Narcissist man in love.

rumi-lion

One of my narcissistic lovers was a man I’ll call Daniel. I met him during my divorce proceedings. It was a short lived but intense relationship. As short lived as it was (it lasted all of 3 months), I decided to go into more detail about this particular relationship because of all my narcissistic lovers, Daniel was the most classic (and possibly the most malignant) textbook example of the course of a typical relationship with one.

Daniel was actually as bad a malignant narcissist as my ex, but of course I didn’t know it at the time. I met him while I was still married but the marriage was, for all intents and purposes, already over and we were separated. Daniel had that intense predatory stare, which I took to mean sexual and romantic interest, but it was really his way of sizing up me as prey.

I met Daniel at work. He was several years younger than me. I had been training him, and our eyes kept drifting to each other. He wasn’t the fastest learner but he seemed very friendly and always pulled his chair as close to mine during training as he could. Because I found him so attractive with his large liquid brown eyes, long eyelashes, and curly dark hair with its hints of gray, I didn’t mind the close physical proximity. I still remember the way he smelled–clean, like soap and shampoo, with a hint of muskiness.

Daniel became irresistably attractive to me. Narcs have a way of doing that to people like me. Although not all that intelligent, Daniel was actually a cerebral narcissist who had very little interest in sex after the initial physical passion of the first month or so. He thought of himself as very smart and after a while his know-it-allness became all too apparent.

Not long after meeting, Daniel approached me on break and told me he found me beautiful and kind and he’d like to take me out to dinner. Of course I said yes. That evening I went home walking on air and found my sexiest dress to wear. He picked me up on time, armed with a bouquet of red roses. We had a nice dinner and Daniel was attentive and romantic, gazing into my eyes, holding my hand across the candlelit table, and constantly telling me how beautiful I was and that he couldn’t believe my husband didn’t appreciate me more.

After dinner we went back to his apartment and he just held me and kept gazing into my eyes and telling me over and over how beautiful I was. He closed his eyes when kissing me. He didn’t push for sex and even said he wanted to wait until I was ready. He was perfect! I felt sexy and needed. At times when declaring his undying love for me, his eyes even got a little damp which I took to mean he was overcome with emotion and his feelings for me. This “vulnerability” I perceived made me fall harder for him. I couldn’t believe anyone could love me this much. He made me feel so special. I didn’t know it yet but I was falling into a yet another narcissistic predator’s trap. I should have suspected something fishy when he didn’t bat an eyelash when I told him I was still legally married, even though separated from my husband at the time.

We made love on our 3rd or 4th date and he told me he loved me and then held me all night as we drifted into sleep. For about two weeks I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. We couldn’t get enough of each other and would spend every free moment making love. It was all so magical I hadn’t even noticed he’d stopped taking me out or spending money on me. His abuse had already started but was so well-camouflaged by his physical ardor that I couldn’t see it.

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Two weeks after we started dating he told me he wanted to marry me. He didn’t have a ring to give me, but promised he would get one later, when he had the money. (He had the money–the guy was living on a trust fund left him by his wealthy parents and had bought his expensive apartment and he was always buying himself expensive toys). The funny thing was that I never actually said yes to his proposal. I told him I’d have to think about it, although a part of me wanted to scream “YES” from the rooftops. Something–I wasn’t sure what–was holding me back from accepting his proposal. He kept talking about how he wanted to make me pregnant (I was 42 years old) and how beautiful our children would be. He even told me he wanted to see me give birth. But I noticed whenever we were in public together, he seemed annoyed by any children who happened to be around and complained about parents who “couldn’t discipline their children properly.” He also criticized my parenting skills, telling me I let my kids “control me,” even though he’d never met them or seen me interact with them.

Daniel complained about his ex lovers, and although in his late thirties, he had never been married. He told me terrible stories about the women he had dated and how they had all been cheating whores, heartless Jezebels, or how unattractive, stupid, or crazy they were. He told me the most intimate details about them–one woman had a “smelly vagina” and another had acne all over her backside. Another had been in a mental hospital and embarrassed him in public with her crazy outbursts. I didn’t want to hear these details but he assured me I was perfect and different from all those other women.

After a few more weeks I noticed Daniel seemed to be easily bored and prone to fits of unreasonable rage. His rage toward others around us began to turn toward me, and he started to become very critical and controlling. He had stopped buying me things, but one day told me he was taking me to Victoria’s Secret to buy some new lingerie because he thought mine looked frayed and ill-fitting. Of course I was thrilled to be taken shopping, and when in the store, began to pick items I liked. I found a black satin teddy with lace trim and he grabbed it from my hands and put it back, saying “I don’t like that color on you. It makes you look too pale.” He seemed to be getting impatient with me in the store and disapproved of anything I pulled from the rack. Finally he made his own choice, and insisted on buying that for me, even though I wasn’t impressed with his choice. We drove back to his apartment in silence. He seemed so angry but I couldn’t figure out why. I noticed his road rage too–he seemed to get impatient with other drivers easily but was constantly cutting off and tailgating people himself. If I told him to take it easy with his driving, he would get even madder and tell me I was trying to control him.

The night after the shopping spree, he said he didn’t want to have sex because he was too tired. I took this at face value and figured he was just in a bad mood and would be over it the next day. But he had changed. Or actually, he hadn’t changed–but was now beginning to show his true colors. Whenever I tried to initiate lovemaking or even touching, he began to pull away, making excuses that he didn’t feel well or was too tired. When we did have sex, it felt rushed, as if he wanted to get it over with. He stopped telling me he loved me.

