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No, you’re NOT being judged and watched constantly.

Lenora Thompson, who writes a blog for Psychcentral, wrote this post that I’d like to share.    I think most of us who were narcissistic abuse victims are hypervigilant and even paranoid–always looking over our shoulder for the next attack.  We assume everyone is watching and judging us all the time, but they’re not.  We’ve just been programmed to think they are because we were surrounded by narcissists during our formative years who did.

 

No, You’re *Not* Being Watched and Judged Constantly

3550755709_d8be7ba08b_zWhen you’ve been surrounded by narcissists all your life, naturally you assume everyone thinks like them. Judges you like them. Hey! It’s self-protection. But they don’t, you know.

Holocaust survivor, neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl is renowned for saying, “An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.”

Being constantly watched is abnormal. Being chronically judged for anything and everything is abnormal. Hell, narcissism is abnormal, hence the name of this blog: Narcissism Meets Normalcy.

Unfortunately, abnormalcy breeds abnormalcy. It’s abnormal to be hyper-vigilant, but we developed it for self-preservation. Thus it’s normal…for us.

It’s abnormal to constantly self-criticize. But we learned to self-criticize, to anticipate every possible criticism that might be hurled our way. We learned to practice clairvoyance (thinking with the narcissist’s brain.) It was simply less painful than being blind-sided. Thus it’s normal…for us.

Read the rest of this article here.

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It isn’t all about me.

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What I’m learning is that everything isn’t always about me.

I used to always assume people were obsessing in a negative way about me and would interpret, say, a neutral expression or a lukewarm greeting as “that person must be upset with me/hate me/is mad at me/disapproves of me” etc. Sometimes I have to make a conscious effort not to let my mind go in this direction if someone acts in a way other than thrilled to see me. Sometimes they’re just having a bad day, are angry at someone else, or angry in general, or are generally just an asshole to everyone. Sometimes it’s nothing at all other than my choosing to perceive a neutral expression or body language as something negative. It takes a lot of practice to get out of that habit of paranoia and hypervigilance and I always have to remind myself to stop taking every little thing personally and think outside myself instead. I think this is a prerequisite to being able to empathize–being mindful that someone else might have a problem that has nothing to do with me.

My son didn’t escape unscathed.

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This is not a photo of my son, but it looks a little like him.

My 23 year old son was scapegoated and bullied by his father when he was a child and teen (which I’ve written about before). As the most sensitive and nervous child in the family who was able to see through his father’s malignant narcissism, his father began to target him for abuse when it became clear to him my son had a good built-in bullshit detector.

When he was 17 he moved out of our home to stay with a female police officer who worked at his school. She was very supportive but after awhile he decided to move back in with us briefly. When he turned 18, he moved to another state and has not been back, although he does talk to me on a regular basis. Due to lack of funds, I’ve only seen him 3 times since he moved out in 2010. He is doing well though–working two jobs, one as a management trainee for a chain of convenience stores in the Tampa, Florida area, the other as a Carraba’s server where he sometimes pulls in as much as $700 in a single weekend.

He has many interests and talents, including dancing, animation, and filmmaking (which is what he really would love to do). He came out as gay when he was 17. After that happened, he transformed from being a nerdy, nervous teenager with few friends to a very popular young man with a geeky, eccentric sort of cool and many friends. He doesn’t do drugs or smoke. He drinks, but doesn’t appear to have an alcohol problem.

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Photo of my kids in Texas in 2001.

I thought he somehow emerged unscathed from the family dysfunction. He shows no signs of having any personality disorder, although he has reported having panic attacks and he tends to be obsessive in his thinking. He’s also prone to depressions.

Tonight we talked to each other on the phone for awhile and he described his obsessive thinking. He worries about locking the door, for example, and has to keep going back to check to make sure he locked it. He hates having anything dripped on him, and that can set off a rage attack. They are like panic attacks, but instead of panic, he feels rage. He doesn’t act on the rage, but he feels it. Then he feels guilty for feeling that way. He doesn’t like people approaching him from behind and is jumpy and wants to attack when that happens. He worries incessantly about the impression he makes on others and suffers from occasional paranoia, and thinks others are out to hurt him, even when there is no rational reason for him to think this.

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Sporting kelp “hair extensions.”

It sounds to me like he suffers from a severe anxiety disorder, and probably has OCD. He can afford health insurance now, so I told him to please see a therapist who can find out if what he has is OCD or something else, and possibly give him some medication and therapy. He’s willing to do this. I still think he’s the most mentally healthy person in the immediate family, and the only one who is doing well financially and doesn’t appear to have a personality disorder, but he’s far from unscathed from the abuse inflicted on him, and his hypervigilance and anxiety is no doubt due to that (though there could be a biological component too).

The “fleas” of narcissism and being Aspie.

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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.

Self pity and stress.

goodgrief

Today wasn’t a good day, except for it being Friday.

