P.O’d.

pissed_off

I guess I’m feeling like a victim today.  Both this and my last post are all about me wallowing in self-pity.   Eh, I’ll get over it but I need to vent.   This will be short though.

After that out of the blue attack on my character on another blog a few days ago, I told myself I wouldn’t let it get me down.  I told myself I’ve grown a lot and have a lot more courage than I did a year ago, the last time this happened.   I told myself that as a blogger, I need to grow some balls and accept the fact that I will have haters.

I lied I guess, because for the past couple of days, I just haven’t felt like posting, at least not anything too personal.    My loss of motivation has everything to do with this vicious and unwarranted attack on me.  I set my other blog (Down the Rabbit Hole, which is more personal in nature than this one and was the source of the post that was used against me) to private and will probably keep it that way for awhile; I have no idea for how long.   Because it’s so personal I don’t have the courage yet to make it public again right away.

This pisses me off–a lot.  How dare this hypocritical person take away the one thing that keeps me going?  How dare this horrible individual make me set my writings to private and make me feel the toxic shame all over again? And anyway, shame for WHAT?  For writing a post that made me seem TOO VULNERABLE?  Why should that be shameful?  It isn’t, of course, but my programming tells me it is, and I got triggered.

I know it’s my own choice to inhibit myself and set blogs to private, and really, this narcissistic person can’t do much other than continue to post negative stuff about me on their blog.   If I don’t look, I won’t be hurt or angered–and I haven’t looked.   A year ago, I would have *had* to look, so one way I’ve changed is I’m able to resist the temptation to see what the haters are saying.  I never used to be able to do that.

I know this will be the topic in therapy the next time I go.  I still let narcs get to me way too much.   I still have such a long way to go.

The picture of the wolf head at the beginning of this post, I find inexplicably hilarious.   Laughter is always great medicine!   Thank God for my sense of humor.

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The wait is too long.

waiting

It’s 6:51 PM. I would normally be starting my therapy session right now, but my therapist is out of town this week. 7 more days seems like 7 more years. Sigh. Once you become attached to your therapist, even once a week doesn’t seem like enough. It’s very difficult to wait this long, even though I went for YEARS without seeing a therapist until I started seeing this one.

Once you start, everything changes. I’m actually feeling a little angry at him for putting me through this, even though I know he’s done nothing wrong and my anger is irrational. I still am going to tell him next week how angry waiting so long makes me, because the anger might be reflecting something else that’s coming to the surface.

Introverts fear confrontation.

youre_fired

I came across this individual’s forum post on The Personality Cafe in a weird way. My article “Why Family Scapegoats Become Lifelong Victims,” (which has become my most viewed article ever and is still gaining momentum on the web), was linked to by this writer and there was an excerpt from their own post left in my comment folder. The blurb was intriguing enough that I decided to read it, and holy cow! It sounds like my own life story. In fact, I am going through this situation with a friend even as I write this. (If you’re a friend of mine reading this it’s not you–this “friend” doesn’t read my blog or even know I have one). I don’t want to be friends with this person anymore (who I suspect is a malignant narcissist who likes to “play” with me and make “jokes” at my expense) but instead of confronting them and telling them I want to end our friendship, I’m just avoiding this person, hoping they get the “hint.” I do that sort of thing all the time. Confrontation terrifies me, but what happens is my anger becomes seething resentment and has to come out eventually, so after weeks or months of pretending everything is fine, I’m likely to explode and say things I regret. It also comes out in other ways, like acting passive-aggressive. I’ve gotten better but it’s still a problem. Anyway, here is that article. The writer is an INFJ like me and wonders if this is common in INFJs. I’m also an Enneagram Type 4/5.

If we need to slap a psychiatric label on this sort of behavior, it’s a common symptom in people with Avoidant Personality Disorder and Covert Narcissism (which I still suspect I am, even though my therapist has said I’m only “on the spectrum” but not NPD). I think people with BPD are also guilty of this.

passive_aggression

Has anyone else had this problem in the “social environment”?

As of recently I have made a personal discovery about the origins of how and why I have a certain fear. And it also ties in with the Enneagram 4 labeled fear “that they have no identity or personal significance”. Generally, with “friends” (both close and acquaintance) I tend to hide away or become afraid of sharing my true thoughts and being completely honest with them if there’s a problem (unless they manage to hurt me to the extent that i just cut them off). I become fearful of their reaction before it even happens, so i withhold my thoughts and continue acting as if everything is okay. It’s not only the fear that they will be upset at my honesty, but the fear that I would also begin to hate myself afterwards as well. I didn’t realize there was a term for this as well (even though i knew it as a common term i never understood its meaning). And that term is “Shame”. And while shame is the major factor of why i feel guilt for wanting to speak out, as well as feeling it for not wanting to speak out, I had also come to realize this was also connected to my upbringing. I learned in the article mentioned below, that most scapegoats have high empathy and sensitivity at an early age, which causes them to absorb all of the projections of their parents, thus causing the birth of self hatred/possibly depression. It also informed me that as they continue to go into social relationships, that they will also absorb the projections of what other people think of them as well. For me this explains a helluva lot, of why i fear getting close to certain people and their impact on me if i either

