew it would be useless. Therefore, my responding email will not fill in some of the facts for the outside observer. I will try not to be redundant. What I addressed in my response to her I will leave alone for now.

I am sorry you feel as if I have been putting pressure on you to know K. In fact, you need to know the pressure isn't coming from me. It is coming from her. And she is beginning to feel the rejection that comes from not being wanted and accepted by my family. That is why I asked. I will not ask again.
This entire paragraph is lie-based. First of all, notice her non-apology. She is sorry for how I feel. Apologizing for someone's feelings is never an apology. A non-apology is a form of a lie. It is a deceptive device aimed at soothing someone's irritation while the "apologizer" knows they are not giving anything up because they are not giving a sincere apology. She is using this "apology" for how I am feeling as a preamble to telling me that my feelings are misplaced and wrong. That is another sign of an insincere apology. Discounting the other party's feelings.

She smoothly transitions from her non-apology into her next lie. She claims the pressure to want to meet me is coming, not from her, but from K. Sister is indeed the one putting the pressure on me to meet K. Seeing as how K and I were not in any communication, the only way I could feel pressure is if my sister was the one exerting it. Then there is this reality: sister told me how much she would talk about me and my daughter to K, extolling our virtues and then reporting how it made K excited to meet us. Who is the originator of K's desire to meet with me? My sister. Because sister hasn't been asking me directly, only obliquely hinting and hoping I would just come out with a statement about how I want to meet K, she feels her constant manipulations have gone unfelt by me so she makes the mistake of thinking I hadn't noticed what was going on. She forgets all the many accounts she has given me of how much she has talked to K about me and how she has been the one to pique K's interest in meeting. Sister repeats this lie when she says,

"So I understand K's longing to know you. And it is a longing. Not at all brought on by me."

and again:

"So I have kept silent. She is the one who speaks of you to me."

Those are just bald-faced lies. She thinks I am fooled, but has not fully appreciated how well I listened to her phone calls and how I remember her own accounts of how things actually happened. She is full of shit.

Then my sister ups the guilt factor by telling me how K is starting to "feel the rejection" because I haven't met her yet. This is entirely the doing of my sister. I had done nothing to make K feel rejected. K is being fed information by my sister and basing her views of me on what her bio mother chooses to say or not say. My sister is the one setting K up to feel rejected by me because she is the one working K into a lather of excitement before my sister ever bothers to ask me what my thoughts and intentions are. I see that as cruel on my sister's part. She was not looking out for K's best interests by playing the game as she did. She was deliberately setting the circumstances up to make me feel I had no choice but to accede to her will when she finally decided to corner me. She would use this child's curiosity and expectations which were deliberately fed by my sister to make me jump when sister wanted me to jump. I find such manipulation of this child to be utterly vile. This child is not faulted by me for being curious. That is natural. But my sister with intentional deliberateness fostered this natural curiosity into much larger proportions while never once making sure I was on the same page.

Then there is the reality that I did say "yes". My sister is telling me how rejected K is starting to feel even though I had just said YES. WTF? I didn't say yes the right way. That is the reality of it. Therefore, my sister plays like I said no and proceeds to try to ratchet up the guilt. Unseemly.

Sister claims that K's adoptive mother is "just fine" with K being in my sister's life. She apparently forgot that she told me otherwise on another occasion about a year earlier. Her memory may be short, mine isn't. Maybe P has gotten over her insecurities about her daughter being so involved in her birth mother's life. (I know you anti-adoption types hate that term "birth mother" is a descriptor that clarifies relationships.) Nevertheless, she at least one time demonstrated discomfort and fear over it. My sister is pretending that was never the case. I call that a lie.

She pretends that she and the adoptive mother have had an ongoing relationship:

Having known me all along, P also sees that K and I are very similar in so many respects. K and I are blown away at how genetics are so much at play with who she is.

This is also a lie. There were only a few face-to-face meetings during my sister's pregnancy and immediately after the birth. There were no more than a few phone calls in the immediate months after K's birth. Then the only contact was one-sided....the package of pictures and a note each year. That does not constitute P knowing my sister.

I have told P that I am grateful beyond all belief that she allowed K the love and nurture that was needed to become the person she was designed to be and not an injured person like myself.