One night he received a phone call from an old girlfriend and spent two hours on the phone with her while I pretended to read. I wasn’t really jealous, but was annoyed and found it strange that this was the same woman he had told me was crazy. I asked him about that and he got enraged, telling me to mind my own f–ing business.

Daniel liked to travel around the country and never once asked me if I wanted to go. He’d always announce these trips a day or two before he was set to leave. He’d always return with shopping bags full of goodies–for himself. His idea of “gifts” to me were the freebies they give out in hotels–tiny bars of soap, shampoo, or dollar keychains or even hotel “Do Not Disturb” signs. Once he brought back some homemade fudge and I asked him for a piece of it. He said no.

The silent treatments and verbal abuse became nearly constant. I felt like I was walking on eggshells and it seemed I could do nothing right. Once I asked him why he never wanted to kiss me anymore and he said it was because of my breath. (No one had ever accused me of having bad breath and I even tested it by blowing on my daughter’s face and she said it was fine). I remembered the woman he’d dated who had a “smelly vagina” and realized that he would be telling some future lover (because at this point I wanted to break up with him) about my horrible, stinky breath and “controlling” ways.

He seemed to hate me, but also became upset and angry when I told him I wanted to spend time with my kids (who were living with their father for a short time during the divorce proceedings). He told me they were spoiled brats who would grow up to be criminals because I always gave into their wishes. I know now he was jealous of them. He always wanted me around, but was always so mean. I was always short on cash because I didn’t earn that much but he didn’t seem to care. Once I needed some gas money and he said no, even though he had stacks of $100 bills all over his apartment and in drawers.

We broke up on my birthday. He had come to my house late, and his gift to me was a “Toonces the Driving Cat” coffee mug. Although he obviously didn’t pay much for it, I thought it was a thoughtful gift (for him) because he knew I loved that old skit from Saturday Night Live. He took me out to dinner, which had become a rarity. He was very rude to the wait staff, but he always had been (that’s another red flag to look for–narcissists are notoriously rude to service personnel).

Shortly after we got back to my house, we got into an argument and he shoved me so I fell onto the couch. That was the first time his abuse had become physical. I knew it was a matter of time before he would start hitting me. I told him I would not tolerate physical violence and he started making fun of me for being such a baby about a “little push.” We kept arguing. He told me to give him back the mug he gave me. I told him no, because it was a gift and I liked it. He insisted.

I went and fetched the mug from the kitchen, and brought it to him, sweetly saying “here,” before smashing it on the floor as he reached for it. He stood there staring at the shattered remnants on the floor and then looked up at me with his mouth hanging open, said “You’re too crazy and too violent for me,” and stormed out the door, slamming it behind him. Me? Violent? I didn’t realize he was projecting his own violent tendencies onto me.

soulmate

A week later I found out I was pregnant. I called him to tell him I needed money for an abortion. He said he would not help because there was no way it was his! This from the man who a month earlier had told me he wanted to watch me give birth.

Fortunately, I never had to have an abortion because a week after that I miscarried. Daniel kept calling me, acting as if nothing had happened, and would tell me all about his life, never asking how mine was going. He acted like we were best friends. He even told me about a woman he was dating who was “perfect for him,” with no thought given to my feelings about this. Of course I really didn’t care and just felt sorry for the poor woman who didn’t know what she was in for yet. I wondered what he was telling her about me. Probably that I was insane, violent and a bad mother who had terrible breath.

I’d listen patiently to Daniel ramble on and then tell him I had to go. After about six months of his weekly phone calls, I finally worked up the courage to tell him to leave me alone and never call me again. I also blocked his number. That was the best choice I made in that relationship.

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“Ordinary People”: a case study in malignant narcissism.

ordinary_people

I remember when I first saw this 1980 Academy Award winning movie being quite triggered by it, because the main character, Beth Jarrett (played convincingly by Mary Tyler Moore) reminded me so much of my mother, all the way down to her impatient, flippant mannerisms, fake cheerfulness, and clipped speech. And at the time I felt very much like the teenage son, Conrad (Timothy Hutton), who was clearly suffering from a severe case of PTSD and depression, which no doubt had its roots in his mother’s emotional abuse and coldness.

“Ordinary People” (directed by Robert Redford) is about an upper middle class family from the Chicago suburbs, but the individuals involved are certainly not ordinary–or at least you hope they aren’t. Moore’s Beth Jarrett is a high-spectrum malignant narcissist who cares only about her social position and status and the appearance of having “the perfect family” and “the perfect life.” She is always perfectly dressed and coiffed, and can pour on the fake charm whenever she is trying to impress their friends and colleagues. Beth’s husband Calvin (Donald Sutherland) provides his family with their affluent lifestyle and is a good man who cares deeply for his family but is codependent to his narcissistic wife, who makes endless demands on him to keep up the image of perfection, and you can see from his demeanor it’s destroying him.

Their son, Conrad, is his mother’s scapegoat, and while she never actually says so, it’s clear that she blames him for the accidental boating death of her Golden Child, Buck (shown only in flashbacks). Conrad was with Buck at the time of the accident, and suffers from survivor’s guilt in addition to PTSD which was probably caused by his mother’s horrific treatment of him as well as his guilt over the accident, because he was unable to save his older brother’s life. The movie begins just after Conrad has been released from the hospital after a suicide attempt. I think there is more to Beth’s hatred of her child than her belief he is to blame for Buck’s accident. I think she hates him because he sees the truth about her, and calls her out on it. He is sensitive and able to see through her mask of perfection to the monstrous narcissist she actually is, and she can’t handle that.

