On April 20, 2006, I told my sister that I was gone. In my final letter to her I said "...the only sister you get to keep is the sister you don't abuse." *SLAM* The door was shut very firmly in her face. In the course of one letter, I told her eight times that I was out of her life. Since then my husband, daughter and I moved to a whole new state. Neither my parents nor my sister were told we were moving. I have kept the email account of mine that they have. What they still don't know is that the email account is the only way they have to contact me. They have no mailing address or phone numbers. We put in a temporary postal forwarding for six months which means the post office doesn't do address correction. At this point, they don't yet know how out of contact with me they are. The only mutual relatives that know where we live moved with us to our new location...and they are also out of contact with my parents and sister. So, no news of myself ever reaches them anymore. It's a nice feeling.
Last April, my sister had pulled one of her manipulative, lying, and nasty stunts on me. I called her on it. She eventually responded with a non-apology. It was a masterpiece of con artistry. I didn't fall for it. Told her she had pulled this kind of stunt for the last time with me. So, that means we parted ways with my sister needing to apologize for real for something she did.
So, the day after Christmas I check my email to find two separate notifications from Amazon that I had received an e-card and gift certificate from my sister. One for me, one for my daughter. My sister hasn't had my daughter's email address for years since she never made any real attempt to cultivate a relationship with her niece long before I cut off communication between myself and my sister. It was rather a shocker that D.... would send Christmas gifts in light of the above mentioned history. It was also inappropriate.
I recognize the "gifts" as a Trojan horse. She is trying to ride those gifts right back into my life. She sent an e-card with the gift certificate to me that was a picture of a snowy mountain scene personalized to say, "I hope you have snow. Merry Christmas. Love, D....." Um, yeah. Okay, forty dollars and that insipid note are supposed to buy her some goodwill? Sorry, I can't be bought that easily. I told her the price for admission, but apparently she is unwilling to pay the price I demand, which was a complete apology where she acknowledges what she did. She would try to stipulate the terms of her release with this post-Christmas Christmas gift.
So what to do with this overture by my narcissistic sister? Ignore it. It is the only safe thing to do when one has gone into "no contact" with family narcissists. They are famous for using the holidays to try to worm their way back into contact. I read the stories over and over at the ACON e-group. My terms of reconciliation were made clear. I was unambiguous. Narcissists don't want to play by any rules other than the ones they make up. For me to acknowledge sister's gifts in any way would open a door that I firmly shut. I know how the Amazon gift certificate thing works...as soon as I opened the notification they sent me, Amazon sent sister a notification that I received her gift. That is all the acknowledgement she will get. Hopefully, the lack of reward for her $80 will be a disincentive for her to send gifts next year.
This was the Christmas season for bringing out the narcissistic relates. I'm getting the distinct impression that they are having a hard time dealing with the fact that I'm no longer around for them. I am glad that my absence has created their unrest. That was part of the purpose of it. I knew that they would be more forced to deal with who they are and how they treat people with me out of the picture than with me in it. You force narcissists to have to deal more with reality by being out of their lives. Which works out nicely for you. You can go on to live happily and peacefully without the narcissist while they stew in their juices out of sight and mind. Remember, you can't change the narcissist, but if there is any hope for change it will happen in your absence, not in your presence. You may never know about the change, if any should miraculously occur. That is called a consequence. There are consequences for bad behavior. Sometimes that means the people you've abused leave your life, or don't believe you've changed when you really have. Sorry. We're not required to hang around to see if our abusers have stopped being abusive. We have the right to self-defense and the right to not have a relationship with bad people. Even if those bad people call themselves Mom, Dad and Sister.
My father and I stopped all communication in October 2005 after a hopeless exchange of letters in the wake of my telling my mother I was not going to talk to her anymore. His motivation was to convince me to make things "right" with my mother. My motivation was to tell him I would still like to have a relationship with him even though I found that having one with my mother was insupportable. He made it clear that wasn't an option. I very politely ended our hopeless exchange allowing him the "winning position" by not answering his last letter to me which was filled with history revisionism, lies and accusations. I didn't want to further antagonize him by continuing to refute him.
Back to the box. My daughter immediately opened it and found a very short, typed note on top of a photo album. The note said:
Since my three score and ten is rapidly approaching I wanted to give you this before it was too late and your family history was lost forever. It is nice to know where you come from, even if there is a rift in the family right now. I know your children and their children etc. will appreciate it even if it doesn't seem important right now.
I hope you all have a great Christmas season.
On the front of the album is a computer generated label that says, "The Family History of [Daughter's full name]. The album starts with my father's side of the family. A few copies of old documents going back to my great, great grandfather with some very old photos. Cool. The bulk of the album is dedicated to my father's side of the family. All the photos are copies. Until he gets to pictures of me as a child. Original photos all. Yes, indeed. Apparently, he doesn't need to keep originals where I am in the picture. Interesting. Then he has a large picture of me with my first husband who is daughter's biological father. This is a man who was almost entirely absent from my daughter's life. But he is memorialized in this photo genealogy simply because blood is all that matters with my dad. My daughter was raised by the loving man I am still married to, and he adopted her. He doesn't even get an "honorable mention" in this album, except, perhaps, for the fact that the full name of my daughter splashed across the outside of this album includes the last name of her adoptive father! This inclusion of her bio dad and exclusion of her REAL dad greatly irked my daughter. There were other significant oversights in this picture gallery of people. Including my daughter's older brother who died in infancy. No indication that he ever existed.
Then my dad gets to my mother's side of the family. Two pictures of my maternal grandmother. One when she was around 18 and the other when she was in her 60's. That's it. No pictures of my mother's many siblings, cousins, grandparents, or even of my mother (except where she is in pics of me or daughter in the previous section of the album). This has led to various speculations on our part. I suspect that my mother is being petulant and refusing to share. This album was my dad's idea, not hers. She would feel no obligation to cooperate much. My dad probably has a few residual good feelings about my daughter, his granddaughter, but not so my mother. The confrontation between my mother and me that led to the final break was precipitated by something she did to my daughter. My mother has never been affectionate with her granddaughter....so any semblance of affection with my daughter likely evaporated in the feud.
My first reaction to this photo album was gratitude for my father's efforts. But as I thought about things, I started to lose any feeling of sentimentality as I realized what a slap in the face this was intended to be. His granting of this family history to my daughter is the same as his saying that I am dead and gone to him. Even with the present estrangement he could have shown some effort at conciliation by bequeathing the family history in its proper order by giving it to me. But, no, it is clear that I am like a dead relate to him. Believe me, I am very happy that my daughter has this little bit of history. I am only commenting on what the message is that my dad is sending to me by giving this to her.
Another thing is how this is proof that I will receive nothing when he dies. (Not that I wanted or expected anything. This was something my husband noted.) Everything will go to my sister including all family pictures. I will not have access to any of this when he is gone. He is making sure, before he dies, that something gets passed on to his only grandchild as a way of preserving the past for future generations. Another thing that lends itself to this interpretation is that he did not use this gift to his granddaughter to establish any request for continued contact with her. He is simply using her to 1) take a swipe at me 2) look like he is a good guy 3) preserve some part of himself for the future. He doesn't make any expression to his only grandchild that he misses her, that he would like to stay in touch with her, that he gives a flying crap about her. It is really all about him! He sees the danger that all memory of him and his bitch wife is going to vanish when they die.
While my father seems to value keeping a record of dead relatives, what is ironic in all this is how he and my mother are estranged from every living relative save one. My sister. And, who knows, maybe they are estranged by now too. I'm not in touch with my sister anymore so I wouldn't know.
My husband, daughter and I live a few houses down the street from my father's brother (my uncle, obviously). His daughter (my cousin), and her two sons live with him. My father and mother are estranged from all of them too. When my daughter showed this album to my uncle and cousin, my cousin noted how many of the copies of early documents, photos and newspaper clippings were ones collected by my dear uncle over the years. My mother insisted on borrowing these things a half dozen years ago so my dad could get copies. My father is still in possession of the originals and never even gave copies back to my uncle. Yes, indeed, my parents STOLE these things from my uncle. We have the proof in our album! Apparently, my parents felt entitled to own these things which is why they wouldn't consider it theft.