This is an admission from my sister that K had been loved and nurtured by her adoptive family and that K had realized her potential as a human being without being "injured". Sister, later in this email, says that K being able to meet her birth mother has enabled K to heal from the "unspoken damage" every given away child feels. So, apparently K was "injured" because she was adopted. Sister says K has been "healing" from that "unspoken damage" by meeting her birth mom. If K has been healing by just associating with her birth mother then meeting extended family is merely icing...not the cake...if I choose to go along with my sister's line of reasoning.

As a result of K being with me for these several months, I have been able to help nurture and develop a greater appreciation in K for her mother. K needed to know some things and understand the greater picture. She needed to know what her life could have been as apposed to what it is now. She needed to hear of P's kindness to me and of my great admiration of P. K's impatience and irritation of her mother have vanished as a result of her relationship with me. I would never do or say anything to take away from her love of P or D [K's adoptive father]. They know that and trust me. Everything I have done in the past speaks to my integrity on this issue. I would never do or say anything to take away from what I sacrificed so greatly for K. To undermine her attachment to her adoptive family would be to make all the years of sacrifice and pain of no value. I am not willing to do that.

This all sounds really good, but I know it is a crock of shit. My sister's early reports of K's relationship with P were all positive. My sister would go on at length about how loving and attentive to her adoptive mother K was and what a loving relationship they had. It was only later on that the kid started having complaints about her adoptive mother. The grass was starting to look greener on the other side of the fence, er, the state. This is an instance of a narcissist creating the problem so she can fix it and look like the heroine. K's "impatience and irritation of her mother have vanished"...this is a completely upside down version of the truth. My sister's high claims to integrity and sacrifice and resolve to not undermine K's attachment to her adoptive family are contradicted by my sister's behaviors. The words and behavior do not match. I believe the actions. My sister's email was a work of revisionism and fiction. She was angry at me and it shows in her defensiveness. People who are defensive are very likely angry. She, in an attempt to circumvent my scruples, gets preachy on me and would instruct me on how I am wrong on every point. She could not graciously grant me a right to my opinion. She preached at me and then pretended she would "remain silent on the matter from now on". In other words, she wanted to get the last word. Slap me around and then shut down the conversation.

The other problems I had with my sister's response are dealt with in my next email to her.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sentencing Guideline for Narcissists

Behold, the young criminal. He has finally been caught and hauled up before the law and the judge. Because he has only now been caught the court operates on the theory that this is the first time the criminal has committed this type of crime. For some reason our judicial branch began operating on the assumption that the first time a criminal gets caught for doing something against the law he is entitled to a lighter sentence, even though we know that if you punish a first time offender with a good strong measure of the law it will be more likely to dissuade him from future offenses. To quote one of the Wisdom books of the Bible:
"Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." Eccl. 8:11
The so-called first time youthful criminal is granted either a short sentence and/or probation. Then, the court decides to go one better and expunges the record of the crime. The young criminal turns 18 and the court wants to pretend the criminal is going to turn over a new leaf and live within the law since he has a chance at a clean slate. Whatever. Rarely works out that way, but who am I to question to the grand judicial minds of this country? I'm no one.

But I am someone who has observed the narcissist in action. The narcissist is a career criminal. Not so much in the legal realm. They specialize in operating off the books in the moral realm. They carry on acts of subterfuge and cruel sneak attacks on the minds, bodies and souls of the vulnerable, sick, young or helpless. Those the least likely to hold the narcissist to account.

Let us say that the day has finally arrived when you think you've gathered enough strings of evidence to fashion a rope to hang the narcissist with. You have a case that you know is enough to convince you, the jury of one, that the narcissist is a crook. You confront the narcissist. They deny, accuse, rant and rave that you've got it all wrong. You are told that the rope of evidence is a thread; look, it is a broken thread at that. You get badgered into believing an alternate reality. You, at the prompting of the narcissist, lessen your intended sentence. Then, in order to be a "good person, you decide to act as if you've expunged the record of all evidence of the crime. The narcissist triumphs. They never will allow you to use this evidence against them in the future because you yourself agreed to expunge the record. Fresh slate. Do over.

As far as I can tell, we are the ones who perpetuate this scenario. As many times as you can be bribed, cajoled, shamed or threatened into once again letting this career criminal off the hook, that many times he will re-offend. That many times you'll be used and abused. That many times you'll hate yourself for not being strong enough to stick to what you know. Endless do-overs is the narcissist's asserted "right". Each time he offends, you both pretend it is his first offense. First offenders get a lighter sentence...or no sentence at all.

