I was wondering Anna, if you could possibly discuss how you have moved on in respect to the effects of Narcissism. How do you find yourself relating to other people's bad behaviour, even if it isn't based in Narcissism?
I am only asking because four years on from leaving a religious group run by a narcissist, and fifteen months on from cutting off my mother and sisters, I seem to be battling more than ever with issues relating to dealing with other people.
I find I have absolutely no tolerance for BS from others, especially those professing to be christians, who then treat me with disrespect. Then, I feel guilty that I haven't given them a second chance. I have spent hours trying to explain that putting up with offensive behaviour from others isn't 'love', its passive-aggression (in a lot of cases). I just get these zombified looks, and I feel like a complete heel because I am not the 'nice' christian who just puts out, and keeps putting out like everyone else.
I am just wondering if like one poster, I am being haunted by the original evil, or whether this is just a by-product of adjusting to the 'real world'.
Any thoughts on recovery, and adjusting to 'normal' life after a narcissist would be appreciated.
I've had to ponder at length how to address your question. There are several reasons for my having difficulty knowing what to say or where to start. Likely this is because you asked a very broad question at the first, but then you did narrow your question somewhat so I will only attempt to answer the more narrowly focused aspect of your question. Actually, you asked multiple questions. So I've had to decide to try to answer what seems to be the main thrust of your concern.
One of the real challenges in trying to address your question is that interpersonal relationships are idiosyncratic. Without knowing your personality I'm not sure how you interact with others. Every person you deal with is different so each interaction has many potential outcomes depending on the chemistry of your personality with theirs. I hope you understand the limitations I have in adequately addressing the questions you've asked.
The only common ingredient in each of your interactions is you...so we'll just have to start there.
I'll focus on a couple things you said:
Then, I feel guilty that I haven't given them a second chance.
I just get these zombified looks, and I feel like a complete heel because I am not the 'nice' christian who just puts out, and keeps putting out like everyone else.
If you can be made to feel "like a complete heel" because of the looks of those you're talking to it leads me to think that you are not yet entirely secure in the positions you hold. Your residual guilt for not giving someone a second chance also gives me this impression. Or you may be too invested in gaining the good opinions of those you are talking to. Neither observation is a denigration of you. There is nothing wrong with wanting the good opinions of fellow Christians nor is there any fault for being made to feel insecure about one's opinions when those opinions aren't accepted by others. You can't be human and not experience these feelings, reactions, needs.
I don't think there is anything wrong with a zero tolerance policy toward B.S. I hope you don't try to change that. Perhaps you might need to change how you respond to that B.S. in order to move more smoothly through eel-infested waters.
You'll know when you are very settled and secure in the positions you hold when you can state them, let the chips fall where they may, and the negative reactions of others roll off of you. Until then you can decide on a more circumspect approach. There is no dishonor in being circumspect.
You asked how I deal with bad behavior that may or may not be narcissistic. Here's my general approach to others.
I reserve my opinions especially when dealing with acquaintances. (Most church relationships really don't move beyond the acquaintance stage.) I hold most of my opinions to myself until it is appropriate to the context of the conversation to express my opinion and only if there is some evidence of receptivity. This is why my relationships with my parents and sister are a complete non-factor with others. People don't need to know...I don't talk about it. I operate off the assumption that most people most of the time don't have the 'equipment' to understand the decisions I've made, so I don't talk about it. If it does come up with someone whose business it is not I only have to say, "I'd prefer not to talk about it." People will rarely challenge a statement like that. If they do, walk away! Because I don't need others approval for my decisions about my family I don't seek others opinions on it. I don't open myself up to their judgments which would be ill-informed judgments at the very best because they would lack about 20 truck loads of information. I don't have the time or interest to fill them in on what they'd need to know...and most times neither do they!
I am a very careful listener. I avoid talking about myself and try to steer conversations toward talking about the person I'm conversing with. This allows me space. I don't end up telling them too much about me before I know if they can be trusted. Most people are more than happy to talk about themselves, their interests, their opinions...so this tact often oils the gears of conversation without me having to spill my guts. This allows me to find areas of common thinking or to find out whether or not this person is someone to avoid in the future.
I can be happy to have a relationship with someone based on areas of common interest. We don't have to see eye to eye on everything. If we enjoy each others company in a specific context...that is good enough. All people don't have to be all things for me. People often have different friends with whom they do different things. One friend we may enjoy watching a particular genre of movies with. Another friend may enjoy certain types of books in common. Yet another friend may be a hiking or exercise buddy. It is important to recognize that it is okay to have compartmentalized friendships with people. We can enjoy a person for who they are and not expect them to be all things to us this way. This can reduce interpersonal friction and broaden our friendship base. Of course, if you have seen evidence that a person has some serious character issues then having a friendship on any basis would be ill-advised.
If I had to sum up how I interact with just about everyone I would say, "reserved, polite, cautious" at least until I get to know them well enough. But my problem in relating to you how I deal with other people is that this is how my personality is naturally bent. I don't know your personality. I don't know if my approach to others is something that could work for you. So maybe I should bring up what I see in the Gospels regarding Christ's approach because His example can be followed regardless of our particular personality.
He showed that he knew his listeners very well. He didn't share certain truths if he gauged that the people he was talking with were not going to be receptive. John 16:12, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." Or he shared truth in parables which the receptive would be able to understand and the unreceptive could ignore and carry on. Story form (parables) is a very effective teaching method. Stories stick in peoples minds longer. Attaching life lessons to the natural world or everyday life also helps evoke the lesson taught every time the natural process or object is observed. It is a way of teaching without getting in peoples faces. The lesson slips in along with the story imagery sometimes in spite of the listener's limitations of comprehension or receptivity. Parables were a more oblique way of teaching truth that Christ often used. It increased the chances that the less receptive would accept the truth presented. But because of its non-confrontational presentation it allowed the very unreceptive to dismiss the truth without feeling like they had to rise up and smack down the truth-teller. Some people are good at drawing analogies which in many ways resembles a parable. If you have that gift...use it.
When Christ was approached by the cagey scribes and Pharisees he didn't hand them his words freely. He held himself in reserve. He noted their ill intent and often would not answer them as they were trying to force him to. This was a very non-confrontational approach to people who were trying to force a confrontation.
He would confront open hypocrisy openly and without reservation and without apology for making the hypocrites squirm. He didn't confront hypocrisy because he hated the hypocrites. He did it because of his love for the people whose lives were being compromised by the hypocrites. He saw more clearly than anyone could how the hypocrites drove people away from God and imperiled their salvation. Christ hates anything that destroys people. So should we. Open hypocrisy and lies need to be openly confronted.
Otherwise, Christ was not confrontational. The people who sought him out were the ones he shared truth with. He used the imagery of standing at the door and knocking. He isn't pushy. He waits for the invitation. So should we. He looked for openings, for signs of receptiveness. It is a good lesson in how to relate to others.