A. Do something wrong.
Or
B. Be honest with them.

I’m personally terrified of being completely honest with someone i’m not sure of, as any kind of minor negative backlash towards me can cause me to go in a state of guilt for a long time. So instead I internalize everything that bothers me about them, and I simply play my part in this “friendship” until i have a reason to avoid them or doorslam. And this is different from constructive criticism, i’m talking about the consequences that may occur if they end up being hurt by my honesty. While their take of it may not be my problem afterward I still hold the shame of what I have done to another human being, even if it was the “right” thing to do rather than continue being dishonest with them and put on the fake persona. I fear hurting them..but I also fear hurting myself. It’s a double edged sword and the ending remains the same regardless of which way i act. I’m fearful of absorbing any new projections one might have of me (specifically negative) which has caused a spiral of paranoia in 2/3 of my friendships, even if they may not take it personal. And before I end this, I am not intentionally hurtful when i’m honest, as I still try to be polite and respectful of the person that i’m talking to. I am also aware that they can be positive in their response, but i’m practically crippled by my fear, especially because of social experiences that didn’t go well.

Read article on The Personality Cafe here.

“Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Rage”

I don’t generally like the sort of comparisons I see so often that stigmatize BPD as a less stable, “crazier” form of NPD, but it’s a fact that people with both disorders have problems with rage, and their rage can manifest in very similar ways, even though the motives behind the rage are different.

Here’s an article from Narcissist’s Wife that talks about the similarities and differences, and how you can protect yourself from the angry B’s. (sorry for the bad pun, I couldn’t resist).

Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Rage

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Credit: http://www.narcissistswife.com/

Borderline Personality Disorder has many symptoms in common with Narcissism. In fact, the two disorders often overlap to some extent. This can cause a lot of confusion for the spouses and partners of these people as they go from seemingly normal and ok and you start thinking “well, maybe they aren’t a narc, maybe they were just having ________” (Insert whatever excuse you happen to go to when they’re behaving badly). Not everyone is 100% psychopathic Narcissist with the heart of a snake. As with anything in life, sometimes Narcissism comes in shades of grey.

All that said, Borderline Personality Disorder can express itself in ways very similar to Narcissism and one of the most common is in rage. The temper tantrums narcissists throw are very similar to a Borderline, though they are motivated by different things. Knowing these things may help you not only anticipate an explosion, but temper it as well.

Borderline Outburst

Unlike a Stone Cold Narcissist (who uses rages to manipulate, control, and assert his superiority) borderlines are extremely insecure and emotionally unstable. Nearly all their emotions go up and down (leading one to question Bipolar disorder) but anger is the most difficult for those around him/her to put up with. Their intense and fiery anger comes from a deep belief that you don’t care about them, are not listening to them or are otherwise not meeting their needs. They strike out in pain to punish the one who they believe is hurting them. Unfortunately, this may all be in their heads, and their pain could actually be coming from another source that they are not prepared to deal with or that they are otherwise bound to not be able to express anger at, so you become their emotional punching bag.

Those without an overlapping Narcissistic disorder may feel shame and embarrassment, and apologize when their emotions have calmed down a bit, for fear of losing you. Though they may feel remorse, their behavior will not get better unless they are in treatment. A Borderline with Narcissism though, will not make such overtures. Your perceived faults are deserving of their rage in their eyes and the punishment for your shortcomings in their eyes is their scorn and anger. They are more demeaning in their anger, and can be much more passive aggressive.

Read the rest of this article here: http://www.narcissistswife.com/borderline-personality-disorder-narcissistic-rage/#respond

Chronic rage is a trap, not a trophy.

rage2

If we are survivors of narcissistic abuse, we are all at different stages of our recovery. If we are just coming out of a relationship with a narcissist or in the process of going No Contact (which is the best gift we can give ourselves), it’s natural to feel anger and even hatred toward our abusers. Our anger overrides the fear they instilled in us and makes it possible for us to take the actions necessary to disconnect from them.

When I started this blog, I too was extremely angry at my narcissists, particularly my psychopathic ex. As an ACON, I railed on about my parents too, particularly my MN mother. Early posts of mine on this blog have a much more bitter and angry tone than my more recent posts, some of which attempt to understand why my narcissists did what they did to me and about what makes narcissists tick in general. I don’t regret making those early, angry posts, because that’s where I was at emotionally on this recovery journey. I NEEDED to feel that anger and hate. It served a survival purpose. But anger is a survival emotion and is meant to be temporary, not become a psychological and spiritual forever-home.