Does this make the narcissist suddenly decide to reform? Uh, no. Quite the opposite. You reinforce the narcissist in his belief that there is nothing wrong with him. You help him maintain his belief that there is no law he is obliged to stay within as long as you keep wiping the slate clean for him. You are just as lawless as he is if you continue to behave this way. Obviously, I am talking about laws of morality here, although we see plenty of people willing to help narcissists avoid accountability before state and federal laws of society as well.

Mostly, though, I'm talking about the sins of the narcissist in the moral sphere. When you give the narcissist reason to believe that laws of morality don't apply to him, you are showing a certain disrespect to morality yourself. The narcissist is an anarchist at their core. They rebel against any authority or law that gets in the way of what they want. They demand your complicity in their anarchist ways. When you have been convinced of the immorality of the narcissist's behavior you have an obligation to your own integrity and to others to stand up for what you know is true and right. You have to be willing to KNOW the truth and stick with it.

I have said before that the narcissist thrives in the gray areas. More specifically, they thrive in the gray areas of your own conscience. Their conscience doesn't count in this dynamic because they've corrupted theirs. Their conscience has been perverted and subverted. So the only conscience the narcissist has to deal with is yours, and that requires your cooperation. Get some moral certitude. Know what you know and be willing to take a stand. Morality is about other people. This is much bigger than you. It is more important that you are helping to protect others when you stand up against moral anarchists. There are ripple effects from all our choices. Don't fool yourself into thinking there will be no evil outcomes to others when you decide to buckle to the moral anarchist. Someone else, as well as yourself, is going to get hurt by your decision. Sooner or later.

Look at what I've said here in light of my recent posts on forgiveness for that is what I'm still talking about here. Profligate forgiveness given to the unrepentant is what I'm describing even now. While it looks "good" to others (and to yourself) to forgive, forgive, forgive, this kind of false forgiveness propagates and supports evil. There is no getting around that fact. When your actions (or lack of action) tend to support the evil-doer then you are screwing the innocent. You can not lend your support to evil and also be a champion of the innocent and true victims of evil. You can't straddle the fence. You are on one side or another. "Choose you this day whom you will serve..." Joshua 24:15.

Prolonged association with a narcissist can rot your morals and your soul. Quit issuing first-time offender sentences and throw the book at them. You can't save the soul of the narcissist--only your own.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Force of Nature

If you've withheld forgiveness from the narcissists in your life then I am sure you have experienced some particular accusations. These come from the narcissist and their sympathizers. They accuse you of "refusing to forget the past", "holding a grudge", "being resentful", "not letting go". One of my and my family's favs is "a heart full of hate". We erupt in gales of laughter when we conjure up that particular memory of my father's accusation in defense of my mother.

Narcissists have a very limited range of emotions. While being able to fake having a wider range of emotions, they really operate on an emotional level of an animal with the two primary motivating emotions of fear and anger (jealousy is a close third, but is really a combination of the other two). This is one reason they impute one of these two emotions to you when you are not behaving properly. They project their own emotional state or reactions to you. Which is why, when you calmly and firmly withhold absolution for their misdeeds, they immediately assume a negative.

Is it true? Is it inevitable that your decision to wait for someone to show true signs of confession, contrition, restitution and a firm resolve to not repeat the offense can only mean that you are a resentful, grudge-filled, vengeful, nasty person? Is it possible to withhold a gift of forgiveness while simultaneously living your own life with productiveness, happiness, and a clear conscience without bitterness?

Indeed, the assumption of the narcissists, sympathizers and Holy Joes is that you can't be a spiritual person with a clean conscience and a focus on the good things in life while withholding forgiveness. They are screwed up in the head so you can put their opinion on this in the trash. Lets look at it from healthy person's perspective.

Emotionally healthy people are realists. They are people who want to see reality, accept reality and live in reality. The realist has seen that the narcissist is not wanting a real gift of forgiveness, therefore the realist has accepted that truth and proceeded to live their life based on that truth. The realist doesn't have to be upset or angry about this reality because it never does any good to get pissed and stay pissed at reality for any length of time. Reality is. If you refuse to accept what is, you end up fighting truth. Not a good situation since, in the end, truth wins. The person I'm describing is able to depersonalize the behaviors and accusations of the narcissist because they've come to understand that the narcissist is not truth-based. Because an emotionally healthy person is only interested in truth-based reality, they don't take a lying narcissist at their word. When the narcissist starts hurling accusations the realist doesn't take them to heart once they've figured out that the narcissist is an inveterate liar.