1. I woke up with a pounding headache.
2. Traffic jam made me late again.
3. I wasn’t in a good mood and was being hypersensitive to everything. I felt like my coworker was picking on me today even though she probably wasn’t. Some days I just take everything the wrong way.
4. I felt depressed and negative all day, and I’ve noticed after some time of feeling more positive that a negative outlook tends to attract negative things.
5. I was unfavorably comparing myself to others who have things better. That’s a bad character defect (envy) I’m trying to work on.
6. I had another argument with my roommate. I’m convinced she is doing things to annoy me on purpose. I won’t even get into what the argument was about because it was stupid.
6. It was cold and windy and they are predicting snow tonight. I hate cold weather.
7. I was trying to renew my antivirus software and couldn’t open the browser to renew it. I Googled a customer service number for Norton and called the first one that came up, which was a shady company (iYogi–do NOT talk to them!) that supposedly represents Norton. I got a very nasty guy who barely spoke English who I allowed to remote access my computer, and he told me my hard drive was corrupted and then started hard-selling me some bullshit program to clean up my hard drive “that only cost $149.99 and you get all this!” He was almost impossible to get off the phone and started yelling at me and telling me I was being uncooperative because I wasn’t buying his hard sell.

I finally got him off the phone (he kept asking when he could call me) and scrolled on Google until I found a real customer service number and they were able to help me. Of course there wasn’t anything wrong with my hard drive, only a browser hijacker (Astromenda–be careful, it’s very hard to get rid of and it slows your system down and makes pages hard to open) that was blocking my access to certain pages. He told me people have complained to him before about iYogi. If you have Norton and have to call customer service, be sure it’s the actual Norton (Symantec) website’s number.

work-stress

I don’t know why everything has to be so hard.

That’s it for the negativity for today. Tomorrow’s another day.

Sometimes you have to remind yourself you are still moving forward even if you take a step back sometimes. I don’t have as many bad days as I used to. But I was beating myself up for having a bad day, being negative, oversensitive, hypervigilant, impatient, and envious. I need to stop beating myself up all the time. I’m too hard on myself. I was trained too well.

Forever alone.

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I have always been attracted to narcissistic men. And them to me. I spent 28 years (7 of those AFTER we divorced) living with a malignant narcissist substance abuser and raising children with him. Before Michael, I had three serious boyfriends, and only one was not a narcissist (but was severely bipolar).

When I was in my twenties, all I wanted to do was marry and have babies–this wasn’t considered cool or forward thinking at the time (the 1980s). I wasn’t really focused on having a career like most young women my age.

I think my oddly timed longing for normal family life was because more than anything in the world, I longed to be part of a family that would not be like the one I came from, a close, functional family whose members truly loved and cared for one another. I had grand fantasies of Perfect Family Life–3-4 perfect, normal kids; a perfect, normal husband with no serious mental disorders or drug or alcohol issues; and a beautiful home with plenty of old school charm in a safe neighborhood. My Perfect Mate would be an honest, loyal husband and father who loved animals and long walks and would care deeply about all of us. Of course there would be pets too, probably a large friendly dog like a Golden Retriever. I wanted the damned Brady Bunch.

I know, you’re probably ready to vomit all over your keyboard. Chill. I’m stopping right here. I cringe when I think about how naive and clueless I was.

Does anyone remember this commercial from about 2007-09? If you’re a nausea-prone ACON you may want to take some Pepto first.

Well, this was the family I wanted to make, back in the 1980s.

30 odd years later: I hate that damned commercial with its perky, perfect, cute-but-not-beautiful soccer mom–a woman who undoubtedly had loving parents who raised her with consistency and lots of hugs and support, a woman who has extended family members like cousins or aunts or an uncle she is close to, and also has lots of friends. She also has an advanced degree in something like sociology or art history. She was popular at school, not Mean Girl/cheerleader-popular, but the next tier down from that–she was one of the honor roll kids where the girls all played volleyball or were in the Drama Club, and the guys all looked like Ferris Bueller and were Theater Nerds. But these second-tier, almost-popular kids were actually nice to everyone (unlike the top tier of popular kids who really weren’t so much popular as they were feared and respected–because they consisted largely of narcs and their sycophants) and you wanted to hate them but you couldn’t because they were always so darned nice.

Instead of pursuing her career in art history or writing a book about The Sociology of Art History, this perky redhaired 30-something has chosen to stay home with her growing brood of ginger kids, each one more red haired than the last. Her infuriating announcements of big moves (to MEMPHIS!), promotions at work, home enlargements, weeks-long family vacations, learning how to speak French, and especially…ESPECIALLY!..the group shot at the end showing the whole family focusing on Perky Soccer Mom bouncing the the new baby on her hip at the end–not just any baby, but a gorgeous fat healthy good natured baby girl with an adorable grin who probably sports fire engine red hair under that white cap–made me want to throw a brick at my TV screen.

I know this is just a commercial and those people are actors, but…I ACTUALLY KNOW FAMILIES LIKE THIS. Of course I don’t know what goes on behind closed doors (and everyone has their dark secrets), but because the members of these families always seem happy and relaxed and everyone seems to love everyone else, with not a molecule of narcissism anywhere to be seen, the skeletons in their closets don’t come out to haunt them all that much. They are probably covered with dust from disuse.

I’m assuming here that the reason this thoroughly obnoxious commercial was so popular (it ran for almost 3 years), is not because it depicts the idealized family everyone strives to create, but rather, because many people can actually relate to this smugly contented woman and her tall, dark and handsome husband, their perfect dog, their big colonial house, and their large brood of gingers.

