Extreme self-absorption is another red flag. Unless a narcissist is a "doting" narcissist who keeps a "star" child he's exploiting under a microscope, just ask him about his family. You will be astounded at what he doesn't know about them.
That's the dead giveaway.
To test a person, write a basic character description of each member of his immediate family. Note things like whether this person is religious, excitable, highly motivated -- that's all, just basic stuff that anyone who sees them regularly should know about them. If you ask a narcissist to match each character description with the family member it belongs to, he will gape at you as though you just asked him to show the derivation of E = mc2.
It will astound him that you would expect him to know such things about his wife and children.
Because you know more about cartoon characters than a narcissist knows about the members of his immediate family. For, he can learn nothing about what he willfully, relentlessly, and reflexively pays no attention to.
Narcissists are notorious for being unable to remember people's names or to even recognize their faces outside the usual setting. That's because people all look the same to you when they all look like this.
[drawing of a girl's face blanked out because it is a mirror showing the narcissist flexing and posing in the mirror that should be her face.]
In your encounters with them, you make sure you get 100% of their attention while giving them zero of yours. So, what did they say? Anything? Did they even get a word in edgewise? If they did, you didn't hear it.
A narcissist may, for example, recognize her son in the home but not when she runs into him in the grocery store -- giving him a stupid stare as he approaches, until he clues her in by saying, "Hi, Mom."
Here are some other illustrative examples from narcissists I have known or heard about:
- Does not know how to spell his daughter's name.
- Never had any idea what kind of grades his kids got.
- Does not know his wife or children's birthdays.
- Has never visited the major Website his/her child/sibling published.
- Does not know how old his children are.
- Does not know that his daughter was a National Merit Finalist.
- Has no idea how good his kids are at any sport or other activity.
- Does not know what perfume his wife wears.
- Has never read the book his child wrote.
- Never does learn the names of the students in his/her classes.
- Cannot get the names of people "with two first names" straight. (viz. Jean Paul, Howard Dean, John Kerry, or even John Edwards.)
- Does not know the names of his children's spouses, let alone his grandchildren.
- Has never shown up to watch his son play varsity sports.
- Does not know what his children majored in at college or what degrees they earned.
- Does not know whether his teen-age son/daughter is dating.
- Has never met the boy his teen-age daughter has been dating for three years.
What Makes Narcissists Tick by Kathy Krajco, pgs. 83-84
The running joke in our family, and among some of our family friends, was on my mother's absolute inability to recognize any of us if we passed her when we were on the road. She should have recognized our cars. She most definitely should have recognized our faces. But she was utterly, completely oblivious. Even when we'd honk or wave our arms she'd never see us. It was treated like an endearing quality for years. She claimed to be very focused on the road and didn't have time to be looking around at other cars for familiar faces. She claimed she didn't care what people drove so how could she be expected to recognize their cars? Never mind that she often rode in our cars and that our cars would sit her in driveway where she'd often see them close up or could look out her house windows to observe.
My mental picture of my mother behind the wheel of her car is her sitting very straight, gripping the wheel with both hands almost pulling herself forward a little and staring straight ahead. Oblivious to everything around her. Not just us. Riding in the car was always a little scary because she was completely oblivious to what was going on around her. Near accidents were frequent. Her claims to being focused on her driving were baloney. She was not only oblivious to people she should have recognized when driving around town, she was oblivious to everyone. She was in her own little world while behind the wheel (as well as any other time). This was the main reason my father always kept her in very large cars. In case of accident, she would have a better chance of survival. Yes, she did have frequent driving accidents. Only one of them serious last I knew.
If her obliviousness was confined to her driving then it wouldn't have much or any real significance except, perhaps, she was just a bad driver. But it was just the demonstration of her ever-present self-absorption being displayed while on the road. If I walked into a store where she didn't expect to see me she wouldn't see me unless I walked up to her and started talking. I am the fruit of her own womb and she wouldn't recognize me. What she didn't know about her closest family members was just about everything, yet she claimed to know us better than we knew ourselves. We believed that lie for too long. She created what we were out of thin air and superimposed her false image of us onto us. There was no escaping her false rendering of our characters or accomplishments. She only thought she knew us. But the truth was she was entirely ignorant of who we were or what we've accomplished or what our real interests were.
To those who will come along and try to accuse me or Kathy of making a big deal over a frequent human failing let me point out what should be obvious. Everyone has had moments when we've forgotten a child's age or maybe their birth date. Everyone has an occasional moment of being oblivious. Usually this is because we've become engrossed in some mental activity and not because we're busy thinking about ourselves and getting what we want every livin' moment. This red flag is not talking about that. This is about a pervasive pattern that is far outside the norm of occasional human forgetfulness or being engrossed in some project or activity. Fact is, it isn't about being forgetful with the narcissist. You can't forget what you never bothered to know in the first place. It is the demonstration of the reality that to the narcissist you are an object. Not a person.
Just like anything else with the narcissist, we are talking about something that could be found in a normal human situation but it is at a level of pathology. Far outside, above and beyond what is "normal". That is why this extreme self-absorption is a red flag: because it falls outside normal limits. That word "extreme" is your clue that we're talking about something beyond the average or outside the definition of normal.
I'm sure that the comments will fill up with examples of this red flag behavior. Commence.
At my grandmother's funeral (my Nmom's mother, who had some vague issues of her own), there was a woman there who, at a distance, resembled one of my sisters. Upon closer inspection, however, I could tell that it was NOT my sister.
My Nmom walked straight up to the woman, gave her a big hug and said, "OH I'M SO GLAD YOU CAME!" (This sister had indicated that she would NOT be in attendance, and she indeed was not.) The woman looked a bit confused but said "Thank you." Later (when I told her), my nmom was quite surprised that this woman was NOT her daughter!
"Well, it LOOKED like her . . . "
Ndad had shocking self-absorption. He never could remember how old I was even though I WAS BORN ON HIS BIRTHDAY. Easy math problem, right? Also, his younger brother was a pedophile who sexually molested my sister and I for a couple of years when we were pre-schoolers. I told Nmom that when I was around 13 years old (her response was "we must not tell your father"). I found out when I was 25 that Ndad knew his brother was a pedophile, and about a decade later when I sent Ndad an email explaining why my family and I would NOT be attending a family reunion due to me refusing allow my DH and kids to be around the pedophile uncle, he just didn't bother to reply. When I sent a follow-up email a few days later asking if he got the previous email, he responded "yes, got your prior email, it's been snowing here today..."
Ndad could not figure out why I would have a problem with that response, because it wasn't about him and his wonderfulness. Then Nmom had a fit for me bringing up the past. I'm thinking, dude, uncle pervert probably has had about 700 more victims in the past couple of decades? I actually SAID that to Nmom, who replied "we have no proof that uncle has ever touched another child" - WTF?? Lady, you didn't know he was molesting your two pre-schoolers - you think he sent out invitation the next time? Nparents just could not be troubled to pay attention to anything that was not all about their specialness and grandeur. This episode was a pretty good clue that my parents were seriously messed up.
My ex-N friend couldn't get names straight- no matter how many times you corrected him. My sister-in-law's name is Sherry and he would either call her Terry or Cherry. My friend, Marianne was Miriam, and there was almost an arrogance to it, like he couldn't be bothered to remember their names.
He did the same thing with stores and celebrities, Williams-Sonoma was Williams-Sunoco. He was talking about a photograph in Vanity Fair magazine that was taken by the famous photographer Frannie Leibowitz. He would also mispronounce the names of common things- like steel wool pads were Sos (pronounced like "sauce") instead of the initials "S.O.S.". He loved to tell the story about the time his brother got pubic crabs, but he would say pooh-bik instead of pyoo-bik.
My husband and I will get the occasional chuckle at the video store when he points to a Kramer vs. Kramer DVD and says, "Ooh, let's get that Cheryl Streep movie!"
Hi, On my journey to emotional and spiritual healing I have found your site! I can not tell you how much I have learned about my life from reading about yours. I am a 41 year old adult survivor of abuse, both sexual and emotional. Unfortunately I married into a family of evil, wicked, psycho narcissists. Thank God my husband left when he was 16 years old (he blew the whistle on his Nmothers affair to his dad) Nmom kicked him out of the house and dad did nothing!! Anyway, we have been married for 20 years and have grown and overcome our hurts and abuse. The crazy thing is when we try to go NC with his mom and sister they pursue us and torment us through e-mails, hate letters etc. My Nmother-in law does not even know how old my children are. Just one example, she ignored a major injury with my 4 year old daughter( she almost lost her eye due to my brother in laws cat attacking her! she also had to go through rabie shots) When my daughter was having emergency surgery for a corneal laceration, my Nmother in law said she ignored it because I had called her an adulterer and that was her way of getting me back! No one in my husbands family even acknowledged what my daughter was going through, including my own brother.How sick is that! I know I am ranting but this is the first time I have ever put my feelings down in words. My husband and I have worn each other out emotionally dealing with these people. My husband has never had a relationship with anyone in his family but yet every holiday they come out of the woodwork like we are the Waltons. They are mean and vicious to me , always have been. My mother in law once said she only puts up with me because I am married to her son, the son whom she told she wishes she had an abortion with because he was a mistake!. Its crazy. I am so glad to have found your site and to be able to feel legitimized. My family has always denied my brothers abuse of me,they attempt to ignore and deny it even when I have told them what he use to do when I was a little girl. It took me a long time to realize that is was not my fault. My parents still justify my brothers behavior, he is 46 and still verbally and emotionally abusive to me. After reading your blog, my husband and I have decided to go no-contact with these people. My mother in law even went so far as to tell us we were not true Christians and that we will go to hell because we want her and my sister in law to say sorry for the terrible things they have said and done over the years. Like I said, it is just crazy, It would take hours to describe the evil things my husband and I have endured. when you spoke about protecting our children from this EVIL I realized how I had fallen short and was allowing my children to be part of a cycle of abuse that we needed to end. Again, thank you for sharing your heart, your hurts and your life so that others can grow and heal. Why wont these people just leave us alone? When we are together there is only nasty talk and back biting. I do not understand how people can live like this. I feel like writing everyone a "kiss my butt" letter, but I know with them the way to get to my NMIL and NSIL is to ignore all attempts by them for contact. I have found our recently that that drives them crazy!! Anyway your site has been a life saver for me!!!-TD
When my N boyfriend of ten years devalued and discarded me a few months ago, there was a weird moment right before his exit. I am able to recognize its pathology only because of this wonderful, helpful blog.
He was standing in our living room packing his things when suddenly he looked around as if he had never ever seen that room before.
"Wow," he said contemptuously " ... you have A LOT of books."
Uh yeah ... I've always had a lot of books. I like books. And let's not forget, I am an English Instructor. My books compliment what I do for a living.
N boyfriend didn't suddenly forget my profession. He never bothered to really "know" it in the first place. What a waste.
My N exhusband (thank God!) used to forget that we had gotten married and often introduced me as his girlfriend 8-)
I have a question for you all: how much do you think is being truly oblivious and how much of it is spiteful and with intent, in order to minimize other people, be self important etc? I mean how often do they PRETEND to not see etc?
I'd say it's 50-50...
I don’t think that it was just the pure selfishness that went along with the X-NH that drove me nuts. It was the lies that accompanied it.
One example of the more stupid ones was he once said he wanted to give our only TV set to some friends of ours. I of course said why? He said because theirs broke and their kids don’t have anything to watch. I said what about our kids? He didn’t have an answer then and gave it up. But the real reason was he wanted to pawn it for drug money.
Another was that he actually made twice as much money as he told me that he did. Then out of the supposed whole amount he gave me he took some for his spending money for the week. I didn’t find that out until the divorce.
His selfishness continues to this day. He just doesn’t seem to understand why he should owe me so much child support money. After all he says… I have it made compared to him, the kids are grown, and poor him he cant find a job, has to live with (off of) his mother, sniff sniff. The selfish excuses are endless as to why he should not have to pay it. The problem is that he never did pay it when the kids were little and I really could have used it so it just accumulates interest while he sits on his ass not paying it.
K, I think it is spiteful, deliberate, intentional de-valuing of what is important to you! My N-MIL and SIL have never acknowledged my b-day in 20 years or when my husband and I have suffered severe loss and sickness, but when it concerns them, boy oh boy you had better strike up the band! Being the evil people they are, I feel that their "forgetfulness" is a deliberate act to put you down, and make sure you realize that they are the most important people is the world!! When I told my Nbrother that my husbands cousin had been found murdered in NJ, he said "yeah, well shit happens, people die everyday" he was mad because I missed his wife's cookie party! That was his way of getting me back. That is just way, way too sick for words. You are definitely on target, it is a way for him to minimize you and exhalt himself. I am glad that you no longer have to suffer at the hands of his abuse. My NMIL and Nbrother are both physically as well as emotionally abusive people. Sometimes it does escalate to the physical. Good luck and God bless, I know you are on the path to healing! TD
Anon 12:01 - Yeah, WHAT is it with seemingly purposeful mispronunciations?! Are they really that hard up for attention? [I know, I know... yes they are] No matter how you correct them, they continue to make the same "mistake" for years. The smug look is the giveaway. The ones I've known who do that will also use nicknames inappropriately or over familiarly, like be the only person who calls a known Susan "Sue" or even "Susie", even though no one else does it and the person gets pissed off, or say honey or dear when it is totally forced and weird.
I hate how they also love mangling or nicknaming in a way they pretend is natural, but it is all a big put on. They will continuously mispronounce the name of YOUR town or YOUR street or the company YOU work for, or... make up some unfunny little nickname that no one thinks is funny. The worst? When they USE A SINGSONG VOICE when they do thatt!!!
K - I cannot think they don't do this crap on purpose! Especially when no matter where you work, they can't seem to recall how to correctly pronounce the name of the company! I think they do their little dog and pony show when they can, and seem to know when to leave it behind when they calculate it will it will backfire!
"I have a question for you all: how much do you think is being truly oblivious and how much of it is spiteful and with intent, in order to minimize other people, be self important etc?"
I agree with you K, I think it's about 50-50. I had the N friend who called a good friend of mine Miriam instead of Marianne. He did this for YEARS. I corrected him for YEARS! It got to the point when he would bring up "Miriam" in conversation, I would look at him like I was confused and say, "Is Miriam a new employee at your job?"
As far as misnaming my SIL, I think he did it out of spite, he generally had nothing nice to say about her. Probably because she is an outgoing and warm person with lots of friends, and has a great job.
