If you choose to stay with your narcissist…

velveteen_rabbit

Lidija Rangelovska (Sam Vaknin’s wife) recently wrote about staying with her narcissistic husband and how she handles him.

My view, my principle…
People, unconsciously, but more often intentionally, complicate their lives in order to make some sense of their existence and to justify their actions. Me included. We are all, as my FB friend put it: “personal strength junkies”, who try so hard to be accepted and to belong. It comes from our upbringing, our unstable environment, and the fear of being alone. So, when we find a person that loves us or shows us affection, we are “hooked” and we won’t give up on that person. But we also don’t want to compromise, we want to keep our freedom and to have control over the other. And what now? It’s simple: we have to adapt to the changes and find a new meaning in life!
For me personally freedom is the most important. So, I assume that it is the same with all others and I do give people space… where their selves emerge and grow. If there is a person who has common sense and similar views of life to mine, there is a solid and healthy ground on which to develop the relationship.
But we should learn to communicate, share experiences and emotions, be honest and truthful… not be afraid and manipulative. We should learn to trust in order to understand and accept the other. We should build safe grounds for unconditional love to grow on. And isn’t this all that matters in life?

And later…

…my mother tongue is “narcissist”, literally. I was raised by malignant narcissists and HAD to learn how to communicate with them. And I wouldn’t name it as such, because it’s not the “language” of the narcissist, but of the abused. The “language” consists of understanding the abuse that occurred in the narcissist’s early childhood owing to which s/he adopted the False Self later in the adolescence. It is the ONLY self that the narcissist is aware of and if you can’t accept it, you won’t be able to understand her/him.

My advice would be to not even try to go there, as I call it, the “twilight zone”… it’s the “unknown and forbidden” to some people. For me that zone was my natural habitat. I was there… growing up in an emotionally and physically abusive family. I became codependent and was raised to be a good Source of Supply. I honestly don’t wish that on anyone!

So, then, why am I with Sam?
We are both emotionally damaged and we do understand each other’s pain. It’s in a space and at a time where we fulfill each other’s our unique psychodynamic needs. Where conditions don’t exist and there isn’t a room for any – that is where unconditional love exists… at least, where I found it.

[Anonymous] explained this dynamic […] in a very subtle way. “Personal strength junkies” is her term, not mine…

I’m glad there are people who really want to explore their and other people’s nature/character driven by their curiosity to learn more about themselves in order to relate to their significant others. Indeed, a person has to have the courage to do so… they’re the real heroes, not the ones that deny their existence and adopted the “go with the flow” principle… that’s selfish.

Then she posted the beautiful quote above from the children’s book “The Velveteen Rabbit.” It’s amazing how profound certain books for children can be but there’s a wonderful message about unconditional love for adults too.

Several other people who are married to or in relationships with narcissists discussed how they are able to cope with staying with them without losing themselves or developing mental disorders like PTSD. Without exception, the narcissistic spouses (all male) have insight into their disorder and their wives have learned how to “speak narcissist.” There seem to be two primary requirements (besides the patience of a saint): (1) a strong maternal instinct, and (2) an unflappable sense of humor. Under these unusual circumstances, a relationship with a narcissist may actually work for both partners. Some may think of this as an unequal, codependent and even abusive partnership, but if framed as a kind of eternal mother/child relationship, it doesn’t have to be pathological.

elizabeth_bowen

As for myself, I could never work things out with my malignant narcissist ex-husband and I went No Contact early last year (it’s actually Low Contact because we have children, so being completely No Contact isn’t really a possibility.) He had zero insight and denied he was a narcissist at all (instead, he projected his narcissism onto me and made himself out to be the victim and me the abuser). I think when a narcissist has no capacity for insight (which is probably most of them) and is in denial, No Contact (or Low Contact) is the best way to go to avoid psychological damage to ourselves. Even insightful narcissists who are not in denial about their disorder are highly dangerous people and should be handled with extreme caution. They are ticking time bombs.

What [Anonymous] and Lidija have shared provide hope that for SOME narcissists, there may be a way to stay with them and nurture them while not allowing them to obliterate our psyches–and in some cases even benefit from the relationship. It would take someone with a LOT of empathy and even more patience but I believe it can be done in some cases. Having a strong maternal instinct is of utmost importance because essentially, a narcissist is an emotional infant, unable to see others as separate from them. You must accept the fact they are probably never going to get “better.”

As for reproducing with them? Having children with a narcissist you are voluntarily and mindfully nurturing would be disastrous because to the narcissist, a child would be competition and have demands that would need to be met before theirs. This would enrage them in the same way a new brother or sister enrages a three year old. If you are married to or in a relationship with a narcissist and wish to stay with them and nurture them instead of going No Contact, they must be your ONLY “child.” When you choose to be with a narcissist, you are adopting an eternal infant. You would have to accept the fact they will most likely never grow up. Obviously, this choice wouldn’t be for everyone.

Second to a strong desire to “mother” your narcissist would be the ability to laugh at their antics and not take things too seriously. In one woman’s case, she said her narcissistic husband laughs WITH her, even though she admits the joke is usually on her.

I’m happy to hear there are people who can actually make things work with a narcissist. It requires a great deal of unconditional love and the ability to always put your own needs in a distant second place. I don’t recommend it for most people though.

