Narcissists have vast reservoirs of compassion (which is an outgrowth of empathy). Here's the problem though. All that compassion is turned inward i.e. used completely selfishly. They save their empathy for themselves. You, on the other hand, are out of luck.
On the geocities webpage where the author Chris brilliantly outlines "Characteristics of Narcissist Mothers" she captures the essential elements of the narcissist's perverted form of empathy. Read it and relate:
Sometimes she seems to have no awareness that other people even have feelings, and yet she is brilliantly sensitive to other people’s emotions. Every child of a narcissist recognizes this contradiction because narcissistic mothers do possess the ability to exercise empathy, and in abundance. Sometimes this ability also leads them to identify emotionally with people who are suffering and to express caring for them. When caring about anothers suffering interferes with something the narcissist wants, though, the caring vanishes. When a narcissistic mother wants validation, when she feels like eliciting some emotional pain, when something she wants hurts someone else, the empathy is turned off as though it never existed.
From the perspective of ability, narcissists are extremely empathetic; indeed they have a gift of telling what other people are feeling and thinking. Their skill at discerning and guiding the emotions of other people is the basis of many characteristically narcissistic interactions. Narcissists are very socially adept which is why no one ever believes their children when they complain of their mothers. They know just how to make everyone think that they’re delightful. Narcissistic mothers are exceptional manipulators, and manipulators must be extremely aware, on a moment-by-moment basis, of the emotions of their targets. If you don’t know what people are feeling, you can’t push their buttons. Their exceptional sensitivity to the feelings of others is also the wellspring of their pleasure in inflicting emotional pain through dramas and no-win scenarios. Narcissistic mothers enjoy inflicting emotional pain and they do it very well because they know just what their target children are feeling. That exquisite sensitivity is the reason they don’t need to batter. They can inflict agony without lifting a finger, so why risk exposure and waste effort with beatings when they can elicit the same emotions with words alone?
What narcissistic mothers lack is concern for the consequences of their actions, a behavior that seems rooted in profound selfishness, rather than in the absence of empathy. Mothers with NPD are certainly capable of feeling for others: they’re always feeling for the people with whom their scapegoat has conflicts. They feel for their fellow narcissists. They feel for people who have validated and praised them. They even feel for their child when it doesn’t cost them anything to do so. They just don’t feel for their child when they’re abusing him. They don’t feel anything that interferes with their absorption in their own wants and needs. Because they scour their environment for validation of their own abusiveness, they defend their fellow abusers, so they don’t have any empathy for the victims of those abusers, as the following story shows:
This story shows the misplaced empathy of the abuser for other abusers. There was no empathy in Chris’s mother for the actual victim. Instead it was reserved for the woman who let her boyfriend batter her child. Chris’s mother identified with the abuser, a mother like herself, afflicted with a child who didn’t meet her needs. Her empathy actually attributed virtues to her fellow abuser and faults to the victim that weren’t merited in reality. Someone who hits a small child hard enough to leave a hand print, then sends them to school, isn’t ashamed, and the personality of a four-year-old is not the fault of the child!
The selfish empathy demonstrated by narcissistic mothers contrasts with the genuine empathy shown by normal people. Sometimes a normal person will give up something they really want for themselves because they come to recognize that it will hurt another person. A narcissistic mother will relentlessly go after something she wants even if it isn’t worth the pain she has to inflict to get it.
There are several statements in the above which put the finger on where the perversion has occurred:
When caring about anothers suffering interferes with something the narcissist wants, though, the caring vanishes.The moment empathy would require the narcissist to extend herself for another human being, the instant some self-sacrifice would be called for, the minute the narcissist would have to take a stand against evil to protect the innocent is the very time her empathy stops flowing outward. This is absolute proof that the narcissist uses their ability to empathize only to serve themselves. They use their ability to intuit the emotions and reactions of others in order to manipulate them to their own ends. The only other real use of empathy they employ is to expend it generously upon themselves.
They even feel for their child when it doesn’t cost them anything to do so. They just don’t feel for their child when they’re abusing him. They don’t feel anything that interferes with their absorption in their own wants and needs.
A narcissistic mother will relentlessly go after something she wants even if it isn’t worth the pain she has to inflict to get it.
Chris has nailed another important point on whom the narcissist will bequeath her empathy: other abusers. This is a fundamentally selfish bestowal of empathy just as much as giving herself undeserved empathy is because by bestowing her empathy to the abuser what she is really doing is granting absolution and empathy for herself. She recognizes the kindred spirit in the other abuser and by excusing their behavior she excuses her own.
When I was forced to admit by dint of my father's letters to me over the summer and fall of 2005 that his sympathy was all for my mother I labeled him an abuser from that point onward. This is because of the bedrock reality that those who excuse abusers are themselves abusive. No matter the appearance of a mild-mannered nature -- if a person excuses abusers it is because there is some space in their minds which accedes to the notion that in at least some cases abuse can be justified. In the case of my father there was some evidence of aptitude for abuse, but it was rare enough that I could easily forget and thereby resume my opinion of him that he was not abusive. His unmitigated support of my mother, his lack of having ever protected myself or my daughter from my mother's abuses, his absolute demand I be the one to apologize, move on and forgive my mother in the absence of any sincere effort on her part to make things right, his unsubtle reminders of the sins of my youth to try to prove I had no right to hold my mother to any account...all these things proved to me once and for all that he is an abuser himself. Only abusers are willing to grant other abusers the right to abuse! It is at its very root a pass they are giving to themselves. Excusing abuse is abuse in itself. It is a red flag that the person has themselves a propensity for abuse. Granting absolution to abusers is always an extremely selfish thing to do; it ignores the humanity of the person abused and preserves compassion for the one doing the abusing and by doing so gives the person excusing the abuse a pass for the abuse they may decide to dish out themselves. Did you follow that sentence? If so, you get a gold star on your paper today.
In another blog post I wrote early this year I talked about the play on your empathy that disordered characters (including psychopaths) exploit: the pity party. The pity party is an exploitation of your empathy. They could only accomplish this by understanding what empathy is on an emotional level themselves. Please don't make the mistake of thinking that the narcissist is incapable of empathy. The harsh reality is that you will only be the recipient of empathy from the narcissist if they feel it will cost them absolutely nothing to give it to you. Those moments will be rare.
Allow yourself to really think about the selfishly evil use of empathy of the narcissist. They use it to know (and enjoy) exactly how they are making you feel as they use and abuse you. That is what we call sadistic. They use it to manipulate you to their own ends. Or else they will use it to feel for their sorry-assed selves. These uses of their ability to empathize are profoundly selfish and often cruel.
There is no merit whatsoever for the fact that the narcissist is indeed fully in possession of the ability to empathize. In fact it is a solid basis for our condemnation of them. They pervert their ability to empathize and use it to selfishly exploit others to their own ends, to find pleasure in the pain they inflict, as well as to grant themselves pity when they least deserve it. If the narcissist was incapable of empathy we could grant them a pass for having some sort of disability. We must acknowledge the reality that the narcissist is all the more evil because they do possess this ability but choose to use it for their own selfish ends against you. They have managed to completely pervert their ability to empathize.
Narcissists are the embodiment of perversion. This is simply another facet of it. They can take any good thing and completely misuse it which is the definition of perversion I'm using, "Wrong, often corrupt use". A broader sense of the term than just sexual perversion as the word is often applied.
I'll close with a statement I wrote to my sister in April 2006. I hope you all will take the same stance with the narcissists in your lives:
"Your compassion you save for mostly you. I don't need to spend my compassion on someone who is so generous with it on themselves."
TODAY IS MY 4TH WEEK OF NC FROM NMOM. SO I WALK OUT TO MY CAR TO GO TO WORK AND I FIND A LETTER ON MY DOOR HANDLE OF MY CAR. IT'S FROM NDAD OR ENABLER AND HAS WRITING ON THE FRONT OF THE ENVELOPE AS WELL AS A 2 PAGE LETTER INSIDE. THE LETTER BASICALLY IS A HATE MY WIFE LETTER, SAYING THAT SHE CONTROLS ME, THAT SHE WROTE THE LAST EMAIL BY ME ASKING FOR NMOM TO LEAVE ME ALONE. THAT SINCE OJ GOT HIS THAT MY WIFE WILL GET HERS. THAT IT WAS BS THAT MY DAUGHTER GOT SCOLDED FOR TELLING ME THINGS NGRANDMA WAS SAYING. THAT I AM BEING CONTROLLED BY MY WIFE AND THAT I WILL HAVE ALOT OF GUILT FOR GOING NC. HERE IS A EMAIL I WROTE TO NDAD IN RESPONSE:
FIRST, WHEN YOU SAY IN THE LETTER THAT I HATE YOU. YOU ARE WRONG. WHAT IS SAD FOR ME, IS THAT I FORGAVE YOU 13 YEARS AGO FOR POINTING A GUN AT ME AND NOW YOU WRITE SUCH A MEAN LETTER TO ME. HOW MANY PEOPLE WOULD HAVE FORGIVEN SOMEBODY FOR POINTING A GUN AT THEM?
