My MN ex’s weird attitude to his son.

bad_father

My malignant narcissist ex bullied our son without mercy through most of his childhood. I wrote about that in this article and a few others, so I won’t rehash it again here.

My son is 23 now and lives in Florida. He moved there, in part, to escape from his father and our dysfunctional, sick relationship. He always hated our almost constant fights. He lived in Illinois before he moved to Florida. He hasn’t lived in North Carolina since 2010, when he was still 18. I only see him once a year, if that. I try not to let the huge distance between us bother me, because he is doing so well, has many wonderful friends, and is involved in so many activities that make him happy.

Financially, my son is doing better than I am because of his drive and ambition and he’s doing light years better than his helpless narcissistic bum of a father, who still lives at the Salvation Army, even though he gets disability now and could get a small apartment if he got himself put on the list for available apartments. Once I asked him why he didn’t do this, and he actually said he would rather live in a shelter than in the projects. He said he thought he was too good to live in the projects. As if the Salvation Army is any better! I think the real reason he refuses to do what he needs to do to get an apartment is because he’d rather be homeless so everyone can feel sorry for him. Other people’s pity gives him an excuse to act entitled and needy. He takes a perverse pride in acting as pitiful and helpless as it’s possible to be.

None of his immediate family feels sorry for him anymore. Not even his daughter, who was his only defender for a long time. He has lost her too.

My ex has a weird attitude about children. He says he hates kids, which isn’t such a terrible thing (lots of people don’t like kids–I’m not even overly fond of them) but I remember him getting annoyed when I put up the kids’ baby photos and photos of them as children around the house. It angered him. He also got upset when I would talk about something the kids did when they were younger. He accused me of being too sentimental and living in the past. I thought his reaction was strange. I just thought wanting to put family photos up around the house was the normal sort of thing any mother would do. He always hated any displays of sentimentality or nostalgia. The only thing he told me when I questioned him about his strange attitude was that he hated thinking about the past because of his own painful childhood.

I have noticed many narcissists have a bizarre aversion to sentimentality. My mother is the same way. She hated displaying family photos around the house (except in bedrooms) because she considered family photos in public areas tacky. She actually said she threw away most of the family photos, when I recently asked her if I could have some. She might be lying or she might have actually thrown hem away. I would not put something like that past my cold fish of a mother.

greek-nostalgia
Maybe this explains it.

When I was living with my ex, I remember his strange Jekyll-and-Hyde attitude about his estranged son. Most of the time he acted like he didn’t care about him. He never seemed interested in his activities, watching his Youtube videos (which are very good), and would change the subject if I talked about how well he was doing in college or in his job. It seemed as if he was envious of his son for being more successful than him, instead of proud of him. He really just never wanted to talk about him at all, except to make inappropriate and sometime lewd jokes about him being gay (he always insisted it didn’t bother him Ethan was gay).

He never seems to really miss him, and almost never calls him. Once Ethan left the state, to my ex it was almost as if he never existed. If Ethan had died, I doubt Michael would have cared much. He cried more when our dog Daisy died than I think he would if something had happened to one of our children, especially our son.

One time when they did speak on the phone, Ethan said something Michael didn’t like–he disagreed with him about something political (Michael spent most of his time ranting on political websites against anyone who disagreed with his views and trolling conservative websites). For months after that, Michael refused to talk to him at all. Ethan tried to call him a few times, but was always hung up on rudely. When I asked Michael why he did this, he just said his son was an “asshole who doesn’t deserve the time of day because he doesn’t agree with me.” True story.

But occasionally Michael could get all maudlin and weepy. Many narcissists do that. It’s weird. Usually it’s when they’re drunk. In Michael’s case, it happened when he was stoned (his main goal in life seems to be procuring weed). These tearful, sentimental moods came randomly, for no reason.

crocodiletears2

One day I came home to find the news channel he always watched off (for a change). I found Michael standing in front of the bathroom mirror, sobbing in an exaggerated way like the baby he is. Crying uncontrollably to the point he was actually choking and gagging. I asked him why he was crying. He told me he needed a hug. I complied but felt repelled and held my body stiff. I did not feel empathy or much concern, mostly just disgust and annoyance. At this point I hated him so much after years of his abuse and constant gaslighting that touching him, especially touching him when he was this vulnerable, with snot and tears all over his prematurely aged face, made me feel a little sick to my stomach.

He never told me what was bothering him. He probably didn’t even know. He went into a diatribe about how he wanted to buy Ethan the best camera he could find and it made him feel terrible that he was unemployable and so poor he couldn’t buy him even a cheap camera. I reminded him that Ethan already owned several cameras that he either bought or his grandfather had bought him. Michael continued mopping at his eyes and interrupted me, talking about the brands of cameras he would buy Ethan if he could.

