It feels like part two is the hardest part for me to tell. I'll see how it goes. Part of the difficulty is that I've lost some details. But the main point and general effects are clear to me so I proceed. The other part is that it isn't a memory I enjoy delving into. Narcissists suck...and so do the moonbats who won't oppose them.
I will start by reiterating the point that I'm illustrating with this story. This two part story as well as the story about my sister's last successful hit at my heart are being told to help illustrate some of the principles Kathy Krajco laid out in her post "Self-Preservation Under Narcissistic Abuse". The two incidents that I have and am outlining for you are to show some of the devastation that occurs when someone is told by others they do not have the right to defend themselves or fight back against abuse:
So, for the sake of the victim's mental health, you must NEVER deny him or her the right to put up a fight...It violates the laws of nature and the innate instinct for self-preservation. If the victim knuckles under to psuedo-moralistic pressure to not lift hand or voice in self defense, he or she will hate themselves and become a suicide risk. That is forcing people to commit the worst breech of faith there is - with one's very self...Never, never, never preach prime-time morality at the victim making it a sin for him or her to yell right back at the abuser. Though yelling back may not be wise in all cases, it IS the victim's right. It at least lets him or her preserve self-respect through showing a backbone.
Although I was overwhelmed in the midst of the unfair attack against my honor, integrity and good deeds I did show an unbending resistance to the attacker. Even though V had reduced me to tears, even though I begged her to show me a shred of mercy during her attack of words and cruel indifference, I would not capitulate to her twisted reality. I clung with fierceness to what I knew to be true about the events and about myself.
There was something of a victory in that for me. I had been raised by an evil narcissist mother to always question myself and my perceptions when I was confronted by her self-righteous and unfair accusations. She could often persuade me to see myself as being fully in the wrong when I wasn't wrong at all or when I was only somewhat wrong. I did not hand over this kind of victory to V. I did not break faith with myself. This was not a small victory considering I knew nothing about narcissism; by that I mean, I didn't have a name for what was happening. But I knew I'd met this kind of evil before and the biggest part of myself rose up in resistance to it. I did not capitulate.
I was already well on my way to being the terror against evil doers that I am today. *big grin*
Nevertheless, the bystanders made a difficult situation much more difficult for me. The "prime-time moralizers" were at the ready to assume that there must have been something I did to provoke V's attack. The basic assumption most people have, that it "takes two to tango", is often used to whack a victim on the head after they've already been unfairly abused by the narcissist. Most people are utterly and blissfully unaware that there are predators in the pack. The predators lay in wait while they look for the person who has the virtues they don't have...and then pick their moment to smear that person's reputation with the very opposite of what they are. They always attack when there are no witnesses. They rely on the dip shits who believe it always "takes two to tango" to ensure that their victim gets to carry most, if not all, the blame.
This blame rests easily upon the victim because the victim is OUTRAGED at the injustice. They may be very emotional, angry, and demanding for justice. This only tends to convince the coconuts who believe in "prime-time morality" that the victim is the problem. By now the predator is sitting back looking innocent and calm. Their calmness, contrasted with the open distress and accusations of the victim, are all it takes to convince most people that the trouble-maker is the victim.
V was quick to contact the pastor. I think she was concerned that she might have exposed herself by her attack on me. I was obviously not going to go down quietly or easily. I had immediately tried to confront her in front of my friend, Mrs. Bishop. V rightly assumed that Mrs. Bishop was going to believe my side of the story. The Bishops were highly respected not just in our church but all the area churches. So knowing that this respected family would not be supporting her claims against me, I'm sure that V wanted to get the first "crack" at the pastor to try to convince the primary authority figure that she had been victimized.
The next thing I remember is getting a visit from the pastor. He had made himself the go-between for me and V. He had already heard V's version and had come to me with that. Of course, I refuted it adamantly. He left my house to go to V equipped with my report of what had happened. He was trying to get a reconciliation in place because of the possible consequences to our little church if one was not reached.
A little more background on our church. About six months earlier my husband had been laid off of his contract job. When news of this got to our church, people started to quietly plot their desertion of the church. Why? Because at this point my husband was the primary leader of our church. The pastor we had was in charge of three churches and so, most of the time, it was up to us to make sure that services had a speaker and classes were being taught. My husband was doing most of that kind of leadership. It wasn't because he wanted to. It was because it defaulted to him. Most of the people who had joined our little church thought they were doing enough just by showing up. In a church as small as this one warming a pew was really not a luxury so many should have afforded themselves. So my husband and myself ended up with most of the responsibilities. We were reluctant leaders, but being responsible people we took up our tasks without complaint. After my husband was laid off of work it became absolutely clear that people were not thinking about filling in for us. We were assuming at the time that we would have to move away for my husband to regain employment, therefore it was generally assumed by all that we were not going to be around long. Some of the members were already attending other area churches most of the time starting shortly after my husband announced his unemployment.
After our friends' home burned down the church people seemed even more anxious to leave our little church. We were a small church family, and most people didn't want the responsibility of having to help the Bishops as much as they saw the Bishops would need help in the months to come. A small church doesn't allow for much of the luxury of assuming that someone else will pick up the slack. The fire was an added incentive for some of our members to disappear. V was the first to make herself scarce.
The member who assumed no responsibilities and whose attendance was the least dependable was, you guessed it, V. I think part of V's attack on me was an attempt to make it someone else's fault that they no longer were attending our church. They couldn't just leave. No, they had to make it someone's fault for their leaving. I am convinced this was a factor. V never stepped foot in our church again after she attacked me. Her husband only appeared once during the week for the final board meeting. One reason they needed to make it someone else's fault they were leaving was because L was the treasurer of the church. That was an important responsibility, and it was one he knew no one else in our church was going to take from him. So if they resigned in a huff because of purported injustices he could absolve his own conscience for ditching his responsibility. No such silly tactics were needed. As it was, the conference took our financial books and assumed that responsibility after L's defection.
The pastor was probably seeing the likelihood that our church was on its last legs. I think his efforts to smooth the waters between me and V were motivated by his desire to keep this church functional. What he hadn't accepted...and what I and my husband could clearly see by now...was that this church was kaput. All that remained was for someone to be willing to pronounce it dead. By now, nobody other than my husband, myself and my daughter were willing to do the heavy lifting. Well, the Bishops were willing but were completely unable to do anything. They had been rendered unable to really support the church except with their attendance once they'd adopted the four new kids. That had been the first big blow months earlier to the church's chances at getting off the ground. Now with their personal disaster they were actually in need of church energy...an very finite amount of which existed.
The pastor was a man in his 50s. He was a very kind man with a fair amount of wisdom. I had come to respect him a considerable amount. I thought that in the year we'd known each other that my character had been amply demonstrated. So when he sat there in my living room and told me V's version of events and heard my refutations I was distressed to find out he thought I bore at least some responsibility for the "hard feelings" that now existed between myself and V. He never blamed me directly for being unfairly accused by V in the kitchen, though he did try to gently assert that my emotional reaction to what V did was my contribution to "wrongdoing". Yes, my tears in that kitchen, the fact that I tried to defend myself with reason against V's unfair accusations, my continued unbending attitude that V was completely in the wrong were signs to the pastor that I needed to admit to my own faults of character.
I was shocked and horrified to find out that V had accused me of threatening violence toward her. She claimed to the pastor to have been scared of me in that kitchen because she thought her physical person was in danger! That accusation did nothing to mollify me as the pastor tried to get me to soften my position. I showed complete mystification at how she could possibly accuse me of such a thing. As I thought about what happened I remembered my one large arm gesture that I described in my last post. I remembered abruptly throwing my hands up into the air to form the shape of a big sign. I remembered her taking half a step back even though my arms went nowhere near her. I remembered that "gotcha" look. That was the only action I did which could have possibly been construed as incipient violence.
When I found out about this blatant lie and twisting of the facts I was even more unbending in my refusal to "make nice". I could now see that V would stoop to any lie whatsoever to get her ass out of the sling. There was no room for reconciliation in my mind. She was upping the ante! She was sorry for nothing. She never even pretended to be sorry.
Meanwhile I was having to deal with the disapproval of a man whom I respected and whose good opinion I valued. He told me that Christians who are close with the Lord cannot find themselves upset even when unfairly attacked. My emotional reaction was a sign that I needed to submit more to Christ. V could not have hurt my feelings if I was "dead in Christ". This hurt the most. Of all that happened, this hurt the most. This meant that I would forever live under the cloud of his disapproval because I had not reacted in a "Christlike" manner. There was no redemption from that unless I would admit such was the case and ask V to forgive my unChristlike response.
That wasn't going to happen. I hadn't done or said anything to V that could be construed as being immoral, wrong or even unkind. Even though I knew I would be going forward under the cloud of being a "less-than" Christian I was still not willing to bend over for what happened to me. Not even this respected pastor could force me to do it. Thank God. Obviously, after this event my trust in the pastor suffered considerably.
How was my demeanor during my conversations with the pastor? I was not raging. I didn't hurl invectives or expletives. I was rational and probably somewhat heroically calm considering the circumstances. Yes, I am sure I showed my strong emotions against what had happened, but certainly not in any way that could be rightly described as being unreasonable or indecorous.
It was doubly distressing to me that this pastor was giving any credence whatsoever to V's version of events. That was hard to take. I had done nothing wrong. It was an unprovoked attack, yet the pastor was obviously assuming that no one would attack completely unprovoked. I got the clear impression he believed there was something I wasn't admitting to. I had to live with the fact that V had successfully smeared some of herself off onto me. I was dirty. I couldn't wipe the smear completely off myself because the pastor wouldn't allow it. He made it clear that, if nothing else, my reaction was wrong. In that way I had contributed to the problem, in his mind.
The happy part of this story, and likely the source for my strength of will against the double assault, was that I had a husband and daughter who believed me utterly. They, too, were outraged. It was enough for me. They were not willing to throw out everything they knew about me in order to believe some twisted bitch's version of me! They LIVE with me. They know me better than anybody else. Knowing me, they knew I was telling the complete truth. I also felt that the Bishops believed me. Mr. Bishop actually demonstrated some outrage. Mrs. Bishop believed me but she is not constituted to show outrage in any circumstance. Even against gross injustice to herself, so I don't remember receiving the moral support of her outrage. It would have been nice, but I knew she was giving me what she could. A sympathetic ear and a belief that I did no wrong even in my responses to the injustices. It helped. The two people whose opinions I valued most in our church (other than my own family, obviously) were the Bishops. They, too, were not willing to throw out everything they knew about me from their own experiences in order to believe a demonstrably selfish woman's version of me.
To imagine someone being as unfairly attacked as I was by V and not having the support of family and a couple of church members is an imagination of a nightmare. Even with the support I had it was a very emotionally difficult pass for me. If any of you have endured this type of thing in your church you have my deepest sympathies. If you have had to endure it with no earthly support...my heart breaks for you. It would require a superhuman strength to get through something like this with only yourself believing your story. That superhuman strength would have to come from God Himself.
I used the plural in describing the "moralizers". That is somewhat of an exaggeration that I'll correct now. It was only the pastor who said anything to me directly. Other members of our church just gave me a wide berth. They seemed uncomfortable around me. It was like they were desperate to not have to take sides. I didn't force that on them. I didn't rail to anyone about what happened. I decided people were going to believe whatever they wanted to. I was not going to try to gain support that wasn't going to come to me unsolicited. I'm sure part of their discomfort was their desertion of our little church endeavor which means it wasn't really about me or what happened with V. Whatever. It felt like disapproval at the time given the circumstances.