In fact, this person is able to completely depersonalize the narcissist too. The realist thinks of the narcissist as a Force of Nature. Realists do not get angry at a force of nature. It would be senseless to do so. The force of nature is just what it is and it can't help what it is. It does what it does, wreaks its destruction, and moves on. The energy and effort of the realist is used to stay out of the way of the force of nature until it passes. When the hurricane threatens, the wise realist does all they can to protect them self and their family from the coming storm. They hammer boards over the windows and hunker down in the relative safety of their basement. When the hurricane comes knocking you don't run up and open the door to it. You don't invite the hurricane to dinner. You don't throw your kids out on the front porch to appease the hurricane in order to save yourself. Or, like the natives of certain tribes, throw your virgins into the volcano to stave off its rage and rampage. No, you simply do all you can to protect yourself and stay out of the path of a force of nature. Where is the resentment? Where is the grudge-holding? It doesn't even apply. You have simply come to recognize the truth about the narcissist; they are destructive forces and unsafe for humans. You do not try to reason with a force of nature. You don't try to placate it. You don't waste time hoping the force of nature will grow a heart. You get out of its way and stay out of its way. That is all you can do.

In one significant way the narcissist differs from a tornado, hurricane, tidal wave, volcano, etc...a force of nature is not predatory. The narcissist is. And, unlike most predators in nature, narcissists are predators of their own kind. This reality only underlines the need to get out of the way of the narcissist's storm.

Let us say for a moment that you've misjudged the narcissist, or perhaps a non-narcissist person who has become a detrimental force in your life. If you have misjudged them, your withdrawing doesn't prevent them from proving they are good people. Your withdrawal doesn't hurt someone in an irreparable way. Yes, maybe their feelings get hurt, but normal people are able to function in spite of some hurt feelings and eventually their feelings will resolve. What I'm saying is that withdrawing is the kindest and least damaging of any other action you can take. The other person, if misjudged by you, will lead their lives in such a way that will prove they are something other than what you thought they were. You may or may not be aware of how they are leading their lives, nevertheless, your withdrawal does not damage anyone's ability to carry on their lives successfully. You are no one's savior. Staying in the narcissist's life is not going to someday save them. Leaving them will not destroy them (no matter what they tell you). If you decide you must withdraw, do so without apology or shame. If you happen to be wrong, your withdrawal is not going to damage the other person's life. If you didn't misjudge, you've taken an action that has protected your self without taking retaliatory actions against the other party. Narcissists would like to pretend your withdrawal is retaliatory, but that is a lie. It is the kindest, gentlest way of dealing with their toxicity. It acknowledges that you are not willing to be hurt anymore, and that you've abdicated the idea that the narcissist's salvation somehow is dependent on you. While they characterize "no contact" by you as cruel, the opposite is true. It is the kindest thing you can do for yourself and for them. They are deprived of using you and you are not responsible for increasing their evil by letting them hone it on you.

Refusing to forget the past is thrown in your face like it is a bad thing, but if you don't have any recollection of the terrible damage a tidal wave can do, then you won't know enough to get off the beach when the water draws back. Remembering the past is essential for survival. It is not a fault of character. An operational memory is what helps keep us safe! Don't let someone shame you with that.

The narcissist should be asking us for our forgiveness. Instead, they demand us to forget. There is a very large difference between the two. They don't want forgiveness, they want us to wipe our memories into blanks. Why? Because they want carte blanche to recommit their crimes against us at their whim. This is why I refuse to let the bad guys make the rules for my life anymore. The criminals want to make the rules. Their demands always boil down to the same thing--that I continue on as before and allow the narcissist the right to abuse me as they see fit. Well, I have a good enough memory, and enough sense, to know that I have been dealing with a force of nature. My desire for it to be different won't change it. When the blizzard threatens, I'm locking the doors and not stepping a toe outdoors until it has moved on. While the storm rages, I'll be quietly and contentedly reading a book or taking a nap. No, my heart isn't full of hate. I'm very happily and realistically leading a life out of the path of the storm.