From the very beginning, we can tell Beth despises her depressed remaining child. Her attitude toward Conrad is dismissive and impatient, and she makes no attempt to understand and appears to have no empathy for the emotional turmoil he’s in. She always puts her own needs ahead of her son and husband, and berates Calvin for attempting to understand his son’s pain. There’s not one moment where she shows the slightest shred of sympathy or love for him, and yet on the surface, no one would call her abusive, because of the mask of normality she always wears. Here’s a scene where Conrad attempts to talk to his mother about why they never had a pet–you can see how disconnected Beth is from Conrad’s (or her own) emotions, and Conrad’s hurt comes out as rage.

There’s a heartbreaking scene where the grandparents are present and Calvin is taking pictures. When he asks Beth to pose with her son, she glibly changes the subject to avoid having to SAY she doesn’t want her picture taken with him, but her disgust is obvious. Calvin insists, and Beth smiles with gritted teeth as she coldly stands next to her son. Conrad, who is sensitive, picks up on his mother’s hatred but tries to smile anyway. Beth, still smiling her fake smile, demands that Calvin give her the camera so she doesn’t have to have her picture taken with Conrad, but Calvin keeps insisting. Conrad, fed up and hurt, loses his temper and screams “Give her the goddamn camera!” It’s scenes like this that so brilliantly depict the subtle emotional abuse a malignant narcissist mother inflicts on her most sensitive child.


The camera scene.

Conrad begins seeing a psychiatrist, Dr. Berger (Judd Hirsch) who begins to get Conrad to open up about his feelings and show his anger. He also begins to date a girl he met in band practice (Elizabeth McGovern), who is upbeat yet understanding and helps bring Conrad out of his shell.

Calvin and his mother seem to be constantly arguing. Calvin tries to referree, but can’t seem to appeal to his wife’s loving nature, because she apparently has none. After one of these arguments, Conrad calls out his mother for never having visited him in the hospital, adding that “You would have visited Buck if he was in the hospital,” to which Beth retorts, “Buck never would have been in the hospital!” This is a clear implication of the higher esteem she held her older son in, who she believed would never have “gone crazy” and had to be hospitalized. Unlike Conrad, Buck would have enhanced, rather than diminished, the image she had of having the perfect life and perfect family.

Beth’s evil really comes out when they go on vacation to Texas to visit with some of Calvin’s colleagues. While golfing, Beth sweetly suggests to Calvin they go on another vacation–which would be during Christmas. Calvin agrees, but suggests they should bring Calvin along with them because he might enjoy the trip. To this, Beth flies into a narcissistic rage and loudly berates her husband for always trying to include Conrad in everything. During this rage, she projects her own anger and selfishness onto her husband, who unsuccessfully tries to stand up to her. Later in this clip, there’s a chilling scene after Conrad’s parents return home and Conrad tries to give Beth a hug. Beth’s face stays cold and hard and you can feel the hatred and disgust she has for her child while she barely returns his embrace at all.


The golf scene and “the cold hug.”

Conrad finds out his friend Karen from the hospital (Dinah Manoff) has committed suicide. Frantic, he makes an emergency appointment with Dr. Berger, and shows up in his office in a broken state. He rages and then sobs uncontrollably and everything comes pouring out: the whole story about the night Buck died and how he blamed himself, his mother’s hatred for him, and how he was never good enough. Dr. Berger listens and holds him like a parent would a child, and finally Conrad begins to calm down.

Gradually, Calvin becomes more aware of his wife’s malignant narcissism and is beginning to doubt her ability to love anyone but herself. One night Beth finds him crying alone and asks him why he is crying. Calvin asks Beth if she really loves him and she gives him a non-answer, saying “I feel the way I’ve always felt about you.” Calvin admits he is not sure he loves her anymore. He’s beginning to see the soulless monster she really is. Early in the morning, Beth leaves for good, not saying goodbye to her husband or son, leaving them to fend for themselves and try to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives together. No doubt both are much better off this way.


Calvin’s realization and confrontation with Beth.

This is one of the most convincing and well acted movies about the havoc a malignant narcissist mother can wreak on her family I have ever seen, and 35 years later, it still hits home because of the uncanny similarities I see to my own mother (who was not as outwardly rejecting or quite as malignant as Beth Jarrett). Every one of the 9 DSM indicators of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is evident in Beth. If anyone is interested in studying the myriad ways a malignant narcissist inflicts their abuse and scapegoats their children, this movie is the best case study I can think of, outside of having to deal with one yourself. Of course, not all malignant narcissists are upper middle class like Beth is, but even though the specific words and actions may differ from one social class to the next, the manipulations and abuse are always the same.


This trailer shows other scenes of the way Beth emotionally abuses, gaslights,projects, and triangulates against her surviving son.

I am not your dream.

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From the Facebook page Narcissistic and Emotional Abuse.

Why being a Golden Child isn’t so golden.

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I was raised as an only child–the second marriage for both my parents–in a narcissistic family. Only children are in an especially vulnerable position in narcissistic families, because they must serve as all things to one or both parents.

In families with several children, one child (usually the most sensitive) is normally chosen to be the scapegoat–to serve as the family trash can for all the narcissistic rage of the parents. Another child, usually the one most closely resembling the narcissistic parent or the one who best serves the parent’s need for narcissistic supply, may become the Golden Child–in other words, the parent’s favorite. The Scapegoat is always wrong, bad, stupid, crazy, a “problem,” etc. The Golden Child can do no wrong. Misdeeds are overlooked or projected onto the scapegoat. Golden Children may become the narcissistic parent’s flying monkeys and are even sometimes given the “honor” of helping with the abuse against the scapegoat.