YOU CONSTANTLY SAY THAT I DON'T WRITE OR SPEAK FOR MYSELF. YOU ARE WRONG.
I WRITE MY OWN STUFF .
WHEN YOU SAY THAT MOLLY CRYING ABOUT BEING SCOLDED IS A BUNCH OF BULL. YOU ARE WRONG. MOLLY CRIED IN MY ARMS ABOUT BEING SCOLDED BY MOM.
MAYBE MOLLY FEELS COMFORTABLE TALKING TO ME BECAUSE I LISTEN TO HER. MAYBE YOU SHOULD TRY THAT. MOLLY IS UPSET AT MOM AND DOSEN'T WANT BE AROUND HER. YOU COULD FIND THIS OUT FOR YOURSELF, IF YOU JUST LISTEN TO MOLLY.
YOU ALWAYS SAY MOLLY IS SMART, BUT WHEN IT COMES TO MOLLY SAYING HOW MOM SCOLDS HER AND TELLS HER NEGATIVE THINGS. YOU DON'T BELIEVE IT.
I GUESS WHEN IT COMES TO MOM AND THE TRUTH, THAT YOU HAVE A HARD TIME BELIEVING IT. SO DOES THIS MAKE MOLLY NOT SMART?
I DON'T HATE MOM, I DISLIKE HER BEHAVIOR. SHE IS TRYING TO DO THE SAME THING TO MOLLY THAT SHE DID TO ME WHEN I WAS A CHILD WHICH IS: EVERYBODY IS BAD, ONLY MOM AND YOU ARE THE ONLY ONES THAT LOVE HER. THIS IS WRONG TO TEACH A CHILD TO LIKE ONLY CERTAIN PEOPLE AND TO SAY NEGATIVE THINGS AROUND THE CHILD ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE.
SINCE YOUY NEVER BELIEVE THAT I SPEAK FOR MYSELF, I'M SURE YOU WON'T BELIEVE ANYTHING I SAY IN THIS E-MAIL, BUT YOU ARE WRONG ABOUT SYLVIA'S PARENTS. THEY HAVE ALWAYS BEEN NICE AND RESPECTFUL OF ME. YOU JUST NEVER HAVE PUT EFFORT IN TO GETTING TO KNOW THEM AND TO TRY AND BE A FAMILY.
A FAMILY IS NOT JUST YOU AND MOM, BUT A FAMILY MEANS EVERYBODY.
YOU AND MOM ALWAYS WANT TO BE SEPERATE FROM EVERYBODY. I DON'T LIKE THAT.
MY FAMILY INCLUDES YOU AND MOM, MOLLY AND SYVIA, SYVIA'S PARENTS, BROTHERS,SISTER AND EVERYBODY THAT IS FAMILY.
I WILL NOT ALLOW ANYBODY TO SPEAK BAD ABOUT ANYBODY IN MY FAMILY. YES SYVIA HAS SAID MEAN THINGS ABOUT MOM, BUT AFTER HOW MUCH SHIT DID SYVIA TAKE FROM HER. EVEN THOUGH I DID TALK TO SYVIA, BECAUSE I DON'T LIKE PEOPLE SAYING NEGATIVE THINGS ABOUT PEOPLE IN MY FAMILY.
YOU MAKE UP SO MUCH OF YOUR LETTER, TALKING ABOUT SYVIA. I WOULD SUGGEST THAT IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH SYVIA THAT YOU SPEAK TO HER ABOUT IT. YOU HAVE THE PROBLEM WITH SYVIA, SO YOU NEED TO TALK TO HER.
THIS WHOLE SITUATION HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SYVIA OR YOU.
IT HAS TO DO WITH ME AND MOM. I HAVE ASKED HER MANY TIMES NOT TO SAY NEGATIVE COMMENTS IN FRONT OF MOLLY. I HAVE BEGGED HER AND TAKEN HER TO A PRIEST TO TRY TO FIX THIS PROBLEM. THIS IS A PROBLEM THAT I HATE. I DON'T LIKE NEGATIVE THINGS BEING SAID AROUND MOLLY AND NO MATTER WHAT I DO, IT CONTINUES TO BE A PROBLEM EVERY YEAR. I HAVE ARGUED WITH MOM IN FRONT OF YOU ABOUT THIS ISSUE. SHE WILL NOT CHANGE HER BEHAVIOR, THEREFORE I CAN NOT CONTINUE TO SUPPORT HER AND PRETEND LIKE EVERYTHING IS WONDERFUL.
SHE NEVER LISTENS TO ME AND YOU BOTH DEGRADE ME CONSTANTLY AS A MAN BY SAYING THAT I DON'T MAKE DECISIONS OR SPEAK FOR MYSELF.
I WILL GO TO MY GRAVE KNOWING THAT I DID EVERTHING POSSIBLE TO TRY AND HAVE A HAPPY FAMILY. MOM JUST CAN NOT STOP SAYING NEGATIVE THINGS ABOUT OTHERS AND THAT'S WHAT I HATE. YOU ARE WRONG BY SAYING I HATE MOM, WHAT I HATE IS HER BEHAVIOR.
YOU ARE WRONG WHEN YOU SAY I HATE YOU. IF I WAS GOING TO HATE YOU, I WOULD HAVE BEEN HATING YOU SINCE YOU POINTED A GUN AT ME. YOU SHOULD NOT TAKE RESPONSIBILTY FOR MOM'S BEHAVIOR. SHE HAS HER OWN MIND.
I TOLD YOU IN THE LAST EMAIL THAT IF WANTED TO HAVE A NORMAL RELATIONSHIP WITH ME, THAT IT WOULD BE YOUR CHOICE. BUT YOU NEED TO LISTEN TO WHAT ME AND MOLLY ARE TELLING YOU. MOM IS HURTING US AND IF YOU TRULY LOVE ME AND MOLLY , YOU WILL FIND IT IN YOUR HEART TO SIT DOWN AND JUST LISTEN TO ME AND MOLLY TELL YOU WHAT MOM HAS DONE TO ME AND WHAT SHE IS DOING TO MOLLY.
WHAT SHE IS DOING AND HAS DONE IS NOT RIGHT. THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH HATE, IT HAS TO DO WITH DOING THE RIGHT THING.
WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT YOU FRIEND NOT SEEING HIS PARENTS FOR 12 YEARS, YOU CANNOT COMPARE ME TO HIM. WHY? BECAUSE I HAVE DONE EVERTHING POSSIBLE TO FIX THIS PROBLEM. HE PROBABLY DIN'T. THST'S WHY MAYBE HE FEELS GUILTY. HOW CAN I FEEL GUILTY FOR PROTECTING MY DAUGHTER FROM A PERSON THAT CONSTANTLY SAYS NEGATIVE THINGS AROUND HER. MOM IS DONE WITH ME. I NOW REALIZE THAT SHE IS NOT FIXABLE.
AS FAR AS YOU, I FORGAVE YOU FOR POINTING A GUN AT ME AND I WILL FORGIVE YOU THIS TIME FOR DEGRADING ME AS A MAN AND NEVER LISTENING TO ME TELL YOU, SINCE I WAS A CHILD HOW MOM HAS MENTALLY FUCKED ME UP. I CANNOT ALLOW MOLLY TO BE MENTALLY FUCKED UP AS I AM. THIS IS WHAT THIS SITUATION IS.
IT IS NOT ABOUT ME, IT IS ABOUT MOLLY. I WILL NOT ALLOW OVER MY DEAD BODY FOR ANYBODY TO BRAINWASH HER THE WAY I WAS.
I HAVE NO GUILT BECAUSE I AM TELLING YOU RIGHT NOW, THAT IF YOU CONSIDER ME YOUR SON AND YOU LOVE ME AS YOUR SON. THAT YOU ARE WELCOME TO HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH ME. BUT IN THE FUTURE IF YOU EVER START SAYING NEGATIVE THINGS ABOUT SYLVIA OR ANYBODY ELSE IN MY FAMILY, THAT I WILL NOT HESITATE OR HAVE GUILT ABOUT NOT HAVING A RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU.
YOU ARE WELCOME TO HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH ME THAT IS LOVING,CARING, AND RESPECTFUL OF ME AND THE PEOPLE THAT I LOVE.
I WILL NOT LIVE ANYMORE THE WAY THAT I HAVE. FAMILY'S STICK TOGETHER THEY DON'T DIVIDE AND CONQUER.
FROM TIM AND YES EVERTHING I WROTE HERE I USED MY OWN BRAIN AND MY OWN FINGERS.