I don’t think that’s what was bothering him. But he did get maudlin like that occasionally and it was always strange and disturbing and just happened out of left field most of the time.

I’ve noticed that about narcs. Most of the time they look down their noses at normal displays of sentimentality or the normal expressions and feelings of love parents have for their children or other family members, but when under the influence of alcohol or drugs they get maudlin and weepy to a disgusting level over inconsequential things that really don’t matter. I always felt myself recoiling at these over the top and inappropriate displays of emotion.

Michael wasn’t actually an emotional person at all but used emotional displays to get attention and pity, or to hoover me after he’d been abusive. When we were first dating and “in love,” he would frequently become all teary eyed when he told me how much he loved and needed me. He cried when he asked me to marry him. He cried when we were having sex. At the time I was incredibly moved and overwhelmed by feelings of love when he did this. I thought it meant he was a big sensitive softie with a huge heart. I loved his “vulnerability.” God, I was so naive. I read somewhere that some narcissist men act like this when wooing a woman trapping their prey.

Why are narcs so creepy?

Advertisements

The day Sam Vaknin knew he was a narcissist

Vector illustration of a man lock up in prison

I’m going to go ahead and confess part of the big secret that I alluded to in an earlier post. I’m writing a book about Sam. I can’t say too much else about it right now because the book’s focus hasn’t completely gelled in my mind yet. Right now I intend for it to be a biography, focusing on NPD from the inside–that is, what the disorder FEELS like. Sam is a controversial figure, and has enemies within the narcissistic abuse community and even more so among professionals who specialize in NPD (mainly because in their minds he lacks the proper qualifications), but there are also a great many people he has helped–even if helping wasn’t his intention, which it most likely wasn’t if he really is the malignant narcissist he says he is.

I took on this project because I need to come to my own conclusions without being influenced by others, either positive or negative. I do feel like Sam’s been more maligned that he deserves over the brouhaha over his “paper mill” degree, among other things. He’s an interesting character, and to my way of thinking, deserves to have a book written about him. I realize it will probably be a small market, but that’s okay–his story needs to be told. I also realize this will most likely be a feast of narcissistic supply for Sam, but I can live with that. Of course, I’m not going to sugar coat anything–but narcissists even consider negative attention to be satisfactory supply. In fact, some even prefer it. I think my book will be balanced, and there are good reasons to defend him from his haters but there are many things I don’t know about him yet either. If he’s really that malignant, I could wind up hating him myself when I’m done with this project. Or maybe not. Whatever happens, I know it will be very educational and mind-expanding and I feel that one way or another, writing this book will change me in some profound (and good) ways.

So anyway…Sam gave me the go ahead for this project after I emailed him wanting to do it. I’m trying to figure out how to go about getting an interview with him (I would have to go to Macedonia), but for the time being, I emailed a woman who did interview him who has some tapes and who may be able to share those with me. I’m waiting for a reply. Sam also sent me a long list of links to his writings, most which I have never seen before but which are publicly available here. These are his personal journals, poetry and short stories. I have a lot of reading to do!

Sam’s disordered mind fascinates me because he has two qualities in spades that both fly in the face of the typical narcissist (and he insists he is a malignant narcissist; of that I still have my doubts but that’s another thing I need to find out on my own): he is completely and brutally honest, and he has incredible insight into his disorder.

I’ve rambled on long enough about why I want to write this book. In reading Sam’s journal entries, I came across this one that left me gutted, breathless and nearly crying. It’s hard to wrap my mind around how a narcissist–a machine-like being with the inability to feel–can write about themselves with so much raw and searing emotion. There’s something else going on there. He’s a wicked good writer, but I believe with the certainty that the sun will rise tomorrow that there’s not one shred of fiction in this journal entry. I can smell bullshit from a mile away by now, and there’s no bullshit here. For the record, Sam’s poetry is just as gut-wrenching as his prose.

It’s about the day he became aware he was a narcissist. Until that day he had no insight into his disorder; he gained all his insight after the incidents leading up to that day. In some ways, the way he describes it, NPD seems much like a dissociative disorder, like MPD (multiple personality disorder). I have written before about how taking away a narcissist’s supply would send them into a “narcissistic crisis” of severe depression, forcing them to confront their own emptiness, which in turn results in emotional catharsis; this is exactly how it happened here for Sam.

Unfortunately, he got to that point, but was either unable or unwilling to seek further treatment to attempt to rewire his brain to have empathy or a conscience. A cure may not be possible. Maybe you can’t retrain the adult brain to have a conscience the way it was done for a child like Beth Thomas; I just don’t know. That’s one more thing I need to find out more about. I sure have my work cut out for me.

