A narcissist’s prayer.

The mindf*ck.

narcprayer

Are you a victim of gaslighting?

gaslight

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse where a person is made to doubt their own reality or judgment.  It’s a very common way that narcissists, psychopaths, and other abusers manipulate their victims.

The term comes from the 1942 movie of the same name, in which the heroine is victimized by her abusive husband into believing she is going insane, when she notices the gaslights in their home going on and off seemingly by themselves, when it is actually he who is doing it to torment her.

Here are a few examples of gaslighting:

Your partner calls you hurtful names, and when you object, tells you you are being “too sensitive,” “acting crazy,” “playing the victim,” etc.  (blaming the victim is very common in abusive personalities).

Your parent, who was physically abusive to you as a child, says it never happened and you are just imagining things.

Your partner steals money from you while you’re asleep, and then when you bring it up the next day, says you must have misplaced it or didn’t count it right.

Gaslighting occurs on the societal level too and is a favorite tactic of sociopathic leaders to maintain control of their narrative and keep their opponents off balance and fearful, but that is beyond the scope of this short post.  I have covered that topic elsewhere in this blog.

Gaslighting is death by a thousand cuts.   While an individual incident of gaslighting might seem minor and nothing to get that upset about (and all of us, at one time or another, have probably gaslighted someone else),  these incidents tend to add up over time and cause a person to doubt their own reality to the point of developing symptoms of trauma or even PTSD.

A person who is the victim of gaslighting becomes fearful, unsure of themselves, feels as if they’re “walking on eggshells” all the time, afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing.   If you feel uncomfortable, ill at ease, or fearful around a particular person, or clam up when you are usually more outgoing, chances are you are being gaslighted.

Here’s a handy table that will help you know when to tell.

gaslightingfacts

He was “just joking.”

trumpclown

Some of Trump’s aides and enablers have been excusing Trump’s threats by insisting he was only joking.

Here’s a tweet I saw from an anonymous source:

He’s “just joking” when he says he’ll pardon aides for illegal acts, just like he kids about staying past his term

Trump himself regularly insists he was only joking when he’s called out about some of his threats to do things that are illegal, immoral, or cruel.   His flying monkeys back him up on this and then blame our side of having “Trump Derangement Syndrome” when we don’t fall for these lies.   This is gaslighting.

But Trump is a malignant narcissist, and malignant narcissists have no sense of humor.  They do not joke, and therefore Trump does not joke.   The only kind of “jokes” sociopaths and malignant narcissists understand are mocking or making fun of the  weaker and more vulnerable.   Unless you’re a fellow narcissist or sociopath, you will not find these kinds of “jokes” funny, because punching down to hurt the weak and vulnerable is never funny.   That’s why people with a conscience were horrified when Trump openly mocked a disabled reporter during his presidential campaign.   That one action should have ended his campaign on the spot, but that did not happen.

Going back to the “I was only joking” excuse malignant narcissists use to gaslight and mislead their marks (and make no mistake, we are all marks to this president), this is a very common strategy abusers use to control you and get away with their abuse, because it works.   I can’t tell you how many times my own abusers used this on me, and how many times I have heard other victims of narcissistic abuse relate they have heard “I was only joking” from their abusers too.

Another thing abusers do, besides gaslight you by insisting they were joking when they really weren’t, is they turn the blame back on you (blameshifting).  In other words, after telling you they were only joking, they will accuse YOU of having no sense of humor, being too sensitive, or too stupid to get their jokes, accusing you of having “Trump Derangement Syndrome” and the like.    This is gaslighting because it makes you begin to doubt your own reality and your own experience of what really happened.  You begin to wonder if in fact, you are too sensitive, or too stupid to get a joke, or whatever character flaw the narcissist has accused you of.

The fact we have a president who gaslights us daily and throws out threatening trial balloons that basically announce what his future plans are, and then covers up his cruelty by saying (or having his flying monkeys say) he was “only joking” should concern all of us.  We are all victims of this abuser.

Family problems.

whenyoufeel

I thought I’d return from Florida well rested and ready to tackle real life again.   I did have a wonderful, relaxing time and got to spend a good bit of it with my son, unlike other trips there, when he had to work most of the time.