You asked: How do you find yourself relating to other people's bad behaviour, even if it isn't based in Narcissism?
I'm like vapor. I deal with the moment with as little friction as I can and then I vanish. There's a lot to be said for making yourself scarce when certain people come around. Christ did it too. He would simply slip into the crowd and disappear when the malevolence of the leaders would start to transform into murderous intent. It is just the implementation of 'no contact'. I practice that with my parents and sister. I practice that with the badly behaved. Play it cool...and escape when it is possible to do so. This is how I implement my 'no tolerance' policy for B.S.
When I'm dealing with a B.S.er I know I'm not dealing with someone who wants a reality check...so I don't waste my breath on them. I don't feel the need to persuade them, cajole them, reform them. Nothing. I feel the need to get away and I follow through on it. I don't want to risk unnecessary injury to myself so I avoid confrontation when possible. If confrontation becomes necessary I'm certainly up to the challenge...but most times it is not only unnecessary it would be unproductive. For most situations, less is more.
As I've already mentioned, Christ spoke in parables to the multitudes; he spoke directly and in unveiled language to those who loved him and shared a close bond with him. That is really a wise approach to use. Most are not ready to hear all that you know about evil people (i.e. narcissism). You need to learn to be okay with that. Keep you ears and eyes open for the people who may need and want to hear what you know. No 'pearls before swine'. Save your best and most hard-earned good sense for those who are honest in heart and who demonstrate they themselves possess common sense.
Before I close this I want to go back to your comment about feeling guilty about not giving someone a 'second chance'. I want to point out the inherent premise of the 'second chance' idea that you may not see.
Why are you obligated to give someone access to you and your life simply for the asking?
Inherent in your sense of obligation to give someone you distrust or dislike a 'second chance' is that you believe they are entitled to be in your life simply for the asking. Here's my thought. No one is entitled to have a relationship with me. I get to choose who I let in. I don't have to justify my choices to anyone. They don't get an automatic pass into my life simply because of what church they belong to or simply because they are in any particular proximity to me. You have the right to determine on what basis people can have a relationship with you. YOU GET TO CHOOSE and you don't have to justify your choice to them or anyone. If you get the sense that someone is a B.S.er you have the complete right to decide they won't get a second chance to B.S. you.
Our lives are finite. This means our time, energy, resources, etc. are all finite. This means we must make careful decisions on how to spend ourselves. If you don't have the time, interest or energy to invest in B.S.ers then where is the fault in that? You have a husband and children who deserve your first and best self. If you start granting access to draining, unkind, selfish, or otherwise bent people you're going to have a lot less to give to those whom you are obligated to serve...i.e. your nearest and dearest. No one is entitled to a second chance. You get to decide whether or not to grant a second chance on a case by case basis.
If you are forced to associate (like going to church) with someone you've decided to not have a friendship with...just be polite when you have to interact and then disengage quickly. I can smile and greet people whom I don't want to spend any particular length of time with. It is even easier to be polite if I managed to disengage from them without any overt confrontation in the past. My method of easing out of a situation and then making myself scarce helps with any future contact I may have to have with the person. They don't concretely know my thoughts about them; they don't really know why I'm not around them much. So future contacts are just superficial, polite and brief without having to walk around big baggage like some direct argument or confrontation.
You wondered if you are being haunted by the original evil or just learning to adjust to the 'normal' world. I would imagine the answer is yes and yes. My experience has taught me that anchoring myself in solid truth (reality) has enabled me to overcome many of the effects of "the original evil". Evil is an absence of truth. Evil is a form of nothingness; evil is an absence of being. This is why you always find evil existing parasitically. It must leach life and form from attaching to something real and substantive. Truth is life. Lies are deadly. Evil traffics in lies hence evil kills. And because evil exists as a parasite there are always some truths amongst the lies. You have to learn to sort it out. If you can unlearn the lies and base your thinking and, by extension, your life on truth then you will overcome "the original evil". Remember that evil attaches itself to good. If you are a good person you will have to deal with evil trying to attach to you from time to time. Guard your goodness from such who would try to use it to cloak their evil.
There are many who claim there is no universal truth and therefore would find my paragraph immediately above to be laughable. Obviously, I don't subscribe to post-modernist views of truth being whatever you make it to be. My near to half a century of life has given me much time for observation. The verdict is in: the less a person believes in an objective moral structure the more unbalanced their minds are. Yeah, I said it. The more unhinged they are from reality and the more likely they are to veer off into some really scary places.
Remember, reality is synonymous with truth. I make no apology for believing in objective truth because, in the end, truth (reality) always wins.
"This above all to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not be false to any man."
Shakespeare's - Hamlet
And I would add, "Nor can any man be false to you."
Words to live by.
Just when I am feeling "shaky" about going nc with my other & others in my family, you hit the nail on the head. I just re-hashed story after story with a dear friend, who re-assures me that I am ok, and yes, they are horrible & evil. I do feel guilt from time-to-time about going nc (only when I have too much time on my hands-thanks to Columbus Day!), but instead of having to shell out $ for a therapist, I log on for a dose of REALITY.
Thanks Anna, you have no idea what you do for me. I feel like you're inside my head sometimes. You have such a gift.
Anna, this is highly profound. I really need to work on myself. I am waaaay too prone to babble too much out of nervousness and end up with too much info "out there." I'm also waaaay too conditioned to try to make other people like me and be too concerned about their opinions.
I need to reread your post several times, I think.
Thank you SO MUCH for writing it.
After nine blissful no-contact months, I found myself manipulated into acting as temporay caregiver again. Gawd, the stress of being pleasant without being self-revelatory! She has a technique (and I'd be interested to hear if others experience this) of launching what appears to be a concerned inquiry into life situations of mutual acquaintances/family members. I've gotten pretty deft at deflecting these with generalities and quickly changing the subject. I have to admit, though, that I allow myself to speculate as to what her ultimate purpose is. I THINK she uses whatever she gleans to suggest to others that my opinion of individuals is other than it is -- that I am spreading unfavorable information. But I'm not quite sure. She likes to collect information about other people and she likes to give the impression she knows something you don't know -- that you ought to know, but she isn't telling. The result is mistrust among family members.
i needed this soo much, anna.
i've still got some work to do on me. i thought cutting contact would be the hardest, but i find it even harder to not let the negative backdraft affect me. it hurts almost as much.
like i said in my most recent letter to you, whoever came up with the saying "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me" must have been a narcissist, because words do hurt. they have enough power in them to kill. especially peoples' spirit.
thank you for the time and energy put into all that you've done for me and everyone here.
thank you, thank you, thank you,
Anna, the nf`s that I had felt like it was there responsiblity to tell me and others what was wrong with them.Like somehow, God appointed them to be His Holy Spirit. I think that there is a difference telling somebody something when it is harming them or their family vs somebody trying to be the Holy Spirit and being critical to a person. These type of people use scripture to justify themselves. Anna, how do you see this and what scripture can I use to back myself up in this kind of instance.
anonymous @ 10:15
I am very familiar with what you're describing. Please read these two blog posts and see if they answer most of your questions:
Anna, I typed in this address and I couldn`t get to it.