By the way, neither V or her husband started attending any of the other area churches. They disappeared into the ether. Another bit of info on these two. We (i.e. our church) found out at some point that V & L started attending church after a many decades long absence a few months after L had found out he had cancer of the colon. They both started a very strict diet regime that they were assured was "God's diet". (Hence, V's focus on her cookie temptations I mentioned last post. She made it clear many times that she looked down on the rest of us who weren't following "God's diet". We were less progressed Christians. She said as much.) They were both sure L would be cured because they were following all the rules.
I believe now that their church attendance was part of their plan to obligate God to cure L. "See God? We're doing everything right!" A month or so before V's attack on me her husband had been checked to see if the cancer was gone. It wasn't. The shift in V and L's attitude was immediate and apparent to all. They were very obviously angry. Angry and bitter at God. He wasn't doing His side of the arrangement!! Rather than focusing on the good news which was that the cancer was still small (a real blessing considering L had foregone medical treatment for a whole year), they were angry that L was going to have to have surgery after all.
I am convinced this was at the root of what started their disaffection with going to church and why they were looking for a way out. Fair weather Christians. They actually believed they could obligate God to heal L because he was strictly following the "Eden diet". Well, guess what. God can't be bribed. Or fooled. You can't obligate God to do things your way just because you think you've figured out all the rules. Our following God's commands does not put us in a position to start boxing God into a corner so He HAS to give us our way. Such hubris and selfish motivations God doesn't reward.
Two months after V's attack on me six people assembled in a small room of our church: my husband and me, both Bishops, L, and the pastor. It was a final board meeting. We voted to officially shut the doors of this church forever. The conference would be putting the property up for sale. The last services were held on the last weekend of October 2002. We were now no longer members of a local church. Our memberships were now being held by the conference. They sit there to this day.
We lived for a year on our savings after my husband had lost his contract job. Much to everyone's surprise my husband landed another well-paying non-contract job with the same company. They allowed him to telecommute. This meant we were not forced to move away from the area. All those who had feared we would be leaving them holding the bag of responsibility for church duties had feared for naught. We lived for another year in the area after my husband started his new job.
The church that was nearest us after the closure of our church was the main congregation of the area. It is where the pastor was most of the time. We attended there a few times in the ensuing year, but our attendance was spotty in the beginning and non-existent after that. We weren't held to account for our non-attendance by the pastor because he took a church in another state and moved away.
We were exhausted. I was now dealing with the fall-out from my mother's behavior in my home on Thanksgiving 2002 that occurred only about three weeks after the closure of our church. With all the drama in my own family I stayed away from church. I didn't have the emotional energy for dealing with all that was going on in my personal life and the potential problems that going to church always invites. We are only now, six years later, getting back into church attendance.
In January following the above events, Mrs. Bishop found out she had stage four breast cancer. Another crisis. I helped in every way I could until we moved away. She is still alive today, though it looks like the cancer is back.
The extreme emotional pain I had to endure because I was denied the right to defend myself cannot be overstated. First, I was denied the right to self-defense by V as she rejected my every attempt to explain the truth of the matter. It was excruciating. Then, when the pastor downgraded my Christian experience simply because I was hurt by the injustice of Vs attack and tried to stand up for myself -- that was the most painful aspect of the whole experience.
I did not lash out in kind to V. I kept myself to the truth. I didn't use her abuse of me to justify me abusing her. I simply clung to the truth about myself and the circumstances and would not be swerved. There is no way to make my reaction into a sin without being utterly perverse. Like Kathy has said so very well, when someone has been abused by a narcissist do not tell the victim they are wrong for resisting. Ever. If you are the one thus abused, do not allow someone to tell you you're wrong for simply defending yourself. Even if that someone is a person you had thought well of before. Giving your approval to others to abuse you is an act that will cause you to loathe yourself utterly. Nobody's "esteem" of you is worth that very high price.
The question was raised in the comments on the last post...what would I do differently today?
First of all, I really, really doubt someone could knock me completely off my emotional pins by a similar unfair and unprovoked attack. I would instantly see through what was happening. I would immediately know this person was not interested in reality, only in their agenda. I would have no problem recognizing the predator in front of me.
If the exact same scenario happened to me today here is what I picture happening. I would still assent to hearing V state her complaint against me since there would be the possibility that I could be at fault even if I didn't know what I'd done. I would want to apologize if it could be shown to me that I'd done something wrong against her, or anyone. So, yes, I would listen to V lay out her case against me. The moment where my compliance would stop would be at the juncture of explaining what really happened in opposition to the fiction she was believing about me and my actions and her obvious unwillingness to believe anything good about my behavior and motivations.
When I explained to V that she was misunderstanding what was going on and she utterly rejected my explanation and essentially called me a liar, that would be the end of it now. I would at that point hold up my hand and say, "I see you are not willing to be reasonable. Take your complaint up the chain of command." I would walk away. Even if her lips were still moving she would be talking to my butt.
She would not have gotten the satisfaction of my tears. She would not have gotten to feel powerful at my expense. Now she would be forced to try to explain to someone in authority her naked claims against me. There is likely no way her claims could have found support. As it was, she only gained some support for her claims because she was able to get a negative reaction from me. Sans that, she would have been hard pressed to get someone to agree I was in the wrong.
Let's say she succeeded in getting the pastor to believe she had been "sinned against" by me even if I acted as just described. What would I do then? Again, the moment I saw that the authority figure was not willing to believe me he'd be talking to my backside. I would not sit still for it. I would walk away. Like I have said to both my father and my sister: they can all be right...I'll just be gone.
That is my attitude toward those who want to pin unmerited blame on me. I'm just gone. I don't give a flying frak what these kind of people think of me. I do not desire the esteem of evil people or their accomplices. If they want to believe I'm evil when I'm demonstrably not evil then they are impervious to reason and truth. There is no point in dealing with people like that. I cannot be guilted into compliance when that compliance would come at the expense of my self-respect and truth. I am a decent person. When I do something wrong I will apologize thoroughly, without sparing myself. I will not blame shift. I will do all in my power to make it right. But I'll be damned if I'll apologize for something I didn't do. I'm not going to offer myself up for the satisfaction of those who want me to willingly sacrifice myself to a lie about me. If I am physically able to walk away, I will walk away. Pastor or not, I do not have to consent to lies about me to "keep the peace". Peace at any cost always costs way too much in the end. And in the end there is no peace.
Once you know you're dealing with reality revisionists don't grant them further audience. The longer you stand there, the more they will be able to pretend you did something you didn't do. Oh, and leave the willing idiots with the predators. They deserve each other. With any luck, at some point, the predator will make dinner out of one of their willing village idiots.
How like you to stop and encourage others, even in the midst of recalling your own deep pain. Your story made me cry. I am so sorry that happened to you. I think I was also crying because I related so closely to it.
"Even with the support I had it was a very emotionally difficult pass for me. If any of you have endured this type of thing in your church you have my deepest sympathies. If you have had to endure it with no earthly support...my heart breaks for you. It would require a superhuman strength to get through something like this with only yourself believing your story. That superhuman strength would have to come from God Himself."
Thank you so much for the above quotation. Most of my journey of finding out about these things has been me and God. Just me and God. When I was ready he brought my attention to books that helped me understand. But those and His Word were all I had until I found your website, Kathy's, and a few others.
Even now I relate so closely to your story that I find myself wondering how I would answer if someone said that if I was dead in Christ the accusation shouldn't bother me. I'm not as far as you are and able to just "not care" what people think about me. I have a ways to go. And I suspect I would still get really upset. So I try to just stay away from those kinds of people until I'm stronger. I'm a pro at spotting what's really going on, though, so I've made progress.
As I said it would, my heart breaks for what you've had to endure. But you and I both know that you were far from alone. If a person can truly trust in the love and benevolence of their Creator, then you know and feel that you + God = a majority.
It is good that you know what you are strong enough and not strong enough to deal with. If you don't feel you are at the point where you could let someone's bad opinion of you roll off you, then knowing that fact is your defense. It has taken me a long, hard journey of learning, growth and understanding to get to where I know I'm finally strong enough to take the slings and arrows of the "brethren" if need be. There is no guarantee that they couldn't injure me even still, but I know they can't fatally injure me. You are right to see great progress in yourself for being able to spot what is really going on. Be satisfied with the progress you've made knowing that you will continue to do progress with time and effort. Growth is the principle seen in all God's creation as well in the spiritual realm. That little seedling is perfect even though it only has two leaves. Time will turn that seedling into a mighty oak tree. You can't take time out of the equation for growth. It is the essential ingredient. So, grant yourself the time and patience to grow into a well-watered tree which can resist all the winds that blow against it.
Whew!! No, it wasn't too long. It was necessary to lay out in its completeless the vileness of character in V and the ensuing spiritual abuse you suffered. I am so sorry that you had to endure it. I am glad that you had enough strength within to not have been completely "done-in" by the job that was done on you. All before you even had a "name" or context for what was happening (ie your "education" in narcissism).
Your pastor's reaction shows a complete lack of emotional maturity on his part. That is why I recommended that book in the earlier post (The Emotionally Healthy Church). One is not disposed to inflicting spiritual abuse upon another if they are emotionally mature and have emotional integrity to begin with. They may be great spiritual leaders, yet if they have not worked through their own emotional stuff, they will abuse people because of it.
His lack of emotional maturity and understanding allowed him to wound you in the deepest of fashions by insisting that your justified reaction to the injustices of "V" were a wrongdoing that you needed to own up to and apologize for. This is craziness at its finest. And it is too bad. It is too bad that he didn't have the balls (sorry) to do what was right and necessary, no matter the cost. It is also too bad that others will be hurt by him in the future.
As for you, I am thankful that you didn't walk away from God or the church completely. You mentioned that you have 2 other, grave incidences, that you may share with us. Whoaaaa...I cannot even begin to imagine...
At least you, like me, now have our eyes wide open. Which means there may be many-a-person witnessing our backsides. This is why I choose to keep mine in tip-top shape!!!
Thank you Anna, for sharing. It cannot be easy dredging it up again to put it in words for our benefit. I so appreciate you!
Thank you for the clarification your book recommendation. It sounds helpful. I did have some in depth conversations with the pastor on the subject of psychology and Christianity in the year prior to this incident. What I took note of in those discussions was how his confidence in the power of psychology was unshakable even when tenets of psychology clashed with the gospel he purported to love and preach.
As a result of his complete confidence in psychology being able to fix people he was a subscriber to the "cult of nice". This means that if someone waved a flag of "hurt" feelings, as did V, then that meant I had sinned against her. Period. Never mind that her feelings may have been "hurt" by the truth and my justifiable resistance to her false accusations. Hurt feelings? Someone else is always to blame.
People have to take responsibility for their own feelings, in the end, or else you hand power to determine how you feel over to anyone who walks by.
My feelings were discounted because, 1) I didn't wave them around demanding they be fixed. I focused on the inappropriateness of V's behavior. 2) "it takes two to tango" kicks in and that means we both needed to apologize for our part in hurting each others feelings according to that template. Moral equivalence was applied to both the so-called "hurt" feelings of the perpetrator as well as the victim's feelings, me. We were both equally hurt and, therefore, equally wronged.