I longed for this family because having this family would vindicate my dysfunctional and narcissistic family of origin. It was the family that would bring me Justice.

I never got that family, because I fell in love with a malignant narcissist, who in every imaginable way at the beginning, convinced me he was the Perfect Boyfriend, and later the Perfect Fiance. We made two highly intelligent but troubled kids (well, one is a lot less so but lives almost 700 miles away).
And now I am Forever Alone.

foreveralone

But I’m alright with that. More than alright.

In my past relationships, I never saw any of the red flags. I knew nothing of red flags back then other than the physical kind that signal physical danger. The most useful psychological advice about men and relationships I got in the early-mid 1980s was from articles and fluff quizzes (such as “What Does his Lovemaking Say About his Character?”) in magazines like Cosmopolitan and Glamour.

I was never attracted to “bad boys.” I chose men who had good jobs, prospects and didn’t stink or break the law. But sometimes these “perfect” guys can be anything but perfect, and because they put on such a convincing and impressive mask of normality, you don’t suspect their true motives until it’s too late. I always seemed to gravitate to the devils dressed in white.

I’m not going to recount the downward spiral that led to the dissolution of our marriage, drug addiction, troubled kids, and all the rest because I’ve done that already ad nauseam (if you must know my story of being married to a malignant narc, click on the links under “My Story”).

So I’ve done a 180 from the naive, romantic starry eyed girl I was in the 1980s–the girl who was uncool enough at the time to want a family and babies and a normal life with people who were not psychopathic or addicted to drugs or alcohol (today that would make me Taylor Swift–how times have changed). I no longer want a relationship. I relish my solitude.

I still get crushes, and plenty of them (I have one now), and just as in my teens and twenties, they still tend to be intense. My crushes are pleasurable to me but they are mine alone to enjoy, not something to be shared with the object of my infatuation. I know, I’m weird. I have an excuse to be weird and avoidant though, because I’m Aspie with Avoidant Personality Disorder. I enjoy my dreams and fantasies far more than my reality, and why ruin a good fantasy by trying to make it real?

crush

That’s why I think my mind makes sure my crushes are never on people I know personally or have to see all the time, and instead chooses men who are inaccessible for one reason or another. Famous people are the safest of all, because I do not ever not have to meet them and either (a) face rejection; or (b) worse: not be rejected but gradually find out they are really just another sick malignantly narcissistic tool who will fly me to the moon and feed me fresh blackberries dipped in cognac, and then ever so insidiously proceed to turn my life into one resembling incarceration in a Turkish prison before I know what even hit me.

I’ve been there, done that. I am no longer of childbearing age, and though I look far younger and fitter than my 55 years, I realize I’m not going to look this good too much longer. At my age, there’s a feeling that you just don’t have what it takes to attract a man anymore, even when it’s not true. Because I look better now than I have since my mid-late 30s. Sure, maybe a woman of a certain age can’t attract the 20-somethings anymore, but what middle aged woman in her right mind really wants a 20-something for anything but a quick fling, anyway? In my case my wariness and self consciousness is due to the low self esteem that’s lived with me my entire life like some parasitic twin I’ve grown so used to I sometimes forget it’s there. Hating yourself is a tough habit to break.

But the real problem isn’t my fear of losing my sexual desirability (which is already well on its way over the other side of the mountain), it’s the simple fact that I don’t trust men (or anyone) enough to become intimate with one. As an Aspie, I have trouble reading social cues, which means I often miss the important red flags and warning signs of a narcissist who is love bombing me and wooing me into his black den of misery. And more than that–I want to believe them. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt. I never learned from my past mistakes.

So no longer is “love” my passion in life or my goal. I figure I will die single and alone, but very possibly, happy. Hopefully by the time I die, I will have written a book or two that helped others, gave others joy, and brings me a nice income so I can buy my own small, quaint, quirky home near my son in Florida, somewhere near the beach.

oldwoman

Twenty or thirty years from now: I see myself–an old spinster (I love the strength that word conveys–we need to bring it back!) wearing a long brightly patterned madras-cotton dress or jeans and a slouchy, comfy sweater in cooler weather, walking barefoot along the Gulf Coast at sunset, feeling wet sand squeeze between my pale toes, waves lapping at my feet, the salt air breeze making me smile and my eyes water. I’m tossing small pebbles into the golden waves, a large dog with a cool name like Hector skipping along by my side, occasionally running ahead of me when he sees a seagull land on the darkening sand. I’ll be thinking about my grown son and daughter, and their families and satisfying lives, and my only worry would be the two-month deadline my publisher has given to finish writing a groundbreaking new book about something that matters. I’ll be Forever Alone. And like it.

All this being said, if an attractive, genuinely nice man comes along when I’m not looking, and maybe I’m feeling more strong and confident, I might venture into the ocean again, or at least get my feet wet. So sure, it could happen, but right now I’m just trying to get to know myself.

Am I that annoying or am I just paranoid?

paranoidmind

There are days I feel like I have to apologize for my existence. Today was one of those days.