I am no longer in a situation where I am in close contact with malignant narcissists, and I was finding that holding onto all that rage was turning me bitter. When a person is filled with rage, the body’s cortisone levels rise and blood pressure rises. These are physiological changes that make “fight or flight” possible. But over prolonged periods of time, being in such a physiological state is bad for you and can lead to physical illness.

Besides being unhealthy for the body, holding onto rage way past its expiration date makes it impossible to move forward to a place of real healing. If you feel rage all the time, you simply cannot move forward. It blocks you from opening your heart to all the good things that life can offer. Frankly, I was just becoming bored with it. There had to be something better beyond it–and there is!

I see this unwillingness or inability to let go of chronic rage and hatred in many survivors of narcissistic abuse, especially ACONs who were raised by narcissistic parents. Of course it’s perfectly understandable to feel an almost overwhelming sense of injustice and betrayal when you realize your own parents didn’t love you and in fact probably hated you and set you up to fail in life. It’s understandable to hate the people who were supposed to nurture you and give you the tools you needed to have a happy life but instead attempted to murder your soul. I get it, I really do. I felt that way about my mother for many years.

Anger-Bhudda

Some of these chronically angry abuse survivors have embraced a mentality of perpetual victimhood, using their rage as a sort of trophy “proving” how abused they were. They can’t or won’t let go of their rage because it makes them feel vindicated. I remember reading a comment from one angry ACON who said if he/she were to let go of their bitterness and hatred, they would have let their abusers “win.” But this person is wrong. Because paradoxically, remaining stuck in misery, rage and hatred is making it impossible for this person to heal and live a happy life, and isn’t being miserable exactly what their narcs want? Holding onto rage and wallowing in all the ways they victimized us vindicates the narcissist, not the victim. If our rage destroys or kills us (because eventually it can), the narcissists will be throwing a party to celebrate.

I think the best revenge is to live well. If a victim of abuse moves into a place of peace where healing is possible and can learn to become happy and even successful in life and stop using their victimhood as a kind of trophy, their narcissists will HATE that! Nothing enrages an abuser more than seeing their victims become happy and successful (and not bitter or angry). So how does healing ourselves and letting go of our “trophies” of rage and hate let the narcs win? It doesn’t. In fact, WE win and THEY lose.

But if I were to say this to them (and I have), I would be accused of “victim blaming” and even “narc hugging.” They would say my blog is “dangerous” to abuse survivors (and they have!) They would accuse me of having no empathy for their plight and am in fact taking the side of those who abused them! None of that is true. They just don’t get it. They think that because I’m suggesting they move away from their hatred, this means I’m blaming them for their misery and making excuses for the narcissists who abused them. This is a dangerous and tragic misunderstanding because they can’t even see the way they have been turned against themselves by their own narcissists! They can’t allow themselves to ever feel happy or let go of the bitterness that continues to hold them hostage to their narcissists even after they’ve gone No Contact.

Narcissism is the “gift” that keeps on giving if you let it. You can’t be happy if your default setting is rage. All that rage will eventually destroy your body AND your soul. In fact, living in a state of perpetual rage can turn a person narcissistic themselves. It’s a fact–I have seen it happen and it’s a horrible and scary thing to witness.

monsters-nietzsche

I read a post on Constant Supply: The Narcissist’s Wife about the very same thing I’m talking about here, and their post is what inspired me to write this article. I’d been wanting to write about this, but due to the nasty pile-on I experienced from several ACON bloggers a few weeks back due to an article I posted suggesting we stop hating on all narcissists (the message of which was taken WAY out of context–in no way did I EVER suggest we condone what narcs do or engage with them in any way), I’ve been reluctant to post any more articles even touching on this touchy matter.

Reading this blogger’s article gave me the courage to express my feelings about this apparently controversial issue. I’m prepared to be attacked again, but at least I know what to expect now and can arm myself accordingly. While the blogger I mentioned in the previous paragraph does talk about “forgiving” her narcissist, I wouldn’t go that far myself. I don’t ‘forgive’ my narcissists for the way they held me back all my life and nearly destroyed me, but I no longer choose to hate them either. My attitude about them is that they simply do. not. exist. They are no longer an important part of my life and I refuse to give them any more space in my brain than they deserve. Don’t forget that narcissists crave attention–ANY attention–and that includes negative as well as positive attention. To act as if the narcs don’t even exist is what they hate and fear more than anything in the universe.