"A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, But the simple pass on and are punished." Prov 22:3 (NKJV)

Monday, July 16, 2007


The standard panacea unhelpfully offered to those who are struggling with abuse past and present is "forgiveness". It is always assumed that you must "forgive" and all will be healed in your torn up soul. Your emotional wounds will finally close and you'll even be able to invite your abuser over for Christmas dinner next December.

I'm going to make a categoric statement and then attempt to fill out some of my reasoning on the subject.

Emotional health and healing does not reside in your being able to forgive the perp. So just forget about "forgiveness" and follow what I have to say. Test it against your logic and experience and see if I have a point.

Yeah, I know, that seems to go against all conventional wisdom. Christian or secular sources seem to beat the same drum..."you have to forgive in order to be able to move on". Bull. Shit. Conventional wisdom is rarely wise, so let's think this one through without the societal consensus blurring the lines.

When someone abuses you, in some way they have taken something from you. It may be something material like money or property. It may be a physical injury, or emotional abuse that has robbed you of self-respect. When someone deprives you of what is yours they incur a debt to you. Think of the years of abuse by the narcissist in your life as an ongoing theft. If you were not related to the person who habitually stole things from you, you would probably be smart enough to get them out of your life. But things get stickier when it is a family member because society places expectations on us to always remain connected to our blood relations. We long ago succumbed to this expectation. So we "forgive" them which means the abuser/thief has continual access to you to keep re-offending. This kind of forgiveness is destructive to you and enables evil to flourish. There has to be something better.

Real forgiveness is never a one-way street; real forgiveness can only be given if reconciliation and restoration in the relationship are desired by both parties. Forgiveness isn't just about you or your feelings. It is about a relationship between at least two people.

Forgiveness is the transaction that allows for restoration. On the offender's side there must be confession (admit to their act against you), contrition (show sorrow for what they've done to you) restitution (pay back what they took plus a penalty) and repentance (show solid determination to not re-offend). The person being asked for forgiveness, you, can then offer a large measure of grace if you are convinced of the sincerity of the offender's efforts. When you see these above actions by the person who hurt you, your heart is touched and you will likely offer mercy and reconciliation which usually means you ask them to pay less than is owed you and call it even. True forgiveness is very much like a business transaction. It is a transaction on the material and/or emotional level. In a real way a debt was incurred against you by the misdeed of the other party. The transaction of forgiveness is what allows the books to be set to right again allowing a relationship to be mended. The word "transaction" means that forgiveness can not happen unilaterally. It takes two to dance this tango.

When you give away your forgiveness without the perpetrator going through all four stages (confession, contrition, restitution and repentance) you show that your forgiveness is a false form of it and not something to be desired. Say you approach someone whom you know has injured you, and they deny they ever did it. They adamantly refuse to acknowledge their debt to you. Now lets say you go ahead and tell them that you forgive them anyway. Here is what you have accomplished. You've clearly indicated that you think so little of yourself that you don't really expect that you deserve any restitution when someone takes from you. What you call forgiveness is a cheap imitation. Now you've insured that the perpetrator is actually rewarded for taking from you. He came out ahead!

For instance, if someone steals $50 from you and gets caught, if all he has to do is hand over the $50 of yours that he stole he has no disincentive to try it again because he lost nothing in the transaction. He has actually has more incentive to try again because next time he just might get away with it and he'll be ahead $50. That is why in the restitution phase the perp not only returns what he took, but he should give you another $50 in addition to what he took from you as a penalty. That penalty is a strong disincentive for him to do the same thing again. Stealing was a costly venture for him.

As mentioned before, you may see true contrition and genuine effort to restore what was taken from you on the part of the thief/abuser and decide to forgive part of the debt. That is the reconciliation aspect of forgiveness. Your acceptance of their efforts to make things right is clearly shown by your willingness to forgive part of the debt. In the emotional realm this is even more true because it is impossible for the offender to put everything back to the way it was.

This illustrates an important aspect of the forgiveness transaction: the person forgiven is a recipient of your mercy. This is very humbling. Even though you've forgiven part of the debt, you do so at cost to yourself and therefore you are by default in a position of moral superiority. Not that you feel that way, but the reality is the forgiven party realizes they still owe you in the moral realm even after you've forgiven them...their debt should now be one of gratitude. Can you see why a narcissist has such a problem with the transaction of forgiveness? He has to humble himself in order to receive a true gift of forgiveness. He has to receive your beneficence humbly and gratefully in order for things to be set right. I've already spent some lengthy posts dealing with the narcissistically driven person's inability to apologize. The dynamic of a true forgiveness transaction reveals the reasons why the narcissist will refuse to acknowledge their debt to you. They are not willing to pay the cost to set things right again. It would require they admit to a wrong, show genuine remorse for it, do all in their power to make things right, and determine not to wrong you again. They do not value the relationship enough to incur that cost to their pride. They will do nothing that will admit to your moral superiority. They can not abide by the idea of them needing something from you. They are god. You are beneath them. How dare you think they owe you anything. Narcissists make it impossible for them to receive true forgiveness from you.