The woman I was teamed up with today to clean houses is someone I’m used to working with. We don’t have a whole lot in common, but normally we get along well enough and we work well together. I know what to expect and she doesn’t have to check my work because she knows I know what I’m doing.

She usually drives (because my car is very old and is starting to have transmission problems, which I refuse to worry about right now) which is fine by me, but that also means I’m forced to listen to the music she wants to listen to, which means Christian contemporary music all day, whenever we work together. The music isn’t so bad really, but it can get annoying after a while, when every song played starts to feel like a sermon. Give me some Nirvana, give me some U2, Rolling Stones, or Jimi; hell, even Lady Gaga will do. Or play some damned country. But it ain’t gonna happen, not with her.

Now that it’s the Overhyped Season of Greed and False Cheer again, she’s switched over to one of the pop stations, which plays Christmas music 24/7, starting the day after Thanksgiving. Bleccchhh. While there are a few carols I have nostalgic childhood memories of, as a whole I can’t stand Christmas music. If I hear “Jingle Bell Rock” one more time, I think I’m going to put my head through the dashboard. Especially because she SINGS ALONG to it. That, along with “Little Drummer Boy” are my two least favorite Christmas songs EVER, but for some reason I can’t possibly begin to fathom, they play those two ALL THE TIME. It’s pure torment. Shoot me please.

makeitstop

So anyway, we get along alright even though we’re never going to be Thelma and Louise together. But today I thought I was getting on her nerves. I have no idea what I did or said, but she wasn’t speaking to me and snapped my head off if I asked her the most innocuous question or even said anything at all. After several hours of this treatment (and being silent right back), I finally couldn’t take it anymore. I had a little hissy fit.

“You haven’t spoken to me all day,” I fired at her. “It’s obvious you’re mad about something. I have no idea what I said to make you act so angry, but whatever it was, I’m sorry.”
I was apologizing for nothing at all really, because as far as I knew, I hadn’t done or said anything wrong, but I just wanted this to be over with. I hate it when people are angry with me, I hate it when I just imagine they are angry with me. Because as an Aspie, I can’t tell the difference.

Still she said nothing. She just harrumphed and kept on working as if I wasn’t there.
I didn’t say another word about it, because I sensed that would annoy her more, but I still felt sulky and wounded so back in the car, I pretended to sleep.
After another hour or so, my work partner suddenly became friendly again. She said she was tired. So that’s all it was, I guess. Another day ruined by my stupid paranoia and hypervigilance.

everyonehatesme

WELL, WHY COULDN’T SHE JUST HAVE SAID SO BEFORE? She KNOWS about my disorder, she KNOWS I can’t read social cues, and she could have at least TOLD me she was tired this morning. That would have prevented hours of interpersonal tension, and my stupid paranoia and babyish hissy fit over nothing could have been avoided. But that’s not how she is.

This sort of thing happens to me so often. If people don’t think I’m stupid, they think I’m annoying. Sometimes they think I’m both. Or at least that’s what I think they think. They probably don’t think that nearly as often as I think they do. But I worry about it.

I have a related problem right now that’s probably just my hypervigilance but I’m not sure, and that uncertainty is what’s driving me crazy.

I have a friend in the narcissistic abuse community, a woman I seem to have a lot in common with. Our backgrounds are so similar it’s downright scary. We started e-mailing each other, but she never replied back to the last email I sent her, which was quite long. It’s been four days and every time I check my inbox, there’s nothing new there from her. After two days of no reply, I sent a friendly reminder asking simply if she got my email. I didn’t want to appear too concerned, but I was.

Another day passed. I emailed her again, asking if she was getting my emails. Maybe they’re going in her spam folder. But that little disapproving, judging voice that lives inside my head and I wish would go away was saying, no, no! It must have been something you said in your last email, something that made her not want to be your friend anymore.

I went back and analyzed my email, trying to pinpoint what it was I must have said to make her avoid me. It could have been anything. Or nothing. I’ve been ruminating over it and worrying myself almost sick over it. Again, why do I care so much? It’s not like I don’t have other friends in this community, other people who read my blog and like what I have to say.

There is probably a perfectly reasonable answer for her silence–maybe she’s been busy, maybe she’s been sick (she does have health issues), maybe she can’t access her email, maybe she’s just lazy about replying to emails (like I can sometimes be). But of course, it’s never the reasonable, mundane, logical explanation I look for; it’s always something terrible and dire, it’s always because of something I did to upset them and make them hate me. It’s always because I’m such an annoying person they want nothing to do with me. My hypervigilance and paranoia is crazymaking and even…well, narcissistic. Why do I torment myself like this? It’s stupid.

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A few people (almost always neurotypicals who don’t get me) have actually told me I’m annoying. No doubt my annoyingness is due to my tendency to interject comments at inappropriate times during my rare pathetic attempts to appear “normal” in social settings–or making some other embarrassing social gaffe due to my high-functioning autism.

I analyze and brood about people’s reactions to me way, WAY too much. I’m hypervigilant and paranoid. Maybe I’m not really coming off as annoying and stupid to others as I believe others think I am. I am my own worst enemy sometimes.