I lay at least part of the blame for this pastor's emotional immaturity on his reliance on unproven and unsuccessful theories put forward by pop psychology. His maturity as a spiritual leader was inhibited at least in part by his faith in the wrong Bible.
What I always found contradictory in this pastor's faith in psychological theories was that his father was a psychiatrist by profession. What little the pastor talked about his father he made some things clear. He had a very difficult relationship with his father growing up and continuing to the present. The pastor had been estranged from his father for years. If psychology is the fix for screwed up people why didn't it fix his father? Because he didn't mix enough Christianity with it?
I, like Kathy Krajco, put little stock in psychobabble. It is almost entirely non-scientific in its approach. It is often detrimental to people's mental health. It needs to be revamped and subjected to the protocols of true science before it can be reformed. That will never happen. Very educated and erudite men and women from within the profession have bravely tried to call attention to the huge fault lines in psychology for at least 50 years now and the ways to try to insert some sanity into an insane system. Pun intended. These calls have gone largely ignored.
I digress. This is a huge and complicated subject that I'm not willing to hash out here because it would not stick to the subject of this blog. If anyone out there is in love with psychology, I apologize in advance for my offense, but I will not retract what I've said because I am well informed on what I speak about. This isn't a knee-jerk decision on my part. I studied my way into it. Yes, there are good people in the profession. But there are many more bad apples. The difference is not the level of education. It is the level of their common sense. This has actually been studied and proven...and the studies have been ignored. In fact, there is a commensurate decline in the success rates with patients the higher the level of education of the counselor. Something is wrong with this picture.
I wandered far afield, NNL. I only wanted to acknowledge your point about the pastor's emotional immaturity in spite of his obvious good leadership skills overall. In acknowledging your point I had to share my observations about the pastor's over-riding belief system that guided him as he dealt with V and me. Obviously, something is broken there. I assert it is his dependence on unproven though popular psychological theory.
In a church, everyone is presumed to act in good faith. This is fertile ground for the N's to create strife. As we all know, N's do not act in good faith. V committed a drive by character assassination and shot yours full of holes. The pastor, if he felt inclined to mediate, should have brought you both in at the same time to sort things out. Do you think V would have accepted such an arrangement? My experience with N's says no. N's don't pick a fair fight and a face to face confrontation with a mediator is not fair in their book.
"Even if her lips were still moving she would be talking to my butt."
BWHAHAH! I loved that! Classic!
Well said. Good points.
Do you think V would have accepted such an arrangement? My experience with N's says no.
Nope. I don't think V would have consented to a face-to-face meeting with me with the pastor's mediation. No way. No how. I'm not sure I would have agreed to it unless the pastor's first meeting with me had proven he was using both hemispheres of his brain to think with. After my first meeting with him I wouldn't have trusted him to mediate fairly.
Anna, thanks for sharing this story. I see the effects of growing up with an MN mom - every person I know who grew up with an N shares this trait, you try to be fair and will give time to hear others out, whether they deserve it or not. I think it comes from not wanting to be anything like the N, who does the opposite and is never fair.
Of course, by doing this, we listen to people who don't deserve it.
You had no idea what you were dealing with, though you did see some red flags. You tried to do unto others as you would want done unto you, and your fairness was abused severely. This is what Ns do, and they can spot prey a mile away.
I suspect part of the reason this still bothers you so much is that first, you were misjudged by someone you respected and had no retribution or closure on it, and second, you were lied about and made out to be a party to something you find revolting - bickering and pettiness. Someone who didn't grow up with an N would probably not find this to be so damaging. It all goes back to wanting to never be like the N in your life.
If you'd been misjudged on some other infraction, it might not have hit you so hard, IMO.
Victims of Ns, in my experience, usually have a deep rage at seeing others victimized, it's a rage that comes from first-hand knowledge. And so, finding yourself victimized again by an N can't possibly set well, it goes so deep into childhood issues. I know people who would've just laughed in this witch's face and given her the one-finger salute. Ns won't deal with a difficult person, they want easy victims.
Our desire to not be like our N sometimes sets us up, at least until we're aware of what's going on, and makes us subject to yet more N abuse, as they find us to be "nice" people - ah, a good victim, I can feed here.
Hope this makes sense, just IMO, and yet another example of the deep damage the N does. May they all rot in hell, where they belong.
But after enough abuse, the "nice" person quite often becomes that dragon-slayer all Ns fear. Draw the sword, Anna, you were misjudged and abused and did not have justice, but vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord. It ain't over yet.
God had other plans for you, Anna. The awful experiences you have endured brought you as a teacher to us. Thank you.
Your point is well taken. I would purport here that the very same thing is in operation that I claimed with spiritual abuse. "Psychology" in the hands of emotionally immature and unhealthy psychologists who have never dealt with their own issues in a healthy manner will never, never "cure" anyone, but only harm them. Pop psychology (especially) and many theoretical therapeutic models used in psychology are for the birds as far as their therapeutic value in my opinion. My opinion is gleaned from both personal experience as well as learning from much reading and study.
In fact, "psychology" will not help anyone (as is evidenced by my mother who is a master of psychology and has a Master's in psychology . . . brotherrrr).
I have had the wonderful fortune of landing in the hands of a therapist who is the real deal. There is something to be said for certain (and I mean only certain) psychological principles in the hands of a stable, sincere, authentically caring therapist who is willing to bear witness to, validate, support, and lend hope to those in their blackest hours of despair when there seems to be no hope. He is also one of the most stable, authentic Christians I have met. I do not idealize nor idolize him. He has however proven his worth in gold and proved consistent over time that he is the real deal. AND... and this is priceless...HE knows narcissism inside and out and was a voice of sanity (much like yours) in the midst of some insane times when I couldn't see my way clearly because of my programming (brainwashing in my upbringing).
Some of us haven't had the good fortune to have a husband and a child that believe in you through the horror of it. The most important people in my life were either the source or the enabler of the narcissism and I found myself in the position of being all alone to forge one of the most difficult journeys of my life.
So, my therapist, and you, for that matter, have been an invaluable source to me during the most difficult days of my life.
So, the baby cannot be thrown away with the bath water, in my opinion. My therapist proves that. From what I know of you through your writing, Anna, it makes me wish that the two of you could sit down with each other! I know you would appreciate sucking each others brains dry and both walk away feeling very satisfied at what you found there!!!
This kind of stuff just twists me into a knot.
I don't think you can tell this story to someone who hasn't been there and have them understand all the deep layers that are involved.
That's why I am here so much. I think telling our stories, just like the people who endure trauma in their lives need to talk about it - either to the press, to a counselor, to fellow witnesseses - it is healing.
That is what I am doing these days. I am telling my story, and what amazes me so much is that even though all of you seem way stronger than me, you are still here, telling stories that have been painfully buried for years.
I hope someday the stories end.
We have been through so much. And the thing is, none of us, not one of us deserve this burden that life has put on us.
This burden of living under deathly oppression. Of figuring this out. Of turning to pyschologists and counselors who only add to the burden, making us feel like there is something wrong with us.
Of reading book after book after book...I started out with Men are from Mars/Women are from Venus...what a joke. I kept giving him his space...accepting, understanding...supporting. I got myself in deeper and deeper. (I am trying to go back to every nonsense book on Amazon out there and warn people that they might be with an abuser).
We sit here with these painful stories...hugging each other, helping each other to understand. We've been there. We know.
But geez, it's a heavy burden to endure this. It is just so agonizing to watch this pain again and again in others. Sometimes I wonder if our exraordinary empathy is a curse.
I feel guilty if I step on an ant. Who am I to decide if that ant dies today? I am careful when I walk on my sidewalk.
That ant is out there working, and trying, just like me. I am the same as the ant. I am the same as you all here. We are all out there working and trying.
We are all in this together, and I swear to God, that I have never been more grateful for anything in my life.
If I ever had to endure this completely alone, I wouldn't make it.
On one hand I wish none of you had to ever be here, but on the other hand I thank God that you are.
I almost feel guilty for that, as the only reason you are here is because you've suffered so much.
Just chiming in as another person who read the entire post and didn't have any kind of issue with the length.
I can only imagine what you must have felt through that whole ordeal, that you were doing what you could to help out a friend, and in return, you got totally attacked for it, not once, but twice.
I have noticed that oftentimes, it is the reactor who gets given most of the blame. I have on occasion not stood still against someone's incredibly rude behaviour, and the disapproving looks were cast on me because I dared to call them on their behaviour and stand up to them. Almost no fault was lain at the feet of the offender - most people would seem to just prefer to look the other way and pretend it wasn't happening, but by me reacting, I was also inadvertently calling attention to their inaction.
Thank you for going through the ordeal of telling the story so that we can learn from it.
"The "prime-time moralizers" were at the ready to assume that there must have been something I did to provoke V's attack. The basic assumption most people have, that it "takes two to tango", is often used to whack a victim on the head after they've already been unfairly abused by the narcissist. Most people are utterly and blissfully unaware that there are predators in the pack."
Even some who are aware that there are predators in the pack, still manage to blame the victim because she "provoked" a known predator by standing up for herself.
Hmm... Like NNL, I have found a wonderful therapist who is also a Christian. A couple weeks after seeing her (I had told her up front that I thought my mother was a MN), she looked at some pictures of my mother and said that there was a lot of 'pathology' in her face. I would never have thought of putting it that way... ;-)
At the last session, a couple days ago, we were talking about something and she made the comment, 'And we have concluded that your mother is a full-blown malignant narcissist.'
She is not full of 'psycho-babble.' And she is not into 'making nice.' In one session, she tried to get me to yell at my mom (pretending she were present). I can't yell, but I did tell her to shut up.
Anyway, this whole story has a familiar ring to it. First, in the way my mother acts - she actually pulled a very similar stunt on her sister last summer, including calling the cops and claiming she was 'afraid the *her sister* was going to 'abuse' her,' said with a look of smug satisfaction. The police didn't buy it, but it put her sister through hell that week.
Second, the church I left last year, where I was a leader, has a narcissistic pastor - and there were some things I just took because I was so used to any conflict being my fault - a problem in me - that I just took it and tried really hard to be better. I tried really hard to just 'walk in love,' which is their way of saying, no emotional reaction at all... just bend over and take it.
It has been a journey this last year to recognize the abuse I have suffered and from whom - several pastors in that list. If God has not put a friend able to see well in my life, I would not have made it.
And part of my making it this far has been this blog. Thank you, Anna.
Dear Anna & Blog Family,
I have read so much here, in Anna's horror story, & in everyone's responses, that my insides are churning. But that's a GOOD thing.It means that we are no longer placid or apathetic, or RESIGNED to our lot in life--being the abused.
Sometimes it takes seeing injustice done to OTHERS (Anna),
to open our eyes to what's been done to us. Yes, it sucks that there ARE such stories. But what sucks more, is for those stories to be swept under the rug, by our abusers, & borne silently in shame,
by us, their victims.
When we share them, & empathize with Anna & each other--we use our voices! For a good purpose!
Noone ever heard us before!
This sad story that Anna had to LIVE illustrates for all of us how COMPLEX the layers are. How far-reaching & deep. No one but us could validate that.
"US" is enough.
Enough to see. Enough to use our minds & strength. To know it's them & not us. We always had the strength, it was just buried so deeply by their games & what they did to make us doubt ourselves.