I’m reminded of a book I read some years ago called “A Child Called It,” written by Dave Pelzer, who not only recovered from the horrific abuse inflicted on him from ages 4-12 by his psychopathic mother (who had been loving up until that point) and brothers (who served as her “helpers”) once he was removed from the family and placed in a foster home, he actually seemed to become stronger because of it. Today he is an author, motivational speaker, and activist against child abuse. Dave was the scapegoat of his family, and I think his mother turned against him when she realized he was the most sensitive child and probably the most intelligent one too.

But what happens when there is only one child in the family? Well, I think that child becomes both a scapegoat and a Golden Child. If I had grown up with siblings (I have older half-siblings but I wasn’t raised with them), I’m almost certain I would have been the family scapegoat. But my parents (I am including both here, even though I don’t believe my father is a true narcissist, because they worked as a “team”–he was codependent and under my mother’s thrall) needed a Golden Child too who would serve their need to show a child off as a prized possession, a status symbol of sorts: the physical proof of how superior they believed their genes to be compared to everyone else.

Being both scapegoat and Golden Child is even more crazymaking than being just a scapegoat, because you never know where you stand. You constantly feel off balance and anxious, never knowing if something you said or did will be rewarded, ignored, or punished. Life feels chaotic and unformed. You feel like you’re playing a game you never wanted to play, a game where you were never taught the rules, and most of the time you don’t even know WHAT game you’re playing, but you’re expected to play like an expert anyway.

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There was no consistency in the way I was disciplined or the things I was disciplined for. I was punished often (for infractions that were usually fairly minor or even nonexistent–I was a “good kid” who was terrified of angering my parents until my teens), but that wasn’t the worst thing. The worst thing was that the next time, I might actually be rewarded for the same infraction!

I was often punished for things I couldn’t help. Acting “spooky” was one of them. As a fearful, sensitive Aspie child, there were times I would retreat inside myself when I was feeling very anxious or when there was too much ‘input’ from the world, and this enraged my MN mother, who would berate or punish me for this behavior. I had no idea what I had done or how to stop being “spooky.” It just happened. I think it enraged her because it was during those times I went “inside” that she could no longer reach me with her abuse.

Even though most of the time I was treated as if my feelings didn’t matter, I was often told how pretty, smart and talented I was. It’s my belief I was no more of any of these things than any other kid my age, but I was told I was “special.” To my young mind, “special” meant “different”–and most children, myself included, dread being different from their peers.

When I was bullied at school, the reason my parents gave me was that the other kids were just jealous because of my “superior” looks, intelligence, or talent. I was also told our genes were better than other people’s, and our family was of a higher socioeconomic status than my friends’ families. I know now this was complete bullshit, but it’s the lie I was being fed while I was growing up. I think these “compliments” were intended to isolate me from my peers even further, so I’d just be “theirs.” I never felt empowered by the “praise” I got, because of the way it made me feel somehow defective and different from other kids. In addition, I felt like I could never live up to the pedestal my parents put me on at those times. I was right–and as an adult, I am looked down on by my family as actually defective.

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The most crazymaking thing of all was the times I’d be complimented and diminished at the same time. One of the most common ways I’d be demeaned was being told how “sensitive” I was. This was never meant to be a compliment; it was meant as a way to let me know how weak I was. Sometimes I was told I couldn’t or shouldn’t do things because of a combination of my “good” and “bad” qualities. For example, when I was about 10, I wanted to join the swim team. I remember exactly what my mother’s reaction was to this. She always liked to tell me what I was thinking, which is another way narcissists make us doubt our own reality and question our instincts. She said:
“You wouldn’t like being on the swim team because you’re too sensitive and you don’t like competition, and you’re too smart to be on a team with those people anyway.”
Huh?
Left-handed compliment much? She always sandwiched her praise this way–between insults like a shit sandwich. This was just another way I was constantly thrown off balance and this led to my becoming an extremely anxious child and later, an extremely anxious adult.

In general, my family treated me like I was a huge burden and didn’t really want me around, so the praise I got as a sometimes Golden Child made no sense and to my sensitive child’s mind, never felt sincere. Even at a very young age, I knew I was being lied to. I knew I wasn’t loved the same way other children were loved, even though my parents constantly mouthed the words like some sort of tic.

Lies my narcissists told me.

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I was told many lies about myself while growing up within my my FOO (family of origin). I have no doubt this had everything to do with my developing Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Avoidant Personality Disorder (AvPD), and lifelong severe anxiety.

Why personality disorders are so difficult to cure.
Personality disorders (PD’s) are formed very early in life, normally before the age of six–which is the reason they are so hard to cure. Because the child’s personality is still in a malleable state (meaning it hasn’t fully formed) until around age 5, PD’s become an integral part of the personality and therefore can be extremely difficult to eradicate because they were formed so early the child doesn’t believe it’s a problem, just the way things are. Their misery seems normal to them. They know nothing else.

Of course some PD’s are more amenable to treatment than others, and sufferers of some PD’s, such as Avoidant, Dependent, and sometimes Borderline, are much more likely to seek treatment than those with, say, ASPD (antisocial personality disorder), NPD (narcissism), or Schizoid PD.

Lies I was told growing up.