I care too much about what people are thinking about me. But why does it even matter? Are these people I want to be best friends with? Do I really want to attend a backyard barbeque at their McMansion with a bunch of their friends and relatives I have nothing in common with except the fact we’re all of the human species? Would I pay any of these people $100 apiece to like me? NO, I WOULD NOT. So why do I CARE so much what others are thinking about me? Why do I care if they think I’m annoying? Or stupid? Or weird? Or fat? Or ugly? Why do I want to be approved of? AM I A FUCKING NARCISSIST?

Probably not, but I was raised by a family of N’s and as the scapegoat, I WAS NEVER GOOD ENOUGH FOR THEM. I questioned myself and everything I did; it seemed I could do nothing right. I felt awkward and defective even in my own family. My parents were bullies, especially my mother. Later I was bullied at school too, especially in the 3rd – 5th grades. I remember during 4th grade, I was followed home every day by a group of kids who laughed and jeered at the way I walked and imitated my walk, as my tears welled and threatened to overflow (no wonder I hate mimes). The bullies would call out to me and sometimes even throw things to get my attention, but I wouldn’t turn around. I just kept on walking. I knew I couldn’t let them see me cry because that would make everything so much worse.

My third grade teacher, Mrs. Morse, was a psychopath with arms like Jello who always wore sleeveless dresses, so whenever she wrote on the board, all that quivering, pale freckled flab hanging from her bare arm made me want to throw up, but I still couldn’t take my eyes off it. It was mesmerizing in a horrible way, like a car accident.

Mrs. Morse knew how sensitive and scared of everything I was. She knew I was bullied by most of the other kids. But she had no empathy for my plight. She was a sadistic bitch from hell. She deliberately called on me whenever I was daydreaming, which was often (no kids got diagnosed with Aspergers back in those days) and always made me stand in the front of the room and answer a question or solve a math problem. She never did this to the other kids, who were allowed to answer from their seat.

meanteacher

One time I couldn’t solve the math problem on the board (which was my worst subject), and she berated and belittled me in front of the class.
“You never pay attention. You’re always daydreaming. Do you have a mental problem?”
The class laughed.
My tongue was in knots and I felt the blood drain from my face. I felt tears burning the backs of my eyelids like acid.
I swallowed hard and tried with all my might not to let a tear loose but they started to flow anyway. I hung my head in shame and rubbed away the tears with my grubby fists as I turned away toward the wall. My narrow back and bony shoulders heaved with silent sobs.
That was exactly the moment this sadistic malignant narcissist who passed for a teacher was waiting for.
“Look everyone! Lauren is crying! Look at the tears! Cry, cry, cry, baby.”
The class burst into screams and hoots of laughter.
“Cry, baby, cry!”
I stood there in front of the class, staring at the floor, snot mingling with my tears, and longed to melt into those scuffed green-gray linoleum tiles, and never return.
In today’s anti-bullying environment, this “teacher” would have been fired for that shit. She might have even lost her teaching license. That kind of thing isn’t put up with anymore.

Not too many years after this, I stopped being able to cry. I stopped being able to talk to people. I stopped being able to feel much of anything.

I still worry that people won’t like me, even though I’ve learned to hide my sensitivity pretty well. Too well, in fact. It’s hard for me to show my true feelings, but lately I’ve been opening up, getting better at it. I need to start feeling confident enough in myself, that other people’s opinions of me won’t make or break my day.

dontlikeme

My stupid hypervigilance again.

paranoia

On Thanksgiving, I wrote about the lovely dinner my roommate and I had at my daughter Molly’s boyfriend’s home (which is where she’s living now when she’s out of jail). It’s a pretty big place–an older home, probably built in the ’60s, 2 stories, with a spiral staircase, large open rooms, a living room lined with floor to ceiling windows that face a view of the mountains, and two large decks. It’s really beautiful. My daughter really lucked out.

I also was surprised how intelligent and nice Paul is. We talked a lot, about many things, and he admitted he loved Molly. It’s obvious to me he’s the first boyfriend she’s ever had who really cares about HER, and isn’t just using her. I think this relationship can be great for her, and she’s happy with him too. So what that he’s 38 years old? He’s mature and has a good job and income, wants her to resume her education, and if things work out, they can have a good life together. Hell, I’d much rather her date a 38 year old who has all his shit together than some 22 year old do-nothing meth-head with no goals or prospects living in his parents’ basement or crashing on a friend’s couch because he can’t even keep a job as a gas station attendant. Which is the type of loser she dated before. She actually didn’t think she deserved any better, but she’s finally realizing she deserves so much more.

Meanwhile her MN father, Michael, has been living at the Salvation Army and hasn’t learned jack shit or changed one iota. He’s the same whiney, entitled, obnoxious, demanding, parasitic, gaslighting, narcissistic jerk that he was when he leeched off me for seven years after our divorce. He nearly sucked me dry, financially, mentally, emotionally, and every other way you can think of. Until February this year I didn’t have the guts yet to tell him to get a life and get the hell out of my house.

I understand why Molly feels bad for him (after all, he’s her dad and she loves him), but she shouldn’t feel guilty about his unfortunate circumstances. He’s done it to himself. And yet, he has made her feel like she’s responsible for his well-being. From the time she was 12, he was treating her like his personal therapist and drug buddy, and attempting to use her to triangulate against me. His actions, among all the other obnoxious and evil things he did, damaged her psyche badly. I still can’t quite determine if she has low-spectrum NPD or severe BPD, but she definitely suffers from both bipolar disorder and PTSD.