Since returning, my daughter and her husband seem to be coming after me for blood.   I’m too emotionally distraught right now to even go into much detail about what happened, but in a nutshell, she is gaslighting me and lying about things I did/said, making me out to be a terrible, selfish person who doesn’t give a shit about anyone but myself and prefers my son over her.

This started well before I left for my trip.   I pushed it on the back burner, but her behavior lately has been bothering me.  It reminds me very much of her father’s abusive behavior before I finally had enough and made him leave the house five years ago.     She has been calling me terrible names, saying I said things or did things I never said  or did, and calling me narcissistic and “clinically insane.”    She thinks I’m crazy because I sometimes am critical of her or tell her I don’t like the names she is calling me.   In other words, reacting like a normal person does when attacked.   She’s gaslighting me.   I told her to stop, for whatever good that does.  She insists it’s not gaslighting.  Instead she flips it around and accuses me of gaslighting her.

It seems she is projecting onto me, and became a narcissist or some facsimile of one when I was not looking.  Her husband, who seemed sweet to me at first, has become quite cold toward me.   I think she has turned him against me.

We share a crowded house, and I don’t earn enough to pay all the bills on my own (and am too old to take a second job, nor should I have to take a second job!) but she angrily attacked me this morning for “being a bitch” to her,  and said she would no longer pay any rent to me because of that.

She says she needs to save money to move out.   That would be perfectly reasonable under other circumstances.   It would be fine if I earned enough that I could afford  to give them a break so they could save money, but I don’t and she knows it.  I could be renting out her room instead and she knows that too.   I also doubt she will actually save money and move, since she has never been able to save money before and can’t seem to hold onto a job.

Her brother wants to mediate (he’s good at mediating) but there’s no way for that to happen since then she would know I told him everything, and she is predisposed to not cooperate since she’s jealous of the more positive attention she thinks he gets from me.  They have become distant from each other partly because of geographic distance, but also because she thinks he judges her harshly (he doesn’t, but is reasonably critical and she can’t seem to deal with criticism).

I’m not sure what to do.  My daughter went out in a huff after flinging a litany of insults at me, and is currently (most likely) over at her father’s house (where I’m pretty sure they are all sitting around badmouthing me and talking about what a crazy, narcissistic person I am).   And yes, I do realize how narcissistic and paranoid I sound, but I’m absolutely sure that’s what is going on.   I feel like I’m reliving the nightmare I went through before I finally worked up the courage to go no contact with her father.    He freeloaded off of me too and told everyone I was the crazy one when I objected to his crazymaking antics and exploitation of my good will.

Now she is accusing me of “playing the victim.”   It appears that gaslighting comes naturally to her.  She must have been paying attention when I talked to her all those times about narcissism and narcissistic abuse, because now she not only knows all the terms and phrases, she has weaponized them, using them against me.

When did my daughter become her father?   I never thought she would become a gaslighting abuser or a narcissist because she always seemed like a high empathy person to me.  It’s like I turned around and instead of seeing her standing there, it’s her father all over again.

Until recently, and since her father left the house (at my insistence) in 2014, my daughter and I  have gotten along great.  I’m not sure when things started to go downhill or even who changed.  Was it her or was it me?  I feel like it was her.   But I just don’t really know.   It seems like it started to happen around the time of her marriage in January.  But her husband doesn’t seem like a narcissist to me, just a quiet guy.  But since he doesn’t talk a lot, I have no idea what he is actually saying to her.    All I know is that during the past few months, our relationship has been very tense and prone to lead to arguments.  I always feel like I’m walking on eggshells with her, and I know that’s a huge red flag.

Maybe she needed to go out and just calm herself down and give herself some space.   So I will see when she returns if she’s more reasonable.  But if she still refuses to cooperate with my house rules, I may have no choice but to make plans to move out myself and leave the two of them to figure out how to pay for everything themselves.   That’s not being spiteful, but I simply can’t live with someone (even my own daughter) who takes advantage of me the way her father did years ago.   It’s a form of abuse and extremely triggering.    I know she will be furious if that’s what I ultimately decide, but what else can I do?  I feel trapped and helpless.  I feel like I have no power or control over this situation at all and very few options open to me financially.