Narcissists are notorious cheats in the forgiveness transaction. You may get them to admit that they wronged you, but do not let yourself think that means you now owe them your forgiveness. There are three more steps. They rarely may get to the second part...that of showing what appears to be sorrow for what they've done. But they will lie, cheat and wiggle to avoid the next two very important parts of the forgiveness transaction. Do not be snookered by a cheat. Your gift of forgiveness is valuable and you shouldn't mark down the price to fire sale prices. By the way, your forgiveness is never owed to anyone. True forgiveness is always a gift. A gift must be freely offered. Extortion is not a way to legitimately gain it. If you don't want to give it, that is your choice. You must be satisfied that the person who wronged you is serious in their efforts to rectify their wrong. If you are not satisfied, you do not owe them your forgiveness. As soon as someone says you owe them forgiveness you have absolute proof that person is not genuinely repentant. Or you have a nosy holier-than-thou persecuting you from the sidelines. Either way, don't cow to the pressure.

So here you are. All alone with your anger and distress with no hope of restoration of a relationship because the narcissist refuses to engage in the transaction of forgiveness. Where does that leave you? What next? If a gift of true forgiveness can't be given what are you left with? Where the hell do you find some peace of mind? I am sure that it varies from person to person, but I think there are some basic things that must happen for us to find that quiet place in our minds so the past abuses of the narcissist don't continue to ruin our lives.

We've all heard the phrase "coming to terms" with something. Have you thought about what that means? When we "come to terms" it means we have found a name for a thing. Naming things enables us to categorize, quantify, qualify and talk about that thing. When you don't have a name for something it usually means you are in a confused state. When you are able to properly and correctly name a thing it becomes possible to know what it is. You have discovered a name for the destruction and evil that has wreaked havoc in your life. It is called Narcissistic Personality Disorder. People who are dealing with this evil personality are incredibly relieved to find out there is a name for it! That is the process of "coming to terms". You finally have a name for what has been perplexing you and vexing you and sucking the life out of you. Do not minimize the importance of this process in coming to a place of peace in your life. It is an important first step.

Once you have "come to terms" it requires you to make a decision. If forgiveness is not an option because the other party will not participate in the transaction, you are left with two possible decisions. Either you decide that you, your life, and your well-being are of so little importance that you allow the perpetrator to have continual access to you where they can continue to hurt you over and over again at their whim, or you decide that you have the right to remove yourself from a destructive person and minimize the possibility that they can continue to commit crimes against your person because you are a person of value. You can not expect your anger and hurt to dissipate if you choose to remain where this person can continue to abuse you. Removing yourself from (or greatly minimizing) the malignant narcissist's contact is a major component to finding peace in your soul. "Forgiving" a crime in progress will only fuel your anger. How reasonable is it to expect that you can "get over" what has been done to you if you continue allow the same types of abuses to go on? Acknowledge your right and power and responsibility to remove yourself from a person who persists in hurting you, even if that person is family. If you don't value yourself, then who else will? Certainly not the narcissist.

Stop beating yourself up for feeling angry. Emotions and actions are two different things. You are not responsible for feeling angry. The narcissist is. Be honest with yourself about how you feel. Pretending you're not angry when you are is a lie and will not benefit you in the long run. How you choose to act is your responsibility. I recommend constructive uses for anger. Anger is just an emotion; you don't need to be afraid of it. You need to realize it is telling you that something is wrong. When something is wrong we need to bend our abilities and resources to fixing the problem. You can't fix the narcissist, so don't even go there. You can change your circumstances. Use your anger to motivate you to make the necessary changes to protect yourself. Use your anger as motivation to help others in whatever way your talent and experience enable you to. Helping others can go a very long way toward helping you find peace of mind, purpose and meaning for your life. Even volunteering to help orphaned or injured critters is a form of helping others.