This is perfectly accurate and helps me make even more sense out of my confusion over my narcissistic mother's loyalty to abusive people, particularly other narcissists. Because "lack of empathy" is one of the main characteristics of N's, it took me a long time to finally see that my mom's narcissism was indeed NPD. She does not exhibit a "lack of empathy" for people who are abusive crazy-makers; however, she has has NO empathy for people who stand up to abusive crazy-makers. I'm coming up on my second holiday season sans-narcissists, and their absence in my life gives me another reason to celebrate.
Well said, Tim. You have my admiration for your strength of character which is enabling you to protect your daughter and wife from the predations of your mother and father. You are a good man.
I'm coming up on my second holiday season sans-narcissists, and their absence in my life gives me another reason to celebrate.
Congratulations! I am so happy for your freedom and I thoroughly understand how delightful holiday celebrations are sans the narcissists. Gives the holidays an extra special 'glow'.
I'm glad to know that my clarifications on the whole empathy thing has helped you connect the dots on your mother. Thanks for your comment.
My mother used OJ too - claimed she was like Nicole Brown Simpson. Ah, excuse, no one touched that woman, heck we couldn't even speak up.
You are a good man Tim. And far more generous than I could be. I'd say anyone aiming a gun at me would end all connection.
This posting is timely. On Lovefraud there was posting claiming narcissists/psychos have empathy deficits.
No way- they are way to good at torture to not know what cruelty is, the absence of empathy.
Thanks for a timely post. Maybe the
experts will "get it" soon.
Tim, God bless you. You are a VERY good man.
"A FAMILY IS NOT JUST YOU AND MOM, BUT A FAMILY MEANS EVERYBODY.
YOU AND MOM ALWAYS WANT TO BE SEPERATE FROM EVERYBODY. I DON'T LIKE THAT.
MY FAMILY INCLUDES YOU AND MOM, MOLLY AND SYVIA, SYVIA'S PARENTS, BROTHERS,SISTER AND EVERYBODY THAT IS FAMILY."
You said a mouthful here, Buddy. This is the way it was with me also. Unfortunately, I didn't have the internet, and ways to know about malignant narcissism. However I know now, and am not crippled from the effects any longer. No contact really is the way to go.
THANKS FOR EVERYBODY'S COMMENTS. I AM SO HAPPY I FOUND THIS BLOG,BECAUSE THIS IS A VERY DIFFICULT SITUATION. I CONTINUE TO HAVE A MENTAL TUG OF WAR GOING ON: THE TRUTH V. THE MIND MANIPULATION THAT WAS INGRAINED IN ME BY NMOM. ANNA THANK YOU FOR LAYING IT OUT THERE,BECAUSE LIKE YOUR DAD, I HAVE TO COME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT IF MY DAD WILL NOT ACKNOWLEDGE THE TRUTH ABOUT NMOM THAT HE IS ALSO A NARCISSIST AND AN ABUSER HIMSELF.
Thanks for another good post about how willful N's are, and how capable they really are. I think one reason I got caught for so long seeing 'potential' in these miscreants is because they DO routinely show that they do not lack for all sorts of basic ability [I mean besides the fact that they lie extensively about their motives and characters].
In terms of empathy, I always noticed how sharp my ex-N was at reading others. He was also an effective liar and actor, and no one can lie well without serious empathy skills. N's know when and how to hide their inappropriate emotions [and which ones those are]. They know how to substitute ones that will purposely mislead others in very specific ways. They use their empathy skills to plot and scheme, and to anticipate possible outcomes and assess possible interferences. They use it to figure out what is and isn't plausible, and to customize their manipulation for each different person in their life.
And they know very well when they have successfully caused specific emotions. I cannot count the times when I have seen a look of smug triumph [usually quickly hidden!] on an N's face when they have pushed the right button and successfully changed my emotional state from confident to confused, or happy to upset, or from proud to ashamed, etc - whatever their goal was at the time.
"Those who excuse abusers are themselves abusive."
Thanks for this topic, Anna, and ESPECIALLY for this sentence.
I spent [not wasted, tho at the time it felt like it] much time, a while back, tussling with someone in a 'support group' who almost always sided with the abuser,
whether it was in anecdotes they were telling about themselves [picking abusive lovers over their own kid - repeatedly],
reactions to other people's descriptions of being abused [instantly asking what the target did to provoke the abuse or making stuff up and telling the target they did X, so it was all the target's fault, when they had no idea what the target did or did not do],
The ONLY exception to this, ever, was syrupy, obviously phony sympathy lavished on people who weren't - well, very perceptive, emotionally - and were thus excellent Narcissist fodder.
The 'support group' ended up as a lobster tank for Ns [pick your meal, fresh daily]. Not merely because of this gal, but because of the enablers who excused the incredibly obvious abuse she was practicing right under their noses.
When I realized what that second level meant, I realized I WOULD be wasting my time if I invested any more of it there. But it was fascinating fieldwork in forensic psychology.
"Those who excuse abusers are themselves abusers."
And so are those who excuse or defend "those who excuse abusers".
I think the second category is even more dangerous than the first.
Note to Tim: If you continue receiving unwanted communications - by phone or mail or email - and especially if they're left on your property, such as your car, or tucked into your mailbox - check the stalking / harassment statutes for your state of residence. You may have a solid case.
Many state judiciaries are now beginning to realize that just as abusive husbands may stalk wives, any abusive family member may stalk any other member of the family.
Within-state stalking is a misdemeanor in most cases, but if a state line is crossed - even via phone or email, I believe - it becomes Federal level, and it is then a felony.
Hope you don't have to use this info, but it may help to know that you have some legal recourse.
Tim, IMO you are trying really hard to give your parents the very thing they refuse to give you - respect. At this point, I would recommend going absolutely no contact, no replies of any kind, I suspect they are just feeding on your letters and you will never get through to them. Make your peace with the fact that they're no longer in your life and then make that happen 100%. Believe me, you will be much happier. It's hard at first but gets easier until you're jumping for joy. The voice of experience here.
I have been no contact with my Nsister for nearly a year now. Except I chose to send her some money when her car broke down, no letter, just the money, and also for her birthday. She has RA and is handicapped, that was my logic. Of course, both times I received "thank you" letters that ended up being nothing but moaning and bitching sessions about how cruel everyone is to her. I ignored them. Thank God I live 200 miles from her.
Anyway, a week ago she ended up in the hospital with major respiratory problems and almost didn't make it. Of course, when she was well enough to talk, she made sure everyone knew her daughter (who is NC) and family were louts who didn't come see her. None of us live very close, but I wouldn't have gone if I'd lived down the street. I was feeling vaguely guilty until I heard that she'd said the doctors and nurses (who had saved her life) were making her life "pure hell." I've seen her reduce to tears people who were trying to help her. She accuses her cleaning lady of trying to control her life. Pure projection.
She has had several close brushes with death and yet refuses to change. I have given up on her. She's evil and will triangulate anyone within a mile. She's the most self-centered $%##@ I've ever met.
Thank you Anna for explaining something I couldn't come to grips with about Ns. My sister has shown empathy for me when I was struggling financially, she even sent me a little money from time to time. She seemed to be concerned. In retrospect, I now realize she was getting off on seeing me down and being able to help me, I've always been more successful. But I never could understand why she would show empathy while being a N. She also used the opportunity to expound on the Bible and quote scripture about how I would be fine, etc., which was helpful, but it also put her on her religious guru pedestal, a position she's cultivated since she was a child. It really makes her feel important.
From now on, no more money. I'm truly no contact. I can't tell you how many bad memories were conjured up each time I got a thank you note from her. Most on behalf of my dad and brother, who she abused terribly. I could write a book, but it would depress me and you both.
Thanks again, Anna, glad you're writing again, you're a Godsend. :)
This post is both very eye-opening and difficult to me. My ex-wife is in my opinion a full blown malignant narcissist. Even though my gut almost from the beginning told me something was wrong, I was confused. She seemed very able to show empathy – in fact one of the things “outsiders” would notice about her was that she is very empathic. This behavior, which proves that she has a great ability to grasp what other people are feeling or going through, was so extremely contradicted by the suffering she deliberately and calculating would make me, our boys or others go through.
This post was eye-opening because it not only explains the confusion; to me it actually proves that the narcissist is even more evil than I have realized. My point is: she is actually able to feel the pain she is inflicting and this doesn’t stop her. To the contrary – her precise analysis enables her to bring her abuse to an almost perfect level. This is as evil as it gets, isn’t it?
This was confusing in a very painful way when I was living with her, but even though I now see what I see, it’s still confusing. The reason is that this behavior is so opposite to what I would do. To me, like most people (and maybe especially those of us who have had bad experiences with narcissists), the slightest suspicion that what I was doing would be hurtful would make me try to change my behavior. When writing this, it comes to my mind that my ex-wife was brilliant in exploiting this mechanism in me – just by claiming that I was hurting her she would stop any criticism from me.