Living well and healing yourself without reacting to our narcissists either negatively or positively is the sweetest revenge possible. The narcs will hate you for it.

living_well

We are all at different points of our recovery journey, and those who seem stuck in the “rage” setting (which is normal and necessary early in recovery) and have thereby not been able to move forward to real healing should not pass judgment on those who may be farther along the road and have reached a place where holding onto all that hatred was becoming burdensome and harmful.

I chose to jettison all that negative baggage to make my progress along the rocky road of recovery easier, and I have seen many others do it too, and actually become happy people. I hope and pray eventually ALL abuse survivors can reach a point when they realize holding onto their baggage is self-destructive and is holding them back from true healing–and is keeping them trapped in their own identity as “victims.”

I’m prepared to be disagreed with for posting this, but frankly I don’t care. If you are one of those who choose to hang onto your chronic rage, that’s your choice, and I respect that choice. I have no right to judge you or condemn you for doing so. But I don’t think it’s helpful or healthy. Hopefully, some people who have this problem might be able to take away something positive from this article and be able to extricate themselves from the quicksand of rage and continue to move along the road to recovery.

Please also see my article, Why Unrelenting, Chronic Rage is So Toxic.

Are narcissists “mean people”?

angry_woman

Most of us know mean people–people who always seem grouchy, grumpy, snappish or who rarely smile. They may be sarcastic, biting or negative. Mean people are easy to dislike, and if we’re well acquainted with the topic of narcissism, it may be tempting to label people we don’t like narcissists.

But they may not be narcissists at all. Grumpy, negative people may just be…grumpy and negative.

They could be depressed (depression often manifests as irascibility or quickness to anger), going through a hard time in their lives, in constant pain, or just having a bad day. Some people are just more anger-prone than others. They could seem cold and unfriendly because of another disorder, such as a schizoid personality, Aspergers, or OCD.

They are not wearing a mask. They are not showing you something they are not. Some people just feel bad all the time and don’t bother to try to put on a nice front to impress you.

Most (though not all) narcissists come across (at first) as the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. They are friendly, welcoming, effusive, and greet you with their most winning smile. They are likeable, outgoing and charming.

smiling_man

Let’s say you work in an office with a woman who is sarcastic and negative all the time. She is quick to criticize and complain. No one really likes her. There’s a man there who is much more pleasant to deal with. He’s always smiling, joking, patting you on the back. Everyone at work likes him.

Quick: who’s the narcissist?

Answer: it’s probably not the grouchy woman. Narcissists work hard to impress you, which means pouring on the charm to get you to trust them. The angry woman isn’t wearing a mask. She is showing how she really feels. She doesn’t care what you think of her because she has stopped caring about much of anything.

You hear through the grapevine what her problem is. Her husband left her and took the kids. He’s dating a woman 20 years younger than she is, and left her with practically no money. She also suffers from constant migraines. She’s too embarrassed to talk about all this in the office, but she feels terrible every day and takes it out on everyone else. No, she isn’t a nice person but she isn’t a narcissist (in fact, her ex-husband is).

It may not be the nice, friendly man either, but if one of them is a narcissist, it’s more likely to be him. If so, he’s far more toxic than the woman, but he doesn’t want you to know this. He’s biding his time, reeling you in with his phoney charm.

So don’t assume someone is a narcissist just because they have an unpleasant personality. You may want to call that person a narcissist because you don’t like them, but sadly, it’s more likely to be a person you like. Be careful who you pin the N label on.

Narcissistic Rage

One surprising thing about narcissistic rage is that anger in general is narcissistic, even from non-narcissists. I don’t agree with this writer (who writes about narcissism every Friday from a Christian perspective), that ALL anger is narcissistic (for example, righteous anger can even be altruistic, if we are angry on behalf of someone else), but most anger probably is.

The other surprising thing about narcissistic rage is that it doesn’t always look like rage. It can appear in many forms in a narcissist (such as the silent treatment), who often plan out their attack in advance. Read on to find out how you can protect yourself and avoid reacting with rage yourself.

Grace for my Heart

It’s Narcissist Friday!   

The anger is always there. It lies just under the surface, almost waiting to erupt. When it is finally released, it will be dedicated to burning and destruction. Sometimes there are warning signs. Other times the rage explodes in an unexpected instant. But even with the warning signs, there is little you can do to stop it.

Narcissistic rage has been discussed in the psychological community for many years. Freud wrote about it. The reference to narcissism is not a reference to the person, but to the type of anger. It is an exclusive anger, designed to hurt or push others away. And it may not look like rage. It may be very subtle, under-handed, or even childish.

A man I know was getting a ride from another man. As he waited for the other to unlock his door, he put his briefcase on the roof…

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Why are some things so annoying?

This is a fascinating article in Psychology Today about what makes certain things universally annoying.

In a nutshell, the things that annoy us most are things that are both repetitive (clicking a pen over and over, for example) and unpredictable (we don’t know when it will stop).