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As the family Scapegoat (and occasional Golden Child which I’ll explain later in this article), here are some of the lies I was told while I was growing up:

“You’re too sensitive!” — This one’s the Big Kahuna for many of us ACONs, especially if we’re also HSPs (highly sensitive people) by nature. “You’re too sensitive” isn’t so much a lie as it is a verbal twisting of a wonderful gift and ability to see the Truth into something…more resembling an embarrassing defect. Narcissistic lies sometimes appear in the form of turning something good into something shameful and bad, and vice versa.

“You have no sense of humor.” (see above)

“You don’t really want that.” (the parent is telling the child what they really think–this will just cause confusion and identity issues for the child)

“No one wants to know how you feel.” (so we learn to swallow our pain and lock up our emotions)

“You cry too much.” (I had to unlearn this–unfortunately I unlearned it too well and now find it difficult to cry even when I know I need to)

“You don’t know what you’re talking about.” (invalidation and devaluation)

“You know you don’t really think that.” (massive mindfuckery)

“You don’t really want to join the swim team. You know you don’t like competition.” (see above–the real message here being “you are a weak, pathetic, scared loser” to really drive the message home)

“You’re too fat/heavy/even ‘obese’ (I was never more than 120 lbs at 5’4” as a teenager)

“They don’t like you because you’re always so unpleasant to be around.” (Real nice)

“You never smile and it makes your face look unpleasant.” (Fake Narc smiles look even more ‘unpleasant’)

“You read too much.” (okay…would it be better if I snorted Smarties instead or went around throwing rocks through the neighbors’ windows?)

“You know you’re not really good at that.” (whenever I wanted to try something I hadn’t tried before)

“You know you can’t do that, let me do it.” (I wanted to wash the dishes when I was 6)

“You’re too idealistic” (mmmkay…and that’s a bad thing?)

Because I was raised as an only child (I had half-siblings who did not live with us), I also served as the Golden Child. So I also heard lies like,

“They’re just jealous of you because you’re prettier than they are.” (even as a first grader, I knew this was bullshit).

child_on_pedestal

“They’re just jealous of you because you’re smarter than they are.” (my grades weren’t much above average, in spite of having a high IQ)

“You are more talented than they are.”

“We have better genes than those other people.” (Narc genes?)

“You come from a better family than your friends do.” (I call bullshit on that.)

You were the best dancer in the school play.” (I have two left feet and even my dog would have known that was an outrageous lie).

It doesn’t stop when you go No Contact.

flying_monkeys

These are some of the lies told about me by my mother to her sycophants (the ones I’m aware of):

“She’s a loser just like her ex-husband” (Nice.)

“She always makes such terrible choices.” (True, but there were extenuating circumstances at those times she would never understand)

“If only she had done what I told her.” (If only I had had the courage to take a few risks-I am extremely risk-averse)

“If only she had listened to me.” (Again, if only I had taken a few risks and not been so afraid of my own shadow)

“She’s a nothing.” (I guess that’s why people tend to always talk over me, look through me, and never hear what I have to say in group or social settings–where I FEEL like a nothing)

“She was ruined by her ex” (this is a half-truth…but RUINED? Really? Let’s tone down the hyperbole, shall we?)

“She will always be poor.” (and the poor are always with us, right?)

“She will never achieve anything.”

“She can never stick with anything.” (This has actually been true but has gotten a lot better)

“She has mental problems.”

“She is sick in the head.”

Ad nauseam…

Conflicting messages as Scapegoat/Golden Child

ConflictingMessages

Black-and-white thinking (idealizing/devaluing) and outrageous contradictions prevailed in my FOO.
As both Scapegoat and Golden Child, I was receiving two sets of messages (sometimes both at the same time), such as, “You know you don’t really want that, because you’re too sensitive, you hate competition and you are smarter than they are.”
I think you get the idea.

Being raised with conflicting sets of messages and being treated as beloved/rejected child at once was incredibly crazymaking.

Borderline Personality Disorder (or even narcissism!) and Avoidant Personality Disorder (I have both BPD and AvPD) both seem like logical, almost sane reactions to having been raised with two conflicting sets of messages–I was either all bad or all good, with no in between.

And finally, it doesn’t end there. Raised by narcissists, I married one even worse. A narcissist so malignant he made my parents look like empathic light beings in comparison. I was trained to be Supply and was WAY too good a student. If awards were given for Learning How to Be Narcissistic Supply, I would have been valedictorian.

Lies my psychopathic narcissist ex-husband told me.

gaslighting

Following are the lies my malignant narcissist sperm donor told me about myself and also told all the flying monkeys he had succeeded in turning against me (some of who included my friends) over 28 years. This led to my PTSD and clinical depression (where I had to be hospitalized for suicidal ideation). Most of these were projections of his own character flaws onto me.

“You are selfish/self-centered.”

“You always overreact to everything.”

“You never listen to me”

“You don’t care about me or my problems.”

“You have no empathy for me.”

“You are narcissistic.”

“You are becoming just like one of them” (he was referring to Republicans, who he hates)

“Oh, so now you’re living the high life?” (when I took in a roommate while he was homeless)

“You are a b**ch, c*nt, Tw*t, whore.”

“You are stupid.”

“You have no common sense.”

“You’re insane.”

“There’s something wrong with you.”

“You’re just like your family–all crazy.”

…as well as a constant barrage of hateful sarcasm at my expense, whether there were people present or not. If I objected to this mean spirited “humor,” I was told–WHAT ELSE???–I was “too sensitive” or “have no sense of humor.”