Try copy and paste. I double checked the links and they are correct. Otherwise you can go to the archives for December of '07 for the 17th and 20th of the month. "Voice of God or the Devil" and "Voice of God or the Devil -- An Expose".
Thank you for posting this. I find myself meeting quite a few B.S.ers lately. I wonder if its something wrong with me, and then I realize that its just that I am randomly meeting these people. But I am able to spot their B.S. and a few times, called them on it. One told me my ex husband messed up my head. I simply told her my B.S. meter is just finely tuned.
Since leaving my ex husband two years ago, I have run into about 5 evil people. I no longer interact with either of them. They do not deserve a second chance. I don't HAVE to give them a second chance. They can be mad at me all they want. Its MY life and I decide who comes in.
I also found that my intuition is about 99.99% accurate. Each and every time, my feelings have been right. If you feel something isn't right, it isn't right.
Like Judge Judy says, "If it doesn't make sense, it isn't true."
To the person who posed the original question in this post:
Unfortunately, Ns (family & non-family) create a lot of trauma bonding problems. Though you may have broken free, there's some things left behind. A good graphic to help explain:
It takes quite a while (if ever) before you get what I call, your "B.S. Meter" working again properly. And because you have this trauma in your past, you may still attract these people to you.
It takes time... a LOT of time and for me, about 15 years of therapy. Heck I didn't know what a boundary was for many years (thanks Mom... not)
I have learned to say NO to people and NOT CARE WHAT THEY THOUGHT OF ME. This was big. Really big.
Thank you, Anna, for another insightful and itelligent post. It's packed with good and important advice.
No matter who they are, we should make great efforts to avoid having toxic people contaminate our lives.
I was married to a MN woman for many years. As a result from this experience and all the reading and thinking I have had a chance to do since I left her, my tolerance for BS is very little. This is good as it helps me steer clear of people who will only make me feel bad.
Unfortunately, I have to maintain a certain relationship with my ex-wife. I try to use my intellect to ignore all her crap, but it's not easy. I have to cooperate with her in the best interest of the kids. By doing that I find that I make myself vulnerable to her manipulations.
I don't see any other way other than to just keep trying to deal with her from day to day, being aware of her predominantly ill intentions. It's not an ideal situation, because she is still capable of making me feel bad. Conflicts are unaviodable and in her view they are always my fault. Usually this is another example of her BS, but sometimes I find that my scepticism towards her has been a contributor. This is difficult for many reasons, and particularly because the kids are often affected - as a result of her personality and her behavior.
I have to deal with her and I don't see any other way of doing it. Even though it's not ideal, it's a million times better than living with her (for both me and the kids).
This is a very helpful insightful post. However, using Christ as an example to make certain points seems counterproductive. The very nature of Christ is full of an extremely profound narcissism. One might even go so far as to say masochists vulnerable to N's might very well form their earliest symptoms of illness during their religious indoctrinations. This being said, I think religion generally tends to make good people vulnerable to narcissistic personalities and predators.
Religion can easily blind people to the characteristics of a manipulative N who hides behind a pulpit, white rob, cross, etc. It breeds those easily susceptible to exploitation by these N personalities. I formed a foundation for future vulnerability problems by attending Catholic sermons, confession booths and Sunday school.
I don't see how using Christ as an example in relating to explaining how to deal with N's is helpful. Imagine the kind of ego that came from Jesus Christ, and everyone must worship his God and his claim he was to suffer for our sins? It sounds like a the ultimate malignant narcissist of all time.
Further, men altered the Scriptures and there were translation issues throughout history. I don't think the Bible is the best way to address the issue of dealing with the bad behavior of narcissists. Please consider there are a great number of people who don't believe in the what we view as distortions, myths and outright lies perpetrated throughout the scriptures. Con artists and N's use the freshly tilled ground from religious indoctrination to harvest their flock to serve their interests.
You don't understand malignant narcissism nor Christianity if you can interpret Christ to be a malignant narcissist.
Please consider there are a great number of people who don't believe in the what we view as distortions, myths and outright lies perpetrated throughout the scriptures.
Please consider that many people do believe in the Scriptures. I don't have to address every issue from an atheist's or secularist's perspective to be helpful. I do agree that there are real distortions in the presentation of certain Biblical truths in Catholicism. If you base your idea of what the Bible teaches, and Christianity itself, on Catholic teaching I can understand your cynicism.
By the way, I was specifically addressing a question in this post that was posed by a Christian. Which was why I used the example of Scripture and Christ Himself to help make some points. Obviously, I knew I was speaking directly to Christians in answering this person's question. I have addressed the problems of narcissists who use religion to persecute and enslave people. I think you have to be pretty inconsistent in your logic to believe that because narcissists can misuse religion that means religion is at fault. Because we also know that narcissists are attracted to all types of professions and roles which give them similar power over others. We don't advocate doing away with medicine, education, or motherhood itself simply because narcissists often use and abuse these positions of authority.
I definitely noticed a change in how I relate to people in general after I finally made a break with my nMom and, after 45 years, finally said all those things that I had wanted to say to her. How I had spent my whole life telling her what she wanted to hear, constantly in fear of making her "ill" by disappointing her or disagreeing with her, putting up with all her lady of the manor bullshit. Putting up with her criticizing everything in my life, while forbidding any response. Her favorite story is about when I was a child. She said that when I cried, she got me to stop crying by pretending she was sick or hurt, and then I was apparently so concerned for her, I would forget about whatever I'd been upset about. What a nasty, selfish woman.
Anyway, what I noticed, after the fact, is that I ended up divesting myself of two other 'friends' that I had never really liked anyway. I think that after conquering the peak that was my self-absorbed monolithic mother, I suddenly wondered why I was putting up with crap from other areas of my life.
This one woman, I didn't even like her when we were kids. I don't like her now that we are adults. She is a first grade teacher in a challenged school district who regularly emails her "list" with the latest in 'laffaloud' names of her students every year ("Freedom" "Fantasia" are some from past years) as well as the illiterate notes she receives from their parents.
She sends me blonde, Catholic and Polish jokes, and I am blonde, Catholic and Polish.
I haven't told her off, but I finally had enough when she started in with the hilarious emails making fun of the candidates she is NOT voting for this November. Never asked me who I am voting for. Would not occur to her.
I started deleting her emails 2 months ago. Just because we have family in common and will have to run into each other in the future, once a month I have sent an email saying I'm sorry I haven't had a chance to respond, I am ridiculously busy. Then delete, delete, delete.