We are the survivors. We are the heroes that will show others how to conquer this evil.
We may go through churches, support groups, counselors & therapists. some may help, some may not. But we don't falter. We keep coming back. Somehow we were all led to Anna's blog.
As Anna put it so succinctly--like the little seedling with 2 leaves.
It WILL grow into the mighty oak tree. With time. Time is an essential in the equation of growth. We are on a journey.
Happy trails to all! Katrina
I enjoyed your post about psychology. I once had s coworker who fit the bill of the slovenly "Shrek" you wrote about a few months back. He had such a grandiose opinion of himself he once took an online IQ test and purposely left a copy of the results on a printer. He was always quick to explain how his synaptic gaps didn't work correctly and why he took various psych drugs. He was, to say the least, a royal pain in the arse...especially when he was on the meds. I had another coworker who made the succinct observation that perhaps he wouldn't need all the medsif he wasn't such an asshole.
In my opinion, our society allows the V's and Shrek's of the world to run amok because we stopped calling a spade a spade and turned to psychology. Somewhere along the way churches adopted the "culture of nice" and did away with good old fashioned righteous indignation.
True, the Bible is full of scriptures concerning forgiveness and peacemaking. For some reason churches turned their backs on all the scriptures teaching us how to discern good from evil. This difference of good and evil is the very fundamental foundation of Christianity and Salvation. Adam disobediently ate of the "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil". This is the very foundation of Original Sin. Before Adam's disobedience, man only knew of good. After his fall, we know both good and evil. We are born with this knowledge. Non-Christians know this as the difference between right and wrong. Of course the wages of this knowledge is death. God shows us his Mercy though Salvation by the Blood of Christ. This "culture of nice" is the apostate church who turned it's back on God and took an idealistic world view.
I know I'm rambling and I'll stop my sermon here. My point is that psychology and pseudo-Christianity gloss over this fundamental truth and try to treat the symptoms of evil instead of calling it out and exposing the darkness. Those of us who refuse to allow evil to ruin our lives and expose it are derided as daft, judgmental, and intolerant.
Sometimes it takes seeing injustice done to OTHERS (Anna), to open our eyes to what's been done to us.
You have put your finger on the very reason I bothered to take the time to write up this most recent story. I'm not looking for validation, although it is admittedly nice to get. I'm not still suffering as a result of these events. I learned a lot from the experience. It is valuable experience.
I agree with the Lilygirl who said that only someone who'd been through something like this could really see and understand the layers of involved in this story. So, the level of ourtrage many of you express is a testament that you've "been there, done that".
The only reason I wrote up this story was in order to help others recognize when they've been similarly mistreated so they could be properly sympathetic to themselves for what they've endured, as well as determined to not sit still for such treatment again. I do not want people all twisted into knots for me. I just want people to recognize screwed up behaviors and resolve to not participate in them ever again. There are particularly screwed up ways of thinking in Christian circles that must be confronted openly and exposed for their hypocrisy and their evil outcomes. I hope people will hold these thoughts in their minds as they read this story and others. I never tell them because I need something from all of you. I tell them to give you something. But I do agree that by telling some of my experiences it can clarify the evilness of certain behaviors because you can see it better because it is happening to someone else. It can be easier to outraged at injustice when it is not happening to you. What I hope happens is that you will then be outraged for yourselves. I'm not talking about being a raging idiot. I mean morally outraged...to the point where you determine to not submit to mistreatment just because you've done so in the past. I hope that the clarity you get by watching the effects on someone else will translate into good in your own life. Better choices. Freedom.
When I was on a morning walk alone I had time to think a little more on the "what would you do differently" question that I tried to address in this post. As I mulled it over more carefully I had a somewhat different idea on what I'd do differently in the future.
When I turned around to find V towering over me it only took one look to see that I was in trouble. The look on her face and her body language showed hostility. So even before she said a word I knew I was in for it.
My immediate impression of her attitude was confirmed by the first words out of her mouth. I can still see the set of her head and the haughty, self-righteous posture of her body. "I'm coming to you because Matt. 18 says we are to come to a person who has offended us..." As I think very carefully about how much information I already had in just 15 seconds, I would have been very wise to stop her right at this moment.
I don't believe that my willingness to hear someone's complaint against is some indication of lingering pathology in my psyche from being raised by a narcissist. I'm fair minded, yes. If someone can't approach me with a complaint about my behavior then there is no opportunity for me to make something right if I've screwed up. But I do think there is some merit to the commenter's observation that I incline toward being too fair. Too worried about not giving the other person a fair shake. I agree with this observation.
So, if the same thing happened to me again, I would let the person state their case, but with a large caveat. There would be a demand on my end. As I said above, I already had enough information in the first few seconds of this encounter to know I was not going to be dealt with fairly. I should have stopped her after that first sentence was out of her mouth and said,
"I am willing to hear your complaint against me but only with a witness. I am getting my husband and you can say whatever you want to say in front of both of us."
If she refused and pretended that Matt. 18 demands I listen to her just one-on-one I would have all the confirmation I needed that this person was out for blood and this was an ambush. I have the right to ask for a witness. If she then tried to refuse my right to a witness I would be SO gone.
I want to thank the commenter whose comment was rattling around in my brain pan this morning. In part, this person said,
I know people who would've just laughed in this witch's face and given her the one-finger salute. Ns won't deal with a difficult person, they want easy victims.
You are right. Even though I have a backbone of titanium I can seem like prey because I am determined to be fair. Any time we are fair to a narcissist they exploit it as if it is weakness. I will not stop being fair. But I will let myself act much earlier than I have in the past. I don't need to let all the caustic words spew out of someone's pie hole before it can be said I've been fair. I can let myself use all the information I have and act the moment I perceive that something is amiss. I know that I had all the information I needed within seconds. I didn't need to be fair with this bitch. I needed protection. I will never again stand by for some self-righteous prig to spank me in private. They can damn well try to spank me with a witness on hand. I'm thinking she would have had NOTHING to say to me if I had insisted on a witness. Much ugliness would have been prevented. She could have taken her complaint to the pastor and I would have loved for him to be the first to hear how bad I was for not inviting her to a non-existent potluck. She would have gotten no where with it.
I remember thinking after this went down with V that I so desperately wished my husband had been there. I know now I should have demanded to be allowed to get him. A person with a real complaint and the proper attitude toward me would have had no objection to that demand. Anyone who is accused before a court of law has the recognized right to bring in witnesses. This is fundamentally fair. I should have been more fair to myself in this situation. No one has the right to private ambush in the name of Matt. 18.
I am with you Anna.
Your story did not make me feel pain in the sense that it discouraged me, it made me, yep - morally outraged - which is a difficult emotion for me to keep a lid on.
I am not sure I should. I think it is this moral outrage that has protected me from having my mind robbed.
I am not sure if you've ever read Kathy Krajco's book, but she has a chapter that echoes what you say here -
She explains that when we see a friend hurt, we stand up for them, yet when we are hurt, we immediately blame ourselves, which is actually a betrayal of ourselves.
Anymore I try to remember that advice first, before I jump on myself with blame.
I think, if a friend or my son was going through this particular thing, what would I say, how would I act, what would I feel?
Would I immediately blame my friend or my son, or would I offer comfort and support?
So why wouldn't I do the same for myself, who is actually my best friend?
Kathy illustrates this point so well, and even uses a spiritual aspect, she says:
"An analogy: If God gives you a Jaguar, you show how much you appreciate his gift by letting others take a sledgehammer to it?
And he is supposed to be pleased with you for not even getting angry about it? I don't think so."
(What's even more disgusting is that it is against the law for someone to take a sledgehammer to your car, but not to your mind or your reputation. Is your car more valuable?)
The most important relationship to protect is the one you have with yourself.
As victims of N's, I think we kinda need to learn the Golden Rule backwards - Do onto yourself as you would do onto others.
There has been a lot happening to me and my son over the past few months, which has caused us tremendous pain - and moral outrage.
One incident happened when my eight-year-old son was bullied on the playground (nearly suffocated) for trying to rescue another classmate who was the target of bullies.
The teacher in charge refused to do anything about it. I happened to be volunteering in the cafeteria that day and the students ran to get me.
"These are first-graders, I am not going to reprimand FIRST-GRADERS," the teacher screamed in my face.
Talk about moral outrage. I thought I would moral outrage all over her face.
I am hoping you all understand the implications of her actions because I can't go there without typing right through my keyboard.
But I did something about it. Boy I was really scared to speak out, but I did. I cannot sit still when I am morally outraged.
I called the other classmate's mother. I contacted stopbullyingnow.com and got advice - great advice - and I compiled it all in writing in a letter to the principal.
I used the guidelines on the website and suggested the school develop an anti-bullying policy that not only protects students, but provides and opportunity to guide the bullies in another direction.
I volunteered to form a parents' committee, I volunteered to run the program and that I would personally pay for any training needed for me or for the staff -
I volunteered to be on the playground and in the school EVERY DAY of the school year to be a person the students could trust to take bullying seriously.
I told her I would do anything.
Then another outrage came - the principal didn't bother to give me any response.
The classmate's mother was very upset and tried to see the principal at the school. No luck.
I called the PTA - I called the school nurse.
I screamed at the top of my lungs - SOMETHING MUST BE DONE ABOUT THIS
to anyone who would listen.
I guess if you scream loud enough, some people will hear you. Some did.
One by one, aa few have contacted me, mostly the moms of kids who are abused at school, and said they will join me.
One mom said that she is behind me 100 percent, and together we will insist that the parent's committee is formed - with NORMAL people, she said.
I know who NORMAL people are. Those who know what it means to be morally outraged and have had to live with it.
No more. And no more will any child be forced to go to school and bend over for it, day after day, with no one to stick up for him or her.
We will teach these kids - both bullies and victims - that they are worth something to us.
So Anna, my moral outrage is uncomfortable enough to pull me off my butt, make me walk through hot coals and move this rubber tree plant.
Maybe it is only through this suffering that positive change comes in the world.
Geez, I hope so. There has to be a reason for all this.
Whew, quite a story, and oh so helpful! As you said, when you don’t defend yourself, you end up suicidal. I have felt like that most of my life.
It is only until about 8 months ago that I discovered your blog spot and learned about narcissism that I have even begun to feel like maybe I’m not so crazy after all. I have given so much of myself to narcissistic, manipulative people. At 45 I’m learning to trust myself and not give my power away to other people.
My father is an extreme narcissist. My mother a little less extreme, she hides it better. She’s a little more sly about it. They’ve been divorced since I was 5 years old. That was in 1967 when divorce was not as prevalent as it is today.
My first husband is a child molester. I was molested by 5 different males before the age of 13. One of which was my mother’s second husband who came into my bedroom several nights a week for 2 years, starting at the age of 8. He was a narcissistic, alcoholic, rich eye doctor. I was a basket case, needless to say and my mother took me to a therapist, but they didn’t ever figure out I was being molested. I was afraid to say something. My little 8 yr old brain thought my Mom knew and I was afraid to talk about it. My mother finally left him because of his alcoholism.
With my mothers 3rd husband came 3 step brothers, one which was 2 years older than me. He came into my bedroom a lot wanting me to go down on him. He was one of the cool people; I wanted him to accept me into his group of people, so I did what he wanted. Those 2 abuses were the long term ones. The other 3 were one time events, by random people. A meter man, a man driving a car, a friend’s brother. I never felt I had the right to stand up for myself. Through therapy later in life I found out that I learned to mix up sex with love. I thought sex was love and that was why I married husband number one. We had a lot of sex; I thought that meant he loved me. I found out later, he was a sex addict. I was sooooo angry at God because I was molested all my life and then married a child molester. I had my first daughter, and then left him.