Because of having grown up in the midst of a labyrinthine web of lies, and then marrying into another one, I have always valued Truth. That’s why I put a premium on complete honesty, at least in my writing.
Not that I don’t ever lie–we all do, it’s part of the human condition. But I am very aware of dishonesty when I see it and won’t hesitate to call it out in others.

The silent treatment.

This is a common ploy narcissists use to control, manipulate or punish their “prey.” It can be as crazymaking as their other tools of trade, such as gaslighting, Hoovering, projection, blameshifting, boundary violation, and triangulation.

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Narcissist parents demonize their own children.

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Most parents like to tell cute and funny stories about when their children were young, or brag about their school accomplishments or tell sweet stories that show their child in a flattering or loving light. They are also proud of their children when they’re kind and nice to others. That’s the way things should be.

Not for narcissistic parents though.

Narcissists who “erase” memories of their children.
Some narcissistic parents don’t like to talk about their children at all. It’s as if they erase any memories of their offspring’s childhoods and don’t want to be reminded of it. It’s weird. My malignant cerebral narcissist sperm donor used to get bored and annoyed if I talked about the children when they were young. Inexplicably, he couldn’t stand it and became annoyed when I wanted to put some of their baby and early school pictures around the house. (He didn’t like that I displayed our wedding photos either).

He isn’t interested in his son’s accomplishments, even though Ethan (not his real name) has recently been asked to join a semi-professional urban dance crew and has been told he is a shoo-in for the finals at the next dance competition he will be performing in next month. Ethan is seriously considering auditioning for the TV show “So You Think You Can Dance” in about a year or two, when he gets just a little better. He’s completely self taught and has never had a dance lesson and yet people are always impressed by his dancing skills.

I am so proud of my son but his father could care less. I thought maybe it was because he thought dancing was “too gay” (because my son is gay or possibly bisexual–he recently told me he may have some interest in women) but he acts the same way about all of Ethan’s other accomplishments too. It’s almost as if he wants to erase him from his mind, even though he insists he loves him.

And when they “brag” about you, watch out.

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My mother, also a malignant narcissist (of the somatic rather than cerebral type), loves to talk about me as a child. But her “bragging” is never about the things a normal parents would brag to their friends and relatives about. It’s never about how smart I was or what a good student I was, or what a good painter or writer I was, or how kind and generous or big-hearted or animal loving I was. Instead, she tells stories that illustrate the many ways I was “too sensitive” or how much I cried as a little girl. When she talks about me, she always brings up the most embarrassing stories, like how afraid I was of thunderstorms and how I used to run into the closet in terror (I like thunderstorms now) or how “hysterical” (she loves to use that word about me as a child) I used to get when I was frustrated or scared of something (I was afraid of many things but loved a lot of things too).

Whenever she talks about me to people, she makes me sound like there was something wrong with me (there was–I was an Aspie child with attachment issues–but surely there were good things too she could choose to talk about instead of what a pitiful, awkward, oversensitive crybaby I was). She loves to tell everyone the still-embarrassing story of my first period and how happy I was when I shouted the big news from the bathroom, because I had always been “so hysterical” and panic stricken because I was slower to hit puberty than most other girls my age (I was 13 and really not far behind at all–and I never got “hysterical” or “panic stricken” the way she insists).

I no longer hear these stories because I no longer have much contact with her, but I’m sure she still tells her friends and extended family (who she has isolated from me and turned some of them into flying monkeys against me) and they still all have a good laugh about “poor, over-sensitive, ‘hysterical’ little Lauren.” I know they also laugh about what a “loser” I am today, because I’m not wealthy like most of the family is and don’t have a great number of impressive professional accomplishments. Of course, that’s all due to my “poor choices” and not to the fact my self esteem was all but obliterated during childhood and adolescence, not only by my family but also by the bullies I often had to deal with at school.

Fivehundredpoundpeep posted an article today about the way her psychopathic MN mother (who was much worse than mine if that can be believed) and the rest of the family gave her a poem for her college graduation. Instead of it being a sincere congratulations or about how loved she was and how proud of her they were, it was a “humorous” ode to how afraid of crickets she was as a little girl. Notwithstanding the fact this poem had absolutely nothing to do with Peep’s college graduation, its real intention was to embarrass her and make her feel self conscious. It was a poem that could have easily ruined an otherwise joyous occasion.

The navy blue dress.

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What my mother saw whenever she looked at me. (Just for the record, I think this big lady is stunning.)

My mother always loved to point out my faults–even imaginary ones she had projected onto me–in public. I’ll never forget the birthday party I had one year as a teenager. My mother had invited several of her friends to the apartment and some of my friends were there too. When it came time to open the gifts, she made sure hers was the first one I opened.

In the fancily wrapped box was a rather conservative, navy blue sleeveless dress. It was a nice dress I suppose, had I been about 40. She made me go try it on and then have me come out into the living room where everyone was sitting to model it. I obeyed because what else could I do, and she scared the living shit out of me.

