Marriage counseling is another weapon a narcissist can use against you.

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If you’re still with your narcissist, you may be tempted to insist they attend marriage or family counseling with you. It’s a common error to believe and hope the counselor or family therapist can help the narcissist understand your point of view and, seeing the light, stop their abuse of you or the children.

This is a mistake. Don’t do it. Don’t drag a narcissist to a marriage counselor or family therapist. I have my own horror story about this, and I’ve heard many similar stories to mine.

My ex, “Michael” (not his real name) and I had not been getting along for some time. I won’t go into the details in this article, because I’ve documented his abuse elsewhere in this blog. Whenever a malignant narcissist (in his case, full-blown ASPD!) pairs up with a Borderline or a low spectrum covert narcissist (I believe I am both), the Borderline or covert N is almost always going to be in the supplicating, codependent, people-pleasing victim role. They will be gaslighted, projected onto, triangulated against, given the silent treatment, insulted, used, taken advantage of, stolen from, lied to, and possibly physically abused as well. A Borderline will rage and lose their composure under such treatment, while a covert N will try to “fight back” using more underhanded means such as passive aggression or the silent treatment. If you’re not disordered, staying around someone who’s doing those things to you long enough, you can actually become a narcissist yourself, or at least pick up a lot of narcissistic traits as well as severe PTSD.

Enraged by Michael’s constant insults, disrespect, and gaslighting using the children as flying monkeys, I’d react by giving him the silent treatment or make sarcastic remarks. Neither of these weak weapons made a dent in the impenetrable armor of this professional malignant narcissist, and the abuse just escalated. As a BPD, another thing I’d do was rage. I’d hold in my anger for days, and finally explode into a mighty dish-smashing, profanity spewing temper tantrum. Of course it was then that Michael told everyone–including our young children–that I was an insane c__t and bitch who should be locked up and the key thrown away.

Sure, we were both disordered, but in that relationship I was definitely the victim. I remember a couple of friends even told me on meeting him that they got “bad vibes” and thought there was something “evil” about him and to be very careful.

At one point I suggested we see a marriage counselor. At first Michael resisted, but he finally relented when a friend of his told him he should go just to get me to STFU. So he agreed to go, on the condition that HE got to pick the therapist we’d be seeing. The therapist he chose was a woman and she did seem very nice. I actually felt comfortable with her, which surprised me.

One of the issues we’d been having was the volume at which Michael played his music. He listened to music I did not enjoy–mostly death metal, thrash, and riot girl punk/metal (this was in the late 1990s). Now I’m an eclectic and open minded music lover, but those particular genres acted like assault weapons on my ears. He also liked to blast this noise late at night when the kids and I were trying to sleep. But whenever I asked him to turn the music down, he’d tell me to shut up and deliberately increase the volume.

So this was one of the topics that came up in marriage counseling. I was the one who brought it up. Michael always seemed calm and reasonable on the surface (he had a lot of charm back in those days which he never showed me when we were alone together) while I always seemed stressed, on edge, a raw nerve about to snap like a violin string (this was in fact the case–his manipulations and cruelty to both me and the kids were systematically driving me insane). After I told the therapist about how loud he played his music whenever we were trying to sleep and refused to turn it down when asked, Michael turned on the charm, smiling and in a very reasonable and calm tone of voice explaining to her that I was a “control freak” and hated music in general. He told her I never let him play anything, even during the day, which was a lie.

The therapist turned to me and told me I needed to stop trying to control my husband and allow him to pursue his interests. I looked over at Michael, wearing his most smug, self-satisfied grin. I wanted to walk over and smack him hard upside the head. I started to shake with rage. I couldn’t hide my frustration and anger the way he could. It took everything I had not to throw something at him or throttle him. I looked down at my clenched fists and my knuckles were so white their bones seemed to have popped through my skin.

marriage_counseling

Back in those days, my BPD symptoms were in full force, and so to the therapist, I probably did seem a little crazy. Michael, in contrast, had the composure of an attorney (I always used to tell him he should have been a lawyer because he always won every argument).