I wanted to be very careful when I remarried to make a better choice. First of all, that he wouldn’t be a sex addict and second of all, he wouldn’t molest my daughter, like I was. I met a man at church. Had a degree, worked as an electrical engineer, called him parents every weekend, Christian, attended church regularly, played guitar; (I play piano.) What I thought were all the right ingredients. We married and I had my second daughter.
I always felt like I was walking on eggshells with him. Afraid I would say something to upset him. He said he was very sensitive. When we argued, which was a lot, I never knew what we were arguing about, but it was usually my fault somehow. After 1 year of dating and 6 years of marriage, I became very depressed. I got on anti-depressants. I’ve been on them almost 5 years now. After 7 years I decided I wanted to leave, but because I was trying to be a “good” Christian, I thought I should stay married. We went to counseling. Nothing changed. He’s very good at telling the counselor what they want to hear. 2 years later we went to counseling again. Nothing changed. 1 year later we went to counseling again. I was ready to kill myself rather than leave the marriage. I decided to get a night job, hoping different hours than him would make the marriage last longer. I finally decided God would rather me leave than kill myself, so I asked my N-father to borrow $500 so I could leave. (My N-husband kept his money in a separate account and wanted me to give him ¼ of my pay to pay for bills and I still had to use my money for groceries, gas and clothes for me and the girls.) My N-father said I didn’t have a good enough plan and refused to let me borrow the money. I left anyway.
My mother, who is a counselor herself, told me about Narcissist’s Suck a couple months after I left my husband and I’ve been hooked every since. It’s been 10 months now since I left him. Only one person from the church we attended for 7 years has called to check on me. He still faithfully attends “our” church. Everyone there thinks he’s a saint.
The divorce was filed 6 months ago and it still isn’t final. He also doesn’t give me any money. My N-father did call my N-husband to see how he was. He hasn’t called me to see how I am. We still have out 9 year old daughter at home. She is with me one week and him one week. We both attend all her events. He uses intimidation techniques on me most of the time. He has insinuated to his lawyer that I have a drinking problem. It is because of him that this divorce is taking so long. He’s trying to get full custody of our daughter, says I can’t manage money, (his excuse for not giving me any money) and tries to make it look like I’m a crazy woman.
I have been NC with my N-father for 10 months now, but had to see him 2 weeks ago, when my 18 year old daughter graduated from high school. I said hi to him, but not much else. I had to remind myself, “I’m 45 years old, I’m not a little girl, its ok that I have cut him out of my life, he has no hold over me, he’s here to see his grandchild.”
I had gone NC with my mother for almost a month because she basically tries to run my life. She thinks because she is a counselor that she knows what I should do about everybody and everything. I was using a Legal Aid lawyer for my lawyer and then my mother’s husband offered to pay for a “real” lawyer after I didn’t talk to my mom for a month. It was a hard decision. I knew if I accepted she would be back in my life again. And she is. She’s only been married to this man for a year and she wanted me to call him on Father’s Day to wish him Happy Father’s Day. (This is her 6th marriage.) I didn’t feel comfortable doing that, so I sent him an email.
I soooo want this divorce over. I want these controlling, evil people out of my life. It is time I took control of my life. My N-husband still calls me and demands to know where I am, if I’ve been home, if I don’t answer my phone he demands to know why. If I displease him at all he retaliates in some way. I take anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication, my heart races a lot, I have asthma attacks. I have let these people make me physically sick.
Good news. I have a boyfriend that I met online who is very supportive of me. He reminds me I don’t have to answer to my N-husband. He supports me in being independent. He reminds me to be strong. Maybe I’ve broken the cycle of surrounding myself with narcissistic people. He is a giving, kind, understanding person. Very different than anyone I’ve ever dated before. I feel closer and more understood by him than I EVER felt with my N-husband. He cooks for me! I am amazed; no one has ever done that for me on a regular basis. I tell him how wonderful he is for taking care of me like that. I can be totally upset from my day, go over his house and I feel better in no time. I told him his house is like my vacation home. I feel like I can shut out the world and relax and forget all the crap going on out there.
I keep reading your blogs and become stronger each time in my belief in me and trusting myself. I wonder how many useless deaths there have been throughout the years because of these evil narcissistic people in their lives and they blamed themselves. Thank you Anna for restoring my soul.
"The only reason I wrote up this story was in order to help others recognize when they've been similarly mistreated... I just want people to recognize screwed up behaviors and resolve to not participate in them ever again."
I smiled as I read this, because I understand the thinking behind it. However, I see everyone in these posts feeling the same as I. We care about you. We are enraged upon your behalf. So, deal. I think that anonymous is right - that these experiences you share have made you a master teacher, and a spiritual warrior. Nevertheless, you still need validation. I couldn't help but think, if you had all of us there, that day, facing "V", the outcome would have been very different.
I felt horrible for you as I followed this story. Been, there, experienced this. In my particular case, substitute my NMom for "V", and the rest of the family for the pastor and the church. I still become easily enraged by any sort of unfairness, even if it is spoken of in the past tense, and the utter crap of "it takes two to tango" still makes me physically ill. It is amazing how unoriginal any of these bullying Ns are; the predictability of their behavior and others' responses to it, are almost scripted. Once you deconstruct the dynamics, it's almost frightening how similar they all really are underneath.
I know remembering this must be painful; I appreciate your sharing. As always, thank you.
Anna, I'm the one who posted the comment about the one-finger salute. When I wrote that comment I was in the middle of my own being wronged by an N (and it's still going on, not a relative, but someone in the workplace), so I admit I was being a bit harsh. But what I would truly like to see is for every person who has been a victim of an N to stand back and look at themselves honestly to see if they are truly afraid of offending others, and I mean when they deserve it and when you sense danger.
Maybe we all tend to operate under the premise that it's wrong to err in our own favor. That was more my point, that we need to be more self-protective. I think it would be easier to apologize to a nice person later than to be victimized by an N.
Just my two cents worth, and I like the idea of a witness. That will be my tactic in my own ongoing escapade. I am hereby declaring WAR on all Ns, and I mean WAR.
All my best. :)
I have been receiving your posts. I had to write to you to tell you that you remind me so much of me. I loved your June 2008 post talking about the rights of the victim to defend him or herself against unjust behavior. I especially appreciated your comment about how not permitting for this goes against the laws of nature. Being the daughter of a very cruel cerebral narcissist (my father) and a flaming co-dependent (my mother), I grew up very much like you, made to feel "wrong" and not good enough etc. I believe that in this society people like us not only have a strike against us by having a narcissistic parent but another one for being a woman. We are just supposed to sit back with a smile on our face and take whatever is dished out, no matter how rotten. We are not allowed to get angry or defend ourselves. If we do, we could be considered one of many things including irrational ,insane, hormonally challenged, the list could go on and on. No matter what though, the "flaw" will end up being ours. I had an experience recently where I stood up for myself by posting the behavior of my lying, cheating, narcissistic, sociopathic ex boyfriend on a dating site that was to warn other women. This was a man that was my "loving" boyfriend for 2.5 years. Since he told me repeatedly that he was "in it for the long haul" I believed that I was in an honest, monogamous relationship that was going to last. In the end I discovered that he was nothing like what he presented himself to be, which was an intelligent, fun loving, basically conservative, heterosexual, non-kinky man. What I learned in the end almost killed me. I learned that he had been pacticing sado-masochism in group sex type situations throughout our relationship behind my back. I spent an entire year dousing my pain in alcohol, believing that I would never get over what he did to me. When I came out kicking and screaming, everyone thought I was the crazy one. Not only was I crazy, but "I" was the evil one for having exposed his ass. I am doing great now and I will tell you that I am proud of my backbone and would do the same thing all over again in the same situation. Thank you for your voice in defending a person's right to stand up for themselves against evil. You are welcome to use this on your blog if you like. I can totally relate to writings. I am right there with ya, sister!
Hi Anna! Your wisdom is immeasureable. I feel a sweet sisterhood with all of you, Lilygirl, Angela, Jenna, and all of you! I find an immense amount of strength from both the posts and the comments... I think it's the power of unity..and sharing like-experiences. Id love to gather with ya'll some day at maybe an Annual Narcissist Suck conference.. What do you think Anna?? Let me know the time and date and I'll be there... love ya'll....jac
You have quite a story to tell. I find it curiously interesting that your mother, the counselor, recommended my site to you. You mentioned your mom is narcissistic, but hides it better than your dad. I am supposing your mother doesn't see herself written on my pages?
You've overcome a great deal, Angela. God bless as you continue to claim your life for yourself!
Nymphadora wrote: We care about you. We are enraged upon your behalf. So, deal.
Yes, ma'am. I'm dealing. Thank you. I do appreciate that you all care enough to be outraged even though this is past tense and I'm not all screwed up over it. I do appreciate the outrage on my behalf. It also shows me how many of you out there have your heads twisted on straight and aren't going to sit still in your own lives for this kind of crap. I like knowing that.
What happened to your comment? I went to respond to it...it's gone? I wanted to thank you for your kind analysis of my writing ability. I am glad to know that you were drawn into the story.
This post wasn't too long at all, I couldn't take my eyes off it until I read every word.
Something I've found disturbing is a contempt from some ACONs toward other victims of Ns who defend themselves. It is very difficult to get these people to understand that we don't owe N parents our loyalty or anything else for that matter. Many people who feel this way are hostile toward other family members who have escaped, or distanced themselves from the N parent. They understand N, acknowledge they are victims of abuse but choose to honor their parent. This is their choice but it is just wrong to attack those who stand up and take ownership of their lives. If anything, the enabler deserves blame and condemnation, for choosing to continue to feed the N, not those who escape.
Many times they cite their Christian upbringing and view keeping their relationship with N parents as a duty. They think the uninvolved siblings should feel guilty and will have to "live with themselves" and their guilty conscience when the N parent(s) dies.
Guilt? Not likely.
I just bring this up as another example of a very close to home way that people try to deny us our right to self-preservation.
OK, just have to say this. After my decades long experience with extreme spiritual abuse, I have found most of my answers in books on human behaviour, including narcissism etc. I am interested in becoming a psychologist because frankly I have never found one competent to deal with religious cults, and/or spiritual abuse. Most of them are just christians with the idea that they are good at counselling, when in fact they are just in love with their own persona of 'counsellor'. What crap.
So, if I want to get out there and fill a need I guess, my idea is that first of all I have to have some kind of qualifications and the only ones I can get are through either religious or secular educational institutions offering courses on psychology. Most of the curriculum is full of crap, but how else do I become qualified?
My idea is like Alice Miller's idea of the psychologist being the empathic helper. You don't offer advice, you offer an ear, and a willing support and become a journeyman in their sufferings. Only with that sort of support do you get the courage to look at your own story and work it out for yourself. Nobody else can do that for you, regardless of their qualifications.
OK, sorry, I know you didn't want to turn this into a psycho-debate, but I am at my wits end. So many christians hate the psych profession and I fully understand why, but I also hate those who have only a bible studies degree and the idea that they are God's gift to the hurting. Ya hafta have been through the crap aways to be able to offer some help I figure. Anyway, carry on.