Now, I was not overweight. At 5’4″, 120-125 lbs was about the right weight for my frame. But my backside was a little on the big side (not Kim Kardashian big, but still pretty round) and my mother was constantly calling attention to it. It made me very self conscious and due to this (as well as my desire to rebel against the way she’d dressed me like a doll when I was younger), I had taken to wearing baggy, masculine clothes that hid my curves. She was convinced I was “fat” and was always threatening to send me away to weight loss camp. As a somatic narcissist, she was obsessed with her own weight, physical appearance, and health. She seemed to judge other people by the way they looked instead of their personal qualities. Almost every day she called attention to how much weight I was putting on, or reminding me not to have seconds because of my “weight issues.” I become incredibly self conscious about my body as a result. It’s a miracle I didn’t develop an eating disorder.

weight-loss

Getting back to the birthday party and my “modeling session” in front of all the guests, after I modeled it, she announced that the dress’s dark color and style was flattering for someone with “Lauren’s little weight problem.”

You could have heard a pin drop in that room. I think everyone was shocked at her callous and embarrassing remarks. As for myself, I was so mortified I ran out of the room crying, which of course was a huge mistake because that gave my mother ammunition to remind everyone once again about how sensitive I was (and she didn’t mean this in a complimentary way). She was always making jokes at my expense and then when I didn’t laugh or if I looked hurt, it was always “Lauren is just being over-sensitive again” or “Lauren has no sense of humor.” I’ve heard this is quite a common accusation narc parents use against the child they have chosen to be their scapegoat. They hate sensitivity and love to turn it into a bad thing because it takes the responsibility for their cruel behavior off of them and puts the blame onto the child.

This is the sort of “flattery” a scapegoated child can get from a parent who is a malignant narcissist. There are times I feel guilty that I don’t feel more love for my mother than I do, but when I think of all the years she demeaned me and put me down, always going out of her way to make me feel small and worthless, I don’t feel so guilty about my ambivalent feelings toward her.

I don’t hate my mother. Instead, I pity her for being so shallow and never having known who her true self might have been. She’s an intelligent woman but you would never know it because she never was interested in ideas or the life of the mind. Her eyes glaze over if you try to engage her in any “deep” topics. She reads pulp novels and fashion magazines, never anything scholarly or educational.

She has now lost her beauty due to age (and too many facelifts) and she is all too aware it. Knowing she has lost her physical beauty–the one thing that gave her an identity of sorts–has turned her bitter and angry in her old age.

I just get so tired of it…

rejected_child

I just read this blog post “I Would Be Begging for Help if it were Me” by Fivehundredpoundpeep. I highly recommend it to all ACONs. However, I won’t lie–her well written article triggered me, and the following may be the most emotional post I ever wrote.
This actually started as a reply on her blog, but I decided to turn it into an article because it’s very much on my mind. Tears are not far away.

The mother she describes in her article sounds EXACTLY like mine–the tone, choice of words, attitude, everything. Criticism under the guise of “help.” Dismissal in the name of love. With mine it’s always “positive thinking:”
“If you were not so negative, things would come more easily to you.”
“If you were more pleasant to be around, you would be able to make the connections to help you advance in a career.”
“You never were the competitive type.”
And always, always, “You’re too sensitive.”

Well, excuse me, Mommie Dearest, you’re too damn insensitive. You may not know it, but my high sensitivity, much as it may annoy you, is going to OUT you one day as the MALIGNANT NARCISSIST you always were, and will save my sanity. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

And then you dare to tell me how much you love me in the next line? Prove it.

She used to send me corny memes and hackneyed sayings about always being sunny and cheerful, and accepting things the way they are. Scooping all these memes together and throwing them in the blender, here’s the pureed form of the message she was giving me:
“You are a failure and will never get anywhere in this world because you’re not a fun person, you never smile, you’re always negative, but you should accept things as they are and be happy with your lousy lot, because you don’t deserve any better.

That’s what she was really saying. She’s one of what I call “the positive thinking nazis.” Actually both my parents are. There’s nothing wrong with positive thinking, of course, and it’s something we should all strive to do. But my FOO took it too far. They used it as a way to sugarcoat and deny real issues. It was like putting a Band-aid on a cancerous lesion so it didn’t have to be seen. If it didn’t have to be seen, it would go away. That was the sort of narcissistic magical thinking and insanity I had to deal with.
They used it as a way to deny responsibility. That’s the most glaring thing wrong with the positive thinking movement, when taken to ridiculous extremes. The denial of reality and rejection of responsibility.

Of course if I ever confronted my mother about this (which I never did, not directly anyway, since I was a teenager), she’d either fly into a narcissistic rage or vehemently deny it.

staring_at_wall
My mother still has the power to make me feel this way. That’s why we’re estranged.

Seriously, that’s the only kind of “help” I have ever gotten from my MN egg donor since I grew up. But I can’t be rejected anymore because I don’t ask her for a thing anymore. I could be lying in a gutter with a broken leg and no home and no way to get to the hospital, and she’d probably tell me I was just being too negative and drawing in my own bad fortune. I would rather lie there and bleed to death than beg her to help.

My whole FOO are huge proponents of the postmodern narcissistic grandiose fantasy of “you create your own reality. If you fail, it’s no one’s fault but your own. Pick yourself up by your bootstraps and suck it up.” It’s The Cliff’s Notes version of Ayn Rand’s objectivism. No compassion. No empathy. No love. Only judgment, gaslighting, subtle put downs, no loyalty, and thinly veiled hatred. And unfair and untrue accusations of my acting “entitled” because at my age, of course I should not be needing any help. But I’ve never asked them for much anyway. They think I asked for too much. All I ever wanted was love. No their conditional fake excuse for love.