It is important that good people not participate in encouraging and enabling evil to prosper by giving out cheap forgiveness. Forgiveness isn't about giving you peace of mind; it is about restoring a broken relationship. If that restoration is not actively sought by both parties then forgiveness isn't even on the table.

You can find peace of mind and equanimity all by yourself. You don't have to depend on the other person acting in a certain way before you can allow yourself to find that peace
. This is good news.

If you feel like you can't find peace unless and until the perp straightens up and flies right then you've just made your happiness dependent on the crook! That isn't even rational. You can "come to terms" with what has happened to you and then take decided measures to make sure you don't continue to be a victim. When you remove yourself from being a perpetual victim you will feel stronger and will earn some self-respect. Self-respect is a major ingredient of happiness and peace.

Frankly, I hope you never lose all your rage at what has been done to you. By that, I'm not saying I want you to live day to day and moment by moment in your anger and rage. But I do want you to keep some of your outrage at the unconfessed crimes against you. Why? Because this is what enables you to 1) stay away from the evil that is so harmful to your body and soul 2) it gives you empathy for others and the desire to help other victims of this type of evil 3) prevents you from giving aid and comfort to evil people in the future. I do not live my life in a state of anger, but when I describe narcissism on this blog I do feel anger at what they do as I mentally review how it feels to be abused by these monsters. The anger motivates me to express myself on this blog so you too can understand what you've been dealing with. My residual anger is constructive to my life and others lives, not destructive. When I'm not writing on this blog I'm living a happy, productive and peace-filled existence. I am surrounded by emotionally healthy, productive and loving people. My life is very good. I have found a peace-filled existence with lots of happy moments because I have had the courage to face my abusers and then give them the boot. I have gained a lot of self-respect because I've had the strength to stand up to the evil that terrorized me for decades and then left evil to rot in its own hell. I don't give a flying crap what the narcissists or their sympathizers think of me. I am truly free. You can be too. When I'm not blogging I barely think about my family narcissists. It took time to get to this place, but it not eons. Only a few years. Once I was no longer in any communication with them I found that I didn't have to think about them hardly at all. They don't deserve any more of my life. But I've digressed...

So, the question isn't even about forgiveness. You can not forgive an ongoing crime. The narcissist has refused to stop what they do, therefore it is a crime in progress. It is senseless to think you can forgive such an individual. To pretend that you can forgive an unrepentant perp who has no intention of stopping their life of crime will only guarantee them continued access to abuse and use you. Which means you will never find relief from the anger they continually stir up in your heart, and you will actually encourage them to continue in their evil ways. Cheap forgiveness perpetuates evil. Some may pass out cheap forgiveness thinking it means they are a "good person". Well, to thinking individuals like me, you are not a good person when you do this. You are part of the problem.

The concept of forgiveness is an important one to clearly understand. I think this concept is so important that you shouldn't even tell yourself in the privacy of your own head that you "forgive" someone for their past abuse of you. It sets you up to try to pretend something is okay when it isn't. It makes it likely that you'll start lying to yourself about how you really feel. I know this doesn't sound right to many of you. We've all heard the preaching about the necessity to at least forgive someone "in our heart". I think that is well-intentioned advice, but is misidentifying what is really going on when we "forgive in our hearts". I will say it again, forgiveness isn't about you personally. It is about a relationship and it works like a transaction. What happens in your own head (if you want to find relief) when you can't give a true gift of forgiveness is acceptance. Don't strive for "forgiving in your heart"; that is not an honest way to get the peace you're looking for. Aim for what you can achieve...acceptance of the truth of what was done to you, acceptance for the fact that restoration of the relationship is impossible, acceptance of what someone else chose. The narcissist has chosen to not receive your gift of forgiveness. Accept that fact and move on. You are searching for peace through acceptance of truth...not through a false or loose definition of forgiveness.

Someone recently wrote to me and described me as "relentless and solid in your unforgiveness". This person was offering that as a compliment and I took it that way. I am glad to hear I come across like that because it is the reality of where my head and heart are at. I refuse to forgive the unrepentant narcissist. In the Bible the unforgiveable sin is the unrepented sin. So, for you Christians, consider the fact that God can not give a gift of forgiveness unless the sinner repents. Neither should you. True forgiveness comes at a cost to the shouldn't be given away willy nilly. When we do that we are actually making evil more evil because you reward them by letting them get off cheap. I don't think you want to be responsible for that.