I have very little contact with my ex-wife (thank God…), but the problem is that my boys (12 and 14) live with her most of the time. She is very able to and careful about putting up a favorable façade, and to outside observers, probably nothing seems to be wrong. This, among some other factors, makes it difficult for me to take a confrontational approach regarding where the kids should live. Another reason for this is that the boys seem to be doing fine – both in school and socially. This is of course very good, but I know it doesn’t mean that everything is fine.
I was married to a narcissist, but I don’t have the experience of being a child of one. I know that my boys' situation is not as good as it seems and that they are well programmed to be fearful and loyal to their mother and to preserve the façade (just like I was). I have a hard time deciding what to do. I encourage them to express more clearly their wish to spend more time with me than they are at the moment. I know they want this (and technically that’s enough to make it happen), but I don’t know what they will perceive as the least of two evils – to stay with the situation as it is or to take the heat by saying what they really feel. My approach at the moment is to make myself available, to make them feel welcome to stay with me more and to convince them that any decision they make is okay. It feels like the right way to go about it, but their mother is a brilliant manipulator who will stop at nothing in order to get her way. It feels like a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation.
Good letter but I have to agree with Anonymous on this one.(from experience) Going absolutly NC was best for me. Unreasonable people will use your letters against you if they can. I got the same kind of letters from my enabler dad too - heart wrenching but you have to understand their motives. It DOES get easier I promise! They will cry, whine & complain but you have to stand your ground - if you are like me you will have your moments of doubt but then you come to your senses! Keep their letters as evidence in case you ever need to look back at them too. Helps me even though I want to shred them! Stay strong!
My np never had empathy for me.Only for my sib and only for those that they thought deserved it.
Tim, hang in there.I know what you are feeling right now.It gets easier to deal with as time goes by.
Empathy yes, sympathy no.
They operate in a revised reality. They believe they have said and done kind,generous things for others because they have to believe it.
"Pure projection." From anonymous, who described her sister accusing a cleaning lady of trying to control her.
When my elderly N-mom sat at my kitchen table the day after Thanksgiving, accusing, blaming, and raging, she said, "you and your sister haven't loved me since you were little girls."
What a bare example of projection! Let's rephrase that, Mom.
"You and your sister were darling babies, but you had the temerity to GROW UP, becoming automous beings who rejected my control and refused to worship me. My love for you died gradually but inexorably, as you moved from adoring infants into independent adults. If I can't control you and you won't worship me, I have no use for you."
This is SO right on with my NMom and NSister I can't believe it! I felt like I was reading about them...
They tag-team me with abuse, then each sticks up for the other. Yes, the empathy is just for them.
I never thought of it in this way Anne. Indeed they both are "granting absolution and empathy for each other."
I received an email 2 days ago from my NSister. Her latest was deciding to pierce my daughter's ears without our permission back in August, then when I got really upset, she turned all blame towards ME! In her first email, I was the one that had thrown things out of proportion, and she called me horrible names. Her 2nd email a week later disowned me when I didn't bow down and call her on her birthday. You guessed it, my NMom sides with my NSister and even felt "I" should bow down and "Eat Crow" (according to NMom) with my sister.
I received another email 2 days ago from NSis, she's back to try to work at me again, claiming I have hurt her (still saying that and why?) I didn't do a D**n thing to her. Claimed I didn't love her yada yada. Then she said that I was "anti-family" and why wasn't I calling NMom anymore? According to my NSis, my Mom is old and in her waning years and "For God's sake, what do you expect at this point in her life, she won't change". They tag-team me, they each come at me. My sister went so far as to have her 14 year old daughter call me and tell me how upset her Mom is! I have yet to hear a genuine "I'm sorry" and I know I never will.
My NMom and NSister are BOTH nutjobs!!! I thank you Anne for your site here. I have gotten SO many AH HA moments I can't even begin to tell you. I have read passages to my husband about N's and he is just astounded (like I was at first) that there are so many of these types of people, and so many people dealing with them.
I have never felt better about my new found knowledge. I now know it's not me whereas before I felt I was going crazy and I really was believing their lies. While I've never claimed to be perfect, I certainly don't deserve to be the scapegoat of my NMom and NSister.
I am now in NC with sister. NMom is VERY limited contact and I told my husband if she doesn't accept my boundaries, she will be NC as well. I'm simply done with it all.
I've reached "The Final Straw" with both of them...
How interesting a point, and how true, about the abuser having empathy for other abusers...my nfather has never since I can remember had "normal" friends. The only people he considered his peers are others who have warped views of reality - people who would not commonly be considered "good" people, with really iffy morals...just like himself.
This topic is spot on with the incident that opened my eyes to what an uncaring person my father is.
One afternoon my husband came home from work and I proceeded to tell him about this really disturbing story I had just read on a news website about a mother that had been torturing and starving her poor little ones, one of whom died from this horrible abuse. All of her children were under the age of five, incidently. I went on and on about what a monster this woman was and how could anyone purposely do such things to any child, let alone small ones, when my Ndad, who was living with us at the time, looked up and said, "Maybe they were being bad!" My husband and I just looked at each other in disbelief, stunned that someone that professes to love children could make such a statement. At that moment a cold chill went up my spine as I realized that there was something seriously wrong with my father.
We were having extreme difficulties with having him live with us because of the way he is and we couldn't figure him out, but that moment shocked me into facing the reality that he was not the man I was brainwashed into believing he was. It was shortly thereafter that we had to make him leave due to his bizarre behaviors, and my brother took him in. It was then that I discovered malignant narcissism. Unfortunately, in a matter of only two months he has made my brother's life a living hell and he, too, is about ready to go no contact. I am working hard to try to aleviate the guilt he feels about cutting off our father when he is so old and sick, but he leaves us no choice. His anger and bitterness is like a cancer in our family and we cannot help him if he refuses to face reality.
The irony of the situation is that I was always the golden child, a designation I never wanted, and he always treated my siblings horribly, yet I am the one to go no contact first, without any remorse. This is because I can see so clearly now the blackness in this man's heart and it scares me to be near such evilness. Because he is old and feeble now, it is not possible for him to inflict too much damage on me, especially now that I know what I'm dealing with, but contact would require me to pretend that I care, something I cannot bring myself to do. The alternative to pretending is to be brutally honest about my feelings, which I did do the last time I saw him, but being that cruel to someone (even though he deserved it) was so out of character for me I felt physically ill afterwards. So there it is, I don't see any choice in the matter.
Enrique... Please be as proactive and assertive in your boys' lives as possible!! Set the standard of care high!! Remember what and who they are living with!!
This reminds me of one of the reviews of "Why does he do that?" It states that abusers understand that it hurts, which told me that they DO empathize, they just don't care. It's also a heinous kind of evil, and far worse than someone who is simply callous.
It also goes to show that ANYTHING can be used for evil. Didn't you write a post about that? About how some things are considered virtues, but are actually neutral?
Also, to qualify for NPD, don't you need 5 of nine symptoms? That always told me that some DO have empathy, while others literally do not.
First I want to commend you for your desire to help others understand much of the pain they have experienced (often times alone) at the hands of a narcissistic abuser. You are also a gifted writer; an ideal example of a person using their gifts and talents to help other people! I am almost 40 years old and have an extremely narcissistic mother. As a kid, she used the Catholic Church dogma to justify her tyranny. She doesn't like free-thinking priests, but always preferred the traditional swat-on-the-palm-with-a-stick priest who condemned anyone who even questioned the church's authority. To finally realize (last year) that she really doesn't take those rules seriously and just uses them to justify herself truly revealed how sadistic she really was and still is. It would be easier if she was that way but truly believed it. At least there would be some integrity. But to find out that she is just simply sadistic was a real eye opener. Also being a nurse, her supreme empathy talent is used mainly for knowing how to toy with peoples emotions to get what she wants or to enjoy other's pain, not used to love and want the best for others. Some of the nice people at her church that ARE truly good and who are truly trying to seek "God" are taken in by her because around them, she acts just like they do. That is what confused me most in my childhood. I knew they were good. Even though my gut told me she wasn't, I thought there had to be something wrong with my perception of reality because as I always heard "Birds of a feather flock together." Therefore, she must be good if they are her friends!! My step-father enabled and even enforced her narcissism all of his life until he died several years ago of lung cancer. My brother (the golden child who is 7 years younger than me; my step-father and narcissistic mothers full blood son) was used by her to abuse me, also. I was the scapegoat; defected child from her first failed marriage to a man she still hates to this very day. Presently, everyone in our family lives far away from her except me. I am the only one that lives near her. Since she is a widow, if I show the slightest bit of indifferance to her, she calls and tells them all how "her daughter never has time for her, etc." Two days ago, I sent an email to all of my family members stating that I am going to confront her and it may result in my breaking ties with her. I explained my feelings to them, defined narcissism and gave several examples of her abuse and manipulation of me as a child and an adult. Finally, I ecknowledged that I was prepared for them to give me the cold shoulder as well because it has happened in the past. None of them responded to me (no suprise). I think that is the hardest part for me; knowing that I have to deal with breaking off the whole family when I really just want to end contact with her. Instead, I have to loose a brother, aunts, uncles, etc. There are a small few that see and admit how she is. But the strange thing is that these few are ALSO singled out and made fun of in the family. And, they, too gave me the cold shoulder the last time I brought her behavior into the light! It's a good bet they will do it again. I can't honestly say that I love my mother. I love my husband, my kids, my in-laws and friends of mine (and their normal mothers who have always been good to me by treating me like a thinking feeling human being), but that's not what I feel towards her. I feel endless frustration of being used, manipulated rattled by her. I have also dealt with feeling guilty myself because I allowed her to manipulate me (never really realizing why until just recently) - which is playing right into her Sadistic motive of not wanting me to feel unworthy of any value. I know I will heal. It is a process like pealing an onion. I have removed layers and layers in past few years. Each layer exposes something else until just recently the exposed layer (having to do with my insecurities) was the fact that my mother is truly Narcissistic!