Other things came up too. But it always came back to the same thing–that I was trying to control HIM and he was just a reasonable man confused by my emotional instability and craziness. Michael had that therapist wrapped around his little finger. Once I tried to explain to her the way he acted in our sessions was not the way he acted at home, that he wasn’t showing her his cruel, callous and disrespectful nature. Of course he called me a liar, telling the therapist I had “mental issues.” Once again I got scolded by the therapist for trying to control him and making up stories to make him seem worse than he was. She asked me if I had delusions often.

Finally, sick of the two of them ganging up on me and blaming me for everything wrong in our marriage, I walked out in the middle of a session, which only convinced that therapist I wasn’t “serious about counseling” and should seek psychotherapy for myself (this is what Michael told me later).

I’ve heard this sort of thing happening to so many victims of narcissistic abuse. They go to marriage or family counseling, thinking it might help, and instead, the therapist gets turned into a flying monkey siding with the abuser and joining in the gaslighting and projection against the abused.

Malignant narcissists and psychopaths like Michael are good at convincing people they are perfectly sane and they will lie very convincingly. The real victim, probably suffering from PTSD and high stress levels, is more likely to “lose it” or act out, making it seem as if they are the one causing the problems with the relationship.

Based on this experience and those I’ve heard from others, I don’t recommend marriage counseling if your spouse or partner is a narcissist. But if you do decide to try it, make sure YOU choose the therapist, and pick one who has a background in Cluster B personality disorders and has a working knowledge of the way narcissists operate.

Even better, if it’s at all possible, lose the narc who’s making your life such a hell.

For more on this subject, please read my article, Narcs Who Use Therapy to Gaslight Their Victims.

For another blatant example of the type of gaslighting my ex liked to use against me (and get his way at the same time), see my article How My ASPD Control Freak Ex Used a Dog to Gaslight Me

All my narcissistic lovers.

johann_heinrich

Not long ago, when I started studying narcissism in depth for this blog, I came to a shocking and disturbing realization: Every single one of the men I had relationships with or fell in love with were narcissists. It’s because I was trained by my family to be Narcissistic Supply, and as a Borderline, these relationships tended to be stormy.

Having BPD means I’m not the ideal codependent doormat, and when I felt violated–even though I’d allow the abuse to continue because after all, I was trained that way–I’d still try to fight back, at least for awhile. This led to lots of drama and some truly terrible fights with narcissistic men who I could never fix, no matter how hard I tried. I sure wish I knew then what I know now.

I have always been attracted to narcissistic men and they have always been attracted to me. I’m easily taken in by their elaborate displays of romance and promises in the beginning–there’s no one more romantic than a narcissist trying to procure you as supply. It’s fun while it lasts, but as soon as they know they have conquered you, the abuse begins. One red flag to watch out for: a man who moves in too fast, or starts talking about a permanent commitment or marriage only weeks after you met them.

Here’s a list of the narcissists I was seriously involved with (or married to). Only one wasn’t a narcissist, but he was severely bi-polar. The names are made up.

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Steve P: my first serious boyfriend in high school. Steve called constantly (like 8-10 times a day at first), wanted to be with me all the time, regularly sent flowers, was very passionate and loving at first. He actually would cry because he “loved me so much.” After a while he became physically and mentally abusive, insulting me, questioning me about other boys, what I was doing when he wasn’t around, calling me names, and finally becoming physically abusive. One day, with absolutely no warning, he called me and told me he was dumping me because he met someone else. I was enraged at the nerve of this but actually relieved to be rid of him finally.