My daughter is still trying to decide whether or not she will acknowledge receipt of this...gift. I'll let ya know how it goes. By the way, even though my father may have intended to impress me with how dead I am to him, it does not excite any emotions in me but mild bemusement and general sense of being entertained. He can not hurt me. What he thinks of me is of no consequence whatsoever, so he is unable to hurt me or rile my feelings. I just sit here looking on in quiet amusement as I receive more evidence that my parents have no peace in their hearts. Our estrangement has brought me much peace and happiness. But for them, the estrangement leaves them with a constant reminder that their false reality is indeed false. My dad is trying to gain a little bit of peace by assuring himself that some semblance of memory of him will get passed on. I hope that works for him. I guess I do feel a little something else in the wake of this. A tinge of sadness. I really do feel sad for my dad that his wife was worth giving up relationships with the rest of his family. I feel sad when I imagine his bitterness and loneliness. But the sadness is moderated by awareness that he chose it all.
Enter: the narcissist. The narcissist's use of language is a study in perversion. To pervert something is to misuse it. To debase it. To "misconstrue or distort". If language is the medium of clear communication, and it is, then to pervert the use of language is to use it to fend off communication. To obscure. To fend off understanding. To avoid committing to an idea. To throw you off the truth and send you down a blind alley so the con-artist can avoid exposure. To transmit false realities...i.e. lie. The narcissist hates nothing more than to have you hold him to his words. He reserves the right to change meanings of words, to make claims of never saying those words, to twist up your thinking with shifting definitions of words. He uses language to his own ends. He destroys social contracts by not allowing himself to be held to anything he says. He is a language anarchist. He is the antithesis of civilization. He is a danger to every society he finds himself in be it a family, a work place or a nation.
By his misuse of language he perverts his own mind. Over time we see the narcissist losing track of reality. We see him slipping further and further from the moorings of objective truth by his life time of perversion of truth into lies. His thoughts, which are designed to be organized by language, become disorganized and non-cohesive because words long ago lost their meaning to him. The shifting sands of redefining reality by redefining words have greased his palms and left him with no grip on truth. We see the aging narcissist become trapped in his delusions with no ability to find his way back to truth because now his mind can not work properly. His perversion of language eventually perverted his thinking. He is adrift ...cut off from true society by his misuse of his mind and his misuse of the great conveyance of thoughts by the vehicle of language.
Beware of those who misuse language. Pay attention to the words people use and hold them to what they say even if you are holding them to their words in your own mind without confronting them. If they won't "own" the words they choose to use when you proceed on their words as if they meant what they said, then consider that a red flag if a pattern of this behavior develops. Words have meaning. Words are the foundation of our thoughts and the most important medium for a cohesive society. The meaning of "is" isn't shifting and elusive. Know for yourself what words mean and don't allow someone to pervert what they mean in your own mind. This will allow you to live in reality. This will make it hard for anyone to brainwash you into believing a false reality. Words have meaning. Stick to the meaning and you'll get through life with your rationality intact.
At the end of my commentary I'll be providing a link to an interesting article on what is going on in your brain during hypnosis. Scientists have come to recognize and respect that hypnosis is something real. Real in the sense that it is possible to affect how someone may think or act by applying certain techniques. This article explains how hypnosis is about how the brain interprets sensory input...the brain is wired in such a way that it is quite easy for it to suppress outside input and create an alternate reality. A certain percentage of the population is considered "highly suggestible"...a small percentage are impervious to hypnotic technique. Children before the age of 12 are extremely vulnerable to hypnosis because of the immature wiring of the brain.
How is this relevant to the topic of narcissism? I am convinced that the narcissist has learned intuitively how to hypnotize people. I am also convinced, due to my personal experience and through observation, that narcissistic parents employ their hypnotic suggestions to their very young children before those children have any hope of resisting. I believe this is why it takes so long for adult children of narcissists to break free from their evil N parent(s). On average, an ACON will likely be around the age of 40 before they seem to be able to break free mentally from all the early programming of their N parent. It is a painful, difficult process to shrug off what feels like the absolute underpinings of the universe that have been programmed into your very DNA before you were able to rationally override hypnotic suggestion.
Hypnosis is not magic. It is not supernatural. It is really quite simply a process that takes advantage of how our brains naturally work. It is potentially a very powerful tool of mind control and is therefore a dangerous tool. I think it is wrong to assume control of another person's mind for any reason. Humanity is too morally weak to always be benevolent with this type of power. But I am convinced that it is imperative to understand how hypnosis works because we've all been affected by it at some time or other. The narcissist's primary weapon of choice is that of hypnotic suggestion. Your best defense is to know yourself. Know how to recognize when someone is trying to hypnotize you by seeing the signs in your own reactions. For the easiest and best handbook on how to recognize when hypnosis is coming at you I will again highly recommend the book, "Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry" by Albert J. Bernstein, Ph.D. He takes all the mystery out of hypnosis and gives practical advice on how to evade it.
Here is the link to the article This Is Your Brain Under Hypnosis.
Here is the scenario I'm picturing as I write this: you've been used and abused by the narcissist for years. You've started to get a clue as to what you are dealing with. You start establishing some boundaries, you start using a backbone, you are putting up with less crap. In the wake of the changes in you, the narcissist will also appear to change. They take on a more submissive posture. They seem to be behaving better. You start to have hope that you've made a difference. You start to believe that the narcissist's character has changed. You are set up for a fall. It is typical for a narcissist to back down when their source of narcissistic supply shows strength. They are bullies. Bullies back down when challenged; bullies start to whine and cry when someone stands up to them. That is what the narcissist in your life has done. They have not changed who they are, they've only changed tactics. What they can't get by baring their teeth they will attempt to get by showing a "softer side". They may suddenly appear reasonable. The rages stop. Or they will make a great show at being helpless and pitiful. They may suddenly get religion and make a profession of godliness and make a great show at waxing their halo. Whatever the new, softer version of narcissism you see in front of you, know this: it is still a narcissist you are dealing with. The fangs are still there....they've just hidden them for effect.
When the N makes changes in behavior they simply are employing a ruse. Ruse = deception. They lie. They lie by omission, commission, by a look, by a sigh, by insinuation. They are the personification of a lie. We, the honest-in-heart, have a hard time conceptualizing someone who exists entirely in a lie. It is not socially acceptable to allow our first presumption to be that someone is lying. Especially when it is a parent. No, we are to presume they are representing the truth...and only accept that it was a lie when it can absolutely be proven to be one. Once a lie has been proven you then have to shift back to the default position of presumption of the truth. It is this default position that screws us up over and over.
The sad, yet absolute, fact is that the default position when dealing with a narcissist is that they are lying. The anomaly with a N is when they tell the truth. They so seldom tell the truth that you don't even have to worry about mistaking that truth for a lie. They don't deserve to have us believe one thing they say or insinuate. If we presume that whatever they are doing, whatever they are saying, is designed to manipulate and deceive, then we are in a much safer and saner position. So, whether they are being "nicer" or whether they are raging, they are the very same animal. Predatory. The predation NEVER stops. Presume the fact that every waking moment they are predating you, and you'll always be on your guard even when it looks like they are now "safe" to be around. Never stop watching your back.
Much has happened, and these happenings have taught me many things. Several of which is that all of the above were illusions. Figments of my imagination. Fantasy and dreams.
Recent experience has revealed not only the present but the past. One of the saddest realities I have had to confront in my adulthood is that my father has never loved me. I won't bore you with my long list of remembrances that prove this point. I don't have to prove anything to you. I am only stating that it has been proven to me. I will sum up my realizations about my dad to you, though, just in case it may resonate in your own experience.
The only person who really matters to my dad is himself. Yes, he has worked hard for years to provide for his wife. And himself. By providing for his wife, he can claim this as proof that he loves her and has done his duty toward her. This works for her. There is little more she expects from him. Provide for her in the manner she has become accustomed to and the uneasy truce between them can be maintained. The symbiosis of their relationship explains everything to me about my dad's relationship to me. It was never about me. I have been an attachment to my mother since I was born. He would have never married my mom except that she became pregnant with me. All I have ever been to him is a representation of duty and responsibility. He did for me because it was simply the same as doing something for his wife. It kept her "happy", it met her demands, it shut her up. Which brings me to my first statement that the only person who matters to him is himself. He only pleases his wife in order to "keep the peace" so he can live his life in relative calm as well as pursue his own interests and live his own life. They live separate but parallel existences. It is a business arrangement. A little bit of mutual back-scratching, then they go about doing what they do for themselves. Both are locked in a perpetual pursuit of their own agendas. Separate agendas.