I have realized that I can reach the point where I just have no more piece of myself available for the selfish morons of the world.
Thanks, Anna ... your blog has ended up freeing up a lot of my time to do things that are worthwhile.
I've been reading your blog for a long time and I REALLY missed you while you were away. I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate your blog so much because you reveal the layers of narcissistic families / people that you just don't see from the outside looking in.
That aside, a comment for this post.
Before I knew what narcissim was, I kept hoping that if I said the right thing, if I did the right thing, if I just (insert here) enough, things would be better. In short that if I found the right card, then we would be like other families, talking, laughing, actually bonding, you know.
And then came the n friend and the desparate search for answers and this blog helped to really explain it.
The thing is that by the time you have found this blog or other resources like it, you've cried uncle. it may take a little while or a long while but you are on your way to leaving the situation.
Personally I came to understand that NOTHING I did could change who my mother was and nothing can stop the process of detachment. Not apologies, not full disclosure not good behavior, nothing. Its too little too late.
Before you know there is the hope to keep you going, and now that you know...you know that there is nothing to look forward to and that if anything, things will probably get a whole lot worse. And, being a feeling albeit damaged human being, you opt out.
That was my epiphany after reading this post. I kept trying with my mother. Hmmm what could I say that wouldn't trigger a tirade? What could I give her that would make her treat me as well as she treated my sister? Nothing. Nada, zip zilch zero. Absolutely nothing. It hurt for a while and then accepting the truth freed me. i never realized it but it was like an extra layer of pressure on me. Its hard to explain, but I feel relieved, like I can rest easier now. Its like seeing the crazy person on the subway platform, they may be ranting and raving, and it may be painful to hear but you don't think about it afterwards except perhaps in general terms of the health care system doesn't work etc because you know that their ranting has nothing to do with you.
Anna, I'm fairly new to your blog. Thanks for your opinions and insights. I have an Ndad, and reading your blog and those similar to it have really helped me gain new insight.
Great post Anna!
Isn't it amazing we feel beholden to people for no other eason than they are demanding something from us...
And to think we feel guilt for not providing the rude/evil/ bad tempered second chances, while given a chance the second-chancers will violate us again without a thought.
Not to mention the times we forgive without even being asked, GUILTY!
I stopped that and it's amazing the dumfounded looks I have gotten when I explain I can't"forgive" those who haven't even asked or repented.
The article about bullies is wonderfully informative, but a few reasons for bullying are left out. One is envy of beauty, one is envy of talent, and one is that the narcisstic mother uses the sibling to abuse the other sibling.
I know how it feels to deal with a N-ex. I'm still in the process of my divorce and so I have to "play nice" till the divorce is final b\c he's trying to get full custody of our daughter. (translated-he doesn't want to pay child support.) My lawyer told me to go back to "our" church that we attended together for 7 years, so it would look good in regards to custody. So not only do I have to deal with him in regards to our daughter, but I have to attend "our" church where everyone knows us and knows we are getting a divorce. As usual he is nice as pie at church and turns cold as a fish when away from the church. He absolutely makes me SICK! And so many people at the church say what a wonderful man he is. It is soooo hard to not talk about him to these people. I feel so cornered. Am I gossiping if I tell people my situation, since he goes there, or am I just confiding in people? It is such craziness.
Lately I have started emailing him as my way of communication, for 2 reasons. 1)to have things in writing, just in case. 2) so I don't have to talk to him and let him try to give me guilt trips and play mind games.
I email him and then he calls me, to say what he wants to say, I just email him again, repeating what he said to me and what I think or feel, so that is in writing too.
I will be so glad when the divorce is over and I don't have to play the "nice game" and the "what's going to happen" fears and everything is in black and white!
I have learned and grown immensely from reading this post Anna. I also feel much relief to know it's ok to pick and choose who can be in my life. It's sad to say it is such a revelation. I always have been such a people pleaser. Thank you Anna, you DO HAVE A GIFT!
Love the blog, Anna.
In my personal opinion, the best test is how someone reacts to correction. If you need/want to work with this person, call them on the B.S. A decent person may be defensive initially but will at least listen to you. An unhealthy one will accuse you of being "hateful," "unforgiving," or some such.
Thank you for posting this, Anna. Such great 'common sense' approach! I can hardly believe how confused I was all these years.....and it still just baffles the hell out of me how 'simple' it is.
I DO find I am rather 'boring' these days. I don't put out much, don't offer much, and don't take much either. (Unless I know them very well...) I didn't realize how 'vulnerable' I left myself by being 'open'. (Did I really think that was an attribute? Geez.)
Anyway....thank you so much.
Thankyou for taking the time to answer the question so thoroughly.
Just to comment on your question about giving people a second chance... I guess I just need to know I can be wrong too. After having been around people for so long who never question their own fallibility, I don't want to fall into the same trap, so sometimes I question my own judgement...and think they may be just having a bad day, instead of being bad people.
For some reason my computer didn't pick up this post when you posted it, and I kept going to the second to last one...so my reply has been delayed.
It is okay to make mistakes in judgment about people. It happens. We have incomplete information most of the time. You can always decide to rescind your own decision about not having someone around if you later get enough information to believe that person is not a "bad person". (This is even more do-able if you didn't end things with a confrontation but with quiet withdrawal.) That is different than feeling obligated to give someone a second chance before you have any proof to believe that person is not bad but was simply having a bad day. I just wanted to be clear that no one is entitled for a second chance just because they live and breath. People need to prove they can be trusted. You are not obligated to operate off the assumption that all people are trustworthy until proven otherwise. It should be the other way around.
What is the worst that can happen if you mistakenly distance yourself from someone who was having a "bad day" and isn't themselves a malignant personality? Life goes on. People adjust. Most people, especially the decent sort, are going to cope just fine with whatever you decision you've made. If they can't be in your life what actual harm has been done?
It is good to be able to question your own judgment, but at some point you have to be willing to commit to your own judgment. I know that for myself having been raised by a MN I was constantly questioning myself. This was cultivated by the narcissists in my life. My mind would cast about for the fault by looking at me and only me. This allowed the real trouble makers to get away with just about anything they wanted to. I still am willing to question my own judgment when more solid information comes in to prove the necessity for me to reassess. Until then I am now willing to commit to what I believe in. I am much more secure in my own ability to discern things and am less prone to question my own judgment in such a way that the constant questioning of myself makes me vacillating and weak and therefore ripe for the picking by some narcissist. There is definitely a balance somewhere in there that has to be struck. I think, though, that you (like myself when I was younger) tend to err on the side of questioning yourself rather than being able to be willing to commit to your own discernment. I guess one has to learn to be okay with the idea of perhaps being wrong. If you know you are willing to change your mind when facts prove to you that you've made a misjudgment then you can more easily let yourself judge on the information you have today.
