Narcissists who use 12-step programs to further their agenda

mindfulrecovery

Today I was reading a couple of new blog articles by Dr. George K. Simon, which can be found here and here. Dr. Simon has written a number of books about psychopathy, narcissism and other “character disorders” (his term for the DSM “Cluster B” personality disorders, which are in part characterized by a lack of empathy or capacity to feel remorse). The two articles I was reading focus on narcissistic/antisocial behavior and addiction.

Indeed, many disordered individuals have a concurrent alcohol or drug problem, but unlike neurotics (people with anxiety issues who have the capacity to feel shame, empathy and remorse–usually so much that they sabotage themselves), the character-disordered are not very likely to seek treatment for their addictions. This really isn’t any surprise, since Cluster B types (especially Narcissists and people with antisocial personality disorder) aren’t likely to seek any kind of psychological treatment or therapy because they’re not the ones suffering–they’re more likely to cause others to suffer. Narcissists and those with APD also think they’re superior human beings who don’t need any help. Instead, they blame their victims for being the ones with the mental or emotional problems.

But there are some character disordered people who do join 12 step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous. They may be aware they have a substance abuse issue, but that’s as far as any insight into themselves goes. These are the “recovered” addicts and alcoholics who lord their recovery over others, and treat their 12-step program like a religion that allows them to believe they are superior to everyone else.

12steps

My mother falls into this category. She’s a Narc who, back in the early 1980s, decided she was an alcoholic and became involved with AA. Speeding through the 12 steps at a pace that was most likely unrealistic for most people trying to recover, she went from being merely abusive to intolerably, infuriatingly abusive. While her drunkenness had been mostly unpleasant, at times she could almost be “fun,” or at least so out of it that she handled her abuse of me clumsily and sometimes forgot she was supposed to be abusing me and would shift into treating me as a younger woman she could party with. But after discovering AA, suddenly she became a self-righteous, judgmental, rigid you-know-what who lorded her new “religion” over me in particular. Mind you, I am not dissing AA or any other 12 step program, as they have helped many people turn their lives around and free themselves from addiction. But when narcissists find these programs, they use them to further their own agenda, and as they do with everything else, turn the steps of recovery into weapons to be used against others. Narcissists in recovery programs are as bad as the worst kind of religious zealots and treat the program as if they alone discovered it, seeming to equate themselves with Moses being hand picked by God to discover the Ten Commandments.

They also turn the various slogans associated with these 12 step programs into handy justifications for being even more self-centered, arrogant and unempathic than they already were. My Narc mother, for example, now had handy canned excuses for her horrific treatment of others. For example, if you called her out for a hurtful action or comment, she’d respond with “your feelings are your own responsibility, not mine” or “stop taking my inventory.” If she wanted to belittle you, she’d say “you’re on a dry drunk” (actually she was the one on the dry drunk) or “that’s your addiction talking.” (she thought everyone who wasn’t a teetotaler or occasionally indulged in a little pot was an alcoholic or drug addict).

The 4th step of AA is “taking a fearless moral inventory” and a later step is “making amends to those you have harmed.” While these two steps would seem like holy water is to the devil for a Narc, sending them off flailing and screaming, some narcissists can and do take these steps (others get “stuck” at step 4, and may quit the program), but if they do, they work these steps in a shallow, glib manner, usually only addressing the substance abuse itself, while glossing over any pain they caused others. This is how my mother handled these steps, and when she “made amends” to me, I didn’t feel any sincerity there at all. Her “amends” seemed as phony as an mass-mailed Christmas card from your local bail bondsman. I suppose I’m guilty of “taking her inventory” but that’s how it felt to me. She was never one to apologize for anything, ever. No narcissist is.

addicts

Another interesting thing about Narcs who join 12 step programs is they don’t dig any deeper. Many non-narcissist alcoholics and drug addicts come to a point in recovery where they want to learn more about themselves, what makes them tick, and perhaps what led them to self-medicate in the first place. They realize that the addiction, while it very likely has a genetic component, can also be caused by psychological factors and they want to dig deeper to find out why they drank or used in the first place. A Narc will never do that, because any sort of therapy requires introspection into their own behavior and that is terrifying to them–because even they know that all they’ll see when they look into the mirror is….an endless black void of nothingness. As I’ve talked about in previous posts, for whatever reason, narcissists don’t have a true “self”–instead they wear a series of masks meant to dupe others into believing there is something there when there isn’t anything there at all.

So beware of the recovered addict or alcoholic who treats their 12-step program like a religion and uses it as a pedestal to make others feel deficient–you’re almost certainly dealing with a narcissist. And as you might expect, many narcissists are active in churches, especially those that are autocratic, evangelical or fundamentalist in nature, because it allows them an easy way to feel superior even if they haven’t achieved anything notable in life: they’re “saved” and you’re going to hell. Narcissists in 12 step programs use the program’s tenets almost exactly the same way.