[Self-absorption as a characteristic N trait]
Ave A.V. I've always found 'extreme self-absorption' the weakest and the most generic of the official NPD traits.
I have been trying to construct a much more accurate model of NPD than the one the psychologists brandish around and currently my view is that what looks like extreme self-absorption is a direct result of the N's continuous outwards projection, ie the constant denial and rewriting of 'reality' (= that what is really going on, often with tangible proof). That what does not interest the N or is contrary to his or her direct benefit simply did not happen and the N's judgement on this is final, as usual.
This projection also much better describes your given examples of Ns being willfully oblivious to the actions of their non-supply children (sports, dating, accomplishments) than that they merely passively perform the act of being self-absorbed.
Therefore I'd like to ask you and each of the commenters to view your examples from that point of view as well and if possible judge whether or not that view fits the facts better.
All the best.
Anon. said "He did the same thing with stores and celebrities, Williams-Sonoma was Williams-Sunoco"
OMG, I thought my idiot MNdad was the only person to do that. He intentionally mispronounced words, usually sexualized words, such as calling Republicans "Re-PUBIC-cans" like it's the the most hilarious thing ever, and he's been doing it (the same words mispronounced) for decades. In his case, it is definitely malevolent or at least an attempt at attention-getting. Being around him as a kid was like living in the movie "Animal House" only with a NC-17 rating for violence and sexual content.
I'm sure MNs' self-absorption is spiteful - everything they do is mean-spirited. MNdad could certainly remember details when it came to someone with power, like an employer. At least until coworkers caught on to him. He could never quite work out that eventually coworkers could form a mob and take him down, which would account for changing jobs every 3-4 years. Nmom didn't start out as bad as MNdad but by the time she reached her 50s, she was completely all about her boring pathetic little life. She was giving my teenage niece advice about the workplace a few years ago, taken wholly from her experience working at a minimum wage job in high school 50 years earlier, which was her last (and only) foray into the workplace, and could not understand why niece blew her off as irrelevant.
This has never happened to me, but it's very interesting. Somehow it seems like a good thing not to be recognized by NM.
The female N that I dealt with for 5 years was very close to her child. She was highly motivated in his education and made him highly competitive in board games, video games, and sports. However, the motivation seems as though she wishes to dominate the child to the extent that it makes her look better than the father. The father is not the custodial parent, therefore, he does not have equal time with his son. Just an observation, as my X N tends to constantly tear down the father.
In the sense that she is oblivious to her son, she is most certainly oblivious to her other family. She forgets birthdays all the time, she is always last minute with everything. She forgot my birthday last year and two days afterward, I had to tell her. I couldn't begin to count the many times we met people in various public settings that knew her (many times former clients as she is an attorney) and I would have to introduce myself first to get a name because I see her blank stare, indicating she didn't know their names. She in general is forgetful and sometimes I believe she would use this trait as an excuse for some of her intentional ploys.
I'm sure we have all seen variations of such forgetful characteristics of an N we know. Forget their birthday, or special occasion and I'm willing to bet, the abused will never live it down.
I do find though that my X N's involvement with her young son is not characteristic of most N type mothers. I duly note that her son is very manipulative and does not accept defeat in these games, sports, etc. and he plays his mother with his being hurt by something she says or does, she concedes to him, and he suddenly drops the act, as if nothing happened.
I would like to hear someones take on this type of N mom. I seem to be missing what her real motivation is, in the N sense.
My Narcissist Mother-in-law could not remember my due date (I had to tell her at least once a week for my entire pregnancy). When I actually did go into labor, she was very busy faking a severe shoulder injury. She was so drugged up and out of it, she refused to see her first grandchild until he was almost two weeks old (when I finally got fed up and insisted on bringing our newborn son to see her).
Even after the fact, she would not allow us to call her grandma, or my son to either. She had such a problem being a grandparent, aging, etc.
Hmmm... my N-F.O.O. actually is the opposite - I wish they WOULD forget or neglect details. They're stalker-obsessive in the way they've dug up and obtained information on me.
I cut them off years ago but I can still feel them e-breathing down my neck. I will forever hate sites such as ZabaSearch because of this.
I've had to change usernames/blogs/sites, seal up my social networking profile so tight it would take Indiana Jones to get in, and deal with them digging up stuff that is none of their business. They've also harassed my ex, who took my advice long ago and told them he's staying out of it, and they aren't getting zip about me from him, ever.
Granted, they don't know squat about who I am on the inside, and even if they did they couldn't break me down like they used to anymore. But it stinks that they are so good about record-keeping on the things they DO know.
They are self absorbed and unable to realize that OTHERS have feelings. What a concept. My Ngrandmother never realized that her husband also meant something to OTHERS. Everything was all about her. STILL IS, big shocker (not!)
Even his gravesite is "controlled" because any momentos I put out at the grave are mysteriously "removed". This has happened on quite a few occasions. I have come to the conclusion that SHE wants to be the only one to put things out on the gravesite. Like nobody else mattered.
This level of self-absorption w/ regard to NPD is something I "get". But, my 10 year old daughter doesn't understand why things she's made (a rock she painted, etc) are removed from the gravesite.
Sad and pathetic Ns are, and controlling to the "nth degree".
I have to admit I often don't notice or recognize people in public, and am often off in my own world. I've always had a hard time looking people in the face and tend to withdraw into myself out of anxiety, but I chalked it up to being a residual coping mechanism from enduring all the critical tirades from my Nmom throughout childhood.
My mom has always shown a weird combination of almost stalkerish behavior and indifference. I think she isn't really interested in anyone's life, but wants information as ammunition for putting people down. I actually caught her standing outside my house in the dark once, peering in the window.
My MNmom has many of these characteristics of self absorbtion: she mispronounced my brothers wife's name for about 3 YEARS, she claims she can't remember names, dates or numbers (but is notorious to keep track of family at all times). Quite recently I went to meet her for lunch and I was walking toward her in the crosswalk and she was looking right at me but didn't realize it was me. I kept saying "mom, mom" but she didn't notice me. I had to reach out and grab her before she realized it was me. And as a kid I would go see her at work and it was the same thing, that maybe she would recognize her only daughter but she was totally oblivious.
The reality that she doesn't even recognize me is strange because I have come to realize that I have an "omnipotent/omniscient" view of her, always afraid she knows where I am, what I am doing and what I am thinking or feeling. This is obviously from deep rooted early programing where everything about me was under her control (I guess I am lucky I don't remember the words or manipulations or punishment at that young age). Since she recently moved near me, there was a time when I was constantly worried that I will drive by her on the street or everytime I saw a car like hers I thought it was her. I was so afraid that if I saw her, then she also saw me (she is all knowing, right?), and that I would have to stop to talk to her. Talk about paranoia. I would purposely avoid places I thought she might be just to reduce the chances of a run in.
Sad how scared she could make me feel, yet that she is so self absorbed that she doesn't even recognize me standing right in front of her.
- Breaking Free
Thanks for answering my question and for the well-wishes. I hope for Everyone of you that will be well and safe in the future and FAR away from these freaks posing as human beings. Funny thing, the other day I received "news" that my ex now works with selling empty cargo containers. Well, is that not a perfect metaphor for Narcissists. Empty boxes. HA!
Besides the usual "devalue and treat your closest ones like crap" I've also noticed that because of their enormous envy, they tend to "ignore" people who are funny/smart/charming/attractive/kind etc (and who they can't take advantage of). It's as though they try make this person invisible... I've seen this happen at parties, family dinners etc (of course some Ns will chose the opposite strategy and latch on to the ones that do have a lot of "goodies"). Its so strange. Its almost as though they have an allergic reaction!
PS: Td: The phrase "shit happens"... I suggest you save that phrase for the funeral wreath of one of these losers ;)
I realize you can take any of these oblivious mindless traits in this article as examples of what a MN can perform. My female X-MN has a hard time maintaining her professional calendar even though her secretary does it most times. She has forgotten most of her family's birthdays, special occasions, etc..(secretary now marks her calendar for those occasions now) Amongst other thoughtless and forgetful things she does,she also forgot my birthday last year and had to be told about it two days later. As she is last minute about literally everything she does, when trying to make up to these people for such forgetfulness, she will buy an expensive gift (not much thought, just convenient and quick) to let them know despite her short memory, you just came out a "fat cat" on this deal! Interestly though, when she forgot my birthday, I got a set of towels and wash cloths about a week after my birthday. She claimed she just didn't have the time to shop.
My question to you regarding a typical female MN mother is this..
Her and the X husband have a 10 year old son, which she is the custodial parent. Her X-h has always been concerned about a primary issue in his mind that his son is being raised with poor moral issues. He sees her as a master manipulator and a liar. To which I agree 100%. However, she is obsessed with her son in that he should have the best of everything, and where I had problems with her is that her son could do no wrong. He actually controls her through emotion and smiles with this evil appearance, knowing he has gotten his way. She would not believe anything I ever told her about her son's wrongness, and when he was confronted between the two of us, there were no apologies to me, nor was there a punishment for him. She believes that her home is the center of focus for all the children of the neighborhood, therefore, she considers herself to be the ultimate mom. She controls the neighbors/parents that have children,(in association with her child)with amazing skill and cunning. She always talks about their lack of parenting skills and personal indescretions. The first year or so of this 5 year relationship we had problems where it concerned my role in his discipline. Her son was inclined to make me look bad in everyway. I simply stepped away and would only address what I witnessed where it concerned his wrongs and left it up to her to deal with such issues. To no avail, he simply got away with everything. We lived in different households, therefore, I was not privy to situations when I was not there. When I was within her household, I could not see, by his moms actions or words, anything that promotes her son to emulate her, such as the manipulation, half-truths, etc. that her son was so proficient in performing. He was not exposed to our arguments in any way, he simply was not made accountable for his actions. Is this a case, whereby, I am considered an outsider, and that if she believes (as an MN herself) she is not accountable for her actions, her son should not have to be accountable to others either? Is this why I do not receive apologies from her? I know if you allow a child to get away with "murder", they will see it to their advantage in future situations. She does have talks with her son about his father being controlling of her life and for him not to believe what he says about her most times. This may be happening more than I am privy to. I gave it my best shot to be close to her son and I could not trust him, because he would go to his mom and discredit me at his every opportunity.
Unlike the typical MN mother, this one has a very different N type approach towards her child and I would like your assessment on this type of approach she has.
Anon 9:17 said: "My mom has always shown a weird combination of almost stalkerish behavior and indifference. I think she isn't really interested in anyone's life, but wants information as ammunition"
This is my experience with N's too. They show indifference to most all the normal things, and a heightened interest in things others would not. And proof that they know how perverse their interests are, they try to hide the look of heightened interest over things that they know full well are disturbing or upsetting to others.
Most N's would totally flunk a basic test on the basic life facts of another person, anything with content along the lines of current job, friends, health, hobbies, major personality characteristics, strengths, and so on. In fact, a test like that would probably infuriate them, because they experience all these things as obstacles to their ridiculously infantile and pathetic needs being met, or as things that make them feel inadequate in comparison. But they'd never admit the kind of test that they'd pass with flying colors: what makes others upset, scared, guilty, ashamed, hopeful, desperate, suggestible, and so on. They hoard this info to USE it against others, normal people also know things like this but they know it in order to avoid upsetting their friends.
If I wanted to mess with an N's head, I would purposely talk about a recent personal success and watch them do the "blank look of indifference" or look panicky as they try to come up with a plausible way to turn the tables, like suddenly bringing up something bad from my past. And/or, I could make up a fake embarrassing story about a big mistake I made, and watch them try to hide their sudden look of practically pornographic interest, as they beg me to go into detail... Then, I could bring up needing some help, and watch them run out of the room!
Anonymous Mar 24, 2009 8:42:00 AM,
Great comment. I really like to see it when someone keeps their eye on the ball. As in, what the blog post is addressing and what it isn't. Just because a narcissist is oblivious to important basic truths about us doesn't mean they aren't paying attention when information they think will help them in their predatory search for supply is suddenly available.
You've well-described the reality of what types of tests a narcissist will flunk...and which they'd pass. Just because they miss the most basic life questions about someone close to them doesn't mean that their predator's snout doesn't sniff out the scent of blood in the air. They are very attentive to the details they deem important. Our fears, failures, insecurities, etc. This post doesn't negate this reality about Ns. It is simply one aspect of their behavior that is being described. A helpful sign post identifying a piece of bad road.
It isn't a contradiction to say they will completely ignore the facts or character traits of those closest to them while at the same time keeping careful tabs on other types of information about us. Information they find useful to their nefarious ends.
Evil can be summarized as that which ignores the personhood of others. This red flag is helpful in that it identifies the banal face that evil often presents and that people often miss. They don't see it as an extension of the evil character of narcissist that they consistently flunk the basic test of knowing those they should know. It is a symptom of a larger reality...the reality that the narcissist has zero respect for you as a human being which is how they justify their many crimes against you.
P.S. said, "I will forever hate sites such as ZabaSearch because of this."
You can request that Zaba remove your information, I did. Yes, it is based on public records, but if you don't plan on taking out any loans, you'll temorarily drop off the radar.
You can also use a service like Reputation Defender to find and request removal of your name and information from other sites.
Oh, and don't forget about LifeLock.
Paranoia, just one of the N-induced PTSD symptoms I've earned!
Anon @ Mar 24, 2009 7:50:00 AM,
The woman you describe falls more into the category of a doting narcissist parent. Here's my take on it: the doting parent treats the child as they themselves would want to be treated. The child is an extension of the narcissist's own child-self. They are as indulgent and permissive as they'd want a parental figure to be to themselves; as they want to be treated even today.
The principle involved is one I discussed in another post about abusers who give a pass to other abusers because it is the same as giving a pass to themselves. Your X's permissiveness with her son is the level of permissiveness she demands from those in her world toward her.
Another important thing to realize about narcissists: they are easily deceived. They believe what they want to believe. This means they are perfectly poised to fall for any pretty little lie someone wants to feed them as long as the lie is in line with what the narcissist wants to hear. Your X's son knows what she wants to hear and feeds her just that. She swallows it whole because she isn't interested in truth or reality. She wants HER truth and HER reality to be reflected back at her. Son has perfected doing this to his own advantage.
Ns are extremely easy to manipulate and lie to especially by the unscrupulous. Your X has raised an unscrupulous son who is taking full advantage of her vile credulity. She is raising a monster who will be a true "credit" to her mothering skills in the years to come.