Mark S: my second serious lover during my college years. Mark was very cool–knew everything there was to know about art, music, theater, and he had offbeat, interesting friends. He used to take me to the East Village in New York City where we’d attend all the punk and new wave clubs and shop in funky vintage clothing and record stores. We had a lot of fun. But he was also an intellectual snob and looked down on my “pedestrian” tastes in music, movies, etc. He looked down on my friends, whose intellectual abilities he felt were beneath him. Mark saw himself as a rogue and a cultural rebel, and after awhile his constant put downs became annoying and we’d fight. He also never wanted to have sex (he was a cerebral narcissist), thinking it was a huge waste of time that could be better spent feeding his mind with new cultural experiences. After about a year, he told me I was too boring and my tastes too commercial and pedestrian, and he dumped me for a woman who looked exactly like me but was apparently much more hip and “in the know” about what was cool and cutting edge than I was. He wound up marrying her.

new_wave_guy

David B: David was not a narcissist; he was bipolar and suffered from severe depressions and substance abuse. He drank heavily to self-medicate and was always in and out of the psychiatric ward. He regarded me as a sort of mother figure and I liked the idea of being needed so much. But his neediness and clinginess became cloying and suffocating, he was constantly drunk, so eventually I left him, not without a little guilt in doing so. But he was really driving me crazy.

Michael B: The malignant narcissist I married. He is actually a psychopath. Michael acted very much like Steven in the beginning–showering constant attention and gifts on me, moving in very fast, talking about marriage just three months after we met. Being that I was in my mid-20s, I was open to marriage and he seemed perfect. I should have seen one HUGE red flag: the expensive engagement ring he insisted I have was purchased with my own credit card, because he had already maxed all his out. He always lived way above his means. He’d take me to expensive restaurants and insist I pay (and of course, he would pay me back later, but he never did). The rest of our story can be found in the articles under “My Story” in the header. Let’s just say the man is a psychopathic monster with serious substance abuse issues and a parasitic monster at that.

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Daniel S: The only lover I’ve had since the divorce. Well, okay, we were actually still married. (I’m not proud of this). But my marriage was already long over and I was desperate and miserable and not thinking straight (not that it’s an excuse to cheat). Daniel was actually a worse malignant narcissist than my ex, if that can be believed. He had that intense predatory stare, which I took to mean sexual and romantic interest, but was really his way of sizing up me as his prey. Of course I found him irresistably attractive. Unfortunately Daniel was another cerebral who had very little interest in sex. After a huge show of ardent romance and all that goes with it, he started the abuse, which included insulting me and comparing me (unfavorably) with his past lovers and what he saw as an “ideal woman.” He said he wanted babies with me but constantly criticized my parenting skills (as if he could know, since he never met my kids). He raged a lot although he never actually became physically abusive. He sulked and gave me the silent treatment when I didn’t do things his way or wanted to spend time with my family. He was stingy and although he had a lot more money than I did, he always made me pay my own way on dates. He obsessed about money. He would buy me things and constantly remind me how much those things cost him. He also would give me gifts and then ask for them back later, telling me he was only letting me “borrow” them. I am serious about this. After I ended our relationship (due to guilt at least as much as his abusive treatment), he still continued to call me constantly “as a friend.” After several of these phone calls, I finally worked up the guts to tell him to bug off and blocked his number.

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I have not had one lover or husband who was a just a nice regular guy. There have been a few of these men who seemed interested in me, but I always found them boring and rejected their attentions because I didn’t feel any “chemistry” with them.

I think it’s time to change all this. I want to start dating again soon. I know what red flags to look out for now so I think I can avoid the narcs, but can I fall in love with a normal man who will treat me well?

Lies my narcissists told me.

lies_honesty

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).

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“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.

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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

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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.

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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.

I am Broken now ….(long post I’m sorry)

My friend and fellow blogger, who is trying to get ready to say goobye to his beloved wife, who is dying of cancer.

Please offer your prayers and support for Butch, his wife and their beloved son.

My heart is breaking right now.

Here was the post Butch posted the previous day, “I’m Losing My Wife.”

An interview with Everyone’s Favorite Narcissist and his wife

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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.