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Blogging drunk

drunkwriter

I’ve had almost three glasses of Merlot and I feel like the buzz just got vacuum-suctioned from my brain. See, I had almost finished a writing this post but in my half drunken state I hit some key I shouldn’t have and the whole thing was deleted, and the nice buzz I’d been working on was gone. I wanted to ram my laptop through the wall. I couldn’t get my post back so now I have to start over. I want to kick a puppy right now. And now I can barely type because although my mind is suddenly clear, my body is apparently still drunk.

I’m pouring a little more wine into my glass now and taking a sip. Aaaahhhhh! I must rewrite that post, but it won’t be as good as the first one, which was awesome. Arrrrghhhh!

So today I decided to get drunk. Now, I’m not a big drinker at all, and in fact don’t even like alcohol too much. It makes me feel sick and doesn’t give me the same pleasant buzz it did when I was in my 20s. Today, in my 50s, I can have just one or two drinks and stop. I drink very rarely and when I do I don’t care for it much. Back in my prime I spent a lot of time drunk and didn’t know when to stop. I even joined AA (and met Michael, my psychopathic sperm donor there) but evidently I was just a problem drinker and hadn’t crossed the line to alcoholism because according to their beliefs, a true alcoholic can never ever drink again because if they do, they will fall off the side of the sobriety ship, get abducted by Jack Daniels, whose goons will waterboard you with booze for all eternity. Well, anyway, that didn’t happened to me. The last time I got this drunk was on New Years Eve almost two years ago.

But today I decided I wanted to not only drink, but get drunk. I didn’t wake up wanting to do that though. There were important things to take care of.

I guess I need to provide a little background as to what motivated me to want to get sloshed. My 21 year old daughter Molly has had her share of issues. She was a rebellious teenager and her rebellion and rash, impulsive behavior hasn’t let up much since she was 15. I blame a lot of this on her dad and his ex-girlfriend, who took my then 12-year old daughter to drug parties where my girl developed a taste for the illicit and mind-bending.

I just finished my third glass of Merlot (the one I was refilling a few minutes ago) and just took a couple of hits of weed too, another thing I don’t indulge in much. I like to be clearheaded most of the time but today? Honestly, IDGAF.

Molly’s had a few run ins with the law–petty charges like shoplifing and a DWI. Back in April, when she turned 21, she received an inheritance from my father for $20K. My son received the same, but has spent his wisely on his education and camera and computer equipment so he can keep making films which he hopes get him into that industry (I never got any inheritance from my father but that’s irrelevant right now and I’ve talked about that before anyway). Within two months, the money was gone. Neither she nor I have any idea what happened to it, but she did help me pay a few bills and bought herself a used dark blue Honda Acura. The car is fine but needs a little work. Because Molly had a DWI the car was put in my name, and I would have to put it on my insurance and not allow her to drive it until she finished her probation requirements and her license was reinstated.

I’m not typing very well and spellcheck is sure getting a workout too because my fat drunk fingers are flapping around the keyboard like dead baby flounders. Please, dear God, don’t let me hit the delete key or whatever it was by accident again. >< (Does that smilie exist? It's supposed to be that face you make when you're frustrated beyond all reason and you squint your eyes real tight.) Yep, I'm feeling it.

So anyway back in July, about a week before her probation was up, Molly decided to break up with her boyfriend. It was her idea but she went batshit for about a month, laying in bed and not eating for a week (she is bipolar and has BPD), and then suddenly leaving–in the car she isn't supposed to be driving–and not returning for almost a week. Her psychopathic sperm donor texted me and told me she was hanging with a group of junkies and pushers and was shooting heroin herself and I had better do something abou tit. about it.

He was lying through his teeth. It was just him trying to start drama again in his psychopathic, sadistic way, but the situation with Molly was still concerning at the very least. That night she brought home a group of the kind of boys we call "skells" around these parts–according to the Urban Dictionary, a skell is basically a lowlife or redneck type of guy who sells drugs because they're really not otherwise employable. (I just had to go back and correct "employable" three times and twice on this quoted one). My daughter is very intelligent, far too intelligent for the type of company she keeps. So it turned out the guys were really only into weed and Molly had no tracks or marks on her arms and she looked okay. She said they were taking good care of her. I wanted to believe her, but of course I'm not stupid and I know they were very bad for her. But she's 21 and can do whatever she wants. I have no control over what she does. She seems to have no interests in a career or a future, but maybe she's not ready yet. I have to remember I was much the same way at her age (which has a lot to do with why I'm a 50ish unpaid blogger and former medical editor recovering from a bad marriage and currently obliged to clean houses for a living). God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

But then she disappeared again, with the car. And I didn’t see her for three more days.