There is no human alive who doesn't fashion some code of conduct that convinces themselves they are "righteous"...i.e. that they are "moral". Some fashion their moral code according to an objective source, such as the Bible. Others just make one up as they go along and construct their code according to their subjective and perverted feelings and ideas. My dad lives by the moral code of the mobster. No matter how angry he may get at my mother, no matter how loudly he may condemn some behavior of hers to her face, no matter the long emotional estrangements from her....let some "outsider" (everyone is an outsider to those two including their children) come along and dare to contradict or attempt to hold his wife to accountability in whatever form and his mobster code of conduct is immediately visible. No one else is ever allowed to "dis" his wife. You make her unhappy and HE is unhappy. You will be yanked on as hard as possible by him in order to bring you back into line and make his wifey happy again. I see this dynamic as yet another iteration of his dedication to his principle of selfishness. If the wife is unhappy....she makes him miserable, too, because she cries, she rages, she whines, she mopes, she sinks into depression, she tortures him with her misery. He sees the only "moral" thing to do is to make her happy again whatever the human cost may be to the "outsider". No one else matters. There is no claim for redress, accountability, or justice that he will admit to be valid. The mobster code of "la familia" applies only to the two of them. The rest of us can rot in hell.
I see my father as Igor to my mother's Dr. Frankenstein. He is simply the club she wields to keep the rest of us in line. She has used him this way for as long as I can remember. I used to believe her lies about how much he loved his children, about what a strong and principled man he was, about how deserving of respect he was. Time and experience have been my teachers. He is as evil as she is. While she abused me with almost impunity, he turned his eye. He has NEVER stood up against her to protect me. Not once. When finally, as an adult, I appealed to him to hold her to account for her evil deeds just once, his refusal was absolute. This proved to me that his claim that had he known how she abused her children he would have intervened was a complete and total lie. He was being asked to intervene now, in the present, for a deed he witnessed himself and admitted for a short while she was in the wrong, and he refused to do the right thing by his family. His dedication to himself....and therefore to his wife....are set in granite. He is immovable. Not any part of his soul is moved by the importunities and pleas of his extended family. No righteous claim can find redress in his court of appeals. His integrity was surrendered to his evil wife many decades ago. He demands from the rest of us a similar surrender of integrity in the name of peace and family. It is a vile thing to behold.
I have no father.
What I used to believe about my Nmother:
All other women were likely to be poor at parenting, but my mother was the pinnacle of motherly wisdom and a font of knowledge for parenting advice.
She would admit to being able to control others, but none were more self-controlled than she in her ability to never be controlling.
She was the personified exemplification of peace. Never a raised voice in her home was proof of this claim.
Now I know with painful acuity that every one of her claims above was the diametric opposite of reality.
Indeed, if anyone in the room is a liar it is she. Lies are her stock-in-trade. She lies with such alacrity that one is likely to believe the lies....for who would lie about such things? Who could lie so glibly without a hitch in her breath or a blink of an eye?
How was I ever fooled into believing her to be the pinnacle of motherly virtue and child-rearing expertise???!!! I was on the receiving end of her so-called ability for years! I have personally received her motherly "ministrations" until I made my escape at age 17. My life was often a living hell with her. I guess I have this as living proof of her adeptness at brainwashing that she convinced me for years that all the fault was in me and not her. What I loathe the most about her is that thing that evokes my greatest self-loathing: that I allowed her unfettered access to my daughter when she was so young and defenseless. I hate us both (Nmom and I) for that. I hate that I swallowed all her lies and believed her words over my personal experience. I discounted what I saw with my own eyes, heard with my own ears, felt in my own body in favor of what the false reality of her creation. My only consolation is that she had more accountability when dealing with my daughter....she was not able to carry out her more cruel methods as were exercised on me as a child. Nevertheless, how fervently I wish I had left at age 17 and never consented to ever again lay eyes on my evil mother. How did I ever trust her to be different than what I had experienced as a child? I think back at her excessive self-promotion, her claims of success with others' children, her constant insistence at her supreme abilities and I guess I can wonder a little less. She had references! She had many others who sang her praises....how could she and everyone else be wrong and me be right? I caved to the majority. I could question myself .... and did. I'd been raised to do so. Never question Nmom or her motivations. Only question yourself. If there is a problem....look at yourself. I learned well at her knee. Prone to submission, I subverted tangible reality for her version of events. My consolation: my daughter understands malignant narcissism now and is unlikely to be abused by another one in her lifetime. She is also free from ever having to lay eyes on her grandmother ever again. Her complete freedom began four years ago at age 20. She got free much sooner than I did.
I have lived for forty-five years now and I can state with absoluteness that I have never met a more controlling person in my life than my own Nmother. How was I fooled into believing she was the opposite? Go back to point number one: All others may be liars, but she was always telling the truth. I simply took her at her word and ignored all evidence to the contrary. To a point. I can look back at my behaviors starting at age 17 and continuing right up to the total break and see how I took measures to limit her ability to control me. Quite successfully. She constantly chafed at her inability to crack my walls erected to keep her nose out of my business, but she had to maintain her facade of not being controlling, so she chafed quietly.
"Blessed are the peacemakers"....how many years did I believe her claims to be the family peacemaker? Oh, far too many. Now I look back and see how she had her hand in every familial relationship, constantly stirring pots, incessantly creating friction between family members. She was sneaky and underhanded which allowed her to proclaim, "Peace and safety" while "sudden destruction cometh" to each of us in her sphere of influence. 1 Thess. 5:3.
Okay, I think I got this off my chest. I need to forgive myself for being her dupe for so long. When I do, I can stop hating her. Vile, evil bitch.
Implied in this sermon is that the deficiency is in you. Also inherent in these comments is the belief, perpetuated by humanistic psychology, that everyone is basically "good". There is no room in this anthropological theory for the concept of evil. Bad people don't exist. Malevolence is a figment of your imagination.
The person who says things like this to you has something to gain. Perhaps they are trying to keep you from "rocking the boat". Maybe this land of denial they live in is how they keep from having to deal with anything difficult. Fear of confrontation. Fear of standing on principle. Lots of people are afraid of principle if by having one it'll cause them some discomfort. So they become unprincipled which allows the evil people to flourish.
So, let's get back to the idea that you just need to look harder and find the "good" in the person who makes a living by sucking your life from you. First of all, if you have to hunt that hard to find some good in someone it simply isn't there. Another thing is this: there are many deeds a person can do that can appear to be "good" but are not. Look closely and you'll see the "good" done by a consistently evil person is self-serving. They try to appear good in certain situations (i.e. when others are looking) so as to get away with being evil! It is a ruse. A guise. An occasional "good" deed does not weigh the balances against a consistent life of bad deeds.
Let's look at a historical figure. I think most reasonable people can agree that Hitler was an evil man. His complete obsession with wiping the Jews, gypsies, people of Slavic origin, mental deficients and the physically impaired off the face of the planet seems to be sufficient evidence to decent people that this man was an evil psychopath. What good deed could he do that would be adequate to the task of mitigating his evil? Again, reasonable minds could probably agree that nothing he could do would be good enough to outweigh the vast evil of his homocidal hatred of certain classes of people. Some people have actually tried to find the "human side" of Hitler. He loved animals. He was vegetarian. He was able to unite Germany. These are some of the things brought up by apologists for Hitler who try to minimize his evil. He wasn't evil, he was misunderstood. He was a little misguided in some respects, but he was a great leader. Okay, if that works for you then you can go surf off somewhere else because I can't say anything that you will agree with. The truth is that there was no "good" in Hitler that could outweigh his evil deeds. It is rare for a malevolent, evil person to have no qualities that can be construed to be "good". For the naive, the ridiculously stupid, or other evil people, those "good" qualities can outweigh a life of consistent evil. For the sane and principled those "good" qualities are seen for what they are...a mask. An aberration. Yes, for the evil person a "good" deed is an aberration!