What are the things that annoy you most? For me, the top two would have to be tailgaters and fleas.
Oh, and narcs.

Things that Annoy Us
Post published by Christopher Peterson Ph.D. on Jul 03, 2011 in The Good Life

annoyed_cat

What annoyances are more painful than those of which we cannot complain? – Marquis De Custine

I just finished reading an interesting book titled Annoying by science writers Joe Palca and Flora Lichtman (2011). The book is a free-ranging and intelligent discussion of what is known about the things that annoy us: what, who, when, why, and how.

The authors make the point that there is no single scientific field devoted to the topic of being annoyed. But plenty of scholars and researchers have weighed in on the subject, which means that such a field – were it to exist – would be multidisciplinary. Palca and Lichtman describe lots of pertinent studies by psychologists, neuroscientists, sociologists, anthropologists, audiologists, musicologists, entomologists (because the things that bug us include bugs, especially when they buzz), and others, and they convey lots of interesting facts from research. But my favorite part of the book was by far the many great examples they use of annoyances, from terrible smells to off-key melodies to repetitive spouses and coworkers.

“Annoyance” refers to whatever bugs us (stimulus) and also to the emotional state we experience when being bugged (response). The book starts with a discussion of just what kind of emotional state annoyance might be. It is akin to anger, but not identical. It is akin to disgust, but not identical. And it is akin to frustration, but not identical. The conclusion, according to the authors, is that annoyance is its own emotional thing and deserves examination in its own right. I agree.

Palca and Lichtman observe how difficult it is to find a universal formula for what is annoying, but they take a stab. Annoyances are unpleasant but not terribly so, at least not when experienced one at a time. Rather, it is when they are repetitive and at the same unpredictable (that is, when we do not know when they will cease) that they get under our skin.

annoying_book

A one-time explosion on the street surprises and frightens us, but it is not annoying. Our neighbor’s music, played over and over, night after night, is highly annoying. Boom boom boom.

A coworker who constantly badgers us, belittles us, and bullies us is a bad person, but he is not an annoyance. He is an asshole. In contrast, a coworker who tells us the same joke hundreds of times is not a bad person, but he is an annoyance, and his laughter after each telling becomes like a fingernail on a blackboard, not life-threatening but certainly life-diminishing.

A cancer is a tragedy, and those who deal with cancer by being courageous earn our admiration. A blister is an annoyance, and those dealing courageously with blisters earn little or no regard from anyone. Indeed, if you complain about a blister, you risk becoming an annoyance yourself.

Context matters. Our own wind chimes strike us as beautiful, whereas those of our neighbors are annoying. Along these lines, the authors cite other people’s acronyms as annoying, at least when they are unfamiliar to us, whereas our own acronyms are efficient, entertaining, and even elegant*.

Culture matters, too. Apparently there are cultures – like Yap or Japan – where one simply does not express annoyance. I suspect, though, that annoyance as a private experience nevertheless occurs.

Epidemiologists have long known that major life events – like divorce or job loss – can lead to poor physical and psychological health (Holmes & Rahe, 1967). A more recent realization is that mundane hassles – like having to take care of a neighbor’s pet – also put people at risk for poor health (Kanner, Coyne, Schaefer, & Lazarus, 1981). Indeed, because hassles are usually more common than major life events, the damage they do in the aggregate may be greater. Annoyances are a version of hassles, I think, and they too may be deleterious. Maybe hassles take a toll precisely because they are annoying.

empty_toiletpaper

Things that are annoying grab our unwilling attention, and that may be the reason annoyances are so … how to say it … annoying. They prevent us from paying attention to other things. Palca and Lichtman give the all-too-familiar example of an overheard cell-phone conversation to which we are subjected on a train or bus. We don’t want to eavesdrop, but we cannot help ourselves. And the fact that we only hear one side of it (what is called a halfalogue) makes it especially distracting and thus highly annoying, as it goes on and on and on. Maybe the human tendency to make sense of the world is coopted by hearing half a conversation more than it is by hearing both sides. Is this why political talk shows where “hosts” and “guests” talk over one another can be so annoying?

Why do we have the capacity to be annoyed? Maybe there is no real purpose for this capacity. It’s like an appendix or wisdom teeth. But to extrapolate from Darwin’s proposal that negative emotions like fear and anger are warning signals that lead to appropriate actions to avoid or undo pending danger, perhaps annoyances galvanize an appropriate reaction to whatever distracts us from what paying attention to what really matters, not a bad skill for people to have in their repertoire. Along these lines, Palca and Lichtman speculate that annoyance alerts us to a violation of our expectations about the way things are supposed to be. They use the example of off-key notes for people with perfect pitch.