I guess I’ll see how things go after she calms down.   She’s done this sort of thing before and then apologizes later.   She always does say her father treated me like crap and I should have left sooner.    I just don’t know what to think anymore.  It’s times like this I just feel so backed into a corner and helpless.

I just had to vent.  To get this off my chest.   This post reminds me of my early articles, when I first started this blog and was realizing I had been abused throughout my life, and set about describing the mental and emotional abuse that was inflicted on me by my ex and by my family.   It seems I still haven’t broken that pattern and it snuck in again when I least expected it.

I have no idea what to do, really.

7 Characteristics of the Modern Psychopath.

hannibal

Below is a link to a really good and informative article from Psychology Today about sociopaths and psychopaths,* and the devastation and misery they leave in their wake, both in personal or familial relationships, and on a much larger, societal level.

This article explains how to detect them.   While only 4 percent of the population suffers from Antisocial Personality Disorder (sociopathy and psychopathy) , a larger portion (up to 15%) are situational sociopaths or psychopaths.   This is explained in more depth in the article.

A malignant narcissist is a person with both Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder.    This combination of personality disorders is especially devastating because of the already conscienceless person’s insatiable need for adulation and approval.  When narcissistic supply is abundant, instead of satiating the person and making them act more pleasant, as you might think, they become “drunk” on the ego “fuel.”  This phenomenon is evident in Donald Trump, who, feeling victorious and vindicated after the Barr’s summary of the Mueller Report stated he did not collude with Russia to win the election,  became “drunk on power” and his cruelty, gaslighting, lies, and unreasonable demands actually got worse.

7 Characteristics of the Modern Psychopath

*A small percentage of psychopaths (not sociopaths) choose to be prosocial instead of antisocial.  Psychopathy, unlike sociopathy, is a condition a person is born with, in which the parts of the brain concerned with conscience are missing.  Psychopaths can cognitively learn the difference between right and wrong, so they can choose to do the right thing (even if the motive for making that choice is always self serving).   It’s not second nature to them but they may make that choice if they have learned it benefits them the most.   In contrast, sociopathy is an acquired condition associated with malignant narcissism or antisocial personality disorder, and such a person will never choose prosocial behavior and in fact aren’t capable of doing so.

Five types of gaslighting narcissists.

Lucky Otters Haven

Gaslight-2

I haven’t written an original narcissism article in awhile, and I was thinking about gaslighting today, so I thought I’d write a post about it.

Gaslighting is a defense mechanism commonly used by narcissists in order to diminish their victims and make them doubt and question their own reality.  The term comes from the 1942 movie “Gaslight,” in which a young wife is abused in this manner by her husband, who almost succeeds in driving her insane by telling her she is imagining the gaslights in their house going on and off, even though he has been secretly playing with the gaslights himself to make her think she’s going insane.  Gaslighting is one of the most sinister and crazymaking things a narcissist can do, and over time your self esteem and even your grip on what is real and what isn’t begins to erode.   Dealing with a gaslighting narcissist…

View original post 978 more words

Toxic positivity.

There’s nothing wrong with positive thinking.  But it’s become fashionable in recent years to shame “negative thinking.”  I put that phrase in quotes because sometimes “negative” just means being realistic.    Too often, being positive is the same thing as denying reality: The 3 pack a day smoker with a chronic cough insists they are healthy when you suggest they see a doctor (of course, this could be fear on their part too).   The abused wife tells you everything at home is fine even though she has the demeanor of a whipped dog and flinches whenever her husband speaks to her.   Your “friend” tells you you’re being paranoid when you (correctly) observe that he hasn’t called you in several weeks and is always “busy” whenever you’re around.    He is gaslighting you.

These are examples of toxic positivity.  Empathy is not a factor when it’s directed at someone else’s concerns.    Toxic positivity sounds more like criticism or gaslighting when directed at another person, or just plain lying or denial when it’s about yourself.   In both cases, it helps no one.