So what if you can find some "good" in an abusive person. If you have to hunt around, stretch your imagination or wrack your brain to find the "good", then, honey, it just tain't there. Face facts. Don't let yourself be confused by the silly idea out there that if you can find ONE good thing in someone then you have proof positive that person is not evil after all. It is that kind of thinking that will keep you enslaved. You are allowed to call evil by its right name. You are allowed to distance yourself from it. It is called self-preservation. Self-defense is a fundamental right of all living creatures. Exert your right to live. Shrug off the small-minded thinking out there that puts on such a pretense of bigness and righteousness by pretending that evil people aren't evil. In my mind, these mental midgets are just as dangerous because they do nothing to stop evil. Their stupid philosophy perpetuates evil. Distance yourself from the evil people in your life...and that includes the idiot who tells you to hunt for the good in an abuser.
It seems that a narcissistically driven person has difficulty knowing when they are going "over the top". They seem to over-do everything so much that you often get the feeling like they are acting. Your intuition that they are acting is exactly what you are witnessing. As Dr. Hare describes the narcissist/psychopath: he knows the words to the song, but not the music. They learn what emotions people normally express in certain situations but they don't feel those emotions themselves. The result is that you end up watching their performance and sensing a certain hollowness. It doesn't ring true. Even when witnessing a narcissistic rage you may have sensed the acting job. True rage isn't like a spigot that you can turn on and off. A normal person experiencing rage has a hard time settling down. They have to work on calming themselves. Let a narcissist rage and then the phone rings or another person walks in the room....BAM....they are transformed. In an instant the rage is replaced by a smile. Normal conversation ensues. Crazy-making if you are a witness and victim of this behavior. So, even the rage is manufactured. The desired outcome is control of you. It is one of the more effective tools in the narcissist's kit designed for a certain effect.
I am convinced that the narcissist is only a moderately good actor. The signs of the falsity are always there, but we often are susceptible to believing the act because of weaknesses in our own selves. The narcissist has a very sensitive detector of the weaknesses and faults of humanity; they hone in on yours with great precision. These weaknesses make you vulnerable to exploitation. We often believe lies because we want to believe the lie is truth. It is imperative that we be brutally honest with ourselves about ourselves. It is more important to know yourself than it is to know the con-artist. If you have acknowledged your weak spots you'll guard them more carefully. You'll be attuned to a person who has honed right in on those weak spots. You'll listen to the alarm bells and wait for more information before you act on the promises, flattery, proffers of riches or love of a possible narcissist/con man.
Pay attention to the disconnects, the non-sequituers, the contradictions, those moments when you wonder if you are imagining things or going crazy. Something is wrong if you consistently get these feelings. Stand back. Know what you know. Don't let the possible con-man's persuasive arguments fool you as he tries to get you to un-know what you saw with your own eyes and heard with your own ears. This will allow you to hold on to what is truth making it much less likely that you'll believe a lie. Narcissists are actors. They are trying to shape you into playing your part in their play. Beware. Know thyself.
They commonly counterpoise a compliment with a protestation that they do not deserve it. Or they may dismiss a genuine accolade as insincere flattery, or even appear annoyed that the complimenter appears to think they would appreciate an admiring remark...
The narcissistically motivated person doesn't even need your compliments....except, the truth is, they do need them. They simply can't let you know that fact, and they are trying to not know that fact themselves.
Then there is the "Converse Manifestations" where you throw everything described previously out because the narcissist may choose to deflect thanks in an opposite sense: by over-thanking.
As in all things psychodynamic, the opposite behavior may indicate a problem in accepting dependency or vulnerability. Some people compulsively over thank, or over apologize, in a manner that suggests as much underlying discomfort with the inner state of indebtedness to others as we are postulating in those who resist thanking and apologizing. Denial of Remorse & GratitudeI like that the author of this article tells the reader to pay attention to their inner state of discomfort in this situation as it is a signal to you that something is wrong. When someone over-thanks or over-apologizes to the point that you start feeling squirmy then trust that your instincts are onto a screwy dynamic. This person hates feeling indebted to you. Deal accordingly.
The next anomaly is that of "reversing roles".
This tendency to respond to a solicitous inquiry with "Okay" or "Sure" or the posture of equivalent solicitude typifies a narcissistically protective interaction. The assumed position is, "You're the one with the needs here, not me; but I'm such a good person I'll humor you." Denial of Remorse & GratitudeThese people are so god-like in their own minds that the act of asking a favor, or even accepting an offered favor, is considered to be an act of humiliation, so they twist things around so that your offering a favor is actually them granting you a favor. Doesn't get more upside down than that. Upside down is pretty much the description of life with a narcissist. Black is white. Right is wrong. In is out. This is yet another manifestation of the upside-down dealings of the narcissist in everyday life.
The article describes the bait and switch of "conferring approval". You get a pat on the back along with a granting of approval for how you did something, but no "thank you" is in sight. You may get fooled by the flattery of someone telling you that you did a good job and wrongly assume they are expressing thanks. Think again. Only a person who is more knowledgeable, more skilled, or more experienced can confer approval on you for what you've done or accomplished. It is from a position of superiority from which we dispense approval. "You did a good job" versus "I appreciate what you've done". One is a pat on the head, the other appreciation for a favor received. If someone is giving you a pat on the head stop and ask yourself if they are in a position of superiority in that area over you. A teacher/student relationship, a parent/minor child relationship, employer/employee relationship can be appropriate for the conferral of approval on your deeds. But in a relationship of equals such as a friend, spouse, co-worker, church member, etc., one needs to assess whether or not the receipt of approval is appropriate for what you've done. Did you do them a favor? Then thanks are in order, not a comment of approval issued down from on high. Recognize the condescension inherent in the conferral of approval from an equal. The message couldn't be clearer. They don't need you in any way. In some way you owed it to them....they only are acknowledging receipt of what was due. They feel generous while they pat you on the head; in their minds that pat is more than you deserve. The narcissist can only remain in a relationship where both you and he treat him as superior in all ways. This makes genuine gratitude on his part impossible. He doesn't need you....he bequeaths you with the honor of his presence. You show him gratitude by doing nice things for him. Its the least you can do.
The fifth form of narcissistic non-apology described in this article is that of deflecting blame. I doubt you've lived this long unscathed by this mighty diversion tactic. This section of the article is comprised mostly of a description of an event with a psychotherapy trainee with more guns in his arsenal of self-defense (because of his psych training) than even the average narcissist. You can read their example for yourself.
As you read, notice that the false premise of the narcissist is one of complete and perfect self-sufficiency. It is this unrealistic goal, this idealized sense of the world and themselves, that underpins their inability to either sincerely thank someone or to truly apologize. Both states, apologetic and gratitude, require a belief in humanity's interdependency; that we need each other and that none of us are perfect. The narcissist ascribes to, as the article described it earlier, "a sinless, needless self-concept".
If you have dared to point out a short-coming to a narcissist then you probably have experienced how they will immediately hone in on your short-comings, point out your lack of perfection, and therefore disqualify you from ever being able to mention their short-comings. They will then tell you that their short-coming is in your perception only. Probably not directly, but by hammering on your imperfections which you're then to assume are clouding your judgment of them. So, essentially, if you see a fault in them your perceptions are wrong. They devalue you personally, your judgment and your motives.
If their fault is undeniable then the narcissist likely follow this construct stated from the perspective of the narcissist:
"If you deny your part in the dynamic, you are self-deluded and therefore not worth listening to; if you admit it, you and I can lament your shortcomings together, construe my actions as responsive to your mistakes, and avoid looking at my own problems." Denial of Remorse & Gratitude
Either way, you end up shouldering the blame while the narcissist walks away with their grandiose self concept intact. It is the kernel of truth in the narcissist's accusations that trip you up and shut you up. You need to see that the underlying assumptions of the narcissist (that perfection is an attainable and worthy goal not just for him, but for you too) are wrong. You are not trying to be perfect. You're not asking for perfection from him. There is a problem...you are addressing it. Don't get distracted. He's trying to get off the hook by deflecting blame onto you. If you point out a problem, you become the problem in the narcissist's thinking. If they accept any blame they will only do so as long as it is clear that you are to blame too.