I'm sorry to add to your irritation with my comments on psychology. I would not ever tell you that you shouldn't get into the profession. Obviously, the profession needs more people in it who "get it". I did state that there are some good people in the profession. The situation of being the individual trying to find that needle in a haystack otherwise known as a good therapist can be a dicey business. "Buyer beware" should be the motto.
I'm sure you will do the profession a service by entering it.
P.S. to Jordie,
I have more than once considered getting a psychology degree myself. Not because I give a flip for what passes for "knowledge" in this field, but for the reason you stated: a need for the credentials in order to place myself in a position to help in a way I don't see people being helped. I completely understand what you are going for and I certainly think you're doing a great thing. Hang in there. As long as you don't swallow the Kool-Aid...if you know what the means...then you'll do great.
Hmm.. what you said is right on target. I have first hand knowledge of Christian "counselors." When I finally sought therapy, I prayed. Hmm... Then a friend recommended a couple at a local church who did counseling. Deep down inside, I got an emphatic, "NO!" So, I went through a local non-profit that specializes in helping victims of sexual abuse. That was one of the hardest thing I ever did> But through them, I ended up where I am now - a Psychologist with a PhD who is a licensed psycho-therapist (I know, I was leery of that at first too, and with good reason). She is great. And, after a couple of months of therapy, I discovered that she is a Christian.
I guess what I think is, if you need a medical doctor, you don't want someone who says they know what they are doing because the have a Bible studies degree. Same with a plumber or an electrician, etc., etc. You want someone who is trained to help in the area you need help in. Pastors and church counselors (for the most part) are NOT trained in how to deal with emotional and mental damage.
I wholeheartedly agree with you and bravo for your noble intentions.
There are sooooo few good therapists out there, ESPECIALLY the Christian ones.
There is something you all may want to check out: AEDPinstitute.com. Diana Fosha, the founder, has also written a book "The Transforming Power of Affect". It's a bit heady with technical terminology as it is a text and a website for therapists. Bu this stuff works in practice. It is all about our internal landscape that gets screwed up by the abuse we've suffered and the value of a caring, empathic other to help process and make sense out of that which may be too difficult to traverse alone.
I too have been helped by Alice Miller. I was especially struck by the little child and the ice cream cone when I first read it, just like you. Thank you for sharing, I love what you have to say...
I am smiling as I write this today for weird reasons.
I am in that flashback stage where things hit me out of the blue and WHACK!!
I am reliving them again, but in a healthier state of mind. I truly believe this is why my ex-N never wanted me to get a break from him.
I just might get a taste of how good life is without him.
But anyway, between these WHACKS! I am laughing a little, almost like one of those laughs that prevent me from crying.
Wanna know what all this seems like to me?
It seems like we are all sitting here trying to figure out what rabies is.
Think about it. We are comparing notes.
Well, my dog foams at the mouth.
Mine won't drink water.
Mine was bitten by a racoon.
I tried this medicine. No luck.
I tried that medicine. Nope.
My dog turned on me and bit me. I never saw it coming.
Now I am sick.
There was a time when people didn't know what rabies was. It was probably only through much suffering and putting pieces of a puzzle together that they were able to figure it out.
A few people were probably ahead of their time... "It's rabies." they said. But no one wanted to listen. It was too horrible of a thought to accept.
No, others said. This is a good dog, he'll go back to the good part of him. Just wait and keep patting him on the head.
Those people got bitten. Those people died.
They suffered and died because they didn't want to give up on something they loved.
They didn't want to abandon those who needed them.
For me, this whole experience has been like rabies.
I had this beloved dog. He was my trusted companion. I thought we'd be together forever, protecting and caring for one another.
But I was so wrong.
He could have been a great dog. But he was infected by something that has no cure.
It has a prevention - but once it hits, there is no cure.
And if I continue to pat him on the head, I will die.
The only answer is to euthanize him. The only answer is to turn my back on him and abandon him.
Having to cut someone from my life who I loved and trusted and needed because they have a fatal illness that will eventually kill me has to be the most agonizing thing I have ever had to endure.
I am not used to abandoning those I love who are suffering.
(It is our ability to recognize the suffering child inside the N that keeps us in this).
Someday, I pray they come up with a prevention for this. Too many people are suffering and dying.
That was such a great post. The comparison to rabies was so right on. It truly is agonizing to abandon a person that we had come to love due to a disorder that is dangerous to all those individuals that have a close involvement. One honestly wonders whether they should feel sorry for the person because of thier tortured soul or angry because of how adversely they have affected us. To make matters worse, when one finds out about the "facade" and can come to grips with the idea that the person we knew never really was, it makes it especially hard because we don't even know what we were really leaving behind. There remains a huge mystery surrounding the person and ourselves as it relates to the period of time that we were with the person. We never really knew what we were involved in or what our lives were touching. It is very haunting to me to think that there were probably people that knew of me that I had never even heard of. Who knows how many people are familiar with my name. It is as though there is a ghost of myself that has touched another world. The ghost becomes more and more distant and reincorporated into myself as each day passes that I don't see the 'N'. The truth has bannished the ghost. If our worlds collide again, it will be me, the 'N' and the raw, ugly truth that surrounds the 'N'. It is the raw truth, that stands so ugly but so full of hope. If only the 'N' could see it. If only he wanted to see it. Whether he does or he doesn't, as long as there is the truth, there is hope for him and all those that love and are deeply affected by him. Until that time, abandoning to save oneself from the wrath of the 'N' is the only realistic option. The 'N' is long gone, but I have a feeling he will be back again in some way. The question is, will I recognize the facade? Will I ever give up hope that his truth will be his salvation in the end?
Wow Lilygirl, what a strikingly good analogy.
I remember what my therapist once said when I was still in the ping-pong state of trying to swallow that my mother really is THAT bad:
It sounds like she's got you in her lap
whispering in your ear how much she loves you
all the while feeding you poison
until you die.
It's true for me that the N that never really was is never really gone.
He is the opposite of what I thought he was. In the beginning, when he hooked me, he was acting as me.
He was me.
I loved what he was because he stole and displayed the virtues and qualities that I work hard to maintain in my life.
These qualities are important to me, so when I saw them in him, I believed I had met my true soulmate.
And as he robbed my identity, he replaced it with his horrible one.
And the person I loved was really myself, it was never him. He pulled a con job on me.
Unfortunately for me, while I realized he was dangerous and had to be euthanized, you might imagine my joy when he knocked on my door one day, telling me he was cured of his rabies and that we could be together.
It took me a long time and several painful reunions - bites - nearly fatal ones - before I realized that the illusion of change was just another symptom of the rabies.
And there really is no cure. No matter what he says or how many tears stream down his eyes when he says it.
He just wants me to come close to pass his rabies onto me.
I live every day with the threat that he will come back, and trick me into believing that he's all better.
That he really is the dog I loved before the rabies - because that is what I WANT to believe.
I want to believe that Tinkerbell will live again after she drinks the poison to save Peter Pan.
He relies on the fact that I cannot stand to turn my back on someone who is suffering. He preys on my good nature.
That's why his suffering act is always the one he leads with when he comes sniffing around again.
Let's keep comparing notes so we can all see the complete picture of what we are dealing with here, so we always know the best way to protect ourselves.
Knowledge is our best hope.
At this point in my "recovery" there is absolutely NO CHANCE that the N will "trick" me into believing that he's all better. I'd be extremely skeptical!!!! Let's just say the N was "all-better," ..Not a chance in Hell I'd be persuaded to have any relationship w/ him at all. PERIOD. My life is moving forward, not in neutral or reverse any longer. Once bitten, twice shy. Be very careful, ya'll........
"I feel guilty if I step on an ant. Who am I to decide if that ant dies today? I am careful when I walk on my sidewalk. lilygirl"
I feel guilty too when I step on various insects. One day I stepped on a slug (accident) and when looking down I saw its crushed shell and eyes looking strait towards me. My heart sunk. Even feel pity for spiders lol.
"Adam disobediently ate of the "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil" Nocaster"
That bothers me. Eve took the bite Adam followed I am sick of Adam getting the credit.
Yesterday in the car I started talking about soldiers and postraumatic stress disorder with my mom. I said that it can happen to kids too if something like being locked in a room when they were terrified of the dark.
She turned to me and said with a smile on her face that never happened to you. I said yes it did.
Then proceeded to describe how I screamed and cried and begged for her to let me out and how it felt when I was in the dark. She just blatantly said that she thought it was a regular fit of a kid who doesn't like to not have everything their own way.
She shoved me into the room for doing who knows what and then locked the door. Here is how I felt when I was in the dark. You know the feeling that you are being watched now add to that the feeling that you are being watched by something ready to rip you into shreds. The room feels like it is closing in on you and the beasts are preparing to leap at any moment. Locking me in a dark room at that age is the equivalent as locking me in a lions den.
At first I screamed things like this "Let me out! I can't stand it!" all the while hitting the door with my hands. After that for awhile I crouched on the floor with my back to the door tears streaming down my face pleading. "Please let me out! I can't stand the dark! Please please please!" She said she didn't know I was so afraid. Hey she knew if she locked me in a room with light I didn't have much of a problem.
I still am afraid of the dark. The wasn't the reason though. I was always afraid. I get the same terror when I can't see. I have to see to know it is safe. Now I don't scream I just keep it to myself and try to pretend not to be afraid. All the nightmares so many of them. I had/have them with my eyes wide open not when I was/am asleep.
First little monsters. Then wolves lots of em. Then various other predators such as lions bears sharks. Then unidentifiable creatures that were out to get me.
As a kid I hid under the blanket for hours creeping along the floor in fear of the wolves. It would be very hot but nonetheless I stayed sweating bullets.
It is a pity in the United States that it is shameful to be afraid of the dark etc. In another country a friend told me downright she was afraid of the dark and I was astonished. Then overcoming my fear of being made fun of I told her I was scared of it too. That was so nice to be able to say to someone else.
Adults make fun of kids and kids don't like to be made fun of especially if their parent is a narcissist that parent can strike home with the dagger. I didn't tell people things and especially my mother because I didn't want to be ridiculed, laughed at, teased for it etc etc. It never ceases to amaze me how so many adults acted like rude jerks while the kids I knew were generally nice and level headed.
Anon 5:28 -
I am laughing a little when I think of the two of us tiptoeing down the street to miss the ants and carrying spiders on sheets of paper off to the woodpile...
I am wondering too, what was your mother's reaction to your story?
Was it how you would have reacted if your daughter told you that something you did horrified her for the rest of her life?
Did it draw out her compassion, her apathy or her rage?
I hope she cried and gave you a hug and told you she would hold your hand every time you were in the dark, until you aren't afraid anymore.
But incase she didn't, here are some little fireflies to light up your room tonight.
" " " " "" " "" """"""" """
I have been reading your site for a long while, and identify strongly with you, because I also have an N mom and and N sister. I am 51 years old, and though I have a supportive husband and son, struggling with the legacy of growing up in a narcissistic family has been one of the main features of my life.
I want to put in my two cents worth about the issue of psychotherapy. I went through two rounds of therapy since my 20s-- and without going into great detail, I found them to be relatively unhelpful (although one at least helped me identify my mother as narcissistic, which was a huge help.) Finally, a few months ago, I decided that I was still living with a lot of pain and sadness, and even though my life was pretty good outwardly, the sadness and anger were always there. This time, instead of going to a typical "talk" therapist, I found a woman who works mostly just with emotions and how they get "locked" into your body from past trauma. She is called a "bioenergetic therapist".