Is there a positive emotion that corresponds to annoyance? It would be a mildly pleasant experience that results from a repetitive yet unpredictable stimulus. Psychologists have termed these uplifts (Kanner et al., 1981). The unprompted smiles or giggles of our children would qualify. Given that the origin or the word annoyance is from an Old French verb meaning to cause problems, perhaps anything that provides a solution to a minor problem would also qualify, like parking spaces that appear when we most need them.

Is being annoyed an individual difference? Relevant research has just begun, but the answer appears to be yes. There are some people who are annoyed by lots of things and others who are annoyed by very few. Indeed, some research even links the propensity to be annoyed to particular genes, those associated as well with some forms of bipolar disorder. In any event, I bet that the frequently annoyed are less satisfied with life than those who are unflappable. Palca and Lichtman speculate those who are frequently annoyed may themselves be frequently annoying.

annoying-things-009

Said more positively, experiencing few annoyances contributes to the good life, for the self and others, and perhaps folks with few annoyances simply have higher thresholds. It is hard to imagine that the Dalai Lama gets annoyed very often, and maybe meditation that trains attention is a useful practice for changing one’s annoyance threshold.

If annoyance plays some useful role, though, we would not want to banish it completely. Otherwise, we would simply pay attention to anything and everything without any attempt to sort through them, which may be fine for a kitten or a puppy but not for a person.

Most of us are annoyed by some things some of the time and by other things all of the time. Whatever pushes our buttons may be as much a personal signature as the things we love or the things that we do well. Maybe personal ads should list our annoyances as well as our interests. If a shared annoyance can forge a common bond, perhaps annoyances have a silver lining. Perhaps.

Familiarity does not breed contempt, but it can breed annoyance. Maybe a sign of true love is not being annoyed by what another person does, no matter how unpleasant, repetitive, and unpredictable it might be. Rather than defining love as never having to say you’re sorry, maybe we should define love as never having to say you are annoyed.

Along these lines, several chapters of the book grapple with interpersonal annoyance, raising the intriguing point that the initially endearing traits and habits of a romantic partner may end up being highly annoying and even the source of breakups. So, we may fall in love with someone who is funny, or someone who is stolid, or someone who is attentive, only to fall out of love as time passes and the person is experienced as clownish, or unexpressive, or clinging. Nothing has changed except ourselves and the experiences that have accrued – which is to say everything has changed.

annoying-things-men-do

One of the standard bits of positive psychology advice for couples experiencing rough times is for each to remember what was initially attractive about the other. But in some cases, a displeased partner may not need any reminding at all. To quote football coach Dennis Green’s famous rant, “They’re who we thought they were!” Better advice would be to reframe what has become annoying or to find something else that is attractive. For lasting love, this may be an ongoing process. No one ever said that love is easy.

* It has been suggested that the US Army invented acronyms. I doubt that is true, but members of the military seem to revel in them. I have done some work with the Army over the past few years, and while I have the utmost respect and admiration for those who wear the uniform of the country, my good feelings come to a screeching halt when Soldiers start tossing out acronyms, as some are wont to do. My all-time least favorite is POV, an Army acronym for personally owned vehicle. That means car, for goodness sakes. When I meet with members of the military, I sometimes request that the meeting be a DAZ-meaning de-acronymed zone. Just say the words, sir or ma’am, at least if you want me to pay attention to the content of what you say and not be incredibly annoyed by how you say it.

NPD vs. BPD: they are not the same thing!

BPD-Awareness

Articles like this one make me want to rage. The author, Doug Bartholomew, a licensed social worker, believes that people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are pretty much the same as people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). He even goes so far as to say BPD’s, along with NPDs, fit the criteria for M. Scott Peck’s “People of the Lie.”

Wait just one second. Peck’s People of the Lie don’t even include all narcissists–his definition describes those with Antisocial Personality Disorder and malignant narcissism (there’s a huge difference even between MN’s and garden variety narcissists–a malignant narcissist has ill will toward others and decided antisocial traits while a “benign” narcissist isn’t necessarily ill-intentioned but is just self centered and doesn’t care about your feelings). Peck never said all manipulative people (people with one of the four Cluster B personality disorders) were by nature evil, but evil people is what his book is about.

At the same time I understand where Bartholomew is coming from. On the surface, people with BPD can be manipulative and even resort to some of the same unpleasant tactics and mind-games (gaslighting, etc.) that narcissists like to play. They can appear to lack empathy, because they get so caught up in their own drama that they can literally forget that others exist. They can be demanding, high maintenance and prone to irrational rages (just like narcs) but are far more likely than narcs to turn their rage inward and become self-destructive or even suicidal.

Narcissism Clinic.
Not much to do with this article, but I couldn’t resist.