In my previous post I shared parts of my own mother's non-apology letter to me. I did not accept her apology and let her know that. Eventually this brought my father into the fray. He has always been her defender against any and all who would dare to try to hold my mother to any account. He took it upon himself to write to me after I told my mother I was cutting off all contact with her. He used the method of spreading around the blame in order to make my mother less culpable.
I remember some of your behavior as a young person as being a long ways from perfection. I won’t dignify it by mentioning what they were....
The way I see it is you both have a problem.....Your side of the problem is you have decided the relationship isn’t worth the risk of being hurt again so you are removing yourself from that risk.
Notice how he decides to divide the blame equally between my mother and myself. My desire to remove myself from the situation is counted as equally "bad" as my mother's crimes against humanity! My behavior as a "young person" forever disqualifies me from holding my mother to account in the here and now. This is what I wrote to him in response to his statement above:
This is like saying that the rabbit who sees the shadow of the raptor is part of the problem when he takes cover in his burrow. No rational being faults the prey for attempting to stay out of the food chain by taking cover when the predator is near. Self defense is considered to be a commendable, Yay, even a smart way to deal with a known threat, be it in the animal world or the human. The right of self-protection is one rarely argued with except by despots.....No one faults the lion for being a lion....they just accept what is and stay the hell away. I’m not expecting Mom to change her nature, I’m simply making choices based on her proven nature. Proven by years and years and years of evidence, and years of her words claiming to be different only to see her actions prove that all is the same. So while I concede that I am not willing to place myself or family within striking distance of Mom, I do not concede that it makes me part of the problem. No more than Brier Rabbit is a problem for finding protection in the brier patch. Well, he IS a problem from the predator’s point of view....but for those who don’t eat rabbit, they see the rabbit’s wisdom and prudence as commendable.
Nearer to the close of this letter to my dad I said:
Considering how long-- through your persistent ignorance and consistent, unquestioning support of Mom’s version of any and all events-- you’ve been a part of the negative dynamic that has resulted in a trail of injured souls, I see not how you’ve earned the right to sit in judgment and assign whatever measure of blame to me, or your family, that you believe we should carry. Your partiality to the opposing counsel disqualifies you to sit as a judge in this case. What is called for from you is compassion and mercy for those deprived of it so long. The one thing you could do that would in some measure satisfy justice you refuse to give.
Mom is a verified abuser. Victims of abuse are not to blame for the abuse. The only time we start blaming the victim is when the victim refuses to leave the abusive situation! But you would hold me to blame because I won’t go back for more abuse. I don’t see the fairness in your reckoning. Perhaps this reckoning is based on your belief that no more abuse would ever occur because Mom has seen the light. I can’t subscribe to such magical thinking. As the oft-quoted proverb of George Santayana goes, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I can not and will not un-know the past. My future course will be plotted by remembering what went before so I am not condemned to perpetual repeats of history.
As could be predicted, this letter elicited an even nastier letter from my narcissist-trained father. I'll spare you the insanity.
My hard-earned ability to deflect the blame-machine's efforts to smear me has resulted in freedom from both of my abusive parents. Keep your eye on the ball. Don't let them smear the mud of their dirty selves onto you and then convince you that you made them dirty!
For additional local affordablepaper visit affordablepaper.
We have noticed the tendency for narcissistically vulnerable people to engage in a kink of ritual self-castigation in the wake of an undeniable or unrationalizable failing toward someone. This is a process even more elusive than explaining, and harder to distinguish from true apologizing...
...In the case of a person with a narcissistic character disorder, recrimination is probably as close as he or she ever comes to apologizing, and is doubtless believed to constitute sorrow and reparation.
So familiar. How 'bout you? How many times I would end up comforting my mother and assuring her that she is wonderful and shouldn't be so hard on herself. Her self-recrimination can seem so abject that one is desperate to comfort her. The last apology I received from her she sent to me in writing so it is preserved for all time. Let me quote from it now just for fun.
I am horrified by the terrible pain I’ve caused & the wrongs committed by a seeming callous behavior. Honestly, I had no idea. I’m so sorry. The violations were not done with deliberate intent.
There seems hardly anything I can say that not sound self-serving but I will diligently answer you with a contrite heart. My position today is one of sorrow of soul & any wickedness done against you I want to make right. May I begin with my encounter with _____. I was wrong – period! What I further have to say on this subject is not an excuse but an apology.Then she proceeds with the "explanation" part of the non-apology. She gave away a lot in the course of this letter with the use of modifiers. Such as her comment above about her "seeming callous behavior". She minimizes her culpability bit by bit with these types of modifying words. In the midst of the "explanation" part of the letter she throws in this bit of confession: In any event, my supposed wrong was mistaken, incorrect, unjust. I was the wrongdoer. I am so sorry. (Emphasis hers) Did ya catch that? Her supposed wrong??? She is a damned slippery fish. Here are more examples in this one letter of her statements of self-recrimination:
I’m profoundly sorry.
I am horrified at what _____ said I said. I remember little of that conversation....
Ps. 38:38 says, "For I do confess my guilt & iniquity; I am filled with sorrow for my sin." This is the condition of my heart. I am filled with sorrow & willingly confess my offenses & unjust acts.
I was absolutely wrong & in repentance I beg forgiveness.
Because I long to please my Lord, I completely admit my guilt without reservation & humbly ask forgiveness for any hurt or evil I have done against you & family.
I pray God impresses you with the sincerity of this letter.
Her prayer wasn't answered.
All those statements that mouth the words of apology were interspersed with explanation, minimization, history-revision, talking beside the point, and assurances of the purity of her intentions despite the negative outcomes of her behavior. My mother has perfected the art of non-apologies. She uses every permutation of non-apology that exists and throws it at you all at once in an attempt to overwhelm any sense you had of being wronged. Her written apology would have had much more emotional force if she could have delivered it in person. It would have been delivered with sobs and copious tears that she can turn on and off like a spigot. The distance that I had put into our relationship required that she deliver her non-apology in writing which fully exposed what she was doing. It allowed me the time to examine carefully what she was saying. I didn't have to respond immediately like I would have if this had happened in real time. I highly recommend getting the narcissist in your life to put their "apologies" in writing where you can stand back and see the load of crap for what it is. If you can't do that, then just make sure you are fully versed on all the various forms a non-apology can take so you don't get sucked in yet again to forgiving a crime in progress.
This section of the article on "recrimination" ends with a test to see if the self-castigation is coming from a narcissistic defense or if it is sincere. The test is to ask the person if they would, under identical circumstances, do the same thing again:
A truly repentant sinner will unhesitatingly and believably say no, while a person protecting the grandiose self will tend to launch into a series of hedges, rationalizations, or less than credible denials.
What jumped out at me as I read this article from Contemporary Psychoanalysis was how many versions of non-apology I would get in one interaction with either my sister or my mother. In the process of one "apology" they would use every one of the iterations of non-apology defined in this article. I had to get into my forties before I could start to recognize that these women had never apologized to me for anything in all my life. I went through this recently with my sister. She had pulled one of her stunts and I called her on it in no uncertain terms. She waited for a couple of weeks and then sent me an email with her "apology". Oh, it was a grand attempt. What she didn't anticipate was how transparent her explaining, blame-shifting, appeals to her perfect intentions, etc. were to me. I nailed her between the eyes with my rejection of her "apology" and told her we have no relationship as far as I'm concerned. I'm sure she choked real good on that one.
I suspect that you've experienced this version of a non-apology from the narcissist in your life, too. The next vile incarnation of a non-apology is "Explaining". I now quote:
A related substitute for apologizing is the practice of explaining. Unless the listener is particularly sensitive, an explanation can sound remarkably like an apology.The lesson of the day is: Don't confuse an explanation for an apology. Even if the person started with what sounds like contrition, if they follow it up with an explanation which lessens their culpability in some way it is the same as putting a "but" between two sentences. The "but" negates everything that preceded it. Every single time.