I thank you again for this informative sight and for taking the time to maintain it. Take care!!
Purposefully hurtful. They do have empathy -- that's how they hit their target so well. Very perverted.
After feeding all my ILs during DH's illness (and many times before), I was shocked when MIL asked if he had life insurance. I explained it would take me several months to collect and I could not afford to feed the kids that long. She told me "you just have to be patient."
So I got a notice she and FIL made a donation to their local
hospice. Who cares if the grandchildren eat? They got their food!
The story of the litle girl with the hand print on her face was disturbing. My ILs liked to tell the story (over and over and over again) how, when my DH was in KINDERGARTEN, he refused to sit in his chair. He lied on the floor during class, doing his alphabet, whatever, and every day he came home with a dirty shirt. They liked to tell how the nuns finally intervened and told them to leave him alone.
Why would the nuns intervene?? Something must have been happening there.
But they never lost the opportunity to say "He IS so stubborn."
"Because when HE WAS FIVE YEARS OLD in kindergarten...."
They just never let it go.
I just recently found your blog and appreciate the information and honesty I have found here. It's like a bright light that cuts through the *fog machine* effect of Nism.
My NM has always defended the abusers in the family. I used to fight her tooth and nail about it and recently told her that she would stick up for Saddam Hussein.
She now repeats that as an example of how compassionate she is. It was NOT a COMPLIMENT, MOM!
I am currently NC and am recovering after a lifetime of dealing with Nism. This post was timely as NM is the engulfing type who thinks she is empathetic, caring, and devoted to her family. NOT!
I come here and read when I need some borrowed strength and when the fog closes in.
You are a warrior, Anna! Thank you
I HAVE A QUESTION ON WHY MY NPARENTS PRETEND THAT I DON'T SPEAK OR MAKE DECISIONS FOR MYSELF. EBERYTIME I HAVE SENT THEM A LETTER, MY WIFE WROTE IT.EVERYTIME I WOULD SAY SOMETHING,IT WAS MY WIFE SAYING IT. NOW THAT I HAVE GONE NC, THEIR WRATH OF HATE IS COMING DOWN ON MY WIFE WHO HAS DONE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. I HAVE MADE THE DECISION TO GO NO CONTACT BUT THEY PLACE ALL THE BLAME ON MY WIFE. WHY IS THIS?
Oh, Anna! This post sure clarifies so many memories for me....(and doubts...because Nmom seemed empathetic sometimes...) Wow! Right on the money. Thank you so much. Now I can put a few more 'niggly' things to rest in my mind. Though I have been sure that she is an N....I've still been working back through my mind and memories of all the bullshit....'backburnering' a few memories that I thought were good ones but seemed to have that UghFeeling attatched to them...and wondering if I was wrong. HELLNO. This put the Ugh in the forefront.
Hang in there, All! Looking forward to my second Nfree Holiday Season. God is Good.
This behavior you describe is very common with Ns. All I can do here is theorize based on my own many observations of this first hand.
If you are a person whom the narcissist has had under their control in the past then if you slip from their control they immediately assume it is because someone else has managed to grab control of you. They have no respect for your mind and character because they believed you were a weak-minded puppet. Their instant assumption is that someone who has a tighter grip on you is now pulling your strings. In your case, obviously, they think that person is your wife.
It is also possible that some of this is related to the need to blame someone else for your behavior so they don't have to hate you quite as much. If they can blame your wife then they can still claim you as their son and redouble their efforts to "free" you from your "horrible wife". In other words, they use your wife as a scapegoat so you can be assumed to be more innocent and in need of being rescued instead of abandoned.
I hope this helps explain what may be going on. I also hope you will soon cut off all communication with these people because they are obviously stirring things up constantly.
All the best.
THANKS ANNA FOR YOUR RESPONSE AND WITH THE HELP OF YOU AND THE REST OF THE GREAT PEOPLE ON THIS BLOG, I AM GAINING STRENTH TO RECLAIM MY LIFE AND LIVE IN PEACE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE. AFTER MY NDAD'S THREATENING,MEAN SPIRITED LETTER I FOUND YESTERDAY ON MY CAR HANDLE, I FELT COMPELLED TO HAVE THE LAST SAY, BUT I SHOULD KNOW BY NOW THAT WHATEVER I SAY DOSEN'T MATTER AND WHATEVER I EXPLAIN DOSEN'T MATTER. THEY BELIEVE WHAT THEY WANT TO BELIEVE AND THEIR TRUTH IS THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS. GOD BLESS YOU ALL AND THANK YOU ANNA FOR THIS LIFE SAVING BLOG. I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR YOU MY WHOLE LIFE. THANK YOU FOR GIVING ME A PRICELESS EDUCATION.
Anna, thank you SO much for this blog and this post, especially. It has only been a few short weeks since I went to a therapist for the first time because of my mother, and he directed me to the definition of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The light went on for me then about my NMom, but I struggled with the claim of them lacking empathy. Anybody who has met her would said she is very empathetic and always helping others.
But I know the reason why she does those things is not for their benefit, but instead so she can boast about how selfless she is, always so self sacrificing ("the martyred mother"), and so that people will constantly praise her. But I still struggled with the lack of empathy, thinking she is so warm and loving (in her own manipulative way), until I started to think back on my own most heartbreaking moments of need.
Her reply was always: "You'll get over it, it's no big deal. I went through the same thing. Such is life." That's it. No shoulder. No hug. No pep talk, just stop talking and instead lets talk about her instead. Now, as I am an adult and have a successful career, if I tell her of good news in my life, she cannot congratulate me but instead has to immediately interrupt me to tell me about the latest family drama or about how she never had the opportunities in life that I have been given, etc.
In hind site, these examples prove me wrong time and time again. Her empathy is only for her benefit. And it is one of the hardest aspects of this to deal with, that her love and warmth are facades for her own pleasure, and ultimately, to relieve her own pain at the expense of others. Ouch.
Your parents blame your wife because it gets them off the hook. As long as they can point the finger at her, they don't have to point the finger at themselves. They don't have to take what you say seriously because obviously you have been manipulated and and don't know what you are doing.
Tim, I'd like to add my own observation of my ILs to Anna's. This is something I've noticed about my ILs for a long time.
Although my ILs never had a kind word for any one of their children TO THEIR FACE, they DID brag about them to other people! My FIL read my daughter's essay just to show others what a wonderful son he created. This poor man, who is now dying, actually adopted his wife's child from a previous marriage. And HE, FIL, CREATED HIM! FIL also demanded from my youngest DH a poem she had written for her dad which was in the casket. DD refused (knowing what he had done with the essay). Never said it was a beautiful poem -- just said "Hey, I want a copy of that."
You're an only child. You have an only child. Betcha' mom and dad get a lot of N supply speaking of you and Molly. Now you're taking that away! Can't be because of your NMom --she created you, bore you, raised you. You are an extension of her, and Molly also. Your mom is too perfect to have created a heartless son.
After I went N/C my SIL wrote me an email "Without Mom and Dad there would have been no (DH) and no (DD). Think about that."
Somehow I owed them for having sex and bearing a son.
When DH came home from the service, they moved several states away. He did not move. After the cut off I was told "YOU isolated MY BROTHER from HIS family." Yada, yada, yada.
You are an extension of them. By reason of that alone you are blameless. They cannot be at fault, regardless of their treatment of you.
I'm a court stenographer. I swear the following actually was said in a courtroom. Think about it -- it applies to your mom.
A woman was accused of stabbing her husband to death, but she had a defense.
"Your Honor, it's not my fault my husband died. It's the doctor's fault. He didn't fix him right."
COURT: "How is that?