You've described a woman who is a completely unprincipled parent. The surprise should come in when a narcissist is parents a child in any kind of principled way. She is being a consistent narcissist by being an inconsistent parent.
NM gets her daughters confused a lot, when it doesn't have something to do with her. We are night and day but NM just can't get it straight. This particularly pains my Nsister because she trys to be so perfect. It destroys her to be confused with lowly me. It makes me cringe to be confused with her but at least I understand what is going on.
I've had this problem with men in my life as well, who took great interest but seemed to think I was interchangable with other women, particularly my sister. (No, never!) I had been with my boyfriend for four years and we finally had a good fight and that's when I discovered he had NO CLUE who I was. We had had many in depth conversations and shared experiences but none of it stuck. It was surreal, but in hindsight there were signs of his being an N all along.
Thanks for validating my own experience. I always felt that my late MIL saw her children and me as extensions of herself. In particular, she remarked once, "Every time we're together, it's always surprising to notice how tall you are. I think of you as much smaller."
Talk about Freudian! I knew she thought of me as small in the figurative sense. That is, when I didn't agree with her, my opinon was insignificant. I was a metaphoric child whose main purpose in life was rescuing Mommy-(in-law) from boredom and disappointment. In fact, she always seemed so certain that if only I understood how important "this" was to her (whatever issue was being disagreed on at the moment), surely I would agree, give in, submit graciously, and put my own or my children's best interests aside to gratify some whim of hers. After all, it was important to her, so it should be equally important to us, right? Wasn't _everything_ about her? What was wrong with me for not getting that? (Insert eye-rolling emoticon here.)
There was just never any way to make her see me or my kids as real, separate individuals with legitimate preferences and needs of our own.
Anna V, response: March 24,2009 09:32am
Thank you for the enlightening response. It all makes perfect sense. I am truly sad how such parenting will affect this young man in years to come. His fathers concerns about his son's moral upbringing obviously stem from his past and present experiences with the X-w (my X-n). I feel terrible about how I perceived him to be the bad guy all these years. Personally, he has never been anything but cordial to me and I reciprocated for the sake of peace amongst us all. All that I did know about him, came in the form of slanderish and hateful comments from her, and of course, how her family felt towards him. My X-n's family's comments about her X-h were like recordings of her. So I can assume their experiences with her X-h, were mostly hers and not truly theirs.(I know that feeling oh too well!)
The son does not like to go to his fathers house or associate with him much because his father does expect him to behave and understand authority. I now believe the father's concerns about his son's moral upbringing are indeed valid, and his son's egregious actions have apparently become more noticable. I see this as one of those unfortunate cases where the law cannot help the child. Short of physical abuse, or alcohol/drug dependency on her part(which is not the case here), the law will not allow custody to the father because the mom has a narcissistic personality. As well, she is a local attorney in family law. I truly hate that a child is subjected to such an environment.
Thank you for your insight and your website.
"This is my experience with N's too. They show indifference to most all the normal things, and a heightened interest in things others would not."
Yes! They can't remember your birthday, but they can remember to the penny how much it cost you to have your car fixed after that fender bender 4 years ago. And you know this because they bring it up - frequently.
My ex-NF would hyper-focus on anything I purchased. I once bought a portable air conditioner for my apartment. He called me on four separate occasions to question me about it. When, where, how much... His tone was creepy and accusing, like he was trying to get me to admit I had lied and didn't actually buy the stupid thing. It was then that I FINALLY realized there was something deeply wrong with him, and that it wasn't my imagination. Thankfully, he's out of my life. And I'm still using the A/C.
I am really enjoying reading your blog and all the comments! My NM rarely ever told us she loved us (part of her conditional love that has given me horrible self esteem). While I was pregnant she told me almost daily (as I was the carrier of her first biological grandchild). Now that my child is reaching 6 months of age she is back to her old tricks. I have a blog site that I keep friends/family updated on the baby and have sent the link to my mother a few times but she never has checked it, I know because I have point-blank asked her. It's amazing to me how little interest she has in her grandchild, but that fits in perfectly with N behavior. The oddest thing though is that she is convinced my child in the reincarnation of her (scary) and instead of comparing how much my baby looks like me or my husband, she pulls out HER baby pics and gushes about the uncanny resemblance.
Now looking back I see many instances where, if I did what I wanted I was ignored. If I had a positive experince it was downplayed by my NM due to the fact that she could not take credit fot it. I was ignored for 3 months and left alone for Christmas at age 21 after graduating college. Instead of being proud of me, she punished me. I have confronted her about this less than a year ago because it has hurt me for so long and she admitted no fault (of course) and seemed to not remember the incident at all (figures). And said, "Well you are probably blowing it all out of proportion". Right, I am the crazy one here!!
The blank look of indifference vs intense interest. There is so much I could say about living with N MIL and her daughter, my N SIL. I got married when I was 19 (and still married 37 yrs later), and haved lived very close to them all these years. For such a long time I felt weird, couldn't understand the reactions I got, always felt like I was to blame for things. My FOO was open, loving, strong, outspoken, even though there are N tendencies there also. But I had no idea what I was marrying into. It's like my husband (and his brother to a lesser degree) were invisible unless there was something in it for his family. Casual conversation is often met with blank stares, but we often hear them repeating things back to us, so we know they heard! NMIL does not hear anyone else's problems, she has them much worse. We have learned to stay quiet to avoid problems from what she THINKS she heard, but which are usually blown out of proportion. We have tried to keep our distance and privacy. She is quite elderly now, so my guard is down at the moment.. but I know that it could backfire at any time. By the way, both NMIL and NSIL are very gossipy, always looking for dirt on others.. but reveal very little about themselves of a personal nature. If you get too close, they clam up.
Yes yes yes to the Self Absorption!! After 18 months of NC, and constant harrassment, I agreed to spend one hour with NM (to scare her off once and for all, it worked too!).
Anyway, when I told her that NF had sexually molested me all through my childhood (and invited his friends to join in), she gazed off and said "Yes, well he wasn't very kind to me during that time either."
I have always known she knew what was going on as a grew up, and I at age 11 I went to her sobbing for help to stop NF abusing me. But she hit me instead.
(Back to NC of course, but this time, she is scared to come near me ever again, I made her cry and run away. Boy that felt good!)'
Once when my mother was yet again showing off her brightly colored "ethnic" living room with knick knacks from her travels to my sister and me, I mentioned that one day when I had my own living room, I wanted it to be decorated in beige. To a normal person, that wouldn't seem like a threatening phrase, but to my mother. Yikes. It was as if I had slapped her across the face, how frustrated she was with me. She called me out for being young, immature and uncultured. I can vividly remember her looking over at my sister with that conniving flicker in her eye, asking her to gang up on me by agreeing that yes, when I was older I would change my mind. And "oh ha ha ha", my mother would sit there and laugh as if I was just such a fool for wanting a beige palette in my living room. Any independent thought I had, any taste in anything different than hers, had to be scoffed at and ridiculed. Craziest thing — for most of my childhood that I can remember, and even years after finally getting out of her house, whatever someone else liked, thought, disliked, etc, I would be in total agreement, even when it wasn't the truth. I was so used to having anything I tried to express ridiculed, that I could never bring myself to even try to be me and be true to myself. But what makes me feel the worst when I realize how it effects me to this day is understanding that I didn't really even trust my own thoughts and opinions enough to share them because I had never actually believed myself having opinions and thoughts that were worthy of being expressed. It was like I didn't even bother. So sad.
To Anonymous on being horribly molested & your "Mother’s" Sick Response (and to the Inner Children in all os us):
Let me have the honor of being your imaginary Mother for just a moment. Can you see the indescribable horror in my eyes when you tell me you have been molested? Can you see me crying desperately and holding you so tight, so tight. My Dear Child. I am so bottomlessly sorry for what You went through.
Can you see me taking ANY measure needed to keep you safe, if I suspected you were being molested? NOTHING would stop me, even if I had to leave the country. If my child were to be hurt that way, what use would my life be? It would be as though my own heart was being ripped out. It is the most undescribable thing a little child can be put through. UNACCEPTABLE.
Can you see me taking all the measures needed to make sure justice was made. Making sure it could not happen again and that he got his punishment. Nothing would stand in my way – nothing.
You are My Child, and A Child’s Heart is In fact Paradise on Earth. You are the Most Precious Gift a Human Being Can Ever Receive and should be treated with Utmost Care. My Dear Child.
With Deep Love, Your Mother (Mother = as honorary title of the True Goddess and Woman)
This reminds me of two events shortly before and after the divorce from my MN ex-wife. (Ex-MIL is also MN. Both "knew" my thoughts and emotions better than myself.)
The one before happened in Berlin.
I'm a German. She Japanese, a professor of singing. As all Ns do she likes to associate herself with important people of real ability in their respective profession, in our case, musicians.
On that evening in Berlin she came back together with her enablers from a concert in the famed Berlin Philharmonic Hall.
By coincidence I saw her with her "fans" in the subway station near their hotel.
I already really didn't want her to see me there.
And my chances were very good. She didn't see me at all being lionized by all of her admirers (mostly female). Only one of them recognized me.
The one after the divorce happened in Hiroshima. We had arranged a meeting in front of the A-Bomb-Dome.
It was kind of farewell with two of her greatest admirers (both female).
The N walked a few meters in front of me and did not see me. While one of the admirers saw me at once. I hadn't exactly hidden myself.
The four of us talked for hours in the Peace Memorial Park. I talked with the one who had seen me.
Sad thing but also very typical that latter person broke off contact for no reason given a few months later.
This is a cult around my ex-wife. While I was able to break loose from this cult (former member #2) the others are dependent on this being.
I wrote them letters. No answers. Betrayal of the bystanders.
MNdad had no interest in sis and I growing up, but believed his every passing thought was a precious gift to the world and forced us all to be an admiring audience to his tiniest triumph or problem. I remember thinking his self-focus was bizarre even when I was about 6 years old. Now that we are nearly entirely NC with him, his self absorption can be quite hysterically funny. For example, when I was growing up in the Crazy House, he insisted we all participate in his hobbies, model railroading and guns (he schlepped the entire family to gun shows more week-ends than I can count). Being around him was so miserable due to him also being violent, angry, and controlling, that sis and I would just stand silently watching when forced to be in his Hobby rooms, until he grew bored with our presence (we didn't provide adequate oohing and ahhing - I mean we were about 5 years old and had not yet developed the verbal repertoire required to show him he was King of the World) and dismissed us. Fast Forward to today - MNdad is now retired and his big thing is a club similar to Civil War re-enactors, where he and his buddies dress up in period costumes and meet to shoot guns. He is always trying to get people to go with him to watch - or I should say, admire his wonderfulness. He is wildly unsuccessful, because it is insanely boring, and he insists on driving so anyone foolish enough to go with him is stuck there all day. MNdad has a totally unnatural, stalker-like obsession with my DH, because DH served in US military special forces for a few years. DH, being a normal human, finds my FOO and all its assorted fruits and nuts, to be wildly dysfunctional and fully supports my NC stance with the vast majority of them. MNdad signed up DH as a "member" and made sure DH was on the mailing list to receive the monthly newsletter from his cowboy shooting group (MNdad writes a column in it). It is hilarious - a bunch of adults dressed in civil war costumes, writing a newsletter describing their fake 1860s existence - and they do not use their real names but have "handles" like "Lefty" or "Rusty" or whatever.
They saved up their money last fall, and got photographer go out and take pictures of them all playing dress-up, had the pictures made into a 2009 calendar. I bet you can guess what MNdad sent us for Christmas this year. Yup, that calendar. And offered to send another for DH to hang up AT WORK. He also included an 8 x 10 glossy close-up of HIM shooting a rifle, suitable for framing (but not the frame, which might have been useful). Can you imagine? I guess he thinks we should display that right beside our kids' athletic trophies and honor roll certificates. Or most probably he thinks we should clear out the kids' stuff and make a shrine to him.
After getting no bites on the additional calendars, MNdad then started emailing DH, fishing for compliments on how swell he looked in the pictures, and trying to get DH to fly to MNdad's home for the spring shoot week-end event (we live across the country from him, which is a very great thing).
We did the responsible thing, we recycled the picture and calendar, and DH just ignores the emails. The really amazing bit is that DH's dad is undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma and had major surgery and although MNdad knows this, he does not acknowledge that perhaps DH might have other, more pressing issues right now than MNdad's idiot hobby. Of course, when Nmom was dying of cancer two years ago, Ndad acted like the world must come to a screeching halt and offer him unlimited support, attention and kudos for driving her to chemo appointments and stuff.
Yea, there's self-absorbed, and then there's SELF-Absorbed.
Ns don't realize that it's a very serious weakness as they are perfect targets, and will grossly underestimate others.
"Wa...I didn't think you'd have it in you...waa..." That ususally comes from Ns who get their asses handed to them by people they consider "weak" and, of course, "inferior".
"Ns are extremely easy to manipulate and lie to especially by the unscrupulous."
True. An example is in the book Catch-22.
My NM was recuperating from an operation, and I was talking time off work to help her out. She told me she had The Perfect Idea! While she was recovering, I should use the time to interview her and take notes so I could write her BIOGRAPHY.
[in case anyone is wondering, no, she was not the kind of person that anyone would write a biography of. And no, I am not a writer.]
DITTO! Everything K said to you.
I have a beautiful 11 yr. old child, & I look at her & think of you, & send you ALL that love I feel for her, & would heap on you, if I could go back in time & stand in for your NM, at that moment...
PLEASE find a way to do that for yourself. Whatever help it takes.
You deserve it so much! If you don't, you let those monsters have your soul. It was never theirs to steal. Reclaim it.
response to anon March 23, 2:44pm
being willfully oblivious I believe is just another mechanism within the N. In other words, it is a matter of interest as to whether the N will respond to others, conciously take mental notes, or make choices , if you will. I believe you can be self-absorbed and not project at all, as there are many different degrees of Narcissism. Some N's simply feel the grandiosity of their own inner self-love. Do they all project their blame and shame upon others? Not necessarily. They can simply ignore others and be oblivious to their needs. They can be arrogant to very high degree without the projection. I suspect though that most N's that do not project, will eventually evolve into projection. The N's who project in addition to such grandiosity of self-love are the most emotionally detrimental to those closest to them. They are the most dangerous of N's. They are more fully armed.