I long ago quit accepting "good intentions" as an apology finding myself completely irked by what was obviously a defense and not an apology. I hadn't quite come to understand what precisely was happening when this kind of apology was being given...the "repair of their inner self-concept, not the mending of the feelings of those in their external world". It is so obvious once stated.
Keep in mind that one can receive or dish out any of these iterations of a non-apology without being a full-blown narcissist. Yes, a person who gives any of these non-apologies is certainly "narcissistically defended" at the moment they do this, but if the person you're dealing with consistently issues non-apologies then you have reason to suspect a malignant narcissist rather than just a momentarily defensive human-being.
Narcissistic Pathology of Everyday Life: The Denial of Remorse and Gratitude
I found this article extremely helpful and insightful so I'm going to continue to comment on some of the content here.
There seems to be in all of us a disposition not to acknowledge how much we need others. Similarly, we all seem to have some fundamental discomfort admitting to mistakes and failures.....For the purpose of this essay, the aspects of the grandiose self that we wish to emphasize includes its being without need and without sin. A transaction will be considered as essentially narcissistic insofar as its main goal seems to be the shoring up of a sinless, needless self-concept. There follow some examples of everyday behavior suggesting the unconscious operation of a grandiose self-representation, followed by a discussion of everyday-life pathology around apologizing and thanking.The premise of this essay is laid out above. I am very pleased that someone took the time and effort to analyze the effect in everyday life, as experienced by the victims, of the narcissistic need to preserve the illusion of perfection and sinlessness and how this renders the narcissist incapable of expressing true remorse or true gratitude. The various ways the narcissist denies these important transactions that lubricate social life are described well in the essay. I have experienced almost every aspect they describe. The same is probably true for you. I recommend you read the essay for yourself.
In a loving relationship perceived as temporarily damaged by one party's hunger or aggression, the (actual or fantasied) injuring party ordinarily seeks to restore the loving tone of the relationship. In adults, the usual vehicle is the apology.
How many times have you beat yourself up for not feeling like you can forgive the narcissist? Well, you can stop accusing yourself and realize that you've been denied true remorse and reparation from the narcissist which is why you feel so empty and distanced after receiving some version of an apology that was anything but an apology. What follows are some descriptions of various ways a narcissist appears to apologize while actually denying you an apology. It is sleight of hand. You've been duped to some extent. Your head tells you that you received an apology and therefore everything should be set right now, but your heart feels alienated and unmoved. Something was missing and somewhere you sense that. Hopefully, this article can explain why that is.
What intrigues us about the reparation process when a narcissistic defense is operating is that what is repaired is not the damage to the relationship, but the subject's illusion of perfection.
The first method of avoiding an apology is described as "undoing". Rather than come out and admit what they said or did was wrong, the narcissist will attempt to undo the wrong by doing something for you. Take you out to dinner, buy you something, sex, fill in the blank. If you are on the receiving end of the "undoing", you may still feel upset and hurt and may reject the advance. Or you may acquiesce by accepting the gift or action and conceal your feelings. You will still feel lonely and distanced because no true remorse was expressed. There is a cumulative effect of repeated "undoing" on a relationship that will ultimately result in alienation.
Never confuse "undoing" for a real apology. The act of "undoing" is how the narcissist avoids admitting to any imperfection on their part while they try to usher back in an atmosphere of reconciliation by getting you to drop your complaint. They are trying to buy you off. If you accept their "gift" in whatever form it takes, they will assume that all is well again. Meanwhile, you feel like crap.
Next post we'll look at the methods of "appealing to good intentions" and "explaining" as two more ways you can be denied a real apology.
Do you want a sure-fire test to see if you're involved in a "friendship" with a narcissist? Okay, this is really simple. It is so simple that you may be tempted to dismiss it. Please don't.
I know this works from personal experience. I have seen this work consistently for others as well. It is the equivalent of smearing your body with blood and jumping into shark-infested waters....the sharks will bite. The dolphins, the fish, the sea turtles will not bite.
Just say NO. Yup, that catchy little anti-drug phrase contains all the advice you need to detect who in your life is sucking your life blood from you. This works so consistently well that if I was selling this advice I'd offer you a money-back guarantee.
What should you say no to? It doesn't matter. If you have noticed that you are always saying yes to everyone in your life then chances are you've attracted at least one narcissist. The beauty of the "just say no" experiment is that you don't have to wait to say no to something really big, nor do you have to wait until you're fed up or exhausted to say it. In fact, it is better to "just say no" to something rather small. Innocuous. No big deal. Don't be angry when you say it, either. Just matter-of-fact. The disproportionate reaction you'll get from a narcissist will be shown up to be all the more disproportionate if the "no" is small and reasonable.
More advice on saying "no": Don't be apologetic. This is very important. If you are challenged, just stand your ground and do not offer up any explanations, justifications or appear to be in any way unsure of your right to say that little word.
Stand back and watch the fangs come out. If you are dealing with a narcissist they will not be able to take your "no" with any kind of reasonable equanimity. They will challenge you in some way. If you stand firm, they may bring out any number of nasty methods to dissuade you from your decision. Don't get sucked in. Just stand back, watch and marvel at the transformation of what you thought was a friend into a fiend.
If you say "no" to a reasonable, non-narcissitic person, they will accept it for what it is. They will not try to shame you. They will not try to convince you that you're a selfish person. They will accept your "no" with grace and your relationship will not be damaged.
The narcissist's reaction to "no" is never positive. And it doesn't matter if you've been in the relationship for years or you've just met this person....the test will work.
This is a highly effective dating tool, by the way. Keep getting tangled with narcissists in your dating life? Just say NO. Early on. Don't waste time. You're not getting any younger. Filter the vampires out before the second date.
"Just say no". So easy. So effective. Doesn't cost a thing.
There is an interesting article published in 1990 in a psychology journal that I'd like to reference in this and upcoming posts. Parts of the article are more interesting than others so I'll summarize some of them in my own words. The parts of this article that I plan to highlight here on my blog are those concepts that I've personally seen and experienced. If I've seen and experienced it, then it is likely you have too.
One of the concepts this article visits is the subject of criticism as used by the narcissist. One of the terms this article uses is "narcissistically defended person". What this means is that the person is either a narcissist, or they have adopted narcissistic defenses even if their over-all personality can not be classified as someone with NPD. So, some of the behaviors can be seen in a person who can not be reasonably classified as having the full-blown disorder of narcissism. But, I'm here to tell ya, it is likely you will see most, if not all, of the behaviors in a narcissist.
One of the ways that the "narcissistically defended person" avoids making reparations in a relationship is by making you the problem. One vehicle for this process is criticism. There are several ways that you open yourself up to criticism from the narcissist:
He may see you as an extension of himself therefore any imperfection in you is a reflection on him and threatens his view of himself as being perfect. "Grandiose self", as the professionals refer to it, is under threat when you fall short of his expectations.
Or you can disappoint him by not being the perfect counterpoise to his grand self. He expects you to be effortlessly all-knowing and all empathic. You are expected to perceive his needs, his wants, his thoughts without him ever having to ask you to. This, of course, preserves his delusion of himself that he is god-like.
As long as he doesn't have to ask you for something he can pretend he doesn't need you.
This is very important to this discussion. His grandiose view of himself doesn't allow him to admit to himself that he needs anybody. Even those who could not be considered narcissistic can have a hard time admitting to needing others. It is sort of the human condition. With the narcissist, though, it is carried to an extreme. It is this unbending conviction that they need no one that makes either true gratitude or true remorse impossible for him to give to you. I'll elaborate on that more in another post.
What I'm talking about today is how you are set up by the narcissist for criticism. Not only does admitting to having needs of his own threaten his god-like status, but your expressing a need that you want the narcissist to fulfill, or your telling him how you feel about something he has said or done, puts a target on your head. Zap. You hardly know what hit you. He can turn it around on you in an instant.
Example: a narcissist who is nurturing a grandiose vision of herself as a spiritual paragon of virtue is asked to admit that she gossiped about you. Rather than admit to being a gossip she will tell you that she only stated the truth about you and apparently you can't handle the truth being said. Because there some truth in her gossip, you suddenly feel like you have no right to expect an apology or restitution. The narcissist successfully transfers attention from their defects of character to your alleged defects. You were disarmed because of the smidgen of truth in the accusations.