ETA: I would recommend another requirement to making a relationship with a narcissist work: establish FIRM and VERY CLEAR boundaries, early in the relationship. Lidija clearly does this– I remember her saying in “I, Psychopath” when asked who made the rules she said she did. You would have to! Part of the maternal relationship requires the ability to provide discipline when it’s needed too. A narcissist who respects you because you established boundaries and can laugh with them and speak to them in their language won’t have a problem following your rules but may need to be reminded sometimes. 😉

Making love last with a narcissist: the rules

Old Couple

In summary, here are the cardinal rules for keeping your sanity intact while in a relationship or marriage to a narcissist:

1. Be a high empathy person with a strong maternal instinct.

2. Accept the fact they will probably never be cured.

3. Establish FIRM boundaries as early as possible and don’t be afraid to remind them of the rules when they balk or disobey. Remember you are dealing with an emotional toddler.

4. Be willing to always be in their shadow and not steal the show from them

5. Be able to LAUGH and not take what they do and say too personally.   It’s not about you.

6. Do not have children with your narcissist.  He/she is your child. (I used to joke that my MN ex husband was my “other child.” How true that was, and in some ways I wish I had known some of these rules back then, which might have made my life a little easier while still with him.)

The narcissist has to fulfill a requirement too. He or she must be insightful enough to recognize they are narcissists and mentally ill.

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An interview with Everyone’s Favorite Narcissist and his wife

invertednarcissist
Gotta love the adoring look on Lidija’s face (but why is she sitting so far away from him?). Click for closer view.

Let’s face it. In reviewing my stats and my WordPress “annual report,” it’s obvious my Sam Vaknin articles get the most views and are the most popular and the most shared (“My Son is Furry-Got a Problem with That?” is still in the second place spot though, oddly enough–I wrote that back in September and it still is one of my most popular and shared articles).

So here’s another Sam Vaknin article for all you Sam Vaknin buffs out there (and to feed Sam’s narcissistic supply, of course–the strong possibility of him pimping anything I write about him on social media helps this blog too).

Being that I find Sam a rather endlessly fascinating character (as many people seem to), I don’t have a problem with posting something else about Everyone’s Favorite Narcissist. Especially when it’s an interview with The Narcissist Himself and His Wife.

This one was on DrPsychMom’s (Samantha Rodman) website. In it, she questions Sam (and Lidija) about their marriage and things such as what Sam expects from his wife and what she’s willing to give (seemingly everything), and whether or not he engages in narcissistic games like gaslighting and projection. It seems her unconditional kindness and patience (I swear, this woman is a saint) serves as a sort of monitoring device for him, keeping him from derailing into narcissistic fury, and I suppose she finds him and the life he leads exciting and his mind fascinating (even though it’s hinted that they don’t have sex). As for love, well, what Sam feels for Lidija is probably as close to love as a narcissist can ever feel, and she is clearly smitten with him. He admits the fact they were both abused by their mothers created a bond between them. Though having similar backgrounds, Lidija is anything but a narcissist, or she is what some psychologists now call an “inverted narcissist,” which is a codependent, nurturing type of person who is most attracted to narcissists who use them as a constant source of supply.

The bits posted in red are DrPsychMom’s wry and frequently funny observations and comments.

During this interview, the irascible, easily irritated Sam frequently becomes annoyed, which you might expect when a famous narcissist is questioned about his private behavior at home and how his wife reacts to it.

So here it is! It’s a fun read. Enjoy. 😀

http://www.drpsychmom.com/2014/09/08/interview-narcissist-dr-sam-vaknin-deigns-interviewed/

Sam Vaknin’s birthday poem to his wife (Lidija).

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Sam and Lidija in the documentary, “I Psychopath.”

Found a link to this on Twitter. I have little to add–I know next to nothing about poetry, so I’ll just let his words speak for themselves.

One thing that does stand out to me, is that Sam’s words show a man who suffers greatly from his disorder and at least a part of him wants desperately to be free from it. Lidija is his comfort and strength and he yearns to break free of the prison of narcissism to be able to return the love she gives to him. Such passionate words from a man who insists he has no ability to feel love.

I really hope he is a good husband to his wife, who seems very sweet and empathetic from what I saw of her in “I, Psychopath.”

http://samvak.tripod.com/herbirthday.html

Her Birthday
I. Apology …

My Wife:

Sometimes I watch you from behind:

your shoulders, avian, aflutter.

Your ruby hands;

the feet that carry you to me

and then away.

I know I wrong You.

Your eyes black pools; your skin eruptions of what is

and could have been.

I vow to make you happy, but

my Hunchbacked Self

just tolls the bells

and guards you from afar.

II. … And Thanks

In the wasteland that is Me

You flower.

Your eyes black petals strewn

across the tumbling masonry.

Your stem resists my winds.

Your roots, deep in my soil,

toil in murk to feed both you and me,

to nurture Us.

And every day a spring,

and every morn a sunshine:

you’re in my garden,

you blossom day and night.

Your sculpted daint feels

in my hands like oneness.

III. In Toronto

So much is left unsaid between us.

Your crests of silence

fallen on my shores of pain.

IV. Dedication (9th Edition of “Malignant Self-love”)

My Wife:

You are in every carefully measured space,

In every broken word

That we had mended with

The healing hyphens of our together-

-ness.

This book, the memory of us,

A record of survival

Against all odds.

Malignant Self- gives way to love, two points, we are:

Revisited.

V. Happy 2014 (dedication on the book “Macedonian Woodcarving”)

Carved in the wood of our togetherness, entwined,

the chiseled hurt of us:

sprawled in your arms, my wounds

and your iconic smile,

Madonna of leaves and angels.

Only one unicorn we are,

sheltered behind the royal doors

to our love. And you?

My own Iconostasis.