JMHO, being too consumed with themselves and their next ploy may answer why they are oblivious, or not interested in others lives, and events. Self-absorbed? Yes! A weak and generic trait? No, not a trait at all, it is a state of mind! Self-absorbed is a term that could apply to many circumstances in ones life. Self-absorbed is defined as being preoccupied with ones thoughts. Depression can make a person self-absorbed, mourning about the loss of a loved one can make someone self-absorbed. Traits and characteristics apply to the actions of the N. All their actions, their flawless ability to, attack ones dignity, insult, threaten, belittle, deprecate, castigate,etc. are a result of such self-absorbtion, in the psychological sense. Each N uses these tools to penetrate the "chink in their victims armor." You could even look at the victims being self-absorbed when such vile acts from their N preoccupy their minds with confusion, emotional insecurity and so on.
Which characteristic of the N is weaker? I do not believe we should under-estimate the N's ability to utilize anyone of these tools to suit their needs. N's are not clones of one other, they come with their own unique skill sets and capablities to destroy their victims.When you ignore or are oblivious to the family events, names, etc., is simply a very sad and sick way to control outcomes. Unaware, oblivious, I think not! What they do unconciously is protect themselves, everything else is premeditated and concious thought. They are not concerned about anyone or anything but themselves. Control and protection is their highest allegiance to self. There is nothing weak about the prowess of the true N! They can effectively do this "thinking on their feet." It is literally innate to a N.
Re: Anonymous Mar 25, 2009 9:08:00 AM
"While she was recovering, I should use the time to interview her and take notes so I could write her BIOGRAPHY.
[in case anyone is wondering, no, she was not the kind of person that anyone would write a biography of. And no, I am not a writer.]"
Oh wow — so classic! I remember flying back from LA with my mother several years ago, right at the time when I was on the verge of going no contact. The gorgeous actress Diane Lane was on our plane and when I discreetly pointed her out at the baggage claim later, N mother remarked about how she was "nothing special" — ummm yeah, sure. She then launched into one of her favorite topics, the autobiography she was supposedly working on that would tell the story of her life. Like anyone would care. Gag me. She then oh-so graciously told me that I could have the honor of playing her in the movie version of her autobiography that would of course one day be made. Wow, lucky me.
My mother was so over the top dramatic at all times, thickening her British accent which she thought made her superior to others. She would even do different voices when she was telling stories, her pride and joy being her ability to imitate a Scottish accent. And the hand gestures flying wildly about. I am surprised no one lost in eye during one of her many conversation take over sessions. So damn funny to watch though, especially as I got closer and closer to getting away from her. She didn't even notice the bewildered expressions on the faces of anyone else trying to get a word in. And of course she didn't, she was too busy flailing about like a Broadway diva. Hysterical.
In truth, she should have won Academy Awards for so many of her performances in life. Unbelievable how skilled N's are at playing a role, acting a part. It's incredible really how putting on an act is second nature to them.
"Unbelievable how skilled N's are at playing a role, acting a part. It's incredible really how putting on an act is second nature to them."
My ex-NF's only true talent. That weird ability to scope out a situation, figure out who he needs to be, and appear to be that. For a while, anyway. Getting back to the point of the original post, the self-absorption would prohibit him from keeping up the scam over a long period of time, because that would require being truly aware of the people around him. You can miss a lot of important info when you're constantly naval gazing.
I have 2 questions: Is there a difference between projecting oneself out onto others and identifying with others? How would a person know if they were doing one or the other?
"I do not believe we should under-estimate the N's ability to utilize anyone of these tools to suit their needs."
I understand that, but at the same time, they shouldn't be overestimated either. Most of them will back down when they find that you're too "difficult", "inconvenient" or "when the lights are on."
"They are very attentive to the details they deem important."
That would explain why they do know who not to mess with.
Speaking of that, I've mentioned this site before, but I'll mention
The stalker area is especially helpful in describing abusers in general with the most dangerous being the ones who know EVERYTHING about you not just fears, insecurities, etc.
The subject of N-Moms expecting us to write their biographies, oh my, that is a major trigger for me. While my mom lived with me she used to talk constantly how I should write her AUTO-biography and I was like 'hello, you don't work, nor pay the bills, nor clean the house, I do your laundry... just what do you do all day that YOU don't have time to write your own autobiography?'
I and my cat finally moved to another state. She is currently visiting and it couldn't happen at a worse time when I'm caring for my dying cat. I'm sending mom to my sister so I can spend the last few remaining days with my fuzzy sweetheart. Right now my cat is resting in his hidey hole and is the only reason why I'm on the computer now.
Aravis, your dad's obsession over a calender featuring himself brought to mind my mom's reaction to my painting yesterday. The painting feature a young woman in a white dress and wearing a black shawl. Mom knew the woman looked familar and asked if I used myself as a model. I said "no" and then she said in an excited voice "is that ME?!" I said "no" and said my sister is the model. Mom immediately lost interest and didn't anything more. The thing is, sis and I look nothing like our mom and tend to favor dad's appearance.
I'm so sorry about your kitty. My thoughts are with you.
I was gone today, and my dh stayed home sick with a cold. He woke up from a nap and got in the shower. Shortly after, his mother came over and opened the bathroom door and talked to him while he was in the shower. He is 62 and she is 86. lol!
I wrote the comment about the NM wanting me to commit to write a book about her, when I was already taking time off work to care for her. Funny to hear about others with similar requests! Indeed, a movie too! A true testimony to their need to be hit with the clue stick is not just that they think their children should write their biographies, but that they actually apparently think we would write GOOD things about them!!
LOL, they should be terrified of the idea of us writing about them!
K said and Katrina (anon 8:50 here)
Your kind words make we weep. Thank you for your love and support, it is deeply felt.
Thankyou everyone and darling Anna for sharing your stories. To finally be able to communicate with others and know that I am not alone, has helped enormously.
These are not the sort of experiences that are easy to share with people. But here we are safe.
We all have gone through unspeakable horrors being raised by MNs. My heart goes out to everyone who has suffered MN’s damage, especially the poor children who are suffering now.
Reclaiming my soul seems a lifelong project. Some days I do just fine, others, not so well. Letting love and joy into my heart is the hardest thing after protecting it for so long.
I wish there was a way we could protect every child so this never happens. To be used as a toy, a disposable plaything, a doll to torture and laugh at....it’s overwhelming.
Here's an example of my NF's absorption (he had it as much as my NM): When my (married) sister got pregnant with his first Grandchild, he was in his 60's, and he said he didn't want her to have the baby because he didn't want people knowing he was old enough to be a grandfather!
Also, he said he didn't want a fat daughter, so when I was a child, as well as raping me, he regularly put me on 2 week fasts, juice and broth only. No food. Insane self absorption!!
Good news: since NC, my life long night terrors/nightmares have stopped!! I’m guessing I’m not the only one who has been freed of nightmares after NC.
While my dad was dying of lung cancer, my NMother wrote up a complete "program" for her own funeral. It featured all of the Bible readings and songs that she wants sung and read at her funeral. She typed a bunch of copies, bought new colored folders to insert these programs into and provided one each to me and a couple other family members and mutual friends. It made me sick to my stomach. He's dying and she is aloof planning her own "grand" funeral. What really got me the most is one of the songs she picked out. I don't remember the title but a phrase in the song says "And I will raise you up on the last day" (God speaking). She is thinking about her own self being raised up to Heaven (note: she has always been an extreme self righteous self proclaimed devout Catholic). So, while I was trying to deal with my dad's illness dying, I had to fight off her always trying to take the attention back to herself.
Over ten years ago when my enabling mom was in the hospital following open heart surgery, NDad and I were standing by her hospital bed waiting for her to regain consciousness. She was on the ventilator with all kinds of tubes, etc., didn't look good and this was after diagnosis of heart failure that had necessitated a quintuple (that's 5) bypass. Looking down at her, NDad felt compelled to inject one of his nasty zingers, "Do you think if we take a picture of her looking like this and tape it on the refrigerator, she'll think twice about what she eats?" Bear in mind, I was about 30 at the time, had grown up with the constant nagging/putdowns by him of her for all of her bad health habits (smoking, over-eating, sedentary lifestyle). Now, I hadn't been doing those things, she had...and regardless, she was my one and only mother, and I was just beginning a family of my own. I loved her in spite of her many shortcomings (DUH) and was desperate for her to get better. He saw this apparently as an opportunity to offer some of his vile, retaliatory judgment and to, by virtue of comparison, elevate his own lifestyle choices (healthy eating, near-obsessive marathon running and mountain biking, etc.)so that I might properly revere him as the superior being that he was. Any normal father might assess the dire situation and seek to comfort his only daughter, who might be facing the loss of her mother (and her children's grandmother). Oh, especially considering this man is three-plus decades into a career as a Christian minister, one who has sat vigil with countless other families facing the illness or possible death of a cherished loved one. But he had me there, vulnerable and otherwise alone in that hospital room, and he saw it as his chance to pounce - to judge, to retaliate against her for her choices, to poison me against her (and I suppose, to support him and his superior choices in life). He wanted (one can only assume) for me to pity him for this yoke - this cross - that he had borne with the diagnosis of his wife's heart failure. This was not her illness - this was his chance to say, "See, I told ya so!" In other words, I nagged and bullied you all these years and degraded you in front of our children to try to get you to change your ways and lose weight and quit smoking and you didn't get the memo! This is what you get! And me, her only daughter, not knowing whether or not she would survive, I got no warmth, no comforting, not even a hug. Just more sick judgment. She survived (physically) and is still alive. So much has happened since, yet this is one particularly painful (and revelatory) snapshot that endures. I'm collecting them all like so many dog-eared black and white photos, evidence of the evil that I witnessed, the unrelenting barrage of anger, judgment and envy. I read this blog over and over, as a way of replacing lies with truth, as a way of filling my intellect with the long-awaited recognition, that, yes, there is someone (actually, a lot of someones) who have walked in my shoes. It has been a life-affirming journey. Thank you, Anna, for being the voice in the wilderness (I know, dramatic, right?) and thanks also to everyone who has commented on all of these entries. What a comfort it is to finally be able to have an answer to the questions that I asked repeatedly, "that's not right, is it? that's not normal? that's not the way you should be, right?" And here I find the resounding answer, "No, No, a thousand times, No, that kind of behavior is not "right"!!!
having been married to an N for awhile, I can say that for him it was certainly purposefull that he would 'mispronounce' people's names or 'forget' them, because he wanted to prove how little they meant to him. There was also the constant fibrications (start with one little fact and fib/fabricate it into a grand story) and purposefully incorrect speech. Why should someone so perfect have to conform to regular speech?! Plus it's funny and cute or some such retardedness...
re: Anonymous Mar 26, 2009 12:31:00 AM
After going no contact, the debilitating and tormenting insomnia I had suffered since elementary school tapered off gradually. Now, I am able to actually fall asleep when I'm tired, instead of lying in my bed, and much like my day time life was like, being on hyper alert for whatever horror might be coming my way.
On another note, I have a girlfriend who is considering going no contact with her emotionally and mentally abusive mother and came to me for advice. This after her disagreeing with my choice to terminate my relationship with my mother which is rather interesting. Projection on her part, perhaps? Regardless, I feel no ill will and have offered my support, and let her know that it is a hard road to take but one well worth it. I don't want to cloud her mind in any way so I am trying to support her without pushing her in one direction or the other. I was browsing Amazon and came across this book. Anna, apologies if you have already mentioned it in the past but the title is "Divorcing a Parent: Free Yourself from the Past and Live the Life You've Always Wanted". It was written 15 years or so ago when the notion was even more disparaged than it is today but based on reviews, it seems like it may be a good read so I just thought I would share it.
Thanks to Anna for gifting us this incredible resource. Thanks to all you members of this community who help me feel less alone in an at times, less than understanding world.
I told my ex-N that one of my best girlfriends since childhood, someone he had actually met at the same time he had met me, had just found out she was expecting. His response was, "Tell whatshername congratulations." Yes, whatshername, the woman you have known for more than decade. Lovely.
"I can say that for him it was certainly purposefull that he would 'mispronounce' people's names or 'forget' them, because he wanted to prove how little they meant to him."
I dare someone to try that on him. Or, if someone is really savvy, they could say, "I don't know who Michal" is. Or, "he/she isn't here" the next time a name is deliberately mangled.
They can't take their own medicine but they're pretty hesitant to try a particular tactic again when they see it kind of backfires.
"This was sent to the wrong person. Alice doesn't live here."
You are Welcome, Anonymous. I wish you many nights with sweet dreams instead of nightmares...
I don't know if this little tidbit would be titled self-absorption or self-aggrandizement, but I will tell it anyway, because it's rather funny... I had an (ex now) N friend who at the age of 33 had begun as an unpaid TRAINEE (!) in a company unrelated to her skills (her career was not going so well). After TWO weeks there she confided to me that the "evil" female sales manager had recruited another high level manager (don't remember for what), because she felt threatened by my friend and did not want her to have the position!!! 8-D What?? First of all the recruitment process had of course started before she even arrived, and also why would this apparently successful person be threatened by an unskilled, new trainee?? Talk about delusional self-aggrandizement and of course she was also projecting that SHE felt threatened by this woman (who was attractive as well as smart!).
Needless to say, they didn't turn her traineeship into a permanent position, in spite of her being apparent CEO material ;)
My N father, who died in 2006, left each of his children (who he'd estranged when we were teens) just one dollar each in his will, despite his having a large estate. He listed me as his "daughter", my name, and the $1.00 amount. The will was coherently handwritten but he got my middle name wrong, despite, according to my mother, he'd been the one to choose it when I was born. Ouch. It would have hurt a lot less if he'd just forgotten me in his will. I think he really wanted to give me that official F-you, plus legally ensure I couldn't contest it by leaving me the buck. Only an N has the amazing ability to be aloof yet efficient and cruel in just one sentence.
A number of narcissist religious leaders we knew had the 'not recognising you' thing down pat. In fact they would do this on a regular basis. On a Sunday morning, you would walk past, looking them in the face, trying to get a 'hello' out of them, as you would do with any normal person you were familiar with and they would stare into the middle distance, as though they were in a crowd of strangers instead of the congregation they had been leading for twenty years. They knew damn well who you were, they just didn't recognise you, because it kept you in your place.
I remember one Sunday morning, when I was very close to leaving this terrible place, I walked down the corridor of the church basement towards a group of the leadership men who were standing talking. I walked tall, I walked straight and I looked one of them in particular right in the eye, determined to walk right past them and ignore them, the way they had always ignored me. You should have seen the look on this man's face. He literally gaped in surprise that a member of the congregation had the audacity to challenge the norm of behaviour. I didn't look away or pretend that I was the nobody he had always insisted that I was, and he just wasn't expecting it. It was a very joyful and overwhelming moment for me, because I overcame my fear, having grown up in an N family, I was used to the rituals of expecting to be disappointed.
