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.

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So what the hell IS malignant narcissism anyway?

The term “malignant narcissism” seems to be everywhere these days, especially on the Internet. But what exactly makes it different from “normal” narcissism?

Here’s a very good definition of how it differs from garden-variety NPD. I had no idea the term has existed this long!

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Click to enlarge.

My annoying narcissist roommate’s latest tricks.

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Just a little update about my annoying, narcissistic roommate. It’s getting very difficult for me to hide my increasing annoyance with her. I don’t want to be unkind because she acts so needy but she invades boundaries and whines constantly about her multitude of problems, most of which she’s brought on herself. Of course, all of these problems are someone else’s fault, never hers.

I thought I used to be bad as far as worrying about people hating me, but I was never THAT bad! As an adult, I always try to respect others’ boundaries and don’t like to force myself on other people if I sense they don’t want to be bothered, even if their lack of attention worries me or makes me feel paranoid. If I really care about their friendship, I’ll approach them and ASK if I can talk to them before asking them if anything is wrong.

It was different when I was a bullied, openly emotional child. I was sooooo sensitive–I used to constantly ask if people were mad at me. I don’t ask people that anymore because it sounds really immature, and most of the time, I realize I don’t even CARE if that person likes me or not, unless I’m seeking their friendship. I usually prefer to be alone most of the time anyway.

My roommate acts like I did when I was a kid. Almost every day, she comes in my room (usually without knocking–I’ve literally had to push her out the door if I was getting dressed or undressed) and asks if I am mad at her. Of course I tell her no. But her paranoia is becoming a self fulfilling prophecy.

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She ran up my electric bill for February to almost $300. That’s an outrageous amount–like the kind of bills I had when I was living with the parasitic “homicidal” narc sperm donor. I know it was her using all the heat, because her room was always hot as an oven in January and February, and both my daughter and I don’t leave the heat running all day, even when it’s freezing cold. If I’m not home, I actually turn the register off (we don’t have central heating–it’s a very old house). My daughter uses a space heater and it’s only on if she’s home.

I approached the roommate and showed her the bill. At first she agreed to pay part of it in addition to her rent, and I thought everything was settled. But then about 5 minutes later she stormed into my room announcing she’d changed her mind. In a snotty tone of voice, she said she shouldn’t have to pay anything because my daughter was using the heat too. I replied sarcastically that was fine, and I hoped she’d like not having power next month since I can’t pay such a huge bill without her help–and why should I? Because my daughter is between jobs right now, she has no income to help, but it wasn’t her using all the heat anyway. Finally I suggested to my roommate she pay a lesser amount than the one I’d first proposed.

She was upset by this and started in on me not liking her again. I told her I liked her (a lie) but was getting annoyed with her self centered, entitled attitude. I even said I thought she was narcissistic.

Immediately, she deflected the attention off of herself onto my daughter, who had nothing to do with the situation. She said my daughter was the one with the bad attitude. I returned to the original point and told her she was failing to take any responsibility. Of course she denied this and started talking about how she cleaned the house for me for free and that I should be paying her for this service (even though I never asked her to clean the house). She feels like she is OWED free electricity. Of course the high bill is not HER fault.

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I don’t like her attitude toward my daughter at all. Something really weird happened a couple days ago (I know my daughter wouldn’t lie about this or have any reason to). The roommate walked out into the living room where my daughter was sitting with her friend, naked from the waist up. She asked my daughter if she thought she was attractive (she isn’t–and she’s 53 years old exposing herself to a 21 year old?). My daughter told her straight out she didn’t think that was an appropriate question and she and her friend left the room. I thought she handled it maturely.

So after this happened the roommate came to me complaining that my daughter hates her.

I think she is jealous of my daughter, who is young and very attractive, and always finds ways to take little digs at her body, her personality, her attitude, her friends, whatever. Or she may be envious of the close relationship we have with each other, because her own daughter won’t speak to her.

Occasionally though she gets in these weird maudlin moods and start crying and tells my daughter she loves her because she reminds her of her OWN daughter, who doesn’t speak to her (I wonder why!)

Speaking of mood changes, I’ve noticed that about some narcs. Their mood changes are unsettling and disturbing. Sometimes they act like they have a dissociative identity disorder with all their rapid personality (mask) changes. My mother used to do this a lot. She’d act sweet as pie and the next moment, for no discernable reason, start screaming at me or slap me. She did the same thing to my father (except she didn’t slap him–she pushed him down the stairs once though and he broke his arm). These sudden mask changes used to really scare me because I didn’t see them coming. It’s like some narcs hear voices in their heads or are seeing things that aren’t there. They really do seem to be out of touch with reality. It’s creepy as hell.

Sometimes my roommate also gets this weird LOOK out of nowhere–like her eyes are boring into my soul and she’ll get this bizarre SMIRK on her face. It reminds me of my mother, and many other narcs I’ve known. I also noticed when she gets this LOOK her eyes turn flat and black.

She sold her car for $150 and whines nonstop about having to sell it because she didn’t have the money to fix it even though she goes nowhere and her disability is more than I earn. I just want to box this woman’s ears and tell her to shut the hell up. I get tired of hearing her grating voice constantly droning on about how terrible her life is.

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So now she’s talking about moving back to Florida, even though she says no one in her family there talks to her. I hope she does, because I don’t know how much more of this I can stand. Since she’s paying rent, I won’t kick her out without notice, but I think I’m going to give her until May 1 to leave. That will give me time to find someone else. Next time I won’t use Craigslist.

Narcs don’t scare me anymore, even though their behavior can be unsettling and creepy. I know I’m stronger than they are and they know it. My education over these past six months has given me the tools I need to handle their evil games. I can smell a narc a mile away.

I’m not afraid of this woman because she’s not very intelligent and although she tries to play all the narc games like gaslighting and triangulating, it doesn’t work because she has no charm whatsoever and is just too stupid to effectively recruit flying monkeys or not fall on her face looking like a buffoon. I think the most effective narcissists tend to be intelligent. Those are the dangerous ones.

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My roommate isn’t particularly dangerous or malignant due to her lack of intelligence, but is extremely annoying and like Chinese water torture, the constant barrage of tiny annoyances build up over time. Her constant snide remarks, complaints, weird looks, and boundary violations are wearing me down and bringing out ugly parts of my personality I’d rather avoid. I think under normal circumstances I’m pleasant to be around (if not always very forthcoming); I’m not a bitch. My roommate’s irritating behavior is turning me into one. I noticed I’m getting snappish and impatient with her. I can’t help it. I don’t like that side of myself at all. I don’t take pride in being a bitch but in her case, it’s getting so hard to be nice. The moral of this story is that even an unintelligent narcissist can bring out your evil side.

I can deal with one more month, but that’s all. That gives her plenty of time to find another place. I haven’t told her yet. I know she’ll fly into a rage and I’m not looking forward to that, but I just can’t stand her personality and can’t live with someone like that anymore. She’s bad for my health.

Am I that annoying or am I just paranoid?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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My stupid hypervigilance again.

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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.

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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.