But she’s getting better. Things have come to a head these past few months, between her squandering her trust fund, her car accident, and now having to serve time in jail for 30 days (she will be out the day before Christmas). She’s learning some hard lessons about consequences.

So what do her N father and her new apparently mentally healthy boyfriend have to do with each other? Well, Michael is moving in with Paul. Paul’s house is large enough that he will have his own floor, and Paul and Molly will be on the downstairs level. This worries me. Michael always seems to luck out. Narcissists usually do. I’m not envious of him (and am sort of glad he’s no longer homeless because I’m not a total heartless bitch), but this development worries me for two reasons:

1. He has an uncanny ability to turn people against me, even people who have been my friends. I know he trashes my character behind my back, projecting his own character flaws onto me, making ME out to be the narcisistic abuser. If he’s living in the house with them, in my dark fantasies I can imagine him turning Molly against me again, and Paul too. I hate the idea of the only family I have in this state turning against me due to my malignant narcissist ex husband who is living with them.

2. When Molly is around him, he has proven to be a bad influence on her. It’s true he has no car and no way to get around or drive her anywhere this time, but in the past he has been involved in buying drugs with her. Paul doesn’t do drugs so there’s probably nothing to worry about. But Michael’s influence is still a negative one, and his constant presence will push Molly’s buttons in ways that will make it more difficult for her to become independent of his malignant influence.

paranoia2

Probably nothing will happen though. Paul’s doing him a favor and he is paying rent (out of his disability). The intention is not for him to stay (but getting rid of him is easier said than done, I should know!) Molly is okay with this arrangement. Michael has his own floor, and will probably stay busy ranting on political forums like Huffington Post and trolling on conservative websites. The rest of the time he’ll be watching the news or blasting his awful music. It’s more likely someone like Paul may tire of his presence and after a while want him out. It’s also possible Michael may just stay to himself and not bother them much.

As a person with Aspergers and an ACON (and one who was bullied both at home and by my peers during most of my childhood), I’m terribly jumpy and hypervigilant, always expecting the worst, never seeing the cup as half full, always expecting everyone will hate me, and worrying myself into a hair-pulling, twitching frenzy over the the most innocuous things. Every day I worry I will hear bad news, that one of my kids will die, that I’ll find out people are saying bad things about me, or even plotting against me.

I could be on the most beautiful, serene beach in the world, and instead of enjoying the sand and sun, I’ll fret about getting skin cancer even though I’m wearing SPF 4587 sunblock on every inch of my body. I could be in a room filled with people I love, and only be able to think about the one person who didn’t say hello and let that ruin my day. That’s where my head is at. The world seems so dangerous and hostile. I’m extremely paranoid. I find it very hard to relax and just enjoy things.

I know I must not worry and try to let this thing go. I think Paul is too smart to allow Michael to convince him I’m a narcissistic bitch even if he trash talks me 24/7, which he will probably do (or maybe not). Paul already knows me and Molly has told him good things about me. Besides, I already warned Paul that Michael will probably tell him all sorts of horrible stories about what a terrible wife and mother I was. Paul laughed and assured me if that happens he will tell him to stop talking that way, because he doesn’t want to get involved in our family drama and wasn’t a witness to it. So I guess I just need to stop worrying and being so hypervigilant and paranoid.

Let go and let God is good advice. I need to get in the habit of trusting my friend God more. Everything will work out. It always does, somehow.

Targets and Victims

victim

I found another blog today written by a survivor of a sick family of psychopaths and sociopaths (I’ve added the site to my list of resources under the “Info and Support” tab in the green bar in the header. I know I’ve written about this before, but this is one of the best lists of the traits of potential targets and victims of psychopaths I have seen yet. I have just about every single one of these traits, unfortunately. From an early age, I was trained to be a doormat. I learned that lesson too well.

BEFORE: TRAITS of a Potential TARGET

Below are the traits most commonly attributed to a sociopath’s target. Every person is inherently different, and that includes each target and the traits that are most pronounced in the individual. An individual would definitely not need any of these traits to be preyed upon.

This is not an attempt to diagnose anyone.

Shyness
Difficulty communicating
A lack of self confidence
Wanting to please
A belief that if you love enough the person will change
A belief that if you love enough the relationship will succeed
Difficulty establishing and maintaining boundaries
Not being able to say no
Being easily influenced by others
Wanting to be rescued from your life situation
Wanting to rescue others from their distress
Being over nurturing particularly when not asked
Feelings of shame and self doubt
Low self-esteem
A lack of memories about childhood or periods of adulthood
A lack of motivation from within and being motivated by others

AFTER: SYMPTOMS of a Relentlessly Abused VICTIM

This is a very accurate list of symptoms experienced by someone who has had their psyche brutally victimized by a sociopath. With that said, this list is not all-inclusive, nor is it intended to be part of any diagnostic function, whatsoever. These symptoms can also be triggered by many other conditions or events.