As far as I'm concerned if someone is having a bad day and takes it out on me I would not feel like I was misjudging because I don't want them around me. When they get more familiar and comfortable around me it is even more likely they'll take their bad days out on me...not less likely. People tend to behave better when they don't know you well rather than the other way around. So if someone decides to take a shit on me I am more than willing to commit to the judgment that I don't want them in my life. That judgment is actually based more on me than on them. It is based on what I know about myself, what I'm willing to put up with in others, what I think I can rightfully expect from others in terms of their behavior. Based on what I know about me, as well as my personal commitments to family and the need to keep my personal space free from people who lack self control and decency I am willing to judge the situation. Know yourself and being willing to commit to your judgment about your own life and needs. Then it won't be so much about you judging them as you making decisions about your own life. Which you're entitled to do.
Don't know if this clarifies or mucks it up...I'll throw it out there just in case it speaks to your comment.
Thanks for this post about dealing with the aftermath and collateral damage of N training. The questioner you answered in your post is very easy to relate to. There is really a big 'in between state' for me too. Despite grasping the big picture, and taking many positive actions, it still remains for me to seemingly continuously work to wipe out all sorts of leftover habits and reflexes the N trained into me. It is one thing to get good at identifying N behavior, but I often feel like I have to still learn so much about what really constitutes healthy behavior and expectations in myself and how I assess others. The good thing is that in retrospect I find my intuition is usually very correct, which is great as long as I continuously learn to really ditch the N training that gets in the way and steers me wrong [like suddenly feeling guilty about not liking someone etc].
While I am far from the flashing neon "N bait" I used to be, I still have enough throwback habits that I suspect N's can see me like a swing state - someone they may be able to win over but not so sure. So I feel like I still get 'tested' by N's, while they may intuitively just steer clear of others. I am good at spotting N's now and making sure I do exactly what it takes to fail their 'tests' with flying colors, so that is less of an issue, but still, it is energy consuming.
A 'leftover' for me has been being extremely self conscious and automatically worrying about small or inconsequential act threatening a relationship or friendship. I am learning more and more that most people don't care about the little things that N's taught me to focus on, and really do tend to judge others according to more intrinsic factors like overall character and compatibility and shared interests. One of my first post-N dates involved me totally sweating over what to order on a menu - I could NOT focus on what I was actually hungry for, only on how it could be 'interpreted' to possibly define me as defective or flawed! To think that was normal life with an N... ughhhh!!!
Thanks again for the great points about taking a firm but moderate path and committing to belief in one's intuition - yet remaining flexible if need be.
A 'leftover' for me has been being extremely self conscious and automatically worrying about small or inconsequential act threatening a relationship or friendship. I am learning more and more that most people don't care about the little things that N's taught me to focus on, and really do tend to judge others according to more intrinsic factors like overall character and compatibility and shared interests.
Thank you for your comment. It was excellent. I will focus on what you said above for moment because you succinctly stated a truth that is important for others to hear.
You are exactly right about this. People who aren't character-disordered are focused on substance over form. It is the character-disordered who put weight on the superficial and ignore the substantive things like integrity and overall decency. Good people will not toss your friendship because you forget to bring the chips and dip. They won't shun you because you aren't dressed "right". They won't attack you for not figuring out the right thing to do or say at a particular moment. It is important that we all be willing to realize that someone is not truly a friend if they freak out over something trivial and/or superficial. We need to be willing to admit that behavior is always a 'red flag'. Even when it happens in someone we thought was a friend.
People who aren't character-disordered are extremely easy to get along with! Amazingly easy. Once you get comfortable being with people who won't rip your head off for having the wrong look on your face at any particular moment then there is no going back. There is so much joy and happiness in being around people who genuinely like you just as you are and don't feel like they have to change you.
overall character and compatibility and shared interests
Great summation of the basis that decent people use to determine who their friends are. Without those qualities what IS the point of keeping them around? None that I can see. I don't care about gender, socio-economic status, style, weight, height, hair color, beauty or lack thereof, etc. What I care about are the qualities you listed. What kind of character do you have? Do we share common values and interests? These are the important questions. I feel no sense of internal condemnation for excluding people whom I don't believe are a fit with me. They can be exactly who they are. I have no interest in changing them. They can be who they are somewhere else other than in my life. There is nothing wrong with that.
Thanks again Anna, your comment has clarified things a great deal.
I am reading at the moment about shame and how it can affect your personality and attitudes to life. It explains alot of my struggle to commit to backing my own judgement... why bother when my opinion isn't worth much etc...
Also just saw the movie of Jane Austen's 'Persuasion' - a very interesting story about a young woman in a family of narcissists who finally learns to defend her own beliefs and her heart. She gets her reward in the end though!
Here's a quote from a web article on toxic shame which I thought related to this..
"Scott Peck describes both neuroses and character disorders as disorders of responsibility, Peck writes;
"The neurotic assumes too much responsibility; the person with a character disorder not enough. When neurotics are in conflict with the world, they automatically assume that they are at fault. When those with character disorders are in conflict with the world, they automatically assume the world is at fault."
From his book--"The Road Less Traveled"
quote taken from www.soulselfhelp.on.ca/tshame.html
Evidently neuroses are quite common in victims of Narcissists.
I can relate to that!
But I have a situation that I would like all of your wise council on:
I recently went NC. NM told my in laws I was crazy (thought I might have joined a cult?). Anyways, I don't THINK pshyco parents have my new address ( just moved but not b/c of this ) but its possible and they know where I work. They are coming to the town I live in for something else but I am concerned that they will try to come "save me" (comical). How should I prepare for this and have any of you had to go the restaining order route? If so how did you get one? I just want to be prepared for what MIGHT happen.
Any input or advice is very much appreciated!
My experience of surviving (barely) life with an N has left me with my Nar-dar on high alert. Were there always so many nasty people in the world?
You have offered excellent protective strategies, Anna.
Thank you for this blog! I have been reading about narcissism for several months. I was closely involved with a volunteer group for several years, but just recently quit due to the chaos, confusion, and division in the group, caused mainly by the group leader and most forceful personality. I got involved because there was a need and I had the most time and background to handle the business end of the group's activities, but I was also outspoken when I didn't agree with the direction things were taking. The stress became too much and I had to leave. We consider ourselves Christians, so it is a difficult thing to understand. The 'devil' is blamed for hurting our 'unity'. It is up to me to try and get along, even though some of her activities border on law-breaking. The rest are mostly silent as far as I can tell.
I'm angry, and now I'm beginning to understand why. Just because we are Christian doesn't mean we have to allow just anyone into our lives, no matter how 'needy' they appear to be. Thanks again for your blog!
I'm not laughing. That was some serious, beyond insightful, strengthening knowledge you shared.