I realized that with the traditional psychologists, I was continually trying to convince them of the validity of what I had gone through and justify my feelings to them. My mother was not as outwardly cruel as yours (one of her narcissisms was that she was a "perfect" mother), and much of the harm to me was done in very small, nuanced ways. Like you recently wrote about the Chinese water torture, I felt that from the time I was a tiny child, I was continually discounted and invalidated in very small, constant yet erratic ways, and by the time I was an adult, I felt I had been cut by tens of thousands of small cuts, leaving me half dead. And of course, because my mother never saw "me", I have always felt that I don't matter and have no right to a space in the world.
When I would tell the first two therapists about these many ways I was discounted and harmed, the examples always sounded small and quite insignificant. I thus ended up feeling that I was constantly needing to justify my pain and anger by explaining a never-ending litany of small examples. (Some of your readers have probably experienced this also when they have tried to tell friends or other family members about the abuses to them by an N parent -- unless someone has lived with an N parent, they really don't understand how these things sound small but pile up into huge wounds.)
The new therapist works only with my feelings. I do not explain or describe anything to her other than how I am feeling at a deep level. She accepts my feelings as proof of my feelings! I cannot tell you how helpful it has been. Over time, I have cried and released a lot of anger. We have also worked on visualizing safety and peace with "new parents" in my mind. I do not need to justify myself to her or give her "proof".
I can't go into the details of everything here, but I hope that this might be helpful to some of your readers. I think that many children of narcissists may feel that their therapy hasn't helped, and I would heartily recommend this approach. I've only gone to her about 8 times, and I feel much better than I ever have before.
Thanks for the great work.
Lilygirl, you wrote:
Did it draw out her compassion, her apathy or her rage?
No N parent or N has ANY REAL compassion. They have ONE setting. Rage -- EVERYTHING ELSE IS AN ACT.
Your N can only continue to play on your compassion if you allow it. Especially once you KNOW they are N.
NParents and NPartners are VERY VERY different fruit from a similar family. They do things to their children/ partners VERY differently. Please let me recommed this board to you Lilygirl:
You will find a lot of support there if you are involved with an N.
NParents? A whole different sort of hell.
As far as the Bible being full of peacemaking & blanket forgiveness -- let me weigh in here.
I am Jewish and according to the Torah (the original Bible):
FORGIVENESS CAN ONLY BE GIVEN TO THE REPENTANT.
That's right. The person has to admit, own and make amends. Then you can forgive them. And ONLY if the hurt party forgives them - can they go to temple and ask GOD to forgive them (you know the ole: "what you bind on earth I will bind in heaven")
Also you must ask a person you have harmed to forgive you THREE TIMES. If they still turn you down only THEN can you go to temple and ask God to forgive you.
Kathy Krajco says it best:
Since Ns think they are a God -- they can condemn you and get away with it. I doubt even Jesus would have put up with it, though.
Barbara - OUCH.
I appreciate your guidance, and will take it under consideration, but I find Anna's site more comforting and more in line with my thinking.
It sounds to me like you feel I don't fit in here. I disagree.
And if you want to judge me as not as strong or as smart as you for falling for the N's manipulations, well, I guess you have me beat.
You are my hero. Someday I hope to be as strong as you.
Right now, I am fighting the best I can.
I see I am not living up to your standards and am not yet perfect like you - but I am working on it.
Maybe you don't know me well enough but I too, grew up among narcissists, to the point where I didn't see my mother on her deathbed.
I know how to spot a dangerous man, and while that site may help others, I find it a little too "blaming the victim" for me. Sorry, but thats MHO.
That, to me, is like saying "How to spot a serial rapist."
And if you can't spot the rapist? Well, it's your failure. Hogwash.
A narcissist is a narcissist - A rapist is a rapist, period. We all suffer at the hands of someone who does not relate in accepted terms of humanity.
And acutally I think growing up as a ACON makes us MORE ABLE TO TOLERATE A ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP WITH A NARCISSIST LONGER THAN ANYONE WHO ISN'T AN ACON.
So I believe there is common ground.
And as for my advice to Anon 5:28, I was trying, without judging, to lend a hand to yet another victim who I thought might be blaming herself for what her mother did.
She said although her mother locked her in a dark room and heard her pleas and screams, she refused to open the door - that wasn't the reason she was afraid of the dark.
From my own experience, I am not sure that is true. A horrifying experience could lend to a lifetime of terror.
She has no idea what else her mother did to her when she was too young to remember.
A horrifying experience at the hands of someone who is supposed to protect us from horrifying experiences could DEFINITELY lend to a lifetime of terror.
Especially if no one else saw what happened to her, or who had enough compassion to stand up to the mother and open the door.
What in God's name could a child do so wrong to deserve such terror? Absolutely nothing.
Her story broke my heart. So I offered her some fireflies because it seems we both like bugs.
Her mother was heartless, but I was hoping that I didn't have to explain that. I was hoping that Anon 5:28 might realize it for herself, without me shoving my opinion into her.
I didn't expect that the mother responded with compassion, I am not uninformed about narcissism.
(In fact, while I'm no expert, I have worked damn hard to learn all I can about it.)
I was trying to honor Anon 5:28's view of herself while kindly offering another view - that of someone who suffered a horrible cruelty at the hand that rocked her cradle.
I don't want to get into a debate about whose N is worse, or whether or not I belong here.
We have all suffered one way or a hundred ways, at the hands of an N. That's all that qualifies us to be here.
I think we all have lots to offer, and I am yearning to hear what we all have to share.
I am also trying my best to lend the benefit of my five years' worth of education about this subject. I have read volumes, while I have lived it.
I escaped from it alone. Without the support of my family, without any outside validation. I did it MYSELF and I am proud of what I did.
No one will rob me of that hard work. No one. I will stay here until Anna asks me to leave.
I am really confused as to why I even have to defend myself or even feel rejection just because I want to participate and try to find some support.
Like they say on the Island of Misfit Toys - "Even among misfits I'm a misfit."
I don't even fit in here? Is that what I am supposed to think?
I have tried over the past few weeks to fit in, to offer what I know, some of my insight, take it or leave it.
But I put my guts out there. I offered all I could in good faith and with a good heart.
And now I get the stink eye.
I won't be offended Barbara if you just skip over my posts.
Lilygirl -- I am sorry you found my posts so "strong." I am the child of an Nmother, dated 3 Ns, divorcing an N and almost murdered by a psychopath. Strong is not a word I'd use for myself. Sick of their bs is more like it.
The reason I recommended another site is because you seem to be involved with an N, and there are sites specifically for people like you -- like the one I mentioned.
The N is N but there are shades and flavors because this is a Cluster B Personality Disorder that exists on a spectrum.
While some of the more 'gross' behaviors are similar the emotional predation of an N parent on a child creates a whole different set of symptoms and happens within different parameters as someone who is involved with an N.
A book that you might also like is Sandra Brown, MA's WOMEN WHO LOVE PSYCHOPATHS. I just read it and found it stunningly eye-opening. As far as my Nparent was concerned CHILDREN OF THE SELF ABSORBED answered most of my questions.
I am sorry you saw my posts as combative towards you rather than helpful. And remember Judaism is the basis of Christianity. I am sure Anna will agree - forgive and forget and having compassion towards an N? Is like giving a predator a new condiment to make their prey more tasty.
Never "bend over for their abuse" or show them any sympathy or they will continue to drain you dry. I ended up permanently disabled from the PTSD and trauma caused to me by these people. It's simply not worth it.
"I am wondering too, what was your mother's reaction to your story?"
She basically tried defending herself trying to say how she didn't know how I was afraid of the dark and saying had she known she would've had me with her in her room at night......
"Was it how you would have reacted if your daughter told you that something you did horrified her for the rest of her life?"
Not really. I would have said sorry and if there was anything I could do now to help.
"Did it draw out her compassion, her apathy or her rage?"
Basically it drew out her defense. Defending herself and motives etc. She didn't mean it and other such excuses and what she would've done had she known. Also insert some non apologies.
I am much better now about the dark thing and live in nightmares lol. If any of you have em here is what I do to make it not so bad.
1. They are your nightmares and you can create imaginary defense.
For the dark so long as my blankets are on me I am safe. That is my safe spot. If I have to walk a long distance in the dark I just grab something like a piece of paper and while holding that I am safe.
It is pretty silly lol but it works for me. Things like that help me get to the bathroom and back. The terror isn't as bad anymore. Gradually forcing myself to face it has helped. Kind like people that have phobias. The cure is often for them to face it.
The reason it was so bad when she locked me in the room is that it was just me and I didn't have a blanket, my defense back then.
I just thought I would warn you guys to be very careful regarding choosing a therapist or psychiatrist because from my personal experience many of them are narcissists themselves. A dead giveaway is if they are patronizing to you, it denotes a sense of superiority.
As someone who is in love with psychology, I absolutely do NOT take offense to your criticism of it. I’m in grad school and one of the creepiest things I’ve come to realize is that there is an extraordinarily high number of people in this profession who are themselves narcissists.
Now, what I do take offense to has nothing to do with you at all...it’s not only what V did to you, but also the way that your “pastor” treated you. I can’t imagine what bullshit he was slinging around, but I’m sure that it reeked something awful. What a cowardly, ignorant man. I feel kinda bad saying that about a preacher, but I can’t help it. I am glad that you’ve been able to start going back to church. I admire your strength. This is what I find so sad about what N’s do...they cause you to doubt everything you once would have never doubted. I don’t know if that really makes sense.
I’m repeating a lot of what others have already said...I feel infuriated reading your horrendous story. You may not have been looking for validation, but you have certainly gotten it. In a selfish way, giving you validation gives me a feeling of validation in my own experiences.
Another poster said Ns want easy victims, they won’t deal with difficult people. Knowing that has both helped me and harmed me. In the last few years I have changed dramatically. I am no longer the same outgoing, trusting, friendly person I used to be. I’ve gotten all Machiavellian...;-) I am paranoid and jaded and cautious. I don’t know how I got off on this tangent, I have no clue what my point was.
Will any of us ever be the person we were before Ns??? I already know the answer to this, but for the life of me I just can’t quit wondering.
Thank you, Anna, and everyone else on here, for being so willing to share your nightmares.
Welcome to my blog. I'm glad you found it. Thank you for not taking offense at my stance on psychology. You are not the first person to observe the attraction this "science" has for narcissists. It is an attraction that makes a lot of sense. Psychology offers the promise of insight into what makes people tick. This is very valuable information for a narcissist; unfortunately they have no plans for the benevolent use of that power. They are looking for better ways to manipulate and control others. Some of those inside the psychology profession have started to recognize the danger that a narcissistically-defended person armed with psychology presents to their peers in the profession as well as clients. Once a narcissist is armed with credentials in this field they have a great deal of power over others. Dangerous.
Will any of us ever be the person we were before Ns??? I already know the answer to this, but for the life of me I just can’t quit wondering.