I’m pouring a 4th glass. Would you like some? Am I still coherent? Soon I won’t be able to type at all.

Instead of going into my usual panic of biblical proportions and imagining she had been abducted and taken into an abandoned field to be gang raped and strangled and left lying in a bed of tall weeds, I felt…angry. dducted bductedd (That was me trying to type abdduted abducted. (spellcheck said that was right). I decided to leave it there.

The car Molly was driving was in my name, under my insurance, and she was driving it illegally and not very responsibly. She was transporting God knows what sort of lowlifes in it. If anything happened I would be responsible and the car impounded, not to mention that I’d never be able to live with myself if something happened to her in it and I hadn’t at least made an effort to put a stop to it. So I went to the magistrate and filed a charge against her for a stolen vehicle. I hated doing this but I felt like if I didn’t something terrible might happen.

Now Molly’s basically a good kid, but she was veyr very angry with me, understandably. I finally agreed to drop the charges on her not because of her anger, but because she was almost done with her probation requirements (and she had been very good about paying her fines and doing whatever else they told her to) and I didn’t want her record to be further sullied. I made an arrangement to have someone else I trusted hold onto the car temporarily and agreed to drop the charges. In order to do that, I had to be back in court with her this morning.

Sometime last month the friend who was holding the car moved so had to return it, which means Molly has acces to it. I’ve given up trying to hide the keys. She’s returning it every night in pristine condition and seems more responsible but I keep warning her she is driving it illegally. Apparently she’s willing to take that risk. I didn’t change my mind about dropping the charges.

To make a long story short, she was supposed to be home this morning so we could go to court together without her having to drive–but guess what. When I woke up this morning she wasn’t here. I couldn’t call her either because she lost her phone (again). We were due in court at 9, and by 8:45 she still hadn’t shown up and it takes forever just to find parking at the courthouse. So I went there myself, stood in line, and told the person at the desk who I was and that I wanted to drop charges on my daughter. The officious lady at the desk said that would be fine as long as my daughter showed up but she was nowhere to be seen. And I had taken a day off work to help her out in court, and that’s not exactly something I can afford to do in the financial straits I’m in.

I drove home in a self righteous fury and that’s when I decided I wanted to drink today. I thought rationalized mused to myself, “we’re all entitled to indulge in some excess on occasion, and after all, I spend so much time and energy trying to always be good and having so little to show for it. Fuck that shit.”

I pulled into an Ingles supermarket and bought a jug of Merlot. Livingston Merlot, to be exact. It’s cheap and doesn’t taste too bad. It does the job, which is to get me pleasantly tipsy. Expensive wines drive me insane because of those goddamn corks which I always wind up mangling in my pitiful efforts to pry them out with a corkscrew or a damn fork if a corkscrew isn’t at hand. And then in my enraged defeat, I wind up pushing the entire mutilated cork down into the wine itself and then have to drink good wine peppered with stuff that tastes like sawdust (though I bet cork does add healthy fiber to your diet).

I picked up some of their delicious homemade chicken salad to go with the wine, because I knew if I didn’t eat anything I’d get sick, and I just wanted to get drunk, not sick.

Today may be the last day I have Internet service (though I will have it set up again soon and in the meantime I can always use the WiFi at the hipster coffee place, the library, or even freaking McDonalds or Bojangles) so I was cheered up a little when I got home from my useless morning in court and found the Interwebs still working.

I decided to blog about how furious I was at my daughter and get drunk while doing it. I could retreat into my own private little alcohol infused world in the comfort of my postage stamp living room and pretend to be fucking Dorothy Parker.

I’m almost finished with the Merlot jug and that’s it for me. I can’t type anymore (this sentence took & 9 8 tries to get right) and my thinking is getting fuzzy.

Molly just got home and she said she was late to court because she overslept and had to go strauight there instread of coming home (spelling mistakes left intact) and then opn the way she ran out of gas (again! she is such a blonde!) but made it to court just after I left and the charges for unathorized use are now dropped.

She just noticed the wine and is now rolling on the floor in hysterics because of the face I just made at her that was supposed to look angry but just looked drunk and goofy.

Can you still understand what I’m writing?

Thank God she didn’t have her camera phone with her. If it was my son Ethan, he’d be filming my reaction and putting init it up on Youtube. And with my luck, it would go viral. “My crazy drunk mom trying to look angry”–43,864,301 views. I’m in that weird part of Youtube my brain again.

I’m so relieved my post is still here and my daughter is still okay. I’m so relieved I’m going to take a hot bath and then a nap and then wake up sober and eat a good meal.
Today wasn’t a disaster. I’m just an overstressed nutcase. I don’t have to drive anywhere today. It’s all good.