As I said before on another thread that when I introduced myself to your blog, I felt instantly vidicated. Right on the spot. I said.."YES! This super smart woman has so much to offer from her extensive experience with PDIs and her dedicated faith in Christ, the Lord"
Thanks oodles again and again for continuing this sensational website.
Your fan, Kimberley....
Peace, love and joy for all...:)
I keep re-reading this post and all the comments....and it is pretty amazing. Thank you for all of what you have shared.
One of the things I noticed that I had been doing this past year is to feel the freedom to make a mistake in 'judgement' and opposed to always 'erroring on the side of grace or mercy'. (I realize now how falsely and loosely that has been used in favour of the Ns all my life.) As you said, Anna...one can always re-evaluate and change one's view and dealings with a person. I figured at this point in my life, I KNOW I am one who 'self-corrects' on a regular basis once I know I am wrong about something.
Another thing I have noticed during this past year of NC....and learning more about Ns and their behaviours.....and MY own behaviours in relationships, is that as I (underline that!) have all but ceased to compound my issues. I didn't realize how 'crowded' I was inside with all the confusion that having no boundaries allowed. It seems that life gets simpler....with far fewer mood swings and ensuing depressions. Even with some 'normal' nasty life problems, it just seems easier. The 'recovery' time and decision making is based on principals and practicalities as opposed to...well? Gawd knows what I based my life on! Whatever it was, was NO BUENO!
So...thank you all....and especially you, Anna...for this life-giving source of experience, wisdom, and blessing!
"I am good at spotting N's now and making sure I do exactly what it takes to fail their 'tests' with flying colors, so that is less of an issue, but still, it is energy consuming."
Could Anonymous or Anna elaborate on this? What does it take to fail their tests with flying colors? I am afraid I still "pass" most of the time and I want to learn how to be different and less of a target.
Check out Kathy's blog post titled, "Vaccine for Narcissism" here:
She talks at length on how to fail the narcissist's tests. :o)
"I am good at spotting N's now and making sure I do exactly what it takes to fail their 'tests' with flying colors, so that is less of an issue, but still, it is energy consuming."
Hi Renewed - I was the "anon" who wrote that - and I'll be glad to elaborate in case it is at all helpful.
Once I know someone is an N, one of the main things I do is make sure I do not respond to things that are obviously "cues" for me to behave in specific ways [ie: complimenting, soothing, supporting, or offering of services/favors or any kind of special treatment]. I simply 'play dumb' to ALL hints or cues, say nothing, or make a very minimal neutral statement that does not provide NS. That part is easy, and it can almost be funny to hear them repeat themselves as if saying the same thing twice or three times will get anything more than a blank response from me. The other way I feel tested would be when a N is probing for my weaknesses. This is much more difficult for me, and the part I would consider really energy consuming. That would be when an N is purposely trying to arouse a negative feeling in me: guilt, shame, inadequacy, confusion, fear, panic, etc - in a contrived way in order to manipulate me into providing requested NS or simply to get NS by making me squirm. If they see they can "get" to me via flooding me with negative emotions, then I "lose" the test. If they see I can withstand being thought ill of or maligned or emotionally threatened [shunned etc], and hold my ground, then I "win". However, therein lies the rub. For people raised by N's, those are really hard emotions to "hold your ground" on while someone is pushing them on you. I feel like if an N feels confident that they have a few reliable buttons they can press on me, they will be attracted and hang around. Another "test" is to see if they can hook my hopes with big promises and suggestions or flattery or just simply kindness. Same set-up as the negative emotions, and same especial difficulty for ACON's.
Unlike encounters with normal humans, I feel like it is a game of "capture the flag" and the flag is who is in charge of my emotions, me or an N. These may sound weird, but I have some very simple tricks that have worked to an extent for me: If in person, I will repeat something in my head over and over [she is an N, she is an N etc] while they talk, or basically do anything [like hold my fingers where I can see them in an N shape] to continually remind me who I am dealing with and help keep me objective and in my truth vs "caught up" in their idiotic but effective quicksand. Even just consciously holding something in my pocket can help. For phone, I have a paper and I put a big "N" on it, and then during the conversation I take notes such as: grandiose claim, guilt attempt, one-upmanship etc. While I of course try to avoid contact with N's, the phone thing can actually be kind of funny. Kind of like "N bingo". I mention these things merely as devices I use to keep ME grounded and able to withhold from them the responses they want.
I feel that the N's main game is to mimic being a sincere participant in a conversation or exchange while pushng our buttons. These tricks just help me remember that no matter what they do, they are NEVER being a sincere participant. They remind me NOT to act like I normally would with a normal person [like express concern for a problem or respond warmly to kindness]. It helps me to remain objective enough to have the wherewithal to "fail" their tests: not giving special treatment on cue, not being able to be upset by them, and not being easy to hook with hope or kindness, and not to care what their version of reality is.
When I had had enough and went no contact with a long time N-friend, I really felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me. I began to constantly question myself, my judgement of other people in my life. If someone who I considered a really good friend could orchestrate the damage he did to me, was I that naive/stupid/blind?
Six months ago, my mother was very ill with cancer. I called an old friend who lives on the other side of the country, to tell her that we had just found out that she was terminal. I was heartbroken. My mom took an unexpected turn for the worse two weeks later and died. Between making funeral arrangements, cleaning out her house, putting it on the market, taking care of my own family, and my grief, I realized that that I hadn't called S. When I phoned to tell her the news, she said that she figured as much since she hadn't heard from me in so long.
My first thought was, I should have called her sooner. That thought was quickly replaced by the fact that she knew that my mother was dying and it never occurred to her to pick up the phone. I was her cheerleader when she decided to change careers, and her rock when she got divorced. I'm no longer interested in continuing our friendship, since it is so one sided, and instead shifted my focus on the good people in my life. Five years ago, the old me would have blamed myself and sucked it up. No more.
Yes, that is one of Kathy's great posts, but I think one needs savvy too in terms of knowing what to look for and how to "make yourself scarce".
Oh, and one more thing, I also meant the "Gambler philosophy". Know when to hold them, know when to fold them, and know when to walk away. Something like that.
Anon, that is a good description of how to identify and deal with Ns. As I was reading it though, I began to wonder if sometimes I do the same things - seeking sympathy, attention, etc.. But I think there is a time where we do correctly offer empathy and sympathy - the trick is to know when to withhold.
My MIL, I have discovered through reading, is an N. When my mother died after a long illness, my MIL called after two weeks and said she 'guessed she wasn't good enough to get a thank you card', since my sister had gotten some of her thank you cards out to her friends ahead of me and MIL found out. It has been hard to forget that, even though I try to forgive her for what she is.
I've found that I do the 'staring numbly' kind of thing so as not to say what I really think.. it's a self-protective thing that has developed over nearly 40 years, because revealing too much has never been a good thing. It always comes back in some way, and usually twisted around to reflect negatively. After many tears, anger, and trying to get along, I gave up trying and just deal with it this way.