"Because I've stabbed him before and he never died before."
When my mother-in-law died unexpectedly, my husband and I were heartbroken. My N-friend (who was present at many family dinners) couldn't bear to go to the wake because she reminded him too much of his own mother who died 15 years before. Oh, and he couldn't go to the funeral because he had to work. However, a week later he attended the wake and the funeral of a co-worker's grandfather. Yep, he did have empathy, just not for his longtime friends.
I completely agree with Anna on this. My Nmom (I hate using that word - she's not a mother -anyways!) that I just went NC with told everyone including my ILs (that she doesn't really know that well) that I was in a cult. What?! They will try anything -you can not reason with them no matter how hard you try. Especailly for those with "religious" Ns, if they won't accept God's truth and his word, they certinly are not going to accept yours. Stay strong it does get better!
And to everyone- I had a thought today (just one haha!). Does any else feel like they are slowing realising what they missed out of as a child when you see good parents with their children? Happen to me today. Just curious!
Spot-on post. Really reminds me of my ex-N-friend, who would, whenever I told a story about a conflict with someone else, ALWAYS take the side of the other person. If I got dumped, she would take the boyfriend's side - I must just not have been good enough, and his new girlfriend sounds really cool! She'd like to meet her! If my boss was mean to me, she could see his point of view. I must have done something to provoke it. If I had a conflict with my landlord, well, why did I rent that apartment, anyway? And it also reminds me of my mother, who always took the side of whomever was bullying me growing up. Someone called me "fat"? I should lose weight, and then they wouldn't pick on me anymore (tried, didn't work, thanks Mom). I quickly learned not to go to her with any of my problems, not that it kept her from constantly rifling through my belongings to get the "inside story," anyway. Good times.
"She now repeats that as an example of how compassionate she is. It was NOT a COMPLIMENT, MOM!"
Sojourner Kate!! OMG!! You had me rolling on the floor with that one!
At least we can come here & laugh!
We know we have all cried the same tears...
Stay strong. EVERYONE!! 'Tis the Season...let's all draw strength from each other. Don't let them suck us into their insanity!
"I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR YOU MY WHOLE LIFE."
AWWW, Tim. We all know what you mean. Our (often) lifelong abuse at the hands of those who profess to LOVE us--has left us with a hole in our hearts that we didn't know how to fill.
I've thought of it as a "God-shaped" hole. One that only God can fill. Yet, God is Truth, & along comes Anna--valiantly speaking the Truth. The Truth that sets us FREE.
God Bless you, Anna!! The Happiest of Holidays to you & your loved ones!
This post forces me to see and believe that N-Mom's biggest supporter is cut from the same cloth.
Supporter's husband sexually abused their daughter, yet the daughter was cut off.
Supporter's son is in jail and it's the jail's fault that he accuses her of being a terrible mother.
Supporter's other son moved far, far away.
Supporter's "loyal" son is under her full control.
Supporter never cut N-Mom's sister any slack for going no contact.
Supporter has temporarily backed off me after a detailed letter in which I explained that I have done nothing to prevent N-Mom from living a "normal" life.
Supporter loves to play the "I got religion" card. She is trying to "convert" N-Mom.
I've always thought my family was "messed up," but to be able to look at them in the NPD light is like Catch 22! The "crazy" ones are, in fact, normal while the "normal" ones are, in fact, seriously disturbed.
My husband is relieved to be no contact, but I dread having to explain all this to my son one day. Anna, can you direct me to any posts that might help?
My husband is relieved to be no contact, but I dread having to explain all this to my son one day. Anna, can you direct me to any posts that might help?
Perhaps this post will help you:
It is titled "Narcissist Grandparents".
My Nmother too was quite beautiful and my father had adored her. My Nmother too is uber-religious and “spiritual”. I’m the youngest of seven kids and she was a lot tougher with the older kids, some siblings suggested physical abuse and a sibling (20 years older than me) hinted at “sexual abuse”, which has not been validated but none-the-less was troubling to hear. One sibling past away, one sibling lives in another state (lucky) and one sibling decided to have nothing to do with our mother and father (who has since past). The three other siblings including the sibling who hinted that he was sexually abused and said our mother made him drink his own urine is one of the most narcistic men you would ever meet i.e. uses women (on 4th marriage), never sees his children, no compassion for others only himself, lies constantly, plays victim and people buy it everytime!, in short gives me the creeps.
Strangely enough, my family completely shattered in Nov. 2004 when my mother had a “nervous” breakdown and accused her children to trying to commit her to a hospital against her will (a complete lie). This led her sisters and our own father to run to her aid. She moved out of state and lived at their “compound” in another state for two months. I had just moved back home after 4 years in another state (in May 2004) not knowing anything about malignant N or the situation rising. I loved my parents fiercely (loyal to a fault) and up to that point was my mother’s protector. To watch her lie and her personality “split” while on the phone while staying with her family was earth-shattering to me. It nearly killed me to hear my aunts screaming at me while I balled my eyes out on the phone pleading for their help. The whole time this was going on my father had stage 4 cancer and was bleeding. She said she didn’t know he was bleeding. He had been bleeding for over five months.
I mentioned my brother specifically about the abuse allegations b/c my mother started believing that he was trying to get her arrested, and was convinced our “town” was after her, which led to the climax FLIP-FLOP lie that all her children were trying to commit her, which led to the subsequent running out of town - literally. When she comes back to town after all this hell and chaos, she and this brother were great friends. He and his now fourth wife were coming to their house for dinners. It was so strange. The Nsiblings moved on like no big deal. When I asked my Nbrother about his 4th wife, about if told her about the “abuse”, he honestly said to me “different strategy”.
My mother and I have a horrible, tortuously relationship, and I have been to see several therapists to date. I now struggle daily with paranoia-tendencies and don’t trust anyone other than my husband. Ironically, I make a living in Business Development (sales) and make a good living b/c of the professional boundaries that naturally exist. My job requires good research skills, which I used in search to name my mother’s behavior. It took several months to find out about N.
What hurts most of all is the no empathy. One time out of sheer frustration, I started banging my head against the wall over and over again in front of her after I told her how much she’d hurt me and our family. She didn’t say a word. To compound that NO ONE (not even my husband) fully understands this abuse is even more devastating. I have thought about suicide.
"Our (often) lifelong abuse at the hands of those who profess to LOVE us--has left us with a hole in our hearts that we didn't know how to fill."
That was ME for a very long time. As a child I always felt it. I think depression was looming there too, as I was always anxious, sad, and irate when around my *family*. God was my help always, only I didn't realize it until my late teens and that was when the first glimmer of light came through. My NM & I were into it about something and I brought up something that the *golden one* had done. I asked her point blank if she blamed me for it and she for once in her life instead of going into the sullen silence said that she did. I remember looking straight into her eyes and stating, "It's not my fault, and I've been blamed for a lot of things that weren't my fault." I then turned around and walked out the door. My NM had a way of starting fights with me when I was about to leave the house to go do something. I never thought about that until just now. Maybe she wanted me to be in a foul mood. Thing is, once I left her precence, I was fine. Back to the story though, that was the FIRST time that I had EVER looked at it in the light that everything was not my fault. God had opened my heart and my brain. It's been years, but He's been steadily working on me and I thank Him for it.
Another famous quote from NM : "It's not me, it's EVERYBODY ELSE!" I'm not kidding. She actually said this to me one day when we were out together. I remember I just got very quiet and the thought came to me: there is something wrong.
People, stay strong. Merry Christmas
Anonymous said "I now struggle daily with paranoia-tendencies and don’t trust anyone other than my husband."
I think alot of us here feel that way - at least I do. Partly I think it comes from being fooled all those years by someone and not really knowing. It makes you feel like it would happen with anyone. But I honestly think we are better off in that department than most people. Think about how many people are taken in by the Ns. It's almost like we develop a sixth sense for BS!
It does get better.
My brother ran into my ex-NF the other day. Of course the N was all smiles and fake concern - "how is she? Haven't heard from her..." Yet another lame attempt at appearing to be all goodness and caring to someone close to me. Another weird encounter in which he casts himself as the innocent in order to gain some kind of leverage. Who the hell does he think he's kidding? My brother knows all about his N BS. Just another pointless day in the life of an N, I suppose.
Wow Anna, this blog is so profound. I really relate to the part about abusers having empathy for other abusers- something I've noticed over and over- which just adds to the confusion about their un-empathetic nature, until we learn enough about them to get it. Thank you so much for sharing your great insights- you have a way of expressing so clearly in words those vague, unsettling little N traits that I sense are wrong but often just can't put my finger on.
Peace and Love, Sister Renee
(PS) Tim is my hero!