I don’t know who made this chart, but I like it because it shows the difference between toxic positivity and real positivity, which includes empathy.

toxicpositivity

Further reading: 

Where I Stand On Positive Thinking

Narcissist parents demonize their own children.

Originally posted on March 17, 2015

narc_mother_littlegirl

Most parents like to tell cute and funny stories about when their children were young, or brag about their school accomplishments or tell sweet stories that show their child in a flattering or loving light. They are also proud of their children when they’re kind and nice to others. That’s the way things should be.

Not for narcissistic parents though.

Narcissists who “erase” memories of their children.
Some narcissistic parents don’t like to talk about their children at all. It’s as if they erase any memories of their offspring’s childhoods and don’t want to be reminded of it. It’s weird. My malignant cerebral narcissist sperm donor used to get bored and annoyed if I talked about the children when they were young. Inexplicably, he couldn’t stand it and became annoyed when I wanted to put some of their baby and early school pictures around the house. (He didn’t like that I displayed our wedding photos either).

He shows little to no interest in his son’s accomplishments (2019 edit: this has changed now that my son has landed a professional video editing job and can be considered “successful”) but just a few years ago, when my son won a few dance competitions, my ex’s eyes just glazed over.

I was proud of my son but his father seemed not to care. I thought maybe it was because he thought dancing was “too gay” but he acts just as disinterested about almost all my son’s other accomplishments too. It’s almost as if he wants to erase him from his mind.

And when they “brag” about you, watch out.

too_sensitive

My somatic narcissist mother loves to talk about me as a child. But her “bragging” is never about the things a normal parents would brag to their friends and relatives about. It’s never about how smart I was or what a good student I was, or what a good painter or writer I was, or how kind and generous or big-hearted or animal loving I was. Instead, she tells stories that illustrate the many ways I was “too sensitive” or how much I cried as a little girl. When she talks about me, she always brings up the most embarrassing stories, like how afraid I was of thunderstorms and how I used to run into the closet in terror (I like thunderstorms now) or how “hysterical” (she loves to use that word about me as a child) I used to get when I was frustrated or scared of something (I was afraid of many things but loved a lot of things too).

Whenever she talked about me to people, she made me sound like there was something wrong with me (I was a sensitive child with attachment issues–but surely there were good things she could have chosen to talk about instead of what a pitiful, awkward, oversensitive crybaby I was). She used to tell everyone the embarrassing story of my first period and how happy I was when I shouted the big news from the bathroom, because I had always been “so hysterical” and panic stricken because I was slower to hit puberty than most other girls my age. In actuality, I was 13 and really not far behind at all–and I never got “hysterical” or “panic stricken” the way she insisted I did.

I no longer hear these stories because I no longer have much contact with her, but I’m sure she still tells her friends and extended family (who she has isolated from me and turned some of them into flying monkeys against me) and they still all have a good laugh about “poor, over-sensitive, ‘hysterical’ little Lauren.” I know they also laugh about what a “loser” I am today, because I’m not wealthy like most of the family is and don’t have a great number of impressive professional accomplishments. Of course, that’s all due to my “poor choices” and not to the fact my self esteem was all but obliterated during childhood and adolescence, not only by my family but also by the bullies I often had to deal with at school.

One narcissistic abuse blogger (who I won’t identify for personal reasons) wrote about the way her psychopathic MN mother (who was actually MUCH worse than mine and downright cruel) and the rest of the family who served as her flying monkeys, gave her a poem for her college graduation. Instead of it being a sincere congratulations or about how loved she was and how proud of her they were, it was a “humorous” ode to how afraid of crickets she had been as a little girl. Notwithstanding the fact this poem had absolutely nothing to do with her daughter’s college graduation, its real intention was to embarrass her and make her feel self conscious. It was a poem that could have easily ruined an otherwise joyous occasion.

The navy blue dress.

fat_lady
What my mother saw whenever she looked at me. (Just for the record, I think this big lady is stunning.)

My mother always loved to point out my faults–even imaginary ones she had projected onto me–in public. I’ll never forget the birthday party I had one year as a teenager. My mother had invited several of her friends to the apartment and some of my friends were there too. When it came time to open the gifts, she made sure hers was the first one I opened.