You don't have to give out forgiveness like penny candy in order to prove that you are a good person. A truly good person, one who is acting like God does, waits until forgiveness can be received for the gift it is. In the meantime, you can willingly relinquish your right to vengeance. Leave the vengeance part to God who is capable of perfect justice. If you are not a Christian, this principle still applies. If you rule out vengeance as an option you will enable your mind to stop dwelling on the past abuses which fuels your anger. Letting go of the right to mete out justice will allow you to concentrate your mental and emotional energy on healthy pursuits. You will allow yourself to stop turning over those painful memories in your mind and use your mind in ways that will not corrupt your emotions and actions. What we focus our mind on day in and day out is what we eventually turn into. Letting go of vengeance keeps us from becoming like our abusers. It also allows peace an opportunity to grow in your life.

Forgiveness is not even the question when dealing with unrepentant abusers. So drop the word and move on to more constructive concepts. "Coming to terms" with what has happened to you, confronting evil when appropriate, getting yourself out of reach of the abuser, resolving to not plot revenge, helping others as time and ability allow, acceptance of reality...these are some ways you can deal with your anger and allow your mind to rest from the turmoil the narcissist has roiled you with for years. Give yourself time to heal. Replace the bad people in your life with good people. If you can't do that, then find healthy and good pursuits, hobbies, interests, some kind of pet to take care of. You can't evacuate the bad from your life and then neglect to fill it with good things. Bit by bit, peace and healing come...usually when you least expect it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

More on the Diversion Game

I received an email from a reader of my blog after yesterday's post. She has come up with a great list of opposites as further examples of the distraction of labels that narcissists use. With her permission here is the list:

Generous - but she was very stingy with gifts and her time.
Helpful - not around when my sister and I gave birth to any of her grandchildren.
Sincere - will smile to your face, then loves to gossip and make fun about what you said, did after you leave.
Loyal - but she will cut you off and sever all contact as soon as you offend her in anyway.
Loving - refuses to have any contact with her grandchildren.
Truthful - denies ever saying things that hurt people, lies about events and what took place and what people said, lies about being able to see her grandchildren.
Humble - refuses to ever say she is sorry to anyone, has pathological pride.
Respectful - yet hurls venomous insults that strip you of your self esteem (I have been called selfish, greedy, rich b*tch, demon possessed, liar, evil, backstabber, etc.
Longsuffering - easily offended at any insult real or imagined. Forgiving - harbors grudges and gives silent treatment for months and years on end, will never let you forget a trespass against her.

These are some good examples of the naming game of opposites that narcissists play in order to throw us off their scent trail. Another one this reader named was "gracious", but I couldn't show her example because it contained identifying facts about her. So I'll share my own experience.

"Gracious" was a word my mother became enamored of using very frequently in the last ten years or so. She would point out to various female family members that she herself is "very gracious". "Watch how I deal with people when we go shopping. See how gracious I am with them..." Direct quote. She had no idea what a silly fool she was actually making herself into. She treated the clerks and salespeople like she was the Queen of England who was feeling magnanimous toward her subjects that day and deigning to treat them like part of the royal family. I remember bemused looks on their faces, and all I wanted to do was get the hell out of there. I was embarrassed to be associated with Her Grace. My daughter, sister and cousin were all subjected to these lessons of observation of Her Grace at various times. None of us found the irony lost on us. This woman, who took extreme pride in her ability to be "gracious" to total strangers, would treat her family members most ungraciously. Especially when she was a guest in our homes. None of us have had a more ungracious guest than my mother. She is petulant, demanding, unthankful, and just plain rude. Those are her good behaviors.

Every single adjective above I have heard my own mother appropriate to herself. I am pretty sure you could recognize most if not all of them as false descriptors your own narcissist has used to describe themselves to you or others. Another name for this game is hypocrisy. Narcissists live, breathe and are hypocrites. Every word and deed is an exercise in hypocrisy. Don't let a hypocrite become your moral arbiter. When they point and scream at something you're doing or not doing consider it the ravings of a lunatic or, at best, a spoiled five year old. Let yourself know they are lying hypocrites and see how foolish it is to let them instruct you on some moral point. They are amoral and vile. They do not believe in these virtues. They pretend to believe them in order to gain the upper hand.

Dictionary definition of hypocrite:
"One who, professing virtues that he does not respect, secures the advantage of seeming to be what he depises."