Borderlines also usually regret their acting-out and selfish or manipulative behaviors when the crisis has passed or their bad behavior is called out to them. They may be self-centered and impulsive but are not lacking remorse or the ability to feel shame and guilt. The problem with Borderlines is they tend to act as they feel at the moment without thinking things through. They can get so caught up in their own fear of abandonment that they almost literally forget that you have feelings too. However, after the fact Borderlines usually will feel remorseful and ashamed of their behavior, and on top of that, realize that their offputting behavior may cause others to do what they fear the most–abandon them.

Bartholomew also states that all Cluster B disorders are characterized by a lack of empathy:

The overwhelmingly most commonly mentioned behavior or trait associated with all the Cluster B Personality Disorders is a lack of empathy or compassion. They seem unmoved by the effect their behavior has on their loved ones other than what is necessary to keep their loved ones engaged and around. It is as if they were tone deaf or color blind to the feelings and experiences of others.

While it’s true that people with NPD and ASPD are characterized by a lack of empathy, I disagree that this is true of people with BPD. I think this is a gross overgeneralization.

Borderlines can feel empathy, but due to their impulsiveness and fear of abandonment, they can act in selfish, defensive, and manipulative ways that may hurt others (but they hurt themselves even more so). However, unlike malignant narcissists and people with ASPD, Borderlines do not set out to hurt others and they do care how others feel. Unfortunately their good judgment is clouded by their disorder which makes it difficult or impossible for them to regulate their emotions. That’s why they act so impulsively and often fail to think things through before they act out. It’s also why their relationships tend to be stormy and short-lived.

BPD_cartoon

A person with BPD does not wear a mask or have a “false self” like someone with NPD–but their fear of abandonment can cause them to knowingly or unknowingly push others away. Their ambivalence in relationships can be very confusing to others–they can seem to adore you one moment, and then hate you the next. They can seem needy and rejecting by turns. When others grow tired of this crazymaking and confusing “I hate you, don’t leave me” behavior and finally leave them, the Borderline genuinely doesn’t understand what they have done to drive the other person away, and so they become even more fearful of being abandoned. Their behavior is maladaptive because it tends to cause the very thing they are trying so desperately to avoid.

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We are just burning toasters.

A much better description of the similarities and differences between Borderlines and Narcissists can be found in “Borderline vs. Narcissistic Personality Disorder: How Are They Different?” from the Clearview Women’s Center’s website.

While the two disorders, both being part of the Cluster B group of personality disorders, do have overlapping symptoms and are often confused with each other and/or misdiagnosed as the other disorder (with males being far more likely to be diagnosed with NPD and females with BPD), this author, unlike Bartholomew, understands that both the motives and mechanics of the disorders are quite distinct from each other:

[…]both BPD and NPD deal with conflict in a way that is unhealthy to themselves and those around them. It’s the expression of the anger that results from the conflict that is different.

In her article “Blame-Storms and Rage Attacks,” Randi Kreger, co-author of Walking on Eggshells, points out the difference in how those with BPD and NPD express anger. While those with Borderline Personality Disorder may fly into a rage and push people away, they will often calm down, feel shame for their reaction, and promise never to do it again.

“Unless they’re in treatment, the underlying issues don’t go away. Some conventional [borderlines] do not get angry at all, but hold it in or express it inwardly through self-harm,” says Kreger.

“The anger of narcissists, on the other hand, can be more demeaning,” she continues. “Their criticism evolves from their conviction that others don’t meet their lofty standards — or worse, aren’t letting them get their own way.”

The “fleas” of narcissism and being Aspie.

fleas (1)

Fivehundredpoundpeep just posted this article yesterday, expanding on yesterday’s post about fleas acquired from narcissists who abused us, but this one from the perspective of an Aspergers sufferer who was horrifically abused and devalued by her sociopathic mother, MN sister, and other decidedly unpleasant relatives.

The Fleas of Narcissism
By Fivehundredpoundpeep

I have read about fleas of narcissism before. Lucky Otter talked about fleas recently too. These are the things you can end up with from being raised in a narcissistic household. These would include learned behaviors and reactions they taught you during your childhood.

One thing I want to add here, is that if you are worried about being a narcissist, while some children of narcissists become a narcissist like them, you often are NOT! Narcissists do not worry about it, the very idea that they may be disordered is way beyond them. They would never in a million years admit anything is wrong with them. My mother in one pissed off email fest actually wrote, “**** thinks I am disordered!” by then I had laid it out and wrote to her that she was a narcissist and had no empathy, though I came to the sociopath conclusions later on.