The source of this data is from ongoing research, but the majority of the data is derived and confirmed from personal experience … the key word being “majority” There are some symptoms listed here that I have not experienced at all, though they have been mentioned enough for me to accept them as potentially common.

If you, or someone you know, has experienced even a few of these symptoms, seek professional help. Keep in mind, though, that not all “help” is equal. If the professional you choose does not seem to relate to your needs as you would expect or desire, keep looking.

Emotional paralysis
PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
Suicidal thoughts or actions (indirect homicide)
Loss of interest in life
Loss of energy
Insomnia
Anxiety
Depression or Severe Depression
Numbing of feelings
Disinterest in having a relationship
Panic attacks
Irritability
Increased anxiety from being alone
Increased anxiety from being in crowds
Mood swings
Source: sociopathicstyle.com [confirmed by personal experience (50+ years)]

Survivor hypervigilance and the danger of false labeling

labelkit

Earlier today I wrote that I thought my daughter may have NPD because she had taken my phone when she lost hers, and seemed uncaring that I had no way of contacting her or anyone else. About an hour ago, she returned with my phone, and seemed very apologetic and remorseful.

Granted, my daughter does have some narcissistic traits, but she is also Borderline, and most Borderlines do have some narcissistic behaviors–after all, they’re still in the Cluster B group of personality disorders (Cluster B disorders are those characterized by excessive dramatic behavior and/or lack empathy). But she’s not a Narcissist. She does have a conscience and can show empathy, and she’s also self-critical, something true Narcs are not.

My point here is this. I think we survivors have a problem with lack of trust. Having been hurt too often by those with malevolent character, sometimes even by our own parents, we tend to be hypervigilant and quick to label people as NPD if they show even the slightest self-centered behaviors. Since we all can be self-centered and narcissistic at times, then we can falsely pin the NPD label on almost anyone.

Hypervigilance and paranoia is a huge problem for survivors. We have learned not to trust anyone, or even trust our own instincts (since all too often we seem to be attracted to those who are narcissists). Many if not most of us suffer from C-PTSD (PTSD resulting from having been the victim in an abusive relationship). We are quick to jump to conclusions and overreact to behaviors that trigger us, even if no malevolent intent is involved, and even imagining narcissistic behavior where none actually exists. This can cause misunderstandings and result in an inability to become close to anyone and sometimes even make it impossible for us to allow anyone to be our friend. We don’t believe anyone has our best interests at heart.

Here I am going to attempt to describe some behaviors that really are narcissistic, and also differentiate other disorders that may be mistaken for NPD. This list is not exhaustive; there are many other symptoms of NPD I may have neglected to list, but here are the ones I am most familiar with from my own relationships with narcissists. For convenience, I am using the masculine pronoun, but of course all of these could apply to females as well.

How to Spot a Narcissist.

1. Does he come on strong in the beginning, love-bombing you with gifts and words, giving you his undivided attention, but does he also try to rush the relationship toward commitment? If he does, he wants the “courtship” phase over with quickly, because once he knows you’re his, he can revert to his true narcissistic self and you become his narcissistic supply. A huge red flag is if he talks about past relationships in a way where he paints himself as blameless and the ex as a blackhearted villain.

2. Is his “teasing” sadistic and cruel? Does he keep doing it after you’ve told him to stop, and even after you’re no longer laughing?

3. Does he like to put you down in front of others, and then call you “too sensitive” or “lacking a sense of humor” if you rightfully object?

4. Does he play mind games? These can include any of the following: gaslighting (trying to make you believe you are crazy or are losing your memory by denying actual incidents you have called to his attention); triangulating (creating drama between two other people by telling each person lies about the other one–example: he tells a friend of yours you were saying bad things about them even though you were not, and then tells you your friend said they really don’t like you). This is crazymaking stuff.

5. Does he lie even when there’s no reason to lie? Does he deny any wrongdoing even when the evidence is in his face?

6. If he cannot deny the wrongdoing, does he make excuses as to why it wasn’t wrong? True narcissists can never apologize.

7. Does he have one or more “flying monkeys” (people he has won over to his side in his campaign against you)? If he can get other people to side with him (sometimes other family members) and ALL of them are saying YOU’RE the crazy one, that’s the cruelest form of bullying and gaslighting imaginable. RUN! Narcs are very glib and have a lot of charm, and it’s easy for them to make others believe YOU are the one with the problem, and they are just blameless victims. If they’ve read up on narcissism, they may even say YOU are the narcissist.

8. He has a black and white view of the world. If you’re the least bit critical, he concludes you’re against him. If you’re not 100% in agreement, that’s reason to attack.

9. Is he condescending, sarcastic, talks down to you, or otherwise make you feel belittled and diminished, especially when others are present?

10. Does he bring up your most personal matters in front of others, in an effort to embarrass you?

11. Does he trash you behind your back, and then deny he ever said anything (perhaps “gaslighting”–telling you you are imagining things?)

12. Does he steal from you, and then deny it?

13. Does he make you engage in behaviors that are illegal or go against your morals?

14. Does he seem to never have anything nice to say about anything or anyone? Narcissists are excessively negative, unless they are in the “love bombing” phase (when they’re trying to woo you, or when they feel there’s a threat you may leave and they may be deprived of their “narcissistic supply”)

15. Not all, but many narcissists have co-existing addictions to alcohol, drugs, or gambling. This can be a red flag, but not all Narcs have substance abuse problems (and certainly not all those with addictions are Narcs).