I'll call myself Anon2 :-)
Thank you, Anna and Anonymous, for clarifying more about failing the N's tests. Both articles were enlightening.
Years ago,a few days before my wedding, my mother came to my home to visit. She lives across the country. She was wandering around my room poking at things as she always does and looked at two rings on my dresser. The first was a gold ring with garnets that she handed down to me at my grade nine graduation. The second was a diamond ring that had belonged to my Great Aunt that my aunt (her sister) had given to me after my grandmother died and which I wore for eight years.
My mother looked at the garnet and said “oh, I see you’ve still got my ring. It’s still mine.” I told her no, that it had been her gift and I’d worn it for eleven years. “no, no, it’s a loan…I see you have Aunt Joan’s ring, too. I tell you what you can continue to wear my ring if you let me wear Auntie’s ring, which is too big for you anyway. Besides, I’m divorced and can’t wear my diamond and you’re just getting married and have a new one…” Anyway, she popped my diamond on her hand and walked away. I asked her for my ring back many times over the years. I told each of my sisters in law when they joined the family never to accept the ring as it was mine.
Two years ago my mother left a Leica camera from 1922 in our house. She asked my husband to get it appraised so she could sell it.
Segue to 2008. I went to visit my Aunt and my cousin overseas (who had just been married). As I flitted through her wedding album I caught a glimpse of my diamond ring on her finger. My cousin was thrilled and talked at length of the grand gesture my mother made on her wedding day giving her this family heirloom and what an honor it was – ignorant of the fact that it had belonged to me and that her own mother had given it to me. When my cousin left, I started bawling. I asked my Aunt how such a thing could happen. Of course, my Aunt thought I had not wanted her gift (and was terribly hurt) and that I had given it away. Additionally, I discovered that the Leica camera was my Aunt’s gift to my brother, 25 years ago and he never got it – something I could fix. To this day, I am grateful I broke down and talked to my Aunt as she learned the truth about the ring and could understand it had been taken from me.
My response was to send the garnet ring back to my mother in the mail with a note that said “while this cannot be fixed without ruining my cousin’s wedding day; you need to understand that your actions were not ok. Further, this garnet ring is tainted with the con played all those years ago. For years I owned two rings and in five minutes you appropriated one and kept ownership over the other. Take this back, I cannot wear it.”
The following is the email trail that followed with some references to a call to my aunt (who handled things magnificently):
“You have made a mistake here, I am afraid. Your Uncle gave me that ring, after I gave him my Daddy's wedding ring and he lost it. The ring never was yours and I never gave it to you and your Aunt didn't give it to you. I
discussed giving the ring your cousin before I did it.
Their recollection and mine are identical -- we talked about it at the time.
So I am sorry you think you have been slighted. I am also pretty pissed off that you thought I could do such a thing to you. I am moreover, hurt that
you have returned the ring I gave you, which was precious to me, like this.
At the very least, you ought to have called and talked to me. Then we could have sorted this out properly.
I will call on Sunday. I think you owe me an apology. If you wish, as a gesture of love, I will give you one of my other rings, or give you back the Jersey ring.”
I didn’t reply - but she sent a second email:
“A gift is something freely given, with affection, love or well-wishing. Had you given the ring to me, I would have been free to do with it as I wished and saw fit -- in giving, you give up ownership.
So with the ring. Had you given it to me, you had no business being hurt or offended by anything I might do with it, let alone something that was a loving gesture, returning a family ring to a family member on her wedding day. More generously, you might have been touched and pleased that something special had been done with it. But either way, it is not something over which you
would have had any say any more, having no ownership. And it is offensive to suggest that I would deliberately not appreciate you and would willingly slight you or any gift from you. You have had a lifetime of my caring, love
and concern for you. Remember that, instead of getting upset by imaginary slights. You know me better than to think I would dismiss you as you suggest I have done.
Now to your response. Giving back a gift is rejecting the love, affection and well-wishing that it was given with. You don't do that unless you mean that you are rejecting, giving back, the love of the giver. It is a huge
rejection and a major act. It is not merely petty or spiteful (though it is that too); it is rejection.
Think about it. You are nearing your middle years, not a child, and this is something ill-considered about which I must speak frankly to you. You
thought you had been discounted and you were hurt. Fair enough. But -- even had you been correct -- you behaved cruelly. You nsulted me by even considering that I would willingly dismiss, discount or reject you. You rejected my gift and thus my love that came to you with it.
You have always had my love, through thick and thin, and you have it still, but I must not let you think that what you did was minor, okay, just something you did because you were upset and so you can expect that I will
swallow it without protest and just wait for the dust to settle. You have gone too far, and I owe it to my self respect to tell you that it is unacceptable.
Do not ever do that to me again. It is not worthy of you, and I do not deserve it.”
Well, I just had to reply to that, but I was in a keep it simply mode:
“You are mistaken. The ring came to me via my Aunt. This is the truth.
"You have gone too far, and I owe it to my self respect to tell you that it is unacceptable." These are my sentiments exactly.
I cannot pay heed to the lecture if you cannot concede that the ring was ever mine.
I am sorry that you cannot see your mistake; that would have made this easier to fix.”
To which she replied in three separate emails:
“I have nothing to say” (which I think really means – I’m thinking)
“On second thoughts there is something I want to say:
What we have is two different recollections. I don't think that needs to be fixed. It is as it is: it's an explanation. I'm not picking a fight. Are you? If you are, I don't fight with my children. What kind of relationship do you want to have with me? That is up to you.”
Right, okay. Yep – I’m picking a fight as you can see; forgetting about certainly gets her off the hook, and means she doesn’t have to admit any wrong doing.. I didn’t reply. But she did:
“Two things need talked about: first, what actually happened; second, How you responded.
Dealing only with the first, for now, here's what I have done. I phoned your Aunt today and had a long chat with her. Here's what we managed to put together:
1. In May 19xx Mummy died and I went over there to Windy Edge.
2. Your step father and I were breaking up, and after Mummy's funeral he gave me back
Daddy's ring while we were both still overseas, and I gave it to your Uncle.
3. Your Aunt gave me the ring, for you, and the Leica, for Andy, she says. I don't remember that, but I am sure she's right. Maybe I never took her instructions in -- it was a very rough time for me, and my husband left as soon as we got back from the trip.
4. I phoned your brother -- didn't tell him anything of this, just asked him if he ever had the Leica. He said no - I gave to to your husband. But that must
have been later, because you didn't know your husband yet. You only went with your
Dad to Canada shortly after your stepfather left me. I remember your dad and stepfather
sitting at the kitchen table in our old place, telling me how to run my finances.