No, we will not ever be the same as we were before Ns, but I know for a fact that we can be better that we were. Wiser, more compassionate to real victims, intolerant toward abusive types. This blog, in the process of talking about malignant narcissism, brings out principles that when applied to our lives makes our lives better than they've ever been. Yes, we may go through negative processes like the cynicism you describe, but that doesn't have to be a bad thing. Time, experience, acquired wisdom and emotional strength will allow you to eventually feel able to interact with people because you know that you can detect the character-disordered in very short order -- before they can wreak havoc in your life. Some cynicism is good to have. We need to have a certain amount of it so we don't continually fall for the crap that passes for "knowledge" such as "everyone is basically good", or "you must never say anything if it might hurt someone's feelings" or "turn the other cheek" when walking away is a perfectly acceptable alternative. I hear any of the above from anyone and I feel the cynical part of me rise up. It is a wise cynicism because it is based on real knowledge of human nature and a firm grasp of my personal rights. Armed with real knowledge of "what makes narcissists tick" will enable you to feel safe enough to interact with human kind again. You will spot the creeps quickly and you'll feel no compunction about giving their ass the boot out of your life the second you figure out what they are.
Thanks for your response, Anna. I appreciate your thoughts and your insight.
Time, experience, acquired wisdom and emotional strength will allow you to eventually feel able to interact with people because you know that you can detect the character-disordered in very short order -- before they can wreak havoc in your life.
I think that as time has gone by, my excessive, fanatical cynicism has eased up. And like you said, I have gotten to a place where I feel like I can detect these people before they wreak havoc, which is a good feeling. I think I still have some work to do, but I think that as time goes by it will continue to get better. I KNOW that the paranoia has. I spent more than a year scared to death of what my narci MIL would do next. Totally obsessed. It consumed me. I look back now and see how distorted my thinking was.
I have gone back and started reading your blogs from the beginning. I look forward to reading about the experiences you and other bloggers have endured. And I’m going to try my damnedest to NOT comment on every single blog I read.;-) It’s hard not to, though, when I see something that most other people probably thought I was crazy as hell for talking about.
I do have a question...and it may be answered in another blog you’ve written. But I think you said your sister is younger than you? Do you think that you were you your mother’s “golden child” and your sister the “scapegoat”? My husband was/is the “golden child” and his younger brother was/is the “scapegoat”. You talked about how even though your sister sent a letter to your dad about your mom, too, it was okay coming from her. But then she also got patronizing to you about what you wrote in yours. This is in a round-about way what happened with my husband and his brother. I’m just wondering if there’s any relation to birth order and which child ends up being “golden child” and which one becomes “scapegoat”. I hope this makes a little bit of sense. Sorry for rambling...
Thanks again for what you do. It’s helpful beyond words to know that I’m not alone and that I’m not completely insane.
Do you think that you were you your mother’s “golden child” and your sister the “scapegoat”?
No, I most certainly wasn't the golden child. There were times long after I became an adult that my mother started treating me like the golden child because my sister was quite nasty to our mother most of the time. My mother never had to fear me getting nasty. I just never was. But her favorable words toward me never made me feel "golden". I was simply feeling used. My mother was trying to groom me to be the one who'd take care of her in her old age. My sister, even when not on great terms with our mother, was able to get what she wanted from my mother most times.
Growing up I was not the golden child. My sister was the one spoiled by my mother. She was the wanted child. I explain a lot of this in some of my posts about my sister. I'm sure you'll have a clearer picture of the dynamic in my childhood home after you read them.
I don't think birth order is necessarily a determinant in how each child is treated. It has more to do with personalities from what I've observed. Some children make better slaves. Others make better pawns. Still others may make golden status depending on their achievements, etc. Both the "golden child" and the "scapegoat" are abused by the N parent...just in different ways. Ns are expedient. They will exploit their children in whatever way the child's personality lends itself to being exploited.
OMG, Lilygirl, I love your comparison of Rabies and Narcissism. One difference I see is that I no longer love the N's in my life, so I have no problem turning my back on them and walking away. They have used and abused their power on me and I have been drained of what feelings I had for them. Yes, it is sad that I have had to turn my back, because I would like to have had\have a loving father and feel connected, I would love to still be married and my family in tact and that didn't happen, so there is sadness of what I dreamed and didn't get, but I no longer want to be around these people. I see how they have abused me, tried to make me feel and act crazy, used me for their own power, drained me of my dreams, sucked the life out of me, poisoned me.
I am just glad I have finally learned about N's. I can spot them a mile away now. Doesn't take many words out of their mouth to spot them now. Whew, THANK GOD. I have been nice toooooo long.
I especially can see it when my soon to be ex-N tries to use his old tactics on me or tries new ones. It is all soooo clear to me now. And yes, I've done it on my own without my family. Except for this blog spot and a few others. It's true, even when I try to explain how the N's in my life try to manipulate me, most people don't understand, they haven't lived it or don't want to recognize it. So without the support of this blog spot I don't know where I would be. I thank God for each and every one of you. You certainly belong Lilygirl! We need each other!
Well, I guess I missspoke. Last night I went to a women's sunday school b-day party where we all exchanged gifts. I received a gift of a wooden box with carving on it. My N-father does wood working and makes boxes such as these. This box I received was made in India, but the representation of it felt so precious to me. Mainly it's feelings of the fun times I did have with my N-father in childhood. The dreams of what I wish a loving father would be, but the reality is what our relationship is and never will be. I would rather have the box than my N-father in my life.
So I look at this precious box and think of it as the love my N-father has for me is in that box. One time he made a very lavish spoon and gave it to me for my b-day. He said it was called a Loving Spoon. He carved it himself. He has only told me 3 times in my life that he loves me. So I would look at this spoon and know that that was the only way my father could tell me he loved me. What love he could feel that is.
So I guess that even though I very much dislike that man, there are times I think about him lovingly and wish there could have been more. I know there never can be though and trying to get more from him would be an exercise in banging my head against a wall. OUCH! See, I do remember that part too and that is what is important. No rose colored glasses.
Love your blog. I have an N mom and sisters who are all hideous to me. I mostly find that they are sharks and if you have a weakness they can detect, well......you are finished. I find it hard to compete with them as they think like chess players and are always three moves ahead. So....out of desperation I have gone No Contact. My main probem now has switched to being lonely. Sometimes I am willing to put up with the abuse just to not be lonely.....anyway, I'll write more later. Have a good day!! P.S. I became a Christian too over this horror!!
Hello Dear Anna,
Hope that it is not too late to comment on this post. Your experience w/V, et al, was totally horrific! These trials make us stronger, wiser,and yet we often go back and reflect on what we would do differently. I am praying that you are healing from the whole experience w/God's plentiful grace. You are so gifted, and I appreciate your invaluable ministry here. Thank you very much for your wisdom. I am new to your site.
I wanted to ask you about the Bishop's adopted children. In addition to FAS, were they also diagnosed w/Attachment issues?
(Reactive Attachment Disorder. RAD)
My dh and I were guardians of a 9 yo old boy for over two years, naned T. He was diag w/RAD and PTSD. His therapist also said that he was also an N. In addition to a fire setting history, he abused our pets, was abnormally defiant, created chaos daily, would not look us in the eye, had issues w/stealing, lying, being sneaky. He also pitted us against family members w/his 'charming innocent little boy' act. Yes, they believed all of his stories that we were bad parents, mean to him. Ie, ruining our good reputation as N's do.
He was eventually adopted by family friends after spending a year in a residential program.
In my mid-twenties, I was engaged to an malignant N, who verbally,physically,spiritually, abused me. I moved from Ma to Ct to plan our wedding. Of course, when I got there, he wasn't ready for a 'committment' after I quit my job, and left all that was familiar to me.
After 16 months of living in spiritual and emotional hell, I finally left him after much prayer. The final straw was when he put a hunting rifle to my head, and ordered me to get into bed w/him. Thank you God, he passed out when he got into bed! He had come home very late one night and was under the influence of something. (?) Of course, I could get no answers from him where he was, what he was doing, all lies. I finally convinced him to put the rifle down. I wasn't sure that is was in fact, loaded, but I wasn't willing to find out. That was the moment I realized that this man would eventually kill me, and bury me somewhere in a remote area. Then convince my family that I had simply run away. (short version here)
Later when we became legal guardians of T, I saw the same kind of 'personality' traits in this little boy as I did w/my former N fiance. My emotional state during that period, mirrored what I had previously endured, deep depression, hopelessness, anger, etc.
I have done much reading on RAD and NPD. Both seem very similar to me. If a "Rad-ult" doesn't get help early enough, and want to work on their issues, they grow up w/N or worse pathologies. I cannot believe how similar these two 'boys' were, and my response to their dysfunction.
Have you done much research on attachment issues, or adults w/RAD? Just wondering if you saw similar behaviors in the Bishop's children, in addtion to their FAS?
See this site, esp on adult attachment issues. adsg.syix.com
May God hold you in the palm of His hand today, Anna.
I'm sorry that I haven't done research into RAD. I'm not even sure if the Bishop's adopted kids were diagnosed with it. There were no diagnoses on any of them until just a couple years ago.
The eldest of the four who started the fire very likely had RAD though. She left the Bishop home a couple months after the fire and was taken in by another family and eventually adopted by them. I have no idea if she's been labeled RAD by now.
She demonstrated all the behaviors you described seeing in the boy you took in. I didn't know about NPD back then but I did know about sociopathy and she seemed a textbook case. That was when I found out that the professionals would not label a child as a sociopath until they reached at least age 18. Before then they put different labels on it. She was one scary little bitch. Seven years old at the time of the fire. There are many correlations between sociopathy and narcissism. Lines on a continuum.
The three younger children are all male and they do demonstrate some problematic behaviors. Especially the older of the three. Just last month Mrs. Bishop told me that he strikes her as the kind of kid that might someday try to kill her in her sleep! Oh. My. God. And she says that so calmly. Likely, he has RAD. At the very least.
Sorry that I'm not a resource on RAD. I do suspect that many of these children who demonstrate the overt and pervasive behaviors you describe are highly likely to turn into adults with serious pathologies. Psychopathy being a real possibility. The labels change as the child moves from childhood to adulthood...the behaviors remain the same. Which is one reason I don't put a lot of stock in the labels. It it walks and talks like a duck...I call it a duck.
Thank you very much Anna~
for your thoughts, and for the update on the B's children.
We also had fears that T would harm us in our sleep. The last straw came when he sexually acted out on a much younger female relative of ours. Older child vs younger,more vulnerable child=Power,his psych doc said.
It is heartbreaking that such terrible abuse and neglect caused by their primary caregiver during the first years of their lives created these conditions.
Mrs. B might be interested in doing some research on RAD if she has not done already.
Author Nancy Thomas,esp has some good ideas of parenting these children.
I never talked to my former N fiance about whether he had any major conflicts growing up. But you are so right, Anna. These pathologies continue into adulthood,regardless of the diag.
I am praying that the Bishops have a good support system, and respite care. I ended up w/PTSD from my 'parenting' experience. I became very hypervigilent, trying to keep us, our pets, and our home safe.
I keep reminding myself that we are all created in God's Image.
If you should talk to Mrs. B again, please let her know that she is in my prayers and thoughts. Also, if I can offer any on-line support for her, I would be very willing, w/utmost confidentiality.
Thank you again, Anna, for your invaluable ministry here!
I can relate completely. I got it from both parents. How many children spend their childhood trying to run away?
Your mother is exactly like mine. Unfortunately because of the economy she has once again obtained most control of my life. I suffer from severe depression and chronic insomnia and anxiety. I will walk away again, soon and will never return.
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