One fleeting thought someone raised in sick sociopathic households can have, is “Am I anything like them?”. One can have this feeling of, “Has the evil infected me?” Being raised with no love, I wonder how I was able to love people and I do. I knew by a very early age I did not want to be like my parents. For Aspies, justice is very important, it is hard to explain, some see Aspies as being little minion “rule-followers” but it’s different then that, we want to follow what is “right” over wrong. My conscience was very different then their’s. One thing that would happen to me is my parents would slap me for being “too sensitive”. I was told constantly to “harden up”! Today as a 40 something, I know telling a ten year old crying Aspie, “You can’t cope!”, is pretty sick.

I struggle with my own worries about evil then. All Christians do and have to battle against the sins they may commit. God is merciful and there to forgive once one repents but I have worried about falling away under my crushing poverty and losing trust in God. Even crazy bad health problems one’s thoughts can go into despair, instead of prayer. The concept of conscience was not taught in my family or acting according to one’s conscience. I was different. I felt guilt.

However I struggled with a few fleas from being raised in my family. My family all had violent tempers, with screaming, yelling and throwing things and using foul language. They do not censor their tempers. Even Mini-Me has a bad temper and I saw her screaming at her kids a few times.

I can struggle with a bad temper though I have learned to temper it somewhat and try to keep the yelling to myself as much as possible within the confines of my apartment. I would never touch anyone, but when angry I can yell loud.

Long ago I learned to walk away from people while yelling, to keep the damage more minimal. The other day, I started yelling about a door being locked in my face, and hopefully no one heard me. I said one irritated low volume thing with no cussing they did hear, and then thought inside, “I better cool it”. Aspie melt-downs can complicate this, sometimes an Aspie is not mad but just anxious. I know I am not perfect and well, everything is a work in progress.

My family does not feel guilt over their tempers, they think it is okay to rant and rave and cuss the room blue. I was always embarrassed to eat out with my father because he would tell the wait-staff off over every little thing and even would yell. I had visions of goobers hitting our food back in the kitchen. You know something is wrong when the neighbors are calling the police constantly over your family’s screaming and yelling and they show up and because of your father’s position do absolutely nothing while a poorer guy would be getting dragged off to jail.

This is an area where I definitely had to learn NOT to be like my family and to keep it in check.

Other ACONs may struggle with taking criticism–I am okay with criticism that is meant for improvement but not for the mean kind.

One rarer flea I can get is if I am around people I can tell do not like me or don’t understand Aspies or have personality traits like my parents is I can get very sarcastic and will go into “fight or flight” mode inside. I will go into Aspie blunt mode and not “cloak” for the neurotypicals and throw caution to the wind. However this can be dangerous around narcs and other personality disordered types who can manipulate things to turn my emotions against me. Aspies have to remember blunt honesty isn’t always the best social mode. Around narcs of course, silence and disappearing is safer.

I found myself in a “fight or flight” mode in my stomach and having some of my fleas come out too often when I was around certain personalities. Sometimes it is not even something that a particular person is doing or any personality disorder but a clashing of values and world view.

This is one thing ACONs should always pay attention to when it comes to dealing with the world. Pay attention to how you FEEL around certain parties. These are feelings I am learning to pay attention to. Not everyone is a narc but we have to learn to control our fleas around personalities who may trigger us or we may differ with. I know there are neurotypicals out there who have no capability to understand me. Of course we have to be mindful of the personality disordered who may be out to hurt us too. During the early stages of no contact we can be more sensitive too as we wake up to new ways of doing and acting coming out of fog.

Others may have a hardened view towards the world. I know I did for a short time. My parents would scream at me for being “too sensitive” and I had that weird abuse where they denied me the protection and treatment owed a young girl where I was treated more like a boy. I was told to harden up and not to have feelings. My feelings angered them. They failed in this change of me, but there was some fleas left over.

An ACON going through this one can get feelings like “Everyone is out to get me.”, “I’m not going to be a sucker”. I had this in my 20s to an extent expecting that everyone was going to screw me over. One roommate even asked me, “Why do you have to act like such a tough girl?” Get hit enough times and you are always ducking and this is not a good way to deal with the world. When I lived in the ghetto, I did grow somewhat harder and when I escaped to a small rural town, had to adjust my entire stance towards the world. I didn’t need to walk around in defense mode all the time even if I had to learn balancing this one, self protection balanced with openness. I actually had to learn and experience that there were good, kind and loving people in the world which defines many of my friends.

One thing I had to do after becoming a Christian in my thirties, was I did use the Christian people I met as role models. I would pick older women, and some I still have on my social website, and would observe how they treated people. These were women with loving families and who gave to the community and treated people fairly and kindly. While I did Aspies are more apt to do this, in choosing mentors. My best jobs when I was young, I always had a mentor. I don’t think this is a bad thing to do. I was doing it at an older age then most, but choosing positive role models when you have had negative ones for far too long is a good thing and I think a sign of healing.

So fleas can be overcome, you just have to be aware of them.