Lack of empathy. Imagine having a spouse with a disease and the N never doing anything medically to help that person. Imagine spouse going without medical treatment for years. Then, hospice time comes. N tells the spouse he will get better, don't leave me with these "awful people". Awful people would be other family members that sacrificed and helped for nearly 8 months. Daughter of N had to stop helping after 6 months due to her own medical reasons - and then this daughter is painted to be awful, awful, simply awful. The N had NO empathy for anyone else's situation. Daughter could have had cancer and the N would not be phased in the least. But then we (the "awful" family members) were accused of doing nothing, even wanting something from them, accused of even STEALING from them. Reality means NOTHING to Ns. The whole time we gave of ourselves unselfishly, N spread AWFUL rumors to their neighbors about the family. No wonder the neighbors were so cold at the funeral to us. You can read about my fiasco with M-N at below URL. Anna's blog saved my sanity, now that I know The Truth. Seen a lot -- I am now, older. Wiser.
Tim -- you stay strong and good for you for drawing the line in the sand. Lies can be awful, character assasination can be a horrible thing. Saw it happen to my own Mother. (who is the daughter of the N.) Saw it happen to my husband (who was accused of stealing). Your decision may cost you the relationship w/ your Dad, but you are definitely in the right, and you are standing up for your family. You are an honorable man.
I would recommend for your own peace of mind - just ignore any further letters or communication from your Dad / Mom. I would not even read them. Wad them up and toss them in the can. You've explained yourself to them and they just want to bring you back into the fight. You may want to look into protecting your daughter in case NGrandparents seek visitation custody. I had this happen on our family. The grandparent won visitation. Document eveything and protect yourself. You will get through this and you've done the correct thing.
"Wad them up and toss them in the can."
Actually, I'd keep those letters as evidence for abusiveness/harassment. They might help in preventing the grandparents from having visitation.
Dear Lady Coyote:
I can certainly feel for you. Funny thing how those that try to help an N are portrayed in the most negative way, while those that do nothing (or next to nothing) are sitting back with folded hands telling you what you've NOT done. For the neighbors...just consider them a casualty of war. Sometimes it just can't be helped. You still need to believe in the things that are right even if those things aren't happening. Keep your head up and march on. You've latched on to the truth about things. To take a verse from the Bible; buy the truth and sell it not.
THANKS FOR EVERYONE'S CONTINUED SUPPORT. I WAS THINKING TODAY HOW ALL OF US PUT UP WITH SO MUCH EMOTIONAL ABUSE FROM NPEOPLE JUST BECAUSE THEY HOLD CERTAIN TITLES LIKE: MOM,DAD,SISTER,BROTHER,SPOUSE,ETC.
I DON'T THINK ANY OF US WOULD PUT UP WITH JUST ANYBODY THAT INFLICTS SO MUCH EMOTIONAL DAMAGE ON US.
MY NPARENTS ARE PEOPLE THAT IF I MET THEM IN THE STREET,I WOULD RUN AS FAR AWAY AS POSSIBLE. WHY WOULD I WANT TO ASSOCIATE WITH SUCH EVIL PEOPLE.
I HAVE GIVEN THEM A FREE PASS FOR SO LONG AND PUT UP WITH SO MUCH EMOTIONAL ABUSE BECAUSE OF ONE THING : THEIR TITLES.
I HAVE THE COURAGE AND STRENTH NOW,THANKS TO ALL OF YOU TO KNOW THAT I AM THE CEO OF MY LIFE AND I AM GOING TO STRIP AWAY THIER TITLES AND GIVE THEM THEIR WALKING PAPERS.
Hmm... if they were incapable of empathy, it would be a disability, but because they can feel, it makes what they do so much worse.
For me, it was a little over a year ago when I typed up and asked my mother to read an account of the sexual abuse I had experienced from very small until I was 12. As she read it, she commented, "Poor little guy," among other things empathizing with the older cousin who was abusing me. When I asked her, "what about this poor little girl?", all I got was 'the look' that said, "How dare you!"
Yeah, the fact that she can feel empathy and chooses not to in that situation is evil. I haven't seen her for just over 5 months. She was in the hospital and almost died during Thanksgiving week. I called. That was a learning experience. But I did not go see her. That didn't set well with some of the family, but... at this point, I will go no contact with the whole family, if that is what it takes to be free.
I am so thrilled to find this blog!
My Aunt is a NPD and she drives me insane. Fortunately I have been to therapy and I am basically NC, as best as I can anyway.
I could use some advise about my situation at some point soon.
Anyway, =love this blog. I will be a loyal follower!
Katherine said "...at this point, I will go no contact with the whole family, if that is what it takes to be free."
I am experancing the same thing with my family. I recently went NC with N"so-called mom" (need another word here!) and most in my family understood at first because they know how maddening she can be. (Not to mention her lie-filled smear campaign started shortly after NC) But that was when everyone, I guess, assumed it was temporary - like a spat.
Now Nmom is faking illnesses left and right and everyone is upset with me because now I'm the bad guy. Being ill would not make Ns better people even if the illnesses were real! It's just like everything else - it's a dangerous tool in their hands.
Most in my "family" are her enablers anyways so not a loss in my eyes. They believe her lies so they aren't who I want to be around anyways. Sad because now the only family I have are my Husband & ILs.
Better off an orphan than with a torcherious "family."
This is a great topic that I know so many of us can relate to. I've seen much empathy from Ns, always twisted and misdirected.
Anonymous at 9:01 am and I must have the same N-ex friend and Nmother. These types always take the side of the people who hurt you while blaming you for everything. My NM and Nsib always felt sorry for my boyfriends. They are the ones who mistreat people they are involved with, not me. Nsib goes through men like old rags. Yet their reality is that whoever I am with is a poor sap. They hate that anyone would stay with me even though I am disabled, they don't get what's in it for him.
When I was once in a difficult relationship and the guy crossed the line, I sought compassion from my family and they immediately blamed me for his behavior. I explained a level of abuse from him, that I was through with him because of it, but they chose to continue to be friendly to him. I suspect they apologized to him about me. My sicko Nsib even mentioned how she would not mind dating him.
When I was threatened by a stalker, and went to the police I had to go alone though I was just a teen because parents said I must be doing something to encourage it. When stalker got fired from his job because of my report, my dearest mother apologized to the manager for her daughter "causing all this trouble".
Because I stood up for myself in the nutso family and they saw that as being a troublemaker and rebel they apply that to all areas of my life, so I must be difficult and making trouble for everyone, thus everything is my fault.
Today I received another letter from my N-sister, who I mentioned in a post above as being in the hospital (the one saying her cleaning lady was trying to take over her life). I've been NC for nearly a year, but I did call the hospital to see how she was doing, but only talked to the nurse. She must have told her I called - big mistake. Never again.
This is the third letter in several months, two were "thank you" notes for money I sent, this is a Christmas card with "present." The card was exclusively about her being in the hospital, like I lived on Planet X and hadn't heard anything. She acts like I'm in NC with the entire family, I think this is her way of justifying that I won't contact her. She did this also in the thank you notes, caught me up to date on what everyone's doing, even though I'm in contact with them more than she is. What cluelessness. Presumptious. also.
She always says she's praying for me. It makes me want to scream. I don't want any recommends from her to God, He/She might zap me (LOL). This is the religious guru sister, who has used her knowledge of the Bible (and it's quite heady, she's very intelligent) to promote her own sense of guru-ness and spiritual priesthood.
So here's what she sent me as a present (Ns are famous for being bad gift givers) - a book by some religious media type flakey woman about how God will help me in bad times. This is the same woman she sent me a book by last year for Christmas. I opened that one and the first page was about obeying your husband. First of all, I don't have a husband, and second, he should obey ME. Ha. Patriarchial BS.
Into the trash with this one, just like last year's. She buys crap based on her own life and needs, she doesn't even know who I am as a person. Not one sentence in each of the letters asked how I was doing. She wants my brother's address so she can torture him with her letters and "gifts." Bah humbug, no Narcissist's Christmas for me.
Holy Water Salt - be CAREFUL with LoveFraud. Very careful:
and use caution with Vaknin -- another psychopath:
as for this article, Anna -- perfect & right on point!
Great post Anna.
In the fall of 2005 my aunt's condition grew worse, and my mom and dad were helping her, while my grandmother lived with them too. I helped my mom often, although she lived 90 miles away. Then dad went into the hospital, and my DH and I decided to take in grandma for a bit. We took her, and my aunt did succumb to cancer. Having my 96 year old grandmother was difficult.
While she was still here, my youngest DD became very ill. She turned 11 at the E.R. Six weeks later, doctors were looking for cancer in her spine. Grandma went back to live with my parents (dad had recovered). By December my DD had been diagnosed, treated, and is now very healthy (never had cancer).
Then, a few months later, in the spring of 2006 my 47-year-old DH was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and given 6-8 months to live. He actually lived 15 months, and we had a lot of fun in tht time, but a lot of tears and gut-wrenching events. One month after he passed away, my oldest DD left for college, over 400 miles away.