It made me furious to the point of wanting to smash my fist into a brick wall when well-meaning people who may have heard about my financial problems or need of emotional support, said to me something like, “Honey, don’t you have a family you can turn to?” Or “Surely your family will help you out of this jam.” Sometimes it still happens, though I tell no one IRL my troubles. But I don’t want to hear what they have to say: all these people assume that just because their own families will help them or give them a hand up when they’re down on their luck or just need a non-judgmental listening ear or a soft shoulder to cry on, then the same must be true of my family too. It’s just what everyone does for own flesh and blood, right?

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These fortunate people with loving families may be well meaning but they assume because theirs will help them and give them unconditional love, that the same holds true for people like us. They simply can’t or won’t believe there are some parents who actually HATE THEIR CHILDREN.

I get so tired of it. So very tired of it. That’s why I tell no one my problems anymore except on my blog. I never ask my parents for help, ever, and never will again. Especially not my mother. But I won’t need to. I’m still poor but I’m surviving, even thriving now–but not because of any of their heartless and judgmental “advice.”

I’m getting better because I have the ability to reach out to my real family–this amazing community of people who have such similar stories–through a skill I’ve recently rediscovered and is the tool to my healing: my writing.
I don’t need to be my mother’s scapegoat anymore.

Are you being “gaslighted”?

I found an interesting article on A Healthy Place about the emotional abuse practice of gaslighting. I never knew the various types of gaslighting actually had names!

Here’s everything you need to know about this sinister manipulation tactic used by narcissistic abusers, and how to tell if you’re a victim.

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Gaslighting Definition, Techniques and Being Gaslighted
Written by Natasha Tracy

Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse where the abuser manipulates situations repeatedly to trick the victim into distrusting his or her own memory and perceptions. Gaslighting is an insidious form of abuse. It makes victims question the very instincts that they have counted on their whole lives, making them unsure of anything. Gaslighting makes it very likely that victims will believe whatever their abusers tell them regardless as to their own experience of the situation. Gaslighting often precedes other types of emotional and physical abuse because the victim of gaslighting is more likely to remain in other abusive situations as well.

The term “gaslighting” comes from the 1938 British play “Gas Light” wherein a husband attempts to drive his wife crazy using a variety of tricks causing her to question her own perceptions and sanity. Gas Light was made into a movie both in 1940 and 1944.

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Gaslighting Techniques and Examples
Gaslighting is emotional abuse that aims to make victims doubt their own perceptions and memories. Find out if you are being gaslighted in your relationship.There are numerous gaslighting techniques which can make gaslighting more difficult to identify. Gaslighting techniques are used to hide truths that the abuser doesn’t want the victim to realize. Gaslighting abuse can be perpetrated by either women or men.

“Withholding” is one gaslighting technique where the abuser feigns a lack of understanding, refuses to listen and declines sharing his emotions. Gaslighting examples of this would be:

“I’m not listening to that crap again tonight.”
“You’re just trying to confuse me.”

Another gaslighting technique is “countering,” where an abuser will vehemently call into question a victim’s memory in spite of the victim having remembered things correctly.

“Think about when you didn’t remember things correctly last time.”
“You thought that last time and you were wrong.”
These techniques throw the victim off the intended subject matter and make them question their own motivations and perceptions rather than the issue at hand.

It is then that the abuser will start to question the experiences, thoughts and opinions more globally through statements said in anger like:

“You see everything in the most negative way.”
“Well you obviously never believed in me then.”
“You have an overactive imagination.”

“Blocking” and “diverting” are gaslighting techniques whereby the abuser again changes the conversation from the subject matter to questioning the victim’s thoughts and controlling the conversation. Gaslighting examples of this include:

“I’m not going through that again.”
“Where did you get a crazy idea like that?”
“Quit bitching.”
“You’re hurting me on purpose.”

“Trivializing” is another way of gaslighting. It involves making the victim believe his or her thoughts or needs aren’t important, such as:

“You’re going to let something like that come between us?”

Abusive “forgetting” and “denial” can also be forms of gaslighting. In this technique, the abuser pretends to forget things that have really occurred; the abuser may also deny things like promises that have been made that are important to the victim. An abuser might say,

“What are you talking about?”
“I don’t have to take this.”
“You’re making that up.”

Some gaslighters will then mock the victim for their “wrongdoings” and “misperceptions.”

Gaslighting Psychology
The gaslighting techniques are used in conjunction to try to make the victim doubt their own thoughts, memories and actions. Soon the victim is scared to bring up any topic at all for fear they are “wrong” about it or don’t remember the situation correctly.

The worst gaslighters will even create situations that allow for the usage of gaslighting techniques. An example of this is taking the victim’s keys from the place where they are always left, making the victim think she has misplaced them. Then “helping” the victim with her “bad memory” find the keys.

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Are You a Victim of Gaslighting Emotional Abuse?
According to author and psychoanalyst Robin Stern, Ph.D., the signs of being a victim of gaslighting emotional abuse include:

You are constantly second-guessing yourself.
You ask yourself, “Am I too sensitive?” a dozen times a day.
You often feel confused and even crazy at work.
You’re always apologizing to your mother, father, boyfriend,, boss.
You can’t understand why, with so many apparently good things in your life, you aren’t happier.
You frequently make excuses for your partner’s behavior to friends and family.
You find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don’t have to explain or make excuses.
You know something is terribly wrong, but you can never quite express what it is, even to yourself.
You start lying to avoid the put downs and reality twists.
You have trouble making simple decisions.
You have the sense that you used to be a very different person – more confident, more fun-loving, more relaxed.
You feel hopeless and joyless.
You feel as though you can’t do anything right.
You wonder if you are a “good enough” girlfriend/ wife/employee/ friend; daughter.