16. Does he act entitled, expecting to be given things and treated in a special way, without doing anything to deserve the special treatment, and never giving anything back in return?

17. Does he lack empathy or become upset or enraged of he believes someone else is getting more (attention, material goods, love, etc.) than he is?

18. Does he seem to be nice to everyone but you? Narcs are chamelions who can change masks at the drop of a hat.

19. Do you ever get the odd feeling there is “nothing there” or even get a sense of evil from the person? I saw this black void in both my mother and my ex husband, and it scared the daylights out of me both times. If you get this sense, or see the solid black eyes, RUN as fast as you can. People who are HSPs or empaths are more likely to “see through” a psychopath this way, and HSPs are also most at danger of becoming their victims, not just because of their vulnerability, but also because the narcissist envies and hates the quality of high sensitivity because of the potential it has to “out” them for what they really are, and that terrifies them.*

20. Does he blame-shift, that is, projecting things that go wrong onto you? For example, if he loses his wallet, he finds a way to blame you for it. If your kid becomes sick, it’s because you were “careless” in allowing them to be exposed to others who were sick.

21. Does he project his own character flaws onto you? For example, telling you (and anyone else he wants on his side) that YOU are selfish and lack empathy? My ex actually did this to me, making ME the narcissist. It’s enough to make you batshit crazy.

22. They overreact and are hypersensitive to insults. The poor things are so easily hurt *bring out the tiny violins* Actually, for them it’s just hurt pride. Insult their pride and they’re likely to fly into a narcissistic rage.

23. They have no respect for boundaries. They’ll rummage through your personal belongings, invade your space, blast their music (and get mad at YOU if you ask them to turn it down), talk loudly when you are trying to sleep, and generally just be in your face all the time.

24. Finally, is your psychopath attracted to “dark” or “evil” things? I noticed my NPD ex-husband liked a lot of things that gave me the heebie jeebies: images of demons, zombies, vampires, slasher movies, and he was also attracted to the occult. His taste in music was also very dark: he listened to a lot of death metal. I’m not judgmental about music and can appreciate all genres (even if it’s not something I would listen to), but much of the music he listened to just gave me bad vibes. Granted, some narcissists are “paragons of virtue” and they can often be found in churches, schools, and unfortunately, government. Our current government and the top echelons of large corporations are filled with narcissists, and this is why the United States is in such sorry shape today. Be that as it may, many people with NPD are attracted to the dark underbelly of things.

There are other behaviors typical of NPDs and psychopaths, but the ones I listed are the ones my psychopaths used most frequently in my victimization. After being subjected to these crazymaking behaviors for so long, it’s not surprising survivors can become hypervigilant and automatically label any triggering behavior from anyone as being psychopathic. We have to be careful not to jump to conclusions.

Look for Patterns.

It helps to look for a pattern–if the behavior happens over and over again, and is combined with other narcissistic behaviors I have listed, that’s a red flag. If it’s an isolated incident, and it isn’t part of a regular pattern, chances are that person is not narcissistic. It’s hard for a survivor of abuse to give anyone the benefit of the doubt, but observation before judging is important to avoid the problem of false labeling and possibly rejecting a person who may actually be good for us.

Other disorders that can mimic Narcissism and Psychopathy.

Antisocial Personality Disorder (sociopathy): This is similar to NPD/psychopathy, except the person with APD is far more likely to engage in criminal behavior (narcissists like to maintain their blameless image, although they may break the law too in more subtle ways), and although they too show no remorse or empathy, their behavior tends to be more impulsive and there is some evidence that people with APD have difficulty telling the difference between right and wrong.

Borderline Personality Disorder: These are people whose personalities have never “come together.” Like the narcissist they can be very charming and attractive at first, but they tend to be emotionally intense and overreact to everything, especially slights. Borderlines are the true “drama queens.” Their relationships are unstable and stormy, and they are high-maintenance and very demanding. Many people with BPD have issues with addiction. They are likely to have narcissistic traits, but unlike someone with NPD, they are capable of empathy and remorse. They act impulsively, think later.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Some people with OCD are very controlling and get very upset if their routines or rituals are disrupted. People with severe OCD can seem unempathic and self centered, but they act the way they do because of the overwhelming anxiety that underlies their control freak appearance.

Schizoid Personality Disorder: People with this disorder are not narcissistic or psychopathic, but are asocial and live very much inside their own heads. Their behavior may be odd or eccentric. They seem to lack empathy, but are really just not very aware of what other people may be feeling or how their odd or aloof behavior may upset those close to them.

Aspergers/autism: People on the autism spectrum, like the schizoid personity type, are likely to be asocial and keep to themselves–or when forced to socialize, their behavior can seem awkward. Because they cannot read social cues, they may say or do hurtful or inappropriate things, which can make them seem narcissistic. But if their hurtful behavior is called out to them, most of these people do feel shame and remorse.

* My next article will be about HSPs and why they’re so often targeted and bullied by psychopaths,

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