So I seem to have screwed up at least once. Maybe twice - or maybe not. You told your Aunt you remember wearing the ring. I don't remember giving it
to you or ever seeing you wear it. And I certainly didn't give the Leica to your brother, which apparently I should have done. As far as I can recall (it is
all 21 years ago, and I was in bad shape between Mummy's death and the
marriage break-up) I thought they were both for me, because I had given your Uncle my Daddy's ring instead of keeping it.
If I gave you the ring, can you remember when? When do you think you gave it back to me.
What is clear, however, is that I have only half-remembered what actually happened, and I am sorry about that. I am very worried about my memory, I always thought my Mummy suffered from Alzheimer’s and maybe I am being stricken too. I am very worried. It has made things difficult and you have been hurt. I am sorry about that too. (Your Aunt said she was not hurt by my having the ring instead of you, and just assumed that it was too old-fashioned for you, or something, but she didn't say this to me when we talked about it before your cousin’s wedding, because she didn't want to hurt my
feelings. Now of course we all wish she had said something, but she didn't and for a kind reason. So it's done and can't be helped now.) We are all agreed your cousin mustn't know about this, you included. Perhaps you would like to Keep the Leica as your brother never did receive it and it was worth more than the ring.
I wish you had just phoned me and we could have talked about. I got such a shock when I opened my mail that I was sick for 2 days with a blinding migraine and couldn’t get out of bed. That's the second thing we need to talk
about, but not yet, I think. We need to clear up first things first.”
So – my Aunt called her out and gave her the goods and she was essentially forced to back down.
But wow – that last email is so full of crap. My poor Aunt is to blame? If only she’d stopped my mother, now mysteriously afflicted with Alzheimer’s? Lovely. Just so you know, she’s never referred to her parents as “Mummy” and “Daddy” only Father and Mother. And the whole divorce crap? Well, I’m more shocked she was married twice than divorced twice. I love that I’m instructed not to tell my cousin she has my ring and that I made her physically ill. Just so you, with typical narcissistic flare, my mother barely clothed us, didn’t cook after I learned how when I was 9 and never hugged or kissed me in my life. She was heartless and cold blooded and we four children lived in servitude. My father and stepfather did attempt to improve our lot, but where run over by her ego. This is just to re-enforce that her emails are fairytales, beautifully crafted, cleverly manipulative, total and absolute lies, sprinkled with just enough truth to have great deniability. If she’s breathing; she’s lying.
There – that’s my most recent story. If you stuck with me, you’re a super star. I miss my ring.
katy hun, obviously I don't know you but your language ping pong is something I am incredibly familiar with.
I would be only as valuable as far as I could impress with my vocab and intellect, with my dad.
My mum, the MN in my life, would loathe it and so, would have to "talk normally, without big words but also without using the local accent as that would be common"
It was pure competition...you will never win and it doesn't matter how flamboyant you are...she doesn't give a shit, she's just making you jump through hoops.
Simple, as I have learned from my partner, is to say "Your acting like a dick, see ya later" and then get on with your life.
We've been that conditioned to jump through hoops, we even think we are acting empowered when in fact, its just another little trick they have.
Wow, Thank you for this! I recently left a year relationship with a N and, Its been a true test of my strength. I felt like I was trapped. I couldn't leave the relationship. I could never understand how he could just straight out call me a whore, low-life, piece of shit. Always caught him seeking out if bed to check my emails, phone, etc... I had no privacy. I was starting to think that it was normal, that "if I really loved him, I would let him do it." Help eased his insecurities. He was a "recovering" addict. He had been sober for 15 years, he owned a drug rehab and became very successful at what he did, I admired him for helping people in recovering however, he did it for the wrong reasons. He liked to surround himself and belittle ppl struggling with addiction bc it made him feel better about himself. He was so transparent. Anyway, Ive been NC from him for about a week, which is the longest Ive ever been! I want to be free from his negativity! I wrote this a few days ago to help me get through times of weakness. It helps me, hope it can help someone in the same situation.
The thing is, after a while of being in this relationship, I started to find myself feeling like a victim as well. This negative thought pattern is fairly contagious, especially if I’m continually the bad guy. In the end, I was operating on his level, I can point out a million ways in which he's hurt me and I’m here wondering "After all this, how can he still feel like the victim, surely I can make him see everything that he's done to me and he'll be remorseful and try to make it work!" At least, that's how I felt. And then I realized that I was the one who was doing this to myself because I kept coming back for more when it was clear he wasn't going to change. I need to get away. It's not going to help me to dwell on all the ways in which he has hurt me, it's not going to fix the relationship and I’m not going to get any sort of closure from it. I want to Let go of him and let go of his actions.
People will tell me he's bad to the bone and I should leave immediately, and my first impulse is to defend him: "he's not that bad. I mean, aside from the lying, cheating, manipulating, privacy invading, controlling, and junkyard dog meanness, he's really a sweet guy. He's misunderstood. Had a hard childhood. (These things I would repeatedly tell my family and little friends I had) And the idea of leaving him feels hard as hell, right? Like it will actually KILL me in a way, yes? Maybe not literally DIE, but the pain I anticipate is humongous, unbearable, not worth it – I’d wish I were dead.
The less esteem I will have for myself if I continue this madness and the more I will believe I DESERVE to be treated badly. I can do it now, and it will be hard; or I can do it later, and it will be harder. It's that old Band-Aid analogy. Rip it off, cut all contact, and it's going to hurt like a son-of-a-bitch, or pull slowly away at the edges, ease it off, and the pain feels a bit less intense but lasts a lot longer. Or maybe just wait for that one, unequivocal sign that it's time to leave, like he breaks your jaw or has sex with my dog – I fear the sign never comes, because my tolerance just grows the longer I stay. He knows exactly how far he can go each time, and exactly how to manipulate into feeling pity or defensive or weak so that I’ll stay -- just like he did with that whole "I was gonna tell you, but wanted to wait until you were too in love to leave." I am not powerless! I AM infinite power, joy, beauty and abundance. I used to think "Being with him is better than nothing." But the real truth is: NOTHING is better than being with him."
I have something praiseworthy. I was thinking my God, how do I do all this stuff you are telling me. Not so hard, I babystepped into it last night.
I met up with someone from my past who started to talk to me about stuff about my past and family, asking questions. She was nosy. I am working at the food bank and she is a client. I very kindly told her that we are to get on with what we are doing.
This was very public, the ladies I work with don't know anything about where I came from and I would like to keep it that way. My crazy mother's favorite tactic was public shame.
The reason I say this was a babystep was because I was in control as a volunteer, so she had no choice but to pipe down. But not so long ago I would have just taken the shame no matter what, I was trained to from birth.
I feel elated. It was a little painful, but I have learned so much that I know that feeling is the old me. But it took a bit for me to open my mouth, I didn't right away so, too much got said. From now on, I'll have to do it sooner. But I did it.
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