In the fancily wrapped box was a rather conservative, navy blue sleeveless dress. It was a nice dress, had I been about 40. She made me go try it on and then have me come out into the living room where everyone was sitting to model it. I obeyed because what else could I do. I was always so scared of her.

Mind you, I was not overweight. At 5’4″, 120-125 lbs was about the right weight for my frame. But my backside was what you might call well rounded (not to Kim Kardashian levels, but still round) and my mother was constantly calling attention to it. It made me very self conscious and due to this (as well as my desire to rebel against the way she’d dressed me like a doll when I was younger), I had taken to wearing baggy, almost masculine clothes that hid my curves. She was convinced I was “fat” and was always threatening to send me away to weight loss camp. As a somatic narcissist, she was obsessed with her own weight, physical appearance, and health (especially as it related to her appearance). She seemed to judge other people based on how they looked instead of their personality or inner qualities. Almost every day she called attention to how much weight I was putting on, or reminded me not to have seconds because of my “weight issues.” I become incredibly self conscious about my body as a result. It’s a miracle I didn’t develop an eating disorder.

weight-loss

Getting back to the birthday party and my “modeling session” in front of all the guests, after I modeled it, she announced that the dress’s dark color and style was flattering for someone with “Lauren’s little weight problem.”

You could have heard a pin drop in that room. I think everyone was shocked at her callous and embarrassing remarks. As for myself, I was so mortified I ran out of the room in tears, which of course was a huge mistake because that gave my mother ammunition to remind everyone once again about how sensitive I was (and she didn’t mean this in a complimentary way). She was always making jokes at my expense and then when I didn’t laugh or if I looked hurt, it was always “Lauren is just being over-sensitive again” or “Lauren has no sense of humor.” I’ve heard this is quite a common accusation narcissistic parents use against the child they have chosen as their scapegoat. They hate sensitivity in others and love to turn it into a bad thing because it takes the responsibility for their cruel behavior off of them and puts the blame onto the child.

This is the sort of “flattery” a scapegoated child can get from a parent who is a malignant narcissist. There are times I feel guilty that I don’t feel more loving toward my mother than I do, but when I think of all the years she demeaned me and put me down, always going out of her way to make me feel small and worthless, I don’t feel so guilty about my ambivalent feelings toward her. (2019 edit: as she’s grown quite old and several years have passed, I’ve developed more affection for her, and there is love there, but our relationship –if you can call it that–is still extremely distant and guarded).

I don’t hate my mother. I pity her for never having known who she really was or getting to know her true self. She’s an intelligent woman but you would never know it because she never was interested in abstract ideas or the life of the mind. Her eyes glaze over if you try to engage her in any “deep” topics. I recall her reading mass market paperback novels (“beach throwaways”) and fashion or home decorating magazines, never anything scholarly.

She has now lost most of her beauty due to age (and too many facelifts) and she is all too aware of this. The loss of physical beauty–the one thing that gave her a kind of identity–has turned her bitter in her old age.

Projection and Trump’s snake story.

thesnake

When someone shows you who they are, believe them.
— Maya Angelou

 

Several times at his rallies, Donald Trump has done something out of character — he has delved into literature to make a point, specifically poetry.  Ironically, the poem Trump has chosen to recite to refer to the immigrants he dislikes so much was written by a black 1960s soul singer and social activist, Oscar Brown Jr.

The other day, in front of the White House lawn, a huge crowd of supporters gathered,  and once again, Trump recited the words of “The Snake:”

On her way to work one morning

Down the path alongside the lake

A tender-hearted woman saw a poor half-frozen snake

His pretty colored skin had been all frosted with the dew

“Oh well,” she cried, “I’ll take you in and I’ll take care of you”

“Take me in oh tender woman

Take me in, for heaven’s sake

Take me in oh tender woman,” sighed the snake

She wrapped him up all cozy in a curvature of silk

And then laid him by the fireside with some honey and some milk 

Now she hurried home from work that night as soon as she arrived 

She found that pretty snake she’d taken in had been revived

“Take me in, oh tender woman 

Take me in, for heaven’s sake

Take me in oh tender woman,” sighed the snake

Now she clutched him to her bosom, “You’re so beautiful,” she cried

“But if I hadn’t brought you in by now you might have died”

Now she stroked his pretty skin and then she kissed and held him tight 

But instead of saying thanks, that snake gave her a vicious bite

“Take me in, oh tender woman 

Take me in, for heaven’s sake

Take me in oh tender woman,” sighed the snake

“I saved you,” cried that woman

“And you’ve bit me even, why?