In psychological terms, the narcissist pathologizes you in order to preserve the false grand image of themselves. In the wake of the narcissistic attack you are left feeling like you are bad. This is related to the idea of projection. You challenged their god-like and perfect image in some way, so they are compelled to transfer their unconscious sense of badness onto you in order to render themselves without fault or imperfection. This is very destructive to you.
Something the article focuses on is how the narcissist can do this pathologizing of you all the more effectively if they are versed in psychoanalytic terms and processes. This can be someone who works in the field of psychology or simply someone who has immersed themselves in pop psychology books. I have experienced this personally with my sister. She became a much more adept manipulator, much more subtle manipulator, after she'd spent some time studying a Christian psychology-based course. After that she was always diagnosing everyone else's supposed faults and became very adept at pathologizing anyone who dared to contradict her in any way. Because she can sound so authoritative and use professional sounding terms to pathologize her victims, the victims are usually rendered voice-less and condemned without any hope of appeal. Not to mention the extra power of using a Christianized form of psychology to keep people subjected spiritually and morally as well as emotionally. I hate Christian psychology. It is mis-used much more than people like to admit.
There is a growing understanding out there among the professionals that traditional psychological methods tend to worsen personality-disordered individuals rather than help them for the same reasons that I have observed in my sister; the personality-disordered person uses the information to improve their manipulation skills, not to correct their own character defects. Keep this in mind if you are toying with the idea of dragging the narcissist into therapy with you. Chances are you will end up with a bigger problem on your hands than you started with.
Above are described some of the ways you can find yourself cut down and cut to pieces by a narcissist's projection and criticism so you can avoid this dance. You don't have to participate in the narcissist's attempts to annihilate you and thereby preserve their grand selves. The narcissist's criticism is their defense against any and all hints that they are less than God Himself. The narcissist's efforts to transfer all fault onto you is not about you. It is about him. You are simply a tool to prop up his false image. I hope this makes you feel used because that is the reality of it. Which brings me to my constant refrain: get the hell away from the alien freak. Save yourself before it is too late.
I just finished the book titled "Uncommon Knowledge" written by Judy Lewis. She was the love child of Loretta Young and Clark Gable. The book was recommended in a list of books which portray a narcissistic parent an ACON email group I belong to. I ordered a used book from Amazon Marketplace.
If you like biographical books about Hollywood stars, you'll probably like this one. There are many interesting characters that pop up throughout the narrative. The author is not whiny and doesn't seem to exaggerate. In fact, I got the feeling she underplays certain themes quite a bit. It feels like she gives her mother the benefit of the doubt more than she needs to. The crux of Judy's narrative is the secret of her conception and birth that carried on for decades. Judy was told that she was adopted. Somewhere along the way, she is not sure when, she understood that her mother was her biological parent. Then the only question in her mind was, who was her father? She didn't get a direct answer from her mother on this until Judy was in her 30's. It was supposed to remain a secret in perpetuity as far as Loretta was concerned.
I was not sure that Loretta Young was a narcissist even as far as half way through the book. Judy's perspective of her mother is probably the reason for that. It isn't until Judy gets older that the narrative reveals more and more of the pathologically narcissistic behaviors of her mother. Prior to that, Loretta Young appears to be just aloof and neglectful.....her husband (Judy's step-father), Tom Lewis, seems to be the only narcissist in the story. The picture begins to come into sharper focus as Judy becomes old enough to assert herself or to question her mother. By the time I got to the last 100 pages of the book, I'm seeing a description of my own narcissistic mother. The attitudes, the behaviors, the sly put-downs, the need to be constantly admired, the instant dismissal of anyone or anything that threatens force reality onto the consciousness of the narcissist, etc. For myself, the book also made me realize that my mother acted the role of "movie star" even though she never was one.
What is intriguing to me is that Judy Lewis went to college in her forties to become a clinical psychologist. Why doesn't she seem to ever even toy with the idea that her mother had a personality disorder? Maybe the answer lies in the timing of the book. Judy was finally estranged from her mother at the age of 51. After the rift, Judy decides it is time for her to be able to publicly claim her paternity so she writes the book. It comes out three years into her estrangement with her mother in the year 1994. I think it is clear that Judy was still hoping for a reconciliation. I suspect that hope explains why she seems to downplay the malignancy of her mother's treatment of her, as well as why Judy doesn't throw out psychology based theories and diagnoses of her mother. Loretta was suspicious and hostile toward psychology.
I went hunting on the Internet and found out from an interview with Judy Lewis in the year 2002. She explains that the book coming out deepened the rift between her and her mother. This is not surprising because the cause of the rift between mother and daughter was Loretta's belief that Judy was writing a tell-all book....a rumor that wasn't true at the time. Apparently, after 12 years of estrangement Judy and her mother reconciled until Loretta's death from ovarian cancer in 2001 three years after the reconciliation. I don't think that reconciliation could have occurred if Judy had dared to assign narcissistic personality disorder to her mother in the book or had taken harsher views of her mother's behaviors.
You can read it for yourself and decide if Loretta Young was a full-blown narcissist. I think she was. I also think that she worsened with age....as seems to be the trend with narcissists. Especially when age dims their beauty or fame. Judy was not privy to her mother's professional relationships. I suspect many people saw the narcissism because her nick-name in Hollywood became the "Iron Butterfly"....a moniker that Loretta took some pride in. She was known for being able to always get her way. Narcissism is more the norm in Hollywood. People expect a certain amount of it there....and seem to think it is justified in movie stars. You rarely see condemnation of narcissism coming from Hollywood about Hollywood. One of the best movies about Hollywood stars and their narcissistic preoccupation with beauty and/or fame is "Death Becomes Her". I always am greatly entertained by the morbid yet comedic portrayal of a couple of somatic narcissists. Of course, it allows me to laugh out loud at my own mother's extreme vanity....I see a portrayal of her in that movie and it does me great good to be able to laugh at her ridiculousness. It is funny as long as you aren't actually living in it.
"There are going to be times when your baby is going to make you very angry. In fact, you're going to be so angry that you'll wish you could throw him into a wall. You'll be tired and overwhelmed and the baby will just push you to absolute frustration. Now, you won't act out on those feelings, but you'll feel horrible about yourself for having them. I'm letting you know ahead of time so you won't feel like you're an awful mother for having those urges. All mothers feel like this from time to time."I nodded and thanked her for the wisdom. (I was quite young and still very much under my mom's control.)
Of course, now that I'm many years away from this and have much perspective, I understand that she was revealing much about herself and nothing about me. I never had the urge to kill my babies. Never once did I want to smash their heads into a hard object just to relieve myself of frustration. But I realize now what kind of mother I had from infancy. A homocidal bitch. She was projecting onto me. I am sure that she was actually hoping I would feel the way she
described because it would, in some way, make her feel justified in her homocidal urges.
What she said would qualify as suggestion. It wouldn't have occurred to me that mothers routinely felt like killing their helpless babies. Here was my loving mother **wheeze** putting a thought into my head that never before had residence there. She was trying to shape me into being like she was. If I ever confessed to having the same murderous feelings about my baby she would never have to feel like I would condemn her feelings toward me as a baby. It was a convoluted way to find absolution, in my opinion.
She has repeated over and over again through the years about how it was a very good thing that I was such a calm and quiet baby. She was depressed and overwhelmed. She just doesn't know what she would have done if I was other than I was. What usually goes unmentioned in this particular tape recording (as in one of those stories she has repeated many times) of hers was the reality that I was the result of an unwanted pregnancy. I am sure she blamed me for the fact that she was now married and saddled with responsibility rather than being the little social butterfly flitting about charming men and getting coddled and adored.
My only other sibling, a sister three years my junior, was my mom's wanted baby. My father didn't want any more children, so mom accidentally on purpose got pregnant. (A factoid she shared with me after I was grown.) My sister was anything but a calm and quiet baby, but somehow my mother could deal with that fact because this was the baby she longed for and wanted and connived to get. I suspect she never had homocidal urges when my sister was an infant. She spoiled my sister. My sister was somewhat of a trophy because she was blonde. My mother is hispanic and her family took special pride in family members who were fairer skinned, or had "blue" eyes (which meant they were some color other than brown), and light hair. So, I suppose she gained a fair amount of supply from family who fawned over her blonde baby.