Anyway, after that, I began to look a whole lot more of them in the eye, challenging their 'I'm not here really' behaviour, and it did start to change things slightly. We still got out, the place was a cult, but it proves that standing up to this sort of covert aggression can help your self-esteem no end.
Mispronunciations! My GOSH! My late NMom did that ALLLLLL the time. I called her Mrs. Malaprop because she either mispronounced, used the WRONG word (which she thought made her look intelligent but did the opposite) or MADE up words.
When I was a kid she would never let me say the word "fart" - I had to say "flatulated". I got bullied and finally a teacher yelled at me that there is no such word. My mother went postal but I never used the word again.
Once she said a word and I (after graduating with honors with an BA in English Lit) and I said "Mom, that word doesn't exist." I was at her office at the time and she said "the attorneys here use that word all the time." So I got up, headed for the door and said, "you know what, I am going upstairs to ask them" She FREAKED out. I told her - find that word in either a Webster's or Oxford dictionary. She raged but she never did it.
She wasn't stupid but this wrong use of language was really maddening - and she looked INSANE when she did it.
After my late Dad had serious kidney surgery in the late 1980s - my late NMom went to visit him. I was already there talking to him. She marched in and said "see, this happened because of the way you treated me all those years!"
Granted the first 1/2 of their marriage my Dad had problems but my Dad worked very hard to straighten himself around and did everything he could to make it up to my mom until the day he died.
But there he was, hooked up to machines and in pain and she marches in and says that.
I told her "Mom, see that door? - Can you be on the OTHER SIDE of it." She was not pleased. Too bad.
I remember being a teenager and my father accusing me of being boy-crazy (which, to a normal degree, I was). He was arguing with me about how he never had sex until he married my mother. (Believe me, I did NOT initiate this conversation.) I asked him to explain how his daughter from one of his two prior marriages came about, and he just looked flabbergasted. He really thought I was so gullible! That's probably the funniest thing I can remember - it still makes me chuckle.
My NMIL does this a lot. Never remembers my birthday, ignored my father's death, etc. I was reading the comments about mispronunciation and was thinking I'm surprised she's never mispronounced my surname, since it's italian. Then I realized.. she's never even attempted to say it in all these years. I kept my maidenname, but she just addresses mail to my husband's surname. Maybe she doesn't even know what my surname is.
She's always oblivious to everyone. I distinctly remember her introducing herself to someone and the woman had kind of an awkward look and said, "you already introduced yourself to me." MIL walked away from her and said to me, "What a bitch. Yeah, I forgot her name, and guess what, I'll forget it again!" It does seem willful, doesn't it?
"I think he really wanted to give me that official F-you, plus legally ensure I couldn't contest it by leaving me the buck."
Actually, you still could have. ;)
"He named someone else. That person is not me. I don't know who that is, but it's not me. I was never mentioned", and then give the proper spelling of the name.
It's something HE certainly would have tried, if he thought of it.
I wonder if someone ever has. People will always try to find loopholes whether they deserve a dollar or not. Like say, suing for whatever.
I just found this blog and want to say thank you so very much for it. I almost let a narcissist ruin my relationship with my long-distance boyfriend. I broke away from him before he was able to get what he wanted, and the emails I receive to this day make me think that ignoring him has impacted him more than when I actually cared.
You hit the nail on the head, trying to fix someone who is pathologically and unrepentantly broken is an impossible state of being.
-K in Berkeley
It does seem willful but what it is is the N protecting their "reality." They will rebuff anyone who might break through it for a second. But if its you - look out.
It's their reality or nothing... and in your NMIL's reality someone's name or your surname - doesn't matter... it simply doesn't exist to her. And don't forget she's NEVER wrong.
I don't know if I agree entirely with the idea of self-absorption defining a MN.
For example, with my N in-laws, there's always some kind of drama going on and they want you to cluster and spend all your time around them. It could be interpreted that I'm self-absorbed -- but there are many times where they want you to be in their audience all the time to worship and admire them and, frankly, my life's busy enough with 2 children under 2 and a job. They pick up on whatever things you're doing with your life and then will invite you over with a cheap imitation of something you're doing (without fully knowing how involved it is) and force you to "admire" them and it literally sucks up ALL your time.
My MN SIL does this. Behind my back, she accuses me of being "self-absorbed" because, 11 days after my first daughter was born, she "needed" her brother (my husband) to go over and help her tear down her backyard shed. I had some very bad tearing from the labor, I could barely walk, we were having some friends over who wanted to come over and see the baby and I had to get some supplies from the store for our guests. I had to drag an 11-day old baby with me, with my wounds still quite painful and I was quite peeved at dh leaving me with getting supplies for HIS friends coming over with the baby just so he can help SIL (who has 2 teenagers, a husband, and her other brother there to help her). And, behind my back, she said I was self-absorbed because I wasn't there to help her out, as well.
It's constantly like this with dh's family. If I don't bend over backwards for them, they call me self-absorbed.
I've kind of grown so tired of it and I'm just ignoring all of it and tending to the things I really need to tend to -- that is, earning money for our household and raising the children. SIL keeps calling me self-absorbed behind my back but, hey, either I do everything for the in-laws or I take care of my family -- there are only 24 hours in a day. I've even had SIL get aggressive with me and go at me point blank, asking how many hours I work a week (doing her own accounting of my time -- I have my own business and it's a LOT of work running it with 2 babies in tow).
And I'm the one who's self-absorbed...
I had a bizarre N-moment with a new employee at my job, who clearly has the warning signs of a MN. I had met her exactly once - she came on a couple of months ago but we do not work together; she is probably in her mid-30s and is an entry-level administrative support staff member. A few days ago I was with a couple of colleagues having a working lunch in one of the large cafeterias at our work, and it was noon so the place was mobbed (it seats about 900 people). I'd gotten my tray and went directly to the table with my coworkers and the meeting commenced.
Yesterday morning, new coworker accosts me in the corridor outside my office and says "I saw you in the cafeteria on Tuesday when you were getting lunch and I waved to you and you walked RIGHT PAST ME".
I replied "I'm sorry, I must not have seen you". Now, a normal person would have stopped right there - or a normal person wouldn't have stewed about it for three days, then accosted me, more probably.
BUT NO - coworker continues "You looked right at me and I waved but you walked past me"
I said "sorry" again, and something to the effect that I must have been hypoglycemic - but she would NOT let it go - she followed me down the hall, complaining all the way about how *SHE WAVED AND I WALKED RIGHT BY*.
In the past I would have fallen all over myself to try to make this "slight" up to her, but I am a lot less clueless than I used to be so now I am thinking to myself - Hmm - that is pretty odd behavior. Also I am saying to myself- GET ME AWAY FROM THIS LADY.
I was thinking that she probably has been accused of ignoring or not noticing people in the past and so now is trying out being the victim herself.
What do you all think? I found the whole thing completely bizarre and somewhat stalkerish. Any advice on future interactions with this woman? Mostly I can ignore her (although not in the cafeteria, evidently).
Yes, I agree with my fellow acons. With what we've had to deal with and still deal with, we are true surviovrs and should hold our heads up high. We are strong people and capable of great things. This is my belief.
I've had a long, long struggle with my MN mother which I thought was coming to an end. I hadn't seen or spoken to her for 1-1/2 years which was definitely a step in the right direction for my sanity. Anyways, two weeks ago she was in the hospital and I was informed that she was on the verge of dying and wanted to see me.
I had decided that I wasn't going to see her ever again and I suppose hearing that she was on her "last legs" filled me with feelings of guilt and sadness. I had been feeling terrible upon hearing that she was in the hospital and dying.
I decided to go to her "deathbed" and say goodbye to her. I felt that I had nothing to lose. It would be good for me and my children. It would be the end of my struggle and a new beginning.
I rush down to the hosptial and I get to her bedside, I see her after our estrangement. She doesn't look good and I start bawling. Yes, I was bawling over my mother. She says to me and I quote "Don't cry, I FORGIVE YOU!"
I didn't see one tear come from her eyes! I told her that it's good for me to cry; I need to cry. Then I noticed that she was staring at me and I was staring at her. It was a strange encounter!
As I said before, I didn't expect any miracle or any kind of reconciliation. I was just saying goodbye to her, for myself and my children. There was great pressure from my children to see her. I didn't want them to resent me for not saying goodbye.
Fast foward to today, she is still alive! It was not her deathbed. What a strong woman she is!
Anyways, I had to go no contact again!
Talk about the constant, ongoing struggle of the acon. I am no child. I am a grandmother.
I have compassion for my mother; but my sanity and desire to be healthy and to enjoy life makes it mandatory for me to stay away. I have learned from Anna of my right to SELF DEFENSE.
I feel for all of you out there. Only those of us who have walked in our shoes can understand the horror we live with. We have to heal. It is our duty to heal. We are entitled to that.
Thanks again, dear Anna, for your blog. You definitely are a lifesaver, and I mean lifesaver, to us all.
I knew someone who didn't make it and she was only 18 years old. She couldn't take the fact that her mother didn't love her and she overdosed on a over-the-counter medication.
Bless you all. Stay strong.
"And I'm the one who's self-absorbed..."
Bah. She can call you all the names she wants, your life is yours, since she doesn't care about you, she has no say in it.
"What do you all think?"
She wants to start something. Since she obviously isn't 'normal', keep walking. You owe her nothing. Don't be surprised if she wants to start political nonsense because of this, so be prepared for that.
"And I'm the one who's self-absorbed..."
My take on the SIL is that she uses Projection. I think it's semi comical "at times" dealing with someone who Projects. You can pretty much assume that what they are accusing others of, is what they are doing themselves.
I would have to hear more stories to be sure, but it seems to me that she is extremely self absorbed. Perhaps it's a coincidence.
I love your site and read it literally everyday and everyday I feel a bit better about myself. I have researched innumerable sites and I like yours the best. Most are filled with psychobabble and are simply boring. The topic and everyones responses this round, like always, were enlightening.
I would like to request at some time in the future any take that you may offer, regarding N's in professional fields, like lawyers, doctors, even psychologist and psychiatrist. I have done some extensive research on lawyers because my female N is one. It is amazing that female litigators have strong N traits and characteristics. Articles I have read about lawyers specifically, note there is a prevelant and unhealthy atmosphere in the field of law where it concerns Narcissistic tendencies. Other than professional sports, it is the only other profession where they are taught to fight(and get paid for it). Litigators are also taught to void themselves of emotion. Law schools acknowledge that there is indeed a lack of resources to psychologically assist individuals that they create. They will not consider preparing their students for such future psychological experiences because turning out lawyers with a conscience or emotion would defeat the purpose of turning out good lawyers. Basically, what they are saying, "you're on your own" after law school. Sad but true.
I know I'm off topic here, however, maybe there are some out there that have experienced a "greater than thou" N attitude of a doctor, lawyer, etc., that is an aquaintenance, family member, or a loved one. Mine was already an N prior to law school. Add that into the mix,.. well, need I say more!!?? It was absolute insanity!!
Thanks so much again for your contributions, to help us recognize and heal ourselves.
For years she did not get my last name right. I kept my maiden name when I married her son.
Then, when she sent anonymous threatening letters, she sent them to first initial, correct last name. I assumed that all of this was intentional, and done to annoy me. The use of my correct last name with my first initial was probably meant to throw me off. How could it be her, when for more than a decade she didn't know my last name?
"I knew someone who didn't make it and she was only 18 years old. She couldn't take the fact that her mother didn't love her and she overdosed on a over-the-counter medication."
I feel for all of those touched by this awful plague, NPD. Indeed, it is a very hard thing to digest, that someone (someone who you may have loved a great deal, someone who "should" have loved you - like a parent) -- realizing that they never genuinely did love you at all -- that is a painful realization. It is even much more painful if this person is your parent as they were neglectful in protecting you and giving you the healthy foundation that only a loving parent can.
Here's to healing. And here's to a place where we can share and grow. I am very thankful for this wonderful blog. A safe place where we can learn, share and grow.
To Anonymous about Narcissists and their professions...
In my experience, Narcissists are drawn to professions with a lot of black and white thinking (for example a lawyer dealing with "bad guys versus good guys" or a policeman), power issues (teacher, guru/priest, politician, boss...) and savior complexes (medical professions, psychologist, charity organizations...).
In my family, the Ns have gravitated towards teaching or nursing.
Then of course there are the openly "narcissistic" professions (acting, media, modelling etc).
Needless to say, this does not mean that working as any of these professions make you a narcissist. :)
The last N that came my way was a guy I dated, and he was a stand-up comedian with a solid reputation in my country for being a super guy fighting for human/women's rights and against racism! He turned out to be the lousiest human being the earth could produce and a fierce woman-hater at that.
These people ARE masters of disguise.
How about the self absorption aspect of when a N would not only flunk a basic fact test on their targets, but have also pretty much MADE UP an entire definition of who and what you are - based on filling in the [many] blanks and connecting a few dots in any way that is convenient for THEM? And they just consistently and blankly INSIST on it, and look confused when anyone tries to correct them in any way?? And even if you seem to get through to them with a 'correction' or update, the next time you see them they go right back to their original fictional version of reality?
I mean stuff like:
N's not only NOT knowing who your closest friends ARE, even though you mention them by name, but constantly acting like you are STILL friends with someone from the distant past that you drifted apart from long ago! Or, constantly bringing up ex's, as if you are still friends or still a couple. It is like they want to 'freeze' you in time.
N's CORRECTING YOUR MEMORIES! Even when they weren't any where near the incident that they are claiming to know what what happened, and you were - and they know it! They act like they know better then you what happened.
N's deciding you have some characteristic based on one little incident:
N: "Well, I know your favorite color is red!"
Me: "No, it isn't really my favorite..."
N: "Yes it is! You bought red socks that time!"
[WTF? you mean that time in 1979??]
N's correcting your current feelings: "You're not cold!" or "It doesn't smell!"
N's telling you what YOUR schedule is.
Uh huh. They don't know who your real friends are, or your real job, or what your hobbies are, but they INSIST that their made-up version is 100% accurate. What fools.
When my boyfriend had his stroke and had to go on S.S. His MNmother took it upon herself to try and file the paperwork. Despite that we were already doing it ourselves.