How I “Became” a Narcissist

prisonman2

I remember the day I died. Almost did. We were in a tour of Jerusalem. Our guide was the Deputy Chief Warden. We wore our Sunday best suits – stained dark blue, abrasive jeans shirts tucked in tattered trousers. I could think of nothing but Nomi. She left me two months after my incarceration. She said that my brain did not excite her as it used to. We were sitting on what passed as a grassy knoll in prison and she was marble cold and firm. This is why, during the trip to Jerusalem, I planned to grab the Warden’s gun and kill myself.

Death has an asphyxiating, all-pervasive presence and I could hardly breathe. It passed and I knew that I had to find out real quick what was wrong with me – or else.

How I obtained access to psychology books and to Internet from the inside of one of Israel’s more notorious jails, is a story unto itself. In this film noire, this search of my dark self, I had very little to go on, no clues and no Della Street by my side. I had to let go – yet I never did and did not know how.

I forced myself to remember, threatened by the immanent presence of the Grim Reaper. I fluctuated between shattering flashbacks and despair. I wrote cathartic short fiction. I published it. I remember holding myself, white knuckles clasping an aluminum sink, about to throw up as I am flooded with images of violence between my parents, images that I repressed to oblivion. I cried a lot, uncontrollably, convulsively, gazing through tearful veils at the monochrome screen.

The exact moment I found a description of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder is etched in my mind. I felt engulfed in word-amber, encapsulated and frozen. It was suddenly very quiet and very still. I met myself. I saw the enemy and it was I.

The article was long winded and full of references to scholars I never heard of before: Kernberg, Kohut, Klein. It was a foreign language that resounded, like a forgotten childhood memory. It was I to the last repellent details, described in uncanny accuracy: grandiose fantasies of brilliance and perfection, sense of entitlement without commensurate achievements, rage, exploitation of others, lack of empathy.

I had to learn more. I knew I had the answer. All I had to do was find the right questions.

That day was miraculous. Many strange and wonderful things happened. I saw people – I SAW them. And I had a glimmer of understanding regarding my self – this disturbed, sad, neglected, insecure and ludicrous things that passed for me.

It was the first important realization – there were two of us. I was not alone inside my body.

dualman

One was an extrovert, facile, gregarious, attention-consuming, adulation-dependent, charming, ruthless and manic-depressive being. The other was schizoid, shy, dependent, phobic, suspicious, pessimistic, dysphoric and helpless creature – a kid, really.

I began to observe these two alternating. The first (whom I called Ninko Leumas – an anagram of the Hebrew spelling of my name) would invariably appear to interact with people. It didn’t feel like putting a mask on or like I had another personality. It was just like I am MORE me. It was a caricature of the TRUE me, of Shmuel.

Shmuel hated people. He felt inferior, physically repulsive and socially incompetent. Ninko also hated people. He held them in contempt. THEY were inferior to his superior qualities and skills. He needed their admiration but he resented this fact and he accepted their offerings condescendingly.

As I pieced my fragmented and immature self together I began to see that Shmuel and Ninko were flip sides of the SAME coin. Ninko seemed to be trying to compensate Shmuel, to protect him, to isolate him from hurt and to exact revenge whenever he failed. At this stage I was not sure who was manipulating who and I did not have the most rudimentary acquaintance with this vastly rich continent I discovered inside me.

But that was only the beginning.

Can narcissists feel empathy for fictional characters?

clown1

There is a question I have wondered about for a long time that was brought up on another post.

Narcissists are exquisitely sensitive. They are very easily hurt. But their hypersensitivity is limited to themselves (this is called narcissistic injury). Any insult, no matter how minor, will send them flying into a narcissistic rage or cause the “needy” type to break down like the babies they are.

But as we all know, when it comes to others, they have no empathy. They cannot feel your pain, share your sadness, or rejoice with you. On this level, they are incredibly insensitive.

But there’s something I wonder about. Because narcissists are “fictional people” themselves (what you see is not their true self but a mask), can they feel empathy for fictional people, such as characters in a sad or touching movie? Can they cry when reading a sad book or when they hear a sad song?

I’m leaning toward yes, because my MN mother never could feel pain for anyone but herself (and never expressed even her own narcissistic injury in any manner other than rage), yet I remember she could cry a river of tears when we went to a sad movie or watched a touching love story on TV. Hell, she could even turn on the eye-faucets when a maudlin commercial came on. My N ex used to get all weepy when he watched sad movies too.

For a narcissist, it’s “safe” for them to feel empathy for fictional characters on a movie screen or in a book, because those are not real people. There’s an interesting article written on the blog Let Me Reach by Kim Saeed about this subject, in which the author concludes that narcissists definitely do cry at movies, and it has to do with cognitive dissonance. Read Kim’s article for a more in-depth look at how this works for narcissists, because she explains it much better than I do.