My Nmom took extreme pride in her self-control. She is some kind of queen mother because she didn't kill me in my crib. For that she acts like she deserves a medal, and every whim and expectation of hers is mine to fulfill. Ha. I'm so far out of contact with her now that she doesn't even know what state in the U.S. I'm living in. She can take her expectations and shove them up.....well, let's just say, where da sun don't shine.
Oh, for the record, above mentioned spoiled sister doesn't know where to find me either. I can't tell you how good it feels every time I think about how I'm free from these two intensely selfish and controlling women. The relief is immense. I feel almost euphoric every time I think about it. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh, life is good without narcissists.
I came across this webpage a few days ago and thought I would post it here for your benefit. The author has impressed me with their ability to describe the subtleties of the relationship between a narcissistic mother and her child(ren), and how her methods of control are myriad and many of them fly below the radar for onlookers. Only the child sees the look, hears the tone of her voice, understands the dire threat of punishment in a raised eyebrow....
See if this person has captured your narcissistic mom.
Characteristics of Narcissistic Mothers
The link above has gone dead. Here is a link to another site which has reproduced the content of the Geocities site.
It is essential for narcissists to live parasitically off of our humanness in order to be able to present themselves to the world as something other than the alien life forms they are. They use normal people around them to prop up their pretense of normalcy. This is accomplished in a million different ways. Projection, devaluation of your virtues, blaming and shaming are a few of the tools which accomplish this.
Projection: The narcissist wipes the crap of their own behaviors or motives onto you making it seem like you are something you are not. Somehow the act of projection gives the psychological cover the narcissist needs. It distances themselves from what they do, say or think by wiping the shit off of themselves onto you. Then they stand back, shake their heads and marvel at what a stinky, dirty mess up you are. It is not rational, but it is psychologically effective for them. It works even better when you start to believe this alternate reality is true, resulting in you feeling responsible for all the crap you find yourself in. They've taken you and their pathetic self and transposed the images. Your normalcy and decency has been stolen by them to hold up a false image of themselves to the world.
Devaluation of your virtues: Nothing like true virtue in you to set off the fury and envy of a narcissist. Without even trying, you show them up for what they are. The solution? Take your virtues, twist them upside down, then slander you to whomever will listen. Are you a scrupulously honest person? The narcissist will turn you into a liar. Are you a talented musician? The narcissist will denigrate, criticize and negatively compare you to themselves or some other musician until you become convinced you have no talent whatsoever and give up. Are you compassionate and caring? The narcissist will turn you into a weakling and a sap.....or accuse you of being selfish and uncaring. We could go on here forever. There is no virtue that a narcissist can't tarnish. By tarnishing your virtues the narcissist has lessened you in the eyes of others, and maybe even in your own eyes. Now the narcissist can feel they look good in the comparison. Again, they have swiped some of your humanness from you to prop up their image and camouflage that they are predatory alien life forms.
Blaming: There is nothing a narcissist does, says or thinks that they can't blame someone else for. This is where you come in real handy. They can absolve themselves completely at your expense. Another theft of your good name and your humanness.
Shaming: When one is caught in the grip of a narcissist it can be extremely difficult to not succumb to the shaming techniques of a narcissist. They use this tool to great effect to keep your level of resistance to a minimum while they continue to rape your self respect, good name, good graces and decency. It is because you are a decent person that shaming is so effective. You can be shamed because you have a conscience. The narcissist is a real adept at turning your conscience against you. If you can be convinced that you deserve the shame and blame heaped upon you then you can be used by the narcissist to keep yourself in line. This is yet another theft of your humanity used to prop up the false image of the narcissist. If you accept the shame then you are likely to shut up and put up with the narcissist's behaviors. You will act like what they do is normal which usually means that you start thinking you're the crazy one. In this transaction, the narcissist comes out looking like the sane one because you've accepted his insanity as your own.
Aliens do exist and they are trying to take over your body and soul. Resist. Narcissists do not believe they are mere humans. They take themselves out of the realm of humanity by thinking they are something different, something more and better than human. Even though they get that part wrong....the part about being better than the rest of us....they do get it partly right: they are not human. This makes them aliens. Not nice, benevolent aliens either. They are the kind that live off of you parasitically and destroy you in the process.
It is possible to dis-empower the parasitic narcissist in your life. Isn't that what you really want to do? Well, you do have some power here. You must extract yourself from their sphere completely so they can no longer use you to appear to be something they aren't. You were not born to be a source of nourishment for a parasitic alien life form. Why should we allow our lives, our normalcy, our decency to be prostituted by some narcissist for their own selfish purposes? Can't find a reason.
Like the parasite, the narcissist attaches itself to its host. It has identified what it sees as a source of life, a source of narcissistic supply. If their parasitism manages to suck the life out of the host they will quickly attach to the next one. There is no expression of concern or feeling for the diseased or dead host they left behind.
Narcissists...like a tapeworm or a malarial protozoan....feel no regret for this way of making a living. We should feel no regret if we choose to use pesticides to get rid of them.
How incredibly informative it would be if people could truly understand that the opposite of love is not hatred but indifference. It would force them to recognize the pathological relationships they are stuck in that are destroying their lives in some way. Many ACONs struggle for so long with their narcissistic parents because we all have memories of some apparently benevolent acts.
We look for "benevolent" acts in our history with the narcissist as a sign that they must love us "in their own way". We think that if they didn't love us then surely we'd know it because we think we would recognize the opposite of love. We think love's opposite is active hatred. I disagree.
Not to say that our narcissistic parents don't display actively hateful behavior, by the way. They can and do. But we are perplexed by the times when they seem to be acting loving toward us. (The operant word here is acting.) So we come up with explanations for the bad behaviors and give them a pass. Our narcissists tutored us well on how to do this.
I believe the hallmark of our relationships with our Ns seems to be the often overtly callous indifference we have suffered from them. They are indifferent to our best good. Indifferent to our humanity and individuality. Indifferent to our needs. Indifferent to our feelings. They nothing you.
Real love is other-centered. It is outwardly focused. (See 1 Corinthians 13 for a description of what real love looks like.) It involves self-sacrifice. It is always benevolent in its motivation. I've already pointed out how malignant narcissist means malevolent. Evil. Intent on doing harm. Please don't confuse anything the narcissist does as coming from a loving motivation. To do so is to continue to be their prey.
If we can understand the utter disregard of our personhood that is encapsulated in the word indifference, if we can let ourselves acknowledge the awful truth that these people are incapable of anything approaching real love, then can we see our way clear to cut loose even if these people call themselves our parents? I think so.
This indifference explains the sense we get of having our souls sucked out of us. Love fills us up. Indifference reduces us to husks. These people are toxic waste. Poison that will kill your soul first and then your body. We can forget ever feeling guilty for distancing ourselves from them because we think that on some level they must love us. Love is incapable of indifference because indifference is its antithesis. The narcissist does not love you. Never did. Never will. There is no room for such nobility of purpose and action as love in the narcissist's heart.
Indifference is what I feel for my parents. Bit by bit, as I began to understand the revelation of their narcissism, I was able to distance myself from them. Now I feel nothing for them. I don't have active, seething emotions that one would call hatred. No, I nothing them. They do not merit the emotional energy of hatred. They merit nothing. One can say that their indifference toward me all my life has finally come full circle back to them. My indifference is different from theirs in an important sense.....it contains no malevolence. I do not stay in their lives and torture them with my indifference. I have completely removed myself from their sphere so as to not afflict them with it. My indifference is in place only to save me. Not to hurt them.
The narcissist feels nothing toward you. My recommended course of action is that you get the hell away from them forever before they completely corrode your life. Then set on a path toward indifference. There is healing for your heart there. The narcissist doesn't merit anything from you that requires as much energy as either love or hatred. The wages for their actions toward you has come due. What have they earned? Nothing. As in, you owe them nothing. You feel nothing. They are nothing.