She called S.S. and had his address changed from the nursing home he was in to her house without telling us. So all the paperwork was sent to her instead of to him. She also cancelled an important appointment and had it changed to her convenience and did not tell us which sent me on a useless run around.
So she received the mega booklet of application forms which includes listing details of his life such as past job history as current physical disabilities and past abilities, and assets. And she ATTEMPTED TO FILL THIS OUT!
When I found out she did this I literally ran down hallways to intercept this booklet of Hooey and got there just as the doctor was reading it. The Dr. looked up at me with the most astonished confusing perplexed look on her face and simply said “I cant sign this - what is this?.”
Seeing what the woman wrote in it pertaining to her only child’s life and condition was absolutely mind boggling. She was clueless of his past work history so she put down NONE! She could not answer such basic questions correctly as what side of his body the stroke effected or his current condition. She put that before the stroke he could only life 25lbs. He was a roofer hauling 100lb. bundles of shingles up and down ladders a zillion times a day. She got his weight wrong, his age wrong, his height wrong, and every single detail needed that she did not know the answer to she faked it and blatantly made up stuff! Then she forged his signature and a witnesses signature at the end,,, all in the same handwriting.
After having to embarrassingly explain and apologize to the doctor I stood in the hallway reading this chicken scratching and absolute clueless lie after lie after lie, Then I realized that she had started to fill out the booklet reflecting him, she did get his name and sex right, but it ended up being filled out mostly to reflect herself.
It was all so unbelievable if I hadn’t had seen this with my own eyes I never would have believed a supposed mother was capable of such astounding stupidity.
Correcting your memories! And even simple observations. LOL Those have to be the funniest things I ever argued about.
When my son had his second car in a row blow a transmission an MN friend of mine told me I must be mistaken saying it was only one car he had did that. Im on the phone looking out the window at 2 dead cars in my yard saying Im pretty sure its 2, and she still wanted to argue about my mistaken memory.
The X one time told me my favorite color was stupid and it should be something good like his, like black or blue.. Figures he would pick the color of bruises. Actually that was a huge awakening in me,, how can someone’s favorite color be stupid?
How about…“you don’t have grey hair,, how can you have grey hair if I don’t have grey hair?: Ummm mom you have more grey hair that I have.
Thanks! Now Im laughing my grey head off.
A bit OT...
I've mentioned my ex-NF on this blog several times. A typical MN, his extreme self absorption is very real, but his "aw, shucks" image/routine masks the ugly N reality of him. He's self-aware enough to realize his true N self is not acceptable to society at large, so he is very careful to appear the opposite. He appears to be interested in and care about others. He appears to be humble. He appears to be honest and hardworking. He appears to be kind and loving. And it's all a lie.
So many of the N stories here are about Ns who are very in-your-face with their narcissism. I'm curious to know if any of you have experience with the sneaky, undercover MN. The MN who would never confront you to your face. The MN who frames every hurt, betrayal, lie against you within the context of concern, caring, blah blah blah. The MN who spends all of his time and energy working to ensure he doesn't suffer any consequences for his crimes.
Does this sound familiar to anyone?
Stupidity? Maybe, but it could also be done out of spite while claiming that she was "only trying to help." However, if she was trying to get the $$ for herself, then yea, you would be right.
"INSIST that their made-up version is 100% accurate. What fools."
They also hate being questioned. If you say something like, "So now this because of this?" or "What makes you say that" either perplex them into silence or piss them off a lot. If they can't do anything but make stupid claims, then ignoring them and doing as you please bothers them more than, say, beating the crap out of them.
SWIIAH… She did it for the money as she did something similar to him in the past.
What we ended up doing was fill out the paperwork properly and never let her know otherwise what happened. She never had the guts to ask either.
He was mostly NC when I met him. He moved many times to get away from her but she is the type that has called the police faking some horrific malady and they would find him and deliver him a message to contact his poor ill or worried mother. One time the horrific malady was she needed someone to move her piano.
Anonymous 9:01 AM - Oh, I can so relate to your experience! My NDad would just concoct entire scenarios from my junior high/high school years and tell them with such devotion to every little detail. "Do you remember that?" he would bait me. When I looked confused or (worse) if I flat-out denied that I was involved or present for said event, he would cock his head to the side and put this clownish act on, as if to say, "What? You DON'T remember that???" Inferring that I was either crazy or disturbingly lacking in memory. I would always try to brush this off, as the stories were never of any great importance anyway, but he wasn't satisfied until I admitted to some level of mental deficiency. He was a royal pain in the behind with his non-stop story-telling, and always with tons of embellishments, so I usually could just go on about my business. I always wondered how/why he would seem to get a sick little thrill out of pulling these stunts. I now understand it was just another pathetic little power trip. Sick!
Toward the last few years of our relationship (NC now for about two years), I found it harder not to respond. He apparently caught a few eye rolls between my husband and me when his clown act/storytelling would start going awry, and YIKES!!! Boy, he did NOT appreciate the eye-rolling. Ha ha - too bad! Apparently we were starting to peel back the veneer.
Does this sound familiar to anyone?
Selfish Ingrate, (love your name :) )
It sounds like a couple of them I have met. They have to keep up appearances so their game isn’t discovered and thrown back in their face. Paying attention to others is a ruse to appear caring & secretly gain your trust & figure out how and what they can use you for. They are more themselves after they have hooked you in. That way they can throw in the “I only wanted to help you” line when you have the audacity to confront or question their behavior, in which you get accused of “misconstruing their honest intentions”. They want you to feel lower than a worm and that is how you end up feeling when done.
May their humility runnith over the toilet of their “misconstrued intentions.”
I am fascinated by the accounts of mispronunciations. For five years as a kid, my N-father consistently mangled the name of my best friend. Her name was Eliza but he would always call her Lisa. I corrected him every single time for five years: “It’s Eliza, Dad, ELIZA.” But he kept doing it.
This kind of mispronunciation is a double whammy: (1) It is a way of showing contempt and devaluing the people who are important to me; and (2) It communicates that he is FAR to important to focus on something as insignificant as his daughter’s best friend.
Of course, if anyone ever mispronounces my father’s name, he goes ballistic or accuses that person of being a moron. In fact, he is constantly correcting other people’s pronunciation of English words.
Does this sound familiar to anyone?
Selfish Ingrate, that is the M.O. & profile of my entire NFOO. They carefully crafted and promoted the exact total opposite-of-an-N "myth" about themselves. Incidents I write about here may sound bold but are more like me extracting a telling incident from the overall show that somehow slipped through the act. Those "ah ha" moments where you glimpse the truth, or, once you have started to realize the truth, those incidents that continue to prove the worst IS really true, despite the truth seeming literally impossible.
These incidents can tend to sound egregious taken out of the context of the "show" and looked at through the informed lens of malignant narcissism, but within the show, they are still really hard to see. Even if the N's "slipped" in their act and did something uncharacteristically obvious or objectively aggressive or hostile, it would be followed by N damage control, such as a step up in the "good person" act: for instance I might receive a card for "no reason, just to say I love you". Needless to say the offensive behavior they were trying to "erase" would have been passionately denied [insert shocked innocence here], besides being craftily and totally turned against me if I brought it up. The idea that our NFOO was not just decent, supportive, good and healthy - but actually "superior" [modestly, of course] and "wonderful" was heavily promoted.
May their humility runnith over the toilet of their “misconstrued intentions.” - SJ
Re: forgetting names - the ex-NF would "forget" plans (lunch, dinner, movies, etc.) He once "forgot" we had tickets to a show. When I reminded him, after he pretended to have no idea what I was talking about, he said "I'll probably go." Wow! Lucky me!
The crap we put up with from these freaks. Good grief.
My ex N-friend would "forget" plans as well. Once he made dinner reservations to celebrate my birthday, he stressed that he had to make them because my birthday fell on a Saturday and the place he was taking me to was the new hot restaurant. I nursed a glass of wine at the bar for over an hour waiting for him, I apologized to the hostess, and went home. He later claimed that he couldn't remember whether my birthday was on Saturday or Sunday.
He missed my college graduation because he couldn't remember if the ceremony began at 10:00 or 11:00, so he showed up at 11:30 because he didn't want to be too early.
A friend of mine planned a surprise birthday party for me, and asked my N friend to design the invites. He was thrilled because it gave him that much needed attention that all N's crave. The morning of the event he called me to ask me if I was excited about my party. That's right, the designer of the invitations blew the surprise, and he did it deliberately. He blamed the excitement, and added that no one has ever given him a surprise party.
They are a twisted lot.
Anon 11:16:00am and 12:32:00pm
Yes and yes! Those "a ha" moments can be oddly liberating yet sickening at the same time, can't they? That horrible moment when you realize you're not crazy and it really is that diabolical.
"He later claimed that he couldn't remember whether my birthday was on Saturday or Sunday."
Wow. Just wow. I'll bet he managed to spew that BS with a straight face, didn't he? Twisted, indeed.
whatever they are, they're the first to cry "victim" when they mess with the wrong person or cry when they'd "had" by someone savvy.
Then, there's No Contact and you live your life on your terms while being much better off without them. Pisses them off majorly.
"Those "a ha" moments can be oddly liberating yet sickening at the same time, can't they? That horrible moment when you realize you're not crazy and it really is that diabolical"
Exactly! It IS liberating and sickening simultaneously. After years of struggling with all the mysterious collateral damage of undergoing covert abuse, and thinking something was wrong with me, it is amazing to have the watershed experience of realizing this all has an EXTERNAL CAUSE, which has been ONGOING, and can be REMOVED.
So, that was a huge relief. But then it is sickening to really process the reality of it and what it means, and realize their behavior was deliberate, repeated whenever 'successful', often planned and premeditated, no mistake, and not the result of mental illness - but a cowards way out of dealing with their own lives that placed the cost on the very closest people to them. Evil and utterly cowardly.
A straight face and so sincere, he reminded me of a line from "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas"- "He thought of a lie, and he thought it up quick." He would blurt out the first thing that came to him as an excuse for his bad behavior, it didn't matter if it was ridiculous, if he said it, then it must be so.
When I accidently stumbled across an article about narcissism, the red flags that popped up outnumbered the ones in front of the United Nations building. It really blew me away that a human being could be capable of deliberately plotting misery on others, all the while acting like Jimmy Stewart in "It's a Wonderful Life". It was oddly comforting to discover that he was a MN, it explained a lot.
Anon. said "It IS liberating and sickening simultaneously. After years of struggling with all the mysterious collateral damage of undergoing covert abuse, and thinking something was wrong with me, it is amazing to have the watershed experience of realizing this all has an EXTERNAL CAUSE, which has been ONGOING, and can be REMOVED".
Wow, that statement exactly nails it. I always knew my MNdad was a vicious, violent bully, but the many covert MNs totally baffled me. I always believed that it was ME who was the problem - that if only I tried harder I could get them to reciprocate support, interest, affection, etc, and the relationship(s) would be reciprocal. Having been raised by a MN-FOO and its assorted enablers, I was trained from birth to be an exceptionally great source of N-supply and thus well into adulthood sported a large contingent of narcissists who adored my cheerleader-like validation of them and their specialness. I was 41 years old before I realized I didn't really have any close friends, I just had a handful of MNpeople sucking the life out of me. The worst bit is when you realize that, and then want to go cold turkey to free yourself from their bloodsucking clutches and they just ratchet up the abuse, the intrusiveness, the overbearing attempts at enmeshment, and then kick it up to emotional blackmail and getting their other sycophants to bully and harass you when they feel you pull away.
".... the M.O. & profile of my entire NFOO. They carefully crafted and promoted the exact total opposite-of-an-N "myth" about themselves."
That is also most of my MN-FOO. Even violent crazy Ndad, now that he has no victims living in his house since Nmom died. It just goes to show how MNs will change their M.O. to whatever works at the moment or for the individual target. MNdad now does a lot of spirituality-speak (which is hilarious since he loathes organized religion) where he tries to sound like the world's greatest humanitarian. He tries to come off as so interested and involved in the lives of others, but has NO CLUE about anyone else - he recently called me for my B'day, and barely got out the "happy B'day" part before launching into what he was doing with his dress-up cowboy gun club, and their spring shoot and how they happened to hold their spring dinner on HIS B'day and wanted to do something special for HIM, but because it was close to the 2-year anniversary of my mom's death he DIDN'T want them to do anything special for him, but mom would have WANTED HIM to have a great B'day, so all the other members just rallied all around Mndad, etc. etc. - after about three minutes of this I made up an excuse to hang up, remembering why I never call him, ever. Criminy, he is the most irritating, self-centered pompous fool who ever walked the earth (except for your own personal MNs, dear friends here at Narcissists Suck). Then he sent a B'day email to me where he continued the "Poor Me" - launched into a description of an activity he was doing for a model railroading group which required him to review years worth of vacation slides of him and mom traveling through Europe - this email went on for pages, with descriptions of where they stayed what they ate, who was there - I'm thinking to myself - wow, I didn't need to be on the phone or an email recipient, this was ALL ABOUT MNdad's wonderfulness - why did he even bother spending the money for a long-distance phone call? Oh yeah, he needed an audience.
Selfish Ingrate said : "He appears to be interested in and care about others. He appears to be humble. He appears to be honest and hardworking. He appears to be kind and loving. And it's all a lie"
A therapist I once saw described this sort of behavior in MNs perfectly. She said "They want credit (applause, attention, kudos) for what they say, not what they do". Thus you have the MNs who do the "humanitarian talk" but never follow through - that way they get kudos and attention for what they tell you they "plan to do" - like taking you out to a fabulous restaurant for your B'day - but they cannot be bothered with the effort or expense of actually following through. Then they throw a major temper tantrum when you dare to object to being stood up. After all, they MEANT WELL. They expect to be judged on their stated intentions, not on what they actually do. They also will tell everyone you know about their wonderful plans for you - but not the part where they never actually get around to DOING it.
Now when I hear of the act of kindness or generosity that a MN SAYS he is going to do, my response is "Yes, and I am Nicholas, Czar of All The Russias".
Well, since I SAID I am Nicholas, it must mean that is who I am, right? How dare anyone say otherwise?
This doesn't work with MNs, obviously, but it can work when talking to their hapless victims.