You know your bite is poisonous and now I’m going to die”

“Oh shut up, silly woman,” said the reptile with a grin 

“You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in 

”Take me in, oh tender woman 

Take me in, for heaven’s sake

Take me in oh tender woman,“ sighed the snake 

To those of us who have a knowledge of malignant narcissism and have connected that to Donald Trump’s poisonous character, the snake he refers to here isn’t actually the immigrants he so despises — it’s himself.    The “tender-hearted woman” who took him in are his gullible supporters, who “took him in” and continue to support him, even though his policies will hurt them too.

Donald Trump is the snake, and he knows it.   In almost everything he says and does, he reveals who he is.   This is a psychological defense mechanism known as projection, which is really a form of gaslighting.   It’s also sometimes known as blame-shifting.

Pay attention not to who he demonizes and blames, for that is not the real message he is sending, but to what he is blaming them for.   His negative projections onto others are code (probably unconscious) for what he himself is doing or feeling.   In that sense, he is very transparent and doing us a huge service by warning us how dangerous he is.   There are so many examples of him doing this I won’t even list them all here.

All malignant narcissists project, and once you’re aware of it, you can’t miss it.   A narcissist always reveals himself or herself through the blame they try to shift onto others.  Whenever a narcissist starts pointing fingers, listen to the words they use and then put the narcissist in the place of the person or group they are projecting onto, and you will learn the truth about who they are.   It’s a very handy skill.

 

The most effective defense against gaslighting.

bytheirfruits

Narcissists and sociopaths not only try to make you think you are insane, they can literally drive you insane.   They do this most effectively and insidiously through gaslighting, a method of mental manipulation in which you are made to doubt or question reality or told your feelings are invalid.   This occurs on a personal level with narcissistic people and extends today all the way up to the national and political level. It is always extremely damaging.  People who are constantly gaslighted by a narcissist or sociopath often develop PTSD or Complex PTSD (C-PTSD).

Examples of gaslighting in relationships:

“I was joking. Stop being so sensitive.”

“That’s not what I said.” (when they definitely have said it).

“You are imagining things.”

“It never happened.”

Trump gaslights his political rivals, his enemies, and the entire country on a daily basis.   I can’t and won’t attempt to list all the examples, but his Twitter account is a treasure trove of gaslighting if you can stomach it.   Perhaps the most egregious example to date is his recent denial of the Access Hollywood tape where he now denies he ever said he could “grab women by the pussy.”  Another good recent example is Roy Moore (who I believe is as sociopathic as Trump) justifying his pedophilia by comparing himself to Jesus being persecuted — he is pinning the blame on the truth-tellers (projection and blame shifting) and denying reality (gaslighting) at the same time.

When our own reality is questioned or denied, or when actual events are called “fake news” and the free press “the enemy of the people,” it’s not uncommon for us to begin to question the truth itself.   You begin to think that maybe, just maybe, the gaslighter is actually the one telling the truth and you are just nuts (which the gaslighter will happily confirm).

My favorite Bible verse ever is this one, from Matthew 7:15-20 (New Living Translation) because it’s so useful in gaslighting situations.

Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.  You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit.  A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.  So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

When a gaslighter makes you question the truth or wonder if your honest feelings are invalid, I’ve found this verse stops any doubt I’m having and calls out the abuser for the liar they really are at the same time.   Look at what the person is producing.    If they’re creating nothing but chaos, destruction, fear, and misery, if they’re sowing discord instead of unity,  if they always break their promises,  don’t believe anything they tell you.    They are lying and will never produce any good fruit, no matter what they might want you to believe.