Two months after he passed away, my mom became ill. She was a very young 71-year-old at the time. Her progression was horrendous. I made the 180 mile round trip 2x a week for 11 months to help my dad. At times I stayed over night and dad and took turns in the hospice unit so she'd never be alone My other siblings also did this. We're all very close. Mom passed away 13 months after I lost my DH.
There's been 3 years of non-stop hospitals, treatments, tears, watching someone suffer and being helpless to alleviate it. But I couldn't stop to grieve my DH -- mom and dad needed me.
My oldest had an emotionally difficult 1st semester - she knew no one, her dad had just died, she was lonely. I ran down to Va. to spend a weekend with her, comfort her. I took the youngest to Disney for the break she needed after watching her dad die.
I could not lean on my children - that's unfair.
But now no one is ill. Now the grief has come to visit me.
And at no time did my ILs ever offer a word of comfort or support, although I often had to support them. My MIL has had one condition after another since I met her over 15 years ago. I sent cards, flowers, made phone calls, and we even dropped everything at one point to rush to her side, believing she was dying.
Not only no comfort from them -- that I could handle. But they actually INFLICTED pain on me during these past few years. They actually COMPETED for attention. If DD had a painful back and could not even walk, well, MIL had that too -- only WORSE. When juvenile arthrities was a possible diagnosis for my 11 year old, well, poor MIL could no longer knit afghans because HER arthritis was worse. This said NOT by MIL, but by FIL.
BUT -- all those things ARE IN THE PAST. I've been VERY STRONG on the OUTSIDE. Time to be strong on the INSIDE too. If I cry, I cry because I miss DH --NOT because some Ns seized the opportunity to tear me to shreds, a concerted, purposeful, deliberate effort. NO MORE.
I've been consumed and obsessed with them. TIME TO STOP.
All what I wrote is true.
But other things are equally true.
I have 2 healthy, wonderful daughters. They LOVE EACH OTHER! Six years apart, and they call one another and spend time laughing on the phone together.
I have 5 siblings and their spouses and children -- and all are supportive of me, and I of them.
I have a fulltime job and the bad economy has NOT affected me there. I work fulltime and am able to, on my income alone, keep my house, pay my bills, put food on the table. God has NOT forgotten the widow and fatherless, just as He promised. I have a relationship with Jesus -- not MY Jesus -- Jesus, my Lord.
I have a wonderful church, and many men have come to my home to help me with maintenance-type things. But I'm learning myself how to do some of them (exept if there's a mouse in the basement -- I don't do that!)
I became obsessed and consumed with anger towards my ILs. Why? I don't know them well, and I never have to see them again. If I think of them while I'm out, I turn my thoughts to how blessed I really am. If I'm home, I open my box of love letters and cards from my DH and read and read and read and treasure just how much God blessed me when He brought DH into my life. I remind myself I have so much more than so many others.
It's time to cry, but to cry for what I had and lost, but also to smile because I did HAVE. And I still DO HAVE. Many, many, many blessings have been given to me.
I will dwell on them.
Thank you, Anna.
As I've pointed out here on several occasions: gratitude is the antidote to grief. You, Kathleen, have grasped that point and are using it to salve your soul. I'm happy for you!
The truth is that gratitude a reservoir of mental and emotional health that is accessible to everyone. Yet how few will tap into it.
No life is untouched by grief and loss. Of that we can be assured. Everyone has suffered. Everyone has lost. Some choose to cling to their losses to the detriment of their souls. Nobility and strength of character will cling to life and present day blessings and move forward into living. To not do so will result in mental and moral decay turning our better traits into wizened bitterness and atrophying the better and higher impulses of our characters. I am delighted to see you choosing life, noble purpose and joy. God bless.
****I was feeling vaguely guilty until I heard that she'd said the doctors and nurses (who had saved her life) were making her life "pure hell." I've seen her reduce to tears people who were trying to help her.*****
Oh my. When I read this, it brought back memories of an old Sicilian fable my grandfather used to tell, called the Nanny Goat.
It seems a man who had 3 sons bought a nanny goat. He told the oldest son it was his job to take care of her. So the son fed her, cleaned her, gave her warm straw to lie on, etc. After a week the man went to the nanny goat and asked her how his son was taking care of her. With a look of contempt, she said "Terrible! He doesn't feed me, he does a terrible job keeping me clean,he doesn't give me enough straw to lay on, he even beat me..." The man was so angry that he threw his son out.
Then he told the second son to take care of the nanny goat. And the second son did everything he could for her all week. At the end of the week, the man went to the nanny goat and asked her how his second son had treated her. The nanny goat said "Awful! He starved me, he didn't keep me clean, and he beat me too!" The man was so angry he threw his second son out.
Then it was the youngest son's turn and the same thing happened. Now the man had no sons left, so he had to take care of the nanny goat himself. All week, he made special food for her, kept her and her stall spotless and warm, and gave her a clean bed of straw every day. He was really proud of himself- surely she would be satisfied now! So at the end of the week, fully confident in the great job he was doing, he asked her how good a job she thought he did in taking care of her. And with a sneer, she answered,"Hmph! You don't feed me, my stall is always dirty, I don't have enough straw to sleep on, you beat me....."
Moral: No matter what you do for some people, they're only going to complain about it.
Moral #2: No matter what you do for an N, don't expect any gratitude. In fact, you can expect lies and accusations as your reward.
There are a couple of other N analogies in here too- notice now the nanny goat isolated the man and eliminated everybody else in his life that he cared about. Now it's like an inside joke in our family when the N ingrates start their whining- we give each other knowing looks and say "Nanny Goat, Nanny Goat" and everybody knows what we mean.
The nanny goat story should have a revised ending:
The father called all his sons back, apologized to them, reinstated them, and they all had billy goat steaks for dinner.
Ns run a very serious risk, that of their victims finally talking to each other and figuring it all out.
At that point, their goose (billy goat) is cooked. Deservedly so.
Hmm... the risk Ns run of having their victims talk to each other. Wow, is that the truth. My Nmom used the tactic of isolation (much like the nanny goat story). Throughout my life, she would subtly insinuate how mean the rest of the family was to her. Although, an the last few years, it became much less subtle. The effect was to create a climate where I didn't trust anyone in the family enough to really talk to them. This indoctrination went on from the time I was very small.
When my aunt (her youngest sister) and I finally began talking about her behavior, and reading about narcissism, the jig was up. We are both NC now.
Thank you, Anna, for this blog. It helped us both see more clearly what we were dealing with.
Empathy is a commodity held precious by the N. Bestowed as currency rather than the natural flow of humanity. My N set a whole new low when she let me know that she would giving her son his graduation gift early. The gift was a trip to China and Australia. However, the trip included her. It just so happens her BFF lives in Melbourne. The eldest son received nothing five years earlier. (I was their stepdad).... At least very little by comparison. The "gift" was never discussed prior to the gifting. I was never asked to join. I was invisible. My N brought me the ugliest t shirt as a gift and resented my lack of interest in spending hours going over pics of the trip. She had no empathy in any of this. I would ask her to trade shoes with me ....she would either attack "you are so needy" "so selfish" "not supportive" (ah...projection) or move on to something totally irrelevant. I look back and I want to scream.
I spent years wondering why my N mother was always so guarded, so manipulating, deceiving, mistrusting me despite everything I did and gave up for her.
Last year I had some time for thinking and I realized I had never thought about her upbringing. Contrarily to her I grew up in a place, culture and environment where we were educated to loving ourselves and to treat others with respect. Where she comes from, the god everybody seems to believe in is "self-assuredness". They tell you forever you are supposed to be strong and not to allow others to mistreat you but that you must force your will on them. If you don't, you are considered a loser. If you have regard for other people's feelings, you are seen as backward and inhibited. If someone "makes it" or believes he does, he is blind to the help and the chances others gave him. Being vulnerable by nature, my N mother learned to admiration how to enforce her own way on others not through open violence, but with guilt trips.
At last I understood what that woman thought every time I did something she wanted: she never saw that I was doing it in order not to hurt her because I had bought her "but I'm so sensitive, such a victim" soap bubble: every time she triumphed interiorly, thinking "Well, this shows that I'm self-assured. I am strong! I do not allow anyone to run me over! I get my own way, and I get it because I am always right!" (At times adding thoughts like, "God is on my side. I am a religious person! I am righteous! I get my way because it is God's will!" So much for perversion.)
As if being a human and social being was the worst you could be. What a kind of mentality. I'm so glad I got away. She and her likes can take their attitude and go to hell - provided Satan will let them in.
I just wanted to write and thank you. Your website is so helpful to me...you put into words all I can't.
Thank you for your clear and powerful message. This website has helped me to understand...
Very helpful post and blog!
The problem is not that they don't have empathy but that they are evil (particularly the malignant variety).
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