The other helpful thing my therapist told me was that MNs expect endless credit for what they say because in their minds, the fact that they SAID they were going to do something kind or selfless or whatever for you now, creates an obligation for YOU to do something for them. MNs now believe YOU are indebted to them, and they have many ingenious ways to try to hook you into paying them back. A (former) NM-friend of mine was skilled in this technique. One example; I needed to move a large piece of furniture once, and she "offered" to let me use her pick-up truck, which was way too small, and she would have had to be completely blind to not have known that. I told her thanks, but I had hired someone because even if my furniture item would fit in her truck there was no way I could then lug it up to the second floor of my home without a couple of large burly guys. Within weeks, she called and demanded I let her use my credit card to rent a car to drive on her vacation because she didn't have a a credit card (she had recently declared bankruptcy), and anyway, then we would be "even" for her "letting me use her truck". I told her the card was maxed out, silly me, thinking that would be the end of it. But no, she then decided she would get a personal loan so she could give the car rental place a certified check for $5000 or whatever the car rental places make you do if you do not have a credit card, and she asked me to go to lunch with her so we could then swing by the bank so I could co-sign the personal loan she would need to get the certified check. When I made myself "unavailable" for the time period before she had to leave on vacation, she then decided the only person who could help her was my crazy MN-ex (who had never been a friend of hers), and so she called HIM to ask to use his credit card because mean, cruel me would not let her use mine. That is the blackmail phase of covert MNs - boy she would teach ME a lesson - if I didn't do what she wanted, there was hell to pay. What I could just kick myself for, was that it took me another decade or so to finally shed this "friend".
Wow, what an awesome site. I just found this, linked from a message board. I have a question on a malignant narcissist in my life-my FIL.
My husband and I don't have children yet, and one of the things I have been pondering is how to handle my FIL when they come along. My husband and I have had a good amount of discussion on how unhealthy his father his, but he still talks to his parents several times a week. I will talk with my mother in law, who is a sweet, but enabling person, every few months.
Fortunately, we live out of state so that limits the amount of time we spend with them, but I don't believe that my husband is willing to completely cut his father out of the picture.
I guess my question is, how to do you handle a narcissistic parent when it is your in-law and not your parent?
BTW, I had to laugh at the list of red flags of extreme self-absorption. When my husband was in high school, my FIL refused to go to my husband's marching band performances during halftime because he hated football.
"What I could just kick myself for, was that it took me another decade or so to finally shed this "friend"."
How did you finally shed her?
Aravis said, "...after about three minutes of this I made up an excuse to hang up..."
For your reading enjoyment I'm offering a couple of pathetic, but it really works with the N's, hints for the phone:
At home, I would walk over to the front door and ring my own door bell. I never discouraged the dogs from going ballistic and had a very convincing sounding reason to get off the phone immediately.
At work, I would keep a piece of cellophane (the kind they use to wrap boxes of Peeps is perfect)handy and crinkle it near the mouthpiece. A convincing, "Hello? Hello? Are you still there? If you can still hear me I'll call you back." would buy some quiet time.
Since the N's think we don't have two brain cells to rub together and that we could never deceive THEM I used these for years without fail. Yes, every company I've ever worked for had telephone "problems," every home I've ever lived in was visited by salesmen, and every cell phone I've ever owned had bad reception and never rang.
I really appreciate those therapist remarks you posted. I know many have not had luck with therapists, but it certainly sounds like you were given some good words.
I too, did find a good one, it took about one visit for her to peg my MN mom and get me through a very difficult time.
She/He is so absolutely right regarding them wanting credit for what they say rather than what they do.
My MN mother, could not get my brother and I out of the house fast enough. Then when I began to start a family, well the foster care and eventual adoptions began. You know, she really did sound so caring. She really was saving those poor children. In truth, she does relate discently with young children. You know the stage where they completely love and adore their mothers, it's when they begin to develop their own person, that the craziness begins, and continues. Of course she completely underestimated, exactly how limiting aging can be. At which point guess who became the person expected to "carry on" and save these children. Never mind that I had my own family, and was leading my own life. I was fully expected to "help" however needed.
I won't go into the absolute guilt, anger, and rage that those expectations left me feeling. Not enough space. But I will say, theres nothing quite like being expected to nuture, love, protect, and treat children you hardly know as your own. Nor was anything more painful than being punished (and I'm mean in every way, passive aggresive and straight forward) for putting my own family first. I simply wanted to make choices about my own life. Free of guilt over her choices. But her choices WERE MY CHOICES TOO!!!!
Yes, she was quite the saviour. She had sacrificed and given up so very much of herself for those poor little children. Only I knew, exactly how much she resented it. AND how much her own children were to take on. So she could be so wonderful while doing nothing. Oh, she provided food and clothing. But emotional support, discipline, and all the OTHER things children need, well they didn't get it. Of course, we are horrible, selfish children (her real ones) a great dissappointment.
I don't know..but they do like to appear so selfless. I don't think there is anything they won't do.
How do you deal with that? To the world they appear so "loving" but they really "hate" everything about their lives and everyone in them.
They just make their worlds so small over time..
makes me sad sometimes
"The Lord helps those who help themselves"
For most of my life I didn't understand this sentence. I yearned for some divine intervention because I was so lost, trapped in an emotional, mental and spiritual prison, totally confused and isolated, and fundamentally clueless as to how to help myself.
Where was God when I was curled up in a ball on the floor, crying my heart out too many times to count?
Well, He was there all the time. I only needed to reach out to him and surrender my heavy burdens of pain, suffering and fear.
He helped and healed me as I was helping myself.
That's what we all are doing by reading, commenting on the Lovely Anna's overflowing with love, blog.
And also searching for as many valid, reliable sources whereever we can to heal our damaged, troubled hearts, minds and spirits.
As another reader stated...we ARE the strong, the good, the decent, the determined, the righteous, the ones who are capable of being saved. The ones who are more than capable of choosing to heal, choosing to seek joy and light in our lives instead of Hell on Earth.
Being the children of evil parents is a tremendous tragedy with heartwrenching consequences as we have experienced while traveling through our lives.
Now that we are able to attain such priceless knowledge, insight, an education on the entire spectrum of perverse personality disorders that inflict more people than I consider comfortable, the rewards that we gain are incalculable.
They are the powerful tools offered, by wonderful, benevolent, loving people (like Anna) to help us start to visualize that beacon of light at the end of the tunnel.
And I believe that it's never too late to confront and embrace truth, reality in all it's dastardly manifestastions yet liberating revelations.
Whether we are 30, 40, 60 or 80 years of age, being free from such tyranny inflicted on us daily, yearly by our X evil parents are precious joyful times, meant to be embraced and cherished.
Peace, Love and Joy for all...
"I always knew my MNdad was a vicious, violent bully, but the many covert MNs totally baffled me."
Word! The obnoxious ones are easy to spot. They act aggressive, brag openly about being aggressive and dominating, and often gravitate towards jobs involving obvious domination over others. They are shameless, yes, but at least they aren't good at hiding what assholes they are.
The covert MN's are crazymakers of a different stripe. They are OBSESSED with looking above suspicion at all times, and covering their tracks cunningly. So much so that huge life choices [like career path, religion, having children, who they marry etc] seem to be informed not by any normal sense of personal choice, interest, passion, purpose or meaning, but ONLY by how well it will help hide what jerks they are. And it works too! How many times have I gotten a bad feeling about someone, and then thought, oh no I must be wrong, look at what they do, or look at how many kids they adopted, or how they work for whatever charity. Now I see things like that - when coupled with uneasy feelings about someone - as a possible sign of an especially complex MN. They seem to often like to take jobs in the CARING PROFESSIONS because it works both as a smokescreen and for guaranteed ongoing control/authority over others.
I think that is why we always have the ongoing theme of evil mothers here. Motherhood has to be the ultimate perfect hideout for female MN's: built-in supply and total power over dependents, and the ready-made societal reverence for the assumed natural goodness and sacrifice apparently built in to all mothers. A commenter recently noted the complete lack of any kind of joke mother's day cards, but said that joke father's day cards were easy to find. We grow up in a culture where truly criticizing mothers is a strong taboo, and NM's run with it like there is no tomorrow.
It isn't just this culture which frowns on criticism of mothers...name a culture where that is considered acceptable? It is a part of the human tribal way of relating to others. Veneration of motherhood is global for the most part as well as having been around for millennia.
This blog is primarily about covert-type narcissism as it is written from the perspective of someone subjected to a superlative covert N. Motherhood is one of the most effective cloaks for narcissism that exists both because of the reputation that GOOD mothers have as well as the fact that the victims are helpless and voiceless children.
I am of the firm belief that most narcissists are very adept at cloaking themselves. It is how they make their "living". This blog has attempted to identify the multiplied ways that narcissists operate. Also, the multiplied lies they have persuaded us to believe and operate from. It is my intent to peel back the veneer to reveal the underlying lies that keep us enslaved to cloaked evil.
Remember, people, most Ns are cloaked. The revelation of their evil is saved for the helpless and trapped behind closed doors. That is their M.O. Our job isn't to convince others that the narcissist is evil. Let others come to their own conclusions. The job for us is to learn how to protect ourselves from their predation which usually means nothing short of no contact.
Anonymous Mar 31, 2009 10:06:00 AM said, “…she does relate discently with young children. … Yes, she was quite the saviour. She had sacrificed and given up so very much of herself for those poor little children. … So she could be so wonderful while doing nothing. … Of course, we are horrible, selfish children (her real ones) a great dissappointment.”
This is the exact persona that NMom has with her FOO! No one but me seems to acknowledge that it has all gone terribly wrong!
Example #1 – Me.
Example #2 - She tried to dictate my cousin’s upbringing until Auntie went no contact.
Example #3 - NMom brought one of my other cousins from out of state to raise her away from the undo influences of other family members. By the way, the “child” was 18! This cousin is sane and smart (thus labeled as difficult) and promptly fled.
Example #4 - NMom attempted to circumvent my parenting, but when confronted went subversive.
Reap what you sow? - I believe that NMom’s favorite neighbor is a N and, prior to my going no contact, had put into place a set up that would have N-Mom caring for N-neighbor’s future kid(s).
Conclusion - Vampire on vampire action…you want to watch but welcome the distraction so that you may run for your life!
Anon: "What I could just kick myself for, was that it took me another decade or so to finally shed this "friend"." - "How did you finally shed her?"
That is in itself a story - it took me 10 years because I was still pretty clueless about covert Ns until the past couple of years. MN-friend is more of a histrionic MN. She was, as Martha Beck puts it, a squid - "someone who appears to have no backbone but does possess myriad sucking tentacles of emotional need". After MANY fits and starts I did a couple of things (1) whenever she called I asked her for stuff - money, loan of her riding mower, etc. (2) I got caller ID and used it religiously, (3) When I did get accosted by her eventually for never returning phone calls I told her that I do not listen to the answering machine unless I am on call, (4) ignored her MANY MANY emails, and finally (5) I cannot QUITE say I have rid myself of her completely - she got herself hired by my former employer 5 years ago and then transferred into my Division (so I was her boss). I finally left that company to work elsewhere a couple of years ago, so now she works for my former boss who is the world's biggest sociopath - that actually helped in that I no longer work for a sociopath (good for me) and he bullied her into curtailing contact with me because he believes he owns his employees and if they leave to work somewhere else they are DEAD to him. There are literally hundreds of people here in my city who are now dead to this man. We should probably start a club.
Despite this she occasionally emails me with fun details of her life, which I steadfastly ignore.
Anna - on the Mom Cult thing - although most of my MN-FOO are men, I think that, at least until recently, MNmoms are more damaging to kids because up until the last couple of decades, that was the only acceptable occupation for a married woman with children. So if kids are with a MN 24/7, it is going to be devastatingly horrible. Most of us here on this wonderful, wonderful blog are in our 40s or older, so we are far more likely to have been raised in isolation with a SAHM than a kid who is 6 years old today.
Other than being a stay-at-home mom, the only other two professions that were widely acceptable for women prior to about 1975 were teacher or nurse. I don't think there are necessarily more Ns in the caring professions, but those jobs have a lot of contact with vulnerable groups so a MN can more widely precipitate harm. Similar to the pedophile priest thing - many more pedophiles are NOT priests, but being a parish priest, especially if there is a parochial grade school attached, is a target-rich environment. Hence you have that freak in MA who had 700 young children as victims until he was jailed and eventually killed in prison.
Anna is right, we need to be educated mostly about the covert Ns. My violent MNdad was a "covert" N when he had to be - such as in the workplace or the community. And those are the ones that have targeted and used me every single time until I learned exactly what to look out for, courtesy of this blog.
However, Ann's posts and the commentary of this community have made so much of my childhood FINALLY make sense. Ns are alike in so many ways, and only contain themselves when they have no other choice.
Your blog is always interesting and insightful, thanks so much. After reading the following quote I decided to make a contribution to the discussion:"Narcissists are notorious for being unable to remember people's names or to even recognize their faces outside the usual setting. That's because people all look the same to you when they all look like this.
[drawing of a girl's face blanked out because it is a mirror showing the narcissist flexing and posing in the mirror that should be her face.]"
What is being described, may be a condition called prosopagnosia or face blindness. People with this malady are often unable to recognize friends and family, especially out of context. You can read more about prosopagnosia on this Harvard Univeristy and University College London website, http://www.faceblind.org/research/.
"if they leave to work somewhere else they are DEAD to him."
THAT'S it? It doesn't even occur to him that people are hoping for that. I would think a sociopath would be more savvy than that. Heh.
I guess my question is, how to do you handle a narcissistic parent when it is your in-law and not your parent? Regards, K
Mar 31, 2009 8:35:00 AM
Your options are limited since it isn't your parent. Hopefully you'll be able to convince your husband that your children must be protected from his father and agree between the both of you that your children will never be left alone with their grandfather. It doesn't matter whether or not your husband's mother is there...she will not protect her grandkids anymore than she protected her own children. Arguably, she will be less protective of her grandchildren than she ever was of her own children. That is just the way these things work out.
If your husband can freely make such an agreement without appearing like it is a hard decision for him to make, then, and only then, will it be safe to bring kids into your union. Short of that, you will find yourself fighting not only your FIL but your own husband to protect your kids. Hell on earth. Proceed with caution on the child-bearing front until it is clear that your husband will be a man of his own willing to protect his young against his own father.
There was a time that we needed to know if my husband had the chicken pox when he was a child. We thought he had it.
We asked his mother who is a raging Narcist and she had no idea, complet blank look on her face.
I was amazed that she would not know that about her son. She could not even tell us if they were ever immunized for anything.
Guess that is what happens when one is completely self absorbed.
I've been reading your blog for about an hour now. Almost every entry made my jaw drop in a gasp and a warm influx of relief: Hallelujah! I thought I was imagining it! I thought she was the only one in the world who acted this way!
No entry so shocked me as this one. My narcissist has done this since I was a child. She has never had any idea of the names of my friends, my hobbies, my goals, my achievements. She fumbles to remember the name of my husband of nine years. Occasionally, when she wants to "bond", i.e. get me to do something for her, she will mention something from my childhood as if it was still current, and then become upset if I do not appreciate it: "But you used to love [colour/food/activity that I outgrew twenty years ago]!" I thought it was me. I suppose you must hear that a lot. But I thought it was me.
Oh wow. All of this is so true. I know you say there is humour in the self-absorption but just now I can't see it. I've really had enough, and it makes me profoundly, profoundly depressed and despairing.
I am living next door to two of the most high-functioning Ns I have ever met, who do really vicious, underhanded hostile stuff with no witnesses, and then tell my landlord that they never did it and I'm craaaazy. They've turned me into a kind of joke tenant (rolling eyes, oh her again, she's always complaining about nooothing...).
Something I keep noticing about Ns is that they all seem to be operating from the rock-hard subconscious assumption that They Really Should Not Be Expected To Think. Ever. It's like they expect to spend all of their lives, all of it, on a simplistic mental automatic pilot, and if you do anything at all to disturb that then you're Deliberately Making Trouble. (And then look out, because that means they're entitled to do whatever they feel like in retaliation.)
I keep wondering if maybe at an early age they had some kind of experience where they decided the highest good was to do whatever the parent said, without ever questioning - like, "theirs not to reason why" - and they never moved on from there.
I've spent so many hours here, somehow not really realizing there was a comment section. Your blog, Anna, is such a amazing God-send to me. When I feel afraid, I think of that lovely girl with the sword at the top of your website and I like to imagine it's YOU, showing us the way to take back our lives for those who would destroy us.
Many people have helped me in earlier stages, Sam Vaknin - I found his book first in '05, Joanna Ashmun - is she the earliest blogger who finally revealed the TRUTH about these people? Also Beth McHugh and Kathy Krajco (through you.) Well, I didn't come here to name drop but to thank you from the bottom of my heart! I've been NC with my N-mom since January and am starting to feel joy in my life for the first time in decades. As an only daughter, I thought I had to deal with my mom when she decided at 75 (perfectly healthy - just depressed as she'd finally alienated her last NS in her hometown) to move to my city (she actually told me she was moving in with ME and I managed to refuse (she wanted me to defraud her long-term care insurance and lie to them, saying I fed and bathed her, and I said NO NO NO - she'll never forgive me for that "betrayal" - and she's been harboring up resentment ever since till it reached such a level that I decided I had to run or die - and either was better than staying in that hell.
Well I'm going on too long, especially for a newbie, and I've posted at Beth's board as Grizelda if anyone wants to read my story (though you've heard it all before many times). Anyway, my N-mom called and my husband and sons had dinner with her at a restaurant (as I'm NC), and when they came home, I was feeling guilty and ashamed - trying to apologize for putting them in the middle of this situation, etc., and my oldest son who's 20 stopped me and said, "Please don't apologize. I think you absolutely did the right thing. It's what you had to do. She'll never change." OMG! Tears just gushed out - it was like getting an indulgence from the Pope or something.
Then later I was telling a good friend about what he'd said - and she told me that her own mother had been bullied by her mother (my friend's grandmother), and it had hurt her so so much to watch her suffer all those years and she wished her mother and done what I've done. Just Wow. Sometimes it works out better than you expect!
If I do get put down or made to feel guilty about going NC, I'm gonna remember and always cherish what happened Sunday night. And my dear husband has promised to handle any details with N-mom that require personal presence -- funny how now that it's him and not me, she doesn't have a new errand or set of chores to be done every other day - she actually lets the Assisted Living workers do it, when she'd told me before they wouldn't!
Hope and courage to everyone! There's some great stuff on the "other side" if you can dig deep and find the strength to do what must be done! Maybe life can be even sweeter for what we've been through - Lord knows I'll never take compassion, even common courtesy, from ANYone for granted ever! The air is so sweet when the smell of fear starts to die away.
I'm not sure anyone here will believe the things my NMom has done to me & one of my brothers, but I just have to "get it out".
My NMom had me at age 16. My NDad ran away from her & me just after I was born. We then moved in with her parents. Thank GOD for them! They saved my life!
Anyway, she just turned me over to my grandparents. She wanted her life back. My Grandmother loved me & thought she was doing the right thing, insisted she "mother" me.
So many bad things happened.
She married, divorced again, married the man I called "Dad" & proceeded to kill that man slowly & painfully over the next 30 years.
She then divorced him. He drank himself to death a few yrs later.
There were so many cruel & hateful things she did to me that I'll just name the "worst".
Sat me & my brother down & told us that if abortion was legal back when we were born we would not be here. We both said "what?"! She said "well, it's the TRUTH!" The worst part of it all is she just could not believe that WE didn't believe she was serious! Like Mother's say this ALL the time!
I have another half-brother who is her darling. She's messed him up in a totally oppisite way. He's a confirmed bachelor. He's in his 40's. She would take me places & humiliate me in public, like slapping me across the face in public for minor infractions of the rules. She once told her sister (who loves me)that she might have to "feed & clothe me, but she didn't have to love me!"
Never was there breakfast in our house. She worked nights & we got ourselves up for school & better not make a peep. She cut off my lunch money while I was in high school. But, I couldn't work because I had to babysit. She ordered my clothes out of the Sears catalog. I was allowed NO input. Needless to say, I was VERY unpopular all the way through school. Our house was broken into once & she called the law on ME, saying I stole my own stereo that a boyfriend bought me! I actually still feel sorry for cop trying to figure that one out. LOL! I can STILL see his confused face.
My brother had a fever & was very sick & I called her at work & she hung up on me! I called her sister & I was punished for doing so. I was just a kid!
Once I had to have stiches in my head as a kid (I was playing outside & cut myself)& my neighbor took me to my NMom & she didn't realize the neighbor was standing at the door with me because she always locked us out, & the neighbor heard my NMom yelling at me to go away & shut up.
Neighbor told her to "get up & see to her child!" I received the medical help, but not without a price! Sent to school on a snow day. Made to walk a long way in a blizzard even though I had seen that school was cancelled on TV, but couldn't get her out of bed to see for herself. Showed up at an empty school. I was in 2nd grade!
Many, many more incidents.
But, fast forward to 2005. My great Aunt dies. No children.
She leaves her 1.5 million dollar estate to me, my Aunt, my cousin & my NMom. My Nmom takes over the estate (she had taken over with power of attorney as my Aunt lie dying)& goes to court to cut me out of the will & to get most of the money from her sister & cousin. SOMEHOW she charms the judge into granting her wish!
Our lawyer still cannot believe she mamaged to get away with it!
Nobody in the family speaks to her now. Next year she calls me out of the blue & wants to take me on an 8 day tour of Italy. My husband BEGS me NOT to go! I go thinking maybe she wants to start over & really does love me...HA!
She torments me in front of the rest of the tour members & tells them her husband made her ask me to go. She did not REALLY want me there! At the final airport before home, a Doctor & his wife who were on the tour with us, says to me in private that they noticed how bad she treated me. They surmised SHE must have had a bad childhood to treat ME like that! YES, she charmed THEM, too!
Oh, all 3 of us kids have had drug problems. I'm now clean & sober, but my 2 brothers are not. My youngest brother was in the hospital recently for a MERSA infection in his leg that almost killed him. Know what loving Nmom does? Goes to the nurses station & tells total strangers that he's a miserable awful drug addict & don't feel sorry for HIM!
I live about 4 hrs from Nmom & brothers, thank GOD!
NMom has not seen my children in years. My oldest daughter calls her "Hitler!" She has NEVER seen my grandkids. Never has asked about them.
LOVES my husband! I think it was because he stood up to her & defended me at my Aunt's wake.
Oh, BTW, the step-father I called "Dad" who she drove to drink? She shows up at his funereal! His family is very kind & didn't put her out, but we all could not believe her nerve!
Here's a side note: I met my NDad (sperm donor)when I was 24. I called him. Things went great until one night he confuses me with some strange grown woman & tries to kiss me. Not tried, he did! I was smart enough to break all ties! And I was nice enough not to tell his wife! LOL!
He died at 55 of a massive heart attack. I did not feel a thing!
Anyway, that's a very condensed version of life with my NMom.
I still struggle not to self-medicate the pain to this day.
My question to you Anna:
Do you think N's KNOW they are treating you this way? Or do they think it's all YOU?
I wonder everyday about that.
Thanks for letting me vent. Sorry about jumping around.
I'm not sure why you'd think your stories wouldn't be believed here. This blog is covered in stories similar in horror-factor as your own. No one could make this shit up.
As to your question, Do you think N's KNOW they are treating you this way? Or do they think it's all YOU?
Yes, I do believe that they know how they are treating you. I make the case for it in the archives -- over and over again. They feed off our pain. It is a source of delicious supply for them.
I, too, was told by my mother that had abortion been legal she'd have aborted me. Thankfully, she didn't tell me that until I was 18. I was married and on my own at the time. My own first child had just died of SIDS. I was in the grip of grief over my baby's tragic death and my mother laid this revelation on me. I hardly felt it because of the pain I was already in. But it registered on the intellectual level. I remember thinking, "hmmm, how interesting that she chooses to tell me this now." Evil bitch. For some reason she couldn't hurt me with this revelation. Perhaps I had long ago figured out that she never really wanted me. So it was nothing new. Some part of me realized she was often casually cruel. I was mostly emotionally distanced from it by then. I am just grateful she didn't say something like that when I was younger and had fewer mental defenses to protect my mind with.
I'm sorry for what you've been through with your mother. She sounds absolutely evil. I hope you never have to interact with her ever again.
A narcissist may, for example, recognize her son in the home but not when she runs into him in the grocery store -- giving him a stupid stare as he approaches, until he clues her in by saying, "Hi, Mom."
- that's amazing, as i have had that experience with members of my own family. my mother and father came to my school once to vote (it was a polling place), and i saw them and went over to talk to them. but they both looked at me like they didn't recognize me, didn't know me, and left. once i went to hear my father's father give a speech - he was running for reelection. i went over to speak with him, and he shook my hand and gave me thanks for my support, as if i were a stranger. but i had spent years on his company, at his home and office. he had spent many hours telling me stories of his heroic life and the many disappointments and betrayals he had experienced along the way. i chalked it up to he must not have seen me well, but i was standing right there face to face with eye contact and listened for minutes. he wasn't blind. and later when he got up to give his speech, i was the only one who clapped. the rest of the crowd was silent, although they had clapped politely for everybody, with differing levels of enthusiasm. i felt very self conscious and embarrassed to be the only one clapping. it's funny the things you remember.
my mother and father's look at me, as if "who is this kid, why is he bothering us?" i chalked up to the idea that they were having a fight, and i startled or interrupted them, and also the fact that they seldom appeared in public, much less together, and those times were stressful for them (and me too.) but now i suspect it was what you describe.
I once deposed a guy (whom I was quite convinced had NPD with some heavily antisocial features) who married his wife quite young, about age 19 or so. At any rate, I asked him when his wife graduated from university. He wasn't sure. I asked him what her major was, and he had no idea. Classic N. This particular case was about employment; he had lied his face off in his resume and consequently been hired for a job for which he was not qualified; he almost bankrupted the company as a result; he was fired; he then sued for breach of contract, and refused to drop the suit when confronted with his multiple lies!
What definitely clinched it for me, though was the fact that he had no idea what his wife's university major was, even though they had been married while she was at university and at the time she graduated.
"and refused to drop the suit when confronted with his multiple lies!"
I hope he got his ass handed to him in court.
I bet he wouldn't even get why. Lol!
I recently came across your blog and have been reading along.
I think I will leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading.
Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.
I agree that they (most of the time) know exactly what they are (ridiculously) saying (and doing) as it obviously brings more Attention to Them!!
Actually, I cannot say that my mother does not know me or others around her well. She does: she is extremely curious, she loves spying and gossiping and remembers every detail she can use (misinterpreting and perverting it) for her own purposes. Her interest in others does not run deep, it is not real.
She pretended to know everything about me and indeed she knew much (how I hated to feel as if she was sitting inside my head), but she never grasped the essentials: what I really needed, how I really felt and thought.
I remember how I once went on a trip by bike with a boy of my age (about 18), a remote acquaintance. Obviously, he had thought I had agreed to come with him so he could kiss and molest me. I got rid of him as soon as I could and went back home. My mother was there with yet another of her accusations, I don't remember what I had supposedly done. Being sick of it and feeling exhausted, I yelled at her "Do you know what I just went through?! That guy molested me! Can’t you leave me alone even now?"
She left me in peace after that, but there never was a question about what precisely had happened, no expression of worry from her side. One or two years later she said something which made me understand that she had assumed I was not a virgin any more. I had told her the experience had felt dirty and degrading for me; she had waited, virginal and head over heels in love, until her wedding night. No comment about my supposed "first experience". Nothing.
Why? Because it didn't concern her. She didn't know the guy. She couldn't make him a scene to protect me, she couldn't make things undone. I was left on my own. If I had a daughter and she would tell me she had been molested or even raped (!) I would be appalled. I would do everything in my power to help her or at least offer her comfort and support. I would call the guy's parents and him to account, and have him punished by law if it had indeed been rape. From her side, there was nothing. Not one question. She was helpless, she couldn't get any mileage out of my misery - so the whole thing was swept under the rug. I can hardly find the words to say how much I feel disgusted even now, looking back on that episode.
By the way, I had agreed to that bike trip because it had not come to my mind that the guy could be interested in me sexually. I felt ugly through most of my youth - guess why? Mommy dearest loved pointing out any small defect in my looks. I felt ugly because I felt I was not loved. Nobody cared about how I looked. Thank you for that too, mother.
I don't know if bad facial recognition/spaciness is necessarily a sign of narcissism. I'm sure your mother was highly narcissistic, but I think it may be possible that her disconnection had to do with a comorbid dissociative disorder. I have very severe SAD and I often have difficulty with public facial recognition of people who I deeply love, care about, remember in great detail, and am interested in. Certainly some people use lack of acknowledgment to manipulate people into feeling bad, but not all of us can control it! It takes me incredibly long to realize someone has said "hi" to and not someone next to me- and by the time I register it they have already interpreted my silence as deliberate cruelty. It sucks.
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